Ten Cheapest Places to Fly

ninjanoodles, flickr

There are a lot of mixed messages out there about airline prices. Some say they are up, some say they are down. Click ahead for the 10 least expensive places to fly in the US and start planning your trip. And don't worry, these are not boring out of the way destinations. The list includes everywhere from gambling hot spots to Florida beaches to California escapes.

Ten Cheapest Places to Fly

There are a lot of mixed messages out there about airline prices. Some say they are up, some say they are down. Luckily the Bureau of Transportation Statistics cleared all that up by ranking prices for domestic itineraries at the top 100 airports in the US. They found that the average fare dropped 13 percent in the second quarter of 2009. Good news indeed. The most expensive airport to fly into was Huntsville, Alabama (which also held the top spot in 2008) with an average ticket price of $471.10. Rounding out the top five were Grand Rapids, Michigan; Savannah, Georgia; Washington/Dulles; and Houston/Bush. But enough about the most expensive places. What were the cheapest? Click ahead for the 10 least expensive places to fly in the US and start planning your trip. And don't worry, these are not boring out of the way destinations. The list includes everywhere from gambling hot spots to Florida beaches to California escapes.

Top 10 Most Expensive Airports
1. Huntsville, AL
2. Grand Rapids, MI
3. Savannah, GA
4. Washington Dulles, VA
5. Houston Bush, TX
6. Newark-Liberty, NJ
7. Fresno, CA
8. Pensacola, FL
9. Charleston, SC
10. Knoxville TN

Ten Cheapest Places to Fly

Average Fare: $239.73

Why Go: Niagara Falls and all its kitschy wonder is 20 minutes from downtown Buffalo. Some of the best views are from Terrapin Point in Niagara Falls State Park, where you can hike in the summer and cross-country ski during the snowy winters. Architecture buffs flock here to see some of Frank Lloyd Wright's most ambitious projects. The Darwin D. Martin complex in Buffalo includes one of Wright's earliest Prairie Houses, and Graycliff, the Martins' summer house, is just south of the city.

Don't Miss: Do it up at the Falls with a ride on the Maid of the Mist, a tradition since 1846. There's a reason millions of people have put on a hooded raincoat and head out for the 30-minute boat ride. It's the closest you can (safely) get to the 180-foot-tall falls (716-284-8897; www.maidofthemist.com).

Ten Cheapest Places to Fly

Why Go: The Windy City's legendary museums like the Art Institute of Chicago and sculpture-filled Millennium Park hold some of the country's most iconic creations. Shopping doesn't get much better than along the Magnificent Mile, home to grand department stores and designer boutiques. Go 103-stories up in the Willis Tower to the Sears Tower Skydeck for a panoramic view of the city's skyscrapers and waterfront.

Don't Miss: The Museum Campus on Lake Michigan is made up of three institutions that would each be worth a trip in their own right. Start in outer space at the Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum (1300 S. Lake Shore Dr.; 312-922-7827; adlerplanetarium.org). Come back down to earth at the natural history Field Museum and say hi to the world's most complete T. Rex (1400 S. Lakeshore Dr.; 312-922-9410; fieldmuseum.org). Then go under water at the Shedd Aquarium, home to 22,000 of our aquatic friends (1200 S. Lake Shore Dr.; 312-939-2438; sheddaquarium.org).

Ten Cheapest Places to Fly

Average Fare: $234.63

Why Go: Oakland is usually used as an alternative to flying into San Francisco, which is right across the bay (and about $100 more expensive, on average), but there are reasons to stick around the historical waterfront city. You can cruise out on USS Potomac, known as FDR's "Floating Whitehouse," or if you'd rather be in the driver's seat the Oakland Estuary is perfect for kayaking. See some of California's natural history at the Redwood Regional Park (home to a forest of 150-foot-tall redwoods).

Don't Miss: Besides the famous Painted Ladies, much of San Francisco's Victorian architecture was destroyed in the great 1906 earthquake. Oakland was lucky and preserved much of its historical architecture. Go for a walk in the 1870s Old Oakland Historic District, now home to restaurants, shops, and galleries. Then visit the Camron-Stanford House, a period-perfect 1876 mansion on Lake Merritt (1418 Lakeside Dr.; 510-444-1876; cshouse.org).

Ten Cheapest Places to Fly

Average Fare: $232.85

Why Go: Like Oakland, Burbank is a second-tier California airport, this time servicing Los Angeles (where you also pay about $100 more per ticket). The main reason to stay in Burbank is for the studio tours. You can also finagle free tickets to TV-show tapings, including current ratings winners like The Big Bang Theory and Two and a Half Men.

