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

Most hot springs are believed to have therapeutic and healing properties. Combine that with amazing scenic settings, and it’s easy to see why so many people seek out these natural waters. If you feel like you need a relaxing soak, here are five of the most beautiful natural hot springs you can enjoy right now.

RELATED: 8 great state park alternatives to popular National Parks

Travertine Hot Springs: Bridgeport, CA

Whether you’ve just hiked an Eastern Sierra peak and need to soothe some sore legs, or you’re looking for a geothermal soak with million-dollar views, Travertine Hot Springs is your spot. These rustic, natural mud floor “tubs” are located a few miles off Route 395 just south of Bridgeport, making them easily accessible to all visitors. If the first pools are taken, fear not: Your private outdoor oasis awaits you in a grassy meadow just a short walk to the east. Check in at the Walker River Lodge in Bridgeport, then visit these springs for a relaxing sunset soak while Sawtooth Ridge erupts in an Insta-worthy alpenglow.

Trail Creek Hot Springs: Cascade, ID

Picture this: Pillow-soft flakes silently fall around you, painting the surrounding rocks and towering pines in a fresh snowy blanket as you bask in a soothing hot spring. Sound like something from a dream? Well, it’s not because this dreamy destination is real, and it’s only 20 miles from Cascade, Idaho. Simply park your car in the lot along Warm Lake Road, then traverse the short trail to Trail Creek Hot Springs, and you’re there. Once you arrive, immerse yourself in the 116° waters in either of the two rock-walled pools. Pick the right time and you may just find yourself alone, making the decision to go out of your way for this soak deep within the Idaho wilderness worth the effort. At night, sip hot chocolate in front of your room’s fireplace at the Ashley Inn back in Cascade.

Valley View Hot Springs: Salida, CO

With eight different pools ranging from 93° to 107° to choose from, Valley View Hot Springs is the perfect spot for a relaxing soak, not to mention some pretty spectacular views of Colorado’s San Luis Valley. The top ponds are the most remote, taking about 20 minutes to reach via a steep trail, and offer great night sky views if you’re out after dark. If you spent the morning sandboarding at Sand Dunes National Park, a water massage underneath the falls at Waterfall Pond is the way to go. Stay the night in a private cabin here, or drive north to Salida for a tasty dinner and a good night’s rest at Browns Canyon Inn.

Deep Creek Hot Springs: Hesperia, CA

Hiking the difficult and steep two-mile trail from Bowen Ranch to Deep Creek Hot Springs is best done in the winter when the Mojave Desert is much cooler. But for those who brave the journey (and paid $10 per person for a day pass), your reward of ruggedly beautiful desert scenery, sweeping views and three natural soaking pools that range in temps from 96° to 102° await. Test your balance while slacklining, mix it up with a dip into the frigid river, or simply soak the day away in the rejuvenating waters of this desert retreat. The 900-foot trudge back up to the car is strenuous, but the comfortable beds at Springhill Suites in Hesperia will help you get a good night’s sleep.

Spence Hot Springs: Jemez Springs, NM

Chances are that if you’ve spent time in New Mexico, you can list off some of the most scenic locations in the American West. Add to that list as you soak up the views from the 100° waters of Spence Hot Springs overlooking Jemez Canyon. A short half-mile hike off Highway 4 north of Jemez Springs is where you’ll find this gem, and once you’re there, the small yet beautiful pools surrounded by trees and lush mountains might make this your new favorite spot in the state. If you’re spending the night in Santa Fe, check out Pueblo Bonito Bed and Breakfast Inn. This cozy spot is just four minutes from the historic Santa Fe Plaza.

Tagged: California, Cheap Tips, Destinations, Seasonal, 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.

There are vacation rentals, and then there are geodesic dome homes, those quirky, rounded abodes that gained popularity in the 1960s and 70s, when a growing number of young Americans sought out a tranquil existence closer to nature. Today, booking a stay in a modern geodesic dome home taps into this spirit of hippiedom, while anchoring your trip to an eco-friendly architectural marvel. To spend the night in one of these featured dome homes, no need to be a hippie or join a commune. All boast modern comforts and amenities (hooray for air-conditioning) and are available to easily book on CheapTickets.

