We love to share our picks for destinations to visit at the start of the New Year. And this year we decided to do something a little different with our U.S. hotspots. Sure we could focus on up-and-coming towns and hipster haunts, but we wanted to try something new by taking popular cities and showing you how to see them in a new light. Off we go!
1. New York
Most visitors descend every year onto the streets of New York in the hot, humid mess that the city tends to be in the summer months, eager to see the hot musical du jour and plunk down their cash on wildly overpriced hotel rooms. Here’s a tip. Visit New York in winter. It will be cold, but there is a special kind of magic that infuses the city in the winter months. If you time your trip right, you could ice skate in Rockefeller Center, encounter next-level window displays around the city (it’s a tradition to turn out amazing windows in the winter), and what can be more iconic than watching the ball drop from Times Square on New Years Eve? Round trip flights from Los Angeles start for under $220* on JetBlue and Virgin America on select dates in February.
2. Los Angeles
Heading to the west coast for our next pick, you can’t go wrong weather-wise for most of the year in Los Angeles and the beaches are a huge draw from Memorial to Labor Day. But summer is a little predictable, no? Locals know that summer doesn’t really show up until July anyway, and goes way into September (and often October) when you can get deeper discounts on beachside accommodation. Families taking a detour to the Magic Kingdom will see fewer crowds in the fall too – and shorter lines at Disneyland are a win for everyone. Flights from New York (LGA) start for under $200* on Spirit.
Speaking of all things Disney, Orlando is a destination lacking an obvious low season. But if you’re looking for a bargain family vacation, we can recommend late August for the best deals. The reason is pretty simple: school schedules. With many schools going back in session right around Labor Day, there are less visitors at this time of year. You can snag reasonable rates at Orlando budget hotels, and better airfares as well. Flights from Boston start for around $90* on JetBlue round trip.
We’re going to make a pitch for visiting Chi-town in the spring over the summer. Yes, of course summer is the most popular time to visit, what with the vibrant festival scene on offer. But guess what? Flights and hotels are most expensive in the summer and you’re likely to have a similar experience for much less money in late spring. You can take in a baseball game at Wrigley Field, stroll along Lake Michigan, and upgrade your accommodation options because of the greater value. We think you’re really going to love Chicago in the springtime. Just pack in layers and you’ll be right as rain! Flights (round trip) from San Francisco start for under $130* on Frontier
5. Las Vegas
There’s really no bad time to go to Vegas. Big surprise – accommodation is reasonable most of the year – but we’ve got a tweak up our sleeves for Sin City. For huge savings, you can’t beat the dog days of summer. Las Vegas is in the middle of the desert after all – and it gets H.O.T. hot. If you can take the heat, you’ll see incredible savings at 4 and 5 star hotels on the Strip from June to October. Take our advice and splash out on fancy digs while you’re in town. The pool party scene in Vegas is on point as well – you don’t want to miss the chance to rub elbows with the beautiful people. Round trip flights from Miami start for under $180* on Frontier.
Predictably, summer is the most popular time to visit otherwise rainy Seattle, with winter weather keeping large crowds away. But there is something of a sweet spot if you can make your visit in the early fall when the warm weather is lingering but most of the tourists have gone home. Room rates are reasonable and if you can time it right, you’ll see deep discounts from top restaurants during Restaurant Week (in April and October). During Restaurant Week, you’ll find three-course dinners at popular eateries at bargain prices. Round trip flights from San Diego start for under $200* on United.
Summers in Dallas are hot and dry, but relatively inexpensive for travelers! Take advantage of high vacancy/low rates at hotels and enjoy this city of contrasts. If you keep your sunblock game tight and your outdoor activities mainly in the evening hours, you’ll be golden. There is no end to the number of cool festivals you can attend in the summer months from the “Taste of Dallas” in July to the “Lakewood Summer Arts Faire” in August. Nonstop round trip flights from Chicago start for under $140* on American.
8. San Diego
If you can wrap your head around a visit to a southern California beach city in the fall instead of summer, you’ll find San Diego affordable, uncrowded and sunny – pretty much just like the pricier months of July and August. But if you want to score rock bottom prices and you don’t plan on hanging out on the beach, spring offers the best hotel prices by far. Just remember – overcast skies will make beach-going a nonstarter for all but the most diehard of surf fans. Round trip flights from Phoenix start for under $150* on Spirit.
Summer is the most popular time to visit Atlanta – are you sensing a theme – but summer heat can be brutal. We can wholeheartedly recommend visiting Atlanta in the shoulder seasons of spring and fall – with a special nod to the spring when a variety of festivals kick off the warm weather festivities. You can attend the Atlanta Film Festival, the Georgia Renaissance Festival and the heavenly sounding Beer, Bourbon and BBQ festival all before summer hotel rates kick into high gear. Round trip flights from Philadelphia start for under $100* on Spirit.
10. Grand Canyon
When people think of family vacations, they often equate summertime with a never-ending road trip to the Grand Canyon. And it is once again true that summertime is the most popular time to visit. But here’s a tip: weather beneath the rim in summer can be brutal – and hiking the canyon is no joke. If you’d like to venture in for a day hike (or overnight stay), you’re much better off doing so in the spring or fall when the weather will be more temperate. If you’re not much of an outdoor enthusiast, winter can also be a spectacular time to visit the Grand Canyon, with snow below the rim dusting the landscape and turning northern Arizona into a real winter wonderland. Nonstop round trip flights from Newark start for under $140* on United.
If you like this post, you might also like 10 Hot International Destinations to Visit in 2017. We’re kissing 2016 goodbye and welcoming 2017 with open arms. Happy travels to all!
*Fares include taxes and fees and are valid as of 1/4/17 on select dates between 01/04/17 and 11/28/17. Lowest fare seats are capacity controlled and may not be available on every airline, flight, or date. Fares subject to change without notice.