13 Cheap Cities for Fun Summer Vacations

A cheap destination doesn’t have to be boring. Our list of cool cities includes places that are fun for families, solo travelers and couples.

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LISTEN: Rick loves cheap cities.

13 Cheap Cities for Fun Vacations

First, U.S. cities, followed by European favorites.


This city is cheap to fly to year-round, thanks to lots of airline competition. So much to do, too: Walk the 2.5 mile Freedom Trail, visit the Boston Commons, check out the fun nightlife, enjoy great seafood then head to nearby Salem for a ‘witch walk’ tour or visit the seashore of Cape Cod. Tip: The popular Six Flags over New England amusement park in Agawam, Mass. is a 90 mile drive from Boston.


The Big D is a newly cheap destination with low ticket prices from cities across the U.S. Check out the Cowboys new stadium, see pioneer-era homes or views of skyscrapers from the Geo-Deck at Reunion Tower then dine on excellent chili con queso. Tip: Zero Gravity Dallas describes itself as the “world’s only thrill amusement park”.


Raise a Coors to the breathtaking Colorado scenery in and around the Mile High City as you explore natural wonders like Rocky Mountain National Park, or go white water rafting and hiking (yes, they ski there, too, so come back in winter and spring). You can also visit Buffalo Bill’s final resting place atop Lookout Mountain or take in an art museum and trendy shops. Maybe you’ll even try a signature dish called Rocky Mountain Oysters (plenty of other cuisines, too, including French, Italian, Thai and on and on).

Ft. Lauderdale and Miami

These towns trade off on which is cheaper so compare fares to see the best deal from your town, or see both since they’re only 25 miles apart. Check out the dazzling night life in South Beach, ride the Intercoastal Waterway, and maybe even see an alligator at Everglades Holiday Park. Did we mention the gorgeous beaches?


Very reasonable fares thanks to lots of competition and so much to do: Mingle with the shoppers at Pike Place Market, see the so-kitschy-it’s-cool Space Needle, ride on the Seattle-Bainbridge Island ferry, take in the view from the waterfront, enjoy the wonderful coffee shops and maybe even tour the colossal Boeing factory in nearby Everett.

Washington, D.C.

This spring, we’ve seen some very cheap fares to the nation’s capital (especially from cities like Detroit and Hartford). Visitors should not miss the memorials on the Mall or the White House (contact your congressional representative well ahead of time to arrange for a tour); we also like the Newseum and the incomparable Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.


This city has been the reigning King of Cheap Europe for years, and makes a great jumping-off point for other capitals via cheap European carriers like EasyJet, Ryanair and others. But why leave, when you’re already in a magical land of ancient castles, art and literature, inviting pubs and all those rolling hills of green?


This year, Milan is one of the cheaper cities of Europe. Fly there and head to Venice, Florence or Rome by train but don’t miss all Milan has to offer including beautiful La Scala and Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece, The Last Supper. Tip: Lake Como is just 50 miles north.


Take your pick of Copenhagen, Oslo or Stockholm since all are good deals this year thanks mainly to aggressive moves by Norwegian Air Shuttle. We’re seeing the very best deals to Oslo but compare to see which city is cheapest from you. Plenty to do including exploring fjords and mountains, visiting a Viking museum or fairytale castle. Note: Denmark, Norway and Sweden made the top ten of the United Nation’s 2015 list of happiest countries on earth.


Do you really need to know what to do here? See the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, lots of exquisite restaurants and sidewalk cafes. This is Paris; just go.

*OK, it’s not truly cheap, but among the Big Three of Europe – London, Paris and Rome – this summer, it’s noticeably cheaper. Besides, it’s Paris!

See more in Rick’s latest column for ABCNews; see all of Rick’s columns.


Updated: April 29, 2015