10 Best Winter Weekend Escapes
FROM THE QUIETEST BEACHES TO THE GNARLIEST SLOPES.
Few stretches of the year offer such an amazing variety of vacation options as late winter and early spring. Parts of the country start really heating up, the mountains host some of best skiing of the year, and the travel industry comes to life with some really great deals.
So whether you're jonesin' for a three days of beer and spring training baseball or dying to hit the slopes for a final run—or you're just hoping to escape and unwind somewhere warm—here are the 10 late-winter deals that are good through April. And if you're looking for a truly epic adventure, consider one of the 40 Roads Everyone Should Drive by Age 40.
Why go: Amtrak's Winter Park Express, a train that runs on weekends and holiday Mondays between Union Station and the slopes of Winter Park Resort about 90 miles outside of the city, is back up and running after a seven-year hiatus.
The deal: Consider this a ski trip without the connecting flights. Tickets for the train start at $39 one-way. Stay at The Westin Denver Downtown—this hotel is running packages for train-riding skiers.
Why go: Thanks to loosened laws on travel to the Caribbean isle that Americans have long been restricted from visiting, Cuba is now in reach for many U.S. citizens. You still have to fall into one of 12 categories to go, but cheap cocktails, antique cars, and scenic beaches are waiting. Go before it becomes a total tourist trap.
The deal: Flights between New York and Havana are as cheap as $277 roundtrip and, thanks to an influx of Airbnb properties scattered across the island, housing costs are minimal, too. Pro tip: Bring cash. Many U.S. credit cards aren't accepted in Cuba. And wherever you're traveling, know the 30 Airport Secrets Only Insiders Know.
Why go: Want to spring ski in one of the glitziest ski towns in the country? March and April in the high-country often mean après parties, killer conditions, and big deals as resorts slide out of peak season.
The deal: Stay at The Limelight Hotel in April and you'll save 15 percent on a two to three night stay. Buy your lift passes at least a week in advance for the best deals. For more picturesque locations, See the Fairytale Town in Holland Where the Streets Are Entirely Made of Water.
Catalina Island, California
Why go: Sunny island vacations can be rejuvenating, relaxing, and… crowded. But Catalina Island—a Channel Island about 22 miles off of the Los Angeles coastline—is downright quiet this time of the year. Heli-hiking, zip-lining, and Hummer tours of the island are all ways to spend your days here.
The deal: The island's "Season of Escape" package includes ferry service and a hotel stay at one of four island properties.
Why go: It might still be chilly in Beantown but Massachusetts' capital provides easy access to east coast ski destinations, like New Hampshire (doable in a day trip), and enough adventure to keep you in-town, if you it's the city lights you crave.
The deal: Boston's The Colonnade Hotel is offering a "Frosty Friday" deal. The gist: Friday night you pay the outside temperature (likely to be around 30 degrees); Saturday night you pay $289. The package includes free passes to skate the Boston Common's ice skating pond, The Frog Pond; overnight parking; and a hot chocolate bar.
Why go: The biggest draw of Alexander Hamilton mania may be New York, but if it's warmth (and peace and quiet) you're after, you'd be better off visiting the first Treasury Chairman's birthplace, the island of Nevis in the West Indies.
The deal: Paradise Beach Resort—a cluster of luxury oceanfront villas in Nevis—is offering a "Hamilton 1775" package: 17 percent off of a four-bedroom villa; a copy of Alexander Hamilton, the book that inspired the musical; and a private tour of the island, including the Alexander Hamilton House.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Why go: Wyoming is all about the views. But music lovers with a travel itch will want to head west for more than panoramics: The fourth annual Jackson Hole Rendezvous Festival (featuring artists like Zac Brown) kicks off March 15 through 18.
The deal: One of the state's best hotels, the Hotel Terra Jackson Hole, is offering a deal that includes two tickets to the festival and three nights at the hotel with rates starting at $502 a night. Slopeside, a Western-inspired Teton Mountain Lodge & Spa, has a similar offer (including concert tickets) and drink vouchers plus a breakfast credit for $536 a night.
Why go: Spring training baseball has gone hand-in-hand with the desert sun since 1947. Today, the Giants, Diamondbacks, and Rockies all start their seasons here. But there's more than baseball. Scottsdale resorts are talked-about for their award-winning golf courses, spas, and—of course—proximity to hiking spots, like Camelback Mountain.
The deal: Flights to Phoenix won't set you back more than $400 roundtrip, and you'll likely score a deal cheaper than that. Many nearby hotels, including the W Scottsdale Hotel and the Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa, have packaged designed around catching a game. To learn how to swing for the fences yourself, be sure to read our 50 Ways to Be a (Much) Better Man.
Why go: This Vermont town is often considered one of the most charming towns in America. The Woodstock Inn is its prime piece of real estate: a sprawling inn in the middle of a sleepy downtown that greets tired travelers with a roaring lobby fireplace.
The deal: Thanks to a deal the inn is running through the end of March, the outdoorsy can swap skis for snowshoes and make the trek to a rustic log cabin (with a guide) for lunch. With rates starting at $443 a night, you'll get two nights at the hotel, daily breakfast at the in-house eatery (which sources ingredients from its nearby farm), and all the gear you need for your snowshoeing adventure. The tiny Suicide Six Ski area is worth a visit, too.
Why go: Our Northern neighbor is celebrating its 150th anniversary with a gift to all travelers: entrance to Canadian National Parks is free for kids 17 and under. With prime skiing conditions, you'll beat the crowds, to boot.
The deal: We'd suggest hitting picture-perfect Banff. Both Fairmont properties—the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise and the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel are offering late-winter deals, including a fifth night (or a sixth and a seventh night) free plus a $200 activity voucher; and a fourth night free, respectively. Skate, ski, snowshoe, visit nearby hot springs, or relax in a topnotch spa.
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