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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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All is calm, all is bright. In some cases, really bright.

Here are seven of some of America’s most over-the-top holiday light displays.

CheapTickets-St-Augustine-Florida-Christmas-lights

St. Augustine’s Nights of Lights. Photo courtesy of St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra, & The Beaches Visitors and Convention Bureau.

St. Augustine, Florida: During Nights of Lights, the 450-year-old city illuminates its landmarks with white lights in a display that’s been called one of the world’s 10 best. The festivities include a bunch of special events, such as carriage and boat tours, outdoor concerts and more.

Blossoms of Light in Denver, Colorado

Blossoms of Light in Denver, Colorado | Flickr Creative Commons: Amy Aletheia Cahill

Denver, Colorado: Denver Botanic Gardens sets the scene for a classy holiday with Blossoms of Light. The flora becomes even more inviting when it’s illuminated with thousands of lights, including a spot named the Romantic Gardensfull of aromatic plants and plum trees. (Can you say marriage proposal spot?) There’s also live entertainment on select nights, and visitors can purchase 3-D HoloSpex glasses to enhance their view of the lights.

Tacky Lights Tour in Richmond, Virginia

Tacky Lights Tour in Richmond, Virginia | Flickr Creative Commons: Taber Andrew Bain

Richmond, Virginia: On the opposite end of the spectrum is the Richmond Times-Dispatch‘s annual list lovingly named the Tacky Lights Tour. Houses must have at least 40,000 lights to make the list; some are tasteful, some downright tacky. The newspaper alerts homeowners that they’ll be included, so when you embark on a self-guided tour of the eyesores, you’ll be laughing with them—not at them.

Glittering Lights | Photo courtesy of Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Glittering Lights | Photo courtesy of Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Las Vegas, Nevada: There are drive-through light shows… and then there’s Glittering Lights at Sin City’s Motor Speedway. Roll down your windows, turn up your windows and cruise around the 2.5-mile track that proves the Vegas Strip isn’t the only part of town that glistens.

Christmas in Los Angeles

Christmas in Los Angeles, California | Flickr Creative Commons: Loren Javier

Los Angeles, California: Come to see the stars, but stay to see the lights. Downtown L.A. Walking Tours offers a nightly Holiday Lights Tour showcasing how the City of Angeles celebrates the season. Stops include the Broad Museum, Grant Park with its illuminated fountain, Nutcracker Village at California Plaza and more.

CheapTickets-Clifton Mill-Ohio-Christmas-lights

The lights of Ohio’s Clifton Mill combine old-school technology with new-school glitz. Photo by Tina Lawson/Flickr Creative Commons.

Clifton Mill, Ohio: Millions of lights brighten up this 19th-century the mill, gorge, riverbanks, trees and bridges. The decor includes a Santa Claus Museum, light show synchronized to music on the old covered bridge, 100-foot “waterfall” of twinkling lights and more. Legendary Lights is located about 40 miles southwest of Columbus.

CheapTickets-Austin-Christmas-lights

Everything’s bigger in Texas, even the holiday lights. Photo of Austin’s Trail of Lights by Mark Scott/Flickr Creative Commons.

Austin, Texas: The city’s Trail of Lights gets more elaborate every year. Zilker Park’s display now includes a 155-foot-tall artificial Christmas tree, ferris wheel and carousel. It’s one of the largest holiday events in Austin, with live performances, a lighted tunnel and more.

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Tagged: City, Family, Festivals, Florida, Holidays, L.A., Las Vegas, Seasonal

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If the open water draws you, buying a kayak may be one of the best investments of your life. That initial price you pay for your vessel will return the favor 10-fold, giving you the freedom to travel with your kayak nearly anywhere. Renting kayaks aren’t always cheap, but you can save a pretty penny if you bring your own. Here are 10 places to plop down your kayak. Note: Make sure to double check open water laws while planning your trip.

Related: Cheapest places to ‘go jump in a lake’

Courtesy of Ally Marotti.

Courtesy of Ally Marotti.

