Welcome to the Sunshine State, where the climate is pleasant, the beaches are stunning, and the opportunities for exploration are limitless. Florida is home to some of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, but it doesn’t have to break the bank to experience all the fun that the state has to offer.
Whether you’re a budget-conscious traveler or simply looking for a cheap getaway, there are plenty of affordable options to explore in Florida. From the breathtaking beaches of the Gulf Coast to the bustling cities of the East Coast, this article will guide you through some of the cheapest places to visit in Florida without sacrificing any of the fun.
Florida is a dream vacation destination for many beach lovers. If you do your homework properly, avoid tourist traps and bad deals, affordable vacations in Florida are not hard to come by.
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- How to Find Cheap Flights Each Time
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- How to Eat Cheap while Traveling
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Table of Contents
1. New Smyrna Beach
Located along the central coast of Florida, New Smyrna Beach is a perfect laid back beach destination which is mostly known for its wide white sand beaches, surfing, and beach driving.
Fewer crowds, cheaper prices than neighboring Daytona Beach, and lots of budget-friendly activities made it one of the best and cheapest places to visit in the US with families.
Cheap or Free Things to do in New Smyrna Beach
- You will find plenty of things to do in New Smyrna Beach. Explore the parks and trails which is home to local wildlife. Most of these parks are free attractions while some charge only for vehicle parking. Smyrna Dunes Park is highly recommendable for its fantastic surrounding views of the Indian River, the Atlantic Ocean, and Ponce de Leon Inlet.
- Just relax on the beach, watch surfing, and enjoy sunbathing.
- Boardwalks are the ideal place for native bird watching and gopher tortoises.
- People looking for romantic US getaways love to visit this place and take a romantic stroll along the Flagler Avenue Boardwalk with their partner.
- Kayaking, biking, fishing are other budget-friendly activities that people enjoy in New Smyrna Beach.
Cheap Accommodations in New Smyrna Beach
- Nocturne Motel (top location, the beach is just a 9-minute drive)
- Anchor Inn NSB Bed and Breakfast (Located in the historic district, a hot breakfast during their stay is included)
- Ocean Eleven Suites (a 2-minute walk from New Smyrna Beach, an outdoor swimming pool, free private parking and a garden)
Suggested Budget for New Smyrna Beach
I recently visited Orlando, Florida on a tight budget and was pleasantly surprised by the number of affordable activities available. We visited some of the free attractions such as Lake Eola Park and Disney Springs, and also took advantage of discounted theme park tickets offered by our hotel.
By staying in a budget hotel and cooking some meals in our room, we were able to save a lot of money on accommodations and dining. Overall, Orlando proved to be a great destination for a cheap but fun-filled vacation.
Cheap or Free Things to Do in Orlando
- Pay a visit to Lake Eola Park, a 43-acre park in the center of Orlando that provides free swan boat rides, a farmer’s market, and beautiful views of the city skyline.
- Discover Disney Springs, an outdoor shopping and entertainment complex with a variety of eateries and shops, live music, and street performers. Parking may incur a fee, but admission is free.
- Take a stroll along Park Avenue in Winter Park, a charming downtown district known for its upscale shops, restaurants, and art galleries. Free window shopping is available, and there are numerous eateries where you may have a coffee or a snack.
- Visit the Orlando Museum of Art on the first Thursday of every month for free admission and live music, art demonstrations, and food and drink specials.
If you are looking for an affordable beach vacation in Florida, visit Marathon, a hidden gem in Florida located in the midway down the Keys. Needless to say, Key West is an expensive place in Florida. But avoiding the crowds of Key Largo if you stay in Marathon, you can save a good amount of money.
Marathon is experiencing extraordinary growth as a cheap city in Florida. You can save more money on accommodation by reserving a campsite in Curry Hammock State Park, one of the best campgrounds in Florida. This city has ample opportunities for divers and water sports enthusiasts and is popular for its beautiful barrier reef.
Cheap or Free Things to do in Marathon
- Adventure seekers can enjoy snorkeling, kayaking, and standup paddleboard.
- Visit the Turtle Hospital for an educational tour with your kids and learn about the sea turtles.
- Go for biking or walking along the famous Seven Mile Bridge that leads to Pigeon Key.
- Discover the Curry Hammock State Park and spot the local wildlife.
