Give yourself a pre-holiday-season break with a (relatively) affordable weekend getaway.
With some major gift-giving holidays just around the corner, your budget might be a little stretched. We think you should treat yourself with a weekend getaway anyway. After all, the end of the year can be quite stressful! In order to keep the price down, we’ve chosen four domestic locations that are easily accessible from a number of major U.S. metropolitan areas by train, bus, car, and, in one case, extra-cheap flights. Take advantage of these trips, which offer everything from history to beaches to mountains, before your schedule becomes full of holiday obligations!
A Weekend in Philadelphia for $200
The City of Brotherly Love is the ideal November weekend getaway for anyone in the Northeast or Mid-Atlantic regions. Get your fill of American history with Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell—both of which are free to visit, which is great for your wallet—or learn all about art history at the Barnes Foundation, the Philadelphia Art Museum, or the Rodin Museum. Still want to indulge in the spooky after Halloween? Check out the Mutter Museum’s wild medical oddities, or take a tour of the famously haunted Eastern State Penitentiary. For eats, sample different Philly cheesesteaks and join the never-ending argument over whether Pat’s, Geno’s, Jim’s or any other institution reigns supreme. Wash it down with a beer in the ever-hip Fishtown neighborhood, or splurge on a single cocktail at the JG SkyHigh bar, set on the 60th floor of a skyscraper in the newly opened Four Seasons Philadelphia.
Philadelphia is well connected to other East Coast cities by Amtrak, though round-trip prices start around $70 (if you’re lucky). Save some cash by taking the bus—Bolt Bus and Megabus offer fares as low as $1 each way, though you’ll more likely be paying anywhere from $30–$50 round trip. Airbnb’s across Philadelphia, even ones in Center City, routinely cost less than $100 per night, meaning you could end up paying as little as $200 for accommodation and transportation for a two-night stay.
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A Weekend in Denver for $200
November is a beautiful time to visit Denver, with average daily temperatures in the mid-50s, so you can still enjoy plenty of outdoor activities like hiking before winter kicks in. You can, however, go skiing if you’re ready for some snow. Most of the slopes don’t open till Thanksgiving, which is the last weekend of November this year, but some do have early starts. If you’re looking for cultural activities, check out the Denver Film Festival, which runs through November 11, or Denver Arts Week, which runs through November 10 and offers discounted prices on everything from museum tickets to theater performances to concerts. Speaking of museums, art lovers must stop at the Denver Art Museum while they’re in town. And anyone who’s interested in craft beer should survey the scene here—Denver’s in the middle of a gold rush–that is, a rush of gold-colored brews.
While you can drive to Denver from destinations up and down the Rocky Mountains, we’ve put it on this list because you can also score amazingly cheap airfare from cities across the country. Budget airline Frontier is hubbed here, and it offers one-way ticket deals to Denver for as low as $25 from Houston, New Orleans, and Albuquerque, up to $74 each way from Washington, D.C.’s Reagan airport. Couple that with an Airbnb or budget hotel in the center of town for less than $100 per night, and you’ve got a great affordable weekend getaway.
A Weekend in San Diego for $200
Looking for warmer weather? Head south to San Diego, where there are more than enough activities to fill a weekend-long itinerary. With average daytime temperatures in the 70s, you can still head to the city’s famous beaches, from Coronado to Torrey Pines to La Jolla Cove, though the water might just be a bit chilly—it is the Pacific, after all. Bringing the kids on your trip? Don’t miss the world-famous San Diego Zoo and the Fleet Science Center. There are also dozens of museums for all interests, especially in Balboa Park: the Timken Museum of Art, the San Diego Air & Space Museum, and the Museum of Man, to name a few.
San Diego is just a two-hour drive from Los Angeles, or a five- to six-hour drive from Phoenix or Las Vegas. If you’re coming from farther north, you can take Amtrak’s scenic coastal route. Fares aren’t necessarily the cheapest (starting at $130 round-trip from San Francisco and $275 round-trip from Seattle), nor are the journeys the fastest (twelve and a half hours and over an entire day from those cities, respectively), but train travel is all the rage right now, and your weekend getaway becomes all about the journey rather than the destination. But do plan on spending at least one night in San Diego—both Airbnbs and hotels cost less than $100 per night.
A Weekend in Indianapolis for $200
With a central location in the Midwest, Indianapolis is an up-and-coming city that’s ideal for a weekend getaway. In November, the city has prime sweater weather, with average daily temperatures in the mid-50s. Get your fill of autumnal activities like corn mazes (try the 11-acre one at Conner Prairie), or enjoy open-air breweries and beer halls. There’s also beautiful hiking to be found in the area, especially at Morgan-Monroe State Forest, Eagle Creek Park, and Fort Harrison State Park. You’d be remiss if you skipped the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum, which tells the history of the Indy 500, as well as the Indianapolis Art Museum. For the kids, there’s also the famous Indianapolis Children’s Museum and the Indianapolis Zoo. And if you happen to be in town the weekend of November 8 to 10, check out the 19th annual Indianapolis LGBT Film Festival, which serves as a fundraiser for the Indiana Youth Group organization that provides support and resources to LGBT youth in the state.
Indianapolis is within a seven-hour drive of numerous major cities, including Chicago, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Nashville, and St. Louis, so it’s easy to make a weekend trip. Hotels under $100 are located on the outskirts of the city—not a problem if you have a car—while you can find Airbnb in the downtown area that will run you about the same price.