Top 10 Budget Summer Getaways
1: Outer Banks, NC
his is a great place to spend an early-summer weekend. You can be strolling a harbor boardwalk, surfing, or kicking back in your beach chair within a 30-minute radius―Beaufort, Morehead City, and Atlantic Beach join to create a jumping-off point for the southern tip of the Outer Banks.
Where to Stay: Blackbeard's Lodge
A pirate theme abounds at this Outer Banks classic. Check in at a boat-front desk under a statue of Blackbeard himself. Rates range from $43-$275.
111 Back Road, Ocracoke; 1-800-892-5314 or www.blackbeardslodge.com
Where to Eat: Cox Family Restaurant
You may have a little wait for breakfast at Cox's in Morehead City, where locals crowd the booths and tables daily. Nothing fancy here (just about everything is less than $5), but if you're looking for bacon and eggs served all day, you're in the right place.
4109 Arendell Street, Morehead City; (252) 726-6961
2: Myrtle Beach, SC
Imagine scrunching your toes in the sand or lining up a trick-shot putt through the mouth of a dinosaur. Your sunny beach getaway is closer than you think, and not nearly as expensive. Whether it's your first summer vacation to Myrtle Beach or your 40th, don't make reservations until you consider some of our favorite spots.
Where to Stay: Atlantic Coast Resorts
One of the best affordable properties we found is Atlantic Coast Resorts, which offered with clean, adequate condos and a great pool. In-season rates start at $94.
1702 North Ocean Boulevard; (866) 409-2793 or www.atlanticcoastresorts.com
Where to Eat: Luigi's Trattoria
Our favorite lunch stop remains the authentically Italian eatery with its imported prosciutto di Parma sandwich with fresh mozzarella ($6.95).
503 61st Avenue North; (843) 497-7080
3: Baltimore, MD
There's a reason they call Baltimore Charm City. It's quirky and eclectic, yet it's still a great place to bring a family. History and character wait around every corner. What's more, the city's sights and sounds get a firm hold on your soul--from the Domino Sugar sign shimmering in the Inner Harbor to the singing of the National Anthem at Camden Yards.
Where to Stay: Brookshire Suites
Large rooms, complimentary hot breakfast, and a great location make this a find for families. It's located one block from the Inner Harbor. Rates: $119-$229.
120 East Lombard Street; (410) 625-1300
Where to Eat: Vaccaro's Italian Pastry Shop
If you have a sweet tooth, Vaccaro's is nirvana. This Little Italy bakery serves a vast array of sweets from cannolli to authentic Italian gelato. Go on Monday night from 6 to 9 p.m. for the $12 all-you-can-eat dessert and coffee special. Open daily.
222 Albemarle Street; (410) 685-4905 or www.vaccarospastry.com
4: Norfolk, VA
In vibrant downtown Norfolk, a city that has transformed itself into a lively destination for travelers, boatloads of fun and entertainment center around the Elizabeth River. You can help hoist the sails on a schooner, catch a paddle wheeler to a baseball game, or ship out on an ocean voyage from a stylish new cruise ship terminal.
Where to Stay: Sheraton Oceanfront Hotel
Amenities include indoor/outdoor pool, restaurant, and room service. Rates range $59-$199.
Oceanfront at 46th Street; (757) 425-9000 or 1-800-521-5635
Where to Eat: Charlie's Seafood Restaurant
This is the place to slurp some she-crab soup or fresh seafood entrées.
3139 Shore Drive; (757) 481-9863 or www.charliesseafood.com
5: Galveston, TX
Try a 4-day cruise from Galveston, Texas, and you can go to Mexico and back without having to stop and ask for directions. Perfect weather, impeccable service, and seemingly endless food at a price that won't break your budget. 4-day Carnival cruises to Cozumel in June start at $579.
Where to Stay while in Galveston: Hotel Galvez
Enjoy high-speed Internet, breakfast buffet, access to the beach, a pool, and Bernardo's Restaurant. Rates start at $99 weekdays, $129 weekends.
