1. Matagorda, TX
Where it’s at: The northeast coast of Texas in the Gulf of Mexico.
Why it’s affordable: One road reaches Matagorda, Highway 60. It runs along bare spans of farmland, populated only by aluminum-sided barns, parched-looking Sabal palms, and grass-nibbling longhorns. But the fun begins where the road ends: miles of unbothered seashore. And near-virgin beaches means near-stealing prices: you can book a motel room steps from the sand for $75 a night, or get a nice BnB for two for $57 (per person).
Why it’s awesome: There’s not much in the way of dining, or even buildings, but if you have a hankering for local, no-frills fare, then hit up Norby’s Real Pit Bar-B-Q -- just know that it’s actually a trailer. Matagorda Bay is also where the Texas Intercoastal meets the beach, and that means good fishing, in both fresh- and saltwater, mainly for trout, flounder, and redfish.
Also, know this: This part of Texas has the highest count of migrating birds anywhere in the US, so that khaki-clad dude peeping through binoculars isn’t looking at you, he’s not with the Feds, and he definitely doesn’t know what you did last summer (unless you went to Matagorda, in which case he might).