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

As the U.S. slowly emerges from COVID-19 restrictions, restaurants have proven to be a bridge back to the world we all lived in before. However, given the necessity for social distancing and the importance of avoiding enclosed spaces, eateries have had to walk a difficult tightrope to meet CDC guidelines while giving guests a safe dining experience. Enter “eat streets,” or “streateries,” where in some cases, entire city streets have been closed down to create European-style pedestrian thoroughfares that allow for more sidewalk seating. The move reflects out-of-the-box (out-of-the-building?) thinking that’s helping America exit lockdown safely and in good taste.

RELATED: 12 great American roadside attractions

Broad Street in Philadelphia, PA

As stay-at-home orders lift in the city of Brotherly Love, one food destination opening to diners is the Broad Street thoroughfare. Sidewalk dining at Gabi feels particularly appropriate, allowing you to enjoy the French fare the bistro serves up in an atmosphere befitting of Paris. The menu at Scannicchio’s, meanwhile, represents a different part of the Old World (namely Italy—try the famous stuffed artichoke), but the romantic ambiance of food and drink in open air is very much the same.

Where to stay: The three-star Cambria Hotel sits right along the Broad Street Line of the Philadelphia subway, and just steps from iconic Philadelphia City Hall.

Broadway Street in Chicago, IL

Perhaps the most extensive of all the streateries emerging across America, Chicago’s Broadway will see a whopping 32 restaurants re-open when it closes to traffic as part of the city’s “Make Way for Diners” program. In the beautiful Lakeview neighborhood not far from the shores of Lake Michigan, Broadway offers an eclectic variety of dining options. Chow down on modern Mexican cuisine at Chilam Balam, which prides itself on sustainability, or on vegan bites at Kitchen 17.

Where to stay: Rest your head at the historic Willows Hotel, which is convenient not only to the Broadway streatery, but to famous Wrigley Field.

Central West End in St. Louis, MO

There’s no experience in St. Louis quite like outdoor dining near the corner of Maryland Plaza and Euclid Avenue, especially not in the first weeks of summer. The sun is sure to feel even sweeter these days, whether you prefer the sumptuous American-style diner fare on offer at Kingside, or prefer to eat your way around the world with international cuisine from El Burro Loco (Mexican) and Medina (Lebanese).

Where to stay: Chase Park Plaza is perhaps St. Louis’ most classic hotel, in the Central West End or anywhere else in the city.

Hyde Park Village in Tampa, FL

The Hyde Park Village retail complex in South Tampa has always been a wonderful spot to enjoy shopping, dining and drinking in a breezy, outdoor setting. These days, as you wash down Mexican street snacks with margaritas at Bartaco, or enjoy pasta and wood-fired pizzas at Forbici Modern Italian, the fresh air you once took for granted will make your next meal all the more unforgettable.

Where to stay: Feel like a South Tampa local with a stay at the Epicurean Hotel, part of Marriott’s exclusive Autograph collection.

Pearl Street Mall in Boulder, CO

You’re never far from nature in the eco-friendly mecca of Boulder, including when you dine post-COVID at the Pearl Street Mall. Have a meal befitting of the mountains at Spruce Farm & Fish, where trendy New American cuisine contrasts with the timeless ambiance of the historic Boulderado Hotel. Bohemian Biergarten, meanwhile, might have you feeling like you’re at Oktoberfest, even if you end up dining here in June or July.

Where to stay: Stay at the aforementioned Boulderado, or consider booking a room at the stately St Julien Hotel & Spa.

South Congress Avenue in Austin, TX

Let’s be honest: Having a beer or burger on one of the famous patio of Austin’s South Congress Avenue was never a bad idea, even in the days of the “old normal.” Now, however, you’ll truly appreciate the views of the Austin skyline as you look down the hill toward it, whether you enjoy the famous chips and queso on offer at Guero’s Taco Bar, or try out burger-and-milkshake combos at Hopdoddy, an Austin institution that’s celebrating its 10th birthday this year.

