The Most Budget-Friendly Beach Getaway in Every State (How Many Have You Visited?)

Dive into the best inexpensive waterfront retreats across America.
Updated April 9, 2024
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Family playing at the beach

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The top beach destinations in the U.S. can be incredibly pricey in the summer (some are expensive year-round).

If you want to enjoy a beach vacation and keep more money in your wallet, you have plenty of options all over the country.

Here are the top budget-friendly beach vacation destinations in each state.

Alabama: Gulf Shores Public Beach

Larry/Adobe Boardwalk at Gulf Shore

Located at the end of Highway 59 in Gulf Shores, this public beach is a great place to kick back whether you’re staying for the week or the day.

Guests can sunbathe, play beach volleyball, hit outdoor bars, and much more along miles of white, sandy shores while keeping more money in their wallets than they would if they traveled further away.

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Alaska: Homer Spit Beach

LeePhotos/Adobe Alaska beach view

It may surprise those who don’t know much about the Last Frontier, but Alaska has some solid beach options, including Homer Spit, a bit of land that juts 4.5 miles into Kachemak Bay.

The beach area is filled with things to do, whether you’re looking to check out local businesses, shop, fish, or simply hang on the beach and enjoy the stunning scenery.

Arizona: Lake Havasu State Park

SNEHIT PHOTO/Adobe A view of Lake Havasu in Arizona

Dozens of campsites, beachside cabins, boat ramps, picnic areas, and more can be found at Lake Havasu State Park.

Hikers, campers, or those simply hoping to take in the beautiful shoreline can enjoy ultimate relaxation in the area without overspending.

Arkansas: Lake Catherine State Park

Thorin Wolfheart/Adobe Lake Catherine waterfall

Located on Lake Catherine in Hot Springs, this state park has a full-service marina where guests can purchase drinks, snacks, and fuel for their boats.

The park also has campgrounds, cabins, and even a rentable yurt. There’s no shortage of things to do on the water or in the beautiful surrounding trails.

California: Dockweiler State Beach

K I Photography/Adobe Lifeguard tower at Dockweiler State Beach

Not far from hotspots like Santa Monica Pier and Venice Beach, Dockweiler State Beach is a lesser-known option where guests can enjoy a stunning 3.7 miles of oceanfront.

With bike trails, picnic facilities, fire rings, and proximity to Los Angeles International Airport, Dockweiler is a great option for those looking to wander a bit off the beaten path.

Colorado: Cherry Creek State Park Beach

Faina Gurevich/Adobe Cherry Creek Park in Colorado

There’s plenty to do at Denver’s Cherry Creek State Park, whether you’re looking to camp out for the weekend or just spend a few hours.

This includes fishing, hiking, kayaking, paddle boarding, and jet skiing. Camping is also popular, but guests should make reservations in advance.

Connecticut: Hammonasset Beach State Park

Olga/Adobe Shoreline at Hammonasset Beach

Hammonasset Beach State Park includes more than two miles of beach where guests can enjoy a stunning shoreline, boardwalk, and more.

The park is also home to a massive campground, where guests have their pick of more than 500 campsites.

Delaware: Cape Henlopen State Park

jonbilous/Adobe Shoreline at Cape Henlopen state park

A beautiful park with a rich history sits at the mouth of Delaware Bay.

Cape Henlopen State Park offers more than six miles of coastline where guests can enjoy swimming, boating, fishing, kayaking, and more.

The area also has hiking and biking trails and nearby campgrounds and cabins.

Florida: St. George Island State Park

SR Productions/Adobe St. George Island State Park in Florida

A lesser-known but still stunning Florida beach, St. George Island State Park is located in the Gulf of Mexico.

Whether you’re looking to swim, sunbathe, fish, hike, camp, or simply enjoy the natural wonders, the park is a great option and far less crowded than other Florida hot spots.

