Shopping off-season is always a good way to save money, whether you’re buying clothes at the end-of-season clearance sales – or a getaway at a place tourists generally don’t visit in winter. Good bets are big cities where you’ll find museums, exhibits, live performances, lots of restaurants and great people-watching. So if you don’t mind chilly temperatures (and maybe some rain or snow), check out the winter bargains.
New York City is one of the priciest cities in the world, where mediocre hotel rooms can run several hundred dollars a night and the luxury rooms cost — don’t ask. But right after the winter holiday season there’s a lull in the city’s tourism numbers, and the city becomes downright affordable.
Priceline.com gave a $98 per-night price for a room at the two-star Hotel Pennsylvania during the third week in January (and that was without the “Name Your Own Price” option, which can cut prices significantly). Granted, the rooms haven’t had a face-lift in years, but the location is unbeatable, right in midtown Manhattan, across the street from Penn Station and a couple of blocks from Macy’s. Added bonus: New York City’s Restaurant Week, when you can get $25 three-course lunches at some of the city’s finest restaurants, runs from January 14 to February 8.
You’ll also find good winter deals in Boston. For late March, Priceline.com is showing a $99-per-night price for the two-star Comfort Inn in downtown Boston; this includes breakfast, free Wi-Fi and free parking. (Again, this is without the “Name Your Own Price” option.) Boston’s Restaurant Week runs March 17-22 and March 24-29.
Newport, Rhode Island, where America’s robber barons built some of the country’s most magnificent mansions is a good place to visit during the winter holiday season (through January 1, 2013), when the mansions are gorgeously decorated and the special events include visits from Santa. (After the holidays, they are still pretty darn impressive.)
The Newport Marriott, which is also dramatically decorated for the season, with a 16-foot gingerbread house and keeper’s house, has a Holiday Family Special (promotional code ZJ6), through Christmas. At $119 to $139 per night, it includes accommodations, complimentary breakfast, lunch and dinner for up to four children (12 and under) in Fathom’s restaurant (when an adult orders an entree), warm apple cider and holiday cookies at check-in and unlimited viewing of the gingerbread lighthouse and keeper’s house.
If you’ve always wanted to visit the great cities of Europe on a river cruise, you can do it for about half the price of a high-season trip. Yes, the weather can be really, really cold, but your luxurious river boat will be toasty warm and the crowds will be absent from the castles, cathedrals and shops.
An eight-day cruise on the Viking Embla from Budapest to Nuremberg in late December starts at $1,756. (The same cruise starts at more than $4,000 in the spring.) Keep in mind that river cruises are fairly inclusive and the ticket price pretty well represents the total cost of the cruise.
If it’s warm weather you crave, there are often good deals on ocean cruises in January, the “slow” period right after the holidays. On Norwegian Dawn, a three-day Bahamas cruise out of Miami on January 11 starts at $129 (yes, that’s right) for an inside cabin, with balcony cabins starting at $249.
A six-night Mexican Riviera cruise from Long Beach, California, on the Carnival Splendor, departing January 13, 2013, shows a starting price of $429 for an inside cabin.
For more good deals on winter getaways, just think about the times when most people want to go, avoid those — and start checking online for off-season deals.
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