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Note: All travel is subject to frequently-changing governmental restrictions—please check federal, state, and local advisories before scheduling trips. 

If you enjoy hiking but aren’t fond of heavy packs, dry food, or sleeping in tents on the hard ground, we’ve got something for you. It’s called hut hiking, and it combines remote wilderness with some modern “cabin” conveniences such as bathrooms, a roof over your head, the wonder of mattresses, and easily prepared hot meals.

Although big in Europe, hut hiking never really caught on in America. That’s not to say hikeable huts don’t exist here. But they are limited to only a few routes in the entire nation and are noticeably more primitive when compared to the often full-service, multi-course meals, and shower-powered huts found abroad.

Regardless of quality, hut hiking is a game-changer for people who like good food, better sleep, lighter packs, fixed shelter, and improved hygiene as they explore the great outdoors on foot.

RELATED: The East Coast’s best fall hikes

Burn Hut (Credit: Blake Snow)

If you want to know what to expect, this year, as closed borders continue to prioritize domestic travel, I hut-hiked Colorado’s Sneffels Traverse with my wife and six friends. Unknown to almost everyone but widely regarded as one of the most scenic spots in one of the nation’s most beautiful states, I felt as though I had uncovered a hidden gem while walking 35 miles over five days and four nights along the north face of Mount Sneffels—the over 14,000 foot centerpiece peak of the San Juan Mountains.  The hike starts just outside of Telluride, one of the most majestic and lively mountain towns you’ll ever find. It’s worth spending a few pre-trek nights here. If that weren’t enough, the trek finishes in Ouray (pronounced “you-ray”), which is even more delightful, since it sits in an even tighter amphitheater of mountains. Known for being “The Switzerland of America,” I can attest that Ouray is just that, having hiked both it and the Alpine country it’s named after.  On our first day of hiking, we quickly became fatigued above 10,000 feet, which you’ll do through several sections of the traverse. By day two, however, our party had acclimated and was confident with the mileage ahead of us. By the second afternoon, the already affordable $30/night per person hike had paid for itself after dropping into a surreal, flower-filled valley with Mount Sneffels as the backdrop.  

Willis Creek Overlook (Credit: Blake Snow)

As for the huts, we were thrilled. For instance, the North Pole hut overlooks one of the most beautiful mountain pastures I’ve seen anywhere in the world. What the Blue Lakes hut lacked in scenery, it made up for with an included trash can to lighten our load and a nearby icy but refreshing river to bathe in. The other two huts (Ridgeway and Burn) were just as clean, if not more scenic, and equally great places to spend the afternoons and evenings after a half day of hiking. “They were all much better than expected,” my wife remarked.  Along the trail, we crossed streams and rivers several times a day, not only to collect water, but to soak our feet, picnic, or take a dip wherever the swimming conditions allowed. We heard birds singing, crossed a reverent grove of giant Aspen trees, took in the sunset at Willis Creek Overlook, and cooked our meals on propane stoves in the well-lit huts. Thanks to a “food drop” mid-way through, we never had to carry more than two days worth of food. Water we could find every other mile or so.  We saw so much on our hike—except for other humans. In fact, we only passed two other pairs of day hikers the entire week. I’ve had the pleasure of backpacking some of the greatest hut hikes on four different continents: Mont Blanc in The Alps of Europe, Kumano Kodo in Asia, and Patagonia in South America. But the week I spent crossing the Sneffels Traverse was as good as any hut hike in the world.

Last day hiking (Credit: Blake Snow)

Pro tip: For the big finish in Ouray, be sure to treat yourself with a giant cheeseburger and fries from Maggie’s Kitchen and soak in the hot springs at Ouray’s city pool. You can find deals on Our hotels right here in CheapTickets.com. About the author: Blake Snow contributes to fancy publications and Fortune 500 companies as a bodacious writer-for-hire and frequent travel columnist. He lives in Provo, Utah with his supportive family and their “bullador beagle.”

Tagged: Cheap City, USA, Cheap Tips, Colorado, Destinations

Note: CheapTickets compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site.

Blake Snow

Blake Snow

Blake contributes to fancy publications and Fortune 500 companies as a writer-for-hire and frequent travel columnist. He lives in Provo, Utah with his supportive family and loyal dog.
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Note: All travel is subject to frequently-changing governmental restrictions—please check federal, state, and local advisories before scheduling trips. 

Finally getting around to planning that week-long hike in the jungle or maybe you’re traveling for a gap year? Well, one thing you’re going to need is a trusty backpack, a.k.a., your new best friend.

A backpack is something that can last a lifetime of travel and adventure, but it’s important to research which one might be the best fit for you. Things to consider…  Will you be bringing trekking poles and a lot of heavy gear for camping? Do you plan an acquiring a massive amount of souvenirs along the way? Will you be exposed to the elements?

When considering your pack, the most important things to take into account are weight, organization, and comfort above all else. There are hundreds of rucksacks on the market boasting a high number of compartments, adjustable straps, and other valued assets, but we found these five were among the best in terms of having your back (literally) for many voyages to come.

RELATED: 6 tips for exploring any city like a local

Osprey Archeon Women’s 65 & Men’s 70

The Archeon 65L and 70L have men and women’s specific fits, so you already know you’re getting a thoughtful design. And while this may not be first on your list of wants and needs in a pack, this new collection is sustainable and made out of recycled canvas. A win for the environment.

The company mentions that the pack is “built with comfortable carry and versatility top of mind.” And with features like an adjustable harness and straps, dual zippered hip belt pockets, and a sleeping bag compartment with floating divider, that rings true. It also has some features you may not have even thought you needed, like a removable raincover and internal reservoir sleeve.