Georgia: Driftwood Beach, Jekyll Island

Brian/Adobe Driftwood Beach in Georgia

Driftwood Beach is one of several located on Jekyll Island, just off the coast of Georgia. The beach gets its name from the stunning ancient driftwood that line its waterfront.

In addition to the beauty and serenity of the beach and surrounding area, the driftwoods make for incredible photo ops.

Hawaii: Hāpuna Beach State Recreation Area

Noradoa/Adobe Hapuna Beach State Park in Hawaii

Hāpuna Beach State Recreation Area on the Big Island offers beautiful beaches, picnic areas, a coastal trail for hiking, and breathtaking views.

Those hoping to stay in the park can rent cozy A-frame shelters that can sleep four.

Idaho: Bear Lake State Park

Armando/Adobe Bear Lake in Idaho

Sometimes called the “Caribbean of the Rockies,” you have to see the glittering blue water of Bear Lake to believe it.

The lake is partially located in Idaho (the other part is in Utah), and visitors can enjoy swimming, fishing, boating, and more.

The state park also features massive campsites that welcome thousands every year.

Illinois: Illinois Beach State Park

John/Adobe Illinois Beach state park

This state park is located along more than six miles of Lake Michigan in northern Illinois. Visitors can swim, boat, picnic, hike, and/or camp among carefully preserved natural beauty.

Those hoping to camp on the park’s grounds should make reservations in advance.

Indiana: Indiana Dunes State Park

Jon/Adobe Indiana Dunes park

Located on State Road 49 in Porter County, this state park features more than three miles of beach along southern Lake Michigan.

Guests can enjoy swimming, hiking, picnicking, fishing, a nature center, or simply take in the area's natural beauty.

Those looking to camp out in the area should consider making a reservation.

Iowa: Lake McBride State Park

madiff/Adobe Lake McBride at sunset

Iowa’s Lake McBride State Park is a great option whether you’re looking for a day trip or a long weekend away.

Guests can enjoy swimming, kayaking, paddling, fishing, and more in the lake and many hiking trails.

The park has two campgrounds, one with modern amenities and one without.

Kansas: Milford State Park Beach

avad994me/Adobe A lake in Kansas

Milford Lake, the largest in Kansas, offers more than 160 miles of shoreline where guests can sunbathe, swim, boat, fish, observe or photograph wildlife, and more.

The park is also home to campgrounds, cabins, RV sites, and a resort.

Kentucky: Kentucky Dam Village State Resort Park

Patrick Jennings/Adobe A beach park at sunset

There’s plenty to do in Kentucky Dam Village, whether you’re staying for the day or the week.

Swimming is available at a “public-access” sand beach on Kentucky Lake, but guests can also fish, boat, or bike and hike on more than 100 miles of surrounding trails.

There is a lodge, cottages, and campgrounds in the area for guests hoping to stay a while.

Louisiana: Holly Beach

Bonnie Taylor Barry/Adobe Holly Beach in Louisiana

Not far from New Orleans, Holly Beach — also known as the Cajun Riviera — makes for a great day trip.

A tranquil and remote environment makes it the perfect destination for those looking to bask in the beauty of the Gulf of Mexico without the crowds.

Maine: Popham Beach State Park

thomas/Adobe Popham Beach State Park in Maine

Just a few miles from Downtown Bath, Popham Beach State Park in Phippsburg offers a popular beach where guests can swim, surf, stroll, enjoy stunning wildlife, and more.

The park’s proximity to Bath (just 14 miles down Route 209) means there’s no shortage of things to do (and great places to grab a lobster roll).

Maryland: Assateague State Park

GordonVisions/Adobe Assateague Island in Maryland

Located on Assateague Island, this state park is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Sinepuxent Bay on the other.

Two miles of oceanfront allow ample space for visitors to swim, sunbathe, surf, and more. The park also has 342 campsites, with electrical hookups available in specific areas.

