Category: cheapskate guide

The Cheapskate Guide To: Paris

Looking for a guide to Paris? Want to travel Paris on the cheap? Click through for budget Paris travel tips from a local - what to do, where to go, and how to travel Paris cheaply, safely, and respectfully!

Paris in spring, you say? How about Paris in spring on the cheap? Today, American expat Amanda and her French boyfriend are telling us about $21 Airbnbs, three-course meals for $9.50, and tons of free museums and galleries!


The Cheapskate Guide To: New Orleans

Want to travel to New Orleans on the cheap? A local tells us all about $25 hostels, free (!?) Indian food, and a $2 ferry ride that shows you the whole French Quarter! >>
Are you heading to New Orleans for Jazzfest this year? From April 22-May 1st, The Big Easy will be even more fun than usual! Today, NOLA local Sarah Becker Lillard is telling us all about the best, cheapest, most awesome stuff in New Orleans. $25 hostels, free (!?) Indian food, and a $2 ferry ride that shows you the whole French Quarter!

The Cheapskate Guide To: San Diego

There are so, SO many cheap things to do in San Diego! Click through for insights from a local, like the best cheap tacos, free museums, and $35 a night beach camping! >>

Did you know that San Diego is on the list for top 10 best weather in the world!? It’s hard to argue with 72 degrees. Today, San Diegan Crosby tells us where to find the best, cheapest tacos, amazing vintage shops, and $55 a night Airbnb rentals. Ca-yute! Let’s all book flights and meet on the beach. Yes? Yes.


The Cheapskate Guide To: Phoenix

There are so many awesome, cheap things to do in Phoenix! $3 movies, $4 burritos and $26 rooms with a pool! //
As you’re reading this – in late January – it’s currently 70 degrees and sunny in Phoenix, Arizona. In addition to being home to nearly year-round sun and warmth, Phoenix is home to $26 Airbnb rentals (with a pool!), $3 movies, $4 burritos, and gorgeous, free museums and arboretums.

Are you convinced?

Well, hi! I’m Dressler, and my internet home is Bitter Butter, where I share the history of pastry. Yes, really!

In real life, I’m an Arizona native, currently living near Phoenix. And, yes, our outside temps are over 100-degrees-Fahrenheit for a pretty big portion of the year—and you should COME HERE ANYWAY. We’ve got killer Mexican food, developing public transportation, a burgeoning art scene, gorgeous mountains, and the most beautiful skies to ever sky.

Let’s get into it.

There are so many awesome, cheap things to do in Phoenix! $3 movies, $4 burritos and $26 rooms with a pool! //


Want to sleep closer to nature, but still want showers and flush toilets? Usery Mountain Regional Park is your dream come true. Grab some friends and some tents (or trailers) and split the oh-so-scandalous price of $30 for one of their 73 camping spots. This one is about a 30-minute drive from the heart of Phoenix, but the scenery is super worth it.

Rented Rooms
If you’re looking for a more in-the-city-with-a-roof experience, Airbnb does a body good. Here’s an entire apartment for $37 and here’s a luxury condo for $50! And if you’ve never used Airbnb before, here’s a $40 credit towards your first booking!

Cheapskate Guide to: Phoenix //


ASU Art Museum – free/donation appreciated
Even aside from the fact that this museum features Actual World Class Artists (and recently acquired some Andy Warhol prints), the twisty-turny-secret-tunnel architecture is guaranteed to make you happy. Three words: underground water fountain.

ASU Arboretum – free
People who haven’t visited the Southwest sometimes think we have no trees. We totally have trees! (Sort of.) In fact, ASU’s Tempe campus has a tree museum. They’re not tall and majestic, but they have labels, and there’s even a nice sitting area where you can veg out with some coffee.

Hike our beautiful desert – free
A few suggestions: South Mountain’s Trails, Piestawa Peak, and Echo Canyon at Camelback Mountain. Check out the wild rock formations at Papago Park. Revel in the craggy mountains. Bring lots of water.