   RELATED: 12 great American roadside attractions

Joshua Tree, CA

Photo courtesy of CheapTickets

Joshua Tree is one of those quintessential settings for a dome home: The landscape is expansive, evocative and infused with hippie-inspired vibes. A stay at this Joshua Tree dome home pairs a “traditional” home with a dome home. Located in a rural setting about 10 minutes from Joshua Tree National Park, this exquisitely decorated property features four bedrooms, two baths, a fireplace—and a tricked-out bedroom/living room where the landscape and nighttime sky views provide the ultimate “wow” factor.

Austin, TX

Photo courtesy of CheapTickets

Everything is bigger in Texas, including its dome homes. This adults-only Austin dome home boasts a huge wrap-around patio, hot tub and skyline views. It sleeps up to seven people and offers amazing privacy while being just 10 minutes from downtown Austin.

Hatteras Island, NC

Photo courtesy of CheapTickets

The Blue Pearl is a family-friendly, retro dome home within walking distance to the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Onsite amenities for the beach—such as boogie boards, umbrellas and beach toys— are included in your stay. The property is also reality-TV famous: It was featured on HGTV’s “Beachfront Bargain Hunt.”

Santa Fe, NM

Photo courtesy of CheapTickets

This spacious Santa Fe dome home offers stunning “Land of Enchantment” views from its private patio. Past vacationers here love that this home provides proximity to the city, but is far enough away so that you won’t feel like a tourist.

ALSO: You can now get hotel-style perks at select vacation rentals —join Orbitz Rewards today to learn more!

Yosemite, CA

Photo courtesy of CheapTickets

Nestled in the mountains of Midpines, this Yosemite dome home offers quiet seclusion, while residing just 26 miles from the Yosemite Arch Rock Gate entrance. Nearby you’ll find hiking, skiing and biking trails, as well as rock-climbing opportunities.

Franklin, VT

Photo courtesy of CheapTickets

This adults-only Vermont dome home in the “Islands & Farms” region of Northwestern Vermont provides a romantic setting. It rests on 33 acres of mostly forested property with stunning lake views. The home also features a cozy fireplace.

Silverthorne, CO

Photo courtesy of CheapTickets

Talk about a Rocky Mountain high. This Colorado dome home perched at an altitude of 9,200 feet is ideally situated between the ski towns of Vail, Breckenridge, Copper Mountain and Keystone.

Chattanooga, TN

Photo courtesy of CheapTickets

This Chattanooga dome home is the epitome of cute, cute, cute. You’ll be centrally located in Chattanooga, named the “Best Town Ever” by Outside magazine, thanks to its abundant access to hiking, biking, boating, fishing, white-water rafting and hang-gliding opportunities. Of course, the world-famous Chattanooga Choo-Choo is a can’t miss, too.

Grassy Creek, NC

Photo courtesy of CheapTickets

This handcrafted North Carolina dome home is set on 40 acres among the rolling hills of Eastern Ashe County, near southwest Virginia. The location upon which the vacation home resides, “Unforgettable,” is a Christmas Tree farm and wildlife preserve that boasts numerous wooded walking trails that you’re welcome to meander. The dome home’s 300 square feet of windows make you feel as if you are part of the surroundings. A private deck, swing and hot tub enhance the R&R.

Tagged: California, Cheap City, USA, Cheap Tips, Destinations, Texas, Texas

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What’s so wrong with strolling the streets of a city like Columbus, Ohio with a pumpkin-spiced latte in hand while listening to Coldplay on your iPhone? Nothing if you ask us! Coined as a term of derision to imply that one’s tastes are mundane, we’re proudly reclaiming the word “basic” as the ultimate status symbol for the frugal traveler. So much so that we’ve created the ultimate Be Basic Travel Package featuring infinity scarf, spiced pumpkin candle and other “basic” amenities and bookable at the Hotel on North in the leaf-peeping mecca of Western Massachusetts. Wondering where else to book a basic vacay? Try one of these cheap and cheerful getaways!

