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Where to Escape the Nation's Capital During Inauguration Weekend
Steer clear of heavy crowds, hoopla and protests, and get away from it all this January.
Escape the crowds while you still can.(Getty Images)
Want to skip town over inauguration weekend but haven't locked in your travel plans? Whether you're clamoring to escape the crowds, parties and programming on Jan. 20, or you're craving beachside scenery or cold-weather splendor to shake away the winter blues, there are plenty of enticing places to get off the grid and recharge after a hard-fought election cycle. And with more than 1 million visitors expected to ascend on the nation's capital to celebrate – and protest – now is a great time to escape to a drama-free retreat. That's why U.S. News tapped top travel experts to bring you convenient, hassle-free escapes from the district this January.
If you enjoy vibrant festivals and seasonal allures, consider heading north. Yes, the temperatures will be frigid, but winter visitors can enjoy strolling along quaint cobblestone streets and popping into trendy art galleries in the Vieux-Montréal (Old Town), getting pampered at top-end Scandinavian spas and embracing outdoor thrills such as sledding, cross-country skiing and skating. And you can enjoy listening to world-class electronica DJs at Igloofest, which takes place through Feb. 19. Best of all, with the favorable exchange rate against the U.S. dollar and budget-friendly accommodation options, Montreal is kind to your wallet, explains Clem Bason, CEO of hotel booking site goSeek.com. Currently, goSeek.com shows nightly rates at the four-star W Montreal starting at $137 with a special membership rate and nightly rates at the four-star Hyatt Regency Montreal for $93 with a coupon for stays between Jan. 20-23. Even better, Google Flights currently shows round-trip flights from major D.C. airports starting at $260 for trips from Jan. 20-23, and round-trip flights from New York City start at $176 for the same time period.
Taking in London's wealth of historical and cultural sites might be the perfect antidote to the chaos of inauguration season. And January is a smart time to retreat to the U.K. without paying a steep price tag, says Gabe Saglie, senior editor of Travelzoo. "Thanks to Brexit [...] the British pound took a big hit, falling to a 31-year low against the U.S. dollar in October. While this isn't particularly great news for Brits, it's convenient for Americans wishing to explore the U.K. at a long-awaited discount," Saglie says. What's more, "strong competition into London also has sent airfares tumbling, making it cheaper to hop across the pond than we've seen in years," Saglie adds. Google Flights currently shows round-trip flights from Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport to London's Gatwick Airport starting at $500 from Jan. 20-23, and round-trip jaunts from major New York City airports starting at $509 for the same time period.
Turks and Caicos
For an idyllic sunny retreat with pristine sands, magnificent coral reefs and low-key vibes, visit Turks and Caicos, Bason recommends. High-end hotels like the four-star Blue Haven Resort and Marina are affordable this time of year, with nightly rates starting at $300 on Booking.com, Bason explains. And affordable flights are easy to come by with Google Flights currently showing round-trip fares from D.C. airports to Providenciales International Airport starting at $330. Plus, you can take advantage of plenty of free pursuits across Turks and Caicos, including catching the rays at the legendary Grace Bay Beach, snorkeling in crystal-clear waters and checking out the impressive marine life at Bight Reef.
Sure, Iceland's capital is a convenient and wallet-friendly stopover to top spots across Europe, but with otherworldly landscapes, enticing geothermal spas and awe-inspiring glaciers, Reykjavik merits its own trip. And right now, it's easy to score great flight deals, Bason says. Google Flights shows trips to Reykjavik's Keflavík International Airport for as low as $300 round trip from Boston's Logan Airport and $340 from BWI, making it a steal for those who don't mind dark days and icy temperatures in the 20s and 30s Fahrenheit. When you're not checking out magnificent waterfalls and dramatic cliffs along the Golden Circle route, take a dip in the nearby Blue Lagoon geothermal spa or indulge in a libation at the lively bars in the Laugavegur area. When it comes to accommodations, you'll find plenty of budget-friendly options. GoSeek.com currently shows three-star hotels with nightly rates around $100 from Jan. 20-23.
The City of Light appeals to art lovers, history buffs and culture vultures any time of year, but in winter you can enjoy serene strolls, gourmet cuisine and world-class museums and sights such as the Musée d'Orsay and the Louvre, without the heavy tourist crowds of summer. Plus, you can secure discounted flight tickets and accommodations at this time of year. Jetsetter.com is currently offering a 20 percent discount on a four-star property centrally located near the Champs-Elysées, with nightly rates at less than $150 for stays from Jan. 20-23. And thanks to increased competition from low-cost carriers like WOW Air, you can clinch excellent bargains on flights. Google Flights currently shows round-trip transport from BWI to Paris for $480 from Jan. 20-23, with round-trip flights from Boston available for $448 for the same period.
If your ideal getaway involves lounging along sugary white sands, exploring well-preserved Mayan ruins and discovering ecological parks, go south this January. GoSeek.com lists nightly rates at four-star hotels like the Grand Residences Riviera Cancún (located between Playa del Carmen and Cancún) for $215 from Jan. 20-23, with a member rate, Bason explains. Plus, Google Flights lists round-trip treks from BWI for $260 from Jan. 20-23.
With iconic sights, design-forward shopping enclaves and restaurants and laid-back beach retreats, L.A. offers an alluring antidote to a chaotic campaign season. Here, you can enjoy plenty of classic, new and noteworthy attractions that are kind to your pocketbook. Jetsetter.com shows nightly rates at four-star properties for less than $200 a night from Jan. 20-23. And whether you want to check out classic and free attractions such as the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the Griffith Observatory or enjoy relaxed seaside days in nearby Santa Monica and Venice, there are plenty of ways to embrace California-cool vibes (and comfortable temperatures) in the City of Angels. And for price-conscious travelers, it's easy to book wallet-friendly plane tickets with Google Flights currently showing round-trip journeys from top airports in New York City for less than $300 to Los Angeles International Airport from Jan. 20-23, flights from Chicago hubs for less than $130 and flights from D.C. airports for less than $260 for the same period.
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