Where to stay: In addition to being a fixture of Austin for more than a decade, Hotel San José puts you within walking distance of the entire South Congress entertainment district.

State Street in Santa Barbara, CA

The only thing better than a visit to Santa Barbara, that charming city by the sea, where it always feels like spring? Dining outdoors amid perpetual warmth and sunshine, of course! The city has decided to stop cars from driving on State Street between Haley and Sola, which has allowed several restaurants that were previously closed to re-open. Visit Benchmark for New American fare and craft cocktails, or Sama Sama for a journey through Malaysian and Indonesian cuisine.

Where to stay: Housed in a classic Spanish-colonial style building, Kimpton Canary Hotel pairs an unforgettable location with an ambiance that is unmistakably Santa Barbara.

The road back to normal is going to be a long one, but cities across the country are doing their part of make the journey more tolerable. Whether along the Pacific in Southern California, or in the hippest neighborhoods of Austin and Chicago, eateries are expanding their dining rooms outdoors, literally into the streets in some instances. On the other hand, while not all the neighborhoods on this list are “streateries” by definition, they ensure a delicious meal that’s also safe. After all, is there anything in better taste these days than supporting your local economy while also making sure our healthcare heroes don’t get overloaded?

Tagged: Cheap Tips, Food & drink

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

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It’s no secret that America has a love affair with Halloween. This beloved holiday inspires countless festivals and celebrations throughout the country every year, and each location has its own special brand of Halloween style… However, certain cities go the extra mile to make their haunted celebrations especially memorable. Here is our list of the four best Halloween festivals to fulfill your ghostly fantasies, in no particular order.

The Village Halloween Parade, New York City, NY

When: October 31, 7 p.m.
Where: On 6th AvenueNorth of Spring Street to 16th Street, New York City
Why it’s worth the trip:
The Village Halloween Parade is known for its huge community involvement and some serious theatrical aspects, which are to be expected when visiting NYC in the first place. All marching to live music from more than 50 bands, hundreds of haunting puppets, dancers and artists participate in this decades-old tradition. Not to mention the thousands of costumed civilians who join the parade each year, and are highly encouraged to do so.

This celebration is unique for how inclusive it strives to be, inviting Halloween enthusiasts of all walks of life, or death (get it?), to join in the fun. Need more convincing? This is a free event!

Here are the three steps you need to take to participate:

1. Wear your costume (duh)… Your most creative, creepy or crazy costume, to be exact.
2. Join the crowd at 6th Avenue and Canal Street.
3. Arrive between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. or risk missing the festivities entirely.

A common scene at the Village Halloween Parade in New York City: Revelers march in droves across the city, dressed head-to-toe in costumes, transforming the streets of New York into one of the best Halloween festivals in the country.

A common scene at the Village Halloween Parade in New York City, one of the most inclusive and best Halloween festivals. Photo credit: Joe Buglewicz. Provided by: NYC & Company

The Festival of the Dead, Salem, MA

When: The entire month! October features countless events here. The beset of the best take place towards the end of the month: the Witches’ Halloween Ball, Annual Psychic Fair and Witchcraft Expo and The Dinner with the Dead.
Where: At various locations in Salem… Which, if you didn’t know, is where the infamous witch trials occurred in the 1600s.
Why it’s worth the trip:
Because of the city’s historical significance, the best part about Salem’s Festival of the Dead is its odd brand of authenticity. But if you’ve ever been curious about modern-day witchcraft—and who isn’t?—this is the place to be. According to the festival’s official website, the Festival of the Dead is “an annual event series that explores death’s macabre customs, heretical histories, and strange rituals.”

And although the entire month of October offers up such “strange rituals”—among them, seances and graveyard conjures which, let’s be honest, sound awesome—the festivities closely surrounding All Hallows Eve are considered the main attractions. These include the official Salem Witches’ Halloween Ball, Mourning Tea, the Dumb Supper and the Salem Witches’ Magic Circle.

