There’s something special about the calm of a city following peak tourist season. Once the crowds disperse, there’s a quiet tranquility and more elbow room.
There are also often shorter lines, discounted tours and lodging rates, and more chances to snap great unobstructed shots of scenery or selfies. The change in weather can be a plus, too, as the air gets more comfortable for strolls through the city. Traveling to Paris when there’s a chill in the air can mean shorter wait times to see world-class art, or visiting Portland, Maine, after the summer can mean a coastal fall experience that’s colorful and serene.
With thousands of properties in six continents and 117 countries and territories, Hilton has a front-row seat to the changing seasons across the globe and is familiar with the mix of experiences travelers enjoy and can discover when peak season ends.
For travelers looking to find their ideal off-peak getaway, consider this roundup of great destinations to visit when crowds are sparse:
Despite the drop in temperatures, visitors to Portland, Maine, can enjoy the calm and quiet beauty of Portland from September to December, when tourism drops and lodging rates tend to decline. Visitors can experience the breathtaking fall foliage and check out the stunning nearby town of Cape Elizabeth, where they can see iconic lighthouses. When winter approaches and the temperature dips below freezing, visitors can take advantage of Portland’s numerous indoor activities, such as the Portland Museum of Art or, for those 21 and older, one of the city’s microbreweries, like Lone Pine Brewing Company or Rising Tide Brewing Company.
Where to Stay: Just steps from a variety of dining and shopping sites at Portland’s historical 350-year-old waterfront, Hilton Garden Inn Portland Downtown Waterfront is in a prime location for visitors. The hotel is within walking distance of the boutiques and cobblestone streets of the Old Port district, and the Casco Bay Lines ferry terminal is just across the street. Visitors can take a ferry or scenic cruise to one of the islands of Casco Bay. They can also enjoy the hotel’s on-site restaurant, Port65 Kitchen & Bar, indoor swimming pool and fitness center. The hotel is also just an 8-mile drive from Cape Elizabeth and within close proximity to several breweries
Surprisingly, one of the best times to visit Chicago is in the winter when hotel prices and the number of tourists decline, along with the temperature. Between ice skating at the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink at Millennium Park and enjoying a festive display of more than 2 million lights at ZooLights at the Lincoln Park Zoo, there’s a great mix of activities for travelers willing to brave the weather. There are also ways to warm up in the Windy City. Visitors can take advantage of the Chicago Pedway System, which connects a stretch of buildings via underground passages and is a more comfortable way to move through downtown during winter. They can also spend the day exploring one of the world’s best art museums: The Art Institute of Chicago. Chicago also hosts holiday season festivities, including the traditional German Christkindlmarket, an outdoor market with live entertainment, food vendors and craft shops, or Winter Wonderfest, a massive indoor winter festival with carnival rides, indoor ice skating and more. If you’re visiting after the holidays, check out Chicago’s Restaurant Week from January 24th through February 9th.The 17-day celebration highlights the city’s award-winning culinary scene with special prices at nearly 400 participating restaurants.
Where to Stay: After a day of exploring the city, guests can unwind in luxury at the Waldorf Astoria Chicago. Situated one block from the Magnificent Mile commercial shopping and dining district, travelers can visit nearby spots, such as the Navy Pier or Lincoln Park Conservatory, all less than 3 miles from the property. The hotel offers guests luxe suites, spectacular views of the city and the on-site Margeaux Brasserie, created by James Beard–awarded chef Michael Mina.
Photo: Waldorf Astoria Chicago
Before the crowds and lodging rates spike for the annual international Art Basel fair in early December, travelers should visit Miami during the fall shoulder season to enjoy the beautiful beaches and lively art scene without as heavy a blanket of humidity or people. Tourists can head over to Lincoln Road and spend the day enjoying some of the city’s finest restaurants and shopping options. Or, they can check out the incredible graffiti art at Wynwood Walls, a unique outdoor collection of colorful street murals ideal for snapping the perfect Instagram picture. Travelers can also check out a collection of avant-garde and experimental art at the Institute of Contemporary Art, which offers free admission daily.
