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If you’re gearing up to catch a game at your alma mater, or any other college this fall, you’ll want to take a look at our list of the most affordable—and most expensive—university towns to visit. Wondering how we landed on these particular cities? Pretty simple: CheapTickets calculated the average airfare, hotel and car rental rates for the 25 top college towns from Niche’s 2019 best college athletics in America list. We also gathered the best hotels, bars and attractions for the top five most affordable university towns to help you plan your next trip.

RELATED: Your college football tailgating playbook

1. Duke University

Congratulate yourself. If your hanging around the Duke campus, chances are you’ve got some pretty brainy friends. No need to spend a lot of dough here, in the country’s cheapest college town to visit. Stroll the 55-acre Durham Gardens (especially lovely in autumn); visit Burt’s Bees World Headquarters (which includes an observational hive); go for a run along the scenic American Tobacco Trail; and snap a selfie in front of Duke Chapel.

EAT A butcher and bakery turned full-service restaurant, Rose’s Meat Market and Sweet Shop now serves pan-Asian street food (think noodles and dumplings) and ridiculously tasting handpies, puddings, cakes and macaroons.

DRINK You’re gonna drink beer so you might as well do it at Fullsteam Brewery, a downtown tavern, brewery and hangout space featuring beers crafted, in part, with the help of local farmers.

STAY A self-proclaimed art hotel, the 21c Museum Hotel fuses contemporary works with cozy guestrooms. Hang out in an old bank vault surrounded by art, nosh on fancy bites at Counting House or just swing by to peruse the current exhibition.

2. Auburn University

This is Tigers town, so it might seem like everything revolves around football. But there’s plenty to do pre- and post-game, too. Go just outside of town for a breath of fresh air as you hike Chewacla State Park or the Louise Kreher Forest Ecology Preserve & Nature Center. Be sure to explore the downtown area town, too, especially the area around Toomer’s Corner at College Street and Magnolia Avenue. There you’ll find Toomer’s Drugs, an old-school diner, drug store and soda fountain that dates back to 1896.

EAT For Great Southern cooking, head to Pannie-George’s Kitchen, where you can fill up on favorites like fried green tomatoes, cornbread, collard greens and fried chicken. You’ll leave full without spending much.

DRINK Bar hop along College Street, where drinking establishments like Halftime, Avondale and Quixote’s ooze school spirit.

STAY The Hotel At Auburn University puts you within a ten-minute walk of Jordan-Hare Stadium. It’s an especially great pick for families, thanks to its outdoor pool and free Wi-Fi.

3. University of Maryland

Squished neatly between Washington DC and Baltimore (although closer to DC), the University of Maryland in College Park boasts a perfectly groomed campus and plenty of open green space. Do this: Check out the College Park Aviation Museum (if only for the fact that it sits next to the world’s oldest continuously operating airport), spend a few hours hiking Greenbelt National Park and test your pinball skills at Mom’s Organic Pinball Arcade (behind a market of the same name).

EAT Pizza, pasta and red sauce favorites are all served up in a cozy mom-and-pop atmosphere at Mamma Lucia.

DRINK A college bar where you can watch the game, nosh on some grub and guzzle from numerous beers on tap, Looney’s Pub offers a traditional Irish-American pub experience.

STAY Traditional accommodations abound; the College Park Marriott Hotel & Conference Center is among the better of the bunch.

4. Ohio State University

Rarely are college towns and big cities one and the same, but in Columbus you get the best of both worlds. Rubbing shoulders with the OSU campus is Short North. It’s main artery, High Street, is jammed with college bars, restaurants and indie boutiques. At Main Street Bridge, snap a selfie with the city behind you, then stroll the Scioto Mile, a 175-acre urban playground straddling downtown and the Scioto River.

EAT Chase a German sausage with a cream puff (yup, it’s a thing) at Schmidt’s Sausage Haus in the German Village. Wash it all down with a couple of beers and enjoy the oompah band!

DRINK There are bars aplenty on and near High Street. Alongside college taprooms like Mac’s Proper Pub and Thirsty Scholar sit more stylish entries including Two Truths and Denmark.

STAY The buzzy new Lofitel, a converted bank building, offers spacious rooms with skyline views and whimsical touches like chalkboards, bar carts and full-service kitchens. Pricey during peak weekends, we’ve found weekday rates for as little at $176/nightly.

5. University of North Carolina

You’ll frequently find Chapel Hill on “best college towns” lists. While University of North Carolina, founded in 1789 as the country’s first state university, ranks high academically, we suspect the designation might have more to do with it being such an outstanding sports town (go Tar Heels!). Or maybe because of its edgy music scene (hello, The Cave). And with both the mountains and the ocean just over four hours away in either direction, the great outdoors are never far away.

EAT Don’t leave town without indulging in some authentic Carolina ‘cue. Allen & Son Barbeque is the place to go, where you’ll want to order the hickory smoked chopped pork sandwich.

DRINK One of Chapel Hill’s coolest watering holes is the Crunkleton, a private club where old-timey barkeeps in shirtsleeves and bowties serve up modern interpretations of classic cocktails. Yes, it’s members-only but you’ll get in—just pay the $5 fee at the door and you’re in the club for life!

STAY The Franklin Hotel puts you right on Franklin Street, in the heart of Chapel Hill’s bustling dining and nightlife area. One of the best perks at this stylish property is the free car service—so feel free to imbibe at a game or a concert without worrying about how you’ll get home.

