Deal of the day: Your NYC vacation at a price beyond compare
This is not a typo: you can stay in the heart of New York City for $229 per night Thursdays through Sundays this winter. That's a savings of over 50% off standard rates. We're not kidding. In fact, to make things even more unreal, the rates on select dates are as little as $189. The Westin New York at Times Square is going all out and offering luxury and convenience at an unprecedented price. And we mean Convenience with a capital "c." The Theater District, shopping galore, and subway lines that get you nearly anywhere in the five boroughs are all within a short walk from the hotel's front door.
This Deal, which gets you a standard room, also includes a breakfast offering you gotta see to believe: start your day with a full breakfast for two for $1 at Foundry Kitchen and Bar, a welcoming spot adorned with all the fixings of a country kitchen. It's regularly $65 for you and a companion. We're not mathematicians here at Budget Travel, but it looks like that works out to nearly 100% savings. The hotel boasts a state-of-the-art 24-hour fitness center. It's true: like the city outside, it never sleeps. And the Westin hotels recently instituted a Gear Lending program, which offers New Balance workout clothes delivered right to your room for $5.
So there you have it: Food, fitness, and a room smack in the middle of one of the greatest cities on Earth, at a price that leaves you plenty of coin to explore. For more information and to book, click here.
Escape winter with these Caribbean deals
This is the time of year we always get a little tired of the winter grind, and the snowstorms across the country this past week sure don’t help. A nice Caribbean escape could sure come in handy right about now. Here, three of our favorite "ultimate islands" that won’t break the bank. ANTIGUA & BARBUDA is inviting Americans to discover this elegant, beautiful pair of islands with (no kidding) 365 beaches -- yes, you could literally stay all year and never visit the same beach twice. The Verandah Resort & Spa is a high-end luxury property but the good news is... Expedia is offering a great all-inclusive deal: $462 for a room that sleeps four -- that’s just a little more than $100 per person per day for lodging, meals, beverages, and non-motorized water sports included. CURACAO may be the most colorful island in the world, with its mix of gorgeous beaches and bright Dutch-colonial buildings. Snorkelers love its coral and underwater caves (not as scary as they sound). JetBlue has vacation packages that include airfare and four nights’ lodging from $459. PUERTO RICO is a world away from home, but it’s part of the U.S. (no passport required!) and a short flight from the East Coast. Stroll the old-world streets of Old San Juan, kayak in tropical waters, taste local fare like arepas and spicy Asian-fusion dishes. We love Copamarina Beach Resort & Spa for its secluded beach, acres of tropical gardens, and diving opportunities, from $145 per night.
Small-town must-see: Pottstown, PA's new carousel
It’s no secret that Budget Travel loves small-town America. Our annual Coolest Small Towns contest has celebrated 110 exceptional communities around the U.S. over the past 11 years, and we’re always on the lookout for “small-town must-sees.” Our latest must-see is the newly opened carousel in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, a historic town on the Schuykill River about 40 miles northwest of Philadelphia. Offering $2 rides, the carousel is a beautiful example (literally and figuratively) of what a community can accomplish when it works toward a common goal. Pottstown’s carousel is a large-scale lesson in “reuse, recycle”: The building that houses it was once home to Pottstown Metal Weld and has been renovated to play host to the spectacular Derek Scott Saylor Memorial Carousel, which itself is a rebuilt retro gem dating back to 1905. The carousel’s animals were hand-carved at cost by Ed Roth, a Disney carousel carver, and were painted by volunteers over the course of several years. Pottstown defrayed the cost of the carousel by seeking out sponsorships ($4,000 per animal) and holding a variety of fundraising events. And for those who might see a community carousel as an exclusively “feel-good” venture, those involved in the project note that the carousel, initially valued at about $25,000 prior to renovation, is now worth more than $1 million. The new carousel is part of Pottstown’s Tourism & Recreation District (or TREC), which includes a wide array of cool attractions such as the Colebrookdale Railroad’s Secret Valley Line, the Schuykill River Trail, and the Schuykill River Heritage Area’s “River of Revolutions” exhibit. (Pottstown's proximity to Philadelphia, the birthplace of American independence, makes the town an absolute feast for history buffs and students learning about our country's founding.) I’d like to thank my friend Evan Brandt, from the Pottstown Mercury newspaper (pottsmerc.com), for bringing the awesome carousel to our attention. Got a small-town must-see to recommend? Email us at email@example.com!
