As rising prices take a bite out of your finances, you can travel more for less in the following destinations. These locales offer free and reasonably priced activities, and lodging opportunities for less than $200 per night. Prices and rates may change, depending on the season, so plan in advance to get the best deal.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
For a strong mix of Native American culture, desert beauty and distinct cuisine at a nice price, head to New Mexico’s largest city. Albuquerque’s Old Town has the colonial adobe architecture people go to Santa Fe for, as well as vintage Americana in historic buildings along the nearby Route 66, including the restored 1937 El Vado Motel. Explore the area’s Native American roots at the free Petroglyph National Monument where short trails pass hundreds of ancient images of animals, people and symbols etched into rock, and meet the people of the state’s 19 pueblos at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center (admission $12, seniors $8). Native American, Spanish and Mexican influences converge to create New Mexican cuisine, and signature dishes are smothered in red or green chile sauce (order “Christmas” to get both). Try it at the old-school lunch counter at Duran Central Pharmacy on Route 66.
Grand Junction, Colorado
On the western slope of Colorado, Grand Junction is an entertaining home base to take scenic drives among the geologic wonders. To the west, about 12 minutes from downtown, the Colorado National Monument boasts striking red-rock canyons and stone monoliths that are easy to see from the 23-mile Rim Rock Drive. For greater intimacy with the landscape, park and hike the 1.5-mile round-trip Devils Kitchen Trail to reach a cluster of upright boulders. To the east of town, take the scenic byway up Grand Mesa, the world’s largest flattop mountain rising more than 11,000 feet, featuring pine forests and alpine lakes. Return to downtown Grand Junction to peruse independent book and resale shops and sample local brews at the popular Trail Life Brewing. Stay beside the Colorado River at Camp Eddy in a tiny house or a vintage Airstream trailer.