Anaconda - Cheap Travel Destination
We can afford more expensive vacations now, but looking for
cheap travel destinations is a habit we developed during leaner
times, and it still means being able to do more for the money.
Also, as we continually discover, the cheaper places can be just
as much fun. Anaconda, Montana is a good example of this.
We first drove into Anaconda five years ago, in 2002, and
we loved this little mountain town from the start. In fact, we
bought a nice house the next day for $17,500. We only lived there
for a few months before selling the home for a small profit,
but we wondered about the town over the years. In August of 2007
we returned for a visit.
Home prices may have double or tripled since 2002, but this
is still one of the more beautiful and affordable vacation destinations
around. The town is surrounded by mountains. The Old Works Golf
Course, designed by Jack Nicholas, is at the east edge of town,
and 18 holes cost between $29 and $46. The Discovery Ski Basin
is fifteen or twenty miles up into the mountains, and has some
of the steepest lift-served skiing around. A full day is $32.
If you want inexpensive lodging in Anaconda, you can find
a nice room in one of the several hotels for around $60 to $80.
At the Harp and Thistle Inn downtown (Main and Commercial) you
can get a room in a classic historical building for about $43,
or rent one for the whole week for $140. The noise from the bar
downstairs will only keep you up on weekends, and if you decide
to join the party, there is hardly a drink they don't serve.
If you are camping, there are several campgrounds in the area.
Some are as cheap as $10 per night, or you can do as we do and
camp for free along any of the dirt roads that head into the
national forest lands west of town. There are two RV parks in
Anaconda as well.
Want to gamble? Every one of the dozen or so casinos in town
have nickel slot machines. Nickel Annies on Park street will
give you $2 just for signing in, and the 1st Quarter Restaurant
and Casino always has free snacks out, as well as free drinks
while you are gambling. Get a copy of the Anaconda Leader newspaper
(it comes out on Wednesday and Saturday) and you'll usually find
coupons good for a free $3 of play at several places. These deals
may not last, but then again, they have been running the same
specials since we lived there five years ago.
On Main Street you'll find the Washoe Theater, a movie palace
built in 1936 with Art Deco furnishings, murals, and ornamentation
in silver, copper and gold leaf. It is listed on the National
Register of Historic Sites, and is rated a national treasure
by the Smithsonian Institution, due to the lavish interior. A
movie costs just $4, and it may be the only theater where you
can get a small popcorn or drink for under a dollar (90 cents).
It costs 25-cents extra to sit up in the balcony.
If you are looking for a beer or some music, the Rock Inn,
on Commercial, has live music on Saturday nights with no cover
charge. The Classic Cafe, on Park Avenue has draft beer for $1.25,
and you can get a big basket of French fries for $2.50. If you
want to really go cheap, drop a few nickels in a slot machine.
Most of the casinos in town offer free drinks while you play.
On a bad day, when we lost at the casinos, hours of entertainment
cost us less than ten dollars. At the Classic Cafe, a basket
of fries, three beers and two cups of tea cost us a total of
$8.25, and the wi-fi internet use was free. Free wi-fi is also
available here in the beautiful Hearst Library on fourth and
Main, where I am writing this. Anaconda is one of the best cheap
Note: Take I-90 from Butte, west to Hwy 1; follow that
six miles to Anaconda. This page was written in mid-August, 2007.
10 Cheap Vacations