By the time spring finally arrives--after a winter that has broken records for cold temperatures and snowfall around the country--you'll definitely need to go on vacation. The good news is that there are plenty of budget-friendly destinations right here at home, as well as in nearby locales in Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean. Without breaking the bank, you can still celebrate the new season by exploring a new city or island enclave. Check out our suggestions--many of which are on Fodor's Go List 2014--and start planning your spring getaway today. --Andrea M. Rotondo
Sunny Los Cabos--at the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula where the Sea of Cortés greets the Pacific Ocean--offers many springtime diversions. Practice your golf game, or get out on the water to scuba dive, snorkel, or kayak. Explore the hills by bike, horseback, or ATV, or simply hang out at the beach. Make sure to look for well-priced hotels, inns, and condos in San Jose del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas.
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor's Los Cabos Guide
Where: Lesser Antilles, Caribbean
There is so much more to St. Lucia than the gold sand beaches and coral reef that ring the island. Here, you can hike the Piton Mountains, explore the lush rainforest, drive through a volcano, and experience Soufrière's Sulphur Springs. While the island is known for its all-inclusive resorts, you'll also find small hotels, guesthouses, and apartments that cater to couples and families.
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor's St. Lucia Guide
The state of Colorado is on this year's Fodor's Go List, and there are tons of reasons to visit Denver in particular. Check out the Denver Art Museum, Denver Zoo, and the Denver Botanic Gardens. Don't miss free tours of the U.S. Mint and Coors Brewery. Spend an afternoon strolling along the I.M. Pei-designed granite pathway of the 16th Street Mall. It's lined with hundreds of budding red oaks and thousands of flowers.
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor's Denver Guide
Where: Costa Rica
This is the new "it" spot on the north Pacific coast of Costa Rica. Major hotels like Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica and the brand new Andaz Peninsula Papagayo hold court along a gorgeous stretch of soft sand beaches that are punctuated by swaying palm trees. The area is growing fast, so you'll find resorts with high-end spas and pro golf courses that also offer eco-tours to nearby nature reserves and villages.
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor's Costa Rica North Pacific Coast Guide
Seattle's recognizable skyline has the iconic Space Needle, but the first stop on your visit should actually be the vibrant Pike Place Market where you can buy fresh seafood, veggies and fruit, flowers, and crafts from local artists. In the afternoon, circle back to the Space Needle and take the elevator up 520 feet to the observation deck for a bird's-eye view of the city. No visit to Seattle is complete without a sunset dinner cruise along Puget Sound.
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor's Seattle Guide
Where: British Columbia, Canada
Vancouver may be a bustling metropolis but it also affords nearby access to outdoor adventures like fishing and sailing, biking and hiking, golfing, and--in the springtime--whale watching. Sail around Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands in search of grey whales and southern resident orcas. Another main attraction is Stanley Park, where you'll find hiking trails, beaches, gardens, and even an aquarium.
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor's Vancouver Guide
Yosemite National Park
You might think that Yosemite Valley is strictly a summertime getaway, but that's not so. It's worth a visit while the snow melts and the earth thaws to take in natural wonders like Yosemite Falls. At nearly 2,500 feet, the three waterfalls here are a sight to behold. The area offers opportunities for biking, bird-watching, fishing, horseback riding, and more--just a few reasons why Yosemite National Park is on our Fodor's Go List 2014.
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor's Yosemite National Park Guide
As spring unfurls its warmer temperatures, Sanibel Island's snowbirds leave the Gulf Coast of Florida and return to their homes up north. That's when the island is most quiet, allowing year-round residents and a few tourists to enjoy deserted beaches that are strewn with thousands of multi-colored shells, nature preserve hiking trails that are shared only with marsh rabbits and birds, and a paved bike path that runs the length of the island.
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor's Florida Lower Gulf Coast Guide
There's something otherworldly about Sedona's massive red sandstone buttes set against fields of delicate wildflowers, which blossom each spring. That contrast might be one of the reasons why this area has become a center for spirituality and the metaphysical. Visitors come to hike Red Rock Country, go fishing or swimming in Oak Creek Canyon, alight on a hot air balloon tour, or survey the area via the Verde Canyon Railroad.
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor's North-Central Arizona Guide
Even though Austin is the capital of Texas, it has always had a "small town" feel. The city is home to artists, musicians, and chefs, and their work helps give the city a cosmopolitan feel. Start with a walking tour of the capitol complex and then check out spots like the O. Henry Museum and Austin Children's Museum. At night, indulge in the club scene, where world-class musicians are almost always performing.
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor's Austin Guide
There's never a bad time to wander through the romantic French Quarter of New Orleans with its cobblestone streets and historic buildings with wrought-iron balconies. The Garden District--a neighborhood of antebellum mansions and impressive gardens--isn't too shabby either. The city that's a mix of French and Creole influences may be large, but it's easy to explore via taxi, streetcar, and your own two feet.
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor's New Orleans Guide
Pull on your cowboy boots or grab your tooled-leather handbag and head to Nashville, a Fodor's Go List 2014 destination. A trip to Music City isn't complete unless you spend some time at the Grand Ole Opry, which honors country musicians of the past and celebrates the genre's future. Take a backstage tour or see a concert.
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor's Nashville Guide
You can visit Washington, D.C. a hundred times and never get bored. Go on a White House tour, bike around the Capitol, explore the Smithsonian's world-class exhibits, or spend a quieter afternoon reflecting at monuments like the Lincoln Memorial and the National World War II Memorial. If shopping's on your mind, head to Georgetown, where there are plenty of antique shops and boutiques near upscale restaurants and bars.
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor's Washington, D.C. Guide
The Jersey Shore
Where: New Jersey
If you've kept up with the news since 2012's Hurricane Sandy, you've also heard the comeback stories that are heralding a new-and-improved Jersey Shore. Now it's time to go see it for yourself. Beach Haven on Long Beach Island offers Thundering Surf Water Park plus shopping at Schooner's Wharf. Go to Belmar for the marina, beach, and boardwalk. Point Pleasant, with its amusement park-style rides, is always a hit with families. There are numerous seaside towns that will show you a good time this spring.
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor's New Jersey Shore Guide
Playa del Carmen
In the heart of Riviera Maya, Playa del Carmen is ideally located on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula along the Caribbean Sea. It's an easy flight to nearby Cancun and a quick drive to the resorts that line the beach. Budget hotels, all-inclusive resorts, and luxury inns welcome guests who come for the sun and surf as well as the tours to Mayan ruins, which are within driving distance.
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor's Mexico Caribbean Coast Guide
Andrea M. Rotondo is a freelance writer based in New York City. She covers cruise news and luxury travel trends for Fodors.com, Condé Nast Traveler, Cruise Critic, and other websites and magazines. Her latest book is Tom Petty: Rock 'n' Roll Guardian. Follow her on Twitter: @luxtravelmavens.
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