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Block Island, Rhode Island
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10 places to have a luxe vacation for less

Book like you've got a black card knowing you won't break the bank when you travel

Lauren Mack
Written by
Lauren Mack

Finding a summer travel deal to some of the U.S.'s hottest vacation destinations can feel elusive, especially with soaring gas prices, general inflation and our lingering need for revenge travel. For the cost-conscious, however, 2023 doesn't have to be a cruel, cruel summer stuck at home. Thrifty travelers who are flexible with their travel dates and willing to explore alternative destinations or consider secondary capitals can find affordable trips that are equally exciting as the big-name spots on everyone's lists. For you, we have 10 money-saving travel swaps. From beach life on a budget to indulgent all-inclusive getaways to superior spa holidays, these alternative destinations offer luxury for less—mere miles from perennially popular and pricier places.

RECOMMENDED: The best cheap travel vacations in the U.S.

Best spots offering luxe for less

For a romantic rendezvous: Palm Springs, California
Photograph: Shutterstock/Andrew F. Kazmierski

1. For a romantic rendezvous: Palm Springs, California

Make your California dreamin’ a reality with a trip to Palm Springs, California. From hiking to golfing to exploring the desert, there's much to see and do, including soaring 8,500 feet above the cliffs of Chino Canyon on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, the world's largest rotating tram car. About an hour east, explore Joshua Tree National Park. Then soak and slumber like a celebrity at A-lister favorite Two Bunch Palms, where a day at the adults-only wellness retreat can begin with sunrise salutations, a sage cleansing workshop, and a soak in 600-year-old natural springs followed by spa treatments, and conclude with dinner, fireside s'mores with spiked hot chocolate, and stargazing.

For a budget beach break: Delray Beach, Florida
Photograph: Courtesy The Ray Hotel

2. For a budget beach break: Delray Beach, Florida

Boasting the most beaches in the U.S., Florida is a popular beach vacation destination that can get expensive. But just 20 miles south of Palm Beach and 53 miles north of Miami, there's charming Delray Beach, boasting two miles of pristine shoreline, a vibrant nightlife scene and loads of cultural activity for so much less than you'd spend on a trip to South Florida. Take a walk down Atlantic Avenue, the largest main street in Florida, which is flanked by dozens of art galleries, restaurants, bars, and boutique shops. Stay steps from all the action at the 141-room The Ray, which features tropical modern decor, a rooftop pool, gym, restaurants and bars, and in-room amenities like eucalyptus bed linens, Frette towels and robes, and Byredo bath products.

For a spa holiday minus the splurge: Saratoga Springs, New York
Photograph: Shutterstock/Carolyne Parent

3. For a spa holiday minus the splurge: Saratoga Springs, New York

In search of a wellness break, but can't afford to break the bank at a pricey spa? Saratoga Springs offers the perfect mix of pampering and affordable pricing. Three hours north of New York City, it boasts natural carbonated mineral waters. Take a refreshing dip in one of two mineral water pools at Saratoga Spa State Park and experience the healing benefits of a soak in soothing spring water at The Gideon Putnam. The boutique hotel is located within the state park and has a variety of spa packages that include accommodations, soaking in the mineral springs at the Roosevelt Baths & Spa, and massage.

For high-rollers avoiding the Strip: Laughlin, Nevada
Photograph: Courtesy Las Vegas News Bureau and Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority/Brian Jones

4. For high-rollers avoiding the Strip: Laughlin, Nevada

Forget the ultra-pricey hotels on the Las Vegas Strip and head 90 minutes south to Laughlin, the “original” Las Vegas, with slightly less glitz and considerably more bargain. With eight resorts totaling about 9,000 rooms, there are plenty of options—most for less than $50 a night. By day, get outdoors and kayak or river cruise along the Colorado River, which runs through the heart of town. By night, live like a high roller with gourmet meals, world-class shows, and casino games. Go big and stay at Aquarius Casino Resort, Laughlin's largest hotel, which offers room and show packages.

For a deal on an all-inclusive: Hawley, Pennsylvania
Photograph: Courtesy The Lodge at Woodloch/Annie Killam

5. For a deal on an all-inclusive: Hawley, Pennsylvania

Want an all-inclusive vacation without too much expense? Head to the Lodge at Woodloch in the Pocono Mountains. Surrounded by 500 acres of woodlands, the 59-room, adults-only wellness resort offers guests luxurious linens, plush robes and slippers, and rosemary mint bath and shower products. Each stay includes accommodations, three daily meals, a choice of 35 daily activities, including yoga, forest bathing, hiking, and art classes, plus group fitness, lectures, cooking demonstrations, and use of the hotel's amenities like the pool, whirlpools, steam rooms, saunas, hydromassage WaterWalls, and gym.

