Visit this world-renowned ski town between May and October, and you'll dodge the crowds and the cold while partaking in a variety of activities designed for those whose interests lie beyond the slopes. Summer is the ideal season for catching tunes or seminars at the Aspen Music Festival or the Aspen Ideas Festival, while autumn is the perfect time to scale the Buckskin Pass or hike the Roaring Fork trail.
Kahului, Maui, Hawaii
Booking a trip to Kahului in the off-season, either in November or between April and May, will get you the deepest discounts on airfare and lodging in Maui. You'll also witness the town's history and natural splendor in a way summer sightseers never experience, from watching humpback whales make their annual winter migration across the Pacific to stealing glances at the lush rainforest in the Iao Valley.
Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts
Between September and May, excluding major holidays, this ordinarily packed 100-square-mile draw for affluent New Englanders turns into a less populated but equally action-packed jaunt for foodies and art enthusiasts of all budgets. That's equally due to reduced airfares for travelers and because of acclaimed events like Martha's Vineyard Food & Wine Festival and Martha's Vineyard International Film Festival.
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Long Beach, California
You don't have to visit Long Beach in the summer to enjoy the Aquatic Capital of America. Visit between December to April to partake in the annual tradition of whale watching at the harbor, or hop aboard the luxury liner The Queen Mary for an international Christmas-themed cruise dubbed "CHILL."
Park City, Utah
There's more to love about Park City than Deer Valley, its premier ski resort. Head to the winter hotspot from May to October to go horseback riding or fly fishing at Blue Sky Utah, listen to world-famous talents at Deer Valley Music Festival, or watch the skies come alive with color at Autumn Aloft, an annual three-day hot air balloon festival.
Corpus Christi, Texas
The best way to beat the heat and humidity of the Gulf Coast while still enjoying its many outdoor attractions is to visit Corpus Christi in autumn, when events like Tamalefest, Surftoberfest (a beachy twist on Oktoberfest), and the Dia de Los Muertos Street Festival, fill the city streets with food, bubbly, and conversation.
Upper Peninsula, Michigan
Check out the northern reaches of Michigan during fall to witness the changing of the leaves set against a spectacular vista of more than two hundred waterfalls, three dozen lighthouses, and Mount Arvon, the highest peak in the state. Hikers and bikers can explore the majestic terrain via hundreds of miles of trails, without breaking too much of a sweat—the average day-time temperatures hover in the mid-50s.
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
3,468 square miles of unadulterated terrain will be yours when you explore Yellowstone National Park between September and October. Sporadic closures of some park attractions during this time frame result in fewer tourists and less competition to see Old Faithful, over 60 mammal species, and 1,700 plant species up close.
Lake Tahoe, California
Why wait for droves of skiers to descend on the wintry slopes of Lake Tahoe when you can reap deeper discounts on airfare, lodging, and cruises between September and October? Early fall trips to the renowned cold-weather venue also afford milder temperatures in the 50s and 60s—an ideal climate for watching the leaves change color in Hope Valley or partaking in the annual ritual of watching the Kokanee salmon spawn at Taylor Creek.
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Silver City, New Mexico
Being located in an arid state, Silver City is often overlooked by summer tourists due to assumptions about its scorching heat. But the town's elevation 6,000 feet above sea level actually makes it only moderately warm during the summer, and even cooler when you duck inside the ancient caves that make up the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument.
You don't have to visit New Orleans during Mardi Gras to appreciate the colorful Cajun culture of Louisiana. Pack the car for a fall road trip and head to this locale two hours west of New Orleans to groove out at the annual Zydeco Festival or sample the regional cuisine at Crawfish House & Grill or Billy-Ray's Boudin.
wikimedia.org via Z28scrambler
Ice-skating buffs can perfect their pirouettes in peace and quiet during winters at this popular summer lake town, home to Lake Morey, the largest ice-skating trail in the country. But alpine sports enthusiasts who aren't quite as comfortable on their tiptoes can still have their fill of fun in the snow skiing, sledding, or snowboarding at the Northeastern Slopes or Dartmouth Skiway.
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flickr.com via Charles Wohlers
To jumpstart your holiday season, check out Bob Vila's favorite affordable stocking stuffers for everyone on your list!