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5 Budget Friendly Beach Destinations

Tonya Prater, Owner

Are you longing for a summer beach vacation but don’t want to break the bank? Here are five budget friendly beach destinations you’ll love.

5 Budget-Friendly Beach Destinations in the U.S. to add to your Bucket List

The rolling waves, soft sand, and sparkling sun make a beach vacation a wonderful way to spend the summer. But not all beaches are created equal.

While some of the world’s most beautiful beaches can cost an arm and a leg to visit, there are a variety of amazing beach options that are a little more friendly to your wallet.

If you’re hoping to visit the beach this summer but don’t have a lot of money to spend, you’re in luck! These five budget-friendly beach destinations will give you a chance to enjoy the sun and surf without breaking the bank in the process.

Our Favorite Budget-Friendly Beach Destinations in the U.S. 

Huntington Beach

The pier at Huntington Beach California

For an amazing California vacation that doesn’t cost a ton, check out Huntington Beach. This 10-mile stretch of beach near Los Angeles offers tons of California fun without the big price tag that comes with other west coast destinations.

Known as Surf City USA, this awesome beach has a great laid-back California vibe and lots of waves that are perfect for surfing.

And you can spend all day and night at the beach without missing a beat – enjoy the sand and surf during the daylight hours then hang out around a beach bonfire in the evening, all for free!

Other great free activities at Huntington beach include the pier and the Surfer’s Hall of Fame.

You can learn more about Huntington Beach in this post —–> The Best Attractions in Orange County California for First-time Visitors

Clearwater Beach

Clearwater Beach Florida

This Florida destination offers all the beauty of other popular Florida beaches, like Miami, without the extra cost.

Located on the Gulf of Mexico, Clearwater’s beaches feature soft, white sand and beautiful crystal clear water. And in addition to its location on the ocean, you can also enjoy bayfront activities on Clearwater Bay.

In fact, the fact that this beach is on a bay is what makes it so affordable!

Save a few hundred dollars on your lodging by booking a room on the bay instead of the ocean. You’ll still get amazing views and access to lovely beaches without forking over extra cash for an oceanfront room. And there is no shortage of budget-friendly things to do in Clearwater Beach.

Head to Pier 60 for the daily free festival, check out the free concerts and festivals in the Cleveland Street district downtown or go for a hike at Moccasin Lake Park. You can also tour of the city and the nearby waterways on the city’s free trolley and ferry.

Beaufort

Beaufort South Carolina is a quiet, cute beach town.

If you’re searching for a budget-friendly option on the east coast, check out this South Carolina destination. My husband and I stopped in Beaufort and spent the night in the Walmart parking lot on our most recent van camping trip. I was really disappointed to wake up the next morning in this charming, historic town and not have more time to spend in the area.  

In Beaufort, you’ll find a variety of natural beaches, tons of local history, wrapped in a dose of southern culture. And you won’t have to spend as much to stay there as you would if you headed to more popular beaches, like Myrtle Beach. In fact, you can save even more by skipping traditional lodging and opting for a more natural vacation. Hunting Island State Park allows for beachside camping for a fraction of the cost of a traditional hotel. Just make sure to reserve your campsite in advance. The campground was full on our trip through. 

Beaufort also has a variety of budget-friendly entertainment options, from downtown Beaufort’s waterfront park for fishing and dolphin watching to the Port Royal Boardwalk and observation tower for a workout and amazing views of the coastline.

Panama City Beach

Panama City Beach in Florida

This classic Spring Break destination is a popular Gulf front choice for budget beachgoers. On top of a variety of budget-friendly hotels along the 27-mile coastline, Panama City Beach also has tons of budget entertainment and dining options. And this fun beach destination is home to a variety of budget-friendly outdoor activities.

Enjoy the natural beauty of the area at Camp Helen State Park, go fishing or scuba diving at St. Andrews State Park, take a ferry ride to Shell Island to spend the day on an undeveloped beach, window shop at Pier Park, or take in a round of mini golf with your friends. And during the summer months, you can enjoy the city’s free summer concert series each week at Aaron Bessant Park.

Cape May

Cape May New Jersey

Located at the bottom of the Jersey Shore, this budget-friendly beach is a great option for east coast families looking for a cheap getaway.

In addition to a variety of inexpensive restaurant options, Cape May is also home to a selection of great hotels with inexpensive nightly rates. But the best part about visiting Cape May on a budget is the variety of entertainment options available at this beach destination.
If you’re a history lover, you can enjoy a free peek at more than 600 preserved Victorian buildings throughout the city, take a look at a lighthouse built in the 1800s, and check out a World War II dive-bomber training facility. And nature lovers can enjoy the natural beauty of the area at the South Cape May Meadows or check out local sea life at the Cape May Whale Watch and Research Center. No matter what type of activity you’re searching for, there’s something for everyone in Cape May.

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