- Enjoy swimming in the gorgeous Sombrero Beach, a famous turtle nesting beach. It has a free parking facility with a picnic area, a volleyball court, and a playground.
Cheap Accommodations in Marathon
- Sea Dell Motel – Marathon (top location: 0.7 miles from city center, less than 1.9 mi from Sombrero Beach)
Suggested Budget for Marathon
4. Fort Myers
With the long stretch of white sand beaches, uninhabited islands, and ample water sports activities, Fort Myers Beach is a popular beach destination in Florida along the state’s Gulf of Mexico coastline.
Fort Myers is so pleasant and liveable that visitors often like to spend more days with families and take advantage of everything it has to offer. The countless hostels, motels, and other types of accommodations give visitors plenty of options to find a place that fits their budgets. Hotels near downtown Fort Myers are a little bit pricey but they give you quick access to local tourist attractions.
Cheap or Free Things to do in Fort Myers Beach
- Explore the charming Downtown River District, and capture some beautiful photos of its buildings and restaurants. Enjoy the monthly Art Walk and Musci Walk Events.
- Stroll along the beaches and enjoy a shimmering sunset in the evening. Or enjoy the sunset from the water with this Sunset Sail tour.
- Fishing can be very interesting on the Fort Myers Beach Pier. Equipment rent is pretty cheap.
- If you traveling with kids, visiting Lee County’s Manatee Park can be a great idea. You can get an up-close look at manatees during the months of November to March and it’s completely free.
- Play mini-golf at one of the many area courses.
Cheap Accommodations in Fort Myers
Suggested Budget for Fort Myers Beach
Located at the far western part of Florida’s Panhandle is one of the cheap vacation spots in Florida. You will find no shortage of budget and mid-range chain hotels. Affordable condos are also available near the white sand beaches and bay.
Compared to major tourist destinations of Florida, Pensacola is relatively inexpensive and is more family-friendly than other premier tourist spots like Daytona and Miami Beach. It is one of the most popular places in the Florida Panhandle to live in. Besides its pristine beaches and resorts, Pensacola is also popular for its rich culture that can be seen in the downtown area.
Cheap or Free Things to do in Pensacola Beach
- Swim in the clear waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
- Don’t miss the stunts of Blue Angels at the Pensacola Beach Air Show. Visitors often see the Blu Angels practicing their maneuvers on most Tuesday and Wednesday morning.
- Enjoy Fiesta Das Parade, the annual 10-day celebration held in June.
- Watch a free outdoor concert during the Bands on the Beach series.
- Explore the Big Lagoon State Park and enjoy kayaking and hiking.
- Discover the Fort Barrancas, a national historic landmark, and know the history of the Civil War.
Cheap Accommodations in Pensacola
- Pensacola Victorian Bed & Breakfast (Top Location: 4.1 miles from center, offers a à la carte or American breakfast)
Suggested Budget for Pensacola Beach
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Ocala is a lesser-known place to visit in central Florida. Beyond the Florida beaches and theme parks, if you want to experience the classic Florida adventures with canyons, national forest, horse farm, and natural charms, visit Ocala, one of the most inexpensive places to visit in Florida.
Last year when we visited Ocala, we explored the scenic Silver Springs State Park, which offers activities such as hiking, kayaking, and glass-bottom boat tours for a minimal fee. We also visited the Ocala Downtown Market, a farmer’s market featuring local vendors and food trucks.
The city’s transportation system, walkable areas, and free attractions are perfect for seeing sites under a low budget.
Cheap or Free Things to do in Ocala
- Explore the Silver Springs State Park at your own pace by renting a kayak or paddleboard.
- The water in the park is crystal clear. Enjoy the famous glass-bottom tour that costs under $15.
- Stroll through Tuscawilla Art Park, view the beautiful sculptures and artwork, or join a cultural event that takes place here.
- Discover Ocala Historic Downtown Square, a cute little town perfect to explore on foot.
- Alexander Springs is a popular natural Florida springs where tourists can enjoy snorkeling, swimming in the turquoise waters. There are picnic areas, paved hiking trails around the spring.
Cheap Accommodations in Ocala
- Microtel Inn and Suites Ocala (hotel, top location: 11.1 miles from center, features an outdoor pool, free hot breakfast and free WiFi access)
- Silver Princess Motel (top location: 2.1 miles from center, offering an outdoor pool and free wi-fi access)
- Shamrock Cove Inn (motel, top location: 0.2 miles from center, just 10 minute walk to the historic downtown area)
Suggested Budget for Ocala
With lots of small motels and an abundance of affordable hotels, Sarasota is one of the best places to go in Florida’s Gulf Coast for cheap. Located between St. Petersburg and Cape Coral, Sarasota offers a beautiful blend of natural, historical, and cultural attractions.
The ‘underrated’ tag made Sarasota a pretty affordable and less crowded vacation spot of Florida. For relaxing holidays, pristine beaches, and great restaurants, you definitely need to consider visiting Sarasota.
Cheap or Free Things to do in Sarasota
- Bring your towel and sunscreen and enjoy the award-winning beaches of Sarasota such as Siesta Beach, Venice Beach and Lido Beach
- People of all ages can enjoy Siesta Key Beach Community Drum Circle that held on every Sunday one hour before sunset. Enjoy the drum music that creates a bohemian atmosphere.
- Take a leisure stroll along the Burns Court area and see several historical buildings and sites as well as a variety of restaurants, art galleries, and boutiques.
- Visit the Ringling Museum of Art and enjoy the special exhibition galleries at free of cost on every Monday.
- Visit the Myakka River State Park with a minimal admission fee and enjoy lakes, hiking, bicycling, and wildlife.
Cheap Accommodations in Sarasota
- Regency Inn & Suites Sarasota (motel, top Location: 2.8 miles from center, 2.500 feet from beach)
Suggested Budget for Sarasota
A popular romantic beach getaway in Florida and probably the best place on this list for travelers looking for great deals that fit into their budget, Clearwater is filled with natural wonders, dining, and sleeping options to accommodate even the tightest of budgets.
The amazing weather year-round, gorgeous white sand beaches, turquoise waters, and abundance of water sports and affordability draw countless tourists from all over the world. However, the town is also packed with nature trails, parks, and shops that are perfect for finding the best deals for all kinds of visitors.
Cheap or Free Things to do in Clearwater
- Rent a bike for the whole day and explore the city’s scenic trails such as Sand Key Bridge to Sand Key Park. Another way for immersing into the city’s atmosphere is to take a 2 Hour Guided Segway Tour, which will give you an opportunity to discover the best of Clearwater Beach.
- Don’t skip Downtown Clearwater Beach, a great place for walking, shopping, dining, and perennial entertainment.
- Watch the mesmerizing sunset from the Pier 60. Enjoy the nightly Pier 60 Sunset Festival and shop local handmade arts and crafts.
- There are several parks and nature trails in Clearwater. Enjoy the trails while seeing a variety of birds, alligators, turtles, raccoons, and much more.
- Take part in the yearly event at Clearwater Beach. Pier 60 Sugar Sand Festival held in mid-April each year and offers countless cool things to check out – from nightly fireworks to live jazz concerts.
Cheap Accommodations in Clearwater
- Private room Quiet but close to it all (homestay, top location: 3.9 miles from center, features year-round outdoor pool, free WiFi, free bikes and a shared lounge)
- Days Inn by Wyndham Clearwater/Central (hotel, top location: 4.8 km from center, 15 minutes’ drive from Clearwater Beach)
- Sleep Inn Clearwater-St Petersburg (hotel, top location, features a continental breakfast and heated outdoor pool with a hot tub)
Suggested Budget for Clearwater
Still, Looking for inexpensive weekend getaways in Florida? Visit Gainesville, home to the University of Florida. It’s not a beach destination, rather an inland vacation spot in Florida. Being one of the cheapest places to live in Florida, Gainesville is quite popular among digital nomads, students, and ex-pats.
From markets to parks, museums to freshwater springs, there’s such a huge range of things to enjoy in Gainesville for nothing, that you really needn’t pay for any entertainment while you’re here at all! You can spend a night here or can visit Gainesville as a day trip from Orlando.
Cheap or Free Things to do in Gainesville
- Visit the Florida Museum of Natural History. The museum has free admission. Don’t miss the Butterfly Rainforest, an amazing butterfly park. You need to pay small bucks to attend this exhibit. Buy your ticket here in advance.
- Enjoy a stroll through the Depot Park that features several little trails, a perfect dog-friendly place to relax or enjoy a picnic.
