Taking a break this winter? Happily, you might just nab a break on prices, too. The bargains are plentiful this year, from inexpensive airfare to the Caribbean to can’t-miss discount packages at ski resorts. Discover our 10 picks for some of the season’s best travel deals, with budget-friendly winter trips proposing snowcapped mountain escapes, relaxing fun in the sun, theme park adventures, and more.
A serial traveler who often lets a country’s cuisine dictate her itineraries, New York City-based writer Kathleen Squires has visited all 7 continents and over 60 countries, with stints living in London, Tokyo, and Buenos Aires. Her work also appears in The Wall Street Journal, Details, Saveur, Cooking Light, and National Geographic Traveler.
The best deals for Orlando’s theme parks are up for grabs before spring ushers in high-season rates. Take advantage of Universal Studios’ winter Hot Deals, which include free nights and 30-percent-off discounts on hotels. Disney has a slew of Special Offers on room rates and a Play, Stay, and Dine package that provides up to $600 worth of savings, while Legoland is slashing prices for hotel-and-admission packages. Want to hit all the parks? Prices for Orlando Flex Tickets, which grant admission to six area parks, are discounted through the end of the year.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Orlando Travel Guide
Rainy season in certain zones of Costa Rica not only bolsters the landscape’s greenery, but brings in some of the year’s best airfare specials. Delta, for example, is running round-trip fares from Los Angeles to San Jose as low as $329, if purchased by the end of December 2014. Delta Vacations is also promoting specials in conjunction with Occidental Hotels in the Papagayo region. JetBlue’s 2015 Winter Sale features reduced rates at the all-inclusive Riu Guanacaste through April 30, 2015, and those who want to visit the thermal waters around the Arenal Volcano can take advantage of Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal Resort’s Day Spa Package, starting January 6, 2015.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Costa Rica Travel Guide
Families take note: Kids Ski Free all winter long, with no blackout dates, on the powdery mountains of Keystone, Colorado. If you book your ski trip by April 12, 2015, you’ll save up to 33 percent on lodging, too. The best part is that a lift ticket at Keystone also affords variety, as it's valid at four other Colorado resorts, as well. Purchase tickets online for a lowest-price guarantee.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Keystone Travel Guide
Some may shiver at the thought of winter in the “Paris of the North,” but there’s plenty of indoor—and brisk outdoor—fun waiting in Montréal, not to mention value. February hosts the famous Montréal High Lights Festival, an 11-day celebration of arts and gastronomy. Packages that include travel, accommodation, culinary tours, and festival admission are on sale now. Start with Tourisme Montréal’s Sweet Deal Packages, in which participating hotels such as the Loews Hotel Vogue and Hyatt Regency Montréal are not only offering low rates, but 50-percent off a second night’s stay. Also included: a booklet of discount coupons, valued at up to $455, for activities and attractions. Those who prefer to stay indoors can navigate the city’s 21-mile Underground Pedestrian Network, or make good use of Montréal’s unlimited Museums Pass.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Montréal Travel Guide
Bring the whole clan, since Kids Stay Free at select Bahamas resorts, such as the Wyndham Nassau, all year round, while kids eat free via US Airways Vacations packages, which additionally offer savings of 40 percent at major resorts. Delta Vacations is partnering with Atlantis, Paradise Island for great multi-night rates, such as flight, hotel and taxes for three nights from $1,107 per person. An even better steal: a slew of 4-day/3-night offers from JetBlue Vacations, starting from $599.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Bahamas Travel Guide
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Just because a ski resort is world-class doesn’t mean it has to break the bank, so check out Jackson Hole when looking for great ski vacation values. The destination is hosting Ski Free Stay Free packages, with lift tickets, lodging, and either airfare or flight credits. The Powder Hound package takes it a step further, with rental equipment included. Not much of a skier? There are still bargain options available, including the Winter Wonderland Scenery package that features wildlife, sled, and snowshoe tours.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Jackson Hole Travel Guide
The largest of the U.S. Virgin Islands, St. Croix is more under-the-radar than its siblings, St. Thomas and St. John. This winter, get in on the USVI's best-kept secret, with hotels here really packing the perks in. The Buccaneer, for example, is including car rental, a guided island tour, spa treatments, green fees, tennis court time, a sunset sail, and dining credits in their Buccaneer Treasures package. Meanwhile, tourism board Visit USVI is running an Inntimate Treasures promotion, which highlights six boutique properties on the island, and gives guests $200 in savings certificates.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s St. Croix Travel Guide
Napa Valley, California
It may not be harvest time during Napa’s “Cabernet Season,” but there are still plenty of reasons to visit California’s famous Wine Country during downtime. Scoring reservations at the area’s top restaurants, such as Thomas Keller’s Michelin-starred The French Laundry, for example, is a little easier; you don’t have to fight mobs for tastings at wineries; and the region hosts a slew of sales at hotels, wineries, and restaurants during the early months of the year. Visit Napa Valley has the complete lowdown on the best Cabernet Season bargains.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Napa Valley Travel Guide
There are three weeks of can't-miss culinary indulgence during the island’s Restaurant Weeks, from January 15 through February 5 in 2015, when chefs at 42 restaurants are offering multicourse prix-fixe menus at $29, $39, and $49 per person. Hotels are following suit with savings: At popular Elbow Beach, guests receive a third night free when booking two nights through mid-April, while a host of other participating properties are giving away an extra night on the house, too, with an island-wide Free Night Offer.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Bermuda Travel Guide
Esteemed, long-standing all-inclusive resort Grand Velas Riviera Maya (in Playa del Carmen) is promoting a Winter Special that’s hard to pass up: It includes discounted rates, spa credits, boutique promotions, and free Internet access, if reserved by February 5, 2015. Also look to American Airlines Vacations' Affordable Beach Packages, with hotel and flight deals to Cancún and more Mexico, available from hubs across the country.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Mexico Travel Guide