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

With more than 50% of U.S. adults at least partially vaccinated, it’s finally time to put on some real clothes and get back out into the world. But with every state seemingly at a different level of reopening, and many events still canceled or postponed, what is there to do? We’ve got a list of nine great events, from music festivals to immersive art exhibits, to make this summer one to remember.

RELATED: 10 destinations that are huge bargains this summer

Lollapalooza: Chicago

Concert Crowd At The Music Festival

Chicago’s biggest and best-known music fest is making its triumphant return to Chicago’s Grant Park this summer. Featuring Miley Cyrus, Foo Fighters, Post Malone and Tyler the Creator, plus more than 170 other artists, the festival runs July 29– Aug 1. Full vaccination or a daily negative COVID test are required. Get your advanced festival tickets here.

Book your Chicago hotel soon. 

Austin Asian American Film Festival: Austin

The Austin Asian American Film Festival (June 4–20) features tons of short form, documentary, and feature length new Asian and Asian-American films. The two-week event’s centerpiece film is Mei Makino’s coming of age story, Inbetween Girl. The film follows teenage artist Angie Chen as she navigates the fall out of her parents unexpected divorce. Tickets for both virtual and drive-in screenings are on sale now.

Book your Austin hotel right here.

Smorgasburg: New York City

A table of fresh picked berries and peppers at a local mid-west farmer's market.

“The largest weekly open-air food market in America,” Smorgasburg is starting their reopening small. Two of their four locations—World Trade Center and Jersey City—are currently open. There’s dozens of vendors across the two locations and seating for up to 500 at Jersey City. The New York Times calls Smorgasburg “the Woodstock of eating.”

Find a great NYC hotel here.

Cinespia: Los Angeles

Having traded headstones for headlights at a drive in near the Greek Theater in LA, Cinespia will be screening the best in cinema all summer long. Grab some friends, load up the car, and head out for a night of film under the stars. Upcoming films include Beauty and the Beast and Thelma & Louise.

Find a fantastic Los Angeles hotel here.

Pride in the Park: Chicago

Group of Friends Jumping, Laughing and showing Positive Vibes at the Gay Pride Waving Colourful Rainbow Flags in the Middle of the Busy Street

The first major event in Chicago this year, Pride in the Park is kicking off the summer festival season. Held once again in Chicago’s Grant Park, the fest runs June 26 and 27 and will be headlined Saturday by Tiësto and Sunday by Chaka Khan and Gryffin. With the city’s Pride Parade holding off until October, Pride in the Park looks to be Chicago’s one big summer event to celebrate the LGBTQIA community. Proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test is required.

Browse great Chicago hotels here. 

Breakaway Music Festival: Grand Rapids, MI

Like so many other festivals, the multi-city EDM/Hip Hop festival Breakaway was forced on a year long hiatus in 2020. This summer, they’re bursting back on the scene with their first American dates August 26-27 at Grand Rapids’ Belknap Park. Featuring the likes of Illlenium, Quinn VCII, Gryffin, Big Wild and Chelsea Cutler, this is a can’t miss for electronic and pop fans.

Book the perfect Grand Rapids hotel here.

Van Gogh Immersive Experience: Various cities

Van Gogh epitomizes the romantic, tortured artist. Unappreciated in his time, it was only in the decades following his death that his works gained their much-deserved notoriety. The Van Gogh immersive exhibition presents the artist’s works in all their vibrant, colorful emotion as never seen before. Tickets are on sale for several major cities around the US, but selling fast! Get your advance Van Gogh Immersive Experience tickets here.

Find fantastic hotel deals right here.

National Mall and Smithsonian Museums: Washington, DC

Hand holding a Polaroid of the Lincoln Memorial during a sunny summer day

Though the Washington Monument and US Capitol Building remain closed for tours, a day on the National Mall is always one well spent. Visit the Lincoln Memorial, grab a picnic on the sprawling grassy areas, and then head for the myriad Smithsonian Museums—an easy walk from the Mall. Eight of the Smithsonian Museums are currently open, including the National Museum of African-American History and Culture, the National Portrait Gallery, the Renwick Gallery and the National Gardens, and the remainder are gradually reopening. All museums require are free, but require an advance reservation.

Get a good DC hotel deal here.

Food Truck Wednesdays: Miami

Come out to Miami’s Pelican Harbor every Wednesday from 5-10pm for a weekly festival showcasing the best food trucks South Florida has to offer. Enjoy outdoor seating, free parking and a location that’s hard to beat.

Snag a Miami hotel deal here.

Tagged: California, Cheap Tips, Chicago, Destinations, Events, Festivals, Florida, L.A., Music, New York City, Texas, Texas, Top 10 list, Types of Travel

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

Zach Cunning

Zach Cunning

Zach’s love of travel has led to him walking Roman roads along the Camino de Santiago, bartending throughout South America, surfing the Atlantic coast of Morocco and teaching backpackers everywhere the fine art of shaking up the perfect margarita. When he’s not traveling, Zach lives, works and studies in Chicago.
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Note: All travel is subject to frequently changing governmental restrictions—please check federal, state and local advisories before scheduling trips.

Your dreams of partying on Daytona Beach or Miami Beach for spring break may yet again be dashed in 2021, but that doesn’t mean you have to sit home all break. Florida offers plenty of sun-soaked beach destinations for those who want to avoid the big party crowds. After all, what more do you need than a few close friends, a pair of flip flops and a piña colada to have a good time?

We’ve rounded up seven off-the-beaten-path Florida beach towns–plus affordable lodging options—where you can put your feet in the sand without having to worry about too many other toes near you!

