12 Supremely Cheap President’s Day Destinations

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Photo of the American flag on a snowy day in February.
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Let’s be honest — by the time mid-February rolls around, the winter sludge is making us all a bit stir-crazy.

Even those of you lucky enough to live in warmer climates (ahem — can we move in?) need something to look forward to during that long stretch of post-holiday winter, when the sun sets before you’re even off of work (or out of class).  

Well, thank George Washington for President’s Day, a welcome respite in this bleak, burdensome season. 

Car dealerships and mattress stores aren’t the only ones that should be excited about this three-day weekend: In fact, a trip is just what you need to shake off the winter blues. (Bonus: If you’re in the mood for a romantic getaway, Valentine’s Day is the Friday of President’s Day weekend this year.) And Wanderu has the deals on buses, trains and flights to make it happen on the cheap.

No matter where you’re situated across the U.S., we’ve got a destination that’s just what you need this February.

EAST

Providence, RI

Photo of downtown Providence, RI.
(Jef Nickerson / Flickr)

A wintry New England vacation in Providence is perfect for capturing something of that childhood snowy-day wonder.

Providence Rink doesn’t just have ice skating — it also has ice bumper cars, which means you can now let out your road rage right there on the ice!

For more time in a winter wonderland, head to Roger Williams Park, where you’ll find both the Museum of Natural History (for when you’re ready for some time inside) and the Roger Williams Park Zoo. (Thanks to the annual Winter Wonder Days event, you can even nab tickets for half-price.) 

Additional year-round attractions in Providence include the John Brown House (namesake of Brown University), the RISD Museum of Art and historic Brown University itself.

Book Your Trip:

Buffalo, NY

Photo of an ice skating rink in Buffalo, New York.
(Mark Hogan / Flickr)

For some truly seasonal activities, we give you Buffalo — the city famous for getting more than 100 inches (8.33 feet) of Lake Effect Snow in the 2018–2019 winter season. 

The best outdoor activities can be found at Canalside by the water. In addition to ice skating and ice bumper cars (again? We didn’t realize this was a thing …), you’ll find igloos, ice bikes, curling and ice bowling. For a sensational seasonal event that you can enjoy indoors, visit the Botanical Garden for Lumagination, in which the interior of the gardens is as lit as a Christmas tree (literally). 

Up for a 30-minute bus ride? You can spend the day in nearby Hamburg on Saturday, Feb. 15, for the Winter Flea Market, famous for its unique antiques and collectibles (with free appraisals of coins, stamps and more). 

And if you need a reminder of why you have a three-day weekend in the first place, check out the Buffalo History Museum where, among other things, you can celebrate President Lincoln’s birthday or visit the site of Teddy Roosevelt’s inauguration — aptly named the TR Inaugural Site.

Book Your Trip:

Bus tickets to Buffalo Starting at $1.00
Train tickets to Buffalo Starting at $13.00

Burlington, VT

(Allison / Flickr)

Burlington is beautiful in winter, but the real treasures of the season are buried indoors, where it’s nice and warm. 

Church Street Marketplace is an ideal first stop. This outdoor center is perfect for an evening stroll under the annual Winter Lights, while food and shopping options offer a welcome respite from the cold. (For a little fire in your belly, stop in at Smugglers’ Notch Distillery.)

Even if the season has you down in the dumps, Burlington has you covered: Over President’s Day weekend, you can attend the 25th Annual Winter Is a Drag Ball with a bunch of like-minded peers. This punny event will have you breaking out your wigs and heels to beat back the darkness of short winter days.

For other indoor entertainment, head to the Fleming Museum of Art on the University of Vermont’s campus (to see objects spanning the history of civilization around the globe) or to the ECHO Leahy Center for Lake Champlain (where you’ll learn about the science of Lake Champlain). Friction creates warmth, so heat up your mind by rubbing together those brain cells. 🧠

If you do dare to venture out into the cold, head to Waterfront Park on Lake Champlain for a beautiful, cold walk. Or maybe you’re a fan of the slopes? A few miles outside Burlington, Intervale Center farmlands offers cross-country skiing.

Book Your Trip:

Atlanta, GA

(Rían Castillo / Flickr)

Would you rather spend your President’s Day taking a break from the flakes? 

Say so long to Winter Storm Warnings with a trip to Atlanta. The ATL offers its own enjoyable wintry experiences, but in a city where the average high in February is a comfortable 58 degrees, you can leave your long johns at home. 

One of the top items on your hit list should be PRISM: Winter Lights at Woodruff Park. This event enhances landmarks like the International Peace Fountain through light-based sculptures. And if you’re in the market for a spot to celebrate V-Day, consider Sips Under the Sea. After all, a cocktail party at the Georgia Aquarium does sound like a pretty unique Valentine’s date.

