Travel News: 100 Most Scenic Restaurants in America

By The Budget Travel Editors
September 4, 2018
View of the beach and rocks in Pismo Beach, California
Debra Tosca/Dreamstime
There’s a great big world out there, and our latest “news you can use” may inspire a trip you never knew you needed.

We’ve been devouring OpenTable’s list if the 100 Most Scenic Restaurants in America, which is based on more than 12 million reviews of restaurants across the U.S. by “verified diners” (meaning the reviews were not written by the restaurants themselves or by public relations reps). The varying vistas these eateries offer range from seascapes, nature to city skylines to iconic landmarks.

But even a quick glance at the list makes it clear that some of the most beautiful restaurant views come with a hefty price tag. With that in mind, we did a deeper dive into the scenic restaurants whose menu items are aimed a bit more at bargain seekers like us - those where dinner with a drink and tip will come in roughly under $30/person. The good news is there are plenty of affordable options in all regions of the U.S. Here, a few of the standouts (to learn more or book a reservation, look them up on OpenTable).


It’s no secret that Budget Travelers love California’s Central Coast, and Ventana Grill, right on the water in Pismo Beach, will knock you out with seascapes (ventana, after all, means “window” in Spanish), good prices, and great Latin American fare and, of course, seafood..

Beachcomber Cafe - Crystal Cove, in Newport Beach, CA, is right on the water and gets high marks for breakfast and beignets.

Duke’s, in La Jolla and in Malibu, CA, wows visitors with its ambience and Hula Pie.

El Five serves up a popular paella - not to mention breathtaking views of downtown Denver, CO.


Boat House Waterfront Dining, in Tiverton, RI, offers lobster fritters along with waterside views.

Legal Harborside, in Boston, MA, is the place for fish and chips (and, do we have to say it… chowder), served, yes, harborside.

Parc, on beautiful Rittenhouse Square, in Philadelphia, PA, gets raves for its French cuisine, including the cheesy, bubbly onion soup.


The Bistro at Gervasi Vineyard, in Canton, OH, offers beautiful vineyard views plus a posh interior and, of course, great wine.

Primavista serves affordable Italian food with sweeping views of Cincinnati, plus a bread pudding you should save some room for.


The Boathouse at Rocketts Landing, on the water in Richmond, VA, generates plenty of buzz for its shrimp and grits.

Columbia Restaurant - SandKey, in Clearwater, FL, pours a popular sangria in an open, airy space with windows looking out on the water.

Fleet Landing Restaurant & Bar, in Charleston, SC, focuses on seafood, including its ever-popular shrimp and grits.

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Travel News: Coast-to-Coast Bargain Trips for Fall 2018

