• Yaa Asantewaa Faraji

Affordable Summer Travel Destinations: United States

Updated: Dec 14, 2018

Balboa Island, Newport Beach, CA

It’s that time of the year again! The globe gets warmer than its typical ozone-layer defamation, the kids are let out of school, paid vacation-days dwindle in favor of trips to distant islands — it’s the best time of the year: Summertime. In celebration of the Summer Solstice, beginning June 21, here are my top 5 sure-to-dazzle, go-to summer destinations that won’t break the bank (entirely).

5. San Francisco, CA

[Bernard Spragg/FLIKR]

Take a tour through the future in this size-fits-all town, equipped with just about everything for every kind of person all year round. Go salsa dancing in Jessie Square, catch a free film under the stars in the Presidio, go shopping downtown near union square, bike along the Golden Gate Bridge, stroll through Golden Gate Park or venture farther out to Muir Woods just 30 min north of the City. Feeling extra adventurous? Hit up nature’s paradise at Yosemite National Park, sip wine in Sonoma, catch some culture in Oakland or vibe for the weekend to more than 60 top artists at Outside Lands.

4. Philadelphia, PA

[Lee Cannon/FLIKR]

For the history buffs of the world, spend your summer taking a tour through the first capital of the United States, home of Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, the Rocky franchise, Cheesesteaks, Hoagies and the United States flag at the Betsy Ross House. Amongst the history and delicious food in the city of brotherly love, Philly hosts a stream of fun activities throughout the summer, including the Chinese Lantern Festival, Beer Week, PIFA, the Latino Film Festival, Center City Sips, the Odunde Festival and Wawa Welcome America.

3. Lake Tahoe, NV

Sand Harbor, Lake Tahoe, NV [Don Graham/FLIKR]

Amongst the many countries, cities and railways that have crossed my path, Lake Tahoe happens to place itself in the top 3 of affordable, peaceful summer vacations around the world. Just 4 hours north of San Francisco (a $100.00 plane ride from LAX, $300.00 from PHL), Lake Tahoe boasts 99% pure water, crystal clear swimming arenas (check out Zephyr Cove), a plethora of hiking trails (one of which including the breathtaking Cascade Creek Falls), clubs, casinos, dive bars and multiple picnic areas to chill for the night or multiple days. Feeling extra frugal? Do like my friend and I did this summer and turn your van into a tent on wheels to tour both North and South Lake Tahoe for the weekend, without that pesky lodging fee following you around for the duration of the trip.

2. The Wilderness

Yosemite National Park [Jonathan Fox/FLIKR]

There’s no better way to get in sync with the Solstice than in its playground, the great outdoors. Whether for camping, hiking, snorkeling, backpacking or sightseeing, the plethora of trails located around the world make this a trusty go-to for exploration. From the Mojave Desert at Joshua Tree, to Maryland’s Billy Goat Trail, and even Le Sentier du Littoral in coastal France, an adventure is just a hike away for all of us.

1. San Diego, CA

Gaslamp Quarter [Nan Palmero/FLIKR]

As a hidden gem — just behind the bustling Greater Los Angeles Area — there is a plethora of things to do in San Diego, at inexpensive rates. Go snorkeling, (paddle-boarding, kayaking etc.) dig for seashells, or grab a mojito on Coronado Island — or chill at its historic hotel (perfect for that Instagram finish), equipped with outdoor fire pits, sweet jams and the sunset. Attend one of San Diego’s many farmer’s markets, with more than 40 markets to choose from in the Greater San Diego Area. Catch free yoga at Sunset Beach, stroll through the picturesque rose garden at Balboa Park, take on the night in Gaslamp Quarter, or stop by one of the ITH Hostels for an international rendezvous you won’t remember in the morning. Summertime is San Diego.

In the midst of your solstice bliss, remember that the summertime has more to do with the people you surround yourself with, the memories you make and the lessons you learn. It has absolutely nothing to do with that awesome urban outfitters getup that got you 223 likes on Instagram (though that is a bonus) or that Snapchat story of you skydiving off the coast (yet still, also awesome). The point is, don’t sweat not being able to afford traveling domestic for cheap. In the spirit of good times and relaxation, all you really need is the right mind and good company — the key to having a good time, is wanting to.

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