Cheapest Destinations in Florida: 9 Affordable Places To See

Florida
Photo by Denys Kostyuchenko via Unsplash
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Going on vacation doesn’t have to be expensive. With its endless sunshine, miles of pristine coastline, ample opportunities for activities, and glorious landscape, it’s no surprise that Florida is a sought-after vacation destination. Orlando and Miami are often the first places people think of any going here can often cost a pretty penny, but we’re here to tell you it doesn’t have to be that way. 

There are plenty of cheap destinations in Florida that are often overlooked. From Cocoa Beach to St Augustine, from New Symrna Beach to Sarasota, these awesome fun-filled destinations are perfect for the whole family and won’t cost you an arm and leg to get there or vacation there. 

We’ve rounded up 9 of the cheapest destinations in Florida to give you an alternative to the main tourist hubs and hopefully save you a little bit of money, so you can enjoy a budget-friendly trip away.

1. New Smyrna Beach

New Smyrna Beach
Photo by twenty20photos via Envato Elements

Known locally as NSB, New Smyrna Beach is a low-key and one of the cheapest destinations in Florida. Famous for its award-winning 13-mile stretch of white sand beaches, perfect rip curls for surfing, and beach driving. It’s a family-friendly beach town, located an hour’s drive from Orlando. 

There are oodles of quirky shops and delicious restaurants, as well as plentiful accommodations within walking distance. This beach is easily accessible for all and even provides beach wheelchairs for those that may require them. 

The local area also offers a range of inexpensive activities from hiking, biking, kayaking, and surfing. There are museums and numerous art galleries worth exploring as well as relaxing and catching some rays on the beach itself. Boardwalks are a great way to see native birds and catch a glimpse of gopher tortoises. 

Traveling Cheap Suggested Budget:

Solo TravelerCouple’s TripFamily Vacation
Accommodation$46$52$104
Sightseeing$16$32$63
Food & Drink$16$32$63

2. Marathon

marathon beach
Photo by twenty20photos via Envato Elements

Marathon Beach is a hidden gem located along the Florida keys. It’s a delight for watersports enthusiasts, divers, fishermen, and bargain hunters. The city of Marathon offers some of the best boating activities anywhere in Florida. With waterside restaurants almost everywhere you look, you’ll be spoilt for choice for dinner with a view. 

For marine animal lovers, Marathon allows you to interact with dolphins at the Dolphin Research Centre, feed stingrays at Aquarium Encounters, learn about sea turtles at the Turtle Hospital, and enjoy nature and history at Crane Point Hammock and Nature trail. 

If you happen to be traveling around Independence Day (4th July) you’ll want to head to the beach for the celebrations which include food, music, drinks, children’s craft activities, entertainment, and an evening fireworks display to end the night with a bang.

Traveling Cheap Suggested Budget:

Solo TravelerCouple’s TripFamily Vacation
Accommodation$86$131$221
Sightseeing$27$53$106
Food & Drink$27$53$106

3. Clearwater Beach

Clearwater Beach
Photo by Robert Linder via Unsplash

TripAdvisor named the Clearwater beach as the nation’s number one beach in 2018 and it’s not hard to see why. It’s filled with natural wonders, pristine white sand beaches, and tranquil waters. 

From sunset celebrations with performers to parasailing and paddleboat dinner excursions, the city marina offers a wealth of watersports and day trips at the best prices. Clearwater Beach also offers a wealth of activities from swimming, snorkeling, and shelling to sunbathing, walks, and fine restaurants. 

If you’re into your major league baseball, then this is the place to be during training season as you’ll be able to cheer on teams like the Philidelphia Phillies and the Toronto Blue Jays at the nearby Dunedin. Not only is Clearwater Beach a cheap destination but it’s also very popular with locals and tourists alike. 

Traveling Cheap Suggested Budget:

Solo TravelerCouple’s TripFamily Vacation
Accommodation$72$93$160
Sightseeing$23$45$90
Food & Drink$23$45$90

4. St. George Island

Boardwalk on St George island
Photo by Clayton Malquist via Unsplash

Located just of North Florida’s Gulf Coast, St George Island is an unspoiled barrier island that provides the perfect tranquil destination for your vacation. It’s home to St George Island State Park where you’ll find 17 miles of scenic bike paths, a massive variety of migrating birds, and one of the top beaches in the US.

