Friday, November 13, 2015

Have a great getaway in these popular
cities—and do it within your budget. Wanting to travel
is never the problem; finding the time and the money often can be, though.
in these days of flash sales and incentives, carving out that much-needed trip
within your budget keeps getting easier and easier.
We've jumped in to help, outlining easy-on-the-wallet weekends in 13 of
our favorite cities.
Below, you'll get full itineraries on fun things to do,
where to eat and shop, and how to best enjoy it.
The best part? It's all
achieved on $25 a day or less.
Read on for the details, or jump to the destination of your choice: Beijing;
Cape Town; Chicago; london; Los Angeles; Melbourne; Miami; New York City;
Paris; Portland; San Francisco; Shanghai; and Vancouver
LANGE/Getty Images
Beijing Though the cost of living is rising in Beijing, there are
still plenty of cheap thrills and free experiences to be had in China's
Spend a weekend exploring its history and art through former imperial
gardens, fast-disappearing hutong neighborhoods, and vibrant creative
Saturday: Gulou, Beihai Park, and Jingshan Park Starts off the adventure
at the southern end of Nanluoguxiang, a preserved hutong dating from the Yuan
Dynasty (1271-1368) that is now one of the busiest tourist streets in
Accessible from exit E of Nanluoguxiang subway station (Line 6),
Nanluoguxiang is home to bustling shops, cafes, bars, and snack stands, and is
a good place to pick up souvenirs like ceramic teapots and kitschy
The half-mile lane can get crowded—especially during major Chinese
holidays like Spring Festival and the October golden week—but it is
criss-crossed by much quieter hutongs boasting their own charm.
At the intersection of Nanluoguxiang and Beibing Masi Hutong, there is a
hole-in-the-wall eatery called Tianjinwei Jianbing Guozi selling jianbing, a
type of egg-filled pancake that is quintessential breakfast and street
This particular stall makes Tianjin-style jianbing, which features
youtiao (a strip of fried dough) instead of the usual baocui (a deep-fried
A jianbing costs $0.65 to $0.80.
Nanluoguxiang intersects with Gulou East Street, a major thoroughfare named
after the Drum Tower that used to serve as the city's official
From there, walk east to Cafe Zarah, a long-standing cafe and
restaurant with an airy courtyard and an extensive menu.
At $4 to $7, the
coffee is a relative splurge.
While you sip, walk the area at your own pace.
Gulou East Street and the
smaller hutongs that intersect it contain boutiques, cafes, and restaurants
ranging from minimalist to eccentric.
Hutongs worth strolling through include
Beiluoguxiang (Beiluo Bread Bar, Mai Bar), Baochao Hutong (Modernista,
Shi's Dumplings), and Doujiao Hutong (Great Leap #6).
At a Y-intersection with Di'anmen Street and Gulou West, you'll find the
Drum Tower and its immediate neighbor, the Bell Tower.
If you can handle the
steep stairs, they're worth climbing for the views of Beijing.
A ticket gets
you access to both for about $5.
For lunch, there are many inexpensive restaurants along Di'anmen
Huatian Emei Jiujia (155 Di'anmen St., Dongcheng District; 86 10 6404
3097) offers faithful renditions of Sichuan dishes like yuxiang qiezi
(fish-fragrant eggplant), koushui ji (mouth-watering chicken), and
sweet-and-sour soup, for about $3 to $6 per plate.
Just a short walk from the restaurant is Beihai Park, a former imperial
garden that was turned into a public park in 1925.
You can go boating on the
central lake in battery- or pedal-powered boats shaped like rubber ducks and
lotus flowers.
Don't miss seeing the Nine-Dragon Screen dating from 1402 and
the 131-foot White Dagoba on Jade Flower Island (pictured).
Admission to the
park costs less than $2 per person.
If you exit from the east gate of Beihai Park you'll head straight to
Jingshan Park.
The pavilion that sits atop the towering artificial hill in the
middle of the park offers 360-degree views, including the Forbidden City,
Beihai Park, and the Drum Tower.
Cap off this day of historical sightseeing with a meal at the city's first
privately owned restaurant.
Founded in 1980, Yuebin Restaurant (43 Cuihua
Hutong, Dongcheng District; 86 10 8511 7853) is an unassuming eatery that is
still owned by the founder's family.
The menu is entirely in Chinese, but all
specialties are on the first page.
Good bets include the guota doufu (stuffed
tofu) or wusi tong (meat and cabbage rolls).
Sunday: 798 Art District and Caochangdi Your second day is all about art,
starting with 798 Art District in the northeast corner of Beijing.
This famous
community is housed in a series of Bauhaus-style munitions factories from the
1950s, which artists started moving into in the mid-1990s in search of cheap
studio spaces.
Since the area's rapid gentrification in the early 2000s,
unchecked rent increases have forced out the many artists who contributed to
798's cultural rebirth.
Despite this, the neighborhood attracts local and foreign tourists alike
with its shops, cafes, restaurants, colorful graffiti, and serious art
galleries like UCCA, 798 Space, Galleria Continua, and Pace Gallery.
Most are
Around a 10-minute cab ride away, there is the lesser-known artistic
community of Caochangdi.
Its first and most famous tenant was Ai Weiwei, who
first moved out to the sleepy village to establish his studio and the China
Art Archives and Warehouse (CAAW).
The atmosphere at Caochangdi is much more
subdued compared to its more famous neighbor, but respected centers like Three
Shadows Photography Art Centre, Galerie Urs Meile, Pekin Fine Arts, Beijing
Art Now Gallery (BANG), and Chambers Fine Art make the area worth visiting.
Train fans may want to drop by the China Railway Museum (1 Jiuxianqiao North
Road, Chaoyang District; 86 10 6438 1317) just east of Caochangdi.
Not to be
confused with the branch near Tian'anmen Square, this location is the one that
contains actual rolling stock from the 1960s and 1970s, including the steam
locomotives that Chinese leaders Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai rode.
Not all taxi
drivers know where it is, so have a map and a phone number on hand.
costs $3.
