There are countless stunning places of interest to visit in the US. Even if there were time to see them all, most of us would run out of spending money after the first few headline attractions! But for every prestige museum with a hefty entrance fee, there are dozens of cheap or free vacation activities in every state in the land.

Finding these budget-friendly attractions is another matter – particularly if you’re looking for a particular kind of fun. So we decided to create the ultimate guide to the most affordable tourist attractions in America. Our researchers used Tripadvisor to search for the top user-rated attraction in each category for every state. The used ratings, and filters to discover the best budget-friendly zoos, parks, spas, and so on. And we made our results interactive, so you can narrow your search to the category you prefer.

Looking for aquariums in Alaska? The Alaska SeaLife Center offers special rates for groups of ten or more and discounts for residents of Alaska. Seals and sea lions, puffins, eels, and sea urchins are among the magical creatures awaiting your visit. It is even possible to upgrade your ticket for an encounter with a giant Pacific octopus! (Book online for an extra 10% discount).

How about nightlife in New Hampshire? Our research shows your best, most affordable bet is The Nashua Garden in the city of Nashua. The folks at Nashua Garden offer a sandwich menu that is hard to rival, with offerings such as the ‘Green Monster’ and ‘The Petrocelli’ available for around seven bucks. Wash it down with a cold beer at the bar, and once it has settled, then hit the indoor shuffleboard. What more could you want from a night out?

Every state in our interactive has surprise bargains like these, sorted by category and with an overall ‘best budget-friendly tourist attraction,’ too. Which one will you visit first?

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In order to create this interactive, our researchers used Tripadvisor to search for the top user-rated attraction in each category for every state. To specify the attraction, we first searched for the state, then selected “Budget-friendly” in the “Other” section of the filter choices. We then selected “Traveler Ranked” to gives us our selections. For our “Overall” choice, we chose the top attraction on this list. For the different categories of activity, we selected the desired type of attraction in Tripadvisor’s “Types of Attractions” filters.

In a small number of cases, this method of filtering failed to turn up a “Budget-friendly” attraction. In these cases, we instead used keywords such as “cheap” and “budget” in that state’s page on Tripadvisor. Then we evaluated which of the attractions from the results had a combination of good reviews and meaningful references to value for money. We chose the attractions that were reported as budget-friendly and highly reviewed for the final list.


To see the full research for this project, please visit:



Babs is Lead Content Strategist and financial guru. She loves exploring fresh ways to save more and enjoy life on a budget! When she’s not writing, you’ll find her binge-watching musicals, reading in the (sporadic) Chicago sunshine and discovering great new places to eat. Accio, tacos!