Most travelers work hard to save money on airfare and lodging, but the cost of activities can really add to your vacation budget. Keep those costs down by looking for free activities for your trip.
Play your cards right: Enjoy free admission to hundreds of museums across the United States if you are a Bank of America debit or credit cardholder. The offer is valid at participating museums on the first full weekend of the month. A few participating museums include the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, the de Young Museum in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Visit museums.bankofamerica.com for details.
Click on some websites: A great way to find free activities and more is to check out convention and visitors bureau websites. For example, the Houston CVB has a long list of free activities from art museums to outdoor concerts at visithoustontexas.com; click on Special Offers. The bureaus often have calendars that can be a great way to find out about free or low-cost events. You can learn about events like the free Atlanta Jazz Festival, which is held every Memorial Day Weekend.
Read the local newspaper: Another place to find out about activities and events is by looking at newspapers for your destination. For example, if you are heading to Tampa , you can find events, family fun activities and news about area attractions on the Tampa Bay Times website at tampabay.com/things-to-do.
National parks: Every year the national parks offer free entrance on select dates at over 100 parks that normally charge a fee. For 2012, you can get free entrance April 21-29, June 9, Sept. 29 and Nov. 10-12. There are also hundreds of parks that don’t charge an entrance fee that can be a nice vacation option. Visit nps.gov/findapark/feefreeparks.htm.
Find amiable amenities: Look for free amenities when you book your hotel stay. Some hotels offer free breakfast, which can save you $15-$20 per day, and some offer free Wi-Fi , which can save you $15 per day. Also, in Nevada and the Caribbean we are seeing a lot of hotels charge an additional “resort fee,” so be sure to read the fine print before booking your stay.
Get your coupons: Don’t forget discount coupons from Groupon and similar websites and also Entertainment Books. If you are going to Orlando, Chicago, San Francisco and many other destinations, you can save 50 percent off attractions and dining with these kinds of offers. You can order Entertainment Books online, or pick them up locally.
On another note: If you have a Visa card and you act fast, you can save 20 percent off your next Virgin America flight. Customers can sign up to receive a coupon for 20 percent off the base fare for a Virgin America flight. Tickets must be purchased by Feb. 29, for travel now through Feb. 29 or April 15 through June 15. Blackout dates and other restrictions apply.
With many schools in Texas letting out at the end of May, you could take an early summer vacation with this offer. Virgin America currently offers nonstop flights from Dallas to Los Angeles and San Francisco and one-stop service to Seattle, Palm Springs , Las Vegas and San Diego. While you have until Feb. 29 to purchase tickets, we are not sure how long this coupon will be available, but there is also an NFL sweepstakes associated with this offer that ends today. Press time airfares were as low as $180 from Dallas to Los Angeles and San Francisco, including all taxes and fees.
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