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Whether you object to the treatment of animals or you’re just bored with the usual dog and pony show, check out one of these animal-free alternatives to the traditional three-ring circus. For more amusements, visit cheaptickets.com/events. Use promo code TICKETS10 to get 10 percent off event tickets.

La Nouba by Cirque du Soleil is big on artistry. Credit Walt Disney World and Cirque du Soleil.

La Nouba by Cirque du Soleil is big on artistry. Credit Walt Disney World and Cirque du Soleil.

Cirque du SoleilThe Quebec-based company started in 1984 and now showcases its stunts in 17 countries. Stateside, there are Cirque shows from California to Rhode Island. O at the Bellagio in Las Vegas adds water to the mix for a show that’s anything but washed up. Sin City is also how to Cirque shows celebrating the music of both Michael Jackson and the Beatles. On the kid-friendly end, La Noube in Orlando’s Downtown Disney lets families experience top-notch artistry without the top-tier theme park ticket price.

Circus Smirkus:
In this Vermont-based performance troupe, kids don’t just watch the circus; they are the circus. The cast features children ages 10 to 18 who spend summers touring New England in their one-ring, big-top circus tent. If young audience members are inspired by what they see, they can enroll in Circus Smirkus Camp to learn acrobatics, juggling and other circus skills.

Circus Center: This San Francisco training center offers adult and child classes in everything from flying trapeze to aerial (remember Pink at the 2014 Grammys?) to clowning around. If you’d rather just watch, then check out the venue’s monthly cabaret series. These professional, 21-and-up shows offer an intimate, speakeasy-style setting; a drink ticket is included with each entry for a circus experience that’s truly intoxicating.

Acrobats of China: This show is a lotcloser than it sounds. The New Shanghai Circus in Branson, Missouri displays feats of strength, flexibility and balance, including diving through hoops, juggling people and an entire family riding a single bicycle. Arrive early to see the “show before the show,” a traditional Chinese tea ceremony.

Circus Arts Conservatory: You could say Sarasota, Florida, is the circus capital of the world, being home to the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art to daredevil high wire walker Nik Wallenda. The conservatory brings performances yearround, from the kids’ Sailor Circus to Cirque des Voix, which combines circus acts with choir and full orchestra.

For more things to do, check out cheaptickets.com/events. Use promo code TICKETS10 to get 10 percent off event tickets.

CTIXblog CTA _ cheap of the week

Tagged: California, City, Events, Family, Florida, Las Vegas, Tips & advice

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In this age of online shopping, it’s easy to forget that our favorite goods come from actual, you know, places. See where everyday items are born during one of these made-in-America factory tours.

Crayola Factory in Pennsylvania

Photo courtesy of Frances MacLeod

Crayola Experience, Easton, PA

Let your imagination run wild through four floors of colorful fun at this attraction about a 90-minute drive from Philadelphia or New York City. Watch a live-action theater show that explains how crayons are brought to life, create custom crayons and run wild in the two-story color-themed playground.

Photo courtesy of Darah Thomas

Photo courtesy of Darah Thomas

Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory Tour, Louisville, KY

This bat factory will score a home run with baseball fans. As you enter the building, you’ll walk past the world’s largest bat—a 120-feet-tall replica of Babe Ruth’s own Louisville Slugger. Then it’s onto the factory and museum, where you can watch bats being made, hold bats used by Major League Baseball legends and test out the batting cages. At the end of the factory tour, take home a free miniature bat or order a full-size personalized Slugger.

Photo courtesy of Jelly Belly Candy Company

Photo courtesy of Jelly Belly Candy Company

Jelly Belly Factory Tour, Fairfield, CA 

You’ll feel like a kid in a candy store at this factory located between San Francisco and Sacramento. See what goes into making jelly beans that taste like buttered popcorn, toasted marshmallow and A&W Root Beer, and discover why it takes up to 20 days to create a single bean. But don’t fill up on the free samples; save room for bean-shaped burger or bean-shaped pizza in the Jelly Belly Cafe.

Stuffington Bear Factory Tour, Phoenix, AZ

Before there was Build-A-Bear, there was Stuffington Bear. Watch bears and other stuffed animals come to life as they are cut, sewn and stuffed, and learn about the history of teddy bears. After the tour, stop by the retail store to take home a cuddly companion of your own.

