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    Winter Park,

    Colorado

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    Winter Park is a home rule municipality in Grand County, Colorado, United States. The permanent population was 999 at the 2010 census, although with 2,572 housing units within the town limits the seasonal population can be much higher. It is home to Winter Park Resort, a ski resort owned by Alterra Mountain Company. The town and resort are served by the Winter Park Express ski train run by Amtrak. The area also has cross-country skiing opportunities, including Devil's Thumb Ranch. In the spring and summer, Winter Park is known for mountain biking, concerts, hiking, and fishing.
    Find more things to do, itinerary ideas, updated news and events, and plan your perfect trip to Winter Park
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    Family

    10 Best Bargain-Priced Family Vacations

    For our readers with kids (those fortunate folks!), Budget Travel has asked America's foremost expert on family travel to select what she regards as the top budget-priced family vacations for the year ahead. She's responded not simply with names but with prices, addresses, and phone numbers for snaring a reservation without further ado. At the start of a new year, it's appropriate that we should select prize-winning family vacations available throughout the year, in every season. Though we may highlight an especially low price available only during one season, each of the vacations we've described below is offered at reasonable rates in all 12 months. Our choices fall into 10 basic categories and number around 30 different specific programs, resorts, or facilities. The envelope, please, and the winners are... 1. Family camps  They are a way to have some fun in the woods, watch the leaves change colors, and later, play in the snow without paying for a pricey ski condo. There are kids' activities, meals available, and plenty of wildlife. And in summer there are plenty of affordable packages, too. The YMCA of the Rockies' Snow Mountain Ranch in Winter Park, Colorado, has 5,100 pristine acres near world-class ski resorts; room for 2,500 people in lodges and cabins; organized activities for children three and older; miles of hiking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing trails; an indoor pool and gym, even a climbing wall; and horseback riding in summer. Rates for a two-bedroom cabin start at $126 per night with fully equipped kitchens; lodge rooms as low as $50. The YMCA also runs an even larger resort in Estes Park, Colorado, that is known along with Snow Mountain Ranch for hosting large family reunions. Visit ymcarockies.org or call Snow Mountain Ranch at 970/887-2152; Estes Park at 970-586-3341. Elsewhere in America, Montecito-Sequoia Lodge is between Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks on Lake Homovalo in California. The lodge has two big stone fireplaces and a deck to take in the view of the Great Western Divide. Stay in a lodge room with private bathroom or a rustic cabin with a wood-burning stove and bathhouse nearby. Stuff to do includes hiking, fishing, canoeing, tennis, and organized kids' activities such as all-day programs in summer and plenty of sing-alongs around the campfire. In winter, tube, sled, cross-country ski, or snowshoe. Packages include meals. Midweek stays in fall (until just before Thanksgiving) start at $180 per night for four in a cabin, including breakfast, dinner, and activities. Book a Thanksgiving package for four nights and five days for under $1,200, including meals, kids' activities, guided hikes, and more. Other winter packages cost less in cabins, slightly more for stays in the lodge. Visit mslodge.com or call 800/227-9900 or 650/967-8612. 2. Dude ranches  Some of them are open year-round and are just as much fun when the leaves are changing in autumn and snow is falling in winter. Malibu Ranch, in Milford, Pennsylvania, is on a thousand acres of forested land in the Poconos just 75 miles from New York City. It's the oldest working dude ranch in the East. The kids can swim in the indoor pool, fish, try pinball, dance, play with Bobo the donkey, and--of course--ride horseback. You can also ski in the winter. Five-day/four-night packages, including meals and riding, average $930 for a family of four. Two-night winter weekend packages for a family of four are $555. Contact 800/862-5428 or malibududeranch.com. Alternately, you can be a real Texas cowboy at the Flying L Guest Ranch, 40 miles northwest of San Antonio in the spectacular Texas Hill Country. The Flying L has hosted John Wayne and Willie Nelson, among others, and now spreads over 700 acres. There's breakfast and dinner, nightly western entertainment. Swim outdoors year-round, play tennis, golf, or fish in the San Julian Creek. If you don't want to ride, you can traipse miles of hiking trails. All-inclusive rates average $90 per night for adults and $40 for kids and teens. Contact 800/292-5134 or flyingl.com. You can also book these ranches and other affordable adventure trips through Gorp Travel at gorptravel.com or 877/440-4677. 