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

We get it: The goal of leaving home is to experience as much of life as possible, to treat yourself and unwind. But when the budget gets tight, the tough get creative. Looking for a bit of luxurious relaxation on a shoestring? Here are eight options that will add a little something special to your travels without impacting your bottom line too much.

RELATED: 5 hot springs in gorgeous natural settings

Boulder Dushanbe Tea House: Boulder, CO  

Every civilized society starts their adventures with a cup of tea, which is exactly why you should hit up the Boulder Dushanbe Tea House. The ornate landmark was originally built in Tajikistan by hand, without tools, and then later shipped piece by piece to Colorado and re-assembled along Boulder Creek. Take in the colorful carvings that surround you while you sip their signature Teahouse Chai, or dive into the depths of cheese tea (topped with milk foam and cream cheese). Hours and seating are currently limited due to Covid, so be sure to make a reservation.

Sykes Hot Springs: Big Sur, Los Padres National Forest, CA

Yes, hot tubs are awesome, but when spas aren’t in the budget, nature finds a way. Areas like Big Sur are known for their geothermic activity, meaning you can cheaply find a place to soak away your troubles. Just be sure to consult an official map before you dip—there’s a fine line between stress relief and accidental boiling.

Hike the Multnomah-Wahkeena Loop: Portland, OR

If you’re tired of thoughtless people invading the imaginary six-foot force field you’ve conjured around you, then your concept of luxury might have more to do with getting away from it all. In that case, hit the trail at Portland’s Multnomah-Wahkeena. The 4.9-mile hike offers views of stunning waterfalls, plenty of chances to peep Oregon’s fairytale worthy foliage, viewpoints over the Columbia River, and significantly more big-leaf maples than people.

Brooklyn Botanic Garden: Brooklyn, NY

…Or maybe the great outdoors isn’t exactly your bag. Which is exactly why you should plan a trip to a botanical garden like Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Not only does their bite-sized natural goodness allow you the pleasure of being surrounded by a wide variety of plants your black thumb would likely kill instantly, they usually offer fun bonuses like in-house cafes and classes. And thanks to the location, you’ll never be too far away from city life.

Land’s End Labyrinth: San Francisco, CA

Overlooking the water at the end of Land’s End Park in San Francisco, is an ankle-high labyrinth. While there’s no Goblin King hiding in the center, the monument is meant to evoke peace, love and enlightenment. Go and practice your yoga breathing—or sneak a peek during the solstices, when the artist Eduardo Aguilera often drops by to light his small stone swirl with candles. (Note: It can be a bit tricky to find, so grab directions before you go.)

See the sky in a dark sky park: Big Bend National Park, Texas

Remind yourself how big and magical the world really can be with a visit to Big Bend in Texas. Not does the park feature a wealth of rugged hills and intricate ecosystems, at night this International Dark Sky Park, makes for cinescope-worthy star viewing. Join one of their night sky viewing programs to learn exactly which constellation you’re gawking at—or pack a picnic and make good on the romantic date you’ve been meaning to take.

Chicago Food Truck Fest: Chicago, IL

Food trucks are awesome because they offer a chance to sample local favors—even if your budget is more 7-Eleven than Michelin Star, plus there’s no need to go inside a restaurant. Bonus for those who can never make up their minds: A lot of them offer smaller sized options, meaning you can mix and match offerings to your heart’s content. For the ultimate offering, hit up the Chicago Food Truck Fest, which takes place Fridays April through September in Daley Plaza downtown (check for possible Covid closures). Bring your appetite and munch your way through favorites like 5411 Empanadas, Chubby Wieners, and Firecakes Donuts. Not in Chicago? No problem. Thanks to the National Food Truck Directory, you can track the schedule and offerings of over 8,500 trucks nationwide.

Post-pandemic tip: Hit the Korean spa in your city

If you’re in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Chicago or Tacoma, you’re in luck. While their European-style competitors tend to project a sense of high-priced elitism, Korean spas are rooted in the bathhouse tradition—meaning you’ll get the same hot tubs and saunas at a more wallet-friendly rate. Add a treatment like their traditional scrub (where you’ll lose what feels like a pound of dead skin, along with what’s left of your inhibitions), or relax in the mixed-gender jimjilbang resting area.

