Planning a staycation in the US is a distinct experience because of its diverse states, varied landscapes, and multi-cultural influences. Each state offers something unique to explore but exploration doesn’t have to be expensive. Here’s a list of 21 exclusive and affordable staycation destinations for 2021.
1. Wildwood — New Jersey
Wildwood is among the top choices for a staycation among families, especially in these uncertain times. The safe beach town with broad white-sand beaches and the fun-filled activities, retro vibe, and upbeat energy make Wildwood the staycation destination you are looking for in 2021. Bike through this Instagrammable city and soak in the essence of the city of smiles on your staycation.
Cheapest & Best months to visit Wildwood:
Visit just before or after summer (mid-July to mid-August) to avoid the peak season crowd and high prices. June and September are the best months to plan a trip.
What to do in Wildwood:
Wildwood’s Boardwalk, Doo-Wop District, and Doo-Wop Neon Nights Bus Tour.
2. Virginia Beach, Virginia
A great place to explore, relax and have fun on your staycation, Virginia Beach has amazing beaches, revitalizing spas, mouth-watering seafood, and plenty of activities in the outdoors. The vacation vibe of the town makes it a perfect destination for long stays while working. All seven districts offer something for everyone and you can plan a trip to all to experience the unique vibe of each one.
Cheapest & Best months to visit Virginia Beach:
Arrive in Spring (from March to mid-May) or Fall (between mid-September and November) for comfortable temperatures and lower prices. Spring is better for experiencing the beach culture.
What to do in Virginia Beach:
The Broadwalk, Vibe district for local art, hike at First Landing State Park, and enjoy fresh seafood.
3. Lake Powell, Arizona
Lake Powell in Arizona is one of the popular house boating destinations in the USA. The serene lake, colossal canyons, the quaint houseboats, its unique setting, and the easy accessibility to some of the most exotic American locations make Lake Powell a staycationer’s perfect den.
The plethora of activities in the outdoors, plenty of places to explore and the adventurous and laid-back life of Lake Powell is perfect for a staycation.
Cheapest & Best months to visit Lake Powell:
March (great deals on accommodation but colder water) and September (less crowd and warmer temperature) are great months to plan a trip.
What to do in Lake Powell:
Antelope Canyon, Rainbow Bridge, Free-flowing waterfalls, and drive-through slot canyons.
4. Atlanta, Georgia
A destination for foodies and history buffs, Atlanta offers the relaxation you need on vacation and the vibe you need for a staycation. It’s easy to stay entertained in this laid-back yet vibrant city. Enjoy their amazing barbeques and traditional dishes to have the local experience you need on a staycation. The southern charm reflects in Atlanta’s streets, restaurants, and culture.
Cheapest & Best months to visit Atlanta:
The best time to visit Atlanta is from March to May when the temperatures are mild and you can enjoy the city’s concerts and outdoor activities while avoiding the peak season.
What to do in Atlanta:
Georgia Aquarium, Fox Theater, breakfast at Stonehurst Place, and the High Museum of Art.
5. Seattle, Washington
Seattle is a lively city where you will never be short of things to do. The magic of this touristy city unravels when you explore it like a local. A haven for staycationers, Seattle is full of recreational trails, events, markets, outdoor activities, and amazing food options. The livability index, openness to foreigners, and the overall vibe of the place make Seattle the perfect destination for your next staycation.
Cheapest & Best months to visit Seattle:
The best time to visit Seattle is from September to October. During this period, the room rates drop and availability is high.
What to do in Seattle:
Pike Place Market, Space Needle, Chihuly Garden, and indulge in water sports.
6. Chicago, Illinois
There is no better place than Chicago to stay put while having the perks of sightseeing. One of the most active cities for a staycation, Chicago has events, festivals, and activities all year round. A fine blend of outdoorsy activities and relaxing spas, modern art culture and historic museums, lively activities, and quiet corners, Chicago has something for every staycationer.
Cheapest & Best months to visit Chicago:
The best time to visit Chicago is April to May and September to October. The temperatures are warm, you can enjoy the various festivals and the crowds are manageable during these months.
What to do in Chicago:
LakeFront trail, Shedd Aquarium, Skydeck Chicago, Field Museum, and Art Institute of Chicago.
7. Minneapolis, Minnesota
Home to some of the best museums and theaters in the country, Minneapolis is an affordable and exceptional city for planning a staycation. From its cultural richness to the scenic lakes & outdoor adventures to recreational and relaxing getaways, Minneapolis offers something to just about every type of staycationer.
Cheapest & Best months to visit Minneapolis:
You can plan a trip to Minneapolis any time of the year, each season has something special to offer. June to August marks the peak season with plenty of activities. Early fall is also a pleasant time to visit.
