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When you’re far from home, nothing hits the spot quite like comfort food at a comforting price. Try one of these grilled cheese sandwiches, which are truly a meal in themselves, and all at a price worth melting for.

The BBQ Pulled Pork Grilled Cheese

The BBQ Pulled Pork Grilled Cheese | Photo courtesy of Ms. Cheezious

Ms. Cheezious – Miami, FL

Eats like the Frito Pie Melt ($7) and Southern Fried Chicken & Waffle Melt ($10) won’t exactly put you on the fast track to a beach body. So you might as well finish the deal with a S’mores Melt ($7), which is exactly what it sounds like.

The Grilled Cheese Truck – Los Angeles

If combining three comfort foods into one delicious sandwich is wrong, thenwe don’t wanna be right. This mobile eatery offers quasi-healthy fillings like Brie and sliced pears, but its signature melt is the Cheesy Mac & Rib ($8)—barbecued pork with macaroni and cheese, finished with sharp cheddar and caramelized onion, all on French bread. Oh, yes they did.

The Jalapeño Popper

The Jalapeño Popper | Photo courtesy of American Grilled Cheese Kitchen

The American GrilledCheese Kitchen – San Francisco, CA

Get your kicks when you order the Jalapeño Popper: local chèvre, Monterey jack, apricot-jalapeño relish on levain ($9.50). And don’t sleep on the Breakfast Grilled Cheese options, with fillings like veggies, black beans and bacon, natch.

Roxy’s Grilled Cheese – Boston, MA:

Whether you score yours at the food truck or any of Roxy’s four brick-and-mortar locations, you’re sure to hit a home run when you order the Green Muenster: cheese, bacon and house-made guac on organic bread ($7).

Three Sheets – Atlanta, GA

Adulting never tasted so good, thanks to this Hotlanta lounge’s monthly Grilled Cheese Wine Dinner. The evening showcases five sandwich-and-vino pairings ($44.50), like Manchego with caramelized mushrooms accompanied by pinot noir, or cheddar and baked apples on cinnamon bread washed down with Sangiovese. Raise a glass to childhood.

Maine Lobster Grilled Cheese

Maine Lobster Grilled Cheese | Photo courtesy of GCDC

GCDC – Washington, DC

Eating light for summer? Try the Open-Faced Grilled Cheese Salad. Order your favorite sandwich off the menu ($8.50 and up), and it’ll arrive at your table with half the bread, served over a garden salad. The Bacon Jalapeño Popper and the Maine Lobster are both seriously solid choices.

Melt Bar and Grilled – Cleveland, OH

Cleveland really does rock when you’re choosing from more than two-dozen specialty sandwiches, including vegan offerings like the Mushroom Melt ($12.50), Peanut Butter and Banana ($11) and the Purple Parma ($11.50), made with eggplant and marinara. Die-hard diners with a Melt logo tattoo get 25% off for life. We’re seriously considering it—who wants to join us?

The Brielle at Melt Kraft

The Brielle at Melt Kraft | Photo courtesy of Melt Kraft

MeltKraft – Philadelphia, PA

It doesn’t get much more farm-to-table than this eatery that raises its own cows, sheep and goats. Sandwiches like the Brielle (Brie, cranberry chutney, caramelized onion and toasted pine nuts; $8.25) and the Melter Skelter (aged Raclette, pickled green tomatoes, jalapeños, barbecue chips and watercress; $8.50) will have you asking, “What cheesesteaks?”

Burro Cheese Kitchen – Austin, TX

Still saving for that dream vacation? Stay inspired with options like the OG (havarti on Kings Hawaiian bread; $5) and the Coppola (gouda, almond-pesto aioli, basil and tomatoes on sour dough; $8)—neither of which will take a bite out of your vacation budget. Bon voyage.

The Queen's Kickshaw

The Queens Kickshaw | Photo courtesy of Lauren DeCicca

The Queens Kickshaw – Queens, NY

When you’re in your comfy PJs and halfway through a House of Cards marathon, you can’t be bothered leaving the house. Thank goodness this eatery delivers grilled cheese—and beer! The Cheddar and Mozzarella with tomato and fennel soup ($9) will keep you nice and cozy.

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Tagged: California, Cheap Tips, City, Florida, Food & drink, L.A., New York City

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All is calm, all is bright. In some cases, really bright.

Here are seven of some of America’s most over-the-top holiday light displays.

CheapTickets-St-Augustine-Florida-Christmas-lights

St. Augustine’s Nights of Lights. Photo courtesy of St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra, & The Beaches Visitors and Convention Bureau.

