Vacations For Detroiters Who Want to Get Away For Less


A cheap vacation can seem like a difficult thing to come by, causing many people to only travel on holidays. But if you know how to find cheap flights and where to find free or cheap activities, then an impromptu vacation can fit into almost any budget. To continue our series of cheap vacation ideas, today we are looking at tips for a cheap vacation from Detroit. But if you aren’t a resident of the Detroit metro area, don’t worry; there are still some tips and destinations that might be helpful to you!

Deciding How To Get There

A woman planning a cheap vacation

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When trying to keep a last-minute vacation under budget, the first thing you will need to decide is if you are flying, driving, or taking a bus or train. Travel can be one of the biggest expenses, outside of lodging, if you aren’t careful. Driving is always a good choice, if your destination is close enough, but taking a train or a bus can be a good alternative. Oftentimes, the tickets will actually end up being less than you would pay in gas. You will lose the advantage of having your car when you get to your destination, but that can sometimes work to your advantage. All that being said, if you are a savvy enough shopper, it can be possible to find flights cheap enough to justify flying. Besides, some destinations will require a flight, so knowledge of how to find the cheapest DTW flights is a good tool in your arsenal.

Finding Cheap Flights from DTW

An airplane boarding at sunset

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If you decide to take a flight for your vacation, then there are a couple of things you should know about flight shopping. The trick to getting a cheap plane ticket is to be flexible with your dates and destinations, and to do your research ahead of time. Flight prices aren’t just based on distance, they are also based on demand, which fluctuates from day to day. Traveling on a day that is less busy can be a good way to save a few bucks, so consider an unconventional timeframe; fly out on a Sunday morning and come back Wednesday night, for instance. Your flights will likely be much cheaper, as will any hotel stays!

You can also be flexible with your destination. Research ahead of time where you might want to go and compare the prices from DTW. Remember that many cities have multiple airports that you can fly to. Keep your options open and let the cheapest prices make your travel plans for you, and you won’t have to worry so much about overspending. Prices will also change depending on how close the travel date is, so keep an eye on fluctuating prices to find the best one. 

Atlanta, GA

The Atlanta skyline at sunset

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Atlanta, GA is the most popular destination for people flying out of DTW, and it is a good choice for Detroiters looking for a cheap vacation. You can start by exploring the city's rich history at places like the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site or the Atlanta History Center, which both have a fairly low-cost admission. Enjoy the beautiful landscapes at Piedmont Park or the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area for a free activity, and the Atlanta BeltLine offers a scenic walking and biking path dotted with public art installations as well. The High Museum of Art offers free admission on the second Sunday of each month, and the Little Five Points neighborhood is perfect for affordable shopping and eclectic street art exploration. To sample local cuisine, indulge in delicious Southern comfort food at budget-friendly eateries like The Varsity or Sweet Auburn Curb Market. Atlanta's charm is enough to justify a vacation here, even if you don’t have much to spend.

Philadelphia, PA

Benjamin Franklin Parkway with Philadelphia in the background

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Philadelphia is another popular destination for Detroiters, and there is more than enough to do on a budget vacation. You can experience the city's thriving art scene at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where you can "pay what you wish" on some days, allowing you to appreciate world-class art for practically no cost. Walk along South Street, known for its eclectic shops, vibrant street art, and a fun atmosphere, perfect for window shopping and people-watching. Don't forget to grab a classic Philly cheesesteak, which can be enjoyed at local spots like Jim's Steaks or Pat's King of Steaks. Head to the charming neighborhoods like Old City, Fishtown, or the Italian Market for a great way to experience the city's unique character without spending much. Philadelphia's history, culture, and affordability make it an excellent destination for Detroiters looking to have an enjoyable vacation on a budget.

Chicago, IL

The giant metallic bean in Chicago

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A cheap vacation in Chicago is a good choice for Detroiters, even if you can find a cheap flight from DTW, as there are cheap options if you take a bus or train. The city isn’t known for being cheap, but there are still plenty of free and cheap things to do. Begin at the scenic Lakefront Trail or explore the city's diverse neighborhoods, like Pilsen or Wicker Park, known for their street art and diverse culture. Don't miss out on free admission days at renowned institutions like the Art Institute of Chicago and the Museum of Contemporary Photography. Plus you can indulge in Chicago's culinary scene affordably with cheap and iconic foods like Chicago-style hot dogs and deep-dish pizza at local eateries. With cost-effective activities and comforting fast-casual dining, you can savor the best of Chicago even on a budget.

Take a Drive Up North

A quaint street in Northern Michigan

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While Michigan may not be known around the country for its natural beauty, there are actually a lot of places in Northern Michigan where you can get in touch with nature. The Hiawatha National Forest has miles of hiking trails, rich forests, and crystal-clear lakes, making it an ideal place to camp, fish, and see wildlife. Head to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, where towering sand dunes meet the beautiful waters of Lake Michigan, for breathtaking vistas and opportunities for sandboarding or hiking. Over at Traverse City, explore the Old Mission Peninsula with its vineyards, cherry orchards, and scenic vistas. And let’s not forget the lush forests and peaceful lakes of the Upper Peninsula, where you can immerse yourself in the natural beauty of places like Tahquamenon Falls State Park. When planning a cheap vacation, Detroiters would be wise to remember the magnificence of Northern Michigan!

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