Americans love a bargain, especially when it comes to travel. While Black Friday sales were down from 2012, because some retailers chose to open their doors a day earlier, Cyber Monday set a new retail sales record. One reason why Cyber Monday was easily the biggest day of the year for e-commerce was because of internet deals from the tourism industry, including major airlines and online travel sites. But another great way to obtain bargain rates on travel is simply to visit cities during the off season, when tourism is down and crowds are thinner. What might come as a surprise for some consumers, not all American cities experience the off season in winter or early spring. The following are five of the best places in the U.S. to visit during the off season.
Often considered the most unique city in the country, New Orleans is an entertaining destination regardless of the time of year. The biggest draw, of course, is Mardi Gras held annually in February. Peak season in the Crescent City runs through May after the city's second largest event – the massive New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival featuring many of the biggest names in popular music. The low season runs from June to September, providing consumers with the best prices for airfare and hotels, even in the French Quarter. While summer is the hottest time of the year and can be quite humid, potential visitors can save hundreds of dollars in travel packages compared to peak season in New Orleans.
Easily one of the nation's most popular destinations, Orlando drew nearly 58 million visitors last year and according to Visit Orlando, that record-breaking figure will be be surpassed once again this year. Like many other popular American destinations, Orlando's peak season occurs during summer, when most children are out of school. While consumers can enjoy tremendous bargains on airfare and hotels after Labor Day, the hurricane season lasts until the end of November. Bargain prices return after the holidays and with temperatures averaging in the 70s during the first few months of the year, it's one of the best times to visit without the larger crowds of summer.
Is there really an off season in Maui or, moreover, in the Hawaiian Islands? Most will say the off season for this island paradise is generally after Labor Day and before Thanksgiving, when it's far less crowded. Visitors can enjoy considerable savings in airfare and hotels in September and October and again in early April to late May. Regardless of the time of year, there's always the possibility of rain, although the rainy season runs from November through March. On the plus side, there's summerlike temperatures all year long.
There's a good reason why Phoenix is also known as the Valley of the Sun. The most populated capital in the entire country, Phoenix averages more than 85 percent of its daylight hours in glorious sunshine. But it can be uncomfortably hot during the summer months, making the peak season during spring, when 15 Major League Baseball teams come to Arizona to prepare for the regular season. Late fall and winter might be considered off season, but it's not unusual for visitors to enjoy summer-like temperatures in the 80s.
Regardless of the time of year, the City by the Bay is always a great place to visit, but especially after the summer crowds have departed. Long-time residents of the Bay Area know that September and October are typically warmer than summer, when the San Francisco fog can linger well into the afternoon. By November, hotel rates tend to dip slightly and it wouldn't be surprising for the locals to see Indian summer last through mid-December. While the Bay Area has experienced drought-like conditions for two years, dry conditions are expected to continue once again this winter, allowing visitors to enjoy top attractions like the Golden Gate Bridge and Fisherman's Wharf without the possibility of rain.
Randy Yagi is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. In 2012, he was awarded a Media Fellowship from Stanford University. His work can be found on Examiner.com Examiner.com.
for more features.