14 Trips To Take With Your Tax Refund

Photo: Courtesy of Travel+Leisure.
This story originally appeared on Travel + Leisure.

With just a few days left before tax day, it’s time to get crackin’ — not just on filing your taxes, but figuring out how to spend that precious return.

If last year’s trends are an indication, the average U.S. taxpayer will see a return of $3,000. For some, that’s a down payment on a new car or money that goes straight into savings. But we like to think of it as an annual travel fund whenever possible.

That’s why we teamed up with the data engineers at Expedia, who scoured their databases for the best package deals bookable this tax season. We asked them to curate two types of trips: five-day vacations under $3,000, and three-day getaways under $1,500. All are inclusive of round-trip coach flights and overnight stays in three-, four-, or five-star hotels and are priced for two travelers.

Families of four can also buy in. Simply book the $1,500 trips for four travelers instead of two, and you’ll still manage to cover the cost of your trip with the average tax return. (Hotel costs will only double if you book two of the same room category; family-friendly suites will incrementally increase the price in most cases, without entirely doubling it.) Stick to two travelers, and these $1,500 trips will afford you the opportunity to get some quality R&R while also stashing half of your return into savings. The possibilities are vast.

Our goal is to help you find the perfect trip no matter where you are, so we pulled itineraries that depart from four major hubs — New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, and Chicago. Consider it our gift to you: full itineraries that deliver big value, top-notch quality, and prime springtime destinations. (We’ve even got a cherry blossom trip on the list.) What’s left to think about? Go ahead, pick your perfect vacation and get booking. These deals won’t last forever, and you’ve worked all year to earn this one.
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Photo: Courtesy of Travel+Leisure.
Hawaii for $1,500
Depart: Los Angeles
Arrive: Honolulu

Where You’ll Stay: Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, which is fresh off a renovation and right on Waikiki Beach.

The Must-Do: Make the detour to Kailua, a beach town 20 minutes north of Waikiki. There, you’ll find The Local, a shaved-ice spot that highlights the freshest fruits from nearby farmers: Think kula strawberries from the slopes of Heleakala, lychees from Pupukea, and Big Island guavas. A heaping portion drizzled with dulce de leche will run you a mere $6.25.
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Jamaica for $3,000
Depart: New York City
Arrive: Montego Bay

Where You’ll Stay:
Couples San Souci, a plantation-style all-inclusive resort with one of the best spas in the Caribbean.

The Must-Do:
Take an excursion to Dunn’s River Falls, a terraced waterfall with swimmable pools. It’s an iconic sight and worth the hype.
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New York for $1,500
Depart: Miami
Arrive: New York City

Where You’ll Stay:
1 Hotel Central Park, an urban oasis with an eye for sustainability and design.

The Must-Do:
Check out the new Whitney Museum in the Meatpacking District. It just relocated to a stunning Renzo Piano building alongside the High Line, with a Danny Meyer restaurant on the first floor.
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Cabo San Lucas for $3,000
Depart: Los Angeles
Arrive: San Jose del Cabo

Where You’ll Stay:
Grand Solmar Lands End Resort and Spa, a pastel-colored, all-suite resort where every room has a view of the Pacific Ocean.

The Must-Do:
Whale watching is a must from December to April, when the giant creatures flock to Baja’s warm waters. Regardless of the season, head into town for the best tacos you’ve ever tasted, at La Lupita.
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New Orleans for $1,500
Depart: New York City
Arrive: New Orleans

Where You’ll Stay:
Courtyard New Orleans Downtown, a no-frills spot with a super convenient location (it’s right near the French Quarter).

The Must-Do:
Listen to some live jazz, either at Preservation Hall or Blue Nile — or any of the other great spots lining Frenchman Street.
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Disney for $3,000
Depart: New York City or Chicago
Arrive: Orlando, FL

Where You’ll Stay:
Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, which feels plucked out of Yellowstone National Park.