Massachusetts: Horseneck Beach State Reservation

Rayce/Adobe Horseneck Beach State Reservation in Massachusetts

While many are drawn to the beach, salt marshes, and beautiful protected lands of Horseneck Beach State Reservation every year, it’s still a budget-friendly spot for a tranquil beach vacation.

Guests can swim and soak up the sun along the miles-long beach, and those looking for cheap digs nearby can hit up local campgrounds.

Michigan: Warren Dunes State Park

EJRodriquez/Adobe Warren Dunes in Michigan

With three miles of shoreline, six miles of hiking trails, and plenty of campgrounds to choose from, Warren Dunes State Park along the shore of Lake Michigan is ideal for a cheap beach vacation.

Those not totally sold on camping can check out the park’s mini cabins.

Minnesota: Park Point Beach, Duluth

Jacob/Adobe Park Point Beach in Minnesota

The Park Point Recreation Area is located at the end of Minnesota Avenue and stretches between Lake Superior and Duluth Harbor.

While it’s a popular summer destination with plenty of room for swimming, sunbathing, grilling, boating, and more, financially savvy guests can also score some great deals in the area.

Mississippi: Gulfport Beach

Fotoluminate LLC/Adobe Gulfport Beach in Mississippi

Located along the Gulf of Mexico, Gulfport Beach offers serene views, many shops and restaurants, and proximity to many other fantastic beaches on Mississippi’s Gulf Coast.

Those looking for a bargain should see if they can land discounts or promotions at rentals in Gulfport or Biloxi.

Missouri: Long Branch State Park Beach

Kyle Spradley/Adobe Sunset at Long Branch Beach

Located off Route 36, Long Branch State Park offers a swimming beach on the Long Branch Lake shoreline, campsites, a dock for fishing, a marina, picnic sites, and more.

With hiking trails, boats and tubes for rent, and much more, there’s plenty to do whether you’re coming for a few hours or a few days.

Montana: Whitefish Lake State Park

Mark Peugh/Adobe Whitefish Lake in Montana

Plenty of people head to Whitefish Lake State Park just to take a dip in the beautiful and secluded lake.

However, there are many other activities to partake in — from hiking and biking to paddleboarding and water skiing.

The park also has 25 campsites with a mix of tent-only, bike sites, and RV sites.

Nebraska: Lake McConaughy State Recreation Area

bonniemarie/Adobe Lake McConaughy in Nebraska

Lake McConaughy, also known as “Big Mac,” is the largest reservoir in Nebraska and a hotspot for fishing.

The recreation area is also known to locals and visitors alike as an incredible place to swim, boat, water ski, picnic, hunt, camp, and much more.

Nevada: Sand Harbor Beach, Lake Tahoe

Alexander Davidovich/Adobe Lake Tahoe in Nevada

Visitors can find beautiful beaches with clear water, stunning rock formations, space to hang out (or veg out) among the cedars and pines, and more on Lake Tahoe’s eastern shores.

Sand Harbor State Park makes for a beautiful beach getaway, and for those who are into theater, it's also home to the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival every summer.

New Hampshire: Hampton Beach State Park

MontenegroStock/Adobe Hampton Beach in New Hampshire

Another beautiful state park with plenty to do and plenty of campgrounds (with full RV hookups), Hampton Beach boasts miles of stunning Atlantic Ocean shorefront.

It’s a great option whether you’re looking to swim, fish, picnic, or pull up the RV and stay a few days.

New Jersey: Island Beach State Park

cwieders/Adobe Island Beach in New Jersey

A lesser-known destination than many Jersey Shore hotspots, Island Beach State Park offers a more tranquil experience, stretching 10 miles between the Atlantic Ocean and Barnegat Bay.

Visitors can land a deal by looking for lodging in the area, and it’s just a short drive from the lively beach and boardwalk of Seaside Heights.

New Mexico: Elephant Butte Lake State Park

Rungroj/Adobe Elephant Butte Lake State Park in New Mexico

Elephant Butte is New Mexico’s largest state park and includes something for visitors of all sorts.

