How to Spend Your Tax Rebate
DENVER TO SAN DIEGO, 3 NIGHTS
Getting There Round-trip tickets from Denver to San Diego on Southwest are $159 (including taxes and fees) in early June. Fares go up later in the month and stay high throughout the summer, but it's possible to find some special Web-only rates for as low as $219 in July and August.
Where to Stay The Sofia Hotel is a good bet for mod, earth-toned accommodations in the swinging Gaslamp Quarter. Three nights will set you back $557 midweek ($647 Thursday-Sunday). If you prefer to stay on the waterfront—and within walking distance of SeaWorld—try the 10-acre Dana Hotel on Mission Bay for $638 midweek ($750 Thursday-Sunday).
Something Extra The lowest price for a four-day economy-size car rental on Kayak is $75 (Advantage Rent-a-Car). Use your wheels to explore San Diego's many beaches, all of which are free to the public. Watch seals and surfers on the beaches of La Jolla or take a dip at Coronado Municipal Beach. It's right by the iconic Hotel del Coronado, which has hosted European royalty and U.S. presidents and formed the backdrop of Billy Wilder's Some Like It Hot.
Freebie The Museum of Contemporary Art has two locations—one on a cliff in La Jolla with breathtaking ocean views, and another in downtown San Diego. Both offer free admission on Thursdays, 5 p.m.-7 p.m., with free tours at 6 p.m. (Members and those ages 25 and under get in free anytime.)
Total: $950 ($475 per person)
2x$159 (airfare) + $557 (midweek hotel) + $75 (car rental) = $950
BOSTON TO BAR HARBOR, 4 NIGHTS
Getting There The five-hour, 280-mile drive from Boston to Bar Harbor, Maine, will cost about $67 in gas for the round trip in a late model midsize car, according to AAA's Fuel Cost Calculator.
Where to Stay The Love in Bloom package at Bar Harbor's Mira Monte Inn covers all the romantic-getaway basics. You'll get four nights' accommodations, wine and cheese nightly, fresh flowers in your room, breakfast daily, and three or four activities of your choice. Options include tickets to the Acadia Repertory Theatre, one-day bike rentals, and dinner for two at a local restaurant. The package starts at $702 (including taxes) for May 25-June 21 and at $877 for June 22-October 25. You can browse similar deals throughout the U.S. on BnBFinder.com.
Something Extra In surrounding Acadia National Park, you'll find opportunities for hikes, picnics, scenic drives, and horse-drawn-carriage rides. A seven-day entry pass costs $10 per car May 1-June 22, and $20 June 23-early October.
Freebie The Bar Harbor Brewing Company, a microbrewery run by a husband-and-wife team, has daily tastings of its stouts and ales from mid-May to October.
Total: $779 ($389.50 per person)
$67 (gas) + $702 (hotel) + $10 (Acadia park pass) = $779
FOR FAMILIES OF FOUR
DETROIT TO ORLANDO, 4 NIGHTS
Getting There A search on Kayak found a round-trip fare from Detroit to Orlando in early June of $129 (Northwest), including taxes and fees.
Where to Stay A family of four can stay four nights at the strategically located Best Western MovieLand on International Drive—opposite Wet 'n Wild Water Park and with free scheduled transportation to Universal Orlando and SeaWorld—for $382 in late June. Weekend rates may be higher, and the base rate goes up slightly in July.
Something Extra If you book online at least two days in advance, a two-park, unlimited seven-day pass to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure costs $86. (In comparison, a two-park pass for just one day costs $90 when purchased at the gate). The I-Ride Trolley stops at all the major attractions and hotels along International Drive, including the Best Western MovieLand, so you won't need to rent a car. A single ride is $1, or you can buy a three-day pass for $5. Kids under 12 ride free when accompanied by a paying adult.
Freebie The March of the Peabody Ducks at the Peabody Hotel, also on International Drive, takes place twice daily. Watch as the hotel's resident waterfowl traipse along the red carpet on their way to and from the lobby fountain.
Total: $1,252 ($313 per person)
4x$129 (airfare) + $382 (hotel) + 4x$86 (4 park passes) + 2x$5 (three-day adult trolley passes) = $1,252