Charity: Fundraising efforts frequently provide ways to enjoy phenomenal local food for less. One example is the annual Clearwater Beach Uncorked event in Florida, which raises money for a number of causes, including transitional support services for disabled veterans. Ticket holders get to enjoy gourmet food samples from the area's top restaurants, as well as beverage pours from a wide variety of wine and spirit vendors. While a great value in its own right, further savings can be enjoyed by taking advantage of package perks with the Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort and Spa. As the event's host hotel, the resort offers discounted suites with full kitchens, living rooms, multiple bathrooms and walk-out balconies. Half-priced event tickets also come with the lower-priced room rates.
Meatless meals also make for relatively affordable road trip dining, as vegetarian and vegan entrees are regularly available for a few bucks less per menu item than their carnivorous counterparts. Some of my favorites include the vegetarian spring rolls and bruschetta flatbread at Patrick's in Sarasota, Florida and the veg-friendly risotto at Silver in Park City, Utah.
Culture: The Arts Garage in Delray Beach boasts a variety of performance artists ranging from jazz musicians and keyboardists to full-blown theater casts. Since tickets typically range from $25-$35, and guests are encouraged to bring their own wine, snacks and picnic dinners to enjoy at an intimate candlelit table, it's a venue that makes dinner and a show extremely affordable. It also allows visitors to customize their experience with local foods from the city's Saturday outdoor green market if they so choose. Sailmainecoast.com provides booking opportunities with the Maine Windjammer Association, which offers multi-day cruises starting at $230, including the cost of meals. With sailing being such a large part of Maine's cultural heritage, and the homemade meals celebrating such local delicacies as wild blueberry pie, hand-cranked ice cream, warm cinnamon rolls and steamed mussels, this is a culinary value that's tough to beat.
Theriault is the best-selling co-author of the book "10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget," and founder of TrekHound.com, a website for independent travelers. She also founded TheLessonMachine.com, a website for teachers.