Are you and your significant other in need of a vacation but worried about the cost? We understand, and we’re here to tell you it’s possible to find a place to recharge as a couple without breaking the bank. Here are 10 affordable romantic getaways in the south (and beyond). No expensive flights necessary.
If we told you to think of a cute small town with good shopping, great food, and a wonderful winery selection, your mind might go to Sonoma, California. However, tucked away in the center of Texas, there’s a hidden destination that checks the same boxes. Fredericksburg only has about 11,000 residents, but it’s packed full of things to do, and it has plenty of lodging options, from motels and campgrounds to quaint bed and breakfasts.
- Lyndon B. Johnson State Park & Historic Site: History buffs, rejoice! The former President was born just outside Fredericksburg, and you’re more than welcome to take a self-guided tour of the LBJ Ranch.
- Live Music: You have to eat and drink somewhere during your stay, so why not sit down at a restaurant with a great band? Fredericksburg has tons of opportunities to hear live tunes, and if you’re feeling up to it, you and your significant other could two-step across the dance floor or patio.
- The Farmer’s Market: Browsing the Fredericksburg Farmers Market (open seven months a year) is free, and it often features live music you don’t have to pay for.
- Art Gallery Crawl: Fredericksburg has more than a dozen galleries, many of them are in the same part of town. Walk from gallery to gallery and enjoy the talents of the area’s best artists.
- The National Museum of the Pacific War: Museums are a great place to explore and learn together, and Fredericksburg is the home to one of the most complete collections of Pacific War artifacts, documents, and photographs. Walk through the museum to learn about a defining period in American History. Adults pay $20 for admission, but senior citizens ($16) and military members ($14) get a discount. WWII veterans get in free.
- Enchanted Rock: Just north of Fredericksburg, a striking pink granite rock rises from the earth to form a massive dome. The Enchanted Rock has attracted people for thousands of years, so stop by to hear all the legends of this ancient place. For added romance, pay the $8 entrance fee and go at night to stargaze. The Park is still dark enough to see the Milky Way!
- Wine Tours: If you want a full-day experience and are okay splurging (expect to spend $100 or more) for this special occasion, consider taking a wine tour. Gillespie County has more than 50 wineries, vineyards, and tasting rooms, so why not spend a romantic afternoon sipping your way through Texas Wine Country?
New Orleans, Louisiana
Some people might think of New Orleans as the home of Mardi Gras and bachelor/bachelorette parties down Bourbon Street. However, this iconic Southern city has so much more to offer, and it’s the perfect spot for a romantic weekend getaway. The Big Easy is full of rich history, and if you stroll down certain streets, you’ll think you’ve taken a step back in time as you marvel at centuries-old French and Spanish architecture. If you’re not already excited, just run a search and see how many famous restaurants and music venues the city has to offer.
- Live Jazz: New Orleans is the birthplace of jazz music, and it’s evident all over the city. This style of music is perfect for a date night with many romantic songs falling into this category. If you visit any bar or restaurant, there’s a good chance you’ll hear a brass band hitting all the right notes. Jazz is so deeply rooted in New Orleans that you’ll even see talented musicians playing on street corners and squares around the French Quarter. For some of the best jazz per square block globally, head over to Frenchmen Street. Select shows are free several days a week.
- Mardi Gras: If you visit New Orleans in late February, you can attend the city’s iconic Carnival celebration for free! Find a good spot and load up on beads.
- Stroll the French Quarter: Enjoy soaking in the history and live music as you walk around the city’s most well-known area and look through the eclectic collection of shops. Finish over at the French Market, six blocks of vendors selling artwork, team gear, seafood, and more.
- Take a Streetcar Ride: There are four streetcar lines in New Orleans, and all of them offer unique views of the city from seats on a charming historic vehicle. One-way fares are only $1.25, an absolute bargain!
- Eat Authentic Louisiana Cuisine: New Orleans is known for distinct dining options, and it’d be a shame to make the trip without trying some of them. Find a famous po-boy sandwich or try some blackened alligator if you’re feeling brave.
- Algiers Point-Canal Street Ferry: A five-minute ferry ride across the Mississippi River might not sound exciting initially, but at only $2 per ticket, it’s well worth the money for the view of the skyline.
- The National WWII Museum: For less than $30, you can learn everything you need to know about the infamous global conflict. The museum weaves together first-person accounts, artifacts, photographs, videos, and more into immersive exhibits. You’ll leave with a better understanding of why and how the war was fought and what it means to us decades later.
- Cooking Classes: There’s something sweet about preparing a meal together, and in a city with such a rich culinary history, why not take a cooking class together? You can get five-star instruction and learn how to make a Creole or Cajun dish. Classes can get pricey, but you can find options for under $100. You might even be able to book a special deal for even less.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but New Orleans offers countless lodging options, so you can find something that’s perfect for you. There are chain hotels in the middle of downtown, and if you search hard, you might be able to find a bargain on an adorable short-term rental or cozy inn Uptown or near the French Quarter.
