Yearning to get away from the up and down, hot and cold New Orleans weather?  Find yourself staring out of the office window?  Need a break from the everyday?  From warm, sandy beaches to wintry wonderlands, quiet Caribbean villages to metropolitan bustle, making a getaway near and far this winter and spring can be more than just a vacation, it can be an experience for the senses.

Quick Escapes
Let’s say you have a long weekend or a few extra days coming up, a vacation experience is just down the road.  The Grand Biloxi Casino, Hotel, and Spa has great packages starting at just $79 a night. In addition to gaming, the hotel features the Bellissimo Spa and Salon, the Grand Bear Golf Course, and an ever changing line-up of top entertainment.  The white sand beaches are wonderful, the businesses are thriving, and from laying on the beach to live entertainment or fine dining there’s so much to do just around the corner.

Escape RoutesWant to go a little farther, but still stay relatively close to home? With great airfares or an easy drive there, Florida is always a great choice.  The 14 beach communities along the 26-mile stretch of Northwest Florida that make up the Beaches of South Walton offer fun both on the beach and on the boardwalk.  Think: shopping in Sandestin; “short course” golf at Watersound North; boutique accommodations in Rosemary Beach; art galleries, green communities, beautiful vistas, hiking, kayaking, biking, sand dunes … need we say more?

“You can have a great travel experience without traveling a great distance,” says Chuck Brown at the Cruise and Vacation Shoppe.  “Florida has so many wonderful destinations, but right now Ft. Lauderdale is perhaps my favorite.  It’s called the Venice of America, and once you go, you can see why.”  With a variety of new hotels, fun and easy water taxis to take you around, great shopping, not to mention emerald green water, clean beaches, and a coral reef offshore, Ft. Lauderdale proves that you don’t have to leave the United States for a tropical travel experience.

Escape RoutesA bit farther down the road, but still an easy-to-get-to destination, Brown also recommends Charleston, S.C. as a travel destination with charm, personality, and more.  According to Brown, “Many people love Charleston not only because it is relatively close by, but because of its laid-back style, rich history, and architecture.”  It’s a true Southern getaway.  

Far-Away Destinations

For travelers with a little more time to spend, these hot travel spots will carry you from a wintry escape to a balmy beach, a quiet village to a city that never sleeps, proving that whatever you can dream of, there’s a destination for you.

Escape RoutesIf you’re looking to experience a landscape and a climate that’s totally different from home, you may want to explore the snowy, luxurious retreats of Aspen.  Located 158 miles southwest of Denver, this cozy town offers postcard-perfect images of skiing, as well as wine tasting, opera, fine dining, hiking and more.  And while skiing and snowboarding are the most popular outdoor activities, visitors can also take advantage of the pristine surroundings by snowmobiling, showshoeing, and snow camping.

If sand dunes and warm weather appeal to you more than snow-capped mountains and warm winter lodges, an island getaway might be the right destination for you. “There are so many great islands in the Caribbean to choose from,” says Cathy Gaffney at Crown’s Adventures at Sea.  “There’s definitely something out there for everyone.”  The best part about traveling in this part of the world is that each island is so unique.  St. Lucia is perhaps one of the most exotic and most beautiful.  “St. Lucia has everything from rain forests, plantations, and waterfalls to mountains and beaches.  It’s absolutely gorgeous,” says Gaffney. 

In the northern Caribbean, there’s Dominica, a small island big on relaxation.  According to Gaffney, “Dominica is perhaps one of the most unspoiled of all of the islands in the northern part of the Caribbean.  This is not a place where you’ll find large hotel chains and development.  And the island itself is amazing.”

Escape RoutesIf you’re looking for a vacation home away from home, you may want to look no further than the U.S. Virgin Islands. An easy flight via Atlanta will get you there quickly, you won’t require a passport, and these three islands, St. Croix, St. Thomas, and St. John, are simply fantastic.  “St. Croix and St. Thomas are perhaps the most popular, and deservedly so, but my favorite has got to be St. John,” says Gaffney.  This small, very exclusive island, is so relaxing, full of flavor, and beautiful, you may never want to leave. 

Escape RoutesFinally, if you’re looking for a vacation that has a lot more hustle and bustle, as well as a lot more shopping, dining, art, theater, history, music and noise, you can’t go wrong with Manhattan and its outer boroughs. From the “Big Easy” to the “City that Never Sleeps,” you’ll find yourself welcomed, charmed, stimulated, and entertained in New York City.  There is always something new to see.  From watching a Broadway show, to dining at Zagat’s 2008 top-rated restaurant Daniel, visiting any of the major art and history museums, to touring the historic Battery Park and the Statue of Liberty, you can always find something to do in New York.  Airfare is relatively cheap (approximately $300 round trip for a direct flight on JetBlue) and accommodations can run the gamut from luxurious ($750 a night at the chic Bowery Hotel) to affordable ($250 a night at the Hudson).  Perhaps we’ll soon see you wearing an “I Heart NYC” shirt this spring!