Price: $340

Fjallraven Bergtagen 38

When you think of Fjallraven, multi-colored mini backpacks that are popular among teenagers may come to mind. But the company actually launched in 1960 and quickly became known as a cold weather mountain trekking brand in Sweden.

So if you’re planning a climb or trek. the Bergtagen 38L carry-on pack is for you. It has the ability to transform to accommodate different uses, which means that you can have a light pack for shorter excursions and more support for long treks. The material is sturdy and tear resistant, plus it’s made from partially sourced recycled materials. And the waterproof material means you’ll have one less thing to worry about when you’re in the mountains.

Price: $265

GORUCK GR3

Any bag that comes with a lifetime guarantee has got to be good. That’s the case with the GORUCK GR3 45L carry on backpack, which is extremely durable and tear-resistant. It’s also TSA carry-on compliant, meaning you can take it for a month long Euro-trip and won’t have to worry about spending more to check your bag.

The pack has everything you’ll need for an extended trip: opens flat, extra padded straps and handles, multiple pockets, removable hip belt, and a hydration port to name a few. So while the price may be high, the lifetime Scars guarantee and all of the perks make it worth it.

Price: $395

OGIO Alpha Convoy 525R Backpack

If you’re day tripping, then the OGIO 25-28 liter backpack may be your new travel buddy. It’s on the smaller size, so it would be good for minimalist overnights, but has two large pockets for water bottles, a zippered side entrance to the main compartment and a multi-configuration roll-top closure so you can fit more of your gear. The adjustable shoulder and sternum straps ensure a good fit and the sturdy construction means that this bag is built to last.

Price: $130

Highlander Ben Nevis 85L Rucksack

The Highlander is a practical backpack made for durability, with plenty of storage room, which makes it ideal for multi-day trips and traveling. The company states that it has “loads of features” and they did not disappoint. The pack has 85L capacity and comes with a dividable main compartment with inner slip pocket, snow collar, and detachable and adjustable floating lid. What doesn’t it have?

Outside, there is a huge stretchy front pocket, zippered side pockets, and generous side compartments. It also comes with an integrated rain cover hidden inside a dedicated pocket at the bottom of the backpack. Needless to say, this rucksack will have you covered for any and every trek.

Price: $226.95

Tagged: Uncategorized

Note: CheapTickets compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site.

Jeanette Zinno

Jeanette Zinno

Jeanette Zinno

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Note: All travel is subject to frequently-changing governmental restrictions—please check federal, state, and local advisories before scheduling trips. 

The past 12 months have been the year of FOMO. We’ve all been stuck inside thinking about what we wish we could have done when we had the chance. Well, it’s time to stop fixating on what you should have done and start planning what you will do this summer. Everyone has a list of things they want to try, and we say there’s no time like the present to take back summer. Ready… set… go!

RELATED: 9 fantastic events that are definitely happening this summer

Take up surfing

A young Black surfer walks along a scenic rocky coastline looking for surf. He is carrying his surfboard on his way to go surfing

You know this has been on your bucket list for a while. You keep fantasizing and making halfhearted plans, but it’s just never the right time. This summer, get to it. As you consider beach towns, this is also the opportunity to browse their local surf shops.

DO IT While waves can be found on each coast (and even the Great Lakes!), Santa Cruz (the name you’ve seen on a trillion sweatshirts) is a great place to try the sport in California. Cowells on the west side offers long, smooth cruises that are ideal for beginner surfers. Additionally, there are plenty of options for surf lessons offered around town where they will take you to less competitive locations.

Find a great deal on a Santa Cruz hotel right here.

Take an epic road trip

Aerial shot of a car with a roof box on a road on a ridge above Calf Creek in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah at sunrise.

After being stuck inside, glued to a laptop screen for a whole year, a change of scenery is overdue. If you’re one of the many sitting in stale sweatpants on Zoom calls shoulder to shoulder with your roommate or significant other, it’s time to take a summer escape.

DO IT In whichever region of the country you may reside, there are plentiful options for an epic road trip. That said, there is something otherworldly about Utah’s Scenic Byway 12, which takes in a diverse range of geography beginning with Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument’s deep canyons as you pass along the “Hogs Back.” You will then be presented with pine groves and meadows of Boulder Mountain before returning to the deserts of Capitol Reef.

Find a great place to stay near Utah’s natural wonders here.

Go skinny dipping

Photo courtesy of Travis County Parks

Suns out, buns out! This is something you’ve flirted with for years and, let’s be honest, you know you want to do it. Plus, imagine all your new followers you’d get, should you be daring enough to post on Instagram. All you really need is a lake or some form of water.

DO IT If you’re a free spirit visiting Austin, Texas, go au naturel at Lake Travis just 30 minutes from downtown. The lake, nicknamed “Hippie Hollow,” has a long history of being a nudist hot spot. Pick your swimming buddies of choice, and leave the bathing suits at home!

Find the perfect place to stay in Austin here.

Take an overnight hike

Atmospheric mountain landscape with vivid orange tent on hill under night starry sky. Tent glow by orange light with view of snowy mountains in starry night. Overnight in nature in great mountains. (Atmospheric mountain landscape with vivid orange ten

It’s time to ditch your Zoom cardio classes. It is also time to cross an amazing hiking experience off your bucket list. Hiking during daylight is good and all, but an overnight hike is the perfect way to get all the baggage of the last 12 months out of your system.

DO IT Luckily, you can do a hike no matter where you live. But if you are fortunate enough to live near the Rockies, the options are limitless. The 11-mile hike to Kings Lake is the perfect backpacking adventure to satisfy your outdoor craving and offers the perfect mountain scenery along with wild flours and alpine lakes. Picture the moon bouncing off the cool mountain lakes or the sun rising over snow-capped peaks. It almost makes us want to throw our computer across the room right now and give in to the freedom of nature.

 Find your ideal Rocky Mountain abode right here.

