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    Ithaca,

    New York

    Ithaca/Tompkins County Convention & Visitors Bureau / Rachael Atkins

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    Ithaca is Gorges

    Itahac, NY welcomes you! To a land of gorges, waterfalls and outdoor beauty. To a community of academics, artists and adventurists. To a place to taste, toast and treat yourself.

    Explore the beauty of the outdoors in Ithaca. Spend a sunny day touring one of the many waterfalls and gorges formed thousands of years ago during the ice age or relax on the Finger Lakes' largest lake, Cayuga Lake. You'll find four New York State Parks ripe for hiking, biking, snowshoeing and year-round exploring. The Cayuga Lake Wine Trail has you touring, tasting, and toasting your way through the nation's first organized wine trail, sampling wine, beer, cider and spirits along the way. At the end of the day, rest your head in one of the contemporary Ithaca hotels or charming bed and breakfasts, from luxury to family friendly.

    Ithaca is the perfect hub and spoke destination to explore the rest of the large Finger Lakes Region. Within a 1 hour drive you’ll find additional area attractions like the Corning Museum of Glass, McKenzie Childs, Waterloo Premium Outlets, Destiny USA, Women's Rights National Historical Park, and the beautiful Cayuga Lake Scenic Byway.

    Ithaca is home to the tallest singe drop waterfall east of the Rocky Mountains. The 215 ft cascade of Taughannock Falls is 3 stories taller than Niagara Falls. Offering year-round experiences from winter adventures, downtown festivals and concerts throughout the year, and beautiful ranges of color during fall foliage season, all are accompanied by the quirky vibe that is just so "Ithaca".

    logoFind more things to do, itinerary ideas, updated news and events, and plan your perfect trip to Ithaca
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    50 States of Great American Wine!