3. Working farms Younger children love farms where they can gather eggs for their breakfast, milk a cow, feed the goats, or go for a hayride. At The Inn at East Hill Farm in Troy, New Hampshire, they can learn to water-ski in summer; ice-skate in winter; hike in the fall. In winter, there are sleigh rides, cross-country skiing, an indoor pool, and daily kids' activities. Bring the family before Christmas and cut down your own Christmas tree at a nearby farm. Fall rates, including meals and activities, average $78 per night for adults and $58 for kids; slightly higher for winter and summer stays of less than five nights. We know families who return year after year. Learn more at 800/242-6495 or east-hill-farm.com. 4. Hulas and such  Hawaii can be more affordable than you might think, with off-season packages and bargain airfares. Get every fifth night free mid-April to mid-December with packages starting under $175 per night for one-bedroom Maui condos booked with Destination Resorts Hawaii, the largest condo company in the upscale area of Wailea. There are special car rental, tennis, and golf packages as well as larger units, ideal for family reunions. They'll even buy your groceries for you before you arrive. Contact 800/367-5246 or drhmaui.com. While on Maui between May and November, pay $54.50 (a $20 savings) and take a child free on the Pacific Whale Foundation's ecotrip to watch the dolphins play, and then snorkel at a partially submerged volcanic crater. Naturalists will point out the Hawaiian green sea turtles. Contact 800/942-5311 or pacificwhale.org. Throughout the fall, pay just $73 a night ($90 in summer), including continental breakfast, at the newly renovated Aston Aloha Surf Hotel in Waikiki. The kids will love the hotel's surfing theme. Kids' Camp costs $40 daily, including lunch and snacks. Call 800/922-7866 or log on to astonhotels.com for deals throughout the Hawaiian Islands. Outrigger's Ohana Hotels (ohana means "family" in Hawaiian) are a block or two from the beach but have rates as low as $69, based on availability. Rooms with kitchenettes start at $119. Book the "Big Kahuna" package for five nights and get a free night, plus some other goodies (800/462-6262, outrigger.com). California-based Pleasant Hawaiian Holidays has some of the best air/hotel packages around, starting at just over $500 per person from the West Coast for Oahu. There are also good air/hotel deals from Chicago and New York, starting at $767 per person. Ask about added values like free nights, complimentary room upgrades, and food and beverage credits (pleasant.net, 800/242-9244). 5. Mexican beaches  All-inclusive resorts are always a hit because everyone can do what they want, when they want, and there are plenty of organized activities for the kids as well as other children for yours to pal around with. Usually you can get bargain rates throughout the Caribbean until mid-December and then again from just after Easter all the way to Thanksgiving and beyond. A trip to Mexico can really be a bargain and will give the kids a chance to practice their Spanish and see a different culture. At Allegro Resorts, kids can stay and play free until December 20 and then again during the summer. All-inclusive rates for a family of four start at $160 per night, including meals, liquor, sports, and kids' activities. Contact 800/858-2258 or allegroresorts.com. Akumal's Club Caribe is one of my favorites, south of Cancon's crowds but smack in the middle of the Yucatan coast, with prime snorkeling, diving, and plenty of Maya ruins to explore. Rates start at under $150 per day, including parents' meals. Costa Azul, an hour north of Puerto Vallarta in San Francisco, Mexico, is a soft-adventure resort ideal for preteens and teenagers where they can swim through caves, trek through jungles, kayak to hidden coves, and learn to surf. Room rates start at under $100 for a family of four. Book Akumal or Costa Azul at Rascals in Paradise, (800/872-7225 or rascalsinparadise.com), where you can also ask about other bargain finds. 6. Cruises offer the benefits of an all-inclusive vacation with the added plus of being able to explore many new places during one trip. They are especially good bets if the grandparents are coming. There are morning-till-night activities for children as young as three on most major cruise ships and plenty to keep adults busy, no matter what their ages. And, because of increased competition in the industry, cruising has never been more affordable. Even cruises to Alaska and Europe can be had for under $900 per person, less for kids. Carnival Cruises and the Disney Cruise Line are especially popular with budget-minded multigenerational groups. Kids will love the waterslides on Carnival ships and Disney's private island--Castaway Cay--complete with a jungle gym that's anchored in the water. Seven-night cruise packages for fall until just before Christmas, and in late spring, start at $799 for adults and $399 for kids up to age 12 who share a stateroom with two parents. There are also shorter cruises available. Contact 888/325-2500 or disneycruise.com. Check Carnival's Web site at carnival.com for specials under $500 per person per week. Call 888/227-6482. Cruises Only (800/278-4737 or cruisesonly.com) can offer substantial discounts. 7. Go granny  Grandparents are taking the grandkids on more trips than ever, leaving moms and dads behind. Elderhostel (877/426-8056, elderhostel.org) offers some of the best grandparents-with-grandkids deals anywhere, among them some 140 different intergenerational trips where families can spend a week between Christmas and New Year's Day exploring Yellowstone National Park, or in Minnesota learning about animal-tracking, bird-banding, wolves and deer, weather, and lake ecology (through the ice!). There are year-round programs in the United States, Canada, and abroad--take a Grand Canyon river excursion or a train trip in Louisiana. Packages start at under $500 per person including meals, accommodations, and programs. 