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Top five off-peak destinations for winter 2005/2006

by , SmarterTravel Staff
Skating in front of the Hotel de Ville de Paris (Photo: Herve Guignolet, France Guide)
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on November 10, 2005. To see the most recent SmarterTravel articles on related topics, please click on any of the following links: Austin, Beijing, Germany, Jessica Labrencis, Paris, seasonality, vacation package, Vancouver.

Winter, typically a slow travel season across-the-board, brings great vacation opportunities to destinations around the world. Some of the top destinations for the 2005/2006 winter travel season experience chilly temperatures, while others remain mild. No matter what temperature, all of our top-rated destination picks experience significant price drops during the off-peak winter season, which may make up for any inclement weather.

Besides lower prices and fewer crowds, winter also has several holiday weekends, such as Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Presidents' Day, which can make for a perfect mini-break.

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Our picks for the top five off-peak destinations for winter 2005/2006 are Austin, Texas; Beijing; Germany; Paris; and Vancouver.

Austin, Texas

Known as the live music capital of the world, Austin combines Texas charm with a funky, free-spirited vibe. Winter temperatures range between 60 and 70 degrees in January, February, and March, allowing travelers to take advantage of the city's many outdoor activities without the oppressive summer heat. The mild temperatures are ideal for running or biking around the Town Lake hike and bike trail, exploring the music venues in the Warehouse District or on Sixth Street, and wandering South Congress Avenue (or SoCo, locally) in search of Tex-Mex and barbecue.

Some of Austin's best sights are also free. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center offers free admission through January 2006, allowing travelers a cost-effective way to explore the center's gardens and four miles of nature trails. Fans of Austin City Limits, the popular PBS live-music television program, can take free studio tours on Fridays, while history buffs can browse the LBJ Library and Museum on the University of Texas campus for free.

Winter flights to Austin will be more affordable than ever in 2006. Low-fare giant JetBlue begins flying to Austin from the Northeast in early January, which will likely cause price drops for those routes on competing airlines.

We searched for airfare to Austin to calculate how much you can save by taking advantage of off-peak flights this winter and found savings of up to 46 percent.

Route Winter fare Spring fare
Chicago (O'Hare) to Austin $203 $377
New York (JFK) to Austin $221 $281
Orlando to Austin $291 $361
San Diego to Austin $234 $304

Winter fares are based on travel between February 15 and 22, 2006, and spring fares are based on travel between June 14 and 21, 2006. Prices were found on Travelocity's website and include taxes and fees.

To find Austin hotel deals, see SmarterTravel.com's hotel section, or visit the vacation section to check for airfare-and-hotel packages. Most of the major airlines fly to Austin, as well as low-fare carriers ATA, JetBlue, and Southwest. For airfare deals, check SmarterTravel.com's airfare section. For general information on Austin, including a visitor's guide, events calendar, and special offers, go to the Austin CVB website. Top

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