Top five off-peak destinations for summer

Prices are per night based on double occupancy and were found on each hotel's website. Off-peak rates are based on stays from August 4 to 7, and shoulder-season rates are based on stays from May 19 to 22.

Lounging by the hotel pool, enjoying spa treatments, and hitting the links at one of the area's more than 200 golf courses are all good ways to spend time in Phoenix, but there are other reasons to venture outside the hotel grounds. You can beat the heat in the morning by visiting the Downtown Phoenix Public Market when it opens at 8 a.m on Saturdays. The market showcases local products, from produce and flowers to arts and crafts. You can also take advantage of inexpensive ($10 donation requested) yoga lessons and gardening lectures at the market.

If you want a little culture along with your sun time, you might look into the ShowUp NOW pass, which includes admission to 14 Phoenix-area attractions all for one price. Included are the Deer Valley Rock Art Center, the Phoenix Art Musuem, the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, the Phoenix Zoo, and Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin West Panorama Tour. Passes start at $24 for three attractions.

Luxury hotels in the Phoenix and nearby Scottsdale areas cut rates by as much as $300 in summer, so you can stay at a resort that might normally be out of your price range at a fraction of the usual cost. In addition, hotel packages are available at some resorts, and often include discounted rates, resort credits, discounted golf, and/or free upgrades. The Phoenix and Scottsdale CVBs both have summer package information.

You can find trip-planning information in USA TODAY's Phoenix city guide or on Phoenix's CVB website, VisitPhoenix.com.

Belize

Bordered by Mexico, Guatemala, and the Caribbean Sea, Belize is an ideal choice for a summer getaway. Although summer is Belize's "green" or rainy season, you needn't fear spending your vacation huddled under an umbrella—rain showers are brief and usually don't last for long. A trip to Belize can include beach time, an island getaway, and inland adventure trips, all during one vacation. Plus, accommodations and activities are deeply discounted in summer, so your trip can be significantly less expensive than it would be during other times of year.

This summer, there are loads of deals for Belize travel; so many, in fact, that the country's tourism board created the Summer In Belize website to advertise the various specials. Offers include free-night promotions at properties including Chabil Mar Villas, Grand Colony Island Villas, Jaguar Paw Jungle Resort, and Victoria House.

Plus, El Pescador has a buy-one-get-one-free for its single-occupancy packages, while Windy Hill Resort's "Green Season" special includes one free night with free meals, a complimentary upgrade to a deluxe cabin, and discounts for kids. The Inn at Robert's Grove is offering several discounted packages that include accommodations, meals, activities, domestic flights, airport transfers, and more. You can also save 10% on Mayan ruin tours, scuba diving, horseback riding, yacht charters, and many other adventures with Aubisque Catamaran Charters.

When I compared summer and winter hotel rates, I found off-peak savings of $50.

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