8. Breakfast with Mickey Mouse Every family wants to go to Orlando at least once, and if you plan smart - say a long fall weekend or January after the holidays--you may find a trip to Mouseville more affordable than you might think, with deeply discounted hotel and air deals available. Even better, the crowds won't be nearly as large. After a hard day at the Orlando theme parks, come home to your own pool and plenty of space in a four-bedroom, three-bath house for just $105 a night; three-night minimum. For this and other top deals in Orlando, call Leisure Link International at 888/801-8808 or visit eleisurelink.com. If it's your first trip and you're planning to concentrate your time within Disney World, stay at one of Disney's own budget-priced properties (All-Star Sports, Music, or Movies Resorts) for as little as $80 per night (less for campsites), entitling you also to use Disney World's free transportation system and thus avoid a car rental. Call 407/934-7639 or visit disneyworld.com. Finally, grandparents and parents who are 50 or older save big-time at the Holiday Inn Family Suites Resort (877/387-5437, hifamilysuites.com), paying as little in some off-season periods as $89 a night or less. The older you are, the less you shell out for a two-bedroom suite complete with free breakfast (kids eat all their meals free), VCR, and separate TVs and video games for the kids. There are good deals for younger parents too. 9. Giant faces, buffalo, and more  On a visit to the Badlands of South Dakota, the kids can count all of the different license plates in the parking lot of Mount Rushmore, which just celebrated its 60th anniversary. (Get more Mount Rushmore information at nps.gov/moru or 605/574-2523.) Kids can't climb on the monuments, but Mount Rushmore can still serve as a welcome respite during an interminable cross-country trip or the centerpiece for a family vacation that's certain to please. You can explore caves, pick up rocks blasted from the mountain where the colossal statue of Chief Crazy Horse is a work in progress, join a "dig" at the Mammoth Site where more than 50 giant mammoths were trapped more than 26,000 years ago, and take a Jeep tour through a buffalo herd. Call 800/952-3625 or visit South Dakota's official tourist site at travelsd.com or blackhillsbadlands.com, the site of the Black Hills, Badlands & Lakes Association, which lists 50 "G-rated" family attractions in the region. Stay also at Custer State Park, where besides seeing the buffalo, you can rent an old-fashioned cabin on a lake starting at under $100 a night, go gold-panning, or make animal tracks with the kids at hands-on junior naturalist programs. Contact 800/658-3530 or state.sd.us/sdparks. 10. The time machine  Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown are absorbing year-round, as historic interpreters dressed in period costumes help thoroughly modern families appreciate what life was life without TVs, computers, or indoor plumbing. In eighteenth-century Williamsburg, you'll find the largest outdoor living history museum. The kids can help weed the garden in spring, make bricks in summer, or attend a slave couple's wedding in winter. Visit in summer and you can also go to Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Water Country USA. Families can book a four-night/five-day stay, including accommodations and unlimited admission for $700 or less. If you go in the winter, you won't have the roller coasters but you will have fewer crowds and can join holiday celebrations. More information at 800/465-5563 or williamsburgfun.com. Money-saving smarts 1. Alternate pricey attractions with those that are free--a hike in the woods, the best playground in the area, a tour of the local potato-chip factory. 2. Set the souvenir budget before you leave home and stick to it. Suggest the kids start collections along the way-postcards, pins, patches, for example. 3. Always ask when you call for reservations if there are any other discount deals available-kids eat free, a room upgrade, a second room at half price, etc. Playing hooky 1. Carefully check the calendar to make sure your children won't be missing a school concert, championship soccer game, or dance. 2. As soon as you have your trip tentatively scheduled, inform the teacher. Ask for the work ahead of time and suggestions of how your children can share the experience with their classmates. An oral report when they return? A photo journal? 3. Buy your children journals so they can keep a daily record of what they're seeing and doing. 4. Set aside "homework time" every day so they don't fall behind. 5. Bring some goodies back to share with the class from the region you're visiting. Get the kids involved 1. Get out a map and talk about where you want to go and what you want to do. Even the four-year-old will have an opinion. 2. Make sure everyone gets at least some of their picks on the itinerary. 3. If the kids are old enough, suggest each one plan a day's activities. 4. Surf the Web with them to find where you want to go, the best deals to get there, and what to do once you've arrived. Often, the kids are the best Web browsers in the family. 5. Consider inviting a friend for an only child or for a sole preteen or teen in the family. He or she will be much happier.

