Fun Cheap Places to Travel


Mia Cuoio, Staff Writter

Exploring the United States on a Budget 

As a broke high school student, it can seem impossible to travel. However, there are many amazing places that you can go to with your friends for a fun and cheap getaway. There are so many places to go from fun things only half an hour away, to thousands of miles away. It may seem impossible, but there are many ways to travel cheaply that you will hear about and still have incredible experiences!  


Hiking and Lakes 

There are so many cool and fun places to travel to, and if you like the outdoors you might want to try going on some hikes and going to some beautiful lakes. Colchuck Lake is just outside of Leavenworth! It is an eight mile hike with incredible views of the icy bright blue waters. This hike is around 2,300 feet of elevation gain, so if you enjoy hiking this is for you. Also if you like to backpack there are established campsites so you can stay overnight safely. 

Another amazing place to hike is Diablo Lake; it’s located in the North Cascades, which is around three and a half hours away. Diablo Lake has mountain views, vibrant blue waters, and you can even take your furry friend with you. 

Crater Lake is another incredible place, but it is definitely a longer drive. It is located in Oregon National Park and one of the deepest lakes in the United States. This National Park is 183,000 acres, so there are many places to explore while you are there. You can go hiking, go to the lake, go camping, stay in the lodge, go to a restaurant, have a picnic, and check out the villages. Sadly, during this time because of Covid there in no lodge, camping, or food available. However, it is still open to go hike around and explore! Hiking is usually an easy go-to because it tends to be really cheap before you go, though, make sure to check their websites to see if you need to get a day pass or if you can pay when you get there!

Cool Places in Washington

While some thrive in their explorations of nature, others seek more urban adventures which Washington also offers. However, there are many fun places to go to with lots of amazing locations to explore and check out. One really intriguing city is Bellingham, Washington which is located around three hours away from Tumwater. While you are in Bellingham, a fun place to check out is the Fairhaven district. Fairhaven is a little part of town with cute shops such as bookstores, clothing stores, and little cafes. They are also famous for their art galleries, and they have some fine dining restaurants. Another fascinating place to check out is the Farmer’s Market. The Bellingham Farmers Market has incredible food, music, and cute little shops/tent shopping. If you’re looking for a more outdoor experience you should check out Whatcom Falls Park. Whatcom Falls Park has many great hikes, some of them even include an amazing waterfall, ponds, and creeks. On these trails if you don’t want to walk, you can take your bike and do some mountain biking or you could take your dog with you on your hike. 

Another unique place to check out is San Juan Islands, which is around a three and a half hour drive from Tumwater (plus a ferry ride which is easiest when you make reservations in advance).  The San Juan Islands consisting of Lopez Islands, Orcas Island, and of course San Juan Island, all have many fun things to do including hiking, kayaking, bicycling, boating/ sailing, whale watching, shopping, and dinning. If you are trying to keep your spending low, I would check out the hiking one great hike to check out is Lime Kiln Point State Park, explore their beautiful beaches, and do some cycling. They have some amazing views. The San Juan Islands are actually a world class destination for kayaking, so you should definitely check it out while you are there. If you have never gone kayaking before, you can take a guided tour or you could rent some kayaks with your friends and go. While you are there, you can even go zip lining on the island with your friends too. When staying in San Juan Island if you´re looking for a cheaper way to stay you can go camping or even glamping. If you don’t know what glamping is, it is camping with a little bit of a luxurious spin to it. At the campsite they will have a tent prepared for you and whatever size bed you want so that you can get the camping experience, but still be somewhat comfortable. If you do want to stay at a hotel there around $100 a night.

