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Few things go together as well as flights and hotels—and luckily, they’re even cheaper when bundled together on CheapTickets. And we’ll prove it to you. Here’s a sample of our vacations under $500:

The fine print: Each vacation package under $500 includes one round-trip flight and a two-night hotel stay. The prices reflect dates chosen at random.

  • Chicago to Miami: Starting at $215
  • New York City to Atlanta: Starting at $270
  • Cleveland to Denver: Starting at $423
  • Portland to Vancouver: Starting at $396
  • Dallas to New Orleans: Starting at $167
  • Houston to San Diego: Starting at $321

And ‘sample’ is not a misnomer, people. We’ve always got plenty of vacation packages under $500, meaning that if you desperately need a last-minute getaway, we’ve likely got something for you. Hankering to hop from St. Louis to Nashville? We’ve got you covered. Pittsburgh to Washington D.C.? Yup, it’s still cheap. So go live that big-city life, or relax on a beach, or whatever you may need at the moment to recharge. Because with flights and hotels this cheap, there’s basically no reason not to.

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Tagged: Cheap Tips, City, Family, Last minute travel, New York City, Uncategorized, Vacation packages

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Primary season is in full swing, and the batch of remaining presidential hopefuls is hitting the campaign trail hard. If your political blood is boiling and you’ve caught the campaign fever, why not turn your trip to all those heated debates and rallies into an enjoyable getaway. Gerrymander through some of the best destinations along the campaign trail, caucusing with locals about the best place to grab a post-rally brew or nominating your favorite continental breakfast to fuel your discussion-filled day. Here are our elections for some of the best destinations on the road to the White House, in chronological order:

Las Vegas

Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo: ADTeasdale – Flickr.

Las Vegas, Nevada: Although the majority of folks you are likely to run into on the Vegas strip probably aren’t even registered to vote in Nevada, the city is drawing attention leading up to the Democratic and Republican caucuses on Feb. 20 and 23, respectively. The Nevada State Democrats are hosting a town hall event in Las Vegas on Feb. 18 to discuss issues affecting the Latino community. Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have both said they will attend the event, which will be hosted by MSNBC and Telemundo. A prime opportunity to mingle your daily dose of politics with a little Vegas fun.

 

Donald Trump

Presidential hopeful Donald Trump is scheduled to appear at Myrtle Beach later this month. Photo: , Gage Skidmore – Flickr

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina: Donald Trump is set to make an appearance at the Myrtle Beach Sports Center at noon on Feb. 19, the day before the Republican Primary. In this cold, desolate month, why not route yourself to a beach destination during your political travels? Republican nominees are blitzing the state the week before, as well, if you arrive early. And if you aren’t quite ready to leave the South, stick around — the Democratic Primary isn’t until Feb. 27.

Bill Clinton

Bill Clinton has been hitting the campaign trail in Tennessee on behalf of his wife, Hillary. Photo: Susan Ruggles – Flickr

 Nashville, Tennessee: SUPER TUESDAY. Continue your tour south of the Mason-Dixon Line and head on over to Tennessee. Early voting in the state began Feb. 10 and runs through Feb. 23, ahead of the March 1 primary, so Republicans and Democrats alike are focusing hard on the state. Bill Clinton campaigned ahead of his wife in Memphis earlier this month. Hillary is set to open campaign offices in Nashville and Memphis, two of the state’s largest Democratic hotbeds. Planting yourself in a Democratic area inside a state that usually votes red would provide a certain lively nature to your trip. Both parties vote on Super Tuesday, which falls on March 1 this year.

 

Detroit, Michigan

Presidential candidates have their eyes on Michigan. Photo: Bryan Debus – Flickr.

Detroit, Michigan: Before the dust cleared from the Iowa Caucus, campaign staff members were heading for Michigan. Pick a major city in the state,and you’ll likely find a campaign office has popped up there. The whole Clinton family has already peppered the state, the Republicans have all hired firms to help them plan different events, Sanders offices are springing up in Flint, Lansing, Detroit, Ann Arbor and Traverse City, and CNN is holding a Democratic debate in Flint on March 6. The Democratic and Republican primaries take place on March 8.

 

Columbus, OHio

Columbus, Ohio. Photo: ChevySXSWCbus – Flickr

Columbus, Ohio: Ohio is a swing state and draws the eyes of the world during election season, and this year, its Gov. John Kasich is making a showing in the Republican race. Plus, with a university in Columbus boasting more than 50,000 students, most of whom are eligible voters, Ohio State University often gets blasted with impromptu campaign events. Plenty of appearances are already planned ahead of the March 15 primary: Sanders and Clinton are both scheduled to speak at the Ohio Democratic Party Legacy Dinner at the Greater Columbus Convention Center on March 13 (bleacher seats will run you $50).