    Inspiration

    Don't Miss These Epic Super Bowl Sunday Ski Deals From Liftopia!

    This Sunday, the only thing deflated will be the price of your lift tickets (we hope!) You might even want to skip the big game once you see the kinds of savings happening on Liftopia this Super Bowl Sunday! Here are some of the deals you can find on Liftopia's website for skiing in California, New England, Colorado, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Utah, the Northern Rockies, the Midwest, and in the Pacific Northwest. Savings shown are based on regular walk-up window rates and are per person. California • Sierra at Tahoe: Up to 47 percent off; lift tickets start at $49• Diamond Peak: Up to 41 percent off; lift tickets start at $38• Bear Valley: Up to 36 percent off; lift tickets from $43• Soda Springs: Up to 36 percent off; lift tickets from $27.99• Mt. Baldy: Up to 62 percent off; lift tickets from $25• Snow Valley: Up to 45 percent off; lift tickets from $34• Boreal: Up to 29 percent off; lift tickets from $41.99• Squaw Valley / Alpine Meadows: Up to 20 percent off; lift tickets from $95• Homewood: Up to 13 percent off; lift tickets from $54 Nevada • Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard Resort: Up to 23 percent off; lift tickets from $53.99 New England • Smugglers' Notch: Up to 43 percent off; lift tickets from $45.99• Mt. Abram: Up to 41 percent off; lift tickets from $28.99• Mad River Glen: Up to 44 percent off; lift tickets from $41.99• Sugarbush: Up to 46 percent off; lift tickets from $49• Camden Snow Bowl: Up to 51 percent off; lift tickets from $18.99• Pico: Up to 33 percent off; lift tickets from $44.99• Suicide Six: Up to 49 percent off; lift tickets from $33.99• Granite Gorge: Up to 45 percent off; lift tickets from $26.99• Magic Mountain: Up to 44 percent off; lift tickets from $34.99• Mount Snow: Up to 18 percent off; lift tickets from $74• Sunday River: Up to 20 percent off; lift tickets from $71• Stratton: Up to 15 percent off; lift tickets from $83 Colorado • Arapahoe Basin: Up to 28 percent off; lift tickets from $60.99• Copper Mountain: Up to 30 percent off; lift tickets from $89• Sunlight Mountain: Up to 28 percent off; lift tickets from $42.99• Granby Ranch: Up to 23 percent off; lift tickets from $46.99• Winter Park: Up to 20 percent off; lift tickets from $99.20• Loveland: Up to 21 percent off; lift tickets from $49.99 New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania • Titus Mountain: Up to 31 percent off; lift tickets from $30.99• Whiteface: Up to 30 percent off; lift tickets from $48• Shawnee Mountain: Up to 35 percent off; lift tickets from $38.99• Mountain Creek: Up to 34 percent off; lift tickets from $43.99• Plattekill: Up to 37 percent off; lift tickets from $36.99• Tuxedo Ridge: Up to 41 percent off; lift tickets from $24.99 Utah • Snowbasin: Up to 26 percent off; lift tickets from $65.99• Brighton: Up to 22 percent off; lift tickets from $55.99• Sundance: Up to 46 percent off; lift tickets from $34.99• Alta: Up to 13 percent off; lift tickets from $72.99• Eagle Point: Up to 38 percent off; lift tickets from $29.99 Northern Rockies • Mt. Hood: Up to 32 percent off; lift tickets from $49.99• White Pass: Up to 27 percent off; lift tickets from $44.99• Anthony Lakes: Up to 49 percent off; lift tickets from $17.99• Mt. Ashland:  Up to 37 percent off; lift tickets from $28.99 Midwest • Nordic Mountain: Up to 62 percent off; lift tickets from $16.87• Caberfae Peaks: Up to 57 percent off; lift tickets from $19.99• Little Switzerland: Up to 55 percent off; lift tickets from $18.98• Christmas Mountain: Up to 41 percent off; lift tickets from $23.99• Treetops: Up to 43 percent off; lift tickets from $22.99• Spirit Mountain: Up to 40 percent off; lift tickets from $26.99• Crystal Mountain: Up to 42 percent off; lift tickets from $38.99• Shanty Creek: Up to 40 percent off; lift tickets from $35.99 Pacific Northwest • Grand Targhee: Up to 27 percent off; lift tickets from $52• Red Lodge: Up to 28 percent off; lift tickets from $36• Snowy Range:  Up to 33 percent off; lift tickets from $29• Lost Trail: Up to 40 percent off; lift tickets from $23

