Wonderful Winter Weekend Getaways
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Salt Lake City
For those who check ski conditions on the daily, you don’t have to leave the country for world-class skiing. Get thee on a direct flight to Salt Lake City, and you’ll be minutes from Utah’s premier ski village of Park City. At the site of the 2002 Olympics, you’ll find black diamonds fit for the US ski team, which has made Park City its permanent home base. Stroll along the main street, and you’ll see that it’s not lacking in century-old buildings, twinkling lights or exceptional restaurants.
Washington's Methow Valley
Take ski-in/ski-out lodging to a new level and experience the European tradition of hut-to-hut skiing in northern Washington’s Methow Valley, near the US-Canadian border. For novices or those more familiar with its downhill sibling, cross-country skiing is a thrill in its own right, and Methow Valley is home to more than 125 miles of tranquil, well-marked trails. If indoor plumbing is a must after a long day on the trails, you may want to trade camping for other mountain accommodations, such as the Sun Mountain Lodge, where you won’t sacrifice the scenery or vast view of the stars.
If blue skies and tan lines seem like a distant memory, a quick Caribbean vacation may be what you’re craving. Consider the Bahamas, a chain of more than 700 islands, cays and reefs, which will feel downright balmy compared with East Coast temps. This year-round island paradise just off the Florida coast is in its peak season, allowing you to choose to splurge on a luxurious resort with all the trappings at Atlantis Paradise Island or escape to one of the more remote Out Islands.
Every winter, the promise of sunny, 72-degree weather beckons visitors to Miami. Beyond the requisite Cuban sandwich in Little Havana, in Little Havana, foodies will find memorable cuisine at the annual, star-studded South Beach Wine and Food Festival. With high season in full swing, you’ll see many a scantily clad European spend the nights dining at 9 p.m. and traipsing along Ocean Drive and sleep the days away in cabanas or on a bed of soft, white sand — that is how Miami is meant to be enjoyed.
There are good times to be had in New Orleans year-round, but things get kicked up a notch when Mardi Gras and college bowl games roll through town. Not that you need added reasons to visit — snacking on beignets at Café du Monde and listening to jazz on Bourbon Street should be reason enough to check into the elegant Hotel Mazarin in the French Quarter.
When you think of Orlando, you think of theme parks — and for good reason. It is home to Universal Orlando and Walt Disney World, each with myriad parks and resorts. Whether it’s a special parade or fireworks display over the holidays or a much-needed break from frozen temperatures back home, there are countless reasons why winter is an ideal time to visit. The period just after the holidays and before spring break is, in particular, the least crowded and will have the shortest lines.
While the chilly temps in Paris may keep throngs of tourists at bay, put on your rose-colored glasses and take advantage of cheaper rates for an extra-long-weekend stay — to make up for the travel time — at hotels such as the intimate (and conveniently located, near the Louvre) Hotel Relais Saint-Germain. Enjoy a leisurely breakfast over café au lait and a chocolate croissant (clichés for a reason) before strolling along the light-strung Champs-Elysees and taking advantage of the semiannual soldes, or sales. Longchamp or Hermès at 50% off, n’est-ce pas?
Sun worshippers, take heart; you’ll find your oasis in the middle of the Sonoran Desert. With more than 300 days of sunshine a year, the Greater Phoenix area has earned the nickname “Valley of the Sun” honestly. Most come to hit the links, as the area is dotted with more than 200 golf courses. But the Desert Botanical Garden is another year-round highlight. Like a relic of the Wild West, Old Town Scottsdale lures tourists, but most visitors will value a relaxing stay filled with shopping, golfing and lounging at the spa.
While chilly during the winter months, visitors will find Southern charm in spades in Savannah. The low-season prices also mean it’s a great time to splurge on a romantic Valentine’s stay at the Green Palm Inn. Indulge in comfort food, including cheesy grits, fried green tomatoes and Lowcountry cuisine, as well as cocktails. Thanks to lenient open-container laws, you can take that hot toddy to go as you stroll through the historic district downtown.