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You can create an entire vacation around a pool—and that’s especially true if you’re fleeing a chilly city. Even if your vacation is on a budget, there are plenty of stellar pools across the Sunshine State that aren’t all at obscenely expensive resorts. Here are 15 of our favorites.

RELATED: 5 best road trips to take this spring

Photo courtesy of Orlando World Center Marriott

Orlando World Center Marriott Resort: Orlando
This complex of pools is a tropical paradise with a little something extra for adrenaline seekers: It features two 200-foot waterslides and a 90-foot “speed slide.” Combined, they are among the tallest and fastest resort slides in Florida. The pool area also features a nightly poolside laser light show, plus live music Thursday through Saturday.

The Raleigh: Miami Beach
Life magazine called it “the most beautiful pool in America” in 1947. And like some celebrities from another era, this Art Deco-style pool, too, hasn’t aged a bit.

Photo courtesy of 1 Hotel South Beach

1 Hotel South Beach: Miami Beach
This is the only South Beach hotel with an oceanfront rooftop pool, perched 18 stories above the beach with spectacular views. It’s also an adults-only oasis in the sky—no kids are allowed. (The hotel’s two ocean-side swimming pools, however, are open to all ages.)

Photo courtesy of Hawks Cay Resort

Hawks Cay Island Resort: Duck Key
Located on the 60-acre island of Duck Key (60 miles north of Key West), this resort boasts five sparkling pools offering something for everyone. Among them: the resort pool with breathtaking Atlantic views; an adults-only “Tranquility Pool;” an enclosed saltwater lagoon; and a Pirate Ship Pool, featuring slides, water cannons and raining palm trees.

Reunion Resort: Kissimmee
No matter where you are at this resort, there is a pool nearby, so keep that bathing suit on. Explore this resort’s 11—yes, 11—outdoor pools, plus its water park with twisting slides and lazy river.

Photo courtesy of Wyndham Ocean Walk

Wyndham Ocean Walk: Daytona Beach
The outdoor pool area here is an aquatic trifecta: a main pool with a waterslide; a baby pool; and a flowing, 250-foot lazy river. Take your pick.

The Cove on Ormond Beach: Ormond Beach
Just north of bustling Daytona Beach, Cove’s outdoor pools are great for families. They include a sloped-entry pool, twisting waterslide and lazy river with tubes. There’s also a hot tub and indoor pool, plus direct beach access.

Photo courtesy of Holiday Inn Resort Pensacola

Holiday Inn Pensacola Beach: Pensacola Beach
This is no ho-hum Holiday Inn. Located on the strip, it boasts a beachfront pool and 250-foot lazy river with cascading waterfalls that have guests raving. It also hosts “dive-In” movies and interactive pirate and mermaid shows.

ALSO: If you pool your CheapCash, you’ll save big! Here’s how.

Photo courtesy of National Hotel

The National Hotel: Miami Beach
This Art Deco hotel in the heart of South Beach is home to the area’s longest infinity-edge pool, which has been the backdrop to performances by Mariah Carey, Pitbull and Paris Hilton.

Edgewater Beach and Golf Resort by Resort Collection: Panama City
Water everywhere! This resort offers 11 swimming pools, six reflecting ponds, four whirlpool spas and an 11,500-square-foot Polynesian-style lagoon pool with waterfalls and islands upon which to perch.

Photo courtesy of Tradewinds Island Grand Resort

TradeWinds Island Grand Resort on St. Pete Beach: St. Pete Beach
Seven sparkling swimming pools, with both adults-only and kid-friendly options, dominate the exterior of this resort complex, which hosts “dive-In” movies, musical pool parties and more. If you want an even more immersive aquatic experience, sign up for Tanked, which allows you to snorkel in the 33,500-gallon onsite aquarium with more than 200 colorful fish.

Photo courtesy of Seminole Hard Rock Hotel

Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino: Hollywood/Fort Lauderdale
Tropical vibes await at this lush, 4.5-acre lagoon-style pool featuring palm trees and dramatic waterfalls cascading over mountain rocks. Choose to relax in a private cabana or jet down the pool’s 182-foot-high waterslide.

Photo courtesy of Freehand Miami

Freehand Miami: Miami Beach
This laid-back pool is open to guests of the Freehand hostel, as well as customers of 27 Restaurant and The Broken Shaker, which is considered one of the best bars in Mid Beach for its inventive cocktails. This pool has a chill, community vibe; a welcome change from the over-the-top, high-gloss club atmosphere you’ll find at pools on South Beach.

Margaritaville Beach HotelPensacola Beach
Margarita, anyone? Live out your own Jimmy Buffet song while relaxing at this oceanfront pool with a tiki bar that whips up tropical drinks.