We’re just getting started covering some of the hottest fall bargains, deals, and steals. As summer temperatures drop, so do the vacation prices, from Pacific coast hideaways like Morro Bay, CA, to posh Atlantic resorts like The Sea Pines, in Hilton Head, SC. Here, five of the latest bargains you should pounce on now. A STYLISH STEAL ON HILTON HEAD ISLAND, SC A two-bedroom villa on Hilton Head, SC, from $136/night. Any questions? We didn’t think so. But you should know that The Sea Pines Resort is one of the top-rated properties on Hilton Head, and fall (and winter) stays are an absolute steal. The resort’s Getaway Package includes lodging and activities available Sept. 8, 2018 through March 1, 2019, including tennis, cycling, golf for all ages, dinners and food discounts, spa discounts, and even a complimentary family portrait photo session on the beach. Rates start at $136/night for a minimum of four nights in a two-bedroom deluxe villa in the resort’s Plantation Club. A NEW MARITIME MUSEUM IN MORRO BAY, CA We named Morro Bay one of the Best Budget Destinations in America 2018, and we are so pleased to announce that, after 25 years of fundraising and hard work, the charming fishing village that makes visitors feel like family is opening the Morro Bay Maritime Museum on September 29. Located right on the town’s bustling waterfront (home to some of the finest fresh seafood anywhere), the museum will offer free admission each Saturday through the end of the year. Exhibits will include an authentic crafted Salinan Tribe Tule Boat, U.S. Navy history and memorabilia, and much more. And Morro Bay packs a bunch of festivals into its fall calendar, celebrating the region’s seafood, avocados, wine, and more. LEAF PEEPING IN THE ADIRONDACKS, NY A fall visit to Adirondack State Park, in upstate New York, offers, in addition to hotel rates well under $200/night, the opportunity to savor eye-popping fall foliage from a variety of unusual angles. These include: an aerial tour of the region’s legendary reds, yellows, and golds, with takeoff and land in Long Lake and Inlet; an Amtrak dome car, with windows on all sides, from Albany, NY, to Montreal, Canada; a luxurious dinner cruise on Raquette Lake; a quiet river rafting excursion in the Hudson River Gorge; a cycling tour to historic Great Camp Santanoni with its lake views and apple orchards; kayak one of the region’s seemingly endless waterways amid fall finery. Get Adirondacks foliage updates starting September 12 at CANOE WESTERN MONTANA Western Montana’s Seeley-Swan Valley, roughly south of Glacier National Park and north of Missoula, offers an unparalleled chain of lakes and quiet waterways closed to motorized boats, the Clearwater River Canoe Trail. It’s about a  two-hour paddle that takes you past incredible mountain vistas, marshes, and Montana’s bursts of autumn yellows and golds. Lodging in Seeley Lake and other communities along the waterway is always reasonable, and vacation rentals on Seeley Lake offer pinch-me views ( FALL FOLIAGE IN THE BRONX New Yorkers and those visiting the Big Apple should seriously consider a autumn stay-cation or day trip to the New York Botanical Garden, in the Bronx (yup, the Bronx, one of our Best Budget Destinations in America 2017). The Botanical Garden highlights foliage season with two Fall Forest Weekends that include guided walks through the largest remaining tract of old-growth forest in NYC, the 50-acre Thain Family Forest, as the leaves put on an annual show that rivals that of any region in America. Visitors can canoe down the Bronx River, experience birds-of-prey demonstrations, and even take in live Shakespeare performances. Now that’s a fall weekend (


Travel News: 100 Travel Discounts You’ll Love, Streaming Audio From the National Parks, You Can Afford Nantucket

From a discounted African safari to a plate of Massachusetts scallops, from a tour of the art of Florence to the sound of a mountain stream delivered right to your earbuds, this week’s travel news is all about pushing boundaries and seeing more. 100 TRAVEL DISCOUNTS YOU’LL LOVE This news takes the concept of Shoulder Season to the next level. The United States Tour Operators Association’s (USTOA) Travel Together Month (September 1 - 30) will offer exclusive savings, perks and airfare deals on dozens and dozens of amazing trips around the world. “Cruises, safaris, walking tours, independent trips, and more… Travel Together Month includes a wide variety of live-like-a-local experiences in countries around the world” said Terry Dale, president and CEO of USTOA. From art and culture in European cities to wildlife in Africa and the South Pacific, these trips are high-end experiences with seriously discounted price tags, often saving travelers $1,000 per person. STREAMING AUDIO FROM THE NATIONAL PARKS Love America’s national parks? Well, listen up, people. Seriously.  Listen. The National Park Foundation, the official charity partner of the National Park Service, has just launched PARKTRACKS, an audio streaming experience that can (virtually) transport you to your favorite national parks any time. The National Park Service’s Natural Sounds and Night Skies Division captured unique audio experiences such as waterways, wildlife, and more at national parks across the country, available to download or stream online at Find Your Park. YES, YOU CAN AFFORD NANTUCKET You already know that the island of Nantucket, off the coast of Cape Cod, is gorgeous, popular, and pricey in summer. But did you know that the island’s population drops from 80,000 to 10,000 when vacationers head home for the fall? That leaves miles of beach and fun events like the Cranberry Festival, Half Marathon, and the opening of Nantucket Bay Scallop Season, plus plummeting hotel prices and shorter lines for Juice Bar’s ice cream (try the Crantucket, with cranberry ice cream and chocolate chunks) and seafood at Toppers and Brant Point Grill.


