Updated: Feb 26, 2019
If you are anything like me and crave travel that doesn't break the bank you are in the right place! Here you will find some fun-filled North American vacations that are less expensive but just as rewarding. I hope to cross some of these off my bucket list this summer and a few more I’ll share very soon. If you're ready to stretch your travel budget and create memories to last a lifetime pack your bags!
#1. Visit the Nation's Capital, Washington, D.C.
I have always wanted to visit the nation's capital and take in all the sights Washington D.C. has to offer! Start your visit with a tour of the US Capitol (www.visitthecapitol.gov). There is a new-ish 621 million dollar visitor center open, complete with restaurants! Because I'm a history freak I'd check out the National Museum of the American Indian (www.nmai.si.edu) and trace the history of America's First People through their own eyes! There is also the National Museum of American History. If you or your family likes airplaines, rockets, or space rocks be sure to check out the National Air and Space Museum (www.nasm.si.edu) or the Steven F. Udar-Hazy Center. Did you know if you make a request at least 30 days in advance to your congressperson you can schedule a tour at the White House? Even just looking through the wrought iron gates- the white house is a must see for every visitor. A painful, but worthy lesson comes back in Washington at the Holocaust Memorial Museum. As far as lodging the cheapest prices are usually on the weekends, especially in winter time. For an even cheaper stay consider staying across the river in Alexandria, Virginia just a short metro bus ride away.
#2. See the Big City on the cheap, NYC
I've always dreamt of going to New York City because it captures that "go-go" spirit I don't have! Some sights to check out Brooklyn Heights Promenade for unparalleled views of the city especially at sunset. Central Park- haven't we all seen this in the movies? New York City's backyard is big and historic. My favorite part? Sheep once grazed in the green space! Some of Central Park's freebies are well known: Concerts on the great lawn and at the Naumberg Bandshell. Others often overlooked 18th-century Dairy (now history center), the Conservatory Garden at East 105th street, and the catch-and-release fishing program at the Harlem Meer. The Carousel charges $2 for a ride, the Central Park Zoo $10, and if you go in the winter time (or have strong ankles unlike me) Wollman Ice Skating Rink $14. If you are into museums be sure to check out their personal websites as many offer free tours one evening a week or month! We cannot forget the iconic Staten Island Ferry one of the world's great rides for free. For tourists, the drive there alone gives off incredible views of Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty, and Lower Manhattan skyline! Some websites to check out for cheaper lodging include zoo.com and hotels.com which can lead to some values. Check out www.nycgo.com for meal deals at restaurants! Be sure to check out Airbnb and VRBO for better deals on lodging.
#3. Sail into history, Rockland, Maine
All aboard the Victory Chimes! The Chimes which once carried lots of cargo now transports vacationers on 3-6 day summer sails along the 3,000 islands of Maines Penobscot Bay. Don't go looking on board for the spa, fancy dining, or pool. This is a bit like camping and space is tight in the cabins! The ship itself carries a maximum of 40 passengers and you literally have to be a "blow with the wind" type of person. Onboard spend your days chatting with passengers, searching for whales, and watching the coast roll on by. You may feel a bit like you've slipped into maritime past! You won't go hungry though, not to worry. The cheery crew serves up homemade soup, lobster, fresh salads, and corn on the cob! 3-day sails start at $450 and include meals. Guests bring their own pop and alcoholic beverages to be stored in the cooler. Nothing fancy here but a truly incredible way to experience the beautiful coast of Maine straight from a movie! www.victorychimes.com
#4. Catch The Country Stars, Nashville, Tennessee
Nashville is the heart and soul of country music! On any Friday afternoon stroll along Lower Broadway in downtown and catch live performances in tons of bars by would-be-stars. A few places to visit while your there Legends Corner, Robert's Western World, and Tootsie's Orchid Lounge. And on the list of "must-see's" Belle Meade Plantation, Country Music Hall of Fame, and the Grand Ole Opry. After a few too many beers you might think you too could be the next country star, bop into Gruhn Guitars and check out their amazing vintage collection! On a Nashville night out make reservations and wear your jeans to Bluebird Cafe! Simple foods and awesome shows where many future stars often get their start! Everyone can relate to Nashville in some way whether it be through broken hearts, revenge, or cheating lovers.
#5. Pack Your Paddle, Northern Minnesota
Who would I be to not include my home state (and favorite at that)? If you're up for some true wilderness and love the camping lifestyle the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is for you! For about $100 per person per day, you can be fully equipped for an adventure! A full set up includes canoe, tent, sleeping bag, pad, chair, and freeze-dried food. You can catch your own dinner and arrange for all the "fish" fixins. Along with providing the gear and suggesting routes, outfitters will secure required permits to enter the wilderness area. High season lasts from Memorial Day to Labor Day and June is the buggiest month of all. July and August are great times to go even sometimes into September. This place will make you feel very insignificant but tied to the world in a beautiful way. The magic and sheer beauty are sure to put things into perspective. Be sure to google "Boundary Waters Outfitters" or you can find a full list on the Superior National Forest Website. While you're already in Ely be sure to check out the International Wolf Center. Admission is around $8.50 and is full of fun and education activities to enrich your inner wolf!
Woofta, now I am really ready for our next big adventure! If you travel on the cheap often you'll recognize that the most cherished moments rarely revolve around a fancy hotel or pricey meal. I hope this gives you some amazing ideas for your next trip and I'll be back to share many more incredible places with you soon! Dream of taking a trip to Paradise Valley, Montana? I've already done the work for you: