Cheap Vacations in January

January is a wonderful month to travel if you're looking for a bargain. According to many flight and travel experts, the last three weeks in January - provided you aren't taking a ski vacation - are much cheaper than traveling other times of the year because they are a relatively quiet period right after the holiday rush. Most people head back to their jobs from the holidays during the first week of January.

Hold off on travel until after the holidays and you'll be handsomely rewarded by less expensive flights and inn options. Here are some good places for a cheap vacation in January:

San Francisco, CA

Since airfare is often cheaper during January, head to destinations that are usually a bit expensive. If you live on the East Coast, airfare to San Fran can typically be pricey, but you're likely to find a good deal. Plus, San Francisco and the surrounding areas usually have pretty decent weather in January. January is the month with the lowest average temperature, however, for winter weather it is quite mild. Average high in January is 57ºF and average low is 46ºF. Here are some of the top things to do during your San Francisco vacation:

  • Stay at an urban bed and breakfast. One of the best is The Inn San Francisco, a stunning 1872 Victorian that is characteristic of San Francisco's finest architecture. It's located in the hip Mission District, which teems with independent coffee houses, art galleries, and street murals. If you'd rather stay outside the city, snag an upscale room with a view of the Pacific at Seal Cove Inn in Moss Beach, a little ocean side community just a 30-minute drive southwest of San Francisco.

  • Check out the majestic Golden Gate Bridge. It's very windy there in January, so skip the open-topped tour bus and take a bus or car to the nearby lot where you can park and walk across the bridge. Go before 2 p.m. when the fog starts to roll in.

  • Take a ferry to Alcatraz, the famous spooky prison on an island in the center of the Bay. Make sure to book your tickets ahead of time.

  • Hop on the Powell Street cable car and hang on tight as you careen down San Francisco's famous hills. The views of the bay, city and surrounding areas are breathtaking.

  • Check out Chinatown -- it's in the heart of the city and is the oldest Chinatown in the United States.

  • Head to North Beach, the Italian neighborhood, for an awesome meal. Some of the best for authentic Italian fare are The Stinking Rose, Ristorante Milano, and Tommaso's Ristorante Italiano.

  • Hike the stairs up Telegraph Hill for a workout, and then take the elevator up in Coit Tower for spectacular views all around. Keep your eyes and ears open for the wild parrots that inhabit the area.

  • Grab breakfast or lunch at the Ferry Building. It's located right on the harbor and has local farmers market fare. From here, take a ferry north to Sausalito, which is a fun little resort town that famous author Shel Silverstein used to call home.

Boston, MA

Boston is another great place for a January vacation, especially for couples who don't mind braving the cold. There's plenty to do and see in Boston, and everything is more affordable in the down period after the holiday rush. Here are some of the best things to do and see:

  • Stay in a historic bed and breakfast. Boston is one of the oldest cities in the United States so there are plenty of historic homes here. One of the best inns in Boston is Aisling Bed and Breakfast. It's located in a 19th century Victorian row home in Boston's South End. The charming inn has original marble, moldings, and fireplaces. Another historic option is the Harding House in nearby Cambridge. It's in a 1860s Victorian in a charming, quiet neighborhood.

  • Walk The Freedom Trail to see the most important buildings and sites from the Revolutionary War, including Old North Church, Bunker Hill Monument, Paul Revere House, and Faneuil Hall.

  • Today, Faneuil Hall - a 1742 landmark - hosts a market with dozens of stalls. Come here for lunch and enjoy delicacies like bacon-wrapped scallops and clam chowder.

  • Check out the marine life at the New England Aquarium - one of the most wonderful aquariums in the U.S. Don't miss the entertaining penguin exhibit.

  • Visit the Museum of Fine Arts - one of the oldest art museums in the country. If you're a true art lover, you'll want to save plenty of time to see as many exhibits as possible, chock-full of works from masters like Edward Hopper, John Singer Sargent, Renoir, Monet, and Manet.

  • Take a day trip to Cambridge to explore Harvard's iconic old campus. Walk Harvard Yard to visit Memorial Church and rub the foot of the John Harvard statue. Don't miss the excellent university bookstore as well.

  • Tour and sample brews at the Samuel Adams Brewery.

  • Boston has a very pronounced Italian culture. Visit the North End for a awesome meals at Sorellina and Lucca Restaurant, and make sure to grab some mouthwatering cannoli and biscotti at the famous Mike's Pastry.