Travel News: This Fall's Not-to-Be-Missed Museum Shows

As the leaves change and temperatures drop, back-to-school vibes are in the air, and our thoughts turn to educational pursuits. But not to worry: The fun doesn't have to end at Labor Day. Museums across the country are rolling out autumnal programming that will get your mental juices flowing, and there's not a dull bit in the bunch. We've rounded up the best of the best, from fashion and film to paintings and pinball. Here's how to expand your horizons this fall. Los Angeles While most of the world obsesses over Virtual Reality and IMAX films, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art ( casts a glance backwards to look at the whole history of the three-dimensional experience. 3D: Double Vision, 175 years of 3D imagery (through March 31) presents artwork from as far back as 1830, when the Victorian invention of the stereoscope changed how people consumed photographs and current events, and moves through 20th-century developments like 3D motion pictures and View Masters. Underscoring the crossover between pop culture, art, science, high-tech, and nature, it’ll likely get you thinking in new dimensions.   Baltimore Beloved in cinema circles for boundary-pushing movies like Pink Flamingos and cult classics like Hairspray and Cry-Baby, John Waters isn’t particularly known for his visual art—but that’s about to change. This fall, Baltimore welcomes home its native son with the first retrospective of his non-film work. John Waters: Indecent Exposure opens at the Baltimore Museum of Art ( in October, running through January 6 before continuing on to Columbus, Ohio’s Wexner Center in February. The exhibit features more than 160 photos, sculptures, and video and sound pieces by the outré director, plus peep-show style film footage from the ‘60s. In keeping with Waters’s reputation, you’re pretty much guaranteed a provocative show. New York City Another much-lauded, multi-talented filmmaker, Stanley Kubrick might be best recognized for such masterpieces as 2001: A Space Odyssey, Dr. Strangelove, and The Shining, but before he stepped behind the viewfinder, he used a camera to capture the pulse of New York. In the years preceding his film career, he served as a staff photographer for Look magazine, and a collection of his images—many previously unpublished—are on display at one of our favorite institutions, the Museum of the City of New York ( Through a Different Lens: Stanley Kubrick Photographs (through October 28) lends insight to his formative years and shows the full range of his vision, from nightclubs and street scenes to sporting events and slice-of-life snaps. You could call Andy Warhol: From A to B and Back Again (November 12 to March 31) at the Whitney Museum of American Art ( a homecoming. Few figures did as much to define New York City’s—and America’s—arts and culture landscape as he did, and this show at the Whitney’s new downtown location brings together 350 pieces to celebrate his legacy, making it the first Warhol retrospective in the United States since 1989. The show is designed as a chronological record of his career, showing the evolution of his work from his early days as a commercial illustrator to pioneer of Pop Art to trailblazer and tastemaker in the worlds of experimental film and painting. And looking at it through the lens of our digital era, there’s a good chance you’ll come away with a newfound respect for his creativity. Detroit Just when you thought the world had had enough of Star Wars, the Detroit Institute of Arts ( takes a spin into a galaxy far, far away, presenting Star Wars and the Power of Costume. There’s still time to catch it before it closes on September 30th, and catch it you should. Whether or not you’re a fan, it’s not an exaggeration to call it the opportunity of a lifetime. The original costumes of Darth Vader, Chewbacca, Han Solo, and all the rest are on display alongside videos that give you an up-close look at the designers’ creative process and how they worked with the actors to get the look and feel just right. And when you consider that Smithsonian scholars penned the text about the historical and cultural context of costume, the intergalactic, immense impact of Star Wars on society becomes crystal clear. Philadelphia The Philadelphia Museum of Art ( has long had an exceptional costume collection, but many of the pieces will be on view for the first time in this fall’s Fabulous Fashion: From Dior’s New Look To Now (October 16 to March 3). The haute inclinations of iconic designers are showcased in select gowns, bridal wear, daywear, and more, running the gamut from elaborate to bold and eccentric to intriguing. With their use of unorthodox materials and bold colors, the exhibit drives home how the showcased designers’ creativity and bold ideas influenced and changed the public’s understanding of fashion. Cleveland Pinball wizards take note: From Alice Cooper’s Nightmare Pinball Machine to The Who's Tommy Machine, legendary rock-n-roller-themed versions of the classic arcade game are now on display in Part of the Machine: Rock and Pinball, a new permanent exhibit at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame ( Cooper himself was on-hand to consecrate the exhibit when it was unveiled in early August, and he did the voiceovers for his namesake game. Guns N’ Roses, Metallica, the Rolling Stones, Elton John, and other Rock & Roll Hall of Fame members also have their own dedicated pinball machines. All the machines—vintage and new—are playable with admission to the institution.  Chicago A Life magazine assignment by noted photographer Gordon Parks and a decades-long chronicling of an improvisational music club by Mikki Ferrill, who contributed photos to Time, Ebony, Jet, and the Chicago Tribune, capture the character and style of Chicago’s South Side in the second half of the twentieth century, a time when the neighborhood was undergoing a sweeping transition. These photos and films are on display alongside those of other local artists in Never a Lovely So Real (through October 28) at the Art Institute of Chicago ( Collectively, the works document the neighborhood’s artistic evolution, from the Black Arts Movement to the revolutionary Bronzeville mural “Wall of Respect,” and show how the community contributed to Chicago's standing as an important city of culture. 


