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6 Affordable Winter Vacations You Need to Book Now
For many travelers winter is prime vacation time. Those extra days off for the holidays mean that you can sneak in a week-long escape. Whether you’re looking for a warm-weather escapade (we’ve got our eye on you, Florida) or a chill Chicago getaway (bundle up!), we’ve got you covered with a few trips that won’t break the bank. But remember, booking your flight and hotel arrangements early will have its benefits on your wallet. Plus, you’ll have more time to look forward to that dreamy winter getaway. And if post-holiday travel sounds like the right fit for your schedule, remember that flights and hotel prices start to drop the second week of January. Chicago, Illinois Chicago may not be your quintessential warm winter getaway, but the food, art and culture scene may sway you to escape there this winter. Plus flights and hotels are extremely inexpensive, for example room rates at the Godfrey Hotel Chicago can be booked for $89 per night from December to February. The best part? They have a rooftop winter wonderland with clear-domed, heated igloos for guests to cozy up and enjoy the fire pit and of course some gooey delicious s’mores. You can’t go to Chicago without checking out the museum scene, catching an architecture tour by boat (don’t worry, you’ll be indoors) or heading to Millennium Park for a legendary snow-dusted selfie at Cloud Gate aka, “The Bean”. There are endless food options, but we’d recommend Publican Quality Meats (a butcher shop, cafe and bakery), Frontera Grill for the best Mexican and Roister, a casual restaurant that’s made its way onto almost every “Best of” list. Lastly, since Chicago is a convention destination, make sure you check out this schedule to avoid higher price tags. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Brazil is an ideal winter escape because their summer is our winter in the states. Bonus: Brazil has waived visa requirements for visiting citizens from the US, making travel to the country easier and more affordable. And while you may think an international destination like this is going to cost big bucks, rooms at the Sheraton Grand Rio Hotel & Resort are well under $200 per night. Situated between the chic Barra da Tijuca neighborhood and famed Ipanema Beach, the resort is set above a white-sand beach looking out at the tropical South Atlantic. You may want to lounge out after a busy year, but if you’d like to explore the city there are plenty of exciting options from local souvenir shopping to exploring the street food vendors (try the pão de queijo, aka cheese bread). Sugarloaf Mountain is a popular peak where you can take a cable car ride to catch some epic views. Or take a car for about ten minutes away to explore Copacabana Beach, a famous shoreline dotted with restaurants and bars and some of the best people watching out there. Lake Chelan, Washington Located three hours east of Seattle, Lake Chelan transforms into a snow-covered wonderland with seasonal recreation, award-winning wine country (sign us up), with festival fun and small town charm. Nestled among the snow-capped hilltops of the Northern Cascade Mountains, Lake Chelan celebrates 300 days of sunshine a year, making it a great retreat in the winter. Also, because winter is during the off-season, the area is less expensive. For accommodations, the family owned and operated Campbell’s Resort offers story like lakeside guest rooms for $84 a night. The location is the perfect launch pad for area winter activities, including snow tubing and snowboarding at nearby Echo Valley, wine tasting at over 30 wineries and two fantastic winter festivals – Winterfest in January and Red, Wine and Chocolate in February. Oranjestad, Aruba Aruba’s calling our name! Take a quick and affordable flight to this sunny destination where everyone is welcoming. How can you go wrong with a place that’s dubbed “One Happy Island”? This Caribbean escape is exactly what the doctor ordered. Let’s talk hotels. There are a variety of hotels at all price ranges throughout the isle, so finding reasonable lodging won’t be a problem. Oranjestad is the capital of the city and has a range of hotels close to the airport, but there are different neighborhoods to explore throughout the island. Explore the Natural Pool (formed by rock and volcanic stone) and the Arikok National Park on a UTV or make a day of it and captain your own motor-powered boat on the open sea. Aruba is a big travel destination, so consider booking your trip as early as possible to secure the lowest rates. Waterville Valley, New Hampshire Waterville Valley is a resort community nestled in the heart of the White Mountain National Forest, just two hours north of Boston. The town is the epitome of what you think of when imagining the setting of an epic ski trip with friends. The good news is that skiing is actually made affordable here. The Waterville Resort has a handful of lodging deals that run throughout the winter, like the “Ski & Stay” package that starts at $98 per night. This deal allows you to mix and match to get the lodging and tickets you need for a perfect ski adventure. The package also includes the Freedom Pass at no extra cost, which includes access to other activities like ice-skating, the White Mountain Athletic Club pools, saunas and hot tubs, indoor tennis and dare I say more? Crystal River, Florida While droves of people flock to Florida in the winter (hello, snowbirds), why not visit a city just off the beaten path this year? Considered to be the “Original Florida,” Crystal River is a coastal city located about 90 minutes from Tampa without the massive crowds. Locals and tourists alike enjoy beach hopping, kayaking and just about any other warm weather activity. Stay at the Plantation hotel for as low as $119 a night. Onsite activities include boating, fishing and golfing. All of these physical activities will probably give you a big appetite, so check out the seafood options at local restaurants, some of it is so fresh that it’s coming right off of the boat!