The crystal clear waters are perfect for snorkeling and diving, as well as swimming and fishing. The island is protected by low-density zoning and strict building codes which means you won’t find a single high riser or chain store. 

Kayak, boat, bike, and scooter rentals are available for you to explore the island and marvel at the pristine marshland, and catch a glimpse of the extraordinary wildlife that lives there. The island is also a great place to see the sunset. There is an abundance of restaurants and eateries that offer bayside and beachfront dining with spectacular views. 

Traveling Cheap Suggested Budget:

Solo TravelerCouple’s TripFamily Vacation
Accommodation$81$168$266
Sightseeing$26$50$101
Food & Drink$26$50$101

5. Amelia Island

Jacksonville city skyline close to Amelia Island
Photo by SeanPavone via Envato Elements

Located just off the northeast coast of Florida, Amelia Island has the allure of wide-open outdoor spaces, uncrowded beaches, and inexpensive travel. This secret island paradise is perfect for those looking to unwind, relax, and reflect in tranquility. 

Days on Amelia Island can be spent lounging on the pristine white beaches, cycling the many miles of bike paths, trails, and paths, or browsing the numerous shops in the historic downtown area. You can even take a guided horseback ride during sunset or indulge in a variety of watersports. 

Amelia Island also provides ample places to eat and drink, including Florida’s longest operating saloon. The Amelia Island Museum of History, housed in the old county jail, details the history of the island from the Timucuan Native Americans to the Victorian Elites.  

Traveling Cheap Suggested Budget:

Solo TravelerCouple’s TripFamily Vacation
Accommodation$98$139$232
Sightseeing$31$61$122
Food & Drink$31$61$122

6. Orange City

Daytona beach near Orange City, Florida
Photo by twenty20photos via Envato Elements

Orange city is one of the cheapest destinations in Florida for families. It offers the perfect mix of family-friendly activities, hotels, restaurants, and fun but without the hefty price tag. It’s known for receiving the highest accolade in the world for its water at the 1904 Louisianna Purchase Expedition.

Its also home to the Blue Springs State Park where tourists can swim, fish, and boat in St. Johns River’s biggest spring, where its forested banks and clear blue waters are the perfect combination for a summer vacation. 

Orange City, Florida provides art museums for art lovers, snorkeling and swimming for the water lovers, and the central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens are only 20 minutes away for the animal and nature lovers. 

Traveling Cheap Suggested Budget:

Solo TravelerCouple’s TripFamily Vacation
Accommodation$50$50$72
Sightseeing$15$30$60
Food & Drink$15$30$60

7. Everglades National Park

Everglades national park
Photo by Harry Collins Photography via Envato Elements

Filled with unparalleled beauty and an abundance of natural wildlife, Everglades National Park is a must-see when in Florida and it can be done on a budget. Here you’ll find many of the state’s wildlife in its natural habitat as well as a variety of flora. It’s the only subtropical preserve in North America, making it truly one of a kind. 

Many visitors to Everglades National Park can enjoy thrilling airboat and normal boat rides across the swampy grasslands, and can even hire a kayak if you’d rather go at your own pace. Although you’ll want to keep an eye out for alligators and avoid them. 

It’s not just the water that attracts visitors from around the world, the well-trodden Anhinga Trail, the Shark Valley footpath, and Mahogany Hammock boardwalk are all well worth the hike. There are campsites within the national park that allow you to stay overnight as well as a wealth of accommodation just a short distance away. 

Everglades city is known as the gateway to Ten Thousand Islands and plays host to the Everglades Seafood Festival. The city has a wealth of restaurants serving a range of cuisine so even the fussiest of eaters will be covered.  

Traveling Cheap Suggested Budget:

Solo TravelerCouple’s TripFamily Vacation
Accommodation$53$144$229
Sightseeing$17$33$66
Food & Drink$17$33$66

8. Ocala

Gainesville, near Ocala, Florida
Photo by Sean Pavone via Envato Elements

If you want to experience classic Florida adventure filled with canyons, horse farms, national forests, and some natural charm, then Ocala is the place to visit. It makes our list of the cheapest destinations in Florida as its transport systems, walkable areas, and numerous free attractions make it perfect for those on a budget. 