RELATED: 8 killer spring break vacation rentals

Siesta and Lido Keys

You may be familiar with Siesta Key because of the MTV show, but contrary to reality TV, this is a no-drama zone. Located right over the bridge from beautiful Sarasota, Siesta Key offers white sands, blue waters and island living. You’ll find plenty of beachy bars and restaurants, ice cream shops, and little boutiques. Siesta Key beach is a massively wide white sand beach that almost looks like the surface of the moon at night. Walkable streets offer casual, tiki-style restaurants like Hub Baja Grill. Over on Lido Key, St. Armands is a more upscale town center with eateries, bars, and a little park. An interesting fact about Siesta Key is that it is the preferred spring break destination of the Amish and Mennonites.

Staying right on the beach in Siesta or Lido Key is ideal, but if you want a little more bang for your buck, stay across the bridge in Sarasota. Here, you’ll find more of an urban lifestyle (lowkey urban, mind you) along a beautiful harbor. Either way, you can’t go wrong!

Where to stay: Gulf Beach Resort Motel

Key Largo and Islamorada

We apologize for getting a Beach Boys song permanently stuck in your head, but Key Largo and Islamorada deserve a spot on this list. When you think about the Florida Keys, your mind probably goes right to the southernmost tip of Key West. But Key Largo and nearby Islamorada (where the Netflix show “Bloodline” was filmed) are two low key (see what we did there?) and underrated spots.

The Florida Keys are basically one long road, Route 1 (aka the Overseas Highway), and locals will give you directions based on mile markers. On either side, you’ll find blue water. The beaches here are more rocky and narrow than those on the mainland, but the weather, views and the vibe can’t be beat. Islamorada is the smaller and more off-the beaten-path of the two. You’ll find upscale restaurants and hotels, but also “salt life” local haunts like Hog Heaven and Lorelei’s, which is marked by a massive wooden mermaid. Key Largo is chock full of tiki bars and waterfront restaurants where you can find anything from fresh seafood and a cocktail to burgers, fries and beer. The best part about being out on the Keys is feeling that carefree island vibe and listening to stories from locals (from a distance, of course), who call themselves conchs.

Where to stay: Creekside Inn Islamorada

Sanibel and Captiva islands

Located near Fort Meyers, Sanibel and Captiva islands are little bits of paradise. Here you’ll find untouched beaches sprinkled with seashells. Animal lovers can check out the J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge where you can catch a glimpse of tropical birds, manatees and alligators. The islands are active with people biking, kayaking, boating, golfing, and fishing. And there’s even something for the history majors in your group: Thomas Edison and Henry Ford were once neighbors on Sanibel, and you can visit their preserved estates. Of course, if you’re just looking to have a cold drink on a hot beach, there’s plenty of room for that, too! Captiva is the quirkier of the two islands. Case in point: One of its attractions is a restaurant called The Bubble Room decorated with funky vintage knick knacks and year-round colored Christmas lights.

When it comes to lodging, your best bet is to stay on Sanibel rather than Captiva as the former is bigger and has more options. But the sister islands are so close together that hopping around won’t be an issue!

Where to stay: Kona Kai Motels

Vero Beach

About 45 minutes from Port St. Lucie is the lowkey town of Vero Beach. Known for its peaceful beaches and proximity to McKee Botanical Garden, Vero is the perfect vacation for nature lovers and loungers alike. Fun fact: Gloria Estefan owns a hotel here. A must-see when you’re in Vero beach is the beachfront Driftwood Resort; as the name implies, the facade is built out of pieces of driftwood washed ashore. The quirky hotel certainly adds a lot of visual interest to the beach, but its history is interesting, as well. It was built in 1935 by Waldo E. Sexton. According to the resort’s site, “Waldo has been called ‘one of the most colorful persons that Florida has ever known,’ an ‘imaginative entrepreneur,’ and an ‘outrageous, old time eccentric.’ He moved to Florida in 1914 and began his legacy that includes several buildings still standing in Vero Beach today and was an integral partner in the development of McKee Jungle Garden, also in Vero Beach.”

Speaking of McKee Botanical Garden, make a pitstop here for  grammable photo ops. Aside from all the subtropical flora and fauna, you’ll find a “stickwork” sculpture called “Grand Central.” It’s a series of massive tunnel-like sculptures made of natural materials that you can walk around in.

Where to stay: Prestige Hotel Vero Beach

Amelia Island/Fernandina Beach

Amelia Island is a 13-mile stretch of sandy on Florida’s Atlantic coast. It’s a “secret” little spot about 45 minutes from Jacksonville known for calm, uncrowded beaches. The city of Fernandina Beach is one of the most popular destinations on Amelia Island. Fernandina Beach has a quaint little downtown seaport area that was once a spot for bootleggers and pirates. Here, you’ll find quirky little shops, restaurants and historic architecture within walking  (or scooting) distance to the beach. And if you want to dine with your feet in the sand, head to the Sandbar. Amelia Island is also a golfers’ paradise, so pack your clubs and head out to the links with your pals.

Where to stay: Seaside Amelia Inn

Anna Maria Island

If you’re looking for a beach bum-style vacation complete with white powder sand, turquoise water, and tropical drinks, this is your spot. Located about 90 minutes south of Tampa, Anna Maria Island is an oasis on the Gulf, a sleepy little spot, so don’t expect to find Daytona-style beach parties here. Most people drive around in golf carts, so even the traffic moves slow. You will, however, find tiki bars and local haunts, like The Ugly Grouper, with live music and fresh seafood. There are two long piers on the island where you can enjoy a bite to eat or some fishing. If you’re lucky you’ll catch a glimpse of some manatees or manta rays! And you’ll definitely see your fair share of pelicans and other seabirds, along with hermit crabs and sand dollars—they’re everywhere on this island.

Like other islands in the area, lodging right on Anna Maria Island can get a little pricey, but there are deals to be found. If you really want to save a few bucks, you can stay in the city of Bradenton, which is just a quick drive over the bridge to the beaches of Anna Maria.