RELATED: 7 hostels with crazy cool amenities

East Coast: Burlington, VT

Burlington, Vermont

Burlington, VT

Boston, you’re a delight, but dang your hotel prices are high! Looking for New England charm that won’t set you back $345/nightly? Try crushing a black diamond slope in Stowe, Vermont ($204/nightly), discovering your bohemian side in artsy P-town ($186/nightly), following in the footsteps of Stephen King in Bangor, Maine ($120/nightly) or watching the leaves change from green to gold in Manchester, New Hampshire ($148). But the best bang for your basic buck is a weekend in hip Burlington, Vermont ($204/nightly).

EAT
Don’t overthink it. American Flatbread serves up wood-fired pizzas and craft suds from beloved local brewery Zero Gravity.

PLAY
Of course you should take the Ben & Jerry’s Factory Tour, where you can watch the iconic ice cream being made and pay respects to the dearly de-pinted in the Factory Graveyard. Afterwards, your basic boating outfit is sure to raise no eyebrows on a Lake Champlain boat cruise.

STAY
Hotel bargains abound in South Burlington. The charming Green Mountain Suites offers spacious guestrooms, free parking, WiFi and breakfast, a pool and a roaring fireplace in winter at a fraction of the cost of staying downtown.

Mid-Atlantic: Hershey, PA

Hershey, Pennsylvania

Bid adieu to high hotel prices ($327/nightly) and angry cab drivers in overpriced NYC. Princeton, New Jersey ($203/nightly) is as leafy and student-filled as you’ve imagined it and the same is true of Yale’s hometown, New Haven, Connecticut ($180/nightly). Nearby Hartford ($145/nightly) boasts the homes of both Harriet Tubman and Mark Twain and a gold-tipped state capitol. In Pennsylvania, Mount Pocono ($172/nightly) offers romantic retreats and a respite from city life. But if you’re looking for city thrills sans the high cost, head to Hershey—synonymous with the most basic of chocolates!

EAT
Steaks, burgers, flatbreads and more are made from scratch, at the Mill, a popular eatery housed inside a restored brick mill house.

PLAY
Ride the coasters at chocolate-themed Hersheypark (Chocolatetown opens summer 2020); smell the roses at bucolic Hershey Gardens; and build your own candy bar at Hershey’s Chocolate world.

STAY
If your most basic dream is to enjoy a morning cup of coffee while horses gallop through grassy pastures, then the 32-acre equestrian farm and B&B Inn at Westwynd Farm just a few miles from downtown is your dream abode.

Midwest: Traverse City, MI

Traverse City, Michigan

Traverse City

Looking for Midwest thrills that won’t set you back $276/nightly? (We’re looking at you, Chicago!) There’s family fun in the Wisconsin Dells ($111/nightly), an impressive fall festival season in Cedar Falls, Iowa ($120/nightly), sporty thrills in Wisco college town and capital Madison ($239/nightly) and small town charms in hilly Galena ($205/nightly). But if it’s Great Lakes thrills on a budget you seek, check out lively Traverse City ($174/nightly).

EAT
One of Michigan’s buzziest and most Instagrammable eateries, the Cook’s House offers both farm-to-table regional Michigan dishes and on-site cooking classes.

PLAY
Grand Traverse Bay is cut in half by Old Mission Peninsula. Drive the Old Mission Wine Trail to sample—basic wine alert!—fruit wines; Traverse City is the cherry capital of the world!

STAY
Three-star Bayshore Resort has it all including a generous, lakefront beach, indoor pool and tasteful, candy-striped guestrooms. It’s basic compared to its nearby competitors, but that’s kind of the point.

Rocky Mountains: Breckenridge, CO

Breckenridge, Colorado

Denver is kind of a basic city (Eddie Bauer is considered high fashion here), but hotel rooms are also pricey ($231/nightly). Even snow bunny hangout Vail is cheaper ($207/nightly). Instead, stay in suburban Golden for Denver explorations that won’t break the bank ($135/nightly), get your nature fix among the red sandstone cliffs of St. George, Utah ($115/nightly) or unleash your inner cowboy in Wyoming capital Cheyenne ($126/nightly). But if you really want Mile High thrills for less, head to fun and affordable Breckenridge ($186/nightly), the “Amsterdam of the Rockies.”

