6 Cities you can Visit on a Budget in 2018

This time of year many of us are feeling ready for a vacation, but unfortunately our bank accounts may not be quite as prepared to travel as we are.  Fortunately there is a way to get out of town without breaking the budget!  It is possible to plan a long weekend trip (3 nights, 4 days) filled with entertainment, relaxation and delicious food to all of the following major US cities for two people without breaking $800.  Although I set the limit at $800 for this blog post, I believe you can spend far less money than that for many of these places if you plan your trip carefully, and have semi-flexible travel dates.

Planning in advance is everything.  A few hours spent planning a relaxed itinerary and exploring your entertainment options can save you hundreds of dollars.
Tips:
– Never purchase a plane ticket if it’s close enough to drive (we are happy to do road-trips up to 10 hours away, sometimes more, because the time it takes to reach an airport early, get through security, board, fly and get off the plane takes about 5-8 hours and a couple hundred dollars).
-If you do purchase airfare, sign up for price alerts as early as you can so that you get the best possible deal, and try to fly on less expensive days even if they aren’t your perfect travel dates, you could save anywhere from $50-$300.
-Check AirBnb before you book a hotel.  You can usually get a much better rate in your ideal location,  and staying in a house allows you more comforts, and you can save on eating out by cooking in the kitchen!
-Plan out your days.  If you know what area of the city you will be hanging out in each day, you can search Groupon and Restaurant.com for coupons and deals on nice restaurants in that area.  You can save a ton of money on food and drinks this way.
-Look for free events in advance.  Often there may be art or music festivals happening in the city that you’re visiting, or there could be a multitude of other free or inexpensive events going on that week that are really enjoyable.
-Choose one “highlight” event and fill in the rest of your time enjoying less expensive activities, like exploring the city that you’re staying in and sightseeing.
-If you plan on going out to nightclubs or concerts that you want to drink at, pregame the event.  There’s no shame in a good pregame.  Sometimes a single drink can cost upwards of $12 at many of these locations.  That is not budget-friendly.
You can view my complete list of the best apps and websites that can help you save money on vacation here.
 Here are some fabulous cities that you should consider visiting the next time you want to get out of town and see the world firsthand.
1) Manhattan, New York
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Manhattan truly is an adventure every time we visit.  The options of activities to enjoy in Manhattan are almost overwhelming, so I think it’s wise to narrow your options to whatever is within walking-distance of your hotel in order to save money on transport and to fully explore the place that you’re staying.
Things to do:
-People-watch or window-shop in Times Square
-Catch a performance or concert at PlayStation Theatre
-Eat some New York pizza
-Visit Central Park
-Go get brunch
-ExploreChinatown
-Visit the Statue of Liberty or the Empire State Building

 

2) Charlotte, North Carolina
 bestof_charlotte
Charlotte is one of the greenest and most walk-able cities, filled with beautiful parks and lots of southern charm.  Prepare to relax and be rejuvenated.
Things to do:
-Visit Carowinds
– Go white water rafting, paddle-boarding, kayaking, hiking, zip-lining or tackle a ropes course at the US National Whitewater Center
-Stop in at the NASCAR Hall of Fame
-Walk around uptown and enjoy the many parks, restaurants and breweries
-Enjoy an evening (or two) along Music Factory Boulevard which boasts multiple venues and concerts for a low cost on any given weekend
3) Miami, Florida
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Miami is a great option for a long weekend because you can find incredibly cheap flights here from almost any US city.  If your dates are flexible, you may be able to score round-trip tickets for under $100 (Tip – I use ScyScanner to book most of my flights.  They have an extremely convenient search tool that allows me to find the cheapest dates to fly).  If you’re craving a budget-friendly beach trip, Miami is the place to go.
Things to do:
-Soak up the sun on the beach
-Visit Miami’s many nightclubs
-Visit Coral Castle
-Take a trip to Hammock Park
-Stop in at an aquarium
4) Denver, Colorado
 Sunrise_Over_Denver_Skyline
Denver is one of the hottest cities in the United States right now and there is a reason why.  Even if you aren’t into hiking or skiing, I would bet that Colorado has something incredible to offer you.
Things to do:
-Visit a legal dispensary and enjoy some edibles
-Take a walk around RiNo art disctrict, enjoy the abundance of interesting murals and the various breweries and cider stops along the way
-Take a trip out to Red Rocks to see a concert at one of the most awesome venues in the US
-Explore nature by going on a hike
5) New Orleans, Louisiana
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While most people visit NOLA for Mardi Gras, it may actually be to your benefit to visit anytime other than that.  Less crowds, less expensive hotels, and you can get more discounts in the off-season when prices go down.  Fortunately, the entertainment factor stays sky-high.
Things to do:
-Visit Jackson Square to see artists at work outside
-Hit up Bourbon Street at night for some jazzy, bluesey, soulful nightlife experiences
-Get on Groupon and grab coupons for some delicious Louisiana, Cajun-style soul food
-Stop in at the national WWII Museum
6) Las Vegas, Nevada
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What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, until you get home, check your credit card and see all of the damage that was done.  Fortunately, Vegas is another city which offers an exorbitant amount of deals on flights, hotels and attractions.  When you do get back home, you should be happy to remember what you did during your visit.
Things to do:
-Visit one of many casinos and try your luck gambling (always set a limit before you start gambling and stop gambling once that money is gone)
-Walk along the main strip and enjoy the sights and street performances
-See a burlesque show
-Watch a Cirque Du Soleil performance
-Find discounts to comedy shows
-Enjoy one of their massive food buffets
For $400 per person or less, I can rarely resist the temptation to get away.  If you’ve been working hard this year, you deserve a getaway too. So grab your significant other or your best travel buddy and go explore!
What are some cities that you love to visit and what are your favorite activities to do there?  Share with me in the comments!
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