New Orleans, Louisiana

Why Go Now: Visit after Mardi Gras to capture the best savings (and avoid the unruliest action). Spring brings the French Quarter Festival, a literary festival, and New Orleans’ renowned jazz and heritage festival, all of which arguably offer more cultural discovery than Mardi Gras may. Additionally, this is the best weather in which to enjoy walks around the city’s many parks, squares, and cemeteries. If you visit later in the year, temperatures scorch.

What to Do: Aside from a slate of festivals, the spring months feature outdoor concerts with live entertainment, plus plenty of parades on St. Patrick’s Day and Easter. Also consider a quick trip outdoors to the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve to kayak amongst alligators. What better way to burn off a breakfast of beignets?

Under $200: La Belle Esplanade is a Diamond Collection inn painted a brilliant, can’t-miss-it orange and blue. Rooms are similarly colorful and come with carefully curated antiques, including clawfoot tubs and fainting couches, while market-fresh breakfasts are chock full of local tastes like chicory and crawfish. Rates from $179.

Under $100: A true architectural gem, Fairchild House is nestled among the Lower Garden District’s towering oaks and manses, within walking distance of the streetcar but without the non-stop noise. Rates from $89.

 

 

 


Montreal, Quebec

Why Go Now: Skip the beach and embark on a cold-weather getaway to the cultural capital of Montreal. This attraction-packed city remains cold and snowy throughout March, but visitors will find plenty to do indoors and out. And while crowds may be thin, your wallet won’t be: Current exchange rates are unusually favorable for Americans. Expect even fancy bistro dinners and imported French wines to feel bon marché.

What to Do: Hit up Mont-Royal, the city’s focal point, for cross-country skiing, ice skating, and snowshoeing through March. (When weather warms, a springtime hike is also well worth your time.) Spring brings the first of Montreal’s many festivals celebrating everything from film to funk to butterflies.

Under $200: Les Bons Matins’ suites are like soulful explosions of color in the snow. Find original art, funky rugs, cheery fireplaces, and walls painted every shade, from sunshine yellow to neon green. Rates from $129-189 CAD (about $90-$132).

Under $100: Stay near the city’s bustling Rue St. Catherine at B&B Le Cartie, a downright bargain of an inn with cozy rooms and shared full-service kitchenettes. Rates from $60 CAD (that’s just $42!).

 

 


Tulum, Mexico

Why Go Now: While Cancun and Playa del Carmen get overrun by college students on cheap vacation packages, Tulum, a once-bohemian, now-buzzing beachside spot to the south, remains tranquil. It’s a true tropical oasis among the madness—where late-winter temperatures are perfect and seas are crystal clear. Visit Tulum toward the tail-end of March through Cinco de Mayo to avoid the masses.

What to Do: The Mayan ruins along the coastline are a popular day trip (get there early to beat the Cancun crowds). The Sian Ka'an Biosphere Preserve is a hot spot for birdwatching and hiking. Or simply take a towel and a good book to the impressive powdered-sugar beaches; nearby Akumal is known for its friendly resident sea turtles.

Under $200: Check out the elegant Casa Amor del Sol, where balconies have panoramic ocean views, rooftop terraces comes with Jacuzzis, and rooms feature authentic Oaxacan textiles and handcrafted furniture. Rates from $135.

Under $100: Posada del Agua y Fuego is an eco-friendly villa tucked into the tropical forests between Akumal and Tulum. The setting is downright spiritual, and the on-site pool is fed by a natural cenote. Rates from $80.

 

 


San Diego, California

Why Go Now: It isn’t called America’s Finest City for nothing. San Diego is known for world-class attractions, dreamy SoCal weather, and famously sprawling resorts. Staying in a B&B is a great way to save in this at-times pricey city; better yet, spring (before the school year ends) means fewer kids and crowds.

What to Do: From the famous San Diego Zoo to sunny Balboa Park, from Coronado Island off the coast to Mission Beach alongside it, this city is known for outdoorsy fun. On top of all that, spring offers the start of the Padres’ season plus fields of flowers in Carlsbad and Anza-Borrego State Park.

Under $200: The Hillcrest House Bed and Breakfast is run by indomitable owner Ann Callahan, whom guests routinely name the highlight of their San Diego trips … although the B&B’s parlor, fireplace, and open-air porch can’t hurt. Rates from $159.

Under $100: Located in Chula Vista, mere minutes from San Diego by car, El Primero Boutique Bed & Breakfast Hotel is budget-friendly but never skimps on style, with modern rooms housed in an art deco home and flavorful breakfasts served in the sunny courtyard. Rates from $90.

 

 


St. Augustine, Florida

Why Go Now: Think “spring in Florida” and your mind may go to Panama City, Miami, or Fort Lauderdale, all party-hard playgrounds for twentysomethings on break. But don’t believe for a minute that’s all the Sunshine State has to offer. St. Augustine is an endearingly old city full of historical significance and cultural sites. Here you’ll find cobbled lanes dotted with cafes and shops, and plenty of architecture brimming with Spanish colonial charm.

What to Do: Surrounding water temps may be a bit cool in spring, but visitors can still hit the outdoors in a trolley tour or horse-and-carriage ride around the old town, taking in the Colonial Quarter, Old Jail, Fort Menendez, and other historical sites. There’s plenty of golf nearby, too, including the PGA-approved TPC Sawgrass.

Under $200: Highly-rated At Journey’s End is known for its five contemporary suites tucked into a historical Victorian home. Owner Tim Millbern offers delicious breakfasts, beer, wine, cordials, snacks and soda each day. Rates from $166.

Under $100: The Ancient City Inn is a brightly painted pastel Victorian that the owner claims is pleasantly haunted. Ghostly spirits or not, the rooms are filled with canopy beds, private balconies, and the warmth of bygone days. Room rates from $89; the on-site Fig Cottage rents from $695 per week.



— by Dara Continenza