EAT
No longer the new kid on the block, popular Breckenridge Distillery is nevertheless the best place to sate your basic cravings. Think Colorado ranch beef burger chased with spiced whiskey.

PLAY
When in Rome—ski! Beyond the slopes, Breckenridge offers a plethora of activities, including a charming downtown, dog sledding tours, gorgeous Sawmill Reservoir, scenic roads that cross the Continental Divide and every adrenaline-fueled adventure you can imagine.

STAY
Looking for an affordable Breckenridge base camp? Check out LOGE Breckenridge (formerly the Wayside Inn), a budget option that’s undergoing renovations and aiming to woo frugal travelers with an onsite cafe, indoor/outdoor community spaces and gear rental.

Pacific Northwest: Coeur d’Alene, ID

Coeur d'alene, Idaho

Coeur d’alene, ID

Seattle, you’ve got stiff competition. Why should we pay $216/nightly to hang around tech moguls when we can trek Olympic National Park via Port Angeles ($122/nightly), slurp Hawaiian-style ramen from a food cart in Portland ($169/nightly), circumnavigate Crater Lake from Klamath Falls ($134/nightly) or hike a cinder cone butte in Bend ($101/nightly)? Then there’s Coeur d’Alene, a hidden gem in Northern Idaho offering dirt cheap thrills at $92/nightly.

EAT
You’ll love the views at Cedars Floating Restaurant, a surf ‘n’ turf eatery that sits in the middle of the water and is perfectly ‘grammable at sunset.

PLAY
We’d never use the phrase basic beach, but the stretches of sand surrounding Lake Coeur d’Alene are the best in the state.

STAY
A perfectly situated four-star boutique B&B that oozes charm and won’t break the bank? Yup, that’s the Blackwell Hotel for you.

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

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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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Camping may not be the most glamorous way to spend a night, but it does put you in place to experience some of the universe’s most astounding grandeur. It’s pretty cheap lodging, too, leaving just the flight and/or car rental to get you far enough away from civilization so that the stars light up the sky. Here are some of the best places to stargaze in the U.S., and a nearby campground where you can stake a claim for the night for under $20.

Courtesy of Kevin Galens.

Courtesy of Kevin Galens.

Mammoth Campground, Yellowstone National Park; near Gardiner, Wyoming

Perched on a sagebrush steppe near the Mammoth Hot Spring Terraces, there’s little civilization nearby to pollute the night sky with light. Plus, at 6,200 feet, you’ve got fewer layers of atmosphere to deal with. Beware elk wandering through the campground at night. $20/night.

Courtesy of John Fowler.

Courtesy of John Fowler.

Goose Island Campground, Arches National Park; near Moab, Utah

The lack of moisture in the air in desert environments makes for a crisper view of the constellations. The beautiful red rock cliffs in the landscape of Arches National Park offer perfect framing. This campground is just outside the park near the Colorado River. $15/night

Courtesy of Shawn.

Courtesy of Shawn.

Wilderness State Park; Carp Lake, Michigan

This campsite on the tip of northern Michigan will yield spectacular views of the night sky, at times revealing glimpses of the Northern Lights. It’s also only six miles from the Headlands International Dark Sky Park, one of only 11 dark sky parks in the world devoted to minimizing light pollution for star observations. $20/night.

Courtesy of BevoStevo.

Courtesy of BevoStevo.

Enchanted Rock State Natural Area; near Fredericksburg, Texas

The big Texas sky makes stargazing at Enchanted Rock easy, but its designation as an International Dark Sky Park makes it even better. It is dark enough at this central Texas park to see the Milky Way. The park service also offers stargazing parties if you are interested in learning about the constellations. $14/night for the hike-in campsites.

Courtesy of youngil_pyun.

Courtesy of youngil_pyun.

Sunset Campground, Death Valley National Park; Inyo County, California

One of the darkest night skies in the United States hangs over Death Valley. The country’s third and final International Dark Sky Park, Death Valley offers views of celestial happenings not visible by the naked eye hardly anywhere else in the world. Catch glimpses of stardust, shooting stars and other phenomena. $12/night.

