12 Budget-Friendly Presidents' Day Getaways
Falling late in February, Presidents' Day weekend is an ideal time for a midwinter getaway. Whether it's to indulge in a little skiing and sledding or to escape the cold altogether, there are plenty of opportunities around the country for a memorable and budget-friendly retreat. All hotel prices were researched in late January and based on double occupancy.
Pay tribute to U.S. history in the Black Hills of South Dakota, where iconic Mount Rushmore offers stunning views of four great American presidents from the free park's Presidential Trail. Not far from the monument is Rapid City, known as the "City of Presidents." Visitors can spend an afternoon exploring the 43 life-size bronze sculptures of past presidents decorating downtown. To complete the theme, stay at the historic Hotel Alex Johnson, which has hosted several presidents since opening in the 1920s. Rooms at the property, near Main Street Square, shops, restaurants, and museums, start at $66 per night.
Portland will mark the holiday weekend with the citywide PDX Jazz Festival, where some events start at $8. The same weekend, the city kicks off the Portland International Film Festival. And for those who may need a break from the arts scene, there's also a beer festival (called Zwickelmania) taking place, and entrance is free. As for where to stay, rooms at the historic Kimpton Hotel Monaco Portland, in the heart of downtown, start at $143 per night for the holiday weekend.
Yakima Valley is known for its excellent craft beer, wine, and cider, and the chance to sip it amid the fields, vineyards, and orchards where the ingredients were grown. The community is also home to a vibrant arts scene, which includes galleries (try the Larson and Lakat), theaters (The Seasons Performance Hall), and music organizations such as the Yakima Symphony Orchestra. Rooms at the Hilton Garden Inn, in downtown Yakima, start at $179.
Abilene, named one of the "Top 20 Best Small Towns to Visit in 2017" by Smithsonian Magazine, presents another opportunity to explore presidential history: The city is the location of The Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum and Boyhood Home, (admission $12 for adults, $6 for children) one of Kansas' top attractions. The city is also known for its restaurants, including the famous Brookville Hotel, part of the culinary "8 Wonders of Kansas" for its family-style chicken menu. Rooms at Abilene's Victorian Inn Bed & Breakfast, which include breakfast, range from $79 to $129.
Kenosha hosts Downtown Kenosha Restaurant Week from Feb. 17-25. Fixed-price menus for this foodie lover's event are $10 for breakfast and lunch, and $20 and $30 for dinner. For a more colorful culinary experience, check out the Jelly Belly Visitor Center (entrance is free), and get some sweet samples. Kenosha is also home to restored electric streetcars that provide scenic tours of the Lake Michigan shoreline, Harbor Park, and two historic districts, costing $1 for travelers 13 and older, 50 cents for children. Several hotels offer specials for restaurant week, with rooms starting at $79.
The amusement park lover in your family needs to visit the Southern California city of Buena Park. A short drive from Disneyland, Buena Park is a budget-friendly base for exploring that iconic park as well as all the other activities Orange County has to offer, including Knott's Berry Farm (another kid favorite), Medieval Times dinner adventures (where winter specials take up to $19 off ticket prices) and, slightly further afield, downtown Los Angeles. Rooms at the Courtyard Anaheim Buena Park start at $151 for the holiday weekend.
Columbia hosts a variety of budget-friendly events over Presidents' Day weekend, including the Smoke and Beer Festival of food created by local chefs using craft beer as an ingredient or pairing ($15). When not eating and drinking check out the Columbia Museum of Art, with traveling exhibits and a permanent collection with works from Botticelli and Monet. The museum is offering half-price admission through the summer ($6 for adults, $2.50 for students, and free for children 6 and under) during renovations. Rooms at Aloft Columbia Downtown, the city's first boutique hotel, start at $130.
Located on the Great Miami River in southwestern Ohio, Hamilton is rich in small-town historic charm. Founded in 1791, it's one of the oldest communities in the region, but more recently has become a hub for arts, dining, and a variety of outdoor activities. Don't miss Municipal Brew Works, a craft brewery with a regular roster of visiting food trucks. Ohio's first and only Donut Trail highlights small, family-run doughnut shops throughout the county -- representing a combined 227-plus years of doughnut-making -- including passing through two stops in Hamilton. Rooms at The Rossville Inn start at $125.
There plenty of winter activities in picturesque Bar Harbor, where the season makes prices far more affordable. Just two miles outside of town, Acadia National Park offers the opportunity for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing on the famous carriage roads, hiking, ice fishing, snowmobiling, and more. There's also plenty of scenic drives for those who don't want to brave the cold. Park admission is $25 per vehicle. Rooms at the Quimby House Inn & Spa are around $125 per night.
During February -- Black History Month, as well as the one with Presidents' Day -- explore African American heritage in Liberty County, home to the historic Dorchester Academy & Museum, a former school for freed slaves that was founded in 1871. (Entry fees are a voluntary donation). Next, stop by the simple, and free, outdoors Baptismal Trail, for almost 100 years a holy place where members of the local Geechee communities baptized new members. Rooms at the La Quinta Inn & Suites, in Hinesville, start at $87.
Another getaway with ties to a president, Columbia hosts the James K. Polk Home & Museum, which offers 30-minute docent-led tours of the home or self-guided tours of the gardens, kitchen building, Presidential Hall, and Polk's sister's house. A year-round destination, Columbia is also known for its craft breweries and hiking, and has a new arts district that's worth exploring. Rooms at the Baymont Inn & Suites Columbia Maury start at $95 for the holiday weekend.
Presidents' Day weekend can also be ideal for a midwinter health retreat. Jemez Springs, about an hour outside Albuquerque, NM, is famous for its natural mineral hot springs. At the springs' Bath House, visitors can soak indoors ($12 to $18) or indulge in massages, wraps, and other services. The outdoor hot springs provides stellar views of the nearby Virgin Mesa and features therapeutic hot mineral water pools filled with ancient sea water from the Valles Caldera National Preserve, a full 17 miles to the north (starting at $25). The region is also home to art galleries and wineries, and rooms at the Elk Mountain Lodge Bed & Breakfast, which is surrounded by rivers, trees, and abundant wildlife, start at about $119.