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Tagged: Las Vegas, Tips & advice

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New York City is the jewel in New Year’s Eve’s crown, and the west coast offers unforgettable nightlife peppered with celebrity spottings to ring in the New Year. But the flyover states are not to be overlooked. People throughout the middle chunk of our country know how to party, and each place offers experiences a little bit more novel than watching the ball drop. Plus, the odds of spending significantly less during your celebrations than you would spend on either coast are very much in your favor. Here is our list of five flyover cities that offer unforgettable New Year’s Eve celebrations, in no particular order.

 

16th Street in Denver

16th Street in Denver | Flickr CC: Yuya Sekiguchi

Denver, Colorado — How better to celebrate the New Year than with a backdrop of the Rocky Mountains? The 16th Street Mall downtown is sure to be bustling, with parties spilling out of every hotel and fireworks shooting off overhead. Find a brewery in the home of craft beer to spend your night. The Five Points neighborhood, just north of downtown, offers plenty of places worthy of saying goodbye to 2015.

 

Short North lights

The arches over the Short North in Columbus, Ohio. Photo: Becker1999 – Flickr

Columbus, Ohio — It should come as no surprise that a city dominated by one of the nation’s largest public universities knows how to ring in the New Year right. Take your pick of spots to celebrate in the Short North, a cultured strip of bars and restaurants along High Street between downtown and Ohio State’s campus that blends all types and ages into your choice of celebrations.

 

Lousiville New Year's Even

A bourbon flight in Louisville. Photo: Surlygirl – Flickr

Louisville, Kentucky — Head to Louisville and soak your New Year’s celebrations in bourbon and southern hospitality. The Derby isn’t the only thing Louisville does right. The city celebrates with fireworks and parties at nearly every bar, but The Highlands neighborhood has a strip of eclectic bars that can’t be missed. Make sure to check out Holy Grale, a gastropub in an old church, and The Back Door, a late-night bar with copious pool tables and the best bar food south of the Mason-Dixon Line.

 

Chicago New Year's Eve

The Chicago River at night. Photo: Patrick Emerson

Chicago, Illinois — The great thing about celebrating New Year’s Eve in Chicago is that you can make it whatever you want. Go swanky and buy tickets to a downtown black-tie affair in advance, or hit up a club (you can find them in nearly every neighborhood) that stays open until 4 a.m. and dance your way well into 2016. Get tickets to a party at a restaurant like Beatrix in River North and spend your evening dining well, or a bar in Wrigleyville and enjoy all-you-can-drink perks with a more raucous crowd. Watch fireworks from Navy Pier, go to a party at a hotel, or stay in with friends and hit up neighborhood bars after the ball drops.

Honky tonk in Nashville

A band performs at Legends Corner Bar in Nashville. Photo: Grant Wickes – Flickr.

Nashville, Tennessee — Nashville is a great place to go out and experience life any time of year, whether you’re soaking up the music scene or enjoying some southern cuisine, and the city does not disappoint on New Year’s Eve. Hit up a honky-tonk Downtown or in Midtown and embrace those country vibes.

Tagged: City, Holidays, Tips & advice

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It’s Christmastime. In towns big and small all over America, people are gathering around Christmas trees as they are illuminated for the first time this year. Some of those trees are iconic, adorning Christmas ornaments and postcards, but for some of them, their glory lies in their story. And the best part? It doesn’t cost a dime to take in their majesty, save for the cup of hot chocolate you’ll likely buy on your way. Take a look at this list of some of America’s best public Christmas trees.

The Iconic Tree:

Rockefeller Center Tree

Rockefeller Center Tree | Flickr CC: Shinya Suzuki

Rockefeller Center, New York City — This is about as iconic as you can get when it comes to Christmas trees. New York City’s massive tree overlooks the ice skating rink in Rockefeller Plaza and has made it into many a classic Christmas movie scene. Something that really makes this tree iconic though, is its origins. The New York Times did a story earlier this month that revealed the history of the tree, noting that hard-working Italian immigrants first pushed a tree up in 1931 after a long day of constructing the city into what we know it as today.

 

Millennium Park Christmas tree

Chicago’s Christmas tree sits in front of the city’s skyline at Millennium Park. Photo: Ally Marotti

Millennium Park, Chicago — Chicago’s giant public Christmas tree usually sits in the middle of the German Christmas market, Christkindlmarket, in Daley Plaza in the heart of downtown, but this year it was moved to Millennium Park. Now it rises above Cloud Gate (aka, the Bean) in front of Chicago’s skyline.

