The Caribbean, the West Coast, and North America's ski resorts.... During the winter months, these spots are bustling with tourists who are either looking to escape the cold, or are seeking it out for that fresh powder. But summer months see their crowds dispersing for destinations like the beaches of the East Coast, Europe, and theme parks around the world, where temperatures are generally high -- as are the prices. That's why we think it's a great idea to not overlook your favorite wintery getaway as a possible summertime escape. Not only are hotel rates nearly cut in half, but winter destinations can be just as fun (dare we say more so?!) in the summer as they are during peak season. Here are eight popular winter destinations where you can enjoy an amazing, and affordable, summer getaway!
Not surprisingly, Cancun’s busiest months are those around winter and spring breaks, when hordes of college students descend upon the white-sand shores to party and lounge poolside. Even early June, though it technically falls during low season, can be a busy time for Cancun tourism as families treat their tots to summer vacations. By the end of the month, however, this beach destination starts to clear out — which means beautiful, uncrowded waters and great deals on hotels. It may be warm, but the crystal-clear ocean is right at your toe tips and the culinary scene is still bustling. September sees particularly low rates — but be prepared for potential hurricane weather!
Where to Stay: Fiesta Americana Grand Coral Beach Resort & Spa
While not all-inclusive, to which many guests attribute the resort’s quiet atmosphere, the Fiesta Americana Grand Coral Beach Resort & Spa has three restaurants; three poolside bars, including a swim-up bar; and a lobby bar. The extensive and beautifully designed spa, billed as the only in Latin America with a 10-step hydrotherapy program, is a big draw.
So we’re not the first to realize that Jackson Hole makes for a pretty amazing summer getaway; after winter, summer is this mountainous destination’s busiest season. Still, some have a hard time picturing Jackson Hole in warmer months, and instead can only think of snow-capped mountains, winding snowshoe trails, and tourist-laden ski lifts. Well, all those things are there during the summertime, but instead of strapping on skis, snowshoes, or a snowboard, all you need are hiking boots or a sturdy pair of sneakers to enjoy the area’s beautiful natural surroundings. Resorts are usually slightly less expensive than they are during the winter, and offer warm weather-friendly amenities such as tennis, swimming, and horseback riding.
Where to Stay: Flying Saddle Resort
Guests are free to roam the Flying Saddle Resort’s gorgeous seven acres, which include the Snake River and glorious views of the surrounding mountains. Although facilities, such as the small fitness center and decent-size pool, are pretty basic, the hotel is clean and offers nice conveniences — there is a liquor store and Steak & Seafood House restaurant on-site.
Although Belize enjoys warm temperatures year-round, summertime is its low tourist season as it is also the country’s rainy season. But this just means fewer crowds, cheaper rates, and rain forests that are particularly lush. Belize is most famous for its snorkeling and scuba diving, which are among the best in the world: The barrier reef off shore is second only to the Great Barrier Reef off Australia, and visitors can see turtles (both green and leatherback), nurse sharks, stingrays, and a variety of tropical fish.
Where to Stay: Robert’s Grove Beach Resort
This laid-back, 52-room property has rooms on both Placencia Peninsula and two small private islands. The range of amenities is extensive, including a professional dive shop, marina (slips are available), spa, three restaurants, three outdoor ocean-view pools, and tours galore from an impressive fleet of boats.
Palm Springs is quickly heating up as a hip destination that’s not just for the older set anymore (just ask Jessica Simpson, who has made many a recent trip here). What else is heating up? The California desert’s temperatures around this time of year. But if there’s one thing the hotels, restaurants, and spas of Palm Springs understand, it is the importance of air conditioning. Your round of golf may be toasty, but afterwards you can relax in one of the area’s renowned spas or cool off with a dip in your hotel’s pool. And you’ll certainly feel cool when you compare the low season rates you’re paying to what the same hotels will ask for in November through March.
Where to Stay: Ace Hotel and Swim Club
This upper-middle-range, 180-room hipster haven has a palpable party vibe and frequent music nights with a live DJ. The style is retro, with 70s details such as record players and vinyl in the rooms. It can be really loud here, but that’s just what the young crowd the property draws is looking for.
Summer is considered Whistler’s shoulder season; though hotel rates aren’t nearly as high as they are in the winter, Whistler often sees just as many tourists in the summer months — but the destination feels less crowded as visitors are spread out over not only more time, but also more space (not everyone and their mother is on the mountain!). Daytime weather is ideal, with highs in the uppers 70s, and nights can get quite chilly (lows in the 40s), making for a truly authentic British Columbia vibe. This time of year, Whistler boasts great hiking and mountain biking trails, farmers markets with tasty local, organic produce, and lovely lakes — particularly the warmer waters found at Lost Lake Park — for swimming, canoeing, and kayaking.
Where to Stay: Nita Lake Lodge
A luxurious escape from the madness of the touristy parts of Whistler, the 77 suites at Nita Lake Lodge evoke sophisticated, mountain-town style, with high, vaulted ceilings, fireplaces, and beautiful balconies with gorgeous lake views. Decor is effortlessly elegant, playing on simple, contrasting colors, like clean, white linens and dark wood trim.
Of course, Miami is poppin’ year round. The sands of South Beach, Miami Beach, Sunny Isles, and more see plenty of sunbathers during the summer months, but from June to September the crowds are much more manageable than in January through April. Like Cuba’s ultra-capitalist offshoot, Miami is a sprawling, modern metropolis with a Latino pulse. One of America’s most fashion-forward cities, its couture shopping, A-list clubs, renowned art galleries, and innovative cuisine draw some pretty famous faces (even in the summer), with paparazzi — or Secret Service — frequently in tow.
Where to Stay: Betsy Hotel
The Betsy is a four-pearl boutique hotel that does just about everything right: Stylish but informal decor and an attention to detail make for a luxe, yet laid-back ambiance. The 61 rooms are a tad small, as can often be expected in historic buildings, but they feature chic white-on-white, beachy decor and teak accents, as well as high-tech amenities including flat-screen TVs, iPod docks, bathroom mirrors embedded with TVs, and free Wi-Fi.
Like some of the other ski towns on this list, Telluride is associated with ski and snow, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a popular summer destination. This quaint spot — which is, arguably, significantly less pretentious than other Colorado ski resorts (and thereby slightly less expensive) — has plenty of wide open spaces that are great for exploring during the warmer months. ATV-ing, biking, hiking, camping, horseback riding, and golfing are all popular summer pastimes. Telluride also hosts numerous festivals throughout the summer, such as a bluegrass festival, wine festival, yoga festival, and an infamous Fourth of July celebration.
Where to Stay: Box Canyon Lodge and Hot Springs
The Box Canyon Lodge is a 39-room property with a cheery yellow facade surrounded by stunning views of the Rocky Mountains. The four outdoor hot tubs with natural thermal waters are a big draw, and the free Wi-Fi and free cold breakfast add to the value. However, visitors who wish to spend time in the town of Telluride should be aware that it is about a one-hour drive away.
Okay, summers in Tucson are hot. But at least the desert air is dry, and visiting Tucson in June through September means fewer crowds and cheaper rates — all with the same gorgeous desert-meets-mountain views, rich history and culture, world-renowned spas, and plethora of outdoor activities such as golf, horseback riding, and hiking. There are many budget hotels in the area, and almost all boast outdoor pools and beautiful desert scenery.
Where to Stay: Tanque Verde Ranch
This rustic, all-inclusive resort is a quintessential Western dude ranch surrounded by miles of gorgeous mountains and desert. The property borders Saguaro National Park East, where guests can enjoy guided horseback rides, hiking, and mountain biking. There’s also swimming, communal ranch meals, and kids’ activities.
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