Are you tired of hearing your neighbors brag about their exotic vacations? Would you love to spend a few days in London, Rome or maybe Beverly Hills, without having to take out a second mortgage to pay for it?
See also: Take a thrifty road trip.
You can take an enjoyable, affordable getaway vacation this spring to one of these expensive-sounding destinations right here in the United States. These off-the-beaten-path locales have a lot to offer — and they come with big-name bragging rights, as far as your neighbors are concerned.
Ah, springtime in Paris. Paris, Texas, that is.
This pleasant town of roughly 25,000 sits in the heart of the Red River Valley and is named the "Best Small Town in Texas." In the spring, you'll find plenty of bluegrass jams, art events and rodeo action. There's even a 65-foot tall replica of the Eiffel Tower — this one with a giant cowboy hat on top. A dozen hotels serve the city, offering a wide range of accommodations that start at only about $50 a night. There are also plenty of RV campgrounds in the area, including one at the Pat Mayse Recreation Area and lake operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, approximately 20 miles northwest of Paris. Vive la Texas!
You could head to a hotspot in Florida, but...
Forget about South Beach. In Miami, Ariz., roughly 80 miles east of Phoenix, you'll find even more sunshine than in Florida, and an Old West adventure around every picturesque bend. This once-thriving copper mining town is now more ghost than town, except for a lively population of quaint antique stores and the Boom Town Spree festival that takes place in April. Restored buildings in Miami and nearby Globe take you back more than 100 years. Native American culture and history are all around. Best of all, spring is wildflower season in the surrounding Pinal Mountains, so bring a camera — but not much money, since area hotels start at under $50 per night.
You're closer to Rome than you thought.
Explore the history of the Erie Canal and enjoy the area's many crystal-clear lakes with a getaway to Rome, N.Y. In the geographic center of New York state, Rome was the starting point in the construction of the Erie Canal. Today Rome's 1840s Erie Canal Village ($10 for adult; $7 for seniors 60 and older) transports visitors back to that time and place, featuring three museums, restored buildings and period reenactments. Rome also offers many unique shops and restaurants, and area lodging options range from budget motels to charming bed-and-breakfasts.
The Bigger Apple isn't always better.
Manhattan, Kan., calls itself the "Little Apple," but Money Magazine recently called it one of the Top 10 Places to Retire in the America. It's also an enjoyable — inexpensive — place to visit. Located 120 miles west of Kansas City, Manhattan is home to Kansas State University and the 15,000-acre Turtle Creek Lake. The area is teaming with reasonably priced golf courses, and your shopping dollars will go a lot farther in the historic Aggieville shopping district than in the Big Apple. Speaking of which, a recent online search showed that almost any hotel room in Manhattan, Kan., (including those at several major national chains) could be yours for $100 or less per night. Try finding that deal in the other Manhattan.
Can't decide on an exotic sounding vacation destination?
Just head to Kentucky. The Blue Grass State is particularly beautiful in the spring; plus, it's post time! The Kentucky Derby in May is just part of the springtime horse racing action in the state. There's also Hillybilly Days (Pikeville), the Kentucky Scottish Festival (Carrollton), the International Bar-B-Q Festival (Owensboro) and lots more fun. With three major airports serving the state, reasonably priced flights to Kentucky are fairly common. Kentucky's network of more than 50 state parks and historic sites provide some terrific values for sightseeing and travel accommodations, many offering campgrounds as well as cabins and lodges.
Plus, by my count, Kentucky boasts more famous sounding destinations than any other state in the union. In what other state can you visit Beverly Hills, Rio, Paris, Cairo, London, Versailles, Melbourne, Canada, Frankfort, Columbia, Dublin, Lebanon, Verona, Anchorage, Madrid, New York, Warsaw, and both Rome and Florence? And don't forget to visit Boston while you're in Kentucky — for your convenience, the state has two of them.
Jeff Yeager is the author of The Ultimate Cheapskate's Road Map to True Riches and The Cheapskate Next Door. His website is www.UltimateCheapskate.com and you can friend him on Facebook at JeffYeagerUltimateCheapskate or follow him on Twitter.