Spring is an excellent time to travel to typically expensive destinations. Many places have a shoulder season with fewer tourists from March through June, and visitors can take advantage of pleasant weather and deals. Read on for this year's top five off-peak destinations for spring.
Spring is typically the low and shoulder season for Vancouver, but this year is an especially sweet time to head to British Columbia because of the Winter Olympics, which end on February 28. Host cities typically suffer from post-Olympic syndrome, when would-be visitors avoid the area because they believe it is too expensive or too crowded. But savvy travelers can find plenty of deals for Vancouver (and even for nearby Whistler, which is in high season through March).
Currently, Whistler Blackcomb is highlighting special airfares (when booked with accommodations) to Vancouver from several U.S. cities, including $75 (before taxes and fees) one-way from Los Angeles on Alaska Airlines and $139 (before taxes and fees) one-way from San Francisco on Air Canada. Cathay Pacific lists a sale from New York City for $456 (including taxes and fees) round-trip. And United's Canada deal lists prices from Denver starting at $472 (before taxes and fees).
When comparing airfare during the off-peak season to high season, I found savings up to $239.
|Route||Off-Peak Rate||Peak Rate|
|Boston to Vancouver||$408||$533|
|Chicago to Vancouver||$462||$485|
|Los Angeles to Vancouver||$238||$477|
Off-peak fares are based on travel from March 2 through 9; peak travel fares are based on travel from August 3 to 10. All fares were found using Travelocity and include all taxes and fees.
Hotel deals abound for post-Olympic travelers this season in both Whistler and Vancouver. The Four Seasons in Whistler lists several specials: Starting March 1, visitors will receive 50 percent off their second night, or get their third night free. The Sea to Sky Package offers a minimum three-night stay split between Vancouver and Whistler from $235 CAD (about $225 U.S.; see XE.com for current conversion rates) per night between April 11 and June 19. Additional dates are available for slightly higher rates.
Tourism Whistler lists three-night Stay & Ski packages that include a two-day lift pass from $266 CAD (about $254 U.S.) and five-night accommodations with a four-day lift pass from $441 CAD (about $421 U.S.) between April 5 and 18. The Pan Pacific Whistler Village Centre offers a Play Your Own Games package through April 25 that includes three nights' accommodations, daily breakfast, a one-day lift ticket, a dogsledding tour, a bear tour, a $100 dining credit for village restaurants, and a $50 food and beverage credit at the Dubh Linn Gate Pub from $1,699 CAD (about $1,624 U.S.). And Tourism Vancouver lists seven hotels offering a third night free in prime locations through April 30.
Once you've found a place to stay, the next step is deciding what to do. And just because the Olympics have left town doesn't mean there won't be any fun. Happenings in Vancouver this spring include the Vancouver International Biennale, a free, open-air art event that lasts through June 30, 2011. International Dance Day will be celebrated on April 29 in Vancouver, and free events such as a flamenco dance class and hula-hooping lessons make the event an entertainment bargain. Visa card holders can take advantage of coupons for restaurants, shopping, and spa services all over the city through May 31. Tourism Vancouver Visitor Centre is the home for Tickets Tonight, which sells half-price tickets to daily events and shows. And for a little Olympic excitement, tourists can ski and snowboard on the Cypress slopes and half-pipe on Vancouver's North Shore, the venue for six Olympic events.