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

Right before COVID-19 struck, the travel industry was the second-fastest growing sector in the world (after manufacturing) and contributed nearly $9 trillion to the global economy. That all changed this spring, however, as stay-at-home orders took effect and countless vacations were canceled around the world. But as the freeze on both domestic and even global travel begins to thaw, travel is making its way back—though it may not look the same as you remember it. As you’re looking forward to planning a trip this summer or fall, you can expect these six key experiences to be different.

RELATED: 10 amazing National Parks photos to inspire your next trip

Vacation rentals

If there’s one facet of travel that’s fared better than others, it’s this one. That’s probably because longer-stay vacation rentals, which you can book directly with CheaptTickets, host fewer visitors than hotel rooms on average, and there are fewer common spaces to share with other guests. Vacationers also have more control of the cleanliness of their accommodations, and you can expect heightened cleaning standards and more generous cancellation policies before booking your next stay. Although some regions are still closed to vacation rentals, there has been a surge in bookings this summer as people seek a safer escape from home.

Hotels and resorts

When lockdowns first began, many hotels reported fewer than 5% occupancy rates. Although those numbers have slowly risen, most hotels are still pulling out all the stops in terms of making guests feel safe and confident about their stays. How are they doing this? Free sack lunches have replaced breakfast buffets, pool deck chairs have been spaced out, and room cleanings and sanitations have been doubled, according to some reports. In fact, Marriott and Hilton, the world’s largest hoteliers, are now using ultraviolet lights and electrostatic sprayers during housekeeping to kill bacteria and viruses from guest rooms.

Theme parks

On a recent visit to Lagoon, a Utah theme park that was one of the first in the country to reopen, visitors experienced uber clean bathrooms, hand sanitizer stations everywhere, and a lot more park attendants than normal. That said, reservations, social distancing guidelines and face masks are required, so your visit won’t be like it was before. The upside is that park capacities are being seriously restricted now, which means you can do a lot more rides in less time than before.

National Parks

The good news is all are open again. The bad news: Many of the most popular areas are still closed, restricted or with limited access (i.e. pedestrian or biker access only). The Grand Canyon, for example, only recently opened the popular Canyon Rim Trail, after months of closure. Similarly, many visitor centers, museums and amenities remained closed around the nation. Nevertheless, many parks are reporting higher than normal crowds. Before visiting, be sure to visit the specific nps.gov park website for the most up to date information.

Flying

Although airports and airplanes are no longer the ghost towns they were two months ago, they are nowhere near as crowded as they used to be. To keep customers safe, all major airlines require face masks to fly and now use high efficiency filters to keep cabin air as clean as a hospital. Some, like United, will start using electromagnetic foggers to disinfect planes arriving from abroad. That said, flight routes (especially direct ones) are less than half of what they used to be and schedules are subject to change at any given time as airlines continue to shift their fleets. What’s more, some states such as Hawaii and Maine still require 14-day hotel quarantining or proof of a negative COVID test before entering.

Road trips

If you want the most freedom and isolation, this is still your best bet. Along the way, you are sure to encounter much cleaner public restrooms and a lot of drive-thru dining options just like before (be sure to check local restrictions on indoor/outdoor dining, and pack a mask as many states require them to enter shops and eateries). In terms of booking hotels along the way, CheapTickets lets you read authentic user reviews that include reports on cleanliness and other factors. Also note that in some areas, landmarks and attractions may still be closed to the public, so check before adding a waypoint to your map.

Tagged: Cheap Tips, COVID-19, Flights, Tips & advice

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

Blake Snow

Blake Snow

Blake contributes to fancy publications and Fortune 500 companies as a writer-for-hire and frequent travel columnist. He lives in Provo, Utah with his supportive family and loyal dog.
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Gorgeous pink beaches, coral reefs full of colorful fish, and plenty of places to dive and snorkel—that’s enough for many families to fall in love with Bermuda. But almost everything about Bermuda is easy breezy, too, making it a great choice for an affordable, stress-free family getaway. Here are 13 reasons the whole family will love Bermuda.

RELATED: Could Negril be the affordable escape of your dreams?

1. Insta-famous beaches

Pink sand beach in Bermuda

Pink sand beach in Bermuda

Let’s cut to why most people come to Bermuda: gorgeous pink sand beaches! The island destination has 34 public beaches to choose from, from Horseshoe Bay Beach, which is fringed by dramatic cliffs, to John Smith’s Bay Beach, a great choice for families thanks to a reef that keeps waters calm and boats at bay.

2. Easy to reach

Getting to Bermuda is relatively easy: It’s located just 650 miles off the coast of North Carolina, so the flight is relatively short and inexpensive from many US airports.

3. Easy to navigate

Add to that that Bermuda is a British Territory, so the official language is English, making it easy for American travelers to get around. But despite its British connection, Bermuda uses USD as its currency, eliminating the need for exchanging money. What’s more, it’s one of few weather destinations with no Zika threat—the authorities keep a tight watch on mosquito control.

4. Lodging for every budget

While the Caribbean is not generally known as a great choice for budget travelers, Bermuda offers accommodations at every price point—from the modest Greensleaves Guest House to the charming Aunt Nea’s Inn where kids stay free.

5. Your choice: snorkel, scuba or snuba?

Old ship wreck in Bermuda

Old ship wreck in Bermuda

Famous for its coral reefs and shipwrecks, Bermuda has virtually limitless opportunities for snorkeling and diving, or taking one’s first ever scuba lesson. Inexpensive and tailored to children’s needs, Tobacco Bay Beach and Snorkel Park Beach rent out snorkeling gear, while Island Tour Centre offers budget conscious boating and snorkeling tours. Fantasea Diving and Watersports offer affordable packages for novice scuba aficionados. Done enough snorkeling but not sure scuba is for you? Try “snuba”—Bermuda’s best-of-both worlds option—a hybrid of scuba and snorkel gear, which pumps air through a hose connected to the diving mask.

6. Sealife at BAMZ

Lionfish at the Bermuda Aquarium | Photo: Lina Zeldovich

Want to know more about the picturesque fish you’ve seen through your mask? Stop by Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo, aka BAMZ in the Flatts Village of Hamilton parish to see its 140,000-gallon “North Rock” tank, a living replica of one of Bermuda’s coral reefs—and read all about purple sea fans, barracuda, groupers shark, star and brain corals, as well as the beautiful but invasive Lion Fish. In addition to marine life, BAMZ also features land creatures, including Madagascar lemurs and Galapagos turtles, one of which recently celebrated its 100th birthday. Lastly, it runs a rehabilitation clinic that nurses injured animals back to health and then sets them free. Their most recent and very unusual patient was a gray North Atlantic seal treated for a respiratory infection and flown to the U.S. where she was released into Nantucket Sound.

