The Best Budget Getaways In The South For 2023

If traveling more is on your list of 2023 to-dos, then it's probably time to start planning.

Adventure Awaits in Banner Elk, North Carolina, No Matter the Season

Instead of focusing on resolutions for the New Year, why not create a bucket list of things you’d like to do and experiences you’d like to have. If travel is at the top of your 2023 bucket list, then we say, it’s never too early to start planning. The beauty of travel is that it can be anything you want it to be. You can drive an hour down the road and feel like you’ve flown clear across the country. Or you can travel around the globe and still find something that’ll make you feel right at home. If you’re looking to travel inexpensively in 2023, the South is filled with wonderful places to visit without breaking the bank. From the Georgia coast to a city on the rise in South Carolina, these are the best places to travel on a budget in 2023.

01 of 10

Bentonville, Arkansas

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art (Bentonville, Arkansas)
Art Meripol

If you’ve never visited The Natural State, make Bentonville your first stop in the new year. The city is known for its world-class mountain biking trails, thriving art scene, and incredible farm-to-table restaurants. There are plenty of affordable Airbnbs, national hotels, and even bed and breakfasts where you can set up home base. Spend an entire day at the Crystal Bridges art museum and its satellite art space The Momentary where you’ll find performances, pop-ups, and a cocktail bar. The museum is free for all, as is a walking public art tour of the area’s more than 100 installations.

02 of 10

Raleigh/Durham, North Carolina

UNC Chapel Hill
Robbie Caponetto

Head to the Research Triangle and explore all that the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area has to offer. Start by touring the beautiful campuses of UNC, Duke, and North Carolina State University. You’ll get a combination of outdoor time and a lesson in how to properly appreciate architecture . After, check out a plethora of free museums including the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, North Carolina Museum of Art, and North Carolina Museum of History. For more outdoor time, take a hike at Umstead State Park or Durant Nature Preserve. Fuel up with a feast from Sister Liu’s Kitchen, where you can have everything frmo handmade dumplings, buns, and Chinese burgers.

03 of 10

Birmingham, Alabama

Sunset Over Birmingham, AL
Robbie Caponetto

With new bars and restaurants opening practically every week, the Magic City is just begging to be visited. Explore the James Beard-beloved culinary town delicious bite by delicious bite. You’ll get the high-quality eats of a larger city with the lower prices of a smaller town. Explore the new City Walk BHM where you can let the kiddos to run around on two playgrounds, play pickleball on brand new courts, check out the skaters at the Southeast’s largest skate park, or just take a stroll through the newly vibrant area.

04 of 10

St. Marys, Georgia

St. Marys, Georgia

Getty Images / Richard Steinberger / EyeEm

This charming coastal city is known as the gateway to Cumberland Island, but it’s worth a visit all on its own. There’s oodles of Southern charm, Spanish moss, and succulent seafood to be enjoyed. Visit Crooked River State Park for endless views of the waterway and great fishing. Take a walk at the Waterfront Park, and visit the Cumberland Island National Seashore Museum or Submarine Museum.

05 of 10

New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans

SeanPavonePhoto/Getty Images

There’s never a bad time to visit the Big Easy, and the best thing about the Crescent City is that everything it’s known for can be done on a budget. Want some beignets? You can get an order of three at the famous Cafe Du Monde for just over $3. Craving a hurricane? The legendary one at Pat O’Brien’s packs quite the punch with 4 ounces of rum and will only set you back $11.50. Of course, the people watching on Bourbon Street is always free. For dinner and a show, grab a po’boy at Parkway Bakery and Tavern , and take it to-go as you stroll around French Quarter to the tune of talented street performers.

06 of 10

Sevierville, Tennessee

Sevierville Tennessee cabin view

If it’s a National Park adventure you seek, there’s no better—or more affordable—place to visit than Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Escape the crowds and inflated prices of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge by booking a cabin in nearby Sevierville. You’ll get all the views and perks of being near the park, plus some fun add-on attractions like the Smoky Mountain Deer Farm & Exotic Petting Zoo and Forbidden Caverns underground cave and river system.

07 of 10

New Smyrna Beach, Florida

New Smyrna Beach Flagler Avenue
Robbie Caponetto

For a low-key beach vacation, the white-sand shores and turquoise waters of New Smyrna Beach, Florida always deliver. There are 13 miles of expansive shoreline to recreate on and around, as well as plenty of quirky shops, local boutiques, and great restaurants to check out. For a change of scenery from the gently lapping waves, head to the Marine Discovery Center to observe the Indian River Lagoon Estuary or climb 203 steps to the top of the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse.

08 of 10

Huntsville, Alabama

This is Big Spring Park in Huntsville, Alabama during the spring time.

gatorinsc/Getty Images

You probably know Huntsville as home to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, but as the state’s fastest-growing city, there’s a lot more to see in the Rocket City than just space shuttles and satellite systems. Take a self-guided tour of the city’s myriad breweries. See the work of talented local and regional artists at Lowe Mill Arts Facility at no cost, take a stroll around Big Spring International Park, or check out one of several farmers markets sprinkled throughout the area.

09 of 10

Greenville, South Carolina

Falls Park (Greenville, South Carolina)
Courtesy of the City of Greenville

This South Carolina city has been on the rise for several years now. It’s become so beloved that it’s beginning to rival Charleston and Hilton Head when it comes to Palmetto State hotspots. The city is awash with gorgeous parks and outdoor recreation areas that are all completely free to visitors. The 36-acre Falls Park on the Reedy is the crown jewel of downtown. The Prisma Health Swamp Rabbit Trail is known as one of the country’s best urban trails and is a huge draw for cyclists. Another great thing about Greenville is that there’s always something happening, so if no matter when you visit, there’ll likely be a free event—like a food festival or art show—to attend.

10 of 10

Banner Elk, North Carolina

Adventure Awaits in Banner Elk, North Carolina, No Matter the Season

Conveniently located on the Blue Ridge Parkway, this Western North Carolina mountain town is ideal for outdoor-loving travelers on a budget. You’ll see all the same stunning vistas that Highlands and Cashiers are known for, but you won’t have to break the bank to do it. Hike to the top of Grandfather Mountain, then reward yourself with a glass of wine at Grandfather Vineyard & Winery, which is located at the mountain’s base. Banner Elk exudes small town charm, but is just big enough to have plenty to do on a weekend away. It’s no wonder the town cracked Vacasa’s list of Top 10 Places to Buy a Winter Vacation Home , coming in at #5.

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