Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Weekend Vacations on a College Student's Budget

Josh Eversole, Marketing Intern

Weekend Vacations on a College Student’s Budget

            As college students, we are bombarded with class work, projects and deadlines all year. Sure, winter and spring break are great, but the best break of all is when May rolls around and we have three months to decompress and relax. Everybody loves a summer vacation, but on a limited budget, it can be hard to plan a getaway without breaking the bank. Here we have compiled a list of various destinations that can be enjoyed on a college budget. All of the estimated calculations are based on entertainment, travel and lodging for four people.

Outdoors: Mammoth Cave National Park in Mammoth Cave, Kentucky.

Mammoth Cave National Park is home to the largest known system of caves in the entire world, and it is right in our backyard. Located just two hours outside of Lexington, Mammoth Cave is a short drive and perfect for the outdoor enthusiast. Mammoth Cave can be enjoyed at an extremely low cost to the visitor. With basic cave tours ranging from $5-$15 per guest, you can enjoy a multitude of different locations within the cave. Depending on how much you want to explore, more in-depth tours still cost under $50. Camping is equally affordable with campground rentals starting at $17 per night. A bonus for University of Kentucky students is that you can rent tents, sleeping bags and cooking supplies from the Johnson Center for free!

Final Estimated Cost: $70-$100 per person for two nights
Final Estimated Cost: $175-$225 per person for five nights.

Nightlife: Nashville, Tennessee.

Nashville, Tennessee is often referred to as “Music City,” and it has the history and nightlife to back it up. Nashville is roughly a three-hour drive from Lexington, making it a very easy trip. One of the most recognizable landmarks in the city is the Grand Ole Opry. Home to some of the greatest country music acts to ever perform and the annual CMA Awards, the Grand Ole Opry has scheduled concerts nearly every night and gives both daytime and post-concert tours. These tours can range between $18 and $30 for a backstage view of this famous concert hall. Nearby Ryman Auditorium also offers similar tours with a similar price range and has a comparably great history.

After your tour of one of the great concert halls, enjoy the honky-tonks and dive bars of downtown Nashville. Downtown Nashville offers a variety of different clubs to cater to any particular visitor; the only pre-requisite is that you enjoy live music and that you enjoy it loud. Famous spots like the Wildhorse Saloon or Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge offer a great and unique experience for the first time visitor of Nashville. The next morning, don’t forget to stop by the Pancake Pantry to enjoy some world-famous breakfast. Hotels in Nashville can be booked for around $100.00 per night. Split between a few friends, a trip to Nashville can definitely be done on a college budget.

Final Estimated Cost: $250-$300 per person for two nights.
Final Estimated Cost: $500-$625 per person for five nights.

Sports Fans: Cincinnati, Ohio

Cincinnati, Ohio is another destination that is only a short one and a half hour drive from Lexington. Home to the oldest professional baseball team, Cincinnati has a lot to offer to a sports fan. Cincinnati Reds tickets can be purchased in a wide range of prices that will easily fit within your budget, starting at $5. Some of the tickets even include a concession stand credit at the stadium, which helps you get more bang for your buck. Before you head into the game, you can enjoy a trip inside the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame for $10 and will be able to view exhibits that include the Joe Morgan Exhibit along with a wealth of baseball history. Post-game, you can head across the street from Great American Ball Park to the Holy Grail Tavern and Grille for a free post-game show by the 700WLW radio station, which hosts former and current Bengals and Reds players as their guests to discuss the events of the night. Hotels can be pricey in downtown Cincinnati, and I suggest staying across the Ohio River in northern Kentucky. It is a short walk across the bridge to Cincinnati and northern Kentucky has its own unique attractions and nightlife that include Newport on the Levee and MainStrasse Village. You can stay in a hotel on the riverfront for around $75 per night.

Final Estimated Cost: $200-$250 per person for two nights.
Final Estimated Cost: $450-$550 per person for five nights.

Beach: Charleston, South Carolina.

Though Charleston is the furthest destination from Lexington, with a drive clocking in around eight hours, it is one of the nearest beach towns and one of the best in the country. Charleston offers a wide variety of places for any history buff to check out, along with five nationally ranked beaches. Though the cost of travel may be high, the best part about enjoying the beach is that it is completely free! Some other notable things to check out in Charleston are the Charleston Waterfront Park, College of Charleston and Charleston Pirate Tours. Walking around and exploring are free, but tickets for most tours average around $20. Tours range from the usual, history-based experience to ghost tours. Lodging in Charleston is very affordable at around $70.00 per night. If your budget allows for a longer trip, a drive to Charleston to enjoy the beach is a great option.

Final Estimated Cost: $300-$400 per person for two nights.
Final Estimated Cost: $600-$750 per person for five nights.

There are great websites like Hotwire and Trip Advisor to help you find even better deals on hotels and assist you in researching and planning events in whatever city you are visiting. Using websites like these and the guide above, you and your friends can enjoy a great weekend vacation this summer without breaking the bank.

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