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Top US Budget Destinations for 2012 Travel
By:S Hurley Hall

Do your plans for 2012 include a vacation - a real vacation? Is your travel limited by the amount you can spend? Then you're in luck. Following is a guide to four of the best U.S. destinations in 2012 for a great getaway that easily fits into your travel budget.

Kansas City, Missouri

This city smack in the middle of the heartland is more sophisticated than you might imagine thanks to the recent addition of the brand new Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. The Kansas City Ballet, Kansas City Symphony and the Lyric Opera all perform at this beautiful new cultural center, which also hosts various other forms of entertainment; there's sure to be something of your liking during your stay in Kansas City.

Nearby you'll find the Crossroads Arts District, Kansas City's answer to SoHo or Haight-Ashbury. Here you'll find numerous art galleries, boutiques and cafes, some of which are housed in old, renovated buildings that harken back to Kansas City's roots as a cattle town.

Price-wise, you'll love Kansas City, whose hotels and car rentals have remained at or below 2010 levels. You'll pay more during the September high season, when there are lots of festivals going on. Best times to visit are early summer and late autumn, when the weather is nice and there aren't large crowds.

San Antonio, Texas

This year visitors to San Antonio can enjoy the newly renovated and expanded River Walk, a popular tourist attraction nearly as busy as the Alamo. It's easy to walk or bike along the river and find a variety of shops and restaurants sure to please everyone in your party. If you're looking for exercise, the City of San Antonio now offers daily bike rentals for $10 a pop.

Hotel rates are lower than last year, making it easy to stay at a beautiful, four-star property for around $100 per night. If you want an even better deal, visit the San Antonio Vacation Experience website, which promotes discounted rooms throughout the year. You'll pay more in the spring, the city's high season and time for big festivals, but that's also when the weather is nicest.

San Diego, California

The great thing about San Diego is that the weather is near-perfect all year round. Whether you enjoy surfing, golfing, beach-combing you're sure to find something you love in San Diego. Skip Disneyland and opt for this more southern California destination to enjoy such family-friendly attractions as the San Diego Zoo, Legoland, the San Diego Museum, Old Town, or Sea World.

Both hotel and rental car prices are down slightly from 2010 levels and expected to continue this decrease. If your main goal is to visit the beach, plan on a summer trip, when rates will be a bit higher. Winter and early spring are the most economical times to visit San Diego and so far airfares this year have been very affordable.

San Francisco, California

The nice thing about San Francisco is the availability of the BART system, which will take you and your family nearly anywhere you want to go in the City By the Bay, whether that's Chinatown, to the beach, or on a tour of art galleries and coffee shops. Of course, a ride on one of the city's famous trolleys is a great way to see some of the Victorian gingerbread architecture lining the hilly streets. San Francisco's accommodations are far cheaper than what you'll find on the East Coast, with nice hotels going for about $100 per night and loads of fresh local food on the menu at bargain prices.

For budget-friendly activities, sign up for a free walking tour or opt for the City Pass, which combines a cable car ride with several attractions for one price.

You needn't spend a lot of money to take a great trip with your family this year. Buy your plane tickets, make your airport parking reservation, and head on out to see any of these fantastic, budget-friendly destinations right here in the USA.

S. Hurley Hall runs the Taking Off Travel Blog for off airport parking provider ParkRideFlyUSA. It covers travel destinations, business travel, travel gadgets, travel tips and more. Find the blog and a host of travel resources at http://www.ParkRideFlyUSA.com.

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