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9 Last-Minute Places to Escape the Holidays for Less Than $1,000
Trade turkey and family squabbles for a stress-free (and affordable) getaway.
You still have time to plan a holiday getaway.(Getty Images)
If you're dreaming of ditching the turkey and trip to grandma's house over the holidays, there's still time to skip town on a spur-of-the-moment getaway. Whether you're craving a city escape with wintry charm, a mountain town with twinkling lights or a sunny, coastal locale, there are plenty of alluring places that offer an enticing alternative to the holiday hoopla. And with low domestic airfares, favorable exchange rates and bargain-friendly attractions, it's easy to plan a seasonal retreat that's kind to your wallet. Here are nine underrated vacation destinations to escape and unplug this holiday season.
A combination of scenic parks, mouthwatering Southern cuisine, top-notch museums and antebellum charm makes Savannah an ideal place to escape the fray this Thanksgiving. Apart from its historic homes and Spanish moss-laden parks, Savannah also offers easy access to nearby Tybee Island. Plus, you'll find plenty of deals in nearby Hilton Head Island and downtown Savannah, says Amanda Festa, editor at travel deal site Cheapflights.com. Hotel deal site goSeek.com shows nightly rates under $100 at three-star hotels from Nov. 24-27. What's more, Google Flights shows round-trip flights from the District of Columbia starting at $322 from Nov. 24-27 and round-trip flights from New York City airports for $480 for the same period.
Vancouver attracts adventurers year-round with its verdant green spaces, kid-friendly hot spots and ample opportunities for skiing, hiking and biking, among other outdoor pursuits. Carrie Peters, Hotwire travel editor, suggests visiting Canada over Thanksgiving and the winter holidays to capitalize on the strength of the U.S. dollar ($1 U.S. dollar equals approximately $1.34 Canadian dollars). Plus, Google Flights lists round-trip flights from New York City airports to Vancouver International Airport for $364 from Nov. 20-27. Even better, you'll find plenty of affordable accommodation options, with goSeek listing nightly rates starting at $103 at four-star properties from Nov. 24-27.
With a wealth of craft breweries, pristine hiking trails and pedestrian-friendly areas, Portland offers a hip and affordable alternative place to spend the holidays. Over Thanksgiving, goSeek lists nightly rates at the modern Hotel Modera starting at $101, says Clem Bason, CEO of goSeek. And if you want to splurge a little, and spring for a festive meal at Bluehour in the Pearl District for a $50 three-course, prix-fixe Thanksgiving meal, Bason adds. Over Christmas week, goSeek is offering a coupon for the four-star Heathman Hotel for $164 a night.
Sin City appeals to high rollers year-round, but if you want to embrace the city's neon-lit casinos and pristine pools without the steep price tags, consider planning a trip over Turkey Day. Average airfares to Las Vegas have dipped by 15 percent compared to Thanksgiving last year, Festa says. Google Flights currently lists round-trip flights from New York City airports to McCarran International Airport for $563 from Nov. 23-26. If you have some flexibility, you can land an even better bargain by extending your trip until Nov. 29, Festa adds. What's more, goSeek currently shows four-star hotels for under $100 a night from Nov. 23-27.
Trade pricier, star-studded mountain towns such as Vail, Colorado and Park City, Utah, for a more low-key retreat to the Mile-High City. Denver dazzles visitors with craft breweries, trendy restaurants, eclectic museums and easy access to the legendary rock formations and the glistening slopes of the Rockies, Festa says. She highlights Denver as an especially alluring winter escape from West Coast destinations like San Francisco, with Google Flights currently listing round-trip flights starting at $362 from Dec. 23-27. Google Flights also lists round-trip flights from Los Angeles for less than $250 for the same period. What's more, goSeek currently lists nightly rates at four-star hotels in Denver from Dec. 23-27 for less than $100.
Visit the Big Easy for New Year's Eve and you'll have the chance to ring in 2017 in the storied French quarter, plus catch spectacular fireworks displays. "The city knows how to throw a party, and New Year's Eve is no exception. From parades to a fleur-de-lis drop and, of course, fireworks, as well as general revelry in the streets and live entertainment in Jackson Square and beyond, there is celebrating at every turn," Festa says. To optimize savings, she suggests skipping town after Jan. 2, which marks the start of the college football Sugar Bowl. Google Flights lists round-trip flights from Los Angeles from Dec. 29 to Jan. 3 starting at $305. As for accommodations, Bason points to the four-star Hilton New Orleans as an ideal choice for Christmas week with a special $191 member rate nightly, an excellent bargain given the property's central location.
For a respite from frosty winter temperatures, retreat to Austin, where you can enjoy live music, delicious Tex-Mex and plenty of greenery in Zilker Park. Beyond its laid-back vibes, Austin is also an inexpensive place to visit over Thanksgiving and winter, Peters says. GoSeek shows nightly rates at four-star hotels in Austin available for $130 from Nov. 24-27 and nightly rates starting at $104 from Dec. 23-26. Google Flights shows round-trip flights from New York airports for $475 from Dec. 24-27. Even better, Austin has plenty of low-cost (and free) attractions worth exploring, including the State Capitol and Blanton Museum of Art.
If you're clamoring for tropical scenery, relaxed moods and reggae music sans exorbitant prices, plan a trip to Montego Bay, Jamaica. The island offers an excellent escape between Christmas and New Year's Eve, thanks to an abundance of all-inclusive resorts and competitively priced flights. Google Flights shows trips from New York City to Montego Bay's Sangster International Airport for $529 from Dec. 30-Jan 3. Plus, bargain hunters can snap up great rates at all-inclusive properties. GoSeek shows three-star retreats in Montego Bay for under $100 a night.
The Windy City offers a high-value getaway with an abundance of free attractions, budget-friendly accommodations and reasonably priced flights. Sure, you'll likely encounter biting temperatures hovering in the low 30s and 40s, but if you're willing to brave the cold, you'll be rewarded with a trove of cold-weather splendors, Peters says. "Lights and decorations, ice skating and a touch of winter make the city a festive place at Christmastime," Festa says. For the best deals, she recommends planning a trip from Dec. 23-26. Google Flights currently shows round-trip flights from D.C. to Chicago starting at $217 on those dates. Bason highlights the Hyatt Regency Chicago as a top lodging choice for bargain hunters. "Hotels downtown are, as you might imagine given the Chicago winters, cheap," Bason says.