Courtesy of Daveynin.

Courtesy of Daveynin.

Aspenglen Campground; Estes Park, Colorado

This park in the Colorado Rockies has very little light and ample opportunities to turn your eyes toward the skies. Some say stargazing here in winter is best, when the moisture in the air congeals to ice crystals and makes the air more transparent. $15/night.

Tagged: Tips & advice, Uncategorized

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As we celebrate Earth Day, we should all be more cognizant of Mother Earth and how we treat her. There’s no better way to do that than reconnecting with nature. That becomes pretty easy while seeing the first rays of the sun from atop a mountain, or watching shooting stars dance between the silhouettes of Saguaro cacti. Here are five affordable eco-adventures to bring out your inner earth child and reconnect you with the beauty of the outdoors.

Red Rock Open Space

Red Rock Open Space. Photo: Thomas – Flickr

Scramble on red rocks

— Red Rock Canyon Open Space is a 789-acre park in Colorado Springs, Colorado. It’s full of winding trails, jutting red rocks and even some streams. It’s free to park, free to enter, and doesn’t draw near the crowds as its picturesque neighbor, Garden of the Gods. It’s also fairly unique, as it’s not quite in the mountains and not quite on the vast prairie that stretches out before them. With so many different geological features, you can scramble on the rock, hike on a trail or just sit by a lake and take it all in.

Cadillac Mountain

A view from the top of Cadillac Mountain. Photo: Ally Marotti.

See a sunrise

— If you hike to the top of Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park near Bar Harbor, Maine, at sunrise, you can catch a glimpse of the first rays of sun to hit the United States. That technically only happens in the fall and winter, when the sun rises due east, but you could get pretty close any other time. Even if you go in broad daylight, the view is spectacular. It’s the highest point on the Eastern Seaboard. If you’re feeling lazy, drive to the top. Acadia has a $25 fee per car, butthere are 16 days this year when national park fees are waived.

Mount Marcy

A view of a lake on the hike to Mount Marcy’s summit. Photo: Ally Marotti

Climb a mountain

— Mountains are plentiful in this country; we’re just lucky that way. Both sides of the nation are trimmed in them, with the Rocky Mountains slicing through the center. Eco-adventures don’t get any better than climbing a mountain. You’re using nothing but your own energy and taking in all that nature has to offer.National Parks are home to good hikes, but some of the best aren’t kept in boundaries. Try Mt. Marcy, the highest point in New York State with an elevation of 5,343 feet. For the most spectacular sights, go in the fall when the leaves are changing.

Arch Rock

Kayak near Arch Rock on Mackinac Island in Michigan. Photo: Eric W – Flickr

Kayak off Mackinac

— Arch Rock on the southeast coast of Mackinac Island in Michigan is pure bliss. So pure, in fact, that it makes an appearance in at least one of those Pure Michigan commercials. It’s just begging kayakers to visit. The key though, is bringing your own kayak. There’s only one rental place on the island, which is only accessible by ferry, and they charge $80 a person. So put on your life jacket and plop yourself down in Lake Huron’s waters.

Sonoran Desert National Monument

Stargaze at Sonoran Desert National Monument outside of Phoenix. Photo: Bureau of Land Management – Flickr

Camp under the stars

— Sonoran Desert National Monument just outside of Phoenix is beautiful by day, playing host to a horde of cacti and other desert flora and fauna, but at night, it’ll take your breath away. It’s just far enough from Phoenix that the city glow doesn’t affect your view of the Milky Way arching across the cloudless sky. There’s no designated camping spots in the area, so campers are asked to keep their tents at least 200 feet from a water source and use biodegradable soap.

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Tagged: FREE!, Tips & advice

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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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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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It’s fall in the Rockies. The aspen groves have turned yellow and are beginning to lose their leaves, the air is growing even brisker and the mountain peaks are becoming snow-capped again. But the days remain just as bright and full of sunshine as ever, and the mountains are beckoning. So head to Colorado Springs for your fall getaway and immerse yourself in autumn’s beauty.

This distinctive architecture has one awards for Denver International Airport. Courtesy of Timothy Vollmer.

