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Speakeasy bars during the Prohibition era were everywhere. And nowhere. Boozers were required to remain hush-hush, lest their favorite backdoor moonshine distillery be discovered by the police and promptly shut down. Today, we are free to enjoy a cocktail or seven wherever we please. But in choosing the perfect barstool, a sense of danger adds appeal to throwback speakeasy bars. Think secret entrances behind bookshelves and phone booths, and well-guarded passwords. Of course, it’s hard to keep secrets in the epoch of Instagram and “location services enabled,” but these seven bars have raised, well, the bar on maintaining mystery.

RELATED: 11 secret restaurants you don’t know but should

Photo courtesy of Adults Only

Adults Only (Los Angeles, CA)

Adult video stores are fairly irrelevant, thanks to the advent of the Internet. Yet this one in Los Angeles thrives off Sunset Boulevard in the ritziest, most enticing of locations: behind a Burger King. Gather your mettle (aka a Whopper), head into a storefront with “XXX” proudly displayed, and through the back sits an immaculately designed throwback to the 1920s. Woodwork and dark wallpaper conjure images of hiding from the police, and extravagantly designed, lush couches provide comfort—even if the cocktail names are unsettling: The “Money Shot,” “Rusty Trombone,” and “Dirty Sanchez” are demonstrated both in the bookstore and at the bar. And given the “Dirty Sanchez” is a sweet and spicy concoction of mezcal, sweet cucumber, and zesty serrano chili, we’ll opt for that one. For now…

Photo courtesy of @kai_____c

Angel’s Share (New York, )

So undercover it doesn’t have a website, Angel’s Share stands out amid the infinite speakeasy bar scene of New York (there are…a lot). To find it, head into a bustling Japanese restaurant in the East Village, get out of the way of servers with plates full of sushi, enter an unmarked door, and you’re in a Narnia of candlelit tranquility. Angel’s Share takes no reservations, asks patrons to keep their voices down, and the wait for even a spot to lean against the bar is typically an hour or more. Stick around. And shut up. Sipping a “Summertime,” made with jasmine-infused rum, over hushed whispers, is the epitome of calm.

Photo courtesy of @melissawv5

The Owl Bar (Baltimore, MD)

This one in Baltimore doesn’t take major sleuthing to find (or minor sleuthing, for that matter), but earns points for its history of ingenuity. A statue of the eponymous owl took up residence in the lobby of the 1902-built Hotel Belvedere (now condos) to give thirsty lawbreakers the signal. When its eyes were lit up, the hidden bar, nestled way in the back, was open for business. The Owl Bar now serves legal drinks, of course, but its classic look remains. The patterned bricks in the high walls have been preserved, as has the immaculate molding of windows and archways. The statue, too, remains.

ALSO: It’s no secret, Orbitz Rewards is the best way to earn free hotels faster!

Chapter Room (Atlanta, GA)

Congratulations! You have been accepted to Brewniversity! No SAT scores required! Atlanta‘s Taco Mac (Southern-style taco and chicken wing joint) already boasts a nice selection of craft beers, but to gain access downstairs in the Chapter Room, you must download Brewniversity’s mobile app and enroll, tuition-free. Admittance allows you access to the vaunted beer-bastion Chapter Room, located downstairs. The beer list is far more robust and international, plus the bar’s hiding an impressive list of whiskeys. Ironically, you can use technology to track how much you drink, using the app, and earn points toward nothing in particular—except to redo college drinking doppelbocks instead of Miller High Life.

Photo courtesy of @mashdpotaylor

The Drifter (Chicago, IL)

The Drifter in Chicago serves up a freshly caught red herring: It’s located in the basement of what has now become another bar called Green Door Tavern. You thought you were done drinking? Think again. Head downstairs to the bathrooms, stumble through an unassuming wooden door between the men’s and women’s rooms, and you’ll find an actual former speakeasy. The Drifter space is small but cozy; rubbing elbows with other drinkers transports you a century back in time, when liquor was at a premium and everyone wanted in. The drinks that will be served that night are pulled from a tarot card deck. So if you loved a particular cocktail, don’t expect the same next time. But always expect elaborate woodwork and—occasionally—burlesque dancers to complete the time travel back nearly a century.

Photo courtesy of @drinksanford

Hanson’s Shoe Repair (Orlando, FL)

Two decades from now, we seriously doubt anyone will remember voicemail. It’s tedious to not only leave one, but to listen. And who wants to hear voices?! Suck it up, though, and call Hanson’s Shoe Repair—a hidden Orlando bar and occasional music venue worth the inconvenience. Potential visitors call and are asked to leave a message with the time they’d like their “shoes repaired” (no promises on preventing falls while wasted) and how many pairs they’re bringing in. If all seems well, Hanson’s will provide the password for entry that night. The code changes each night, so hold onto it preciously to enjoy craft cocktails in what looks like, well, an old-timey shoe repair shop. The best part: Passwords arrive via text. The future is now.

Photo courtesy of @jeremy.pistachio

Bourbon and Branch (San Francisco, CA)

“Please speak-easy” is the first rule of Bourbon and Branch (the second rule isn’t, “You do not talk about Fight Club). This raspberry-tinted San Francisco bar—with working-man decor ranging from books to barrels—is rigid about its policies, but it’s all in the interest of providing the 20 or so patrons a relaxing, reflective experience. See, within this particular speakeasy is yet another secret room in the back, behind a bookshelf. There’s a password to enter,  “books,” and inside is an impressive library for your party to enlighten themselves and sip delicious cocktails . Just don’t order a cosmo. House rules.