—Sijia Chen Want to know more about the above? Read the full scoop
David Donde
Cape Town South Africa's currency is in the throes of a steady
decline—and coupled with the strengthening dollar, that means Cape Town has
everything you need for a budget-friendly holiday.
But even if you're really
strapped for cash, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the city for nearly free.
Saturday: Exploring Cape Town's History Begin your day with a budget
breakfast at Truth, one of Cape Town's best coffee shops—it has a cult
following for its funky industrial interiors.
An open-faced avocado sandwich
will set you back about $2.83; wash it down with a flat white for $1.82.
filling breakfast for less than five dollars? Not a bad start.
Next, head up the block to the District Six Museum for a history
This neighborhood was once a thriving multicultural hub until
apartheid uprooted countless families; at the museum, their stories are retold
through intimate exhibits that re-create the past.
A stop here is a must for
understanding the context of what South Africa has had to overcome in the past
21 years since independence, and admission is a mere $2.18.
By now you're probably eager to learn more about Cape Town's complex
past as you tour (and affordable guided walking tours are also on offer), so
why not download a homegrown app to help you with that? VoiceMap offers
GPS-guided audio tours around the world; local offerings include Slavery in
the Cape ($1.99) and the Company's Garden ($1.99).
When you're ready for a break and a bit, head to St.
George's Mall, a
pedestrian promenade lined with lively stalls selling everything from artwork
to scarves.
This is where you'll find Mariam's Kitchen (101 St.
Mall), a humble local "takeaway" selling simple, hearty, home-style
cooking with local flair—the steak salomie will fill you up and only costs
Sunday: Experiencing the Sites The Bo-Kaap neighborhood is an
Instagrammer's delight, a riot of postcard-worthy houses on Signal
Strolling streets lined with yellow, hot pink, and turquoise homes is
free, of course—just be respectful of the people who live there—but be
sure to pop into Rose Corner Café (100 Wale Street) to try a local favorite:
koesisters are Cape Town's answer to the doughnut, and here the syrupy
confections are $0.22 apiece.
Cape Town's most magnificent sites aren't likely to break the bank: a
hike won't cost you a dime, after all.
While Table Mountain is the most
obvious contender, it can be grueling for beginners, and you might be tempted
to take the cable car back down—and at $9 each way, you'll end up blowing
your budget.
We recommend hiking neighboring Lion's Head instead: it's an
easier and quicker trail, and the views are just as sublime.
For meals, you can easily splurge on several and still stay within
For one of the best burgers in Cape Town, head over to Bree Street,
where a whiskey-barbecue burger and fries at the popular IYO Burgers comes in
at only $6.10.
Afterward, experience Bree Street's bar culture: pop into the
divey Door 221, where the cocktails are $3.63, or Mother's Ruin Gin Bar,
where a gin-based drink like a Marmalade Tea is $4.21.
Have 'em both—you
can afford it.
—Sarah Khan Want to know more about the above? Read the full scoop
Chicago Spending the weekend in Chicago but on a strict budget? We've put
together a two-day itinerary to enjoy the best of the city for $25 a day or
Saturday: The Loop Spend a leisurely morning people-watching from inside
Bow Truss Coffee Roasters on Michigan and Jackson, sipping one of the
specialty fair-trade blends that make the chain famous in the city.
One cup of
coffee is $3.50.
Afterwards, cross Michigan Avenue and explore Grant Park and Millennium
Take a design tour through Chicago's most well-known green spaces,
seeing the Art Deco opulence of Buckingham Fountain, and the modern sleek
lines of the Frank Gehry-designed Jay Pritzker Pavilion and BP Bridge.
Have a
quick lunch at The Artists Café, where a chicken pita sandwich will only set
you back $7.
Head north to the Magnificent Mile and window shop through the brightly lit
displays of Chicago's poshest boutiques.
At the far northern end of Michigan
Avenue, step into the old water tower for the hidden City Gallery art exhibit
For dinner, head to The Purple Pig, one of Chicago's premier
Don't miss the JLT, a mix of pork jowl, tomato, frisee, pesto
aioli and duck confit, served a la plancha ($13).
Sunday: The Neighborhoods Take a ride on The 606, Chicago's newest
multi-use trail.
What used to be 2.7 miles of abandoned rail line is now a
haven for bikers, skaters, runners, and artists—the entire length is a
living art exhibit as well.
Refuel at Green Corner in Wicker Park with an
organic smoothie ($8).
Stop by the farmer's market in Wicker Park, open on Sundays, and grab a
picnic lunch to enjoy while sitting by the fountain in the neighborhood's
namesake, Wicker Park, where you can take your time savoring your fresh finds.
That evening, alk over to Logan Square and indulge in some local
Comfort Station and Gallery F are two community favorites, and entrance
to both is free.
Have dinner on the patio at locally sourced Lula Café, and
order the famous Lula '99 Turkey Sandwich ($11).
Drinks start at $8, but
there's a good chance you have enough left—use it to toast a weekend well
—Jennifer Billock Want to know more about the above? Read the full
scoop here.
Courtesy Hawker
House London On a tight budget but keen to travel? Here's how
to spend a weekend in London on just $25 a day.
Saturday: Art and Major Sites One of the best things about the UK is that
most museums are free.
Start your Saturday in Holborn at the British Museum,
admiring the collections along with the building's impressive tessellated
glass ceiling.
From there, stroll down to Covent Garden: one of London's most famed areas,
though a tourist trap, is worth a wander.
Walk through the Piazza, then around
the web of Seven Dials (seven quaint shopping streets that connect at a small
roundabout), and don't miss Neal's Yard—quite possibly the quaintest, most
colorful courtyard in London.
A short walk away in Aldwych, Lundenwic is the perfect lunch spot.
It's a
trendy, minimalist all-day cafe, which serves fresh salads, gourmet toasties,
and great coffee.
The roasted broccoli, cheddar, almond, and chili toastie
($8) is sure to hit the spot, washed down with a pick-me-up espresso ($0.75).
Feeling fueled, head at a leisurely pace down The Strand, taking note of the
iconic Savoy Hotel as you go, before eventually arriving at Trafalgar
Walk down Pall Mall to Buckingham Palace, or hang a left to see Big
Ben and Westminster Abbey up close.