Watch the sunrise

Photo Courtesy of Acadia National Park

Sunsets are played out. Yes, they’re pretty, but all you need to do to see one is stay up past 7pm, which is an easy feat so long as you’re not 105. Instead, add watching the sunrise to your bucket list.

DO IT Quite literally the proclaimed first place to see the sun each day is Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park in Maine which is accompanied by deservedly panoramic ocean views that can be taken in from its peak. Let the first rays of light in the United States shine down upon you while knocking back a beer or wine.

Book your Acadia National Park hotel right here. 

Take a craft beer crawl

Female bartender pouring craft beer on tap in a glass

We could all use a drink. That said, many city bars are tentatively beginning to open their doors. To make up for lost time, a bar crawl is long overdue.

DO IT In Chicago, bar crawlers have an abundance of options to suit their beer preferences, plus great public transit. For those looking to take in local flavors, breweries and craft beer bars worth visiting include Marz Brewing, Pipeworks Brewery, Goose Island, Revolution Brewing, Map Room, Hopleaf, Maria’s Packaged Goods and Community Bar, and Half Acre. If you  want to walk from one tap room to the next, hit up “Malt Row” in the Ravenswood neighborhood, where you’ll find about 10 different breweries and distilleries within blocks.

Get a good deal on a Chicago hotel here.

 

Book a cabin in the woods

Vietnamese woman in her late 20's reading a magazine on her blue leather couch in a cabin with a fire

You know how you and your friends have always been talking about getting out of the city? What better way to make up for lost time socializing than booking a place with your crew away from work, stress and civilization. Maybe this place even has iffy phone service, perfect for cancelling out all distractions and being in the moment.

DO IT Woodsy cabins are everywhere, but CheapTickets offer tons of great options at great prices. Picture your crew taking a hike through rolling hills, riding ATVs, or jumping in a cold lake. At night, kick back on the front porch after having a few too many, while looking at the stars. All the trauma of the past year will feel like a distant memory.

Right this way to your fantastic cabin getaway!

Bungee jump—in tandem

A man jumps from a cliff into the abyss.

Afraid of heights and maybe a committed relationship, as well? It’s almost a cliché to face a fear of heights by literally diving head on into them with nothing but a bungee cord between you and the chasm below. There is also no way to feel closer to someone than experiencing sheer terror together (just kidding!) But seriously, try it; it’s fun.

DO IT In Arizona, Navajo Bridge Highway 89A between Bitter Springs and Jacob Lake, offers an excellent example, almost cliché, of an ideal bridge to take a nosedive off. Picture the sun beaming off your face as you take in the magnificent desert landscapes while you plummet into the gorge 450 feet below. Prices at this particular location range from $250- $350 per jumper. More info can be found here.

Find a cool place to stay in Arizona here.

Tagged: Beach, California, Chicago, City, COVID-19, Destinations, Food & drink, Romance & honeymoon, Seasonal, Texas, Texas

Note: CheapTickets compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site.

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Note: All travel is subject to frequently-changing governmental restrictions—please check federal, state, and local advisories before scheduling trips.

Summertime is upon us, and that means it’s time to soak up some sun. Tubing down the river with friends offers a nice change of scenery. Whether it’s a lazy drift, a party river, or something with some fun rapids, few things are better when it comes to beating the summer heat. But don’t forget to prepare. Pack light and keep your phone, wallet, and keys in a dry bag; apply plenty of sunscreen; wear a pair of sunglasses that float; know the rules on drinks; don’t bring glass bottles or Styrofoam coolers, and pack out what you pack in. Now get out there and enjoy these top 6 tubing rivers in America!

RELATED: This is the ultimate cross-country National Parks road trip

Snoqualmie River: Fall City, WA

If you live in Seattle or you’re just visiting, adventure into spectacular Pacific Northwest scenery with your friends for a float down the Snoqualmie River. Only 30 minutes from downtown, Fall City Floating rents everything from tubes and sunscreen to water shoes, dry bags, and coolers. They’ll also transport everyone upstream to just below the famous Snoqualmie Falls. Your meandering 2.5 to 4-hour float starts here. The water is a bit chilly, but the river is lined with beaches where you can pull over and soak up the summer sun.

Find a fantastic hotel in Fall City here. 

Ginnie Springs: High Springs, FL

Woman in bikini peacefully relaxes on green swimming tube and floats down lazy river bathed in late day golden sunlight

Thanks to the area’s crystal clear spring water, Ginnie Springs is a go-to destination in North-Central Florida just an hour from Gainesville. Visit the Ginnie Springs General Store to pay your admission fee and pick up a single or double tube along with other float essentials. Then, enter the water at Beaver’s Landing for a lazy float down the Santa Fe River. The journey past palmettos and underneath a canopy of Spanish oak dripping with moss takes about an hour, but depending on the current, it could be longer. Just remember to bring your sandals for the short 15-minute walk back to the parking lot.

Stay close to Ginnie Springs with one of these hotels. 

San Marcos River: San Marcos, TX

When temps hover above triple digits in San Marcos—located just 30 miles from Austin—it’s time to head for the San Marcos River. The water is 72 degrees and slowly flows through pecans, oaks, and magnolias making it the perfect cool-off experience. Texas State Tubes’s “walk up and tube” option takes about three hours, and they’ll shuttle you back upstream when you’re done. You can also pick up refreshments and rent a tube from the San Marcos Lions Club, then play around for a while before shooting the falls at Rio Vista Park. Just hold onto your drink.

Book your San Marcos hotel here.

Truckee River: Reno, NV

In a region of the Sierra Nevada range better known for whitewater rafting, the Truckee River’s relaxed waters send tubers on a more chill 5-mile float. Pick up supplies and a $25 tube at one of the local gas stations or enjoy an inexpensive tour with Sierra Adventures, then be ready for anything. A day on the Truckee also means seeing everything from makeshift floating devices and party camps set up on a beach to super soaker battles between fellow tubing parties.

