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Cheap Places to Travel in December: 10 Affordable Getaways from Tennessee to Colorado

From driving the historic Route 66 to soaking up the sun on Palm Beach island, here are 10 cheap places to visit in December in the USA

n the warm waters in an underrated beach town off Florida’s Gulf Coast to getting immersed in Civil War history in southeast Tennessee, a getaway in December doesn’t have to break the bank. We’ve combed through all our trivago data to help you find the most affordable cities across the country this month.

If you’re in need of some extra bang for your buck as you plan your upcoming winter vacation, here are 10 inexpensive places to travel in the USA this December.

*Flexibility is critical during times like these, and if you do need to travel, browse deals with free cancellation on trivago. The prices were checked in November 2021 and might change according to search and booking dates.

10. Have Family Fun in Bowling Green, Kentucky

From all-American car-centric museums and high-speed go-karting to underground cavern boat tours and Civil War heritage trails, the charming southern Kentucky town of Bowling Green has something to offer every member of the family. Best of all? It’s one of the US’s best cheap places to travel this December.

Where to stay

An indoor pool makes year-round swimming a welcome reality for guests checking in to the Sleep Inn Bowling Green in the winter months. Set right off the interstate, this casual property is convenient for exploring some of Bowling Green’s major attractions, including the National Corvette Museum—free for kids four and under—and the NCM Motorsports Park and Kartplex, which are less than two miles away.

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9. Experience the Best of Powder Country in South Fork, Colorado

Experience the best of powder country with the kids in tow at South Fork, one of our favorite cheap places to travel in December. At 8,209 feet, the tiny southern Colorado town comes alive in the winter months as snowbirds descend upon the area—it’s just 20 miles from Wolf Creek Ski Area that’s known for its record-breaking annual snowfall levels.

Whether you’re heading to the pistes, snow-shoeing, or in search of the best alpine lakes to go ice fishing, the South Fork region has it all. Thanks to the lack of crowds, travelers can expect a winter vacation filled with endless serene hiking trails through thriving wild forests, plus sledding and ice skating.

Where to stay

From rustic wooden cabins to spacious lodge suites, The Spruce Lodge is affordable for both solo travelers and large families looking to experience the best of Colorado’s winter activities without breaking the bank.

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8. Explore the Wonder of the Black Hills in Rapid City, South Dakota

Credit- Alicia Underlee Nelson

Known as the gateway to Mount Rushmore, Rapid City serves as a great, affordable base for travelers looking to explore South Dakota’s stunning Black Hills.

Get off-the-beaten-track at one of our preferred cheap places to visit in December with a (free) trip to Chapel in the Hills, a replica of a renowned 12th-century Norwegian chapel. For an Instagram-worthy selfie, check out the murals and graffiti that adorn Art Alley in downtown Rapid City.

Where to stay

Less than an hour’s drive from Mount Rushmore, the Cambria Hotel Rapid City is excellent for family-friendly getaways. Pull-out sofas at this all-suite property offer extra space, while an indoor pool and hot tub are ideal for warming up after a day outdoors. A complimentary airport shuttle provides easy access to the Rapid City Regional Airport, conveniently located 10 miles away.

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7. Hop on a Panoramic Train Ride to the Grand Canyon in Williams, Arizona

When it comes to cheap places to visit in December on the West Coast, the historic Wild West town of Williams is one of the best. Located an hour from Grand Canyon National Park, this economical Arizona option may be referred to as a gateway to the Grand Canyon – however, it’s also rich in pioneer history.

For a literal walk back in time (the town was originally founded in 1876 by sheep and cattle ranchers), sign up for a historical walking tour through downtown Williams that was once part of the renowned Route 66. Tired of hiking? Hop on the Grand Canyon Railway for a scenic train ride to the Grand Canyon.

Where to stay

Choose from converted caboose and railcar-themed suites at the Canyon Motel & RV Park, a conveniently situated Route 66 motel. Set on 13 acres of pine forest, this sprawling property also offers a heated indoor pool, fire pits, and garden patio, allowing guests to have a cozy vacation no matter the time of year.

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6. Soak up the Sun in Carlsbad, California

While inexpensive isn’t typically synonymous with California, a trip to Carlsbad will convince you otherwise. With endless days of sunshine and uninterrupted ocean views, this Southern California city is one of the best cheap places to travel in December with the entire family.

Apart from soaking up the sun, keep the kids occupied with a day full of guaranteed adventure and fun at LEGOLAND. For nature enthusiasts, the San Diego Botanic Garden features a first-hand look at succulent gardens, bamboo groves, and the West Coast’s largest interactive garden for kids.

Where to stay

A nine-minute walk from the nearest beach, the Motel 6, Carlsbad Beach offers guests excellent value for their money, especially when traveling with the little ones—kids 17 and under stay for free. An outdoor pool, coin-operated laundry, and free Wi-Fi all make for an inexpensive West Coast winter family vacation.