Walk along the Southbank to the Tate Modern.
Spend a couple of hours
admiring the exhibitions (it's one of the best galleries in the country,
whether you're an art aficionado or not), before heading up to the cafe on
level 6, where we suggest skipping the coffee but admiring the stunning city
views from its terrace.
Cross Millennium Bridge, admiring the quintessential London skyline views as
you go, and on the other side, it's the mighty St.
Paul's Cathedral.
It's time
for an early dinner.
Jump on the DLR to Canada Water, which plays host to
Hawker House, the latest incarnation from Street Feast, an organization that
can be credited with revolutionizing the London street food scene.
House is a late-night indoor market in a converted warehouse, with 14 food
traders and eight bars Sunday: East London You're spending Sunday in
East London, in neighborhoods that have changed and diversified a lot in the
last 10 years, with the arrival of craft coffee shops, hipster cafes, and
designer fashion boutiques.
There's a buzz in the air, the crowd is young, and
when you pick the right places, your money can go far.
After a long lazy lie-in, drag yourself out of bed and head to Beigel Bake
on Brick Lane—a real institution that, along with being a favorite among
locals, draws crowds from far and wide who flock to it 24 hours a day for its
impressively cheap bagels.
Though its salt beef bagels are a common favorite,
go for the equally delicious salmon and cream cheese combo, and you'll get
change from $5.
After eating, walk down bustling Bethnal Green Road—lined with fruit and
vegetable stalls and dazzling sari shops—to the V&A Museum of
Don't be fooled, this isn't a museum just for children.
It's a
nostalgic spot for adults, too, with all the favorite toys from your childhood
on display.
Back in Shoreditch, potter along Redchurch Street, the neighborhood's
chicest street, where you can window shop the likes of A.P.C, Sweaty Betty,
and Aesop.
Marvel at the wonderfully colorful fresh produce outside Albion
Cafe, before popping into Labour & Wait, a small but perfectly formed
homewares boutique, full of heritage brands, luxury stationery, and en-vogue
Falcon enamelware.
It must be lunch time, and on Sunday, Brick Lane is buzzing with
international food markets.
Expect crowds.
Take cash.
Then choose from
everything from dim sum, to curry, sushi, Lebanese, and Thai.
You'll get an
overflowing plate and change from $10.
Next, head to Columbia Road Flower Market, London's favorite, where you'll
join the hoards squeezing through the stalls, handing over cash to heckling
East End traders in return for giant, paper-wrapped blooms.
No East London
Sunday is complete without such a purchase—even if they are only spending a
couple of nights in your hotel room.
Later, perhaps after dropping your flowers at your hotel, and putting your
feet up for a quick half hour, it's time for a bite. Get up Google Maps for
directions and hop on a bus (from $2.30) to Exmouth Market, an atmospheric
street that's home pretty much entirely to restaurants.
There's all sorts,
from seafood restaurants to Thai, and Turkish.
Our favorite—and one of the
cheapest—is Pizza Pilgrims, the newest addition to the street, but one with
a big cult following.
Oh, let the night be merry.
—Alice Tate Want to know more about the above? Read the full scoop
Iwan Baan
Los Angeles It might seem near impossible to enjoy a weekend in a
major metropolitan area like Los Angeles on a budget, but it can be
done—especially if you opt for public transportation or biking instead of
renting a car.
Here are our tips for how to do a two-day weekender in the
central LA area on $25 a day.
Here's how it's done.
Saturday: Museum Row and Koreatown Start off your day with some of the
best breakfast burritos in town at Cofax, where they stuff their tortillas
with smoked potatoes, chorizo, and eggs for just $7, or go veggie for
They also do excellent drip coffee for $3.50 and espressos for
After strolling the Fairfax District, ride down the street to Museum Row,
where you can check out the public exhibitions and sculpture gardens at LACMA
and the La Brea Tar Pits park for free.
Be sure to explore nearby Little
Ethiopia, too.
Ride down 6th Street, or take the bus ($1.75) heading east on Wilshire to
get to L.A.'s bustling Koreatown, where cheap eats abound.
A personal
favorite is the Koreatown Galleria, where upstairs you'll find a food court
fit for the gods.
A massive bibimbap bowl at Jin Su Sung Chan easily feeds two
people for $9.95, and will keep you full though the evening.
you'll find K-beauty shops to stock up on trendy face masks and BB cream,
and on the bottom floor there's a cool restaurant supply shop where you can
pick up Korean cookery at bargain prices.
Stop by happy hour at EMC Seafood for $5 well drinks and $1 oysters between
4 p.m.
and 7 p.m., or hit up the lobby at the newish Line Hotel for DJs and a
lively vibe before the EMC happy hour starts again at 10 p.m.
(You'll learn
quickly that this part of the city never sleeps.) If hunger doesn't strike,
use the remainder of your funds for a round of tunes at K-town's most
popular karaoke dive, the Brass Monkey Bar.
Sunday: Echo Park, Downtown, Little Tokyo While there are plenty of great
things on the menu at Square One at Echo Park Lake, the most budget-friendly
items are the scones ($3.25), stone ground grits ($4), and steel cut oats
Grab your breakfast and stroll around this historic park, which was
originally built for drinking water in 1870, and then was transformed into a
sprawling landscaped public space in 1892.
It was recently shuttered for
renovations, and reopened in 2013 to include new paddleboats, repaved paths,
and the lake's iconic lily pads.
Work your way toward Downtown to enjoy some of the area's many free arts
and culture offerings, like the newly minted Broad Museum.
(Note: viewing the
massive collection of contemporary art does require reservations, which can be
booked ahead of time here.) Then, tour around architectural landmarks like the
Grand Central Library and the Bradbury Building, also gratis.
If at any point you're getting hungry, there are plenty of eats inside
Grand Central Market to keep you sated; while some are a bit more expensive
(part of the modernization of the markets has brought in more artisans and
hipster vendors), there are some old-school vendors that offer great eats at a
low cost, like Sarita's Papuseria ($3.54 each) or Tacos Tumbras a Tomas
($2.50 each). Mosey on over to Little Tokyo, where you can escape the
pulse of the city at the hidden Koyasan Buddhist Temple and the lush James
Irvine Japanese Garden oasis or window shop along 2nd Street's boutiques
from local designers.
