Hipmunk City Love: 12 Fun Activities in Houston for Those on a Budget

Blog Post Type: Planning a Trip to a City

If you’re visiting Houston and you need to stick to a tight budget, you don’t need to spend a lot of money to have a wonderful time. A number of destinations in Houston are free or low-cost.

1. Spend an evening under the stars watching classical music, ballet, dance, film, and more at Miller Outdoor Theater in Hermann Park. The events are free of charge, and BYOB is welcome.

2. Art enthusiasts can check out the Menil Collection. This art collection by philanthropists John and Dominique de Menil is a local treasure and one of the top free destinations in Houston. If eclectic, eccentric and surrealism captures your interest, the Menil Collection will satisfy your cravings.


Photo by Scott Roth Events via Trover.com

3. Go on a walk and talk while shopping for fresh produce at the Green Market in Discovery Green Park. If you are visiting in the spring or fall, come back in the evening to listen to live music in the amphitheater.

4. Enjoy a history lesson of the Port of Houston with a 90-minute boat tour. Visitors will see freighters and barges leave and arrive along the 50-mile channel. Reservations are required, but the tour is free.

5. Tour Houston using Houston Greeters. This unique tour offers insights from local residents as they take travelers to local attractions and cultural destinations. Do you need someone to jog with or play a round of golf? You may join a Houston Greeter to take part in various activities.

6. Do you love museums and the great outdoors? The Heritage Society is an outdoor interactive museum and park in Sam Houston Park. The Heritage Society educates and preserves Houston’s rich history through collections and exhibits.


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7. If the summer heat is getting to you while you explore Houston, make your way over to Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park and cool off with the park’s architectural fountain, which pumps 78,500 gallons of water every three hours. This 3-acre park, surrounded by 186 oak trees, is perfect for an afternoon break.

8. If you’re hungry and don’t want to wait in lines for a meal, go to Doozo Dumplings and Noodles. The line moves quickly, so have your cash ready. Doozo’s is takeout only, so you’ll be in and out in no time to enjoy a classic Japanese meal.

9. Enjoy a $1 afternoon espresso Monday through Friday (4 to 7 p.m.) at Antidote Coffee House. Exposed brick walls, motley groupings of furniture and artwork, and rubberized concrete floors gives this coffee-house a homey feel for those seeking an eclectic getaway and a caffeine rush.

10. Houston will fulfill your sweet tooth with a variety of gourmet bakeries including The Chocolate Bar, Dessert Gallery, Pondicheri Bake Lab + Shop, and more. Don’t deny yourself a tasty sweet treat, especially when you know you’ll burn it off as you continue your city tour.


Photo by Julia Anuras via Trover.com

11. To save money on Houston’s popular attractions, buy a CityPASS. This booklet of tickets costs $51 for adults or $41 for children. Each booklet has tickets for five attractions. Overall, the CityPASS will save you about half the regular prices you would normally spend.

12. Start your budget savings by staying in cheap hotels in Houston. Hotels are more expensive during the week, but rates go down over the weekend. Plan your travels right, and you’ll save a lot of money in America’s fourth-largest city.

Feature photo by Alonzo Williams Jr via Trover.com

About the Writer

Tony is a freelance travel writer and photographer, roller coaster enthusiast and self-proclaimed Sudoku master. He’s based in the Midwest U.S. and blogs at The Walking Traveler. He is working with Hipmunk on their #HipmunkCityLove Project.

11 Activities to Consider While in Naples, Italy

“Blog Post Type: Planning a Trip to a City”

Naples is one of the oldest cities in Italy with its historic center as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Italy’s third largest city is home to fine art, exceptional architecture, and a world-class food scene serving pizza, pasta, and coffee that is worthy of being the best in the country. Her culture, streets, and buildings are old, but she welcomes traveler’s with open arms. Here are 11 activities and attractions to experience while in Naples.

Naples 1

Photo by Piccolo Lorenzo via Trover.com

1. If you are a pizza aficionado, plan your trip to Naples in September for Pizzafest. This famous pizza making contest is the world’s largest celebration of pizza. The dates change every year, so research the event while planning your trip.