Ben and Jerry's Factory Tour in Vermont

Photo courtesy of Nick Caruso

Ben and Jerry’s Factory TourWaterbury, VT

How could an ice cream factory tour not be fun? Learn about the history of the company, watch as sweet treats come to life on the factory floor and, yes, indulge in free samples. Find even more sweet treats in the Scoop Shop, which offers traditional ice cream treats and specialty desserts. 

Photo courtesy of: linearclassic | Flickr Creative Commons

Photo courtesy of  linearclassic | Flickr Creative Commons

Bureau of Engraving and Printing, Washington, DC, and Fort Worth, TX

Anyone can make money, but not everyone make money. In each of these tours, you can stand above the production floor as millions of dollars roll off the printing press, watch a video about the production process and, ironically, buy souvenir currency in the gift shop.

Photo courtesy of Becky Musgrove.

Photo courtesy of Becky Musgrove

Tabasco Pepper Sauce Factory Tour, Avery Island, LA

The hottest tour in the South starts with a visit to this lush Louisiana island. Watch a film about the history of the spicy condiment, see where Tabasco is aged in white oak barrels and look on as the sauce is bottled and packaged to begin its journey to kitchen tables across America.

Photo courtesy of Harinder Singh

Photo courtesyof Harinder Singh

Future of Flight Aviation Center & Boeing TourEverett, WA

Take your knowledge of air travel to new heights during this rare public tour of a commercial jet assembly plant just north of Seattle. Interact with exhibits, walk through tunnels and ride a freight elevator to a balcony high above the factory floor as you watch 747s and other aircraft being assembled.

Photo courtesy of Tillamook.

Photo courtesy of Tillamook

Tillamook Cheese Factory, Tillamook, OR

Tillamook ages its cheeses for up to three year,s but you won’t need to wait that long to sample the goods during a self-guided tour of its Pacific Coast factory. Get a bird’s eye view as milk is transformed into 171,000 pounds of cheddar, pepper jack and more every day. After the tour, nosh on grilled cheese sandwiches, ice cream and other dairy delights in the on-site restaurant.

Photo courtesy of: ooitschristina | Flickr Creative Commons

Photo courtesy of ooitschristina | Flickr Creative Commons

Gibson Guitar Factory Tour, Memphis, TN

First come the instruments; then comes the music. Watch and listen as the legendary guitars are bound, neck-fitted, painted, buffed and tuned on at this famed Beale Street factory. After the tour, stop by the retail shop for a guitar of your own, and start singin’ the blues.

Photo courtesy of: Matt Lehrer | Flickr Creative Commons

Photo courtesy of Matt Lehrer | Flickr Creative Commons

Budweiser Brewery Tour, St. Louis, MO

Before the craft beer phenomenon took off, there was good ol’ Budweiser. Learn about the company’s century-old brewing process as you walk through its historic building. Save room for a cold one at the end of the tour. Additional tours are available at these Anheuser-Busch factory locations: Fort Collins, Colorado; Jacksonville, Florida; Merrimack, New Hampshire; and Fairfield, California.

Tagged: California, Family, Food & drink

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Lake Geneva EDIT

Lake Geneva, Wisconsin
Just north of the Illinois/Wisconsin border, this laid-back watering hole has become quite the Midwest getaway for slowed-down weekends of lakeside moseying through shops and finding a good patio at sunset to lazily sip on a beer. Personal boat rentals can cost you a few mackerels, so get your float on with a boat tour via the Lake Geneva Cruise Line. Whatever you’re into–they’ve got a specialty boat tour for it: ice cream social, champagne brunch, jazz dinner. Step back on land (and back in time) at the Baker House, an 1885 mansion turned hotel, bar, and restaurant great for sipping a cocktail while overlooking the lake.

Click here to find the cheapest Lake Geneva hotel  

Lake Tahoe Edit

Lake Tahoe South, California or Nevada

Ski town in the winter; lake town in the summer. As far as “lake-cations” go, Lake Tahoe has made a name for itself as a “play hard, then play harder” destination. Daytime means plunging into crystal clear waters with your closest kayaking friends or finding yourself in a hot air balloon peacefully floating in a crystal clear sky. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, head to the highly praised Base Camp Pizza Co. for a powerful pie (tease your taste buds with flavors like “Thai Curry Chicken” and “Pear & Gorgonzola”) and live music that will get you ready for an even livelier night ahead. There’s no time to relax because once you’ve eaten your weight in pizza it’s time to chug a cold one at local watering hole, Macduffs, bring your best poker face to Harrah’s casino, or dance the night away at Peek Nightclub. The best part? Wake up and do it all over again.