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5. Learn Civil War History in Monroe, Tennessee

The charming Southeast Tennessee community of Monroe is another one of our favorite cheap places to travel in December. With the rugged mountains serving as a striking background, visitors can choose to spend their winter vacation snow-shoeing or cross- country skiing in Cherokee National Forest, taking a scenic drive along the 43-mile long Cherohala Skyway, or digging into some dry-cured country ham, the area’s specialty.

Where to Stay

Checking in to Overton Motel means easy access to the surrounding parks and hiking trails – including Dale Hollow Lake and Cummins Falls State Park, which are a 30-minute drive. For the Civil War buffs, the Overton County Heritage Museum is only a two-minute drive from this simple stay.

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4. Increase Your Winter Vitamin Sea Intake in Redington Beach, Florida

An underrated beach paradise on Florida’s Gulf Coast, Redington Beach is an ideal inexpensive December destination for travelers looking for a beach getaway minus the crowds. With afternoon temperatures averaging in the mid-70s throughout December and nary another soul in sight, this charming beach town makes for one of the best cheap places to travel in December.

After a day spent frolicking in the emerald Gulf waters, head to The Conch Republic Grill or Seabreeze Island Grill for a taste of fresh Key West shrimp and oysters on the half shell. This idyllic oasis is also the perfect choice for a Christmas getaway—annual celebrations include holiday boat parades and fireworks.

Where to stay

Offering privacy and convenience, this contemporary 1-bedroom vacation rental is within walking distance to the nearest beach along the Gulf of Mexico. A private yard and full kitchen are ideal for more extended stays, especially when traveling with toddlers.

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3. Immerse in a Winter Wonderland in Aurora, Colorado

With December highs averaging in the mid-40s all month long, Aurora serves as one of the most affordable places to travel in December for powder enthusiasts. Just an hour from the nearest ski resorts, this Gateway to the Rockies town transforms into a winter wonderland as the temperatures drop.

After an exciting day hitting the slopes, head back into town where an evening of ice skating at The Pond at Southlands (the region’s largest outdoor skating rink) awaits. Nature-lovers shouldn’t miss stopping by the Morrison Nature Center, a sprawling 250-acre nature preserve offering full moon hikes and wildlife watches—sightings of deer, cougars, and bald eagles are common occurrences in the winter months.

Where to stay

Complimentary breakfast, coffee, and parking all make the Comfort Inn Denver Southeast Area a fantastic budget option for exploring not just the greater Denver area, but the quintessential Colorado outdoors. Opt for the suites for full kitchens and separate living areas.

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2. Explore the Historic Route 66 in Kingman, Arizona

A year-round temperate climate makes Kingman the perfect winter weather destination for East Coast travelers looking to escape the heavy snow. If you’re looking for a mix of outdoor adventure and museum hopping, this northwest Arizona town is one of our favorite cheap places to travel in December.

Offering a comprehensive look at the history of America’s most famed road route—also known as the Mother Road—the Arizona Route 66 Museum is not to be missed. An underrated destination for oenophiles, Kingman boasts several local wineries such as Cella Winery, Little Old Wine Drinkers Winery, and Stetson Winery – all offering wine tastings and tours.

Where to stay

Just off the historic Route 66, El Trovatore Motel provides easy access to the area’s best attractions—the Powerhouse Visitor Center, Bonelli House, and Mohave Museum of History and Arts are all within a three- minute drive from this classic motel.

You’re also sure to never get lost—its 100-foot-long neon sign has served as a beacon in the night sky for weary Route 66 travelers looking for a quiet place to rest their head since first opening in 1939.

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1. Find Plenty of Beach Fun in Lake Worth Beach, Florida

Situated on Palm Beach island, Lake Worth Beach rounds out our list of cheap places to travel in December. With temperatures averaging in the late-70s all month long, this quiet Florida town is perfect for travelers looking for a beach getaway minus the crowds—and price tag—of Miami.

Tee off at Lake Worth Municipal Golf Course—with views of the Lake Worth Lagoon, it’s one of the area’s most scenic golf courses. Whet your appetite for fresh seafood and island-themed cocktails at Dave’s Last Resort & Raw Bar. Serving up some of the area’s best oysters for over two decades, the conch ceviche, garlic steamed clams and clam chowder are not to be missed.

Where to stay

Guests can expect a full kitchen, a dedicated parking spot and flat- screen TV during their stay at Peacock Paradise, a centrally-located 1- bedroom apartment rental. Set in downtown Lake Worth Beach, this cozy property is within walking distance to several of the town’s renowned restaurants and bars, as well as the beach and Lake Worth Lagoon.

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