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The 20 Best Cities for Affordable Winter Travel

Andrew DePietro

If planning a winter vacation tops your to-do list this season, you might be wondering how to manage costs and land great deals on travel. Fortunately, the off-peak season is a great time to visit some of the most exciting cities in the U.S. Not only are there plenty of cheap hotels and flights at this time of the year, but many of these destinations offer fun winter activities to boot.

GOBankingRates ranked the most affordable cities to visit in January, based on hotel and flight costs. You’ll find there are some real financial perks to traveling in the offseason.

This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: The 20 Best Cities for Affordable Winter Travel

If planning a winter vacation tops your to-do list this season, you might be wondering how to manage costs and land great deals on travel. Fortunately, the off-peak season is a great time to visit some of the most exciting cities in the U.S. Not only are there plenty of cheap hotels and flights at this time of the year, but many of these destinations offer fun winter activities to boot.

GOBankingRates ranked the most affordable cities to visit in January, based on hotel and flight costs. You’ll find there are some real financial perks to traveling in the offseason.

20. West Palm Beach, Fla.

  • Average hotel cost per night: $540
  • Average flight cost for two: $700

There’s plenty of fun to be had in this part of Florida, though West Palm Beach is on the pricier end of the most affordable holiday travel destinations. This is due mainly to hotel costs rather than airfare. At $350, plane tickets to West Palm Beach are still far cheaper than a flight to Honolulu, which is $687 even at its cheapest in January.

19. Atlanta

  • Average hotel cost per night: $301
  • Average flight cost for two: $462

Take a trip to Atlanta’s iconic Fox Theatre, the World of Coca-Cola museum, the greenery of Piedmont Park and the College Football Hall of Fame, all of which are among the best things to do in Atlanta, according to U.S. News.

Although hotel costs could be lower, Atlanta does offer the second-cheapest airfare in the study: $462 for a round trip for two.

Read: 15 Cheap Travel Spots That Are Worth Visiting

18. Miami

  • Average hotel cost per night: $220
  • Average flight cost for two: $590

The world-famous beach city of Miami is home to nightclubs, sunny beaches and cocktails. Average January temperatures are in the mid-70s — perfect weather for an afternoon stroll through shops or a relaxing cup of coffee at a beach cafe.

17. Phoenix

  • Average hotel cost per night: $244
  • Average flight cost for two: $564

Escape to a desert paradise, where the hiking is better in the winter. Stop by Echo Canyon, the Desert Botanical Garden or the Phoenix Zoo. From November to January, Phoenix also hosts its Lights of the World Festival.

16. Seattle

  • Average hotel cost per night: $184
  • Average flight cost for two: $588

If the Pacific Northwest is your dream escape this winter, make your way to Seattle for a budget-friendly trip. Foodie tours will give you a taste of some of Seattle’s top culinary neighborhoods. You can even take a tour of Pike Place Market for the ultimate farmers market experience.

15. Los Angeles

  • Average hotel cost per night: $164
  • Average flight cost for two: $592

Between the Santa Monica Pier, Disneyland and the Hollywood Walk of Fame, there’s plenty to do and see in Los Angeles. Make the most of affordable hotels and even more reasonable flights. Plan an itinerary ahead of time so you can hit all the best tourist spots in this bustling city and maybe even spot a celebrity.

14. Albuquerque, N.M.

  • Average hotel cost per night: $173
  • Average flight cost for two: $624

If you want to visit the Southwest but Phoenix isn’t on your list, then Albuquerque could be a winner. This New Mexico city offers tons of free historical sites to visit, such as Old Town and the San Felipe de Neri Church. Albuquerque is also home to state-of-the-art exhibits like the ABQ BioPark, a huge park containing a botanical garden, zoo, aquarium and Tingley Beach.

13. Indianapolis

  • Average hotel cost per night: $174
  • Average flight cost for two: $552

A trip to Indianapolis might be just what you need to break out of a winter rut. Airfare to Indianapolis is the seventh-cheapest in GOBankingRates’ study. And, in terms of sites to visit, the city offers a variety of free attractions — such as the Central Canal and Indiana War Memorial — as well as unique ones, like the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum.

12. Nashville, Tenn.

  • Average hotel cost per night: $133
  • Average flight cost for two: $646

Another Southern city on this list of affordable destinations for winter, Nashville is the place to explore historic sites on a budget. There’s free music everywhere you go, too. Make your way to the Music City Walk of Fame Park or Centennial Park and Gardens for a brisk walk.

11. Philadelphia

  • Average hotel cost per night: $130
  • Average flight cost for two: $612

You’ll find plenty of free and low-cost things to do in the City of Brotherly Love, especially if you enjoy the arts and want to explore cultural sites. The Please Touch Museum and Franklin Institute Science Museum offer interactive and educational fun for the kids. Meanwhile, historical and cultural landmarks like Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell Center and Reading Terminal Market are all free of charge.

