10 Low-Key Vacation Spots That No One Can Afford Anymore

Double-check your favorite getaway spots to see how costs have changed.

Bass Head Light Acadia National Park Maine
Updated June 13, 2024
Fact checked

We receive compensation from the products and services mentioned in this story, but the opinions are the author's own. Compensation may impact where offers appear. We have not included all available products or offers. Learn more about how we make money and our editorial policies.

Some people love visiting major tourist sites, from Disneyland to New York City. But others prefer something more low-key.

Unfortunately, as those quieter spots become more popular, prices are soaring and jeopardizing the finances of anyone who travels there.

So, before you step up your travel game and book your next low-key vacation, double-check this list of places no one can afford anymore.

If you’re over 50, take advantage of massive travel discounts and trip-planning resources

Over 50 and love traveling? Join AARP today — because if you’re not a member, you could be missing out on huge travel perks. When you start your membership today, you can get discounts on hotels and resorts, airfare, cruises, car rentals, and more.

How to become a member today:

  • Go here, select your free gift, and click “Join Today”
  • Create your account (important!) by answering a few simple questions
  • Start enjoying your discounts and perks!

An AARP membership not only unlocks discounts that could save you hundreds on your next trip, but you’ll also have access to deals on vacation packages, guided tours, and exclusive content to help plan your next getaway.

Important: Start your membership by creating an account here and filling in all of the information (do not skip this step!). Doing so will allow you to take up to 25% off your AARP membership, making it just $12 per year with auto-renewal.

Become an AARP member now

St. George, Utah

jonbilous/Adobe Pioneer Park in St. George Utah

St. George is known for its beautiful scenery and vistas. It’s perfect for outdoor adventures to places such as Zion National Park, Arches National Park, and Bryce Canyon National Park, among others.

But the parks are also getting packed with tourists, and it can be hard to find affordable lodging close by. You'll also have to consider making reservations for some of the more popular hiking trails.

Sedona, Arizona

nikolas_jkd/Adobe hiker at Devil's Bridge Trail Arizona

Like St. George, Sedona has beautiful landscapes for vacationers to explore while hiking, biking, or off-roading.

The city has a population of around 10,000 residents but draws nearly 3 million tourists annually. All those visitors mean hotel rooms and short-term rentals are in high demand.

“Current development patterns have largely capped new developments in Sedona so it’s just for those who can afford it now,” lamented Reddit user Adorable-Bus-2687.

Asheville, North Carolina

SeanPavonePhoto/Adobe Asheville North Carolina USA skyline

Asheville is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, making it ideal for tourists who want to visit during autumn to see the leaves changing color.

But that means a lot of people want to explore Asheville, which causes hotel prices to skyrocket. If you plan to visit Asheville, skipping peak season might help you keep money in your pocket.

Earn a $250 travel bonus with this incredible card

There's a credit card that's making waves with its amazing bonus and benefits. The Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card has no annual fee and you can earn 25,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.

You can earn additional points just by using this card for your everyday purchases — unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases. The 25,000 bonus points can be redeemed for a $250 statement credit toward travel or dining purchases.

If you want to travel and dine out more, the Travel Rewards card can help you get where you want to go.

The best part? There's no annual fee.

Click here to apply now.

Santa Fe, New Mexico

SeanPavonePhoto/Adobe Santa Fe New Mexico vacant streets

Santa Fe is famous for its art galleries, historic sites, and outdoor activities. But as the tourists have flocked to the town, hotel prices have climbed.

A cheaper alternative might be to consider visiting other nearby towns that may not be as expensive, such as Nambe or Chimayo.

Bozeman, Montana

Jacob/Adobe Downtown Bozeman Montana in Summer

Bozeman offers plenty of outdoor activities. In the winter, hit the slopes at Big Sky Resort. In the summer, enjoy hiking or fishing.

But don’t forget to factor in additional costs if you decide to visit, especially in the summer months. “It's a tourist town and August is right in the middle of peak summer season,” said Reddit user Turkino.

It’s not just hotel costs that will hurt your wallet, but also car rentals. Reports suggest that the cost to rent a car in Bozeman has soared in recent years.

Carmel-by-the-Sea, California

Wallpaper/Adobe stores at sidewalk Carmel California USA

Carmel-by-the-Sea, near Monterey, California, offers beautiful beaches, historic sites, vineyards, and a diverse art scene.

It also has expensive hotels with some of the highest rates in the state. From 2019 to 2023, hotel rates rose by more than 30% in Carmel-by-the-Sea, far outpacing the rate increases in other California towns.

Bar Harbor, Maine

mandritoiu/Adobe Bar Harbor Maine during day time

Bar Harbor is the perfect spot to stay for a summer Maine vacation, especially if you want to enjoy nearby Acadia National Park.