    TEXAS HILL COUNTRY Even wine production is bigger in Texas. Take Hill Country, a 14,000-square-mile expanse in the center of the state. With 32 wineries, it’s America’s second-largest AVA (American Viticultural Area, or grape-growing region with unique geological features)—and one of the nation’s fastest-growing, too. Vintners can thank the hot, dry weather, which is perfect for growing Mediterranean-style grapes such as tempranillo and syrah.  Visit: One of the state’s oldest wineries, Becker Vineyards has had its bottles opened at both the Super Bowl and the White House (beckervineyards.com, tastings $10, open daily). Eat: At Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que, the meat is smoked for five-plus hours over mesquite coals and sold by the pound (coopersbbq.com, pork ribs $11 per pound). Do: Grab an inner tube and hit the horseshoe-shaped Guadalupe River, where you’ll find the locals floating away their lazy summer days (shantytubes.com, four-hour tube rental $15). Stay: Fredericksburg’s Full Moon Inn plays up the town’s German roots with its breakfast menu of sweet-potato pancakes and German sausages (fullmooninn.com, from $150). Other notable wineries: Fall Creek Vineyards (fcv.com, tastings from $5, open daily). Flat Creek Estate (flatcreekestate.com, tastings from $7, open Tuesday-Sunday). Fredericksburg Winery (fbgwinery.com, up to five tastings free, open daily). Spicewood Vineyards (spicewoodvineyards.com, tastings $5, open Wednesday–Sunday). PASO ROBLES, CALIFORNIA It’s roughly halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles and 240 miles south of Napa, but “Paso,” known for its zinfandel and syrah, might as well be on another planet. It’s uncrowded, unpretentious, and, best of all, unlikely to drain your wallet. Most of its small, family-run wineries charge just $5 to $10 to taste six wines—if they charge at all. Visit: At Eberle Winery, visitors can roam the 16,000-square-foot cave where its award-winning zinfandel and cabernet sauvignon are aged (eberlewinery.com, tastings free, open daily). Eat: Farmstand 46 in Templeton embodies Paso’s agricultural bent, growing much of the produce that tops its wood-fired pizzas (farmstand46.com, pizzas from $10). Do: Tour the olive mill at Pasolivo, a local farm that’s been pressing handcrafted oils for over a decade (pasolivo.com, tours and tastings free). Stay: The just-remodeled Paso Robles Inn has a heated pool and a central downtown location (pasoroblesinn.com, from $141). Other notable wineries: Justin Vineyards & Winery (justinwine.com, tastings $10, open daily). Pipestone Vineyards (pipestonevineyards.com, tastings $10, open Thursday–Monday). Tablas Creek Vineyard (tablascreek.com, tastings $10, open daily). Tobin James Cellars (tobinjames.com, tastings free, open daily). CENTRAL VIRGINIA It’s been more than 200 years since Thomas Jefferson planted vineyards at Monticello. Now, with six AVAs and 206 wineries, Virginia is the country’s fifth-largest producer of wine—including some of the best Viognier made outside of France’s Rhône Valley.  Visit: Built on the grounds of a Thomas Jefferson-designed mansion and owned by Italian winemakers, Barboursville Vineyards is one of the state’s most renowned wineries (barboursvillewine.com, tastings $5, open daily). Eat: In Charlottesville’s historic district, Brookville specializes in contemporary American food, from braised pork breast to spicy raspberry jelly doughnuts (brookvillerestaurant.com, braised pork breast $22). Do: Explore Monticello, which contains Jefferson’s furniture, art, and books (monticello.org, tour $24), and scope out the University of Virginia, which he also designed (virginia.edu, tours free).  Stay: Guest rooms at Dinsmore House Inn are named after presidents (including Madison, Monroe, and, yes, Jefferson) and have hand-carved mahogany beds (dinsmorehouse.com, from $109). Other notable wineries: Blenheim Vineyards (blenheimvineyards.com, tastings $5, open daily). Chrysalis Vineyards (chrysaliswine.com, tastings from $5, open daily). Horton Vineyards (hortonwine.com, tastings free, open daily). RdV Vineyards (rdvvineyards.com, tours $40 including food, by appointment only). LEELANAU PENINSULA, MICHIGAN This low-key Michigan spot sits on the 45th parallel, which also happens to run through France’s Bordeaux region. Adding to the peninsula’s appeal: an exploding food scene (Mario Batali owns a home here) and powdery beaches. Visit: At Black Star Farms, you can pair pinot noir and merlot with fromage blanc from the on-site creamery (blackstarfarms.com, five tastings $5, open daily). Eat: The Cove serves local seafood several ways, including in pâté form and as a garnish for Bloody Marys, a Batali favorite (thecoveleland.com, Bloody Mary $12).  Do: Take in the 64 miles of public beach at Sleeping Bear Dunes (sleepingbeardunes.com). Stay: The 32-room, Bavarian-style Beach Haus Resort fronts East Grand Traverse Bay (thebeachhausresort.com, from $90). Other notable wineries: Forty-Five North Vineyard & Winery (fortyfivenorth.com, three tastings free, open daily). L. Mawby (lmawby.com, two tastings free, open daily). Peninsula Cellars (peninsulacellars.com, up to four tastings free, open daily). Two Lads (2lwinery.com, six tastings $5, open daily).  FINGER LAKES, NEW YORK Long eclipsed by West Coast wine hubs, upstate New York’s Finger Lakes region is finally snagging some acclaim. With good reason: The country’s largest wine producer east of California, it’s also a prime travel destination, with green forests, glistening waters, and a smattering of charming small towns. Visit: Unlike many wineries, Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyards harvests all the grapes for its celebrated Rieslings by hand (wiemer.com, tastings $3, open daily). Eat: The menu at Red Dove Tavern, a gastropub in Geneva, changes weekly to highlight the freshest seasonal ingredients—such as an appetizer of duck leg in rhubarb-barbecue sauce, paired with green-chile grits (reddovetavern.com, duck leg $10). Do: Go waterfall-spotting. Among the most impressive (and accessible) of the area’s cascades: the towering, 215-foot Taughannock Falls near Ithaca (taughannock.com). Stay: The wide porch at Magnolia Place B&B, in an 1830s farmhouse, overlooks Seneca Lake (magnoliawelcome.com, from $140). Other notable wineries: Bloomer Creek Vineyard (bloomercreek.com, tastings free, open Friday-Sunday).  Dr. Konstantin Frank Vinifera Wine Cellars (drfrankwines.com, tastings free, open daily). Heart and Hands (heartandhandswine.com, tastings free, open Saturday-Sunday). Heron Hill (heronhill.com, tastings from $3, open daily). WALLA WALLA, WASHINGTON Tucked away in remote southeastern Washington (more than 150 miles from Spokane), Walla Walla is a farm town traditionally known for wheat and onions. But its current cash crops are the ones squeezed into its excellent cabernet, merlot, and syrah. In the past two decades, the number of area wineries has shot up from six to about 125—they’re everywhere from Main Street to the local airport. Even actor (and Washington native) Kyle MacLachlan couldn’t resist: He cofounded a label (named Pursued By Bear, a Shakespeare reference) here in 2005. And thanks to a $53 million facelift, the city’s downtown is lined with cafés, art galleries, and gourmet restaurants.  Visit: The family-owned L’Ecole No. 41, run out of a 1915 schoolhouse, is prized for its signature red blend Perigee (lecole.com, tastings $5, open daily). Eat: For greasy goodies, locals love the divey Green Lantern, where MacLachlan swears by the burger (509/525-6303, burger $10). For more highbrow eats (house-cured duck prosciutto, yellowfin tuna crudo), visit the tapas-style Jim German Bar in Waitsburg (jimgermanbar.com, tuna crudo $14). Note to java junkies: Get your fix at Walla Walla Roastery, where the coffee beans are roasted on-site (wallawallaroastery.com, latte $3.50). Do: Meander through mountains of the Umatilla National Forest, which offers 19 trails of varying difficulties; the scenic, 2.6-mile Jubilee Lake path is good for beginners (541/278-3716). Stay: Exposed-brick walls and loads of original art create a cozy vibe at Walla Faces, in a 1904 building on the town’s main drag (wallafaces.com, doubles from $145). Other notable wineries: Buty (butywinery.com, tastings $5, open daily). Dunham Cellars (dunhamcellars.com, tastings $5, open daily). Gramercy Cellars (gramercycellars.com, tastings free, open Saturdays).  Woodward Canyon (woodwardcanyon.com, tastings $5, open daily). 44 OTHER NOTABLE WINERIES Alabama (13 wineries): Until 2002, vineyards here were limited to the “wet counties,” where alcohol sales were legal. Now vintners make sweet wine from heat- and humidity-friendly muscadine grapes grown statewide. You can pick them yourself in September, when Morgan Creek Vineyards in Harpersville hosts an I Love Lucy-style stomping party. morgancreekwinery.com, open Monday–Saturday, bottles $10–$20. Alaska (8 wineries): Grapes don’t fare well in Alaska, so Bear Creek Winery, in Homer, imports concentrate to blend with local fruit (gooseberry, black currant) for hybrid concoctions like Blu Zin, a zinfandel infused with wild blueberries. bearcreekwinery.com, open daily, bottles $18–$27. Arizona (48 wineries): Arizona’s high-desert climate is similar to that of wine mecca Mendoza, Argentina. At Caduceus Cellars in the Verde Valley, Maynard James Keenan (better known as the singer from the band Tool) cranks out robust reds such as cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and Sangiovese. caduceus.org, tastings $10, open daily, bottles $17–$28.Arkansas (15 wineries): Some of Arkansas’s oldest vines belong to Wiederkehr Wine Cellars, founded by a Swiss winemaker who settled in the Ozarks in 1880. The winery is even listed in the National Register of Historic Places. wiederkehrwines.com, open daily, bottles $5–$18. Colorado (107 wineries): Colorado’s wine industry is flourishing in the Grand Valley, a trio of quaint towns 250 miles southwest of Denver. Canyon Wind Cellars offers gorgeous mountain views along with its award-winning Petit Verdot. canyonwindcellars.com, open daily, bottles $13–$40. Connecticut (24 wineries): No matter where you are in Connecticut, there’s a winery within a 45-minute drive. A must-try is Hopkins Vineyard, set among scenic hills in a converted 19th century barn and known for its sweet ice wine, made when grapes—though not the sugar inside—freeze on the vine. hopkinsvineyard.com, tastings $6.50, hours vary, bottles $12–$17. Delaware (3 wineries): This tiny state isn’t big on wine production—craft beer is more its speed—but 18-year-old Nassau Valley Vineyards wins awards for its merlot, pinot grigio, and cabernet sauvignon. nassauvalley.com, open daily, bottles $13–$30. Florida (31 wineries): Florida’s muggy climate and intense rainfall plague most grapes, so vintners have started replacing them with the state’s favorite export: citrus. Florida Orange Groves Winery in St. Petersburg makes their wines from key limes, tangerines, and other tropical fruits. floridawine.com, open daily, bottles $18–$23. Georgia (30 wineries): Three Sisters Vineyards in Dahlonega is the state’s  good-time winery. Come in September and October for its Swine Wine Weekends, complete with BBQ and live music. threesistersvineyards.com, tastings $5–$25, open Thursday–Sunday, bottles $10–$45. Hawaii (3 wineries): Two miles outside Hawaii’s Volcanoes National Park, Volcano Winery is a popular post-climb spot for thirsty adventurers. The 64-acre winery uses macadamia nuts and guava in some wines, as well as muscat and Grenache Gris grapes that thrive in