Catch some rays beside the lake before taking a dip, hop on a jet ski, or glide along the water in a sailboat.

The park also has an incredible 173 campsites, with several equipped with RV hookups.

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New York: Robert Moses State Park

Pat_Lager/Adobe Robert Moses State Park in New York

On the western point of Fire Island, Robert Moses State Park offers a nearly five-mile shoreline, plenty of beach shops and concessions, picnic areas with grills, golf, and more.

It’s located at the end of the Robert Moses Causeway and can be accessed by car or from the Babylon train station for visitors hoping to shop around for cheap accommodations nearby.

North Carolina: Kure Beach

Sean Board/Adobe Kure Beach in North Carolina

About 18 miles from Wilmington, this family-friendly beach with small-town vibes is a great place to spend an afternoon or a long beach getaway.

It’s also home to one of the oldest fishing piers along the Atlantic Coast, boasts an oceanfront park, and is close to the state aquarium at Fort Fisher.

North Dakota: Lake Metigoshe State Park

Tom/Adobe A shoreline in North Dakota

Lake Metigoshe State Park lies along the U.S.-Canada Border. Guests can play around (or fish, canoe, or kayak) in the park’s many small lakes or enjoy miles of hiking trails.

For bargain travelers, there are over 100 campsites in the park, plus cabins, lodges, and even dorms that guests can rent for cheap.

Ohio: Maumee Bay State Park

Tyler/Adobe Pier at Maumee Bay State Park

There’s plenty to do at Maumee Bay State Park, from golfing to hiking through scenic meadows and wetlands.

There are also two beaches where visitors can swim: one along Lake Erie’s shore and the other at the park’s inland lake.

The park also has a resort, cabins, and campgrounds for stays at all price points.

Oklahoma: Lake Murray State Park

Kit Leong/Adobe Lake Murray State Park

There’s plenty for outdoor enthusiasts to get into at Oklahoma’s first and largest state park, from hiking along miles of beautiful trails to fishing to swimming in the stunning Lake Murray.

Guests have their choice of bargain lodging options, with both campgrounds and cabins inside the park.

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Oregon: Cannon Beach

Bob/Adobe Cannon Beach in Oregon

You may know the beach (and its famed Haystack Rock) from its role in the 1980s classic “The Goonies,” but Cannon Beach has plenty beyond nostalgia to offer visitors.

The landscape and views of the coastline are stunning, there’s a vibrant village by the sea, and guests will have plenty of incredible dining and accommodation options to choose from.

Pennsylvania: Presque Isle State Park

Susan Vineyard/Adobe Presque Isle State Park

Presque Isle is the only real “seashore” in Pennsylvania (it’s technically a lakeshore, but visitors can certainly get a beachy experience).

The coastline that stretches into Lake Erie offers plenty of opportunities to swim, boat, fish, and more.

The park has no campgrounds, but visitors can land bargain accommodations nearby.

Rhode Island: Scarborough North State Beach

Adwo/Adobe Scarborough North State Beach

Just 35 miles south of Providence, the beach at Scarborough offers more than 2,000 feet of oceanfront and is an excellent spot for swimming, picnicking, sunbathing, fishing, and more.

There are plenty of hotels in the area at a variety of price points so that bargain hunters can shop around.

South Carolina: Myrtle Beach State Park

ehrlif/Adobe Pier at Myrtle Beach

A bit more off the beaten path than other Myrtle Beach destinations, the state park offers quiet, stunning greenery and nature trails, as well as the sun, sand, and surf visitors expect from the area.

The area has campgrounds and a huge selection of hotels so guests can shop around for deals.

South Dakota: Lewis and Clark Recreation Area Beach

Eric P Schmoeller/Wirestock Creators/Adobe The shoreline at Lewis and Clark Recreation Area Beach

Located in Yankton along the Missouri River, Lewis and Clark Recreation Area is a great place to swim, hike, bike, bird watch, and more.

