What did you do on your summer vacation? Yawn, what a cliché. Just about every vacation spot is mobbed in summer, when families with children are free to travel. If you have the flexibility, enjoy fewer crowds and pay less by visiting these normally-expensive spots during winter!
The lowest airfares to Europe are usually available from mid-January through the end of February. Don't despair, there are plenty of great things to do there during the colder months, whether it's enjoying Denmark's hygge, sipping hot chocolate in Vienna, skiing in Switzerland, or hiking in temperate Italy and Spain.
Disney hotels offer their cheapest rates during "Value Season," which includes much of January and the first week of February. Universal Orlando lists the first three weeks of December as value season as well. Basically if it's winter but not a holiday week, you're good to enjoy a cheaper and less crowded theme park experience.
3. Yosemite National Park
You might think this spectacular mountain playground is snowed in all winter, but many of the main roads, including the popular Valley Loop, are kept open.
Is there anything to do there in winter? Only if you like ice skating with a view of Half Dome, affordable family downhill skiing, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. Make sure to check current conditions before you head out to find out about temporary road closures or chain requirements.
Thanks to Iceland's affordable Wow Air, you can fly from Boston or DC to Reykjavik for under $400 just about any time of year — but accommodations (those that don't shut down until spring) cost about 40% less in winter.
What can you do during an Icelandic winter when daylight only lasts a few hours? Bathe in a hot spring, enjoy all-day sunsets and sunrises, and see the Northern Lights. What you won't do is freeze to death, since thanks to the Gulf Stream, Iceland is not as cold as New York City in winter. Speaking of which...
5. New York City or Chicago
You can't deny that living in a northern U.S. city is terrible during winter. However, staying in downtown hotels — where nightly rates plummet with the temperatures — is a different story.
In downtown Chicago, you can ice skate in Millennium Park, walk for miles indoors through world-class museums, and brave the chill to eat strudel at the Christkindlmarket. In New York City, there are countless things to do in winter. Whether it's enjoying the shows on Broadway or visiting the city's many museums or world-class eateries, you won't be disappointed.
I once visited Montreal during a mild January where the temperature was above freezing. Between Igloofest, Montréal en Lumière, and taking the kids to Mont Royal to sled and sip hot cocoa, Montreal glitters en hiver — and discount hotel packages make the normally pricey city un bon marché.
This article first appeared at Wise Bread.