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Steve Heisler

Steve Heisler

Steve Heisler

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Museums are educational, entertaining and a great way to spend an unexpectedly rainy day when you are in a new city. When you can get into those museums for free, well, that’s just the cherry on top. Here are seven of the best free museums to check out on your next trip.

Red penguins adorn the outside of the 21C Hotel Museum in Louisville. Courtesy of LuAnn Snawder Photography.

Red penguins adorn the outside of the 21C Hotel Museum in Louisville. Courtesy of LuAnn Snawder Photography.

21C Museum Hotel
700 W. Main St.
Louisville, KY 40202

This nine-room boutique hotel features contemporary art throughout the lobby and public spaces, as well as ina basement gallery area. Admission is free, and exhibits rotate. Grab a flight of bourbon in the hotel bar on your way out, because why not. 21C also has locations in Cincinnati, Bentonville, Ark., and Durham, N.C.

An a cappella group sings in a grand room at the Chicago Cultural Center. Courtesy of Ally Marotti.

An a cappella group sings in a grand room at the Chicago Cultural Center.

Chicago Cultural Center
78 E. Washington St.
Chicago, IL 60602

The Cultural Center’s might among the Chicago’s museums is a little unexpected, especially since the city is so famed for its art and museum scene. But nestled along Michigan Avenue, the 1897 building could be an art exhibit of its own with this vaulted ceilings, mosaics and stained glass windows. Rotating art exhibitions incorporate the building’s beautiful spaces into their displays.

 

'Eve Hearing the Voice' by Moses Jacob Ezekiel, at Cincinnati Art Museum. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

‘Eve Hearing the Voice’ by Moses Jacob Ezekiel, at Cincinnati Art Museum. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Cincinnati Art Museum
953 Eden Park Drive
Cincinnati, OH 45202

Cincinnati’s art museum is to die for. Before you’ve even made it into the main galleries, you will have already a mummy and a couple Van Goghs. It’s variety is reminiscent of London’s National Gallery (another fantastic free museum). Occasionally, a special exhibit will roll through town that costs you a couple bucks, but the rest of the expansive museum is free.

 

A piece of artwork from the Museum of Bad Art on display in Taiwan. Courtesy of Connie Ma.

A piece of artwork from the Museum of Bad Art on display in Taiwan. Courtesy of Connie Ma.

The Museum of Bad Art
55 Davis Square
Somerville, MA 02144

This collection of “offbeat” art is a community-driven effort, accepting both monetary and artistic donations. You can decide whether the art is bad or just, well, artistic. The museum is free daily. There are also locations in nearby Brookline and South Weymouth.

 

Among the best free museums is New York's stunning Natural History Museum, which features this incredible T-Rex skeleton. Photo courtesy of Ally Marotti.

T-Rex. Courtesy of Ally Marotti.

American Museum of Natural History
Central Park West and 79th Street
New York, NY 10024

This free museum suggests you pay $22 to get in, but that is considered a donation and is not mandatory. You can donate any amount or nothing. Officials understand that those on a budget like to appreciate art and history as well. Check out millennia of history at this museum just off Central Park. See dinosaur bones and get a picture taken with a life-sized version of Teddy Roosevelt.

 

A child takes advantage of one of the many interactive displays at National Museum of the United States Air Force. Courtesy of Marada.

A child takes advantage of one of the many interactive displays at National Museum of the United States Air Force. Courtesy of Marada.

National Museum of the United States Air Force
1100 Spaatz St.
Dayton, OH 45431

Near Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, this interactive military museum gives visitors a look into Air Force vessels through the ages. Visitors can climb in and out of cockpits and see planes soaring overhead. There’s also a nice tribute to Ohio’s own flight pioneers, the Wright brothers.

 

The Hope Diamond is on display at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C., one of the world's best free museums.

The Hope Diamond is on display at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C. Courtesy of Ben_Lei.

Smithsonian Institution

Washington D.C. and New York City

All 19 museums and galleries and the National Zoological Park run by the Smithsonian Institution are free and open every day of the year except Christmas. Not sure where to start? Head to the National Museum of Natural History (one of the best free museums on earth) at the corner of 10th St. & Constitution Ave. in Washington D.C. to see dinosaur bones, a solid gold Monopoly set and the famed Hope Diamond.

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Tagged: Cheap Tips, City, Family, FREE!, Last minute travel, New York City

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Labor Day weekend may mark the unofficial end of summer, but it should be by no means depressing! That extra day off gives us a chance to squeeze in one more summer vacay, filled with barbecues, fireworks and plenty of All-American goodness. It’s a time to get outside, to explore, to cook out, to see a new city — and some cities know how to celebrate the end of summer much, much better than others. Here are the towns that top our list of best places to make the most of your Labor Day getaways.