When you're ready for a nibble, head to Spitz, which
specializes in doner kebabs ($8.50), but also has killer happy hour if
you're in town on a weekday from 3 p.m.
to 7 p.m., including $3 pints, $4
sangrias, and $1 pita and hummus.
Afterwards, be sure to check in to the Blue
Whale, one of the best jazz bars in L.A., where they're known to put on
performances that start at $5.
—Krista Simmons Want to know more about the above? Read the full scoop
Getty Images
Melbourne At the moment, $25 converts to about AU$35, and while
that's not a stack of cash, there are plenty of free and inexpensive
amusements to keep the average visitor very busy when in town.
A bit of cash
should be preloaded onto a myki card (the prepaid ticket used on public
transport), but that leaves plenty left over.
Here's how to make the most of
the city on a budget-friendly weekend.
Saturday: Downtown and the Beach Spend Saturday morning exploring the
Central Business District.
A lap on the free City Circle tram to will provide
a sense of place, and stops at main attractions.
Many of the big galleries are
free, including the Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia and the Australian Centre
for the Moving Image (ACMI), both of which are located in Federation Square.
Historic Queen Victoria Market is on the city's northern edge and,
alongside sections and shops selling souvenirs, homewares and clothing, there
is an amazing fresh food section.
Load up on $3 böreks (flaky pastry filled
with meat and cheese), fresh fruit and jam donuts ($5.50 for 5), then take a
picnic to one of the lush gardens.
Carlton Gardens is a few minutes' walk
away, or a quick tram ride will deliver hungry bellies to the Royal Botanic
Gardens (pictured) for lunch in the sunshine.
Walk it off afterwards on The
Tan, Melbourne's popular path that circles the gardens, Kings Domain and
passes along the Yarra River.
Another tram ride of about 20 minutes will deliver visitors to the bayside
suburb of St Kilda for a swim at the beach.
Once refreshed, stroll around Luna
Park (unfortunately, the rides are probably out of the budget) and down Acland
Street with its European cake shops, whose displays ensure mouths will
On Fitzroy Street, The Banff is a popular, rustic restaurant with
pasta, pizzas and other assorted dishes on the menu for less than $10.
Back in the city, get a great view at Rooftop Bar and have a drink (pints
are about $10); the space also hosts an outdoor cinema in summer.
Night times
can be tight times for those on a budget, but Federation Square often has free
movies, music or some sort of community festival on a Saturday evening.
Sunday: Music and Shopping Sleep in on Sunday (Melburnians aren't
renowned for waking early on the weekend) before heading to Fitzroy, a popular
village-style neighborhood in the inner north, where there's the chance to
wander around the shops, check out the street art, and visit the Rose Street
Artists' Market.
The always-pumping Bimbo Deluxe has $4 pizzas, $4 deluxe
dogs and $4.50 beers all day on Sunday.
Stop in at some point to fuel up.
Melbourne is known for its live music, and there are numerous venues where
bands often play for free.
One of the best known is The Retreat, an old-school
local pub in the nearby suburb on Brunswick.
Usually the music kicks off at
about 5 p.m.— sometimes in the beer garden—and on Sunday nights, starting
at 7:30 p.m.
there's Soul Sunday, with Melbourne's best soul bands and
When hunger strikes, head to local Kao Thai, a cheap and cheerful
restaurant, where a bowl of wonton and noodle soup costs about $9.
—Carrie Hutchinson Want to know more about the above? Read the full
scoop here.
Courtesy Wynwood
Walls Miami Miami is not generally considered an inexpensive
vacation destination, but to see the city like locals do—with its mix of
funky cultural enclaves, cheap ethnic restaurants, and public art—can be
surprisingly affordable.
Even in Miami, the best things in life are sort of
Saturday: Little Havana and Wynwood Start off the day in Little Havana
with the $4.75 breakfast at El Exquisito, a hearty eye-opener with everything
from Cuban toast to eggs to café con leche.
Then, wander down to the Little
Havana Cigar Factory to watch cigars being made: there's nothing quite so
Miami as the bracing aroma of a cigar factory.
From Little Havana, it's a short drive to Wynwood, which has emerged as a
shopping destination with thoughtful retail operations: Wynwood Letterpress,
for example, carries elegant stationary, and the hybrid shop and café Made in
Italy offers an assortment of Italian cheeses and cured meats.
For lunch or
early dinner, head to the echoes-of-the-Caribbean B&M Market (219 NE 79th
St.; 305-757-2889), which has a small restaurant, is owned by natives of
Guyana, and was featured on the Miami edition of Anthony Bourdain's "Parts
Unknown." The restaurant is known for Roti, and a curry goat roti ($8) goes
well with a Jamaican grapefruit-flavored Ting soda ($1.50).
Afterwards, head back to Little Havana for a little down time at CubaOcho
Art Center.
With food, drinks, murals, and caricatures of Cuban stars, the
place is like stepping into old Havana.
The neighborhood also has two fun
dance palaces, Hoy Como Ayer and Ball & Chain, a historic (and
inexpensive) bar that features acts like the Spam Allstars, Nil Lara, and
Palo! For a nightcap, sip yet another café con leche at the venerable
restaurant Versailles, the center of nocturnal Little Havana and heated Cuban
exile political discussions. Sunday: Art All Around Miami is emerging
as a contemporary art center, and art—free art—is everywhere.
Toussaint's surreal street murals, which span from images of President Obama
to the Miami Heat, are all around Little Haiti.
In Wynwood, visit the
"Wynwood Walls," a park with curated street murals launched in 2009 by the
late developer Tony Goldman.
Don't miss the large-scale works by Shepard
Fairey, Kenny Scharf, and Ron English.
For lunch, stop by the nearby S&S
Diner, known for classic All-American diner fare: a cup of chili costs $4.95
and will satiate the fiercest appetite.
Afterwards, work off lunch with a visit to the Perez Art Museum Miami for
the exhibition "No Boundaries: Aboriginal Australian Contemporary Abstract
Painting," on view through January.
