By Jeanenne Tornatore
Spring and fall are two of my favorite seasons to travel. Not only are there fewer crowds and mild weather in many fantastic destinations, these “shoulder seasons” are two of the best times of the year to travel on a budget. Check out these four picks for pre-summer getaways that will have travel on your mind – and keep your paycheck in your pocket – this spring.
April and May make up the shoulder season for wine country in northern California. You’ll experience less crowded wineries, more availability and reasonable rates even at highly sought-after accommodations. The landscapes are just as beautiful and the atmosphere even more laid-back and relaxing this time of year.
The Alaskan cruise season is a relatively short one. It begins in May and ends in September. And the best prices and availability can be found during the first and last months, with a few caveats to keep in mind. While the temps are still on the chilly side in May and snow at higher elevations may mean limiting some site-seeing adventures, late-spring is a great time view wildlife before the lush forests are in full bloom.
If you’re looking for a long weekend city escape, you can’t beat the prices, experiences, and beauty of Chicago in the spring. With flowers blooming and temperatures rising to reasonable highs in the 60s, you can enjoy a day outdoors at the (free) Lincoln Park Zoo, shopping along famed Michigan Avenue or taking in one of the many world-class museums along the lakefront.
With the exception of the weekend of the Royal Wedding (May 19), when hotel rates will likely be inflated, spring in this historic city can be one of the most rewarding times to visit if you’re big on sight-seeing and tight on budget. From the London Eye to the Victoria & Albert Museum, the list of attractions to see in London is a long one — and so are the lines to see them if you wait until summer.