Last minute Memorial Day trips - always a good idea

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – Memorial Day weekend is about a week away. Myrtle Beach is expected to get a huge number of visitors. That's great for businesses – but not so great if you're trying to avoid the crowds.

For people who have time off and want to go somewhere, booking a cruise may be the best value. South Carolinians get special "resident rates" on cruises out of Charleston. That's on top of scoring a deal last-minute. Cruise lines drop prices when cabins aren't booked close to departure day.

TripAdvisor says nearly 35 percent of Americans are planning a trip for the holiday, and most are driving. Gas in SC is up about 20 cents from last year, according to AAA, but still well below the national average.

If you're on a budget, this is the perfect time of year to get away. Most places haven't raised their rates because kids are still in school.

AAA says the Wolf Lodge in Charlotte is a great value, and is a great place for families or couples with an urban scene, and the lodge has an indoor water park.

"We are located within four hours of some places, four to six, there's some really great places," says Traci Lawrence, the branch manager at AAA Carolinas. "For anybody who likes to get a little bit of mountain air, they can get up to Asheville. There's wineries in that region. North Carolina, and the Yadkin Valley area has a lot of great wineries. You're looking at about five hours, so it's easy."

Couples trying to get away may want to check out what AAA calls a Napa Valley in our own backyard.

There are more than 100 wineries in the Yadkin River Valley in North Carolina. Those wineries have brought in European grapes, and they're growing now, so there are more than just the sweet varieties native to South Carolina.

For families, an eight-hour drive to Orlando is something to consider. If you book three days online at Universal, you save more than $100 per adult versus what you would pay for Disney tickets.

Another alternative: spending some time in the great outdoors.

Camping is a good idea "really for families or for couples wanting to get away," says Lawrence.  "Hot Springs North Carolina - they have little cabins there that can be rented, or tent sites, or RV sites. And there are hot springs that can be rented, and it's very affordable."

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