Are you ready to escape the Utah's freezing winter temperatures? Here are 5 warm weather destinations that are easy on the wallet.
Have you seen that graphic about The Two Stages of Winter that is floating around Facebook? December is "a magical wonderland of lights." January through spring is a bleak and dreary time, a "cold, gray bucket of..." Well, you know. Of course, winter in Utah can be marvelous. Skiers and A-list celebrities flock here for the Greatest Snow on Earth and the Sundance Film Festival. Utah's National Parks are stunning, no matter when you go. St. George and Moab offer sunshine and mild winter temperatures year-round. Sometimes though, the cold and the smog and the ice are just too much, and it's time to get away - on a budget, of course. January and February can be a great time to find post-holiday travel deals, especially if your schedule is flexible. Here are five affordable warm winter destinations: Las Vegas, Nevada Las Vegas is probably the most accessible and affordable warm-weather destination for Utahns right now. With average temperatures climbing into the 70s over the next few weeks, you may even get a little pool time. Avoid weekends and holidays for the best hotel rates. If you book a mid-week trip, a room at a 3-star hotel can be had for as little as $20 per night. "Las Vegas may not be the first family-friendly destination to come to mind, but there are plenty of parks and museums to explore with kids," says Las Vegas local Sarah Vernetti of www.wanderingoff.com. Sarah recommends Shark Reef Aquarium, Blue Man Group, Lied Discovery Children's Museum and Red Rock Canyon, among other attractions, for families. Scottsdale, Arizona Sun-soaked Scottsdale is a great getaway for those suffering from the winter blues. Choose from over 200 golf courses and dozens of spas. Celebrate Scottsdale's vibrant art community through the Annual Celebration of Fine Arts, which is held daily, January through March. Explore the Sonoran Desert on foot, from an off-road vehicle or from a hot-air balloon. While Scottsdale is an excellent destination to enjoy more mature pastimes like golfing and spas, there are plenty of budget-friendly activities that are great for families too. Karen Heffren of www.desertchicaramblings.com recommends MacDonald's Ranch, McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park, Penske Racing Museum, and McDowell Sonoran Preserve. Scottsdale is part of the greater Phoenix area, which blows open the list of options for affordable lodging, dining and activities in and around Scottsdale. Death Valley National Park Amy Whitley of www.pitstopsforkids.com often recommends Death Valley National Park for a "cheap warm weather trip." Winter is perhaps the best time of year to see the wild natural wonders of Death Valley because the average winter temperatures of 70-80 degrees (F) are just about perfect. Death Valley is a great destination for hikers, mountain bikers, and other outdoor enthusiasts. Kids will love playing in the sand dunes. The park is located just over the California border, a couple of hours' drive west of Las Vegas, Nevada. Camping and RV-parking is available both inside and outside the park. There are also several hotels nearby. San Diego, California San Diego makes a great getaway destination any time of the year. Imagine sand between your toes, swaying palms, and ocean waves. Think of theme parks like SeaWorld San Diego and LEGOLAND California that the family will love. Immerse yourself in history and culture at San Diego's many fascinating museums. Delight in world-class dining and nightlife. San Diego offers a huge selection of lodging that will fit nearly any taste and budget. By booking your trip before the Spring Break season, you can save a bundle. Baja California Cruise If you're not picky about your stateroom or destination, you can find last minute cruise deals for February and March 2014. Choose from cruises to Baja California, the Caribbean and beyond. Sail away on a 4-night Baja California Cruise on Carnival for as little as $129 per person in February through www.travelocity.com. This cruise departs from Long Beach, California and stops at Catalina Island and Ensenada, Mexico, with one full day at sea. Enjoy beautiful beaches, shopping and exploring in port. On board, unwind and recharge by relaxing on deck or participating in one of the ship's many activities. All of these warm winter destinations are located within a one-day drive from Salt Lake City, and most can be reached by plane for a relatively low fare. Try www.airfarewatchdog.com or www.kayak.com to search for the best airfare and hotel rates.%3Cimg%20src%3D%22http%3A//beacon.deseretconnect.com/beacon.gif%3Fcid%3D135609%26pid%3D46%22%20/%3E