 

Cincinnati

Fireworks over the Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati, Ohio. Photo: Chris Miller – Flickr

Catch some serious fireworks in Cincinnati, Ohio

The Queen City knows how to celebrate Labor Day: Riverfest, a big fireworks show that draws people from the whole tristate area to the surprisingly scenic Ohio riverfront. The show starts at 9:05 p.m. Sunday, but stake out your place and find somewhere to park early, because both the Kentucky and Ohio sides of the river are always packed full by showtime. Some restaurants along the river, like Moerlein Lager House, the Beer Sellar and Bar Louie host viewing parties, but get your tickets in advance. And check out a Reds game while you’re in town — they’re home all weekend. For food, try Eli’s BBQ along the river, Strong’s Brick Oven Pizzeria in Newport, or one of the many eateries in Over-the-Rhine.

 

The lit-up, nighttime skyline of Chicago, which is one of the best Labor Day getaways of 2016.

The Riverwalk in downtown Chicago, Illinois. Photo: MK Feeney – Flickr.

Live your best life (and Labor Day getaway) in Chicago, Illinois

Winters in Chicago come on hard and fast, and everyone there knows it, so the locals squeeze every last drop out of summer. On your Labor Day getaway, the beaches will still be popping, the outdoor patios at all the best restaurants will still be buzzing, and you can enjoy America’s pastime one more time since the White Sox are in town. You can grab a drink on a rooftop patio or stroll along the Riverwalk while the nights are still warm enough to do so. The Chicago Jazz Festival is also takingplace over Labor Day weekend in Millennium Park, and it’s free.

 

Get your nature and city fixes in Denver, Colorado

One could argue that any time of year is a good time to visit Denver, and you’d be right, but Labor Day is one of the best. The dry heat of summer is starting to break, and some of the aspens in the mountains are beginning to turn some gorgeous shades of yellow. September in the Rockies means less chances for natural disasters — wildfire risk has dropped, monsoon season has died down — which makes for some great hiking. And in the city, cooler September weather means more enjoyable craft brews on patios, and uninhibited views ofthe mountains. Downtown’s Civic Center Park is also hosting A Taste of Denver, so make sure you show up hungry.

Philly

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Photo: Lee Cannon – Flickr.

Show off your dance moves in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Philly throws a giant two-day Made in America Music Festival during your perfect Labor Day getaway. And what better time to not only be in a patriotic place, but dance your butt off at a patriotically-named fest? It’s the fourth year for the festival, which is held on multiple stages throughout the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Jay-Z curates the lineup, meaning it’s a must-see. Coldplay and Rihanna are headlining this year, with performances from Chance the Rapper, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros and more. Make sure to get your tickets now.

 

Milwaukee

Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Photo: Steve – Flickr.

Get back to basics in Midwestern Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Time for your Labor Day cookout. The weekend wouldn’t be complete without a barbecue, so why not center your trip around some smoked meat? Milwaukee is throwing the Big Gig BBQ on Sept. 4, and it’s bigger and better than any backyard barbecue you’ve ever been to. There will be brisket, ribs and BBQ from 10 of the best local and national grillers. And in a city that’s home to storied beerslike Pabst Blue Ribbon, Schlitz and MillerCoors, it’s safe to say you’ll have some quality hydration with your grub.

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Tagged: Family, Festivals, FREE!, Holidays, Music

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It’s that time again. The music, the scene, the nonstop partying: The music festival.

The great and glorious Lollapalooza kicks off tomorrow at 4 p.m., one day earlier than ever before. Which means only one thing for Chicago: One extra day of massive blow-out parties, must-see after shows, concerts, food, new friends, art and anything-goes after parties. And this year promises to one-up last year’s lineup, with names like Flosstradamus, The Last Shadow Puppets, Radiohead, Disclosure and LCD Soundsystem.

If you haven’t gotten tickets yet, there’s still time to catch the event of the season. But if you can’t drop everything and fly to sunny Chicago right now, here are 8 more seriously good summer music festivals you can still make before it starts to get cold again.

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City Folk Festival

When and where: September 15–18 in Ottawa, Ontario

The New Pornographers, Dropkick Murphys, Marlon Williams and Charlotte Cardin will all be at City Folk Festival, so naturally you should too. They’ll all be hitting the stage with the beautiful Lansdowne Park as their backdrop. And because indie rock goes best with a cold craft beer, local hangout Beau’s Brewery will be onsite providing plenty of the good stuff. Plus, there’ll be food, and plenty of it. Notably, the festival is vegan-friendly so everyone can chow down in harmony. Don’t forget to stop by the affiliated Marvest for some seriously local music, food and drink. Everything is sourced from within 100 miles.

Backwoods Camping and Music Festival

When and where: September 1–5 in Stroud, Oklahoma

This is what road trips are made for: Stroud, Oklahoma is a small town just off the fabled Route 66. In this small, unassuming destination you’ll find adorable diners, throwback hotels and the Backwoods Camping and Music Festival, along with the treehouse parties, ferris wheel, waterslide, public art and music that go with it. This crossover festival hosts rock, indie and EDM alike, so plan to stage-hop to catch A Silent Film, Hippie Sabotage, Audien and The Young Vines.

Ohana Music Festival

When and where: August 27–28 in Dana Point, California

The two-day Ohana Music Festival benefits local nonprofit the San Onofre Parks Foundation, which works with the state’s parks to preserve California’s stunning coastline. So it’s only fitting that the entire thing is basically one big beach party. And the lineup boasts some serious heavy hitters, among them Eddie Vedder, Lana del Ray, Elvis Costello, Cat Power and Band of Horses. Grab some craft cocktails and artisan eats between sets, or wander through the Doheny State Park (where the festival is held) to explore grassy plains, dig your toes in the sand or swim in the beautiful Pacific. Preferably not after you’ve been drinking. This one’s not a camping festival, so get those hotel reservations now.