St. Augustine, Florida: During Nights of Lights, the 450-year-old city illuminates its landmarks with white lights in a display that’s been called one of the world’s 10 best. The festivities include a bunch of special events, such as carriage and boat tours, outdoor concerts and more.

Blossoms of Light in Denver, Colorado

Blossoms of Light in Denver, Colorado | Flickr Creative Commons: Amy Aletheia Cahill

Denver, Colorado: Denver Botanic Gardens sets the scene for a classy holiday with Blossoms of Light. The flora becomes even more inviting when it’s illuminated with thousands of lights, including a spot named the Romantic Gardensfull of aromatic plants and plum trees. (Can you say marriage proposal spot?) There’s also live entertainment on select nights, and visitors can purchase 3-D HoloSpex glasses to enhance their view of the lights.

Tacky Lights Tour in Richmond, Virginia

Tacky Lights Tour in Richmond, Virginia | Flickr Creative Commons: Taber Andrew Bain

Richmond, Virginia: On the opposite end of the spectrum is the Richmond Times-Dispatch‘s annual list lovingly named the Tacky Lights Tour. Houses must have at least 40,000 lights to make the list; some are tasteful, some downright tacky. The newspaper alerts homeowners that they’ll be included, so when you embark on a self-guided tour of the eyesores, you’ll be laughing with them—not at them.

Glittering Lights | Photo courtesy of Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Glittering Lights | Photo courtesy of Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Las Vegas, Nevada: There are drive-through light shows… and then there’s Glittering Lights at Sin City’s Motor Speedway. Roll down your windows, turn up your windows and cruise around the 2.5-mile track that proves the Vegas Strip isn’t the only part of town that glistens.

Christmas in Los Angeles

Christmas in Los Angeles, California | Flickr Creative Commons: Loren Javier

Los Angeles, California: Come to see the stars, but stay to see the lights. Downtown L.A. Walking Tours offers a nightly Holiday Lights Tour showcasing how the City of Angeles celebrates the season. Stops include the Broad Museum, Grant Park with its illuminated fountain, Nutcracker Village at California Plaza and more.

CheapTickets-Clifton Mill-Ohio-Christmas-lights

The lights of Ohio’s Clifton Mill combine old-school technology with new-school glitz. Photo by Tina Lawson/Flickr Creative Commons.

Clifton Mill, Ohio: Millions of lights brighten up this 19th-century the mill, gorge, riverbanks, trees and bridges. The decor includes a Santa Claus Museum, light show synchronized to music on the old covered bridge, 100-foot “waterfall” of twinkling lights and more. Legendary Lights is located about 40 miles southwest of Columbus.

CheapTickets-Austin-Christmas-lights

Everything’s bigger in Texas, even the holiday lights. Photo of Austin’s Trail of Lights by Mark Scott/Flickr Creative Commons.

Austin, Texas: The city’s Trail of Lights gets more elaborate every year. Zilker Park’s display now includes a 155-foot-tall artificial Christmas tree, ferris wheel and carousel. It’s one of the largest holiday events in Austin, with live performances, a lighted tunnel and more.

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Tagged: City, Family, Festivals, Florida, Holidays, L.A., Las Vegas, Seasonal

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Cheap Right Now gives a snapshot of a cheap weekend getaway each month.

The novelty of rooftop patios and weekend festivals is starting to wane as the hazy days of the last full summer month sets in, and you are ready for a change of scenery. Austin is your place. Steeped in off-beat culture and the allure of the strange, this Texas town is probably the least stereotypically Texas place you could visit in the Lonestar State. The food scene is unbelievable, the youthful abound, and everything is relatively cheap since there’s no major music festivals happening there this month. So now’s the time. Go forth.

 

Guitar art near the baggage claim. Photo courtesy of Ally Marotti.

Guitar art near the baggage claim. Photo courtesy of Ally Marotti.

Plane, train or automobile — Plane is definitely the best way to get to Austin, unless you’re down for a really epic roadtrip. Find a cheap ticket into the AustinBergstrom International Airport, and make sure you check out the giant Gibson guitars on display near baggage claim. They were decorated by local artists and pay homage to the music culture of the city.

B-Cycling. Courtesy of Ann Harkness.

B-Cycling. Courtesy of Ann Harkness.

Cheap local transit — Austin B-Cycle is the bike share program in the city, and the rates are completely affordable. It’s $15 for a three-day pass and $8 for 24 hours. Austin’s public transit system Capital Metro is also affordable, and operates buses anda rail system. A single ride is $1.25 and a day pass is $2.50.

