This Life in Trips: Affordable Options In The Less-Traveled South (Myrtle Beach, Richmond, And More)

This post was originally published on This Life in Trips.beach-216923_960_720

Hipmunk Hotels: Affordable Options in the Less-Traveled South (Myrtle Beach, Richmond, and More)

When thinking of cities in the Southern states, New Orleans, Charleston, and Savannah come to mind — and with good reason. These cities offer some of the best culture, cuisine, music, and laid-back living that famously comes with this region. Of course, because of this, these popular tourist locations can be expensive to visit and crowded in the peak seasons. With that in mind, check out these great Southern city alternatives and the hotels to stay in for those looking for an affordable and less crowded stay.

Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Gatlinburg is a unique tourist destination, to say the least. Located on the doorstep of the Smokey Mountains, this eastern Tennessee town is a great jumping off point for exploring the great outdoors. That said, it’s also a great spot for family fun. With amusement rides, the Space Needle, and great restaurant choices, Gatlinburg has plenty to see and do within its city limits. Although not as popular as Nashville or Memphis, Gatlinburg receives its share of visitors. For thinner crowds, visit in the winter season or during the week in the summer. Either way, for a great mix of the outdoors and city fun, book your hotel in Gatlinburg in advance for the best savings. Furthermore, Reagan Resorts Inn is a nice option for budget travelers.

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Myrtle Beach may seem out of place on this list, but it can be enjoyed on the cheap year-round. Due to its famous beaches, great seafood, and spectacular golf courses, Myrtle Beach draws in over 14 million visitors per year — the majority of which are guests from the North seeking refuge during the cold winter months. Still, with popularity comes plenty of affordable hotels in Myrtle Beach no matter the season, like the Plantation Resort. With festivals year-round and plenty of free activities, Myrtle Beach truly is a budget-friendly destination in the South with much to see and do.

Midland, Texas

Due to its size, Texas is less crowded than other states in the South. Still, Midland, Texas, can provide an authentic Texas experience without the crowds of Dallas, San Antonio, or Houston at a fraction of the cost. Enjoy horseback riding in the sun or stay cool inside one of the city’s great museums. Aviation enthusiasts will enjoy the American Airpower Heritage Museum, and those interested in how the area came to be will enjoy theMuseum of the SouthwestHotels in Midland range from high-end chains such as the Hilton Garden Inn and Four Points by Sheraton, to budget brands like the Comfort Inn and Super 8. Regardless of the star rating, hotels in the city, like TownePlace Suites Midland, can be found at a lower rate than those in Texas’s major hubs.

Richmond, Virginia

Richmond, Virginia, offers similar history, character, and charm that’s found in Charleston and Savannah but with the added bonus of a lively downtown core and nearby outdoor activities without the crowds. Civil War history can be found throughout the area, and there are plenty of great restaurants, shops, and bars in town to keep you busy. The nearby James River offers guests the chance for some whitewater rafting, and there are plenty of parks in the area — perfect for hiking and leisurely strolls. Hotels in Richmond are affordable and range from modest to luxury, giving the option to enjoy the outdoors or relax in the city. One such budget-friendly hotel is Courtyard by Marriott Richmond Airport.

Less-Traveled South

Fredericksburg, Texas

Last on this list is the charming town of Fredericksburg, Texas. Located an hour’s drive away from San Antonio and an hour and a half away from Austin, Fredericksburg is a great spot to explore Texas from. In town, you will find an interesting mix of Texan and German traditions. With its German roots, Fredericksburg has many great events and festivals such as Oktoberfest and Schuetzenfests (marksmanship tournaments), with a Texas-sized twist. Due to its obscure path location, hotels in Fredericksburg, like the Econo Lodge Fredericksburg, can be found at a great value compared to those in bigger cities. So break out your cowhide chaps and lederhosen and visit this interesting Texas town.

What say you?
Thoughts on these Hipmunk Hotels in the Less-Traveled South?
Let’s hear it!

