Cheap and comfortable winter getaways in a US

February 8, 2015 - Picnic Time

Baby, it’s cold outside, and post-holiday credit label bills are still jamming a mailbox. A warm-weather outing certain would be nice, though that means a vital wallet wallop. Or does it? In hunt of a inexpensive escape, we sleuthed out a sampling of slightest costly US cities, filtering for balmy skies and warmer-than-Boston temps. Sifting by lists of value-packed domestic destinations from, AARP, and other sources, we culled a ones that cost a slightest for travelers (cheap flights, inexpensive hotels, infrequent eats, fun freebies) and cherry-picked a warmest ones. (Sorry, Minneapolis!) Here’s what we found.


Why go: Outdoor fun, stylish hotels, a culinary revival, a colourful live song stage (pictured), and 300 days of fever any year.

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Average high temps: January, 59 degrees; February, 63; March, 72; April, 79.

Stay here: Keep Austin uncanny — and inexpensive — during Lone Star Court (, a retro 123-room engine justice true out of yesteryear. (Ignore a selling mall subsequent door.) Rates start during $79, and breakfast is included.

Play here: Run, hike, or bike on a 10-mile route that encircles Lady Bird Lake; by night, put your celebration pants on and strike Rainey Street, a hip frame of a city, where converted bungalows residence bars and live song venues.

Kiss here: Watch a nightfall and feel a regretful vibe atop 785-foot Mount Bonnell, a limestone formation.

Eat here: The Picnic, a food-trailer park on Barton Springs Road, is good for grazing. As many as 8 opposite food trucks park here during any given time, including Turf-N-Surf Po’ Boy, Tapas Bravas, and Hey! Cupcake. Or settle in for tacos al priest during Guero’s Taco Bar, a internal landmark. Prices are cheap, and a corn tortillas are done in-house.

Fun freebie: Say howdy to open as hundreds of kites fill a sky during a Zilker Kite Festival (free,
), hold a initial Sunday in March.



Las Vegas News Bureau

Why go: Seriously? It’s Vegas, baby! You can see and do scarcely all possible here. Some of a wildest things we’ve encountered lately: yoga with dolphins (at a Mirage Hotel Casino), a CSI Experience during a MGM Grand Hotel and Casino, and ATM machines that allot 24-karat bullion bars (at a Golden Nugget Hotel Casino). Free party abounds, and there’s eye candy aplenty (not to mention, a store clinging to MMs).

Average high temps: January, 58 degrees; February, 63; March, 69; April, 78.

Stay here: Rates change as mostly as Rihanna’s hairstyles, though perennially well-priced properties embody Bally’s Hotel, a Monte Carlo Hotel Casino, The LINQ Resort Casino, Tropicana Las Vegas, and a Golden Nugget.

Eat here: Vegas eateries have left upscale in new years, though there are copiousness of spots for dining that won’t mangle a bank. Try Cleo and Umami Burger (both during SLS Las Vegas), Guy Fieri’s Vegas Kitchen Bar during The LINQ (small bites, plates to share), and Boarder Grill during Mandalay Bay.

Fun for first-timers: The Las Vegas Pop Culture Tour ($25 per person; covers must-see venues like a Neon Museum, a Mob Museum, and a El Cortez Hotel Casino, a usually Vegas hotel and casino still in operation on a National Register of Historic Places. The debate is spiced with inside scoops; one of a owner-guides is Babs Daitch, who was Frank Sinatra’s amicable secretary when he worked in Las Vegas.

Fab freebies/cheapies: The erupting volcano during The Mirage, a fountains of Bellagio, a regard rug during The Stratosphere, a Eiffel Tower Experience during Paris Las Vegas, and a High Roller (a 550-foot-tall regard circle with views of a Strip and a valley) during The LINQ, and a Neon Museum and a Mob Museum (and this is only a sampling).

What’s new: Fremont Street is now a canopy-covered walking district (pictured), a stage of a Fremont Street Experience, a sound-and-light uncover using hourly each evening.;


Chris Granger

Why go: One of Lonely Planet’s “Best in a US 2015” manual picks, NOLA has an ambience all a own. Just walking a streets is a trip, and where else can we buy a spell potion, hear good jazz, and debate a tomb in a same day?

Average high temps: January, 62 degrees; February, 65; March, 71; April, 77.

Stay here: With attract to spare, a Hotel Le Marais (from $217;
) is located only a half-block from Bourbon and Royal streets. Free extras embody an stretched continental breakfast and Wi-Fi; book 14 days in allege and save adult to 15 percent off a best accessible rate.