  

Gifted trees:

Boston Christmas Tree

Boston Christmas Tree | Flickr CC: Eric Kilby

Boston Christmas Tree — A tree has been lit in Boston each year since 1941, and since 1971, each tree has come from Nova Scotia. Illuminated in Boston Common, the tree is gifted to the city each year by Nova Scotia as a thank you for assistance provided during the 1917 Halifax explosion, which destroyed much of the city. Boston sent help immediately, although their train was delayed by a blizzard. Still, the Nova Scotians never forgot.

 

Union Station Christmas tree

The Christmas tree inside Union Station in Washington D.C. is a gift from Norway. Photo: Chris Gladis – Flickr

Union Station, Washington D.C. — Norway gifts a Christmas tree to Washington D.C. each year as a symbol of friendship with the U.S. and as a thank you for the help the U.S. provided to Norway during World War II. The tree is displayed in Union Station, and the Norwegian Embassy chooses a theme with which to decorate the tree each year. In 2013, when the theme was Edvard Munch’s “The Scream,” the tree was fashioned with dozens of tiny reflective versions of the shrieking man in Norway’s most famous painting. This year’s theme is Norwegian music.

 

Public Square Park, Nashville — The Christmas tree in downtown Nashville is often gifted to the city by residents. This year, Tammie Myles donated 42-foot Norway spruce to honor her parents. It will be decorated with 5,000 lights. This idea of individuals donating Christmas trees is common throughout the country, especially when the trees or activities surround them feature some sort of charitable aspect. Local Christmas tree farms will often donate trees for display near the courthouse.

Big trees in small squares:

Rittenhouse Square Christmas tree

The Christmas tree in Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square. Photo: Marc Cappelletti – Flickr.

Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia — Rittenhouse Square is one of five original open spaces in Philadelphia planned by William Penn. It is about two short blocks long on eachside, and in December a 30-foot Christmas Tree rises out of its center. It makes the little historical park even cozier.

 

Cincinnati's Christmas tree

Fireworks go off at the tree lighting ceremony in Fountain Square in Cincinnati, Ohio. Photo: 5ch4r7z – Flickr.

Fountain Square, Cincinnati — The Christmas tree dominates downtown Cincinnati’s Fountain Square each December, and shadows the temporary ice skating rink that is assembled nearby each year. The smaller size of the square, which is mostly enclosed by the city’s skyscrapers, makes the tree seem even bigger and more festive.

When the trees don’t move:

Town Square Lighting, Jackson Hole — Instead of decorating one giant tree, Jackson Hole sets Town Square ablaze with multiple tree lightings. Fitting in with its outdoorsy M.O., the town does not cut down any trees for its Christmas celebrations, so it earns a spot on our list for being environmentally aware.

Coeur D' Alene, Idaho

Coeur D’ Alene, Idaho | Flickr CC: Tracy Hunter

Coeur d’Alene, Idaho — A nearly 200-foot grand fir at Coeur d’Alene Resort is decorated with tens of thousands of lights and at one point set the world record for the tallest living Christmas tree. The star on top is 10 feet alone.

Sardy House Tree, Aspen — This is the 31st year the owners of the Sardy House illuminate the large fir tree on the corner of Main and Aspen streets in Aspen. (New owners spent $250,000 to amp up the lighting in 2006). It is strewn with 10,000 LED lights hooked up to a system that can emulate everything from fireworks to a cascading waterfall. The glory of using a live tree? The lights stay on year-round and can be used during other holiday celebrations.

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Tagged: Cheap Tips, Festivals, FREE!, Holidays, New York City, Seasonal

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Vote for your favorite city in the CheapTickets All-American Barbecue Smackdown

Like the best barbecue, this competition is going to get messy. Claim your city as a BBQ boss! Go to our Facebook to vote for your favorite barbecue destination in the CheapTickets “All American Barbecue Smack Down” through June 29, 2015. Vote and you’ll be entered to win a trip for two to your favorite all-American destination. The best barbecue city gets bragging rights for a whole year.

CTIX BBQ CTANo purchase necessary. Contest open only to legal residents of the United States (including the District of Columbia) who are 18 years or older at the time of entry. Void where prohibited or restricted by law. Click here for complete contest rules.

