Affordable Winter Vacation Breaks
There are basically two types of winter travelers, those who embrace the snow and all it entails, and those that want to get as far away as possible from the cold, wet, white stuff. Either way, the lure of getting away and doing something different, something fun, is hard to resist. If you can find a way to take that winter vacation and not break the bank, that’s even better. Here, we’ve collected some of the locales that offer the best winter deals.
Waikiki – Hawaii
If you avoid the holiday vacation period, roughly mid December through the first week in January, you can usually find some reasonable hotel and air packages to Waikiki. This resort area offers hotel rooms from budget to deluxe and a beach that is the poster child for people watchers everywhere. Learn to surf, work on your tan and just take in the sights as they stroll by. Eventually you will want to get up off that towel. Climb to the top of Diamond Head Crater for a bird’s eye view of Oahu’s coastline. Drive up to the North Shore to see top-notch surfers challenge the monster winter waves. Take time out for a shave ice, sort of a Hawaiian style snow cone, at Matsumoto’s Store. Buy a bus pass from one of Waikiki’s ABC stores and you won’t even need a car.
Surfers may have to don wetsuits to tackle the winter swells, but the temperature on the beaches hovers in the low 70s. Venice Beach is known for its outdoor markets, buffed weight lifters exercising on the beach and retro 60s lifestyle. Griffith Park, home to the Los Angeles Zoo, offers miles of hiking and biking trails. Best of all, during the winter months there are fewer visitors. That means you have more of the park to yourself. Admission to Griffith Park is free, but most attractions within the park do charge a fee.
New York City
Taking a trip to New York City during the winter does mean that you might run into snow, but the reduced air and bus fares during this time of year means more in your pocket to spend in the shops on 5th Avenue. There are exceptions to this low-price season, particularly if you are planning on taking in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade or watching the ball drop on New Year’s Eve in Time’s Square. Both are well worth the cost and effort, but do book well ahead. Stroll through Central Park, skate at Rockefeller Center or take the elevator to the top of the Empire State Building.
Sandals & Beaches Resorts – Caribbean
Sandals Resorts, designed for couples, and Beaches, created for families, are two hotel chains that offer all-inclusive vacations throughout the Caribbean. Yes, winter is high season in this part of the world. The trick is to take advantage of the early booking specials. Visit Jamaica, St. Lucia, Antigua or the Bahamas, all sun-soaked destinations with miles of sandy beaches. The best part is that all resort activities, meals and beverages are included. Packages including air are offered, saving you even more of your tourist dollars.
Heavenly Valley – Lake Tahoe
For those of you who are snow-deprived, Heavenly Valley in South Lake Tahoe is one resort that offers hotel/ski/snowboard packages that include free nights. Choose from deluxe properties such as Harrah’s Lake Tahoe or more moderate hotels such as the Best Western Station House Inn. Properties on the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe offer gambling onsite. Most hotels are in Stateline, so it is sometimes just a matter of crossing the street to find the nearest game room, even if you are in a hotel that is technically in California. Watch out for the blackout periods on the specials, typically around Thanksgiving week, Christmas/New Years and President’s Day in February.
It is well worth it to do a bit of research before taking off on your winter break, whether online or at your local travel agency. You can even search out coupons to use for the travel, accommodations, food, and activities. Snow or no snow, there is an affordable vacation out there for everyone.
Photo credits: Waikiki beach by phault/flickr; Downtown Los Angeles by Channone Arif/flickr; Central Park Skaters at Early Dusk by Ada Be/flickr; Bird’s Eye View Italian Village Pool Sandals Beaches by Vox Efx/flickr; View From Nine Thousand, Eight Hundred and Seventeen Feet by Anita Ritenour/flickr
Mary Blanchard is a self diagnosed coupon addict! She loves to find the best deals, share her advice and investigate options. As an addict, she provides information for other addicts or just those who want to find the best buy for their dollar. One of her favorite sites to shop around for deals is the Coupon Croc in the UK, check them out to see why.