volcanic soil. volcanowinery.com, open daily, bottles $18–$24. Idaho (48 wineries): Most of Idaho’s wineries sit in the Snake River Valley, where blazing days and chilly nights make for well-balanced bottles. The Cinder Winery, located in a warehouse outside Boise, is known for its rosé, named Best in the Northwest in 2009. cinderwines.com, tastings $5, open Friday–Sunday, bottles $18–$27. Illinois (98 wineries): In 1979, Fred Koehler, then a country-club manager, turned a basement booze-making hobby into the state’s first wine label. His Lynfred Winery has classier digs now—a mansion with a four-suite B&B. lynfredwinery.com, tastings $9, open daily, bottles $10–$30. Indiana (63 wineries): Bloomington’s Oliver Winery specializes in strawberry, mango, and black cherry wines (many grapes can’t survive Indiana’s winters), plus Camelot Mead, made from fermented orange-blossom honey. oliverwinery.com, tastings $5, open daily, bottles $10–$14. Iowa (82 wineries): In the past decade, the number of Iowa wineries has jumped nearly sevenfold. Perhaps the quirkiest is the Renaissance-themed King’s Crossing Vineyard & Winery, dotted with faux medieval torture devices. kingscrossingvineyard.com, open Saturday–Sunday, bottles $13–$28. Kansas (22 wineries): Every bottle at Oz Winery is a friend of Dorothy’s—after all, this is Kansas. Best of all, you can sample wines such as Drunken Munchkin, Auntie Em’s Prairie Rose, and Yellow Brick Road for free—Kansas law prohibits tasting fees. ozwinerykansas.com, open daily, bottles $18–$30. Kentucky (61 wineries): Be warned, bourbon: Earlier this year, Lexington-based Jean Farris winery snagged a gold medal at the 2012 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition for its cabernet sauvignon—the highest honor for a Kentucky grape to date. jeanfarris.com, tastings $5–$12, open Tuesday–Sunday, bottles $11–$65. Louisiana (6 wineries): Sixty miles north of New Orleans, Pontchartrain Vineyards is the only Louisiana winery using exclusively European-style grapes. Bonus for foodies: Its wines pair well with spicy gumbo, crawfish, and shrimp. pontchartrainvineyards.com, tastings $5, Wednesday–Sunday, bottles $10–$20. Maine (20 wineries): In the coastal town of Gouldsboro, Bartlett Maine Estate Winery incorporates local, hand-raked blueberries into its acclaimed Blueberry Oak Dry wine. bartlettwinery.com, open Tuesday–Saturday, bottles $16–$45. Maryland (51 wineries): Maryland wineries largely depend on out-of-state grapes (California, Virginia, New York). Black Ankle Vineyards, founded in 2008, is leading the charge for homegrown fruit, producing 12 varietals on its land 35 miles from Baltimore. blackankle.com, tastings from $7, open Friday–Sunday, bottles $28–48. Massachusetts (40 wineries): Since the small, family-owned Westport Rivers opened on Massachusetts’s southeastern coast 25 years ago, its wine has been poured at both the real White House (courtesy of Bush Sr. and Clinton) and the smallscreen one (via The West Wing). westportrivers.com, tastings $8, open Monday–Saturday, bottles $20–$45. Minnesota (38 wineries): At Carlos Creek, Minnesota’s largest winery, wines are made from Frontenac grapes, developed by the University of Minnesota to withstand temperatures as low as 20 below. carloscreekwinery.com, tastings $5, open daily, bottles $15–$25. Mississippi (6 wineries): At the Old South Winery in Natchez, wine is made exclusively from Mississippi muscadines and not barrel-aged, which would interfere with the candy-sweet, fruit-forward taste. oldsouthwinery.com, open Monday–Saturday, bottles $8.25–$11.25. Missouri (118 wineries): Home to the country’s first Viticulture Area in 1980, Missouri has added 30 wineries in the past three years alone. The 165-year-old Stone Hill, in the German-style town of Hermann, brought home over 100 medals just last year, at competitions from New York to California. stonehillwinery.com, open daily, bottles $8–$25. Montana (8 wineries): Montana’s short growing season means its handful of wineries have to get creative with their recipes. Flathead Lake Winery—the only state winery to exclusively use native fruit–finds its preferred grape substitutes in local cherries and huckleberries. flatheadlakewinery.com, open daily, bottles $10–$20. Nebraska (25 wineries): Founded in 1997 with 100 grapevines imported from New York, James Arthur Vineyards has grown into Nebraska’s largest winery—and has one of its coziest tasting rooms, too. There, visitors can warm up by a roaring fireplace with a glass of semi-sweet Vignoles, named the best white wine at 2010’s Monterey (California) Wine Competition. jamesarthurvineyards.com, tastings from $4, open daily, bottles $10–$25. Nevada (3 wineries): Parking is never a problem at Pahrump Valley Winery–if you have a helicopter. The mom-and-pop spot, which has won more than 300 national awards, has its own landing pad for high-rollers visiting from nearby Las Vegas. pahrumpwinery.com, open daily, bottles $12–$25. New Hampshire (25 wineries): After demand shot up for LaBelle Winery’s fruit wines (like cranberry and apple), the owners traded their 1,500-square-foot barn for a facility 13 times the size; the new space opens this September. labellewinerynh.com, open Wednesday–Sunday, bottles $14–$25. New Jersey (34 wineries): At Unionville Vineyards, set on an 88-acre farm, the head winemaker is a Napa expat fond of European-style grapes like syrah, grenache, and mourvedre. One to try: The Big O, a blend of merlot, cabernet franc, and cabernet sauvignon. unionvillevineyards.com, tastings from $5, open daily, bottles $12–$46. New Mexico (46 wineries): New Mexico’s hot, arid climate and high elevation give a boost to its prolific wine industry (production is expanding by nearly 15 percent annually). Sparkling wine is the main draw at Albuquerque’s Gruet Winery, owned by a pair of siblings from France’s Champagne region. Gruet’s bottles, many of which retail for less than $20, have graced wine lists at restaurants in all 50 states, including many with Michelin stars. gruetwinery.com, tastings from $6, open Monday–Saturday, bottles $14–$45. North Carolina (109 wineries): The number of North Carolina wineries has more than quadrupled since 2001, but the most popular is Biltmore, on the picturesque, 8,000-acre Asheville estate of the same name. In fact, it’s the most visited winery in the country, with roughly 60,000 folks dropping in each year. The sparkling Blanc de Blanc has been served at New York’s James Beard House. biltmore.com, tastings from $49 including guided tour and access to the historic Biltmore House, open daily, bottles $10–$25. North Dakota (9 wineries): In 2009, less than half of 1 percent of the wine sold in North Dakota was made in-state. But in tiny Burlington, the owners of Pointe of View aim to change that. Their Terre Haute Rouge, a semi-sweet blush, is made entirely from local grapes. povwinery.com, open daily May–December, bottles $12–$14. Ohio (148 wineries): Ohio’s winemaking history dates to the 1820s, and the state now churns out more than 1 million gallons annually. Most Ohio wineries are in the northeast, where Lake Erie tempers the cold, but don’t miss Kinkead Ridge down south. Its Viognier-Roussanne and cabernet franc were featured in the 2011 book 1,000 Great Everyday Wines from the World’s Best Wineries. kinkeadridge.com, tastings from $3, hours vary, bottles $10–$23. Oklahoma (21 wineries): Sleek and urban, Girouard Vines in downtown Tulsa plays up the city’s Art Deco history. The labels on the five award-winning Tulsa Deco wines feature local landmarks like Frank Lloyd Wright’s Westhope residence, built in 1929 on the city’s southeast side. tulsawine.com, tastings from $10, open Thursdays, bottles $18–$25. Oregon (450 wineries): Oregon is responsible for some of America’s best wines—in particular, the pinot noirs of the Willamette Valley. Left Coast Cellars in Rickreall uses only estate-grown grapes to make theirs—in a winery partly powered by solar energy. leftcoastcellars.com, tastings $5, open daily, bottles $16–$55. Pennsylvania (180 wineries): Thirty years ago, Pennsylvania had 20 wineries; now, it counts 180 (plus five AVAs and 11 wine trails). About 30 miles west of Philadelphia, Chaddsford Winery’s colonial-era barn is a cozy spot to taste award-winning merlot, cabernet sauvignon, and Naked Chardonnay, which foregoes oak-barrel aging to let its citrus flavors shine. chaddsford.com, tastings for sweet wines free, dry wines $10, open Thursday–Sunday, bottles $13–$50. Rhode Island (5 wineries): Portsmouth’s Greenvale Vineyards capitalizes on southeastern New England’s coastal climate to produce subtle chardonnay and crisp Vidal Blanc. Its sprawling Victorian farm also makes a lovely setting for Saturday jazz concerts from May to November. greenvale.com, tastings from $12, open daily, bottles $15–$28. South Carolina (12 wineries): Don’t be fooled by the name: The vineyards at Victoria Valley (elev. 2,900 feet) claim some of the state’s highest turf. The altitude aids in making European-style chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon. victoriavalleyvineyards.com, tastings $5, open daily, bottles $8–$25. South Dakota (19 wineries): The rural Strawbale Winery combines unorthodox ingredients—currants, coffee, and jalapeños—and unconventional packaging: Wine bottles can be dipped in a half-pound of gourmet chocolate around Valentine’s Day and Christmas. strawbalewinery.com, tastings $5, open Wednesday–Sunday, bottles $12–$13. Tennessee (41 wineries): Founded by country-music star Kix Brooks (of Brooks and Dunn), Arrington Vineyards, set among verdant 25 miles south of Nashville, puts a Southern spin on grapes imported from the Napa Valley. Their spicy red Antebellum, for one, is aged in Tennessee whiskey barrels. arringtonvineyards.com, open daily, bottles  $18–$50. Utah (8 wineries): Tours of Moab’s Castle Creek Winery, on a working ranch 4,000 feet above the Colorado River, are enhanced by its views of rugged red-rock cliffs and swirling white-water rapids. castlecreekwinery.com, open daily, bottles $9–$13. Vermont (24 wineries): Northern Vermont’s bracing winters produce fantastic ice wine. Some of the best is made at Snow Farm, on an island in Lake Champlain:  It’s wowed the critics at Wine Spectator and the judges at 2011’s Los Angeles International Wine and Spirits Competition. snowfarm.com, tastings from $1, open daily May–December, bottles $12–$45. West Virginia (14 wineries): West Virginia makes up for its short supply of grapevines with a bounty of pears, apples, and peaches—which are made into sweet, all-local wine at the 22-year-old Forks of Cheat, in the Appalachian Mountains. wvwines.com, tastings free, open daily, weather permitting, bottles $10.50–$15.50. Wisconsin (90 wineries): Hungarian immigrant Agoston Haraszthy–often called the father of California viticulture–spent two years planting grapes in Prairie du Sac, Wisc., in the 1840s before he ever set foot in Sonoma. Today, you can imagine what the fruits of his labor might have tasted like at the family-owned Wollersheim Winery, built on his former stomping grounds; the winery has won raves for its Fumé Blanc and Riesling. wollersheim.com, open daily, bottles $6.50–$22. Wyoming (2 wineries): When University of Wyoming student Patrick Zimmerer planted grapes on his family’s farm in Huntley (population: 30) as part of a school project in 2001, he singlehandedly doubled the tally of Wyoming vineyards. Eleven years and a $10,000 business-school grant later, his Table Mountain Vineyards has graduated to making 10-14 varieties of wine. wyowine.com, open by appointment, bottles $15.

