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7 Perfect U.S. Cities for an Inexpensive, Relaxing Getaway

By Tammi Kaeberlein July 04, 2023 Travel

A vacation centered around peace, quiet, and relaxation is often the very best kind of getaway. It can give you a break from everyday stresses, time for introspection and disconnecting from constant stimulation, and make space for rest and rejuvenation.

The goal here is the kind of vacation you don’t feel you need to recover from when you get back. Ultimately, prioritizing relaxation on your vacation is an investment in your overall health and provides a much-needed opportunity to recharge and find balance.

Here are a few of my favorite destinations where you can do just that.

Jekyll Island

Jekyll Island, just off the coast of Georgia, is known for some beautiful white sand beaches, charming marshes, and magical maritime forests. The island has preserved much of its natural environment, providing opportunities for peaceful walks, bike rides, and wildlife spotting.

The island has a range of outdoor activities including golf, tennis, and kayaking. You can rent bikes to explore the extensive network of trails or take a guided eco-tour to learn more about the local ecosystem.

Don’t miss Driftwood Beach if you do go, one of the most popular attractions on Jekyll Island. It has a unique landscape dotted with weathered trees and driftwood that creates a stunning and tranquil setting for a leisurely stroll or a picnic.

The island is also a nesting site for loggerhead sea turtles, and the Georgia Sea Turtle Center on the island plays a vital role in their conservation. You can visit the center to learn about these magnificent creatures and their ongoing conservation efforts.

August and September are the best months to go if you want to see the baby sea turtles hatching, but the island is not a quiet and peaceful place during those months. Otherwise, the fall is the best time to visit, as the weather is reliably decent well into October.

The island has a quieter and more laid-back atmosphere compared to some other coastal destinations. It’s truly an ideal place to unwind, enjoy the natural surroundings, and soak up the tranquility of the island.

Inexpensive things to do on Jekyll Island:

  • Visit Driftwood Beach,
  • Spend an afternoon at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center,
  • Rent a bike and explore the Jekyll Island trail system.

Fort Bragg, CA

Located on the rugged Mendocino Coast, Fort Bragg is renowned for its breathtaking coastline, rocky cliffs, and pristine beaches. You can also explore a variety of coastal trails, go kayaking or canoeing on the ocean or the nearby Noyo River, or enjoy fishing and crabbing. The historic Skunk Train takes you on a scenic journey through the redwood forests and along the Noyo River as well.

In addition, Fort Bragg is located in the heart of California’s Mendocino wine region and is known for its boutique wineries. You can visit nearby wineries and vineyards to taste local wines and enjoy the beautiful vineyard scenery.

Lastly, Fort Bragg’s downtown area is full of quaint shops, art galleries, and delightful eateries. You can stroll through the streets, browse unique boutiques, and savor the local cuisine.

Inexpensive things to do at Fort Bragg, CA:

  • Spend the day at MacKerricher State Park,
  • Bike along the Fort Bragg coastal trail,
  • Hunt for sea glass at Glass Beach,
  • Spend a delightful day at the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens,
  • Choose a great book and enjoy your peaceful retreat from the world.

Friday Harbor, WA

Located in the San Juan Islands of Washington state, Friday Harbor is well-known for its stunning natural beauty. You can explore scenic hiking trails, enjoy kayaking or boating in the surrounding waters, and spot wildlife such as orcas, seals, and eagles.

Friday Harbor also has a charming downtown area with unique shops, art galleries, and restaurants. You can stroll through the streets and soak up the small-town ambiance. The city has a relaxed and laid-back atmosphere, making it an ideal place to unwind and escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. You can enjoy the slower pace, breathe in the fresh sea air, and embrace the tranquility of island life.

Inexpensive things to do at Friday Harbor:

  • Visit Lyme Kiln Point State Park, known as “whale watch park,” and look for whales while enjoying a picnic lunch,
  • Enjoy the music and atmosphere of the San Juan Farmer’s Market on Saturdays,
  • Visit the delightfully charming Whale Museum.
Friday Harbor, United States May 31, 2013 The Washington State Ferry is coming into the charming seaport in the San Juan Islands.

Finger Lakes, NY

The Finger Lakes region is a beautiful area known for its stunning lakes, rolling hills, vineyards, and charming small towns. The area is named after its 11 long and narrow lakes, which offer stunning vistas, opportunities for boating, swimming, and fishing, and picturesque landscapes.

It’s also known for its wine production, particularly its world-class Rieslings. There are numerous wineries and vineyards nearby, offering wine tastings, vineyard tours, and the chance to enjoy beautiful views while sampling local vintages.

The area is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. You can explore numerous state parks, including Watkins Glen State Park with its stunning waterfalls and hiking trails, and enjoy activities such as hiking, biking, kayaking, and paddle boarding.

Inexpensive things to do in Finger Lakes:

  • Visit the beautiful Watkins Glen State Park,
  • Take in the incredible waterfall at Taughannock Falls State Park,
  • Spend a day at Corning Museum of Glass.

Bar Harbor, ME

Located near Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor provides a peaceful coastal escape with picturesque scenery and a relaxing, laid-back atmosphere. Bar Harbor is on Mount Desert Island, Maine, an island known for its diverse ecosystems, including forests, lakes, and wetlands.