Lastly, Seattle is not too far away and it has some cool places to explore. While you’re in Seattle consider going to Alki Beach with your friends. This beach has bonfire pits that you can use for free and they are first come first serve, so make sure to get there early. Another thing to check out is the Pike Place Market; this is a popular place for a good reason. It is filled with hundreds of vendors selling various items such as food, flowers, and more. In Seattle there are also lots of intriguing places to visit and check out. This will require a Discovery Pass, but it is totally worth it. In addition to exploring the outdoors you should also check out the Volunteer Park Conservatory. This is an aesthetically pleasing indoor plant conservatory. While you’re there you can take cute pictures for your Instagram and explore hundreds of different plants. Also in Seattle you can go to Sunday Public Sail on Sundays and sign up to go for a free 45 minute sail boat ride around the South Union Lake. This is with a company called The Center for Wooden Boats. However, due to Covid this is not allowed so they have allowed people to have one free hour of taking a rowboat out. Feel free to check out this website where tons of frequently asked questions are answered and there is a lot of information about it too Lastly, before you leave don’t forget to check out their incredible food trucks with hand made delicious food. One place being the Pike Place Chowder which is actually famous for its award winning New England Clam Chowder on the East Coast. Then for dessert treat yourself at Daily Dozen Donut for some amazing “hot and fresh mini donuts” (cash only).

Cool States

While Washington has many fun things to do, sometimes it’s just nice to get out of the state, to explore something new and completely different. Some impressive Western states to check out are Utah, Arizona, Oregon, and California. 

In Utah there are many many things to do. Some of the most popular things are: hiking, visiting the Fifth Water Hot Springs, making your own soap at the Soap Factory, going to Sundance Mountain Resort, and going to the ghost town of Thistle. One amazing place to hike is Zion national park. It is absolutely beautiful and there are some amazing hikes. There are even hikes where to get to hike through water waist deep. When visiting Utah consider going on a hike or walk, because Utah is famous for its beautiful scenery. If you are not on as much of a crunch for money consider checking out a teen recreation center such as the Solomon Center with hundreds of things to do with any sport equipment you could want and even pools and hot tubs. It is located in Odgen’s Utah and is a must to check out with your friends. You can go skiing, snowboarding, and sledding too. Before you leave, consider checking out one of their many festivals such as the Sundance Festival or the Thanksgiving Point Tulip Festival to end your stay. 

Another cool state to check out is Arizona. Arizona is famous for its hot sunny weather, so you should soak up some sun in the pool and relax a bit when you get there. Arizona has lots to offer; one being their incredible scenery. There is the Grand Canyon, of course, and another really beautiful place to check out with tons of hiking is Sedona, Arizona. Sedona is a beautiful place in Arizona just by Flagstaff with red rock, while you are there you can go for a hike, walk, drive, and check out their shops. There are also lots of museums in Arizona that you can check out too such as the Phoenix Art Museum and the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. Arizona has many shopping centers and malls that you can look at and shop while you are there and make sure to check out at least one of their thrift shops. Then at the end of your trip make sure to hit up Baked Bear in Scottsdale, Arizona for their famous ice cream cookies sandwiches. 

Like Arizona, Oregon also has a lot of fun things to do. One cool city to check out is Portland. Portland has many things to do. One must-visit location is Powell’s books, a bookstore located in Portland Oregon. Powell’s Books has almost one million books and has 3,500 different sections of books; even if you aren’t big on reading you should go check it out. It’s actually one of the world’s largest bookstores that has new and old books. There is even a coffee shop inside, and lots of non-book treasures to be found. Another thing that is pretty popular in Portland, Oregon is Voodoo Donuts. This is a donut shop that makes all different kinds of donuts. They vary from Fruity Pebbles to cookies and cream to regular old maple donuts; if you have a sweet tooth, this place is a must. If you prefer ice cream, consider going to Salt and Straw; it has some of the best ice cream around and it even has vegan options. Aside from all the good food, consider getting around town by biking; this way you can save on gas and get the true experience. Bike lanes are abundant and biking allows you to access the river easily and cross over Portland’s many bridges without waiting in traffic.

As Well as Utah and Arizona, Oregon also has some beautiful hikes you can go on. One hike you can go on is called the Oneonta Gorge; this hike is only a mile long, but you get to hike through water that is waist deep. This offers a different fun experience to switch it up and try something new, plus the views are great. Another fun place to check in Oregon is Sauvie Island which is around 10 miles from Portland and has lots of fun things to do. You can watch the sunset and relax at the beach, go berry picking, go for a bike ride and explore the island. Before you leave Oregon don’t forget to stop and check out Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach. Haystack rock is in the famous movie The Goonies, so it is a must see; plus it’s on one of Oregon’s most beautiful beaches. As you can tell there are many fun things to do in Oregon and this is just a snippet of the many things to do in Oregon; so make sure you check it out with your friends and family. 