Where to stay: Anna Maria Island Inn

Seagrove

In the Florida panhandle about an hour from Panama City Beach, is the much calmer alternative of Seagrove (part of South Walton). Clear turquoise water, white sands and spectacular sunsets are all hallmarks of this beach getaway on the Emerald Coast. It’s a great little laid back spot for groups who like to explore nature, as well as chill on the beach. Massive oaks and magnolia trees offer shady spots to relax when you’re not soaking in rays. Have a meal at the quirky eateries along scenic Highway 30A like Cowgirl Kitchen or Seagrove Village MarketCafe, which has been “serving deep fried love since 1949.” One of the must-see attractions in the area are the dune lakes. According to Walton County’s website, “Walton County is home to 15 named coastal dune lakes along 26 miles of coastline. These lakes are a unique geographical feature and are found only in Madagascar, Australia, New Zealand, Oregon, and here in Walton County.”

Where to stay: Sunny Travels

Tagged: Beach, Cheap City, USA, Cheap Tips, Destinations, Florida, 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. This article was updated November 2020.

These past few months, avid travelers around the world have had to cancel trips and get comfortable in the confines of their own homes. We’ve missed spring breaks, graduations and getting to see our friends and family face-to-face. But tough times don’t last; tough travelers do, and many of our top travel bloggers are already planning their next escapes. For now, the world can wait, but here’s where we’re headed as soon as it’s safe to pack up again. Plus, let us know in the comments the places you’re most looking forward to traveling next, and why!

RELATED: Need help changing your travel plans? Visit our Customer Service Portal for help

Eastern Europe by rail

St Sava`s temple in Belgrade

I have a pretty epic Eastern European rail and bus journey planned for fall that I’m crossing my fingers will still happen. It begins in Belgrade, Serbia and ends in Lviv, Ukraine and includes overnights in Budapest, Bratislava, Prague, Krakow and other cities along the way. Meanwhile, from my home in Los Angeles, I’ve been California dreaming like crazy and am chomping at the bit to take a sun-drenched and solo road trip or two to regional places I love like Palm Springs, Las Vegas, the Mojave Desert, and Joshua Tree National Park, to name just a few.—Jason Heidemann

St. Pete Beach, FL

St. Petersburg in Florida

Since the virus has changed life as we know it, I’ve rearranged my fall travel plans from Italy’s Amalfi Coast to a more familiar spot, Florida’s St. Pete Beach. It’s drivable and there’s a great little old-school beachfront resort there called The Tahitian where I’ve stayed a few times already. It’s nothing fancy but it oozes nostalgic, mid-century charm that reminds me of simpler times, with a shuffleboard court, a heated pool and grills on its beachfront patio—Old Florida at its finest. It’s a comfy, familiar and affordable spot, drenched in sunshine year-round, which makes it a great post-quarantine destination to return to.—Martina Sheehan

Barcelona, Spain

First place I’m heading back to is Barcelona. I’m one  to usually make it a point to travel somewhere new, but during lockdown I find myself reminiscing about this quirky and whimsical city. Visiting a quiet Park Güell first thing in the morning (when it’s free) and listening to a local musician play Spanish guitar always moves me. It reminds me to slow down and enjoy the moment. It’s a perfect city to walk around aimlessly and then take a break in a plaza and order tapas. Also, the rooftop of Casa Mila never gets old for a photographer. I’ve spent hours up there and always find a new shape or angle.—Monica Pedraja

Sedona, AZ

Cathedral Rock, Sedona, Arizona.

As soon as it’s considered safe to travel again, I’m heading to Sedona, Arizona … alone. As much as I love my husband and our dog, we’ve been cooped up in our urban home together 24/7. I crave wide open spaces and some solitary “me” time. Revisiting the red rock landscape of this mystical corner of the Southwest always rejuvenates and restores. I look forward to taking hikes to vortex sites and indulging in spa treatments like chakra balancing and Integrated Energy Therapy. After Sedona, perhaps my husband and I can finally take that trip to Santorini—together—for some R&R along its caldera, where azure-blue waters, pink-hued sunsets and white-washed buildings absolutely kiss the eyes. We’ve been researching and discussing our ideal itinerary as a fun project while we shelter in place … even as I plan my solo getaway to Sedona.—Erica Bray

Australian wine country

Yarra Valley, Victoria, Australia

Top of my list is Australia’s Victoria Pinot country. I’ve never been more sure in my life that all I want to do at the end of the year is drink wine in (what will be) the Australian summer. I’ve also got active plans to revisit Tokyo, which over the last few years has become my happy place. Strolling in Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, sitting elbow-to-elbow at my favorite ramen spot, people watching Akihabara—it’s all been appearing nightly in my dreams. I’ve even started battling daily with the Duolingo owl, just so I’ll have a fighting chance at reading the chip packets at FamilyMart when I finally return.—Laura Studarus

The Aloha State

hawaii

My best friend recently moved to Hawaii for work. My husband and I are eager to visit her in Honolulu (it would be our first trip to Hawaii, and we’d have a free place to crash), but we’d previously been dreading the prospect of a long plane ride with our two young children. Now, after being cooped up with them 24/7 during COVID-19, what’s another 13 hours? Hawaii, here we come.—Dalia Colon

Copenhagen, Denmark

copenhagen

Two weeks before social-distancing started in Boston, my boyfriend and I moved into a new apartment together. After dating for a little over a year, we were excited for the new adventure of cohabitation—and well, we have had a crash course over the last month. On April 1, we had a two-week trip planned to his hometown of Copenhagen, to spend Easter with friends and family. Though we’ve been there together a few times already, this trip was special, since it was our first holiday with his side of the family. Plus, we had somehow scored hard-to-get reservations at The Alchemist, a 50-course tasting menu that recently earned two Michelin stars. Denmark in the spring also has a certain charm about it: After months of gray skies and short days, the sunshine surprises everyone with its warmth, and locals often have picnics in the park to celebrate the arrival of a new season. We hope to make it this fall, where at the very least, we can try and make our new restaurant reservation—and have a much-delayed (and needed!) celebration with our loved ones.—Lindsay Tigar