The show is drawn from the collection of
Debra and Dennis Scholl.
In 2016, the Scholls are mounting a new exhibition of
Aboriginal Australian Contemporary art, entirely focused on female Aboriginal
Australian artists.
(Adult admission to PAMM is $16, though admission is free
on the second Saturdays of the month and the first Thursday of the month.)
At sunset, take a whimsy-fueled stroll on the beach along Miami Beach, from
South Pointe Park to 86th Street.
Miami Beach's lifeguard outposts were once
featured in the book South Beach Lifeguard Stations, and have embraced themes
that include The Jetsons and surfing.
The lifeguard stations are the happiest
public art imaginable, a fitting prelude to another multi-cultural culinary
infusion on Miami Beach, El Rey Del Chivito.
The Uruguayan institution
features a Classic Chivito sandwich for two, with ham, beef, and a fried egg
for $12.90.
It's the perfect, hearty end to an equally substantial Miami
—Tom Austin Want to know more about the above? Read the full scoop
Daniel Krieger
New York City Who says you need to blow your budget on a trip to
New York City? Sure, there are plenty of luxury hotels and splurge-worthy
restaurants, but the city that never sleeps also provides plenty of free
things to do, and affordable drinking and dining for budget-conscious
Saturday: Getting Immersed in New York's Culture For breakfast, it
doesn't get much more classic than a bagel and a cup o' joe.
It's easy
to find the combo at corner cafes and delis all over the city, but for the
best, grab a ticket at Russ & Daughters, a Lower East Side institution
since 1914, where a bagel and a schmear will only cost you $2.75.
Or stop by
Black Seed for Montreal-style wood-fired bagels and Stumptown coffee.
their signature sandwiches (baked eggs, cheddar, and bacon, for example) range
from $6 to $12, you can get a simple bagel with cream cheese for $3.
Add a
small coffee for $3.27 and you've only spent $6 and change for a filling
While museums can be expensive to visit—we're looking at you,
MoMa—there are plenty of other ways to soak in New York's artistic
You'll find the largest concentration of galleries in Chelsea (all
free and open to the public).
The major ones to hit up include Gagosian and
David Zwirner for blockbuster shows by artists like Jeff Koons and Yayoi
Kusama; Pace and Milk for cutting-edge contemporary art.
The High Line also
has temporary art installations that rotate regularly, and you can spot cool
street art murals nearby.
After all that, you'll likely be ready for a drink.
At Ten Bells, a
laid-back wine bar with a focus on biodynamic and sustainable wines, you can
get dollar oysters and split a $15 carafe of wine with a friend during happy
hour until 7 p.m.
New York has no shortage of dive bars where you can get
cheap drinks all the time.
The Ear Inn is a no-frills historic mariners' bar
where you can choose from 13 beers on tap for $7, plus fried dumplings (6 for
$8), chicken potpie ($13.50), and burgers ($11 to 16).
And though it's
shockingly common to find cocktails priced at $12 to $16 around town, at the
hip bar Mr.
Fong's in Chinatown, you can imbibe unfussy but creative
cocktails for $9 all night long.
Still hungry? Soak up the booze with a delicious, greasy slice at one of New
York's old school pizzerias.
There are family-owned spots all over the city
where you can grab a satisfyingly cheesy slice for a couple of bucks.
Sunday: Exploring the Parks This so-called concrete jungle actually has
more than 1,700 parks, playgrounds, and recreational facilities and, needless
to say, it doesn't cost a dime to visit them.
Beyond Central Park, local
favorites include Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village, Tompkins Square
Park in the East Village, Riverside Park on the Upper West Side, and Prospect
Park and Brooklyn Bridge Park in Brooklyn.
On weekends, the city's parks
become especially animated with street performers, locals walking their dogs,
and people canoeing on the lake, playing basketball, or shopping at the
Grabbing lunch at a food hall is a great way to taste dishes by some of the
city's best chefs at a fraction of the price you'd pay for a sit-down meal
at their restaurants.
Inside Gotham West Market, you'll find perennially
popular ramen by Ivan Orkin ($13), burgers by Michelin-starred chef Brad
Farmerie at Gotham Roadside ($8.04), and tapas by Seamus Mullen at El Colmado
($5 to $17).
Go to the new Urbanspace Vanderbilt behind Grand Central for
local favorites like Roberta's Pizza ($6 to $12 for small pizzas) and sweet
treats by Ovenly ($2.75 to $7).
Chelsea Market and Gansevoort Market provide
plenty of dining options, too.
In the Financial District, Brookfield Place has
French food hall Le District and Hudson Eats.
Since Sundays were made for day drinking, why not take a tour of one of the
city's breweries or distilleries? Brooklyn Brewery in Williamsburg offers
free tours on the weekends, and $5 brews in the tasting room.
Nearby, the New
York Distilling Company gives free tours and tastings of their excellent gins
and rye whiskeys from 2 p.m.
to 5 p.m.
on weekends.
—Laura Itzkowitz Want to know more about the above? Read the full scoop
Getty Images
Paris In a city where public parks are plentiful, a luminous
natural light is ever-present, and walking has become a pastime with its own
fancy name (see: the flaneur), it's possible to experience Paris with little
more than one's eyes and feet.
Of course, our taste buds would get the short
end of the stick if we didn't spend anything, so here's how to enjoy a
Parisian weekend on $25 a day.
Saturday: Arts & Culture in Charming Montmartre Begin by downloading
the free Flash Invaders app.
While it won't direct you to a Monet or point you
toward a Picasso, it's a fun game to play as you stroll the city by foot,
keeping an eye out for work by the famous French street artist known for
stealthily installing hundreds of quirky mosaics on buildings and structures
throughout the 20 arrondissements.
Snap 'em as you see them, and rack up
points along the way.
You'll definitely find a few in Montmartre, one of the oldest areas of the
city, with its winding cobblestone streets and few remaining
Educate yourself on the history of this cultural hub by paying a
visit to the oft-overlooked gem of a museum, the Musée de Montmartre
Inside the former home of artists like Renoir, you'll learn about other
painters such as Toulouse-Lautrec and the Moulin Rouge era.
