As mid-week approaches, harried folks yearn for some budget-friendly getaway ideas for a much-needed break. Fortunately, the nation offers attractive alternatives to packing and flying off to faraway lands to satisfy everyone’s ideal weekend escape. There are plenty of beaches for sun-worshipping or water sports, charming seaport villages for picturesque views and educational exploration and cities that never snooze. Decide what type of weekend getaway you want, pack just enough for a short trip, hop in a car or train and enjoy your cost-friendly mini-vacation.
South Padre Island, Texas
Perfect year-round except during Spring Break when it’s jam-packed with young vacationers, South Padre Island is the destination for those seeking a budget-friendly, passport-free taste of the tropics. The barrier island resort on the Gulf of Mexico offers deep-sea fishing, hiking, scuba diving and parasailing for outdoor enthusiasts. The lull of turquoise blue waters, a stroll along the 34-mile-long white sandy beach and sunsets over Laguna Madre are sure to rejuvenate weary souls. Breathtaking views of the coast are available atop the 72-foot historic Port Isabel Lighthouse. As of September 2009, single tickets for daily lighthouse tours are $3 for adults, $2 for seniors (55 and over) and $1 for students (5 years to college). The average price for a two-night, weekend getaway stay at area hotels is about $160.
The scenic seaport town of Mystic in Connecticut was founded in 1654 and played a vital role during the days when tall clipper ships sailed in surrounding waters. Modern-day Mystic is home to renowned museums’the Mystic Seaport, the world’s largest maritime museum and the Mystic Aquarium & Institute for Exploration. Guests also can hike or bike on a 300-acre nature preserve, go to art exhibits, sample wine, enjoy a bowl of New England clam chowder, dine on delectable seafood fare and top it off with ice cream from the many area shops. As of September 2009, typical family getaway packages for four (two adults, two kids) start at $165. Price usually includes room and tax with tickets to the Mystic Aquarium and a welcome gift upon arrival.