What to do in Minneapolis:
Science Museum of Minnesota, Guthrie Theater, The Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minnehaha Park, Hyland Hills Ski Area, and Gooseberry Falls in Two Harbors.
8. Tampa, Florida
Away from the mainstream touristy feel of Florida, Tampa is a tropical paradise for staycationers. The blue skies and golden beaches; world-class cuisines and a century-old Cuban culture, make Tampa one of a kind travel destination. Affordable homes, breezy bay areas, lush beaches, impressive craft beers, and a laid-back beach-town vibe makes Tampa a perfect staycation destination for families, solo travelers, and couples.
Cheapest & Best months to visit Tampa:
The best time to visit Tampa is from September to December. These four months of the year you will find dirt-cheap prices on hotels and pleasant weather.
What to do in Tampa:
Busch Gardens, Florida Aquarium, ZooQuarium, the Big Cat Rescue Sanctuary, and Tampa History Cruise.
9. Denver, Colorado
A passage to the Rocky Mountains and the starting point of one of the best American highways, Denver is blessed with a divine location for a staycation. Staycation in Denver means diving into the great outdoors, indulging in adventure activities like hiking & skiing, and sipping local craft brews in beer gardens. Explore new neighborhoods, or go hiking, hop on food tours or drive to the hot springs, there are countless ways to make the most of your time in Denver during a staycation.
Cheapest & Best months to visit Denver:
The best times to visit Denver are April-May and September-October. If you want to plan a skiing trip, the late winter months are ideal for a staycation to get cheaper deals and empty slopes.
What to do in Denver:
Larimer Square, Denver Botanic Gardens, Downton Brewery Trail walk, and Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art.
10. San Diego, California
San Diego gives you the best of California without burning a hole in your pocket. The proximity to beaches, the beautiful tropical weather, and the family-friendly vibe of San Diego are perfect for a staycation away from the crowds.
Cheapest & Best months to visit San Diego:
Fall witnesses lovely weather and plenty of festivals in the city. Spring is also a great time to visit San Diego with its pleasant weather and emptier shores. In winter (December to February) you get great deals on accommodation.
What to do in San Diego:
Mission Beach, Balboa Park, the San Diego Zoo, and La Jolla Cove.
11. Austin, Texas
The city of Austin is filled with the aroma of delectable food and tunes of soulful music. Austin is a city where anyone can live for years. There’s a charm about this striking city of live music and concerts that makes it a staycationers’ dream. With plentiful food joints & diners, outdoor escapes, and quaint streets, Austin is perfect for all kinds of travelers.
Cheapest & Best months to visit Austin:
Austin’s high season is mainly during spring and fall when the weather is mild and the city hosts a number of festivals, concerts, and parades. This is the best but the crowdest time to visit Austin, but it is relatively affordable even during the busiest times of the year.
What to do in Austin:
Lady Bird Lake trail, Barton Springs Pool, Mount Bonnell, Blanton Museum of Art, and Rainy Street.
12. Washington D.C.
Washington is a city built on culture, history, and the underground art scene. The electric atmosphere, white-marble monuments, museums, and the thriving art of the city, make Washington a must-visit destination for a staycation.
Cheapest & Best months to visit Washington D.C. :
The best time to visit Washington D.C. is typically fall (September to November). The weather is balmy, crowds are smaller and there is a lot to do around the city during this period.
What to do in Washington D.C. :
National Museum of Women in the Arts and Dupont Underground, National Arboretum, urban green trails, and local events of the city.
13. Portland, Oregon
Top-notch breweries, world-class coffee shops, and the hip vibe make Portland an excellent staycation destination. Portland is one of the most favored destinations among budget travelers, digital nomads, off-beat explorers, and staycationers because of its affordable lifestyle, buoyant energy, and immersive culture. One of the most progressive, creative, and inclusive cities in the US, Portland is home to several indie bands, gorgeous city parks, and casual food carts. One of the best parts about the city is how affordable it is for staycationers to enjoy budget-friendly activities.
Cheapest & Best months to visit Portland:
The best time to visit this outdoorsy city is from June to August. You can also plan a winter trip to avoid crowds and get better availability.
What to do in Portland:
Cannon Beach, Willamette Valley, street murals, food carts, Columbia River Gorge, and Mount Hood.
14. Newfane, Vermont
One of the lesser-known country gems of the US, Newfane has a very laid-back vibe for a remote staycation. A small hamlet with New England-style buildings, old-fashioned stores, and an early American architecture and county vibe, Newfane is great for those who want to go away from the buzz for a few days. A home away from home, Newfane is a perfect place to make friends, engage with the local community, and learn all about the old ways.
