affordable vacation ideas

Visit Atlanta’s Centennial Park. (Photo: Getty Images)

Tips + Trends

6 August and September Travel Destinations for Travelers on a Budget

Procrastinators, unite! Technically, summer stretches into early September — and in some destinations, summer vibes continue beyond that. So, it’s not too late to plan an end-of-summer vacation that won’t break the bank.

If you’re looking for some of the best places to travel to in August or September, these last-minute getaways offer fabulous accommodations and activities. Plus, they tend to be easy to reach and popular bucket-list destinations. Here’s how to enjoy them during the final days of summer.


As the home of the world’s busiest airport, Atlanta is easy and inexpensive to get to thanks to service from nearly every major airline.

Once you’re in A-town, many major attractions, including Centennial Olympic Park, the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Park and the Fernbank Science Center, are free of charge.

More expensive attractions like the Georgia Aquarium offer deals like Plan Ahead & Save pricing, where aquarium visitors can get a discount by booking tickets in advance and for off-peak hours. The Children’s Museum of Atlanta hosts Family Free Day, but the very popular event does require pre-registration.

Finally, early to mid-September is Atlanta Black Restaurant Week, celebrating the flavors of African-American, African and Caribbean cuisine and culture.

Palm Springs

Travelers in the know consider the summer months to be the best kept secret of the Coachella Valley. Yes, the temperatures in Palm Springs can be scorching, but there are ways to beat the heat, and you won’t have to battle thick crowds to enjoy the most popular attractions.

Enjoying the great outdoors is still possible in the heat, but it’s best to explore with a guide. State park volunteers at Mount San Jacinto State Park offer free guided nature walks, on Sundays through early September, of both the Desert View Trail, a 1.5-mile loop (beginning at 11 a.m.), and the Long Valley Nature Trail, a three-quarter-mile loop (beginning at 1:30 p.m.).

Art lovers can enjoy the free Villagefest art festival on Thursday evenings in downtown Palm Springs, where shops and galleries keep doors open late, or the First Wednesday Art Walk in the Backstreet Art District.


Where better to enjoy the last few days of summer than the City of Brotherly Love? Philadelphia is packed with historic sites (many of which are free to the public), public art, food markets and beautiful architectural spaces that host seasonal summer events.

Your first stop should be Independence Visitors Center, where you’ll get a free overview of the city as well as free tickets to Independence Hall.

You can also see the Liberty Bell for free (but be prepared to wait in line), and for entry to the Philadelphia Zoo, Franklin Institute and Barnes Foundation for a fraction of the regular price, check out CityPass.

Cherry Street Pier offers relaxing views of the Delaware River and free movies on Monday nights until late September, waterfront fireworks during Labor Day weekend, and recurring open-air markets.

San Antonio

people set down lanterns at an event at San Antonio's River Walk
San Antonio’s River Walk offers engaging events for visitors. (Photo: Megan John)

San Antonio’s major attraction, the River Walk, is free for everyone to enjoy. Make sure to check the calendar for late-summer happenings, which have included events like Wishing Lanterns night, where visitors cast illuminated lanterns into the river in honor of loved ones, hopes and dreams. The Labor Day artisan show is also one of the most popular annual River Walk events.

Nearby, the Alamo offers free admission to the Alamo Church — just make sure to reserve your spot online. (If you want to explore the rest of the grounds, you’ll need to purchase tickets.)

As summer is high season for San Antonio, a good investment is the GO Card, which allows visitors to explore up to five popular attractions and/or activities for one price, which adds up to a hefty discount on regular prices.

Portland, Maine

Maine is one of the most beautiful states to visit during the summer. The temperatures are comfortable instead of sweltering, and the sunshine lasts long into the evening.

If you can swing it, a midweek stay will offer the deepest discounts in and around Portland, as many hotels have specials that also include activities like rounds of golf, dinners and spa treatments alongside cheaper rates.

Friends of the Eastern Promenade hosts a free summer concert series in Eastern Promenade park on Thursday evenings, along with food trucks and beautiful bay views through late August.

Fans of the outdoors should also take advantage of Portland’s beautiful natural surroundings with a bike ride through the Fore River Sanctuary to view Jewell Falls, Portland’s only natural waterfall, or a leisurely stroll along the trails at Kennebunk Bridle Path.

Nantucket, Massachusetts

Two photos, one of drinks and one of a lobster dish offered at Cisco Brewers
Dig into local fare. (Photo: Courtesy of Cisco Brewers)

For some reason, most travelers assume that summer is over after Labor Day weekend, but plan on using every last day until the end of summer in September.

Nantucket is known as an island for those with deep pockets, especially during July and August, but once September arrives, everything changes.

Plan an early- to mid-September visit to Nantucket and you’ll often find slashed accommodation costs, no crowds and temperatures still in the mid- to high-70s, perfect for days spent bike riding, tanning on the beach or cruising on the ocean.

Farmers markets will reflect the beginnings of fall’s bounty. It’s also a great time to visit Nantucket’s local brewery, winery and spirits distillery, Cisco Brewers, which also offers public tours.