5 Blissful Spa Week Escapes You Can Actually Afford

By Jamie Beckman
September 21, 2015
Palm Beach Gardens, Florida
Courtesy nancyb926/myBudgetTravel

At BT, we love indulging in affordable spas when we travel. If you do too, now is a great time to take that relaxing spa vacation you've been dreaming about: October 12–18 is Spa Week, a magical time when mega-expensive treatments—think fancy pumpkin facials and soothing Swedish massages—are offered at deep discounts at luxe spas across the country. Most services are just $50.

Where to go? Here are some of our favorite on-sale, decadent, ahhh-inducing treatments in cool vacation destinations across the country to inspire your Spa Week escape—either as a girlfriend getaway or an excuse to take a little solo travel "me time."

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1. Palm Beach Gardens, Florida

Spa: Juno Dermatology (3801 PGA Boulevard, Suite 107,

Try this deal: 60-Minute Pumpkin Enzyme Facial With Extractions ($50; regularly $125). Because what's more festive in October than a pumpkin facial?

Budget Traveler tip: To further boost your circulation, go for a walk, run, bike ride, hike, or canoe trip in Loxahatchee Slough Natural Area, only 10 minutes or so away. Trails and wetland overlooks are open from sunrise to gorgeous sunset.

2. Scottsdale, Arizona

Spa: Amethyst Spa at Wekopa Resort & Conference Center (10438 North Fort McDowell Road,

Try this treatment: 30-minute Signature Amethyst Facial and 30-minute Yavapai Swedish massage ($50, regularly $190). The hydrating acai berry facial refines and resurfaces skin with vitamins A, C, and D, and you decide whether the full-body theraputic massage should consist of slow, gentle relaxing glides or vigorous and bracing strokes to relieve stress.

Budget Traveler tip: Amethyst's Spa Week services come with a complimentary glass of champagne and h'ors d'oeurves, plus access to the spa's outdoor desert-oasis pool area, which has a heated swimming pool and two whirlpools with views of the Sonoran Desert. Casa Grande Ruins National Monument, a somewhat mysterious preserve highlighting the ruins of an ancient desert people's community, is about an hour away by car ($5).

3. Chicago, Illinois

Spa: Oxygen Spa Studio (400 South Green Street,

Try this treatment: Gold Coast mask facial with LED light therapy treatment ($50; regularly $135). The facial lifts, tightens, and boost circulation; the LED treatment plumps skin and treats acne.

Budget Traveler tip: The Art Institute of Chicago is less than two miles away from this spa. Admission is free for Illinois residents on Thursdays from 5 to 8 p.m. If you're visiting from out of state and plan on doing a lot of sightseeing, a Chicago CityPass gets you into the institute as well as four other attractions at a discount, plus you get to skip the lines (from $79).

4. Fountain Valley, California

Spa: Origins Massage and Bodyworks (18303 Brookhurst St.,

Try this treatment: Specialty deep-tissue, Swedish, prenatal, sports, or trigger-point massage tailored to your pressure preference, with an enhancement of your choice, including aromatherapy, a blackberry vanilla foot scrub, or peppermint scalp massage ($50; regularly $130) 

Budget Traveler tip: Huntington Beach—dubbed Surf City USA—is a 15-minute drive from Fountain Valley. Hang out on the beach or bike along the pier, then grab a treat at a place we can vouch for: On her recent coast-to-coast #BTRoadTrip, Budget Travel Photo Editor Whitney Tressel discovered Sandy's, a restaurant with an ocean view where the Signature S'more is legendary ($7).

5. New York, New York

Spa: Ling Skin Care (12 E. 16th Street,

Try this treatment: 50-minute charcoal facial ($50; regularly $260) (Bargain alert! That's less than a fifth of the original price.) The treatment begins with a papaya enzyme peel, followed by an herbal clay clarifying mask, a ginseng moisturizing mask, and, finally, the charcoal mask to absorb oil and leave skin smooth.