Lawn Gnome Stories – free
Every Wednesday, this sweet indie bookstore has a storytelling event. Go, order a tasty beverage, and listen to hip locals entertain you with their joys and woes.

Walk around Tempe Town Lake – free
Stroll around the man-made Tempe Town Lake beach park. Listen to the train go by. Walk across the color-changing bridge. Watch one of our famous Arizona sunsets. (Really, nobody makes ‘em like we do.

Cheapskate Guide To: Phoenix //

Check out the Fountain Hills Fountain – free (minus the cost of gas)
I know what you’re thinking. “Sure, museums and stuff are fine, but where can I see a COMICALLY LARGE FOUNTAIN?” I’ve got you covered. See this giant water monster in the small, aptly-named town of Fountain Hills—about a 30-minute drive from Phoenix.

Pollack Tempe Cinemas – $3
Not only do you get to see a movie for $3, but you get to go to this theater. After you buy your ticket, you walk into a room filled with painted sculptures of characters from Great Movies Past—Marilyn Monroe, Darth Vader, E.T…even Jack Sparrow. Get a selfie with Superman, and then go on to enjoy your cheap, cheap movie.

Luhrs Tower – free
Have you ever noticed how so many tourist attractions are basically “climb up high and look at things”? Well, I feel obligated to include at least one. It’s not the Empire State Building, but it’s the next best thing. Check out this insanely cool art-deco style building that’s filled with history. Walk in, pretend you’re from the 1920’s, climb up high. Look at things.

Cheapskate Guide To: Phoenix //

Ride the Light Rail and take your own Public Art tour – $4
Every station is different, and they’ve all got something exciting to offer. Get an all-day pass for $4, and hop on and off as many times as you want!

And if you’re at the University/Rural stop just before sunset, you HAVE TO walk over to James Turrell’s “Air Apparent.” Sit inside and enjoy the incredible, subtle light show that plays beautifully off of the changing sky.


Monday: Meet Me Downtown Phoenix. I know I usually don’t exercise on vacation. But you can buck the trend with this easy 3-mile walk/run through the beautiful city center. Plus, meet locals!

Tuesday: Absolutely, absolutely check out the gorgeous Desert Botanical Garden.* Then, get a free swing-dancing lesson at the Duce!

Wednesday: Take the light rail to the Mill/3rd stop for the open mic night at Tempe Center for the Arts. It’s packed with experienced, impressive musicians. The music starts at 6:30pm and continues well until 10pm.

Thursday: Experience the Scottsdale Art Walk. Open galleries, special performances, and free admission to the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art? Oh, yes please.

Friday: Soak in more free performances and lots of energy at the art-focused First Friday!* OR, if you’d like something different, enjoy free admission to the AZ Science Center*, and have a blast exploring the interactive exhibits (especially the musical ones!).

cheap things to do in Phoenix

Saturday: Saturday mornings, indulge in one of many Farmer’s Markets. Definitely check out the Downtown Phoenix Open Air Market, and fill up on samples.

*only free the first week of each month


Rito’s Market and Mexican Takeout
Skip the rice and beans—the portions are pretty big, and you’ll save some cash. This tiny Mexican joint has a full menu complete with pictures and a cozy seating area. Get the queso fundido with a cup of horchata.

La Santisima Gourmet Taco Shop
SO many tacos. (Legit, soft-shell, Mexican-style tacos.) Great flavors, incredibly friendly staff, contemporary Spanish-language music, free salsa bar. (Cilantro salsa? Yes please!)

Hummus Xpress
Imagine Chipotle…except Mediterranean and family-run. This gold mine is technically in Tempe, but their fully-customizable, crazy-flavorful, huge-portioned bowls are more than worth the fifteen minute drive. Split a bowl with a friend for a hearty meal under $5.

Cheap food in Phoenix

$2 coffee at Lux
Every other food at Lux doesn’t begin to resemble the word “cheap.” But their coffee is $2, delicious, and comes in a big happy mug with free refills until the end of time.

