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En español | Culture sprees cost surprisingly little in the capital, thanks to year-round free entry at the national monuments and the Smithsonian's museums and National Zoo. Nonstop free events and lots of inexpensive ethnic food seal the deal. Though hotels aren't cheap, some patient searching can yield a suitable, moderately priced room.
The brightest jewel on the Panhandle's dazzling Emerald Coast is still feeling the effects of the Gulf oil spill; tourism is down, even though the sugar-fine sand is as white as ever. This means not only cheaper airfares and hotel rooms but also less crowded beaches, golf courses, harbors and waterfront cafes.
Nashville is upping its game with a new events center, the Johnny Cash Museum and an evolving "haute Southern" cuisine that foodies are swooning over. A spate of new hotels are competing for visitors in a city whose rates are already among the lowest in the South. What hasn't changed: streets that are alive with music, day and night.
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A storied past, sublime food and deep musical traditions create an exotic cultural brew in the Crescent City. Its historic buildings house an array of affordable hotels, and spicy Cajun and Creole dishes are often a bargain. Just avoid visits during Mardi Gras or Jazz Fest — unless you like crowds and high prices.
The Lone Star State's freewheeling capital offers a world of free outdoor diversions and a good supply of stylish hotels — some with rates under $100. An influx of well-heeled newcomers, lured by the burgeoning arts movement and the nightly live-music scene, has spurred a culinary revival, though gentrification has been kept in check.
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Yellowstone is a world of superlatives: America's first national park, with more geysers than the rest of the world combined and the most diverse wildlife in the continental United States. Inexpensive lodging surrounds the park, but camping will make for a truly cheap vacation.
Uncommonly low prices for hotels, dining and airfare make sunny Phoenix one of the cheapest U.S. cities for travelers. Major sports teams, abundant health spas, several renowned museums and a spectacular desert landscape expand its appeal to more than just snowbirds and golf fans.
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Aside from the obvious draw of its 100 or so casinos, Las Vegas is a penny-pincher's delight. Low hotel rates, bargain meals, a proliferation of discount coupons and cheap or free transportation let you enjoy round-the-clock entertainment, art exhibits and maybe even a little judicious blackjack for a song.
A cool city in terms of both climate and temperament, progressive Portland values creativity above money but also treasures such traditions as its 105-year-old Rose Festival held each June. Year-round, free activities abound, and hotel and restaurant prices are low by urban standards. So is the tab for the craft beer served in any of the city's 40-plus microbreweries.
Long association with Hollywood types has tagged this artsy desert oasis as a rich man's playground. The truth is that plenty of moderately priced rooms await in its Spanish- and mid-century modern-style hotels, and rates dip as temperatures rise. You'll also find some of the best thrift stores in California.
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