12 Cheap and Easy Winter Weekend Getaways
More Americans are planning weekend getaways -- last year it was 78 percent of respondents to a survey by car renter Enterprise, while 85 percent look forward to one this year. Americans see weekend trips as a way to forget stress, the news, politics, and even social media for a few blissful days. If a winter weekend escape is on the agenda, here are some cheap and easy options to keep in mind.
There's more than 4,300 acres of skiing and snowboarding terrain for all abilities on Mount Bachelor, where children 5 and younger always ski free and older kids (up to 12) can ski free when parents buy a three-day or longer lift ticket in advance. Additional activities include free 90-minute educational snowshoe tours, tubing, and even rides on sleds pulled by teams of dogs.
Many of the best local restaurants have prix-fixe dinners for between $25 and $45 a person, and some even offer lower-priced lunches, during Santa Fe Restaurant Week (Feb. 18-25). When not feasting on local specialties, explore the city's 14 museums, including the Museum of International Folk Art; the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art; and The Georgia O'Keeffe, where admission is $13 for adults, and free for those under 18.
Named a Top 50 Travel Destination for 2018 by Travel + Leisure and praised for its food scene by Vogue, Boise has suddenly become a trendy -- yet still affordable -- place to visit. Making Boise even more convenient, American Airlines recently began nonstop flights from Chicago, and Southwest from San Diego. Once there, consider staying at recently renovated Hotel 43, where rooms can be found for less than $150 per night. The city is home to a growing wine industry and well-respected craft beer scene, including newcomer White Dog Brewing, and the Boise Foothills have 180 miles of trails for free outdoor activities such as hiking, running, and biking.
A family-friendly destination in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Pigeon Forge is 35 miles from Knoxville's McGhee-Tyson Airport. This year the city will host its 28th Annual Pigeon Forge Winterfest (through Feb. 28), during which visitors can enjoy holiday light displays from the comfort of their own vehicles on the self-guided Winterfest Lights Driving Tour to marvel at some 5 million lights. Exploring The Island in Pigeon Forge is also popular. Admission is free, and there's a variety of rides and attractions, including a state-of-the-art fountain show with dancing water and lights choreographed to music.
Reno Tahoe was practically made for winter. Among the activities here to help leave stress behind are skiing (of course), snowmobiling, snowshoeing, and dog sledding, all with the stunning Sierra Nevada mountains as backdrop. Look for discount ski packages such as at Peppermill Resort, where lift tickets start at $64 a day. When not playing outdoors, don't miss visiting one of Reno's may new local breweries, such as Lead Dog Brewing Co. or the Alibi Ale Works.
New York's Finger Lakes region is known for rolling hills, lakes, and vineyards. Come winter, the scenery includes frozen waterfalls and charming villages covered in snow, many with boutiques, cafes, galleries, and museums to explore. There's also plenty of cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. When it's time to warm up, head to one of the many wineries, breweries, distilleries, or cideries, where uncrowded tastings are often conducted by the winemakers themselves. Winter in Wine Country packages including accommodations and meals offered in January and February can start at $155 per night.
What Detroit lacks in warm weather, it makes up for in affordable entertainment, including several family-friendly festivals. Don't miss Winter Blast (Jan. 26-28) and its ice skating, winter slide, professional skating demonstrations, and even marshmallow roasting. There's also live entertainment and food from local restaurants. Admission is just $3 per person and children under 3 get in free.
A mere 100 miles from Denver, Cheyenne -- recognized by USA Today as one of the most affordable winter destinations in the country -- is a world away from the big city. Weekend travelers will find activities including ice boating, ice fishing, and cross-country skiing and the Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum, with exhibits about early rodeos and 60,000 artifacts from the 19th century, including old passenger wagons. Admission is $10 for adults, free for children 12 and under.
Cleveland, on the shores of Lake Erie, offers a variety of free and inexpensive activities. The Cleveland Museum of Art, which showcases one of the most significant art collections in the country, is always free, as are concerts at the Cleveland Institute of Music, known for producing some of the top talent in America. As for outdoor activities, don't miss $6 tobogganing at The Chalet in Mill Stream Run Reservation. Getting to Cleveland is also relatively hassle free -- it's within 500 miles of more than 50 percent of the country's population.
Always charming and romantic, thanks to its cobblestone streets, cathedrals, and rich heritage, Quebec City is also a winter wonderland. (The region gets more than 150 inches of snowfall each year). In addition to simply exploring Old Quebec, a UNESCO-designated World Heritage site, visit the legendary Winter Carnival (Jan. 26 through Feb. 11). Less than $12 to attend, it offers something for every age, including night parades, snow slides, snow sculptures, skating, and even snow baths for the hardy or daring.
The peaks of the stunning Canadian Rockies' Mount Rundle and Mount Cascade serve as backdrop for the downtown of Banff, a resort town within the borders of Banff National Park, and its boutiques, restaurants, and chateau-style hotels. Entrance to the national park, which is home to elk and grizzly bears, is free for those 17 and under, and adult tickets are just under $10. Nearby, Mount Norquay resort offers "Quality Family Time" packages that include ski lift tickets for two adults and two children starting at $149.
Fill a weekend getaway to Tacoma with museum hopping, craft beer tasting, skiing, walking among old growth trees, or visiting the local wildlife park. Tacoma's downtown museum district includes the Washington State History Museum and Tacoma Art Museum, with admission $15 and below; $52.50 adult passes provide access to six museums for up to a year from purchase. Those who want to play outdoors should head to nearby Mount Rainier for skiing, snowboarding, or snowmobiling. Park entrance is $25 for a vehicle, and ranger-guided snowshoe walks ask a $5 donation.