    Inspiration

    Eat Like a Local in Orlando

    Orlando is a pretty sweet place to be any time of year, but this spring is especially exciting. The Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival is in full bloom (as reported in 8 Incredibly Beautiful Places to See Spring Flowers), and the brand-new I-Drive 360, an entertainment center opening in early May that will be home to the 400-foot Orlando Eye observation wheel and the SeaLife Orlando aquarium. But even some of Orlando's biggest fans (and we count ourselves among them) are a little behind the curve when it comes to the city's food scene. Sure, the fish & chips at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter are magical, and Walt Disney World has a tradition of fine dining choices at its parks, but if your idea of chowing down in the theme park capital mostly consists of chicken strips, French fries, and variations on the fried dough theme, we've got exciting news: Orlando offers an entire world (literally) of choices when you eat the way locals do. I-Drive offers an array of international food choices (after all, the "I" stands for "International"), including the acclaimed Ethiopian restaurant Nile 07, Indian fare at Aashirwad (winner of a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence), Italian at Ciao Italia (another TripAdvisor honoree that's been compared to Manhattan's finest Italian restaurants in reviews), and Japanese cuisine at RA Sushi (which complements its fine menu with one of the area's most popular happy hours). For families looking for healthy comfort food, we're not shy about recommending high-quality chain restaurants: Sweet Tomatoes offers an awesome buffet with something to please even the pickiest little eaters, and parents will appreciate the restaurant's heavy focus on fresh vegetables. And for those craving an upscale take on diner fare, the new I-Drive 360 will include a Shake Shack (the wildly popular burgers-dogs-fries chain that began with a hot dog cart in NYC's Madison Square Park). TR Fire Grill launched earlier this month, spotlighting locally sourced ingredients, hand-crafted cocktails, and an American bistro atmosphere. And keep on truckin' with Orlando's amazing mix of food trucks: The Arepas El Cacao truck is a permanent fixture on I-Drive you shouldn't miss. If you want to get a little bit off the beaten path, explore another great food neighborhood like Park Avenue in Winter Park, home to Tex-Mex standout Cocina 214, serving the favorites the restaurant's owners grew up cooking in Dallas. Orlando has no shortage of beautiful hotels, of course. Right now, we're psyched that the Wyndham Orlando Resort International Drive has rooms starting at $109, plus spring break deals through early April.

    Inspiration

    Orlando: Free walking tours beyond the theme parks

    Orlando receives nearly 50 million visitors a year. Many travel to the theme parks, of course. But Disney World alone can cost up to $75 per person per day. Here are a few tours that will show you what else the city has to offer—for free. The City of Orlando offers a free self-guided walking tour and map of the downtown historic district. The 11-page downloadable tour itinerary describes 28 historic buildings across 2.5 miles of downtown. From the 1927 Beaux Arts courthouse to the Mount Pleasant Baptist Church with bricks made by the congregation, there's plenty of local history to absorb. For some exercise, the local chapter of the Florida Trail Association offers free walking tours as well as some bike and paddle excursions. One of the most popular activities is a moonlight tour of the 1880 Greenwood Cemetery. The Winter Park Historical Association and Museum offers self-guided walking tours of 20 sites in this quaint suburb north of downtown. The neighborhood is home to Rollins College and the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art, with an extensive collection of Tiffany glass. First founded as an artist colony in 1938, The Maitland Art Center has hosted a number artists over the years including painter Milton Avery. Now on the National Register of Historic Places, its grounds feature Mayan and Aztec motifs on five acres of gardens. Admission to the gallery is $3, but the gardens are free. Come on the third Monday of each month at 3 p.m. (when many other local museums are closed) if you'd like to take an hour-long guided tour of the grounds ($3). A reservation for the tour is required. EARLIER Coming soon: Free admission to Disney on your birthday /theme_parks_get_the_lowdown_fr.html"> Interview with a theme-park insider