Great Long Pond, Acadia National Park, Maine

Kayak through the crystal waters of Great Long Pond, with the backdrop of beautiful mountain scapes. Go in October for some gorgeous foliage that reflects perfectly on the lake. Rental option: National Park Canoe and Kayak Rental, Mount Desert, Maine. $34/3 hours.

 

Courtesy of Ally Marotti.

Courtesy of Ally Marotti.

Lake Estes, Estes Park, Colorado 

The Rocky Mountains jut up around this lake near the entrance to Estes Park, the gateway to RockY Mountain National Park. Go in early summer to avoid monsoon season and the threat of mudslides. Rental option: Lake Estes Marina, Estes Park, Colorado. $11/half-hour.

 

Courtesy of Ally Marotti.

Courtesy of Ally Marotti.

Colorado River, Austin, Texas

Urban meets natural surroundings on this kayak trip. Make sure to slow down and listen for the millions of bats that live in the Congress Avenue bridge when you paddle under. Rental option: Congress Avenue Kayaks, Austin. $10/hour.

 

Courtesy of Jan Berry.

Courtesy of Jan Berry.

Licking River, Pendleton County, Kentucky

For a river adventure in Northern Kentucky, plop down in the Licking River. It’s big enough to be enjoyable but not as daunting and dangerous as paddling the nearby Ohio River. Go in late summer to see the quickly disappearing tobacco crop by the barn full, recently harvested and hung out to dry. Rental option: Thaxton’s Canoe and Paddler’s Inn, Kentucky. $24/3-hour trip.

 

Courtesy of Arctic Warrior.

Courtesy of Arctic Warrior.

Prince William Sound, Alaska

Kayaking in Alaska calls for a bit of a heartier vessel than a lake in the lower 48. Traversing Prince William Sound will take you up close and personal with glaciers and possibly humpback whales. Rental option: Anadyr Adventures, Valdez, Alaska. $45/day. Note: They only rent to experienced sea kayakers. Some areas require permits to kayak.

 

Courtesy of rayb777.

Courtesy of rayb777.

Hocking River, Athens County, Ohio

Hocking Hills State Park forms the perfect scenery for a kayak trip in the hills of southern Ohio. Don’t be afraid to venture out of your vessel—Hocking Hills has some of the best hiking in the state, and is ripe with rock formations such as natural bridges that are often just a five-minute walk from the river. Rental option: Hocking Hills Canoe Livery, Logan, Ohio. $15/hour.

Courtesy of Robert Engberg.

Courtesy of Robert Engberg.

 Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Grand Marais, Minnesota

There are at least 10,000 places to plop down a kayak in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, but the Boundary Waters in the northern part of the state are solely traversable by canoe or kayak. This adventure is best undertaken on a multi-day trip. Rental option: Sawbill Canoe Outfitters, Tofte, Minnesota. $32/day (note: Sawbill does not have kayaks available for rent, and most of their canoes and other equipment are rented as part of an excursion package).

Courtesy of Jude Freeman.

Courtesy of Jude Freeman.

Portage Bay, Seattle, Washington

There are a plethora of waterways to kayak around Seattle, but Portage Bay offers a slew of restaurants that you can paddle up to. Plus you don’t necessarily need a sea kayak on this bay. Watch out for other boaters. Rental option: Agua Verde Cafe Paddle Club, Seattle, Washington. $17/hour.

Courtesy of charleschandler.

Courtesy of charleschandler.

 Kealakekua Bay, Big Island, Hawaii

A mile-long paddle across the bay will take you to the Captain Cook Monument. Take your time getting there though, and watch the water—the bay is a marine life conservation district, and dolphins areoften seen frolicking among the kayakers. Rental option: Adventures in Paradise Kayak and Snorkel, Captain Cook, Hawaii. Only offers kayak tours for $89.95, no individual kayak rentals.

 

Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Sleeping Bear Bay near Traverse City, Michigan

Crest the marvelous Sleeping Bear Dunes with kayak in tow and hike down to the bay off Lake Michigan. Go in late summer, when the weather is perfect in northern Michigan. Sea kayaks are recommended, as the waters can get a little rough. Rental option: Sleeping Bear Surf and Kayak, Empire, Michigan. Sea kayaks for $60/day.