It'll provide
perspective for your forthcoming stroll around the "butte" (literal
translation: mound), as it's called on account of its hilly landscape.
Afterwards, stop for lunch at the charming, vegetarian-friendly Soul
Kitchen, where a fixed daily menu includes a choice of a hot and healthy main
dish (lasagna, curry bowl, frittata, etc.) a salad and a dessert for $12.
Once you're feeling good and energized, get lost amid the streets behind
Sacré-Coeur, finding the Place du Tertre where modern-day artists have their
easels set up.
If you can stand the crowds, make your way to the church itself
and marvel at the city down below.
Eventually, find your way to the famous Rue
Lepic going downhill, stopping at the blue door in front of No.
54, where van
Gogh once lived with his brother, Theo.
Continue as the block winds to the
right until it drops you off in front of the Moulin Rouge itself.
Snap a few
pics and take a left on the boulevard toward the trendy area called South
Pigalle, once known for its seedy (and sexy) nightclubs.
Find the Rue des Martyrs, a street much adored by locals.
It features
various specialty food traiteurs and boutiques, where you'll spend your
remaining dollars on some quality cheese and a baguette for dinner back at
your room ($4).
If you've got change to spare, duck in for a buttery, crusty
croissant at famed patisserie Sebastian Gaudard ($3).
Sunday: Literary History and Monuments by the Seine Start the day on Rive
Gauche at Shakespeare & Company bookstore, a rickety old establishment at
the banks of the Seine originally opened by American expat Sylvia Beach in
The multilevel space is filled to the rafters with new hardcovers,
out-of-print tomes, and nooks and crannies that reveal quotes, signatures and
photos from eras long gone.
Following your literary exploration, head next
door for a nosh at its newly opened café, which features coffee from Paris
roaster Cafe Lomi, and savory and sweet treats from Bob's Bake Shop ($8).
Next, it's time to practice the art of patience by waiting in the seemingly
infinite line outside the city's most famous Gothic cathedral, the Notre Dame
de Paris, just across the river.
(It moves fast—plus, it's free.
climbing to the top requires a ticket.) After you've marveled at its
gargoyles and gotten a peek at what's believed to be Jesus' Crown of Thrones,
make your way onto Rive Droite, landing just in front of Hotel De Ville, the
city's official town hall.
Inspect its revived Renaissance facade, and see if
you can spot the sculpture of mathematician Jean le Rond d'Alembert by Auguste
Rodin among the dozens of other famed and stonefaced French academics.
From here, walk a few blocks north on Rue de Renard to a completely
different architectural masterpiece: the Centre Pompidou.
Completed in 1977,
the industrial complex is home to some of the world's most famous modern art,
including a massive, 25-foot-high mobile by sculptor Alexander Calder that
stands out front.
It's free to enter the library or take the tunnel-like
escalators up to the trés chic restaurant Le Georges—just for the view, of
Weather depending, this might be a good time to take out one of the city's
Velib rental bikes.
For only $2, you can ride as many times as you'd like (in
30 minute intervals) for 24 hours, hopping on and off and docking whenever you
see a station.
Start with a short distance and head west toward the Galeries
du Palais-Royal.
Dock your bike, and then roam the beautifully manicured
gardens of the former estate, home to many aristocrats.
By now, you should be ready for rest and a beverage.
Hop back on the bike
down Rue de Rivoli, passing the Louvre and the Jardin des Tuileries on your
Carefully ride your way around Place de Concorde to cross over the river
once more.
Find a docking station and head to Rosa Bonheur sur Seine, a hip
bar and snack spot on a renovated barge docked by Pont Alexandre III.
Grab a
table on the deck to watch the sunset while sipping a glass of wine ($4) and
munching on tapas like fried goat cheese, sardines, and artichoke dip,
—Sara Lieberman Want to know more about the above? Read the full scoop
© Andre Jenny /
Alamy Stock Photo Portland In a city that caters to artists,
students, and a steady supply of visitors, there's plenty to do in Portland
on a budget-year-round (though there's even more in summer, when free
outdoor festivals for music, art, and crafts abound).
Here's our plan for a
great weekend that sticks to $25 a day per person, without scrimping on tasty
food and fun experiences.
Friday: Free Museum Admission Take the TriMet MAX Light Rail from the
airport to your hotel (sorry, your room isn't included in the $25 a day) for
just $2.30.
If it's the first Friday of the month, you can gain free
admission to the Portland Children's Museum from 4 p.m.
to 8 p.m., and if
it's the fourth Friday of the month, stop by the Portland Art Museum for
gratis admission from 5 p.m.
to 8 p.m.
(note that admission is waived for
those 17 and younger at all times).
And don't forget that the historic trains at the Oregon Rail Heritage
Foundation are always free to view.
For dinner, find a food truck pod and
sample amazing international fare that typically costs less than $10 a person
for a massive meal.
One of the biggest, the Alder pod offers traditional fish
and chips at the Frying Scotsman, and several pan-Asian options.
Another, the
Tidbit Food Farm and Garden, feels like an expansive outdoor beer garden, and
is perfect for lounging.
Saturday: Market and Ride Start the day at the Portland Farmers Market on
the grassy campus of Portland State University, one of the largest and best
greenmarkets in the country, running every Saturday of the year.
Walk around
and listen to the live music, people-watch, and sample the local meats,
fruits, vegetables, cheese, and desserts.
Then for a delicious $6 brunch, stop
at the market's Pine State Biscuits stand for a bacon and egg or fried
chicken sandwich on a biscuit, or try the even larger pepper, onion, and
Italian sausage sandwich at the Salumeria di Carlo tent.
You can burn off those delicious sandwiches by hopping on a bike.
tours can be pricey, so instead rent a single-speed bike at Cycle Portland for
only $5 an hour, and ride along the Springwater Corridor, a paved cycling and
jogging path with great views of downtown.
For dinner, eat early to save big
bucks on great food and drinks—most restaurants around town have happy hour
until 6 p.m.
with specials on both.
One of the best deals is at upscale
Clarklewis, where happy hour runs from 4:30 p.m.
to 6:30 p.m.
on Saturdays,
and includes $5 for a martini or luxe macaroni 'n' cheese with fennel
sausage, roasted garlic, and parmesan.