Click here to find the cheapest Lake Tahoe South hotel 

Lake Clark

Lake Clark, AlaskaBeat the summer heat with a cool Alaskan breeze and hangout session with Mother Nature. At Lake Clark you’ll find yourself exploring miles of untainted land and get up close with its local fauna. Silver Salmon Creek, Chinitna Bay, or Crescent Lake are the most popular areas to spot a brown bear from a distance. If befriending a bear isn’t quite your thing, find some inspiration at late, great nature enthusiast Dick Proenneke’s handcrafted cabin. Proenneke built his cabin by hand and lived independently with nature for roughly thirty years makinghim an Alaskan icon. At night, keep the serenity alive and find yourself sipping on a cold brew under the stars.

Click here to find the cheapest Alaska hotel 

Lake Placid

Lake Placid, New York

If you haven’t started to relax from just the name alone then that is reason enough to head here. Lake Placid literally becomes more placid in the summer months so grab the whole family for some “gentle” whitewater rafting(ahem, oxymoron much?) or step up the adventure with a rigorous hike up the tallest mountain in New York: Mount Marcy. If you are thinking about a winter trip, don’t miss the opportunity to experience the snowcapped great outdoors with man’s best friend as your guide; take a dog sled ride with Thunder Mountain Dog Sled Tours or Mike Arnold Dog Sled Rides. Still not convinced? The Breakfast Club, a crowd pleaser restaurant located on Main Street, offers breakfast all day long. Think about all of the bloodies! Sold? Thought so.

Click here to find the cheapest Lake Placid hotel 

Lake of the Ozarks

Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri

The only thing better than free stuff is free stuff on vacation. Lake of the Ozarks offers a ton of free attractions–it’s the adventure vacation that just keeps on giving. At Ha Ha Tonka State Park you’ll find your gaze stuck on the remains of an early 1900s castle; the product of a wealthy businessman’s crumbled dreams. At the Camden County Museum you can grab a quick history lesson at what fittingly wasa former school building. And at the Ozark Distillery you’ll find yourself with a free tour and tasting of spirits such as vanilla bean moonshine, vodka, and whiskey. Cheers to freebies.

Click here to find the cheapest Osage Beach hotel

crater lake

Crater Lake, Oregon

Forget “there’s no place like home,” and remember that Crater Lake is “likeno place else on earth.” Embark on a magical journey with the Wizard Island Tour, where you will set off by boat into one of the deepest lakes in the world and find yourself exploring the mysterious volcanic crater that lives in the lake. If you aren’t feeling adventurous, you can ditch the hike and take in the beauty of Wizard Island from afar on the Standard Lake Cruise. After working up an appetite all day, head to Crater Lake Lodge Dining Room, known for its locally grown ingredients, to indulge in elk chops, bison meatloaf, or a rack of lamb.

Click here to find the cheapest Oregon hotel

Lake Havasu

Lake Havasu, Arizona

You don’t need to hop over the pond to experience London. Instead you can jump in a lake. In 1968 the founder of Lake Havasu purchased the old London Bridge, moved it to Arizona, and the rest is well, history. Take a 90-minute walking tour of the bridge or grab your boat and drop your anchor right below. History lovers aside, Lake Havasu is also the place for those who are looking to party in paradise, minus the whole cost of paradise. Think brews, boats, bros, and babes on a budget. Forget water sports and hikes, this is the ultimate in finding your tan, your fun, and your friends all day (and night) long.

Click here to find the cheapest Lake Havasu hotel 

Lake Caddo

Lake Caddo, Texas and Louisiana 

At Caddo Lake you’ll find yourself amongst the alligators, swampy waters, endangered species, and Bigfoot. Wait, what? Yep, rumors swirl about Bigfoot leaving its footprint in the wetland and after researching reports of an “ape-like” figure you’ll soon want to join in on the hunt. If finding a mysterious creature isn’t your thing you can take an educational outing at the park headquarters. Here you can learn about Lake Caddo, the Great Depression, and prohibition (you’ll be thankful it came to an end if you do spot Bigfoot). And if the idea of Bigfoot traipsing the land around you is truly terrifying you can always head to the water and hop on a boat tour with Caddo Lake Steamboat Company. Bigfoot can’t swim, right?

 Click here to find the cheapest Texas hotel

Tagged: California, Family, Last minute travel, Off-season, Seasonal, Sports, Tips & advice

Ciara Collins

Ciara Collins

Ciara Collins

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