For more tips from HipMunk and beyond see HERE.

A New Life Wandering: Places to Stay in North Carolina — Durham, Charlotte, Wilmington, Asheville and Chapel Hill

This article was originally posted on A New Life Wandering on April 11, 2016.Durham Duke Gardens
Image via Flickr by Yumian Deng

North Carolina has a diverse landscape ranging from beaches, mountains, and cool cities in between with lots of history. If you haven’t gotten to know this state yet, you will not regret a visit. If you don’t know where to start, the cities of Durham, Charlotte, Wilmington, Asheville, and Chapel Hill all have plenty of things to do. Each have their own charming personality.

Below, you can learn a little bit about these three cities and find ideas of where to stay if you decide to visit.


This is where I spent most of my three years in North Carolina. Home to the prestigious Duke University, Durham has a lively energy to it. One of the best things about Durham is the food scene; it was crowned the The South’s Tastiest Town by Southern Living, and I can vouch for that title.

A great hotel to book here would be the The King’s Daughters Inn, which offers the best combination of an elegant and luxurious hotel with a bed & breakfast style. It is centrally located near most of Durham’s best places including the Duke Gardens. For more hotel options you can browse cheap hotels in Durham.

Durham NC
Image via Flickr by Mr. Jincks


Charlotte is one of the fastest growing cities in the United States and offers countless activities, including browsing the NASCAR Hall of Fame, learning about post–Civil War history at the Levine Museum, and interacting with science at the Discovery Place. You can browse the city’s hotel guide to find a place to stay, or look no further than The Dunhill Hotel — a historic, vintage hotel that will make you feel like you walked into an old photograph.

Charlotte NC
Image via Flickr by DrOMM


I fell in love with Wilmington just minutes after strolling around downtown. The town has a strong history, and it shows along the mile-long downtown Riverwalk and along the waterfront. If you like movies, Wilmington houses the largest American television and film production facility outside of California.

If you want a full-on historic experience, you can stay at the 1913 revival style home Airbnb in the heart of the historic district and within walking distance to many shops, dining, and nightlife. If you would like to stay at a more conventional hotel, you can check out more hotels in Wilmington.

Wilmington NC
Image via Flickr by James Willamor


If you prefer a place closer to the mountains with a vibrant arts scene, a laid-back attitude, and historic architecture, then look no further than Asheville. Downtown, you can enjoy the many art galleries, museums, places to eat, and a historical aesthetic like the former factory buildings now being used as residences and art studios. To find a place to stay, used this easy-to-navigate Asheville hotel guide.

Asheville NC
Image via Flickr by Joshua A Cole

Chapel Hill

Last but not least, Chapel Hill owns up to its spirited atmosphere thanks to the local and beloved University of North Carolina. Places to explore here include the following: the Science Center, the Basketball Museum, the North Carolina Botanical Garden, the local favorite and must-visit Top of the Hill restaurant and brewery, and the historical Carolina Inn. You can make it easier to visit this gem by choosing to book your room there! Or, find a different place with the Chapel Hill Hotel Guide.

Chapel Hill NC
Image via Flickr by Tom

Whether you pick the foodie and smart town of Durham, the fast growing city of Charlotte, the charming coastal town of Wilmington, the artsy mountain town of Asheville, or the laid-back college town of Chapel Hill, there is no wrong choice.

Travel Tidbits: How to Spend Your Time in Bar Harbor, Syracuse, and Other Northeastern Cities

This post was originally published on Travel Tidbits on April 7, 2016.

Hipmunk Hotels: How to Spend Your Time in Bar Harbor, Syracuse, and Other Northeastern Cities

Feeling the need for a getaway, but unsure of where to go? Hop in your car or book a flight to the northeastern United States, where you’ll find plenty of activities and adventures to keep you entertained. Cities like Bar Harbor, Syracuse, Long Island City, Roanoke, and Williamsburg are ideal destinations for just about anyone. Check out what each of these cities has to offer!