7. Whales and other wildlife

Take a wildlife watching tour to see Bermuda’s marine inhabitants. | Photo: Lina Zeldovich

In spring, Bermuda welcomes its largest visitors—humpback whales, which pass the island on their annual migration up north to the their feeding waters in Canada, Greenland and Iceland. If you’re in Bermuda during whale season, make sure to take one of the whale watching tours to see these astonishing 40-ton marine mammals feeding and leaping out of the water. Other wildlife, such as turtles, birds and dolphins can be spotted during various seasons.

8. Local lore

There’s hardly a more captivating way to learn about Bermuda’s tales than its national museum. Located in Royal Naval Dockyard, the National Museum of Bermuda features the Hall of History—a 1,000-square-foot, larger-than-life mural painted by local artist Graham Foster in the Commissioner’s House. It took Graham over three years and 7,000 hours of research and painting to complete this mural which portrays scenes from more than 400 years of life on the island—from the 1609 wrecked ship Sea Venture that led to the island’s first settlement to modern day cruise ships. Her Majesty The Queen came to Bermuda in November 2009 to officially open this historical work of art.

9. The Bermuda Triangle explained

Opened in 1997 to explore the mysteries surrounding the legendary Bermuda Triangle and its famous shipwrecks, among other secrets of the sea, the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute masterfully unwraps the island’s history. Visitors can trace the 24 most famous vessel disappearances within the Bermuda triangle on a new interactive table-like map—the activity is captivating for the entire family. Weaving together old fables and modern science, the museum presents 13 scientific theories (a fitting number!) explaining the unusually high number of shipwrecks around Bermuda, the navigational difficulties of planes and boats, and even the mysterious lights reportedly seen over the water.

10. The hidden underworld of Crystal Caves

Inside Bermuda’s Crystal Caves. | Photo: Lina Zeldovich

Legend has it that in 1907 two boys were playing cricket and lost their ball, which seemed to have fallen into a deep pit. Using ropes and a kerosene lamp, the boys climbed down into the pit, where they discovered a small lake among the stalactite and stalagmite structures. Named Crystal Caves, it is a hidden gem in modern day Bermuda that stays cool and pleasant even in the summer heat. Crystal Caves offers regular tours for all ages and it’s not uncommon to see a wedding taking place in there, too.

11. Sweet treats everywhere

From home baked cakes and cookies to specialty ice-creams, the island towns of St. George and Hamilton boast a variety of sweet spots to satisfy anyone’s cravings. For baked goods and cookies, try Tuck Shop or The Bridge Trading Post. For frozen treats, stop by Bailey’s Ice Cream Parlour—or go to Yo Cherry!, which Bermudians says is the island’s most popular spot for family dessert.

12. Dining both kids and adults love

Who says kids should have all the fun? Adults deserve some as well. Want a taste of truly Bermudian gastronomy? Stop by Seaside Grill, which specializes in seafood, including sandwiches made with raisin bread and fish that was caught only hours ago. How about an authentic Bermudian drink to wash down that supersized sandwich? Swizzle Inn, one of the island’s beloved pubs, serves the local specialty rum swizzles—a must try. For family-friendly places, opt for diners like Paraquet and Specialty Inn, or the Italian restaurant La Trattoria.

13. Shop for local specials

A 19th century perfume recreated from a bottle found in a sunken Civil War runner, sold at Lili Bermuda. | Photo: Lina Zeldovich

The concept of “special” takes on a different meaning here. Bermuda offers rare handcrafts, jewelry, souvenirs and locally made rum, among other items you won’t find anywhere else. For a truly unique gift, stop by the Lili Bermuda perfumery to savor Mary Celestia—a 19th century perfume recreated from a bottle found in a Civil War blockade runner that sank near Bermuda. Discovered by local divers and reconstructed by a team of archaeologists and perfumers, this is a truly unique fragrance and a real Bermuda special.

Tagged: Beach, Caribbean, Cheap Tips, Destinations, Types of Travel

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

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If you’re gearing up to catch a game at your alma mater, or any other college this fall, you’ll want to take a look at our list of the most affordable—and most expensive—university towns to visit. Wondering how we landed on these particular cities? Pretty simple: CheapTickets calculated the average airfare, hotel and car rental rates for the 25 top college towns from Niche’s 2019 best college athletics in America list. We also gathered the best hotels, bars and attractions for the top five most affordable university towns to help you plan your next trip.

RELATED: Your college football tailgating playbook

1. Duke University

Congratulate yourself. If your hanging around the Duke campus, chances are you’ve got some pretty brainy friends. No need to spend a lot of dough here, in the country’s cheapest college town to visit. Stroll the 55-acre Durham Gardens (especially lovely in autumn); visit Burt’s Bees World Headquarters (which includes an observational hive); go for a run along the scenic American Tobacco Trail; and snap a selfie in front of Duke Chapel.

EAT A butcher and bakery turned full-service restaurant, Rose’s Meat Market and Sweet Shop now serves pan-Asian street food (think noodles and dumplings) and ridiculously tasting handpies, puddings, cakes and macaroons.

DRINK You’re gonna drink beer so you might as well do it at Fullsteam Brewery, a downtown tavern, brewery and hangout space featuring beers crafted, in part, with the help of local farmers.

STAY A self-proclaimed art hotel, the 21c Museum Hotel fuses contemporary works with cozy guestrooms. Hang out in an old bank vault surrounded by art, nosh on fancy bites at Counting House or just swing by to peruse the current exhibition.

2. Auburn University

This is Tigers town, so it might seem like everything revolves around football. But there’s plenty to do pre- and post-game, too. Go just outside of town for a breath of fresh air as you hike Chewacla State Park or the Louise Kreher Forest Ecology Preserve & Nature Center. Be sure to explore the downtown area town, too, especially the area around Toomer’s Corner at College Street and Magnolia Avenue. There you’ll find Toomer’s Drugs, an old-school diner, drug store and soda fountain that dates back to 1896.

EAT For Great Southern cooking, head to Pannie-George’s Kitchen, where you can fill up on favorites like fried green tomatoes, cornbread, collard greens and fried chicken. You’ll leave full without spending much.

DRINK Bar hop along College Street, where drinking establishments like Halftime, Avondale and Quixote’s ooze school spirit.

STAY The Hotel At Auburn University puts you within a ten-minute walk of Jordan-Hare Stadium. It’s an especially great pick for families, thanks to its outdoor pool and free Wi-Fi.

3. University of Maryland

Squished neatly between Washington DC and Baltimore (although closer to DC), the University of Maryland in College Park boasts a perfectly groomed campus and plenty of open green space. Do this: Check out the College Park Aviation Museum (if only for the fact that it sits next to the world’s oldest continuously operating airport), spend a few hours hiking Greenbelt National Park and test your pinball skills at Mom’s Organic Pinball Arcade (behind a market of the same name).

EAT Pizza, pasta and red sauce favorites are all served up in a cozy mom-and-pop atmosphere at Mamma Lucia.

DRINK A college bar where you can watch the game, nosh on some grub and guzzle from numerous beers on tap, Looney’s Pub offers a traditional Irish-American pub experience.