The area has campgrounds as well as cabins and lodge suites for guests.

Tennessee: Reelfoot Lake State Park Beach

Chris/Adobe Reelfoot Lake

Reelfoot Lake is technically a flooded forest, formed when earthquakes hundreds of years ago caused the Mississippi River to flow backward for a time.

Today, it’s a unique and beautiful environment perfect for fishing, boating, wildlife watching, camping out, or simply enjoying the massive shoreline.

Texas: Padre Island National Seashore

haleturek.raw/Adobe Padre Island at sunrise

Padre Island is a narrow barrier along the southern coast of Texas. The beautiful coastline is ideal for swimming, sunbathing, fishing, camping, or simply enjoying the white sandy beach.

Primitive camping is available both on and off the beach, and an RV dump station and water station are available to all campers staying in the park.

Utah: Antelope Island State Park Beach

Heath/Adobe Antelope Island

In the middle of the Great Salt Lake, Antelope Island has beautiful sandy beaches, hiking and biking trails, and plenty of wildlife like free-ranging bison and bighorn sheep for enthusiasts.

Those looking to travel on a budget can pick one of many campgrounds to stay at.

Vermont: Alburgh Dunes State Park

Ferrer Photography/Adobe Alburgh Dunes State Park

Alburgh Dunes is one of the longest beaches along Lake Champlain.

Camping in the park is not permitted, but guests can enjoy the shoreline, picnic areas, grills, and more every day in the summer from 10 a.m. to sunset.

Guests should also check out the winding “beach road,” a short but stunning path between the dunes and the wetland.

Virginia: Assateague Island National Seashore

Nathaniel Gonzales/Adobe Assateague beach

There are plenty of natural wonders to enjoy on Assateague Island — and guests can swim, sunbathe, hike, bike, fish, and even take a beach horseback ride (seasonally).

The island, just off the East Coast, is partially in Maryland and partially in Virginia. If you want to camp out for a few nights, you’ll have to head to the Maryland side.

Washington: Ocean Shores

Reagan/Adobe Ocean Shores

This stunning seaside town has something for everyone — whether you’re looking to simply enjoy the beauty of the Pacific, do some golfing or bowling, or try paddle boarding or kayaking.

There are many accommodations to choose from, ranging from campgrounds to ocean resorts.

West Virginia: Tygart Lake State Park

Christina Saymansky/Adobe Tygart Lake State Park

Tygart Lake and the surrounding park lie in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains. Guests can enjoy the coastline of the massive lake, swim, kayak, boat, fish, and much more.

Camping, cabins, and lakeside lodging are available to accommodate visitors on all budgets.

Wisconsin: Harrington Beach State Park

Drake Fleege/Adobe Harrington Beach State Park

Harrington Beach’s shoreline stretches more than a mile along Lake Michigan, offering ample space for beachgoers to swim, sunbathe, and picnic.

The surrounding park also has hiking trails, campgrounds, and an observatory where guests can enjoy monthly public astronomy programs.

Wyoming: Hawk Springs State Recreation Area

Don/Adobe Kayaking in Wyoming

A small site packed with outdoor fun, Hawk Springs is great for swimming, boating, fishing, and more.

The area is also equipped with two dozen primitive campsites, picnic areas, fire rings, a boat launching ramp, a playground, and facilities for those camping out.

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Bottom line

wavebreak3/Adobe Family on beach

Savvy travelers can soak up the sun without overspending at one of these amazing (and cheap) beach destinations in every corner of the country.

You can also avoid wasting money on pricey hotels by sleeping on (or around) the beach in your tent and avoid the crowds that gather at summer hotspots at any of these bargain waterfront destinations.

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Laura Gesualdi-Gilmore Laura Gesualdi-Gilmore is a seasoned freelance writer who also teaches writing courses at Rutgers University. She's based in Jersey City and enjoys travel, live music and, of course, spending quality time with her pup.

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