Bargain Beach Breaks: Best Last Minute Vacations on a Budget
4 min

Get away to the beach without breaking the bank! This guide brings together the best last minute seaside escapes that promise breathtaking views, exhilarating experiences, and unforgettable memories. From Outer Banks, North Carolina, to Cannon Beach, Oregon, let's uncover the affordable and exciting options these coastal paradises have in store.

Outer Banks, North Carolina

This beautiful chain of barrier islands boasts historical attractions like the Wright Brothers National Memorial, where the Wright Brothers took their first flight. Entry costs $10 for adults, and is free for children under 15. Nature lovers will appreciate Jockey’s Ridge State Park. This park is home to the tallest living sand dune on the Atlantic coast, which is free to explore. Also free is the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, where you can snap photos and explore the grounds. For affordable dining, check out the Black Pelican Oceanfront Café. Or visit or the Kill Devil Grill! Both offer delicious seafood and other cuisines.

Affordable stays: for 95$ per night, enjoy this private resort-like vacation rental with a huge swimming pool and sundeck. Or book a last minute stay for $79 per night at this cute dog-friendly beach house located just a 2-minute walk from the shore.


Gulf Shores, Alabama

Gulf Shores offers plenty of outdoor activities. With its free entrance, Gulf State Park includes beaches, trails, and a fishing pier. Waterville USA offers a water park and amusement park in one, with tickets under $20. The Wharf at Orange Beach also offers shopping, dining, and a marina, along with a Ferris wheel ($5 per person). Got animal lovers in your group? Visit the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo, which has tickets for $15 per adult, and children under 2 get in free. For seafood lovers, King Neptune’s Seafood Restaurant offers great dishes at reasonable prices, and The Hangout Gulf Shores offers fun beach-themed dining.

Affordable stays: Book a last minute stay at the Royal Gulf Beach & Racquet Club and snag this beachview condo for only $92 per night! Or enjoy the ocean breeze from your private balcony at this lovely condo located right on the lagoon for only $88 per night.

Take a last minute vacation to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Fun in the sun at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Visit the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk for free and explore the shops, restaurants, and beautiful beach views. Ripley’s Aquarium of Myrtle Beach offers a variety of underwater exhibits for $19.99 per adult and $12.99 for children. Little Pigs BBQ and River City Cafe are affordable dining options with rave reviews, the former for its barbecue and the latter for its burgers. The city also offers free Movies Under the Stars at various parks during July. This is an excellent activity for families. For an inexpensive beachfront dining experience, consider checking out the Pier House Restaurant, offering a diverse menu with something for everyone.

Affordable stays: Stay four blocks from the beach for $80 per night at this Dunes Pointe condo, complete with hot tub and pool access. Or grab a last minute reservation at this ocean view studio with a private balcony just steps from the beach.

Corpus Christi, Texas

Padre Island National Seashore is a stunning, free park perfect for bird-watching and shell collecting. For $16, you can explore the fascinating exhibits at the Texas State Aquarium. Not to mention, the Corpus Christi Harbor Ferry costs only $1 for a scenic ride across the bay. Water Street Oyster Bar and Sushi Bar is a great local seafood joint. While the Surf Club Sandwich Shop offers tasty sandwiches on the cheap. Additionally, the Art Museum of South Texas offers a free admission day on the first Friday of every month, making it a perfect place to appreciate contemporary and regional art in July. Another affordable dining option is B&J’s Pizza, a local favorite known for its specialty pizzas and craft beer selection.

Affordable stays: reserve a stay for $128 per night at this beach inspired condo located in a newly built resort along the protected waters of Lake Padre. Or take a quick drive along the coast to your home-aaway-from-home at Wine Down on the Bay. This last minute vacation rental is listed at $130 per night and is bright and charming, with direct access to Copano Bay.


Clearwater Beach, Florida

Clearwater’s beautiful sandy beaches are always free to enjoy! Plus, you can catch a stunning sunset at Pier 60’s nightly festival for free as well. The Clearwater Marine Aquarium was home to Winter the Dolphin, the star of the movie “Dolphin Tale,” and costs $19.95 for adults and $15.95 for children. Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill and Pearly’s Beach Eats are both affordable places to grab a bite. Don’t miss the free Clearwater Farmers Market held on Saturdays, where you can purchase fresh produce and unique local goods. For an affordable and quick snack, try the renowned grouper sandwiches at Palm Pavilion Beachside Grill & Bar.

Affordable stays: Seize the stay at this affordable, pet friendly beach rental located at the North end of beautiful Clearwater Beach for only $113 per night. Or check in and check out at this charming cottage for only $57 per night.

take a last miinute vacation to cannon beach, oregon

The beauty of Cannon Beach at sunset

Cannon Beach, Oregon

The iconic Haystack Rock, as is the picturesque Ecola State Park, is free to visit. For under $10, you can also visit the Cannon Beach History Center and Museum to learn more about the area’s history. Local eateries like Tom’s Fish & Chips and Cannon Beach Cafe offer delicious, budget-friendly meals. Exploring the numerous art galleries in Cannon Beach, which showcase works from local artists, is another free activity that visitors often enjoy. For an affordable meal with a stunning view, consider Wayfarer Restaurant and Lounge, offering Pacific Northwest seafood and other fare.

Affordable stays: call this cheery, dog friendly cottage home for the night for $85, and enjoy easy beach access and a short walk to town. Or book this beautiful last minute vacation rental home and revel in its peaceful setting and comfortable amenities.

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