Sunday: Ultimate Fun Day Work up an appetite hiking the scenic Pittock
Mansion in Forest Park.
Though it'll cost you to go into the historic home,
it's free to take in its lush gardens and panoramic views of the city (and
on a clear day, Mt.
If the weather isn't cooperating, hang out with a
good book and warm up in the original Stumptown Coffee Roasters shop on SE
Division and 45th, where a steaming cuppa can set you back less than $3.
Speaking of books, you can browse the aisles of Powell's Books, the
largest independent bookstore in the country.
When you get hungry again, hit
another happy hour.
Locals love the one at Clyde Common, inside the Ace Hotel,
which runs from 3 p.m.
to 6 p.m.
on weekends, offering $4 beer and $6
cocktails (like the Bittersweet Symphony, with Aperol, gin, Punt e Mes, and
lemon peel), plus hefty meal options for just $8 each (mussels, french fries,
and chorizo butter; kielbasa; a burger with bacon jam).
—Sarah Z.
Wexler Want to know more about the above? Read the full scoop
San Francisco
Travel Association/Scott Chernis San Francisco Ignore those
depressing headlines about how expensive San Francisco has become (both for
renters and travelers)—there's still plenty to do on a budget in this
constantly evolving city.
By sticking to one neighborhood each day, you'll
save on transportation costs and allow yourself more time to dive into the
city's nooks and crannies.
Here's how to do it all without shortchanging
your experience.
Friday: China Town You'll find some of San Francisco's most colorful
and affordable dive bars in China Town.
Li Po is the most famous of the bunch,
named after a great poet of the Tang Dynasty.
It opened in the
post-prohibition bar boom of the 1930s and hasn't changed much since (it has
the worn red leather booths and tattered Chinese lanterns to prove it).
oddball vibe sets the mood for their notorious lethal Chinese Mai Tai: dark
and light rum, Bacardi 151, Chinese liqueur and pineapple juice for $9, which
is pretty cheap considering it has the strength of four drinks in one.
Head around the corner to Z&Y, a Chinese restaurant frequented by every
spicy food fan from locals to President Obama.
Their atomic Szechuan-style
crispy chicken ($8.95) is a local favorite, and served in a traditional
Chinese restaurant setting (think groups at large round tables with a massive
Lazy Susan in the middle).
Brave souls can cap off the evening at Bow Bow Cocktail Lounge, the tiniest,
grittiest, and liveliest karaoke dive in the city, with an immortalized
bartender who goes by the name Mama Candy.
Saturday: Cruising the Embarcadero Rise early and book it down the Ferry
Plaza Farmers Market, open Saturdays year-round from 8 a.m.
to 2 p.m.
than 120 vendors crop up, selling anything from fresh-baked kouign-amanns to
heirloom dragon tongue beans.
Most Saturdays, CUESA hosts free seasonal
cooking demonstrations (with tastings) at their post in front of the entrance.
As a general rule of thumb, stick to the southern end of the Embarcadero
pedestrian promenade to avoid the row of overpriced tourist traps that
comprise the north end (Fisherman's Wharf; Pier 39).
Make a slight exception
to hit The Exploratorium a few steps south.
While general entrance is a pricey
$29 a pop, check their calendar for the occasional free day.
Otherwise, you
can check out their thought-provoking outdoor installations gratis.
Nearby, head to Waterbar, which has an oyster happy hour for $1.05 per
shuck, from 11:30 a.m.
to 5:30 p.m.
Make a pits top at the Instagram-worthy
Cupid's Span—a giant bow and arrow sculpture puncturing the Rincon Park
Continue down to Red's Java House, a historic waterfront dive where
you can score a hefty sourdough cheeseburger for $5.52.
Work it off with a
bike rental at neighboring Bike Hut $6 per hour ($3 per hour for kids'
Sunday: Culture in the Mission In the morning, fuel up with a cup of drip
coffee from one of The Mission's scene-y third-wave coffee houses, like
Ritual Coffee Roasters (from $4 per cup).
Nurse it from the succulent-clad
curbside parklet, the perfect perch to watch the Mission awaken. Do as the
locals and swing by Bi-Rite market for a bottle of bubbly under $12, then head
to Dolores Park.
Really, they should charge for seating here because the
people-watching is better than a movie.
Dolores is the confluence of the
city's archetypes—flannel-clad hipsters, Google Glass-eyed techies,
vendors pushing popsicle carts, shirtless bros in pastel polos tossing around
a game of ladder golf.
When you've had enough of the show, walk to La Taqueria, where you can
score one of the best tacos in the city starting at $2.10 (though you'll
probably want more than one).
The Mission is saturated in murals.
Spend the
afternoon strolling Balmy and Clarion Alley and the 24th street corridor until
the sun begins to set.
—Jenna Scatena Want to know more about the above? Read the full scoop

Courtesy Big Bus Tours
Shanghai The fantastic thing about Shanghai is that public transit
is cheap and convenient, and many of the main attractions are in the city
center, within easy walking distance of each other.
A $25 a day budget may not
sound like a lot, but you can have a fun, delicious time by living like a
local Saturday: Lay of the Land Kick the day off with a jianbing, a
savory breakfast crepe (which costs about $0.50).
Found street-side throughout
town, it's made from corn, soya bean and wheat, covered with scrambled egg,
cilantro, green onion, and pickled mustard tubers, before sweet soya bean
paste and a deep fried wonton skin is added.
Served in a plastic bag, this is
an excellent snack to warm cold hands while on the move.
Flag down an open-top, double-decker from Big Bus Tours for 24 hours of
unlimited travel on their red, blue, and green routes ($15).
Tickets can be
bought at their bus stops, which run from 9 a.m.
until 6 p.m.
in the winter,
or 8 p.m.
in the summer.
Begin at Nanjing Road, and take the red route to get a feel for the
It's possible to hop off at popular People's Park, the shopping mecca of
Nanjing East Road and the historic Bund, to get lost in the rabble of local
Shanghainese enjoying their weekend.