2. Do Greek and Roman antiquities spark an interest? Visit the Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli where you will see mosaics, sculptures, gems, Roman erotica from Pompeii, and more in this late 18th century museum established by King Charles II.

3. If your sweet tooth flares up while in Naples, you’re in luck. Naples is well-known for its pasticceria (pastries). Find a coffee shop and you’ll find fantastic pastries. Some of the more popular pastries are baba, jaka pastiera, sfogliatella, and zeppole.

 4. Summer in Naples gives travelers the opportunity to watch movies under the stars at accordi @ DISACCORDI Open Air Cinema Festival. Surrounded by an artificial lake, the amphitheater uses wide-screen projection and is a favorite summer activity of the locals. Don’t miss this outdoor cinema experience.

Naples 2

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5. Are you a lover of water and enjoy snorkeling and diving? Go to Centro Sub Campi Flegrei and explore the Gulf of Naples around the Phelgraean Islands and the Archeological Park of Baiae.

6. A lot of eye candy is on display at Castelnuovo (Maschio Angioino). This medieval castle is home to Naples main city museum. After feasting your eyes on 19th century Italian paintings, walk up to the roof and capture a view of Napoli.

7. Grab some chairs or blankets and join the locals on the Bay of Naples for a glorious sunset.

8. Spend an afternoon watching fishmongers in action at the Mercato di Porta Nolana street market. Fresh produce, cheese, and baked goods are also available along with contraband items including cigarettes and bootleg CDs.

9. Fans of opera can experience a show at the San Carlo Theater. This is Europe’s oldest working theater and Italy’s largest. Tours are available of the facility as well.

Naples 3

Photo by Piccolo Lorenzo via Trover.com

10. Naples is home to three castles. The 13th century Castel Nuovo, Castel Sant’Elmo, and the 12 century Castel dell’Ovo (Egg Castle). Each castle offers different views of Naples and tells a rich history of the city.

11. Drive along the coast. Start north of Naples and drive down to the Amalfi Coast and back. Relax, feel the open air, and live in the moment while traveling this waterside roadway.

There are plenty of budget hotels in Naples for the smart traveler who wants to spend more on experiences and less on material goods. Travel is a great form of education and Naples has plenty of history to learn from. Budget wisely, spend intelligently, and you’ll fee richer after exploring Napoli.

Feature photo by Matilde Civitillo via Trover.com

About the Writer

Tony is a freelance travel writer and photographer, roller coaster enthusiast and self-proclaimed Sudoku master. He’s based in the Midwest U.S. and blogs at The Walking Traveler. He is working with Hipmunk on their #HipmunkCityLove Project.

Dubai: An Eclectic Mix of People and Their Ideas – Hipmunk City Love

Blog Post Type: Summary of a City Guide

There is nothing small about Dubai. The expression “go big or go home” is fitting for this desert city. As one of the seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates, Dubai is modern and progressive. With its liberal policies and forward thinking for the region, tourists can engage in sunbathing, partying, and other sinful pleasures otherwise not seen in the Middle East. Dubai has the largest immigration population in the world, including people from India, Pakistan, China, and Europe. It’s a smorgasbord of music, architecture, food, arts, and sport, giving travelers various perspectives of world culture in an unlikely place.

Dubai 1

Photo by Emily Sabo via Trover.com


Dubai is often portrayed as a playground for the wealthy. While this is true, it has a food scene for every budget. Travelers can spend high for international cuisine at one of the various hotels, save a little with access to a variety of quality mid-range foods, or stay within budget while enjoying many regional foods and local cuisines that will please any palate. If street food is your choice, try shawarma. This Arabic version of a burger is meat cut into thin strips and placed in a kuhbus (pita) with vegetables and dressing. It’s cheap and found throughout the city and at various restaurants.

