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Thousands of college football fans will make the trip to Tampa this upcoming January for the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship. But before then, college football's beloved bowl season will present travelers with a plethora of opportunities to experience some underrated U.S. destinations.
Bowl season kicks off Dec. 17 and will continue through Jan. 9. Fans eyeing a refreshing winter getaway will want to consider one of these three underrated bowl game host cities.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
New Mexico's largest city may be overshadowed in the expansive Southwest, but there's plenty to see and do in this high-altitude destination.
Albuquerque's University Stadium will host the Gildan New Mexico Bowl Dec. 17. However, top attractions in and around the city extend well beyond the gridiron and include the scenic Sandia Peak Tramway, the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History and La Luz Trail.
Visitors also won't want to leave without exploring Old Town Albuquerque, where they can take a tour with the ABQ Trolley Co.
St. Petersburg, Florida
Despite playing second fiddle to nearby Tampa, St. Petersburg, Florida is a fantastic winter destination, boasting an average December high of 72 degrees.
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Nicknamed the Sunshine City, St. Petersburg will host, what else, but the St. Petersburg Bowl at Tropicana Field the day after Christmas. Those planning on attending the showdown Dec. 26 will be tempted to extend their stay in the city, which offers gorgeous weather, exciting activities like speedboat rentals and a plethora of nature experiences.
The Birmingham Bowl at Legion Field Dec. 29 isn't the only reason to make an end-of-the-year getaway to Alabama. After all, there's a reason Birmingham earned the moniker "Pittsburgh of the South." And like the Steel City, this undervalued destination has a little something to offer everyone.
Must-see attractions include the world-class Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and the Birmingham Railroad Park.
Also, be sure to check out Good People Brewing Company, which recently opened a new facility at Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport.