In less than one week, we’ll mark the unofficial start of the summer travel season.
With everything costing more this year, Channel 11 has gone on the hunt for fun for you and your family and found quick trips that won’t bust the budget.
There are plenty of places within driving range that you’ve likely visited before. Places like Lake Erie, Hershey Park and even the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.
But here are three budget-friendly hidden gems you can visit on one tank of gas each:
There’s nothing like packing a duffel and backpack and taking off for a few days away.
Just ask Ryan Quinn and Cassie Rusnak. They’re passionate about seeing the country from their car. As a hobby, the Pittsburgh couple documents their cool and quirky finds on their YouTube channel: “Just a Quick Detour.” Quinn is also a Channel 11 editor.
We asked Quinn and Rusnak to recommend hidden gems that you can drive to and from Pittsburgh on less than one tank of gas. A mid-sized SUV holds about 15 gallons of gas. The SUV will get about 28 miles per gallon, so figure a maximum of 420 miles, roundtrip.
For starters, you might not know this, but the world’s oldest rollercoaster is 99 miles away from Downtown Pittsburgh at Lakemont Park in Altoona. “Leap the Dips” is a side-friction rollercoaster that is 101 years old.
“You’d think maybe a coaster from 1902 might not be that exciting, but it is,” said Rusnak.
“It’s called ‘Leap the Dips’ because you actually do get a little bit of a pop coming off some of these hills where the front wheels leave the track for a second,” said Quinn. “It’s genuinely thrilling because you’re actually popping off the track.”
As a bonus, there’s no pricey admission to get in. You can pay $3 per person, per ride. There are pavilions for picnicking, so pack a lunch and stay for the day.
While you’re in Altoona, check out the Pirates’ AA affiliate team the Altoona Curve. There’s a two-for-Tuesday special--- buy one, get one free tickets, hotdogs and small popcorn!
Trip two is 79 miles Northwest of Pittsburgh in Alliance, Ohio.
If your kids love trolls, stop at the Troll Hole. It’s a two-story museum with 14 rooms filled with the little mythical guys curated by Alliance resident Sherry Groom.
“There’s pop culture trolls from the new movie. There’s old school trolls and she also focuses on trolls as part of Scandinavian mythology,” said Ryan.
Grab a bite at Mad Dogs and Crazy Cats Cafe. You can adopt a cat, or just hang out for the day. For the adults, there’s a comedy escape room just down the street.
Ninety miles to the west, AAA travel experts say this is the perfect time of year to visit Ohio’s Amish Country.
“The fields are growing, and you get the experience and learn why the Amish live the way they live, said AAA’s Marita Williams. There’s a lot of things you can do inexpensively or free.”
Williams says you can watch as the Amish craft quilts and make cheese. The area has also become a destination point for people who love local wineries.
For overnight stays at any location, Williams says don’t be afraid to ask the front desk for last-minute deals or an upgrade. Research ahead of time for hotel freebies.
“One other really good way to save money now, especially with families, is get that breakfast included,” said Williams.
Just a couple of ideas to get you and your family started on some quick getaways this summer.
If you want to search for your own hidden gems, our travel advisors recommend this website: https://www.roadsideamerica.com/
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