Hey, remember when you came here on First Friday and it was THE MOST crowded? Come back on literally any other day, peruse their lovely menu, and order at the counter. Treat yourself to a breakfast sandwich, or one of their sweet crepes.

$3 ice cream sandwich at Slickables
Pair this one with your walk around Tempe Town Lake. Pick ANY two cookies, and ANY flavor of ice cream, and enjoy your hearty dessert for $3. Major win.

Cheap food in Phoenix

Cornish Pasty
From vaguely traditional bangers-and-mash pasties to straight-up Royale With Cheese pasties, you’ll have no trouble finding something incredible to munch on. To keep it cheap, split a pasty with your travel buddy. (Trust me. They’re enormous.)

$4 chorizo-and-bean burrito? $6 for an enchilada AND a tamale? Oh, yeah. You’re going. Don’t even pretend to think about it.

That’s totally a decent start to exploring this bright and beautiful city. Grab a plane ticket or some gas money (or even an Amtrak ticket if that’s more your speed), and I can’t wait to see you!

Arizona readers! Did we miss anything? Leave links to your favorite free/cheap stuff in the comments!

P.S. 7 travel tools I won’t shut up about

Photo credits: LASZLO ILYES // Kevin Dooley // LASZLO ILYES // Chris Brandt // Eileen Kane // M P R // John M. Quick // Devon Christopher Adams // RightBrainPhotography // Phoenix Public Market // Amanda LaCasse // Hummus Xpress // Ernesto Andrade // Jim Hammer // Devon Christopher Adams

The Cheapskate Guide To: Oklahoma City

Looking for free and cheap travel ideas for Oklahoma city? Want a cheap travel guide for this awesome city? Click through for Oklahoma City travel tips from a local - what to do, where to go, and how to do it all cheaply!

Hi! I’m Heather, and I am excited to show you a little bit of Oklahoma City (OKC) because I think it’s awesome. I have lived here for most of life and today it’s the best I’ve ever seen it – and it will be even better tomorrow! That’s how fast it’s changing.

I can’t wait to tell you about Oklahoma City’s $8 lake-side camping, our gorgeous, free botanical gardens and our amazing $3.50 tacos!


The Cheapskate Guide To: Philadelphia

It's possible to travel Philadelphia on the cheap! $6 brunches, $5 bowling and $1.50 pretzels! //

If you’ve never been, the City of Brotherly Love is well worth a visit. It’s home of the famous Philly cheesesteak, hot live music venues, and one of the fastest-growing culinary scenes in the world! Allow us to expertly acquaint you with the best spots to checkout while you’re in town! Cheap travel in Philadelphia is totally possible!

Located in the heart of the city, Philly PR Girl is known for having the inside scoop on “All Things Philly,” and our downtown office – located just steps from iconic City Hall – positions us right inside of all the action. Most of our sociable staff are lifelong Philadelphians, so it’s safe to say we know the best places!

Philly is easily accessible from New Jersey, New York City, Baltimore, MD, and Washington, DC. The Megabus has tickets starting as low as $1! Purchase a month or two in advance to lock down the best deals. (One of our girls just booked a bus to New York City from Philly for $3!)

The Cheapskate Guide to Philadelphia //

Rented Rooms

It is possible to find cute, clean, and unbelievably cheap accommodations for two for as little as $35/night! Check out this private room just 13 minutes from the city and this gorgeous, shared loft tucked away in Rittenhouse Square, the city’s ritziest neighborhood.

If you’ve never used Airbnb before, here’s a $40 credit towards your first booking!

The Cheapskate Guide to Philadelphia //

Hostels & shared rooms

Other options include grabbing a bunk at The Philadelphia House – one of Philly’s few hostels, and undoubtedly the best. They have four, eight, or 12-person rooms at their quarters in historic Old City, also starting at only $35/night.

If you’re an even thriftier, consider Couchsurfing. Plenty of Philadelphians are happy to open their doors (and their pull-out sofas) to visitors for free! Some hosts do ask that you bring a significant item (culture, city, food etc) of your choice as a trade-off, but that’s just part of the fun!


