Happy first day of summer, Northern Hemisphere! To celebrate, I decided I'd scour the internet and create a list of some of the cheapest places to travel to in the next couple months in North America; that is, in Canada, the U.S., Mexico, and all your favorite destinations in Central America and the Caribbean.
Not all of those lovely places will be on this list, of course; I just wanted to let you know specifically what we're looking at. In terms of cost, we will concern ourselves foremost with the likely chunk of change you'll have to drop for the flight, considering the money you spend upon arrival more peripherally.
As always, my recommendation for your accommodations remains the lovely offerings found on Airbnb (nonchalant insertion of referral link: www.airbnb.com/c/lhansen709). Let it also be noted that all flight prices mentioned below reflect week-long, mid-July type rates out of the midwestern U.S., courtesy of the Google Flights machine.
Let's get on with it, shall we?
1. Denver, Colorado
Denver popped up on a few of the lists I found on the Internets, surely signifying its status as a cheaper destination to get yourself to this summer. Besides the obvious draw of the Mile High City — taking in Mother Nature — you could catch a Rockies game at Coors Field, stop in at either the Museum of Nature & Science or the Art Museum, or hit up the Downtown Aquarium. Round trips flights run anywhere from the low $100s up to the mid $400s range.
2. Toronto, Canada
Oh, Canada! You may have heard or read somewhere that the Great White North is celebrating its sesquicentennial (150th anniversary) this year, and Toronto will certainly be a hub for those celebrations, especially on Canada Day (July 1). The good news, of course, is that a trip to the largest city in Canada falls far short of breaking the bank, with round trip flights generally in the $300-400 range, and you could hardly run out of things to do.
3. New Orleans, Louisiana
The Big Easy may be the most attractive (for the outgoing types, anyway) during Mardi Gras, but it's probably a cheaper place to go to during the summer months. Yeah, it will be hot, but the flights are chill — most of them won't even run you $200 (but again, recall that this is from the midwestern U.S.; flights from other locales will obviously vary). The National World War II Museum is waiting with your history fill, Frenchman Street has your flea market needs covered, and get your cultural fill in the French Quarter.
4. San Juan, Puerto Rico
Okay, so if you read my last post, you probably saw this one coming. It's no joke, though, that traveling to Puerto Rico is extremely affordable right now. Could it be because their economy is in the crapper? Uh yes, most likely. San Juan, the capital and a sexy coastal city, is prime for vacationing. Besides hitting up the beach, you can explore the Old San Juan corridor, take a boat tour, or get some shopping done at Plaza las Américas. Flights come in at about $350 up to $500.
5. Vancouver, Canada
Another gem in the Great White North, Vancouver is the most populous city in the Canadian province of British Colombia and serves as a great summer destination for nature lovers. Flights seem to be mostly in the $250-350 range, and you've got plenty of options once you're there. You could spend hours in Stanley Park, the third largest park in North America; get lost in the maze at the VanDusen Botanical Garden; or go for a stroll across the Capilano Suspension Bridge, which crosses 230 feet high over the Capilano River.
6. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
The Andy Warhol Museum alone makes a visit to Steel City worth your time, and with round trip flights hovering below $350 for the most part, why not? Strolling through Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens; exploring the city's Mount Washington neighborhood, which offers scenic views of downtown; and dying and ending up in Bicycle Heaven might also be on the agenda.
7. Houston, Texas
If you can manage the high temps of Texas in the summertime, Houston is certainly not a bad option when it comes to cheaper summer destinations. Generally coming in under $250 for round trip, I also wanted to include Houston here because of its more recent recognition as a so-called "food mecca," termed as such by GQ's chef-in-residence David Chang in a November article from last year.
8. Cancún, Mexico
Yes, Cancún, the proverbial American spring break getaway. While it's easy to party your butt off here in the first quarter of the calendar year, there are also lots of other things to do and the flights are in the $300-400 range on average throughout July and August. Ancient Mayan architecture? Ecotourism? Swimming with the dolphins? You can find all that and more here.
9. San José, Costa Rica
August flights to the capital and largest city of Costa Rica are an amazing steal at this point, but I imagine they won't stay that way in the coming weeks. As of this writing, the best deal I'm seeing is under $300 for a week in late August (last reminder: I'm looking at flights from the midwestern U.S.). Lonely Planet can give you the rundown on this Central American hub.