How to Make an Affordable Getaway for Valentine’s Day
These Valentine’s Day adventures will get you away from the routine.
Giant teddy bears, chocolate, those chalky candy hearts with words magically stamped on them—Valentine’s Day is synonymous with these gifts. Every year, in mid-February, couples across the continent do their best to show their love with outpourings of Hallmark-style gifts, typically accompanied by a lavish dinner. While there’s nothing wrong with a little traditional gift giving, thinking outside of the box can get you away from the luxury restaurant crowds and save you a few bucks in the process. And—no matter what your budget—there’s an affordable way to get away and have an adventure for Valentine’s Day.
Less Than $200: Go Camping at a State Park or National Forest
Just because you’re on a tight budget doesn’t mean you have to sit at home with your sweetheart. While there’s nothing wrong with a night in, it’s easy to find low-cost adventure right outside of your back door. The United States has over 10,000 state parks—the low-cost and local alternative to the nation’s national parks. And while federal parks like Yosemite and the Grand Canyon are bucket list destinations, some of America’s state parks are home to incredible sights that can rival the National Park System’s best.
Entry fees to most state parks average about $10, meaning you’ll have some scratch left over for gas money and a cooler full of camping goodies. Afraid of a little cold? We’ve got 10 great reasons to go camping in the winter that could change your mind.
Looking for a few of the best views? Check out Palouse Falls State Park in Washington, Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park in California, Humboldt Redwoods State Park in California, Bahia Honda State Park in Florida, Petit Jean State Park in Arkansas and Hocking Hills State Park in Ohio.
If you’re in an area with national forests, you can even forgo the $10 state parks fee and camp for free. Some of the top spots? Cherokee National Forest in Tennessee, Bighorn National Forest in Wyoming and Sierra National Forest in California.
$200-$500: Nostalgic Date Night
You don’t have to go off the grid to get away from your routine on Valentine’s Day. Thanks to a new ride sharing service called Drive Share, you can make an escape in your own hometown in a vintage auto.
Prices vary, but depending on your hometown and choice of ride, you might find a steal. Eccentric rides are available, like a 1975 Citroen H Van in Fort Lauderdale. But so too are some true American classics. A 1966 Ford Mustang can be grabbed for $200/day in Atlanta, while a 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air will run you about $200/day in Miami.
Feeling new age? In Los Angeles, you can rent a fully functional 1989 Knight Industries KITT and make like David Hasselhoff up the Pacific Coast Highway for $174/day.
These rides pair great with an affordable, vintage diner and a drive-in movie theater.
$500-$1,500: Airbnb Vacation
A short drive to a neighboring city with a sweet Airbnb is a perfect getaway for those hoping to spend a little less. Tiny houses and camper vans, and even a few tree houses are usually available for less than $100/night for those in a pinch. If you have a little more wiggle room, a world of cabins, houses and flats awaits.
But, before hopping in the car, scope out airline deals. If driving to a nearby city is good, flying to one on another coast is better. And, thanks to a swarm of daily flights, tickets to destinations like Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Miami and New York are often available for affordable prices. Check out Google Flights and websites like The Points Guy and Dohop to see what domestic flights are in your ballpark, and make sure your browser is in incognito mode to get the best deals.
$1,500-$2,000: Transatlantic Escape
There’s nothing affordable about a full-fledged European vacation. However, if you’re willing to spend a few hours hopping across the pond, a weekend getaway in Europe is doable for less than $2,000. Flights to France, Italy and England are often available for under $500 if you keep an eye out.
United, Air Canada, Lufthansa and Delta had sub-$500 round-trip flights to Paris from Dallas, Salt Lake City, Seattle, Minneapolis and Memphis as recently as last week. Budget airlines like WOW Air and Norwegian frequently have flights from Miami and New York for even less.
To find transatlantic deals, utilize the same tools that we recommend for domestic flights—just broaden your reach. Keep in mind that major cities like London and Paris are almost always more affordable to fly to than smaller ones, and thanks to Europe’s fully developed public transit system, you’re unlikely to need a car rental on a weekend trip to a major hub.