You know how they say, “Timing is everything?”
Well, that’s especially true when it comes to snagging those sweet, sweet travel deals.
So, lean in, fellow penny-pinching nomads, because we’re about to spill some juicy insider knowledge.
We’ve crisscrossed the U.S. more times than we can count (not a flex, just fact), and we’ve discovered a golden rule: visit cities in the off-season when possible.
According to Moneygeek (and who wouldn’t trust a geek about money?), there’s a whole smorgasbord of U.S. cities that become cheaper, less crowded, and more enjoyable when you do the “off-peak sneak.”
Oh, and did we mention we’ve been to several of them? So, bargain hunters, it’s time to discover your next vacation destination.
Top Cities To Visit In The Off-Season
Ready for the big reveal? The cities you’ve probably overlooked while you were busy drooling over those Manhattan skyscrapers or Golden Gate Bridge selfies?
Well, hold onto your wallets because we’re about to drop some serious off-season gems on you.
Denver, Colorado (In Winter)
Let’s start with Denver in winter.
Now, you might be thinking, “Denver? In winter? Isn’t that, like, cold?” Well, yes, genius, it’s winter. But here’s the thing – Denver’s winter weather is more of a sassy diva than a frosty ice queen.
Did you know Denver boasts a whopping 300 days of sunshine a year, and yes, that includes winter? You can definitely enjoy the snow without losing all feeling in your fingers here.
In fact, Denver’s winter temperatures often reach up to 45° F. So you can leave the polar bear suit back home.
Now, let’s get to the good stuff, the must-see spots:
- Denver Botanic Gardens: Even in the dead of winter, this place is like a scene from “The Secret Garden.” It’s blooming lovely, we promise.
- Denver Art Museum: With over 70,000 works of art, you can get lost here for days. And bonus, it’s warm inside.
- Red Rocks Park & Amphitheater: Snow or shine, this place is a visual masterpiece. Just remember, it’s “high” altitude, so don’t forget to breathe.
Our Tip: Head to the Downtown Denver Rink and hit up the ice for some skating. Not only is it only open for the season, but it also has incredible views of the city skyline as a backdrop. And the best part? It’s FREE (if you have your own skates)!
Oakland, California (In Winter)
Oakland, California, in winter, you say? You’re probably scratching your head, thinking, “Isn’t California all about summer?”
Well, stick with us, and prepare to be enlightened.
Winter in Oakland is like that quiet kid in school who turns out to be the life of the party. It’s mild, it’s comfortable, and it’s brimming with hidden surprises.
Oakland’s winter is practically a Brit’s summer; we’re talking average temps that hover around a cozy 60° F, which means you’re not going to turn into a popsicle.
While folks in other cities shovel snow, Oaklanders enjoy outdoor jazz concerts. Can you feel the rhythm?
On to the local hot spots:
- Oakland Zoo: Who says animals hibernate in winter? The Oakland Zoo is a riot of colors, sounds, and, of course, adorable animals. And guess what? No summer crowds to photobomb your selfies with the giraffes.
- Lake Merritt: It’s the perfect spot for some quiet reflection, or if you’re feeling adventurous, rent a canoe and explore.
- Jack London Square: Food, shopping, waterfront views, this place has it all. And in winter, it’s less “touristy,” more “your-isty.” Enjoy it at your own pace; there is no rush.
Columbus, Ohio (In Fall)
Fall in Columbus is like that perfect slice of apple pie, crisp and golden on the outside, warm and gooey inside – a perfect balance of sunshine-filled days and sweater-worthy evenings (50° – 70° F highs and 35° – 55° F lows).
Think fiery red, orange, and yellow leaves painting the city skyline, and believe us when we say it’s like nothing you’ve ever seen before.
If truth be told, the city’s foliage rivals that of New England (no kidding).
So, while others are mourning the end of summer, Columbus is all like, “Hold my pumpkin-spiced latte.”