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You reach your final destination and drop your bags in your hotel, too exhausted to think about what to do and where to go first. Now what? To the summit of course! You’ve never truly experienced a city until you’ve seen it from above, so make it the first stop on your trip. Really get the lay of the land you’re about to explore, and head to the top of the nearest cathedral/duomo/tall building. If you can, grab a drink while you’re up there–do it. 

Related: 5 U.S. scenic drives that prove getting there is half the fun

Courtesy of Ally Marotti.

Courtesy of Ally Marotti.

Campanile di San Marco, Venice, Italy

Attached to the cathedral in the bustling Piazza San Marco, this bell tower was originally built in the 9th century. It has undergone several rebuilds since then, but has always served as one of the first sights for visitors arriving to Venice by sea. A quick elevator ride to the top will provide the most spectacular sights in town, and possibly in the whole country. Go at dusk, just as the sun dips below the horizon, and watch the sunset reflect off the canals, illuminating the city in the purple hue. Cost is 2 euros ($2.17). 

Courtesy of Ally Marotti.

Courtesy of Ally Marotti.

Carew Tower, Cincinnati, Ohio

The Carew Tower is only the second tallest building in this river city, but the view from the observation deck on the 49th floor is first rate. You can see three states, distinguish Cincinnati’s famous seven hills, and even watch traffic back up on Interstate 75. It’s $4 to get in and there’s a gift shop at the top. Don’t let the janky elevator deter you, and wait until it gets warmer to go—it can get pretty windy up there.

Courtesy of  Jiuguang Wang.

Courtesy of Jiuguang Wang.

Cologne Cathedral, Cologne, Germany

Construction on the Cologne Cathedral began in 1248, and it is one of the oldest structures along the Rhine River, seeing as most buildings this old were bombed during World War II. But it wasn’t without wounds. It survived 14 bombs and underwent an extensive renovation since then. Now, for 4 euros (about $4.33) adults can climb hundreds of stairs to the top of the cathedral for a stunning view of Cologne, seeing sights both old and new. Tour the rest of the cathedral while you’re in there.

 

Courtesy of Ally Marotti.

Courtesy of Ally Marotti.

Signature Lounge in the John Hancock Building, Chicago, Illinois 

Chicago is nearing the trifecta of observation decks, with the Willis Tower Skydeck ($19.50 for adults), 360 Chicago ($19 per adult), and talks of a potential third viewpoint in a skyscraper overlooking Millennium Park. But $20 is too tall an order for a great view. Hit the Signature Lounge in the John Hancock Building on the 96th floor. It’s free to get into the bar and the views areastounding day or night. All you have to do is spring for a drink.

 

Courtesy of mhx.

Courtesy of mhx.

Saint Paul’s Cathedral, London, England

This Anglican cathedral opened in 1708 and rises 365 feet above the streets of London. Visitors exploring the cathedral can climb 528 steps up to the Golden Gallery for panoramic views of the city. The ticket to this one is a little pricier at 15.50 pounds ($24.11), because it includes access to the entire cathedral. It is ripe with history and beauty though, and worth it for the trip. Plus climbing all those stairs is a nice workout.

Courtesy of Ally Marotti.

Courtesy of Ally Marotti.

Duomo, Florence, Italy

The Duomo in Florence (also known as the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore) is truly the center of the city, marking one of the highest structures and most bustling piazzas in town. But if you thought the view down in the piazza was something (there’s always at least two gelato shops in your line of vision) wait until you get to the top of the dome. The sprawling hills of Tuscany unfold before your eyes, reaching beyond the stretches of the city. You have a couple summiting options here: You can climb 463 steps to the top of the Duomo’s cupola (dome), experiencing Giorgio Vasari’s “Last Judgement” frescos up close and personal on your way for 10 euro ($10.83), or you could save yourself a couple bucks and get just as spectacular a view from the top of the connecting campanile (bell tower) for 8 euro ($8.66).

Courtesy of Chris Murphy.

Courtesy of Chris Murphy.

