11 Spectacular Vacations You Should Book Right Now
We know you'd rather not think about the depths of winter when the summer sun is still bright. But booking your dream deep-winter vacation now—whether it's skiing the Rockies, exploring a tropical volcano, or just hanging on a pristine beach—can nail down a price that's within your reach.
In the dead of winter, the classic image of Oahu's hotel-lined Waikiki Beach can either haunt your dreams or, if you book now, be yours to savor in person. The Waikiki neighborhood of Honolulu stretches from the Ala Wai Canal to Diamond Head, a volcanic cone misnamed by 19th-century explorers who believed the rocky cone held diamonds. Take a stroll on Beach Walk, where you'll find gift shops and art galleries (including a ukulele shop) and casual dining options that include traditional Hawaiian dishes and live music.
Get There: Round-trip flights from San Jose, Calif., to Honolulu on Alaska Air start at $499.
Stay: Best Western Plus Coconut Waikiki Hotel is an Art Deco-style boutique hotel with a tropical pool; it's a short walk from Waikiki Beach Walk (450 Lewers St., Honolulu, bestwestern.com, doubles from $153).
ROCKY MOUNTAIN SKIING
For those who'd prefer not to escape winter but rather to plunge deeper into it, Montana throws its arms open wide. The minute you step off the plane in Bozeman, the cold, pine-scented air will remind you that you're not in Wherever You Came From anymore. Powder hounds swear by Bridger Bowl ski lodge, in the nearby Bridger Mountain range (part of the Rocky Mountains). The lodge offers ski lift/lodging packages with local hotels starting at $139/person for two days of skiing and one night's lodging. If you decide to mix your powder with a spoonful of learning, drop by the Museum of the Rockies, at Montana State University, to delve into Montana's Native American and pioneer history and to see some of the world's finest dinosaur fossils.
Get There: Round-trip flights from Los Angeles to Bozeman on Alaska Air start at $347.
Stay: Homewood Suites by Hilton Bozeman provides a cozy home away from home in the heart of this college town (1023 Baxter Lane, Bozeman, Mont., homewoodsuites.hilton.com, doubles from $99).
A winter sojourn to the Southwest doesn't have to mean just golf courses and exhibition baseball. Albuquerque presents an eclectic dance card to visitors: The Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum is a hotspot for hot-air balloon enthusiasts—and also for those content to just watch those gentle giants take flight. The Pueblo Cultural Center presents one of the world's most impressive collections of Southwestern Native American art, including changing exhibits by contemporary artists. If, after soaking up New Mexico's distinctive desert landscape, you want to find out more about how the land took the shape it did, head to the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science.
Get There: Round-trip flights from Chicago to Albuquerque on United start at $426.
Stay: Nativo Lodge features an indoor and an outdoor pool, a fitness center, and spa (6000 Pan American Freeway North East, Albuquerque, N.M., nativolodge.com, doubles from $67).
This Central American nation's reputation for all-around beauty, adventure, and affordability is well deserved. Start with the markets, museums, and nightlife of capital city San Jose, then head to Arenal—the kind of rumbling, lava-spewing volcano you may have thought existed only in movies. And if an active volcano isn't enough to get your adrenaline flowing, dive into Manuel Antonio national park to cavort with monkeys, or just go take a hike—no, we really mean take a hike—in the cloud forests near Monteverde and Santa Elena along the continental divide.
Get There: Round-trip flights from New York to San Jose, Costa Rica, on American Airlines start at $478; round-trip flights from Miami to San Jose, Costa Rica, on American Airlines start at $392.
Stay: Hotel Presidente, in San Jose, offers boutique hotel style in a convenient central-city location and includes a complimentary continental breakfast buffet (Central Avenue Blvd., 7th Street, San Jose, Costa Rica, hotel-presidente.com, doubles from $100). Hotel Mountain Paradise lets you get up close and personal with Arenal Volcano (Fortuna, Alahuela, Costa Rica, hotelmountainparadise.com, doubles from $150).
Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy
This stunning region of Italy's Dolomite Mountains—featuring peaks over 9,000 feet above sea level—was the site of the 1956 Winter Olympics and has always attracted a swanky European crowd, including movie stars and royals. But strict zoning has kept the area true to its surprisingly Teutonic roots, and you'll see white-timber houses that look as if they were transplanted out of a fairy tale. The popular Cortina d'Ampezzo ski resort offers a seven-day Dolomiti Superski pass, which gives you access to all the area's slopes for about $40 a day, and booking your trip now can nab you reasonable airfare and hotel rates for this tony enclave.
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