With summer vacation still weeks away, there's nothing quite as appealing as a weekend escape. But how do you do it without breaking the budget? Nilou Motamed, senior editor at Travel + Leisure magazine, has some great ideas. Check them out below.
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Airfare deals: Web sites are a great way to find deals, especially on airfare rates. Try AirfareWatchdog.com, FareAlert.com and Kayak.com for amazing deals. Also, sign up for email newsletters from airfare watch sites (you can use a free e-mail address — like Yahoo or Hotmail — if you don't want these newsletters to be delivered to your main e-mail account).
Hotel Deals: For great hotel values, look at the hotel's own sites (instead of going through a travel site). Often, they will offer the lowest rate or will offer to match another low rate if you ask.
You can also try online auction sites — we love Hotwire.com, particularly because they allow you much more flexibility and reliability (and security) than ever before. In these cases you can name your own prices and only go as high as you want.
Finally, check with a travel agent who may have access to special deals that may not be widely known. Travel agents still have the inside scoop, so don't leave them out of the search when looking for great deals and discounts.
Looking for a weekend escape?
Adventure weekend: Bend, Oregon
With superb new restaurants, galleries and a slew of rated golf courses, high-desert Bend, Ore., has graduated from dusty crossroads to bona fide destination. And there's no shortage of activities for the outdoor fan! You can go fishing (even get lessons in fly-fishing), play golf, take a cave tour into Boyd Cave (an 1,800-foot-long lava tube that snakes beneath the desert floor), take a rock climbing lesson, visit the Sunriver Observatory for some star gazing, go white-water rafting (or kayak/canoe calmer waters) and go skiing at Mount Bachelor (which consistently tops ski bibles' lists of the finest peaks in the Northwest and in April, the powder is still deep and fine; a full-day lift ticket is $49).
Where to stay
Sunriver Resort (doubles start at $165), 15 miles south of town, has it all: a stately lodge, three golf courses (including Crosswater, the top-ranked course in central Oregon, designed by Robert Cupp), tennis courts, swimming pools and a full-service spa.
McMenamins Old St. Francis Hotel (doubles from $94) is smaller and quirkier — a converted 1936 elementary school with 17 guest rooms and four rental cottages — plus a microbrewery, restaurant and movie theater, right in the center of Bend.
United flies direct to Bend from Portland and San Francisco; Delta connects from Salt Lake City.
Beach weekend: South Beach, Miami
Your grandparents' Miami has undergone a well-documented transformation: the Art Deco architecture of the hotels is still the same, the long stretches of beaches haven't really changed, but the restaurants and nightlife, the shopping and cultural attractions are changing daily. South Beach is presently riding its third wave of hype and glory as a resort town, so enjoy the ride. Of course, it's all located along Miami's famous and beautiful beaches, so make sure there's time for fun in the sun, too. The temperatures are gorgeous 70's and 80's this time of year. Stay at the TownHouse Hotel at only $180 per night.
City weekend: Seattle, Wash.
Experience the best of Seattle while staying at one of the city's three Kimpton properties: the Hotel Vintage Park, Hotel Monaco and Alexis Hotel. With an overnight visit you'll get a pair of “Go Seattle”cards good for free or reduced admission to 30 attractions, such as the Space Needle, Museum of Flight and the Museum of History & Industry; discounts of up to 20 percent on shopping and dining; and a city guidebook, for a combined savings of 20 percent. Nightly rates start at $295 for a double at the Vintage Park; $319 at Hotel Monaco; and $325 at the Alexis. Ask for the Sweet Seattle package; available through April.
Country weekend: The Berkshires, Mass.
An easy drive from most cities in the Northeast, the Berkshires was once a place known for antiques shopping and Birkenstock-wearing environmentalists. But there's been a change in the recent years as fine cuisine, high fashion, spas and modern hotels have begun to make their presence known in this area (encompassing a 50-mile-long corridor of western Massachusetts that shares borders with Connecticut, New York and Vermont.) Museums, arts festivals and spas abound, but fear not — tea rooms, country stores dispensing maple syrup and penny candy, and local bakeries and antiques shops still remind you of the old-time New England charm. A great weekend getaway from cities in the Northeast.
Where to stay
- Stonover Farm, $275/night
- Porches Inn, $169/night
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