Most affordable college towns to visit

Tagged: Cheap City, USA, Cheap Tips, Events, Infographics, Sports, Top 10 list

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Hotel Deals for Studio City
El Royale Hotel Near Universal Studios Hollywood
CA, USA
Apr 19 - Apr 19, 2019
per night from
$ 380
$ 167.2

Like the game clock ticking down in the fourth quarter, time is running out for March Madness fans to make their travel plans. As the annual NCAA men’s college basketball tournament gears up across the country, we’ve found a few hotels that are a slam dunk for budget-minded fans. But rooms are filling up quickly; to score these deals, you’ll need to make a fast break.

RELATED: These 10 states leave the most vacation days unused

These beds at the DoubleTree Suites look pretty comfy.

Dayton, OH (March 13-14)

DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Hotel Dayton – Miamisburg is far enough from University of Dayton Arena that you shouldn’t have trouble finding a room, but still only about 10 miles from campus. The two-room suites include a sofa bed, so you can split the cost with an extra fan or two, leaving more money to check out attractions like the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park—because in addition to showcasing high-flying slam dunks, Dayton was the birthplace of the Wright brothers

Eye-catching designs abound at Kimpton Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh, PA (March 15 & 17)

Steel City loves a good comeback story, so it’s fitting that the folks behind Kimpton Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh turned a century-old building into one of Pittsburgh’s most avant-garde boutique hotels. The inviting decor, evening nightcap and location across from the urban oasis of Mellon Square Park make the hotel an easy choice for b-ball fans heading to PPG Paints Arena, just ½ mile away. The hotel is also less than a 15-minute drive from attractions like the Andy Warhol Museum and Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens.

Hotel 316 offers free hot breakfast and a nightly drink reception in the lobby.

Wichita, KS (March 15 & 17)

316 Hotel’s name is a nod to Wichita’s area code, and its downtown location is a great base for exploring the city. Take the free shuttle to the Old Wichita entertainment district, check out vintage camping supplies at the free Coleman Factory Outlet and Museum, and grab a snack at Kernel’s Popcorn Express, whose 30-plus flavors go way beyond what you’ll likely find at Intrust Bank Arena—just a 1 ½-mile ride away on the aforementioned shuttle.

The decor at Lorenzo Hotel will get you energized for the big game.

Dallas, TX (March 15 & 17)

Live big in this modern Texas hotel located less than 3 miles from the American Airlines Center. Each of the Lorenzo‘s over-the-top guest rooms is decked out from floor (Shakespearean quotes on the carpet) to ceiling (concrete), and the hotel’s strong Instagram game shows off other eye-catching amenities like the swanky outdoor pool and artfully plated Tex-Mex classics from Lorenzo Kitchen.

Let’s taco-bout the top three reasons to choose the Grove Hotel: location, location, location.

Boise, ID (March 15 & 17)

The Grove Hotel is downtown and within walking distance of attractions like Liquid Laughs Comedy Club, Boise Contemporary Theater and countless restaurants. You’re in for a comfortable stay with modern rooms, an indoor pool and fitness center, and the Grove is located less than 2 miles from Taco Bell Arena, so you can truly live más.

After screaming for your favorite team, retreat to the Dunham Hotel’s 1920s architecture, marble bathrooms and chocolate turndown service.

Charlotte, NC (March 16 & 18)

Located less than a ½ mile from the Spectrum Center and within walking distance of Uptown Charlotte’s most popular museums and restaurants, the Dunhill Hotel is an easy choice for March Madness fans. The boutique hotel’s Southern hospitality includes free coffee and tea daily, nightly chocolate chip cookies and Southern comfort food in the restaurant.

ALSO: Earn CheapCash on your next trip, good toward hotels worldwide! Here’s how.

You’ll have a grand old time at this MGM hotel modeled after a Vegas resort.

Detroit, MI (March 16 & 18)

What happens in Vegas… can also happen in the Motor City when you stay at MGM Grand Detroit. Little Caesars Arena is less than 3 miles away, and basketball is just the beginning of your entertainment options, which also include the palatial hotel’s casino, music lounge, Topgolf, performance arena and more. There are a handful of restaurant options and plenty more just outside your door.

Modern amenities meet Southern comfort at the Hayes Street Hotel.

Nashville, TN (March 16 & 18)

The Hayes Street Hotel is at the center of Nashville’s action, located in Midtown less than 15 minutes from legendary Music Row, the Country Music Hall of Fame, a trio of universities and Adventure Science Center. This new boutique hotel features free continental breakfast, an on-site bar with live music and a fitness center, so you can stay at the top of your game just like the athletes you’ll watch at Bridgestone Arena, only 1 ½ miles away.

The Sofia Hotel is close to some of San Diego’s most popular attractions.

San Diego (March 16 & 18)

There’s a lot to explore in downtown San Diego, so book a stay at the Sofia Hotel. It’s about 11 miles southeast of Viejas Arena at San Diego State University, just outside of the city’s historic Gaslamp Quarter and about 2 ½ miles from the can’t-miss San Diego Zoo. Explore the area when you borrow a free bike from the hotel, or take Sofia’s free walking tour Saturdays and Sundays at 9am. To keep calm no matter what happens on the basketball court, book a spa treatment or meditate in the hotel’s 24-hour yoga studio.

Magnolia Hotel scores big with budget-minded basketball fans.

Omaha (March 23 & 25)

The swanky Magnolia Hotel, located less than 2 miles from the CenturyLink Center, only feels expensive with its palatial architecture and stately decor. Located in Omaha’s Old Market District, the hotel is less than 1 mile from the Joslyn Art Museum, Orpheum Theater and the Omaha Children’s Museum. Take advantage of daily happy hour specials, nightly fresh-baked cookies, free valet parking and even free stays for pets.