Budget Traveler tip: With more than 50 spas in New York City offering $50 treatments, you can spa-hop all week between legendary names like the Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa on Fifth Avenue and hidden gems like Skin Spa, aloft on the fourth floor of a Flatiron District building. When you're sufficiently relaxed, take a leisurely stroll among the fall foliage on the High Line, one of the best free activities in New York City.

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Leaf-Peeping Escapes from NYC!

As lovely as New England's forests and charming small towns are in autumn, the region has not cornered the market on fall foliage. A short road trip or train ride away, the NYC metro area has colors as vibrant as anyplace in America. I shared these four "weekend escapes" with PIX11 Morning News co-host Sukanya Krishnan today: Sleepy Hollow, NY: Yes, that Sleepy Hollow! Trace the ride of Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman through the blazing autumn finery of Rockefeller State Park Preserve, take a lantern-light cemetery tour (if you dare), tour Historic Hudson Valley sites such as Washington Irving's Sunnyside and Philipsburg Manor along the river, and chow down at one of the outstanding nearby eateries in Tarrytown. Planting Fields Arboretum, Oyster Bay, Long Island: Sure, we think of beaches when we think of a Long island weekend, but you can make like a millionaire when you stroll the grounds of Planting Fields Arboretum, a Gatsby-esque “Gold Coast” estate and botanical gardens, whose trees burst into full-on autumn colors. Natchaug State Forest, Eastford CT: New Yorkers sometimes forget that New England is closer than it might seem: Northern Connecticut is home to authentically rustic New England forests, including Natchaug State Forest and others, and charming small towns that are close enough for a weekend drive with affordable vacation rentals. New Hope, PA: Just over the Delaware River from New Jersey, Bucks County’s trees light up in autumn, and the town of New Hope, with its galleries, boutiques, restaurants, and artsy vibe, will impress even Manhattanites.  


Shoulder Season Bargains for Under $100/Night!

It’s Shoulder Season! The weather’s still great, but the crowds have thinned out at some of our favorite travel destinations. Translation: Luxurious vacations at a discount. Budget Travel’s president and publisher, Elaine Alimonti, shared these three amazing vacations for under $100/night on the Weather Channel’s AMHQ this morning. For 19 more awesome and affordable trips, read 22 Vacations for Under $100/Night. MAUI Visit Maui before mid-Decenber (when the winter crowds arrive) and you can find a stylish steal at one of the island's resorts. You can relax on legendary Ka’anapali Beach, three miles of white sand that’s often been named the most beautiful beach in America; check out Maui’s ultimate must-see Haleakala, a 10,000-foot-tall dormant volcano; and pig out—literally!—at a traditional Hawaiian Luau with kalua pork cooked in an underground imu oven, plus hula performances! STAY: Maui Beach Hotel has rooms from $85 during the week, and you can get 10 percent off by showing your best “shaka sign” (the thumb-and-pinkie finger “hang loose” hand sign) at check in. NEW HAMPSHIRE Here in the east, a fall weekend calls for a New England road trip to see the amazing fall foliage. White Mountains National Forest is one of the best New England leaf-peeping destinations. Bright red foliage should start appearing in New Hampshire around September 15, with peak color usually arriving in early October and lasting into the first half of the month. STAY: 1785 Inn, in the White Mountains, has rooms from $79/night, including full country breakfast. Book a room in winter and you’ll get two complimentary passes for onsite snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. LOS ANGELES Can you keep a secret? Los Angeles's warmest, sunniest beach weather comes in fall—after the summer tourists are gone. Hike in the Santa Monica Mountains by day, dine on perfect seafood right on the beach at sunset at Gladstone’s (where Sunset meets the Pacific Coast Highway) and savor the city’s art collections, which are the finest on the West Coast, including the Getty, the LA County Museum of Art, and the Norton Simon. STAY: While some of L.A.’s swankier hotels can be pricey, but a vacation rental in Silver Lake—LA's hippest neighborhood—can be yours for $98/night from HomeAway. Browse the cool boutiques and delicious food trucks, and stroll over to the Saturday farmers market for fresh food and celebrity spotting.