Photo courtesy of the Breakers Palm Beach

Breakers West Palm Beach: Palm Beach
Okay, this may not fall under the category of “budget.” But if you’re going to splurge on a Florida resort with poolside perks, we suggest Breakers for its uber-luxurious selection: an expansive main pool, an infinity adults-only pool, a zero-entry active pool (ideal for families) and five whirlpool spas. To be extra fancy, you could also rent a poolside bungalow for the day. #goals

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Tagged: Beach, Florida

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Sometimes you get what you pay for. And sometimes you get more. Much more. To help travelers save a ho-ho-whole lot of money on holiday travel, CheapTickets.com® encourages anyone with travel plans to look beyond the stars and not rule out two- or three-star accommodations as they make lodging plans for the most wonderful time of the year.

CheapTickets.com found that while the majority of Americans tend to gravitate towards four- and five-star hotels, choosing a three-star property at this holiday season’s top destinations can save you up to 33% compared to a destination’s average daily hotel price.

“While two- and three-star properties may not have extensive onsite services or dining options, many offer a really great experience, some with charming settings and overall excellent service,” said Justine McDonald, a CheapTickets.com travel expert. “The key to finding these exceptional two- and three-star options is looking for hidden gems that are vetted and highly recommended by fellow travelers, ensuring high value and alleviating fear of the unknown.”

Finding these surprisingly beautiful, cheap and comfortable hidden gems is easier than ever on CheapTickets.com as customers can filter search results by properties’ star ratings and then sort by guest rating, resulting in a list of options that both fit their budget and come highly rated. In addition to reviews and comments, CheapTickets.com also lists a “recommended by” percentage, where travelers can see whether or not customers would recommend the property to a friend.

CHEAPTICKETS.COM POPULAR HOLIDAY DESTINATIONS AND AVERAGE HOTEL PRICES

Great two and three star hotels

CHEAPTICKETS.COM TOP PICKS FOR HIDDEN GEM TWO- AND THREE-STAR HOTELS

To make planning travel even easier (and cheaper!), here are CheapTickets.com editors’ top picks for awesome two- and three-star hotels in some of the holiday season’s top destinations.

Las Vegas: Excalibur
Sample average daily hotel price: $53
Percentage of customers who would recommend: 77%
This castle-like resort on the Las Vegas Strip has something for every member of the family to enjoy, including a casino, an arcade room, a full-service spa, an outdoor pool and poolside bar, seven restaurants, three bars/lounges and two cafes. Don’t miss the medieval joust dinner show!

Photo courtesy of The Redondo Beach Hotel

Photo courtesy of The Redondo Beach Hotel

Los Angeles: The Redondo Beach Hotel
Sample average daily hotel price: $182
Percentage of customers who would recommend: 95%
From complimentary Wi-Fi to free continental breakfast daily, The Redondo Beach Hotel is all about the little extras. Monday through Thursday evenings, visitors can even mingle at a hosted wine reception. The hotel boasts many rooms with marina views, and even has a bike rental station on-site for those who want to explore the nearby beaches like a true Southern Californian.

Photo courtesy of the Bay Club Hotel and Marina

Photo courtesy of the Bay Club Hotel and Marina

San Diego: Bay Club Hotel and Marina
Sample average daily hotel price: $117
Percentage of customers who would recommend: 90%
Located on Shelter Island, The Bay Club Hotel & Marina is a waterfront property just 4 miles from Old Town and 7 miles from the Gaslamp Quarter. This property offers stunning views of the San Diego Bay, downtown skyline, Point Loma, and of course, its private marina.

Photo courtesyof the Vagabond Hotel

Photo courtesy of the Vagabond Hotel

Miami: The Vagabond Hotel
Sample average daily hotel price: $176
Percentage of customers who would recommend: 95%
The chicly retro Vagabond Hotel is within the vicinity of Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, Port of Miami and the Bal Harbour Shops. Hearkening back to a bygone era, the Art Deco-style property offers an outdoor pool (plus a poolside bar) and a top notch fitness center.

Photo courtesy of the Acme Hotel

Photo courtesy of the Acme Hotel

Chicago: Acme Hotel Company Chicago
Sample average daily hotel price: $88
Percentage of customers who would recommend: 100%
This hip boutique hotel close to the Magnificent Mile offers a gym, free morning coffee, funky modern rooms (think giant zipper murals on the walls and lip decals on the bathroom mirrors) and an on-site lounge serving craft cocktails.

Photo courtesy of the Point Orlando

Photo courtesy of the Point Orlando

Orlando: The Point Orlando
Sample average daily hotel price: $184
Percentage of customers who would recommend: 94%
Not only is The Point Orlando close to Universal Studios Florida, Wet ‘n Wild, and iFLY Orlando, it also has plenty of recreational opportunities on-site, including a spa tub, a tropical outdoor pool and bar, and a well-equipped fitness center. Relax over cocktails and freshly prepared pizzas and paninis at the chic new Evo Lounge & Tapas Bar on the property.

Photo courtesy of Cambria Hotel and Suites

Photo courtesy of Cambria Hotel and Suites

New York City: Cambria Hotel and Suites
Sample average daily hotel price: $229
Percentage of customers who would recommend: 99%
Cambria Hotel and Suites is a brand new, upscale boutique-style hotel located in the trendy Chelsea neighborhood within walking distance of the Empire State Building, Times Square, Madison Square Garden, and Madison Square Park. Guests can take in the view from the rooftop terrace, enjoy a satisfying meal at its socialCircle Restaurant, and enjoy a signature cocktail at one of the two hotel bars before hitting the town.

