You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

14 Insanely Cheap Destinations for Spring 2016

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 24/03/2016 SmarterTravel

2016-03-24-1458826164-2722623-SpringDestinations20161.jpg © Provided by The Huffington Post 2016-03-24-1458826164-2722623-SpringDestinations20161.jpg


We've been watching trends and keeping tabs on deals and prices for months. Now we're ready to share this list of the season's affordable destinations. Why not treat yourself for surviving the winter by booking a trip to one of these insanely affordable spring destinations?

Editor's note: All prices were valid at time of publication, but are subject to change at any time.

Tennessee


From the Thunder Road Wine Trail in East Tennessee to the live music lining Broadway in downtown Nashville, the Volunteer State is one of the most affordable destinations you can visit this spring.

Flights: From New York City, StudentUniverse analysts found flights starting at $252 round-trip to Nashville, with the cheapest days to travel in April. And, starting May 5, JetBlue will fly direct from both Boston and Ft. Lauderdale. If you fly into to Knoxville, look to low-cost carrier Allegiant, which has direct flights into the city via most major U.S.-city hubs.

Hotels: Hotels in Tennessee are often least expensive before the state's big name music festivals come to town in June. While Nashville hotel prices can be a little pricy, the area has lots of AAA discounts at hotels, according to Clem Benson, CEO of goSeek.com. Or opt to stay in another city; according to CheapTickets.com, average hotel rates in Gatlinburg are $96 per night.

What to Do in Spring: Pleasant temperatures cater to plenty of outdoor activities across the state. May marks the international Memphis in May festival with events like the Beale Street Music Festival (Beck, Weezer, Paul Simon, and Neil Young and Promise of the Real are headlining) and the Great American River Run. Memphis was also named one of Gogobot's 2016 Rising Stars, putting it on the map as a go-to tourist destination.


Explore the Thunder Road Wine Trail in East Tennessee, or "The Scenic City"—Chattanooga, best enjoyed in the spring.


Come springtime in Music City, you'll find Nashville Fashion Week, the Cherry Blossom Festival, the Nashville Film Festival, and the Rites of Spring music festival at Vanderbilt on top of all the other wonderful outdoor activities the city offers.

RELATED:11 Reasons Why Your Next Trip Should Be to Nashville

Pacific Northwest (Washington And Oregon)


While the weather brings spring showers, Washington and Oregon also have some of the best hotel and flight deals this year.

Flights: CheapTickets.com reports average airfare to Seattle at $264 round-trip. And goSeek.com found flights from New York City at $250 round-trip, $200 from Chicago, and $100 from Los Angeles. Portland and Seattle are about a three-hour drive from each other, making the region a perfect multi-city destination.

Hotels: For Seattle, goSeek.com reports rooms around $150 per night for a four-star hotel downtown, and $125 for a three-star hotel, with CheapTickets.com reporting an average rate of $183 per night.


In Portland, Hotel Monaco is celebrating its 20th anniversary by offering 20 percent off the best available rate, as well as other amenities through March 22 for stays through July 5.

What to Do in Spring: In Seattle, there's the Scotch and Beer Festival and the Emerald City Comicon. CityPASS is a great resource for all of Seattle's attractions, with up to 45 percent discounts on attraction admissions. Also in Washington, Tacoma hosts the Gray Skies Blues Music Festival, and spring is one of the best times to visit the award-winning wineries in Yakima Valley, with Spring Barrel Weekend in April.


Portland is a great starting point in Oregon, but we recommend visiting some of the state's incredible natural wonders that are best enjoyed crowd-free in the shoulder season. Eugene and the Cascades region are located less than two hours from Portland, and there you'll find incredible hikes, natural spas, hot springs, and waterfalls. Make sure to also visit Lincoln City along the coast for beach combing, whale watching, tide pooling, kite flying, and the famous Finders Keepers event—through Memorial Day, volunteers hide hand-made glass art on the beach; if you find one, you get to keep it!

RELATED:The New Food and Drink Capital of the U.S. Will Surprise You

Palm Springs, California


Head to the desert in April or May before the heat hits. Multi-day music festivals and other warm-weather celebratory events take over the area, making spring an exciting (and surprisingly still affordable) time to go. Prices will vary during peak travel times, but there are still deals to be had.

Flights: StudentUniverse found round-trip flights from New York City starting at $355, with cheapest dates in April. And, goSeek also reports flights of around $300 round-trip from New York City, with flights from San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle as low as $150 round-trip. You can thank JetBlue's five new seasonal flights for keeping these prices down. For Californians, Palm Springs is just a two-hour drive from Southern California, making it an even more affordable weekend getaway.