#BTReads: 'Wine in Words'

Though Wine in Words (Rizzoli, 2015) is a new book, its author, Lettie Teague, has been schooling me on all things wine for more than a decade. Teague and I worked together at Food & Wine, where she was the magazine's wine columnist, and I was blown away by her ability to educate, entertain, and induce authentic lol's while writing about grapes, wineries, bottles, corks, and the fascinating (and sometimes quirky) people who devote their lives to them. Now the wine columnist at the Wall Street Journal, Teague has delivered the one wine book every Budget Traveler should keep on his or her shelf. Wine in Words can be savored one short chapter at a time or consulted as a handy reference on pairings (contrary to longstanding guff, for instance, white wines go better with cheese than reds), demystifying terminology (there's one word you should never use when describing a wine's texture and I'm not going to give it away), and the world's great wine regions (you'll learn, for instance, the lesser-known differences between Napa and Sonoma and what residents of each region say about each other behind their backs). After reading Wine in Words and placing it on my cookbook shelf for frequent re-reading, I asked Teague to share a travel tip for budget-minded oenophiles: "The North Fork of Long Island, to this transplanted Midwesterner, is like that part of the country perfected—rolling fields, farms, and horses but with (quality) wine grapes as well!" Your turn: Tell us what you're reading now by tagging #BTReads on social media! Or let us know below in the comments.


