Budget

Best Off-Season Summer Destinations

Summer travel can be easy on your wallet, thanks to off-season destinations that continue to lure visitors with great hotels, attractions and -- best of all -- savings. Low-season prices in some top countries around the world prove travelers can beat the crowds without any effort and enjoy both major discounts at top hotels and exciting activities that fly under the radar in off-peak season. We rounded up the best off-season destinations (many in the United States!) for summer vacationing. Not only are these jaunts budget-friendly, they'll create unforgettable memories for any type of traveler. Prices and promotions are current as of June 2012.

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Mexico
Mexico in general can be a budget-minded destination year-round, but summer is an especially ideal time to visit when all-inclusive hotels and several airlines slash rates, and the number of discounts that travelers can find at restaurants, shops and general attractions increases. In Playa del Carmen, the Acanto Boutique Hotel is only $99 per night -- travelers must call (888) 331-2177 to book.

The AAA, 5-Diamond Ritz-Carlton Cancun starts at $229 per night, a great deal considering high-season rates go as high as $659. Also, the all-inclusive Palace Resorts in Cancun is offering $213 per person, per night (compared with $269 in high season). Stay 5 to 8 nights and receive $1,500 in resort credit per room.
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Vietnam
Already an off-the-beaten path destination in Southeast Asia, Vietnam has always been backpacker-friendly. Now luxury-minded travelers are finding great deals at their favorite hotels. The summers may be hot, but it's worth the savings. In Hanoi, travelers can expect fewer crowds at top attractions like the National Museum of Vietnamese History and the Hanoi Opera House.

The best place to set up camp is at Sofitel Legend Metropole in the heart of Hanoi. The hotel includes 364 rooms, 3 restaurants, an outdoor pool and terrific spa. Rates are approximately $220 (compared with high season's $350) so it's a welcome steal. In Ho Chi Minh City, guests who buy 2 nights at Park Hyatt Saigon get the third night free. The hotel sets up exciting adventures like cooking classes, night Vespa tours and trips to the Mekong Delta.
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Florida
Bargains abound this summer in the Sunshine State. Even though many cities (like Orlando) are still crowded, South Florida is less of a circus in the summer months, and you don't have to jostle for towel space on the beach. The quirky town of Delray Beach has some of the best Florida beaches on the coast and a fun, bohemian community to boot. Stay at the Seagate Hotel & Spa, where the Weekday Breakaway Summer Package offers rooms at only $239 per night and includes a $50 resort credit, 2 comp fitness classes and special welcome amenity.

The Marquesa Hotel in the heart of Key West is a former 1884 "conch" house with rates almost half off in summer. Travelers can take in that iconic sunset, then hit the streets for famous psychic readings. If you’re heading to Miami, the fancy JW Marriott Marquis Miami summer rates are almost half off, starting at $239.
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Arizona
Don't be surprised to see tumbleweeds roll -- literally and metaphorically -- in Arizona over the summer (excluding the Grand Canyon, of course). The temperature rises but travelers who can bear the heat park themselves near the bounty of rivers and hotel pools to cool off. Head to Scottsdale, AZ, known to pamper the well-heeled traveler with luxury hotels and the magnificent Camelback Mountain.

Stay at the 239-room Montelucia Resort & Spa, which offers rates at a jaw-dropping $150 per night (compared with $419 during high season) and buy 1 treatment, get another 50% off in their Joya Spa. The iconic Phoenician (with 9 pools, 24-hole golf course, 11 tennis courts and 7 restaurants) starts at $169, which is more than 50% off peak-season rates.

The Four Seasons Troon North starts at $149 (compared with $459 during high season) and over in Phoenix, JW Marriott Desert Ridge offers a Family Fling package (from $149 per night) that includes free meals for kids. Feeling spiritual? Head to Sedona, home of the inspiring Red Rocks, where the intimate L'Auberge de Sedona resort just received a $25 million renovation and now flaunts cliffside villas for summer.
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US Virgin Islands
Nothing beats living on "island time" this summer in tropical paradise. Many airlines cut routes to the Caribbean from North America for the season, indicating that fewer people are going. Hotel rates drop considerably, and travelers can expect great packages -- and fewer crowds to boot. An easy target is US Virgin Islands (no passport required if you're a US citizen).

The islands offer the Sizzlin' Sampler package from June 1 to Sept. 30, which includes a $200 instant credit toward any booking with minimum 5-night stay at a participating hotel (fifth night free), along with $50 in shopping certificates, $50 in attractions and $40 in dining certificates. Summer is also popular for events like Mango Melee, St. John Festival and Bastille Day Kingfish Tournament.
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Utah
Known for terrific ski slopes, Utah is equally exciting in the summer with thrilling outdoor adventures and unimaginable landscapes. In fact, summer is an ideal time to visit as travelers can experience many exciting adventures only available between June and September, like white-water rafting, mountain biking and attending outdoor concerts. The new guided-hike program at Canyons Resort in Park City, UT, offers custom-created, European-style guided hikes that explore the vast Wasatch mountain range and famous canyons. Rates drop up to 50% off.

At Washington School House Hotel (an actual former schoolhouse from 1889), you can tell staff where you want to go and they'll take you there and set you up, though most outdoor activities can be experienced on grounds (like fishing, golf, kayaking and hiking). Don't forget to sample some whiskey at High West Distillery & Saloon (Utah’s first legal distillery), popular over summer months. Head to Cedar City, known as Festival City, which brims with myriad outdoor events over the summer months.
Belize
Belize is an emerging destination for Central America, and summer will have travelers experiencing local culture without hordes of tourists, in addition to great local festivals that most winter travelers will miss (Toledo Cacao Festival, Benque Fiesta and lobster festivals). Summer is the rainy season and, though you might get a little wet, the number of wildlife preserves will pop in vibrant colors. Furthermore, the rainfall doesn’t last all day.

Check into some eco-friendly resorts, like Victoria House in Ambergris Caye, a highly touted luxury resort that flaunts thatch-roof casitas in a cool, colonial setting. Rooms start at $150 per night over the summer (must book via www.travelbeyond.com), with many free amenities included (breakfast, bottle of wine upon check-in and welcome cocktails). The hotel also offers free upgrades, which are more likely to be available in low season.

About the Author

Jimmy Im is NYC-based travel writer, TV host and instructor, as well as the cofounder of OutEscapes.com. As an avid traveler, Jimmy has trekked the globe for exciting adventures, from taking a cargo vessel to the Marquesa Islands to bullfighting in Spain (seriously!). If he's not discovering new territory, Jimmy can be found in the comfort of his Lower East Side neighborhood.

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