What is the next step up from your kit lens? Try a prime lens! It's a lens with a fixed focal length (which means it won't zoom), but it gives you great sharpness and a wider aperture. Some are pretty affordable, too. Options under $250 include 50mm and 35mm for Nikon, and 50mm and 24mm for Canon. There are other manufacturers that make a 50mm, like Sony (about $200-$250) and Pentax (about $275).
Because of their reasonable pricing and fast shipping we purchase a lot of our equipment through Amazon. We also recently joined their associate program, so, if you're in the market for a new lens please support us by using the links below!