Find the perfect place to stay in Reno here.

Apple River: Somerset, WI

Photo of teenage girls swimming in the river while hanging out in nature; enjoying their youth and friendship and spending a hot summer day outdoors.

A day spent tubing down the Apple River is one of the great traditions of the Midwest, not to mention an epic party scene every summer. River riders here tie their tubes together, throw the communal cooler with drinks in the middle, then float for 2.5 to 3.5 hours, stopping midway at a sandbar for some food and sand volleyball. It gets even better. The Apple River Hideaway rents tubes for minimal prices and rolls out various music and camping festivals all summer long.

Find a great place to stay near the Apple River right here.

Potomac River: Harpers Ferry, WV

Photo of girlfriends relaxing on inflatable rings in the river

If whitewater tubing is more your thing, the Potomac River is calling your name. Gear up at River Riders, then take on their exciting, self-guided tube ride, voted as one of the best tubing trips in America. It’ll send you paddling around obstacles, through flat water and shallow areas, and down class I-III white water. It also passes by the historic town of Harper’s Ferry. Go with a friend or battle the rapids with a large group of your most adventurous buddies. Keep in mind this 1-3.5-hour adventure is best for people in good physical condition and who are strong swimmers.

Find a good deal on hotels near Harpers Ferry here.

Tagged: Cheap City, USA, Cheap Tips, Destinations, Florida, Seasonal, seattle, Texas, Texas, Top 10 list, Types of Travel

Note: CheapTickets compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site.

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Note: All travel is subject to frequently changing governmental restrictions—please check federal, state and local advisories before scheduling trips.

Wintertime has sports enthusiasts hitching up their skis, snowshoes, and snowboards. But those aren’t the only options for adventure seekers. Imagine going surfing, kite skiing or being pulled along by a horse, dog, or motor vehicle? Yes, there are some interesting winter sports out there! This winter, give one of these unusual activities a try—we’ve included a great place to stay for each, to rest up and warm up between your outdoor adventures.

RELATED: 5 hot springs in gorgeous natural settings

Ice climbing in Michigan

Credit: Pure Michigan

This winter sport involves the scaling up of icefalls, cliffs, and rock slabs by swinging your axe into the ice, holding on tight, and inching your way up a frozen ladder. In Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, this activity is way cool at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Lake effect snow and colder temperature merge with numerous waterfalls, porous sandstone cliffs, and water seeping out of rock layers to create the foundations for climbing. Plus, the Michigan Ice Fest puts ice climbing up close to viewers and participants in Munising, which is also home to the famous lakeshore. 

Where to stay: Consider the Holiday Inn Express Munising-Lakeview or AmericInn by Wyndham Wetmore Munising

Heli-snowmobiling in Colorado

Similar to heli-skiing, this winter sport transports enthusiasts to a remote site by helicopter, where they will start their adventure riding on a snowmobile. In Aspen, The Gant offers this unique experience to their guests via a partnership with Nomad Inc. through a booking package. The opportunity encompasses not only safety equipment, and of course the snowmobile, but also brings participants to Rocky Mountain backcountry terrain. Another unusual winter sport to try: ice-karting atop a frozen lake in Western Colorado’s Roaring Fork Valley.

Where to stay: The Gant gives you easy access to help-skiing.

Ice boating in Wyoming

Yes, you can take a boat out along frozen waters, as there are vessels that are made specifically to carry out this icy excursion (also known as ice sailing). In Cheyenne, locals go ice boating on the North Crow Reservoir of Curt Gowdy State Park, the largest of the park’s three reservoirs. But plan ahead: It’s advised to call the park’s visitors center ahead of time to get the status of the ice and to make sure they have access on wintry days.

Where to stay:  Little America Cheyenne and Tru by Hilton Cheyenne WY are both about a half-hour drive to the park.

Kite skiing in Utah

Credit: Jeremiah Watt

Apparently, you can do more with a kite than fly it. During wintertime in Utah, kite skiing—the sport of using this light-framed toy to catch the wind for pulling along ski-wearing kite holders—can be done primarily within the Utah Skyline Drive Snowkiting Area. Skyline Drive is located in the Manti-La Sal National Forest in Central and Southeastern Utah and is best accessed from Sanpete Valley, a two-hour drive from Salt Lake City. 

Where to stay: Ramada by Wyndham Price is a two-hour ride from Manti-La Sal National Forest.

Ice fishing in New York

Credit: visitlakegeorge.com

Bundle up and bait your hook! The Empire State offers plenty of places for dropping a fishing line into an ice opening on a frozen body of water. Certain species of fish—from lake and brown trout to Atlantic salmon—also swim here this time of year. If you’re an angler, New York’s waterways from Lake George to the Hudson River and even the lower Niagara River and Maxwell Creek offer many catching options. Start off in the Lake George Area at Schroon Lake, Glen Lake (which is also the site of an annual ice fishing festival) and Lake Luzerne. But first, visit the New York State of Environmental Conservation’s website for details on licenses, safety tips, and regulations.

Where to stay: Near Lake Luzerne, Clarion Inn & Suites at the Outlets of Lake George is just a 15-minute drive away. 

Skijoring in Wisconsin

What’s skijoring? Picture people wearing skis and letting any anything from dogs to horses to vehicles pull them along. Consider trying it in Sparta at Justin Trails Resort, which offers a designated dog skijor trail and lessons for those wanting a crash course. Access to the resort’s trail system is $5 for day visitors and free for lodging guests.  Mt. Ashwabay ski and recreation area in Bayfield allows visitors to bring their own dog to experience skijoring on their wide, groomed dog-friendly trails.

