Get travel inspiration for spring and summer getaways in the U.S. from Travel & Leisure’s list of the Best Affordable U.S. Cities. Plentiful urban parks, plus free concerts, low-cost historic attractions, tasty cheap eats and good beer make the cities low in cost but high in fun.
Texas came in with three of the top 10 – San Antonio, Houston and Austin – while Tennessee landed two of the top 10 spots for Nashville and Memphis.
Even though Washington, D.C., didn’t make the top 10 list, the city should be on it. All the Smithsonian museums offer complimentary admission, as do other city museums; the Mall and Rock Creek Park provide ample green spaces and inexpensive cafes and bistros bloom along the District’s blocks.
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Travel and Leisure’s Best U.S. Cities for Affordable Getaways
1. Kansas City, Missouri: Some visit Kansas City just for the slow-smoked barbecue. Stretch your sightseeing budget with free admission to three of Kansas City’s art museums, plus complimentary tours at the Hallmark Visitors Center and the Boulevard Brewing Company. Hotel prices remain low, with an average summer rate of $137 per night.
2. Nashville, Tennessee: Maintain your music budget by going to the early shows. At the Bluebird Café where a young Garth Brooks once played, the early show is free. Travel and Leisure’s readers also liked the local burgers, cafes and microbrews.
3. San Antonio, Texas: Remember the Alamo? It’s free, as are the other four historic missions in the city. Browse or bike along the Riverwalk. San Antonio can sizzle in the summer so consider this city for fall.
4. Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota: Parks, more than 20 lakes and 200 miles of biking and walking trails endear urban travelers who want to be outside much of the day. Affordable pubs and cafes serve good food and craft beer.
5. Memphis, Tennessee: Listen to free concerts at the Levitt Shell and pause to toe-tap along to the city’s many street performers. Memphis-style BBQ gets raves.
6. Salt Lake City, Utah: Readers like the city because it’s clean, family-friendly and reasonably priced. Save money by purchasing a Connect Pass that offers discounts on meals and attractions.
7. Houston, Texas: Dine on reasonably priced Tex-Mex fare, at such places as Ninfa’s on Navigation, an eatery claiming to have served the first fajitas in the U.S. Enjoy free outdoor classical music concerts at Miller Outdoor Theatre in Hermann Park.
8. Savannah, Georgia: Stroll through Savannah’s historic squares and along the river to admire the city’s southern architecture and charm.
9. Austin, Texas: Grab lunch from the city’s plentiful food trucks serving tasty and cheap eats. Listen to musicians performing at many outdoor, and often free, venues, as well as in Austin’s many clubs.
10. Providence, Rhode Island: The city’s lively arts scene is complimented by restaurants serving good food in a variety of price ranges. Stroll the self-guided, free, 2.5 mile historic architecture trail that connects the State House and Brown University. Take advantage of the moderately priced performances and programs at the university.
Follow Candyce H. Stapen on Twitter: @FamilyiTrips