These are the destinations and travel trends everybody was searching on Google this year
Google has revealed the top search terms of 2016 (Google.com/2016), and Budget Travelers will find lots of inspiration among the top destinations and travel trends. Of course, we've been searching right along with you all year long and have served up some great inspiration and start-today tips to go along with these rankings to stoke your wanderlust in 2017. TOP SEARCHED TRAVEL DESTINATIONS OF 2016: 1. New York City. Budget Travel editors live and work in the Big Apple, where the Statue of Liberty welcomes visitors from every corner of the globe, and we are psyched to share "16 Secret Bargains in New York City." 2. Washington D.C. Who doesn't love a town where nearly every major attraction is free? To learn more, read "20 Fabulously Free Things to Do in D.C." 3. London. Each year at Christmastime, my thoughts turn to the Big Smoke and its greatest literary chronicler, inspiring "A Stroll Through Dickens's London." 4. Hong Kong. Among the countless reasons why this beautiful Chinese city should be on your travel list, we have learned how to score "Hong Kong's Most Stylish Steal: A Custom Tuxedo." 5. Thailand. We were feeling Thailand's affordable awesomeness this year too, which inspired us to produce one of our "day in the life" videos and an accompanying feature, "Make It Happen: Bangkok." TOP SEARCHED TRAVEL TRENDS OF 2016: "Airbnb" came in at no. 1 among travel-related search trends in 2016, underscoring the appeal of the company's home-sharing model. Among Google's top 10 searched travel trends are several that Budget Travel regularly covers in depth: "Weekend getaways" are more popular than ever, as travelers look beyond the idea of one big annual vacation and resolve to go exploring as often as possible. Our popular "Three-Day Weekend" series most recently celebrated Norway, Quebec City, and the Bahamas. "U.S. national parks" was near the top of our personal list this year thanks to the centennial of the Naitonal Park Service. We were thrilled to share "Which National Park Is Best For You?" "Independent travel" is, of course, a growing trend. We shared inspiration in "35 Easy Solo Trips to Try." "Bucket list travel" certainly resonates with Budget Travelers, making our recent look at South Korea, "A Bucket-List Asia Trip You Can Afford," one of our most popular stories ever. "Roadtripping" is one of the cornerstones of what we do at Budget Travel. Ready to go big? My last road trip was an epic "Park-to-Park Adventure: Glacier to Yellowstone."
Locals Know Best: Sacramento, California
There once was a time when Sacramento was, to put it kindly, in a rut. Locals cast their gazes longingly towards San Francisco and Oakland, epicenters of creativity and culture. Then Sacramento State graduates Maritza and Roshaun Davis had an idea: give Sacramento’s creative class an outlet for showcasing their talents and watch them—and the city—thrive. Enter: Unseen Heros, the lifestyles event production company they founded. “In 2008, Sacramento was still trying to find its identity,” says Maritza. “It’s like when you were a teenager and you were awkwardly trying to grow, Sacramento was like a teenager—with braces and awkward with its body.” Today Sacramento has grown into its own, with no small thanks to Unseen Heroes, which oversees year-round events like the Saturday midtown farmers market and Gather Oak Park. Both, as they put it, are “events that make people proud of what’s here.” The couple (in life and business) also own shops specializing in California-made goods and curate a rotating pop-up market where they house their offices. Since founding Unseen Heroes in 2008, they’ve made a career out of knowing every nook and cranny of Sacramento. We recently reached them to get their inside tips on where to eat, drink, stay, and hang in the city. *Spoiler alert*: “obnoxiously delicious” ice cream, a poke bar, and unbelievable happy hour deals all factor in. TABLE FOR TWO: Oak Park is Sacrament's oldest neighborhood, but there are plenty of spots that are under the radar, like the retro-minded Arthur Henry’s, which bills itself as a Supper Club and Ruby Room. Without windows or signs, the only indication that it’s there is its red door. “If you’re in the mafia, this is where you wanna make your deals. There are a lot of dark, fun, strange elements to it,” says Maritza. “I don’t want to give too much away, but if you order dinner there, it’s going to come raw, so be prepared to cook.” They offer a beer and steak special for a remarkable $16 and a bourbon list that’s sure to impress. For every steak in Sacramento there’s a slab of grilled soy meat. Andy Nguyen has an ample variety of wholesome vegetarian and vegan meals—countless permutations of noodles, rice, tofu and vegetables. Meals are generous in size and clock in under $10. If your preferences lean south of the border, La Benbita has what Maritza deems the best margaritas, made with fresh juices. The cantina is known for its festive patio and unbeatable happy hour special: two tacos and a margarita for $13. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, you’ll have a great story to bring home after a visit to Gunther’s. The time-worn ice cream shop is an institution among locals, as evidenced by the fact that despite it being tucked away in a relatively residential area, people flock there in droves. “When you see the line out the door and down the block, you know you’re there,” said Maritza, describing the handmade ice cream and shakes as “obnoxiously delicious.” DINE OUT: Unseen Heroes curates and manages Gather, a culinary event that takes place on the second hursdays of each month from May through October. There are lots of food onsite--tacos, pizza, veggie fare from Mother (also a restaurant), and much touted donuts from Sweet Dozen Donuts (Get a lemon poppy seed donut then try everything else, advises Maritza). There are long communal tables where everyone kicks back and chows down. The rest of the year they curate Midtown Farmers’ Market, a culinary extravaganza in Midtown. Over 90 vendors hawk their wares, from beef jerky and sausages to balsamic vinegar, honey and wine. It's a go-to for a taste of the vibrant local culinary scene. THE AFTERNOON AGENDA: Not far off the freeway sits JayJay, a gallery founded in 2000 that spotlights a roster of international artists whose work spans all media. “They have a lot of fun pieces and the owners are really hands-on and engaged,” says Maritza. “they’ve been around the area for 40-plus years and they’ve helped curate different large projects. They get their hands on cool artists and they have their finger on the pulse of young up and coming artists.” After you’ve looked at art, taste some. Head down the street to Tupelo. The couple asserts it makes the city’s finest mocha, made with Mexican chocolate. Cap off the afternoon down the street with dinner at Selland’s Market-Cafe, which is known for its elevated comfort food—salads, sandwiches, pizzas—prepared with local seasonal ingredients. At select times, two dinners and a bottle of wine clocks in at $25. Another Martiza-and-Rashaun-approved outing that’s a feast for the eyes and palate is centered in the Curtis Park, quaint with great brownstown galleries. Sol Collective is more of a community center than a gallery, but nevertheless, it’s a destination for unique shows of all media and installations by a lineup of international artists as well as pop-up shops. Additionally, Maritza and Roshaun rave about the classes offered throughout the month that anyone can drop in on: beat-making, art, and, most regularly, yoga. Fortify yourself afterwards with noodles galore at Shoki Ramen, where about $15 will get you a bowl of excellent ramen, a drink and curry on rice. As an added bonus (or, some might say, courtesy), you can order wines here by the half-glass. Wrap up the day at Gunther’s. The old fashioned ice cream shop (See above for Maritza's rave review) is a mere five blocks away. Some people go to nature to experience a sense of place, others go shopping. Display, owned and run by Maritza and Roshaun, showcases Sacramento’s creative class with its ever-changing inventory of products made by local designers and brands, from gift items, household goods, and lots of fun stuff for kids. More recently, they opened the neighboring Damas, featuring goods and clothing for women, by women. Men have plenty of spots to shop, too, like Get a Clue, a longtime midtown retailer. They specialize in sneakers, denim, shirts, and the like, mostly by local designers. Hungry? Preservation and Co. has plenty of boutique edibles, like a house bloody mary mix, plus tons of sauces, jams and such. STAY: Modern, funky and rich in local lore, Maritza and Roshaun recommend Citizen’s Hotel, not least because its restaurant and bar, The Grange, has a fantastic happy hour. Steps away are two super-hip spots to eat: Empress Tavern and the very lively Mother Sacramento, a vegetarian haven. Despite its brand name, the Westin Sacramento Hotel, which sits on the Sacramento River, has a lot of character. It’s a short drive away from the hubbub of downtown, and in addition to its affordability, they note that it’s nicely landscaped, so much so that locals hang out there just for the scenery.