With more hotel rooms than any other city on the planet, Las Vegas is an easy choice for an affordable spring weekend getaway. Orlando is also a top destination, with the second most number of rooms in America and not far behind Vegas in the overall world rankings for lodging. However, the Nevada desert isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, nor is the central Florida setting for the world’s most visited amusement park.
Indeed, with a seemingly endless collection of remarkable destinations from coast to coast, travelers shouldn’t have much difficulty in selecting an exciting alternative to the mega casinos and mega tourist attractions. Here are just five suggestions for an unforgettable spring getaway to fit anyone’s budget.
As one of the most popular destinations of the Great Lakes region, Milwaukee is a delightful and completely authentic city to visit for an affordable spring weekend getaway. The largest city in Wisconsin and one of the largest in the entire Midwest, Milwaukee is likely most famous for its assemblage of outstanding breweries, once known as the Beer Capital of the World and has featured some of the oldest brands in America, such as Miller Brewing Company and a few other iconic labels that are now produced elsewhere, like Pabst and Schlitz, which once featured the familiar slogan “the beer that made Milwaukee famous”.
Yet in addition to phenomenal brew pubs like Milwaukee Brewing Company and Lakefront Brewery, this vibrant city located along the magnificent shores of Lake Michigan, offers a full weekend of free or low cost attractions to enjoy, such as the Milwaukee Public Market, the two-mile long Milwaukee Riverwalk, the bleacher seats to home games of the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park and of course the admission free Miller Brewery Tour, in addition to reasonably priced marquee attractions like the Harley Davidson Museum and the Milwaukee Art Museum. Like many other leading American cities, Milwaukee has an impressive collection of hotels and B&Bs, from four-star properties like the Iron Horse and the Journeyman Hotel to a host of well known chain hotels starting at under $70 per night, particularly near the Milwaukee Airport.
In addition to its wealth of popular microbreweries, this lakeside city is also home to a multitude of outstanding restaurants, from James Beard Award-winning spots like Sanford Restaurant and Lake Park Bistro to more affordable fare at Milwaukee Brat House, Oscar’s Pub and Grill and the James Beard-honored Three Brothers and Watts Tea Shop, named one of the World’s 10 Greatest Old Dining Institutions by the New York Times.
With spring weather averaging in the mid to high 70s, Myrtle Beach has long been a popular and very affordable destination. Best known as a lively beach resort town along South Carolina’s sweeping Atlantic Coast, this city of approximately 30,000 residents annually draws approximately 17 million visitors, with the majority arriving during the peak summer season.
But in the spring, beachfront hotels that are affordable year round offer some rooms for under $60, such as Crown Reef Beach Resort and Waterpark, Breakers Myrtle Beach Resort and Sandy Beach Resort. In addition to low cost lodging, Myrtle Beach is typified by an impressive collection of family friendly attractions and nearly 100 golf courses, including some of the best in the country, like Caledonia Golf and Fish Club, Grande Dunes Golf Club and Dunes Golf and Beach Club. As for entertainment, visitors have several spots to consider, such as the Carolina Opry, Hollywood Wax Museum, the landmark Myrtle Beach Skywheel and Alligator Adventure, known as the Reptile Capital of the World. Of course, visitors will eventually get hungry and there’s absolutely no shortage of outstanding places to dine on a budget.
Among the top recommendations are the Sea Captain’s House, Simply Southern Smokehouse and the multi-award winning Croissants Bistro and Bakery, led by chef Heidi Vukov, once named the South Carolina Restaurateur of the Year.
Once named America’s Favorite City by Travel + Leisure, Providence is also currently listed among that travel site’s Best U.S. Cities for Affordable Getaways, making Rhode Island’s capital and largest city an attractive weekend destination. Located about an hour drive south of Boston and partially bounded by the river that bears its name, Providence is one of America’s oldest cities yet is equally acclaimed for its historic homes and buildings as its dynamic culture and arts scene.
However, Providence also hosts one of the hottest culinary destinations in the country, with a wealth of dining options to fit anyone’s budget, from low cost fare at places like Harry’s Bar and Burger, The Abbey and Julian’s to moderately priced James Beard-nominated places like Birch and Nick’s on Broadway and Persimmon. While springtime rates for leading hotels and B&Bs can be often be booked for under $150 at places like Omni Providence, The Dean and Christopher Dodge House, the capital city also offers a wide collection of budget lodging as low as $56, particularly near the T.F. Green Airport in the neighboring city of Warwick. As one of the best cities in the country, Providence has more than enough sights and attractions to last a two or three-day weekend.
Among the top recommendations for visitors are the Rhode Island School of Design Museum (RISD), Providence Children’s Museum, Rhode Island State House and Benefit Street, the setting for one of the highest concentrations of Colonial buildings in the country. Even more suggestions are the Museum of Natural History and Planetarium, Roger Williams Park featuring one of America’s oldest zoos and Providence Athenaeum, one of the oldest libraries in the country, located on the prestigious Ivy League campus of Brown University.
Located about halfway between the San Francisco Bay Area and Lake Tahoe, Sacramento is occasionally overlooked as an affordable getaway when compared to one of America’s largest alpine lakes high up in the Sierra Nevada mountains. However, aside from the notion that people traveling by car from San Francisco will simply save time on the road and money on gas, the capital city can be a very practical and exceptional destination for visitors hoping to keep their travel expenses in check.
While the city’s leading hotels are often available for under $200 per night, such as the top rated Citizen Hotel and Sheraton Grand Sacramento, many other respected chain hotels offer rates well below $100. As an added incentive, the Sacramento region is also known as America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital, having the distinction of being the largest agricultural producer in the country and home to a world-class food scene.
Much like the affordability and broad selection of lodging, top local restaurants like Mulvaney’s B&L, led by James Beard-honored chef Patrick Mulvaney and the Grange Restaurant and Bar, led by rising star chef Oliver Ridgeway, offer a number of superb dishes that are reasonably priced yet exceed many of best spots in the Bay Area. Lastly, Sacramento is home to many affordable attractions, such as the California State Capitol Museum, Crocker Art Museum and the California State Railroad Museum. One other major attraction that should not be missed is the new, state-out-the-art Golden1Center, the home of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings, where tickets can often be found for under $30.
Graced by a three-mile boardwalk, fabulous beaches and an impressive collection of affordable to moderately priced lodging, Virginia Beach has long been a very popular destination for a weekend getaway. Located along the Atlantic Coast in the southeastern portion of the state and in the region known as the Hampton Roads, Virginia Beach is by far the largest city in Virginia and attracts three million visitors annually, particularly during its peak season between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
But in April and into mid-May, travelers on a budget can find several hotels priced at less than $80, in addition to low cost campsites and moderately priced cabins at places like the Virginia Beach KOA and First Landing State Park. As a beachside destination that dates back to the 19th century, Virginia Beach offers all sorts of fun activities to enjoy including biking, fishing, kayaking and horseback riding on the beach as well as many free or low cost attractions like the Virginia Legends Walk, Virginia Beach Amusement Park, Cape Henry Lighthouse and Memorial Park, First Landing State Park, the most visited state park in Virginia and of course, the lively Virginia Beach Boardwalk and Beachfront.
For low cost dining, travelers might be interested in top rated places like DOC Taylor’s Restaurant, Mary’s Restaurant, Dirty Buffalo and Baja Cantina. Other affordable restaurants and hotels can also be found in the nearby historic city of Norfolk, the location of world’s largest naval station, the celebrated Virginia Opera and Virginia Symphony, and the Chrysler Museum of Art.
Related: Spring Break Guide To Cancun