Hotels: Booking.com reports that hotels are cheapest the week of April 5 to 11. JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa is offering a new Spring Fling package with $50 resort credit starting at $299 per night through April 30. The Saguaro Palm Springs is offering a Coachella Weekend package, with $50 off each night during your stay. The V Palm Springs resort is set to open this season, with discounted advance purchase rates available. And, the newly opened ARRIVE hotel starts with rates as low as $189 per night


If these deals aren't sweet enough, goSeek recommends look at nearby areas like Palm Desert, Indio, La Quinta, and Cathedral City for less expensive options.

What to Do in Spring: From Coachella and the Stagecoach Country Music Festival in April to The Palm Desert Food & Wine Festival and Greater Palm Springs Restaurant Week, there's an event for everyone.

China


While some regions are in their rainy season in the spring, temperatures throughout most of the country are in the 70s and flowers are in full bloom. Peak travel season starts in June, so April and May are optimal months to visit. Just avoid the Chinese Labor Day holiday week (May 1 to 7) as prices will be high and crowds full with Chinese tourists.

Flights: StudentUniverse marks prices from New York City at $495 round-trip to Beijing, and $571 to Shanghai.

Hotels: With the G20 Summit in Hangzhou this September, several new hotels are opening in the area for the event. Currently, the extravagant Four Seasons Hangzhou at West Lake is 20 percent below the average rate, and many others like the Sheraton Grand, Crowne Plaza, InterContinental, and Courtyard by Marriott are offering nightly rates that are 10 to 30 percent lower.


The 10-day Beijing and Shanghai tour from smarTours starts at $1,199 (savings of up to $1,000 per couple) and includes airfare and taxes, as well as hotel stays, sightseeing tours, and English-speaking guides if booked by April 21. G Adventures also has a number of discounted China trips, including one of their partnership tours with National Geographic starting at $879 for a 10-day trip from Shanghai to Hong Kong.

What to Do in Spring: From ethnic celebrations like the Sisters' Meal Festival and Water Splashing Festival to pristine weather for hiking along the Li River, spring brings ideal temperatures for tourism. The most famous attractions, though, are the spring bloom throughout the country. Rape flowers bloom in Wuyuan, Magnolia, and Lilac; and the Chinese Flowering Crabapple blossoms in Beijing. Peach Blossoms can be seen in Guilin, Azaleas take over in Guizhou during the Guizhou Azaleas Festival, and Peonies are celebrated in Luoyang at their peak in April with the Luoyang Peony Festival.

RELATED:Walking the Great Wall of China: A Bucket-List Trip You Can Actually Afford

Colorado


Thanks to El Nino, the West received records amount of snow, making incredible spring skiing in Colorado possible at a fraction of the price compared to winter. From Breckenridge to Aspen, almost every ski area has spring skiing discounts, so check your favorite Colorado mountain for guaranteed low prices.

Flights: Denver is a hub for many major airlines. StudentUniverse found flights of $168 round-trip from New York City during April travel dates and CheapTickets.com reported the average airfare for the spring season to be $236 round-trip; goSeek found even cheaper deals from Chicago starting at $125 and Los Angeles from $75.

Hotels: CheapTickets.com reports the daily average hotel rate in Denver is $165 per night, and goSeek reports most lodges in Vail are under $200 per night and under $100 per night in Beaver Creek.


Summit County's Keystone Resort is offering 50 percent off with one-bedroom condos starting at $179 per night. Loveland Ski Area is offering a Ski and Stay Package starting at $195 per night for two adults, which includes lift tickets. Powderhorn Mountain Resort offers a similar deal with a Family Ski and Stay Vacation Package starting at $464 for two adults and two children, and a Ski Stay and Sip Package starting at $205 per night for double occupancy.


Apsen's mountains are open until April 17, so there's still time to enjoy the snow. Apsen Meadows Resort's Spring Break Package starts at $125 per night, with a $100 credit. Hotel Jerome is also offering lower hotel rates and a Spring Ski Retreat Package that includes daily lift tickets and breakfast for two. Aspen Chamber Resort Association is offering a "Buy Two Nights/Get Third Free" deal as part of the Secret Season Package starting May 1, which includes a $50 credit toward a recreational activity (see a list of participating properties here).


The resorts at Winter Park and Breckenridge also have a variety of spring package deals.


If skiing isn't your thing, The Dinosaur Hotel and Morrison Natural History Museum offer a Dinosaur Explorer Package starting at $72 per night for four guests. It includes accommodation, breakfast, interaction with a trained paleontologist, guided tour, and half-off admission with a behind-the-scenes tour to the natural history museum.

What to Do in Spring: Obviously spring skiing is the highlight in Colorado, but there are dozens of other recreational activities possible with the spring time weather, too. Check out Breckenridge's Spring Fever month-long festival with happy hours, live music, and the Spring Breckenridge Beer Fest.


Around Powderhorn Mountain and Aspen, you can even golf and bike after a few runs down the mountain come springtime. Check out Black Canyon of The Gunnison National Park during free park week in April for hiking, kayaking, rafting, and rock climbing.