Don't Miss: The Warner Brothers Studio tour is a must-do. The two-hour tour takes you around the back lots and stops at special effects demonstrations as well as working sets. Only 12 people do the tour at a time and it's the only way to get into the memorabilia-packed Warner Brothers Museum (818-972-8687; www2.warnerbros.com/vipstudiotour).

Ten Cheapest Places to Fly

Average Fare: $232.56

Why Go: Do you even have to ask? Casinos, shows, nightlife, and restaurants make up the bulk of the area's attractions. But there are wonders of nature afoot, like the striking Valley of Fire State Park, when you want a break from the glitz. The Grand Canyon is a day trip, or a helicopter tour, away. The man-made wonder of the Hoover Dam is about a 40-minute drive from the Strip as well.

Don't Miss: The neon is bright in Vegas, but nature's vibrancy is on display at the Valley of Fire State Park. Come to see the red sandstone cliffs in this Mojave Desert park. You'll also find petroglyphs carved by ancient Native Americans as well as bighorn sheep. The hour-long drive to the park from Vegas also takes you past another wonder: Lake Mead.

Ten Cheapest Places to Fly

Average Fare: $292.12

Why Go: Fort Lauderdale is a great alternative to more sceney Miami, with great beaches. The Riverwalk is where you will find the city's museums, including the Museum of Art and Museum of Discovery and Science, and theaters. Historic homes are also a big draw to Fort Lauderdale. Check out the eccentrically decorated Bonnet House (think shelves full of shells and turtle-mosaic ceilings) and the Stranahan House, once the home of a city founder Frank Stranahan and filled with early 1900s artifacts from his life.

Don't Miss: The city has 23 miles of beaches, so there is something for everyone. Deerfield Beach to the north, known as the family-friendly beach, has a fishing pier and a boardwalk. If you want a little bit of a scene, head to the aptly named Hollywood Beach. Dania Beach is the least crowded beach and is know for its seafood restaurants featuring just-caught stone crabs.

Ten Cheapest Places to Fly

Average Fare: $227.78

Why Go: The name Disney has become synonymous with Orlando, and chances are you have brought the kids there to breakfast with Mickey and ride Space Mountain. New attractions are being added all the time. Aquatica, a Sea World water park, opened in March 2008 and the hotly anticipated Wizarding World of Harry Potter ride opens at Universal Studios Orlando in spring 2010.

Don't Miss: Disney did a major overhaul of its movie-themed park in 2008, once known as Disney-MGM Studios but now rechristened Disney's Hollywood Studios. The park centers on Broadway-style shows like Beauty and the Beast, a 3-D Toy Story interactive ride, and the American Idol Experience where you can audition for a chance to go to Hollywood (407-939-7675; Disneyworld.com).

Ten Cheapest Places to Fly

Average Fare: $222.59

Why Go: Dallas has taken its downtown revitalization very seriously, as evidenced by the newly formed Dallas Arts District. Besides museums and modern-day skyscrapers, the downtown has historic hotels and landmark restaurants to recreate the oil baron days (book at tabled the always top-rated French Room at the Adolphus Hotel). The city's history does not get more striking than the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, which includes exhibits and first-hand accounts of the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

Don't Miss: The 19-block Dallas Arts District includes Pritzker Prize-winning buildings by I.M. Pei, Renzo Piano, and Norman Foster. Some of the city's best museums are found here as well. Explore the extensive Dallas Museum of Art (1717 North Harwood; 214-922-1200; www.dm-art.org), but be sure to save time for the outstanding Crow Collection of Asian Art, which has galleries dedicated to Chinese, Japanese, Indian, and Southeast Asian art (210 Flora St.; 214-979-6430; crowcollection.org).

Ten Cheapest Places to Fly

Average Fare: $216.14

Why Go: This Pacific Coast town is only about half an hour south of Los Angeles – not including traffic, of course. Its oceanfront location makes it ideal for the comprehensive Aquarium of the Pacific. If you stay in Long Beach, be prepared to get out on the water, whether by touring (or staying on) the Queen Mary, the historic ocean liner that is now docked here, or taking the ferry to nearby Catalina Island.

Don't Miss: The Aquarium of the Pacific includes species from all over the vast ocean, about 12,500 in all. This includes sea lions from Baja, an octopus from the Bering Sea, and porcupine puffers from Micronesia. It's a hands-on museum, meaning you can reach in and make a new friend at the Shark Lagoon – if you dare. The aquarium also runs whale-watching tours in the spring to track grey whale migration (100 Aquarium Way; 562-590-3100; aquariumofpacific.org).

Ten Cheapest Places to Fly

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