You’ll feel like an A-lister when you stay at Andaz West Hollywood. Photo courtesy of Diamond Public Relations.

Los Angeles, CA (March 22 & 24)

Andaz West Hollywood oozes California cool, from the minimalist furniture and free daily wine hour to a rooftop pool with panoramic views of the Hollywood Hills. Located about 10 miles north of the Staples Center, this Sunset Boulevard spot scores big for its position at the epicenter of Hollywood nightlife.

If you’re looking to avoid traffic—and who isn’t?—the Ellis Hotel’s downtown location is just peachy.

Atlanta (March 22 & 24)

Like L.A., Hotlanta is known for gridlock. Avoid getting caught in traffic when you stay at the Ellis Hotel, less than 1 mile from Philips Arena. The elegant hotel is located at downtown’s Peachtree Center, giving you access to dozens of restaurants, shops and public transportation. Thoughtful touches like free morning coffee, a women’s-only floor and allergy-friendly rooms allow you to focus on your March Madness bracket while the Ellis worries about the rest.

Oh, say can you see yourself staying at the Kendall Hotel?

Boston (March 23 & 25)

Just across the Charles River from TD Garden is the Kendall Hotel, a 19th-century firehouse-turned-hotel in Beantown’s techy Kendall Square neighborhood. The Kendall’s folk art decor will have you feeling patriotic, while the view from the nightly rooftop wine reception allows you to take in this New England city in all its glory. Take advantage of the free breakfast buffet before you head out to cheer on your team.

Snag a hotel room by the airport, and you won’t have to worry about getting in and out of town for the big games.

San Antonio (March 31, April 2)

With hotel rooms near the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center mostly sold out, your best bet is to expand your search. A free shuttle ride gets you from San Antonio International Airport to Hilton San Antonio Airport, which is just 8 miles from the March Madness action downtown. The hotel offers an outdoor pool, fitness room, restaurant and comfortable rooms so you can focus on the game.

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Tagged: California, L.A., Sports, Texas

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Hotel Deals for Studio City
El Royale Hotel Near Universal Studios Hollywood
CA, USA
Apr 19 - Apr 19, 2019
per night from
$ 380
$ 167.2

Imagine yourself pedaling a beach cruiser or a bicycle-built-for-two, a gentle breeze blowing through the air, stopping only for ice cream, epic views and dazzling sunsets over the water.

Perhaps you’ve been here before. If so, you know that it’s bliss on two wheels. In these moments, as all your senses are heightened, it’s not so much about getting somewhere as it is about enjoying the journey

A bike ride fosters a unique intimacy with a destination, and it can be a particularly magical experience along a beach, whether it’s cruising a bustling boardwalk or winding through a natural landscape. Here are a few beachy spots to help foster biking bliss.

RELATED: These are America’s most bike-friendly towns

MIAMI, FL


Deco bikes roll up and down the Miami Beach Boardwalk, intermingling with the beautiful people that make this oceanfront metropolis so glamorous. Enjoy this quintessential Miami Beach experience (which is only allowed south of 21st street) in the early morning or at sunset. Be sure to include a journey to South Point Park for 360-degree views of the ocean. The Marriott Stanton South Beach, right on Ocean Drive, offers its adorable beach cruisers—decorated in pale yellow with bright teal wheels—to guests free of charge. The Confidante – in the Unbound Collection by Hyatt, in Miami Beach’s buzzworthy Mid-Beach neighborhood offers complimentary beach cruisers for local exploration, too.

MACKINAC ISLAND, MI

No cars are allowed on this island in northern Michigan, giving this sweet island setting, where fudge shops and Victorian architecture rule, a tempo more befitting of the 19th century. It also makes bicycles an integral part of the experience. Cruise the 8-mile lakefront path that circles the island; it’s Michigan’s only state highway that’s automobile-free, with dazzling views over Lake Huron. Bicycle Street Inn and Suites, as its name suggests, has a fleet of bicycles available for guest rental.

SANTA MONICA, CA

The 26-mile bike bath that runs alongside the Pacific Ocean is a colorful kaleidoscope of California eye candy, taking you through Venice, where you can ogle bodybuilders at “Muscle Beach” and street performers from oceanfront cafes, and Marina del Rey, where you can marvel at massive yachts in the water. A journey along this path is on one of the most popular things to do in Santa Monica. The Bayside Hotel offers bright-red beach cruises for guests to rent.

HILTON HEAD, SC

Hilton Head Island’s 12 miles of hard-packed beach are totally, completely bike-able during low tide. The family-friendly Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa offers bike rentals onsite for those eager to explore this, and the island’s network of biking paths.

ALSO: Ride on! CheapCash is instant when you book a flight on CheapTickets!

CHICAGO, IL

Chicago’s Lakefront Trail is glorious in summer, and a consistent surprise to visitors who don’t associate Chicago with beachfront bustle. The 18-mile path hugs Lake Michigan, winding through beaches, parks and the city’s museum campus. Hotel Lincoln, in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood, is convenient to the path and offers guests free bike rentals.

JEKYLL ISLAND, GEORGIA

Explore this laid-back setting on two wheels. It boasts more than 20 miles of paved biking trails that wind through beaches, sand dunes, riverfront, historic sites and forests shaded by ancient oaks. Be sure to pedal your way to the Georgie Sea Turtle Center, where you can witness the rehabilitation of these sea animals in action. The Westin Jekyll Island, situated right on the beach and convenient to paths, has a bike rental facility right next door.

