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Saturday, May 27, 2017

Where Your Memorial Weekend Can Take You

This long weekend is already predicted to be the most crowded on the road in the last 12 years. An estimated 39 million travelers will be hitting the highways to get to their destinations this year. Gas prices aren't any cheaper than the last few years, but the general good economy is getting people out of the house, so be prepared. That said there will also be a lot of people who are facing break-downs and flat tires, so make sure you've gotten your car checked out and you have roadside assistance on-hand for your trip.


While a lot of people use the long weekend to get away and bond with family, there are some people that are hoping to travel child-free, and not just people like me who don't have children. Short trips can be a good way to reconnect with your partner and take a break from being a parent and get you excited for taking that longer vacation with your child(ren) and discovering new, fun things with them.

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A lot of us already have big plans for vacations later in the year, so splashing out a bunch of cash for a long weekend isn't always in our budget. Luckily, it looks like there will be a lot of deals this year, which can be found on Priceline. There are also a lot of ways to skip the flights and take an awesome road trip, but here are 12 destinations that are really budget-friendly, no matter how you choose to get there:

Boston

Learn about the country's history, with fantastic shopping and seafood dining options. Last-minute deals can take 45% off regular rates, allowing you to visit for much less than other times of the year. If you're looking for things to do, check out this post.

Cancun (Mexico)

Not only do you get the benefit of cheap food and proximity to the ocean, Cancun hotel rates are halved this time of year, and there are so many things to do outside of laying on the beach and getting sunburned. (Seriously, apply and reapply or you'll never want to go back to Mexico.)

Catalina Island

When I was younger, I took several trips to Catalina Island off the coast of California. It's a great place to get a small town feel and oceanside accommodations. Hotel rates fall over 50% between May to October, when you can expect to pay under $100 per night, including the ferry ride to the island from Long Beach.


Hawaii

Airfare sales can be found to Hawaii right now and Memorial weekend kicks off summer sale rates for hotels, which can be found as low as $79 per night. Need tips on what to do or where to go? I've got tips for visiting Molokai, Maui or Honolulu.

Las Vegas

As long as you don't gamble away your savings in the casinos, you can totally make a trip to Sin City cheap. Rates at the MGM Grand can run you under $100 per night, and you can spend less at a less-luxurious hotel. Not sure how to keep your money in your pockets? Here are free and cheap ideas and what you can do if you have kids in tow.


New Orleans

The Big Easy has just gotten over the crowds from Mardi Gras and Spring Break. That means it's clamoring a bit for tourists. You can book a hotel for around $129 per night or fin an Airbnb deal for similar (or less). Worried you won't be able to find anything to do besides drink? You'll be treated to parades and here are some other inspiring ideas for how to spend your time there.

New York City

While you don't normally think of The Big Apple as a budget getaway, prices drop for Memorial weekend. It won't be super cheap, but $159 per night for a 3-star hotel is a deal that won't totally break the bank.

Orlando

Theme parks are certainly going to be busy over the holiday weekend, but there are tons of things to do in Orlando that aren't Disney World, plus room rates can run you just $100 per night. If you want ideas for what to do in the area, check out my Orlando Pinterest page.


Phoenix (and Scottsdale)

Arizona isn't at the height of its hot temps in May, making it an ideal vacation destination. Get amazing hotel rates or spend a little extra for a luxury resort that may be offering up to 40% off. There are a lot of cool things to see and do there, and tons of delicious Mexican food, too.

Riviera Maya (Mexico)

It's heating up in Mexico, and maybe you're ready to get a little sun worshipping into your life. Between May and the end of October, you'll face smaller crowds and room rates. Look to spend an average of $80 per night and pack your sunscreen, bathing suit and sunglasses.

San Francisco

This may seem like a really expensive destination, but if you look for hotels in the Union Square area, you can find rates as low as $112. Find awesome, and affordable, things to do there using this 48 hours post.


Washington, DC

See our nation's capital for less. Once the cherry blossoms fall in April, tourism drops off, so lodging prices drop as well. You can find great deals in May for as low as $69 per night. There are so many free things to do in the city, that you could easily only pay for food each day. Need some ideas? Check out my post from our last trip.

Where will you be spending Memorial Day? I'll be staying home this year and probably firing up the BBQ.

My Portland Coffee Tour - Part 3

My coffee tour continues this month. We've had some really nice days at the beginning of the month, making it nice coffee weather, because I could sit outside if I wanted, and walking to one shop from another is fun and not miserable. I love that sort of weather. Actual Spring weather where it's sunny and warm enough to not wear a coat, but not so warm that you're sweating from walking three blocks.