STAY Traditional accommodations abound; the College Park Marriott Hotel & Conference Center is among the better of the bunch.

4. Ohio State University

Rarely are college towns and big cities one and the same, but in Columbus you get the best of both worlds. Rubbing shoulders with the OSU campus is Short North. It’s main artery, High Street, is jammed with college bars, restaurants and indie boutiques. At Main Street Bridge, snap a selfie with the city behind you, then stroll the Scioto Mile, a 175-acre urban playground straddling downtown and the Scioto River.

EAT Chase a German sausage with a cream puff (yup, it’s a thing) at Schmidt’s Sausage Haus in the German Village. Wash it all down with a couple of beers and enjoy the oompah band!

DRINK There are bars aplenty on and near High Street. Alongside college taprooms like Mac’s Proper Pub and Thirsty Scholar sit more stylish entries including Two Truths and Denmark.

STAY The buzzy new Lofitel, a converted bank building, offers spacious rooms with skyline views and whimsical touches like chalkboards, bar carts and full-service kitchens. Pricey during peak weekends, we’ve found weekday rates for as little at $176/nightly.

5. University of North Carolina

You’ll frequently find Chapel Hill on “best college towns” lists. While University of North Carolina, founded in 1789 as the country’s first state university, ranks high academically, we suspect the designation might have more to do with it being such an outstanding sports town (go Tar Heels!). Or maybe because of its edgy music scene (hello, The Cave). And with both the mountains and the ocean just over four hours away in either direction, the great outdoors are never far away.

EAT Don’t leave town without indulging in some authentic Carolina ‘cue. Allen & Son Barbeque is the place to go, where you’ll want to order the hickory smoked chopped pork sandwich.

DRINK One of Chapel Hill’s coolest watering holes is the Crunkleton, a private club where old-timey barkeeps in shirtsleeves and bowties serve up modern interpretations of classic cocktails. Yes, it’s members-only but you’ll get in—just pay the $5 fee at the door and you’re in the club for life!

STAY The Franklin Hotel puts you right on Franklin Street, in the heart of Chapel Hill’s bustling dining and nightlife area. One of the best perks at this stylish property is the free car service—so feel free to imbibe at a game or a concert without worrying about how you’ll get home.

Most affordable college towns to visit

Tagged: Cheap City, USA, Cheap Tips, Events, Infographics, Sports, Top 10 list

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

CheapTickets Blog Editors

CheapTickets Blog Editors

CheapTickets editors are a diverse group of writers and bloggers who live and work all over the world and who have a passion for student-friendly budget travel coursing through their veins. Whether it's finding the most Instagrammable yurt in the Coachella Valley or uncovering dirt cheap eats in expensive cities like Tokyo and Paris, our writers take the road less traveled to uncover the world's best deals and destinations.
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When it comes to state fairs, you know the drill: funnel cake, bumper cars and rigged carnival games. Instead of the same old, same old, shake up your summer with one of these unexpected events that will add a little oddball fun to your plans.

RELATED: The 12 best food festivals in the US

Calories don’t count at the RC-MoonPie Festival. Photo credit: Bob Henderson/Flickr.

RC-MoonPie Festival: Bell Buckle, TN
(June 16)

Shamelessly declare your love for Southern junk food at this festival that celebrates pairing a crisp RC Cola with MoonPie, which—if you’re not from around here—are those round graham cracker cookies with marshmallow dipped in  chocolate. Rounding out the festivities are live music, cloggers, a parade and more. And don’t worry about the calories; you’ll burn them off during the RC Cola & MoonPie 10 Mile Run.

Flickr CC: Clinton Steeds

UFO Festival: Roswell, NM (July 6–8)

Here’s a safe space to unleash all your conspiracy theories. The family-friendly event includes speakers, costume contests for attendees and their pets, live entertainment, authors and more. If the truth is out there, you’ll probably find it here.

The sun also rises in Key West during Hemingway Days. Photo credit: Erin Borrini/Flickr.

Hemingway Days: Key West, FL (July 17–22)

Whether you’re a bookworm or you paid a classmate to write your For Whom the Bell Tolls essay back in high school, you’ll enjoy this festival that celebrates the life of longtime Key West denizen Ernest Hemingway. The festivities include a Hemingway lookalike contest at the writer’s favorite bar, a “running of the bulls” down iconic Duval Street and more.

National Baby Food Festival: Fremont, MI (July 18–21)

Baby’s first food can also be baby’s first festival, when you bring the kids to this town that’s the cradle of Gerber Baby Food. Events include a children’s bike race, baby-crawling contest and car show, plus arts and crafts and more.

ALSO: Earn CheapCash good on hotels, only with CheapTickets!

da Vinci Days: Corvallis, OR (July 20–22)

In the spirit of the Italian artist/inventor, this free festival’s Graand (sic) Kinetic Challenge invites teams to engineer and race their own contraptions across 10 miles of city streets, sand dunes, mud and water. Other less laborious festivities include live music, a children’s village and art show.

Great Texas Mosquito Festival: Clute, TX (July 26–28)

Mascot Willie-Man-Chew and his “Swat Team” head up this carnival for folks itching to have a good time. The soiree includes music, carnival rides, cook-offs, a mosquito-calling contest and a prize for the child with the cutest mosquito-bitten legs (ouch).

Spitting images are everywhere at Twins Days the Twins Days Festival. Photo credit: Charles Robinson/twinsdays.org.

Twins Days: Twinsburg, OH (August 3–5)

This sibling celebration will have you seeing double—and triple. The first day of the festival is just for multiples and their families, but after that the public is welcome to marvel at the Double Take Parade, twins’ talent show, fireworks display and other activities that are twice as nice.

Wisconsin State Cow Chip Throw and Festival: Prairie Du Sac, WI (August 31–September 1)

Cow chips (yes, that’s a dried pile of dung) were once used for fuel but now they ignite this Labor Day weekend extravaganza that also includes an art fair, kids’ activities, cow-themed parade and more. The highlight is a contest to see who can their cow chip the farthest, as judged by the official Meadow Muffin Committee.

BugFest is all the buzz at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, which puts on the event. Photo credit: Barbara Hobbs/Flickr.

BugFest: Raleigh, NC (September 15)

Got a kid who loves creepy-crawlies? Bring her to this free event full of insect-themed exhibits, crafts, games and activities. This is also an opportunity to ask questions to entomologists and—for the brave—sample cuisine from the festival’s Café Insecta, which is exactly what it sounds like.

Spinach Festival: Lenexa, KS (September 8)

Channel your inner Popeye at this free gathering that’s chock full of fun—and vitamin K. After a day of cooking demos, recipe contests, the world’s largest spinach salad and kids’ activities, you’ll either hate the green veggie or love it more than ever.