Bar Harbor, Maine

If you’re looking for a diverse range of activities to keep you entertained, look no further than Bar Harbor, Maine. This popular northeastern destination appeals to tourists from all over the world for its rich culture and picturesque natural scenery. One of the top spots here is Cadillac Mountain, a great place for hiking and other outdoor sports. If this sounds like your kind of place, you should also visit Sieur de Monts Spring Nature Center, Asticou Azalea Garden, and Wild Gardens of Acadia. Be sure to start planning by booking a room in one of Bar Harbor’s popular hotels.

Syracuse, New York

Looking to see all that New York has to offer? Head to Syracuse, where you’ll get the chance to experience trendy restaurants and bars, fashion-forward shopping, vibrant nightlife scene, and an overall electric atmosphere that will have you never wanting to leave. Some popular tourist attractions include Rosamond Gifford Zoo, Destiny USA shopping center, Erie Canal Museum, and Everson Museum of Art. If exploring city streets is what you’re interested in, Syracuse is perfect for you. Consider booking a room in one of the city’s most popular budget-friendly hotels.

Long Island City, New York

Another New York location that offers everything you might be looking for, Long Island City is an ideal destination for anyone. Immerse yourself in culture by heading to MoMA PS1 Art Museum, Noguchi Museum, Socrates Sculpture Park, or The Secret Theatre. For a relaxing day outdoors, visit Gantry Plaza State Park or Hunter’s Point South Park. In the mood to try some tasty local beers? Check out Rockaway Brewing Center or LIC Beer Project before heading back to one of these affordable Long Island City hotels for a comfortable night’s rest.

Roanoke, Virginia

If experiencing history and culture is your main priority for your trip to the northeast, be sure to visit Roanoke, Virginia. Here you’ll find popular tourist attractions including Mill Mountain Star and Park, the Virginia Museum of Transportation, and O. Winston Link Museum. Roanoke is home to several famous breweries, so consider signing up for a brewery tour throughout the city. If you’re traveling as a family, bring the kids to Mill Mountain Zoo or Splish Splash Valley Water Park.  Start preparing by booking a room in one of the popular Roanoke hotels that won’t break the bank.

Williamsburg, Virginia

Last but not least, Williamsburg is a popular Virginia destination for so many reasons, including its rich cultural and historical significance. Founded in 1632, it makes sense that this town is filled with ancient landmarks, including Historic Jamestowne, Governor’s Palace, and the downtown Historic District. Looking for a place to stay near these popular sites? Consider booking a room in one of these affordable Williamsburg hotels.

Hipmunk Hotels: Historical sites in Lake Placid, Revere, Plymouth, Newport, and Hartford

My father is a history buff and a former history teacher. We both love historical novels and movies. A historically themed trip isn’t far-fetched in our family, and you can’t get more historical than a trip to the Northeast.

Lake Placid, New York

What’s the only US city to host two Olympics? Lake Placid, New York. It hosted the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics. The small village has a lot of cool activities no matter what time of the year you visit. You can sail, swim, and fish in the summer time, or ice skate, play hockey, ski, and sled in the winter. You can’t stay in the Olympic Village; they have turned it into a museum. But luckily, there are plenty of hotels in the area to make a stay at Lake Placid a pleasure.

Revere, Massachusetts

A visit to Revere, Massachusetts fits the bill for the dual vacation spot. With Boston so close, you get the best of city and sea in a five miles radius. This small city is located on the Atlantic Ocean. Named after Paul Revere, the city captures the historical significance of the area with museums and historical architecture in the store fronts and the hotels. I have it on my list to stop at Revere Beach, the oldest in the United States.

