5 U.S. Theme Parks Under $50
With major theme parks now charging over $100 per adult, this summer is the perfect time to consider the array of smaller (but awesome), regional theme parks where you can get your adrenaline fix for less. Here are five parks around the country where the daily price of adult admission is under $50.
Luna Park, Coney Island, NY.
Luna Park's prices correspond with the number of credits each game or ride is worth, so how much you spend to enjoy the park really depends on which rides you choose to go on. For anyone as indecisive as I am, stick with the $35 four–hour Luna Park Ride Wristband or the $45 Ride and Play package, a four-hour unlimited ride wristband that comes with a 20 credit game card (both are valid daily before May 23rd and after September 7th, 2015, but only during weekdays between the two summer holidays). Blackout dates include May 25, July 3 and July 4. Please note that the wristband is only valid on Luna Park attractions, not valid on Deno's Wonder Wheel or on rides at nearby 12th Street Amusements.
Dorney Park, Allentown, PA.
Dorney Park is a popular theme park located about an hour outside of Philadelphia. Kids love Planet Snoopy, a fun area with attractions centered around the lovable pooch and his cartoon friends. Adult tickets are available online for $44 (or for a limited time, $39.99 if you buy them online before June 28th) while tickets for kids and seniors are $34 online. You can also purchase an 'After 4PM Admission' ticket ($29.99 online), good for visits after 4 p.m. during the summer months when the park is open late.
Knotts Berry Farm, Buena Park, CA.
Home to some of the country's craziest thrill rides (take one look at La Revolucion, or Rip Tide and try to argue otherwise!), Knotts Berry Farm also has calmer, more family-friendly rides. Ages 12–61 get in for $43 when purchased online, while children ages 3–11 and seniors over 62 pay $37. Check their website all summer long for additional specials like the 3-Day Advance promotion, where you can pay $40 for tickets ordered online at least three days before you go.
Santa Cruz Boardwalk, Santa Cruz, CA.
Nestled on the warm beaches of Santa Cruz—about 90 minutes south of San Francisco—this awesome American Boardwalk is home to giant roller coasters, mini–golf, laser tag and enough food and games to keep people of all ages busy. The best part? An all–day unlimited rides wristband is only $32.95 plus tax, or you can pay $40.95 for the same wristband, plus your choice of two of the following attractions: Mini Golf, Laser Tag, Fright Walk, Lazer Maze, Boardwalk Bowl, Climb 'N Conquer, and you'll get three bonus points for arcades and games. Take that, Disney!
Cedar Point, Sandusky, OH.
Probably the theme park most displayed on The Travel Channel, Cedar Point Amusement Park in Sandusky, Ohio, has earned its popularity. Home to the scariest roller coasters in the states, like Millennium Force and Mean Streak just to name a few, this is definitely one for the adrenaline junkie's bucket list. You'll get in for $49.99 when tickets are purchased online, or $45.99 when you visit the park on weekdays this summer ($49.99 otherwise). Pay $44.99 per person when tickets are purchased by June 19th, or score an 'After 4PM' ticket for $37.99 per person for late-day visits to the park.
I say, the more rides for less money, the better. Some of my favorite childhood memories are from family vacations we took to California—spending the day at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, or riding the "GhostRider" for the first time at Knotts Berry Farm (very scary at age 9!). Are there other small, regional theme parks you love that we haven't mentioned here?
BT Editors' 12 Favorite Foodie Destinations
Eating is one of the great pleasures of a vacation. But not all destinations are created equal when it comes to their culinary treasures. And of course, what constitutes culinary greatness is very personal—one stomach might not agree with another. We asked Budget Travel editors where they would travel for the food and their answers were inspiring (and, in some cases, surprising). See the editors' favorite foodie destinations. I have had some of the best meals of my life in Croatia, where it seemed like everyone I met had their own olive grove and pressed their own olive oil, smoked their own prosciutto and made their own wine. Other Budget Travel editors found foodie inspiration much closer to home (in the case of one editor, it's one of the very reasons she chose to call New York City home). As much as I think about food on vacation, I very rarely choose my holiday spot based on the dining options—although after reading this slideshow I am inclined to start incorporating the culinary scene into my considerations. Flip through our slideshow and see what you think—and while you're at it, tell us whether or not we missed any great places! SEE MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL: America's Best Food Regions How to Take Better Food Photos 25 Summer Travel Deals You Don't Want to Miss
On Wednesday June 20, blogger Will McGough will set out on a one–of–a–kind road trip, dropping in on four of the winners of Budget Travel’s seventh annual Coolest Small Towns contest. “There’s a common misconception that small towns don’t offer big opportunities,” says McGough, the editor of the blog Wake and Wander. Of course, we couldn’t agree more—BT has long celebrated the charm—and affordability—of America’s coolest towns, and this year more than ever our contest has generated excitement from the redwood forests to the Gulf Stream waters. McGough’s “Coolest Road Trip” will make stops at four of this year’s 10 winners, including Beaufort, N.C., and Hammondsport, N.Y., which tied for first place back in January, when online voting was so heated that our server temporarily crashed; McGough will also visit Cape May, N.J., and Damascus, Va. The trip will conclude on June 30, with a parade in Hammondsport. A feature story about all 10 of our Coolest Small Towns will appear in the September/October issue of Budget Travel, on newsstands August 28. McGough will make his trip in a car customized for the occasion, bearing logos for Budget Travel’s Coolest Small Towns contest and his own blog, and images of the winning towns. “The teamwork going on among these four towns is exciting,” says McGough. “They’re not saying ‘Look at me!’ they’re saying ‘Look at us!’” As he motors from town to town, McGough will post blogs from the road, sharing his own lists of “coolests”—places to stay, outdoor activities, and keepsakes—along the way. “The average guy can’t always take a week off from work and fly to some far–off destination,” says McGough. “But he can drive to Beaufort, Cape May, Damascus, or Hammondsport for the weekend. And you know what? He’ll have just as much fun.” —Robert Firpo–Cappiello MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL: 5 Classic American Drives 8 Ways to Save Big on Summer Travel The Pacific Coast Highway—Without the Traffic
Who Won The Budget Travel Readers' Choice Awards?