Where to stay: Located about 15 minutes from Mt. Ashwabay, stay at The Washburn Inn – On The Lake, or opt for a more secluded overnight at Mission Springs Resort in Ashland, which features a private beach and is dog-friendly.

 

Tagged: Cheap Tips, Destinations, New York City, Off-season, Seasonal, Types of Travel

Note: CheapTickets compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site.

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Note: All travel is subject to frequently changing governmental restrictions—please check federal, state and local advisories before scheduling trips.

In the year of social distancing, National Parks may seem like the obvious answer to wanderlust. Unfortunately, we all have the exact same thought. The 10 most visited national parks in the United States all attract millions of people annually. Nothing can deflate a profound experience with nature like hiking to a pristine mountain lake and finding a hoard of Instagramers. However, many state parks offer the same breathtaking scenery sans the crowds. Here are eight awesome state parks to check out now.

RELATED: What to pack for a camping trip

Eldorado Canyon State Park vs. Rocky Mountain National Park: Colorado

Photo: Courtesy of Boulder, CO

Located near Rocky Mountain National Park in Boulder County, beautiful Eldorado is a haven for rock climbers boasting more than 500 technical routes. As a result, “Eldo’s” cliffs have become a draw for climbers from all over the world.  However, non-climbers will love the 11 miles of stunning trails ranging from difficult to easy. Being located near the Denver area makes this park a popular destination in the summer months. In winter, strap on cross country skis or snowshoes and enjoy some true peace and quiet.

Custer State Park vs. Yellowstone National Park: South Dakota

Photo: Courtesy of South Dakota Dept. of Tourism

Millions flock to Yellowstone each year to take in the abundant wildlife. But it’s not the only wildlife hog out there. At Custer State Park, one can see mule deer, antelope, mountain goats, elk, coyotes, bighorn sheep, wild turkeys, prairie dogs, mountain lions, bobcats and… most popular of all, buffalo. While much of this wildlife is easily viewed a car via scenic drives, there is an abundance of trails for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding. Additionally, the park hosts a vast array of activities including rock climbing, bird watching, canoeing, kayaking, snowshoeing. It should go without saying but… don’t feed or approach the wildlife.

Sinkyone Wilderness State Park vs. Redwood Forest National Park: California

Photo: Courtesy of Kingdom California

For those who really want to put an emphasis on social distancing, Sinkyone is just the place. Also referred to as the Lost Coast, this wilderness area presents a nice alternative to Redwood National Park. While reaching it is somewhat of an ordeal due to lack of major roads or highway access, those who visit will be rewarded with stunning wilderness, zero sounds of traffic, and no signs of civilization. The impact of humans in this region is minimal with just a single-track trail across coastal bluffs for miles. The park hosts old redwood groves, canyons, tide pools, seasonal wildflowers, waterfalls and dark sand beaches. Wildlife include elk, harbor seals and sea lions along the coastline, and gray wales during winter and early spring. Note: Beware of the occasional extended visit due to a mudslide or fallen tree blocking the road out.

Dead Horse Point State Park vs. Arches National Park: Utah

Photo: Courtesy of Moab Adventure Center

While Arches and nearby Canyonlands National Park are both undeniably incredible, there is an equally breathtaking alternative located 32 miles from Moab known as Dead Horse Point State Park. Legend has it that in the late 1800s the area was used to corral wild mustangs wandering the mesa. Today one can stare down at the Colorado River from 2,000 feet above. There are miles of pet-friendly trails and the park is a favorite among mountain bikers. Complementing the river views are those of the sublime night sky.

Baxter State Park vs. Acadia National Park: Maine

Many visitors travel to Acadia each year to take in Maine’s rugged wilderness. However, in central Maine lies an equally compelling substitute thanks to its numerous mountains—the highest being Baxter Peak at the northern end of the Appalachian Trail. The 200,000-acre park is also home to a diverse range of wildlife including moose, white tailed deer and black bear. Activities include hiking and fly-fishing and 25% of the park is even open to hunting. Camping happens May 15 to October 15 and December 1 to March 31, however only Appalachian Trail hikers can stay in the park without a permit. In the spirit of keeping the “Forever Wild” philosophy expressed by former Governor Baxter, for whom the park is named, there is no electricity, running water, or paved roads and audio or visual devices that disturb wildlife are prohibited.

Ecola State Park vs. Crater Lake National Park: Oregon

Photo: Courtesy of Oregon State Parks

Crater Lake has long been Oregon’s crown jewel. But when planning your trip through Oregon, how about picturing cliffside views of secluded coves, densely forested promontories and shorelines as well as an abandoned lighthouse. These are the sights that can be seen at Ecola State Park. With 9 miles of coastline, this popular hiking destination also offers activities from surfing to wildlife observation. Indian beach is popular among surfers while beach loungers love its tide pools and ocean views complemented by grassy bluffs and spruce forest. Among the trails is an 8-mile segment of the Oregon Coast Trail, and a 2 ½-mile historical interpretive route known as Clatsop Loop Trail. While hiking, be on the lookout for deer, elk, eagles and more.

Roan Mountain State Park vs. Smoky Mountain National Park: Tennessee

Photo courtesy of Tennessee State Parks

Smoky Mountain National Park is the most visited park in the United States. In 2019, it attracted 12.5 million visitors. What if there was a place nearby where you could experience all of Smoky’s amazing qualities minus the crowds? Located in the Blue Ridge of the Appalachian Mountains, Roan Mountain State Park boasts proximity to the famed Appalachian Trail and Roan Mountain. One can partake in a variety of outdoor activities including cross country skiing, mountain biking, camping, fishing and, naturally, hiking. Additional attractions include the historic Miller Homestead and the Roan Mountain Rhododendron Festival held during the alpine catawba rhododendron bloom in June.

