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6 Gorgeous Beach Weekend Getaways on a Budget

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Kate MurphyGuest Blogger
May 15, 2016 · 2.6k Views

If you have found yourself staring blankly at a stock screensaver of palm trees on a beautiful remote island, rest assured, you are not alone. Vacation season is approaching. But for many of us, that beach getaway filled with sun, blue waters, and ever-flowing tropical beverages looks out of reach. Time and money are the biggest obstacles. But what if it was possible to make that beach getaway, and do so in a way that is on budget and doesn’t result in you getting fired for skipping work. The thought is certainly entertaining. And with a little planning, can be put into action.

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1. Cape Ann, Massachusetts

Source: Vista Motel

When thinking about the New England Coast, Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard are the first beach destinations that to come to mind. But for those seeking New England’s salty charm on a budget, look to Cape Ann. Located 40 miles north of Boston, Cape Ann is an easy stop on the commuter train. The cheapest lodging options average out at about $125/night here. Another highlight of Cape Ann is that its spirit and history can be experienced without costing you much at all. A popular site is the Rocky Neck Art Colony, which has an art gallery and cultural center. There are a number of beaches great for swimming and taking in scenic views of the coastline. The Gloucester Fisherman’s Memorial is a must see and honors the thousands of fisherman lost at see in the first 300 years of Gloucester’s history.

2. St. Augustine, Florida

Source: Ocean Sands Beach Inn

Holding the title as the oldest city in the United States, St. Augustine is known for its beautiful beaches and distinct Spanish colonial architecture. Cut lodging expenses by staying at your pick of economy level hotels. Spend time walking the pedestrian-only streets of the city’s historic district where you’ll find a wide variety of shops and restaurants. San Sebastian Winery offers complimentary tours and tastings 7 days a week. And with over 40 miles of beaches, you’ll have no problem claiming a spot on the sand where you can relax with a good book while breaking to gaze at the serene ocean.

3. Outer Banks, North Carolina

Source: Smooth Spin

The Outer Banks of North Carolina boasts one of the best beach experiences on the East Coast. In addition to its tranquil sandy shores, the Outer Banks has much to offer those who are vacationing on a budget. Look around for great deals on affordable vacation rentals. Save even more by getting a group of friends together to go in on a house for the weekend. You can also keep expenses down by stocking up on food and cooking most of your own meals. The beaches are free and one of the few places left in America where wild horses roam openly. There are plenty of budget friendly things to do and see. Be sure to visit the celebrated Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, open to guests from April 17 to October 12. The enchanted Elizabethan Gardens are open year round. You can see where the Wright Brothers “taught the world to fly” at the Wright Brothers Memorial.

4. Los Cabos, Mexico

Source: YouTube

Located on the tip of Baja California Sur, Los Cabos offers a dual experience of the beach getaway. The region is divided into two parts. San Jose del Cabo maintains the look and feel of an authentic Mexican town, while Cabo San Lucas thrives on its nightlife scene. The area is lined with stunning beaches. But you’ll have to be content with enjoying just the beauty – many of the beaches are closed to swimming because of strong undertow. If you want to stay on budget, Jose del Cabo is the better choice. There, you can meander the streets lined with colorful colonial buildings, art galleries, shops, and restaurants. And numerous budget hotels make staying a weekend in Los Cabos very affordable.

5. Big Sur, California

Source: Nerd Travel Guides

Vacationing at Big Sur on a budget is possible, but you have to be willing to lodge about 45 minutes away. There, you’ll find economy level hotels costing about $100/night. The commute won’t have you complaining too much since the area is famous for its picturesque seaside vistas best viewed by car. For a truly great outdoors experience, pitch a tent at one of Big Sur’s state parks and stay the night for a fraction of the cost. Be sure to check ahead and see if a reservation is required. There’s plenty to do on the cheap. Keeping with the outdoors theme, hike the trails at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. And be sure to make the drive to Bixby Bridge, a civil engineering marvel renowned for its location and aesthetic design.

6. Palm Springs, California

Source: Perry Scanlon

While not exactly located near a beach, Palm Springs is an easy weekend getaway attracting visitors for its slow-paced vibe and iconic architecture. This desert oasis was a favorite spot of legendary Rat Pack. Don’t let its stylish reputation fool you into thinking your wallet hemorrhage here. You can find a decent hotel for $100/night or even less. The city offers many cultural and natural attractions for the budget-minded. See works by Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso, and Louise Bourgeois at the Palm Springs Art Museum. Hike the Indian Canyon Trails for pristine views of the mountainside wilderness. Observe the natural beauty of the desert at the Moorten Botanical Gardens.

With some creative thinking and resourcefulness, planning your next weekend beach getaway on a budget will be a breeze.


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Kate Murphy is a native of Pennsylvania. After receiving a degree in art history, she moved to New York City to test the waters. She enjoys writing about art, culture, fashion, design, and travel. In addition to writing, Kate works with artists, leads, street art tours, and moonlights as an illustrator.