The results are in for the third annual Budget Travel Readers' Choice Awards. And some of the races were closer than others. For some categories, it was no contest. Maui won for Favorite Island Getaway with 42% of the vote, Walt Disney World got 43% of the votes for Favorite Theme Park, and Norwegian Cruise Line got the same percentage of votes for Favorite Cruise Line. It's also clear that you guys really love Southwest Airlines. More than half of you voted them Most Reliable Airline, and almost half voted them as having the Nicest Flight Attendants. There were some very tight races as well. Honolulu International Airport was just 1% ahead of Denver National Airport for Most Beautiful Terminals, while Philadelphia narrowly eked out a win over St. Louis, Missouri as the Most Underrated American City. To see all the winners, click here to go to the results page. Did your favorites triumph? MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL 11 Greatest Riverfront Towns 13 Things You Didn't Know About Hawaii 8 Common Vacations: the Surprising Things You'll Need (and the Things You Won't)
5 Affordable Restaurant Chains in London
Americans visiting London usually want to taste some of the local classic dishes, such as a plate of fish n’ chips and a pint of ale. But even die-hard travelers will admit that London’s iconic dishes are fried and fatty, which can be a bit overwhelming when eaten meal after meal after meal. As an alternative, white-table restaurants are pretty expensive, to the point it can seem like your credit card balance is having liposuction. Visitors needing an affordable restaurant may want to check out the city’s smorgasbord of sit-down, “quick service” chains. These venues have relatively healthy menus, speedy service, and clean bathrooms, making them local favorites. Another plus, the meals are often as tasty as they are affordable. I’m defining “affordable” as a vacation budget of $25 (under £15) per person for two courses, excluding wine or drinks. Here, then, are some picks for the best London quick-service, sit-down chains. Byron Some Londoners insist that the best burger you can get with speedy, sit-down service is from Byron, a gourmet burger chain that’s grown to 19 UK locations since its founding in 2007. But the secret to Byron’s success may lie less with its juicy organic mincemeat burgers than with its tasty chips, served with your choice of garlic mayonnaise or ketchup. Other popularity factors for the mini-chain include its modern decor, lively music, family-friendly bonhomie, and dinners that cost only £10 plus the cost of a pale ale or a craft beer. byronhamburgers.com Masala Zone The British are so devoted to Indian food that some locals joke that chicken tikka masala is the national dish. But Indian food is more than tikka, and the first chain to bring street food and regional dishes to London was Masala Zone, launched in 2001. It now has seven locations in prime areas, such as Soho and Covent Garden. The start of the menu is thali, a complete meal of several small plates served on a metal tray, for about £10. For instance, dhai puri are little pastry cases with a mixture of chick peas, tamarind sauce, and yoghurt. Stuff the one whole in your mouth and bite, so that it explodes with a sweet-and-tangy taste. You can get in and out in under 45 minutes if you want, or linger for two hours. masalazone.com Nandos Ideal pit stop for families with kids, this restaurant has crowd-pleasing food with both spicy and non-spicy dishes, large tables to share food on, a welcoming attitude toward kids and teens, and, unlike anywhere else in London, free refills on soda. The Nando’s signature dish is a half-a-roast chicken doused in a mild chili sauce. The South African restaurant chain specializes in “peri-peri" chicken, a chili dish created by Portuguese settlers in Mozambique. Choose how spicy you like it, and watch your chicken be cooked in the open kitchen. The system is quick, yet you can eat at your own pace. £10 for half a chicken, with two regular sides. Nando’s is the city’s fastest-growing quick-service chain, with 57 prime London locations gaining rapidly in popularity since its 1992 arrival in the UK. (There’s one US location, in Washington, D.C.) nandos.com Wagamama When Wagamama opened in London in 1992, it introduced Londoners to South-East Asian flavors blended with Japanese noodle dishes. Menus were full of edamame (steamed soy beans) with ramen, or else strips of steak laid on beds of soba noodles, dressed in a sweet soy sauce. Today, the menu remains much the same and the prices also remains affordable (meal for two with drinks at under £35, or about $50). Wagamama still has a minimalist setting, such as long communal tables surrounded by white walls and a friendly attitude toward kids and teens. True, London doesn’t have a lock on Wagamama anymore. There are 37 overseas locations, including a few in the US in Boston. But there are 76 in the UK, with three more opening in London this year. wagamama.com Gourmet Burger Kitchen Run by New Zealanders, this chain touts Aberdeen Angus beef burgers, but you can also pick veggie, chicken, lamb or venison versions. Pick your toppings and add chips for about £10 per meal. Think of it as a Chipotle for burgers. gbk.co.uk SEE MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL London's Top Fish n' Chips Shops 15 International Food Etiquette Rules That Might Surprise You 8 Foreign Fast-Food Chains You Need to Know Wendy's Goes Gourmet in Japan