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10 Affordable Spring Trips

  • Danita Delimont / Alamy Stock Photo

    En español | Grownups need spring breaks, too. Whether you need to make time to smell the wildflowers, walk on the beach or spend quality time with family, these destinations fill the bill — and leave you with some change.

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  • Ed Reschke/Getty Images

    Holland by the Lake

    Did you know that more than 4.5 million tulips bloom each spring in Holland, Mich.? They’re a sight to see when they burst open and are celebrated at the annual Tulip Time Festival (May 7-14 this year). Residents celebrate their Dutch heritage with parades, an arts and crafts fair, and dancers performing in traditional costumes. At "Klomp the Record,” participants will try to surpass the Guinness World Record for the most people dancing for five minutes in wooden shoes. If you want to join in, clogs are sold at local shops. 

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  • Thom Moore / Alamy Stock Photo

    Climb Every Mountain

    Estes Park, Colo., the so-called base camp for Rocky Mountain National Park, is home to abundant inexpensive outdoor experiences. Drive to heights of 12,000 feet on Trail Ridge Road, stopping for photo ops at overlooks. Snowshoeing often is possible into spring and then comes hiking on more than 350 miles of trails. Keep your eyes (or binoculars) peeled for elk, moose and bighorn sheep. Check online for free entry dates, and consider staying at the YMCA of the Rockies, where lodging — ranging from comfortable rooms to cabins that will house multiple generations — starts at less than $100. Movie buffs will want to see the century-old Stanley Hotel, where Stephen King stayed in supposedly haunted Room 217 and was inspired to write The Shining. Take the Stanley’s popular paranormal tour.

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  • Ian Dagnall Commercial Collection / Alamy Stock Photo

    Shop and Sun in Florida

    Fort Lauderdale’s lesser-known neighbor, Delray Beach, is blessed with a long stretch of sand and appealing boutiques, bars and restaurants on lively Atlantic Avenue, where you’ll find a vibrant sidewalk-café scene. Serious shoppers shouldn’t pass up Tootsies for affordable, fashionable footwear or the Silly Goose for stylish infants and children’s gear. Morikami Museum & Japanese Gardens provides a peaceful respite for lovers of culture and cultivation. Galleries in the Pineapple Grove Arts District are another worthy diversion.

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  • Danita Delimont / Alamy Stock Photo

    The Hills Are Alive

    Spring is the ideal time to visit Fredericksburg in Texas Hill Country, about an hour’s drive northwest of San Antonio. Aside from fields of bluebonnets blooming, you’ll find two dozen vineyards that host tastings. History buffs can tour the recently expanded National Museum of the Pacific War, which focuses on maneuvers in the Pacific Theater during World War II. Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, commander in chief of the Allied forces in the Pacific, hailed from Fredericksburg.

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  • laozein / Alamy Stock Photo

    Watch the Birds

    Novice and veteran bird watchers alike flock to the Grand Island, Neb., area in spring. The star attraction is the annual migration of about 500,000 sandhill cranes, with best viewing opportunities usually in the second half of March. Later, you’ll see swarms of other migrating birds. The local tourism folks say that one Nebraskan birder counted nearly 350 species in one year. Another lure: The area has inexpensive lodgings and campgrounds.

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  • LOOK Die Bildagentur der Fotografen GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo

    On the Road

    Drive the U.S. 61 “Blues Highway” south of Memphis to hear live music and trace the roots of this American genre. Dine and dance at the Ground Zero Blues Club in Clarksdale, Miss. (actor Morgan Freeman cof-ounded it); visit the Delta Blues Museum in the same town; and stay at one of the most offbeat lodgings in the nation. The funky Shack Up Inn (“the ritz we ain’t,” its website says) is a collection of restored sharecropper cabins updated with indoor bathrooms, heat and refrigerators. Cabins named for blues greats start at under $80 a night and have hosted international road trippers and songwriters looking for an inspirational place to pen a hit.

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  • Cultura RM / Alamy Stock Photo

    California Dreaming

    “Surfin’ USA,” by the Beach Boys, contains a shout-out to Swami’s Beach in Encinitas — so you know the waves in this classic seaside community north of San Diego are epic (as a spectator sport). Watch daredevils hang 10 while you stroll or bike, then explore the vintage downtown. Take in a quirky sight: the large mosaic resembling the Virgin of Guadalupe riding a board, known as “Surfing Madonna.” A tame day on the sand doesn’t get much sunnier than at Moonlight State Beach, with equipment rentals and concessions for comfort. 

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  • Pete Saloutos/Blend Images

    Horsing Around

    Southern Cross Guest Ranch, about 50 miles east of Atlanta, saddles up year-round and charges rates that don’t get too frisky with your wallet. The ranch offers pricing with or without daily horseback rides as well as deep discounts for children. The full package includes three down-home meals, snacks and two rides daily, plus accommodations with TVs and DVD players. A five-night stay with riding and all meals starts at $780 per adult in the “mid-season” in April and May.

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  • Nigel Francis/Alamy

    Peace Out

    Start in Seattle, where you can rent a restored VW camper from Peace Van Rentals for about $1,500 a week, including 500 free miles. Then don your peace sign T-shirts, and drive up to Mount Rainier in spring, when waterfalls are gushing — or explore anywhere you want in the Pacific Northwest.

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  • Michael DeFreitas North America / Alamy Stock Photo

    Beyond Mickey and Minnie

    Orlando, Fla., can be costly when you cough up $100-plus a day at theme parks alone. So venture outside the tourist zone, where far less pricey (or even free) delights abound. Do as locals do: Enjoy the exotic plants at the Harry P. Leu Gardens, and eat at budget Vietnamese restaurants in the Mills 50 district not far from downtown. In nearby Winter Park, the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art holds the most comprehensive collection of leaded glass lamps, art glass and other valuables from Louis Comfort Tiffany. Or take in free classic car parades Friday and Saturday nights at the Old Town theme park in Kissimmee. At Wednesday street dances, you might end up doing the Stroll alongside others reliving their high school days during a spring fling.

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  • Danita Delimont / Alamy Stock Photo
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