Tagged: Family, Festivals, Florida, FREE!, Seasonal, Texas

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

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When you think about traveling to California, you might think San Francisco, Sonoma, LA and San Diego. Sacramento, on the other hand, will probably only come up if you’re taking a capitals quiz. Things have changed a lot, though, in recent years, as the Golden State’s capital city has developed a thriving farm-to-fork food scene, some fresh cultural attractions and even a few unforgettable bars (one with real live mermaids!). Read on to see why now is the time to give Sacramento a chance.

RELATED: This is the California beach road trip you’ve always dreamed of

Central Farmers Market | Flickr CC: Robert Couse-Baker Central Farmers Market | Flickr CC: Robert Couse-Baker

Get fresh at the Central Farmers Market

While Central Farmers Market has been feeding locals for decades , its influence on Sacramento dining has definitely skyrocketed as of late. As the largest California Certified Farmers Market in the state, it’s the place to snap up some of the best fruits and veggies anywhere, plus spot top chefs from near and far.

Indulge in Farm-to-Fork dining

About five years ago, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, the city’s first homegrown and African-American mayor, declared Sacramento the nation’s “Farm-to-Fork Capital.” Seems a fair assessment considering most of the food in in town comes from within 25 miles of the city. Much of the rest comes from within 150 miles. That said, expect to find fresh, local, seasonal, sustainable and artisanal food at every turn. Among the many standouts are Federalist Public House & Beer Garden, Hock Farm, Grange Restaurant & Bar and Ella’s.

Sample away at the Farm-to-Fork Festival

Get a true taste of the city at Sacramento’s annual Farm-to-Fork Festival. More than 80 vendors of local food, wine and beer gather on the city’s Capitol Mall in September while exhibits from farms, live music, cooking shows, butchering competitions and other activities round out the offerings. The event is free and attracts more than 50,000 people annually.

Low Brau | Photo courtesy of @rnjewels Low Brau | Photo courtesy of @rnjewels

Stay cool in the Midtown neighborhood

On weekends, the place to be is Midtown, where you’ll find a hip set hanging out at restaurants, coffee shops, bars and indie shops. There’s a smaller farmers’ market here on Saturdays, too, plus the popular patio at Low Brau, the locally-made art at Kennedy Gallery, and your very own artistry at the Painted Cork, where you can create a masterpiece over a bottle of wine or beer.

Crocker Art Museum Crocker Art Museum | Flickr CC: Nathan Hughes Hamilton

Explore the museums

While the Sacramento History Museum, California State Railroad Museum and California Automobile Museum are all worth checking out, art enthusiasts will appreciate the collection at the Crocker Art Museum. The impressive array of work here includes Californian and American, European, Asian, African and Oceanic art, as well as international ceramics and 1,500 master drawings.

Dive Bar | Photo courtesy of @divebarsacramento Dive Bar | Photo courtesy of @divebarsacramento

Imbibe in the nightlife

Did you think Sacramento was a sleepy little town? Maybe at some point it was but now there’s plenty keep you out, including the fascinating Dive Bar. Head here to marvel at the huge aquarium above the bar, and catch a glimpse of the mermaids swimming in it! Rumor has it they never show before midnight, so arrive late.

ALSO: Save big on your next vacay with CheapCash—it’s free to sign up!

Catch a major concert or game

Locals are especially pumped, though, about the new Golden 1 Center, the state-of-the-art sports and entertainment complex, that is a big piece of downtown’s revitalization. Superstar artist Jeff Koons recently unveiled his towering sculpture at the entrance of the Center, which is the new home of hoopsters the Sacramento Kings. Word is that the arena is the most technically advanced and sustainable in the country. With a farm-to-fork menu, the fans will have some of the best stadium eats anywhere. Executive Chef Michael Tuohy plans to take arena food to a new level.

Old Sacramento | Flickr CC: Jack Snell Old Sacramento | Flickr CC: Jack Snell

Revisit California history

Make your way to Old Sacramento, where you can visit several museums such as Wells Fargo, and the automobile and railroad museums mentioned above. The Old Sacramento Underground Tour departs from this area, as well, and offers a peak into the past when the streets were raised in the 1860s and 1870s to protect the city from flooding. The area is also home to boutiques, art, antique shops, carriage rides, Hornblower cruises, train rides, and plenty of restaurants and bars.

Photo courtesy of the Citizen Hotel

Stay in style

There’s no shortage of great places to stay in Sacramento. Opt for a bed and breakfast, or go for a big hotel such as the Embassy Suites Sacramento Riverfront Promenade, Hyatt Regency and Four Points by Sheraton, plus the historic Citizen Hotel. Once you’re rested up, head out and knock off a few more of those incredible restaurants off your list! And then, repeat.

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Tagged: California, Cheap City, USA, Cheap Tips, City, Destinations, Events, Family, Festivals, Types of Travel

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

CheapTickets Blog Editors

CheapTickets Blog Editors

CheapTickets editors are a diverse group of writers and bloggers who live and work all over the world and who have a passion for student-friendly budget travel coursing through their veins. Whether it's finding the most Instagrammable yurt in the Coachella Valley or uncovering dirt cheap eats in expensive cities like Tokyo and Paris, our writers take the road less traveled to uncover the world's best deals and destinations.
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South Florida isn’t exactly synonymous with a cheap vacation, but in the Fort Lauderdale area, you’ll find a surprising number of free and inexpensive activities that don’t skimp on fun. Here are some of the town’s best affordable attractions. 

RELATED: 5 unforgettable Florida road trips for every personality

Bonnet House is gorgeous inside and out. | Photo: Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau.

It’s easy being green

The waterfront Bonnet House Museum and Gardens is one of Fort Lauderdale’s must-do attractions. The 1920’s estate includes a mansion, art museum, gallery and more. But if the $20 admission price isn’t in your budget, you can feel rich when you spend $10 to see only the gardens, which include tropical landscapes, a rotating collection of orchids and the occasional manatee in the nearby canal.

Rent a canoe, and explore the mangrove trails near the Anne Kolb Nature Center. | Photo: Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Back to nature

Get away from the noise with a visit to the Anne Kolb Nature Center, which is part of the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail. Paddle through mangrove wetlands, take the elevator to the top of the observation tower for a view of the Atlantic Ocean and on weekends, observe a feeding in the exhibit hall’s giant aquarium.

Take a free ride

Not only is the Riverwalk Water Trolley one of the most fun ways to get around town, but it won’t cost you a dime. The water taxi runs daily along the New River, allowing passengers to hop on and off near the city’s most popular attractions.

Paint the town

If you like Miami’s Wynwood Walls, then be sure to check out the Downtown Hollywood Mural Project. This is the largest walkable mural scene in Broward County, featuring buzzworthy artists from South Florida and across the world. Stroll through the area anytime, or swing by on the third Saturday evening of the month for a guided tour and a chance to see the artists at work.

When Mother Nature foils your plans, the Museum of Discovery and Science is a great way to occupy the kids | Photo: MODS.