For a shopping vacation: East Rutherford, New Jersey
Photograph: Shutterstock/Ritu Manoj Jethani

6. For a shopping vacation: East Rutherford, New Jersey

Just five miles from Manhattan, East Rutherford, New Jersey, is unlikely to be top-of-mind when seeking a shopping holiday, but the massive 3-million-square-foot American Dream mall and entertainment center has many of the same designer shops as Los Angeles and New York. The palatial shoppers' paradise offers glitzy and glamorous shopping from designers like Gucci and Tiffany & Co. along with cost-conscious retailers plus one dozen family-friendly attractions, including Nickelodeon Universe Theme Park, the largest indoor theme park in the western hemisphere, Big Snow, North America's only indoor real-snow park, and Skudin Surf, an indoor freshwater wave pool for surfers and wannabe surfers. While there are hotels nearby, soothe aching feet after a day of retail therapy at SoJo Spa Club, nine miles away. Staying overnight at the spa's boutique Hotel SoJo includes entry to the spa and its infinity pool, hydrotherapy pool, heated baths, saunas, and relaxation areas for each day of your stay.

For an inexpensive island-y getaway: Florida Keys
Photograph: Shutterstock

7. For an inexpensive island-y getaway: Florida Keys

Dreaming of a Hawaiian getaway, but your wallet won't cooperate? Head down to the Conch Republic off Florida's southernmost tip. Connected by the 110-mile Overseas Highway, each island in the 120-mile island chain is a unique piece of paradise. Snorkeling here is magical, particularly at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, the first underwater preserve in the U.S., which has a coral reef and an 8.5-foot bronze sculpture of Jesus Christ. No trip to the Florida Keys is complete without a walk down Duval Street in Key West. Just around the corner from Duval Street, Simonton Court Historic Inn & Guesthouse is a former cigar factory turned boutique hotel that is an adults-only oasis.

For a bargain in the northeast: Block Island, Rhode Island
Photograph: Shutterstock

8. For a bargain in the northeast: Block Island, Rhode Island

Love Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket but not the prices? Consider Block Island, which boasts just as much New England charm as the two more famous Massachusetts islands, but for far less money. Located just nine miles off Rhode Island, Block Island has 17 miles of beaches punctuated with lighthouses, perfect for a relaxing New England getaway on the island that is 3 miles by 7 miles. Spend the night at Spring House Hotel, the oldest and largest hotel on the island. Built in 1852, the 32-room Victorian-style hotel offers panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean and impeccable hospitality.

For an outdoorsy adventure: Denver, Colorado
Photograph: Shutterstock

9. For an outdoorsy adventure: Denver, Colorado

The Mile High City is packed with everything you could want on a vacation for a fraction of the cost of other cities. While there's plenty to do indoors like touring the U.S. Mint and seeing how candy is made at Hammond's Candies, it's the outdoors that beckon, including nearby Red Rocks Amphitheater and Mesa Verde National Park and 90-minutes away, Rocky Mountain National Park. Stay at The Maven, a dog-friendly boutique hotel with loft-style rooms in the Dairy Block micro-district. The lively alley behind the hotel is packed with excellent bars and restaurants and the hotel is a treasure trove of art with more than 700 paintings, sculptures, and photographs all from Colorado artists.

For a big city escape with out the big prices: Brooklyn, New York
Photograph: Shutterstock

10. For a big city escape with out the big prices: Brooklyn, New York

New York City is one of the most popular tourist destinations, but it's also one of the most expensive. Enjoy iconic Big Apple sights, but save massive amounts of money by staying—and playing—in Brooklyn. Book a room at The William Vale, the only luxury hotel in hipster haven Williamsburg, and you might not even want to leave Brooklyn. Each of the hotel's 183 rooms has a balcony and floor-to-ceiling windows with impressive views of Manhattan. From catching shows at Brooklyn Bowl or the Brooklyn Academy of Music to dining at one of the borough's nine Michelin-starred restaurants and grabbing drinks at Time Out Market to enjoying soaks, saunas, and spa treatments at cityWell or BATHHOUSE, there's no shortage of living the luxe life in New York City's most populous borough. Bon Voyage!

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