Budgets are a major aspect of travel and it's your pocketbook that almost always ultimately determines your destination and duration of your stay. There are tons of affordable options in the U.S. and according to Yahoo! Finance and other reputable sources, these cities made the top ten for affordable American destinations in 2015.
1. Birmingham, AL
The largest city in Alabama, Birmingham is a surprise beauty with a fabulous collection of arts, culture, entertainment, and recreational activities for your student group to enjoy. Economy hotels in Birmingham can go as low as $50 which, split between friends is practically nothing. Better still, you can use that extra money to see the town like at the new Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, the mega amazing McWane Science Center, and the Birmingham Museum of Art. Spend a day exploring Oak Mountain State Park's natural beauty or tour the city on foot and see the wonderful historic landmarks like Sloss Furnaces and the 16th Street Baptist Church.
2. Knoxville, TN
Not as big as her Tennessee sisters, Knoxville has a small town charm that lures in visitors all the same. Like Birmingham, economy hotels can go as low as the 40s which leaves plenty of room for your group to enjoy themselves on the town. Knoxville is a big historical center, so if you have any history buffs in your midst, make a stop at the 1797 Ramsey House or Old Gray Cemetery, established in 1850. In the modern day, Knoxville is home to attractions like the McClung Museum of Natural History, the stunning Tennessee Theatre, and the Market Square pedestrian mall. P.S.: There are also plenty of shopping centers and historic districts to explore.
3. Buffalo, NY
Located in upstate New York, Buffalo sits on the scenic shores of Lake Erie, drinking in the vast natural beauty with comfortable ease. In the early 20th century, Buffalo was a major industrial capital as evidenced by the iconic neoclassical and art deco architectures spread throughout the skyline. Among these lovely constructions, you can find the Buffalo Zoo which has gathered and cared for rescued animals since 1875, as well as a Botanical Gardens and the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. You'll not want to miss out on the Buffalo Museum of Science or the variety of historic sites which catch the eye. You should also keep in mind that Niagara Falls is less than a half hour from Buffalo, hint hint.
4. Oklahoma City, OK
The capital and largest city in Oklahoma, this self-named metropolis is practically bursting with things to do. It's a wonder it's so affordable with economy room prices to compete with Birmingham. From the Myriad Botanical Gardens to the world-renowned Oklahoma History Center, there's plenty of things to do for all types of student groups. If you're here for an educational trip, see more than 300 skeletons at the Museum of Osteology or explore the exhibits at the Science Museum Oklahoma. Celebration groups will enjoy the wonderful Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Gardens, catching a game at Chesapeake Energy Arena, or spending a day at the old West themed Frontier City amusement park.
5. Cincinnati, OH
Though Cincinnati is the third largest city in Ohio, you wouldn't know it by the number of attractions available. Home to the second oldest zoo in North America, the Cincinnati Reds baseball team, as well as the Cincinnati Bengals, this Ohio beauty has plenty to see and do - especially for sports lovers. Catching a game is an easy option or you could tour the city at attractions like the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, a museum dedicated to the history of slavery. You may also enjoy the kitschy but fun American Sign Museum, the stunning yet kind of creepy mausoleum and arboretum of the Spring Grove Cemetery, and touring the mansion of William Howard Taft National Historic Site.
6. Memphis, TN
No matter your reason for coming, you can have a brilliant time in the Birthplace of Rock n' Roll. Graceland is at the top of everybody's list as the former home of The King, Elvis Presley. Tours are available of the house and grounds, guided or self-guided, including a look at his final resting place for you to pay respects. Other attractions include the National Civil Rights Museum, the wonderful and incomparable Beale Street Historic District, the interesting Cotton Museum, and the beautiful Shelby Farms urban park. Walk through the Victorian Village, Botanical Gardens, or the many historic homes for a relaxing and scenic day before heading for a live music honky-tonk at night!
7. St. Louis, MO
What's great about St. Louis is that many of the city's best attractions are free! The St. Louis Zoo, for example, is consistently ranked among the nation's top zoological parks and it's completely free to enter and explore the myriad of animals. Grant's Farm, too, (though you have to pay for parking) is free to tour and see the animals, explore the sites, and see two of Ulysses S. Grant's own cabins. Explore downtown St. Louis and find yourselves among the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Park which includes not only the Arch but the Historic Old Courthouse where the first two Dred Scott court cases were tried.
8. Dayton, OH
Not quite so large as Cincinnati, but Dayton makes up for its size with a quaint and cozy feel, surrounded by the lovely and scenic green of is many city parks. Start your tour with a stop at Carillon Historical Park where, among the green, you can see a number of historical artifacts and landmarks. Stop by the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery and explore the expanse of natural history through science exhibits and archaeological sites; the Dayton Art Institute is a wonderful art museum with a unique hands on gallery; and the Victoria Theatre ushers in plenty of world-class acts for beautiful performances.
9. Indianapolis, IN
White River State Park is an excellent place to spend an entire day, with plenty of attractions to choose from including an award winning zoo and several museums. The Children's Museum of Indianapolis, for example, is one of the best of its kind anywhere to be found, as interactive as it is educational, with a life size dinosaur sticking its head through the side of the building for added fun. The Indianapolis Colts can be found playing at Lucas Oil Stadium if you get the urge to see a game but you can also tour the unique Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, home to an impressively comprehensive collection of art and artifacts.
10. Columbus, OH
Finally, we make it to Columbus, the capital and largest city of Ohio. Here is where you'll find the Columbus Zoo where the famed Jack Hanna resides on the board and over 7,000 animals among the fabulous exhibits. The Franklin Park Conservatory is equally beautiful, though you may get more shopping fun out of the little historic German Village just south of downtown. Visit the house museum of author and humorist James Thurber, experience a stately performance in the grand Ohio Theatre, and learn something new at the COSI science museum!