Sure, presidents are great (well, some more than others), but while you’re in Atlanta why not dedicate a little time to the city’s native son, Martin Luther King Jr.? A-Town is, after all, one of the stops on our MLK Day itinerary.

Book Your Trip:

Bus tickets to Atlanta Starting at $1.00
Train tickets to Atlanta Starting at $14.00

CENTRAL

Chicago, IL

Photo of "The Bean" sculpture in Chicago on an icy winter day.
(Andrew E. Larson / Flickr)

Sure, Chicago is one of the cities most associated with winter misery (it’s not called the Windy City for nothing), but think about it: Dealing with this brutal season year after year has taught Chi-Town to thrive in the cold.  

First off, don’t let the Lake-Effect Snow stop you from visiting Millennium Park. Even a frozen Cloudgate Sculpture (aka The Bean) is something to behold, and right next door is the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink (one of Chicago’s many great, free skating rinks). If you really insist on more outdoor activities, try snowshoeing on Northerly Island.

To get cuddly on Valentine’s Day, consider booking your table at the Lincoln Park Zoo’s Valentine’s Day Dinner. The event is a hoot, even though the animals are no longer allowed to attend following that time an ostrich choked on an Edible Arrangement. (Kidding!)

For a little more indoor action, check out the Chicago History Museum, the Field Museum, Adler Planetarium or the Art Institute of Chicago. And any time of year is perfect for some deep-dish pizza — a Second City institution, Pequod’s has our favorite pie.

Book Your Trip:

Bus tickets to Chicago Starting at $1.00
Train tickets to Chicago Starting at $7.00

St. Louis, MO

Photo of Art Hill (a popular sledding spot) and the St. Louis Art Museum.
(Dave Herholz / Flickr)

St. Louis offers the best of both worlds: It’s cold enough for the joys of winter, but still warm enough to feel your nose. You can indulge by participating in classic winter activities, like ice skating at Steinberg Skating Park or sledding down Art Hill. (Who says sledding is just for kids?)

St. Louis also has some awesome museums, many of which are free. Spots worth your attention include the St. Louis Art Museum and the Missouri History Museum. Or if you’re interested in Da Vinci’s work as a scientist, head to the Saint Louis Science Center for a temporary Da Vinci exhibit.

And whatever you do, make time for a stop at St. Louis’s most recognizable landmark: the Gateway Arch. Open year-round, the Arch offers a tram ride to the top, where the views are spectacular no matter the season.

Book Your Trip:

Springfield, IL

(Teemu008 / Flickr)

For a truly presidential nod to the holiday, pay tribute to (hot take) our nation’s all-time greatest Commander-in-Chief in Springfield, hometown of Abraham Lincoln. 

Seriously, you could probably make a weekend out of just visiting Lincoln sites. But to name some of the more notable stops, try the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, the Lincoln Home National Historic Site and the Lincoln Herndon Law Offices State Historic Site.

For a nod to modern politics, check out the Illinois State Capitol building. Other worthwhile activities include a visit to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Dana Thomas House (though go on Saturday or Sunday, as it’s closed on the actual holiday), the Illinois State Museum, and the Springfield and Central Illinois African-American History Museum. (A mouthful, we know, but the museum is a must-hit — especially during Black History Month.)

Finally, if you’re ready for a break from all those museums (this is a vacation, after all!), the mind-numbing joy of a perfect pastry or winter squash from the Winter Indoor Farmers Market is a perfect way to clear your mind from the weight of history. 

Book Your Trip:

WEST

Santa Barbara, CA

Photo of Butterfly Beach near Santa Barbara.
(Damian Gadal / Flickr)

To skip out on winter altogether, Santa Barbara is the spot for you.

For something you can pretend is relevant to President’s Day, if only for the fact that they share some of the same letters, head to El Presidio de Santa Barbara Historic Site. With charming white-washed walls, this structure is actually a former Spanish military fort. An active community church, Mission Santa Barbara is another Spanish historical site, as well as a gorgeous spot to snag pics for the Insta.  

For a little shopping, head to Paseo Nuevo or State Street. Stearns Wharf is another great option for boutique browsing, as well as on-the-water activities like kayak tours. 

To truly take advantage of the mild weather, consider hiking to Inspiration Point or strolling along a beach. (Hot tip: Butterfly Beach is probably the best spot for watching the sunset, an activity that might appeal to Valentine’s Day lovers).

Book Your Trip:

Reno, NV

(Mitch Barrie / Flickr)

Cheaper than Las Vegas, the Biggest Little City has a comfortable climate for winter excursions, with an average February high of 51 degrees. 

In the city, you’ll find shopping, dining and entertainment in the Midtown district and nearby Riverwalk district, two of Reno’s best areas for travelers. Nearby indoor attractions include the Nevada Museum of Art; The Discovery science museum; and the National Automobile Museum, filled with slick hotrods and old-timey classics. 