Tagged: California, Cheap Tips, Chicago, Destinations, L.A., New York City, Texas

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.

For the past few months, scrolling beautiful vacation pics from travels past has been a way to see the world without leaving home. Now as we’re gearing up to finally start traveling, we’re again looking to photography, this time to help guide our plans, and America’s National Parks with their unparalleled natural beauty are speaking volumes. If you’re looking to commune with nature in America’s wilds over the next few months, let these 10 photos from U.S. National Parks inspire you, and don’t forget to book great deals for your trip on CheapTickets!

RELATED: 12 great American roadside attractions

Angels Landing, Zion National Park: UT

If you’re afraid of heights, read no further. But if incredible 360-degree views of jagged towering spires and the canyons below sound worth a little calf pain, the Angels Landing day hike is definitely for you. (Not recommended for young kids.)

Artist’s Palette, Death Valley National Park: CA

Follow twisting Artist’s Drive past Badwater Basin to this multicolored hillside created from volcanic ash and minerals deposited millions of years ago. Time and the elements have turned them cool shades of green, pink and yellow, like a palette.

Clingman’s Dome, Smoky Mountains National Park: TN

It’s just a half-mile hike up to the top of Clingman’s Dome, the highest point in Tennessee. At the summit, about 6,643 feet above sea level, you’ll have access to the observation tower and, of course, views of mountain valleys and steep ridges below.

Delicate Arch, Arches National Park: UT

A 2-3 hour hike takes you to this famous natural wonder set among giant domes of sandstone rock. Frame your photo of Delicate Arch perfectly from nearby Frame Arch, aka Twisted Donut Arch. Arrive around sunset for the most dramatic photos.

Going-to-the-Sun Road, Glacier National Park: MT

Along this 50-mile road that crosses the Continental Divide at Logan Pass, you’ll marvel at deep valleys, glaciers, towering waterfalls and, depending on season, colorful wildflowers and all kinds of wildlife.

Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone National Park: WY

Hard to believe the neon colors of the Grand Prismatic Hot Spring are the work of nature but they are, thanks to various species of microbes living in the progressively cooler water surrounding the spring.

Havasu Falls, Grand Canyon National Park: AZ

Pack your swimsuit—and a permit—for your hike to these stunning falls located on Havasupai tribal lands. Located at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, the waterfall  is famous for its gorgeous turquoise blue waters, perfect for a dip after a long hike.

Skull Rock, Joshua Tree National Park: CA

Next to its crooked namesake trees, Joshua Tree National Park’s most famous attraction is this massive granite rock that resembles a skull. It’s located right off the road but if you’re itching for a hike, opt for the 1.8-mile Skull Rock Nature Loop.

Wonder Lake, Denali National Park: AK

With the jagged peaks of Alaska Range in the background and cool, clear waters or Wonder Lake in the foreground, this is the essential Alaska postcard scene you’ve always dreamed of. It’s accessible by park bus. Be sure to watch for the park’s working sled dogs in winter. Tip: Bring bug spray to the lake in summer—mosquitos here are fierce!

Dry Tortugas National Park: FL

Dry Tortugas National Park almost 70 miles west of Key West is actually a cluster of islands that are only accessible by ferry, boat or seaplane. Activities at the park include exploring a 19th-century fort, camping, swimming and snorkeling crystal waters teeming with marine life.


Tagged: California, Cheap Tips, Destinations, Hawaii

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

Monica Pedraja and Martina Sheehan

Monica Pedraja and Martina Sheehan

Monica Pedraja and Martina Sheehan

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The National Park Service is waiving entrance fees to all national parks Saturday, September 27.

The free admission is a celebration of National Public Lands Day, an event that encourages people to enjoy the outdoors at places like national parks.

For more information or to find a national park, visit the NPS Web site.

CheapTickets resources:

Tagged: Events, FREE!, Limited-time Offers

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