I love traveling in the summer, but it can also be hard to appreciate some fantastic destinations with the endless crowds of people all trying to see the same thing or all trying to eat at the same popular restaurant at the same time.
Off-season travel has its benefits for sure: Cheaper accommodations, affordable transportation and flights, and still plenty of things to do or even better, fall and winter festivals and events. While you might have to pack for cooler or rainier weather, the cost savings are definitely worth it by traveling in the off-season. So, where should you?
10 popular off-season vacation destinations
Hawaii, United States
With its even and mild temperature throughout the year, Hawaii is a great destination no matter when you want to travel. Some activities are limited during the winter, like surfing on Kauai’s North Shore, but for most, the fall, winter, and spring are all good times to visit the United States’ tropical islands. During the winter, you might even be lucky enough to book a whale watching boat tour and catch sight of the humpback whale migration! You can still enjoy snorkeling, hiking, a great mix of guided sightseeing tours, plantation visits and tastings, and more year-round on the Hawaiian Islands.
Alaska, United States
On the complete other hand, you might wish to layer up and visit Alaska during the off-season! Winter sports enthusiasts and those seeking mountainous adventures will love a getaway to Denali National Park during the fall and winter seasons. In fact, your photography of the park may be better without the low hanging clouds of summer. There’s plenty of things to do in Alaska in the colder months, like snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, dog sledding (a thing I can’t wait to cross off our bucket list, mostly so I can play with the puppies in the snow beforehand), helicopter tours, and Aurora watching.
Florida, United States
Been dying to let out your inner child or buy those tacky yet oddly desirable Mickey Mouse ears? Head to Orlando and enjoy Universal Studios Orlando and Disney World without the kids when traveling in the fall, early winter, or spring (just not spring break)! The weather is still fantastic and you can avoid the gigantic crowds as the kids are back in school during the week. While there, you can also enjoy a few day trips to various beach towns or explore Downtown Orlando a bit. Savor some fresh seafood, check out the nightlife, and enjoy the variety of things to do in Orlando during the day.
Mexico City, Mexico
Skip the resorts and beaches and discover the history and beautiful architecture and public plazas in Mexico City! Dine on delicious food, listen to the live Mariachi music, and enjoy the culture of this busy capital city. Visit the Zocalo, check out Chapultepec Park, see Palacio Nacional, or explore some of the city’s museums. One of my favorite day trips from Mexico City was visiting the pyramids in Teotihuacan, and there are plenty of sightseeing tours to help get you there.
The Bahamas, Caribbean
Head to the Caribbean on a cruise or enjoy a getaway in the tropics and stay in Nassau, perhaps at the Atlantis (a resort used for many TV shows and movies). With easy access to boat tours, water sports, water parks, lazing on the beach, and rum tours, it’s easy to have a beautiful day in the Bahamas, no matter what time of year you visit.
Byron Bay, Australia
OK, so maybe it’s off-season to us, but it’ll be the spring/summer season Down Under, perfect for exploring Byron Bay and taking part in some great snorkeling and surfing. This destination in New South Wales is also very popular with scuba divers. If you go in our summer or early fall (June – November), you can even catch sight of the migrating humpback whales! Hike to waterfalls, visit the lighthouse, or indulge in some good Aussie grub while touring Byron Bay.
Get cozy inside the many museums, restaurants, or coffee shops, if you’re so inclined, as you visit Amsterdam in the off-season. Treat yourself to amazing food – it’s the perfect time of year to get your fill of pancakes – or go Dutch and stay active with a bike tour around the city or head out and snap some pics of the famous windmills. Amsterdam is a city that’s got something going on year-round, so there’s never a bad time to visit the drug and sex capital of the world. They know how to avoid the cooler weather and stay warm, inside and out.
Rio de Janiero, Brazil
With Rio’s moderate temperatures in the 70s to 80s, it’s a year-round vacation destination. Most of the hotels offer discounted rooms during the fall and winter seasons, and you can still enjoy the many amazing attractions, like the Christ the Redeemer statue, or take a tour to Sugarloaf Mountain. Enjoy the great nightlife, music, and of course yummy Brazilian cuisine!
Take your time wandering around the Roman ruins and world-famous attractions without the boiling heat or mass crowds of tourists. There are so many things to do in Rome that you’ll easily stay busy, between visiting the Colosseum, the Vatican, and the many gorgeous fountains, and enjoying the delicious pasta, pizza, and gelato. You can also easily organize little day trips to Florence, the ruins of Ostia Antica, or heading out of the city to nearby wineries.
Cape Town, South Africa
Go in early spring for the wine harvest, or visit in the fall or winter and enjoy the city’s culture, the food, and diverse range of things to do. A popular activity is riding the cable cars up to Table Mountain and enjoying the breathtaking scenery and surroundings as well as visiting some of the capes and beaches, particularly seeing the African penguins at Boulders Beach. Cape Town also has a wonderful nightlife scene with plenty of live music or music festivals happening throughout the year.
What’s your favorite off-season vacation destination? Tell us in the comments below or share with us on Twitter!