    Inspiration

    Orlando: Beyond the theme parks

    There's more to Orlando than jolly theme songs and hour-long lines at theme parks. Check out some of the notable things worth seeing in the city itself. Get your coffee on at Natura Café in the morning or come back in the evening for jazz, acoustic open mic nights, and a concert series. Stardust Video and Coffee also serves up a mighty cup with free WiFi, video rentals, and poetry readings. A day at the 57-acre Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp may be an interesting exit from touristy Orlando. Learn about séances and the Cassadaga psychics on a walking tour for $15 a person. Or take the family out to the Li'l 500 go-kart racing track. Tickets are about $4. For the theater buffs, head down to the Enzian Theater for contemporary and classic movies. (It has six film festivals yearly.) Or go to the downtown Winter Park shopping district for Central Park Popcorn Flicks, free movie nights for all ages on the second Thursday of each month. Shady Park Popcorn Flicks is also free and held four times a year. The Mad Cow Theatre is also downtown and features plays or musicals, and all seats are $15 on Mondays. After the show, head to Independent Bar for dance music or Tanqueray's Bar & Grill for a more underground jazz club scene. —David Cumming MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL Stress-Free Walt Disney World Find out which tickets to buy, where to stay inside the park, whether the meal plans are worth it, and more.

    Inspiration

    Act Now To Save Big On Your Next Ski Trip

    Skiing and snowboarding have always been sports that reward those who plan ahead. The best deals on ski gear can always be found before the season starts, away from the mountains, and not at the base lodge during snow day. Not only that, fresh tracks are always found by those who wake up early enough to catch the first lift. When it comes to planning your next ski vacation, now is the best time to make your plans, before the first snow falls and the prices spike. By booking early and following a few tips, you can save hundreds of dollars on your next family trip to the mountains. Here's how to book an affordable family ski and snowboarding trip this season. Pick your destination well There are lots of big-named ski areas that you can visit when your goal is to impress your friends, but they don't necessarily offer the most affordable experience. I spoke with Steve Hurlbert from Winter Park Resort, who points out that visitors will find both food and lodging to be less expensive in Grand County Colorado, where the ski area is located, than they will in more expensive parts of the state such as Vail or Aspen. Winter Park Resort is also a shorter drive from Denver, and I've found it to be generally less crowded than most major Colorado resorts. Purchase ski tickets in advance Skiing is not an inexpensive sport and many of the larger resorts now charge more than $100 per day for lift tickets. Thankfully, many ski areas now sell discounted tickets, but only in the fall. These tickets range from season passes to 4-packs that lock you into discounted prices, but also restrict you to visiting a particular resort. For example, Winter Park sells a 4-pack for $199 and an adult season pass online for just $409 (it's even less for children and seniors), offering substantial savings for anyone skiing four days or more. Use the right credit card for award flights If you are thinking about redeeming frequent flier miles to fly your family to a small mountain airport for the holidays, you probably won't have much luck, as most airlines severely restrict award availability during peak travel times. On the other hand, other frequent flier programs don't impose such restrictions on award tickets. The Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards card from Chase, for example, offers points that can be redeemed for any flight. So you could even apply for a card now and still earn enough points by the end of the year to book an award trip this ski season. Southwest doesn't fly to small airports, but serves cities in the mountain west that are convenient for skiing such as Denver, Salt Lake City, and Reno/Tahoe. In addition, cards like the Capital One Venture Rewards and Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard offer miles that can be used as statement credits towards any travel expense. Use your credit card benefits to save on baggage fees Packing light is a great way to save money when you are visiting the beach, but it doesn't work too well when you are going skiing for a week in the winter. Instead, you can avoid paying a $50 fee per bag each way by having the right credit card. For example, the United MileagePlus Explorer card from Chase offers a free checked bag for the cardholder and a single companion, while the American Airlines AAdvantage Platinum Select MasterCard from Citi offers this benefit to the cardholder and up to four companions. And if you are skiing with a big family or group, the Delta Gold SkyMiles card from American Express offers cardholders a free checked bag for themselves as well as up to eight others traveling on the same reservation. This article was written by Jason Steele, Credit Card Expert at CompareCards.com.

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