January is a great time to escape winter and head South to Cancun – with gorgeous weather, and warm, sandy beaches it’s the perfect escape from the cold winter weather at home – and you can go tomorrow. (Are you packing yet?) Since we’re looking for somewhere that you can still squeeze in this month – Cancun is a great last-minute, no-hassle beach vacation. With breathtaking views, there are so many things to keep you busy (or not) during the day – you could plan on spending the day swimming, scuba diving, shopping, or even visiting awe-inspiring Mayan ruins.
February: COSTA RICA
Ready for pura vida? Head to Costa Rica in February – it’s after peak tourist season, so prices are a little lower, but there is still plenty of sunshine for lounging on the beach and exploring the green, lush rainforests. Up for an adventure? You can visit a volcano, take a dip in the natural hot springs, go underground caving, or climb over hanging bridges through the rainforest. If you’re looking to relax on the beach, Costa Rica has plenty to choose from. Before you hit the beach, make sure that you visit San Jose and see the exquisite collections at the Jade Museum and the Gold Museum.
March: WAIKIKI, HAWAII
Slooooow down and take a week in Hawaii, hear the waves and the hula music, and enjoy the sun where the average temperature is over 80 degrees year round. For March you can fly to Honolulu and enjoy Waikiki Beach with amazing views of Diamond Head in the background. In Waikiki you can take surfing lessons, enjoy a shave ice, visit the zoo and aquarium, or go for some world class shopping at Ala Moana Shopping Center. Make sure to save time for some amazing meals – some of my favorites restaurants are Alan Wong’s Restaurant (downtown) and Roy’s at Waikiki Beach.
London is known for being an expensive city to visit, but we found great airfare by flying into Gatwick - and getting into London from here is relatively easy on the 30-minute Gatwick Express that runs every 15 minutes. So what to do now that you’re in London? You can visit museums all day long including the Tate Modern and the British Museum, walk through the Camden Market (one of my favorites), see the jewels at the historic Tower of London, and catch a show in the West End (and you can eat ice cream in your seat at intermission!) .
There is nothing more romantic than Paris in the Spring – so for May let’s head to France! Paris has some of the most beautiful and historic buildings including the Eiffel Tower, The Arc de Triomphe, and Notre Dame Cathedral. For a museum day, you can’t miss the Mona Lisa at The Louvre, and Monet’s famous Water Lilies at Musee de l’Orangerie. With typically high-priced hotel rooms, May is shoulder season (just before peak tourism season) so hotel rooms are slightly cheaper.
June: ST. THOMAS, USVI
It’s summer time, so let’s head to St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands in the Caribbean! June is a great time to head to the USVI when the weather is mild and there is very little rainfall, tourist season has slowed down so hotel rates tend to be lower, and hurricane season hasn’t started yet. There are miles of warm, sandy beaches to choose from including Magen’s Bay for a relaxing day or Coki Beach by the Coral World Ocean Park to swim with hundreds of colorful fish.
Iceland has risen to the top of many travel lists for the year, so time to head here over the summer. The midnight sun occurs during summertime in Iceland, so the days are very long with gorgeous sunsets that melt perfectly into the sunrise. This is also the only time of year that you can hike the Icelandic highlands in the valley of Landmannalaugar. On the downside (if there is a downside to the breathtaking summer colors of Iceland), with the midnight sun you won’t be able to see the Northern Lights, so if the magnificent light show is on your must-see list, head to Iceland in the winter time.
If Lima isn’t on your radar, it should be. The city is built on a cliff with stunning ocean views and gorgeous parks. Stay in the upscale district of Miraflores with high-class shopping, dining, and beaches. The Larcomar is a multi-level mall built on the side of the cliff, and while it has a lot of the same stores you’d see at home, it’s a great place to enjoy a quick bite or a cup of coffee with gorgeous ocean views, and a few stores that are uniquely Peruvian for some great souvenir shopping (My favorite was the chocolate shop – so delicious and so much fun to watch). You can also visit the Huaca Pucllana, an adobe and clay pyramid, and one of the few archaeological remains open to the public in Lima. When you sit down to dinner, make sure to try a Pisco Sour, famous everywhere in Peru. If you want to add some adventure on to your trip, you can visit Machu Picchu before you head home again.
Early Fall is a great time to visit Barcelona, right after tourist season, hotel rates are slightly lower, and while there may be some rain - fall temperatures are no where near cold and range from the 60s to low 70s. You won’t want to miss Las Ramblas and the Gothic Quarter, but make your first stop at the famous Parc Guell; this can’t-miss stop is one of the most impressive man-made landscapes with everything from beautiful mosaics to oddly shaped, colorful roofs and chimneys.
If you want a break from the beach, head to Dublin in October. With mild fall weather, you will definitely want a jacket, but you will enjoy the much lower hotel rates and maybe even catch Oktoberfest. If you haven’t been to Dublin before, you will be amazed that Dublin really is as green as it looks in pictures. The city is so walkable, and you will run into castles, historic buildings, and great sights everywhere you look. There are also so many places you can go from Dublin, including the Blarney Stone, Cork, and one of my favorites – Kinsale.
The early winter month of November is a great time to visit Jamaica, you’ve already missed hurricane season, you have gorgeous sunny skies, and low rates at hotels before the holiday travel season picks up. Jamaica is the 3rd largest island in the Caribbean, and with so many amazing all-inclusive resorts, many people tend to stay within one area of the island, such as Negril, Montego Bay, or Ocho Rios. There is so much to explore on Jamaica, and you will love the culture of the island and the amazing jerk seasoning on everything you eat.
December: COME SAIL AWAY
December is one of my favorite months, and such a fun time to travel to do holiday shopping and see how the rest of the world decorates for, and celebrates winter holidays. The challenge with picking an inexpensive flight for December now is that tickets aren’t even for sale yet – so, let’s do a cruise! Pick your favorite destination and head to Baja, the Mexican Riviera, the Panama Canal, Peru, Chile, Canada, or even Hawaii.
So, did your favorite destination make the list? Let me know where you want to go for 2017 and let me help you plan the perfect escape any time of year!