The fact that Reno is a stone’s throw from Lake Tahoe means the area also offers some of the standard winter entertainment, like skiing or snowboarding. (Tahoe is actually on our list of top 10 snowy vacation destinations.)  

And, of course, we’d be remiss not to mention Reno’s 20 casinos. (We’re responsible for helping you save money on travel — after that, there’s nothing we can do. Just remember who got you there if you win big!)

Book Your Trip:

Bus tickets to Reno Starting at $7.00
Train tickets to Reno Starting at $11.00

Sacramento, CA

Photo of Old Sacramento.

For a unique glimpse into a specific page of American history, book a ticket to Sacramento. 

Old Sacramento State Historic Park and the surrounding Old Sacramento district will make you feel like you’ve taken a Delorean back into the Old West. In this area you’ll find the Pony Express Statue, California State Railroad Museum, the Old Sacramento Schoolhouse Museum and more.

Scattered throughout the rest of the California capital, sites like the Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento Zoo, California State Indian Museum, and Sutter’s Fort (known for its association with the Donner Party and the California Gold Rush) are all hot-ticket destinations.

Finally, you can enjoy the weather with a bike ride or walk along the Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail, which traces the curvy path of the American River.

Book Your Trip:

Portland, OR

Photo of Pioneer Courthouse Square in Portland, Oregon.
(LWYang / Flickr)

President’s Day weekend, unfortunately, falls a week after Portland’s Chinese New Year celebrations end. That said, the Lan Su Chinese Garden is worth a visit at any time. From there, cap off your visit with a meal at delectable Duck House Chinese Restaurant near Portland State University.

Downtown Portland is rich with attractions worth your time, From Pioneer Courthouse Square (called “Portland’s Living Room”) to the massive and maze-like Powell’s City of Books. The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry is also hosting a special After Dark event for the 21-plus crowd on February 15. Science + Alcohol = Fun. (Just make sure you wear your safety goggles.) 

In the mood for music? Over President’s Day weekend, the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall is presenting “The Music of John Williams,” a concert focused on the music of the composer who famously scored Star Wars, E.T. and Jaws

Last but never least, Portland’s reputation as one of the best brunch cities in the U.S. is something to take advantage of in every season — so order a Bloody Mary as you reminisce on your epic Rose City weekend.

Book Your Trip:

Bus tickets to Portland Starting at $1.00
Train tickets to Portland Starting at $5.00

San Jose, CA

Photo of the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose.
(Doug Letterman / Flickr)

Say “Hey” to San Jose, an excellent getaway often overlooked by those with their sights set on nearby San Francisco. 

The most famous attraction in San Jose may be the Winchester Mystery House. The huge mansion is supposedly haunted by all the victims of Winchester rifles, and offers tours both during the day and at night. The Winchester House is also conveniently located by Santana Row, a well-known residential and shopping district.

Not too far away, you’ll find Plaza de César Chávez, a downtown urban plaza surrounded by The Tech Interactive, the San Jose Museum of Art and more. (True Silicon Valley geeks may actually prefer the Computer History Museum to The Tech, the latter of which is more geared toward children.) The impressive Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph is also right by the Plaza. If it’s open, slip inside to see the stunning ceiling.

And no visit to San Jose can be complete without a stop at the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum, which boasts the largest collection of Egyptian artifacts in the Western U.S., from mummies to tools and jewelry. The museum is associated with the Rosicrucian Order, an organization that studies “the elusive mysteries of life and the universe.”

Book Your Trip:

Bus tickets to San Jose Starting at $4.99
Train tickets to San Jose Starting at $6.00

Maybe you think we just pulled these destinations out of our ass…ortment of Wanderu data. And you’d be correct! These spots are based on the most popular President’s Day locales on Wanderu from past years. 

Yes, President’s Day is technically a day to celebrate American chiefs of state, both past and present. If that means something to you, then great — we encourage you to check out our road trip to 21 homes of U.S. presidents.

But if you’re like most people, February 14 to 17 is just another long weekend. A long weekend that could be better spent away from home. And that’s where Wanderu comes in.   

If these spots aren’t speaking to you, try out our Explore by Wanderu tool. It’ll populate a list of budget-friendly bus- and train-travel suggestions built around your current location, ideal destination and budget

To explore on the go, don’t forget to download the Wanderu app for the lowest-price bus, train and flight options, no matter where you are or where you’re headed.

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About the author
Karen Krumpak

Karen Krumpak

Karen Krumpak has eaten her way through the flavors of Europe (when she’s traveling, you’re likely find her visiting the local grocery stores and markets) and hopes to someday experience the cuisine on other continents. In the meantime, Karen is a freelance writer and editor with a soft spot for cookbooks that help her explore other cultures and countries from her own kitchen.