Great Getaways: Cheyenne, Wyoming

Cheyenne has close ties to The Wild West, so much that every summer since 1897 the city has roped in “The Daddy of ‘Em All." Translation: every July, the city hosts Cheyenne Frontier Days, a two-week extravaganza featuring the world’s largest outdoor rodeo and western celebration. Held at Frontier Park, the main attraction of this bonanza is the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) Rodeo where nearly 1,500 contestants from different parts of the country come to Cheyenne to participate in various rodeo competitions for cash awards and other prizes. Category events extend from roping, barrel racing, and steer wrestling, to bull, bareback and saddle bronc riding. It's never too early to plan for the next event on July 22-31, 2016, or July 21-30 in 2017. Visitors can tell when the Cheyenne Frontier Days is in full swing. Along with the rodeo, there are many ongoing celebrations recognizing Cheyenne’s history and honoring its community. Head downtown to watch an ongoing set of four Grand Parades, featuring a procession of marching bands, state officials on horseback, military personnel, and floats replicating symbols of Cheyenne’s past. Additional festivities include a carnival, massive pancake breakfasts, and an air show by the USAF Thunderbirds. Now, back to the rodeo. If you’ve never been to one before, a free daily “Behind the Chutes” tour gives you an insiders’ look, bringing you all around the arena and down to the chutes where riders, bulls, and broncs emerge from, as well as near the place where the contestants get ready. You can also explore Old Frontier Town, a replica of a village complete with storefronts, and watch a demonstration of dances and storytelling by American Indian performers inside the Indian Village. If you’re looking for a the perfect souvenir or accessory to complete your Western look, you’ll find many well-stocked vendor tents in Frontier Park. Nights at Cheyenne Frontier Days are buzzing with entertainment as well. The Frontier Nights series features concerts by major headliners, where advanced ticket purchases are a must. The 2015 lineup says it all: Aerosmith, Blake Shelton, Miranda Lambert, Keith Urban, and Big and Rich. While the Cheyenne Frontier Days are a great time to visit, here are some ways to get a good sense of Cheyenne’s western legacy any time of year. Ride a historic trolley tour Walking about downtown Cheyenne is pretty easy, but the best way to get your sense of direction—and learn some history—is by going on a trolley tour. Departing from the Cheyenne Depot, the Cheyenne Street Railway Trolley takes you on a ride through the city’s various districts. Your driver/guide excitedly shares tidbits and tales about Cheyenne’s beginnings as a base on the western expansion route for the Union Pacific Railroad and its early days as a bit of a rough and rumble place. The city's past also includes time as a boomtown for the cattle industry, as barons built their mansions along a section of downtown Cheyenne called Millionaire’s Row that sadly became a municipal lot. You might also hear about Wyoming being unique in giving ladies a lot of firsts: It’s the first state to permit women to vote, own property, and even hold public office—and home to the first female governor, too. On my tour, we stopped at venues like the Capitol Building, Wyoming State Museum, Cheyenne Botanic Gardens, and Frontier Park. Shop for western gear When in search of the perfect cowboy hat or a neat Western souvenir, downtown Cheyenne offers a number of options. Visit The Wrangler, home to a heavy selection of cowboy hats plus a ton of boots, belts, bejeweled jeans, and other frontier attire. Customer service is great, too, as the store employees will work with you to make sure your hat or boots fit just right, and hat brims can be adjusted by going through a steaming process. If décor is more your thing, Wyoming Home has furnishings that fit a frontier taste, from bedding and house fixtures to jewelry and knickknacks plus edible treats. For the ladies, Just Dandy carries women’s fashions and accessories. Get out into nature Wyoming may be known for its views of the prairie, but there’s a lot more to the scenery. Head west from Cheyenne to see Vedauwoo, a recreation area that is a 30-minute drive from the city. Vedauwoo has impressive rock formations that cautious climbers and experienced ramblers can walk around or step up or pull themselves up on. The formations consist of Sherman Granite dating back to 1.4 billion years ago. Another great outdoor option is Curt Gowdy State Park located about 25 miles from Cheyenne. Named for the late sportscaster and Wyoming native, this state park has 35 miles of hiking and biking trails at various rated levels, plus sections for horseback riding and even archery. It’s pretty rich in flora and fauna too with various plants and flowers along your route. Start off your day with a stop at the park’s visitor center to pick up a map or learn more about the area. When en route back to Cheyenne from Curt Gowdy State Park, fulfill the appetite you’ve built up at a family-friendly institution, The Bunkhouse Bar. Complimented by a saloon décor, the menu here is all about comfort food specialties: chicken fried steak, various sandwiches, and burgers. And of course while in Wyoming, horseback riding is a must. Terry Bison Ranch is a good place to do so. The ranch offers one-hour or full-day trail rides with slight hill climbs. Before or after your ride, get some grub at the ranch’s Senator’s Restaurant. I had the Bison burger, which comes just about any topping to choose from and tasted quite nice. Grab some local grub In Cheyenne, finding a good steakhouse or laidback barbecue joint is pretty easy. Yet if you’re seeking a bit more formal atmosphere, you have options, too. At the Rib and Chop House, a local restaurant chain with a location in downtown Cheyenne, you can order falling-off-the-bone tender baby back ribs or premium cuts. If you’re seeking a different flavor, Morris House Bistro is all about lowcountry cooking. Based in the former home of Wyoming’s first female Justice of the Peace, this bistro serves up Southern dishes inspired by the head chef’s family recipes with added Wyoming ingredients. Inside the Historic Plains Hotel, the Capitol Grille is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and serves fine Wyoming local ingredients and beef in all their dishes. After eating, take a peek inside the hotel lobby and look straight up at its celestial ceiling. Its design shows the order of the planets around the time of the hotel’s opening in 1911 as Wyoming’s first luxury property. Craft beer in Cheyenne has been booming lately. One of the best places to go is Freedom’s Edge Tap House Brewing Co., which produces inventive, small-batch suds at its location inside The Tivoli Building, which operated as a saloon back in its heyday. There, you can order a glass or flight of on-tap creations such as Java Jolt Coffee Amber ale or the spicy High Noon Chili ale. At the Depot, Cheyenne Brewing Company is part bar, part restaurant with about five original company beers alongside other tap and bottled ones, cocktails, and wines. Looking for crafty cocktails? Head to The Suite Bistro for flavored martinis like the WY Campfire, a marshmallow vodka and Kahlua mixture, to go with their fine dining menu. And to close out the night in Cheyenne, head to The Outlaw Saloon. With a main dance floor, pool tables and dartboards plus an outdoor backyard setting with a stage, and even a mechanical bull, you’ll be quite entertained. This article was written by Michele Herrmann, a travel and lifestyle writer/editor who contributes destination features and travel advice pieces to various media outlets. To date, the farthest she's ventured to is Fiji, along with much of Europe and a good deal within the U.S. For more travel stories, check out her blog, She Is Going Places.