Many savvy travelers have a long-standing love affair with Alaska Airlines, a carrier known for its wallet-friendly fares, customer service and frequent flyer program.
When it comes to flying to and within Alaska, you’d be hard-pressed to find an airline offering a wider range of flights. But Alaska Airlines also services a multitude of destinations beyond its namesake state, many of which offer travelers a wealth of culinary, cultural and adventure-focused pursuits, all at a surprisingly affordable price point.
Here are five destinations that will give you a jump-start on racking up points in Alaska Airlines’ Mileage Plan program without breaking the bank.
» Learn more: 5 things the Alaska Airlines Mileage Program gets right
1. Charleston, South Carolina
Steeped in history and bursting at the seams with delicious Southern cuisine, Charleston has rightfully earned a spot on many travelers’ bucket list.
The city is easily navigated on foot, so you can skip the expense of a rental car. Be sure to set aside plenty of time to wander the cobblestone streets and narrow passageways of Charleston’s historic district.
All that walking will earn you a reason to indulge in Charleston’s culinary delights including piping hot biscuits from Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit, fresh oysters and fried chicken sandwiches at Leon’s Poultry & Oyster Shop and shrimp and grits at Fleet Landing.
2. Medford, Oregon
Located in a breathtakingly beautiful corner of Southern Oregon and boasting 200 days of sunshine a year, Medford and the surrounding Rogue Valley play host to a diverse array of activities and attractions.
» Learn more: Make your next outdoor trip an adventure in savings
Foodies and oenophiles can spend the day sampling prize-winning cheese and wine. Meanwhile, theater enthusiasts can head to nearby Ashland for its Oregon Shakespeare Festival, where you can take in classic works by the Bard, as well as a diverse mix of musicals and world-premiere plays.
Got a thirst for adventure? Crater Lake is a quick day trip away from Medford and well worth the drive to the top of the Cascade Range to view the dazzling blue water of the deepest lake in the U.S.
3. New York City
The Big Apple might be a long way from Alaska, but that hasn’t stopped the airline from servicing this vibrant — and surprisingly affordable — city. You won’t need to spend a dime to check out the city’s most iconic landmarks, including Grand Central Terminal, the New York Public Library, the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty (jump on the free Staten Island Ferry for the best views of Lady Liberty).
Travelers can also indulge in a variety of cheap eats — Mediterranean delights from The Halal Guys, a slice of classic New York pizza at the original Joe’s Pizza, burgers at Shake Shack, rich cheesecake at Junior’s, slurp-worthy ramen at Ippudo and hand-rolled bagels at Ess-a-Bagel.
» Learn more: How to find cheap things to do in any city
No visit to NYC is complete without taking in a Broadway show, so be sure to hit up the TKTS booth in Times Square to score same-day discount tickets to some of the most popular shows in town.
4. San Luis Obispo, California
This charming college town located on California’s central coast is the ideal destination for a number of reasons. What’s not to love about near-perfect weather, easy access to some of the loveliest beaches on the West Coast, proximity to world-class wineries and craft breweries and a food and cultural scene that even a college student on a budget can afford?
San Luis Obispo is a paradise for music lovers, as the area plays host to myriad live performances and music festivals throughout the year. Adventure seekers will delight at the area’s opportunities for hiking, biking, kayaking, and surfing.
» Learn more: Priceline’s top 15 millennial travel destinations
When it comes time to fuel up, visitors can sample the offerings at the city’s famed Downtown Farmers Market or indulge in some barbecue at local hangout Firestone Grill.
5. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Alaska Airlines also flies to some international destinations, reaching cities in Canada, Costa Rica and Mexico. And when it comes to such getaways, you couldn’t find a more inviting one than Puerto Vallarta, where you’ll be greeted by beautiful beaches and warm local hospitality.
A favorable exchange rate helps travelers who want to stay at an all-inclusive resort. Couples will enjoy cozying up in the city’s Zona Romantica, while history buffs can take a trip through time as they marvel at the architecture and cultural sites of Zona Centro.
How to maximize your rewardsYou want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2019, including those best for:
- Airline miles and a large bonus: The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
- No annual fee: The Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card
- Flat-rate rewards with no annual fee: The Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
- Premium travel rewards: The Chase Sapphire Reserve®
- Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
- Business travelers: The Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card
Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice:
6 smart ways to travel cheaply
How to save for a vacation
5 things the Alaska Airlines Mileage plan gets right