Red Rock State Park vs. The Grand Canyon: Arizona

It can be agonizing to choose from Arizona’s variety of breathtaking landscapes. The most well-known of these is the Grand Canyon, but this does not mean alternate options are not equally amazing. In Sedona sits Red Rock State Park, a 286-acre nature preserve boasting a magnificent red sandstone canyon and the 1.4-mile Oak Creek. Among the massive rock formations is Cathedral Rock, one of Arizona’s most famous landmarks. Hiking trail Eagles Nest Loop leads to the highest peak in the park. Additionally, the park hosts year-round activities like guided jeep tours.

Bonus: Inyo National Forest

With a diverse range of biomes from deserts to mountains, coastal redwoods to alpine forest and numerous National Parks, California is spoiled for beauty and it can be easy to overlook certain destinations. Millions flock to Yosemite each year giving it almost city-like traffic. However, two hours south of Yosemite lies Inyo, home of the world’s oldest tress, the Ancient Bristle Cone Pine which can live to be more than 4,000 years old! This is complemented by stunning backdrops where one can take in panoramic views of the Sierra and White Mountains. There is no shortage of hiking, including part of the famed Pacific Crest Trail. There is also top-notch boulders for climbing enthusiasts. Additionally, both free and affordable camping is found in the national forest as well in the nearby town of Bishop.

Tagged: California, Destinations, Off-season, Types of Travel

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Wanna explore an ancient Mayan site for just $3 or bunk in a Nordic-themed hotel-hostel hybrid for less than $50? How about wandering the bustling streets of a Chinese, Indian and Muslim-influenced capital for free? The world is your oyster and it doesn’t even take the price of a pearl to see and do so much of it. Here are 10 destinations to check out in 2020 that won’t break the bank.

RELATED: 10 best cheap places to travel in 2019

Portugal

Silhouette of a little boy standing on the enter in Benagil cave on the coast of the Algarve in Portugal.

Looking for a great reason to visit western Iberia in 2020? We have a few. First, Air Portugal recently launched several non-stop flights from the U.S. for a lot less than other European airlines, and that includes a free five-day “stopover.” Second, UNESCO just recognized two new World Heritage sites in Portugal: the Bom Jesus do Monte sanctuary in Braga (to the north) and Mafra National Palace just outside of Lisbon (in the south). On top of that, you’ll still get the same sleepy beaches, fewer crowds, and remarkable outdoor adventure the country is known for, not to mention its beloved “pousadas” (aka converted luxury hotels you can afford).

Campeche, Mexico

Colorful empty colonial street in the historic center of Campeche, Mexico

Get to Campeche right now. We’re not exaggerating. Mexico’s self-described “Rainbow City” offers an old town ringed by ancient fortresses and colorful buildings that offer a siren’s call to Instagrammers, plus the city is a mere stone’s throw to Edzna, a pristine and hardly visited Mayan archaeological site ($3 entry fee) and saner alternative to overrun Chichén Itzá. This Yucatan city is so off radar that it’s near impossible to even find a souvenir shop. That’s about to end. In 2019 its lovely port welcomed its first cruise ship and more are on the way. So seriously, get here now.

Washington, DC

Parents teach daughter about busy public transportation at commuter metro station

In case you’re a cave dweller, there’s a big election happening here in autumn. But 2020 also marks the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment, which granted women the right to vote (make sure you use that fundamental right in said election). Celebrate throughout the year in the nation’s capital with the National Museum of Women in the Arts, the National Museum of American History, the National Portrait Gallery and more—all of which boast special  anniversary exhibitions and all of which are completely free.

North Macedonia

Breathtaking view of Saint John at Kaneo in the morning. It's a Macedonian Orthodox church situated on the cliff over Kaneo Beach overlooking Lake Ohrid in the city of Ohrid, Republic of Macedonia.

Europe has a long list of once-affordable places tourists have rushed to before the masses. Think Prague, Hungary, the Baltic States, Croatia and Portugal. In 2020 the spotlight will shine brightly on affordable North Macedonia (which only added North to its name in 2019). Wander the 12th century Old Bazaar in the capital Skopje, kayak the sublime Matka Canyon and do as European holidaymakers do and swim and sunbathe around Lake Orhid while absorbing regional history. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the oldest human settlements in Europe and was recently expanded in 2019. The cost? A 4-star hotel in Skopje costs as little as $38.

New York, New York

Happy Young Man Hanging Out In The City

It’s always a great time to visit NYC, but we’re already penciling in a trip for 2020 because there’s so. much. happening. Manhattan essentially created a brand new West Side neighborhood with the addition of Hudson Yards. (We can’t wait to take a selfie on the new observation deck and atop freebie art installation Oculus). And now that Webster Hall reopened, we’re planning on staying across the street at the hip but not tooooooo expensive (especially because they will happily squeeze two twin bunk beds into one room) new Moxy East Village or at Ace’s new budget concept Little Sister.

Neuquen, Argentina

View on the lake Nahuel Huapi near Bariloche, Argentina, from Cerro Campanario

Do you still have FOMO from missing 2017’s total solar eclipse? Or were you so wowed by it that you need to see another one, like right now? Either way, as most stargazers already know, Patagonia is the place to be in 2020 for some of the best views of the total solar eclipse, which takes place December 14. If you’re looking for some company as you gaze towards the heavens, plan on hitting the Total Eclipse Gathering in Neuquen, featuring art, music, yoga and dance (think low-tech Burning Man). And with the Argentine peso still low, you’ll be able to party in style.

Portland, Oregon

Young woman exploring a beautiful waterfall on a hike in the Columbia River Gorge outside of Portland, Oregon. It is winter but green and lush.