Minocqua, Wisconsin

The last few weeks have given me a unique chance to slow down and look back at my most memorable trips—Slovenia, Peru, and Wisconsin are top of my list of places to revisit.  As soon as it’s safe to travel again, I’m looking to book a weekend in Minocqua, Wisconsin. Minocqua is one of those special places that’s straight out of a postcard. The quaint downtown area is full of charming shops, local eateries, and some of the best fudge you’ll ever try. No matter where you wander you’re never more than a couple blocks away from the shores of Lake Minocqua. Best of all, it’s driving distance from my hometown, Chicago. I visited two years ago and can’t wait to go back and spend some quality time outside.—Sarah Mack

Turks and Caicos

turks and caicos

We usually try to take an end of winter/early spring trip somewhere tropical, to escape the cold and soak up the vitamin D. Since that wasn’t possible this year, we’ve moved our warm weather vacation to fall (fingers crossed) and booked some ultra cheap flights to Turks and Caicos. It’s been years since we visited and the memory of the stunning white sand beaches, cerulean waters, and delicious fresh seafood is luring us back big time.—Lindsay from Compass + Twine

Marrakesh

Marrakesh

Marrakesh has been on our bucket list for years and all this quarantine-ing is just exacerbating our wanderlust. Exploring someplace brand new, with a totally different culture and an exciting food scene is just what the doctor ordered for us once we’re able to travel again. At the top of our Morrocan to-do list? Visiting Le Jardin Secret, wandering the medinas, shopping for beautiful rugs at Galerie Le Pacha, and eating all the tagine we can find!—Sarah from Compass + Twine

Yamagata, Japan

Okama Crater

I go to Japan half a dozen times per year for my Japan travel blog, and one of those trips always takes place in spring for the sakura. This year was to have been my most comprehensive cherry blossom trip ever but, alas, it was not meant to be. I plan to go back as soon as Japan’s borders open back up. And I mean literally day-of: I live in Taiwan, so I can fly in easily. If this takes place in fall, I’ll head to the Tohoku region’s Yamagata prefecture (which I’ve previously only visited in winter) and hike down to the colorful volcanic lake of Okama Crater, or up 1,000 steps to mysterious Yamadera temple. Or, there’s a chance I’ll return on my annual autumn color trip, if I can.—Robert Schrader

Montana

After being stuck between the same four walls for weeks, I want to go somewhere rural, somewhere expansive, hence Montana. I’ve always wanted to visit a dude ranch, but now I want to go there more than ever. I’m envisioning days spent horseback riding through mountainous landscapes, white water rafting with my family and the fanciest glamping experience I can find.—Danielle Braff

New York City’s 5 Boroughs

My home base of New York City has been hurting a lot lately but we’ve also been seeing the good in people—we’re tough but helpful. While the city may look a little different when visitors start trickling back in, many of New York’s great attractions won’t have changed, and fortunately, many of them are out in the fresh air, so I’ll be able to start exploring again fairly soon. Of course, there’s Central Park but I also look forward to revisiting the High Line in Chelsea, the waterfront aligned Hudson River Park and heading uptown to Fort Tryon Park. Other great walks include a more leisurely stroll along the Brooklyn Bridge and the George Washington Bridge, where you can view the Little Red Lighthouse. For meals, I prefer to skip the chains and spend money at locally-owned restaurants. I’ve missed the city’s delis, bagels and pizza, and cuisines from around the globe that make dining in New York such a treat.—Michele Herrmann

Tagged: City, Destinations, International, Seasonal, Top 10 list, 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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You promised the kids a trip to Disney, and then you checked the price. And nearly fell off your chair. Disney and Universal have become even more expensive than ever before: Universal raised many of its price tiers last year, while Disney increased prices for peak times and annual passes. Rather than selling a kidney or taking out a second mortgage to finance your trip, try staying at one of these Orlando resorts. They’re so much fun that the kids won’t even want to spend every single day in the parks.

RELATED: 5 awesome day trips from Orlando

The Grove Resort Orlando

Photo courtesy of The Grove Resort Orlando

It’s got an on-site waterpark that’s totally legit. Spend your days on the 695-foot lazy river, on two twisty water slides, the slow rider and a kids’ pool. As long as you’re staying at this resort, your entry to the waterpark is totally free, and it’s way better than any ordinary resort pool. The Grove is located just off Lake Austin, so you can also do on-site lake activities, like kayaking ($25 per hour), fishing ($24 for the day), a pontoon tour ($30 per family) and more.

Floridays Resort Orlando

Created with families in mind, this resort lets you choose between a two- or three-bedroom suite (they all come with a full kitchen and washer/dryer) at just over $100 for most nights. But this definitely doesn’t feel like a budget hotel. It’s got a massive pool with plenty of amenities: a beach area, a splash area, a splash pad, a zero-entry spot and a hot tub. And of course, there’s the swim-up bar. This resort is pet-friendly, so you don’t even need to board Fido.

Disney’s Art of Animation Resort

Photo courtesy of Disney’s Art of Animation Resort

Boasting the largest resort pool at a Disney resort, this one is sure to please. It was inspired by Finding Nemo, so there’s an interactive water play area, and you can totally pretend you’re Nemo. (Just don’t wander too far!) While the pool is closed for refurbishment until fall 2020, you can check out the Cozy Cone Pool, inspired by Cars and Flippin’ Fins Pool, inspired by The Little Mermaid. In the evenings, gather in the grassy area between the Lion King and the Finding Nemo buildings to watch Disney films. And if you need a little room to run and play, you can do it at the resort’s playground. Rainy day? Go indoors to the arcade.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

Okay, so this hotel isn’t a budget buy, but you’ll be saving money by chopping a few days off your park bill because there’s no way your kids will want to leave this lodge. More than 200 animals live here including zebras, giraffes, gazelles, flamingos and kudu. Take a safari to see the animals up close. Also visit the 11,000-square-foot pool that has zero-depth entry and a thrilling waterslide. In the evenings, roast marshmallows by the fire and watch Disney movies under the stars by the pool.