Image provided by Annie Yao via

Plymouth, Massachusetts

Founded in 1620, Plymouth was the first stop on the “discover the new world” tour. You can’t get any more historical in the U.S. This is where it all begin. The Mayflower II, a full-scale reproduction of the original ship, has been restored and turned into a museum. Spend a few days in Plymouth and make sure you see all the other “first” sites, such as Plymouth Rock and the site of the first Thanksgiving. Hotels like the Mirbeau Inn & Spa will make your stay in Plymouth a treat.


Image provided by Brianna Thome via

Newport, Rhode Island

Rhode Island is a typical vacation resort. It has historical significance due to its location. Incorporated in 1639, it lagged behind Plymouth by 19 years. Most of the historical buildings, restaurants and hotels in Newport have been restored and look like they did back in the 1700s. Another of its beautiful historical sites, The Breakers Mansion, is on my list. This stunning estate looks like Downton Abbey. Built in 1893, the mansion was originally commissioned and owned by Anderson Cooper’s ancestors, the Vanderbilts.

Hartford, Connecticut

While discovered in 1637, Hartford Connecticut wasn’t incorporated until the late 1700s.  The literary significance of Hartford starts and stops with the awesome Mark Twain. You can visit the home where he wrote his greatest work. Mark Twain House is cool, but the Old State House is even more amazing. It is a great example of Eastlake architecture, an architectural style inspired by Victorian England. You can soak in the best of new and old at a Hartford hotel like the Oakwood At Hartford 21.



Image provided by Stephanie Sutton via 

What historical sites in the United States have you visited?

Hipmunk Hotels: Family Attractions in Schaumburg, Oklahoma City, Novi and Grand Rapids

My family looks to me to plan our vacations. I am more than happy to do it, but as an unattached person, my vacations seem to have a single ladies slant to them. I had to do my homework to come up with these family-friendly spots in the Midwest.

Schaumburg, Illinois

Schaumburg, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, is a small village located Northwest of the famed city and close to O’Hare International Airport. They call it a village because there are no more than 5,000 residences, but it has some big-time attractions. One of its main attractions is the LEGOLAND Discovery Center. Tickets are reasonable, and include most interactive activities. Be sure you stay in one of the many local hotels. You need more than one day to see LEGOLAND and all it has to offer.

Kansas City, Missouri

The voracious reader in me loves visiting anything book related in a new city. The giant bookshelf at the Kansas City Public Library is a cool educational family attraction. Some of my favorites books make up the front façade of the parking garage of the library. They chose these particular books for their significance to Kansas and to American literary history. Located near many restaurants and hotels in Kansas City, the library is in the center of this beautiful Midwest town.

Image provided by Jerrah Biggerstaff via

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Oklahoma City is a great Midwest city with southern flair. It has great hotels like Courtyard by Marriott Oklahoma City Downtown, and a style all its own. While national tragedies may not be first on your list of family sites to see, I would disagree. I learn so much from spending time at the 9/11 Memorial in New York, and suspect I would have a similar experience here. The mangled foundation shows the destruction, while opposite the reflecting pool you see the representation of life.

Image provided by Eric Ianuzi via

Novi, Michigan

Novi is a small city in southern Michigan. I found it fascinating that Novi has a large Japanese population relative to other cities in the United States.  The Japanese influence is apparent everywhere in the city. There are Japanese books in the public library, and schools offer enrollment forms in Japanese. The hospitals, public buildings and hotels in Novi all have Japanese materials. It has helped the economy by bringing several Japanese businesses to the area. You can find some of the best Japanese food in the Midwest here.

Grand Rapids, Michigan

The Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park is a beautiful oasis in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The grounds have beautiful trails with permanent and temporary exhibits for you to get up close and personal with. A beautiful replica of a traditional Japanese garden is a must see, and the kids will love the interactive exhibit in the Children’s Garden. I’m hoping to time my visit to catch a concert at the beautiful amphitheater. Choose from the many excellent hotels nearby to make your visit even more enjoyable.


Image provided by Kyle Herlein via

Have you been to any of these Midwest cities?