20 travel steals for under $200

Our favorite ways to feel like a million bucks without even a swipe of the credit card

UNDER $200

$185: Make like a local
If you're jonesing for a trip to Hana, Maui, but can't stomach the price tag of a stay at the Hotel Hana-Maui (where rooms start at $395; 800/321-4262), try a vacation rental; many go for under $200 a night. Use the money you save for dinner at the hotel's Ka'uiki restaurant ($$$), then go for drinks and live music at its Paniolo Lounge Vacation rental listings: hanamaui.com –Matthew Jaffe

Lounging by the Cliff Spa's rooftop pool at Utah's Snowbird is alone worth the resort's $20 access fee
$175: Have a ski resort to yourself
With Snowbird's Cliff Spa Getaway package you get to ride the Utah resort's aerial tram, indulge in a 50-minute massage, have unlimited access to Cliff Spa facilities, including its rooftop pool, and, of course, stay at the Cliff Lodge. From $175 per person; or 800/232-9542. Extra freebie: Stay Tuesday night so you can take part in the spa's free Wednesday morning yoga class (reservations required; 801/933-2225). –Melissa Fields

$185: Check out a famous hotel
No need to stay at San Diego's sublime but pricey Hotel del Coronado (aka the Del, from $365; or 800/468-3533) to enjoy all that it has to offer. Instead, stay nearby at one of a handful of less-expensive nonwaterfront hotels and visit the Del for playtime on the beach, drinks at Eno Wine Tasting Room, a massage at the spa, or a bike ride along the beach with a cruiser from the on-site rental shop.

For lodging, try Glorietta Bay Inn, across the street from the Del, from $185; or 800/283-9383. Slight splurge: A wine-and-cheese flight at Eno ($28). –Amy Wolf

$115: Bed down by the seashore
The Sylvia Hotel on English Bay in Vancouver, British Columbia, gives you a million-dollar location for less than $200 a night. The vine-covered 1912 historic landmark is a few steps from both the beach and the 5.5-mile seawall path that encircles Stanley Park, and it's five minutes from downtown. From $115 U.S.; 604/681-9321. Slight splurge: A burger with everything ($11 U.S.), a block away at Vera's Burger Shack (604/681-5450) –Beverley Sinclair

$169: Embrace desert heat
You can't know Tucson until you've stayed at the Arizona Inn. With its low-season rates through the month, here's your chance to get inside this oasis in the heart of the city. Within its pink walls, you'll find a village-like arrangement of casitas and gardens, and exceptional service. From $169; 800/933-1093.–Matthew Jaffe

UNDER $100

$65: Taste tequilas
Sign up to be a Border Grill VIP (just ask to be put on the list), and your next Vegas splurge comes at a Baja price. For $65 you can indulge in a Tequila Tasting Dinner ― a $125 value ― at the mod-Mex cantina in Mandalay Bay. Try high-end agave spirits in cocktails dreamed up by Border Grill's mixologists and paired with south-of-the-border fusion cuisine. In a recent tasting, the chocolate truffle cake with a snifter of Partida Elegante (usually $60 a shot) was itself worth the price of admission. Next dinner Sep 25; 702/632-7403. –Phil Hagen

$72: Take a (mini) cruise
Where can you get a hotel room, dinner, dancing, and a pool with an ever-changing view for less than $75 a day? On an international cruise in Seattle's backyard! In September, one of Celebrity Cruises' Alaska ships has a brief shoulder season in the Puget Sound before it heads to warm-winter spots like Hawaii.

Three- and four-night cruises on the Celebrity Mercury, which can cost half as much per day as an Alaska voyage, tootle around from Seattle to British Columbia's Nanaimo and Victoria, then back to Seattle. Get the best deal by leaving on a Monday for a four-night cruise: base fare from $289 per person for an inside stateroom ($72.25 per night); 877/202-4345.–Jenny Cunningham

 

 

$89: Get massaged mountainside
A spectacular front-row view of Idaho's Sawtooth Range is one of the extras you get along with your massage or facial ― and glass of wine ― at the Meadow Creek Inn & Spa in Stanley, three hours north of Boise. Oh, and did we mention that the rate covers all that and your room too? From $89 per person (valid Sun–Thu); 800/811-5745. –Laura Stavoe