Imagine Music Festival

When and where: August 26–28 in Hampton, Georgia

You can get your EDM, circus, costume-party, camping and dance-party fixes all in one place this year: Atlanta’s Imagine Music Festival, an uninhibited two-day romp through the Atlanta Motor Speedway. Or, more specifically, the ‘Imaginarium’, a fictional (obviously), ancient lost city. This fable makes room for a whole host of spiritual and oddball activities like drum circles, acro yoga, Qi Gong, art installations, live painting, a pool party, aerial cirque performers and a central fire. Local food vendors will keep everyone fed and watered. Oh, and there’s music, too: Come for The Disco Biscuits, Zeds Dead, Adventure Club and Dillon Francis. Stay for Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs.

Billboard Hot 100 Music Festival

When and where: August 20–21, 2016 in Wantagh, New York

Think back on it, and maybe you’ve heard of artists like Ariana Grande, Calvin Harris, Rachel Platton and Fetty Wap. The name of this festival—taking place at the iconic Nikon Jones Beach Theater—pretty much says it all: This is the festival to go to if you want to dance to tracks that dominate the airwaves. It is called the Billboard Hot 100, after all. And you’ll be treated to one seriously pretty backdrop—the Jones Beach State Park in Wantagh, New York. It offers more than 6 miles of Atlantic beach and miles of hiking trails.

Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival

When and where: August 5–7, 2016 in San Francisco, California

Folks, the fabled Outside Lands is a Golden Gate Park mainstay—which means you’ll get to drink, dance and party amid a Japanese tea garden, museums and botanical gardens. Joining you, and providing the tunes, will be some of the most famous musical acts in the world: Radiohead, Ryan Adams, Lana del Ray and LCD Soundsystem. In case that wasn’t enough, there’ll also be plenty of laughs—Natasha Leggero and John Mulaney headline the comedy stage, which is likely somewhere between all the public art installations, musical stages, the future-minded Eco Lands, and more food, beer, cocktail and wine vendors than you could reasonably visit during the three-day affair.

Wrecking Ball

When and where: August 13–14 in Atlanta, Georgia

This one’s an indie kid’s dream. Atlanta festival Wrecking Ball may only be in its second year, but that hasn’t stopped it from drawing the likes of Dinosaur Jr, Thursday, Motion City Soundtrack and Anti-Flag. If that’s any indicator, genres run the gamut from post-hardcore and punk to emo and indie rock. Plus, there will be tons of beer, and the city’s food trucks will swarm upon the festival to satisfy hungry festival-goers. Best of all, it takes place in the much beloved Masquerade, a tri-level music venue where infamous acts like Radiohead, Foo Fighters, Motorhead and Nirvana have all graced the stage. And if you’ve ever wanted to see this venue in all its glory, take note: Wrecking Ball is Masquerade’s very last blowout before the venue moves from its original location, so get those tickets now.

Wefest

When and where: August 4–6 in Detroit Lakes, MN

Country music lovers, take note: Eric Church, Kid Rock and Tim McGraw are headlining this year’s WeFest. And they’re joined by some lesser-known hard hitters, including Montgomery Gentry, Maiden Dixie and an obscure up-and-comer named Steven Tyler (maybe you’ve heard of him?) who will be performing with the Loving Mary Band. Camping is the name of the game at this Detroit Lakes, MN fest (though there are some hotels nearby, if camping’s not your thing). And they’ve got 10 different campgrounds for different strokes— among them, there’s an Accessible one, a few for families, and several for the rowdy young kids. But fear not: There’s still modern plumbing and restrooms for all. And the concerts themselves? They’re held at the outdoor amphitheater at the gorgeous Soo Pass Ranch.

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Tagged: California, Events, Festivals, Music

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Charlie Bucket was the luckiest kid in the world, to win entrance into Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. And his grandpa knew it, too, when he encouraged Charlie to spend that extra dollar for one more candy bar. Candy is magic to most kids, and a select few proprietors around the world remember that feeling of disbelief and excitement that sweeps over a kid in a candy shop, and have translated it into real life. Here are seven of the coolest candy shops in the world, sure to put you in Charlie Bucket’s sweet, sweet shoes.

Dulcería de Celaya — Mexico City

Dulcería means candy shop (or sweet shop) in Spanish. It comes from the word ‘dulce’, which means ‘sweet’, and this shop is just about as sweet as they come. It’s been in business since 1874, and has been honing its sweet selection ever since. The antiquity of the shop’s front and sign will draw you in, and you’ll walk away with a satisfied sweet tooth.

Dylan's Candy Bar

Dylan’s Candy bar on Michigan Avenue in Chicago, Illinois. Photo: Ally Marotti.

Dylan’s Candy Bar — Chicago

A vibrant lollipop tree sprouts from the ground of Dylan’s Chicago shop and arches up and over both of its floors full of candy. Dylan Lauren, daughter of fashion designer Ralph Lauren, has clearly found her calling. Patrons can feast their eyes and stomachs on hundreds of candies, from old-fashioned Bazooka bubblegum to freshly crafted gummy bears. There’s ice cream and a cafe, and if the adults get a little sensory overload from all the sounds and colors, there’s a bar to help dull the senses.