SAN DIEGO, CA

San Diego is blessed with year-round weather perfect for bike rides. Explore the network of paths and bike lanes that traverse the Point Loma Peninsula, which boasts breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and San Diego Bay. It’s an adventure that can take you to Sunset Cliffs, Ocean Beach, Mission Bay Park and all the way to Cabrillo National Monument, with its historical sites, whale watching opportunities and tidal pools. The Pearl Hotel is a great springboard to it all. Bonus: It also offers free use of bikes to guests.

THE HAMPTONS, NEW YORK

Forget using your car here, where parking goes quickly and will set you pack a pretty penny. Opt for a leisurely bike ride along the beach, perhaps even cycling up to picturesque Montauk Point (if you’re feeling ambitious). The Maidstone in East Hampton offers guests complimentary use of red cruisers with baskets—ideal for stowing that towel, water and guilty pleasure beach read.

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Tagged: Beach, California, Chicago, Family, Florida, New York City, Sports

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 Home Depot, picnic, tailgating, RV
Great fun happens on a tailgate—especially if you don’t take a detour into the land of too many chores.

After all, as lovers of RVs we know that when your home travels with you, so does some of the work you do at home. Since you’ve looked forward to chilling out and having a great time on your trip, anything you can do in advance to make life on the road easier is a plus.

Getting organized before leaving home is one way to maximize the fun parts of your time away. With some before-you-go tips and tools, you can plan on a clean and organized tailgate.

RELATED: The 5 coolest ways to watch football on a cruise


Home Depot, cleaning, tailgating, RV

Start out clean
It’s just the simple truth—starting out with a clean RV makes everything easier. You’ll have clean spaces to sleep, eat and bathe in, and you’ll be ready to share those spaces with company. Plus, you don’t want to arrive at the fun and have to start cleaning. Do a deep-clean before you leave so you’re ready to enjoy the game as soon as you get there.

To get the most done in the fastest time, apply top-down cleaning techniques just like you would in your home:

  • Use a microfiber duster and dust from the top ledges to the baseboards.
  • Put out clean sheets and towels.
  • Wipe kitchen and bathroom surfaces.
  • Clean the floor.

Declutter your camper
Less stuff equals more space—and this is especially important in an RV. Clear out accumulated clutter from storage areas so that it’s easier to load the necessary tailgating supplies. This also allows you to quickly stash them back in the right spots when you head home.

Make a list
As you begin to pack for your tailgate, start a master list. Every time you head out, you probably pack the same items. Having a master list to turn to makes packing super fast. Keep that list handy on your phone so you always have access to it. It’s also a great way to make sure you take home all of your belongings when tailgating with a big crowd.

Organize supplies
If you don’t store your tailgating things in your motor home, then make sure you store them all in one location at home. Create a tailgating center in your garage or storage closet so everything you take with you can be found in one spot.

ALSO: You know what’s even more rewarding than a clean RV? Signing up for Orbitz Rewards!


Home Depot, RV, tailgating

Stop dirt at the door
Keep your home-away-from-home cleaner by stopping as much debris at the door as possible. Travel with an outside doormat to toss down when you park. Choose one with a rough surface that will scrape dirt off of shoes. Inside, add another doormat to catch even more dirt. Finally, add a runner rug down the length of the RV that can be easily removed and cleaned as needed.

Be prepared for messes
Even though you started out clean, messes can happen along the way. Make it super easy to clean them up fast by stocking your camper with essentials. Carry extra trash bags, paper towels, cleaning rags, wet wipes, all-surface cleaner, a mop and a small vacuum.

Avoid the risk of spills
Choose containers with tight-fitting lids to use for storing opened food packages. Even if they bounce around during travel, they will stay contained. Likewise, use travel mugs and cups with lids to keep liquids from spilling.

Be rain ready
Inclement weather tends to bring messes indoors in an RV. The more you stay dry, the more your home-on-wheels stays dry. Make sure to pack umbrellas and rain ponchos. Having extras aboard for guests to use is a great idea. Roll up and store a few absorbent bath mats to put down on rainy days. This will help contain the moisture as folks move in and out.

Pack up dirty dishes for later
You might be shocked at the suggestion to take your dirty dishes back home with you, but if you are tailgating with a hungry crowd, your small RV sink may not be able to handle the load. Pack an empty plastic tub with a tight-fitting lid to hold dirty grilling tools and dishes. You can deal with them later at home, where you can toss them in your dishwasher or let them soak in a big kitchen sink.


Home Depot, tailgating, barbecue

Create an outdoor kitchen
Setting up an outdoor kitchen at your tailgating spot can help keep the inside of your RV cleaner. Folding tables, a camping sink and grill will mean much of the food prep will be done outside and the bonus is hanging out with your friends while you cook.

Lea Schneider  is a professional organizer who provides home and travel organization advice for The Home Depot. She gives lots of great tips, from using a door mat to stop dirt from entering your RV to finding ways to make doing the dishes easier. Visit The Home Depot to find more ways to keep your space clean, including door mats.

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Tagged: Seasonal

Lea Schneider

Lea Schneider

Lea Schneider is a professional organizer who provides home and travel organization advice for The Home Depot. She gives lots of great tips, from using a door mat to stop dirt from entering your RV to finding ways to make doing the dishes easier. Visit The Home Depot to find more ways to keep your space clean, including door mats.
Lea Schneider

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The Super Bowl halftime show is one of the most high profile gigs in music. You get only 12 minutes, maybe less, if you’re sharing the stage. For some, it’s a blur of glory. For others it feels like an eternity set to fireworks. In it’s 50 years, the Super Bowl halftime show has certainly seen its share of both triumphs and catastrophes. With Lady Gaga set to take the stage in Houston in 2017, here’s our list of the Super Bowl’s most historic halftime performances.