    Budget Travel Lists

    26 Awesome (and Affordable!) Alternatives to Pricey Vacation Hot Spots

    1. GO TO MONTREAL, NOT PARIS  Mon dieu! Overseas flights and City of Light prices can blow a budget pretty quickly; immerse yourself in French language and culture in Montreal instead. The city's brand-new, streamlined Alt Hotel is très chic and doesn't do low-season or high-season rates: Rooms are $131 per night, every night (montreal.althotels.ca). Je voudrais un croque monsieur, you say? Grab one to stay or to go at Café Grévin by Europea downtown ($7, cafegrevinpareuropea.ca). Psst—they have wine, too. Afterward, learn all about "New France" at the historic site and museum Château Ramezay and take a stroll through its replica French colonial garden (about $9, chateauramezay.qc.ca). For dinner, hit the bar at Laloux for modern French bistro fare. The special "intermission menu" offers two entrees and a dessert for each person—we're talking roasted quail with chanterelles, and maple profiteroles with vanilla ice cream and hazelnuts—for about $17.50 (laloux.com). 2. GO TO WARSAW, NOT LONDON  Rich European history, mesmerizing museums, and quality time at the pub can all be had in Warsaw for less than you'd pay in London. The capital of Poland is an eminently walkable city, with cheap public transportation (about $5 for an all-day pass) and museum admission prices that top out at about $6.50 on days they're not completely free. Boutique Bed & Breakfast, near the Chopin Museum, has a charming, old-world feel and hosts piano concerts on the second floor ($70 per night, bbwarsaw.com). Fish around in your pockets for $1.20, and you've got entrée into the Warsaw Fotoplastikon, one of the few turn-of-the-century 3-D photo theaters left in the world. View original historical photographs of subjects ranging from WWII-era Warsaw to the Radio City Rockettes high-kicking in the late 1960s (fotoplastikonwarszawski.pl). When your inevitable pierogi craving hits, stop into one of the city's "milk bars," known for serving dairy-based items and traditional Polish food. An order of dumplings will run you less than $3 at Mleczarnia, a popular milk bar chain with locations in the city center (mleczarniajerozolimska.pl). Kicking back at a Warsaw bar for happy hour comes cheap: A pint of beer is usually less than two bucks. 3. GO TO PLAYA DEL CARMEN, NOT CANCUN  Get more breathing room for your money—and rub elbows with fewer sunburned tourists—in sustainability- and preservation-focused Playa del Carmen. Hotels in the Riviera Maya are designed around the existing mangroves, limited to four stories, and more spaced out than Cancun. Go all-inclusive for less: The recently renovated Barceló Maya Beach, for example, starts at $95 per person (barcelo.com). Cheap eats are basically synonymous with "tacos" in Playa Del Carmen. Get your fix in town at Los Aguachiles, a hip joint where the seafood tacos are fresh and the Dos Equis is cold (tacos from $1.89, losaguachiles.mx), then take a seven-minute stroll to Ah Cacao Chocolate Café on 5th Avenue for a hot cup of Mexican cacao direct from the plantation, with a luscious, pillowy brownie on the side (from $1.50, ahcacao.com). But back to why you're really here: Scenesters, gorgeous Mamitas Beach is calling your name. It's a popular spot for both locals and out-of-towners, and the site of the free Riviera Maya Jazz Festival in late November (rivieramayajazzfestival.com).  4. GO TO ELEUTHERA, NOT NASSAU  Most tourists' Bahamas journeys stop at Nassau, but consider going one step farther and hopping a small plane to the nearby Out Islands for privacy and unspoiled beauty. The draw of the long, crescent-shaped island of Eleuthera is its pink-sand beaches and still-rugged charm. The Bahamas tourism board is keen on drawing travelers to the islands, so check its website for deals like buy-one-get-one-free airfare and scuba-diving resort credits (myoutislands.com). Tippy's restaurant is where the social action is: Located in the Pineapple Fields beach hotel right on the Atlantic Ocean, Tippy's has ever-changing lunch and dinner menus heavy on local produce and seafood, like cracked conch and grouper tacos (lunch entrees from $12, pineapplefields.com). Staying overnight at Pineapple Fields is on the pricier side, but every unit is a condo with full kitchen, veranda, and easy pool and beach access (from $170, pineapplefields.com). For fewer frills, but a rustic feel and your very own cottage on the beach, Northside Inn & Restaurant, in south Eleuthera, touts its ocean views and its food—jerk chicken, grouper fingers, homemade mac and cheese, and conch dishes, all cooked by proprietor and native Bahamian Rose Gibson (from $100 per night, northsideinneleuthera.com). Wherever you go for dinner, if you see a dessert menu, pick the pineapple tart. Pineapple plantations are plentiful on Eleuthera; the annual Pineapple Festival in June celebrates pineapple farmers with events including a pineapple-eating contest, a swim/bike/run "pineathlon," and a Little Miss Pineapple Pageant. If you can't make the festival, for another type of party, hit the local Anchor Bay fish fry in Governor's Harbour, held every Friday night at 6, for a meal of fried fish, barbecued chicken, sides like peas and rice, and the "rum bubbas"—especially potent fruit-juice cocktails that have been known to inspire earnest killer dance moves ($10, bahamas.com). 5. GO TO MOOREA, NOT BORA BORA  Choose tropical, verdant, volcanic-ridged Moorea over its more expensive sister island Bora Bora, and you'll immediately save about $950 on interisland airfare just in taking the ferry from Papeete to Moorea ($70 per couple round trip). For a classic "Bora Bora­-esque" resort experience at a good value, go off-season and select a lanai room at the InterContinental Resort & Spa (from $245 per night, intercontinental.com), or DIY most of your meals and take over a Polynesian bungalow with full kitchen at Hotel Le Tipaniers (from $180 per night, lestipaniers.com). Tahiti.com has airfare-included package deals for both. Resorts often offer free activities like snorkeling equipment rental and kayaks for exploring the island's lagoon and waterfalls. For a special meal out, take the free shuttle to new hot spot Moorea Beach Café to sample its modernist cuisine amid sweeping lagoon views; restaurateur Bruno Jamais once worked under fine dining deities Daniel Boulud and Alain Ducasse. The food isn't cheap, but you can try the plat du jour lunch special for $17 (mooreabeachcafe.com). 6. GO TO PALM SPRINGS, NOT SAN FRANCISCO San Francisco has the skyline, but Palm Springs has the deals. U.S. history is alive and well in the desert: Frank Sinatra and his Rat Pack pals—plus a certain politician or two—were known to carouse around town in the 1950s and 1960s. It's a modern-day millennial haven too, especially for summer Coachella concert-goers. Retro-chic digs are affordable at the rustic Sparrows Lodge, originally a 1950s movie star retreat that's been restored to its former glory and updated with an outdoor fire pit and saltwater pool (from $129, sparrowslodge.com). Cheeky's is a new favorite spot for breakfast or lunch—and there's a Bacon Bar! (entrees from $8, cheekysps.com) Spending at least an afternoon marveling at the otherworldly geological formations and desert vegetation in Joshua Tree National Park is an essential pit stop. A weeklong pass to the park for a carload of people is only $15. Spiritual enlightenment doesn't get any cheaper (nps.gov). 7. GO TO DESERT HOT SPRINGS, NOT PALM SPRINGS  If you'd rather be away from the Palm Springs scene—or overlooking it, more accurately—and getting a spa treatment instead, nearby Desert Hot Springs rises to the occasion. The mineral water in Desert Hot Springs' underground aquifers has historically been thought to have therapeutic properties. Soak in one of eight natural hot pools open 24/7 during a wallet-friendly stay at Miracle Springs Hot Mineral Resort & Spa, and tack on a spa treatment afterward: Prices for combination treatments are lower than you'll find on most hotel menus, like a full-body Swedish massage and facial for $115 (from $75 per night, miraclesprings.com). Lido Palms is pricier but gets high marks from visitors for its apartment-like rooms with full kitchens (from $130 per night, lidopalms.com). Dollar tacos? Don't mind if we do! Locals love Monday evenings from 4 to 9 p.m. at Las Palmas Mexican Cuisine, when you can get as many tacos as you have George Washingtons (laspalmasmexicancuisineps.com). For a local museum experience you'll be talking about years later—we sure are!—tour Cabot's Pueblo Museum, homestead of the eccentric self-made man Cabot Yerxa, an adventurer, activist, entrepreneur, and pet donkey enthusiast who "discovered" the area's hot springs with a pick axe ($11 for a guided tour, cabotsmuseum.org). 