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Fun and almost free: top 5 bike-friendly towns

Friday, July 18th, 2014

Ah, what a feeling to have the world at your fingertips when beginning to make your travel plans, mapping out the places you want to see, the food you want to eat, and the things you absolutely must do. But, wait, how are you going to get around without breaking the bank on transportation costs, once you get to your desired vacation spot? Consider two wheels to cheapen the deal. When travel prices hike, the answer is to bike!

Major cities—the ones you totally want to take an extended weekend trip to—are earning top makes on Walkscore’s list of bike friendly cities. Tight wallets, rejoice! When it comes to your travel expense list, you can cross off cab rides and car rentals.

Join the fleet of penny-wise pedal pushers. Plan your next trek to these bike-lovin’ cities utilizing bike share programs and traveler-friendly bike rental shops:

1.  Portland, OR
Bikescore: 70.3

portland sto size

It makes sense that Portland is number one. Every good hipster has a bike and Portland is to hipsters as a hive is to bees. Surprisingly, Portland has yet to launch a bike share program. Not to worry; you can rent a bike for the whole week for $100 at Pedal Bike Tours. They have five stars on Yelp and are located only two blocks from the Waterfront Park Trail—no brainer.

2.  San Francisco, CA
Bikescore: 70.0

An image of San Franciscans with totally ripped thigh muscles comes to mind when one thinks of all those hills, but alas, it must not be that hard to get around on two wheels if SF is ranking in at number two. These West Coasters have the bike share thing down. A cheap $22 rental for three days of access to Bay Area Bike Share is perfect for you weekend travelers.

3.  Denver, CO
Bikescore: 69.5

denver to size

The mile high city is home to a monstrous 96 miles of bike lanes, which provides a safe place to ride for those new to city cycling. Denver B-cycle is the bike share program in town. At $20 for a week of unlimited rides, this might be the best deal on the list!

4.  Philadelphia, PA
Bikescore: 68.4

philly to size

Liberate your inner child on a ride to the Liberty Bell and right hook those wheels over to the Rocky Steps in the same day. While Philly has yet to adopt a bike share program, there are tentative plans in the works to bring one by spring 2015. Fairmont Bicycles is in your corner for rentals and only a six-minute ride to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The best deal there is a two-day rental for $60.

5.  Boston, MA
Bikescore: 67.8

bigboston to size

Cobblestone streets are no match for the savvy cyclers of Boston. Ride like Paul Revere in and around the circular hub of Bean Town’s central neighborhoods. Although it’s closed during winter, for obvious reasons, bike share is the way to go with The Hubway system. Best deal on the menu is $12 for a 72-hour access pass, leaving plenty of budget left for some chowdah.

Click here for a list of other major US cities with high bikescores.

Cheap Family Labor Day Getaway: St. Louis

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

We know that when you’re trying to travel with family, there’s only one thing better than cheap—free. For a cheap getaway filled with free things to do this Labor Day, look no further than St. Louis, Missouri. St. Louis is, after all, the patron saint of savings (probably). Considering the free zoo and the free museums, this is our kind of town, and we put together a list of stuff to do in the Lou.

Saint Louis skyline

City Views and Muddy Blues

The Gateway Arch defines the St. Louis skyline and if you haven’t had a chance to see this architectural masterpiece, we recommend you head straight there. After you take the ride to the top ($10 adults, $5 kids), take some time to walk along the riverfront.

If you have a taste for those St. Louie blues, or some fun festival food, stroll on down the cobblestone streets of Laclede’s Landing to the Big Muddy Blues Festival. Two of the three stages are free, and kids are welcome.

After you walk around, let your kids climb around at the City Museum. Don’t let the name fool you—this place is less like a museum and more like a four story jungle gym made out of recycled materials (including an airplane, a school bus, and—you guessed it—a giant whale). It’s something your kids will never forget. The playtime experience is 12 bucks a pop, but this uncommon place, and the uncommon chance for you to take a breather, is worth every penny.

End the night with some of the best ice cream in the country. Ted Drewes on Chippewa is one of the oldest and best known ice cream (sorry, frozen custard) shops in America. Located on the old Route 66, this place serves concretes so thick you can hold them upside down, and has done since 1929.

 

Z is for Free Zoo

Start off day two with a little adventure by checking out the Saint Louis Zoo. This is our absolute favorite type of zoo—the free type. With over 90 acres, the zoo is one of the largest and best in the country. And if you get there before 9am, the children’s zoo is free too.

Afterward, save a few bucks on lunch by packing a picnic in the park. Then browse around the free art museum, free history museum and free science center, all of which have free parking.

