Seeing how your BFFs are spending (and ‘gramming) their summer vacations might have you craving a visit to top travel destinations, but hitting up crowded hot spots during prime time can actually make for a super stressful trip. For a more refreshing vacay, think about visiting a lesser-known spot this summer — or saving your vacation time to visit popular places during their off-season (AKA when they’re most affordable). The cheaper flights and hotel prices will be a perfect excuse to splurge and turn your vacay into a luxe experience when the time comes. You deserve it.
1. Las Vegas, Nevada
When to Go: Late December-February
Why: Las Vegas’s off-season is a great time to see the Strip’s glittering lights, catch your favorite divas live (Britney or Celine, anyone?), and shop or gamble to your heart’s content at the Venetian, Caesar’s Palace, or the Bellagio. You may be bummed to miss out on summer’s best pool parties, but you’ll also miss out on the hellish heat and crazy crowds. Seems like a fair trade, right?
What to Do: If you’re looking for more to do, visit Ugo Rondinone’s Instagram-famous 7 Magic Mountains, or head to the top of the Stratosphere, which is actually the tallest freestanding observation tower in the US (it’s 1,149 feet above ground), for the ultimate Las Vegas view. Up for an outdoorsy adventure? Book a day trip to the Grand Canyon’s South Rim. Just be sure to bring your favorite boots and puffer jacket. Brrr.
2. Maui, Hawaii
When to Go: March-May
Why: An adored island destination, Maui is what Hawaiian dreams are made of, with waterfall-filled tropical terrain, endless ocean panoramas, colorful luaus, and gorgeous leis. Though people flock to Maui during the summer and winter months to surf epic waves, March through May may be perfect for your next escape. You’ll love the less humid, more moderate climate (temps hover around 80 degrees), along with quieter, beachside bliss.
What to Do: Add Mama’s Fish House in Paia, sightseeing along the road to Hana, and a helicopter tour to your to-do list. It won’t be too cold for a boat trip to the Molokini Crater, so make sure you save time for diving and swimming in the crystal clear waters. Get yourself a good snorkeling mask, and you’ll be able to see brightly colored fish, cool coral formations, and sea turtles. So amazing!
3. ST. CROIX, US VIRGIN ISLANDS
When to Go: April-June
Why: Itching for an island getaway ASAP? You’re in luck. The breathtakingly beautiful Caribbean islands of St. Croix, St. John, and St. Thomas see tourism start to slow during the spring and the early summer months. The dip definitely comes with reduced prices and a temperature range (70s and 80s) that most would love.
What to Do: When indulging in Caribbean life on St. Croix, treat yourself and bae to luxe accommodations at the long-loved Buccaneer Hotel, and indulge in delicious dishes at Un Amore or Zion Modern Kitchen. When it comes to outdoor activities, catch the sunrise from the easternmost point in the US (at Point Udall) and spend a day sailing to Buck Island, where you can snorkel and shop for locally made souvenirs. There’s nothing quite like a sun-kissed glow and the feeling of sand in your toes and wind in your hair.
4. New Orleans, Louisiana
When to Go: June-August
Why: We have to be honest: Summer is a scorcher in NOLA, but we’ve heard that it only makes the city’s famous drinks taste even better. Mardi Gras festivities and spiked prices will be a thing of the past by the time you arrive, so you can count on indulging in the best creole and cajun cuisine without having to wait in an ultra-long line. You’ll also get tons of open space to snap photos in historic places like the French Quarter and Jackson Square.
What to Do: Love a good summer celebration? Put the Go 4th on the River celebration on your radar. It’s a local Fourth of July tradition that spotlights the Mississippi River with dueling barges and a massive firework display. Then, check out the Essence Music Festival, which showcases hip-hop and R&B artists. There’s truly something for everyone here.
5. Kennebunkport, Maine
When to Go: August-October
Why: Though visiting this coastal Maine town during the summer months is what most people plan for, autumn in Kennebunk is pure magic. Not only do September and October present perfect, New England sweater weather (temps in the 60s), but there’s still *tons* to see and do.
What to Do: Take a couple of kayaks for a spin with your S.O., road trip along the coast with your girls to see the colors of the leaves change, and cap off each night with local wine (we love Old Vines Wine Bar) or fireside s’mores. If you need more reasons to help you understand why Maine’s been dubbed “Vacationland,” take a trip to Portland for more quaint waterfront views, craft beer (its been touted as the top craft beer city in the world), and all things nautical. Whatever you do, dine on a freshly caught local lobster before heading home. You’ll totally regret it if you miss out.
Which off-season spots do you love for a relaxing getaway? Tag us in your pics on Instagram @BritandCo!
(Featured photo via @kennebunkportinn)