Guinness Storehouse, Dublin, Ireland

The best aerial 360 view of Dublin is quite possibly from Gravity Bar, the pub at the top of the Guinness factory. You pay 14.40 euros ($15.59) for a tour of the factory, and it concludes with a free pint up in the Gravity Bar. On a clear day, the dozens of steeples protruding above the rest of Dublin’s buildings, painting a lovely picture of Irish culture. And no better way to enjoy the view than with a free pint.

Post by Ally Marotti.

Tagged: Cheap Tips, City, Food & drink, International, Tips & advice

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Cheap of the Month gives a snapshot of a cheap weekend getaway each month.

The Midwest is a fantastic place to visit in the summer. The humidity can be a pain some days (though nothing compared to the South), but you’ve never seen anything as green and verdant as an Ohio cornfield in the summertime, rising up to meet the cloudless blue sky. Columbus, Ohio’s capital city, is teeming with life in July, when summer is still exciting and folks haven’t yet grown tired of the heat. There’s plenty to do and lots to experiencein the heart of it all.

Courtesy of Sam Howzit.

Courtesy of Sam Howzit.

Plane, train or automobile — Port Columbus International Airport is a 15 or 20 minute drive from the city, and likely your best bet for incoming transportation (find your flight here), unless you can drive in. Traffic in Columbus rarely gets jammed, and parking downtown is relatively cheap. If you are patient enough, you can find free parking around downtown—just make sure to abide by the posted signs to avoid a ticket or towing, especially if you are near Ohio State University.

Courtesy of Sam Howzit.

Courtesy of Sam Howzit.

Cheap local transit — The Central Ohio Transit Authority buses run the length of the city. It’s $2 to ride once and $4.50 for a day pass. If you plan to stay near downtown, the CoGo Bike Share system might be a better bet. It’s only a few years old and offers a 24-hour pass for $6. Walking is doable to an extent, but with plenty of parking and uncongested streets, driving is the best way to get around Columbus.

Courtesy of Dustin Tinney.

Courtesy of Dustin Tinney.

Nibble on North Market — Summertime and farmers markets go hand in hand in Columbus. Farmers yielding homegrown strawberries, Ohio sweet corn and a slew of other Midwestern delicacies populate the white tents that speckle neighborhoods throughout the city, and they’re not just limited to Saturdays. The granddaddy of them all is North Market, located in Columbus’ Arena District near downtown. It’s open every day but Sunday and features permanent stands and restaurants. Come hungry for free samples.

Courtesy of Sali Sasaki.

Courtesy of Sali Sasaki.

Satisfy your sweet tooth — The award-winning Jeni’s Ice Cream hails from Columbus, and her one-of-a-kind, locally inspired creations are not to be missed. Find her shops throughout the city, and sample to your heart’s content. If specialty ice cream isn’t your thing, try some scoops from the Cincinnati-born Graeter’s Ice Cream. It offers selections a little heartier and cheaper than Jeni’s. For milkshakes, try United Dairy Farmers, a convenience store with exceptional (and exceptionally cheap) ice cream.

Courtesy of Bob Hall.

Courtesy of Bob Hall.

Stroll through the Short North — The city’s art district has surpassed its hip stage and grown wildly popular, featuring some of the city’s best restaurants, bars, art galleries and shopping. It’s walkable and quaint, and makes for a great free activity in window shopping. All the galleries extend their hours and open their doors on the first Saturday every month for Gallery Hop, another great free activity.

Courtesy of Marada.

Courtesy of Marada.

Catch a Clippers game — Hanging below the prestige of the major leagues are the Columbus Clippers, a Triple-A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians. You may not know all the player’s names, but going to a game at Huntington Park is a cheap and fun way to spend the evening outside. Tickets for the lawn or bleachers can be had for as little as $7, and they have Dime-a-Dog nights on Mondays.

Courtesy of Mike Marotti.

Courtesy of Mike Marotti.

