10 Best Budget Destinations for 2014
With amazing food, glorious public spaces, and unparalleled museums, theme parks, and beaches, the only thing “budget” about these world-class vacation spots is the price tag!
Where to Stay: The private and affordable Eva Luna, in Las Terrenas, has five Mexican-style villas, each with a kitchen. (villa-evaluna.com, from $100)
The "Paris of South America" invites you to tango, shop, eat—and then tango some more
Why in 2014: Dubbed the "Paris of South America," Buenos Aires has a cosmopolitan feel and is heavy on museums, historical sites, and nightlife. Go this year: Hotel rates are 8 percent lower than they were in 2013. In the evening, make a stop at busy Corrientes Avenue for everything from a slice at an all-night pizzeria to rare books to dance clubs where you can brush up on your tango skills—the street is rich in tango history. If it's been a while since you've watched Evita, re-educate yourself on the life of Eva Perón at the Evita Museum, which spotlights Eva's clothing, items from her charity work, and videos of her speeches. Afterward, view Argentinean culture through the eyes of its artists at the Museum of Latin American Art of Buenos Aires, where works by Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and more reside. Follow Santa Fe Avenue to arrive at the affluent Recoleta neighborhood, famous for its high-end shopping, but also noteworthy for Recoleta Cemetery, a mecca of 18th and 19th century design and the final resting place of well-to-do Argentineans and famous statesmen, politicians, and military heroes—including Eva Perón's tomb. More than 100 years old, Teatro Colon, in downtown Buenos Aires, houses opera and ballet performances, and concerts by the Buenos Aires Philharmonic Orchestra among other classical concerts by musicians from around the world. Tickets are reasonable (about $9), or take a guided tour of the theater (about $10). To seize the moment after you've celebrated the past, the Río de la Plata is ideal for sailing, motorboating, and waterskiing.
Where to Stay: Situated in a residential area outside the city center but two blocks from the subway, the Hotel Boutique Racó de Buenos Aires is a boutique hotel that's high on style and comfort—there's even an outdoor courtyard where you can enjoy breakfast. (racodebuenosaires.com.ar, from $66)
The "big three"—Disney, Universal, and SeaWorld—are just the beginning
Why in 2014: If you've been planning to hit Orlando and its theme parks eventually but haven't booked your tickets yet, do it in 2014: Hotel rates are down 7 percent. To sweeten the deal, the "big three" theme parks all have brand-new elements, including Universal Studios' Transformers: The Ride 3D; the ever-expanding Fantasyland at Disney World, including the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, scheduled to open in 2014; and Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin, SeaWorld's biggest attraction to date, which drops temps to 30 degrees—colder than it ever gets in Florida. If eating well appeals to you after your foray into action-adventure, hit up downtown Orlando: The recently opened Rusty Spoon restaurant sources local fare from Florida farmers, like butter-poached wild clams and slow-braised Jamison farm lamb collar.
Where to Stay: Rosen Inn International is the newest addition to Rosen's roster of family-friendly, value-conscious Orlando hotels. Parents, take note: Free shuttle rides to SeaWorld, Universal Studios, and Wet 'n' Wild are provided, and children under 9 eat free in the hotel's buffet restaurant. (roseninn7600.com, from $61)
Friendly locals offer amazing seafood and rich history
Why in 2014: Head up north next year to take advantage of Atlantic Canada's always-low prices and to see an UNESCO World Heritage Site on the cheap. Composed of four provinces—New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador—Atlantic Canada is well known for its amazing seafood and rich history. Old Town Lunenburg, a heritage site in Nova Scotia, is 260 years old, but it looks almost the same as it did back in the 1700s. The original grid pattern is still in use, and the brightly colored wood-framed houses haven't changed much, as Lunenburg's citizens take preserving the past very seriously. Buy a $10 ticket to the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic and its wharves to behold floating replicas of famous trawlers and schooners.
Where to Stay: Quaint and cozy, the Smugglers Cove Inn is right by the docks. For $5 a night, you can even rent a Beta fish, which the hotel calls "a free 'therapy' session to help you relax." (smugglerscoveinn.ca, from $99)