Save Big During “Learn to Ski & Snowboard Month”
New England. The Rocky Mountains. The Sierra Nevadas. Is this the year you finally learn to ski? January is Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month, and nearly 70 ski areas across the U.S. are offering specials to get beginners up on their skis and down the mountains. Research from the National Ski Areas Association suggests that beginning skiers often take up the sport because it allows them to spend time with friends and family. Does that sound like you? This year, beginner packages at participating ski areas typically include one to four lessons (depending on the location), a lift ticket, and rental gear. Here, we’ve rounded up some of the best beginner deals - all well under $100 - happening this month across the country. ROCKY MOUNTAINS SKI DEALS FROM $49 An array of Ski Utah resorts are offering beginner packages starting at $49, including lift ticket, beginner group lesson, and equipment rental for children and adults, with some blackout dates and restrictions. Participating resorts include Eagle Point (voted Utah’s best beginner ski resort by Liftopia), Deer Valley, Powder Mountain, Snowbasin, Solitude, and Sundance. At Idaho’s Silver Mountain, purchasing a $56 lift ticket (or a $41 youth ticket) nabs you a free beginner group lessons and equipment rental package. SIERRA NEVADA SKI DEALS FROM $49 Diamond Peak, Nevada, offers Learn to Ski & Ride packages for $49 from Monday January 22 through Thursday January 25 for ages seven to adult, including a beginner lift ticket, rental equipment, and a one-hour and 45-minute lesson. (There’s also a two-hour package for kids ages four to six.)Snow Valley, California, celebrating its 80th year, offers a Buy One Get One Free Beginner Lesson for ages 13 and up for $74, including a beginner area lift ticket, two-hour group ski or snowboard lesson, and equipment rental, valid Monday through Friday except holidays. ALASKA SKI DEALS FROM $44 Eaglecrest offers a mid-week Learn to Ski or Ride Package for $44 for ages seven to adult, including a two-hour lesson, lift ticket, and equipment rental. Weekend beginner package are $54. NEW ENGLAND SKI DEALS FROM $39 New Hampshire boasts nine ski resorts (Attitash, Bretton Woods, Cannon, Carnmore, Granite Gorge, King Pine, Pat’s Peak, Ragged Mountain, and Waterville Valley) with deals via Ski New Hampshire’s beginner package, including a lesson lift ticket, and rentals. Ski New Hampshire is also hosting a learn to ski and snowboard weekend January 27 and 28. Ski Vermont has organized a beginner program that includes Bolton Valley, Bromley, Burke, Killington, Mt. Snow, Pico, Okemo, Smuggler’s Notch, Stratton, and Sugarbush, offering $49 packages that include a lesson, lift ticket, and rentals. And Vermont’s Bring a Friend, Ski FREE!! Program is valid through March 25: When a beginner purchases a First Time Ski & Ride package, a friend or family member gets a free lift ticket valid for that same day. MID-ATLANTIC SKI DEALS FROM $25 Guess which state has the most ski areas? Wrong. It’s New York. This winter, the Empire State is hosting Discover NY Ski Day on January 18, with beginner ski packages starting at $25 all around the state. Other special offers are available at New York’s Bellaeyre, Holliday Valley, Hunter, Mt. Peter, Snow Ridge, Swain, and West Mountain.Pennsylvania’s PSAA First Time Program offers a $59 lesson, lift ticket, and rental equipment at participating ski areas, plus Learn to Ski and Snowboard/Bring a Friend special offers at Bear Creek, Blue Mountain, Jack Frost/Big Boulder, Liberty, Roundup, Shawnee, Ski Big Bear, and Whitetail.