Gulf Shores, Alabama
If you and your loved one are looking for a beach getaway, consider heading to Gulf Shores. Just a short drive from the Florida border, this affordable destination is known for white-sand beaches and pristine blue-green waters. You can stay in a beachfront condo or hotel (some have rooms starting for under $100 a night) or look for a deal on a more secluded short-term rental. Also, since temperatures hover around 60 degrees during the offseason, Gulf Shores is a great place to visit year-round to escape the cold.
- Hit the Beach: It costs nothing to walk or drive down to the beach and get your daily dose of vitamin D from sitting in the sunshine and putting your toes in the sand.
- Audubon Bird Sanctuary: Migrating birds make their way to Dauphin Island, and there are 137 acres of protected land for them (and you) to enjoy. Wander through three miles of trails to see birds, butterflies, fish, alligators, and more.
- Blue Angel Practices: The Blue Angels showcase the peak of naval aviation. Their practices take place on the Florida/Alabama coastline and depending on the time of year and weekend you visit, you might be able to see them flying over beaches in the area in jaw-dropping fashion.
- Bike Rentals: Want to explore the Gulf Shores in a fun way and get a little exercise? Rent a bike for the day and ride around town. Bike rentals are available from multiple places, and they typically are inexpensive.
- Kayaking: If you want to see a different side of Alabama’s Gulf Coast, rent a kayak and check out some of the waterways. You can calmly paddle along trails through Cypress swamps, marsh areas, and freshwater lakes.
- Fishing Adventure: You and your partner might be able to snag a spot on a fishing boat for the day. While many fishing charters can get quite expensive, there are options for $100 or less. To make your day even more unique, several restaurants in the area will cook your freshly caught fish. How fun!
Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston is a perfect weekend trip destination on the Atlantic shore for couples to enjoy. It’s known for preserved architecture, historical significance, and beautiful beaches in the area. You’ll have no shortage of options to spend your days and immerse yourself in the city’s culture.
- The Notebook Tour: On a romantic getaway, why not see filming locations for one of the most iconic romantic films ever made? The Ryan Gosling-Rachel McAdams classic was shot all over the Charleston area.
- Angel Oak Tree: Take a short drive outside the city to marvel at the Angel Oak, one of the country’s largest and oldest living things. The massive tree creates 17,200 square feet of shade and is considered a must-see for Charleston sightseers. The tree’s enduring strength through hundreds of years of storms and hurricanes is a beautiful symbol for visiting couples.
- Rainbow Row: One side of East Bay Street in Charleston has 13 pastel-colored houses in a row, and they’re beautiful to look at. It’s become one of the city’s most visited and photographed places.
- Watch Surfers at Folly Beach: Folly Beach is just southeast of Charleston, and it is widely considered one of the East Coast’s best surfing spots. Head out there and watch surfers take on waves while you enjoy the weather. Even if you visit during colder months, average temperatures hover around 60 degrees, making it a great year-round destination.
- Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie: Boats must pass by Fort Moultrie and Fort Sumter to get into Charleston Harbor. The former housed soldiers who defeated Britain’s Royal Navy in the American Revolution. The latter was filled with Union soldiers who fought bravely against the Confederacy in the Civil War’s first battle. You can tour the two spots to learn more about our nation’s history.
- Charleston Tea Garden: Until the late 1800s, attempts to produce tea in America were unsuccessful. But from 1888 until he died in 1915, Dr. Charles Shepard figured out the process and produced tea on Wadmalaw Island. The land went largely unused for decades, but it’s now been revitalized and is the only tea garden in North America. You can visit the garden for free, but a paid tour and sampling of products might be worth your money.
- Wine & Cheese Outing: To celebrate an anniversary or Valentine’s Day (or just because you’re on a special trip), visit a self-service wine bar and order some nice cheese.
Looking for lodging shouldn’t be stressful at all; the city has plenty of affordable hotel and motel options in areas that make it easy to explore, even by walking around.
Asheville, North Carolina
If you and your partner are trying to book an outdoor getaway or enjoy eclectic towns, Asheville might be perfect for you. The city is tucked away in the Blue Ridge Mountains and is where the Swannanoa and French Broad Rivers meet, making it a paradise for outdoor thrill-seekers. It’s also known for having a bustling arts scene and funky shops to browse around. You can find budget hotel/motel options in town, and if you want something a little more romantic, you can browse short-term rentals with mountain views until you find a great deal.
- Chasing Waterfalls: There are many waterfalls within an hour of Asheville, so we don’t recommend sticking to the rivers and the lakes that you’re used to. Many are free, but some might be located in a park with a fee. So be sure to check before you go.