In addition to Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor and its surrounding areas offer plenty of outdoor activities. You can go hiking, biking, birdwatching, fishing, or take a leisurely boat cruise to explore the islands and enjoy the coastal scenery.

Inexpensive things to do at Bar Harbor, ME

  • Explore Acadia National Park by car, tour or bike,
  • Explore the charming downtown area,
  • Savor the deliciously fresh lobster rolls, clam chowder and other local seafood in town.
Bar Harbor, Maine, USA – October 10, 2012 : Shopping district in the downtown area of the very beautiful and scenic town of Bar Harbor. Tourists and shoppers walk along the sidewalk, Bar Harbour, Maine, USA.

Port Townsend, WA

Port Townsend is a charming Victorian seaport town that provides a peaceful coastal retreat with stunning views and a vibrant arts community. The city is known for its well-preserved Victorian architecture, which gives the town a distinct character. You can take a leisurely stroll through the historic downtown area and admire the beautifully restored buildings, charming boutiques, art galleries, and antique shops.

The natural beauty of the Port Townsend area offers many opportunities for a huge range of outdoor activities. Hiking, biking, or kayaking are all easily accessible, or you can simply enjoy the scenic views along the waterfront. The nearby Olympic National Park also provides ample opportunities for outdoor exploration and meeting people with similar interests.

Inexpensive things to do in Port Townsend:

  • Visit Chetzemoka Park and walk the beach,
  • Tour the Northwest Maritime Center,
  • Visit Fort Worden Historical State Park.

Sitka, Alaska

If you’re seeking a quiet and peaceful vacation in Alaska, one of the best cities to consider is Sitka. Situated on Baranof Island in the southeastern part of the state, Sitka offers a serene and idyllic setting, rich cultural heritage, and abundant natural beauty.

Sitka is surrounded by the majestic Tongass National Forest and the Pacific Ocean. The combination of lush forests, pristine waterways, and rugged coastlines creates a tranquil and picturesque atmosphere that’s perfect for relaxation and solitude.

The town is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise. You can enjoy a variety of activities such as walking or hiking through verdant forests, kayaking along serene waterways, and exploring the many scenic trails in the area. The town is also renowned for its excellent fishing opportunities.

Sitka also has a fascinating cultural history as the former capital of Russian America. You can visit historical sites like the Russian Bishop’s House, St. Michael’s Cathedral, and the Sitka National Historical Park, which preserves the site of a Tlingit fort and totem poles.

Inexpensive things to do in Sitka, AK:

  • Visit Sitka National Historic Park,
  • Explore the Sitka Sound Science Center,
  • Spend some time at the Sitka Raptor Center.

Why Take a Quiet Weekend?

Traveling focused on peace, quiet, and relaxation can have numerous benefits for your overall well-being and quality of life.

  1. Vacations focused on peace and relaxation provide a much-needed break from the stresses and demands of everyday life.
  2. Peaceful vacations allow for introspection, solitude, and a chance to disconnect from constant stimulation. This can promote mental and emotional well-being and provide a space for reflection, clarity, and rejuvenation.
  3. Our bodies and minds need rest to function optimally. A vacation focused on relaxation allows you to prioritize rest, sleep, and self-care, which can contribute to improved energy levels, enhanced focus, and increased productivity when you return to your regular routine.
  4. Many peaceful vacation destinations offer opportunities to immerse yourself in natural surroundings. Spending time in nature has been shown to have a positive impact on mental health, reducing anxiety, improving mood, and promoting a sense of calm and well-being.
  5. Quiet vacations provide an excellent opportunity to spend quality time with family, friends, or loved ones.
  6. A peaceful vacation allows you to engage in activities that bring you joy, explore new interests, practice mindfulness, or simply indulge in activities that promote relaxation and self-reflection.

Ultimately, a vacation focused on peace, quiet, and relaxation is an investment in your well-being. It provides an opportunity to restore balance, nurture your mental and emotional health, and come back to your daily life with a greater sense of calm and clarity.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Which destination resonates most with you in terms of relaxation? What are some ideas you have for a restful vacation? Would you prefer family, friends or a solo trip if you’re looking for a peaceful holiday?

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Tim hasselbalch

Gulf shores Alabama is amazing. The seafood is right out of the ocean. So much better than frozen. The sand is cool and the water is warm. Check out 365 E Beach blvd. Unit 1704. So much for kids to do! It’s our happy place.


Fresh seafood is always fantastic, thanks for the tip!

Pamela Lamp

We had such a nice time in Friday Harbor! I’ll have to look into these other destinations. Thank you!


Friday Harbor is a wonderful treat! I hope you enjoy the others just as much!


Port Townsend is one of my favorite places for an escape! It’s quite picturesque and the downtown is very walkable. If I could afford to move there, I would!!


I love it too!


Fort Brag / Port Townsend


Both are lovely!


Ocean side is the best isn’t it?

The Author

Dr. Tammi Kaeberlein is a scientist, working in the field of aging biology. She’s also the owner and author of Wander Healthy, a travel and lifestyle blog that provides practical tips, inspiration, and motivation to move more, so that you can adventure as far and as long as you want to.

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