Crowded beach with umbrellas

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Best Cheap (ish) Beach Vacations On The East Coast

A beach vacation might be just what you need, but it might not be just what your bank account wants at the time. But there are beach destinations on the East Coast of the United States that are more affordable than others. These places have beautiful beaches, great beach towns, amusement parks, water sports, golf courses, and great places to eat. Here is a list of some of the best cheap beach vacations, including the most popular and even some lesser-known.

But before we go too far, let’s determine what we mean by cheap (ish). I know people who think $100 a night for a hotel is expensive and others who think $300 a night is a real bargain. As a parameter for this list, I’m considering the cheap (ish) to be $300 a day or less (for food, accommodations, and entertainment). You might think that’s too much, or you might think it’s way too little, but it works out to $2,100 a week for two people. This isn’t going to buy you luxury, but it also won’t put you in some dive motel along the interstate. Some areas will be less than this, and it will also depend on the travel dates.

Basic Money Saving Tips

No matter where you plan to travel, there are some basic money-saving tips you can use to keep your budget under control. These will help you find cheap beach vacations.

Tip 1: Travel in the shoulder season and avoid holiday weekends and the summer months. For most Mid-Atlantic and North East beach destinations, the shoulder season is May and September. The weather isn’t always as warm, and the water is not as swimmer-friendly in May, but school is not out yet, and tourists aren’t traveling as much. That means you can find a bargain.

Tip 2: Look for accommodations that aren’t right on the beach. A little drive to the beach can save you a ton of money. Sometimes, just being a mile from the water opens up a lot of budget-friendly choices.

Tip 3: Find a slightly less popular destination. You might love the idea of Hilton Head Island, but find a better price in Tybee Island. Being flexible can help you save and find cheap beach vacations.

Tip 4: Open up your accommodation options, including smaller inns, rentals, and B&Bs in your mix. Cheap beach vacations start with finding the best hotel or rental rates.

View of Ogunquit Beach
Photo by Natasha Miller courtesty of Unsplash
Ogunquit, Maine

Ogunquit is a beautiful New England seaside town surrounded by many other charming towns, including Old Orchard Beach, Kennebunkport, and Wells. The area offers excellent beaches and delicious lobster shacks, where you can indulge in lobster daily if you plan your budget well.

During the off-season, you can easily find hotel rooms within walking distance of the beach for under $150. If you’re looking for something more unique, check out Airbnb, where you can find cute cottages close to restaurants and the harbor that are perfect for walking or biking. For instance, you may find some great options for vacation rentals in July.

Setting sun along New Jersey Coast
Photo by Ryan Loughlin and Unsplash
Belmar and Spring Lake, New Jersey

New Jersey boasts some of the most popular Atlantic Ocean beaches in the northeast, with Belmar and Spring Lake being two of the best places to visit. This area provides easy day trip access to New York City for additional sightseeing opportunities.

In Spring Lake, The Chateau Inn & Suites offers comfortable shoulder season accommodations within walking distance of the beach, boardwalk, and great restaurants along the main street.

Ocean City, Maryland

The coastlines of Maryland and Delaware are dotted with wonderful beach towns such as Rehoboth Beach, Bethany Beach, and Ocean City. These towns offer sandy beaches and calm waters, making them the perfect destination for a summer getaway. Ocean City, in particular, boasts a famous boardwalk filled with food and arcade games, providing entertainment for the entire family.

Numerous accommodation options are available, ranging from rentals to large chain hotels. The Residence Inn by Marriott, located on the water, offers reasonable prices during the off-season. Alternatively, the Ashore Resort & Beach Club is another excellent option. The town of Ocean City is bustling with lots of dining and entertainment options, ensuring that there is something for every traveler in your group to enjoy.

Lighthouse on Tybee Island
Photo by Linda Gerbec courtesy of Unsplash
Tybee Island, Georgia

If you’re searching for an affordable beach vacation, Tybee Island in Georgia is an excellent choice! There are countless activities to do, with the main attraction being Tybee Island Beach, which is entirely free! You can spend your days relaxing on the beach, swimming, and basking in the sun. For a small fee, you can climb the Tybee Island Lighthouse, a historic landmark, and enjoy breathtaking views of the island.

If you’re planning a trip to Tybee Island, you’ll be happy to know that many great hotel options are available. Some of the top hotels on the island include the Desoto Beach Hotel.