Play here: The French Quarter is a National Historic Landmark District (who knew?); National Park Service rangers give daily giveaway tours during 9:30 a.m. (arrive during 9) during 419 Decatur St. New Orleans has travel musicians galore, and many of a jazz clubs (pictured) offer giveaway song though a cover charge. Take in a worldly glories of a Barataria Preserve in Jean Lafitte National Park, an outlandish wonderland of marsh, swampland, and old-growth cypress. Eight miles of boardwalk breeze by a preserve, and park use rangers offer giveaway tours during 1:30 p.m. daily. A nonprofit organisation called Save Our Cemeteries offers tours of a city’s extraordinary above-ground gravesites, including Lafayette Cemetery #1 in a Garden District ($15; A fun district for browsing: Magazine Street, where 80 shops understanding in a vintage, funky, and whimsical.

Eat here: Thrillist named NOLA “the best food city in America.” Of march we will have beignets and coffee during Café du Monde; after in a day, fill adult on such Southern classics as blackened catfish, crawfish pie, and boiled immature tomatoes during Eat New Orleans in a French Quarter (dinner entrees from $18) where it’s BYOB. Groove on live jazz and tapas (from $11) during Three Muses. The crawfish tamales, lamb sliders, and fries surfaced with feta win raves.

Bargain transpo: Get around on one of a city’s ancestral streetcars for $1.25.



Universal Orlando

Why go: Statistically, it’s got a warmest continue of all of a picks, and there’s copiousness to do, even if we don’t set feet in a thesis park. Bonus: We’ve found airfares underneath $200 this winter (that doesn’t pledge you’ll measure one, of course, though maybe).

Average high temps: January, 71 degrees; February, 73; March, 78; April, 83.

Stay here: The Renaissance Orlando during SeaWorld ( is charity a “less is more” package with rates that start during $142 per night. Book by Mar 5; rate is good by Mar 31. The family-friendly Cabana Bay Beach Resort (pictured) during Universal Orlando (www
) is charity a four-day Wizarding World of Harry Potter package (through Jun 6) starting during $139 per adult that includes thesis park acknowledgment and add-ons.

Play here: Soak adult a vitamin D during Lake Eola Park, downtown, where locals go to cruise on a shoreline, swan-watch, and listen to giveaway concerts. Another flattering spot: Harry P. Leu Gardens, with 3 miles of walkways and moth gardens and a circa 1800s residence museum.

Eat here: Every sequence grill you’ve ever listened of has an Orlando outpost. For a step up, strike Restaurant Row, a widen of Sand Lake Road with dual dozen-plus restaurants, from Turkish to tacos-and-tequila. One to try: Bistro CloClo, named for a French cocktail star, with glorious food in an art-filled setting.

Worth a drive: For a ambience of Olde Florida, take a brief expostulate to Wekiwa Springs State Park, a swimming hole with canoeing (rentals are available) and hiking trails.


Bob Grieser

Why go: Consistently balmy continue and 70 miles of coastline. Plus, it’s Cali, so you’re certain to have a good time. Just stay grand (in a imperishable difference of anchorman Ron Burgundy). And did we discuss a whales?

Average high temps: January, 65 degrees; February, 66; March, 66; April, 68.

Stay here: The Porto Vista Hotel ( in Little Italy has a “Stay in Style” package that includes breakfast from $129 per night, by March.

Eat here: It isn’t a final word in excellent dining, though what a spot. Fathom Bistro Bait Tackle is a city’s liveliest dockside taproom, and to a minds, zero says “vacation” like a pulled pig sandwich with kimchi and a Hoppy IPA — unless it’s one of Fathom’s “World Famous” Explodo dogs.

Play here: Winter will seem really distant divided as we pedal along 27 miles of palm-lined sea pathways during Mission Bay Aquatic Park, with miles of beaches. On a shores of Point Loma, watch as California gray whales quit south to a tact drift off Baja (through April), no whale-watch vessel required. Commune with sea life of a sign and sea lion warning in La Jolla Cove and Children’s Pool, where dozens of these creatures rally to float and object themselves on a rocks.

Artsy encounters: Starved for color? Take in a clear hues of a murals of La Jolla in La Jolla Village, combined by such internationally famous artists as John Baldessari.

Kiss here (or take a selfie): Climb to a limit of La Jolla’s Mount Soledad for 360-degree views of San Diego.


Diane Bair and Pamela Wright can be reached during bairwright@gmail .com.

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