Photo courtesy of Hotel Abri

Photo courtesy of Hotel Abri

San Francisco: Hotel Abri – Union Square
Sample average daily hotel price: $141
Percentage of customers who would recommend: 100%
This romantic and sleek hotel is centrally-located and is modern, yet charming. Its lobby lounge offers cozy seating around a gas fireplace, while an adjacent Italian restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. Amenities include a 24-hour business center and a “tech menu” that allows guests to borrow or buy electronic accessories.

Photo courtesy of La Casa Hotel

Photo courtesy of La Casa Hotel

Fort Lauderdale, FL: La Casa Hotel
Sample average daily hotel price: $154
Percentage of customers who would recommend: 91%
A part of North Beach Village, this tranquil and serene space offers guests easy access to Fort Lauderdale Beach and the Galleria at Fort Lauderdale Mall. Guest rooms featurefour poster beds and classic design, and the beautiful pool and spa are surrounded with tropical greenery and Italian-style fountains, creating the ultimate oasis for guests looking to just get away.

Photo courtesy of Hotel Lombardy

Photo courtesy of Hotel Lombardy

Washington, DC: Hotel Lombardy
Sample average daily hotel price: $112
Percentage of customers who would recommend: 84%
Walking distance from the White House and the Foggy Bottom metro station, the HotelLombardy is a 1920s building with refined, classic rooms. Featured amenities include fitness facilities, free newspapers in the lobby, and in-room spa services available for a fee. Another fun fact: This property is a member of the Historic Hotels of America.

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Tagged: Beach, California, City, Las Vegas, New York City

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Just the mention of Orlando may have you seeing dollar signs. But you don’t need a magic wand to find a reasonably priced hotel in O-town. Try these affordable but cool Orlando hotels for a getaway that won’t feel at all like a budget trip.

*Note: All prices are taken from random weekday, one-night stays in September.

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B Resort and Spa; $149 a night

The newest hotel in Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney) puts you near the district’s shopping, acclaimed restaurants and entertainment at a surprisingly affordable price. Chic furnishings and private balconies make rooms a comfy place to crash after a sweaty day in the parks (take the free shuttle), while bunk beds and kitchenettes available in some suites make for a family-friendly bargain.

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Aloft Orlando Downtown; $161 a night

Aloft hotels are the cool kid on the block wherever they’re built—and with pool tables, live music and wine tastings in the lounge, this one’s no exception. Smallish rooms still feel inviting, with updated furniture and floor-to-ceiling windows. There are even pet-friendly perks like dog beds and treats for your favorite roll dog. Bonus: The Aloft is just down the block from the ritzy Grand Bohemian Hotel, so you can browse the latter’s stellar art gallery without shelling out the big bucks to stay there. 

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Park Plaza Hotel; $159 a night

Details like exposed brickwork, bathroom skylights and hardwood floors may feel like a new trend, but this 1922 landmark is the O.G. of cool hotel features. With just 28 rooms, the boutique hotel will make you feel like an insider in Orlando’s trendy Winter Park neighborhood. Plus, the free wi-fi and continental breakfast leave you with more cash for exploring Winter Park’s museums, boutiques and artsy Rollins College.

This waterfall pool sets Hyatt Regency apart among the cool Orlando hotels.

Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress; $179 a night

This hotel is like a theme park unto itself, with outdoor rock climbing, tennis courts and paddle boats. If you have any energy left, take the free shuttle to Disney World, Universal Orlando or SeaWorld. Then return to the hotel to crash in your room overlooking the pool or Lake Buena Vista.

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Orlando World Center Marriott; $235 a night

This mega-resort offers something for everyone, from waterslides and a free Disney shuttle for the kiddos, to a spa, golf and sports bar for the more mature set. With 1,889 comfy guest rooms and 120 suites, the only problem will be deciding whether you’d like a view of the regular pool or the laser pool. Yes, really.

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Castle Hotel, Autograph Collection; $174 a night

If Liberace and my (very stylish) 4-year-old daughter collabbed on a hotel design, it would look something like this place: Opulent chandeliers, velvety fabrics and touches of purple throughout. Appropriately, the hotel is located on International Drive, home to over-the top attractions like Ripley’s Believe It or Not! and the giant Orlando Eye Ferris wheel. Use the I-Ride Trolley to get around on the cheap.

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Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center; $149 a night

Orlando has no shortage of hotels that feel like a city with in a city, and the Gaylord takes the cake. The massive property is less a than 10 minutes’ drive from Disney World, but with an on-site water park, arcade and even alligator feedings in the atrium, why leave? During the holidays, the resort is the place to be with stage shows, visits from Santa and millions of white lights illuminating the scene.

CTIXblog CTA _ cheap of the week

Tagged: City, Family, Florida