 

Carnitas and an avocado margarita at Curra's. Courtesy of Ally Marotti.

Carnitas and an avocado margarita at Curra’s. Courtesy of Ally Marotti.

Munch on Mexican food — The tacos in Austin are unlike any we have up north. They’re authentic, delicious, bursting with flavor, and hella cheap. And you can have them any time of day or night. Try Torchy’s for the breakfast tacos that cost only a buck or two, and Curra’s for lunchor dinner. Curra’s is known for it’s avocado margaritas, but you MUST try the carnitas. The pork is marinated in Coke, milk and OJ. A strange yet somehow perfect combo. Save a few bucks and share a serving, it’s quite grande.

 

An artist poses in front of her freshly finished work. Courtesy of Ally Marotti.

An artist poses in front of her freshly finished work. Courtesy of Ally Marotti.

Gawk at the graffiti — The Graffiti Park at Castle Hills is like a living entity, constantly evolving and growing. Wear good shoes that will allow you to climb around the park and check out the art from all angles. You’ll likely see an artist at work during your visit.

 

"Close Encounters of the Third Kind," shown in summer 2014. Courtesy of Ally Marotti.

“Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” shown in summer 2014. Courtesy of Ally Marotti.

Watch a movie under the stars — Parks throughout the city screen films starting in May and stretching through October (because it’s almost always warm and wonderful in Austin). A movie is showing somewhere in the city nearly every night at dusk, you just have to do the googling and find out where. The best part? They’re free. And don’t forget a blanket to lounge on.

 

Lights at a bar on Rainey Street. Courtesy of Ally Marotti.

Lights at a bar on Rainey Street. Courtesy of Ally Marotti.

Rendezvous on Rainey Street — If you’re a total bro or a 19-year-old who thinks it would be super cool to sneak into a club, go to6th Street for a good time. If you gel more with Austin’s hip vibe and just want something chill and low-key, go to Rainey Street. It’s lined with houses-turned-restaurants and bars, and there’s a food truck corral for late night eats. Don’t be surprised to see the next new alt rock band playing at one of the joints along Rainey.

 

Courtesy of Marc Majcher.

Courtesy of Marc Majcher.

Take shelter in the Greenbelt — Escape that Texas sun for a bit in the Greenbelt, a patch of green wilderness that stretches along Barton Creek. There are hikes and bike paths to explore, and even a waterfall. Bring your swimsuit and cool off in Barton Creek, but say a prayer to the rain gods first, as it’s been known to run dry on hot August afternoons.

 

Courtesy of Evan Bench.

Courtesy of Evan Bench.

Bathe in Barton Springs — The Barton Springs Pool is more like a Roman bath than a pool, minus the nudity of course. Natural springs feed the three-acre pool and keep it at an average temperature of about 70 degrees. Pro tip: Don’t go on Thursdays, that’s when they shut down the pool for cleaning. Admission is $3 for adults.

 

Tagged: Cheap of the Month, City, Food & drink, Tips & advice

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Vote for your favorite city in the CheapTickets All-American Barbecue Smackdown

Like the best barbecue, this competition is going to get messy. Claim your city as a BBQ boss! Go to our Facebook to vote for your favorite barbecue destination in the CheapTickets “All American Barbecue Smack Down” through June 29, 2015. Vote and you’ll be entered to win a trip for two to your favorite all-American destination. The best barbecue city gets bragging rights for a whole year.

CTIX BBQ CTANo purchase necessary. Contest open only to legal residents of the United States (including the District of Columbia) who are 18 years or older at the time of entry. Void where prohibited or restricted by law. Click here for complete contest rules.

The CheapTickets top 10 BBQ cities

You could just take our word for it. If your fingers have an overwhelming need to be covered in sauce, don’t worry–we’ve taken it upon ourselves to search for America’s best barbecue cities. Our booking and survey data reveals the top 10 cities for BBQ in the United States, with Memphis, Austin and newcomer San Antonio topping this year’s finger-licking list.

CTIX BBQ graph

Think outside the pit with these top BBQ picks

Any ‘cue enthusiast knows that there’s more to the perfect BBQ than ribs and sauce. Don’t get us wrong, it’s important, but we want to think outside the pit to honor those that go the extra delicious mile. Within the top five BBQ cities, we’ve sniffed out two leaders per BBQ category.