Liberty Bell – Free

Touring Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell is one of our favorite (and free!) recommendations for those new to the city. You can see the room where the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were signed, and then take a few steps across Chestnut Street to see the great symbol of American independence for yourself. Avoid waiting in line by visiting on off-peak hours.

The Cheapskates Guide to Philadelphia //

Philadephia Magic Gardens – $7

Attention narcissists: If you love snapping selfies, Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens makes the most amazing photo backdrop. This mosaic gallery and its labyrinth sculpture garden is one of the coolest places to visit in the city, thanks to mural artist Isaiah Zagar. You can check out photos online, but trust us – pictures really don’t do this venue justice.

Love Park – Free

Named after the iconic Love Sign by Robert Indiana, this park is the perfect meeting place, and is aptly located in the heart of Center City. Snapping a picture in front of the sign is cliche, but so necessary. Those in need of respite will enjoy sitting around the fountain in the center of the park or across the street at the relatively new Dilworth Plaza. During the summer months, you’ll find kids splashing in the water. And in the winter, Love Park hosts a lovely Christmas market with a variety of vendors.

North or South Bowl – $5-6 a person

Nobody does retro quite like this bowling alley. Whether you’re near their North or South Philly location, pop in for their amazing happy hour, and stay to bowl the night away under their old school neon lights. On weekdays from 5-7 p.m., you can enjoy $2 PBRs, $3 Jim Beam Kentucky Fire shots, and $5 games of bowling.

Philadelphia Museum of Art – $20 or Pay What You Wish

No trip to Philly would be complete without mimicking Rocky Balboa’s iconic run up the Art Museum Steps. Enjoy the scenery of the Parkway from the top of the stairs before making your way back down to the Rocky statue. If your trip falls on either the first Sunday of the month or on any Wednesday, you’re in luck! Enjoy “Pay What You Wish” admission after 5 p.m, and check out the incredible exhibits our city’s monumental museum has to offer!

The Cheapskate Travel Guide to Philadelphia //

City Hall Observation Deck – $6

Fun fact: Philadelphia’s City Hall is the largest and highest in the United States. Take a ride up to the observation deck, just below the iconic William Penn statue, which offers a magnificent 360-degree view of the Philadelphia region. The tour last 15 minutes – we’ll understand if you don’t want to come back down.

Comcast Center – Free

The venue that houses Comcast’s world headquarters is  the tallest “green” building in the country (and the tallest building in Philly, period). It’s practically impossible to miss The Comcast Experience Video Wall – a 2,000 square-foot LED screen that projects incredibly lifelike, vivid images. After taking in the sights for a few minutes, head downstairs to The Market at Comcast Center for some shopping and a daily cheese pairing tasting at locally renowned, gourmet grocer DiBruno Brothers from 4-7 p.m.

The Cheapskate Guide to Philadelphia //

Race Street Pier – Free

The Race Street Pier is a great place to stroll, but if you really want to enjoy the city like a local, get your vinyasa on with a little urban yoga by the Delaware River. Voted “Best Free Workout Class” by Philadelphia Magazine, Yoga on the Race Street Pier offers free classes every day of the week. On weekends, classes start at 9:30 a.m. Don’t forget your mat, and a small donation to show your love.

MilkBoy Philly – $10-17

MilkBoy Philly highlights three of the things that we do better than any other city in America: amazing food, booze, and music! Owned by music industry vet Tommy Joyner and Philly restaurant vet Jamie Lokoff, this small, multi-functional venue offers a stellar lineup of national and local recording artists. Stop in for dinner or drinks and enjoy one of their awesomely cheap shows, happening most nights each week.

Enjoy the great outdoors – Free

Philly doesn’t get nearly enough credit for its beautiful outdoor spaces. If you want to get a real feel for the city, catch an outdoor movie along the Schuylkill Banks, enjoy a seasonal concert or event on the Delaware Waterfront, or rent a bike to cruise down Kelly Drive just behind Boathouse Row.

