Budget your trip with this free tool
If you’re not sure you truly have the funds to afford even a budget winter trip, there’s a free tool that can help. It’s called Budget Your Trip, and once you create your free account, you can get pricing estimates to help you start creating your budget. From there, you can draft up your personal travel budget and track your expenses as you go. Neat, right?
Whether you’re seeking beach or mountains, nature or the big metropolis, one of these budget-friendly winter trip options might be perfect for you!
1. The "Space Coast" of Northern Florida
Yes, the southern half of Florida will be mobbed (as it nearly always is), but the northern parts of Florida are cooler and thus less well traveled. You can expect temperatures in the temperate 70s and prices for lodging and attractions cut in half from their southern counterparts.
2. San Diego
California is one of the most even-tempered states in the nation when it comes to year-round travel options. In the winter season, the beaches will be fairly empty of tourists, but still a reasonable 60-70 degrees and just as scenic as ever. You get all the nature with none of the inflated tourist season pricing.
3. Las Vegas
Craving clear, sunny days and plenty of fun options for day and evening? Las Vegas may be your ticket to winter fun on a budget! Temperatures hover around the 50s and 60s, and the tourist traffic actually dies down a bit in December. Plus, you won't find a more festive place to ring in the New Year, and competition makes party prices quite reasonable.
4. South Carolina (Hilton Head and Myrtle Beach)
If you thought you could never afford to visit the "rich playgrounds" of Hilton Head, South Carolina, think again. Winter is a perfect time— and the ever-affordable Myrtle Beach (with some amazing low lodging rates) is also right nearby. Plus, there’s plenty to do—the state of Carolina contains 1,200 sites that are included in the National Registry of Historic Places!
5. San Antonio, Texas
If you have never seen the Alamo, maybe this winter is the time to do it! Winter is one of the few times in a Texan year when you can really enjoy being outdoors—and the San Antonio River Walk is one of the premier tourist attractions even in the hottest summer months.
No matter when you go, you’re likely to encounter rain. But this city attracts eager tourists year-round regardless of its regular downpours. You will find nice off-season pricing and all the same great attractions when you brave the rain in winter.
7. New Mexico (Santa Fe, Taos, Albuquerque)
Even though the snowbirds will be out in full force, in terms of overall tourist traffic, the winter months are New Mexico's slowest time. However, Santa Fe in particular boasts 300 sunny days per year, and the stunning natural beauty (be sure to visit Santa Fe National Forest) and Albuquerque is central to everything and anything you might want to see.
8. New York City
If you have ever wanted to visit New York but despaired of being able to afford it, winter is your best chance. Not only can you catch off-season special discounts on Broadway show tickets, but if you can arrange to go after Christmas passes, travel and lodging will be half what it would at other times of year.
9. Sedona, Arizona
Red rock Sedona is a must-see at any time of year, but winter is when you can do it for a song (at least compared to what you will pay in summer, with visitors also flocking to the nearby Grand Canyon). You might even get lucky enough to be able to visit the Canyon on a clear day!
10. Wine Country (Napa and Sonoma, California)
Winter is an awesome time to visit the famed "wine country"—Napa and Sonoma Valley in California. You will still be able to visit the wineries in this remarkably temperate climate, but you won't have to deal with long waits, long lines and lots of boozy tourists. Plus, the prices are a steal compared to what you would pay during tourist season.