Photographer: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Luxury Travel

Want to Go to the Super Bowl? Book Your Trip Right Now

Seasoned vets will lock in trips to Houston before playoff season rolls around—or risk watching the game from the comfort of their own couches.

The countdown to Super Bowl 51 is on—even if the playoff picture for the 2016 NFL season is still hazy. In a matter of weeks, only a few teams will remain in the hunt, and most fans will have their hopes either galvanized or dashed. But put that suspense aside for a hot second. Now is the time to book your Super Bowl trip. Why? As soon as fans start seeing potential for their team to go all the way, bookings will spike through the roof, sweeping up the few remaining hotel rooms and airplane seats.

Downtown traffic at night

Houston’s downtown area feels completely new after a $500 million investment from Houston First.

Source: Visit Houston

Booking Flights

To prove the point, we asked the data analysts at airfare insights company Hopper to look at how fares surged before Super Bowl 50 in San Francisco—and how this season’s fares to Houston are deviating from last season’s patterns.

Turns out, travelers heading to Houston last February found the cheapest fares when searching 25 to 50 days ahead of their departure—and so did football fans flying to San Francisco for the big Panthers-Broncos game in 2016. Super Bowl 51 will be played on Feb. 5, 2017; that means you’ll want to book from Dec. 17 to Jan. 11. Wait until after the divisional round games, on the weekend of Jan. 14-15, and you’ll pay the price. (Hopper estimates fares will nearly triple in the final weeks leading up to the Super Bowl.)

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Hopper’s predictions for Super Bowl 51 show airfares surging in the two weeks leading up to the event.

Source: Hopper

Where to Stay

The same applies to lodging: The sooner you book, the better. Houston’s “headquarter hotel” for the Super Bowl—that is, where the teams, coaches, and support staff will stay—is the already-sold-out Marriott Marquis, which will open later this month with 1,000 rooms in the city’s newly renovated convention district. Instead of staying overnight there, make a reservation for dinner at Xochi, the hotel’s most anticipated restaurant, and you’ll chance rubbing elbows with the NFL’s finest. You can also hang out in Discovery Green park adjacent to the hotel, where there’ll be 10 days’ worth of street parties leading up to kickoff.

Sports Bar

The sports bar at the Marriott Marquis in Houston, opening later this month.

Source: Marriott Hotels & Resorts

Other luxury hotels, including the St. Regis and the JW Marriott, are also maxed out at this point, but a few good options remain. A corner room at the Four Seasons is currently priced at a reasonable (in context) $455 per night over Super Bowl weekend; the rooms are a bit plain, but the downtown views from the massive picture windows are reason enough to reserve. And Airbnb has some standout listings, like this $400 bungalow-style retreat in Eastwood with beamed ceilings and a kitchen fit for a chef.

Looking at last year’s patterns around Super Bowl bookings, the home-sharing company said it also noticed significant upticks in searches as the wild-card rounds got under way—mostly from confident Cardinals, Broncos, and Panthers fans in those teams’ respective hometowns.

SANTA CLARA, CA - FEBRUARY 07:  Pregame ceremonies before the Denver Broncos take on the Carolina Panthers during Super Bowl 50 at Levi's Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Pregame ceremonies at Super Bowl 50.

Photographer: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

How to Do the Game

There’s one more crucial thing to check off your list: football tickets. Here’s where you’ll make your biggest investment, no matter when you hit Ticketmaster. As it stands, it’ll cost you a minimum of $4,630 to get into NRG Stadium on Feb. 5—but you’ll have a wide-open choice of where to sit. Lower-terrace end-zone seats are only marginally more expensive than the upper-terrace seats, chiming in at $4,747 and up. Wait to buy, and you’ll see fewer pockets of value—and more tickets in the $10,000-plus range.

Beyonce performs during Super Bowl 50 between the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California February 7, 2016. / AFP / TIMOTHY A. CLARY        (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

Beyoncé performs at the Super Bowl 50 halftime show.

Photographer: TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images

If you’re going to splurge, do it with the official hospitality provider of the NFL, On Location Experiences. The company’s Diamond Package goes for upward of $12,399, but you’ll get 50-yard-line seating and exclusive access to the postgame party right on the field. Considering those premium seats alone will cost you $12,860 (at press time) via Ticketmaster, it’s a no-brainer for those who are looking for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. There’s literally no way to get closer to the action.

during Super Bowl 50 at Levi's Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Santa Clara, California.

You could be on the field during this year's post-game celebrations

Photographer: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

 

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An aerial view of downtown Houston.

Source: Visit Houston

 

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