3 Off-Season Trips in North America

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People will always flood the Canadian Rockies in the summer, and they’ll descend on Hawaii in the winter, for good reason: the weather is basically perfect. Unfortunately, everyone on the planet knows that.

Off-season travel is the best, and not just because flights, hotels, and activities are cheaper. By definition there are no crowds, so your overall experience should be easy and low-key, more closely resembling what it’s like to live there.

Here are three off-season trips to consider—they’re “off-season” because of legitimate drawbacks, so just hear me out…

Montreal in February. Winters in Quebec are six months long and awfully bleak, but Montreal’s charming vibe and beautiful architecture are unaffected by freezing temperatures. Like Paris, Montreal wears a blanket of fresh snow very well. Just bundle up, go sledding in Parc du Mont Royal, and enjoy the wintertime fairytale of the cobblestoned Old City. And remember, no amount of cold weather will ruin the city’s French culture and cuisine. If you can’t stand the chilling wind, go down into the extensive Underground City and shop, or just use it to walk more warmly from point A to point B.

New Orleans in August. This trip delivers a near-psychotic level of heat and humidity, so you’ve got to plan for a siesta. Get up early to have an obligatory (and delicious) beignet-and-chicory breakfast at Café Du Monde, circa 1862. Then wander through the absurdly picturesque French Quarter, visit the New Orleans Jazz National Historic Park, grab some jambalaya from Mother’s, and run back to the hotel. You might as well chill out indoors between noon and 6pm. Pick up again in the evening and have dinner and drinks at K-Paul’s. One thing to consider is that August is also the rainy season, but when it’s 100 degrees out, a spontaneous shower might be quite welcome.

Olympia in March. In the Pacific Northwest, March is not a sunny, flowery, life-affirming vision of springtime. Olympia for example is hopelessly rainy and charcoal grey, but it’s also incredibly green and beautiful. So embrace the rain in the adorable, walkable, coffee-fueled capital of Washington State. Don’t even bring your umbrella, it’ll just make you look weird, but consider bringing appropriate boots so you can do some hiking in the nearby Olympic Mountains. Sure, the rain gets old after a while, but if it doesn’t bother the hardcore Washingtonians, it can’t be that bad. Besides, it’s much cleaner and more refreshing than big-city rain, which has gathered who-knows-what on its way to your face.

Where do you go during the off season?

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About Author

Sarah is the North America Editor for Go! Girl Guides and she wrote the New York City guidebook. Raised in rural Texas on mesquite barbecue and barrel racing, Sarah lived in Indiana for two years before moving to New York by herself. Some of her favorite experiences in North America include snowmachining outside of Anchorage, exploring Caladesi Island off the coast of Florida, touring a Cold War bunker in West Virginia, watching the sun set over Chicago from Lake Michigan, and taking an overnight train from Montreal to Halifax.

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