RELATED: Get your Super Bowl LI tickets from CheapTickets!

Flickr CC: Larry Darling

Flickr CC: Larry Darling

8. Katy Perry, Missy Elliot and Lenny Kravitz (2005)

There’s no doubt Katy Perry knows how to put on a good show. Who can forget the sight of Katy in her flame-print dress riding that gigantic metal lion? She did look a little stiff singing “Roar” atop her gigantic stead. Nevertheless, it was definitely one of the most memorable openings to any halftime show. Lenny Kravitz joined her for a particularly rocking version of “I Kissed A Girl.” As the first bars of “Get Your Freak On” start pounding out for the return of the fantastic Missy Elliot, the performance kicks into full gear. Yes, Katy gets slightly upstaged by her boisterous backup, Left Shark, and Missy, a supremely confident stage stealer, but ultimately this performance represents all the beautiful insanity that is a Super Bowl halftime show—turned up to 11.

Flickr CC: kyleburning

Flickr CC: kyleburning

7. Janet Jackson, Justin Timberlake, P. Diddy, Kid Rock, Jessica Simpson, and Nelly (2004)

Hands down the most famous Super Bowl halftime show in history, just for all the wrong reasons. One second of breast and Janet Jackson’s career was over. As nearly was Justin’s. The FCC fined CBS and it wasn’t until 2011 that a court finally quashed the penalties. The NFL even kicked ex-‘N Sync member JC Chasez off that year’s Pro Bowl halftime show for fear he would be too sexually suggestive. They opted instead for Hawaiian dancers. CBS forced Janet Jackson to apologize in a recorded statement. Oh, and the performances were pretty good, too.

Flickr CC: Teresa Sedo

Flickr CC: Teresa Sedo

6. Pete Fountain, Irma Thomas, and Doug Kershaw (1990)

The mashup is an NFL halftime tradition, but they can’t all be winners. While the Super Bowl has seen its fair share of insane combinations of talent over the years (the absolutely bizarre, yet oddly enthralling combo of ‘N Sync, Aerosmith, Nelly, Mary J. Blige and Britney Spears jumps to mind) this one takes the cake for insane pairings. A dual celebration of Mardi Gras and the 40 year anniversary of the Peanuts cartoon, it’s ridiculous and not even in a fun way. The show opens with Charlie Brown and company dancing along to a marching band and ends with Snoopy riding a Louisiana riverboat to “When The Saints Go Marching In” which segues into “Happy Birthday Charlie Brown.” Not one bit of it makes any sense.

5. Michael Jackson (1993)

For a long time the NFL treated the halftime show as a throwaway. Between 1967 and 1989, halftime shows were cheesy affairs. 1992’s halftime show featured Gloria Estefan performing with a group of Olympic figure skaters. It was better, but nobody watched it because “In Living Color” aired a comedy special at the exact same time. The very next year, the NFL brought in the king of pop for what turned out to be the last of Michael Jackson’s many great televised performances.

Right from the beginning, the star power was on in full effect. Jackson stood statue still for a full minute and a half, just letting the crowd go wild, before bursting into “Billy Jean.” The ending was cheesy, with a chorus of children joining in on “Heal The World,” but this was the beginning of the star studded halftime show lineups we’ve come to expect—and the NFL never looked back.

RELATED: PSA: Airports are now hiring therapy pigs

Flickr CC: Steffane Lui

Flickr CC: Steffane Lui

4. Diana Ross (1996)

If Michael Jackson was the beginning of the Super Bowl halftime show’s celebrity power, Diana Ross paved the way for ridiculous spectacles like Katy Perry’s metal lion. The cinematography was a mess. But the performance was great, culminating in Diana’s big exit. A helicopter lands on the stage and she’s airlifted out of the stadium as the words “A true diva knows how to make a grand entrance and an even grander exit” flash onto the screen. And with that, the halftime show’s history of over-the-top pageantry was firmly cemented.

Flickr CC: PeterTea

Flickr CC: PeterTea

3. Prince (2007)

Just Prince doing his thing in the middle of a thunderstorm. The man absolutely brought it with fantastic covers of “We Will Rock You,” “Proud Mary” and “All Along The Watchtower,” as well as a few of his personal best. Only a few years after “nipplegate,” this was a daring choice for the NFL. Prince’s performance was undoubtedly sexy, but managed to stay cable network friendly. The finale of “Purple Rain” was one of the best any performer can hope to offer, and Prince’s guitar solo made it clear; if you weren’t going to actually play an instrument, you better at least have a metal lion or something.

Flickr CC: U2start

Flickr CC: U2start

2. U2 (2002)

More than a great show, this was a true historic moment. Bono and company started things out with a full rendition of “Beautiful Day.” Then the words “September 11th, 2001” flash onto a giant screen behind the band. You can actually hear a reverent hush fall over the cheering crowd as Bono begins “MLK,” then transitions into “Where The Streets Have No Name” as the names of survivors begin to scroll on the screen behind him. So much could have gone wrong and not just because a subpar performance would have been a disaster. U2 played it perfectly, from the song choices to the staging. As Bono shouts “America!” and an ocean of glow sticks wave pridefully back at him, you can still feel the intensity of the moment watching it years later. Powerful and unifying. It wasn’t a “wardrobe malfunction,” but it got America’s attention.