Travel News: Best Time to Book Thanksgiving Flights, L.L. Bean Supports the National Parks, and Airline Loyalty Programs Are Still Confusing

From the OMG-the-holidays-are-coming department to good news about America’s national parks, plus a look at the sometimes baffling array of airline loyalty programs, this week’s travel news is all about looking - and planning - ahead, BEST TIME TO BOOK THANKSGIVING FLIGHTS Don’t say we didn’t warn you: The best time to buy airline tickets for Thanksgiving 2018 may be… wait for it… next week. According to the data crunchers at the global travel search engine, the ideal window for savings is earlier than usual. The best week to book is the week of August 27, for savings up to 7 percent. The second best week to book is the week of October 1, for savings up to 6 percent. And don’t expect last-minute savings this year: The worst times to book are the weeks of November 12 and 19. L.L. BEAN SUPPORTS THE NATIONAL PARKS We wear our love for America’s national parks on our sleeve. We also wear our share of L.L. Bean apparel and gear. So today’s announcement that the Maine-based retailer will extend its support of the national parks with a multi-year, $3 million partnership with the National Park Foundation (NPF) for its Find Your Park program. “L.L.Bean’s investment helps power the movement to connect more people from all walks of life with the natural, cultural, and historical treasures found across the National Park System,” said Will Shafroth, president of the National Park Foundation, the official nonprofit partner of the National Park Service. “Once people discover how accessible these places are, they develop a lifelong passion for exploring and protecting them.” AIRLINE LOYALTY PROGRAMS ARE STILL CONFUSING The J.D. Power 2018 Airline Loyalty Program Satisfaction Study pretty much confirms what some of you may already suspect: Roughly half of airline loyalty program members do not understand how to earn or redeem their points or miles. And, yes, since the whole purpose of airline loyalty programs is to earn and redeem points or miles, the finding is a bit of a Debbie Downer. The study does contain some good news: When airline staff address members by name and acknowledge their preferences, satisfaction rates rise. The top three loyalty programs in terms of overall member satisfaction are JetBlue Airways TrueBlue, Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards, and Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan.