Spring is here and, as happens every year about this time, I've got the travel bug! Something about the warm weather make me just want to hit the road, escape the house I'v ebeen trapped in for what feels like MONTHS, and explore the world. Alas, two things can get in the way -- time and money -- but they don't have to. Carve out some vacay time and check out these budget friendly trip ideas!
If you can find a good hotel deal, you're all set, because so many of the great places to visit in the Windy City are free, like the Lincoln Park Zoo, Millennium Park, and Navy Pier. There are more sights to see and free things to do in Chicago than you could possibly accomplish in a few days, like window shopping along Miracle Mile, people watching in Logan Square, and picnicking along Lake Michigan. All fueled by inexpensive, but delicious, Chicago-style pizza!
I just spent a few days in Calistoga and had a blast. It's right in the heart of Napa county (aka wine country paradise), but it's a little more funky and offbeat than some of the area's other towns, and definitely more affordable. Rent bicycles to explore the area's stunning scenery, take the kids to see the geyser or to one of the town's many mineral pools, and then hop aboard the Wine Train for sightseeing + wine tasting. Win, win, win!
Yellowstone National Park
Truly a national treasure, Yellowstone offers plenty of camping sites and even cabins right in the Yellowstone park, in addition to affordable motel rentals in the vicinity. With miles of hiking and walking trails, lakes for fishing and boating, horseback rides and llama packing (yes! Llamas!), erupting geysers, bubbling mud baths, and wild animals, there's no way anyone in your family's going to get bored!
This city is known for having some of the lowest hotel prices in the South and there's really something for everyone, whether you just want to eat BBQ, visit the Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame, take a showboat ride along the Cumberland, or visit some of the area's beautiful old plantations and mansions.
Atlantic City, NJ
Hurricane Sandy did her best, but the Jersey Shore remains beautiful and full of fun. Of course, since the hurricane, there are deals to be had -- search around for packages that give discounts like a hotel plus spa bundle (Dad can take the kids to a surf lesson or parasailing while you spend some me-time getting pampered!). And there are a ton of activities that don't cost any money, like walking the boardwalk, ogling the granny gamblers, lounging at the ocean, perusing the Farmer's Market, and visiting the beautiful Civil Rights Garden.
Where would you most love to visit in the US?
Image via monika_thorpe/Flickr