Top Five Off-Peak Destinations for Winter 2010/2011
Want to escape those winter blues on a budget? We've searched everywhere to find the best locations where smart travelers can save top dollar.
Our top five off-peak destinations for this winter include options across the globe, from lesser-known ski areas to temperate climates to hot cultural spots.
This winter marks an especially good time to visit Philly. Besides the always-popular Independence Hall, visitors can tour a slew of new art exhibits that are slated to commence this winter. The brand new, one-of-a-kind National Museum of American Jewish History will open to the public on November 26. And, the Philadelphia Museum of Art's Picasso and the Avant-Garde in Paris exhibit will open February 24, while, a collaboration between the City of Philadelphia and the National Park Service, President's House: Freedom and Slavery in the Making of a New Nation, is expected to open in mid-December.
Food lovers will want to visit during Center City Restaurant Week in January, when more than 100 restaurants offer prix fixe menus at bargain prices. And if that's not enough, there are holiday festivities throughout the city, such as tree lightings in Rittenhouse Square and at City Hall, the Holiday Light Show and Dickens Village at Macy's, and the unique Mummers Parade on New Year's Day.
If your travel aspirations are a little more far-flung, consider Morocco this winter. Summertime weather and holidays result in crowded streets and higher prices, making winter a quieter and less expensive time to go. Plus, high temperatures range comfortably from the low to upper 60s, though the varying climates allow for skiing in the Atlas Mountains and swimming in Agadir. And, you can explore medieval architecture in Marrakech, or go ultra-modern at relaxing Casablanca spas.
Italy is a perennial favorite on many travel lists, including Frommer's Top Destinations 2011, though most people visit city and beach areas during the warmer summer months. However, bargain hunters can still experience the history, food, and beauty of the country during the winter, but at much lower prices.
The recent inclusion of Italy in Eat, Pray, Love, the country's continuing economic crisis, and the opening of the Coliseum dungeons in Rome this October have raised the profile of Italy in many savvy travelers' minds. This winter is a particularly good time to visit, with deals popping up all over the place.
Temperate weather and days by the sea bring visitors to Mendocino throughout the summer, but oenophiles and food enthusiasts can expect only slightly cooler temperatures (with more rain) during the winter. This coastal California county packs in plenty of activities throughout the seasons, and the off-peak can be the best time to grab affordable prices. Mendocino stands out for its under-the-radar wineries, beautiful scenery and especially for festivals such as the Crab and Wine Days in January.
Visitors to Bulgaria, the oldest nation in Europe, arrive seeking natural beauty and ancient cultural attractions. Bulgaria's profile has been boosted since joining the European Union in 2007, as Europeans are choosing the nation more and more as an inexpensive ski destination. Most travel during the warmer months, with 70 percent of the 3 billion in tourism money coming from summer seaside resorts, and only 10 percent from winter resorts so now is a good time to visit for an authentic experience, before it gets too discovered.
(Editor's Note: SmarterTravel.com is a member of the TripAdvisor Media Network, an operating company of Expedia, Inc. Expedia, Inc. also owns Expedia.com and Hotwire.)