Papabubble

Papabubble candy shop in Barrio Gotico in Barcelona. Photo: Masashige Motoe – Flickr.

Papabubble — Barcelona

Papabubble was opened in 2004 and has since expanded to dozens of cities around the world, but it’s best to visit these shops in their home, beautiful Barcelona. There are two shops in the city: Barrio Gotico and Barrio Sarria. You can watch the candy makers at work, using as little sugar as possible to make their confections. The shop started with the goal of resurrecting the authenticity of artisan caramel making, and thousands of visitors from around the world would say they succeeded.

 

Gummy bear

Candy Freaks in Amsterdam has candy for every type of dietary restrictions. Photo: David O’Hare – Flickr.

Candy Freaks — Amsterdam

The display window on this candy store might confuse passersby: There are heads in the window. But they’re not mannequins, they’re candy heads. This store is known for having candy for all dietary restrictions — there are the organic candies, the gluten-free candies, the dairy-friendly candies and the vegan candies — but what really makes it famous are the heads it crafts from the sugary stuff. They’re more art than dessert, and definitely worth checking out.

 

Candylicious

Lollipopshang from the ceiling at Candylicious in Dubai. Photo: Thomas Galvez – Flickr.

Candylicious — Dubai

Imagine a world where canopies of lollipop trees cover the ceiling, and columns are covered in candies. Candylicious opened its shop in a Dubai shopping mall in 2009 and joined the ranks of the world’s largest candy stores at 10,000 square feet. There are 5,000 different types of candies from all over the world.

 

SugarSin — London

Delicious and adorable sweet shops abound in London, but this one takes the cake, no pun intended. In London’s Covent Garden neighborhood, SugarSin has been named one of the most beautiful candy shops in the world by Architectural Digest, so it’s worth seeing, if nothing else. But why not see with your mouth? The place is overflowing with delicious jellies, candy jars and fudge flavors, so don’t miss out.

À l’Étoile d’Or chocolates

Bernachon Chocolates from À l’Étoile d’Or in Paris. Photo: Ricardo – Flickr.

À l’Étoile d’Or — Paris

There’s a chocolatier in Lyon called Bernachon who makes his chocolates starting with the cacao bean. He’s one of the only chocolatiers in the world to so, and his delicacies can only be found in two places: His shop in Lyon, and À l’Étoile d’Or. The quaint little shop, located less than a block from Moulin Rouge, brings together some of France’s best chocolates and sweets for the picking. Chocolate lovers around the world are told to beware of this place — it’s treats are far too tempting to resist.

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Tagged: Family, Food & drink

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It can be hard to feel pampered on vacation when you’re trying so hard to stick to your travel budget. Scoring a great hotel deal is a big key to your budgeting success, and luckily, you don’t have to pay a premium for an out-of-this world view. Our proof: These five budget hotels, complete with downright luxurious views.

The fine print: These average prices were pulled from a random weekend in April, and reflect the prices at the time of writing.

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America’s Best Value Inn Villa Motel — Manitou Springs, Colorado | $84 per night

This motel is far from glamorous, but no one’s spending that much time in the room anyway. The Villa Motel is nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains just outside of Colorado Springs in the hippy town of Manitou Springs. The town is friendly and walkable, and moments away from some of the best hiking trails in the country.

club quarters

Club Quarters Hotel, Wacker at Michigan — Chicago, Illinois | $166 per night

Look right down onto the Chicago River and out across the high-rise expanse of Chicago’s River North neighborhood from rooms at theClub Quarters. This is one of two Club Quarters in Chicago’s Loop neighborhood. Both are great values for the location (most hotels run upwards of $300 a night in this area), but this one has better views.

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Meadow Lake Resort, Glacier National ParkColumbia Falls, Montana | $76 per night

This resort has a spa, free airport transportation, restaurant and a bar, which can be a little hard to find in the wilderness of Glacier National Park, and necessary after a long day of hiking. The views are sweeping and beautiful, the price is affordable, and there’s a golf course, pool and hot tub here if too much nature isn’t your thing.Careful though, the prices may increase come summertime.

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Mountain View LodgePackwood, Washington | $85 per night

The name of this little lodge says it all. It sits in the shadow of Mount Rainier, and is close to High Rock Trailhead, among many other hikes. The lodgings are quaint but clean, and guests are likely to see some elk or deer wander into the lodge’s front yard. And if the weather turns sour, you won’t need to leave the room for beautiful views (unless the clouds cover the mountain, that is).

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Wyndham San Diego BaysideSan Diego, California | $159 per night

The beautiful bay will never escape your line of sight at this hotel. If you do manage to tear yourself away from that glorious view, the hotel offers plenty of amenities that will make it worth your while. There’s a gorgeous outdoor pool, a 24-hour fitness center and bikes to rent (though, arguably, two of these three will also lead to some spectacular ocean vistas). There’s also a Ruth’s Chris Steak House onsite, so you won’t have to walk too far in your heels or brogues for a nice meal. Just do yourself a favor and try to score a room with a patio.

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Tagged: California, Cheap Tips, City, Family, Last minute travel, Off-season, Seasonal

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Nothing tops a good summer concert. But sometimes jumbo shows at sports stadiums just don’t provide the ambiance you’re craving. Luckily, America has been graced with the glory of multiple breathtaking outdoor concert venues. Whether they’re built right into their surroundings or have been turned into works of art, these venues are sure to satiate that live-music-on-a-summer-night need.