Water Activities and the Great Outdoors

The Arabian Peninsula offers some of the best water-sport activities in the world. The Sharjah enclave on the east coast, Khor Fakkan, is known for pristine diving on coral reefs. If you’re a fisherman, spend a relaxing day catching queen fish, snapper, Spanish mackerel, cobia, and more on one of the modern luxury vessels suited for comfort and convenience. Travelers can charter yachts for a relaxing ride on the water, speed yachts are available for the thrill seekers, and couples can enjoy a romantic time in tranquil waters.

Dubai 2

Photo by Anna Nicolai via Trover.com

With desert dominating the landscape, the adventurous can rent quad bikes, dune buggies, and 4×4 safari jeeps to go dune bashing. Patrons have access to an extensive fleet to drive and rip through the desert sands at speeds that are comfortable to the individual driver. For those who don’t want to risk bodily harm, travelers can tour the local zoo, visit the 72,000 square metre Dubai Miracle Garden with its 45 million flowers, or enjoy a hot air balloon ride. If you are traveling in the winter, witness the area camel races that are held on Thursdays and Fridays.


Dubai is synonymous with shopping. There are hundreds of malls and markets scattered throughout the emirate for the consumer enthusiast. Escape the heat in these air-conditioned oases where textiles, gold, and electronics are the popular goods and the best things to buy. One can even experience a taste of winter in the Mall of the Emirates by skiing down an indoor ski hill built into the mall. Dubai is so shopper friendly, they host a Dubai Shopping Festival from the beginning of January until the end of February and the Dubai Summer Surprises festival in the summer.

Dubai is a vacation kingdom for the wealthy, but it also caters to the business traveler and international tourist. There are many hotels in Dubai to choose from in this desert playground that caters to everyone’s needs. Think big and play big when traveling to Dubai and you’ll fit in.

Feature Photo by Ahmed Hamada via Trover.com

About the Writer

Tony is a freelance travel writer and photographer, roller coaster enthusiast and self-proclaimed Sudoku master. He’s based in the Midwest U.S. and blogs at The Walking Traveler. He is working with Hipmunk on their #HipmunkCityLove Project.

Venezia: Rejuvenation After a Day of Exploration, Hipmunk City Love Style

Venice is one of the world’s most romantic cities. She’s made up of 117 islands connected by more than 400 bridges. Walking and traveling via the canals are the best ways to traverse this historic island city. Her centuries-old Venetian Gothic architecture and art scene are two reasons to slow down and soak in all of her history. St. Mark’s Square in the center of the city is a hub for people to eat, people watch, and relax before, during and after a day of roaming Venice. With your feet sore and body achy after a day of walking Venice, head back to your hotel for pampering and revitalization for the next day’s exploration. Here are 5 spa hotels that will complement and balance your visit to Venezia.

Venice 1

Photo By Lys Almonte via Trover.com 

1. End your day exploring Venice a little early and head back to the Palace Bonvecchiati hotel and recharge your body in their spa. Detox in a sauna, steam bath, or a whirlpool. Massages and beauty treatments are available upon request. The spa is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., so plan accordingly.

2. Wellness at The Westin Europa & Regina, Venice extends beyond a regular spa. Guests can receive an in-room spa where a soothing atmosphere is created, starting with a spa basket that includes aromatherapy oils, music, flowers, a bottle of water and a snack. Finish off the evening with signature Heavenly Bath and White Tea Aloe bath amenities.

3. The Bauer Palladio Hotel & Spa is available to all Bauer hotel clients. The spa offers Spa Rituals for individuals and couples. The Ritual of Dreams, Hammam Ritual, and the “Me & You” Raspberry Wellness Treatment for couples offers various treatments, including Turkish baths, inhalation of balsamic essences, and a dip in the king size Jacuzzi. Individual treatments include massages, a detoxifying silk treatment, and application of volcanic clay. The spa menu is extensive and it has something for everyone.

Venice 2

Photo by llaria, Wanderlust at Heart via Trover.com

4. The Boscolo Venezia Spa and Well-Being Center’s beauty treatments cater to the health, diet and esthetic medicine of its clients. A tranquil atmosphere allows guests to relax while receiving one of many massages offered including a tension-relieving, relaxing massage, a draining massage that encourages lymphatic circulation, and a Quirgolf massage—a deep tissue massage ideal for soothing pain and soreness. Guests can also receive facials, body rubs, a vitamin scrub, and a marine algae wrap. The Boscolo Venezia, Autograph Collection provides luxury from head-to-toe.