Cape Cod, Massachusettes (Eastham and Wellfleet Area)

Cape Cod boasts some of the best dunes on the East Coast, making it an ideal destination to beat the heat during summer in the northeast. With miles of beaches, pristine coastline, and natural beauty, the entire Cape has much to offer visitors. While some parts of the Cape can be expensive during peak season, you can find better deals if you look beyond the popular beach towns like Provincetown. The towns of Eastham and Wellfleet have small hotels and rentals that are more budget-friendly.

If you’re looking for affordable accommodation options, consider The Seagrove Suites & Guest Rooms or Even’tide Resort. Both these places offer attractive prices even during the high season. Additionally, many rental options may fit your budget too.

Arieal view of Virginia Beach
Photo by Daniel Halseth and Unsplash
Virginia Beach, Virginia

Virginia Beach and the Chesapeake Bay region are home to many wonderful coastal towns that are perfect for exploring. Virginia Beach is an excellent choice for a family vacation, offering affordability even during peak season. It’s the quintessential beach destination, featuring a vast boardwalk and numerous restaurant options. Moreover, this town is an excellent choice for families looking for fun activities.

While rentals in this area can be more expensive, they are still a good option for larger groups. The Hyatt Place Virginia Beach is an excellent choice for accommodations right by the water. During summer, their prices are often below $300 per night.

Wilmington, North Carolina (Wrightsville Beach)

Wrightsville Beach, located in North Carolina, is a fantastic choice for those looking for a beach destination. Visitors will have no difficulty finding the perfect accommodation as plenty of hotels and rental properties are available. The beach is a wide expanse of soft sand, perfect for sunbathing, swimming, and water sports. In addition, the resort town is highly walkable, making it easy for visitors to explore all the attractions and activities. There are many great restaurants to choose from as well.

If you opt to stay within a short drive of the beach, you will be able to take advantage of great prices even during peak season.

Surfside Beach, South Carolina

South of Myrtle Beach lies the Surfside Beach area, which includes Garden City Beach and Murrells Inlet. The beaches here are wide and seem to go on forever in this part of South Carolina. Due to its proximity to Myrtle Beach, there are abundant activities to enjoy, such as world-class golf, boardwalks, and shopping opportunities, in addition to the best beaches.

Visitors to the area can find hotels for around $200 per night. Alternatively, several excellent camping options and rental properties are available along the South Carolina coast.

Saint Simons Island, Georgia

Saint Simons Island is a barrier island located along the coast of Georgia. It boasts expansive beaches, moss-draped oaks, and salt marshes once home to cotton plantations. Today, the island offers superb golf courses, miles of bicycle paths, great fishing spots, historic sites, and excellent restaurants. When you visit the island, be sure to climb the 129 steps of the Saint Simons Lighthouse for a magnificent view of the island.

Be sure to check out The Inn At Sea Island; it offers a beautiful resort feel for a more affordable price. But remember that Saint Simon Island will be a better bargain during the off-season.

Saint Augustine Beach, Florida

St. Augustine is a jewel located along the northern coast of Florida. The historic old town of St. Augustine, the oldest European settlement in the US, is just a short distance from the white-sand beaches that welcome beachgoers all year round. The main attraction here is the wide sand beaches, but you can also find several bargains during the summer season. You can stay near the beach or the city of St. Augustine to explore the many sights it has to offer.

You can find cheap beach vacations if you know how to find them. Consider traveling during the shoulder season, but by all means, avoid the major holidays. Look for places to stay a short distance from the beach. And avoid the most popular sites. This will help you find the perfect cheap beach vacation this year.

Below are links and resources to help you plan The perfect trip

Travel Resources

  • HOTELS
    Booking.com and Expedia.com are great resources for accommodations around the world. Book almost any hotel directly from these links.
  • TOURS
    The best places to book tours and activities are Viator or Get Your Guide . From great food tours to guided hiking adventures to local walking tours, you will find great experiences to add to your travels here.
  • FOOD EXPERIENCES
    EatWith is a great resource for authentic culinary experiences with passionate locals worldwide. Connecting travelers with hosts in over 130 countries, providing unique, intimate, and immersive experiences in private homes and exclusive venues.
  • TRAINS
    Trainline is Europe’s leading train and coach app. They work with over 210 rail and coach companies to help their customers travel to thousands of destinations across 45 countries. 

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