So we are finally in the dog days of summer (which I realized when I went for a run at noon). Some of us are working, going to school, or schlepping around interning. Others are laying by the pool sipping sangria (*jealous*). But, I think we can all agree that a break of any kind is welcome. Especially when that break is a trip to somewhere cool, offbeat and–the best part– cheap. So pack your favorite flip flops, airy sundress and camera and head somewhere, anywhere but here. Might I suggest any of these destinations:
This 21 by 5 mile island is referred to asIsla Nena by residents, loosely translating into “virgin island”. Located only 6 miles off Puerto Rico’s coast, it is a hotbed of natural beauty and tropical activities. You fly onto the island after flying into San Juan, Puerto Rico, so be prepared with a your iPod, a magazine, eye mask or Valium–whatever it takes to get you to board an 8 seater plane to Vieques Airport.
Once you’re on the island, you can stay anywhere ranging from $90 a night B&B’s to luxury hotels, so whether you’re on a typical college budget, or you happen to have a trust fund, there are accomodations for you.
Activities on the island include: hiking, snorkeling and diving, biking, fishing, sightseeing and dining in Bravos de Boston, Vieques’ most fashionable town. However, the highlight of this destination is definitely its Bioluminescent Bay. The bay is filled with phosphorescent microorganisms, that glow in the dark when disturbed. Nighttime charter boats take you on a guided swimming and kayaking trip to the brightest bio bay in the world. If you’re looking for a tropical getaway that won’t break the bank and is off the beaten path, Vieques is it.
Beech Mountain, North Carolina.
It’s not Aspen, but you can still have your mountaineering getaway (and for a hell of a lot less.) This small ski town is located in Northwest NC, right next to Grandfather Mountain, the highest peak in the Appalachians. Since it’s the middle of summer (off season) most rates for rentals are way below in-season prices. Grab a group of friends and split a rental like this for $100 a night. Depending on how many of your peeps you can fit into a car, any of these other places are options to consider too. Most are on or near the mountain and very close to downtown Banner Elk, which may be the world’s quaintest mountain town.
You can shop, eat, go kayaking or rafting, or even trout fishing if that’s your thing! Grandfather Mountain is only a short drive away. There you can hike, see bears in their natural habitat (hopefully not too natural…) and, if you’re brave enough, cross their mile-high swinging bridge, which offers the best view in the Appalachians. If heights aren’t your thang, head underground with Linville Cavern’s cave tours. They’re cheap ($6!) and very Journey to the Center of the Earth.
If all else fails, grab a few 12 packs and some s’more ingredients and chill in your cabin with your nearest and dearest– a perfect mountain retreat!
Vancouver is found on Canada’s Southwest coast. It is a large metropolitan area, but unlinke many of the big cities in the US of A, the cost of living is relatively low.
Vancouver has many inexpensive accomodation options, including hostels that start at 11 US Dollars a night. If seeing Hostel made you a little squeamish, there are great hotels starting as low as $92 Canadian Dollars.
During the day, go sightseeing in Gastown or Yaletown. Take a gondola to the top of Grouse Moutnain, or go on a guided rainforest tour (yes, rainforests. IN CANADA!) There are also plenty of beautiful courses for golfers and ocean kayaking for those looking for adventure.
After dinner, head back downtown to party at any of Vancouver’s hot clubs and lounges. Don’t miss out on Thursday nights at Odyssey or boutique lounge 1181 to experience how Vancouver’s thriving Gay and Lesbian community part-ays.
With its attractions varying from natural to architectural, its activites, dining and nightlife, Vancouver is a big city getaway on a much smaller budget.
Roswell, New Mexico.
Yes, the Roswell. Aliens crashed here in 1947, 61 years later its you and your crew’s turn. Given that New Mexico’s major tourist cities are Alberquerque and Santa Fe, Roswell is a considerably less expensive destination with just as much to do.
Obviously, Roswell’s claim to fame provides the grounds for some of its biggest attractions. Their annual UFO festival takes place July 3rd- 6th, and provides something for the most evangelical of UFO believers as well as something for those of us who are extraterrestrially impaired. If the festival leaves you curious, or if you won’t be in Roswell for those 3 days, head over to the International UFO Museum and Research Center to get the lowdown on the infamous incident.
After you’ve finished playing Scully and Moulder for the day, head back to your ridiculously cheap hotel. (Averages as low as $54 a night…divide that by as many people as you can cram into your hotel room). Head over to Pecos Flavors Winery for a free (sweet!) wine tasting. Nightlife in Roswell is not exactly, to put it kindly and in the words of Chris Brown, poppin’. On a Friday night, your best bet is Bud’s. However, some travel guides suggested that ladies dress conservatively–not for modesty purposes, but rather saftey. If you’ve got guys with you, make sure to employ the buddy system while out and have check ins. If it’s a girl’s trip, play it safe and stick together all night.
When you wake up for day two, enjoy a liesurely day picnicking, barbecuing or laying out at Bottomless Lakes State Park (it’s not what you’re thinking…ok it’s not what I was thinking). The park was a cowboy favorite (hmm, it might not be a bad thing if they’re still hanging out around there) and offers paddle boat rentals, hiking, and scuba diving.
Even if you don’t discover any alien remains and solve the conspiracy theories, Roswell is still a great place to visit. It’s offbeat and a little mysterious, set against a gorgeous Southwestern backdrop. Most importantly, it will save you enough dinero to splurge on a pair of authentic cowboy boots to bring back as a killer souvenir. Badass.