5. Located on the private island of San Clemente, The St. Regis Venice San Clemente Palace is an island retreat that caters to the relaxation and rejuvenation of the traveler’s mind, body, and soul. Guests can stroll through the linden, cypress, and elm trees in the six hectares of gardens after a busy day of walking Venice’s streets. This private retreat has a swimming pool, a centuries-old park, and a church to renew wedding vows. If you are seeking privacy and intimacy, St. Regis Venice Clemente Palace is yours for the taking.

Enjoy walking Venice. Let your feet get a little sore and your body exhausted. Your spa retreat will be waiting with the professional caretakers ready to relax and revitalize you to walk the streets another day.

Photo Feature by Barb via Trover.com

About the Writer

Tony is a freelance travel writer and photographer, roller coaster enthusiast and self-proclaimed Sudoku master. He’s based in the Midwest U.S. and blogs at The Walking Traveler. He is working with Hipmunk on their #HipmunkCityLove Project.

Hipmunk City Love: Explore Local London

Blog Post Type: Expert Opinion Piece

London is one of the world’s greatest cities. With ubiquitous coverage in the media, photos of its famous landmarks published and shared everywhere, it is instantly recognized by tens of millions. It is Europe’s most visited city, attracting 14 million visitors annually. The Tower Bridge, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, and the London Eye are top attractions for tourists to see and photograph. The metropolitan area is home to more than 13 million inhabitants who speak more than 300 languages. With such diversity, you can learn a lot from the culture and people. Take a walk off the beaten path and experience some of the lesser known activities and attractions the locals engage in.

Trafalgar Square

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What To Do

London has a world-class music scene. Huge concert events occur throughout the year. If you are unable to experience a larger-scale show, you have plenty of alternative opportunities to see live music. Hundreds of venues and small pubs around the city organize and host live music throughout the week. For those on a tight budget, many of the live shows in smaller places are free. The music scene is diverse and covers many genres, so you won’t miss your favorites. To find a place for the type of music you like, visit LONDONEARS.

If you’re a fan of Shakespeare, Virginia Woolf, and T.S. Eliot, join the Literary London Walking Tour. The Literary Tour is a guided walk that takes you down the streets and past some of the buildings featured in these writer’s famous literary masterpieces. You’ll see some of the lesser known areas of London that was a backdrop for the author’s stories and characters. Another guided tour is the Discover Walk tour of London. Join locals on this informative tour of major landmarks. You’ll also learn about local festivals, where to shop, and good places to eat.

London Beatles

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Fans of trivia can quiz their fellow gamers with the London Pub Quiz. This British pub quiz is a popular event that occurs Sunday through Thursday in hundreds of pubs throughout London. Do you have what it takes to beat locals at their own game? Grab a pint and give it a try.

What To See

Unless you are moving to London, you’ll not have enough time to see everything this historic city has to offer. Outside of major landmarks and buildings that are on everyone’s must-see list, visitors can see the lighter side of London by visiting area parks including Bushy Park, Richmond Park (an excellent place for biking), and Holland Park (a nice spot for peace and quiet). If you’re in town with your partner, take a romantic stroll through the gardens of St. James Park.

St. James Park

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London is home to world-class museums. If your budget is getting tighter by the day but you still want to check out the art scene, you can find more than half a dozen museums that are partly free, including the British Museum, National Gallery, Tate Modern, and Victoria and Albert Museum.

London is huge, so plan accordingly. Find hotels in London that will fit your budget, thus allowing for more time and money on experiences that will last a lifetime. Think “less is more,” and you’ll have an amazing time on the River Thames.

Feature Photo by Andy Yee via Trover.com

About the Writer

Tony is a freelance travel writer and photographer, roller coaster enthusiast and self-proclaimed Sudoku master. He’s based in the Midwest U.S. and blogs at The Walking Traveler. He is working with Hipmunk on their #HipmunkCityLove Project.