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500 smackers for vacation

Long story short, I've got about five hundred dollars that I can spend on a vacation. Thinking four or five days would be nice.....
I don't know the Midwest that well....so not sure if there are places that I should hit up for a couple of days that I haven't seen in great depth: 
St. Louis? (Been there for work, but primarily near the arch)
Madison, Wisconsin? (I hear that is beautiful, never been)
Milwaukee? (Never been)
Some parts of Michigan?
The twin cities? (Minneapolis, St. Paul)

The only rule, if I drive it, it can't be more than a 3 1/2 drive one way -- long car drives really screw up my back.

I certainly don't have to spend that whole amount, but I don't want to go over that amount. I do have some free nights accrued at some hotels, thanks to points earned by business travel, so that can certainly help. I'd like to go somewhere where there are things to do, a place that is relaxing, a place that I can sleep in in the morning, a place with culture, a place with reasonable good eats, etc.
A little night life would be fine, but it doesn't have to be hustle and bustle. Friendly people/folk are a must.

I love San Diego, Hawaii, etc., but I'm not going to be able to get there, (airfare, hotel, food, etc.) for five hundred bucks.

Receptive to reading any and all ideas!

Comments

Bud: here is a package for $358. on Hotwire to Columbus for four days/five nights the second week of April. It includes three nights/four days at the Holiday Inn in the downtown area as well as roundtrip airfare, including all taxes. That would give you some bucks for expenses, although not a ton (free airport shuttles and walking to most sites downtown would help, cabs would be cheap.) Just an idea, I always prefer flying to driving! Happy shopping. Bob PS St. Louis packages are even cheaper.

http://www.hotwire.com/package/hotel-details.jsp?solutionId=32038854696&selectedPGoodId=35785868930&isNotAPopup=true&inputId=package-results&pager.offset=0


Hotel details for your Columbus, Ohio Package
See hotel amenities | See hotel location | See nearby attractions



View more photos Holiday Inn Columbus-City Center, OH
View ratings guide

The Holiday Inn City Center is a 12 story, full service hotel nestled in the heart of downtown Columbus. With the Columbus Airport just 8 miles away, and Italian and German Villages just a short drive, the hotel is ideally situated. Their professional and friendly staff is waiting to make your stay away from home as comfortable as possible.


$358 per person

($358 total price
including all taxes and fees)

Package price includes:
1 roundtrip ticket,
1 room for 3 nights, and
all taxes and fees. Back



Hotel Amenities
Airport Shuttle
Fitness Center
Pool(s)
Restaurant(s)
Business Center
High-speed Internet Access
View amenity descriptions Additional Amenities
Bar/Lounge, Concierge services, Elevators, Meeting facilities, Multilingual staff, Parking (for a fee),

Room Features
Cable/satellite TV, Color television with remote control, Room Service,


Location
175 E. Town St., Columbus, Ohio 43215


Nearby attractions
Golf - 3 miles
City Center Mall - 0.25 miles
Tennis - 3 miles
Ohio Capital Building - 0.25 miles
Palace Theater - 0.5 miles
Veterans Memorial - 1 miles
Deaf Park Topiary Garden - 0.5 miles
Franklin Park Conservatory - 2 miles
German Village - 1 miles
Italian Village - 1 miles
Ohio State University - 3 miles




Edited at 2008-03-30 06:16 am (UTC)
Have you been to Columbus?
You know, I haven't, although I have heard good things. I guess I sent this along as an example, it was the least expensive package I could find on Hotwire. You might be able to find another one with more definite dates of when you'd like to go, and as I said, St. Louis was definitely cheaper (I think that you you could do a rental car on your budget whereas this one did not include a rental car.)
Thanks. Much appreciated....!
Bud: I just got a notice from sidestep.com that Jet Blue has $59. fares from Chicago to Minneapolis, and I've always found they are just as good of a site as Hotwire for finding good fares. How is your back doing? Hope you're feeling better.
Thank you, my travel savvy friend!
Self

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