Great spots to think about for a spring holiday this year
Nice item from Christine Sarkis at SmarterTravel.com, listing places folks can go for a reasonably priced spring holiday.
Because of our winters, we Canadians tend to travel a lot in January, February and March. And a lot of families do Disney World or other trips in the summer, when the kids have more time out of school. Consequently, a lot of us tend to stay home in April and May, and that means there are some pretty good deals - and often less crowds.
April and May are awesome times to visit Europe; as the massive tourist hordes haven't yet descended. The weather is decent in places like Paris and London in spring. It can be downright glorious in southern Europe; often near 20 degrees during the day.
Here are the spots Sarkis recommends, with the odd thought of my own as I veg out on a beach on the Mayan Riviera on a short holiday...
PORTUGAL The average hotel for spring is said to be about $100 in this country, and that's remarkable. Heck a chain hotel in Belleville is likely to cost you that much. And when you wake up and stumble outside you're in Belleville and not at a small cafe in Lisbon. The city of Guimaraes is the European Capital of Culture for 2012, meaning plenty of exhibits and concerts and such. Great golf and lovely beaches and superb wine in this affordable European haven, as well.
ORLANDO Okay, not quite as exotic. But with Disney, Legoland and the Harry Potter park at Universal, there's tons to do. Also, the food and drinks scene is surprisingly sophisticated, and the shopping is excellent. The beach isn't far away, either. Sarkis wrote that Disney Resorts has a 30 per cent off deal for April 13 to June 4 if booked by Feb. 28. I haven't had time to check it out but it would be worth noodling about on the Internet for shoulder-season deals in Orlando. Oh, don't forget the great golf at a time when Ontario golf is still something of a dicey affair from a weather standpoint.
SEATTLE A bit far away for us, but if you're visiting Vancouver it's a great side trip. Lovely food and a great waterfront for moseying about. Not to mention fine wines grown in state and great brewpubs, and, of course, Pike's Market. There are a couple major shows for culture lovers, too; a Gauguin exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum through April 29 and a Tutankhamun exhibit at the Pacific Science Center starting May 24.
HAWAII A personal fave for four decades, it's a great spot in the spring as crowds have thinned considerably. You can almost always find a clean, decent room in a hotel near Waikiki Beach in Honolulu for $100, and often for $80 or less. Food and wine can be expensive at trendy waterfront spots but if you eat a little further inland you can eat well for very little money in a city that's a real melting pot of Asian cultures. Terrific Chinese, Japanese and Thai places, plus touches of Portugal and, of course, American cuisine. Sarkis says Pleasant Holidays is offering 3-night packages from San Diego or San Francisco for $555, and that's a great deal. You could fly to San Diego or San Francisco for a few days, then soak up the sun in Hawaii before returning home to Canada. Check WestJet or Air Canada vacations for other deals, or the other Canadian tour companies.
PUERTO RICO Not a lot of Canadians head here, but I'm told that's changing a little. San Juan has beautiful, historic streets with colourful buildings and a gorgeous waterfront fort. The beaches are lovely and you also can find stunning rainforests and, if you wish, casinos.
A few other ideas worth thinking about include the Florida Panhandle, which warms up nicely by April. Ditto for Myrtle Beach, which is easy to reach via Porter Airlines. Washington D.C. or New York are great for culture. And the weather is usually terrific in southern California by the time the calendar hits April.
The Greek islands can be terrific in May. Ditto for South America, where it'll be fall.
Want to venture a little further? It'll be fall in New Zealand and Australia and a lot of tourists have gone home to the U.S., Canada or Europe, so it's a good time to check out either country at more affordable prices than their summer (our winter).
And don't forget Canada. The weather starts warming up nicely out west in April, so it's a great time for Vancouver or Victoria. Ditto for Montreal or Quebec City, especially as we get closer to May. Or just settle in for a great weekend in Niagara-on-the-Lake or a spa weekend or one-night stay at someplace romantic, such as Ste. Anne's Spa in Grafton, Ontario; very close to the GTA and a real sanctuary.
Enjoy! I'll be back with my nose to the old blog grindstone on Monday....