Although the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has put a stop to almost all international, and in some cases domestic travel, there are still some opportunities to get a last-minute 2020 trip in the books. In fact, road tripping, camping, and staycationing offer up some of the most affordable travel accommodations.
In this post, we’re sharing three of the best budget-friendly travel destinations on the map and sharing some tips on what to do and where to stay when you get there.
1. Denver, CO
If you’re craving some outdoor adventure and an escape from crowded city life, Colorado is calling, and you must go. Known for its gorgeous mountain backdrop, adrenaline-pumping adventures, and its lax restrictions on cannabis (feel free to bring your non-psychoactive CBDfx or a nug of Girl Scout Cookies), Colorado is the perfect destination for a laid back trip.
While there’s plenty to see and do in Denver, the thing that makes Colorado especially cool is the plethora of free and affordable outdoor activities to take part in. From swimming holes and fresh mountain lakes to hiking, biking, and star-gazing, you won’t have to look hard to have a good time.
Here are some of our favorite budget-friendly activities in the greater Denver area:
- Lost Lake hike: Just about an hour outside of Denver near Nederland, Lost Lake is nestled among the mountains, wildflowers, and pines that mark Colorado’s signature beauty. This 4-mile hike leads up to a pristine, swimmable lake.
- Brainard Lake CMC Cabin hike: Ideal for winter snowshoeing or cross-country skiing, this 3-mile trail will lead you to the beautiful Brainard Lake, surrounded by the stunning Rocky Mountains.
- Golden, CO: Not far outside of Denver, Golden, CO offers up plenty of adventure — on the cheap! Rent a kayak, SUP, tube, or fishing equipment by the hour for some fun in the sun!
2. Portland, OR
It’s quirky, cool, artsy, and most of the time it’s gloomy, but Portland is one of the best budget-friendly destinations around the U.S. With tons to see on a walk around the block, PDX is perfect for travelers seeking unique culture, friendly locals, and incredible eats.
Here’s our short-list of things to scope out in Portland:
- Food trucks: You won’t have to look far to find a good meal on-the-go in the City of Roses. Food trucks line nearly every block boasting culinary creations inspired by cuisines around the globe.
- Breweries: As one of the craft brew capitals, PDX has more beer than just about any city on the map. We suggest Deschutes for some of the most stellar beers in Rip City.
- Multnomah Falls: This stunning 620 foot waterfall towers over the Columbia River Gorge just outside of Portland, making it a free must-see for all visitors.
- Cheese-tasting: If you’re a big fan of cheese and dairy products in general, visiting the Tillamook factory may be just the travel thrill you’re looking for. Try a few samples and take home some goodies straight from the source to create the charcuterie plate of your dreams!
3. Salt Lake City, UT
Similar in looks and activities to Denver, SLC is a hidden gem when it comes to budget-friendly vacations. Nestled in the Wasatch Mountains, Salt Lake City is home to nine world-class ski resorts sprinkled throughout the surrounding areas, including the skiers-only Alta Ski Area. In addition to wintertime adventures, SLC also has plenty of summer hiking, biking, and camping to be found in the nearby Uintas or just a few hours away where you can find Zion, Moab, and more.
Here are a few hacks to help you find your fun in the Beehive State:
- Car-free Park City: Summer Sundays on Main Street are car-free in this quaint ski town. Browse products from local artists, listen to live music, and grab a bite to eat as you stroll the streets.
- Mystic Hot Springs: Just a few hours outside of Salt Lake, Mystic Hot Springs is an eclectic place to warm up in the natural hot springs of Monroe, UT. Rent out a fully decked out hippie van or camp on your own while you enjoy these warm mineral tubs.
No matter what kind of budget you’re working with, there’s plenty of fun to be had out there. Feel free to use these tips as your guide and start exploring!