This distinctive architecture has one awards for Denver International Airport. Courtesy of Timothy Vollmer.

Plane, train or automobile — Although Colorado Springs does have its own airport through which you may be able to find some dirt cheap fares, your best bet is probably coming in through Denver International Airport. It’s a major hub and has won awards for its design, so make sure to check that out as you pass through. The Springs (as the locals call it) is about an hour drive south on Interstate 25.

Downtown Colorado Springs. Courtesy of Phillip Stewart.

Downtown Colorado Springs. Courtesy of Phillip Stewart.

Cheap local transit — Colorado Springs does have a bus system, and a daily pass on the Mountain Metropolitan Transit is $4 a day. The frequency, however, is a little sporadic, and you’ll want a car to get you up into the mountains at some point during your stay, so you may have to splurge a little on a rental. You can justify the spending by all the free activities you’ll be doing (like hiking). Biking is certainly an option, but be realistic about adjusting to the altitude. You’ll want to save energy for the hikes.

Courtesy of Tucker Hammerstrom.

Courtesy of Tucker Hammerstrom.

Admire the aspens — Aspens becomedownright beautiful in the fall. The leaves extending from their white branches turn golden and illuminate the entire area with their glow. Aspens grow in groups, and many trees can spring up from the same roots. It contributes to that overwhelming quality of Aspen forests. Catamount Trail, which is about a 25-minute drive from the Springs off of Highway 24 near a tiny town called Green Mountain Falls, is a great hike for taking them in.

Manitou Springs. Courtesy of John Lloyd.

Manitou Springs. Courtesy of John Lloyd.

Meander in Manitou — Nestled right up against the mountains is Manitou Springs, a little hippy town that draws travelers in with its one-of-a-kind souvenir shops and adorable cafes. Oh, and it’s breathtaking scenery. Wander through the streets and enjoy a beer in the shadow of Pikes Peak. Drink from the fountains along the sidewalks flowing with water from mountain springs. If you are feeling adventurous, you can board the Cog Railway and it’ll take you right up to the top of Pikes Peak. (If you do decide to do this, note that Pikes Peak is more than 14,000 feet tall, so make sure you’re dressed for it. The Cog Rail cost $37 for adults.)

 

Beer. Courtesy of Quinn Dombrowski

Beer. Courtesy of Quinn Dombrowski

Release your inner school girl — As the birthplace of craft beer, Colorado doesn’t disappoint in its libations. Bristol Brewing Company is a prime example. They’ve turned the old Ivywild School into a brewpub. The beer is good and reasonably priced and the food options aren’t too shabby either. Try a flight for only $7 and sit out on the patio if weather allows.

 

Courtesy of Thomas's Pics.

Courtesy of Thomas’s Pics.

Be scared silly — Is that the chill of fall in the air, or was it an apparition passing by? Blue Moon Haunted History Tours offer haunted walking and cemetery tours of Manitou Springs for $15. They will incite fear with tales of the the spirits of tuberculosis patients that flocked to Manitou for a cure and died outside the gates of the sanitorium. They’ll wile you with legends of the curses Native Americans put on the town after Victorians arrived and began bottling the sacred waters.

Go off roadin’ — But not really, since you don’t want to damage that rental. Old Stagecoach Road is made of dirt and is totally dusty, but that is all part of the allure. You’ll drive into the mountains on the one-lane road and feel that thrill of excitement when you go around a bend and can’t tell if someone else is coming from the other direction. Dozens of hikes branch off of Old Stagecoach, and you’ll likely find some that are pretty secluded.

 

Apples. Courtesy of Vijay Chennupati.

Apples. Courtesy of Vijay Chennupati.

Play among the pumpkins — Pumpkins and apples are the quintessence of fall, and you can pick your own at Third Street Apples. The farm is in Penrose, which is about a 40-minute drive from Colorado Springs, but it’s a beautiful drive with a mountain backdrop. Apples are $1.39 per pound and pumpkins are 55 cents per pound.

The Garden of Eden on the Catamount Trail. Courtesy of Ally Marotti.

The Garden of Eden on the Catamount Trail. Courtesy of Ally Marotti.