The CheapTickets top 10 BBQ cities

You could just take our word for it. If your fingers have an overwhelming need to be covered in sauce, don’t worry–we’ve taken it upon ourselves to search for America’s best barbecue cities. Our booking and survey data reveals the top 10 cities for BBQ in the United States, with Memphis, Austin and newcomer San Antonio topping this year’s finger-licking list.

CTIX BBQ graph

Think outside the pit with these top BBQ picks

Any ‘cue enthusiast knows that there’s more to the perfect BBQ than ribs and sauce. Don’t get us wrong, it’s important, but we want to think outside the pit to honor those that go the extra delicious mile. Within the top five BBQ cities, we’ve sniffed out two leaders per BBQ category.

BEST SANDWICH

Order the Z-Man at Joe’s Kansas City BBQKansas City, Kansas

Behind every legendary sandwich is a legendaryregular. This one’s name is Mike Zarrick, a local sports talk radio jockey who goes by the name Z-Man. This mouth-watering mammoth is made with “sliced smoked brisket, smoked provolone cheese, a couple of onion rings, and a bit of barbecue sauce all on top of a Kaiser roll.” In 2013, it was speculated that the Z-Man sandwich helped the KC Royals get back on a winning streak, so have yourself a Z-Man before heading to Kauffman Stadium to root for the home team.

Z-man sandwich; Photo courtesy of Joe’s Kansas City BBQ

Z-man sandwich; Photo courtesy of Joe’s Kansas City BBQ

Runner up: The Cochon De Lait Po’ Boy at Walker’s Southern BBQNew Orleans, Louisiana

This sandwich puts all other po’ boys to shame. It is the po’ king. Make Walker’s Southern BBQ your first stop in NoLa, because it’s only three miles from the airport, but a 10-mile trek from Bourbon Street. French for ‘suckling pig,’ the Cochon De Lait is tender pulled pork in a tangy house-made sauce topped with coleslaw. The Walkers open at 10:30 a.m. for lunch and close when they sell out, so get there early.

MOST UNUSUAL BBQ DISH

Order the BBQ Spaghetti at The Bar-B-Q ShopMemphis, Tennessee

Even BBQ purists will be asking fora second heap of noodles topped with smoky, tender pork and a uniquely tangy sub-breed of spaghetti sauce. Though it has become a Memphis staple, this dish is best consumed at The Bar-B-Q Shop where they still use the original recipe from the previous owner and inventor of BBQ spaghetti. What goes better than spaghetti and kids? Bring your brood after a day at the Memphis Zoo, less than a mile away.

BBQ spaghetti; Photo courtesy of Yelp

BBQ spaghetti; Photo courtesy of Yelp

Runner up: The Brisket Ramen at The Granary ‘Cue & BrewSan Antonio, Texas

Come for the Brisket Ramen and stay for the handcrafted brews. Chow down on this Asian-cue fusion of “smoked shoyu broth, brown ale noodles, onsen egg, ‘cue shallots, and collard greens,” and wash it down with The Granary’s rotating seasonal beer like a black IPA. The Granary is set in San Antonio’s Pearl Brewery Community, which is the perfect place to spend an afternoon strolling the riverfront and people watching.

BEST FIXINS (A.K.A. SIDES)

Order the Blue Cheese Coleslaw at Kerlin BBQAustin, Texas

Austin has an undeniable cool factor, so it’s only fitting that it’s also home to the best cool, creamy ‘slaw that ever graced a plate of BBQ. You can forget counting coleslaw as a healthier side option to mac ‘n’ cheese, because this fixin’ is loaded with creamy blue cheese and mayo. Go on a clear day, because you’ll be eating outside. Kerlin BBQ is a no-thrills operation (think stationary food truck and picnic tables) in Austin’s hipster hood: East Austin. You don’t have to have a mustache or cool leg tattoo to get in—just order the ‘slaw, and they’ll know you can hang.

Blue cheese coleslaw; Photo courtesy of Yelp

Blue cheese coleslaw; Photo courtesy of Yelp

Runner up: The Sweet Potato Casserole at The Big Bib BBQSan Antonio, Texas

All good BBQ famously mixes the savory with the sweet, but the folks over at Big Bib BBQ are probably still wondering if their Sweet Potato Casserole belongs on the dessert menu or the sides menu. This dish is so sweet it’s essentially a sweet potato cake. Work up a good appetite before devouring this fixin’ with a hike along the Salando Creek Greenway just across the highway from Big Bib.

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Tagged: City, Family, Food & drink, FREE!, Holidays, Seasonal

Kelsie Ozamiz

Kelsie Ozamiz

Kelsie Ozamiz

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