Why You Should Book a Trip for January
Though post-holiday blues are reason enough to request vacation days now, here’s something else to consider: As the kickoff to the travel “dead zone” between the holiday season and spring break, January is generally the cheapest month to get out of Dodge. Read on for six particularly sweet deals in places worth visiting this month.
Not surprisingly, Disney World is flooded with families during the holidays, but when the parks go (relatively) quiet after the New Year, hotel and ticket prices drop — as do wait times for rides. But for aesthetes, there’s an even better reason to go this month: the Epcot International Festival of the Arts, a food/art/theater/music-fest which was so successful when it debuted last year that extended dates are on the books for 2018. And throughout January, two-bedroom suites at the Sonesta ES Suites Hotel Orlando are $139 per night, 45% off regular rates, including parking, Wi-Fi, breakfast and shuttles to the nearby theme parks.
This storied Texas town is celebrating its 300th birthday all year, but there’s good reason to join the party on the early side: January is packed with stellar events, from the San Antonio Symphony’s Latin-inflected Tricentennial Celebration to the San Antonio Cocktail Conference (try one of the paired dinners). Throughout the month, rates at the Marriott Plaza San Antonio start at $96 per night, up to 30% off high season. The 4-star hotel is steps from the beloved River Walk and only three blocks from The Alamo, both of which will be considerably less packed than in summer.
Chicago might not be the most obvious of winter getaways, but there’s so much happening indoors this month (Ale Fest Winter Edition, Restaurant Week, endless concerts and shows) that the weather will affect little more than outdoor selfies. And of course, absent are the high-season crowds at the city’s most renowned art and science centers, you’ll have miraculously unobstructed views of everything from the beloved beluga whales at the Shedd Aquarium to the Seurat icon at the Art Institute of Chicago. Steps from the Magnificent Mile’s designer shops, the Palomar Chicago is available for as little as $119 per night in January, over $100 off spring stays.
For those who don’t think of Tennessee in a skiing context, the Great Smokey Mountains offer a surprise twist: the 10 trails (and one terrain park) of Ober Gatlinburg, where there’s not just skiing and snowboarding, but wildly popular snow tubing. These mountains also offer plenty of hiking ops in winter, when even the most popular trails — the ones around the waterfall wonderland of Cades Cove, for example — are crowd-free and wildlife-rich. To experience the full mountain getaway effect, book a cabin with a fireplace and hot tub for $169 per night, 40% off summer pricing, from Pioneer Vacation Rentals.
Consistently topping lists of America’s Best Beaches, Clearwater occupies three miles of pristine shoreline along Florida’s Gulf Coast, where you’ll find beach weather (or at least walk-on-the-beach weather) even in January, when temperatures average in the low 70s. And if you stay at the Sheraton Sand Key Resort, where every room has a private patio or balcony ideal for soaking up the winter sun, you’ll save up to 45% on stays compared to high season.
If you hit the Big Easy before Mardi Gras does, you’ll save big on flights and hotels, but won’t skimp on festivities: The season leading up to Mardi Gras is known as Carnival, and begins on January 6, when the first slice of king cake is cut and the pre Fat-Tuesday parades and parties kick off with the ride of the famed Phunny Phorty Fellows. Stay only two blocks from the French Quarter — and survey your surroundings from the rooftop bar — at the luxe NOPSI Hotel, where you’ll save up to 55% off regular rates in January.
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