In 2020, chose one of these top destinations for your next U.S. vacation. You’ll save a bunch and make many memories!
Phoenix in the winter is a great warm weather option when you’re trying to escape the cold that blankets most of the country. World-class resorts dot the desert landscape, and there are plenty of options for lovers of the great outdoors. Phoenix has many fantastic hikes within the city, most famously the iconic Camelback Mountain Echo Canyon trail, where at the summit you get 360 degree views of the Valley of the Sun. Come in March for Major League Baseball spring training, where you can watch your favorite teams up close for a fraction of the price of regular season tickets. Round trip airline tickets from west coast destination are often as low as $100, but it’s just a 5 hour drive from both Los Angeles and San Diego if you want to road trip.
Music lovers, families and couples will all find much to please them in Memphis, at a fraction of the cost of rival Nashville. Memphis is the last stop before you hit Mississippi, and it has a decidedly down-home and laid back vibe. Check out Beale Street honkytonks for live blues seven days a week, and don’t forget to sample the slow-cooked goodness of the legendary Memphis barbecue. Take the kids to the Memphis Zoo or for a riverboat cruise down the mighty Mississippi. Flights from Newark start at around $150 roundtrip, and it’s an easy 6-hour drive from Oklahoma City or St. Louis.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Las Vegas almost always makes our shortlist for bargain destinations these days. They just make it so easy to love Sin City. Flights regularly cost less than $200 from virtually anywhere in the U.S., the hotels are full service and varied for every kind of traveler, and the food is cheap and plentiful (if you haven’t sampled a Vegas buffet, you’re missing an American classic). In recent years, Vegas has even made inroads for family travel. Many hotels have state of the art swimming pool complexes, and there are attractions like the Adventuredome Theme Park and the Mirage Hotel Aquarium and Atrium to dazzle the littles. Don’t forget to check out the live show schedule – there’s a little something for everyone on the Vegas strip 7 nights a week.
Colorado Springs, Colorado
An unexpected gem found an hour south of Denver by car is the rugged and relaxed getaway of Colorado Springs. The town is nestled in the shadow of Pike’s Peak, a mountain so majestic it inspired the lyrics to “America the Beautiful.” Colorado Springs is 6,000 feet above sea level and home to three Olympic Training Centers, so as you’d expect, there’s no shortage of outdoor activities for the athletes in your crew. Dining and budget accommodations are plentiful, and there are plenty of family friendly festivals and activities year round. Denver is an affordable entry point for Colorado Springs, with many flights from under $100 from San Francisco and Los Angeles into the spring months.
In March, the low-cost air carrier Southwest started offering flights to Hawaii (Maui, Oahu and Kona) from these California gateways (Oakland, San Jose, Los Angeles, Ontario, Orange County and Long Beach). This should be interesting to everyone, even if you don’t live in one of these towns or prefer to travel on another airline. With Southwest jumping into the Hawaii market and offering inexpensive tickets (as low as $50 one way in some instances for certain dates), it’s driving down prices of the competition too. Now more than ever, Hawaii is a steal. The best flight prices can generally be found in mid- to late-April on into May, as well as in September and October.
AlaskaThe organized tours in Alaska can make what would otherwise be an affordable vacation quite the opposite. Luckily, Alaska is easy to DIY – who knew? One pro tip is to rent an RV and drive yourself around this vast state. Driving distances are huge, and if you have an RV you can eat and sleep on the road while covering a lot of ground and saving some dough on accommodations and dining. You should also consider an ocean or river fishing charter, rather than a “fly-in” option, which can be cost prohibitive for many people. Flights from most gateways around the states can be had for less than $200 roundtrip.
Philly is a little bit like Washington, D.C. in that the bulk of the museums and sights are virtually free to visitors. And you can offset those that do cost money by electing to buy a Philadelphia Pass. The all-inclusive Pass will give you entrance to many of Philly’s top attractions, to hop-on-hop-off bus tours, the zoo and aquarium for just $59/per person. Lots of cities have a similar pass, but we think Philadelphia’s packs the biggest bang for the buck.
We’re going to make a big pitch for visiting Chi-town in 2020. When to go? Of course summer is the most popular time to visit, what with the vibrant festival scene on offer. But guess what? Flights and hotels are most expensive in the summer and you’re likely to have a similar experience for much less money in late spring. You can take in a baseball game at Wrigley Field, stroll along Lake Michigan, and upgrade your accommodation options because of the greater value. We think you’re really going to love Chicago in the springtime. Just pack in layers and you’ll be right as rain! Flights (round trip) from San Francisco start for under $130 on Frontier.
New Orleans, Louisiana
So much about New Orleans is special. There’s a vibrant, phenomenal culinary tradition, world-class jazz seven days a week, a party-til-you-drop culture (truly – it’s not for the faint of heart), and locals who are proud of their city to a fault – willing to take in visitors and make them part of the Big Easy’s extended family. And New Orleans remains a travel bargain in every sense of the word. Stay outside the French Quarter for reasonable hotel and dining options, and take a walking tour of one or two of the city’s many historical sites!
San Diego, California
San Diego is a day trip from Los Angeles and is often overlooked in favor of its glitzier big sister up the coast. Here’s why you should consider it for your vacation over L.A. San Diego has more of a small town vibe, a fraction of the L.A. traffic and is still within driving distance of both Disneyland and Universal Studios. Plus, the cozy and walkable downtown is tailor-made for families on a budget, and both Sea World and the San Diego Zoo are world-class attractions in their own right. Nonstop flights from New York (JFK) on Delta and American for under $300 most of the year.