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
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.