Discover the great indoors

The Museum of Discovery and Science makes a great contingency plan for families on a rainy (or too hot) summer day. Tickets cost $16 for adults and $13 for kids, but with two floors of hands-on exhibits and an IMAX theater ($8 adults/$6 kids), the all-day fun is well worth the price of admission. Plus, from May 1 to September 30, 2018, take advantage of 2-for-1 Summer Savings offers at MODS and dozens of other South Florida attractions.

ALSO: Earn CheapCash, good towards hotels, only with CheapTickets!

Hooray for Hollywood

The Hollywood Beach Broadwalk is your destination for people-watching. The 2.5-mile oceanfront thoroughfare is lined with cafes, boutiques and live entertainment, attracting joggers, bikers and pedestrians. Getting there is easy; ride the Hollywood Trolley with $1 fares between the beach and downtown.

In da house

Get up to speed on Fort Lauderdale’s history with a visit to the Historic Stranahan House Museum. Built in 1901 by businessman Frank Stranahan and his education activist wife, Ivy, the home offers a glimpse into pioneer life. Friendly, knowledgeable tour guides make the experience well worth the $12 admission fee.

Nightlife meets the arts at FATVillage. Credit FATVillage.

Get FAT

On the last Saturday night of each month (excluding December), head to the four-block creative district north of downtown to visit art galleries, watch artists working in their studios, browse the prop warehouse and catch live performances in the street or in one of two theaters. The kid- and pet-friendly Flagler Arts and Technology Village art walk, better known as FATVillage, happens rain or shine.

Chic street

There’s always something happening on Las Olas Boulevard, the main artery of Fort Lauderdale’s shopping and dining scene. Browse the art galleries, clothing boutiques and jewelry stores, then grab a coffee and a croissant at one of the many sidewalk cafes, and watch the beautiful people go by.

Retail therapy

Bargain hunters, don’t miss the deals at Sawgrass Mills—the largest outlet mall in the United States. This shopper’s paradise features more than 350 stores, including Calvin Klein, Under Armour, Tory Burch and So. Many. More.

Tagged: Beach, Cheap City, USA, City, Family, Florida, FREE!

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

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We get it. Summer is not about planning. In fact, some of the season’s best moments happen spontaneously: the last-minute backyard barbecue that turns into an epic event, the late-night bonding sesh around the campfire, the water fight that breaks out when you’re hosing down the car in your driveway.

But some summer fun does require planning. With a little forethought, you can pencil in one of these events to be the cherry on top of your coolest summer ever.

RELATED: The 12 best food festivals in the US

Step inside some of Canada’s most intriguing buildings during Doors Open Toronto. | Flickr Photo: Tsai Project

Doors Open Toronto: Toronto, ON (May 26–27)

One weekend a year, visitors are given the chance to explore some of Toronto’s coolest buildings that aren’t normally open to the public. Enjoy walking tours, lectures, music and more—all for free. For 2018, the theme is “Film: The Great Romance,” giving participants an opportunity to check out historic theaters, media studios and buildings featured on the screen.

MoMA at NGV: Melbourne, Australia (June 8–October 7)

Hot weather not your thing? Bypass summer all together when you head Down Under, where the Southern Hemisphere’s winter ushers in this contemporary art exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria, in partnership with New York’s Museum of Modern Art.

Flickr CC: sophie

Cannon Beach Sandcastle Contest: Cannon Beach, OR (June 9)

This weekend of all-American festivities includes pro and amateur sculpting contests, a parade, a 5k run/walk and a nighttime bonfire on the beach in a Pacific coastal town about 80 miles west of Portland.

Juneteenth Atlanta Parade and Music Festival: Atlanta, GA (June 15–18)

While many cities celebrate this holiday marking the end of slavery in the United States, the cradle of the US Civil Rights Movement does so in high style, with a weekend of music, speakers and parade floats with themes like black history and natural hair.

The Jazz Age Lawn Party is the cat’s pajamas (but don’t actually wear pajamas. | Flickr Photo: Aaron Dahlstrom

Jazz Age Lawn Party: Governors Island, NY (June 16–17 and August 25–26)

Two weekends during the summer, take a trip 800 yards from Lower Manhattan—and a century back in time—as crooner Michael Arenella and his Dreamland Orchestra transport you to a world of brassy music, flapper costumes and Charleston contests. With Prohibition no longer in effect, this party really is the bee’s knees.

Hopi Festival of Arts and Culture: Flagstaff, AZ (June 30–July 1)

See more than 100 Native American artists, musicians, dancers and lecturers—a summer tradition dating back to the 1930s.

ALSO: Earn CheapCash on these trips and more—sign up today!

Essence Festival: New Orleans, LA (July 5–8)

Part urban music fest, part beauty expo, part empowerment seminar, this year’s stage welcomes Janet Jackson, Mary J. Blige, the Roots and other A-listers.

California State Fair: Sacramento, CA (July 13–29)

Carnival rides and food on a stick come standard, but where else can you catch a concert, watch horse races, cool off in a water park and audition for Wheel of Fortune?

Guanajuato International Film Festival: San Miguel de Allende, Mexico (July 20–29)

Forego the latest movie reboots in favor of this cinematic event that includes innovative flicks, workshops and talks by some of Latin America’s most prominent filmmakers.

This session of Miami Salsa Congress is officially called to order. Photo credit: Sam Litvin/Flickr.

Miami Salsa Congress: Miami, FL (July 25–29)

Music is serious business in South Florida, as exhibited by this festival attracting the world’s best salsa musicians, dancers and DJs for nonstop concerts, workshops and even—because it’s Miami—pool parties.

Come out of your shell at the Maine Lobster Festival | Photo: MaineLobsterFestival.com

Maine Lobster Festival: Rockland, ME (August 1–5)

Strap on a bib and head to this crustacean celebration that includes a seafood cooking contest, live music, a fine art show, parade and more.

End of the Road: Dorset, England (August 30–September 2)

Close out your summer at this aptly named music festival whose lineup is as enchanting as the event’s fairy garden setting. This year’s headliners include St. Vincent, Vampire Weekend, Feist and Yo La Tengo.

Tagged: California, Festivals, Music, New York City, Seasonal

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

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Beach haters, we see you. While the rest of us swoon about our oceanfront vacations, you’re cringing at the thought of homicidal seagulls, painful sunburns and sand in your pants. Not to worry: If you’re in search of warm-weather minus the sand, these spring break destinations are far from the beach, but close to plenty of action so you can live it up without the awkward tan lines.

RELATED: 7 pool parties that totally own spring break

The Easter Bunny takes his annual ride down New Orleans’s famed Bourbon Street. | Flickr photo by Sean Connors

New Orleans, LA

In between the madness of Mardi Gras and the sweltering Bayou summer lies a perfect time to visit N’awlins. The city loves a parade, and Easter Sunday (Apr 1, 2018) brings at least three through the French Quarter, along with a public Easter egg hunt in City Park. Next up, enjoy the French Quarter Festival (Apr 12–15, 2018), a cultural smorgasbord featuring concerts, dance lessons, public lectures and films—all for free. The event includes countless food and drink vendors, so plan to work off those po’boys and crawfish rolls with a hike around Lafitte Greenway.