Rock climb with the skyline — A hidden gem on Columbus’ south side is the Scioto Audubon Metro Park. Nestled along the Scioto River, the park is a treasure chest of free activities, and all with the backdrop of the gorgeous yet understated Columbus skyline. Rock climb for free, play on the sand volleyball courts, run through the obstacle course (which is more like an adult playground), or just sit back and watch it all unfold.

Related: Cheap of the Month-Madison in May

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Tagged: Cheap of the Month, City, Family, Food & drink, FREE!, Last minute travel, Seasonal, Sports, Tips & advice

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You’ve scraped up enough money for tickets to that great upcoming event, and getting there isn’t a problem. But the price really starts to add up when you book hotels. When a big event comes to town, hotels in downtown areas are known to inflate prices. It is an algorithm most of the chain hotels use, so if the rates go up at one hotel, others are sure to follow. Lucky for you, escaping those inflated prices could be as easy as staying just outside the city limits. Take a look at the going rate for hotels near the city center compared with rates at hotels near the airport in cities hosting big events this summer and fall.

The Memorial Tournament

Tiger Woods. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Tiger Woods. Courtesy of Wikipedia.


June 1-7
Muirfield Village Golf Club
Dublin, OH

This golf tournament is held annually in an unsuspecting suburb of Columbus, but it draws some of the biggest names in the game and crowds to match. Tiger Woods will be among tournament participants this year.

Rates:
In town: Courtyard Columbus Dublin – $209 per night
Just outside of town: Country Inn & Suites by Carlson, Columbus Airport East – $83 per night

Grateful Dead Fare Thee Well Tour

The Grateful Dead is holding a farewell concert in Chicago this summer. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

The Grateful Dead is holding a farewell concert in Chicago this summer. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

July 3-5
Soldier Field
Chicago, IL

The Grateful Dead announced a farewell/50th anniversary show in Chicago and deadheads everywhere freaked out. The three shows at Soldier Field and two California shows will be the band’s last performances together. It’s nearly impossible tofind a hotel in the downtown Chicago area at this point, and it’s especially difficult to find one for under $500 a night.

Rates:
In town: Hilton Chicago – $484 per night
Just outside of town: DoubleTree by Hilton Chicago O’Hare Airport – $189 per night

Independence Day

Courtesy of m01229.

Courtesy of m01229.

July 4

Washington D.C.

The Fourth of July is a holiday that many hoteliers write off. It’s a time to stay home and watch the parade in your hometown, or the fireworks cobbled together by donations to your local fire department. Not hoteliers in Washington, D.C. The celebration spans more than a week with parades, musical extravaganzas and fireworks displays that sandwich the Washington Monument between explosions of red, white and blue. Because what better place to celebrate being American than our nation’s capital?

Rates:

In town: Grand Hyatt Washington – $314 per night

Just outside of town: The Westin Washington Dulles Airport – $88 per night

Lollapalooza

Lorde performs at Lollapalooza 2014. Courtesy of Liliane Callegari.

Lorde performs at Lollapalooza 2014. Courtesy of Liliane Callegari.


July 31-August 2
Grant Park
Chicago, IL

Music festivals usually don’t drive up hotel rates too much, since the crowd that comes to them usually can’t afford to fork out for a nice hotel anyway, or they just camp nearby (like at Bonnaroo). Lollapalooza is an exception. Although Chicago hotel rates weren’t jacked up quite as high as during the Grateful Dead reunion, a jump is still evident.

Rates:
In town: Holiday Inn Express Chicago – $309 per night
Just outside of town: Holiday Inn Express Chicago O’Hare – $179 per night

Great American Beer Festival

Great American Beer Festival 2011. Courtesy of DJ Spiess at www.fermentarium.com.

Great American Beer Festival 2011. Courtesy of DJ Spiess at www.fermentarium.com.


September 24-26
Colorado Convention Center
Denver, CO

The Great American Beer Festival is theend all be all of craft beer. Thousands of brewers and beer drinkers flock to Denver for this annual event to participate in best beer contests or try some new brews.

Rates:
In town: Hilton Garden Inn Denver Downtown – $309 per night
Just outside of town: Staybridge Suites Denver International Airport – $139 per night

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Tagged: Cheap Tips, Festivals, Music, Sports