Flickr CC: Arnie Papp

Flickr CC: Arnie Papp

1. Coldplay, Bruno Mars, Beyoncé, and Mark Ronson (Let’s be honest, we’re talking about Bey’s part) (2016)

Beyoncé’s first Super Bowl performance in 2013 was undoubtedly a better show. She got top billing and reunited with Destiny’s Child. Easily one of the best halftime shows, it’s no surprise the NFL wanted her back just three years later. Coldplay opened with “Viva La Vida,” a perfect opening number, and Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson brought it to us with “Uptown Funk.” But it was Bey’s performance that made history.

She didn’t even need a stage, launching into “Formation” right on the field in front of a wall of fire. The song, and it’s accompanying music video is a clear indictment of racial inequality and police brutality. Beyoncé and her backup dancers dressed in outfits that evoked the Black Panthers. Just like U2’s performance, this was a show that became part of the American narrative. Not all historical events are unifying. Neither are all Super Bowl halftime shows. This was an amazing artist, using one of the biggest stages in show business to address a pressing social problem in American culture. Whether or not you feel it was appropriate, we will be talking about Beyoncé’s performance—especially people’s reaction to it—for years to come.   

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Tagged: City, Sports

Jesse Betend

Jesse Betend

Jesse is a writer and radio producer in Chicago. He is the Executive Producer for the embarrassing storytelling podcast "We Still Like You" and writes for the Chicago Sun-Times.
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Perhaps you’re familiar with the thanks-for-playing feeling of utter woe when you realize tickets to the concert you’re whole life has been leading up to sold out in 60 seconds flat.

You start going through the five stages of grief. First complete denial. How did it sell out so quickly and how did you not get tickets? How? Next comes anger. You didn’t want to go to that dumb concert anyway! What a lame-fest! Now the bargaining stage. How can you get those tickets? There must be a way. In desperation, your mind falls on one option: scalping.

Time for some scalping 101. What’s the first step? Don’t.

Desperate times do not have to call for desperate measures. Here are five solid reasons you shouldn’t scalp:

Reason 1: It’sseriously frowned upon in most states
If ticket scalping was a good thing, scalpers wouldn’t have signs that read, “Need tickets” They clearly have tickets–so what’s the deal with the false messaging? Most states have bans or restrictions against scalping tickets, according to LegalZoom.com. Because scalpers are unregulated, you could be purchasing a fraudulent ticket, which brings us to our next point …

Reason 2: You never know what you’re going to get
Scalpers can trick you good. In desperation you will probably fork over any sum of money just to get into the concert. By the time you get to the gate and find that your ticket is a knock-off, that scammer is long gone–definitely not worth the risk.

Reason 3: Scalpers are the ones that got your ticket in the first place
Didn’tthink about that, did you? Scalpers buy bulk tickets to resell for jacked-up prices to you in your time of need. Don’t reward them. That money should be supporting your favorite artist, not that guy. Oh right, artists, let’s see what they think.

Reason 4: Your favorite artists hate it
T-Swift and Bono would be really disappointed to learn how you obtained those tickets. Country artist Eric Church told USA Today that he only wants his tickets to go to his real fans, and those do not come from scalpers. When asked for his opinion on scalpers, Church shared how he really feels. “The people that are scalping these tickets are the equivalent of crime rings basically,” said Church. Then he compared their business to the mafia.

Reason 5: You have better options
Secondary ticket markets like CheapTickets are completely legit, trustworthy and artist-approved. And when you have an affordable, low-risk option, why would you dance with the devil?

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Tagged: Festivals, Music, Sports, Tips & advice

Alexander Santo

Alexander Santo

Alexander Santo

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Football season’s in full swing, and that means three things: beer, good food and tailgating. If you’re willing to go where the game takes you, here are the best NFL cities for enjoying all three without breaking the bank.

Tampa, Florida

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If you love fishing and football, Tampa may be the NFL town for you. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers—and their massive pirate ship, complete with animatronic parrot—play at Raymond James Stadium, tucked in right next to Al Lopez Park and its fishing ponds. Old Tampa and Hillsborough Bays are also close, offering dolphin cruises and watersports galore—all with a hefty dose of Florida’s famously free vitamin D, which makes for some pretty pleasant tailgating.

Denver, Colorado

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Ever heard of a little team called the Broncos? They hail from Denver’s Sports Authority Field at Mile High, where you can tailgate indoors at onsite bars like the Mile High Cross Bar and the 50 Yard Bar. Later, drop exactly zero dollars to take a brewery tour, explore the famous Red Rocks or pay tribute to your favorite locals at the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame. Walking in the 100-million-year-old footsteps of dinosaurs at Dinosaur Ridge is also a very free, very worth-it option.

Indianapolis, Indiana

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The Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Monument Circle, the Dallara IndyCar Factory…all these attractions are great, but this town’s main draw is, and will always be, the Colts. But since you’ll need to do something after the game anyway, you can take a totally free stroll along Lockerbie Square’s historic cobblestone streets or browse the clever insights and turns of phrase found in the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library.

Baltimore, Maryland

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The city that brought us Billie Holiday, John Waters and the Star Spangled Banner is also home to the Ravens. Their M&T Bank Stadium is just a stone’s throw from one of Charm City’s darkest attractions—the house where Edgar Allen Poe grew up. Baltimore also offers heaps of free things to do, including the beautiful Basilica and the Baltimore Museum of Art. Once most businesses have closed up shop for the night, head to the historic Fell’s Point or Canton districts for some live music.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

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Pittsburgh nails the trifecta of American pastimes: gambling, sausage, and, of course, football. After working up an appetite by watching the Steelers dominate at the deliciously named Heinz Field, you can enjoy some cheap, German eats at Deutschtown or check out the Andy Warhol Museum and ToonSeum, dedicated to the art of cartoons. Best of all, the Rivers Casino is a few blocks from the stadium.

