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Getting the Biggest Bang for Your Buck

What can you get for a buck? Usually not much -- maybe a lottery ticket, or two stamps or a quarter of a tall Frappuccino. 

Or, with this deal from megabus.com, you can travel between Pittsburgh and any of 15 cities through August. That's even more impressive as gas prices top $4 a gallon across much of the nation.

 With a stop in Pittsburgh, it's possible to travel between the Midwest and the Northeast for as little as $2 each way (for example, $1 from Detroit to Pittsburgh, then $1 from Pittsburgh to NYC). Just be aware that delays due to weather or traffic are sometimes unavoidable, so schedule a layover of a few hours in Pittsburgh to lessen the chances of missing a connection. 

Here are some good reasons to visit each of these cities this summer. 

Akron, Ohio: Catch “M.C. Escher: Impossible Realities” through May 29 at the Akron Art Museum, one of only two U.S. venues for an exhibit of 130 of the artist’s works, on loan from the Herakleidon Museum in Athens, Greece. Also, Tiger Woods looks to get back on track by winning the World Golf Championships - Bridgestone Invitational (Aug. 3-7) for the eighth time, which would tie Sam Snead’s PGA Tour record for most victories at a single event.  

Buffalo: The National Buffalo Wing Festival (Sept. 3-4) falls just outside the travel period for this sale -- but don’t despair. If you book early, a limited number of $1 fares will still be available. Three tractor trailers delivered 45 tons of chicken wings to last year’s event. This year’s festivities will be highlighted by the Running of the Chickens, the Miss Buffalo Wing Pageant and, of course, the U.S. Chicken Wing Eating Championship. Joey Chestnut will be looking for payback (and Pepto) after being upset in last year’s contest by 5-foot-tall Sonya “The Black Widow” Thomas. 

Camden, N.J.: Visit the USS New Jersey, which engaged in combat operations during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. It’s been a museum ship since 2001, and will be open for tours from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. every day this summer. It also hosts special events like “Salsa on the Battleship.” Sounds fun, but it would be better if they had a Lil' Jon concert and called it, “You Crunk My Battleship!” 

Cincinnati: The exhibit “Cleopatra: The Search for the Last Great Queen” has nearly 150 artifacts of Egypt’s legendary queen. See it through Sept. 5 at the Cincinnati Museum Center, which is the exhibition tour’s second stop in the world. 

Cleveland: The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum hosts the Rock and Soul Festival (June 26), a celebration of African-American music. The event is free, although admission will be required to tour the museum. 

Columbus, Ohio: The Ohio State University hosts its youth football camp (June 20-22) for kids entering the 5th-8th grades this fall. Parents can watch all camp sessions at the newly-renovated Les Wexner Football Complex. 

Detroit: NASCAR roars into Michigan International Speedway for the Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips 400 (June 19) and the Carfax 400 (Aug. 21). On June 7, soccer fans will flock to Ford Field for a 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup first-round doubleheader: Panama vs. Guadaloupe, followed by the U.S. vs. Canada.

Erie, Pa.: Calling itself Pennsylvania's only "seashore," Presque Isle State Park is a great spot for summertime water activities such as swimming, boating and fishing. At the gateway of this 3,200-acre sandy peninsula on Lake Erie is the new Tom Ridge Environmental Center; admission is free to its interactive exhibits and 75-foot observation tower.

Harrisburg, Pa.: About 15 miles east of Harrisburg is Hershey, Pa., which I envision as one big Willy Wonka candy factory minus the Oompa-Loompas. Take a tour at Hershey’s Chocolate World, visit The Hershey Story museum, or try the 65 rides and attractions at Hersheypark. Upcoming concerts at Hersheypark Stadium include Josh Groban, Def Leppard, Keith Urban, Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow, Mötley Crüe, New Kids on the Block and Backstreet Boys, and Journey. Guests of Hershey Resorts can arrange shuttle service to and from Harrisburg for a minimal fee.

New York City: There are always a bajillion reasons to visit the Big Apple. Three of this summer’s free (or largely free) options include The SummerStage Festival (June-September), Shakespeare in the Park (June 6 - July 31) and Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors (July 27 - Aug. 16). 

Philadelphia: The Manayunk Arts Festival (June 25-26) showcases the works of hundreds of artists from more than 20 states. Hundreds of thousands of visitors will flock to this National Historic District to attend the two-day festival, which also features live music and entertainment for adults and kids alike. 

State College, Pa.: In its 44th year, the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts (a.k.a. ArtsFest) is expected to draw 125,000 visitors from July 13-17. Along with the requisite food and music, the festival features hundreds of artists selling jewelry, paintings, pottery, photography and more. 

Toledo, Ohio: They’ll sell you the whole seat … but you’ll only need the edge at the National Tractor Pulling Championship (Aug. 19-21) in Bowling Green. Looking for something a bit more sedate? Inverness Club hosts the U.S. Senior Open Championship from July 25-31. The field promises to include golf legends such as Fred Couples, Tom Watson, Greg Norman and defending champ Bernhard Langer.

Toronto: The Canadian National Exhibition (Aug. 19 - Sept. 5) refers to itself as “Canada’s largest annual community event,” attracting about 1.3 million visitors each year. “The Ex” features a plethora of entertainment and events, carnival rides and games, a working farm, parades, sports, food, shopping and a three-day air show.

Washington D.C.:  There’s no better place to celebrate the Fourth of July than the National Mall. The National Independence Day Parade begins at 11:45 a.m. and runs down Constitution Avenue between 7th and 17th Streets. It’s followed by an 8 p.m. concert on the West Lawn of the Capitol and fireworks over the Washington Monument at 9:15 p.m. 

Also, remember that this $1 deal celebrates Pittsburgh becoming the sixth megabus.com hub – and there are plenty of reasons to visit the Steel City, like taking in the gorgeous skyline view from Mount Washington, feasting on sandwiches at Primanti Bros. and watching the Pirates chase the pennant (OK, probably not that last one). 

As Travelzoo’s most ardent Steelers fan, I would want to take a Heinz Field tour; these will be given at 10 a.m. and noon on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from June-August. Heinz Field will also host the inaugural Steelers Country Music Festival on Memorial Day Weekend (May 27-29), headlined by Pittsburgh native Brad Paisley. U2 then comes to Heinz Field on July 26. 

Plus, don’t miss the Three Rivers Arts Festival (June 3-12) and the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix (July 10-24).

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Tips by
Matthew

Deal Expert, Miami
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
See more Tips from
Matthew Rehm