If you're looking to enjoy the snow, most mountains offer "Kids Ski Free" and extremely discounted lesson packages, half-day passes, discounts on rental gear, and general lift tickets. Winter Park also offers free ranger-led snowshoeing tours, and skiing and snowboarding mountain tours to lift ticket holders. Check out your favorite mountain for guaranteed lift ticket deals in the spring.

U.S. National Parks


All national parks will be free during National Park Week (April 18-24) to celebrate the park system's 100th anniversary, including their Find Your Park initiative. It's a great opportunity to visit parks with normally high-admission fees, but to avoid the crowds you might want to consider a less-visited alternative. Here are a few favorites for this time of year, taking into account flight and accommodation prices.

  • Maine: Acadia National Park: Maine is in its off season in the spring, so be prepared for cooler temperatures—although New England had a mild winter, so you could see some high temps in April and May. And you can be one of the first people to see a sunrise in the U.S. atop Cadillac Mountain in the park.
  • New Mexico: White Sands National Monument and Carlsbad Caverns: Cheap flights with Southwest, low nightly rates (CheapTickets.com reports $94 average nightly rate in Albuquerque), and perfect weather make New Mexico an amazing spring destination. Sand-sled on white dunes or explore mysterious caves for free this spring.
  • Ohio: Cuyahoga Valley National Park: Flights are inexpensive and short from the East Coast into Cleveland, and Cuyahoga offers a variety of outdoor activities that are perfect for the late spring, including camping, hiking, kayaking, and a scenic train ride.

RELATED:The Best National Parks by Season

Tel Aviv, Israel


Spring is one of the best times to visit Tel Aviv as you can experience all the city has to offer without the high temperatures, large crowds, and expensive prices of summer. Toward the end of the season, you'll even see beach weather, with temperatures creeping into the 80s and 90s.

Flights: StudentUniverse found flights starting at $520 round-trip from New York. El Al, the national airline of Israel, is great for package flight deals, especially when you include a stopover. El Al also flies from Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Boston. Alternatively, you can fly over to Europe via WOW Air or Norwegian with their low transatlantic fares and catch an EasyJet or other budget airline flight into Tel Aviv.

Hotels: The Brown TLV and newly opened Brown Beach House are offering discounted rates through the end of March, starting at $180 per night. Also, check out The Embassy Hotel's Gay Pride Week special (May 26 to June 7) with 15 percent off rates. InterContinental and the Crowne Plaza are also offering advanced booking deals for Tel Aviv locations.

What to Do in Spring: Purim (the Jewish holiday that is celebrated in Israel like Halloween) takes place March 23-25 with celebrations across Tel Aviv. Gay Pride Week is also a huge celebration in Tel Aviv, starting at the end of May and ending in June with the Pride Parade (one of the world's largest) on June 3. Between these celebrations and the warm weather, Tel Aviv's nightlife and dining scene are perhaps at their most enjoyable.


Spring brings artistic and cultural events to the city and marks the start of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art's monumental exhibition with Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset (the duo responsible for the famous Prada Marfa) at the beginning of April. There are also revolving exhibitions and events through spring at Contemporary by Golconda, Feinberg Projects, and the Meshuna Gallery.

Puerto Rico


With guaranteed good weather, accessible flights, and no passport required, Puerto Rico is almost always a favorable destination. Spring is technically shoulder season, so as long as you avoid spring break dates, you'll be in the clear to enjoy low-cost accommodations and cheap flights.

Flights: StudentUniverse found flights round-trip from New York City at $368, making it one of the cheapest Caribbean destinations this time of year. Plus, there are more than 60 daily direct flights from the U.S. into Puerto Rico on nine different airlines.

Hotels: According to Booking.com, hotels are 5 percent cheaper the week of April 19-25. The Wyndham Grand Rio Mar has starting rates at $199 this season, and is giving guests activity trackers and cameras to explore the nearby El Yunque National Rainforest. The Ritz-Carlton in San Juan is offering a variety of packages starting at $399 per night. La Concha Resort is offering My Puerto Rico Experience through April, with $100 food and beverage credit and 20 percent off tours and rental cars. TripAdvisor reports record-low hotel prices for the season at dozens of hotels.


If you're looking for a more genuine Caribbean experience, posadas (historic buildings that have been converted to hotels) offer less expensive rates (starting under $100 per night) than resorts and give a more cultural experience. Hotel Colonial in Mayaguez and Da'House Hotel in San Juan are both comfortable yet affordable options.

What to Do in Spring: All of Puerto Rico's beaches are public, making their 270 miles of coastline available free of charge. This includes top-rated beaches like Playa Flamenco, Playa Isla Verde, and even the Vieques Wildlife National Refuge located on the shore of Vieques. A San Juan walking tour is free, as well as admission into Casa Blanca, the Museo de la Historia de Ponce, and Parque de Bombas Museum.