8. GO TO GALWAY CITY, NOT DUBIN True, you could head to Dublin brave the big city (and the $23-a-ticket Guinness Storehouse) with other tourists, but if you'd rather unwind and explore Ireland on a smaller scale, consider touring Galway City, on the west side of the island. The medieval Spanish Arch in cobblestoned Galway City is an extension of the town's wall and a passageway that allowed ships carrying goods from nearby countries to pass. Find out more about the city's historic sites on a free two-hour guided walking tour that meets in Eyre Square three times a day (galwaypubcrawl.ie). A few blocks from the square, Griffin's Bakery has made homemade bread and yeasted brack (cake) like mom never used to since 1878 (from $2.50, griffinsbakery.com). If you can't resist bringing a little Irish heritage home, the free Claddagh Ring Museum tells the story of those quaint little hand, heart, and crown baubles; the attached shop sells souvenir claddagh jewelry at multiple price points (claddaghring.ie). The Park House Hotel is centrally located, and its in-house restaurant cooks up a full Irish breakfast of grilled bacon, sausage, tomato, black and white pudding, and free-range eggs (from $140 per night, parkhousehotel.ie). And, let's be honest, of course you'll want a Guinness draught in Ireland: Look for nightly specials and live music at the local pubs—both are plentiful. 9. GO TO PORTLAND, NOT SEATTLE Riding up into the Space Needle is bucket-list-worthy for sure, but if it's a quirky vibe and zero sales tax you're looking for, Portland's your city. The famously hip Ace Hotel chain started in the Pacific Northwest; its Downtown Portland outpost offers free bikes for borrowing and bargain-priced rooms if you don't mind sharing a hall bathroom—an en suite W.C. is higher (from $129, acehotel.com). Have you ever wanted to bunk in a tiny house with wheels? You will now. At Caravan, on the west side of the Willamette River, each of the hotel's six rooms is its own 100- to 200-foot abode with bathroom and kitchen (from $125 per night, tinyhousehotel.com). Wash down a hearty sandwich (like the pork meatball banh mi) with a cold microbrew at local favorite Lardo - the pork-and-beef-steeped joint began as a food truck and now has three locations (sandwiches from $9, lardosandwiches.com). Burn off those calories on the free Secrets of Portlandia city walking tour (secretsofportlandia.com), then wind through the seemingly never-ending stacks at Powell's City of Books, the world's largest new and used bookstore (powells.com). You still have room for something sweet, right? Jump smack into the middle of the Portland vs. Seattle doughnut rivalry by sampling a Butterfingering doughnut from Voodoo Doughnut (voodoodoughnut.com) and/or a Cointreau-infused crème brulee brioche doughnut from newcomer Blue Star Donuts (bluestardonuts.com). Last but not least: Portlandia fans, this is your mecca. It's hard not to bump into a location where the TV show has been shot, but Travel Portland has a breakdown of locales by season, including Land Gallery, where the unforgettable "Put a Bird on It" sketch was filmed (travelportland.com, landpdx.com). 10. GO TO TWIN FALLS, NOT NIAGARA FALLS Niagara Falls will always have a classic romantic cachet; Idaho's Shoshone Falls, however, is not only 45 feet taller, but the Twin Falls area is also much less expensive than a traditional vacation destination, Niagara included. The quaint brick Tudor-style Fillmore Inn, originally a counterintuitively flashy Depression-era residence built by a Standard Oil man, is appointed with vintage furniture, hemmed in with honeysuckles, and located minutes from Snake River and Shoshone Falls National Park (from $99, thefillmoreinn.com). After a full breakfast on the garden patio, take your whole crew fishing, hiking, or picnicking at the Shoshone Falls/Dierkes Lake Complex in full view of the falls ($3 per car April through September, no charge other months, visitidaho.org). Just when you thought the vistas couldn't get any better, have dinner on the rim of the Snake River Canyon next to an outdoor fire pit at Elevation 486, which serves up local catches like grilled Idaho ruby-red trout and fresh Northwest steamer clams (entrees from $10, elevation486.com). 11. GO TO THE CINQUE TERRE, NOT THE FRENCH RIVERA  Someday you'll find yourself flush with cash and lying on private beaches in Cannes with the glitterati, but until then, for high-drama cliffside coastal scenery and a slow-paced Italian vibe, the UNESCO World Heritage site Cinque Terre is a less expensive but highly picturesque alternative. Hotels can be pricey in the area, but the very basic Hotel La Zorza, housed in a 17th-century building located in the Riomaggiore Village (one of five that make up Cinque Terre), starts at $40 a night (hotelzorza.com). Bring your swimsuit in warmer months: The beaches are pebbly but egalitarian—and free. Hiking between the villages is an extremely popular activity; just be prepared to climb steep stone steps. Check the park's website for trail closings, difficulty ratings, and a schedule of guided walking tours, which will set you back less than $4 (parconazionale5terre.it). Fresh-caught anchovies and pesto, which originated from the Italian Riviera, are two local specialties you'll want to check off your foodie list, and Trattoria dal Billy, hidden up in the hills of Manarola, dishes out both amid sweeping views from the balcony (entrees from $14, trattoriabilly.com).  12. GO TO BUDAPEST, NOT PRAGUE  Fun fact about Budapest: Hungary is a member of the European Union but not part of the eurozone, which means more Hungarian forints for your pocket. Aside from being cheaper than Prague as a whole, Budapest is also larger, so the crowds will be thinner. (Bonus.) Overlook the Danube River from quiet, leafy Margaret Island at Grand Hotel Margitsziget (from $100 per night, danubiushotels.com). Frugal spa-addicts, there's a heated hallway that connects guests to free mineral-rich thermal baths, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a mint-scented aroma cabin, two saunas, a steam room, a solarium, and a sunbathing deck. For about a buck, you can try Hungarians' favorite street food, lángos, deep-fried bread with sour cream, grated cheese, and garlic on top that's sometimes called "Hungarian pizza." Get it at a stall in the Great Market Hall, along with a homemade plastic baggie of paprika to take back home for only a couple of dollars (budapestmarkethall.com). For free, you can take a walking tour of UNESCO World Heritage site Castle Hill, a collection of historical sites such as the 13th-century Royal Palace (now the Hungarian National Gallery, admission about $6, mng.hu) and Matthias Church, founded in 1015 (matyas-templom.hu). But who can resist a cruise down the Danube? Book seat on a boat ride and see the sights or treat yourself to dinner (from about $16 for a sightseeing cruise, from about $34 for a dinner cruise, legenda.hu). 13. GO TO BIG SKY, NOT ASPEN  Aspirational as Aspen is, fighting for space on the slopes and paying a premium for skiing accouterments isn't exactly the vacation that some of us envisioned for winter break. Instead, consider swooshing north to Big Sky Resort in Montana, the largest ski area in the U.S., which opened up more terrain over the summer for a total of 5,800 acres (bigskyresort.com). Kids ski free if you stay in a property that Big Sky manages—that includes condos with kitchens if you'd rather do the cooking yourself. Best hotel bets for a tight budget are the resort's Whitewater Inn, eight miles away (from $133 per night), and Huntley Lodge, on site (from $179 per night). After a grueling run, refuel with a creatively topped weiner from Yeti Dogs, like the Lifty: a beef dog with yeti sauce (zesty mayo), shredded cheddar, and bacon (dogs from $4, yetidogs.com). Locals love 'em. If you're more into the après than the ski, Solace Spa's menu includes moisturizing ginger foot rubs and the option to add locally made, muscle-soothing arnica oil to massage treatments for $10. Of course, booze is another way to numb a sore body. Cure what ails you by having a barkeep mix up a 44˚ North Huckleberry Lemonade, a cocktail made with Idaho potato vodka that's been blended with local huckleberries ($9), or pour you a pint of Retro Red Ale, crafted by Lone Peak Brewery for the resort's 40th anniversary ($5). Off property, Yellowstone National Park's West Entrance is less than an hour's drive away. Set out on a mission to spot Old Faithful, rent a bike for $8 at Old Faithful Snow Lodge to explore the park's bike paths, or go on a short day hike through the backcountry (entrance fee $25 per vehicle, nps.gov). 