The last place you should checkout one the West Coast is California. When you go to California there are many things that make it seem like it would cost a fortune to do anything fun, however, there are many fun things to do and explore on a budget. To start off you have to check out some of the many beaches. One of the popular beaches is Glass Beach located in Fort Bragg, California which has sea glass all over the beach from broken bottles. Also when you are in California you must see the famous Golden Gate Bridge and take pictures for your Instagram. You can also take pictures while you drive though the Pacific Coast Highway; this is one of the most scenic drives in the country. It is a 656 mile stretch of highway and it has some of the most legendary views you could ever see. 

While you’re in California, another enjoyable place to check out is the Ferry Plaza in San Francisco. This is a farmer’s market with around a hundred vendors that sell delicious food. Heading south, one  fascinating place to go is the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles. The Griffith Observatory is a great place to get a view of the city and even get a picture with the famous Hollywood sign. Another super exhilarating place to visit is to go to Catalina Island and go zip-lining. This is a bit on the pricier side, but if you love an adventure and you’re not afraid of heights this is an experience that you will never forget. This is by Lang Beach and does have to be accessed by a ferry but is so fun and has incredible views. Like the Golden Gate bridge, Bixby Bridge is one of the most popular places it is a great place to take pictures and has spectacular views. It is located in Monterey Country, California. One really unique thing you can do in California is go to the Esalen Hot Springs which are located in Big Sur, California. These hot springs cost $35 to relax and rejuvenate your body, these and very soothing and good for your body. Plus the view you get while you are relaxing in the hot spring is breathtaking. 

As you might have guessed like the last couple states California has a ton of places to go shopping. You can find quite a range from designer stores to thrift stores; so there are plenty of options for whatever you desire. The last place you should consider checking out California is the Antelope Valley California Poppy Preserve in Southern California. The Antelope Valley is a state park with thousands of the state flower, golden orange California poppies. This is always a great place to take pictures and just enjoy the beauty of the wonderful outdoors. These couple states are just a few of the many in the country, there are some many cheap fun things to do in this country. So don’t be discouraged by the cost. There are plenty of exciting things to explore or cheap or even free.

How to Make Traveling Cheaper

When many people think of traveling one thing that can come to mind is how expensive it is. However, if you do it correctly you can travel for way less than you would have considered. First off when you travel you have to decide if you’re going to fly or drive a car. Usually, it is cheaper to drive this way you don´t have to pay for plane tickets. Although, if you do decide to fly try using the website Google Flight and don’t have a specific flight of time you want to go you can find flights as low as $40. So, you can think of it as a game of where you go, whichever flight is cheapest and that looks the most intriguing you choose and go to (@zacharyburrable (11/21/2020). This way it’s more adventurous and you can stay in your budget a bit better. Plus you can find anywhere to go all over the world or country. Another popular one is called Airfare Watchdog and it’s a newsletter that people can sign up for to get alerts on airfare deals also. 

When you travel, consider going with friends to make it less expensive because you can carpool and share costs. You can find cheap campsites all over the country that you and your friends can camp at. If you look up the area you want to stay, you can find lots of websites with campsites. This way you can choose one that accommodates your needs for wants, some campsites are first come first serve, but some are only reservable so be sure to check. Or, if you are looking for something a bit more comfortable you could rent out an Airbnb for a couple nights and split the cost with your friends. Another really cool thing you can do is house sit. There is this website called TrustedHousesitters where you can choose houses all around the world and stay there and watch their pets for free and in exchange you get to stay at their house for free (@kristinacors (9/8/2020). If you decide to drive here, consider bringing lots of food and snacks so you don’t spend a ton of money eating at fast food restaurants or gas stations. Another way to save money when going on a road trip with your friends is using a car that has good gas mileage and a lot of space. These are just some of the many simple ways to cut down the cost of traveling.


Traveling might not always be the cheapest thing to do, but there are many ways to make it less. One thing that is so fun about traveling is that you will never forget all the memories that you will make exploring the world, blasting music in the car on your road trip with your friends, or all of the late night adventures you will have. However, you might not get something physical to have when you spend money on traveling, but you will always hold all of your memories and adventures in the back of your mind forever.


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