Foodie Vacations on the Cheap

Financial IQ

Some people vacation to relax. For others, it’s about adventure, reconnecting with family, or just getting away from work.

For Frugal Foodie and others of her ilk, it’s all about the food: renowned restaurants, guidebook favorites, local specialties and gourmet markets. Every sweet vacation day revolves around what we’re eating next, where, and with whom.

With that focus, pretty much any trip can be a foodie vacation. (See our tips on dining plans at all-inclusive resorts and for getting good deals when dining on vacation.) But some areas tend to have cheaper accommodations, too, as well as foodie destinations galore.

What are your favorite destinations for cheap foodie travel? Here are three more to add to your travel itinerary:

1. Cleveland, Ohio

The Ohio city is a relatively undiscovered foodie gem. It might not spring immediately to mind as a foodie tourist spot, but Cleveland boasts lakeside wineries, a nearly 100-year-old market, and enough local microbreweries that USA Today dubbed it one of the “10 great places to bar hop around the world,” says April Ingle, a spokeswoman for Cleveland promotion group, Positively Cleveland. On the fine-dining front, there are outposts from celebrity chefs including Michael Symon and Jonathon Sawyer.

Hotel prices are routinely pretty low — you can book a four-star stay for roughly $100 a night, and usually, much less. Right now, Expedia has deals of 35% off at DoubleTree, with sales rates starting at $60, and 20% off at Comfort Inn, for rates of about $72. Plus, there are free downtown trolleys to cut the costs of getting around. Since Cleveland is nestled along the shores of the Great Lakes region, April through October feature the best climate (but typically higher room rates).

2) Finger Lakes region, N.Y.

Each of the four lakes in the area has its own wine trail, plus, there is also a lakeside beer trail, a cheese trail and a cuisine trail of locally produced foods, says Emily Hubbell, a spokeswoman for Holiday Inn Elmira Riverview. At the foot of Cayuga Lake, the city of Ithaca boasts cult favorite Moosewood and Gimme! Coffee, which Food & Wine calls one of the best U.S. coffee bars. National Geographic recently called out the area as one of the best orchard bets for heirloom apples, and nearby Cornell University is known for its dairy and homemade ice cream shop.

Rates in the city start at well under $100. Travelocity offers up to 20% off at Meadow Court Inn in Ithaca, a sale that puts room rates as low as $68 per night. Stay at hotels or B&Bs in smaller towns on the lake, and pay even less. At 20% off, Days Inn Auburn charges starting rates of $47.

3. Montreal, Canada

Smoked-meat sandwiches at Schwartz’s, duck-in-a-can at Au Pied du Cochon, poutine just about anywhere – Frugal Foodie always has a great time in Montreal. Check out a few of the big public markets, including Atwater Market and Jean-Talon Market, selling local wares. During the spring, visit a sugar shack in or out of the city to see how maple syrup is made (and eat your fill).

Montreal isn’t as expensive as heading to Europe, and not just because you can drive instead of fly. Right now, your dollar gets you about $1.03 Canadian, versus 0.73 Euro. Tourisme Montreal  has a foodie package with rates starting at $119 Canadian ($116 US) and a deal book for local restaurants, food shops and cooking classes.

Frugal Foodie is a journalist based in New York City who spends her days writing about personal finance and obsessing about what she’ll have for dinner. Chat with her on Twitter through @MintFoodie

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