4 cheap trips in the U.S. to take this summer


School’s out. Surf’s up. And you have no vacation plans?

We have several for you to consider. With the help of travel experts, including Gabe Saglie of Travelzoo, a website for member-only deals (membership is free at, and Scott Keyes of Scott’s Cheap Flights we’ve assembled four great U.S. escapes. (Note that hotel rates listed do not include tax or fees.)

Scottsdale, Ariz.

This is an example of how Mother Nature drives travel prices, Saglie said: The higher the mercury, the lower the price. “We’re talking 50% to 75% savings over pricing we saw here in winter,” Saglie said. But you’re still getting top-drawer service at a fraction of the cost at resorts.


Round-trip airfares between LAX and Phoenix are running less than $200 this summer, Keyes said. (See this week’s airfare chart below.)

Experience Scottsdale, the city’s tourism office, has an link to summer deals focused on family fun, pool parties and relaxation.

Camelback Lake lodging: The It’s That Hot deal at the McCormick Scottsdale starts at $74 a night until Sept. 2. The $25 nightly resort fee is waived at check-in.

Nearby pleasures: History and train buffs can explore walkable Old Town Scottsdale and the Scottsdale Railroad Museum. Nature lovers will want to include the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix and OdySea in the Desert (which houses OdySea Aquarium and Butterfly Wonderland).

Info: Experience Scottsdale,

Paso Robles, Calif.

Although popular in summer, Paso is less expensive than Santa Barbara or San Francisco. Try a midweek stay for a better rate.


Paso wine country lodging: Allegretto Vineyard Resort has $199-a-night rates through Travelzoo in August. Rates are higher in June and July.

La Bellasera Hotel has summer rates through Travelzoo that are often less than $200 a night, especially for stays Sundays through Thursdays.

Nearby pleasures: Awaken your senses at Sensorio, a new outdoor-art-meets-technology attraction that recently opened with Bruce Munro’s “Field of Light.” For wine tastings, you can appoint a designated driver or you can hire one at If you need more thrill than just good wine, you can sip wine and zip-line at Santa Margarita Ranch.

Info: Travel Paso,, and Paso Robles Wine Country,


As the winter snows melt, prices begin to drop and the Colorado slopes become “playgrounds for mountain bikers, hikers and nature lovers,” Saglie said. Post-ski-season demand means prices, even at high-end properties in places such as Breckenridge and Steamboat Springs, will drop.

Flights to Denver, a central point from which you can launch numerous adventures, are hovering just below $300, although Keyes said you can sometimes find a sub-$200 fare.

Breckenridge: Visitors can save almost half off lodging in the summer at Breckenridge, about 85 miles southwest of Denver, compared with peak ski season rates (November to April), according to Breckenridge Tourism.

Main Street Station, in the historic downtown, has one-bedroom condos for as low as $119 a night.

Nearby pleasures: Among the activities in Breckenridge: hiking on mountain trails; biking on mountain trails or paved recreation paths; water activities; golfing on the Bear, the Beaver or the Elk (three nine-hole Jack Nicklaus-designed courses at Breckenridge Golf Club). Breckenridge Tourism offers a list of 100 summer activities at

Info:,, and Go Breck Book Direct,, for lodging options

Fly fishing on the Yampa River near downtown Steamboat Springs, Colo.
(John Lumpkin / Associated Press)

Steamboat Springs: Like Breckenridge, Steamboat and nearby wilderness areas, about 160 miles northwest of Denver, offer biking, hiking and water adventures in the summer, along with lower lodging rates. (Flights from LAX to Hayden, the nearest airport to Steamboat, generally run close to $500 round trip, Keyes said, so flying into Denver and renting a car will be more economical.)

At the mountain: Sheraton Steamboat Resort Villas are 15% to 20% off regular rates through Sept. 6 through a Marriott member offer. (Membership is free at The lowest nightly rate I found over the summer was $161, partly because it’s summer but also because of a remodeling.

White River National Forest: Escape to Trappers Lake Lodge & Resort for a wilderness retreat, about 75 miles from Steamboat. Because its 15 rustic cabins begin at $70 a night, Trappers Lake fills up fast. When we called, there was still availability in June, during the week in July and from Aug. 11-30. Cabins include a bed, propane heat and electricity. Toilets and showers are in the lodge’s public bath house.

Nearby pleasures: Steamboat: Embrace the slopes in summer with hiking and mountain biking at Steamboat Bike Park. At Trappers Lake, opportunities abound for hiking, paddling, fishing and guided horseback rides.

Info: Steamboat Springs Chamber of Commerce,