Every autumn, airlines ramp up their service to warm-weather destinations, which paradoxically gives anyone living in said warm-weather destinations the chance to explore world-class vacation spots — and then return home to the beach. Everybody wins.
This season, anyone within driving distance to Miami International Airport has the chance to travel faster and more affordably to two peerless European capitals, as well as several of this country’s premier beer, bourbon and wine destinations. Since Miami doesn’t really get a winter anyway, visiting a colder clime for the weekend (or longer) is actually pretty appealing. See some fall foliage, visit a Christmas market or two, and then make your way back home before a chill sets in. If that sounds appealing, check out some new direct flight options below.
If a sunny Christmas isn’t your jam this year, why not decamp to Berlin, which is a perfectly good starting point for Germany’s renowned Christmas markets, and a decidedly wonderful place to spend the holiday. Still a relatively new airline, Norse is (unsurprisingly) based in Norway and began operating in early 2021, filling the hole that Norwegian Airlines left when they stopped offering long-haul flights and refocused on European-only routes. With fares starting as low as $165, this trip can be extremely affordable — just keep in mind budget airlines like Norse tend to charge a la carte for everything, from luggage to seat assignment to drinks and food. Keep an eye on the fine print as you book, but it’s still possible to have a wonderful experience if you plan ahead. Service between MIA and BER starts Dec. 14 and will run once a week.
We’re going to say that Portland is still an underrated American destination, but it’s drawing in a new set of visitors now that the Willamette Valley wine scene is getting national and even global attention. This temperate city is absolutely stunning in fall, with some of the best foliage in the country, and plenty of great restaurants to warm you up after a day out in the crisp air. Palisociety recently ventured up north to open Hotel Grand Stark, their first foray into the Northwest, and the brand new Ritz-Carlton has received a lot of attention as well. These new flights from American debuted on Sunday, just in time for leaf-peeping, wine tasting and a stay in a sparkling luxury property.
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What’s the best reason to travel to Kentucky? Well, unless it’s the first Saturday in May, that would be the bourbon. Travel for a boozy weekend, then return safely home to a balmy 80-degree holiday. This direct flight begins November 11 and lasts through the end of March, so feel free to embark on this whiskey-oriented weekend before or after the holiday season.
Norse Atlantic Airways
It’s Paris. Enough said. Since Americans with Parisian aspirations tend to stick to sunny and sticky summertime jaunts — June, July and August— December is actually an amazing time to go. There are no crowds, no waits, and good, pre-Christmas vibes to be had. These directs begin December 12 and will run four times a week, so you can get there and back on that dirt cheap $165 fare without missing too many days at home. In the mood for exploring more of Europe with Norse? Check out their existing nonstop routes from Miami to London Gatwick or to Oslo, Norway.
Wilmington, North Carolina
More on another beer-oriented destination below, but North Carolina is quickly rising in the national beer scene, and though it’s not as artsy as Asheville, Wilmington is one of the hubs. This port city is known for its Ale Trail, the delightful Riverwalk and an ocean boardwalk, plus a historic district for architecture buffs. As domestic getaways go, it’s a charming and undiscovered haven to explore, get a pint or two, and if it’s warm enough, visit the beach. Starting November 11, this nonstop operates on Saturdays.
As mentioned above, Miami now has direct access to another excellent beer destination in middle America, and that would be Milwaukee. Now is a great time to explore all that the Wisconsin city has to offer in terms of food and beer pairings, and to do so on a flight that takes under five hours. This flight path started November 4 and operates on Saturdays, so you can spend a week immersed in the cold on the shores of Lake Michigan, warming up over a pint and exploring local creameries (that’s right: fresh cheese curds).
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