Cheapest & Best months to visit Newfane:
The best time to visit Newfane is from June until September, with pleasant temperature and limited rainfall, to explore the beautiful town.
What to do in Newfane:
Enjoy an easy-going staycation, visit the Dutton Berry Farm and make lots of friends.
15. MidCoast, Maine
Sandy beaches, rocky coastlines, crystal clear lakes, rivers, magnificent mountains, and countless other fountains of natural vistas flood the coastal town of Maine. Camden is one of the best places for a staycation in MidCoast Maine.
Cheapest & Best months to visit Maine:
It remains cold during spring in Midcoast, Maine until late April or May. Visit towards the end of the season to find quieter beaches and emptier bays.
What to do in Midcoast, Maine:
Explore lighthouses, walk along the beaches & coasts, hike around in the mountains & Lakes, savor the seafood & hospitality.
16. The Smoky Mountains, Tennessee
Stretching across the Tennessee-North Carolina border, the Smoky Mountains are exemplary for an outdoorsy staycation. The place offers endless adventures, from water sports to hardcore drives through the mountains. In the spring the lush valleys are covered in wildflowers and the views are spectacular. The local wineries and rustic holiday cabins make for a perfect staycation.
Cheapest & Best months to visit The Smoky Mountains:
The best time to visit the Smoky Mountains National Park is during June, July, and October. During the winter and spring, the park is emptier.
What to do in The Smoky Mountains:
Newfound Gap, Sugarlands Visitor Center, The Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, Dollywood amusement park, Clingmans Dome, and Abrams Falls.
17. Brooklyn, New York
Brooklyn is the perfect place for a relaxed summer staycation in New York, with easy availability of rental places and cafes, restaurants and bars along with beautiful beaches, live music, amazing street art, flea markets, best views of Manhattan, and history splashed all over the county.
Cheapest & Best months to visit Brooklyn:
Plan a trip to Brooklyn between April to early June, or September to early November. The major attractions aren’t swarming with tourists during these months, and the weather is pleasant.
What to do in Brooklyn:
OddFellows and -321º Ice Cream Shop, Urban Cowboy, The Box House, Coney Islands, and Brooklyn Bridge.
18. Borrego Springs, California
Although the town is tiny, Borrego Springs is huge on attractions. The quirky desert town with a fabulous art scene and beautiful natural vistas, Borrego Springs is a superb staycation destination because of its affordable prices, plentiful outdoor activities, and easy accessibility to the place.
Cheapest & Best months to visit Borrego Springs:
The wildflowers bloom from January to March, and the weather from October to May is great for hiking. Both the seasons are great for the outdoors and offer reasonable prices.
What to do in Borrego Springs:
The Slot Canyon Trail, Galleta Meadows, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, and Borrego Palm Canyon Trail.
19. Clear Lake, Iowa
Clear Lake in Northern Iowa is situated on a natural spring-fed lake making it a perfect staycation destination to live the lake-life with quality and affordable options for accommodation and restaurants along with marinas, state parks, historic attractions, and activities like waterskiing, fishing, and sailing.
Cheapest & Best months to visit Clear Lake:
April to October is the best period to visit Clear Lake.
What to do in Clear Lake:
Surf Ballroom, LakeTime Brewery, Central Gardens of North Iowa, and Maine Avenue.
20. Gulf Shores — Alabama
The town of Gulf Shores with its white sands, quiet setting, and cheap rates is a great staycation destination in southern Alabama with pristine beaches and exhilarating water sports activities along with museums, zoos, water parks, golf courses, and dolphin cruises to add variety to your staycation.
Cheapest & Best months to visit Gulf Shores:
March to May and September to November is a great window to travel. With lesser crowds and pleasant temperatures, you can enjoy the destination at its best.
What to do in Gulf Shores:
Visit Fort Morgan, Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo, Gulf State Park, Gulf Shores Museum, Orange Beach Indian & Sea Museum.
21. Lake Ozark
One of the top destinations for staycations in the USA, Lake Ozark boasts mesmerizing outdoors. The city offers stunning possibilities for a perfect staycation with the dense oak forests and stunning views of the lake, picturesque setting, hiking trails, wineries, and diverse flora and fauna.
Cheapest & Best months to visit Lake Ozark:
The ideal time to visit Lake Ozark for outdoor activities is from late May to late September. Avoid August as it is the busiest and the most expensive month.
What to do in Lake Ozark:
Shawnee Bluff Winery, Willmore Lodge, Lake of the Ozarks State Park, The Swinging Bridges of Brumley, and Bridal Cave.
A staycation is not about exotic destinations and luxury holidays, it is about quaint remote places and snug homes by the beach or in the mountains. A staycation in one of these places is an experiential journey of memories without spending loads of money.