But flights, hotels, and even restaurants may be more expensive than in other potential destinations.

“Expect everything in Bar Harbor to be expensive,” complained Reddit user _stickinapot.

Traverse City, Michigan

SNEHIT PHOTO/Adobe boats at Traverse city marina Michigan

Traverse City on Lake Michigan’s Grand Traverse Bay is the perfect summer spot, with its quaint downtown and access to the water.

But it also has seen an increase in summer visitors, leading to more expensive hotels, crowded sidewalks, and heavier traffic.

Alternatives to the city include Suttons Bay, Leland, or Interlochen. It’s also important to remember that the tourist season in northern Michigan peaks in the summer, so you may need to plan well ahead to lock in lower hotel rates.

Steamboat Springs, Colorado

James Roy II/Adobe Steamboat Springs Colorado during day

Colorado ski towns vary when it comes to how expensive they are, with places such as Vail costing visitors a huge chunk of money to visit during the winter.

In the past, Steamboat Springs was a low-key town that was still affordable. But it’s now becoming out of reach for some visitors. “Steamboat basically doubled in price from 2022 to 2023,” reported Reddit user JackedJaw251.

It’s also getting more expensive for workers to live there, causing prices to go higher. In fact, the city has had problems filling some positions because workers can’t afford housing.

Earn cash back on everyday purchases with this rare account

Want to earn cash back on your everyday purchases without using a credit card? With the Discover®️ Cashback Debit Checking account (member FDIC), you can earn 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases each month!1

With no credit check to apply and no monthly fees to worry about, you can earn nearly passive income on purchases you’re making anyway — up to an extra $360 a year!

This rare checking account has other great perks too, like access to your paycheck up to 2 days early with Early Pay, no minimum deposit or monthly balance requirements, over 60K fee-free ATMs, and the ability to add cash to your account at Walmart stores nationwide.

Don’t leave money on the table — it only takes minutes to apply and it won’t impact your credit score.

Apply for a Discover Cashback Checking account today

Charleston, South Carolina

f11photo/Adobe Charleston South Carolina empty street

Charleston has plenty of history and Southern charm. Visitors can take in the beach, go golfing, or explore the arts and restaurants around the city.

But it’s also getting pricey for visitors, with higher hotel costs and more expensive restaurants. “I have been considering a weekend trip to Charleston but many hotels there are very expensive,” wrote Reddit user AA950.

Why prices are rising

John/Adobe people walking on beach at sunset

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is still rippling through vacation prices.

Pent-up demand from when Americans couldn’t travel at the height of the pandemic is still causing more competition for hotels, airlines, and food. Inflation is also causing prices to rise.

It’s also important to remember that peak seasons can mean higher costs. So, one way to try to save is to consider visiting places during off-peak times.

Bottom line

Liudmila/Adobe people walking Joe Riley Waterfront Park pier

Fortunately, there are still some great places to visit where the cost to stay in a hotel or to rent a car hasn’t soared out of control.

To save more when you travel, do some research so you can find these affordable gems. Also, look for other ways to save. For example, savvy Costco shoppers might want to try booking their next vacation through Costco Travel to see if they can cut costs.

Easy-to-Earn Unlimited Rewards

Benefits

Card Details

  • Earn 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases
  • Earn 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases
  • Longer intro APR on qualifying purchases and balance transfers
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Apply Now
  • Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire as long as your account remains open.
  • 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases.
  • Use your card to book your trip how and where you want - you're not limited to specific websites with blackout dates or restrictions.
  • Redeem points for a statement credit to pay for travel or dining purchases, such as flights, hotel stays, car and vacation rentals, baggage fees, and also at restaurants including takeout.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days. After the Intro APR offer ends, a Variable APR that’s currently 19.24% - 29.24% will apply. A 3% Intro balance transfer fee will apply for the first 60 days your account is open. After the Intro balance transfer fee offer ends, the fee for future balance transfers is 4%.
  • If you're a Bank of America Preferred Rewards® member, you can earn 25%-75% more points on every purchase. That means instead of earning an unlimited 1.5 points for every $1, you could earn 1.87-2.62 points for every $1 you spend on purchases.
  • Contactless Cards - The security of a chip card, with the convenience of a tap.
  • This online only offer may not be available if you leave this page or if you visit a Bank of America financial center. You can take advantage of this offer when you apply now.
Bank of <span class='whitespace-nowrap'>America<sup>®</sup></span> Travel Rewards credit card
4.1
Apply Now

on Bank of America’s secure website

Read Card Review

Intro Offer

Earn 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases

Annual Fee

$0

+

Why we like it

Author Details

Jenny Cohen

Jenny Cohen is a freelance writer who has covered a bit of everything, from finance to sports to her favorite TV shows. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and FoxSports.com.