14. GO TO THE ALBANIAN COAST, NOT THE DALMATIAN COAST  Croatia's sparkling Dalmatian Coast is spectacular (in fact, we recommend it as No. 18 on this list), but flights to Tirana, Albania, are significantly cheaper right now than flights to Dubrovnik (a Kayak search for a six-day vacation in early 2015 brought up $845 for Dubrovnik versus $718 for Tirana), and vacationing on the Albanian Coast has been lauded by travel experts as a real budget traveler's paradise. Rent a car after your flight to Tirana and drive to the coastal town of Vlorë. The modern, cleanly furnished Paradise Beach Hotel has two restaurants that serve traditional Albanian food like fresh octopus, plus Italian and French cuisine (from $27 per night, paradisebeachhotel.al). Hit the beach a few miles down the coast: Jali Beach offers swimmers crystal-blue waters and eaters fresh seafood at nearby eateries. Farther south, below Himerë, is the still-standing Port Palermo Castle. No one seems to know for sure who built it or when, but at one time it was in the possession of a tyrannical Ottoman pasha who came to power in the 18th century. Now the fortress is both an historic site and a place to take selfies and admire the sea view. Pay particular attention to the loopholes for guns and cannons, and be glad you were never on Ali Pasha's bad side (albania.al). If that whets your appetite for archeology, you'll be satiated near the Greek border at UNESCO World Heritage site Butrint, a former stop along ancient trade routes that contains a bonanza of ruins left as the detritus of different occupations: Greek temples, Roman fountains and baths, a paleo-Christian baptistery, and a tall Venetian fortress, among other significant finds—all pristinely preserved thanks to a literal sea change in the late Middle Ages that coated the city in mud and vegetation until excavation began in the 1920s (about $6.50, butrint.org). 15. GO TO PERTH, NOT SYNDEY  Less crowded and even sunnier than Sydney, Perth is a clean, spiffy city with a burgeoning hipster scene. Exhibit A: A café called Toastface Grillah, where you can order a brie, prosciutto, and zucchini sandwich called the Danny Zuccho ($9, toastfacegrillah.com). Where to stay? The 83 on Swan B&B is a federation-style home with a quaint, well-manicured garden near Swan Valley, known as a winemaking region where you can get your chenin blanc and shiraz straight from the source (from $95 per night, 83onswan.wordpress.com; swanvalley.com.au). Or go old-school and set up shop in the oldest hotel in Western Australia: The Rose & Crown was built in 1841. Staying in the ornate rooms in the original structure costs a pretty penny, but the budget-friendly rooms in its adjacent Lodge are decidedly modern (from $150 per night, rosecrown.com.au). Don't leave the city without stopping at one of Miami Bakery's three locations for one of its award-winning sweet or savory pies for under $10. The custard tart's smooth, dome-shaped top is so perfect you'll hate to pierce it (miamibakehouse.com.au). Take the pie and have a picnic among the bright red-and-green kangaroo paw plants—with a clear view of Perth's skyline—at Kings Park & Botanic Gardens (free, bgpa.wa.gov.au); snorkel and dive the reefs at Shoalwater Islands Marine Park, then watch penguins and sea lions frolic atop a string of limestone islands (free, parks.dpaw.wa.gov.au). 16. GO TO PORTUGAL, NOT SPAIN Portugal is cheap. Real cheap. It's also the ideal place for a somewhat schizophrenic all-in-one vacation: You can beach-hop among the country's 50 different sandy stretches and get a huge dose of history via sites like the 11th-century Castelo de S Jorge that looms over Lisbon and the medieval villages Marvão and Monsaraz ($11 for a castle tour, castelodesaojorge.pt). In Evora, Convento do Espinheiro, a former 15th-century convent gone (affordably) luxe, has incredibly sleek indoor and outdoor pools and plush, modern furnishings (from $151 per night, conventodoespinheiro.com). Nearby, the Alentejan cuisine at longtime institution Restaurante Fialho is a splurge but does include specialties like quail eggs with paio, a traditional pork sausage, and house-made desserts including sweet tecolameco cakes and custard; send any appetizers away that you don't want to eat or pay for—they're already on the table when you sit down (entrees from $19, restaurantefialho.com). Along the southwest coast of Portugal, walk the Rota Vicentina, a series of preserved rural and coastal paths that run through cork tree forests, past villages, and up along the cliffs (rotavicentina.com). Time your stroll just right to end at Cape St. Vincent, Europe's southwesternmost point, as the sun sets. 17. GO TO KRABI, NOT PHUKET  No disrespect to luxury playground Phuket, but a visit to Thailand's coastal province of Krabi is reputedly even more peaceful and relaxing. The Just Fine boutique hotel in Krabi Town has crisp, modern décor; each of its 12 rooms has an individual style, including one with a painted wall of tall, fanciful trees (from $47, facebook.com/justfinekrabi). On weekends, pop over to the "walking street" market on Maharat Road, open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings. The stretch is lined with food stalls selling inexpensive dishes like khao yam (rice salad) and hor mok yang (Thai steamed fish, chicken, or pork curry in banana leaves on a stick). Glide via kayak through mangrove estuaries into Ao Thalane canyon for a prime opportunity to see the area's unique limestone karsts and wild monkeys in action—watch for langurs and long-tailed macaques. There are numerous kayak tour outfitters to choose from, like Sea Canoe and Krabi Trek (from about $16, seacanoe.net, krabitrek.com). 18. GO TO CROATIA, NOT ITALY  Croatia is just a hop across the Adriatic Sea from Italy, but the savings are ample, and the rolling hills and loads of sunshine are terrific for relaxation. Plus, instead of a tourist-heavy experience, you can take in the crystal-blue seas and an almost supernaturally beautiful landscape. To wit: The HBO TV show Game of Thrones is shot there—die-hard fans who have saved their pennies can take a three-hour walking tour in Dubrovnik's Old Town that includes a stop at Lovrijenac Fortress, better known as the palace at King's Landing in the series ($74, viator.com). For fresh catches, Kantinon Tavern, up north in Rovinj's Old Town, emphasizes local seafood and Croatian wines—we hear great things about the tuna steak (385-0-52-816-075). The San Rocco hotel, in the coastal region of Istria, prides itself on its enogastronomy (food and wine tourism) (from $150 per night, san-rocco.hr): The restaurant incorporates different olive oils from the San Rocco family's olive trees nearby into its traditional Istrian cuisine (multi-course tasting menu from $64). Lounge by the pool or get a rubdown for cheap, because this is a hotel spa you can afford: Full-body treatments start at about $27. When in wine country, visit a winery. The Istrian peninsula is full of them. Family-owned Franc Arman winery offers free tastings if you buy a bottle to take home with you (call 385-0-52-446-226 for an appointment, francarman.hr). 19. GO TO MONTENEGRO, NOT GREECE  Cleverly dubbed a "pocket dictionary" of experiences, Montenegro is more compact than Greece and still relatively unknown, ideal for obscure-vacation cred among your well-traveled pals. Its green, rugged terrain offers everything from a rain forest—rare in Europe—in hiker-friendly Biogradska gora national park to the long, sandy Big Beach in Ulcinj. On the coast, also in Ulcinj, Old Town's historic Hotel Palata Venezia has Adriatic Sea views from each apartment unit and is close to several beaches (from about $80 per night, hotel-palatavenezia-montenegro.com). In the walkable, café-rich capital city of Podgorica, restaurant Pod Volat serves a smorgasbord of Montenegrin food, especially roasted meats (382-69-618-633). 20. GO TO GUATEMALA, NOT MEXICO For a glimpse of authentic Mayan culture—both ancient and modern—unlike what you'd see in the usual touristy destinations in Mexico, Guatemala is an inexpensive but rich choice. In Antigua Guatemala, the tranquil seven-room Hotel Cirilo is built into the ruins of an 18th-century colonial church and within walking distance of Antigua's famous colonial relics, including the iconic vivid-yellow Arco de Santa Catalina (from $109 per night, hotelcirilo.com). While you're in town, stop by La Fonda de la Calle Real restaurant, which dishes out traditional Guatemalan cuisine. Pepián y pollo stew is a specialty (lafondadelacallereal.com). Yoga devotees and workaholics in need of a change of pace, Villa Sumaya Retreat Center, on Lake Atitlan, could be your new favorite escape. Tailor your own trip by customizing a four- to seven-day "personal package" that can include options like vegetarian meals, yoga classes, Mayan protection ceremonies, adventure sports, and guided tours of local municipalities like Santiago and San Juan (from $65 per night for single occupancy, villasumaya.com). Come face to face with the ingenuity and brutality of ancient Mayan culture at several sites throughout Guatemala. Most popular are the ruins at Tikal National Park in northern Guatemala, which are larger than those at Chichén Itzá in Mexico and evidence of one of the most powerful ancient Mayan kingdoms ($20, whc.unesco.org). The Temple of the Two-Headed Serpent, built circa 741 AD, rises above the bygone city at 212 feet—but you might know it from the movie Star Wars, as Luke Skywalker's rebel base. Climb to the top (yes, they actually let you do this!) via wooden steps and take in the view of rain forests and the other Tikal temples. 21. GO TO ZAMBIA, NOT ZANZIBAR  The city of Zanzibar is crowded, but the country of Zambia is comparatively undiscovered, offering such pristine beauty that Victoria Falls, on the Zambezi River at the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe, is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. Nearby, antelope roam (along with zebras, giraffes, and other creatures) in Mosi oa Tunya National Park: Drive your own car through or go on a guided open-vehicle game drive with a company like Safpar (from $55, safpar.com). Lusaka, the capital city, is bustling with business travelers, so if you'd like a solid hotel option with modern conveniences, Southern Sun is a favorite (from $170, tsogosunhotels.com). Expats rave about Sugarbush Café's Sunday roasts (roast beef, that is) and fresh vegetables plucked right from the neighboring farm (entrees from $7, facebook.com/sugarbushcafezam). If you have a decent amount of cash left over at the end of your visit, the adjacent Jackal & Hide shop sells travel bags, leather-bound journals, and accessories made from locally tanned cow leather, plus other small souvenirs (jackalandhide.net). 22. GO TO JACKSONVILLE BEACH, NOT SOUTH BEACH  If you're aiming to shoehorn a Florida beach getaway into your budget and want to avoid South Beach prices, Jacksonville just might be your town. Its average hotel rates are the lowest in the state, at about $77. A boutique luxury experience is actually affordable at the One Ocean Resort & Spa, right on the Atlantic Ocean (from $150, oneoceanresort.com). Aside from easy access to the sand, amenities include a heated beachside pool, a selection of snacks and drinks—like sparkling water and sun-dried tomato pita chips—waiting for you in your room when you check in, and a personal "docent" who can unpack your suitcase, steam your clothes, book your spa treatments, recommend restaurants, and more. Does a day at the beach leave you craving tacos, no matter which coast you're on? They start at $3 at local favorite Taco Lu (tacolu.com). Pair a Baja fish taco with a pinarita (pineapple margarita) and sit outside. For a modern farm-to-table vibe, the Blind Rabbit will present you with brioche-bunned burgers and a long, long list of whiskeys (entrees from $10, theblindrabbitwhiskeybar.com). There's a bacon maple milkshake that you can spike with Buffalo Trace for two bucks. You're welcome. 23. GO TO ROCKAWAY BEACH, NOT MONTAUK  The ride to Rockaway Beach in Queens from Manhattan is about an hour and a half via train, as opposed to double that for Montauk. The crowd of surfers and sunbathers is low-key and the eats are cheap: Rockaway Taco's tilapia taco and fried sweet plantains are modern classics (from $3, rockawaytaco.com). Spending the night? Come for the beach and stay for the party at the recently opened hipster-rific Playland Motel, which freely owns up to its "loud environment" (from $72 per night, playlandmotel.com). Artists designed the often-bizarre rooms—all of which, except one, have a shared bathroom. Playland Tavern, down below, holds open mics and DJ'd parties, and slings cocktails like the peach-flavored Rockaway Boulevardier, made with rye and brandy. The motel just partnered with Bolivian food stand (and Williamsburg, Brooklyn, favorite) Bolivian Llama Party for the summer season: Fans make a beeline for the brisket salteñas and triple pork sandwich de cholas (from $6, blpnyc.com). 24. GO TO PHILADELPHIA, NOT NEW YORK  We love New York, but for a more affordable, more manageable option that's iconic in its own right, consider Philly instead. History 101 starts here. Back when Philadelphia was the first capital of the United States, the Morris House Hotel, built in 1787, was there to witness it. Today, the renovated brick inn is two blocks from the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. You can have your (free) tea and house-baked cookies and eat them too in the hotel's Revolutionary-era lounge, sip a complimentary glass of wine from 4 to 5 p.m. every day, and take advantage of a free continental breakfast in the morning (from $139 per night, morrishousehotel.com). Obviously, you're going to run up the 72 steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum and strike a Rocky Balboa pose for Instagram (aren't you?), but for a different creative experience, Philadelphia's Magic Gardens, a indoor/outdoor visionary art environment, celebrates the curious, colorful, undulating mosaics and murals of local artist Isaiah Zagar ($7, phillymagicgardens.org). Head to Ninth Street and Passyunk Avenue to decide for yourself who has the best Philly cheesesteak: Pat's or Geno's, longtime rivals directly across the street from each other that are open 24/7 (from $7, patskingofsteaks.com, genosteaks.com). John's Roast Pork, though, is known for elevating the sandwich with its roast pork, sharp provolone, and broccoli rabe creation-he has regular cheesesteaks too that reviewers love (from $6.50, johnsroastpork.com). 25. GO TO MYRTLE BEACH, NOT CHARLESTON  Betcha didn't know: Quaint little towns and sprawling plantations make Myrtle Beach not just a beach town, but a more reasonable alternative to Charleston, South Carolina. Myrtle Beach spans a full 60 miles, and its southern end, specifically Pawleys Island and Georgetown, has a rich Southern history. Mansfield Plantation Bed & Breakfast in Georgetown was a giant, near-1,000-acre rice plantation in the late 1700s and is still relatively architecturally intact-you can take a group tour for $12.50 per person. If you stay overnight, the Old Kitchen House is the least expensive of the three guesthouses: Each room has a private entrance, two have four-poster beds, and one has a claw-foot soaking tub. A large "plantation breakfast" with selections like poached pears, much-raved-about stuffed French toast, and various egg bake incarnations is served in the a.m. (from $150 per night, mansfieldplantation.com). Farther north, if the thought of contending with crowds of beachgoers makes you shudder, Litchfield Beach is quiet and pristine. It also lies near the thin, four-mile stretch of Pawleys Island, a laid-back "barefoot paradise" with vacation rentals and hotels like the Sea View Inn, which serves guests three full meals of Southern cuisine a day, from grits in the morning to seafood gumbo at night (from $130 per night, meals included, seaviewinn.net). 26. GO TO FINGER LAKES WINE COUNTRY, NOT NAPA VALLEY  Vacation fantasy: You're swirling a goblet of red in the countryside. Vacation reality: Hey, you can definitely still do that, even if Napa's prices are out of reach. Wines produced in central New York State's Finger Lakes region—riesling, chardonnay, cabernet franc, and pinot noir in particular—are garnering higher scores than ever and enjoying expanded distribution. New Vines Bed & Breakfast has Seneca Lake views, an idyllic porch perfect for sunset sipping, a backyard vineyard, and six wineries within a two-mile radius (from $120 per night, newvinesbb.com). In Hammondsport, Dr. Frank Wines, famous for its critically acclaimed rieslings, holds free tastings; bottles start at $10 (drfrankwines.com). Later, you'll need some food to pair with that vino. Open April through November, Stonecat Café's organic cuisine is hyper-local-spelt from Trumansburg combines with cream from Ithaca to make up the strawberry and sweet pea risotto; wines are Finger Lakes only-and the back garden's willow trees make for picturesque alfresco dining (entrees from $12.50, http://stonecatcafe.com/). If you're looking to dispense with the fancy stuff and grab and go, pick up a house-made sausage or fresh-ground burger for lunch from FLX Weinery (yes, you read that right) (from $3, flxwienery.com). Need a break from gastronomic bliss? The Corning Museum of Glass is opening a sunlight-infused, architecturally sleek new wing in March, but until then you can still view the glass art collections that span 3,500 years and glassmaking (and glass-breaking) demos ($16, cmog.org).

