Plan an enlightening and affordable college town escape - Page 2

by , SmarterTravel Staff
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on September 23, 2004. To see the most recent SmarterTravel articles on related topics, please click on any of the following links: Ann Arbor, Berkeley, Boulder, Charlottesville, destination, Molly Feltner, vacation package.

If you're traveling to another city to watch a game, both American and Delta offer special last-minute fares to select destinations corresponding with game schedules. Check out American's Football Fares and Delta's Fan Fares to see if there's a deal to the game you'd like to attend.

If you're not interested in football, you can often see other fall college sports for little or no cost. Soccer, golf, tennis, cross-country, crew, volleyball, and field hockey will all be in season, and the teams will be eager for support. For example, you could attend a Northwestern football game for $15 to $40 per person, a volleyball game for $3 to $5, or a soccer match for free.

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To find the schedules and ticket prices for games at a specific college, go to the school's website and look under "Athletics."

Accommodations and dining

University websites sometimes list suggestions for where to stay and eat when visiting, but the best way to find affordable accommodations and dining is to go to the website of the local convention and visitors bureau. You can usually find listings of area hotels and motels with contact information and website links. Some CVB sites even have hotel booking engines, making it easy to quickly compare rates for specific dates.

There are certain factors to keep in mind when looking for a hotel room in a college town. Unless the university you're visiting is situated in a big city, chances are that major college events will directly effect hotel costs and availability. If your visit coincides with an event like homecoming or commencement—a time when alumni and families travel to campus—you'll have to book far in advance to secure a hotel room. Check the campus calendar online to see if any major events are scheduled during the time you hope to visit. During busy times, the hotels located closest to the university will likely be the most expensive and crowded, so you may need to look some distance from campus to find availablity and rates in your price range. Visiting a campus during the summer or winter break, when most students are away, may yield the lowest hotel rates.

Finding cheap dining on or near college campuses is often an easier task. Since the restaurants near universities often cater to the diverse tastes and frugal budgets of students, you'll usually find a wide array of affordable dining options, such as coffee shops, ethnic restaurants, pubs, and take-away joints. And, if you'd prefer something nicer, there's often at least one upscale restaurant in town for those weekends when parents come to visit.

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