A Month-by-Month Guide to the Best Places to Travel in 2017
With the planet feeling smaller than ever before, there's no need to stay local with your vacation plans. For inspiration, Money has lined up a year's worth of great travel destinations, near and far—one for every month of 2017. This year's picks take advantage of currency shifts and travel trends, to identify the perfect set of seasonal bargains. Use the following list to inspire your travel schedule—then read the accompanying travel planner to find the hotels, restaurants, and activities that will make your stay as memorable as it can be.
January: Road-trip through the Yucatán
As the Mayan Riviera fills up with name-brand resorts and restaurants, the Yucatán's interior is the place to go for a taste of authentic colonial Mexico. While January is still considered high season, prices are significantly lower than during holiday months like December and March.
LOCAL'S TIP: John Powell of Urbano Rentals recommends lunch at Apoala, one of the city's best restaurants. "It only costs about $6, including your drink," he says, vs. about $35 a person for dinner.
February: Go skiing in Mont-Tremblant, Quebec
The U.S. dollar has risen 12% against the Canadian dollar since the beginning of 2015. Plus, Quebec's premier mountain offers some of the best skiing on the East Coast at prices that are already about 30% less expensive than those of competitors like Killington in Vermont.
LOCAL'S TIP: Of the mountain's 96 trails, be sure to hit Nansen, a 3.7-mile run that overlooks Lake Tremblant and the village.
March: Sip and stroll in Sonoma, Calif.
Napa Valley may get more buzz, but Sonoma is just as beautiful—and hotels can be about 40% cheaper, even in this quiet shoulder season. Another plus: "You're more likely to chat with the winemaker in a tasting room and get prime reservations in popular restaurants" than during the summer, says Lauren Krause, owner of Beltane Ranch B&B and vineyard.
LOCAL'S TIP: Stop at the Dry Creek General Store, a local fixture in Healdsburg since 1881, for house-made pesto and fresh mozzarella panini ($10).
April: Enjoy small-town life in Greenville, S.C.
This former textile town is attracting star chefs, craft breweries, independent shops, and new hotels. USA Today calls the Blue Ridge Mountain haven "the perfect example of the new South." Now is the time to go, before crowds—and prices—catch up to other Carolina culture capitals like Charleston, S.C., and Asheville, N.C.
LOCAL'S TIP: Join the crowds for free music on Main Street every Thursday and Friday night.
May: Hike and beachcomb on the island of Hawaii
Think you can't afford a Hawaiian vacation? Try the Big Island in May, one of the cheapest months to travel there, as it's after winter's high season but before summer break. Last year flights to Kona International Airport were down 14%, according to Hopper.com. Bonus: Because fewer tourists visit in May than during the summer months, you'll have an easier time finding a stretch of sand to call your own.
LOCAL'S TIP: Pacheco recommends Hawaii Volcanoes National Park ($15 per car for seven days), where you can walk through a lava tube and trek along a crushed-lava road to the ocean.
June: Enjoy early summer on Lake Champlain
While average temperatures in June (mid-70s) are similar to those in July and August, hotel rates are 10% cheaper and 12% less than in fall, according to hotel market data firm STR. Spring season flowers remain in bloom, making it a lovely time to visit.
LOCAL'S TIP: For a good value in Burlington, head to the Skinny Pancake for crepes, says travel writer Nina Fedrizzi. "Order the Jonny, which comes with pulled pork, caramelized onions, and Cabot cheddar cheese" ($11.50).
July: Sightsee in Gdansk, Poland
There's nothing quite like visiting Europe in the summer, but peak-season prices can break the bank. Not so in Poland. BudgetYourTrip.com notes that even traveling to waterfront Gdansk costs about a third of travel to London or Paris.
LOCAL'S TIP: The best place to exchange money is at the "kantors" (currency-exchange offices); you'll pay a lower commission than at banks or Western Unions.
August: Visit cloud forests in Costa Rica
During the "transition months" of May through August, deals are plenty and tourists are few, says Rob Harper, founder of Costa Rican Vacations (vacationscostarica.com). Sure, it rains, but storms tend to pass quickly, and some animals, like turtles and whales, are more in evidence.
LOCAL'S TIP: A night walk in Bosque Eterno de los Niños is one of the best wildlife hikes in all of Costa Rica, says Harper ($22). Watch for long-tailed olingos, owls, and tree frogs.
September: Get away to Chincoteague Island, Va.
Devoted visitors love September here, when temps stay in the high 70s but crowds dwindle and accommodation prices drop by 20% or more. There's not a high-rise hotel or commercial boardwalk in sight on this laid-back barrier island. Instead you'll enjoy open vistas, peaceful bike trails, placid inlets, and, on neighboring Assateague Island, a National Wildlife Refuge best known for its wild ponies.
LOCAL'S TIP: See the islands from the water on one of Daisey's Island Cruises ($30). You'll spot dolphins and shorebirds as the captain fills you in on the region's seafaring history.
October: Go leaf peeping in Michigan
It's the end of high season, but you can still count on quiet roads, red-and-gold vistas, and waterfalls—almost 180 of 'em—in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Nicknamed the UP, this scenic forested corner offers fall foliage on the cheap: Hotels average $96 in October, according to STR, up to 38% less than in other popular leaf-peeping destinations like Lake Placid, N.Y., and Vermont.
LOCAL'S TIP: End the day with a pint at Marquette's Ore Dock Brewing Co. Weekly specials are $1 off during happy hour (5 p.m. to 7 p.m.).
November: Explore the streets of Buenos Aires
The Argentinean peso has fallen more than 30% against the dollar in the past 14 months, putting the whole city effectively on sale. In November, approaching summer south of the equator, temperatures hover in the low 70s, an ideal time of year to explore Buenos Aires, which combines European-style architecture with sultry Latin flair.
LOCAL'S TIP: Buenos Aires is famous for its beef, but the best steak dinners can be surprisingly expensive. Instead, says Maita Barrenechea, founder of travel agency Mai10, try the small and lively Big Sur for a traditional lomito steak sandwich.
December: Get in the holiday spirit in Newport, R.I.
December may just be the City by the Sea's best-kept secret. Sparkling white lights illuminate homes, shops, and restaurants; holiday traditions—blissfully lacking commercial overtones—abound. Best of all, the onetime summer playground of the country's wealthiest families becomes affordable for the rest of us: Prices on hotels and meals fall by as much as 65% in winter.
LOCAL'S TIP: Buy tickets to see the Newport Nutcracker, a local tradition for 15 years. Patrons sit at two rows of tables; opt for the back row to save $15 (adults, $85; children $55).