Top Five Bargain Destinations for Summer 2014

In many places, prices rise with the temperature, but these hot spots offer cool savings this coming season. From a relaxed beach destination to a nonstop urban party, these destinations deliver plenty of wallet-friendly fun this summer.
05/27/2014 12:24 pm ET Updated Jul 27, 2014

In many places, prices rise with the temperature, but these hot spots offer cool savings this coming season. From a relaxed beach destination to a nonstop urban party, these destinations deliver plenty of wallet-friendly fun this summer.

I've monitored trends, industry news, and sale patterns to point you in the direction of places that offer the best bargain values for the coming season. Below you'll find examples of deals currently available for summer trips. Like all deals, these are sure to expire; however, a little hunting on your part can yield similar results whenever you're ready to book.

Quebec City, Quebec

There's a bargain belle of the ball this upcoming season, and it's Quebec City. Already on the radar as one of Canada's finest cities (Conde Nast Traveler readers voted it Canada's best destination last year), it's also set to be one of North America's best deals this summer when the Festival d'ete de Quebec takes over the city from July 3 to 13. The cost for entry into the 300 concerts—including Lady Gaga, Billy Joel, The Killers, and Snoop Dogg—set to take place on 10 stages over the 11-day festival is a measly $78. Better still, the ticket is transferrable, so if you can't make a show, you can lend your pass to a friend or family member. Kids under 11 can attend shows for free, and some concerts associated with the festival are free as well. The venues are within walking distance of one another and there are a number of bundled hotel packages for additional savings and perks.

Quebec City and the surrounding province go festival crazy with 25 summer events (including five in Quebec City proper), so even if you miss the Festival d'ete, there are still plenty of ways to make like a local and join the season-long party.

San Diego, California

San Diego offers an appealing blend of new and affordable reasons to visit this summer. Family favorites San Diego Zoo Safari Park (located in San Diego County, not the city of San Diego) and SeaWorld have new exhibitions just in time for summer. The surfing community of Mission Beach will have a series of events—many of which are free—to honor its centennial. And from June 12 to July 13, the North Park neighborhood will be transformed into the largest World Cup destination in the U.S., celebrating the FIFA World Cup with free events including festivals, soccer-skills contests, and live public viewings of all games.

Ways to save on San Diego stays include the Grand 40 deal at The Westgate Hotel downtown, which offers a deluxe room for $299 for the first night but only $40 for the second night, dramatically reducing the cost of a two-night stay at this lavish hotel (with a new rooftop pool). And in late summer, ultra-low-cost carrier Spirit kicks off new service to San Diego from Houston.

Washington, D.C.

More plentiful, cheaper ways to go and an abundance of ways to save once you arrive make D.C. a budget traveler's dream. Just in time for summer, JetBlue launches new service to Washington, D.C., from Charleston, South Carolina, and Hartford, Connecticut. And Amtrak is offering 30 percent off companion fares to and from D.C.

Drive down the cost of your hotel stay by taking advantage of one of the dozens of summer-savings deals listed on Destination DC. The website is also full of other ways to save, including its list of 100 free things to do, budget travel tips, and more. Orbitz has summer discounts of up to 50 percent, with an additional 15 percent off when you book by June 1 with the code GETHAPPY.

Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

New air service and a city full of savings put Ft. Lauderdale on the bargain map this summer. And while summer in Florida is hot (and there's the risk of hurricanes), it's hands down the best time of year to go if you're looking for smaller crowds and better prices.

Spirit starts service to Ft. Lauderdale from New Orleans on August 1 and from Houston on September 3. And the Greater Ft. Lauderdale Convention and Visitor's Bureau's Summer Savings program offers discounts at more than 35 attractions between May 1 and September 30. You can find two-for-one offers on activities such as airboat rides and catamaran cruises. And the Vacation Like a VIP package offers extras such as room upgrades, resort credits, valet parking, and more at luxury beach resorts.

Scottsdale, Arizona

Scottsdale is known for its high prices, luxe resorts, and gorgeous scenery. But in summer, high temperatures drive down prices, opening the resort destination up to vacationers willing to brave the desert heat. And that's a big win for anyone looking for serious poolside pampering at rates up to 60 percent off peak-season prices.

Upscale hotel brands are offering positively mid-scale hotel rates for summer stays. For instance, at the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa, guests will find rates from $149 per night plus perks such as welcome amenities and resort credits. At The Boulders, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, rates start at $99 per night, and at the Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia, the third night is free. Find more offers at

—By Christine Sarkis

Read the original story: Top Five Bargain Destinations for Summer 2014 by Christine Sarkis, who is a regular contributor to SmarterTravel.