Summer travel is synonymous with swarms of vacationers in shorts and sunblock. In many popular destinations, especially in Europe and North America, longer days signal the onset of the high-season travel crush, with its excessive prices and loud crowds. If this sounds unappealing, there’s an easy answer. Avoid all the expense and commotion of a peak getaway by choosing an off-season spot—and we know just where you should go. Here are five destinations that yield enjoyable warm-weather activities plus enticing low-season pricing for flights and accommodations.
For an affordable, outdoors-centered summer trip, look to scenic ski towns whose mountains are equally picturesque whether covered with frost or flowers. Destinations normally overrun by winter-sports enthusiasts during chilly months transform into peaceful, quiet escapes in the summer, and Breckenridge, Colorado, is no exception. Summer activities like hiking, fishing, or even panning for gold rival the dog-day offerings of busy beach towns and jam-packed resorts. But crowds will be absent and prices low.
You’re going to enjoy some significant savings, especially when it comes to lodging. And this is true for both luxury and budget-priced properties. For example, at Mountain Thunder Lodge, rates start at $179 per night in August (compared to $229 per night in January); at One Ski Hill Place, rates start at $206 per night in August (compared to $424 per night in January); and at The Lodge at Breckenridge, rates start at $129 per night in August (compared to $199 per night in January).
New Orleans, Louisiana
It’s difficult not to fall in love with historical, charismatic New Orleans, no matter the season. The weather in this part of Louisiana is generally mild year-round. During high summer, however, humid, sun-soaked days abound, and New Orleans sees the fewest tourists and best prices for accommodations and activities. If you can take the heat, you can save a lot of cash. You’ll see significant price differences for mid-week hotel stays in July compared to mid-week hotel stays in November. For example, at Hotel le Marais, rates start at $129 per night in July (compared to $179 per night in November); at Bourbon Orleans Hotel, rates start at $119 per night in July (compared to $199 per night in November); and at Courtyard New Orleans Downtown/Iberville, rates start at $159 per night in July (compared to $219 per night in November).
Although you may have to deal with a few sweltering Southern days, you won’t be bored. There’s plenty to do in the city during summer: NOLA’s version of the running of the bulls, San Fermin in Nueva Orleans, takes place in July in the French Quarter. It’s safer and far sillier than its Spanish counterpart, thanks to the “RollerBulls’’—the Big Easy Rollergirls, who skate after runners and whack them with foam bats. August brings the Satchmo SummerFest, a musical jubilee in the French Quarter, and COOLinary New Orleans, a restaurant week with discounts on dining.
Indian Ocean beaches, palm-tree-peppered city gardens, and fresh seafood served on sun-drenched terraces are some of the perks of a Perth vacation. Though Perth doesn’t have a true off season—the weather is clear no matter the month, with 3,000 hours of sunshine annually—the North American summertime is by and large the more affordable time to visit. A search for airfare from the United States to Western Australia’s capital city confirmed our theory. We spotted some sample fares that show the stark price difference between the U.S. summer season (winter in Perth) and late fall (early spring in Perth): Los Angeles to Perth round-trip flights in July 2014 start at $2,273 on Qantas (compared to $2,855 in November 2014) and New York to Perth round-trip flights in August 2014 start at $2,005 on Qantas (compared to $3,042 in December 2014 on non-holiday dates).
Get there this summer and you may notice a fresh and revitalized energy in the city. The Perth City Link project is well under way. Locals are really excited about this public-transport revamp, which will bring new and improved public spaces and more efficient ways to get around. Completed so far are new pedestrian walkways and upgrades to Perth Station.
Everglades National Park, Florida
If you don’t like battling Florida’s busy summertime crowds, Everglades National Park is your serene solution. Some people will tell you to avoid the Everglades during the hottest months of the year, as mosquitos are more prevalent and the weather can be exceedingly muggy. (You can check the current mosquito forecast on Weather.com.) Yet others say it’s the best time to explore the bird sanctuary and water habitat, especially if you want a secluded, intimate experience in the vast, unspoiled wetlands of this World Heritage site—and you’re looking to save money to boot. No mouse-eared kids. No beach-going packs of teens. Just you and the swamps.
Let’s take a look at seasonal airfares. Using Kayak, we spotted fares from Chicago to Ft. Lauderdale for as little as $210 round-trip in August, compared to the lowest price we found in January, $286 round-trip. Another airport near Everglades National Park is Miami. Our price check for flights from Boston to Miami yielded bargain summer flights: We found August flights as cheap as $234 round-trip, compared to January ticket prices from $298 round-trip. Consistent price differences show that summer is, in most cases, the cheapest season during which to fly to this part of Florida.
Dubai made our list of Destinations to Watch in 2014 thanks to its array of dazzling new hotels, from the just-opened Anantara Dubai The Palm Resort & Spa, with its overwater bungalows, to the Sofitel Dubai Downtown, which opens this month.
If you’re yearning for a stay in one of these new properties, go this summer to take advantage of more affordable low-season pricing. At the Sofitel, for example, rates drop pointedly during warmer months. In June, nightly rates for mid-week stays came to $228.69; compare that to nightly mid-week rates in November, which averaged $315.81. We saw similar price variations at Grosvenor House Dubai: rates from 1,300 AED for a weekend stay in January (about $354, according to XE.com), compared to rates from 800 AED (about $218) for a weekend stay in July.