Cleveland, Ohio

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 You can pick up your Cleveland Browns jerseys and hoodies at the FirstEnergy Stadium pro shop before the game, and show your love to the locals afterwards while digging into some cheap, satisfying eats and beer at the many bars and restaurants around the stadium. Once you’ve had your fill, hit up the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame museum or the always-free Cleveland Museum of Art to see works by Goya and Mondrian.

Green Bay, Wisconsin      

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It doesn’t get more iconic than the Green Bay Packers, and their eponymous city dishes out as much competitive spirit as it does good, cheap fun. Scarf down some pork-belly tacos and venison sloppy joes at Lambeau Field’s onsite eatery before checking out the Packers Hall of Fame. Or head to New Zoo for some inexpensive thrills—here, you can feed friendly giraffes and play on an aerial adventure course.

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Tagged: City, Florida, Sports

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Memories are really the most precious gift that can be given, but have you ever tried to stick a memory in a box and put a bow on it? It’s darn-right impossible. So let us turn to experiential gift giving this holiday season, because gifting experiences is fun for everyone and the best bang for your buck. It also comes with the guarantee that your carefully thought-out gift won’t be re-gifted or end up stuffed in the back of the closet behind dusty VHS tapes. 

The Nutcracker at the Joffrey Ballet

The Nutcracker at the Joffrey Ballet | Flickr CC: Gabriel Saldana

Tickets to ‘The Nutcracker’ — Chicago’s renowned Joffrey Ballet will be putting on The Nutcracker throughout December. Make this an early Christmas present for family or friends and get in the holiday mood with one of the most cultural Christmastime classics. Get 10% off tickets to “The Nutcracker” performances and other ballets across major U.S. cities by using the promo code BLACKFRIDAY10 Cheaptickets.com.*

Seats at a Big Ten basketball game — Winter is great time to hunker down and watch some basketball. College teams play nearly every night of the week, so there are plenty of dates to choose from, and tickets are usually pretty affordable. Ohio State plays Illinois in Columbus on Jan. 3 at 5 p.m. Tickets start at $32 on Cheaptickets.com

Beach getaway

A trip to the tropics — Forget the gift giving and put that money toward a tropical getaway for you and your bae this holiday season. All-inclusive resorts can be quite affordable and typically include food and some excursions. An all-inclusive trip to the Grand Park Royal Cancun Caribe resort through Cheaptickets starts at about $144 per night, for example. Deals are constantly changing, and holiday sales are burstingwith them right now**, so keep your eye out for a dream destination.

Related: Urban holiday escapes: Cheap rates in big cities

 

Take up yoga

Take up yoga | Flickr CC: elidr

Pass to a yoga studio — Or really any sort of gym membership, depending on who you buy for. Plenty of people are desperate to spend some time on themselves, be that through the calming effects of yoga or relieving stress at, say, a boxing gym, but don’t want to fork out the extra $100 or so per month for a membership. Gyms in every city offer varying membership packages so you can choose what would work best for your gift receiver.

Tickets to the first showing of Star Wars: The Force Awakens — This may be the perfect gift, assuming, of course, that the person you’re buying for is into Star Wars and this isn’t just some scam to get them to the midnight premier with you. Buy tickets ASAP though–some theaters are already selling out.

Go on a distillery tour

Go on a distillery tour | Flickr CC: Ben

Distillery tour — A trip along the Kentucky Bourbon Trail might be exactly what your gift receiver needs to warm up this winter. Tours at any of the most well-known distilleries run between $5 to $30 and typically include tons of rich, bourbon-soaked history and lessons on how to get the most flavor out of your bourbon.

Sugar Bowl tickets — Since tickets to the Super Bowl are a little unattainable (think upwards of $4k), nab up a pair of tickets to the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. Isn’t college football more exciting anyway? The game is scheduled for New Year’s Day, so these tickets come with the added perk of ringing in the New Year in the Big Easy. Tickets start at $166 on Cheaptickets.com. Prices will spike once the teams that will actually play in the Sugar Bowl are determined, so throw your allegiances aside and get a head start on your shopping.

Play laser tag

Play laser tag | Flickr CC: heipei

Laser tag — Insert a little competition into your gift. Laser tag has the potential to provide hours of good ol’ fashioned, competitive fun, and it is usually very affordable. It’s only $8.99 per person for a round at the Blazer Tag Adventure Center in Austin, Texas, for example. So find the nearest laser tag center near you and have at it.

Take flying lessons

Take flying lessons | Flickr CC: woodleywonderworks

Flying lessons — Giving flying lessons could also mean making someone’s dream come true. You can choose the extremity of this gift as well, opting in for the whole nine yards and giving the beginnings of a flying career, or gifting a pass for a one-time trip up into the air. Companies all over the country offer different packages. Windy City Flyers in Chicago offers a “Discovery Flight” package for $225 that includes an hour flight in a Cessna 172 and pre- and post-flight briefings. Twoadditional passengers can ride along for free.

Become a master chef

Become a master chef | Flickr CC: DC Central Kitchen

Cooking class — A cooking class is the gift the keeps on giving, especially if you plan on gifting this to a roommate. Take your pick of food and type of class, because these offerings span the spectrum. Learn how to make desserts or ethnic foods, or dishes that pair well with certain types of wine. Learn to prepare four courses or just an appetizer, vegan or meat-focused. Some cooking classes are even diving into the BYOB trend so you can get your buzz on behind the counter.