Washington, DC

You could spend your entire spring break working your way through the nation’s museums, but then you’d squander DC’s glorious springtime weather. Agree on a few indoor attractions for your itinerary, and spend the rest of your time outside. Pose for selfies at the monuments, ride the carousel on the National Mall, visit the National Zoo and catch a Washington Nationals baseball game. Even your meals can be had outdoors; how about a picnic on the mall or dinner al fresco in Dupont Circle?

View from Chapultepec Park

Mexico City, Mexico

Skip Cancun’s party scene and opt for a more sophisticated spring break in Mexico’s capital—preferably during the festivities of Semana Santa (Mar 25–31, 2018), but really anytime. In spring, high temperatures hover around 80 degrees, so spend the morning exploring the zoo and castle at Chapultepec Park or the archaeological site Teotihuacan. Then as the weather heats up, dip into an indoor attraction like the National Museum of Anthropology or the Frida Kahlo Museum.

As if gorgeous flowers weren’t enough, the Wooden Shoe Tulip Fest includes wine tastings, a trail run, kids’ activities and more. Photo | Bobby Riggs/Flickr.

Portland, OR

Who says spring break has to be Southern? The Pacific Northwest is ripe for exploring this time of year, with average high temps around 60 degrees—ideal for browsing the open-air Portland Saturday Market or touring 40 Instagram-worthy acres of flowers during the Wooden Shoe Tulip Fest (March 23–April 29, 2018). Rainy-day contingencies abound, like the Portland Children’s Museum, Oregon Museum of Science & Industry and a handful of “play cafes” that offer space for kids to burn energy while parents get their caffeine fix. Try a new restaurant during Portland Dining Month (March 2018), when three-course meals start at $33. If you really want to chill out, drive 90 miles east to Mount Hood, where some ski lifts operate year-round.

ALSO: Book now to earn CheapCash, good towards thousands of hotels nowhere near the beach.

Memphis, TN

Skip the beer-soaked spring break music festivals in favor of a hickory-smoked good time in this barbecue and music mecca. Mild temperatures are perfect for events like the Silky O’Sullivan St. Patrick’s Day Parade on legendary Beale Street (March 17, 2018), Memphis Fashion Week (Apr 11–14, 2018) and the home opener of the AAA Memphis Redbirds baseball team (April 10, 2018).

Grand Canyon, AZ

If you can’t stand crowds, then definitely steer clear of the Grand Canyon in summer. Instead, check this marvel off your bucket list in springtime, traveling from the town of Williams to the main attraction via the delightful Grand Canyon Railway. In March and April, high temperatures in the 50s and 60s are perfect for working up a sweat as you hike the Rim Trail. Parents can even sneak in some learning during spring break by enrolling kids in the Junior Ranger programs.

Flickr CC: Woody Hibbard

Austin, TX

Let’s start with the obvious: South by Southwest. The annual music/film/tech/awesomeness assembly happens Mar 9–13, 2018, in and around the Austin Convention Center. But that’s not the only draw to the Texas capital this time of year. Events like the contemporary art festival known as Art City Austin (Mar 30–Apr 1, 2018) and Rodeo Austin (Mar 3–24, 2018) make this trendy Texas town a worthy spring break destination for college students and families alike.

Spring is in bloom at Walt Disney World’s Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival. Photo | Jared/Flickr

Orlando, FL

If you want balmy temperatures without the beach, then Central Florida in spring is just the ticket. Before the Sunshine State’s festival season gives way to summer humidity, it goes all out with events like Mardi Gras at Universal Studios Florida (Feb 3–Apr 7, 2018), SeaWorld’s Seven Seas Food Festival (Feb 17–Apr 15, 2018) and the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival (Feb 28–May 28, 2018). If theme parks aren’t your scene, then stay cool downtown when you explore the Orlando Science Center, peddle a swan boat around Lake Eola Park or take in Church Street nightlife.

Tagged: Cheap City, USA, Cheap Tips, City, Destinations, Events, Family, Florida, Holidays, New Orleans, Seasonal, Texas, Top 10 list, Types of Travel, Washington DC

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

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Like the game clock ticking down in the fourth quarter, time is running out for March Madness fans to make their travel plans. As the annual NCAA men’s college basketball tournament gears up across the country, we’ve found a few hotels that are a slam dunk for budget-minded fans. But rooms are filling up quickly; to score these deals, you’ll need to make a fast break.

RELATED: These 10 states leave the most vacation days unused

These beds at the DoubleTree Suites look pretty comfy.

Dayton, OH (March 13-14)

DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Hotel Dayton – Miamisburg is far enough from University of Dayton Arena that you shouldn’t have trouble finding a room, but still only about 10 miles from campus. The two-room suites include a sofa bed, so you can split the cost with an extra fan or two, leaving more money to check out attractions like the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park—because in addition to showcasing high-flying slam dunks, Dayton was the birthplace of the Wright brothers

Eye-catching designs abound at Kimpton Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh, PA (March 15 & 17)

Steel City loves a good comeback story, so it’s fitting that the folks behind Kimpton Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh turned a century-old building into one of Pittsburgh’s most avant-garde boutique hotels. The inviting decor, evening nightcap and location across from the urban oasis of Mellon Square Park make the hotel an easy choice for b-ball fans heading to PPG Paints Arena, just ½ mile away. The hotel is also less than a 15-minute drive from attractions like the Andy Warhol Museum and Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens.

Hotel 316 offers free hot breakfast and a nightly drink reception in the lobby.

Wichita, KS (March 15 & 17)

316 Hotel’s name is a nod to Wichita’s area code, and its downtown location is a great base for exploring the city. Take the free shuttle to the Old Wichita entertainment district, check out vintage camping supplies at the free Coleman Factory Outlet and Museum, and grab a snack at Kernel’s Popcorn Express, whose 30-plus flavors go way beyond what you’ll likely find at Intrust Bank Arena—just a 1 ½-mile ride away on the aforementioned shuttle.

The decor at Lorenzo Hotel will get you energized for the big game.

Dallas, TX (March 15 & 17)

Live big in this modern Texas hotel located less than 3 miles from the American Airlines Center. Each of the Lorenzo‘s over-the-top guest rooms is decked out from floor (Shakespearean quotes on the carpet) to ceiling (concrete), and the hotel’s strong Instagram game shows off other eye-catching amenities like the swanky outdoor pool and artfully plated Tex-Mex classics from Lorenzo Kitchen.

Let’s taco-bout the top three reasons to choose the Grove Hotel: location, location, location.

Boise, ID (March 15 & 17)

The Grove Hotel is downtown and within walking distance of attractions like Liquid Laughs Comedy Club, Boise Contemporary Theater and countless restaurants. You’re in for a comfortable stay with modern rooms, an indoor pool and fitness center, and the Grove is located less than 2 miles from Taco Bell Arena, so you can truly live más.

