Stretch My Income

Practical ways to live better on less.

Join the Savings Club!

Enter your details below to get our latest money saving tips right in your inbox!

15 Wonderful Free Places to Visit

Cape Cod's beautiful Great Island Trail

When you add up lodging costs, airfare, restaurants, and activities, a vacation oftentimes seems well out of reach. However, focusing on visiting areas with beautiful free natural attractions greatly reduces your overall trip expenses. Listed below are 10 free & fantastic places to add to your travel bucket list. Oftentimes we forget that there are so many wonderful natural attractions to explore, the majority of which are completely free.

Planning a vacation around one of these will lead to a healthier, happier, more budget friendly vacation. So skip the uber expensive theme park trips and focus instead on creating lasting memories at one of these more budget friendly alternatives.

1.Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee

Consider planning a vacation to America’s only free national park. The Smoky Mountain region, located in the beautiful Appalachian mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina, offers the perfect setting for your next family vacation. Hiking, biking, picnicking, ranger led walks and events, beautiful waterfall drives, wildlife viewing, and photography are just a few of the budget friendly activities you can enjoy during your trip.

As an added bonus, the area offers many cheap cabin rentals, perfect for extended stays as you can enjoy the comforts of home without spending unnecessary money on dining out. You will find many options for affordable lodging in Gatlinburg and surrounding towns, especially if your visit falls during the off season. Cabins can be rented for as low as $100 per night.

Life's a Bear cabin rental in Tennessee

Also check into discount websites such as Groupon and Living Social for special reduced rates. A trip to the Smokies is the perfect option for anyone looking for a fun recreation based, and most importantly, affordable vacation.

2. Cliffwalk

Cliffwalk in Newport, Rhode Island

You most likely have heard of the famous historic Newport Mansions, the lavish residences which line the coast of this picturesque New England town. Unfortunately, many tourists are unaware that directly behind these mansions lies an incredible 3.5 mile pathway along the coast. If you only step foot inside the mansions, you are missing out on this magnificent natural wonder. Along your journey, you will be treated to outstanding views of the Rhode Island coast, in addition to endless views of Newport’s extravagant architectural masterpieces.

40 stone steps on Newport Rhode Island's Cliffwalk

3. Mesa Falls Scenic Byway

Upper Mesa Falls in Idaho

Planning a trip to the Yellowstone area without making room for a drive along the beautiful Mesa Falls Scenic Byway would be a shame. Yes, Yellowstone is magnificent, however, Mesa Falls holds its own as a sight not to be missed. If you are already in the area, it will be an easy side trip. A spring or summer ride along the 28 mile drive takes you past mountains, forests, streams, and 2 beautiful waterfalls. The Upper Mesa Falls is a truly impressive sight; a powerful, wide, and tall waterfall (114 feet) surrounded by beautiful forested land.

Get ready for at least a half day of free, relaxing fun. The drive is a slow one with many scenic overlooks (be sure to take in the views of the gorgeous Grand Tetons), unique sights (watch out for the cows crossing the road) and plenty of great picnicking locations (plan a picnic in the scenic Upper Falls area). Idaho is a wonderful place with an abundance of breathtaking natural attractions: Mesa Falls is just one of these.

4. The Appalachian Trail

Tree marking on the Appalachian Trail

The Appalachian Trail is a 2168 mile journey which begins in the mountains of Northern Georgia and travels all the way up to Mount Katahdin, the highest mountain in Maine (5270 feet). Can you believe that thousands of people have actually completed the entire length in one continuous journey (since the 1930’s more than 15,000 people of all different ages have completed the journey)? Even beginner hikers can enjoy shorter sections of this incredible trail. Northern Georgia is home to a fantastic easy portion called LongCreek Falls. The short, yet scenic, journey takes you to a very picturesque 2 tier waterfall.

Longcreek Falls on the Appalachian Trail in Northern Georgia

Along the way, you will pass beautiful forests and creeks. You may even see wildlife, depending on the time of year and level of crowds. Whether you complete a few short hikes, or the entire trek, there is always more than enough beauty to be found on the Appalachian Trail.

What do you think?

Share your thoughts below