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How To Find Cheap Entertainment On Vacation

By David Bakke

save money on vacationSo you’re about to go on your summer vacation and you’ve decided to visit a tourist destination that you’ve never been to before. You want to have a good time but you also don’t want to have to break the bank to do it. So the question is: How do you find cheap entertainment while visiting somewhere you’ve never been before? It’s a safe bet that all of the “mainstream” attractions are going to be expensive. So, rather than blowing all your money on all of these things, why not mix in a little budget entertainment?

Here are some ideas that I have found to be effective.


Beforehand, order tour books form the local tourism office to find out what exactly there is to do. Look online for discount coupon books and you can even check to see if the city you’re visiting has an Entertainment Book. Many times, you can find “diamond in the rough” types of entertainment here.


Read reviews of the things that you find before making plans. Sometimes, what looks good on paper, or online, is a different story once you get there. Then, compare. You want to get the most fun for your dollar. Look for free things to do. There’s a place in Myrtle Beach, SC where you can visit with tigers for free. If you want a picture taken with them the cost is outrageous, but if you don’t care about a photo, there you go! Miami also has a park that is known for kite flying. All you need is a kite and some wind for an afternoon of inexpensive fun. Yelp and TripAdvisor are great review sites where you can find good ideas for all different types of entertainment.

Get With The Locals

Most importantly, figure out what the locals do. How do you do this? Ask the waitress at the restaurant you eat at, ask at the front desk of your hotel, ask the guy behind the counter at the convenience store. Don’t just use the opinion of one; get feedback from lots of locals to make the best decision.

AAA Members

If you are not currently a member of AAA, and you do a good bit of summer traveling, then I would seriously consider joining. You can visit your local office and get discounted attraction tickets for places all over. Make sure to look for those hidden gems in your AAA discounts.

When You Arrive

Before you start peppering the locals with questions, I would first grab all the discount coupon books that you see. They should be all over your hotel lobby and at restaurants and convenience stores. Take a quick peek at them first. That way, maybe you can ask the locals some specific questions if a particular attraction you’ve found looks appealing.

There’s nothing worse than arriving for a week or so of fun at a tourist city that you’ve never been to before, only to think that there’s nothing to do after only the first few days. All of these cities have mainstream hotspots, and I’d venture to say that they also have their hidden (inexpensive) gems as well. It’s only a matter of finding them.

Have you found a well-kept secret entertainment spot in a certain vacation town? Share it with our readers below.

(photo credit: samblackman

David Bakke
David started his own personal finance blog, YourFinances101, in June of 2009 and published his first book on ways to save more and spend less called "Don't Be A Mule..." Since then he has been a regular contributor for Money Crashers. He lives just outside Atlanta, GA and most all of his free time is taken up by his amazing three year old son, Nicholas.

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