Perennial travel favorite Portland will only continue to expand on its traveler-friendly reputation in 2020 with a slate of new hotels, including hip Icelandic hostel-dweller fave Kex Portland, and Pearl District newcomer the Harlow Hotel. Escaping into the Pacific Northwest’s iconic forests has gotten a lot safer with alternate trails across heavily trafficked areas. And finally, sleepers and sprinters alike will appreciate the increasingly gut-busting culinary scene, now with exponentially more pizza thanks to openings of local favorites Baby Doll, Cicoria, Dove Vivi and Montesacro.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Batu Caves Lord Murugan in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Want to see a different side of Southeast Asia in 2020? Consider a trip to Kuala Lumpur, the vibrant, underrated capital of Malaysia. Although KL (as it’s often called for short) has been the second-fastest growing destination of 2019, many secrets still dwell within its colorful streets. Malaysia’s rich mix of Chinese, Indian and Muslim citizens permeates both the culinary and cultural fabric of the city, which is worth visiting either as a standalone destination, or as a gateway to the rest of Malaysia. Looking for eye-popping views of twin skyscrapers the Petrona Towers? A luxury five-star right near the Towers costs as little as $69 nightly here.

Key West, Florida

Dry tortuga near key west Florida.

Despite the Keys being devastated by Hurricane Irma in 2017, the nation’s southernmost city is on the come-up with a recent lodging boom that includes cool-kid hotels like adults only, budget hangout NYAH and the pet-friendly Perry. The latest addition, Kimpton Key West, is slated to open in 2020 as Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants’ sixth Florida property and its first in the Keys. And gentlemen, start growing out your facial hair for the 40th annual Hemingway Days in July, when bearded bibliophiles descend upon Key West to honor the iconic author with a look-alike contest, fishing tournament, street fair and more.

Aruba

Aruba, Eagle Beach,CR,GR

We already loved Aruba for its endless miles of crystal waters lapping at white sand beaches, not to mention its fascinating shipwrecks that make for great diving. But, in 2019, the southern Caribbean nation announced major new sustainability initiatives, co-led by both the government and local businesses. For example, while the government is establishing programs to reduce and upcycle plastics, hotel properties like Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort made radical changes to become the Caribbean’s first carbon-neutral resort.

Tagged: Cheap Tips, Destinations, Mexico, Top 10 list

Note: CheapTickets compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site.

CheapTickets Blog Editors

CheapTickets Blog Editors

CheapTickets editors are a diverse group of writers and bloggers who live and work all over the world and who have a passion for student-friendly budget travel coursing through their veins. Whether it's finding the most Instagrammable yurt in the Coachella Valley or uncovering dirt cheap eats in expensive cities like Tokyo and Paris, our writers take the road less traveled to uncover the world's best deals and destinations.
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Wanna jump into a cenote, explore ancient ruins and live like royalty in a sun-drenched Caribbean paradise that won’t break the bank?
Yucatan resort town Playa del Carmen (one hour south of Cancun) abounds with natural wonders, history, adventure, vibrant culinary offerings and breathtaking views—and yet remains a stellar value for travelers. Here are 9 reasons why we love it that have nothing to do with baking in the sun, because a few beach days are, of course, a given!

Zipline like a superhero

Everyone knows that ziplining is a thrilling recreational activity. However, have you ever zoomed over the jungle while upside down? Or perhaps while flying horizontal to the ground like a superhero? How about while lounging in a hammock? Tour company Aventuras Mayas can make these types of adrenaline-fueled experiences happen. Plus, landing platforms are provided, so you won’t wind up slamming into padded tree trunks when you land!

Dive into a waterfilled sinkhole

 

Chukum Cenote, Mexico

Chukum Cenote, Mexico

As you travel though the state of Quintana Roo, you will find numerous natural wonders, including cenotes (sinkholes filled by underground rivers). Cenotes have served as fresh water wells for local Mayan tribes for many generations. However, there are several cenotes in Mexico which have been designated for the visitor experience, including Hacienda Chukum which opened to the public earlier this year and is quickly becoming a must-do experience. The water here is extremely clear and its temperature typically runs about 60 degrees. In addition to being very picturesque, visitors can swim, platform dive, zipline and even rappel into the cenote from its opening! Tours (including lunch buffet) are only $25 per person.

Give the kids a trip to remember…

The all-inclusive Panama Jacks Resort Playa Del Carmen is an activity-filled beachfront property perfect for families. Whether its mom and dad playing a game of water volleyball with their kids, or enjoying a couples spa experience while the little ones are off having fun at the resort’s Camp Jack, the possibilities are endless.

…or give yourself one

Couples will have a resplendent experience at the adults-only all-inclusive Hilton Playa del Carmen. This AAA 4-Diamond property is an all-suites resort and each one includes a whirlpool tub. If that isn’t relaxing enough, try rejuvenating with a Mayan and organic treatment at SPAzul.

Shop Fifth Avenue, but not in New York

One bonus feature about staying at the aforementioned properties: You will be within walking distance of Playa del Carmen’s  Fifth Avenue. This pedestrian walkway is a shoppers paradise. From flea markets to upmarket stores—and everything in between—you will quickly find out that Fifth Avenue is popular among locals and tourists alike.

Honor Frida Kahlo

While strolling Fifth Avenue, visit the Frida Kahlo Museum. Here you will experience the life and times of one of Mexico’s most famous artists. Unlike the Frida Kahlo Museum in Mexico City, this outpost doesn’t include any original works of her art, but uses multimedia to illuminate the artist’s life. Admission is only $15.

Visit a different kind of beach

If you’re traveling with children who aren’t all that interested in shopping, near to Fifth Avenue is Aquarium Beach, which is home to more than 200 species of marine life including giant turtles, rays, tropical fish, seahorses, sharks and more. Both kids and adults will enjoy a visit here, especially if there’s a rainy day during your trip.

