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

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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?
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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.

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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.

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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.


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Have you been to any of these Midwest cities? 

Hipmunk Hotels: Themed Vacations in Reno, Phoenix, Richmond, Detroit and Louisville

I thought of another twist to my bucket list, themed vacations. Who doesn’t like a good theme? All of these big cities warranted a revisit and with a cool theme it will be like visiting the city for the first time, all over again, so to speak, as it where (Seinfeld reference).

Reno, Nevada

Reno, Nevada is a destination for action and adventure, but not all action takes place in the casinos. Reno is smack dab in the desert, buckaroo. To appease my inner cow girl, I think I would like to enjoy a horseback ride through the many trails. The local hotels can put you in touch with a guide or tour group.  A leisurely trot through the nearby trails or an all day excursion will have you saying y’all and embracing the cowboy way of life in no time.

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Phoenix, Arizona

I lived in Phoenix, Arizona for a summer. Yeah, I know. Summer is not the best time to visit. Let me let you in on a little secret. It wasn’t as bad as you would think. Phoenix is a dry heat. I still sweated my butt off, but I discovered that the heat didn’t keep people from enjoying outdoor activities, they just did them at night. Night golf, lighted tennis courts, moonlight hikes in the nearby mountains are great ways to enjoy the city after being cooped up in the air-conditioned hotels and resorts all day.

Richmond, Virginia

My mother grew up in Virginia so I have first hand knowledge of how this city has changed over the years. It may not be on your bucket list, but if history fascinates you, Richmond and the Capital Square area continues to embrace the city’s historic significance to the birth of our nation. Walk down the cobbled stone streets, study the fully restored capital, and wander the grounds of the Executive Mansion. Built in the 1700’s, the city of Richmond, Virginia will take you back Colonial Times, the good parts of it anyway.


Image provided by Megan Wright via

Detroit, Michigan

While Detroit, Michigan and the surrounding suburbs have gone through a lot lately economically, it’s still a fascinating city with many attractions. I’ll call this my Speedster themed vacation. Detroit Auto Museum traces the history of the automobile in US history. The Model T museum shows Ford’s place in the creation of our modern-day obsession with our cars. Paying tribute to these establishments and patronizing the many hotels and casino resorts in Detroit will go a long way in bringing this city back to prominence.

Louisville, Kentucky

I’m calling my trip to Louisville, Kentucky my whiskey themed vacation. Home of Kentucky Bourbon and the Jim Beam Distillery, you can’t help but partake in the local drink. Whether you are a fan of whiskey or not. Pick a hotel near the center of town. Bar hop to sample how each establishment takes the local beverage and creates their own twist.


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Who wants to join me on a Wild West, Sportster, Colonial, Speedster, Drunk road trip?

Sydney Aaliyah Michelle

Contributing writer for

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Hipmunk Hotels: More California Adventures in Burlingame, Concord, Fresno, Roseville and Santa Ana

More bucket list adventures in California are on the horizon. I have to admit, I’m not a big fan of California. The earth quakes scare the ‘bejesus’ out of me. These little towns have some interesting sights I need to see before California falls into the ocean.

Burlingame, California

Known as the City of Trees, Burlingame, California has an amazing coastline and outstanding views. It’s located near San Francisco and is the largest shoreline in the San Francisco Bay. San Francisco International airport is in Burlingame, which means millions of people pass through it every day, but if they were smart like me, they would grab a room at one of the local hotels and enjoy the local sites. Burlingame is a sweet city, too, literally. See’s candy and Pez have their headquarter in Burlingame.

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Concord, California

Concord, California is another city by the Bay. The city center known as the Todos Santos Plaza is a gathering place for tourist and locals. With several hotels near the area, the Plaza features restaurants and a farmers market along with free concerts in the summer. Concord’s most famous resident is Tom Hanks, so if it’s good enough for Forrest Gump, it’s good enough for me.

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Fresno, California

The fifth largest city in California and in San Joaquin Valley is Fresno, California. Fresno is probably one of the safest places in the world considering it houses divisions of every unit of the military. Fresno has many great hotels, but I might push myself and partake in camping in one of the most notorious camp ground in the world.  Okay, maybe my version of camping or glamping (glamorous camping) doesn’t count. Yosemite National Park is a stones throw away from Fresno and I can’t wait to me Yogi and Bobo.

Roseville, California

I admit, it took me a minute to figure out the capital of California was Sacramento, but once I did, I couldn’t wait to explore the city and suburbs surrounding it. Roseville is one of those cities. A former railroad town, Roseville, California, formally called Roseville Junction, retains some of its history glamor. Vernon Street is a historical district with great hotels and restaurants. When you walk through The Old Downtown area it’s like stepping back in time.

Santa Ana, California

In the southern region of the great state of California, I found Santa Ana, California. I couldn’t find much about Santa Ana except for it is the birthplace of several notable athletes (Danny Espinosa and Christian Ramierez) and celebrities (Michelle Pfeiffer and Michael B. Jordan). The amazing climate and the place makes it a great destination for tourist. Beautiful hotels and resorts in and around Santa Ana serve food from all over the world. Who knew you could get Cajun food in southern California.

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What kind of California adventures have you found yourself in? 

Sydney Aaliyah Michelle

Contributing writer to

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Adventures in a Re-Visit to Denmark

When I was in high school, I took a group trip with the Student Ambassador program to Europe. Our trip hit the Scandinavian countries of Sweden, Finland and my favorite, Denmark. We stuck with the main sights of Copenhagen, but I have always wanted to go back and check out some of these attractions in and around the capital city.

Aarhus, Denmark

My favorite activity when traveling is to check out the architecture. Each city has its own unique look and tells the history of the place. Weather ancient and historic and modern, I love them all. Aarhus, Denmark has a great mix of both. In the case of Aarhus Denmark, you might say it tells more about its future. You can find all sorts of unique architectural surprises that make you wonder what was the designer thinking and how did they do that.

Imaged provided by Leif Petersson via

Aalborg, Denmark

In Aalborg, Denmark, you more apt to find traditional architecture. As a great example of Renaissance style architecture, the Jens Bangs Stonehouse is names after the riches Dane in history. Prior to the this trip, I thought northeastern America was old and I thought if I saw one old building, I had seen them all. I quickly discovered that statement was naïvely false. It seems the older the building, the more fascinating the story that goes alone with it. The Bangs family built Stonehouse in the 1600. They have owned the building for over 300 years. It is still used as a pharmacy today. Hidden in the basement is a place enjoy a cold beer and learn more about the history of this house. The rest of the house is private and not open to the public.

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Frederiksberg, Denmark

In Frederiksberg, Denmark, the Frederiksberg Have (Gardens) is a modern and historical marvel. The house itself reminds me of the Palace of Versailles in Paris as well as the Summer Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia. I was able to visit both on this trip, but I hate I missed Frederiksberg and the gardens of this beautiful place. The green landscape with is flowers, manicured lawn, and trees, is the true gem of this historic place. I could spend days wondering the sprawling gardens. The gardens included several structures, which were influences by Swedish, Chinese and Roman cultures. On any beautiful day, you will see tons of people enjoying the growns. I could nap on the grass for hours or enjoy a book.

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Kastrup, Denmark

On my search for more modern structures, Kastrup, Denmark is a city that grew out of modern and state of the art inspiration. It houses the Orestad, which is Denmark’s international airport. The train system is one of the most modern and efficient in Europe.  You can find your introduction and farewell to this beautiful country and reveil in its modern and traditional way of life the Danish have captured unlike any other city in Europe.

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Sydney Aaliyah Michelle

Contributing writer for

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