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Staycation, all the apps I ever wanted

Susie Ochs | Sept. 2, 2013
Everyone loves a long weekend, and these apps can help you make the most of it by finding great activities, events, meals, and hotels in your city.

It's not the newest, trendiest hotel app out there, but Priceline (free for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone) is easy to use, and its signature name-your-own-price feature is ideal for in-town stays. Go ahead, put in a ridiculously low bid—$99 for a 4-star hotel in Santa Monica!—because the stakes are low too. If you don't get any takers, you can always just go home.

First, pick your city and dates; you can even check in tonight. Then tap the sort button in the upper-right to isolate four-star and higher hotels and optionally pick your desired neighborhood—staycation is time to splurge, so save the 2-star motels for your next road-trip stopover. Use the Browse All Hotels tab to get a sense of what the hotels want you to pay, then pop over to the Name Your Own Price tab. Here you'll pick a neighborhood and a star level, and decide how much you want to bid.

Now, if your bid is accepted by a hotel fitting your criteria, you can't change or cancel the reservation, and your credit card is charged right away. But it's safe to go really low, say, 50 percent of the quoted "average" rate, because if no hotels take your offer, you can try again with a different neighborhood or star level. To try the same request again you'll have to wait 24 hours. I've had great luck reserving same-night rooms for rock-bottom prices, once nabbing that $99 4-star Santa Monica room from a beach chair while I watched the sun sink into the Pacific. Not bad. The new Express Deals feature also has decent discounts, but you get to pick a specific hotel rather than bidding on anything you can get.

Still awake? If Priceline doesn't come through, or you just can't stomach the thought of committing to a reservation without knowing exactly what hotel you're staying at, try HotelTonight (free for iOS and Android). It also specializes in last-minute deals, helping hotels fill their empty rooms, but you get to see where you'll be staying before you book.

Relax in nature
Going for a hike can really make you feel like you've gotten away from it all, and sticking your feet in a lake or river is the best way to recharge. Get out there—you might not have go as far as you think.

AllTrails (free for iOS and Android) can help you find tons of places for hiking, mountain biking, and trail running, all rated by the community and marked with difficulty levels, distance, and approximate time. Sign up for an account to keep a list of the trails you've bagged, write reviews, add photos, and share them with friends.


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