Top Five Off-Peak Destinations for Spring 2014

by , SmarterTravel Staff
(Photo: Jonathan Combe via flickr/CC Attribution)
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on February 12, 2014. To see the most recent SmarterTravel articles on related topics, please click on any of the following links: Caroline Costello, destination, Netherlands, Reykjavik, Scotland, spring, St Augustine, Toronto.

Eyemouth, Scotland (Photo: Jonathan Combe via flickr/CC Attribution)

After a horrific winter for travelers in the United States, it's time to turn our frozen faces toward the pleasant promise of spring. The sun will be high, the air will be mild, and the worst of winter will be ancient history. Your only challenge? Picking the perfect place to go. With the health of your budget in mind, we've rounded up five affordable, happening spots to see this spring, where the low shoulder-season prices are almost as enticing as the sparse crowds, fun events, and new attractions. Here are our top picks for off-peak travel this spring.


St. Augustine, Florida

For Southern Florida, spring is peak travel time. The school break makes beach and theme park destinations like Ft. Lauderdale, Orlando, and Key West popular spots for families and the college set. For shoulder-season spring travel in Florida, then, look to the north. In St. Augustine, one of the country's oldest cities, you'll find a host of new historical attractions. Shoulder-season prices for plane tickets and hotel stays sweeten the deal.

Bounded by Florida's 500th anniversary in 2013 and the upcoming 450th anniversary of St. Augustine in 2015, the city is celebrating with a flurry of new historical attractions. Journey: 450 Years of the African-American Experience exhibition just opened its doors and will be around through mid-July. And El Galeón, a replica of a ship that plied the waters of coastal Florida hundreds of years ago, will be in St. Augustine's Municipal Marina through July as well.

A just-opened attraction that is not so educational (but maybe just as eye-opening) is a brand-new aerial park developed over crocodile-infested waters. At Crocodile Crossing, St. Augustine Alligator Farm's new aerial attraction opening in March, a physically demanding zip-lining course is suspended above packs of toothy reptiles.

Airfares to St. Augustine in spring are, thankfully, less alarming than hungry gators. Frontier increased its nonstop service to Northeast Florida Regional Airport with the addition of a Trenton-St. Augustine route in January; I found May flights for that very route for as low as $48.10 each way. Summer rates are much higher: In July, fares on Frontier bump up to more than double the spring rate. The lowest price I found for the same trip in July was $109.11 each way.

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