    Inspiration

    7 Best (And Worst) Museums To Visit On An Empty Stomach

    Some folks plan whole trips around a restaurant (or ten), a signature dish, or an edible obsession. (I once vowed to eat gelato three times a day during an 11–day trip through Italy with a girlfriend—and we both held up our end of the bargain.) But simply eating something doesn’t always deliver context—which is what makes the food part of travel so fascinating, and why we devote a whole issue of our magazine to the topic each year (find our May/June Food Issue on newsstands now!). So here, we present seven museums across the country that have built entire exhibitions around a type of cuisine, a way of eating, or even a single ingredient. (Some even let you try the goods, too.) No, it’s not the same as eating your way through the best little pastry shops in Paris—but you just might learn something. The American Museum of Natural History in New York is staging a monthly series called “Adventures in the Global Kitchen,” featuring themed lectures and tastings on a different topic each month. The next one, on May 3, covers the cultural history of tequila and chilies ($30); Juan Carlos Aguirre from Mano a Mano: Mexican Culture Without Borders and Courtenay Greenleaf of Richard Sandoval Restaurants are running the presentation, which includes samples of both of the substances in question (score!). The theme for June: Tiki drinks! Opening May 25 and running through September 2, 2012, “Beer Here: Brewing New York's History” at the New York Historical Society tells the story of both the production and consumption of beer in New York from colonial times through Prohibition and on to the present day. (Fun fact: In the mid–1800s, New York state was the top producer of hops in the whole country!) Visitors will learn about the nutritional content of colonial–era beer, the chain of technological advances in brewing, and the old–time advertisements and slogans used by past New York brewers. The best part: At the end of the exhibition, there’s a pop–up beer hall, where, on Saturdays throughout the summer, half–hour beer tasting events ($35) will be held at 2pm and 4pm, led by brewers and brewery owners from in–state labels like Kelso Beer Co., Keegan Ales, Ithaca Beer Company, and Greenport Harbor Brewing Co. Through June 10, the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture at the University of Washington in Seattle has “Hungry Planet: What the World Eats,” a fascinating (and slightly voyeuristic) presentation of the eating habits of families in 10 countries. The photo–driven exhibit was culled from Peter Menzel and Faith D'Aluisio’s even wider–reaching project from a few years back, in which they photographed 600 meals eaten by 30 families in 24 countries—including a snapshot of each household with a week’s worth of groceries laid out next to them. The disparities from one group to the next are nothing less than shocking—and will likely make you reconsider what you put in the cart on your next visit to the supermarket. In Washington, D.C., the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service collaborated on “Sweet and Sour,” an examination of the history of Chinese food in the United States. The exhibit’s cache of photographs, vintage signs, cooking and eating utensils, and memorabilia will be on view in Washington through the end of 2012, before it moves on to its next location (which is still to be determined). One surprise addition to the trove: The Virginia Mericle Menu Collection, a shipment of more than 4,500 Chinese–restaurant menus amassed over the course of Mericle’s lifetime, was donated to the museum by her daughter, Virginia Henderson, after Mericle’s death in 2009. Another ode to the culinary contributions of immigrant groups is on display through August 3 in Birmingham, Alabama’s Vulcan Park and Museum: “Beyond Barbecue and Baklava: The Impact of Greek Immigrants on Birmingham’s Culture and Cuisine.” Its centerpiece is the 1946 neon sign from the city’s iconic Pete’s Famous Hot Dogs—now a popular photo op for visitors to the museum—which is supplemented with photos and mementos from 100 years of Greek restaurants citywide. At first glance, a new exhibit at New Haven, Connecticut’s Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, might make you lose your appetite. “Big Food: Health, Culture, and the Evolution of Eating” (through December 2, 2012) takes a hard look at the American diet as it stands today—as well as the societal and economic factors that have shaped it over time. It’s part of a months–long program that incorporates tough–love teaching tools, documentary screenings, and weighty lectures—on the politics of the “sugar pandemic”; on which cultures have the healthiest diets; on the sinister secrets of food advertising. But the program’s organizers balance out the bad news with fun, like a tasting night with local chefs on May 10, and a healthy–food–focused Fiesta Latina in October. (The schedule is still being updated, so check Peabody.yale.edu for more events.) If that’s too much reality for you, then just mark your calendars for December 9, 2012, when the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe cuts the ribbon on its exhibit “New World Cuisine: The Histories of Chocolate, Maté y Mas,” which looks at the earliest imports and exports of foods to and from the Americas, and the roles played by specific products (in particular, drinks made from chocolate and maté) that Europeans went crazy for. How do you say “chocoholic” in French? MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL 15 International Food Etiquette Rules That Might Surprise You Confessions of...A New York Street–Food Vendor America's Best Food Regions

    Inspiration

    Four Towns That Have Their Own Currency

    Credit and debit cards may win over travelers for their universal use, but there’s something to be said about the complete opposite—currency so unique that it’s only used in one town. These four towns each have their own monetary units, accepted at local shops and restaurants, and reflective of each location. They’re so unique, in fact, that you might be tempted to save them as a souvenir. But it’s better to spend them. Unlike U.S. dollars, which circulate far and wide, local currency keeps money close to home and spurs the town’s economy. Ithaca, New York This was the first town in the U.S. to create its own local currency, called Ithaca Hours, back in 1991. Valued at $10, each Hour represented the average hourly wage in the area. Today there are $100,000 worth of Hours in circulation and they are accepted at more than 900 locations. Berkshires region, Massachusetts Introduced in fall 2006, BerkShares were designed by area artists and feature notable locals including Norman Rockwell, Herman Melville, and W. E. B. DuBois. More than 400 businesses, including restaurants, bookshops, and clothing stores, accept the 2.7 million notes. The program has been so successful there's even talk of BerkShare ATMs and checking accounts. Traverse City, Michigan The Bay Bucks currency launched in 2005 with aims at stimulating the local economy. The notes that make up the $99,000 worth of Bay Bucks are decorated with cherry blossoms and morel mushrooms. Salt Spring Island, British Columbia North of the border, the currency on this Canadian island is accepted at nearly every business. Salt Spring Dollars are colorfully designed by local artists with pastoral and maritime scenes like misty mountains and breaching orcas. —Alison Brick MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL 7 Tricks for Getting Gas for Less 8 Ways to Save Big on Summer Travel 30 Vacations Budget Travel Readers Will Never Forget

    Inspiration

    A great idea: Celebrating teachers

    Ithaca has come up with a clever idea that other cities should copy. The town of about 30,000 residents in central New York state is throwing a party for teachers Feb. 16-24—which is when hundreds of thousands of teachers are on break for "Winter Recess." A teacher can receive discounts on dining (such as 15 percent off a meal at the famous Moosewood restaurant) and lodging (such as an $89 a night rate at the downtown Holiday Inn, which is 40 percent off the standard rate). "Bring your school ID, your union membership, or a note from your principal, and you're in," says IthacaLovesTeachers.com. Here's a photo of Newfield, N.Y., teacher Lisa Miller riding a mechanical bull at last year's Winter Recess teachers fest. The ID tag she's wearing is the V.I.T. (Very Important Teacher) pass that can be used to get discounts around the city. This year, concerts include Taj Mahal and Lyle Lovett. (Teachers can get free beer and wine at the concession stand. It could get crazy!) There are educational events, too, such as a reading by novelist Denis Johnson, winner of the 2007 National Book Award. Food will be a big theme at the party. Ithaca has more restaurants per capita than New York City... The town's emphasis is on organic and gourmet food. I recommend that you grab a latte at one of the Gimme Coffee shops, or try a dish of shrimp and grits at Maxie's Supper Club (which offers surprisingly good Southern comfort food for a Yankee restaurant). During "Winter Recess" week, both of these places have buy-one-get-one free offers for teachers. When Ithaca first launched this promotion a year ago, officials claimed that it was the first citywide festival for state public school teachers. Here's hoping that other cities copy the concept—especially some cities in warm weather destinations. More details at IthacaLovesTeachers.com [Of course, you don't have to be a teacher to enjoy many of the events. For example, many parents may want to take advantage of winter recess to scout higher education options for their kids, such as at Ithaca's Cornell University and and Ithaca College. Each school has well-regarded programs in hospitality and culinary training, in case any of you have children interested in joining those parts of the travel industry.]

    News

    Enterprise adds 5,000 hybrid rental cars nationwide

    Enterprise, Alamo, and National rental car brands today announced that they've added 5,000 hybrid rental cars to their fleets. Enterprise now has 7,000 nationwide, while Alamo and National now have 2,000 between them. Enterprise now owns more of the green rides than any other rental car brand, offering them at 80 locations nationwide. Locations include, per the press release: California (Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento and Fresno); Colorado (Denver); Florida (Orlando, Tampa); New York (Albany, Ithaca, New York City, Rochester); Oregon (Eugene, Portland); Texas (Austin, Dallas, Houston); Atlanta; Boston; Detroit; Minneapolis; Philadelphia; St. Louis; Seattle; and Washington, D.C. The company deserves kudos. But there are a few caveats to note. Search wisely. The best ways to find hybrid rentals from Enterprise or another car rental company is directly on its own reservations site (such as enterprise.com). Of all the travel booking sites we tested, Kayak has the most comprehensive listings, but you’ll only see an option to filter your results for hybrids if the cars are in stock at that specific location. No hybrids? No link. Expedia only promotes hybrids from Fox Rent-a-Car, which has a couple hundred hybrids in the western U.S. (see expedia.com/gogreen). Travelocity doesn't have "hybrids" as a "car type" option on a drop-down menu. Orbitz does offer the option to request "hybrids" as a "car type" from its drop-down menu, but it doesn't include hybrids from Enterprise, the company with the largest inventory. Book way early. Since most rental-car locations have only a few hybrids if any, it helps to make a reservation at least a month in advance. In California, which is flush with the eco-cars—and we hope a harbinger of the future—a couple of weeks should suffice. Expect to pay a premium. An average $20 per day more cost is typical. To quote Kermit the Frog, "It's not easy being green." While Enterprise has boosted its hybrid inventory, overall the green vehicles make up a skimpy 1 percent of its total fleet—though that small percentage is typical for the industry as a whole. Why are there so few hybrid rentals? I posed that question to Neil Abrams, president of the rental car consulting and research firm Abrams Consulting. He explained that rental car companies do not have an advantage with volume pricing buying power. Hybrids are so popular that car dealerships can get bigger margins selling directly to retail customers instead of rental car companies. Meanwhile, automakers are willing to offload lots of standard engine cars and below-market prices to rental car companies— to clear their inventories. So a rental car company can buy (to pick a random example) a Mercury Sable for, say, roughly $12,000. They can rent it for a year. Then they can re-sell it as a used car, and make money off the resale. This is far more profitable to them than buying a hybrid car, which might cost $20,000. They'll have to charge far higher daily rates to customers to try to recoup the cost. But in an era of under-$2-a-gallon gas, not enough customers may rent the hybrids at the premium prices.

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