 Red Rocks Amphitheater outdoor concert venue

A sunrise at Red Rocks Amphitheater. Photo: Chris Pelliccione – Flickr

Red Rocks Amphitheatre — Morrison, Colorado

Located just outside of Denver, Red Rocks consistently tops the list of coolest outdoor theaters in America. And it’s easy to see why: The open-air theater is framed by shockingly red rocks, jutting out in every direction. On the schedule for this summer are The Lumineers, The National, Bob Dylan, Odesza and more. Red Rocks hosts other events too, like yoga, fitness challenges and movie screenings. And attendees can usually expect to enjoy the show while drinking a cold one from one of Denver’s many craft breweries.

Jay Pritzker Pavilion outdoor concert venue

Chicago’s skyline provides the backdrop for Jay Pritzker Pavilion. Photo: Sergey Gabdurakhmanov – Flickr

Jay Pritzker Pavilion — Chicago, Illinois

Pritzker Pavilion has been fostering perfect views of Chicago’s skyline from its Millennium Park outpost since 2004. It has 4,000 seats, and the lawn seats roughly 7,000. Most concerts are free and BYOB—though this summer’s Flight of the Conchords and Wilco shows are worth shelling out a little money for—and Chicagoans flock here with blanket and alcohol in hand as soon as it’s warm enough to not need 8 sweaters. And a winter coat. Whether or not there’s a concert, the pavilion itself is worth visiting, if only for the photo op—a giant steel ribbon structure frames the stage, and a web of crisscrossing steel pipes stretch over the pavilion and entire 95,000-square-foot lawn. It’s more art than building. In fact, the city had to designate it as a piece of art to circumnavigate some building height restrictions. 

 

Nikon at Jones Beach Theater outdoor concert venue

Nikon at Jones Beach Theater. Photo: Rob Sinclair – Flickr

Nikon at Jones Beach Theater — Wantagh, New York

This theater is located inside a state park, and first opened in 1952 to host musicals. Back then it had a moat — performers were brought to the stage in a boat and some of the scenery floated. That all changed after the first renovation, when the moat was filled in and seats were added closer to the stage. It had to undergo another major reno to the tune of $20 million after Hurricane Sandy hit hard in 2012. It reopened in spring of 2013, and only started selling alcohol outside of VIP boxes in 2014. Meaning this summer’s headliners—Bad Company and Joe Walsh, Weezer and Panic at the Disco, and the BLI Summer Jam (with Meghan Trainor and Iggy Azalea)—will be that much more fun.

 

Hollywood Bowl outdoor concert venue

A shot of Los Angeles, with Hollywood Bowl in the foreground. Photo: InSapphoWeTrust – Flickr

The Hollywood Bowl — Hollywood, California 

Nestled in the Hollywood hills, the Bowl opened in 1922 and rode the wave of Hollywood fame. Frank Sinatra played there in 1943, the Beatles in 1964, and a showcase of the world’s best musicians followed. It’s been the summer home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic since it opened, and has drawn famous visitors, from President FDR to Mickey Rooney. This summer’s highlights include Janet Jackson, Paul Simon, The Cure with Twilight Sad and Steely Dan

Gorge Amphitheatre outdoor concert venue

Gorge Amphitheatre. Photo: Hejl – Flickr

Gorge Amphitheatre — George, Washington

This amphitheater is often considered one of the most scenic in the world, with sweeping views of the Columbia River and the foothills of the Cascade Range as its backdrop. The land on which it sits was originally set to be a vineyard. Instead, the Gorge opened in 1986, with a mind-blowing capacity of 27,500. Since then, it’s held dozens of music festivals, one of the most notable being Sasquatch! Music Festival. Fans can actually camp at the Gorge for 24 hours on the day of the single show, or until noon the day after a festival ends. This summer, the amphitheater will also host the Paradiso Festival, the Watershed Festival and Phish.

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Tagged: California, Festivals, FREE!, New York City

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You don’t need white tablecloths or an overpriced meal to impress a date. This year, leave the predictable date itinerary behind—here’s what to do (while saving some dough) on Valentine’s Day in some of America’s coolest cities.

Sample wine, cheese and theater in Austin

Your romantic day begins with a challenging, thought-provoking play at Austin‘s Zach Theater: Tribes ($29+). The story of a deaf man understanding the nature of community and belonging will give you plenty to talk about as you walkover to nearby House Wine and settle in for some of its namesake libation. This place is about as unpretentious as it is intimate—meaning you can relax and nibble on cheese plates, artisan pizza and s’mores in the dining room or patio. The staff will happily explain the wine list and offer suggestions as you two crazy kids giggle and blush, wiping melted marshmallows from your face. Best of all, you can get 10% off or BOGO dessert if you show them your ticket stub.

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Get artsy—then down-home—in New York

It’s not that often that you can do something in New York for literally $0. But welcome to Greater New York, MoMA PS1’s annual exhibit, which explores our contradictory desires for nostalgia and the new. See the works of emerging and established artists in this Long Island City mainstay before heading down to Williamsburg’s The Commodore. Once tucked into the low-key, no-frills bar, indulge in a little post-art-show conversation over a Tom Collins ($6) and a fried chicken plate with biscuits and hot sauce ($12). If the date’s going well, wander a few blocks to St. Mazie for some cheap-for-New-York cocktails ($10 apiece) and maybe even some live music.

