8 USA Summer Holiday Destinations For Students On A Budget

Summer is officially here, which means school is out and vacation for students begins! While the summer holidays differ depending on where you live and study in the world, in the United States summer break lasts from the end of May until mid-August. In those months, national and international students alike take that time as an opportunity to go back home…for the most part. But what if you didn’t want to go home? What if you didn’t have to go home and decided to use your holiday to actually take a holiday, instead? As students, it gets difficult to dream about and plan elaborate vacations, especially due to our nature as students. And what does that mean? Well, it means we don’t always have the funds to take lavish and luxurious vacations. Yet, that doesn’t mean we have to! Here are eight USA holiday destinations for students this summer that won’t break the bank.

New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans has a reputation for being a wild, party city. While that may be true for larger events like Mardi Gras, the city also has a reputation for being an art, music, history and food mecca. Jazz and gumbo take shape in the loudest and tastiest degree in NOLA, with tons of colonial to modern day history on every corner, too. Another great thing about New Orleans is how walkable the city is. It’s the perfect place to take advantage of the numerous walking tours all around the city’s well-known spots, like its cemeteries, the Garden District, Tennessee Williams’s House, the French Quarter and the infamous Bourbon Street!

Austin, Texas

Austin is constantly ranked as a top contender of great cities for young adults, so why not make a summer visit before thinking about a big move? Not only is the city well known for its minute unemployment rate and high livability to job prospect index, but it also has a thriving music and food scene that doesn’t carry all the expenses that New York or Washington D.C has. If you find yourself looking for a good time in ATX, Sixth Street is where you want to be. The Entertainment District is known for its good vibes, cheap beer and music nights every night.

Denver, Colorado

Denver is a great destination for students, particularly because of its reputation for being a student centric city already, as there are tons of colleges and universities near the center city. Not only is Denver a city with tons of art museums and new shopping streets, amid all the skyscrapers in the downtown area, but the mountain views also add a unique added experience when visiting the ‘Mile High’ city. If photo opportunities and mountain trails are what you’re craving, look no further.

Nashville, Tennessee

If live music is your thing, Nashville might just be your place. The home of country music, Nashville boasts of a music scene that brought us the works of Johnny Cash, Lady Antebellum, Faith Hill, the Cyrus family, Dolly Parton, but also rock group, Kings of Leon, and even pop singer, Ke$ha. Almost every bar, cafe, street corner or plaza showcases music in some way, even karaoke! Plus, if cowboy boots are a staple in your wardrobe, or if you’d like them to be, welcome to the ‘Music City.’

Jekyll Island, Georgia

Located off the Georgian Coast, you’ll find a peaceful, relaxing island that you probably never knew existed. Only an hour and a half down from picturesque, Savannah, Jekyll Island is the perfect end to a holiday in the Georgia South. Jekyll’s beaches are the island’s main attraction, so if you’re in for lots of downtime and relaxation, you’ll find the white sand beaches a perfect spot to do so. The island is also full of wildlife and marshes, guided tours and bike trails, sandbars and colonial architecture. There aren’t too many food options on the island, but that’s the perfect opportunity to spend a long day walking around, taking in the island’s extended history and later, a picnic with friends, too.

Portland, Oregon

Welcome to Seattle’s less populated, less visited, yet equally as riveting twin: Portland, Oregon. Home to an established, well-known cafe culture, Portland is a coffee lovers’ paradise. It’s intimate, relaxed and still authentic in a way that its coffee rivals, Seattle and San Fran, aren’t. The city itself is also continuously growing its art and shopping scene, too, with visits to the Pearl District and Nob Hill neighborhoods perfect for wandering, hiking, nature loving (the famous Arboretum is located in Portland), and fearless people watching. But if food is the real reason for your visit, we won’t blame you. Voodoo Donuts, Stumptown Coffee and miles of food trucks? Yes, please.

Yosemite National Park, California

Yosemite is one of the USA’s greatest national parks. Situated in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the northeast of California, this destination is suited for the more adventurous ones. Road trip, anyone? If the lack of major California cities on our list confuses you, Yosemite may be the perfect destination regardless, as the natural beauty and crisp, NoCal air will make you forget about how close you are to Fresno, Sacramento, Napa or San Francisco. Domes, mountains, cliffs, the valley, hiking trails, waterfalls — there’s something for everyone at Yosemite. Plus, multiple reviews online say it’s the perfect place to ‘find yourself’ and think about what you want out of your life. What better place for students thinking of the future?

Chicago, Illinois

The final place on our list just so happens to be the only major metropolitan US city. Sorry, New York and LA, you’re a bit too pricey for the likes of us students. While Chicago is the third largest metropolitan city in the States, averaging at about 3-million residents, it is relatively inexpensive and just as fun and lively when compared to its sisters. Chicago might have gotten its nickname of the Windy City due to its harsh, long winters, but in the summer time the city undergoes a total transformation! There’s miles of outside restaurant seating, the beach a short ways away, music every weekend at Millennium Park (…can’t forget the legendary Lollapalooza Music Festival), art and culture events galore. Let’s be real, there’s no place you’d rather be this summer than Chi-town. Big city life for a fraction of the price? We’re sold.

Any American cities that we missed for students on a budget this summer? Let us know in the comments below!

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Diana Figueroa

Diana Figueroa is a NYC native and graduate of Fordham University, where she graduated with a degree in Communications, concentrating in journalism and creative writing. She is currently pursuing freelance writing projects and recently launched her own website,, dedicated to her passion for travel and her life in the Big Apple. She is off to pursue her Master's degree in Berlin, Germany at the end of this year. You can find her on route to the next music festival or curing her wanderlust as she plans her next adventure abroad. Feel the fernweh at @dianadoesntknow for photos.

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