$95: Take a chauffeured (backroads) wine-country tour
Grape Escape Winery Tours picks up thirsty visitors in downtown Portland in one of its cushy vans and drives backroads through the rolling Chehalem Mountains while a guide explains the birth of Oregon winemaking. The bonus: You'll have plenty of cash left for wine to take home. Fri through early fall; $95 including tasting fees; 503/283-3380. –Ivy Manning

$95: Pay for an hour, stay for the day
At Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort near San Luis Obispo, California, the indulgence doesn't have to stop when your massage is over. With any 60-minute treatment, you also get a 30-minute soak under the oaks in a private mineral hot springs tub, as well as access to the resort's tai chi, yoga, and pilates classes, plus guided hikes. Treatments from $95; 800/234-5831. –Matthew Jaffe

 

 

UNDER $50

$25: Sleep next to a lighthouse
At Point Montara Lighthouse, on California's wild and uncrowded San Mateo County coast, two ten-buck bills and a five let you sleep just feet from the ocean, right on a pristine beach. The downside: It's a youth hostel, which means you may have to share your room with strangers. But in this location, who cares? 650/728-7177. Worthwhile splurge: Spend $65 per couple for a private room. –Charity Ferreira

$41: Cast close by the front porch
Skip the several-thousand-dollar stay at a fancy wilderness lodge. Instead, spend the night at Coyote Rock RV Resort & Marina, with its six charming little cabins on stilts. The cabins are within casting distance of Oregon's Siletz River, a mile south of Lincoln City, famed for steelhead and sea-run cutthroat trout. $41; 541/996-6824. –Jenie Skoy

$22: Wear flip-flops to the opera
The Metropolitan Opera attracts the world's greatest opera stars, but you don't have to fly to New York to see them. During the 2008–09 season, the Met's Opening Night Gala and 10 operas will be broadcast live in high-definition at cinemas across the country. First show Sep 22; tickets about $22; –Sharon Cohoon

$12: Get a quick fix of (lunchtime) theater
At Lunch Time Theater, midweek at Herberger Theater in downtown Phoenix, see a 30- to 45-minute play performed by emerging theater companies and new talent in an informal, black-box theater setting. We recommend ordering lunch through the theater's website, which guarantees you a seat. Check website for schedule; about $12 for lunch and ticket; 602/254-7399. –Nora Burba Trulsson

$45 Eat at a (teaching) chef's table
Instead of envying the celebrities and guests on Emeril Live, who sit at the counter and sample the chef's creations, get a similar experience at Chef's Table, in Tubac, Arizona. There, guests chat with executive chef Noah Aguilar as he prepares a five-course meal featuring dishes like achiote-marinated wild salmon stuffed with crab and sweet corn. Tue–Sat; $45, excluding drinks; 520/398-8501. –Teresa Bitler

$25: Be a winemaker (for two hours)
Shadow Matt and Patrick Rawn, owners of Two Mountain Winery in Washington's Yakima Valley. They'll have you pluck and taste grapes, operate the crush machinery, and, finally, taste the vineyard's wine. Oct 18; $25; 509/829-3900. –Molly Berman

$5: Upgrade your wardrobe
At the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising Scholarship Store in Los Angeles, prices for donated, often name-brand merchandise are ridiculously low: flirty cotton skirts, $1; Rampage and Arden B. slacks, $5 each; bathing suits, $2; belts, $2. And, best of all, store profits go mainly to student scholarships. Closed Sun; 213/624-1200. –Valerie Nelson

FREE

Catch a concert
As if the botanical garden and boats weren't enough of a draw to Seattle's Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, get this: Through Labor Day, there are free after-noon jazz, swing, and musical theater concerts at the locks too. Get there early to stake out your picnic spot, and bike or walk to avoid parking fees. Sat–Sun and holidays through Sep 1; 206/783-7059. –Jess Thomson

Watch ballet under the stars
Ballet Arizona goes outside this month with its Ballet Under the Stars series. Costumed company dancers reprise bits from past seasons and experiment with new work at grassy metro Phoenix settings that include a historic ranch in Glendale and an amphitheater in Tempe. 602/343-6500. –Nora Burba Trulsson

Take in masterpieces
At the Getty Center and Getty Villa in Los Angeles, you can see some of the world's most important works of art for free. Parking costs $8, but the smart money gets there by bus or bike. Villa closed Tue–Wed, reservations required; center closed Mon; 310/440-7300. –Matthew Jaffe