When dinner time rolls around, it’s a short drive to St. Louis’ Italian neighborhood, the Hill. These authentic, family owned Italian restaurants serve up the best food in the city. Taste the classics as they were meant to be tasted, or try the city’s signature toasted ravioli.

Before you go to the airport Monday, try out Ari’s Restaurant and Bar for breakfast. St. Louis Magazine calls this the Cheapest Breakfast in Town, and it’s hard to argue with their math. Ari’s buffet style breakfast is $6.95 for adults, and $3.95 for kids. And that includes the coffee.

5 tips for cheap vacations with kids

Monday, April 16th, 2012

 

Not-so-cramped-quarters: Courtyard by Marriott Anaheim at Disneyland Resort offers family suites on the cheap.

By Valerie Moloney

As the self-designated CEO of the household, I embrace any opportunity to shave money off the family budget. I’ll buy Irish Spring even if passion fruit pomegranate body mousse smells much prettier. I frequent flash sales, and scour the boards for promo codes (because who wants to pay for shipping?). (more…)

All about adrenaline: Spring ramps up with new rollercoasters

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

 

Six Flags Great America's X-Flight is scheduled to open this May. Credit: Six Flags Great America

By Angie Jaime

Spring is here early (thanks global warming) and that means only one thing — time to take a family vacation to scope the season’s latest theme park expansions.

Heartland thrill junkies can soar at 3,000 feet on Six Flags Great Americas latest, X-Flight. Five inversions, a 12 story drop and a zero-gravity roll are more than enough to get the adrenaline pumping. Designed by the Swiss engineers behind the Raging Bull, SUPERMAN and BATMAN rides, the X-Flight is the first of its kind in the US. The unique “wing” design pairs riders on either side of the track, creating the illusion of free flight. This ride will make its home in the County Fair section of the park, replacing the old school Iron Wolf in May.

(more…)

Locking Irish eyes: My run-ins with 2 Irish celebrities

Friday, March 2nd, 2012

Blogger Val Moloney met U2 hotness Larry Mullen Jr. in Chicago's Gold Coast 10 years ago. Credit: Clancy3434.

By Valerie Moloney

In the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day, let’s talk random run-ins. (more…)

Desert chic: 3 hip & cheap Palm Springs hotels

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

Move over Miami: The candyland of the desert is The Saguaro, an option for a cheap spring break vacay.

By Valerie Moloney

Cancun, Galveston, Miami Beach – they’re the spring break capitals made famous by MTV and its abtastic extras, places that continue – even without the cameras – to pump up the party with DJs, boat bashes and celeb appearances. But here’s one resort community that practically invented the tradition: Palm Springs. And it’s affordable, too. Just follow the cacti to these cheap Palm Springs hotels for a taste of what Sinatra knew so well: Sometimes the sweetest dessert is in the desert. (more…)

Beach bars & bike paths: What to do this fall in the O.C.

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

A shore thing: The laidback charm of artist enclave Laguna Beach. Credit: Lavender Dreamer.

By Stephanie Toller Negrete

Seaside mansions. Tan, buff bodies. Convertibles and high-end boutiques. Sure, they’re all part of the California dream, but only part of the reality. In the O.C., embrace a more laidback lifestyle, especially in the fall when the summer crowds are gone and the weather is just gorgeous. Enticing lodging rates help, too, so that we can all coast to a cheap Orange County hotel during one of the best seasons of the year. (more…)

Mountains & mining towns: Things to do in Phoenix this fall

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

Ain't no mountain high enough: Hike Pinnacle Peak Park for views of the valley and desert. Credit: Friends of Pinnacle Peak Park.

By Janet Bazan

Contrary to popular belief, strolling pumpkin patches and apple orchards aren’t the only things to do this fall. Head 2,700 miles west of New England to find one of the most brilliant color parades around: the trails in Phoenix. (more…)

Stock up on style: Bring your hotel room home

Tuesday, August 9th, 2011

Sleep like a dream on the Westin Heavenly Bed? Bring one home.

By Derek Brown

There’s always a sense of anticipation after slipping your key card into your hotel room door. How cozy will that bed be? What stylish furniture awaits? Well here’s a little secret: Some of your favorite hotels — including major chains such as Hilton, Marriott and Kimpton — sell those linens, accent tables, and even mattresses so you can bring the luxury home. In fact, just about anything in the room is up for sale (and brand new, too). (more…)

5 postcard-perfect hotel pools for lounging and fun

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

Lounge at the Valley Ho in Scottsdale.

By Derek Brown

Sunglasses are required luggage to check into these hotels.  The glistening pool water could be blinding. So pull up a chair, lather on the sunscreen and kick back at these 5 refreshing hotel pools. (more…)