Being in the middle of the desert has its perks — sprawled along the horizon in each direction are lakes, mountains and national parks, while some of the West’s hottest destinations are just a short drive away. Beyond the road trip-worthy radius, but still not too far from home, is another layer of quick getaways, and many cost $100 or less to fly to each way.
A combination of planning the flight weeks in advance and taking advantage of airline deals can reduce the flight cost total quickly, and a half-day drive can suddenly reduced to a few hours of napping on a plane. (Prices subject to change.)
1. Salt Lake City, Utah (as low as $89.00 each way)
While Salt Lake City isn’t too far of a drive from Las Vegas, it’s an even shorter flight. Use those few extra hours to wander around downtown or pop on over to Park City for boutique shopping, great dining, beautiful hikes and the Alpine Slide. Salt Lake City and its surrounding cities offer up a variety of easily accessible activities, both indoors and outdoors, while its spread-out layout creates a laid back and quiet getaway experience.
2. San Francisco, Cali. (as low as $69)
Snap a photo at the Golden Gate Bridge, hop on an iconic cable car or take a trip to Chinatown for souvenirs and tasty food. San Francisco makes for a great summer destination with its rich and unique culture, as well as an endless list of must-try restaurants and bars. Take the ferry to Alcatraz for a tour of the 104-year-old prison for a taste of strange history that Harry Potter lovers quickly tie to Azkaban.
3. Portland, Ore. (starting around $94)
Crispy clean air, tall trees and bike lanes await travelers flying into PDX, and a short trip to the Rose City is a perfect change of pace from the Nevada desert. Portland’s downtown streets are lined with unique shops, bars and brewpubs, making any traveler’s itinerary walkable and low key. Stop by Powell’s City of Books occupying an entire block downtown filled with floors and endless rows of new and used books on every topic imaginable.
4. Denver, Colo. (starting around $79)
Nature meets tourism and culture in Denver, where out-of-towners can stack itineraries with museums, the Denver Zoo, a botanical garden, and bike rides as well as hikes in the nearby mountains. Rocky Mountain National Park’s hundreds of miles of trails and lakes matched with the city’s fun, Western heritage make for a interesting and mixed adventure.
5. San Diego, Cali. (starting around $54)
San Diego is another drivable destination, but shaving off a few hours for a ticket as cheap is $54 may be worth it to squeeze in more beach time. Spend the entire trip soaking up the sun at one of the city’s famous beaches, or split time between applying sunscreen and meals to check out the zoo or the view at Sunset Cliffs. Visitors and locals can also check out San Diego’s history in Old Town and wander around the historic buildings.
6. Albuquerque, N.M. (starting around $95)
Golf lovers can take advantage of more than a dozen courses, while outdoor enthusiasts can take to the Sandia Mountains for hiking and biking. Albuquerque is a visitor’s dream come true; the city’s loaded list of must-sees and -dos includes museums, casinos, wine and beer festivals, hot air balloon rides over the Rio Grande Valley and stunning desert views.
7. Phoenix, Ariz. (starting around $80)
Phoenix is one of many desert-embedded oases, complete with a plush botanical garden and string of museums worth a visit. There are festivals year-round, whether for music, wine or tacos. Flooded with galleries, restaurants and music venues, Phoenix makes a perfect quick getaway destination for those itching to leave the state.