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A Month-by-Month Guide to the Best Places to Travel in 2016

Make this your best vacation year yet.

Want to escape the cold weather and head someplace warm this winter? Or perhaps you’re already planning your summer vacation. This month-by-month guide to the best places to travel in 2016 will not only help you find the perfect adventure but also pinpoint the sweet spots for when to book the best deals.

  • January

    Biltmore House
    Alamy

    Asheville, N.C.
    The distant peaks might be dusted with snow, but January in Asheville is relatively mild, with highs reaching the 50s and 60s. It’s perfect weather for gallery hopping, not to mention restaurant sampling. Asheville Restaurant Week is Jan. 19 to 28,when more than 30 standout eateries offer discounted prix-fixe menus: $15 for a two-course lunch and $30 for a three-course dinner.

    Learn more: Explore Artsy Asheville, N.C.

  • February

    Getty Images

    British Columbia
    Whistler may be one of the most celebrated ski resorts in North America, but you’ll find chills and thrills for less all across this western Canadian province. The U.S. dollar appreciated 12% vs. the Canadian dollar in 2015, so everything north of the border is effectively on sale.

    Learn more: Ski for Less in British Columbia

  • March

    Getty Images

    Namibia
    Any safari is a splurge, but the cost for this trip of a lifetime goes down dramatically during southern Africa’s green (or rainy) season. Fortunately, Namibia is largely desert, and the two inches of rain it receives in March (on average) only serves to turn the countryside a lush green.

    Learn more: Safari in Namibia

  • April

    Getty Images

    Maryland’s Eastern Shore
    Come summer, this charming slice of Chesapeake coastline is chockablock with Capitol Hill insiders, but it’s just as lovely—and less crowded—in the spring. Maryland crab season starts on April 1, and the sailboats hit the waters in the following weeks. Wait until April 29 and you can catch the Maryland International Kite Festival in Ocean City.

    Learn more: Sail Along Maryland’s Eastern Shore

  • May

    Corbis

    Tokyo
    Once the cherry blossoms fade and Japan’s Golden Week holidays are over, Tokyo’s hotel rates drop about 15%, says Nori Akashi of the Japan National Tourism Organization. More good news: Data scientists at Hopper are predicting a 20% decrease in U.S.-to-Tokyo airfare in 2016, compared with last year’s prices.

    Learn more: Tour Majestic Tokyo

  • June

    Getty Images

    Umbria, Italy
    Affordable Italy in June? High rollers might head to Venice and the Amalfi Coast, but Umbria, a two-hour drive from Rome, is more affordable and blissfully less touristy despite its wealth of vineyards, olive groves, and hilltop towns. STR Global puts the average hotel cost in Umbria at $59, vs. $145 in Tuscany.

    Learn more: Eat and Drink in Umbria

  • July

    Getty Images

    Cayucos, Calif.
    Just because it’s high season doesn’t mean you’ll be priced out of the prime California surf. Big Sur tends to get all the glory (and has the ritzy inns and restaurants to match), but about 100 miles farther south you’ll find equally dazzling Pacific views, craggy cliffs, and a beachy vibe. Welcome to the classic (yet affordable) Central Coast.

    Learn more: Explore the Heart of California’s Central Coast

  • August

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    Idaho
    The Gem State is home to seven National Park Service sites, making it a great place to enjoy the events celebrating the National Park Service’s centennial month. After August 15, the cost of white-water rafting on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River with Row Adventures drops 10%.

    Learn more: Get Outdoors in Idaho

  • September

    Alamy

    Door County, Wis.
    This picturesque peninsula juts 75 miles into Lake Michigan and is dotted with ice cream stands, mom-and-pop diners, and intimate inns—the natural beauty of the Hamptons with a down-to-earth Midwest vibe. Visitors peak in July (cherry season), and by early October the Wisconsin Scenic Byway is clogged with leaf peepers. But September is the sweet spot: Days hit 70° F, the water is at its warmest, and the crowds are all but gone. Hotel prices are up to 40% or more off their midsummer peak.

    Learn more: Hang On to Summer in Door County, Wis.

  • October

    Getty Images

    Panama City, Fla.
    The sugar-white sand fills up with spring breakers in March, but the crowds drop by 14% come October. One thing that doesn’t drop: the temperature, with highs hovering around 80° F.

    Learn more: Hit the Beaches in Panama City, Fla.

  • November

    Jay Janne/Newscom

    Austin
    The “live music capital of the world” is humming with festivals (SXSW, Austin City Limits) most of the year, but they taper off come November, when hotel prices fall by 10% compared with March or October peaks.

    Learn more: Sup and Shop in Austin

  • December

    Courtesy of Viking River Cruises

    European Riverboat Tour
    Riverboats have long been the champagne of cruises, and December is a great time to find a deal. Too cold, you say? “For a traditional winter wonderland, nothing beats the charm and holiday cheer of a European river boat,” says Lauramay LaChance, associate editor of Onboard.com. Prices are as much as 36% off fall rates.

    Learn more: River Cruise for a European Christmas

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