Hilton Grand Vacations at Seaworld

Photo courtesy of Hilton Grand Vacations at Seaworld

It’s got three pools, two kids wading pools, a kids activity center, unlimited DVD rentals, a shuffleboard court, tennis courts and a playground. Your kids better not tell you that they’re bored. Also, you’re across from SeaWorld, so there’s that. If you stay here, you’re entitled to jump the line on some of SeaWorld’s rides, priority entry on select days and a behind-the-scenes look at SeaWorld’s rescue and rehab facilities. (You’ll still need to pay the SeaWorld admission fee.)

Hyatt Regency Orlando

It’s a massive hotel that’s also got resort-level pools, with a waterslide, a splash pad, a separate kiddie pool, a rooftop tennis court and golf concierge service—so parents and teens will be happy, too. Choose from seven dining options, so you’ll never need to leave the hotel if you aren’t inclined. This is the place to stay if you’ve got mixed ages, as there’s something for everyone.

Loews Sapphire Falls Resort

This new pet-friendly resort is filled with waterfalls, lush greenery and a vibe that will totally transport you to another world. You’ll get exclusive theme park benefits at Universal Orlando Resort, meaning you’ll have early access to the rides, and you’ll get to skip some of the lines. On days you skip the parks, you can lounge on the white-sand resort beaches or spend the day at the pool on the waterslide. This hotel has the largest pool across the Universal resorts, and the staff offers kids activities throughout the day, including poolside movies, splash contests, hula-hoop contest and more.

Tagged: Cheap City, USA, Cheap Tips, Destinations, Family, Florida, Types of Travel

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

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Oh the humble diner, where comforting, hardy breakfasts and hot coffee are always on special. The perfect throwback to a mostly bygone era. Here are some of the best diners in America, by region, in no particular order.

Vintage diner photo

The best diners in the west

Bertie Lou’s Cafe — Portland, Oregon

From its menu to its walls, Bertie Lou’s shows its funky, Portland-esque style without losing that classic diner vibe. Specifically, by proudly displaying napkin drawings as fine art and offering tasty concoctions like the Bertie Crisco, an incredibly hearty sandwich of spicy chicken sausage and pepper jack between two layers of french toast. Unsurprisingly, this place is known for its delicious breakfast dishes, which also happen to be cheap—breakfast or lunch can cost you anywhere between $5 to $10.

Steuben’s — Denver, Colorado

A little bit more of an upscale and modernized take on the classic diner, Steuben’s has been featured on the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives for its recreations of American regional classics. Unlike some diners on this list, Steuben’s is notable for more than just its breakfast fare. Early risers can indulge in treats like from-scratch biscuits and gravy and all-you-can-eat buttermilk pancakes. But the lunch and dinner menus also shine, thanks to updated takes on classic dishes, including pot roast, cayenne étouffée and meatloaf. This one’s a bit more of a splurge than the other diners on this list, but the green chili cheeseburger is well worth it.

Golden Coffee Shop – San Francisco, California

It’s not often that you can find a good meal for under $10 in San Francisco. Enter the Golden Coffee Shop: a haven for old-school classics like corned-beef hash and short stacks of buttermilk pancakes, which you can enjoy at its perfectly old-school wrap-around counter. But what really sets this apart are the Chinese essentials you’ll also find on the menu—tuck into some fried rice or chow mein if you’re not in the mood for hash browns. But we’ve got bad news for the night owls: This may sound like the perfect late-night hangout, but it closes mid afternoon. We’ve got a solid silver lining for you, though. Most dishes cost between $6 and $8.

Eggs and hash are a staple at the best diners.

True Midwestern diners

Diner Grill – Chicago, Illinois

This is what it’s all about—the diner’s diner. The diner your great-grandfather would love. The bare-bones, vintage variety that’s been slinging burgers since the 1930’s. Enter Diner Grill’s the Slinger: two hamburger patties on top of hash browns, with two slices of American cheese and two runny eggs, all of which is covered in chili. And if that wasn’t enough, it’s served with a side of toast. But if you’re not in the competitive-eating business, there’s also patty melts and egg sandwiches. You will not have a hard time keeping your check under $10 in this 24/7 former railway car diner, since most of its dishes are around $6.

Fleetwood Diner – Ann Arbor, Michigan

Open since 1949, Fleetwood Diner is known for its hip vibes and its famous Hippie Hash. What is this, you ask? Why, a mixture of homemade hash browns, grilled tomatoes, green peppers, onions, mushrooms and broccoli topped with feta cheese, of course. And this dish is the perfect start—or end—to your day, thanks to the diner’s 24-hour schedule. The menu also boasts the classics, including burgers, milkshakes and omelets, as well as traditional Greek foods and salads. All reasonably priced, so you have no reason not to add that hippie hash onto your meal.

Vintage diner photos

Diners with Southern flair

Danny’s All American Diner & Dairy Bar – Tampa, Florida

Don’tdrive too fast, or you might miss this small, humble diner—which happens to serve up sandwiches that are anything but small and humble. And if you love sports, you’ll love Danny’s All American Diner’s burger-naming conventions. There, you’ll find the Roberto Clemente Burger, the Field of Greens salad and the Pitcher’s Mound sandwich. As well as the famous ‘must-have’ chili, which can be found slathered on various menu items or ordered as a side. The best part? Prices at Danny’s All American Diner & Dairy Bar are a home run, as nothing on the menu is more than $10.

