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Top five off-peak destinations for spring 2007

Spring is a great time to travel, as many destinations experience a shoulder season with lower prices for airfare and hotels. It’s also a good time for pleasant weather and, in many cases, festivals and events.

My picks for this spring’s top five destinations are no exception. They span the globe, including San Diego, Seattle, Costa Rica, Germany, and Malaysia.

San Diego

Although San Diego has pleasant weather and plenty of events and activities all year, spring is an ideal time to visit. Spring brings less rainfall than winter, with temperatures in the high 60s and low 70s. You may have heard of the “May Gray” and “June Gloom” that plagues San Diego in springtime, but fear not: the cloud cover generally only lingers by the coast until midday, leaving plenty of sunshine for the afternoon.

Festival season in San Diego kicks off in spring, and visitors can expect to find events nearly every weekend throughout the spring and summer. Big festivals include Normal Heights’ Adams Avenue Roots Festival (April 21 and 22) and Little Italy’s ArtWalk (April 28 and 29). In San Diego’s North County, nearly 50 acres of flowers will be on display at the annual Flower Fields exhibition, from March 3 through May 13.

The San Diego Museum of Art in Balboa Park will host a major exhibition this spring, Annie Leibovitz: A Photographer’s Life, 1990-2005, with 200 photographs, including portraits of Bill Clinton, Colin Powell, Nicole Kidman, and Brad Pitt. Downtown, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego re-opened in January, and boasts more than 16,000 square feet of exhibition space.

Other events include Wild Animal Park‘s annual free day on May 9, and the June 8 kickoff of the San Diego County Fair in Del Mar.

AirTran is joining fellow low-fare carriers JetBlue and Southwest in adding San Diego to its route map. Service starts May 24, and the airline is offering introductory fares from $139 one-way for booking through February 28. A new carrier, ExpressJet, will begin flying to San Diego in April from cities on the West Coast, and in the Midwest and Southwest.

The San Diego Convention and Visitor’s Bureau (CVB) offers many valuable coupons for restaurants, tours, and attractions. Spring hotel rates in San Diego tend to be less expensive than in summer, and when comparing prices, I found off-peak savings of up to $35 per night.

Hotel Room type Off-peak rate Peak rate
Red Lion Hanalei Hotel Deluxe queen $135 (April 23 to 27) $161 (July 30 to August 3)
Empress Hotel Traditional queen $159 (April 23 to 27) $189 (July 30 to August 3)
Sofia Hotel One queen bed $180 (April 23 to 27) $200 (July 30 to August 3)
Hotel del Coronado Victorian no view with one bed $260 (April 26) $295 (July 29 to August 2)

Prices are per night based on double occupancy and were found on each provider’s website.

Visit the San Diego CVB’s website for trip-planning ideas.

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