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4 last-minute budget winter break getaways for US students

winter break
It's not too late to book a holiday for your upcoming winter break. Source: Shutterstock

It’s currently the middle of December, and if you’re a student in the US, you’re probably busy cramming for your finals as the year winds down and winter break approaches.

Many international students choose to head home for the winter break, while some will remain on campus or go on a holiday in the US.

While some have already planned it all out, there may be some who just didn’t think that far ahead. If you’re an international student who wants to travel during the break but is on a budget with no plans yet, we got your back!

Despite being quite close to winter break, you may still be able to squeeze in a getaway on a budget. Here are some ideas for US students.

Salt Lake City, Utah

winter break

It’s not too late to spend winter on the slopes if you choose Salt Lake City, Utah. Source: Shutterstock

Want to try some snow activities like skiing and snowboarding this winter break? Ski resorts in popular places like Vermont may quickly book up, but there are more affordable options like Salt Lake City in Utah.

According to Travel and Leisure, “Average rates in Salt Lake City start as low as US$98 per night. Thanks to the fact that the Salt Lake City International Airport is just miles from top ski grounds, getting to and from the mountains is easy”.

It’s also recommended to get the Ski City Super Pass so that you can access four ski resorts at a lower price: Alta, Brighton, Snowbird, and Solitude.

Besides skiing, there are several things to do in Salt Lake City such as visiting Temple Square, Liberty Park and the Natural History Museum of Utah. 

Jersey City, New Jersey

winter break

Enjoy stunning views of the city skyline from Jersey City. Source: Shutterstock

If the Big Apple is on your bucket list, but it’s too costly to stay there during this time of the year, consider staying in neighbouring New Jersey this winter break instead.

Using Jersey City as your base, you can spend Christmas and New Year’s in NYC without spending a bomb on accommodation.

You can book a room on Airbnb in Jersey City for as low as US$40 per night – compared to double the price in New York City boroughs like Brooklyn.

Jersey City is close to the border, and it will only take you approximately 15-20 minutes by bus or car to get to downtown New York City. You can also take ferries from here to get to popular attractions such as Ellis Island – where you can visit the Statue of Liberty.

From Jersey City, you also get a panoramic view of the stunning New York City skyline – perfect for Instagram-worthy photos!

Niagara Falls, New York

winter break

Niagara Falls sometimes freezes during the winter, making it a unique and stunning spectacle. Source: Shutterstock

For students in Western New York or nearby, one affordable winter break getaway is Niagara Falls. Although it’s quite frigid at this time of the year, and rides such as the Maid of the Mist are usually closed in December, the Niagara Falls State Park is still open as it turns into a stunning winter wonderland during this time of the year.

Besides checking out the iconic Falls, you can also visit other attractions such as  Niagara Fallsview Casino, Old Fort Niagara, and Inniskillin Winery or do some shopping at the Fashion Outlets at Niagara Falls.

If you have a Canadian visa, you can also hop over to the Canadian side of the Falls in Ontario and check out some of the sights there as a bonus!

Accommodation is also quite affordable at Niagara Falls, with budget hotels such as Comfort Inn and Travelodge costing approximately US$70 a night.

Clearwater, Florida

winter break

Clearwater in Florida has gorgeous sunsets and sandy beaches. Source: Shutterstock

Itching for some warm weather this winter break? Get away from the cold at one of Florida’s affordable beach towns – Clearwater.

Winter nights can be a bit chilly, and the water can be a bit cold during the winter in Florida, but it’s still a great escape from the freezing winters in other states.

Several budget hotels offer excellent value for money such as the Beachview Inn, Best Western Clearwater Beach, or Clearwater Beach Hotel.

It’s also a beautiful and idyllic place for a holiday with white sand beaches, plenty of beachside restaurants and cafes, a lively nightlife scene and the Clearwater Marine Aquarium where injured sea turtles and dolphins are rehabilitated.

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