Under $500 Trips

In an article on Independent Traveler, Sarah Schlichter wrote an article called, “What’s the Deal: Weekend Getaways Under $500,” in which she described weekend getaways from the LA area, NY area, Chicago area, Atlanta area, and Pheonix area.

She wrote, “Sick of the day-to-day grind? Then hit the road — without breaking the bank! You don’t need big bucks to cure your travel bug, because we’ve rounded up five weekend getaways from major U.S. metropolitan areas that will cost you less than $500 per person. Escape to the great outdoors, track down that perfect antique armoire or hang out in a genuine Old West saloon; just check out the suggested getaway from your metropolitan area and pack your bags!

But first, a few rules of the road: All getaways are $500 or less per person, based on a Friday evening departure and a Sunday evening return. Estimates for gas expenses are based on a price of $3 a gallon and will vary depending on your route and your vehicle’s gas mileage. Dinner prices are based on a two-course meal with alcohol, tax and tip. All prices are per person except for hotel rates, which are per room. And, of course, all prices are subject to change at any time.

From the Phoenix Area: Prescott, AZThe Bottom Line: Transportation, two nights’ hotel, two lunches and two dinners will run $246-$343, with plenty left over for sightseeing and shopping.

What’s There: Once the territorial capital of Arizona in the 19th century, Prescott has maintained its quaint small-town ambience, complete with historic saloons and well-preserved Victorian homes. Just out of town, outdoor adventure awaits in the Prescott National Forest.

Getting There: It’s about two hours from downtown Phoenix to Prescott, so expect to pay $30-$55 in gas for the round trip and incidental driving.

Where to Sleep and Eat: The Prescott Pines Inn is a lovely Victorian inn with rates from $69 a night (breakfast is additional). The Hotel St. Michael is an affordable alternative in downtown Prescott, with rates from $59-$89 a night including full breakfast. For lunch, grab a gourmet sandwich at the Wildflower Bread Company for less than $10, or one of the mesquite specialty dishes at Murphy’s Restaurant for less than $15. The Peacock Dining Room at the Hassayampa Inn offers fine dining in a hotel that’s on the National Register of Historic Places (about $50). The next night, get a taste of the Old West at The Palace, which opened as a saloon in 1877 and was once frequented by Wyatt Earp. $28 gets you into the dinner theater (a schedule is on the Web site), or opt for the regular dinner menu for about $40.

What to Do: Start with a walk through downtown Prescott, where you’ll find the historic Yavapai County Courthouse in the central square; nearby is Whiskey Row, where there were once some 20 saloons. You can shop downtown for antiques, Native American artifacts, jewelry and other handcrafted items. Prescott has three major museums: the Sharlot Museum (admission $5), with exhibits on Arizona’s history; the Smoki Museum (admission $4), home to beautiful Native American works; and the Phippen Museum (admission $5), with a highly regarded collection of Western art.

Head outdoors to the Prescott National Forest for hiking, biking or even horseback riding. The most popular trail near Prescott is the Thumb Butte Trail, which leads to a unique rocky outcrop and panoramic vistas over the whole region. A $2 usage fee applies. You’ll also find beautiful views near Watson Lake, along the Prescott Peavine Trail. It’s a bit further afield, but Arcosanti is worth the 34-mile trip; it’s an experimental town that’s been under construction for over three decades and will eventually house some 5,000 people in an earth-friendly setting. Daily tours are given for a suggested donation of $8….”