BEST SANDWICH

Order the Z-Man at Joe’s Kansas City BBQKansas City, Kansas

Behind every legendary sandwich is a legendaryregular. This one’s name is Mike Zarrick, a local sports talk radio jockey who goes by the name Z-Man. This mouth-watering mammoth is made with “sliced smoked brisket, smoked provolone cheese, a couple of onion rings, and a bit of barbecue sauce all on top of a Kaiser roll.” In 2013, it was speculated that the Z-Man sandwich helped the KC Royals get back on a winning streak, so have yourself a Z-Man before heading to Kauffman Stadium to root for the home team.

Z-man sandwich; Photo courtesy of Joe’s Kansas City BBQ

Z-man sandwich; Photo courtesy of Joe’s Kansas City BBQ

Runner up: The Cochon De Lait Po’ Boy at Walker’s Southern BBQNew Orleans, Louisiana

This sandwich puts all other po’ boys to shame. It is the po’ king. Make Walker’s Southern BBQ your first stop in NoLa, because it’s only three miles from the airport, but a 10-mile trek from Bourbon Street. French for ‘suckling pig,’ the Cochon De Lait is tender pulled pork in a tangy house-made sauce topped with coleslaw. The Walkers open at 10:30 a.m. for lunch and close when they sell out, so get there early.

MOST UNUSUAL BBQ DISH

Order the BBQ Spaghetti at The Bar-B-Q ShopMemphis, Tennessee

Even BBQ purists will be asking fora second heap of noodles topped with smoky, tender pork and a uniquely tangy sub-breed of spaghetti sauce. Though it has become a Memphis staple, this dish is best consumed at The Bar-B-Q Shop where they still use the original recipe from the previous owner and inventor of BBQ spaghetti. What goes better than spaghetti and kids? Bring your brood after a day at the Memphis Zoo, less than a mile away.

BBQ spaghetti; Photo courtesy of Yelp

BBQ spaghetti; Photo courtesy of Yelp

Runner up: The Brisket Ramen at The Granary ‘Cue & BrewSan Antonio, Texas

Come for the Brisket Ramen and stay for the handcrafted brews. Chow down on this Asian-cue fusion of “smoked shoyu broth, brown ale noodles, onsen egg, ‘cue shallots, and collard greens,” and wash it down with The Granary’s rotating seasonal beer like a black IPA. The Granary is set in San Antonio’s Pearl Brewery Community, which is the perfect place to spend an afternoon strolling the riverfront and people watching.

BEST FIXINS (A.K.A. SIDES)

Order the Blue Cheese Coleslaw at Kerlin BBQAustin, Texas

Austin has an undeniable cool factor, so it’s only fitting that it’s also home to the best cool, creamy ‘slaw that ever graced a plate of BBQ. You can forget counting coleslaw as a healthier side option to mac ‘n’ cheese, because this fixin’ is loaded with creamy blue cheese and mayo. Go on a clear day, because you’ll be eating outside. Kerlin BBQ is a no-thrills operation (think stationary food truck and picnic tables) in Austin’s hipster hood: East Austin. You don’t have to have a mustache or cool leg tattoo to get in—just order the ‘slaw, and they’ll know you can hang.

Blue cheese coleslaw; Photo courtesy of Yelp

Blue cheese coleslaw; Photo courtesy of Yelp

Runner up: The Sweet Potato Casserole at The Big Bib BBQSan Antonio, Texas

All good BBQ famously mixes the savory with the sweet, but the folks over at Big Bib BBQ are probably still wondering if their Sweet Potato Casserole belongs on the dessert menu or the sides menu. This dish is so sweet it’s essentially a sweet potato cake. Work up a good appetite before devouring this fixin’ with a hike along the Salando Creek Greenway just across the highway from Big Bib.

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Tagged: City, Family, Food & drink, FREE!, Holidays, Seasonal

Kelsie Ozamiz

Kelsie Ozamiz

Kelsie Ozamiz

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Photo of the SXSW 2013 Gaming Expo courtesy of South By Southwest,

Photo of the SXSW 2013 Gaming Expo courtesy of South By Southwest.

The South By Southwest music, interactive and film festival kicks off March 7, which means a boatload of free parties, concerts and swag is about to invade Austin, Texas. Lucky for penny-pinching travelers, Austin is already rife with free entertainment. Here are the ten coolest free finds in town.

Party up

Even if you don’t buy a SXSW badge, the fest still provides a smorgasbord of free fun ranging from a video game expo to eco art installations. Sxsw.com/free contains the official events open to the public, but net-savvy travelers can also get the deets on free private events by keeping up with local publications like Austin360.com, AustinChronicle.com, RSVPster.com and Do512.com.

