With Valentine’s Day 2015 falling on a Saturday and Presidents’ Day two days later, many of us will try to carve out a long-weekend getaway. Families whose kids get Presidents’ Week off from school will try to carve out the whole week. Beach resorts and ski lodges are packed and pricey, though. So here are a few unusual suggestions that represent good value for your dollar this month. For each locale I’ve included the average nightly hotel rates found through TripAdvisor, which searches hundreds of Web sites to find the lowest prices. (And if it’s too late to plan for mid-February, most are good choices for spring break in March too.)
* Austin and San Antonio, Texas
Austin is a 24-hour town known for its live-music scene, food trucks, hip boutiques, and legendary Texas BBQ—and in February you’ll find reasonable airfares and weather in the 50s and 60s. Consider renting a car and driving to San Antonio, just 90 minutes away and famous for its River Walk and the Alamo. (The average nightly hotel rate over Presidents’ Day Weekend is $144 in Austin and $115 in San Antonio.) If you’ve got a whole week, consider adding a few days in Big Bend National Park, where February brings the start of balmy temperatures and no crowds.
* Charleston, South Carolina, and Savannah, Georgia
Charleston is chock full of history, antebellum architecture, award-winning restaurants, and Southern charm. I was there myself last February and enjoyed temps in the 60s. Over Presidents’ Day Weekend the average nightly hotel rate is $238. If you’ve got more than the weekend, tack on another Southern charmer—Savannah, Georgia—just a couple of hours’ drive away.
* San Diego and the Anza-Borrego Desert
You can always find inexpensive airfares into LAX, where it’s easy to rent a car and drive south to sunny San Diego and its picturesque, resort-filled environs (La Jolla, Del Mar, Rancho Santa Fe, etc). If you’ve got more than a couple of days, drive east into the spectacular badlands of the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, where by February the wildflowers are already in bloom. Average nightly hotel rates over Presidents’ Day Weekend are $173 in San Diego and $131 in the desert.
If you can snag a last-minute airfare overseas, here are my international picks:
This region of southern Spain is dotted with charming villages, Moorish castles, and—in February—oranges galore, as they’re ripe and ready for picking. I once rented a villa near Granada for my children’s Presidents’ Week school break, and we found sunny 65-degree weather and a delightfully uncrowded Alhambra Palace. The average nightly hotel rate over Presidents’ Day Weekend is $98.
* Cartagena, Colombia
There’s a lot of new airline service to Colombia, and the result is that many in New York, Miami, and other U.S. gateway cities are now hopping down for long weekends. Cartagena’s old town reminds me a bit of New Orleans, what with its colorful balconied houses and romantic courtyards. This year Presidents’ Week coincides with Mardi Gras, and Colombia’s version of it—the historic Carnival in Barranquilla—is only a 90-minute drive away and happening February 14-17. The average nightly hotel rate in Cartagena over the Presidents’ Day Weekend is $165.
* Austria, Bavaria, Venice
Sure, the weather’s better in May, but these places celebrate Mardi Gras—which is called Fasching in German-speaking countries and Carnevale in Italy—with colorful parades and charming festivals in Austria and Germany, and with grand balls in Venice. (The festivities occur roughly between February 12 and 17.) Average nightly hotel rates are $118 in Germany’s Swabia region, $255 in the Austrian state of Vorarlberg, and $297 in Venice.
Where are you headed in February?
Get more trip ideas from Wendy at WendyPerrin.com.