Planning a trip for 2015, but need to watch your budget? Consider visiting a destination in its off-season, when airfares and hotel rates are lowest. You may have to deal with less-than-perfect weather, but there are compensations.
Here are some places to visit in their off-season, where you might just find travel bargains.
The Denver Center for the Performing Arts is in full swing, with half a dozen different entertainments on tap. Speaking of taps, Denver’s famous for its fine micro-breweries, so tip one before the show.
The nation’s rodeo season begins here, with the National Western Stock Show, Jan. 10-25 this year.
FEBRUARY: Minneapolis/St. Paul
Who cares if it’s cold outside when you can shop indoors in the massive Mall of America? Or attend a cultural event at the famous Guthrie Theater, or the fabulous Walker Arts Center?
Or go a few days early to catch one of the nation’s top winter festivals, the St. Paul Winter Carnival, Jan. 22-Feb. 1
Philly is America’s birthplace. Must-sees include the Liberty Bell, the interactive National Constitution Center and historic Independence Hall.
There are some fine upscale restaurants, but be sure to chow down on at least one Philly cheese-steak sandwich before you leave.
Spring is whale-watching season in Alaska. Most of the 20,000 gray whales that pass through here are spotted March-May.
You’ll get good rates on chartered fishing tours. There’s also incredible bird-watching this time of year.
Enjoy the state’s natural wonders and museums, plus celebrations beginning with May Day/Lei Day on May 1.
Outdoor adventures include ziplines, mountain tubing, hiking, golf and water sports.
America’s fourth largest city has a thriving cultural scene all year round, world-class shopping and 15,000 restaurants representing food from all over the world.
Be sure to visit the Museum District, with 17 different museums (11 of them free) and the Houston Zoo. Don’t forget Space Center Houston and other NASA-related attractions.
Plan your day’s activities to take advantage of the morning temperatures – a sunrise hike at the Desert Botanical Garden, for example.
Get indoors at the world-famous Heard Museum. Or visit the fascinating Musical Instrument Museum – a must-see!
AUGUST: New Orleans
It’s way too early for Mardi Gras, but every night is party night in the Big Easy. Great music and food are two big draws. Case in point: The first weekend of August there’s the Satchmo Summerfest, celebrating Louis Armstrong.
There’s always lots to do here – Disney World, Universal Studios and SeaWorld Waterpark. Hit the links, take an airboat ride, or book a diving trip any time of year.
OCTOBER: San Antonio
Remember the Alamo? It’s here. Check out the great restaurants and night life along the River Walk, or take a dinner cruise on the canal.
It’s kid-friendly, too, with SeaWorld and Six Flags and a charming zoo.
NOVEMBER: San Diego
Take the trolley to explore the city’s sights, from great museums in Balboa Park to the quaintly elegant Hotel del Coronado.
Shop Horton Plaza, the Gaslamp Quarter or Old Town, or even pop across the border into Mexico for the day.
Head to the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Wildlife Park or SeaWorld with the kids.
DECEMBER: Las Vegas
Vegas does Christmas up right. Not too surprising; lights are their specialty.
You won’t find better shopping between the coasts. Rare and unusual stores – even some unique to the U.S. – will render up perfect gifts.
Casinos are less crowded; it’s easier to get tickets to top shows.
And while it may seem like a strange time to visit Sin City, it’s warmer than many holiday destinations, if you’re seeking some sun.
If you’re not the sentimental type, we bet you’ll love Vegas in December.
Minneapolis/St. Paul: www.meetminneapolis.com
New Orleans: www.neworleansinfo.com
Linda DuVal is the former travel editor for The Gazette, a freelance travel writer and winner of several Lowell Thomas awards. She is the co-author of Insider’s Guide to Colorado Springs and writes a local Web site, Pikes Peak on the Cheap (www.pikespeakonthecheap.com).
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