After screaming for your favorite team, retreat to the Dunham Hotel’s 1920s architecture, marble bathrooms and chocolate turndown service.

Charlotte, NC (March 16 & 18)

Located less than a ½ mile from the Spectrum Center and within walking distance of Uptown Charlotte’s most popular museums and restaurants, the Dunhill Hotel is an easy choice for March Madness fans. The boutique hotel’s Southern hospitality includes free coffee and tea daily, nightly chocolate chip cookies and Southern comfort food in the restaurant.

ALSO: Earn CheapCash on your next trip, good toward hotels worldwide! Here’s how.

You’ll have a grand old time at this MGM hotel modeled after a Vegas resort.

Detroit, MI (March 16 & 18)

What happens in Vegas… can also happen in the Motor City when you stay at MGM Grand Detroit. Little Caesars Arena is less than 3 miles away, and basketball is just the beginning of your entertainment options, which also include the palatial hotel’s casino, music lounge, Topgolf, performance arena and more. There are a handful of restaurant options and plenty more just outside your door.

Modern amenities meet Southern comfort at the Hayes Street Hotel.

Nashville, TN (March 16 & 18)

The Hayes Street Hotel is at the center of Nashville’s action, located in Midtown less than 15 minutes from legendary Music Row, the Country Music Hall of Fame, a trio of universities and Adventure Science Center. This new boutique hotel features free continental breakfast, an on-site bar with live music and a fitness center, so you can stay at the top of your game just like the athletes you’ll watch at Bridgestone Arena, only 1 ½ miles away.

The Sofia Hotel is close to some of San Diego’s most popular attractions.

San Diego (March 16 & 18)

There’s a lot to explore in downtown San Diego, so book a stay at the Sofia Hotel. It’s about 11 miles southeast of Viejas Arena at San Diego State University, just outside of the city’s historic Gaslamp Quarter and about 2 ½ miles from the can’t-miss San Diego Zoo. Explore the area when you borrow a free bike from the hotel, or take Sofia’s free walking tour Saturdays and Sundays at 9am. To keep calm no matter what happens on the basketball court, book a spa treatment or meditate in the hotel’s 24-hour yoga studio.

Magnolia Hotel scores big with budget-minded basketball fans.

Omaha (March 23 & 25)

The swanky Magnolia Hotel, located less than 2 miles from the CenturyLink Center, only feels expensive with its palatial architecture and stately decor. Located in Omaha’s Old Market District, the hotel is less than 1 mile from the Joslyn Art Museum, Orpheum Theater and the Omaha Children’s Museum. Take advantage of daily happy hour specials, nightly fresh-baked cookies, free valet parking and even free stays for pets.

You’ll feel like an A-lister when you stay at Andaz West Hollywood. Photo courtesy of Diamond Public Relations.

Los Angeles, CA (March 22 & 24)

Andaz West Hollywood oozes California cool, from the minimalist furniture and free daily wine hour to a rooftop pool with panoramic views of the Hollywood Hills. Located about 10 miles north of the Staples Center, this Sunset Boulevard spot scores big for its position at the epicenter of Hollywood nightlife.

If you’re looking to avoid traffic—and who isn’t?—the Ellis Hotel’s downtown location is just peachy.

Atlanta (March 22 & 24)

Like L.A., Hotlanta is known for gridlock. Avoid getting caught in traffic when you stay at the Ellis Hotel, less than 1 mile from Philips Arena. The elegant hotel is located at downtown’s Peachtree Center, giving you access to dozens of restaurants, shops and public transportation. Thoughtful touches like free morning coffee, a women’s-only floor and allergy-friendly rooms allow you to focus on your March Madness bracket while the Ellis worries about the rest.

Oh, say can you see yourself staying at the Kendall Hotel?

Boston (March 23 & 25)

Just across the Charles River from TD Garden is the Kendall Hotel, a 19th-century firehouse-turned-hotel in Beantown’s techy Kendall Square neighborhood. The Kendall’s folk art decor will have you feeling patriotic, while the view from the nightly rooftop wine reception allows you to take in this New England city in all its glory. Take advantage of the free breakfast buffet before you head out to cheer on your team.

Snag a hotel room by the airport, and you won’t have to worry about getting in and out of town for the big games.

San Antonio (March 31, April 2)

With hotel rooms near the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center mostly sold out, your best bet is to expand your search. A free shuttle ride gets you from San Antonio International Airport to Hilton San Antonio Airport, which is just 8 miles from the March Madness action downtown. The hotel offers an outdoor pool, fitness room, restaurant and comfortable rooms so you can focus on the game.

Tagged: California, L.A., Sports, Texas

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

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Vacationing with Disney is magical—but it can be pricey. Believe it or not, though, there is something to fit just about anyone’s budget. From a day at Disneyland to a week-long cruise through Mexico, when choosing to hang with Mickey and friends, planning ahead can help you make the most of your time and money. Whether you’re penny-pinching or living large, here are some ways to get your money’s worth.

ALSO: 3 perfect days in Guadalajara, Mexico

Aulani

Image courtesy of Disney Aulani

Aulani Resort: Hawaii

Budget: There are plenty of options for those looking to save some money while visiting the Aulani Resort in Hawaii. First off, try shopping at the nearby Island Country Market for food and drinks, since those are typically the biggest expense. Also, buy a reusable souvenir cup for free (non-alcoholic) beverage refills during the length of your stay.

Planning to snorkel during your visit? Bring your own gear to save on rental costs. Guests at the resort do get complimentary boogie boards, sand toys, life jackets, beach chairs and umbrellas.

If traveling with kids ages 3 to 12, be sure to take advantage of free child care and activities at Aunty’s Beach House. This “kids’ club” includes visits from Disney characters (including Moana), Hawaiian cultural experiences such as lei making and hula lessons, video games, a playground and more. There is also the Pau Hana Room (Community Hall), a fun place for families to get together and play board games, craft or watch a movie. Kids will love the Menehune Adventure Trail, a high-tech interactive excursion that brings the property to life. Also, look out for the Menehune statues around the resort. See how many you can find during your stay. Activities for tweens and teens are also available.

Luxury: For the most extravagant Aulani experience, take advantage of some of the premium amenities, such as staying in the three-bedroom 2,174-square-foot Grand Villa with full kitchen and washer and dryer.

If you’re planning on attending the Ka’wa’a luau, it is well worth upgrading to the VIP tickets that include seating closest to the stage, early check-in granting access to the activities before the crowds arrive, unlimited complimentary beverages (including alcohol), first in line at the buffet, and a much more beautiful keepsake shell lei (rather than the traditional orchid lei).

For a fun on-property activity, the Rainbow Reef snorkeling adventure is hard to beat. It is large lagoon-type aquarium filled with thousands of fish that are mostly indigenous to the area. If you purchase the length-of-stay access, you can go anytime while you’re staying at the resort. For a more in-depth  experience, go for the guided Supplied-Air Snorkeling (similar to scuba diving) tour.