The Halloween Ball is perhaps the biggest draw, taking place on October 28. Held in the historic Hawthorne Hotel, it offers way more than your typical Halloween party—besides the costume contests, live music and performances, you’ll be treated to psychic readings, drum circles and ancient ‘magical’ rituals, among other things. And that, folks, is what makes this one of the best Halloween festivals around.

You can dance with the devil on the dance floor at the Witches' Ball, a highlight of the Festival of the Dead in Salem, Massachusetts.

The dance floor at the Witches’ ball during the Festival of the Dead in Salem, Massachusetts. Photo credit: Chad Champeaux, provided by Destination Salem

Krewe of Boo Parade and other festivities in New Orleans, LA

When: Halloween is celebrated throughout the month of October in New Orleans, but the celebrations truly pick up the two weeks before the actual holiday.
Where: At various locations in New Orleans
Why it’s worth the trip:
Of course we had to include the American capital of voodoo and hauntings on our list of best Halloween festivals. After all, the famously devilish New Orleans always brings the ghosts to the party for this yearly blowout, which is second only to Mardi Gras in the city.

And while ghost tours in the city are offered all year round, they’re particularly creepy during the Halloween season (naturally). You can catch one such tour in the French Quarter, or in Uptown and the Garden District. You can also visit the world-famous cemeteries, which feature eery above-ground tombs and boast hundreds of ghost-encounter stories.

The annual Krewe of Boo parade has been welcoming the spirit world since 2007, and each year it grows in size. One thing is certain: Be prepared to catch flying swag thrown from the elaborately designed floats, or risk getting hit in the head. The parade typically begins at Elysian Fields and progresses through the French Quarter, passing through N. Peters and Decatur Streets, to Jackson Square, and then towards theWarehouse District, and all the way up to the Convention Center. And don’t miss the official after-party at Howlin Wolf. Naturally, it’s a costume party, so unless you want to look like a complete dud, wear something flashy.

On Halloween proper, head to the streets—literally. On All Hallows Eve, the French Quarter comes alive with street parties, most notably in the Faubourg Marginy. And while you’re here, you might want to stop by a voodoo shop or two… Just be careful with that purchase…

The terrifying and fun parade floats alone are enough reason to attend the New Orleans Halloween parade. The city's sordid and mysterious past only fuels the party, making it one of the best Halloween festivals anywhere.

One of the many parade floats at the New Orleans Halloween parade. Photo credit: New Orleans Convention and Visitor’s Bureau

The Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor, Long Beach, CA

When: September 30 through October 31. Dark Harbor is open 7 p.m. to midnight on weekdays and 1 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
Where: 1126 Queens Highway, Long Beach
Why it’s worth the trip:

Located on, and near, an already infamously haunted ship, it’s no wonder that the Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor is considered one of the best Halloween festivals in the country, offering a combination of interactive haunted house and themed carnival. Plus, tickets start at $20 online, meaning you can almost surely afford to get in, at least.

The inspiration for this frightening festival, the RMS Queen Mary, took her maiden voyage in 1936 and is the final resting place for souls from that era, or so it is said. Some sources say there are as many as 150 known spirits on the ship, and they have no intention of leaving. So the best thing you can do is show them a good time and hang out with them this October. You can even stay on the ship if you’re feeling very, very brave.

But that’s not all—Dark Harbor also offers some of the spookiest haunted mazes around. They’re so detailed that you may actually find yourself questioning what’s real and what’s fake…making it one of the best Halloween festivals, period.

Don't be surprised if you make a new friend or two at the Queen Mary's Dark Harbor. Photo provided by The ACE Agency and Queenmary.com

Don’t be surprised if you make a new friend or two at the Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor. Photo provided by The ACE Agency and Queenmary.com

Tagged: Holidays

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 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

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