5 off-season hotspots to enjoy on the cheap right now

Off-season travel is a great way get more for your money, with lower rates on flights and lodging, as well as thinner crowds at the big sites. While it may be true that laying out on beach when it is snowing is no fun,  there are lots of destinations that are spectacular even when the weather doesn't cooperate.

Here are some of our favorite places that feature great gay communities for taking a trip without breaking the bank.

 

Paris

You go to Paris in February when the weather isn't great, and after 20 attempts using different filters, you can't get a good photo from the observation deck of the Eiffel Tower.

Who cares?

The food is still delicious, the architecture is still gorgeous, and it is still Paris! This is one of the most visited cities in the world, and the crush of tourists can be immense in the summer. But in the low season, it might actually be possible to see the Mona Lisa without standing on someone's shoulders. And going now means hotels will be cheaper, flights will be cheaper, croissants in your favorite boulangerie will be the same price as they always are but with all that money saved you can buy as many as you want. When you sit at a sidewalk cafe sipping café crème, you have a reason to wear that cute coat you love. Problem solved. 

Santa Fe

Tourists tend to stay away from Santa Fe in the winter, because temps can dip below freezing at night. But considering how crowded the sidewalks can get in warmer weather, maybe that's a good thing. With sunshine almost every day of the year, things warm up enough when the sun comes out. The nearby mountains are snow-packed for skiing and snowboarding, and the very cool Taos Pueblo community is just an hour north, which is well worth the drive and $16 entrance fee, but there's also plenty to do in town, with the famous museums and galleries and art classes and eateries. But the real hook here is the money to be saved: fantastic hotels like Eldorado Hotel and Spa are almost half the price of what they will be in a couple of months. 

Reykjavik

It isn't called "Iceland" for no reason. The main island almost touches the Arctic Circle, and winters can be cold and dark, but that should not scare anybody away. The Scandinavian countries are not always freezing in the winter, thanks to the warm currents of the Atlantic Ocean, so other than the occasional storm the weather really isn't bad. Visit the Blue Lagoon and let the geothermal waters fight off winter's chill; and as winter approaches spring, the hours of sunlight increase every day. Valentine's Day will have a sunset at around 6 p.m., which is perfect for a romantic dinner and a night of watching the awe-inspiring Northern Lights. Iceland is an inexpensive airfare destination year-round, but there are great deals now in its low season.

Tokyo

Okay, "on the cheap" should be kept in perspective here, because Tokyo is expensive. But with some planning, it is possible to experience this stunning, bewildering, and fantastic city without going into catastrophic debt. Tokyo's high travel season begins when the cherry blossoms bloom, which are forecast to be at their peak in late March this year, so before that happens a savvy traveler can find legitimate hotel rooms (translation: not those coffin-esque capsule hotels) for reasonable rates. And here's a nifty tip: Tokyo has a wealth of free things to do, like visiting Shinto shrines, or just wandering around the Harajuku area while people-watching. Take super-efficient and inexpensive subways and trains everywhere, shop in "100 yen" shops which are Japan's equivalent to American dollar stores and then grab a delicious bento box at a conbini (convenience store) for dinner and you're all set. If you splurge on sushi, thank your itamae (chef) by holding up your sake bottle and offering a pour, and maybe you'll get a little extra nibble in return? 

Seattle

February is low season in Seattle because it rains and the weather is bad. That's funny. Who has ever gone to Seattle because the weather is good? There's never a bad time to go to Seattle, but February is particularly inviting: It's Museum Month when over 40 museums are offering half-price admission when guests stay at a participating hotel. (The now-expanded Museum of Pop Culture is currently hosting some really cool exhibitions.) So go now, while rates are less, and drink some coffee, see the orcas swimming around Puget Sound, and listen to some amazing music in the bars everywhere. Or just go to The Cuff and get messy. Vacation: planned!

By Daniel Renzi