10 Best U.S. Cities for Budget-Friendly Summer Travel

By Laurie Kulikowski

NEW YORK -- Summer is here and that means Americans will be taking some much-needed vacation time over the next few months.

But not everyone wants to spend thousands of dollars on a vacation. Some are choosing staycations, while others look for affordable trips.

In order to help vacationers find the most appealing and budget-friendly destinations, WalletHub ranked the 80 most populated metropolitan areas on five main areas: costs and hassles of getting there; local costs; attractions; weather; and parks and recreation. Within those five areas, WalletHub then drilled down into 13 key metrics to measure each area by, such as: the cost and duration of the cheapest flight; the cost of a 3-star hotel in the area; the diversity of attractions, among others.

Check out which U.S. cities made WalletHub's top 10 list. TheStreet also provided additional wallet-friendly activities for each city.

10 Best U.S. Cities for Budget-Friendly Summer Travel
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10 Best U.S. Cities for Budget-Friendly Summer Travel
  • Cost and Hassles to Get There Rank: 41
  • Local Prices Rank: 18
  • Attractions Rank: 12
  • Weather Conditions Rank: 16
  • Parks & Recreation Rank: 19

Albuquerque is WalletHub's 10th best city for a budget-friendly vacation.

Any trip to the desert is certainly not complete without a ride in a hot air balloon over the Rio Grande Valley. Or if you prefer an activity closer to the ground, there are more than 60 well-established hiking trails crossing more than 150 miles in the Sandia Mountains.

Looking for a place to stay? The Hotel Andaluz features Andalusian architecture throughout the property, built in 1939 by Conrad Hilton (yes that Hilton) It was the fourth Hilton hotel ever built. The downtown boutique hotel also has a rooftop bar to take in the gorgeous New Mexico sunsets.

  • Cost and Hassles to Get There Rank: 30
  • Local Prices Rank: 47
  • Attractions Rank: 5
  • Weather Conditions Rank: 9
  • Parks & Recreation Rank: 23

Los Angeles may be a lot of things, but boring it isn't. Whereas other parts of the country see summer temperatures rise into the 90s and possibly over 100 degrees, L.A.'s average temperature in July is 71 degrees, perfect weather as far as we're concerned.

First, no trip to LA is complete without a walk down Hollywood's Walk of Fame or on a bus tour of Beverly Hills, Mulholland Drive, Bel Air and others to see your favorite celebrities' homes. Next, be sure to take in a Major League Baseball game at Dodger Stadium or hike into the Hollywood Hills to see the best view of LA and the San Fernando Valley on a guided tour.

Los Angeles was No. 5 on WalletHub's list for cities with the most attractions.
  • Cost and Hassles to Get There Rank: 4
  • Local Prices Rank: 22
  • Attractions Rank: 36
  • Weather Conditions Rank: 19
  • Parks & Recreation Rank: 28

Purchase a Dallas CityPass for reduced admission to the Perot Museum of Nature and Science; the Reunion Tower GeO-Deck; the Dallas Zoo; and the George W. Bush Library & Museum, among other places.

Sports lover? Take a tour of the AT&T Stadium, the massive football mecca where the Dallas Cowboys play.

Or looking for some free attractions? Be sure to check out the John F. Kennedy Memorial or walk through Freedmen's Cemetery Memorial, a pre-Civil War burial ground.

Dallas was ranked the No. 4 city with lowest costs/hassles of traveling there.

  • Cost and Hassles to Get There Rank: 13
  • Local Prices Rank: 2
  • Attractions Rank: 51
  • Weather Conditions Rank: 10
  • Parks & Recreation Rank: 48

A must-see for any visitor is the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, showcasing exhibitions of "turn-of-the-century town and interactive history galleries that focus on the American cowboy, rodeos, Native American culture, Victorian firearms, frontier military and Western performers," among other things.

At night, visit the shops, restaurants and river walk of Bricktown, once a warehouse district converted into a vibrant entertainment and dining area.

Oklahoma City was WalletHub's second best city with lowest local prices behind Knoxville, Tennessee.

  • Cost and Hassles to Get There Rank: 5
  • Local Prices Rank: 25
  • Attractions Rank: 10
  • Weather Conditions Rank: 38
  • Parks & Recreation Rank: 17

There is no shortage of activities and gastronomic fare in this city, known as the "live music capital of the world." The city is home to more than 250 music venues and has a big art scene. But there's plenty more to see and do. For some history, check out the Bremond Block Historic District, which showcases the nearly dozen remaining upper-class Victorian homes from nineteenth century Texas.

Looking for some good eats in the city? Franklin BBQ was not only raved about by the experts, but also by customers. Hope you're hungry early though because this establishment is only open for lunch.

Austin was ranked the No. 5 city with lowest costs/hassles of traveling there.

  • Cost and Hassles to Get There Rank: 27
  • Local Prices Rank: 16
  • Attractions Rank: 28
  • Weather Conditions Rank: 6
  • Parks & Recreation Rank: 36

Salt Lake City has a lot to offer the outdoor buff. While the city may be known for its proximity to some excellent skiing in places like Park City, it has plenty to offer for summertime visitors as well.

In Salt Lake City visit the city's historic Temple Square -- headquarters to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For additional historic charm, be sure to visit the Marmalade Hill Historical District, which shows off homes to Utah's earliest settlers. The streets and locations are named after the fruits and plants that early pioneers planted.

Elsewhere in the city, visitors can hike and bike plenty of mountains and canyons like Big Cottonwood Canyon, Ensign Peak, Little Cottonwood Canyon, Silver Lake, Lake Solitude, and more.

And while the city has historically had some unusual laws regarding alcohol, here's a primer on drinking in the state now.

  • Cost and Hassles to Get There Rank: 15
  • Local Prices Rank: 31
  • Attractions Rank: 1
  • Weather Conditions Rank: 12
  • Parks & Recreation Rank: 15

Las Vegas has worked hard to change its brand from Sin City to a place where the whole family can have fun. And the city has tons of family-friendly activities. A few favorites include the Discovery Children's Museum; the CSI: The Experience exhibit at MGM Grand hotel.

If you're willing to drive an hour southeast of Vegas, visit The Hoover Dam, on the border between Arizona and Nevada. Built between 1931 and 1936, the Hoover Dam was dedicated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, but "somewhat controversially named after former president Herbert Hoover."

Looking for a hotel to stay that's off the strip? There are plenty of options from the pricey to the wallet-friendly.

Of course, you can always try your luck at the city's numerous casinos.

Las Vegas was named No. 1 for most attractions by WalletHub.


Sources used by WalletHub: Data used to create these rankings were obtained from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Council for Community and Economic Research, Kayak.com, TripAdvisor, Travbuddy.com and WalletHub Research.
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