Have you ever noticed how hotels look basically the same? They, as many home hunting shows would say, have no character. Breakfasts are often included but they are not much to write home about. If you’re lucky you’ll locate the gift shop with overpriced, mass-produced souvenirs and a few bags of off-brand potato chips for desperation munchies. Why not escape the big city, have an authentic getaway, and do as the locals do…enjoy within your budget! Visit small towns across America and soak in real places loaded with charm, hometown cooking, uniquely crafted gifts, and a cozy, welcoming place to stay! You’ll save money while contributing to the hard-working business owners as well as keeping culture alive! Now, relax and enjoy this journey through ten affordable small towns that you don’t want to miss!
Banner Elk, North Carolina
Here is a picturesque NC town located near affordable skiing. Ski into a yurt for a quick drink to warm up and get the circulation going. This reasonably priced foodie destination also includes a farm to meet Alpacas and purchase sheared wool souvenirs, a winery for tasting before buying as well as wine and chocolate pairing. End your evening with inexpensive local theater entertainment.
Also known as Carmel by the Sea, this one square mile village on California's central coast is filled with fairytale-like cottages. It is rated as one of America's top beach towns as well as the cleanest and most beautiful beaches. There’s nothing like free when you’re looking for a bargain! That’s the exact cost of walking along Scenic Road where utterly breathtaking ocean views will fill your senses and camera. More affordability comes with the sampling of cheeses and treats from around the world at The Cheese Shop. Ease into the afternoon with a stroll through vineyards and villages as you head toward evening sipping on local wines.
Deer Island, Maine
Deer Island gives a Bar Harbor experience minus the crowds. Head slightly north to enjoy authenticity without the touristy touch. Pilgrims Inn is a unique alternative to hotels with beams as old as America itself but still indulging in modern, yet cozy touches. You won't go hungry with continuous fresh baked cookies available. Breakfast is made to order from the onsite garden with easy dietary/allergy accommodations. In June and July, the purple Lupines show off against the red Pilgrims Inn structure. This small town hits the mark on Maine experiences with lobster rolls, quaint coffee shops, and the cutest surprises like Pugnuts Ice Cream…loaded with photo-worthy precious pug decor!
If you have always dreamed of a visit to Germany but the budget says “no”, you can get a taste of a Bavarian alpine village in the heart of North Georgia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Stay in an adorable chalet, dine on German cuisine…some overlooking the rolling Chattahoochee river, visit unique shops or stop by for a funnel cake while strolling down the cobblestone walkways. Watch fudge and other chocolate treats being made at Hansel and Gretel's Chocolate Shoppe. Cool off on hot days with a $10 deal on a two-hour tubing trip or choose a free scenic riverfront walk. If you like a party atmosphere, Oktoberfest is a huge celebration in Helen but at other times of the year, you can choose a simple, quiet, picturesque stay. Also keep in mind close by adventures at Unicoi State Park and Anna Ruby Falls, just one mile away.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
This magnificent Teton mountain location can be very touristy but is totally a small town! Skip the ski resort hotels and nestle into pure comfort at The Alpine House. Located just off the town square, you will awaken to an on-site chef preparing a breakfast of sizzling bacon, customized omelets, pancakes, and fresh fruit..all included in your stay! Available all day and night is fresh roasted hot coffee made right there in Jackson Hole. Not quite ready for bed? Take the chill off by the centrally located fireplace in a cozy living room atmosphere. You’ll feel the comfort of a truly breathtaking mountain location filled with western shopping, snow tubing, and ski slopes!
Key West, Florida
A part of Florida with the look and feel of a tropical island, Key West takes you back to Havana in the ’50s. A stay at Ibis Bay gives you a refreshing, quirky resort with white sand right up to the guest rooms. As you walk across the grounds it’s common to be greeted by a bright green iguana, huge turtles, and colorful parrots. There are 80 hammocks for lazy days plus poolside drive-in movies. Relax at night with guided LED kayaking and up-close sea life. The local staff is happy to direct you to restaurants and activities for a true island experience! They also have a complimentary tropical transfer service to the city center!
Laguna Beach, Florida
Less island and more traditional Florida, Laguna Beach is just down the road from the hubbub of PCB with the peace and serenity you need for a true beach vacation. Surrounded by the breathtaking aqua Gulf of Mexico with famous Thomas’ Donuts and Ice Cream, seafood, all-you-can-eat crab legs, shopping, and entertainment of all sorts, Laguna Beach will be a place you won’t say goodbye to…just see ya later!
Old Town Albuquerque, New Mexico
If you want to visit two completely diverse places and experiences in one trip, head to Albuquerque! You’ll get the feel of Mexico with the Adobe architecture, authentic Mexican food, and interesting art and shopping. Depending on the time of year, you can hop in your car and within an hour or so be in the snow-covered mountains for a winter wonderland adventure! One place, two totally different worlds in one amazing vacation!
Bend is crazy crowded but nearby is Sisters Oregon with an incredible view of Three Sisters Mountain, also known as volcanic peaks. This unique town is loaded with small businesses and is on the cusp of Deschutes National Forest. Satisfy all of your outdoor desires and activities while stopping by The Smokehouse to load up on fresh-made jerky. Start or end your day at Angeline’s Bakery and a melt in your mouth marionberry scone which is a Northwest-specific berry similar to a blackberry.
When you want to take it easy, consider visiting Winslow Arizona! You know, it’s that place where you can stand on the corner with such fine sights to see! Among those sights is the 70’s man in jeans and boots complete with guitar…perfect for photo options! Explore and keep an eye out for ghosts at the Apache Death Cave, also located on the famous Route 66. When it’s time to rest, a room at La Posada is a hidden treasure where each room is different, many with handmade Ponderosa pine beds from decades ago and mosaic-tiled bathrooms…a classic Arizona look! With the five-star Flatbed Ford Café, The Turquoise Room, Sipp Shoppe, and more…you’ll be glad you slowed down to take a look!