Uncle Lou’s – Memphis, Tennessee

Uncle Lou’s has only been operating for a fraction of the time that some of the diners on this list have, opening in 2001, but has already made an imprint on the Memphis community. Although this diner’s main focus is fried chicken, it also serves several specialty sandwiches and desserts. Uncle Lou’s menu was created with families in mind, offering six different “meal deals” to fit various party sizes. Pro tip: This is also great if you’d like to store 35 pieces of chicken, 12 sides and 18 biscuits for yourself, for future meals. Prices at Uncle Lou’s are pretty cheap and you should be spending around $10 per person… That is, if you share (as you should).

The best diners always serve piping-hot coffee.

Seriously good Eastern diners

Square Diner – New YorkCity, New York

If you’ve ever seen Edward Hopper’s painting titled “Nighthawks,” you’ll swear it was inspired by the Square Diner, which opened in 1945 and was once known as the Triangle Diner. Its exterior is the classic train-car style, but with a unique grey roof. The interior is highly stylized and truly transports you to the diner’s heyday, with wood-paneled walls and ceiling, essential fire-engine red booths and bar ample seating. The menu is full of hardy breakfast and lunch entrees that will give you flash-backs to Grandma’s homey cooking. Eggplant Parmigiana, London Broil and even Gyros can be found on the menu. Prices range, and although it is not guaranteed you’ll eat for less than $10, it certainly can be done, which is not an easy feat in the Big Apple.

Mul’s Diner – Boston, Massachusetts

We bet creme brûlée would not be the first thing that comes to your mind when you gaze upon the big, silver lunchbox that is Mul’s Diner, where the decor screams ‘retro’ from the shiny outdoor paneling to the checkerboard tiles inside. Regardless, bottomless coffee and creme brûlée French toast are what Mul’s Diner is known to do best. Serving a variety of both sweet and savory twists on classic diner fare, Mul’s offers deliciously cheap breakfast and lunch, with only a couple items on the menu that are more than $10: The New York Sirloin and the Irish breakfast, both of which are worth the extra cost.

Vintage diner sign

The Non-Continental

Rainbow Drive-In – Oahu, Hawaii

Welcome to the place that Guy Fieri most likely sees in his dreams. Yes, Rainbow Drive-In was featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, and for good reason: They serve one of the cheapest and best lunches in all of Hawaii. And its food is, naturally, wildly different from anything else on this list. First of all, you can add mahi to any plate. And what are those plates, you may ask? BBQ ahi tuna, fried rice with eggs and the famous Loco Moco bowl, which is a scoop of rice topped with a hamburger patty, an egg and gravy. If you’re not feeling adventurous, you can still get cheeseburgers, chili dogs and corned beef sandwiches. Plus, you can eat them outside on the giant patio. The average price of a plate at Rainbow Drive-In is roughly $7, so start looking for a cheap flight toHawaii immediately.

Tagged: California, Florida, Food & drink, Hawaii, New York City

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Spring has sprung, meaning your surroundings may finally start looking less like a desolate wasteland and more like that beautiful Earth we hear so much about. And frankly we all deserve to celebrate a victory of making it through the doldrums. Here are some ridiculously colorful destinations to jumpstart your spring travels.

sedona arizonaSedona, Arizona: It won’t take long to figure out why this part of the Grand Canyon State is known as Red Rock Country. Rust-colored sandstone formations set the backdrop for a warm Western escape, whether you’re into hiking, touring the mountains an off-road vehicle or just admiring them from the window of a spa retreat.

south beach miami

Miami Beach, Florida: With its pastel-colored Art Deco buildings, colorful cocktails and glitzy nightclub lights, South Beach’s Ocean Drive will dazzle your days and nights. For even more color, head to the Wynwood Art District on mainland Miami, where seemingly every exterior wall has been transformed into a mesmerizing mural.

san juan puerto rico

San Juan, Puerto Rico: Whether you’re vacationing in the island’s capital or just disembarking from a cruise ship for a few hours, a jaunt through this 16th-century city will brighten your spirits. Pastel-colored architecture lines the narrow streets, and the seemingly endless monuments and souvenir craft are a feast for the eyes.

st john's new foundling and labrador canada

St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada: It’s easy to have Eastertime on the brain in this historic fishing town, where the streets are filled with candy-colored houses known as Jelly Bean Rows. Visit the cafes, boutiques and galleries by day, and after dark hit George Street, where you’re sure to stay warm as you dance the night away under the nightclub lights.

harbor island bahamas

Harbor Island, Bahamas: White sand beaches are so overdone. But Pink Sands Beach on Harbour Island breaks the mold. Lounge on the coral-hued sand, or go for a dip in the calm, turquoise waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

grand prismatic spring wyoming

Grand Prismatic Spring, Wyoming: #NoFilter needed here. The largest hot spring in Yellowstone National Park looks amazing on its own. The natural wonder, also known as Rainbow Hot Spring, gets its coloration because from the various bacteria that lives in its rings of heat. Hey, the science may not be sexy, but it sure looks cool.

fairbanks alaska

Fairbanks, Alaska: With average high temperatures struggling to reach the freezing mark, Fairbanks may seem like an odd choice for a winter getaway. But if it’s color you’re after, then winter’s clear skies make now the perfect time to witness Aurora Borealis, a.k.a. the northern lights.

Tagged: Uncategorized

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Note: All travel is subject to frequently changing governmental restrictions—please check federal, state and local advisories before scheduling trips. This post was updated February 17, 2021.

While everybody loves the idea of getting away to somewhere warm, spring break can conjure images of shrieking, thumping bar scenes, Jell-O shot contests and beaches so overrun you can’t take a selfie without being photobombed. But it doesn’t have to. This year, skip the usual spring break cliches by heading for one of these less-crowded American spring break beaches.