Experience the refined and at-ease sides of Chicago

Joffrey’s Bold Moves marries visual art, groundbreaking musical compositions and history into a trio of visually stunning ballet performances. It’s also quite cheap for a production of this quality—tickets start at $58. Afterwards, you and your hungry date can head to Furious Spoon in Wicker Park for one of the city’s best bowls of ramen ($7–$12). After downing the last of your thick, savory tonkatsu broth, wander across the street to Revel Room. This dark, trendy bar will create an intimate setting for the last leg of yourdate. Toast to a successful evening—and the fact that (s)he is okay with watching you shamelessly slurp down noodles—with a craft beer ($5–$10) or a house cocktail ($10).

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Start your romancing early in Boston

This Valentine’s Day, start the festivities early, and with a kick! Sample some Spanish brunch options like breakfast lamb bocadillo ($13) and churros con chocolate ($8) at Jamaica Plain hotspot Tres Gatos. Then, head into Chinatown and the brisk outdoors for the Chinese New Year Parade to see lion dances, firecrackers and catchy drum beats as performers flood the streets. But your date isn’t over yet—make sure you dress warm, because it’ll be cold on the nearby Frog Pond ice rink. If you don’t have skates of your own, fear not (and channel any worries into not falling down). You can rent skates onsite for $12.

See Atlanta’s wild side

Craving a creative way to celebrate with your sweetheart in Atlanta? Start with a good, hearty lunch at bartaco. Then, after having your fill of shrimp bahn mi rice bowls ($8), al pastor tacos ($2.50) and mushroom mole tamales ($5), head on over to the High Museum of Art for the cheekily named heARTS in the City scavenger hunt ($50 per couple). From 1:00-4:00 p.m., you can scour the museum—filled with pieces by Georgia O’Keefe, Gerhard Richter and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec—to solve puzzles and complete challenges. Along the way, you’ll run into some tasty snacks, too.

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Pull out all the stops in Denver

Planning an old-fashioned, romantic date for your Valentine? Denver’s the perfect town. After enjoying an intimate feast at Osteria Marco—think butternut squash pizza with gorgonzola ($13) and meatball sliders ($7)—enjoy an intimate murder at Murder for Two, a ‘musical murder mystery’ whose intrigue and twists are playing out on the Garner Galleria Theatre’s stage. After this two-man ensemble solves the crime, harnessing only their wit and a piano, cab it over to The Bar Car for a sexy yet laid-back nightcap amid this beautiful, antique-inspired bar and its jukebox of ‘80s hits. We recommend the the Irish mule, made with a hardy splash of Jameson ($8).

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Tagged: Holidays, New York City, Romance & honeymoon, Tips & advice, Uncategorized

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New York City is the jewel in New Year’s Eve’s crown, and the west coast offers unforgettable nightlife peppered with celebrity spottings to ring in the New Year. But the flyover states are not to be overlooked. People throughout the middle chunk of our country know how to party, and each place offers experiences a little bit more novel than watching the ball drop. Plus, the odds of spending significantly less during your celebrations than you would spend on either coast are very much in your favor. Here is our list of five flyover cities that offer unforgettable New Year’s Eve celebrations, in no particular order.

 

16th Street in Denver

16th Street in Denver | Flickr CC: Yuya Sekiguchi

Denver, Colorado — How better to celebrate the New Year than with a backdrop of the Rocky Mountains? The 16th Street Mall downtown is sure to be bustling, with parties spilling out of every hotel and fireworks shooting off overhead. Find a brewery in the home of craft beer to spend your night. The Five Points neighborhood, just north of downtown, offers plenty of places worthy of saying goodbye to 2015.

 

Short North lights

The arches over the Short North in Columbus, Ohio. Photo: Becker1999 – Flickr

Columbus, Ohio — It should come as no surprise that a city dominated by one of the nation’s largest public universities knows how to ring in the New Year right. Take your pick of spots to celebrate in the Short North, a cultured strip of bars and restaurants along High Street between downtown and Ohio State’s campus that blends all types and ages into your choice of celebrations.

 

Lousiville New Year's Even

A bourbon flight in Louisville. Photo: Surlygirl – Flickr

Louisville, Kentucky — Head to Louisville and soak your New Year’s celebrations in bourbon and southern hospitality. The Derby isn’t the only thing Louisville does right. The city celebrates with fireworks and parties at nearly every bar, but The Highlands neighborhood has a strip of eclectic bars that can’t be missed. Make sure to check out Holy Grale, a gastropub in an old church, and The Back Door, a late-night bar with copious pool tables and the best bar food south of the Mason-Dixon Line.

 

Chicago New Year's Eve

The Chicago River at night. Photo: Patrick Emerson

Chicago, Illinois — The great thing about celebrating New Year’s Eve in Chicago is that you can make it whatever you want. Go swanky and buy tickets to a downtown black-tie affair in advance, or hit up a club (you can find them in nearly every neighborhood) that stays open until 4 a.m. and dance your way well into 2016. Get tickets to a party at a restaurant like Beatrix in River North and spend your evening dining well, or a bar in Wrigleyville and enjoy all-you-can-drink perks with a more raucous crowd. Watch fireworks from Navy Pier, go to a party at a hotel, or stay in with friends and hit up neighborhood bars after the ball drops.

Honky tonk in Nashville

A band performs at Legends Corner Bar in Nashville. Photo: Grant Wickes – Flickr.

