How would you feel if we told you that, by just setting aside the cost of one cheeseburger every time you dined out, you could finance a fab vacation in pretty much no time at all? CheapAir.com has sourced some delectable, wallet-friendly weekend getaways with a focus on good food. We’ve put together five great mini vacations** that promise to keep an eye on your bottom line while offering some fascinating eats along the way.
Still skeptical? About half of all Americans eat out twice a week for lunch, with fast food being the typical meal of choice. We’ve taken a classic of American cuisine — the cheeseburger* — to show you exactly how many cheeseburger meals these trips will cost. Do the math and you’ll realize that a weekend away this spring is not only doable, but downright easy. Just bank the cost of a cheeseburger each time you partake of a workday lunch out and you’ll be ready for your next great adventure before you know it!
Salt Lake City, UT — 44 burgers ($150/pp)
What’s there for a foodie to do in Salt Lake City? While the city is best known for its proximity to some of the best skiing in the States, there’s been an influx of brew culture in recent years that’s giving some of the coffee old guard destinations a run for their beans. There’s been a scene for coffee aficionados in the city for decades, but the farm-to-table movement has really given SLC’s offerings a shot in the arm. Try NoBrow Coffee Werks or the Charming Beard for the best in light, sustainably roasted brews. Pairing that ski weekend with some après ski coffee? Sounds like heaven.
Tucson, AZ — 55 burgers ($187/pp)
Most folks think of Tucson as a dusty little college town rather than a culinary destination, but the chef/owners who’ve been transforming the city would beg to differ. There are quite a few heavy hitters who’ve set up shop in the last couple of years, not least of whom is legendary pizza guru Chris Bianco. Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix is often at the top of Best Pizza lists in the country, and late last year, Bianco opened his Tucson outpost in the funky Congress section of town. There are more authentic Mexican restaurants than you can shake a stick at — try Café Poca Cosa for an upscale riff on the classics or go the purist route and dine at the original El Charro Café, in business since 1922. It’s wise to expect a wait at the Cup Café in the Hotel Congress. The breakfast there is one of the best in town, and the build-your-own-Bloody Mary option is a genius accompaniment to a weekend lie-in.
Vancouver, Canada — 60 burgers ($204/pp)
Vancouver’s food scene is multifaceted — a United Nations of options at every price point and style — from the humble food truck to the most upscale of dining establishments. Indulge us a bit while we shine a light on one weird and wonderful ingredient not to be missed while you’re in Vancouver: the gooseneck barnacle. This oddball cross between a lobster and a clam is harvested in very few locales around the world —the coast of Vancouver Island being one of those places. You might find yourself on a bit of a scavenger hunt around town, but why not? Some of Vancouver’s best restaurants have them on the menu from time to time. Try the Farmer’s Apprentice or the Secret Location ‘Concept’ Store Tasting Room, where you can sample a 10- or five-course tasting menu in an adventurous and whimsical setting. Perhaps the elusive gooseneck barnacle will make an appearance. Or maybe not. Either way, you’re in for a showstopper of a dining experience.
Vail, Colorado — 10 burgers ($100/pp via Denver)
Let’s face it — you can’t talk about the Vail food world without mentioning the drinking scene. After all, this is a ski town filled with ski bums from all walks of life who work up an appetite on the daily. It’s the kind of place where every establishment feels welcoming and warm, so you’ll find plenty of places to enjoy a full-bodied microbrew after a long day on the slopes. Some of the best in town can be found at the South Park Brewing Company in Fairplay. We like the Poblano Pepper Amber, which has it’s a seasonal kick. And then, after a night out at one of Vail’s many drinking establishments, plan for breakfast at the Westside Café. They boast a 10 item menu of “the world’s best benes” alongside the Dirty Elvis French Toast — a woozy concoction that includes bananas, chocolate, bacon, peanut butter and honey! Standard breakfast fare is on offer as well, for those less adventurous/scandalous souls in your party.
Las Vegas, NV — 30 cheeseburgers ($102/pp)
Vegas has really come up in the culinary world. It even boasts a Michelin-starred restaurant (Robuchon at the MGM Grand). Jöel Robuchon’s namesake may be the best restaurant in the country, and arguably the world. To our mind, however, the best thing Sin City has to offer the dining public is the sensory overload of options. It’s like everything else in Vegas: You’re never more than a few steps from dining like a high roller, crashing with budget eats, and everything in between. For a fanciful twist on the Vegas buffet, check out the Wicked Spoon at the Cosmopolitan. Dinner for two at Robuchon will set you back in the ballpark of a cool thousand, but if you can spare the cash, it’s a bucket list dining destination par excellence. As far as cheap eats go, every cocktail waitress will have a good recommendation. The happy hour menu at Emeril’s New Orleans’ Fish House in the MGM Grand is an all-time favorite where you can throw back oysters for just $1.85 each.
This is just a short list of destinations to whet your whistle. A few simple tweaks to your dining out routine will open up possibilities for a weekend trip this year. Happy travels!
*Average price of an In-N-Out Double Double Cheeseburger in Los Angeles in 2015 ($3.40)
**All fares calculated using gateways from Los Angeles (LAX, BUR, ONT) for travel dates in April 2015. Other gateways/metro areas will return different and/or higher prices.