RELATED: 7 pool parties that rule spring break 

Caladesi Island State Park, Florida 

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Caladesi Island State Park. Credit Visit St. Petersburg/Clearwater.

In 2008, famed coastal researcher Stephen “Dr. Beach” Leatherman christened this Dunedin, Florida, beach America’s best. But what keeps it less crowded than nearby Clearwater Beach is that you have to take a ferry from Dunedin to get there. It’s worth it, though, for a Gulf of Mexico getaway where soft, white sand and wildlife meet modern amenities including a snack bar and gift shop.

St. Simons Island, Georgia

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St. Simons Island, Georgia. Credit Ralph Daily/Flickr.

Avoid the Florida beach scene altogether by heading one state to the north. Take a sailing lesson, try dirt track racing at Golden Isles Speedway or climb the 129 steps to the top of the historic St. Simons Island Lighthouse. Even if you don’t fish, take time to appreciate the view from the St. Simons Island Pier while you’re downtown shopping or grabbing a bite to eat.

Leo Carrillo State Park, California

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Leo Carrillo State Park in Malibu, California. Credit Joseph Voves/Flickr.

This Malibu beach makes a nice retreat from the hubbub of nearby Santa Monica. Named for an actor an preservationist, the beach is home to tidepools and sea caves that set the scene for a laid-back getaway. Pitch a tent, light a campfire and forget all about finals week.

Padre Island National Seashore, Texas

Padre Island, Texas

Padre Island, Texas

If boozy South Padre Island leaves you with a hangover, then the cure is just plain Padre Island Corpus Christi. Settle in for 70 miles of undeveloped coastline, where you’re likely to see more pelicans and turtles than rowdy coeds. Windsurfing, kayaking and camping on the beach make for a spring break you’ll actually remember.

Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

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Rehoboth Beach,Delaware. Credit Steam Pipe Trunk Distribution Venue/Flickr.

Located about 120 miles east of Baltimore, this resort town makes for a nice alternative to the usual spring break sites. Browse the downtown boutiques or take a shuttle to Tanger Outlets for some serious retail therapy. The area also has plenty of food options to fit a college student’s budget, from Grotto Pizza to Dolle’s Popcorn, Candy and Saltwater Taffy. For cheap entertainment, check the concert schedule at the Rehoboth Beach Bandstand.

Long Beach, New York

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Long Beach, New York. Credit Shinya Suzuki/Flickr.

You don’t need Hamptons money to enjoy a beach vacation off the shores of the Long Island. Long Beach is less than an hour’s ride on the Long Island Rail Road, making it easily accessible from Manhattan. Stroll, jog or bike along the boardwalk before grabbing a meal from a pushcart vendor. By day, try surfing or beach volleyball, then change into your going-out clothes and hit up the area’s many bars.

Folly BeachSouth Carolina

Folly Beach, South Carolin

Folly Beach, South Carolina | Flickr CC: H. Michael Miley

No mistake about it. This surf town just 15 minutes outside of Charleston oozes with Southern charm. Expect the usual water sports, fishing and nightlife you’d find in any beach town, but also saveroom for a bowl of shrimp and grits of she-crab soup.

Atlantic BeachNorth Carolina

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Atlantic Beach, North Carolina. Credit James Willamor/Flickr.

The state’s so-called Crystal Coastmakes for a gem of a getaway. Try paddleboarding, cruise around the island on a rented bicycle or ride Island Ferry Adventures Ferry Service around to the Rachel Carson Reserve, where you might just see ponies frolicking on the shore. Now that’s what we call a wild spring break.

Grand Isle, Louisiana

Pier at Grand Isle, Louisiana

While the majority of spring break revelers stick to New Orleans, head about 100 miles south to this haven from the Crescent City. Lounge on the seven-mile stretch of white sand beaches or get your blood pumping at Wake Side Wake Board Park, where a system of cables pulls you as you wakeboard, tube or waterski.

Oahu, Hawaii

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Hanauma Bay in Oahu, Hawaii. Credit Wikipedia.

A Hawaiian island may sound out of reach for a college student’s budget, but if you can score a cheap plane ticket, then there’s plenty of bargain fun to be had. Catch a free performance by the Royal Hawaiian Band on the grounds of ‘Iolani Palace; take a complimentary hula, ukulele or lei-making lesson at Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center or remind yourself that pineapples aren’t just for cocktails when you wander through the Dole Plantation’s enormous maze. And we haven’t even mentioned the beach yet. We hear Hawaii has some pretty nice ones.

Tagged: Beach, California, Florida, Hawaii, New York City

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Florida is the perfect place to escape in February, when the cold is unrelenting and the spring is still too far off. This time of year, though, just dipping south of the border won’t be enough. You’ve got to go deep into Florida to get the warmth, and there’s no better place for that than Fort Myers Beach in February.

Southwest Florida International Airport

A view of the Southwest Florida International Airport. Photo: Eric Salard – Flickr

Plane, train or automobile — Fort Myers is so far south that driving isn’t a great option, unless you are down for a road trip. The closest airport to Fort Myers Beach is Southwest Florida International Airport. It’s a 30-40 minute drive from the airport to the beach, and taxis will run upwards of $50, so renting a car for your time at the beach may be the best bet — it’ll give you freedom to get around quickly so you don’t waste any valuable beach time.

 

Bike by a beach

Renting bikes is an option in Fort Myers. Photo: FaceMePLS – Flickr

Cheap local transit — If you don’t end up renting a car, there’s a trolley that goes up and down Estero Boulevard on Fort Myers Beach that costs 50 cents a ride. There are also a slew of bike rental shops along the beach as well. Otherwise, just walk along the beach to get where you need to go.