RELATED:9 Must-See Spots During Puerto Rico's Low Season

Maui And Oahu, Hawaii


There's never a bad time to go to Hawaii, but summer and holiday crowds tend to draw higher prices compared to springtime (with the exception of spring break dates). With abundant new airline routes and hotel deals on Oahu and Maui, this spring season makes Hawaii extra affordable.

Flights: StudentUniverse found $611 round-trip tickets from New York City to Honolulu, with travel dates cheapest in late April and early to mid-May. Starting May 5, Virgin America will offer new daily and nonstop flights from Honolulu to Los Angeles, as well as to Maui come June 14. This is in addition to the already new routes it added to both islands from San Francisco.

Hotels: On Oahu, Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort and Spa is offering a Sunshine on Sale Package, with a free fourth night and free daily buffet breakfast for two. Hilton Hawaiian Village has rates starting at $189 in the spring months, and is the only beachfront resort in Waikiki. Aqua Oasis Hotel offers tons of deals, like free parking, discounted rental cars, and hotel and air packages. And, Lotus Honolulu at Diamond Head has rates starting at $259 per night, which includes a fitness and wellness concierge, free daily wine reception, and unlimited beach cruiser use around Kapiolani Park and Diamond Head.


On Maui, the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa offers the Ultimate Maui Vacation Package that includes Hulu lessons, daily SUV car rental, free parking, daily complimentary buffet breakfasts for four, and two-for-one tickets to the famous Drums of the Pacific Luau and Tour of the Stars—a viewing from a telescope on the hotel rooftop with the hotels' Director of Astronomy. Rates start at $379 per night. Another option is Aston Kaanapali Shores, which recently renovated its pool; to celebrate, the resort is currently offering up to 25 percent off new reservations.

What to Do in Spring: We named Hawaii one of the "12 Destinations That Should Be on Your Radar in 2016" for a reason—namely the incredible Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Since all parks will have free admission the week of April 18-24 to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the national parks system, there's no better time to explore the islands' natural wonders.

RELATED:10 Best Things to Do in Hawaii

Bonus Destinations


Check out a few more affordable spring spots that we just had to include …

  • Virginia: With cheap flights (under $300 average round-trip into Arlington according to CheapTickets.com) and accommodations (under $150 per night), Virginia has a lot going on in the spring months with warm temperatures and tons of outdoor activities (not to mention food, beer, and wine festivals). Check out these spring specials from The Inn at Tabbs Creek (Chesapeake Bay), Massanutten Resort, Chincoteague Island, and The Tides Inn, Spa, Golf, & Marina (Irvington).
  • Playa del Carmen, Mexico: Spring is Mexico's shoulder season post-spring break, so you'll find cheap airfare (StudentUniverse found round-trip flights from New York City starting at $227 for May travel dates) and favorable exchange rates (18 Mexican Pesos per one USD). Don't miss the Riviera Maya Film Festival in April, along with lower hotel prices (like the Grand Hyatt Playa del Carmen starting at $255 per night). TripAdvisor also notes record-low prices in May at many resorts.
  • Jekyll Island, Georgia: Discover Georgia's hidden gem, Jekyll Island, about an hour and a half south of Savannah—it's the next Hilton Head. Google Flights shows round-trip airfare from New York City averaging well under $200 over the spring months, and the island is driving distance from many Southern states. With temperatures reaching the 80s, you'll have guaranteed beach weather, as well as access to four golf courses, 20 miles of bicycle paths, and a brand new shopping and restaurant district. Check out Holiday Inn Resort at Jekyll Island's Turtle Package, which includes overnight accommodations, two tickets to the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, bike rentals, and daily breakfast for two, starting at $169 per night. Or, stay at the historic Jekyll Island Club and receive 20 percent off accommodations through May 26.
  • Thailand and Vietnam: Spring flights to both Southeast Asian countries are inexpensive; StudentUniverse reports round-trip prices from New York City to Bangkok from $620 and to Ho Chi Minh City from $646. In April, Thailand celebrates its New Year with Songkran Festival, making the spring an especially exciting time to go. Check out Journeys Within Thailand Songkran Festival Tour for a can't-miss experience. Journeys Within also hosts a Custom Vietnam Spring Special tour that takes advantage of the favorable spring weather, which is much cooler than the rest of the region in spring.


    If you're looking to take advantage of the region's cheap flight prices and favorable exchange rates, G Adventures' Indochina Discovery 30-day tour is on sale for $2,511 departing April 10 and travels through Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos.

More from SmarterTravel:

Read the original story: 14 Insanely Cheap Destinations for Spring 2016 by Ashley Rossi, who is a regular contributor to SmarterTravel.

More from Huffington Post

The Huffington Post
The Huffington Post
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon