smart spending

7 classic American vacations on the cheap

Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Great Smoky Mountains National Park © iStock

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in the U.S.

People are drawn to this American vacation by the more than 800 square miles of hiking trails and by Tennessee tourist hot spots Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg.

"It's an excellent choice for an affordable vacation, as admission to the park is free, and you can hike, bike, take scenic drives, tour historic sites, fish, bird-watch and enjoy the park's wildlife," says Deb Huso, author of the "Moon Blue Ridge & Smoky Mountains" handbook.

"The park also offers horseback riding and bike rentals for a reasonable charge."

To stretch your travel dollar, look for food and lodging outside of busier, more expensive towns such as Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, Huso says.

"The Smokies are pretty affordable in terms of lodging and dining if for no other reason than the sheer number of options. Your best bet may be a vacation rental. You'll get more bang for your buck, and you can cook in," Huso says.

Camping is another cost-cutter. Camping inside the park ranges from $14 to $23 per night.

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