If you’re visiting in the winter, grab your skates and head over to the Blue Cross Riverrink for a few laps on the ice. Cuddle up by one of their rustic, outdoor fire pits while checking out the gorgeous view of the Ben Franklin Bridge. In the warmer months, this multi-functional venue converts to Spruce Street Harbor Park, complete with food and games, a floating beer garden, and outdoor roller rink!

The Cheapskate Guide to Philadelphia //


Yakitori Boy – $1 skewers and $3.50 sushi rolls

Located amongst the exotic shops, restaurants, and bars of Chinatown is one of our favorite late night spots. Where else can you find authentic apps for so cheap? Wash down sashimi, tempura, and yakitori with $4 domestic drafts. Yakitori Boy’s happy hour specials will keep your pockets and your belly full. Plus: belting out karaoke on the second floor is mandatory. Rent a private room for you and a group of friends, or just bring your A-game to the bar!

Cavanaugh’s – Half priced steaks, $3 tacos, and 50 cent wings

With four locations across the city, Cavanaugh’s is a great place to stop by for a quick and seriously satisfying bite. Their awesome daily specials make them an affordable option, and their food is certainly a step up from traditional bar fare. We love their funnel cake french fries, half-priced-burger-Wednesdays, and free Quizzo! No matter when you stop in, we promise… something awesome will be on special.

The Cheapskate Guide to Philadelphia //

Federal Donuts – $2.50 for the best donuts you’ll ever have

Need to refuel with a midday sugar fix? Federal Donuts has five AWESOME locations in the city. They only do two things: donuts and fried chicken. And they do them oh so well. Choose either fresh and hot classic flavors (vanilla spice, strawberry lavender) or fancy, which constantly change but currently include lemon ricotta and chocolate eclair. For $9, you get half of a fried chicken, a side of Japanese cucumber pickles, and a honey donut. If you wanna indulge in some down-home fried food, Federal Donuts is the place!

Honey’s Sit’N Eat – $6-14 Brunch

This cash-only BYO is the perfect place to brunch; or breakfast, depending on when you stop by. Grab a bottle of champagne to pair with their fresh squeezed orange or grapefruit juice or, if you’re in a hurry to explore the city, take advantage of their weekday breakfast special: two eggs, potato latke, grits or home fries with toast and a bottomless cup of delicious La Colombe coffee for only $4.95!

The Cheapskate Guide to Philadelphia //

Philly Pretzel Factory – Three pretzels for $1.50

Baked fresh every day, the Philly Pretzel Factory is insanely popular, so you won’t have trouble finding a location while roaming the city. However, you may have a bit of trouble deciding on a dipping sauce to pair with your soft, freshly-baked snack. And, if you want to balance out all those carbs with some protein, try their pretzel (hot) dogs or a gooey pretzel cheesesteak.

Cheesesteaks & water ice – $2-9

If you’re visiting in the spring or summertime, be sure to complete your trip with a pit-stop for water ice! Rita’s is a beloved regional chain and Philly Flavors is the go-to around Center City, but definitely stop by John’s Water Ice if you find yourself in South Philly.

Of course, no trip to Philly is complete without a classic cheesesteak. Most people swarm to the glittering lights and hubbub of Geno’s and Pat’s rivaling mainstays on East Passyunk, but we recommend that you head a bit off the beaten path to Del Rossi’s Cheesesteak Co. or even Campo’s Deli. Trust these local favorites to prepare an authentic Philly cheesesteak that is worth every bite.

What did I miss, fellow Philadelphians? Tell us in the comments!

P.S. How to live out of a suitcase – glamorously 

photos by dave z // airbnb – patrick // airbnb – dominic // philadelphia house // chris favero // cucombre libre // kaitlin // scott d welch // dcwriterdawn // delaware river waterfront instagram // schuylkill banks // terry robinson // yakitori boy // cavanaughs // federal donuts // philly pretzel factory // xiquinhosilva