2024 Seawall Blvd.; (409) 765-7721
Where to Eat before you embark: Mosquito Café
A funky locals' spot with excellent eggs and fresh omelets.
628 14th Street; (409) 763-1010 or www.mosquitocafe.com
6: Asheville, NC
Treat yourself with a trip to one of the South's coolest cities this summer. Asheville blossoms with hip shops and galleries, satisfying eateries, and the grandest estate in America. Get out your walking shoes, and explore this ultimate weekend destination.
Where to Stay: Hampton Inn-Biltmore Square
This hotel offers all the amenities you would expect from a chain, but at five minutes from the Biltmore Estate and Biltmore Village, its location is key. Rates range $84-$189.
1 Rocky Ridge Road; (828) 667-2022
Where to Eat: Salsa Mexican Caribbean Restaurant
Find here a fun blend of Mexican and Caribbean cuisine. The tiny space downtown crowds at lunchtime, but delicious and enormous portions smooth any line-waiting. Open for lunch and dinner daily.
6 Patton Avenue; (828) 252-9805
7: Mississippi Gulf Coast
Feel the pull of that very special coastline that marks the end of Old Man River's ramble to the Gulf. It wraps around Louisiana and Mississippi like a ribbon of live oaks, shrimpboats, and colorful towns.
Where to Stay: Gulf Hills Hotel & Conference Center
At the Gulf Hills Hotel & Conference Center rooms have been redone in vibrant florals, soft greens, and sunny yellows. You'll find them simple yet tasteful and worth the price. Rates range from $109-$129, including deluxe Continental breakfast.
13701 Paso Road, Ocean Springs; 1-866-875-4211 or www.gulfhillshotel.com
Where to Eat: COAST
Grab a burger, a brick-oven pizza, or a hearty appetizer while watching the game on big-screen TVs.
875 Beach Boulevard, Biloxi; 1-888-750-7111
8: Rehoboth Beach, DE
Get a million-dollar view for state park prices. Ribbons of color stream across the sky as day ends at Delaware Seashore State Park. For those who love the sun and sand, this is paradise. As for Rehoboth Beach itself, this charming seaside town makes a perfect getaway, promising to get the kinks out of your bones as well as your psyche.
Where to Stay: Admiral Hotel
Modest rooms just steps from the boardwalk.
1-888-882-4188 or www.admiralrehoboth.com
Where to Eat: Summer House Restaurant & Saloon
The huge, half-pound burgers are half-price ($6.95 for two) every Monday night. Open daily 4 p.m. to 1 a.m.
228 Rehoboth Avenue; (302) 227-3895 or www.summerhousesaloon.com
9: Destin, FL
You go for the beaches--those immaculate white sands against aquamarine waters. The rest of the great stuff is a bonus. The beach is Destin's playground. Still, there are other activities if you want a break from sandy toes and salty water. (Is that possible?)
Where to Stay: Southern Resorts
Overnight at Southern Resorts. You'll find three-bedroom cottages a block from the water and one-bedroom oceanfront condos. Rates start at $91 a night.
(800) 737-2322 or www.southernresorts.com
Where to Eat: The Crab Trap
The best fried shrimp and fish sandwiches are at The Crab Trap. Because it sits on the water, you don't even have to change out of your swimsuit to dine.
3500 Old Highway 98; (850) 654-2772 or www.crabtrapdestin.com
10: St. Louis, MO
Enjoy the season in this city on the river, where glorious parks welcome you. Breathe the summer air, and have some fun.
Where to Stay: Adam's Mark Hotel
A great downtown option, Adam's Mark Hotel sits just across from the Gateway Arch. Rates from $119.
4th Chestnut; (314) 241-7400 or www.adamsmark.com
Where to Eat: Imo's
St. Louisians prefer their pizzas topped with Provel cheese, a blend of provolone, Cheddar, and Swiss. The consistency is more like Alfredo sauce than stringy mozzarella, but the rich flavor puts a tasty new spin on pizza. Try it at Imo's, a chain famous for slicing its pies into squares.
4479 Forest Park; (314) 535-4667 or www.imospizza.com