- Gainesville has ample trails and preserves that you can hike with your loved ones while enjoying the splendid scenery.
- During the hot summer months, dip your toes in the Ichetucknee Springs, a cool and free activity to beat the summer heat with your families.
- Watch the UF’s Bat Barn and Bat House and it is completely free.
Cheap Accommodations in Gainesville
- Comfy apartment next to Oaks Mall Gainesville (top location, features a private pool, grill facilities, free WiFi and free private parking)
Suggested Budget for Gainesville
10. Ponce Inlet
Located between New Smyrna and Daytona Beach, Ponce Inlet is not only a cheap Florida vacation spot, but it’s also one of the cheapest places in Florida to live and perfect for people who value nature, quiet and privacy. The area’s beaches are wide, clean and plain spectacular and perfect for families for its serene ambiance.
This charming seaside town provides ample opportunity for visitors to fill their stomachs and wet their whistle for half the price of some of Florida’s popular cities. There’s plenty of vacation rentals and affordable hotels around the area for those looking to sleep on the cheap.
Cheap or Free Things to do in Ponce Inlet
- Climb to the top of Ponce Inlet Lighthouse and enjoy a 360-degree view of the Atlantic Ocean from the top of this Florida lighthouse. There are a total of 203 steps but the trek to the top is well worth effort.
- Pay a visit to the Marine Science Center, a popular place for all ages, especially if you are with your kids, the journey through various marine life exhibits can be a fun experience.
- Visit the Ponce Inlet Historical Museum which is dedicated to education through the preservation of the history and cultural heritage of Ponce Inlet. There is no admission fee.
- Rent a kayak, canoe, or paddleboard and explore Wilbur Rose Blueway. If you are lucky enough, you can spot manatees, dolphins, and porpoises.
Suggested Budget for Ponce Inlet
Jacksonville, a city with a rich history and thriving culture, is one of the cheapest cities to visit in North Florida. While not as crowded as most of the South Florida cities such as Miami and Tampa, Jacksonville receives less footfall. The best part is being the largest city in the US, Jacksonville has numerous free activities and attractions to enjoy with your family.
From the impressive local museums, and art galleries to electic piers, historic attractions, and family-friendly beaches, there are tons of free and cheap things to do in Jacksonville. For its affordable lodging, food options, and pleasant climate all year round, many people come here who are looking for a cheap weekend getaway in Florida.
Cheap or Free Things to do in Jacksonville
- Stroll along Jacksonville Beach. The white sand beaches are never too crowded. Enjoy swimming or just relax on the beach and watch surfing. The beach is just a half-hour away from downtown Jacksonville and offers free parking.
- Enjoy the breathtaking view of the Atlantic Ocean from Jacksonville Beach Fishing Pier. There is a nominal charge to get access to the pier. You can rod and reels and try a hand in fishing. If you love fishing, check out other Florida fishing piers.
- Visit The Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens which offers free admission every Tuesday from 4-9 pm. Even if you are not an art lover, you will definitely love the garden that features pools, arbors, fountains, and sculptures.
- Ride the Jacksonville Skyway that transports passengers to popular city attractions and the ride is completely free.
Suggested Budget for Jacksonville
So, there are many budget-friendly places to visit in Florida. In fact, many people are moving to Sunshine State for its weather, scenic beauty, and affordability. But, there are also some reasons not to move to Florida. So be prepared if you are planning to move to Florida. If you are going to visit Florida for the first time, know what to pack for your Florida vacation.
But before you go, book the cheapest flights with wayaway.io. Be sure to find the most low-cost tickets to any destination you want!
Florida offers a wide range of affordable destinations for budget-conscious travelers to explore, from free attractions to discounted accommodations and dining options.
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1. Is it cheaper to visit Florida during the off-season?
A: Yes, visiting Florida during the off-season, typically from September to November or January to April, can often result in lower travel costs and accommodation rates compared to peak season.
2. Are there any inexpensive beaches to visit in Florida?
A: Yes, there are several inexpensive beaches to visit in Florida, such as St. Pete Beach, Clearwater Beach, and Daytona Beach, which offer a range of budget-friendly activities and accommodations.
3. What are some low-cost attractions to visit in Florida?
A: Florida offers a variety of low-cost attractions, such as the Everglades National Park, Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, and the Salvador Dali Museum, all of which provide unique and memorable experiences without breaking the bank.
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