- Enjoy the Views Above the Clouds: Climb to the top of Grandfather Mountain or Mount Mitchell, some of the tallest peaks in the Eastern U.S. By the time you reach the top, you could be enjoying views from above the trees and above the clouds.
- Blue Ridge Parkway: This piece of asphalt joins the Pacific Coast Highway, Route 66, and the Million Dollar Highway on the list of most famous roads in America. Hop on the Parkway near Asheville and enjoy the mountain scenery.
- Brewery Tours & Tastings: The Asheville area is home to well-known breweries like Wicked Weed and Sierra Nevada. Take a tour through a brewery and then enjoy the tasting room or patio areas.
- North Carolina BBQ: Different areas of the country have distinct styles of BBQ, and North Carolina is one of the most well-known. Eat at some of the best-reviewed places around town to determine the best.
- North Carolina Arboretum: Just south of downtown, the North Carolina Arboretum features acres of perfectly kept trails and gardens full of beautiful plants from all around the region. It costs $16 to park a standard vehicle, but there’s no fee to enjoy the beauty.
- The Biltmore Estate: For an upscale afternoon, drive the short distance from downtown Asheville to the Biltmore Estate. Tickets start at $66, but how many opportunities will you have to visit America’s largest home and explore 8,000 acres of property?
Ever wanted to visit Germany? Us too! But if that’s not in your budget right now, did you know you can get a taste of Bavaria in Washington State? Leavenworth, an adorable village nestled in the Cascade mountains, brings a taste of German culture a couple of hours east of Seattle, and with four distinct seasons, it doesn’t matter what time of year you visit. There is always something to do. There are plenty of lodging options for you to browse, from campgrounds and RV parks to cute cabins and motels. However, might we suggest searching for something secluded along the Wenatchee River for a more romantic stay?
- Browsing the Shops: Window shopping is free, and in a town with such unique buildings, just walking from store to store can be fun. Admire the architecture as you bounce from one interesting shop to the next.
- Hiking: If you visit during warmer weather, take advantage of countless miles of trails with unbelievable backdrops.
- Leavenworth Reindeer Farm: If you want a chance to see Rudolph, here it is! The Leavenworth Reindeer Farm offers $25 tours to educate visitors about the animals. You’ll have the opportunity to pet them and watch them eat right out of your hand.
- Beer Halls & Gardens: How does a stein of beer and a big soft pretzel sound? Thanks to its German influence, the town is full of beer halls and beer gardens.
- Snowshoeing or Nordic Skiing: If you visit Leavenworth during the winter, you can explore the area’s natural beauty by snowshoeing or skiing. You can rent equipment for $15-$20 and get a day pass for trails for around the same price.
- The Nutcracker Museum: One of the world’s largest nutcracker collections is now a Leavenworth museum. See classic designs and antiques dating back to Roman times, all for $5.
- Snowmobile Tours: If you’re in Leavenworth while the snow is on the ground, several places around town offer snowmobile tours for under $100 per person, and some give you a discount if you share a snowmobile. You’ll get scenic views and have a chance to see moose and other wildlife.
You don’t necessarily need to travel far to have a romantic time with your special someone. If getting away for a week or a long weekend is hard for you, check out ResortPass for some well-deserved rest and relaxation in your own backyard. This brilliant program has partnered with hotel groups to offer access to swimming pools, hot tubs, and spas in hundreds of luxury hotels in cities around the country. Want even better news? Your romantic day trip across town could cost you as little as $25!
State Park Cabin Rentals
If your idea of romantic is getting off the grid together, search state park cabin rentals and see what’s available near you. You can find rustic, no-frill options for well under $100 a night. If you’re okay with spending a little bit more, you might be able to score a hot tub or a private lakefront area. To make matters even better, once you’re in the park, you can typically enjoy activities for free. Bring your hiking shoes or fishing poles and get ready for an adventure.
Disney World Day Trip
For those who live close enough to make a day trip, consider making the drive to the most magical place on earth. Day passes are a bit pricey ($109 pre-tax), but you can hit as many rides (some of them, like the Prince Charming Regal Carousel, are actually quite romantic) as possible and soak in the sights since you won’t have to pay for lodging. Keep your food and beverage expenses to a minimum, and you’ll have a memorable Disney vacation that didn’t bust your budget.
Sometimes you don’t need a physical getaway; you merely need a mental break. If you consider yourselves homebodies, you can have a romantic weekend staycation. Cook nice, new meals. Schedule a stay-at-home-spa day. Light candles. Order a date night in a box. You know yourselves the best, so choose activities you love and take advantage of the opportunity to reconnect.
Before you hit the road with your special someone, it’s important to ensure you have the right car insurance coverage. Give Direct Auto a call or visit one of our nearby locations to make sure you’re ready to keep driving to new adventures.