You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myAJC.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myAJC.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myAJC.com.

Save big on off-season summer travel from Atlanta


Summer is one of the busiest travel times of the year, and the thought of miles of traffic on I-85 and packed airports are enough to make even the most experienced traveler want to stay home. But there's hope. Destinations both near and far from Atlanta experience their low season during the summer, meaning slashed travel costs, thinner crowds and in some cases, activities usually unavailable during that destination's peak season. Although you may have to deal with some triple digit temperatures or a spot thunderstorm, the trade off is more than fair. We spoke with Atlanta-based SmartFlyer travel agent Maggie Barton for her top destination and hotel picks for off-season summer travel.

Escape to the Mountains

Atlanta is just a short drive from some of the most beautiful mountain ranges in the nation, perfect for a weekend trip to escape the heat. "Just a short three and a half drive from Atlanta, the Great Smoky Mountain range is a great summer spot to cool off. Blackberry Farm (1471 W. Millers Cove Rd., Walland. 865-984-8166, blackberryfarm.com/) in nearby Walland, Tennessee, is an idyllic destination for romance and offers topnotch wine and dining. Couples will love hiking, biking, horseback riding, fly fishing, sporting clays and the fabulous spa," says Barton.

"Even closer at two hours from Atlanta, Highlands, North Carolina, is a great spot for a girl's getaway or guys golf trip. The charming Old Edwards Inn & Spa (445 Main St., Highlands. 866-526-8008, oldedwardsinn.com/) is in the heart of the mountaintop village, and you can walk right out to dining and antique shopping, or take a short drive for incredible mountain hiking, fly fishing, golf, and biking."

Rather stay in state? Head to the North Georgia mountains in and around Clayton for similar activities at your doorstep. Barton recommends the intimate Glen Ella Springs Inn (1789 Bear Gap Rd., Clarkesville. 706-754-7295, glenella.com/) in Clarkesville, a 16-room inn with fine dining and beautiful gardens bordering the Chattahoochee National Forest and south of Tallulah Falls. There's also the historic Lake Rabun Hotel & Restaurant (35 Andrea Ln., Lakemont. 706-782-4946, lakerabunhotel.com/), with eight luxurious and cozy rooms, an award-winning restaurant with farm to table local dining, extensive wine list and lake views. Spend the weekend on the water fishing, kayaking, white water rafting or leisurely relaxing on a pontoon cruise.

Deep South for deep discounts

For a real deal off season, there are several destination options in South Florida offering great rates, especially at high end resorts. "The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne, Miami (455 Grand Bay Dr., Key Biscayne. 305-365-4500, ritzcarlton.com/en/hotels/miami/key-biscayne) cut their rates in half during the summertime, and offer great beach, tennis, and water sports. It's also a great spot to bike, hike, or paddle through the neighboring Biscayne National Park," says Barton. For families, Barton suggests Boca Raton, Florida, for a stay at the legendary Boca Raton Resort & Club (501 East Camino Real, Boca Raton. 888-543-1277, bocaresort.com/) Set on 356 beautiful acres, this legendary resort offers something for everyone – golf, tennis, white sand beaches and spa – but kids in particular will love learning to surf on the flow rider during Surf School, or perfecting their swing at Golf Academy.

If you can bear the heat and humidity, summer is the most affordable season to visit New Orleans and there's no shortage of activities. The summer months overlap with festival season, meaning you can still enjoy cultural festivals like the Cajun and Zydeco Festival held in June, the Tales of the Cocktail Festival in July and the Satchmo Summerfest honoring New Orleans' native son, Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong. Cool off with a snowball from Hansen's Sno-Bliz (4801 Tchoupitoulas St., New Orleans. 504-891-9788, snobliz.com), and with the thinner crowds, you may not even have to wait in line. For a taste of jazz without leaving your hotel, head to the Davenport Lounge at The Ritz-Carlton New Orleans (921 Canal St., New Orleans. 504-524-1331, ritzcarlton.com/en/hotels/new-orleans) for a vocal and trumpet performance by local favorite Jeremy Davenport, Wednesday through Saturday evenings.

Wild Wild West

Even more deals are to be found in summer in the western portion of the U.S. "I love Scottsdale, Arizona, and Palm Springs, California, because most desert resorts offer golf, tennis and spa packages at a fraction of the winter rates," says Barton. Stay in an elegant casita at the JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Inn Resort & Spa (5402 E Lincoln Dr., Scottsdale. 480-948-1700, marriott.com/hotels/travel/phxcb-jw-marriott-scottsdale-camelback-inn-resort-and-spa/) and indulge in desert-specific spa treatments like the Natural Agave Toning Wrap made with Prickly Pear cactus gel. Off-season in the Colorado mountain towns of Crested Butte and Breckenridge offer activities unseen during the winter, like white water rafting, mountain biking, canyon horseback riding and fly fishing.

Spend Summer Abroad

"For an international travel, the best bang for your buck this summer is Mexico, Costa Rica or Bahamas. The dollar is strong, and it's a great time to explore the beaches, culture, nature, and history of these destinations without spending an arm and a leg or fighting the crowds," says Barton. In Riviera Maya, Mexico, you can snorkel through jungle caves at Rio Secreto underground river, or in Costa Rica try deep sea fishing, zip lines, ATV tours, and volcano hiking with waterfall repelling.

Looking for a further jaunt? "There are great deals to New Zealand, now that Air New Zealand has a new nonstop flight to Auckland from Houston," says Barton. "It's still a fantastic destination during their winter with the North Island offering balmy weather and ski season in full swing on South Island."


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Travel

How to turn any hotel room into a sleeping cave, and other travel tips

Sam Shank has been a travel junkie for almost his entire career, logging periods at search engine DealBase and pioneering hotel review site TravelPost, which Kayak has since absorbed. Now he logs up to 100,000 miles a year as chief executive officer of HotelTonight, a slick last-minute booking app he co-founded in 2010. When he's not at home in San...
Three reasons why US airlines are not losing your luggage as often
Three reasons why US airlines are not losing your luggage as often

There are few quicker ways to ruin a vacation than for your luggage to end up in a different city than you are.  And while nearly every traveler has a story of waiting around a terminal while employees hunt for his or her misplaced bag, the truth is U.S. airlines are doing better than ever at taking care of passengers’ luggage.  ...
Sail the Galapagos from April through June and save up to 30 percent

This week's best travel bargains around the globe.  Land   - Receive a free night at 11 Hilton properties on four Hawaiian islands. The Another Day in Paradise package is valid at hotels on Oahu, Maui, Kauai and the Big Island. Minimum-night stay requirements vary. For example, at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort on Oahu...
Why record crowds are flocking to Joshua Tree
Why record crowds are flocking to Joshua Tree

JOSHUA TREE, Calif. — Wind blows hard and cold over the high desert here, howling between boulders and bending legendary yuccas that once reminded Mormons of the Biblical Joshua reaching up in prayer.  It may be difficult to believe such an environment could capture the world’s imagination. But the combination offers a mysterious and...
Hotel packages for cherry blossom time in Washington

A much-anticipated annual tradition in Washington is here: The National Cherry Blossom Festival will take place through April 16. The event, celebrating its 90th anniversary, commemorates the 1912 gift of 3,000 cherry trees from Japan to the United States. Today, there are 3,800 cherry blossom trees, and visitors to the city during the festival can...
More Stories