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Saving Places:
Top 5 Value Destinations

Saving Places:
Top 5 Value Destinations


The dipping dollar is no reason to abstain from a fabulous vacation. You may even discover a great new destination full of bang for your buck!

There's no need to cancel the vacation because the dollar is dipping and diving. We found a treasure trove of appealingly priced properties around the country, perfect for value vacations, from off-season opportunities with views of the Vegas strip or Phoenix's dusty red buttes to hipster havens in funky Portland, Oregon, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and trashy chic rooms across from Graceland. Read on for details and for fun activities that will fit any budget.

1. Greater Phoenix Saving places

In vibrant Tempe, The Buttes, (2000 Westcourt Way, Tempe; 602-225-9000; $120+) with its poolside waterfalls and hot tubs carved right out of the mountainside, offers enticing off-season prices. In Phoenix, the gay-owned and operated Clarendon (401 W. Clarendon Ave, Phoenix; 602-252-7363; $99+) is a contemporary haven of retro cool within walking distance of downtown and girl bars.

Money can't buy it

Join the locals hiking and biking among giant saguaro cactus in Papago Park, trekking 16,000-acre South Mountain Park, and clambering the distinctive spine of Camelback Mountain. Other free activities include art walks in Phoenix (first Fridays) and Old Town Scottsdale (Thursdays).

2. Portland Saving places

The Rose City presents some tough choices when it comes to picking hip economical digs. It's home to homo-adored retro motel The Jupiter (800 E. Burnside St; 503/230-9200; $59+), home to many a queer night, and the Ace (1022 S.W. Stark St; 503-228-2277; $95+). Within swinging distance of Stark Street's gay bars and clubs and a short sashay from the delights of downtown, guestrooms have features such as turntables, clawfoot tubs, and vintage furnishings.

Money can't buy it

Check out Portland's myriad happy hours on Barfly and get the most food and drink for your money. Grab $3 beer and pizza at a second-run movie at the ornate Moorish-style Bagdad Theatre (3702 S.E. Hawthorne Blvd; 503-236-9234) on the lesbian-loved Hawthorne Boulevard. Use the quarters you saved at "retrocade" Ground Kontrol (511 N.W. Couch St; 503-796-9364), a Pearl District haven of retro video games.

3. Las Vegas Saving places

You might not think of Vegas as a great place for a budget vacation, but it can be. The same hotel room can tumble from $500 to $50 a night, depending on what's on in town. Most hotels offer rate comparison calendars online. Try gorgeous Paris Las Vegas (3655 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; 877-796-2096; $90+), or the faded '50s glam of the Sahara (2535 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; 702-737-2654 or 866-382-8884; $43+), a great budget option with rooms and suites in a Moroccan motif.

Money can't buy it

Many hotels will give you coupon books when you check in. Take a glance for two-for-one show and dinner tickets, free drinks tokens, and other budget-friendly enticements. Another way to save funds for another round (of drinks or cards) is to graze at Vegas' legendary buffets. The cheaper they are, the trashier quality they are, but the buffets will keep you going as you trot between sights and lights. Walk the Strip to catch free shows such as the Bellagio fountains and the Mirage volcano. Downtown Vegas's Fremont Street offers a light show on the hour.

4. Milwaukee Saving places

Book a room at the historic, renovated Ambassador Hotel (2308 W. Wisconsin Ave; 414-345-5000; $119+), an Art Deco gem downtown with Aveda products, complimentary parking, and free wireless and high speed Internet.

Money can't buy it

Milwaukee CVB lists free activities in the city, including events and festivals. Tours of the famed Miller Brewery [linkt to:] make a good rain day option. If the sun's out, tackle the Lakefront Trail on foot or by bike.

5. Memphis Saving places

You'll find Elvis Presley's Heartbreak Hotel and its heart-shaped pool (3677 Elvis Presley Blvd, 901-332-1000; $110+) at the end of Lonely Street and across the boulevard from Graceland.

Money can't buy it

Stroll the birthplace of the blues, Beale Street, shop for fun, tacky souvenirs in Schwab's General Store (163 Beale St), pop into the W.C. Handy Museum (352 Beale St; 901-522-1556; admission $2), and trot round to the famed Peabody Hotel for the 11 a.m. or 5 p.m. March of the Ducks through the grand lobby (149 Union St; 901-529-4000).

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

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