For travelers open to counterintuitive thinking, there are amazing off-season vacation picks around the world.careful planning can make for beautiful scenery and great memories -- the bargains are just a bonus. Here, nine of our favorites.
For skiers who want to hit the slopes during their summer vacation, Chile's Andes mountain range is a huge attraction. Many Chileans take their vacation from December to February or in the middle of July -- and Portillo, with its huge vertical drops, is a favorite of many. To keep the price down, plan a trip in June or August. Tip: skiing during the week makes things easier (read: less crowded) and prices more reasonable.
While Miami has the beach and banging clubs and Orlando has several amusement parks, central Florida offers a lot of memorable destinations beyond the marquee attractions. The Kennedy Space Center in Titusville has moon rocks and history about NASA’s otherworldly adventures, the nearby bioluminescent Indian River naturally glows, and the Chocolate Kingdom in Kissimmeehosts factory tours and allows chocolate lovers to make their own bars.
During the summer months, northern Vietnam tends to be hot and rainy. On the other hand,central Vietnam, filled with stunning beaches and opulent resorts, remains relatively dry with only the occasional shower. Beautiful hotels cost about the same as a U.S. motel. And while all-inclusive resorts are notably pricier, they're also more luxurious. When you're not lounging in front of the electric blue water, there are also historic sites to see.
While New Orleans is great just about any time of year, summer months bring on hurricane season. For those who understand the weather can get a little wet, the bargains are still delicious. Of course, the French Quarter has to-go frozen daiquiris and spicy creole dishes to sweat out the heat. If that doesn’t work, New Orleans jazz is plenty cool. A little over an hour outside of the city, the Bogue Chitto Tubing Center offers afternoon-long floats down the Bogue Chitto River.
The low season for Belize -- June to October -- is also its rainy season. Most showers rarely last more than a few hours, which leaves a lot of time for visiting ancient Mayan ruins, snorkeling in marine reserves, and dancing to Punta music. While the rain can often mean rescheduling an underwater or archaeological outing, the discounts, which can be between 30 and 50 percent, may be worth the inconvenience.
The weather is usually pretty hot in Las Vegas -- in the summer, temperature can top 100 degrees Fahrenheit. However, as long as vacation time is spent inside an air-conditioned casino or lounging by a hotel pool, those rays may not be a big concern. Book a ticket to a Cirque Du Soleil or Blue Man Group show or reserve a seat at a restaurant serving top-notch cuisine by Gordon Ramsay, Momofuku, Joel Robuchon, or Daniel Boulud.
While the summer months are rainy in much of India, Goa's landscape is at its most stunning. Yes, there may be monsoons, but there’s a cycle of rain, sunshine, and humidity. During the sunshine, beaches are much less crowded than in the high season when it's party central. Beyond the numerous white-sand beaches, Goa also has historic sites such as the Basilica of Bom Jesus and natural wonders like Dudhsagar Falls. The Anjuna market makes for a hectic and fun day of shopping.
Skiers flock to Colorado in the winter, but the mountains are breathtaking and temperate in the warmer months. Colorado Springs, a 90-minute drive south of Denver, has plenty of hotel deals and family-friendly activities. The gravity-defying rock formations of the Garden of the Gods make it one of the most-visited parks in the United States; the Olympic Training Center, which offers free tours, is inspiring.
Typically considered a winter escape, the Caribbean Islands offer a way to get sand between the toes without the crowds that are likely found during the summer on the Jersey Shore or Venice Beach. So, why's it cheap? Hurricane season scares away a lot of potential visitors, but the weather is calm for much of June and even afterward with careful planning. Barbados (aka Rihanna’s home) has excellent fishing, food, and beaches to boot.