Walking along Shanghai's food-lined streets certainly whets the
Get off the bus at Yu Garden to enjoy authentic Shanghai
xiaolongbao, (soup dumplings; $2).
If it's the right season (October to
December), upgrade to the hairy crab variety—these are not to be missed.
After lunch, switch to the green route, the temple tour, to visit the
Jing'an and Jade Buddha temples (admiring them from the outside is free; but
entry costs $8 and $3, respectively).
Both Buddhist places of worship give
guests an alternative view to the modern, materialistic shopping centers in
the city.
Before the sun begins to set, switch to the final blue route, the Pudong
tour, to cross the Huangpu River and take in 360 degree views of the iconic
Lujiazui skyscrapers.
Get off the bus at the Oriental Pearl TV Tower, and do a
lap of the elevated pedestrian ring road at the center of the financial
End the bus tour back at the Bund, and wait for the city's iconic buildings
to light up on both sides of the waterfront as the sun sets on the city.
a slow stroll back up Nanjing East Road toward People's Square.
Join the large
gathering of synchronized, dancing grannies hitting every note that blares out
from their stereo system in the pedestrianized zone (free).
For dinner, find a busy shaokao (barbeque) stand on one of the side
Stick to steamed bread and vegetables to ease the stomach into the
local lifestyle, and enjoy the peppery and cumin spices shaken over the
chargrilled treats ($2).
End the evening by grabbing a Tsingtao beer from a
local convenience store.
Enjoy this roadie because hey, this is China after
all, and it's okay here ($0.50).
Sunday: Viewing the Sites After calculating the previous day's
expenditure, last night's beer may seem a little excessive.
Drown these
worries in soya milk and a breakfast of youtiao (deep-fried breadstick),
easily found around town—the breakfast of champions ($0.50).
Ride the metro to Qibao, an ancient water town on the outskirts of the city
Pose for photographs against a backdrop of Song, Ming, and Qing
Dynasty architecture.
If you get hungry, sample traditional snacks such as
mooncakes and stinky tofu—it tastes better than it smells ($1.50).
Take the metro back to People's Square and find the marriage market at the
center of People's Park.
Browse photos of the city's fine, young, single men
and women, which are flaunted by worried parents in a desperate attempt to
facilitate a grandchild.
Visit the English Corner nearby, and watch as
attendees clamor to practice their English skills on foreign visitors.
amble toward the Shanghai Museum in People's Square for free entry and to view
their collection of more than 140,000 precious Chinese relics.
As the museum closes its doors, head for any one of the city's many
hole-in-the-wall Xinjiang restaurants for fresh, hand-pulled noodles
Watch as a sinewy chef magically works the dough into thin, uniformed
noodles, before quickly boiling them in a pan and adding them to a rich soup
Then enjoy.
—Nyima Pratten Want to know more about the above? Read the full scoop
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Vancouver Vancouver can be an expensive city, but there are ways to
keep daily expenses low.
The big advantage for Americans is the favorable
exchange rate.
One Canadian dollar equals $0.75, which makes it seem like you
get a 25 percent discount on anything you buy.
Here's our plan for spending a
weekend there without breaking the bank.
Saturday: Whirlwind Overview Fuel up for your day at Tim Hortons, the
ubiquitous Canadian fast-food cafe.
The coffee is strong ($1.47 for a large)
and the breakfast options substantial, such as the Bagel B.E.L.T.
with bacon,
egg, lettuce, tomato, and cheese ($2.86).
Once you've got your energy going,
the Stanley Park Seawall is a must for its incredible views of the city's
natural beauty, and access is free.
You can walk, run, or bike the roughly 5.5
mile paved trail, which follows the water and offers vistas of the mountains,
trees, and dramatic rock formations.
Come lunchtime, Meat & Bread in Gastown is a foodie sandwich shop with
an enthusiastic following.
You can sit in the industrial-chic dining space and
enjoy a porchetta sandwich ($7) at the communal table or bar
Afterwards, head to Chinatown: The first big wave of Chinese
immigrants into Vancouver settled into Shanghai and Canton Alleys between 1890
and 1920.
Today, the Chinese make up a high percentage of the city's
You can explore the cradle of this ethnic group in Chinatown and
browse through exotic markets and stores.
Asian cuisines are big in Vancouver, so for dinner, grab a seat at Marutama
Ra-Men, which specalizes in the chicken broth-based noodle soup. This is a
popular spot in the West End, so get there early to avoid the line out the
door, and try the original Marutama Ra-Men for $7.
There's still time to sight-see in the evening. H.R.
MacMillan Space Centre
charges an entrance fee, but you can visit the Observatory next door for free
(or choose to give a donation) from 8 p.m.
to 12 a.m.
on Saturdays.
You can
look at the stars up close via a half-meter Cassegrain telescope and ask
questions of the knowledgeable staff.
Sunday: The Great Outdoors Ease into the day at JJ Bean, a local,
family-owned coffee roasting company with several popular café locations
around Vancouver.
You can get a large coffee for $2 and a breakfast chorizo
wrap for $5.50.
To save on lunch, grab a ready-to-eat meal for less than $8 at
a Safeway downtown—they offer a wide variety of options, from fresh-fish
sushi to fried chicken—then make your way to Lynn Canyon, a free park about
a half-hour drive, or an hour bus ride, from downtown.
You can marvel at
rushing water below while standing on the suspension bridge and hike through
trails along pine-scented forest and a tranquil lake, then settle down for
lunch in the park.
Later in the day, the Granville Island Public Market is worth a stroll for
culinary inspiration.
There are beautiful local, artisanal, and handcrafted
items on display, such as cured meats, specialty cheeses, and baked
Make your way to Canada Place, a landmark in Coal Harbour with lovely
panoramic views of the water and mountains.
You can watch the boats, rowers,
and sea planes go by.
In the evening, get a taste of authentic Cantonese cuisine at Hon's Wun-Tun
House, a cafeteria-style eatery on busy Robson Street.
You can order a dish of
12 pork, beef, chicken, or vegetable potstickers that are fried, steamed, or
in soup for $5.
—Aileen Torres-Bennett Want to know more about the above? Read the full
scoop here.
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