More Places to go
The White Mountains are a mountain range covering about a quarter of the state of New Hampshire and a small portion of western Maine in the United States. They are part of the northern Appalachian Mountains and the most rugged mountains in New England. The range is heavily visited due to its proximity to Boston and, to a lesser extent, New York City and Montreal. Most of the area is public land, including the White Mountain National Forest and a number of state parks. Its most famous mountain is 6,288-foot (1,917 m) Mount Washington, which is the highest peak in the Northeastern U.S. and for 76 years held the record for fastest surface wind gust in the world (231 miles per hour (372 km/h) in 1934). Mount Washington is part of a line of summits, the Presidential Range, that are named after U.S. presidents and other prominent Americans. The White Mountains also include the Franconia Range, Sandwich Range, Carter-Moriah Range and Kinsman Range in New Hampshire, and the Mahoosuc Range straddling the border between it and Maine. In all, there are 48 peaks within New Hampshire as well as one (Old Speck Mountain) in Maine over 4,000 feet (1,200 m), known as the four-thousand footers. The Whites are known for a system of alpine huts for hikers operated by the Appalachian Mountain Club. The Appalachian Trail crosses the area from southwest to northeast.
Franconia Notch (elev. 1,950 feet/590 m) is a major mountain pass through the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Dominated by Cannon Mountain to the west and Mount Lafayette to the east, it lies principally within Franconia Notch State Park and is traversed by the Franconia Notch Parkway (Interstate 93 and U.S. Route 3). The parkway required a special act of Congress to sidestep design standards for the Interstate highway system because it is only one lane in each direction.The notch was home to the Old Man of the Mountain, a rock formation which collapsed in 2003 but whose profile remains a symbol of the state of New Hampshire. The notch is located primarily in the town of Franconia but extends south into Lincoln. It is bordered to the east by Franconia Ridge, comprising Mount Lafayette (5,249 feet/1,600 m), Mount Lincoln (5,089 feet/1,551 m), and Little Haystack Mountain (4,780 feet/1,460 m), and to the west by 4,080-foot (1,240 m) Cannon Mountain and the sheer face of Cannon Cliff. The notch's height of land is located near its northern end, at the base of Cannon Mountain. Echo Lake lies just north of the high point of the notch, with an outlet that flows into Lafayette Brook, then the Gale River, the Ammonoosuc River, and finally the Connecticut River, which enters Long Island Sound at Old Saybrook, Connecticut. Just south of the height of land, Profile Lake lies beneath the cliff that once held the Old Man of the Mountain. Profile Lake is the source of the Pemigewasset River, the primary tributary of the Merrimack River, which flows to the Gulf of Maine at Newburyport, Massachusetts.
North Conway is a census-designated place (CDP) and village in eastern Carroll County, New Hampshire, United States. The population was 2,349 at the 2010 census. A year-round resort area, North Conway is the largest village within the town of Conway, which is bounded on the east by the Maine state line. The White Mountain National Forest is to the west and north. Conway is home to Cathedral Ledge (popular with climbers), Echo Lake State Park, and Mount Cranmore. North Conway is known for its large number of outlet shops.
The crew of the RMS Titanic were among the estimated 2,208 people who sailed on the maiden voyage of the second of the White Star Line's Olympic class ocean sea liners, from Southampton, England to New York City in the United States. Halfway through the voyage, the ship struck an iceberg and sank in the early morning of 15 April 1912, resulting in the deaths of over 1,500 people, including approximately 688 crew members.