Are you planning a Florida trip and looking for the cheapest places to visit in Florida? No wonder. The Sunshine State of the US has a lot to offer with a wide variety of places that can be traveled on a budget.
Florida is a dream holiday destination for many beach lovers. If you can do proper homework, avoid tourist traps and bad deals, an affordable vacation in Florida is not a hard job.
Check out our ultimate list of the best and cheap weekend getaways in Florida including everything budget travelers need to know to make their cheap Florida travel a success.
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#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.
Suggested Budget for New Smyrna Beach
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 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.
Suggested Budget for Marathon
#3 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.
- 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.
Suggested Budget for Fort Myers Beach
#4 Pensacola: Cheap Place to Visit in Florida
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. 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.
Suggested Budget for Pensacola Beach
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.
The city’s transportation system, walkable areas, and free attractions are perfect for seeing sites under a low budget. The mesmerizing Silver Spring is Florida’s one of the most visited tourist attractions.
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.
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.
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.
- 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 an 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 concert.
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 expats.
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.
- 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.
Suggested Budget for Gainesville
#9 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, 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, 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.
- 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.
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