It’s one of Florida’s lesser-known cities so if you choose to spend your day in Silver Springs state park participating in boat rides, horseback riding, or watching the wildlife you can do so without too many people all queuing for the same thing. 

Hiking through untamed nature in the world’s longest sand pine forest is a popular way to spend your day while on vacation. The rolling hills and freshwater streams provide an appealing escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. You can even swim and snorkel in the tranquil waters of Alexander Springs or take a glass-bottom boat tour in the water park.

Traveling Cheap Suggested Budget:

Solo TravelerCouple’s TripFamily Vacation
Accommodation$58$76$129
Sightseeing$15$29$58
Food & Drink$15$29$58

9. Sarasota

Downtown Sarasota skyline
Photo by Sean Pavone via Envato Elements

Famous for its Ringling Museum, Sarasota is a seriously underrated vacation destination. Not only is it inexpensive but it’s also filled to the brim with hotels, shops, restaurants, and free activities. Situated between St. Petersburg and Cape Coral, Sarasota provides a unique blend of natural, historical, and cultural attractions. 

Whether you’re looking to relax on pristine beaches, immerse yourself in artwork, or get your fill of delicious cuisine, Sarasota offers it all. A leisurely stroll down Burns Court Area will take you past historical buildings, restaurants, art galleries, and boutiques. 

For a minimal admission fee, the Myakka River State Park allows visitors to enjoy lake views, hiking and biking trails, and the chance to see wildlife in its natural habitat. You can also view colorful flower displays at the Marie Selby Botanical Garden and observe marine life at the Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium. 

Traveling Cheap Suggested Budget:

Solo TravelerCouple’s TripFamily Vacation
Accommodation$51$61$92
Sightseeing$21$42$84
Food & Drink$21$42$84

People Also Ask

What Is The Least Expensive Part Of Florida?

When people think of Florida they immediately think of expensive places like Miami and Orlando, but the truth is, there are plenty of other cities and islands in Florida that offer some fairly cheap vacations. The cheapest place in Florida in terms of accommodation and free activities is New Smyrna Beach. 

The second cheapest destination in Florida would be Gainesville as it’s popular with digital nomads, students, and ex-pats. It’s an inland destination with plenty to offer in the way of shops, museums, restaurants, parks, and freshwater springs.

How Can I Go To Florida On A Budget?

A vacation doesn’t have to be expensive. With the right planning, you can enjoy a vacation even if you have a tight budget. In order to get to Florida on a budget, you’re going to have to consider different modes of transport. If you live in America you could consider making your vacation a road trip, if traveling from anywhere else looking for cheap flights or even multi-stop flights may be a good option. 

If you can travel in the off-season for places like Disney and anywhere else in Florida as prices tend to drop. During the holidays is often when flights, hotels, and attractions charge a high price. Also, when deciding on things to do, try and go for ones that have free entry or a minimal admission fee.

You may even want to choose camping over staying in a hotel and if your accommodation is self-catering, opting to eat in instead of at a fancy restaurant for a couple of nights will also save you money.

How Much Will It Cost For A One Week Holiday to Florida?

A vacation to Florida can be cheap or as expensive as you like, but seeing as this article is all about the cheapest destinations in Florida it only seems right to give you average costings for a cheap vacation. For solo travelers, the cheapest trip to Florida will cost you around $127 per day, and that’s only if you are willing to take standby flights, deal with possible inconveniences, and limit your travel expenses where possible.

For a couple looking to travel to Florida the cheapest, you’ll be able to do this for is around $204 per day (around $100 per person) however you’re more likely to spend around $300 per day including flights, transport, food, drinks, and sightseeing.

For a family of four, you’re looking at doubling that. The average price for a family of four in Florida is around $500 to $600 per day. But remember this is all dependent on where you stay, what you do, and where you go to eat. 

If you’re savvy enough, you can definitely spend less and still have some money left over for a few souvenirs.

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Justine King is from the UK and has been a full-time traveller and freelance writer since 2020 after a 6-year career in Hospitality. Clients benefit from her love and knowledge of the sector as she creates informative and inspiring articles to help guide readers totheir next travel destination.