10. Boise, Idaho

  • Average hotel cost per night: $190
  • Average flight cost for two: $472

Idaho’s capital city boasts the third-cheapest airfare and a vast selection of outdoor attractions to keep travelers more than preoccupied. Boise is home to the 41-acre Kathryn Albertson Park, which is free to visit. And, less than 20 miles away, the Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area offers tons of fun for visiting skiers and snowboarders.

9. New York

  • Average hotel cost per night: $91
  • Average flight cost for two: $578

A trip to the Big Apple might be just what you need to break out of a winter rut. Surprisingly, New York falls in the middle of GOBankingRates’ list of the cheapest cities for winter vacations. You and your travel partner can easily visit this popular tourist destination for just under $600 this winter.

8. San Diego

  • Average hotel cost per night: $114
  • Average flight cost for two: $604

San Diego can be pricey to visit during the warmer months. But when the weather cools in this coastal city, so do prices. Find your corner of happiness at Balboa Park, which offers free admission to the grounds, Timken Art Museum and botanical gardens. You can also stroll through Seaport Village or go people-watching in the Gaslamp Quarter while you enjoy a drink.

7. Boston

  • Average hotel cost per night: $114
  • Average flight cost for two: $568

Whether you want to take a tour of Boston’s historic sites or attend events like the One-Minute Play Festival, Boston Wine Festival or Boston Celtic Music Fest this January, you’ll be in luck when it comes to securing great deals on flights. Additionally, there are many affordable hotel packages to be had at this time of year in Beantown.

6. Las Vegas

  • Average hotel cost per night: $154
  • Average flight cost for two: $500

Casinos, spas, gourmet restaurants and plenty of shopping will keep you busy during your winter trip to Las Vegas. Enjoy free acrobatic entertainment with the kids at Circus Circus, with performances starting at 11:30 a.m. And, don’t miss the free fountain show at the Bellagio. A separate GOBankingRates study found Las Vegas to be one of the most affordable vacation cities, no matter the time of year.

5. Columbus, Ohio

  • Average hotel cost per night: $134
  • Average flight cost for two: $568

The capital and largest city in Ohio, Columbus is the fifth-cheapest winter vacation spot in terms of total cost. Columbus boasts the only public market in Ohio — North Market — and it is free to visit. Another free attraction is the Scioto Mile, a beautiful park that opened in 2015 after years of work and environmental rehabilitation.

4. Newark, N.J.

  • Average hotel cost per night: $114
  • Average flight cost for two: $608

Across the Hudson River from New York, Newark is one of the more affordable cities to visit during the winter. At a rate of $114 per night, Newark’s hotel cost is tied for the fourth-cheapest in the study. Meal costs are also cheaper than average in Newark.

3. Baltimore

  • Average hotel cost per night: $104
  • Average flight cost for two: $538

You might not be able to catch an Orioles game, but Baltimore has plenty to do while remaining incredibly affordable as a winter travel destination. The average cost per night for the three cheapest four-star hotels is only $104, the second-least expensive rate in the study.

Baltimore sports several great free museums to visit, including the Baltimore Museum of Art and the Walters Art Museum, as well as the sprawling Inner Harbor, which is home to several attractions like the National Aquarium, Maryland Science Center and USS Constellation.

2. Portland, Ore.

  • Average hotel cost per night: $111
  • Average flight cost for two: $512

Microbreweries, coffeehouses and tax-free shopping await in Portland. You’ll also find free attractions like the historic Powell’s City of Books. You’ll save plenty of money on food while traveling around this city, which boasts all kinds of trendy pizzerias, sandwich shops, Asian restaurants and waffle houses for hungry travelers on a budget.

1. Denver

  • Average hotel cost per night: $120
  • Average flight cost for two: $456

You’ll find plenty of snow in Denver during the winter holidays, so be sure to pack your boots and ski gear. The Southwest Rink at Skyline Park offers free skating, plus rentals for just $2. In late January, you can attend the Winter Brew Fest to partake in craft brews from around the U.S.

Click through to discover 42 winter wonderlands worth your money.

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Methodology: In this study, GOBankingRates determined the most affordable winter vacations for two people. The study utilized Hipmunk’s “When to Go 2018” travel data — which identified the cheapest airfare to the most popular destinations — to analyze airfare for winter months only. A second key factor was hotel costs, which were based on the average cost per night of the three cheapest, four-star-minimum hotels in each city for the first week of January 2019. The third factor analyzed was the cost of a meal in each city, which was based on the average costs of an inexpensive restaurant and a mid-range restaurant, sourced from Numbeo. All fees were totaled to get a final expense score for each city, assuming a three-day vacation.