Stay on Estero — The hotels and resorts lining Estero Boulevard on Fort Myers Beach are seemingly endless, leaving for plenty of room to play with your budget. February isn’t full-fledged Spring Break season yet, either, so there are still deals to be had when it comes to accommodations. The best thing to do is take some buddies and chip in for a room with a kitchenette. That way, you can buy some groceries at the local Publix and save money by eating breakfast and lunch at home while dashing back and forth from the beach.

Fort Myers Beach, Florida

A sunset on Fort Myers Beach. Photo: Ally Marotti

Watch the sunset — When visiting the Gulf side of Florida, this really needs to be made into an event. Since you’re facing west out to sea, you can watch the sun go down over the water. Itis also a good time to spot dolphins in the surf. It’s a beautiful sight and the sun on the water creates some unforgettable lighting, so make sure to snap a few photos. Be careful though, the sun dips below that horizon quick. Don’t miss it.

 Bum at a beach bar — If you get a little thirsty while basking in the sun, take a stroll down toward the pier. Whichever side you’re coming from, you are bound to find at least a couple of options for places that don’t care if you aren’t wearing a shirt or shoes. Just make sure to remember an ID.

Mini golf

A lion statue at Jungle Golf in Fort Myers. Photo: Ally Marotti

Make it mini-golf — Spike your night with a little competition at mini-golf. You’ll have to go back over the bridge to the mainland, then there are plenty of putt-putting options. Smugglers Cove Adventure Golf is pirate themed, and one of the holes is on a mini pirate ship with baby alligators in the water surrounding it. If that one’s too crowded, try Jungle Golf right next door, which is peppered with statues of jungle animals.

Ice cream

Superman ice cream from Kilwin’s. Photo: Carl Lender – Flickr

Eat ice cream on the pier — Kilwin’s Chocolates has the richest, most delicious ice cream around. Grab a couple scoops and walk out to the end of the pier to indulge. Maybe catch the sunset out there, or watch some of the fishermen haul in their catch. If Kilwin’s doesn’t suit your fancy, there’s a Dairy Queen nearby, along with a couple other ice cream and fudge shops.

Doc Ford's

A view of the harbor from the deck at Doc Ford’s seafood restaurant in Fort Myers, Florida. Photo: Ally Marotti

Dine on the dock — Doc Ford’s seafood restaurant overlooks Matanza’s Harbor, and we recommend sitting outside. You can catch glimpses of dolphins frolicking in the harbor during dinner. While you’re waiting for your food, check out some of Doc Ford’s books in the gift shop: the restaurateur is also a prolific writer, with scores of books written about life in south Florida.

Tagged: Florida, Off-season

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As the NBA season heats up this winter, some basketball fans are ready for a fast break. In the case of these b-ball getaways, traveling is actually a good thing. Here are 5 dream destinations for basketball fans.

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Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio, is home where King James holds court.

Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, MassachusettsLocated in the supposed birthplace of basketball, the Hoop Hall belongs on every fan’s bucket list (pun intended). Visitors can honor the more than 300 inductees and bone up on basketball history through interactive displays and memorabilia.

Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio: LeBron James, arguably the best basketball player today, leads the Cavs from this arena known to locals as “The Q.” Witness King James ruling in his home court, then make the pilgrimage 40 miles south to Akron for a photo op in front of LeBron’s old stomping grounds, St. Vincent-St. Mary High School.

Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada: This hotel’s Hardwood Suite doesn’t come cheap, but for serious ballers, there’s no better splurge than this two-story, 10,000-square-foot hoops haven. The suite’s larger-than-life amenities include a basketball court, professional locker room, extra-large beds and—why not?—a lounge with a dance floor.

Madison Square Garden in New York, New York: The Knicks may not have the best record in the NBA, but for people-watching there’s no better arena than the Garden. A-listers from director Spike Lee to actor Tom Hanks to supermodel Kate Upton have been spotted court side in Celebrity Row.

NBA Experience in Orlando, Florida: NBA City at Universal Orlando CityWalk closed in August 2015, but fans need not cry foul. Just down the road, Walt Disney World is preparing to open the NBA Experience at Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney). The attraction will feature hands-on activities, interactive exhibits, a restaurant, retail store and more.

Tagged: Florida, Las Vegas, Sports, Uncategorized

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Miami’s Third Street Beach Yoga offers pay-what-you-can classes twice a day, 365 days a year. Credit: Dalia Colon.

Miami the land of hot sun and hot bodies—and that’s no coincidence. Ocean views and year-round sunshine make outdoor sweat sessions a breeze, and with the city’s abundance of free and cheap exercise classes, you don’t have to choose between physical and fiscal fitness. If your new year’s resolution involves shedding some pounds, then a winter getaway to South Florida may be just the ticket.

Make a run for it. Jogging on sand is harder than it looks, so you’ll burn some serious calories when you go for a run on South Beach. Make your own route—it’s about 2 miles from First Street to 23rd Street on the sand—or link up with a group like South Beach Run Club, which gets together for weekly runs.

Nama-stay in shape. Sun salutations in the sun? Tree pose under an actual tree? Striking a yoga pose on the beach beats a sweaty yoga studio any day. You can find free or pay-what-you-can yoga classes in Miami every day of the week. Because

Give laziness the boot. Nothin’ like a military veteran to whip you into shape. Thanks to a grant from Cola-Cola Troops for Fitness, local vets teach free beach boot camps at six Miami-area parks.

Get in the zone. Skip the pricey gym membership and let Miami-Dade County parks give you a workout. Several of the parks feature Fitness Zones with a series of exercise equipment for a challenging al fresco training session.

Just dance. From salsa on South Beach to Zumba classes all over town, your workout will feel more like a party than a grind.

CTIXblog CTA _ cheap of the week

Tagged: Beach, Florida, FREE!, Sports

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