Try a rocky road (not the ice cream)

Trek jungle trails on the most powerful ATVs in Riviera Maya with Aventuras Mayas. Their fleet of ATVs can handle virtually any type of terrain with ease, plus the speed and acceleration coming from these machines are very impressive. You’ll have the chance to make tight turns, climb and descend hills and traverse rocks and other obstacles during your journey. And of course, you will be provided a helmet for your ATV rides.

Explore ancient Mayan ruins

chichen itza

Spending a week in Carmen? Take advantage of the destination’s close proximity to nearby notable places of interest. A day trip to Mayan ruins Chichén Itzá and its El Castillo pyramid are essential as is a side trip to culturally vibrant 16th-century city of Valladolid.

Tagged: Beach, Caribbean, Family, Mexico, Romance & honeymoon, Uncategorized

Note: CheapTickets compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site.

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After the snow has melted and the ski bums have all gone home for the season, a new kind of thrillseeker shows up in search of warm weather activities. They aren’t disappointed. Travel expert Jeanenne Tornatore shows us why adventure enthusiasts flock to Breckenridge, Colorado in spring, summer and fall and how you can join them—even if you aren’t exactly Evel Knievel.

RELATED: 10 fun things to do in Denver for under $20

 

Tagged: Family, Types of Travel

Note: CheapTickets compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site.

Jeanenne Tornatore

Jeanenne Tornatore

Jeanenne Tornatore

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Heading to Seattle? How about venturing out and hitting the open road while you’re there? We’ve designed a Washington State road trip that loops in the Olympic Peninsula’s best restaurants, attractions and natural wonders, so grab your hiking boots and get ready for the ultimate getaway!

RELATED: The ultimate music lover’s guide to Seattle

Day 1

Seattle | Photo by Caroline Lupini

Fly into Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, rent a car and hop on the Bainbridge Island car ferry to charming and forested Bainbridge Island. Make sure to walk around on deck so that you may enjoy the view of mighty Mount Rainier towering above the Seattle skyline as you cruise across the Puget Sound.

EAT Your well-deserved reward at the end of the ferry ride is Doc’s Marina Grill, offering American classics and 10 beers on tap. Sip a cold brew and munch on a hearty burger while relaxing on the deck and taking in the harbor view.

STAY Head to the quaint little community of Poulsbo (pronounced Paulsbo) and then get settled at no-fuss Guesthouse Poulsbo. The mountain-cut skyline and glimmering Liberty Bay offer an exquisite backdrop to an easygoing evening.

Day 2

Olympic National Park | Photo by Caroline Lupini

Wake up, it’s your National Park day! Drive to Olympic National Park by way of Port Angeles, your home base and the largest city in the county. From Port Angeles, head south on Hurricane Ridge Road to Olympic National Park’s Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center. From here, pick up a regional trail map and head out on a hike or two.

EAT After a day in the mountains, head back to Port Angeles and catch a hot meal at Downriggers on the Water and fill up on fresh seafood while enjoying the sea breeze and setting sun. Think Doc’s Marina Grill, but with even more beers on tap!

STAY To be close to all of the action without a crazy price tag, check out the Riveria Inn Motel.  Rooms are simple but clean, and the staff is super friendly! You’ll be walking the distance to restaurants downtown so you don’t have to worry about parking.

ALSO: Explore, earn, repeat—sign up for CheapCash to save big on your next Washington vacation!

Day 3

Rialto Beach | Photo by Caroline Lupini

Head to Washington’s west coast and check out the little town of La Push. This village is located on the mouth of the Quillayute River and parts of the town are technically still parts of Olympic National Park. For sunbathing and scenery, head north to Rialto Beach, or the aptly named First, Second, and Third Beaches. For an unforgettable fishing trip, book a tour with All Ways Fishing.

EAT Check out River’s Edge Restaurant located on the pier, featuring a spectacular seaside view. Alternatively, High Tide Seafood fish market across the street offers a few freshly cooked dishes for you to try. It’s mostly a direct-to-consumer market, but you can definitely find a few bites while you’re there.

STAY Sleep at Quileute Beach Resort. This property is unique in that it’s located on Quileute tribal land, and because of this, property owners ask that visitors respect the privacy of the area and to capture photos or video only for personal use. Quileute Beach Resort has a pool, three restaurants, a spa and more. Plus, it’s only 2 miles from Chance A La Mer State Park and 3 miles from Pacific Paradise Family Fun Center, making it an ideal stop for a family trip.

Day 4

Quinault Rain Forest | Photo by Caroline Lupini

Enjoy a mix of coastal and mountain drives as you take the 101 south from Forks to Aberdeen. Stop at Lake Quinault to stretch your legs on a wealth of trails such as Quinault Rain Forest and Lake Lane. When you get to Aberdeen, visit Kurt Cobain Memorial Park (also called Kurt Cobain Landing) as Aberdeen was the childhood home of the famous musician.

EAT For yet another easygoing atmosphere with great beers, check out The Tap Room. Expect typical bar eats and original craft brews, plus live music on some Saturdays. Try a variety of Washington brews and maybe even catch a few up-and-coming musical artists.

STAY Aberdeen is a larger town and has a wealth of regular chain hotels, so you have a number of options here. One of the higher rated hotels is the Best Western Plus Aberdeen, but there are a number of less expensive options, as well. 

Day 5

Olympia, Washington

On your way back to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, don’t miss a stop in Olympia. While this booming metropolis is the state capital, as well as a university town, it still features tranquil natural spaces. Stretch your legs in Interpretive Park before getting back into the car and heading to the airport.

Tagged: Cheap City, USA, Cheap Tips, Destinations, Seasonal, seattle, Types of Travel

Note: CheapTickets compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site.

Caroline Lupini

Caroline Lupini

Caroline Lupini

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