15 Last-Minute Winter Getaways You can Still Afford

There's still time to get away this winter and enjoy some last-minute relaxation affordably.
Last updated April 3, 2023 | By Sandy Baker Edited By Michael Kurko
female traveler in sunglasses enjoying active leisure

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The cost of just about everything seems to be so high that you’re working hard to trim back and save. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get away from the cold and enjoy some sun.

Though inflation has made some travel more expensive, there are still ways to get away for a bit this winter and still keep more money in your account.

If you’re looking for a last-minute vacation that won’t break the bank, check out these affordable, warm, and sunny destinations.

Cozumel, Mexico

Paul James Bannerman/Adobe Cozumel Mexico

Cozumel is a picturesque waterfront city known for its scuba diving, snorkeling, and beautiful beaches.

While it may be home to some luxury resorts, it’s also one of the more affordable places to visit when sun is the priority.

Hotel costs can be as low as $40 per night, and you’ll spend under $100 for a dive boat to check out the reefs.

Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Aneese/Adobe Meigs Falls on Little River in Great Smoky Mountains

Tucked into the Smokey Mountains, Gatlinburg lets you enjoy the sunrise in the morning as you plan to do some hiking, golfing, or perhaps a visit to the Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum.

If you want to keep things budget-friendly, explore the Newfound Gap Road and Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. You can also keep costs even lower by camping instead of staying in a hotel.

Santa Fe, New Mexico

brent coulter/Adobe entryway near Canyon Road in Santa Fe

Sun-seekers should plan an inexpensive trip to Santa Fe. It’s the perfect time of the year to enjoy some skiing, though the temperatures hover around 40 degrees Fahrenheit making it not too cold.

Tour the historic sites, check out the public art around town, and visit the parks for a hike. Affordable restaurants, artisan shops, and lots of museums make Santa Fe a fun getaway.

Tampa, Florida

Daniel/Adobe florida sky lines with lightning from tampa bay with bridge over water

Tampa offers the sun you’re craving, with temperatures that can reach into the 70s or higher during the colder winter months.

More affordable than nearby larger resort towns, Tampa has plenty to offer, including the zoo, Tampa Riverwalk, and the Lettuce Lake Regional Park, which is perfect for some water fun.

You can also take in a show at the Tampa Theatre downtown and visit the Henry B. Plant Museum for a self-guided tour.

Whistler, British Columbia

Jenny Thompson/Adobe Whistler British Columbia

If you don’t mind the cold and just want to hit the slopes, make the trip to Whistler.

The Whistler Backcomb costs a significant amount of money, but you don’t have to visit just there. The best prices are in February and March.

You’ll also have some fun at Brandywine Falls Provincial Park and check out the frozen waterfall at Alexander Falls.

San Juan, Puerto Rico

SCStock/Adobe street in old San Juan Puerto Rico

You don’t need a passport to soak in the sun in Puerto Rico. The entire island is well worth exploring for nature lovers, including the waterfalls in the El Yunque rainforest.

San Juan is home to numerous historical sites worth exploring, but don’t be afraid to venture into other areas of the island for more affordable amenities, including hotels and restaurants.

Charleston, South Carolina

f11photo/Adobe Charleston South Carolina

Though Charleston can be an expensive getaway during the summer months, it’s quiet during the winter.

If you have a bit more room in the budget, you may be able to book one of the lavish hotels here for about a third of what they cost in the middle of August or choose a more affordable location.

And don’t forget to check out the Fort Sumter National Monument, Nathaniel Russell House, and the Charleston City Market.

Healdsburg, California

Gary Saxe/Adobe vineyard in autumn Sonoma County California

If a trip to Napa’s wine country sounds great but you want to keep things more affordable, choose Healdsburg in Sonoma County.

Costs are typically about 20% lower during the winter months, but there’s still plenty to do and see. Tour the Gracianna Winery or Dry Creek Vineyard, or enjoy boating on Lake Sonoma.

Adirondacks, New York

Dene' Miles/Adobe Peak Fall Colors in New England

Take in the best that winter can offer in the Adirondacks. Book a cabin, enjoy the ice festivals that typically take place in February and March, and have some fun at the Lake George Winter Carnival.

The hiking is fantastic on good weather days, but if a cozy cabin with a fireplace sounds perfect, it’s worth the trip.

Bocas del Toro, Panama

Daniel/Adobe Red Frog Beach Bocas del Toro Panama

Located in the Northwestern Caribbean, Bocas del Toro is the perfect break from winter weather. 

Scuba diving, beautiful Spanish colonial architecture, and fun street festivals make this coastal town the perfect place to spend time. It’s only about a 30-minute drive to Panama City.

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

JuanPablo/Adobe colored street at San Miguel de Allende in Mexico

From the art to the culture, San Miguel de Allende is an authentic Mexican town without the over-the-top resorts.

Noted for its cobblestone streets and fabulous food, the town is a popular location for tourists looking for fun for less. Visit the market stalls to find some excellent treasures to bring home.

Costa del Sol, Spain

Alex Tihonov/Adobe pathway decorated with hanging plants

Though many Spanish cities are quite affordable at this time of the year, making the trip across the Atlantic to check out Costa Del Sol is well worth it.

It’s warmer than other areas in the region and is noted for its beaches. Costa del Sol is also a very lively location with street performers, affordable restaurants, and markets.

Bariloche, Rio Negro, Argentina

saiko3p/Adobe Bariloche landscape in Argentina

If you’re looking for more of an adventure, head to Bariloche in Argentina. Spectacular views of the Andes Mountains, Swiss Alpine architecture, and incredible weather make this a must-see destination.

It’s summer here during February and March, so the heat will be intense, but the mountain hiking and waterfront activities make it well worth it.

Nashville, Tennessee

SeanPavonePhoto/Adobe Nashville Tennessee USA city skyline

Winter is the best time to visit Nashville because the crowds are smaller. Visiting during the off-season provides more time for touring the area museums and the Music City Walk of Fame.

And remember to take in the Nashville Flea Market, bars, and restaurants downtown.

Austin, Texas

SeanPavonePhoto/Adobe Austin Texas USA downtown skyline

The warmth of Austin is sure to draw you in, but there’s plenty to do and see here on a budget.

Consider taking a historical tour at the Austin Visitor Center, doing a downtown walking tour, or checking out the 360-acre Zilker Park and botanical gardens.

Finally, you can play some disc golf, visit the Umlauf Sculpture Garden, and take in the city’s unique and eclectic Cathedral of Junk.

Bottom line

Prostock-studio/Adobe cheerful male traveler holding map

Whether you’re trying to get away from the snow or just want to relax in peace in a cabin tucked into a mountainside, there are plenty of affordable destinations to visit this winter.

Don’t overlook last-minute booking options for all-inclusive resorts, too. Just grab one of the top travel credit cards and call a hotel in the city of your choice and ask if they offer last-minute weekend discounts.

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Sandy Baker Sandy Baker is a has over 17 years of experience in the financial sector. Her experience includes website content, blogs, and social media. She’s worked with companies such as Realtor.com, Bankrate, TransUnion, Equifax, and Consumer Affairs.