This month I found some winners that were based on Instagram, Swarm friend suggestions and good old fashioned map Googling. I was pretty lucky with my visits too. You'd think that'd be easy with a coffee loving city like Portland, but not every coffee shop is created equal, which I have found out fairly quickly with this blog series. Anyway, let's get to the brews:

Peaks Coffee PDX

It's amazing what sort of connections you can make on Instagram. I found Peaks by following other coffee shops in the city. It's pretty much brand new and took over a tiny space in SE. They sucked me in with their minimalist design and their delicious coffee pics, including their new Mt. Tabor, which I decided I needed to try when I went in.

There were a couple really nice days in Portland, so everyone was getting excited about iced coffee, but it was back to dreary when I visited, so I ordered the Mt. Tabor hot and then a Mt. Hood bagel sandwich. The Mt. Tabor is a latte made with fresh mint. The hot version isn't that minty, though my breath was extra fresh for an hour after. It also has the added challenge of having floating leaves in the cup, which would probably easier to drink if it were cold and you had a straw. It was good though. It had a pretty good flavor that wasn't too bitter or too sweet, but I'd probably try something else next time.



The sandwich was awesome though. The Mt. Hood is a sandwich with cream cheese and thinly sliced cucumbers and tomatoes. I got salt and pepper on it and it was one of the most delicious bagels I've ever had and it would be on the top of my list if I returned.



Peaks is small and only has bar stools for seating, so you're not going to go there and work on your novel or chat with your friends for an hour. You're going to go, chat with the barista while they make your drink and then sip it while watching people walk along the street, or you take your drink with you and become one of those people. Their prices are pretty consistent with the other coffee places in town, with a latte costing $4.75 and a bagel sandwich just $4. I'd say less than $9 for breakfast is a pretty decent deal.


Deadstock Coffee

This tiny little coffee joint is like walking into a little bit of an old school hip hop video. They have sneakers and sports memorabilia and a fun piece of art that features a boom box. They have a few stools to sit at, but when I was there they were full, including someone doing homework on a laptop, so they obviously are pretty social in their small space. You won't find food here, or a menu, but they claim they'll make any coffee you want, or you can ask for their specials. They didn't have any when I visited, but I asked them to just make me something cold and the barista suggested the Zero Chill (also seconded and applauded by a customer, or possibly another worker on break). 



It is a cold brew coffee mixed with ice tea. Those are my two favorite things to drink! He was nice enough to pour it into an espresso cup first so I could taste it before I committed to a full size, but I was in. It only cost $4, which I thought was a decent deal, considering how good and refreshing it was. If homeless people bother you, maybe just park across the street in the paid lot instead of finding street parking. I'm used to it and no one bothered me, even after I took my drink to go and drank it on my way to my next coffee adventure.


Courier Coffee Roasters

This little European style cafe is in a fun shaped building that's also home to several other eateries, including Portland landmark Sizzle Pie. They don't really serve food here either, but they have places to sit and their coffees are affordable. I asked for their most popular drink and they told me it was probably their lattes and also that the espresso was "especially good" that day, so I ordered that and a canelĂ© (what I'm told is a baked custard pastry). The two cost just $6 - $4 for my latte and $2 for my pastry. 



The coffee had a lovely rich flavor with a little bit of sweetness that eliminated the need for any sugar at all, plus it was pretty to look at! The pastry was amazing. I'd never had a canelĂ© before and I look forward to having another one. It was crispy on the outside and like a super moist cake on the inside. I loved it. I'll definitely be back next time I'm downtown, and maybe I'll head around the corner to one of the three places to eat as well. I was very impressed, and I'd have to say this is in a much more approachable part of Portland, right across the street from the North Park Blocks and a few blocks from Downtown proper with a ton of food cart pods nearby.

Heart

This was another shop that was my second visit of the morning. If you didn't know where Heart was, you'd probably not even notice it. It blends in with the buildings on the block and their monochromatic color scheme. The sign is small, but once you get there, you wonder how you missed it.


I found the prices of this minimalist coffee place a bit high. The prices seemed a $1 more for coffees and $1.50+ more for pastries. I had already had one coffee when I visited, so I opted for a small Americano and a blackberry blueberry scone. With a dash of sugar, the coffee was perfect. They use a mix of beans to get a lovely bold roast that is very satisfying. My scone had a nice crisp on the outside and was fluffy on the inside with that burst of fresh fruit. The two cost me a total of $7.50 ($3.50 for an 8oz $4 for my scone). 


For the price, you get the added convenience of a Downtown location, but unless you're visiting on a weekday morning, you probably are going to end up paying for parking as well. Although, if you're already downtown, it's easy to walk to and close to the mall, Target, Powell's Books, and Pioneer Square. There is plenty of inside and outside seating and the space is airy and bright. It's a friendly place to pop into for a to-go cup or to sit and relax for a bit. Don't expect any substantial food though, as I think I picked the heaviest thing on offer.    

There you have it. Four coffee shops that you may not have heard of and may be interested in grabbing a cuppa on your next visit to Portland. 

What's your favorite coffee shop from home or your travels?
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