Budget Travel to Western US

Dec 25th, 2008, 06:28 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2008
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Budget Travel to Western US

My girlfriend and I love travelling and recently came across some extra money that we plan on using for a trip in March. We are from Charleston, SC, and we want to head out west. The money will cover our flight and not much more, so we will be saving until we leave.

We really like smaller, walking cities like Charleston. At the same time, we really want to experience the beautiful scenery out west and possibly do some hiking, bike riding, etc. We aren't avid hikers or bikers, so we aren't looking for anything extreme, just a different way to experience the outdoors.

We won't have a car so we would like to find a destination that is fairly easy to navigate with a lot to do in a small area.

So to sum it all up, we're looking for an affordable, easily navigable destination with beautiful scenery and many activities around it.

We are both 23 years old, so we like to visit the bars (no crazy screaming drunks or Spring Break scenes). We really enjoy wine and good food so that would be enjoyable also.

As far as lodging goes, we will probably try to find something on VRBO unless we can find a great hotel rate. I would be fine staying at the Budget Inn, but my accompanying party demands nicer.

OK, so we sound pretty difficult now, but I wanted to give as much info as possible about our trip. I appreciate any and all help and thank you in advance!
jershaw03 is offline  
Dec 25th, 2008, 06:36 PM
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Sorry, I meant to post this earlier... The only place I've been out west is Park City. Downtown Park City was perfect for what we were looking for, but it was a little pricey. We also had to take cabs almost everywhere, but we loved Park City. It's just an idea for the type of town we like. Thanks again!
jershaw03 is offline  
Dec 25th, 2008, 07:03 PM
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All that desire for beautiful scenery and hiking and biking in the West (Utah, Colorado etc.) is a bit iffy in March, it's still winter in fits and starts, the scenery is not green yet, some places are not accessible yet, and many areas may be snowy and icy, preventing the hiking and biking you're after.

If by the West you mean California, sure, there is more potential there along the coast where winter is more mellow, but without a car your options will be severely restricted.

If you're content with staying in the one place, maybe look to somewhere like Santa Cruz that may have the kind of not-too-big-town vibe you're after, and some public transportation etc.? It has a lot of character, part academia with a hippie streak, part straight-laced, but mostly easy-going with an independent streak.

Or in or near San Diego where it is warmer than just about anywhere else in March, with public transportation better than in some other areas, and lots of things to see and do in town and in the vicinity.

Google those two towns and read what you can find, then maybe define your ideas further.

Can you wait til May or - better in the West - June?
DalaiLlama is offline  
Dec 25th, 2008, 08:47 PM
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Thanks for the quick response. My girlfriend is in law school and I've got a very flexible job, so we're leaning towards spring break (mid-March) for the trip.

When I say west, I mean everything including and west of Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico. We want to cross those states' eastern borders.

I really saw mountains for the first time when we went to Park City and I would like to see more when they aren't covered in snow.
We wouldn't mind if everything wasn't green, just as long as snow isn't everywhere.

Thanks again!
jershaw03 is offline  
Dec 26th, 2008, 04:01 AM
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Unfortunately, all the mountains in Colorado will be covered in snow in March. March, on average, is our snowiest month.

I fear that anywhere in the Rockies it will be the same story in March.
martym is offline  
Dec 26th, 2008, 05:14 AM
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Santa Fe might be nice. If you stay in the downtown (plaza) area you can see a lot on foot. Hotels are pricey down there, but Garrett's Desert Inn is reasonable. There are plenty of VRBO rentals, too, although I've never tried it.

For hiking, etc., you'd need to rent a car.
jayne1973 is offline  
Dec 26th, 2008, 05:35 AM
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I think the month you will be traveling will be problematic as far as weather goes with the Ole West. I would recommend San Francisco. You don't need a car, you can walk everwhere, take the cable cars to China Town, take the ferry to Alcatraz, take a tour bus to Muir Woods and walk amoung those beautiful Redwoods. SF has your bars to visit at night and best of all, find the area you want to stay in and bid on Priceline. We wanted to stay on the Wharf and got the Radisson for $80.00 a night. You can do a search above on San Francisco, there's lots of info here.
cd is offline  
Dec 26th, 2008, 05:36 AM
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I was going to suggest Death Valley National Park until I noticed you won't have a car. You can fly to Las Vegas and take a short drive to Death Vally but that is really not possible without a car. I'm suggesting this park because it is an ideal place for hiking, biking, blooming desert in mid-March. This is definitely a different way to experience the outdoors than in Charleston, SC. You can get inexpensive flight to Las Vegas. There are also inexpensive and very nice accommodation in Stovepipe Wells or Furnace Creek Ranch.

Without a car maybe consider Tucson, AZ. Plenty of hiking, biking in the area but you'll spend more money for taxis than if you decide to rent a car for a whole stay.

NewPlaces is offline  
Dec 26th, 2008, 06:56 AM
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Definetly snow in Montana that time of year. As an example, Going to Sun Road in GP didn't open till July last year.
John is offline  
Dec 26th, 2008, 11:15 AM
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Thanks for clarifying your situation. Looks like San Diego is a very good bet for you - lots to do in town, lots of nearby attractions, helpful public transportation and shuttles etc. to most places if you don't drive yourselves, mellow climate - look into it!
DalaiLlama is offline  
Dec 26th, 2008, 12:50 PM
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I agree that Santa Fe would be a good choice. You can fly into Albuquerque and take the RailRunner train up to Santa Fe. Most of the city is walkable, with a bus system as well.

If you can swing a cheap car rental, though, you can see a lot more of northern New Mexico.

Lee Ann
ElendilPickle is offline  
Dec 26th, 2008, 01:13 PM
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I didn't see this post and responded to your other one but after reading this I agree with ElendilPickle. Why not weigh the cost of a small economy car against the airfare for 2. You could do some camping, many of the parks now have showers and bathrooms it would be cheaper than a hotel and you would certainly see some nature without being an avid hiker.
LSky is offline  
Dec 26th, 2008, 02:19 PM
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I don't know why I left this out but it's extremely important. We are both only 23 years old, so we're unable to rent a car. As soon as we hit 25, we'll be renting cars. Until then, we will make do with cabs, but they get really pricey really fast.
jershaw03 is offline  
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