The Must-Do:
Check out the new Frozen attraction in Epcot, then take a virtual trip around the world at Soarin’, an immersive ride that uses laser projection, high-definition sound effects, and 3D video to make you feel like you’re flying around the globe. Both open just after Memorial Day.
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Photo: Courtesy of Travel+Leisure.
Aruba for $1,500
Depart: New York City
Arrive: Aruba

Where You’ll Stay:
Golden Villas Aruba in Noord, where the draw is privacy and space more than luxury or amenities. Each one-bedroom villa has its own Jacuzzi and grill, so you can really live the island life.

The Must-Do:
The beaches and water sports are likely why you’re here, so book a snorkeling or scuba tour — Noord has wreck sites that are appropriate even for beginner divers.
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Vegas for $3,000
Depart: Miami or Chicago
Arrive: Las Vegas

Where You’ll Stay:
Encore at Wynn, one of the most luxurious stays on the Las Vegas strip — and a good place to spot celebs.

The Must-Do:
Head off the strip to Spring Mountain Road for some incredible Asian food, be it ramen at Monta or Thai fare at Ayada. They’re among the best restaurants of their kind anywhere in the U.S.
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Chicago for $1,500
Depart: Miami
Arrive: Chicago

Where You’ll Stay:
The Four Seasons Hotel Chicago, with a prime location right on Mag Mile.

The Must-Do:
Take a selfie in front of The Bean. (It’s a cliché, yes, but one worth buying into.) Then head across the street to the Chicago Athletic Association, which has just been turned into a hotel by hipster-beloved design firm Roman & Williams. The rooftop bar, Cindy’s, has incredible views over Millennium Park and Lake Michigan — along with seriously good drinks.
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Bahamas for $3,000
Depart: New York City
Arrive: Nassau

Where You’ll Stay:
Atlantis Royal Towers, an Autograph Collection Hotel with 11 pools, three beaches, and its own 141-acre water park.

The Must-Do:
The Mayan Temple water slide at Atlantis’ Aquaventure park is enough reason to book a trip to this legendary resort. So don’t leave the grounds if you don’t want to — as long as you make time for a little adrenaline rush.
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Photo: Courtesy of Travel+Leisure.
Puerto Vallarta for $1,500
Depart: Los Angeles
Arrive: Puerto Vallarta

Where You’ll Stay:
Velas Vallarta Suites Resort All Inclusive, with a swim-up bar and easy access to world-class golf.

The Must-Do:
Sleep in. Puerto Vallarta’s nightlife scene is a big draw, and a guaranteed way to channel your inner Spring Breaker.
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Photo: Courtesy of Travel+Leisure.
Washington, D.C. for $3,000
Depart: Miami
Arrive: Washington, D.C.

Where You’ll Stay:
Marriott Vacation Club at The Mayflower, a hotel-within-a-hotel that’s within walking distance of all the major sites (including the White House).

The Must-Do:
This time of year, you’ll want to take in the cherry blossoms — especially around the National Mall. Stay on top of the “bloom forecast” here.
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Photo: Courtesy of Travel+Leisure.
Miami for $1,500
Depart: Chicago
Arrive: Miami

Where You’ll Stay:
Bal Harbour Quarzo, in a ritzy beachside neighborhood roughly 20 minutes north of South Beach.

The Must-Do:
Head on a shopping spree. It might go against the grain of your budget getaway, but the Bal Habour Shops are legendary when it comes to luxury. And while you’re at it, stop for a meal at Makoto, a sushi restaurant that’s become a bona fide destination for food lovers across South Florida.
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Photo: Courtesy of Travel+Leisure.
Cancun for $3,000
Depart: Miami
Arrive: Cancun

Where You’ll Stay:
Hyatt Ziva Cancun All-Inclusive, a just-opened spot with swim-up suites and a tequila concierge.

The Must-Do:
Take the ferry from nearby Playa del Carmen to Cozumel, where you can experience some of the best snorkeling in the world.
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