The grand tour while you are in town:
- Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens: It’s fall, and what better place to leaf-peep than at Franklin Park? And no, it’s not “just plants.” The bright fall colors can make even the most bored selfie-taker snap a pic.
- German Village: Cobblestone streets lined with charming historic houses? Check. Cozy bakeries with heartwarming fall pastries? Double check. It’s like stepping back in time – with a latte in hand, of course.
- The Short North Arts District: This vibrant neighborhood is filled with art galleries, boutiques, and restaurants. It’s like the SoHo of Ohio, minus the celebrity sightings and astronomical rent.
Las Vegas, Nevada (In Winter)
Vegas in winter. Who knew, right?
It turns out Sin City isn’t just a scorcher in the middle of the desert.
When winter hits, it’s like an overenthusiastic kid with a new toy. “Look, I can do cold too!” it seems to say. And boy, does it deliver.
Gone are the 100° F days, replaced by crisp, cool weather (average daytime temperatures are about 60° F) perfect for exploring The Strip or the city’s natural wonders nearby, like the Grand Canyon.
You might even catch a flurry or two if you’re lucky. It’s Vegas, after all, where you learn to expect the unexpected.
Here are some must-see spots during your winter visit to Las Vegas:
- Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Garden: Who needs real snow when you can have a winter paradise indoors? Walk in a winter wonderland without the frostbite.
- Red Rock Canyon: Do you think Vegas is just neon lights and slot machines? Think again. A winter hike here will leave you breathless. And not just because you’re out of shape.
- The Neon Museum: Explore the city’s wild past with a side of chills. After all, nothing says Las Vegas like neon lights twinkling in the cold desert night.
Our Tip: It sounds cliche, but just wander The Strip and see what you come across. One of our favorite parts about Vegas is that you can pop in and out of all the hotels and attractions and explore to your heart’s content. It is the best way to find a hidden gem that YOU will love.
Mesa, Arizona (In Summer)
When you think “desert summer getaway,” Mesa, Arizona, might not be your first thought.
And we know what you’re thinking, “Has the heat fried your brains?” Well, possibly; the average daytime temperatures do reach 105° F in summer.
But hear us out! Sure, it’s like walking on the surface of the sun, but that’s just how we like it. Because one word: pools.
It’s like living in a perpetual pool party. And isn’t life just better in a swimsuit?
Plus, the best part about visiting in summer is that the city practically becomes your private playground – no snowbirds in sight.
Here are some hotspots that’ll make your summer trip to Mesa a sizzling success:
- Salt River: Fancy a swim? We hope you said yes because it’s hotter than a jalapeño out here. Paddle, tube, or just chill in the cool, refreshing waters.
- Mesa Arts Center: If the sun’s giving you grief, take a break and indulge in some culture indoors. It’s like feeding your brain a scoop of intellectual ice cream – yum.
- Downtown Mesa: Fancy some night-time exploring? With its cute boutiques and cool bars, downtown Mesa has a vibe that makes summer nights worth staying up for.
Our Tip: If you are an early riser, taking a hike in Usery Mountain Regional Park is a spectacular way to start the day. Just make sure you are done by mid-morning when the temperatures rise and make it dangerous to be outside exerting yourself. And bring plenty of water.
To Finish – U.S. Cities In The Off-Season For Great Rates
Whether you’re a snow-loving penguin or a sun-worshipping lizard, there’s a city ready to welcome you in its off-season.
Let’s face it, peak season is so yesterday. Off-peak is where the cool (or should we say hot?) kids are now.
You get fewer crowds, cheaper rates, and bragging rights when you tell your friends you’re going to Vegas in the winter or Mesa in the summer.
So, why wait? Throw caution to the wind, pack your bags, and let’s get out there and enjoy these cities when the time, and price, are right.
Chicago didn’t make the cut for budget in the off-season because, well, it’s Chicago. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t visit the Windy City. In fact, if you can get there by the end of the year, you won’t be disappointed!