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When the tulips pop to life on the Mag Mile, there's no better time to take a Chicago vacation.

By Jeanenne Tornatore

Spring and fall are two of my favorite seasons to travel. Not only are there fewer crowds and mild weather in many fantastic destinations, these shoulder seasons are two of the best times of the year to travel if you’re on a budget. While beach vacations are perennial favorites, here are four budget picks for pre-summer getaways that will make you reconsider another trip to the shoreline.

Sonoma County
April and May make up the shoulder season for wine country in northern California. You’ll experience less crowded wineries and more availability at more reasonable rates at some of the more sought after accommodations. The landscapes are just as beautiful, and the atmosphere even more laid-back and relaxing this time of year.

Alaska cruises
The Alaskan cruise season is a relatively short one. It begins in May and ends in September. And the best prices will be found during the first and last month. In May, 7-night cruises start at just $619 on Orbitz, with options departing from Vancouver and Seattle.

Chicago vacations
If you’re looking for a long weekend city escape, you can’t beat the prices, experiences, and beauty of Chicago in the spring. With flowers blooming and temperatures rising to reasonable highs in the 60s, you can enjoy a day outdoors at the (free) Lincoln Park Zoo, window shopping along Michigan Avenue or taking in one of the many world-class museums along the lakefront.

London vacations
With the exception of the weekend of the Royal Wedding (April 29), when hotel rates will be significantly inflated, spring in this historic city can be one of the most rewarding times to visit if you’re big on sight-seeing and tight on budget. From the London Eye to the Victoria & Albert Museum, the list of attractions to see in London is a long one — and so are the lines to seethem if you wait until summer. Travel mid-May and you’ll find hotel rates from $150 USD a night in the heart of the city.

Insider tip: Spring into savings of up to 40 percent off vacations and hotels during Orbitz’s spring sale.

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Jeanenne Tornatore is a senior travel editor at Orbitz Worldwide. A long-time traveler and avid deal seeker, she regularly shares her industry knowledge, practical advice and savvy tips with national print and broadcast media around the country.

Tagged: California, Cruise

Jeanenne Tornatore

Jeanenne Tornatore

Jeanenne Tornatore has spent 14 years as a communications professional working with high-profile companies in travel, technology, and consumer products, currently serving as a senior editor for Learn more about her here.

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