For some rest and relaxation, a visit to the Laniwai Spa is a must. With a hydrotherapy garden (various types of outdoor spa showers) and a full service spa menu, you’ll be pampered like never before. Indulge in a signature treatment such as the lomilomi massage, hana pohaku (heated stones), or kapa’i massage using herbal poultices. Teen treatments are available at Laniwai with an accompanying adult or there is also the Painted Sky Teen Spa for kids ages 13 to 17 to get treatments on their own.

Disneyland

Image courtesy of Disneyland

Disneyland: Anaheim, CA

Budget: If you’re planning a trip to the Happiest Place on Earth, there are easy ways to cut back on expenditures. The first is to purchase advance tickets online. The more days you go, the cheaper the tickets are per day. Buying tickets the day-of at the park will cost more. If you live in Southern California, you get an even bigger discount on tickets (you must show valid ID with SoCal address). If you’re also planning on going to Legoland and SeaWorld, a SoCal CityPASS will get you 30% off your tickets and includes a three-day Disneyland Resort Park Hopper ticket that is good at Disneyland and California Adventure.

Food within the resort can add up. Save some cash by bringing in your own snacks. Disneyland allows guests to bring a six-pack sized cooler into the resort.

If you’re planning on staying overnight in the area, take advantage of the hotel packages to save on accommodation. Stay at one of the three Disneyland Resort hotels or one of the 14 Good Neighbor Hotels and receive a one-park per-day ticket to Disneyland or California Adventures with early admission to the park, 10% off dining and merchandise, 5×7 photo, and a collective pin, lanyard and luggage tag.

Luxury: To make the most of your time at Disneyland or California Adventure, book a private, guided VIP tour that will allow you to cut to the front of the line for rides and character greetings, up-front seating for parades and shows, unlimited day-of downloads from the Disney PhotoPass, and dining reservations. Custom tours are available depending on your unique interests.

Upgrade your park ticket with a MaxPass to book your FASTPASS tickets from your phone, which means no more running around the park to get a FASTPASS.

Rather than waiting in line to meet your favorite characters, splurge on a Character Dining experience, where Disney’s characters show up and interact with guests while dining.

If you’re planning on visiting the parks for more than one day, indulge in a room at the luxurious Grand California Hotel & Spa with direct access to California Adventure. The upscale resort includes several pools, a waterslide, fine dining and full service spa.

For those planning to visit the park frequently and are looking for a high-class experience, consider joining the exclusive Club 33 to dine and lounge with the elites (membership runs in the tens of thousands of dollars).

Disney Cruise Line

Image courtesy of Disney Cruise Line

Disney Cruise Line

Budget: Cruises are a great way to go if you’re watching your money because you typically pay one price and everything is included while on board (except alcohol). When cruising with Disney Cruise Line, guests who cruise frequently earn perks. After your first voyage, you automatically become a member of the Disney Cruise Line Castaway Club, which means that subsequent trips earn you various perks, such as complimentary fine dining, character greetings, a Welcome Back Aboard gift, onboard reception, priority check-in, special discounts and more. The more you sail, the more you save.

Luxury: Some of the amenities that are not included in the ticket price, but are worth splurging on are spa treatments such as massages and facials (some even offer botox), exquisite fine dining at Palo restaurant, guided port adventures that let you experience the culture of the country in which you’re visiting , and, of course, a Concierge Suite that includes an outdoor ocean-view patio, custom pillow selection, plush robe and slippers, private welcome reception, priority boarding and on-call concierge services.

ALSO: Don’t be goofy! Sign up for CheapCash today and start earning rewards!

Photo courtesy of Polynesian Village Resort

Walt Disney World: Orlando, FL

Budget: When booking a room at the more than 20 Walt Disney World Resort Hotels, save money booking the room with the least attractive view. You’ll still get the same size and amenities as comparable rooms, but at less cost (you’ll really only be using your room for sleeping, anyway). At Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, the garden view room is cheapest . Hotel guests also get free theme park parking, or skip the cost of a rental car and take advantage of the free transportation system throughout Walt Disney World. Complimentary transportation to and from the Orlando airport are also available.

For the least expensive accommodation at Walt Disney World, pitch a tent at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground. The fully equipped campsites include water, electrical outlets, picnic tables and grills to barbecue your own food. If you’re planning on dining out while visiting Walt Disney World, save money by adding a Dining Plan to your vacation package. The plan includes one quick-service meal, one table-service meal and two snackers per day.

Enjoy lower prices on park tickets when you purchase multi-day, four-park tickets online. If you buy seven-day tickets, the daily cost per ticket is usually half price. Children three and under get in free to the theme parks. Some resort hotels include “Extra Magic Hours” access to the parks for free. This allows guests to access a park one hour before opening or stay two hours after closing.

Luxury: Enjoy five-star accommodations by booking a room at the Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort. The resort includes fine dining, a golf course, tennis courts, waterslides, pools, a lazy river, fitness facilities and a full-service spa. For Disney-themed accommodations, book a Royal Guest Room at Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort. These rooms feature upscale linens and decor, as well as framed images of Disney’s popular princesses.

If you’re celebrating something special, like a birthday or anniversary, surprise your loved one with an “in-room celebration” package at select Disney resorts that includes things like decorations, a sweet treat, themed souvenirs, and more.  Guests staying at Disney’s BoardWalk Resort or Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resorts can get around in style with a private driver through the Minnie Van Service operated by Lyft.

For even more Disney park fun, upgrade your ticket to include Disney After Hours. This ticket option allows guests to stay three hours after the park closes—a great way to enjoy the rides with shorter lines.

For a magical dining experience, don’t miss out on dining at Cinderella’s Royal Table located inside Cinderella’s Castle at Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom Park. This private dining room is fit for a princess with a medieval theme, stained glass windows, a spiral staircase and chocolate “slipper” for dessert. Enhance your experience by including a sparkling tiara.

Another unique dining adventure is the Highway in the Sky Dine Around. Hop aboard the monorail for a five-course meal served at three Disney World Resort hotels that ends with a fireworks show.

If you’re looking for a memorable excursion, check out the Ultimate Nights of Adventure VIP Tour at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park. During this four-hour tour, guests see the Animal Kingdom come to life after dark. The tour includes six attractions, specialty treats and drinks and souvenir lanyard. For an up-close-and-personal experience with the animals, book the Wild Africa Trek. This three-hour guided tour allows guests to see animals living in an environment that is closely similar to their native habitat.

Tagged: California, Cruise, Destinations, Family, Florida, Types of Travel

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

Sharael Kolberg
Sharael, founder of Family Travel Channel (familytravelchannel.com), has been writing about travel since 1995. Her work has appeared in Sunset magazine, Outside magazine, ForbesTravelGuide.com, MSN.com, and many others. Follow her on Twitter @FamTravChannel, FB and Instagram @FamilyTravelChannel. See more of her work at Sharael.com.