Take a dip

Barton Springs, the mother of all pools, charges an entry fee, but there are still plenty of spots along the city’s greenbelt that you can visit without paying a dime. Throw on your bathing suit and hit up local faves like Lost Creek, Sculpture Falls or Secret Beach.

Go gaming

Get a gander at brand new games at the SXSW Game Exposition or head to Kung Fu Saloon in downtown Austin to kick it old school. This ninja-themed bar boasts an impressive selection of 80s and 90s arcade classics, all of which are free on Sundays.

Grab a paddle (board)

If you’ve never tried stand up paddle boarding, now is your chance. SUP ATX offers free lessons every Sunday morning for beginners of all ages.

Get historical

A few museums in town are perma-free and bless them for it. You can always peek at the fossilized remains of dinos at the Texas Memorial Museum located at the University of Texas, Austin, or hop over to Camp Mabry just north of the city to see the Texas Military Forces Museum. A trip to Austin would be remiss without boning up on the state’s history. Thankfully the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum offers free admission the first Sunday of each month.

See some art

Historical museums aren’t the only place where you can score a deal. You can also slip in to see exhibits at the Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas every Thursday, the Mexic-Arte Museum every Sunday or at The Contemporary Austin modern art gallery every Tuesday on the house.

Go batty

Austin is home to the world’s largest urban bat colony and it’s basically a crime to leave town without seeing them. Living under the Congress Avenue Bridge, an estimated 1.5 million bats take flight at twilight. Bring a blanket and nab a seat near Lady Bird Lake for prime viewing.

Catch a flick

The illustrious Alamo Drafthouse runs free screenings of kids movies the last Saturday of each month during the school year and provides gratis children’s films every Monday through Thursday during the summer. You can catch the occasional non G-rated freebie at the Alamo locations, butyou’re more likely to score complimentary films at Spider House Cafe and Ballroom or through the Austin Film Society.

Take a tour

Austin is the capital of the great state of Texas and you can learn all about it through the Texas State Capitol’s free guided tours. If you’d rather hoof it on your own, the Austin Visitor’s Center can hook you up with self-guided tours of downtown Austin and the Texas State Cemetery.

Take in some tunes

With more live music venues per capita than anywhere else in the country, you simply can’t leave town without getting your groove on. There are far too many free shows to list here, but head to Do512.com/free to bask in the overwhelmingly awesome selection of no-charge concerts at your disposal.

Tagged: FREE!

Christina Couch

Christina Couch

Christina Couch

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Denver hotels To prove that travel can still be part of a frugal lifestyle, CheapTickets has identified the top three Cheaponomy travel destinations, which offer plenty of free attractions and cheap hotels.

Austin, Texas: With an average daily rate of $78.70 at Austin hotels and dozens of free activities, the Texas capital takes our top spot for Cheaponomy travel. Austin is known for its music scene, and it’s easy to find free concerts just about any day of the week. You can also tour the Governor’s Mansion, visit the historic Paramount Theater and take the trolley around town — all for free.

St. Louis, Missouri: This Midwestern city comes in #2 with an average daily hotel rate of $83.63. Beyond inexpensive St. Louis hotels, the city has one of the best free zoos in the country, and you can also visit the St. Louis Art Museum and Boeing Space Station for free.

Denver, Colorado: The Mile High City takes the #3 spot. Denver hotels boast an average daily rate of $109.85. Visitors can enjoy many of Denver’s natural attractions for free. Coors Brewery offers free tours, and Dinosaur Ridge, with its prehistoric animal tracks, is free.

CheapTickets knows that travel doesn’t have to cost a lot. With cheap flights and hotels and free activities, travel in The Age of the Cheaponomy can be affordable and fun.

CheapTickets resources:

Tagged: City, FREE!, Tips & advice

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cheap flights
CheapTickets and Northwest Airlines are offering cheap flights for the holidays. So if you want to go home for Thanksgiving or plan a Christmas getaway, check out sale airfares like these:

  • Minneapolis/St. Paul to Boston: $287
  • Detroit to Baltimore: $183
  • Indianapolis to New York: $177
  • Milwaukee to Austin, TX: $251
  • Memphis to Orlando: $205

These cheap flights don’t include taxes and are good for travel November 20 – January 5, 2009.

So whether you want to visit cousins in Kalamazoo or ring in the New Year in New York, CheapTickets and Northwest have cheap flights to help you celebrate the holidays. But hurry, sale ends November 26.

CheapTickets resources:

Tagged: City, Flights, FREE!, Limited-time Offers