Nashville, Tennessee — Nashville is a great place to go out and experience life any time of year, whether you’re soaking up the music scene or enjoying some southern cuisine, and the city does not disappoint on New Year’s Eve. Hit up a honky-tonk Downtown or in Midtown and embrace those country vibes.

Tagged: City, Holidays, Tips & advice

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It’s Christmastime. In towns big and small all over America, people are gathering around Christmas trees as they are illuminated for the first time this year. Some of those trees are iconic, adorning Christmas ornaments and postcards, but for some of them, their glory lies in their story. And the best part? It doesn’t cost a dime to take in their majesty, save for the cup of hot chocolate you’ll likely buy on your way. Take a look at this list of some of America’s best public Christmas trees.

The Iconic Tree:

Rockefeller Center Tree

Rockefeller Center Tree | Flickr CC: Shinya Suzuki

Rockefeller Center, New York City — This is about as iconic as you can get when it comes to Christmas trees. New York City’s massive tree overlooks the ice skating rink in Rockefeller Plaza and has made it into many a classic Christmas movie scene. Something that really makes this tree iconic though, is its origins. The New York Times did a story earlier this month that revealed the history of the tree, noting that hard-working Italian immigrants first pushed a tree up in 1931 after a long day of constructing the city into what we know it as today.

 

Millennium Park Christmas tree

Chicago’s Christmas tree sits in front of the city’s skyline at Millennium Park. Photo: Ally Marotti

Millennium Park, Chicago — Chicago’s giant public Christmas tree usually sits in the middle of the German Christmas market, Christkindlmarket, in Daley Plaza in the heart of downtown, but this year it was moved to Millennium Park. Now it rises above Cloud Gate (aka, the Bean) in front of Chicago’s skyline.

  

Gifted trees:

Boston Christmas Tree

Boston Christmas Tree | Flickr CC: Eric Kilby

Boston Christmas Tree — A tree has been lit in Boston each year since 1941, and since 1971, each tree has come from Nova Scotia. Illuminated in Boston Common, the tree is gifted to the city each year by Nova Scotia as a thank you for assistance provided during the 1917 Halifax explosion, which destroyed much of the city. Boston sent help immediately, although their train was delayed by a blizzard. Still, the Nova Scotians never forgot.

 

Union Station Christmas tree

The Christmas tree inside Union Station in Washington D.C. is a gift from Norway. Photo: Chris Gladis – Flickr

Union Station, Washington D.C. — Norway gifts a Christmas tree to Washington D.C. each year as a symbol of friendship with the U.S. and as a thank you for the help the U.S. provided to Norway during World War II. The tree is displayed in Union Station, and the Norwegian Embassy chooses a theme with which to decorate the tree each year. In 2013, when the theme was Edvard Munch’s “The Scream,” the tree was fashioned with dozens of tiny reflective versions of the shrieking man in Norway’s most famous painting. This year’s theme is Norwegian music.

 

Public Square Park, Nashville — The Christmas tree in downtown Nashville is often gifted to the city by residents. This year, Tammie Myles donated 42-foot Norway spruce to honor her parents. It will be decorated with 5,000 lights. This idea of individuals donating Christmas trees is common throughout the country, especially when the trees or activities surround them feature some sort of charitable aspect. Local Christmas tree farms will often donate trees for display near the courthouse.

Big trees in small squares:

Rittenhouse Square Christmas tree

The Christmas tree in Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square. Photo: Marc Cappelletti – Flickr.

Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia — Rittenhouse Square is one of five original open spaces in Philadelphia planned by William Penn. It is about two short blocks long on eachside, and in December a 30-foot Christmas Tree rises out of its center. It makes the little historical park even cozier.

 

Cincinnati's Christmas tree

Fireworks go off at the tree lighting ceremony in Fountain Square in Cincinnati, Ohio. Photo: 5ch4r7z – Flickr.

Fountain Square, Cincinnati — The Christmas tree dominates downtown Cincinnati’s Fountain Square each December, and shadows the temporary ice skating rink that is assembled nearby each year. The smaller size of the square, which is mostly enclosed by the city’s skyscrapers, makes the tree seem even bigger and more festive.

When the trees don’t move:

Town Square Lighting, Jackson Hole — Instead of decorating one giant tree, Jackson Hole sets Town Square ablaze with multiple tree lightings. Fitting in with its outdoorsy M.O., the town does not cut down any trees for its Christmas celebrations, so it earns a spot on our list for being environmentally aware.

Coeur D' Alene, Idaho

Coeur D’ Alene, Idaho | Flickr CC: Tracy Hunter

Coeur d’Alene, Idaho — A nearly 200-foot grand fir at Coeur d’Alene Resort is decorated with tens of thousands of lights and at one point set the world record for the tallest living Christmas tree. The star on top is 10 feet alone.

Sardy House Tree, Aspen — This is the 31st year the owners of the Sardy House illuminate the large fir tree on the corner of Main and Aspen streets in Aspen. (New owners spent $250,000 to amp up the lighting in 2006). It is strewn with 10,000 LED lights hooked up to a system that can emulate everything from fireworks to a cascading waterfall. The glory of using a live tree? The lights stay on year-round and can be used during other holiday celebrations.

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Tagged: Cheap Tips, Festivals, FREE!, Holidays, New York City, Seasonal