*Use promo code BLACKFRIDAY10 to get 10% off all event tickets Nov. 23-30, 2015.

**Use promo code RIBBON to get 20% off qualifying hotel stays Nov. 23-30, 2015.

Also, get up to $20 back in CheapCa$h with any flight booking of $100 or more Nov. 23-30, 2015.

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Tagged: Cheap Tips, Family, Holidays, Seasonal

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Forget pumpkin carving and apple picking, your wish list of things to do this fall is a bit more ambitious. You are hoping to catch that once-in-a-blue-moon soccer game, or hit up an Oktoberfest at a legit brewery. You want to attend a huge charity concert in Central Park, and see a world religious leader speak. Sure, sure, you’ll check out the beautiful foliage along the way. You just need a little help getting there—financially that is. Cheap Tickets has your back. Check out the event ticket part of Cheaptickets.com, and use the promo code TICKETS10 for 10% off.

Global Citizen Festival

Great Lawn in Central Park

New York, New York

Sept. 26, 12 p.m.

Tickets start at $152

Bird's-eye-view of the 2014 Global Citizens Festival. Courtesy of Anthony Quintano.

Bird’s-eye-view of the 2014 Global Citizens Festival. Courtesy of Anthony Quintano.

Headliners of this annual festival include Beyoncé, Coldplay (sold!), Pearl Jam and Ed Sheeran. If that’s not star-studded enough, tack on a list of hosts that includes Stephen Colbert, Salma Hayek, Hugh Jackman, Kerry Washington and Olivia Wilde. Proceeds go toward the eradication of extreme poverty.

 

Austin City Limits  

Zilker Park

Austin, Texas

Oct. 2-4, 9-11

Three-day pass starts at $415

Iggy Azalea performs at Austin City Limits. Courtesy of Ralph Arvesen.

Iggy Azalea performs at Austin City Limits. Courtesy of Ralph Arvesen.

Leave it to Austin City Limits to pack in the most musical goodness into two weekends as humanly possible. Acts such as Drake, Foo Fighters, Alt-J, Hozier, Modest Mouse, The Decemberists, A$AP Rocky, and Walk the Moon will be gracing the stage, just to name a few. It’s important to save money on the ticket purchase since hotel rates will likely go up during these two weekends as well.

 

Oktoberfest

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Chico, California

Oct. 4-7

Tickets start at $104

Courtesy of Steven Guzzardi.

Courtesy of Steven Guzzardi.

Don your lederhosen and raise your glass for Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.’s Oktoberfest celebration. This is the first year the festival will span three days, and a fabulous alternative to forking out the cash to travel across the pond to Germany. Prost!

 

CONCACAF Cup: United States vs. Mexico

Rose Bowl

Pasadena, California

Oct. 10, 6 p.m.

Tickets start at $156

U.S. Men's National Team in 2013. Courtesy of Erik Drost.

U.S. Men’s National Team in 2013. Courtesy of Erik Drost.

 More than 90,000 fans are expected to turn out for this high-stakes clash against the U.S. Men’s’ National Team and Mexico. A win here will be the USMNT’s ticket to the Confederations Cup in Russia, which will let the team scope out the stage they’ll be entering in World Cup 2018. Teams that make it to the Confederations Cup always have an advantage in the subsequent World Cup, and the USMNT is gunning for it.

 

An American in Paris

The Palace Theater

New York, New York

Oct. 16, 8 p.m.

Tickets start at $71 (check out a matinee for a cheaper show)

An American in Paris. Courtesy of James Joel.

An American in Paris. Courtesy of James Joel.

The story of an American World War II veteran in Paris trying to make a name for himself as a painter, who falls in love with a French girl. Gene Kelly made the musical famous with the 1951 movie, and Broadway will bring it to life again this fall. Critics are saying it’s not to be missed.

 

Ohio State University vs. Michigan

Michigan Stadium

Ann Arbor, Michigan

Nov. 28, time TBA

Tickets start at $137 

Courtesy of Scott Stuart.

Courtesy ofScott Stuart.

If you can score tickets to this game, you’re the envy of tens of thousands of Ohio State and Michigan fans. In fact, if you’ve spent too much money on other fall events, you’ll do yourself a favor and resell these tickets. But if you care at all about college football, this game is not to be missed. The OSU/Michigan rivalry is heralded as one of the thickest competitions in the sport, transcending generations.

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Tagged: Cheap Tips, Limited-time Offers, Music, New York City, Sports

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There are a few good reasons to have a cold brewski in March. Once everyone has recovered from their St. Patrick’s Day bar hops, it’s the NCAA college basketball tournament that dominates television screens in sports bars across America. In a matter of weeks, 64 teams will be whittled down by 54 single-elimination games. It’s madness. We collected data from sports bars in the 14 cities where these mad matches take place in 2015 to compare the cost of beer. Here’s what we found:

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Oregon may not be favored in the tourney, but when it comes to the cost of a cold one, Portland is #1 in all three beer categories. If you’re into local brews, Indianapolis and Jacksonville hold a close second. Cleveland, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, and Syracuse hold the next best price for imported beer, like Heineken and Stella. No surprise to any big city dwellers, L.A. had the most expensive beer in all three categories. If you’re heading to a tourney game, keep these stats in mind and choose your winning beer wisely.

Story by Ally Marotti

Graphic by Ramiro Olmos

Tagged: California, Cheap Tips, City, Florida, Food & drink, Infographics, Sports