Hit the trails — The best part about Colorado is all the room there is to play. And it’s all free. Explore and hike and enjoy nature. There’s nowhere else like Colorado in the world, and there’s nothing as liberating as hiking through its trails. Just avoid the state parks, because they charge entry fees.

CTIXblog CTA _ cheap of the week

Tagged: Cheap Tips, Off-season, Seasonal, Tips & advice

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

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At some airports, time in the terminal is a little more burdensome than at others. Maybe it’s because the nearby food options suck, or because the weather around that airport is always bad, so hope of ever making it home begins to slip slowly away. One thing is for sure: a good view always makes time in the terminal go a little quicker, whether your flight is delayed or not.  And some airports boast views that are downright breathtaking. When debating layover options, make sure to route through one of these airports.

View of the Front Range from Denver International Airport. Courtesy of Ken Lund.

View of the Front Range from Denver International Airport. Courtesy of Ken Lund.

Denver International Airport — Colorado

DIA has won awards for its design, but the view of nature surrounding it is much more breathtaking. Althoughit is positioned more than a half hour’s drive outside of Denver, the airport still features fantastic views of the Rocky Mountains. Unfortunately, you will likely only see the views if you’re in Terminal West. Terminal East faces toward flat, desolate eastern Colorado.

The view from Honolulu International Airport. Courtesy of Robert Linsdell.

The view from Honolulu International Airport. Courtesy of Robert Linsdell.

Honolulu International Airport — Hawaii

If touching down in paradise doesn’t leave you in enough state of bliss, check out the view out the airport window. The airport is sandwiched between Mãmala Bay and Oahu’s iconic Diamond Head Crater, just beyond Waikiki Beach. If you can peel your eyes away from that glory, check out the Honolulu skyline and nearby Pearl Harbor.

 

Courtesy of Hideyuki Kamon.

Courtesy of Hideyuki Kamon.

Vancouver International Airport — British Columbia, Canada

Another view dominated by mountains and sea. The airport is positioned just on the coast of the Salish Sea, and the snowcapped North Shore Mountain range overlooks it all. It is probably safe to assume all the Winter Olympic athletes that converged in the city in 2010 drew most of their inspiration from this view.

 

A look at Bora Bora's main island from the airport. Courtesy of Michael Stout.

A look at Bora Bora’s main island from the airport. Courtesy of Michael Stout.

Bora Bora Airport — French Polynesia

Flying into any island of tropical paradise is going to be, well, paradise, and Bora Bora is no exception. The lack of land available for runways forces airports to be built in beautiful locations on the islands. This one, also called the Motu Mute Airport, was built on an islet in a lagoon, and a boat transport is necessary to get to the main island.

 

The Mendenhall Glacier and Juneau airport. Courtesy of Sam Beebe.

The Mendenhall Glacier and Juneau airport. Courtesy of Sam Beebe.

Juneau International Airport — Alaska

More people have their pilots license than drivers license in Alaska, a state in which it is impossible to escape nature’s beauty. So one might just assume that all of Alaska’s airports are beautiful. They probably are, but let’s focus on Juneau’s airport. The Mendenhall Glacier seems to decend on it, with Mount Juneau rising stoically above.

 

Courtesy of EandJsFilmCrew.

Courtesy of EandJsFilmCrew.

Boston Logan International Airport — Massachusetts

Although the view from Boston’s airport might not be quite as striking as the mountain and paradisiacal scenes some of our other airports have offered, this one offers a nice blend of urban vistas and nature. It is in East Boston and surrounded by water on three sides, so travelers can see the sailboats on Boston Harbour and the downtown skyline.

 

A view of São Paulo from the air. Courtesy of Roger W.

A view of São Paulo from the air. Courtesy of Roger W.

São Paulo Guarulhos International Airport — Brazil

São Paulo is a city that seems to go on forever, especially if you are taking it in by air. On the ground at the airport, travelers can see that huge city sprawling in front of them. Although they may not be experiencing the hustle and bustle of city life quite yet, it looms before them.

CTIXblog CTA _ cheap of the week

Tagged: Beach, City, Flights, Hawaii

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