Where to Stay: DoubleTree by Hilton Grand Hotel Biscayne Bay is in the heart of Miami’s coolest, newest and most attractive spots. The hotel is located on Biscayne Bay (Miami’s Central Park), overlooking the 35 x 8–mile lagoon where large cruise ships and luxury yachts set sail. Guests can spark their wonder at the world-class Philip & Patricia Frost Museum of Science, catch a show at the Adrienne Arsht Center or wander into Wynwood and Miami Design District for arts, culture, dining and shopping. On property, guests can enjoy amenities such as a full-service salon and spa, four restaurants, an outdoor rooftop pool and a fitness center.
Travelers can get the best of both worlds when temperatures drop in Seattle: a city adventure that offers them lower winter lodging rates and opportunities to enjoy winter sports beyond Seattle’s city limits. Fans of skiing and snowboarding can make the city their home base before traveling to Mount Rainier or the Cascades for a day of winter sports. Travelers can spend the day on the slopes at The Summit at Snoqualmie, which is referred to as Seattle’s home mountain because of its proximity to the city. The mountain offers a variety of terrains for beginner or expert skiers as well as snowboarding and snowtubing. Back in the city, music lovers can head indoors to explore the Museum of Pop Culture, with exhibits on icons like Jimi Hendrix and Prince. Travelers can also visit the vibrant, colorful, light-filled glasshouse and lush garden at Chihuly Garden and Glass, a collection of exhibits from artist Dan Chihuly. A bonus: it’s located next to the Space Needle, a Seattle icon that stands 605 feet tall.
Where to Stay: With their base in the heart of downtown Seattle, guests at Hilton Seattle can enjoy the hotel’s convenient location near major sites like the city’s Waterfront Park and famous Pike Place Market — both an easy walk from the hotel. The recently renovated hotel features an on-site restaurant and bar, fitness center and business center. Guests on the Executive Level floors can enjoy the exclusive new Executive Lounge, featuring complimentary breakfast and evening social.
Photo: Hilton Seattle
Like most popular travel destinations, Amsterdam experiences a surge of tourists in the summer months. To take advantage of its off-season, travelers should visit in the fall or winter months. Visitors can manage the cool weather by donning a sweater or jacket while roaming alongside the canals to experience the city’s charm and tranquility. They can cozy up and enjoy high tea at the Museum of Bags and Purses, also known as Tassenmuseum, and indulge in delicacies in one of the charming period-style rooms. In December, visitors can go ice skating at Museumplein, where they can find holiday market stalls on both sides of the rink.
Where to Stay: Guests at the Hampton by Hilton Amsterdam Centre East are a short walk to the Rietlandpark Tram that travels to nearby attractions like The Rijksmuseum, Dam Square and the charming Jordaan neighborhood. The hotel offers amenities such as free, hot breakfast; free Wi-Fi; a 24-hour fitness center; and an on-site bike rental service for exploring the surrounding neighborhood.
Off-peak: November–Early March
Aside from the year-end holiday season, late autumn through early March is one of the best times to visit Tokyo due in part to — you guessed it — a general drop in lodging prices. Whether visitors are catching an early glimpse of the famous cherry blossoms or having a final look at the city’s stunning fall foliage, an off-season visit offers an unparalleled experience. Travelers can visit popular spots like the Shibuya Crossing (the city’s famous scramble intersection), Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden and the Sensō-ji temple — all within 6 miles, about 10 kilometers, of the hotel.
Where to Stay: A stay at the Conrad Tokyo offers guests art-filled interiors coupled with unmatched service. Hotel highlights include the Tranquil Mizuki Spa, direct access to the Shiodome railway station and guest rooms with spectacular views overlooking Tokyo Bay and the ancient Hamarikyu Gardens. The hotel also offers a swimming pool and 24-hour fitness center.
Photo: Conrad Tokyo
With the seasons in Buenos Aires reversed from those in the Northern Hemisphere, visiting the city during its spring (September–December) can be ideal for travelers. October or November in particular are considered two of the most beautiful times to visit, when the stunning violet jacaranda trees are in bloom. To view them, head over to the Paseo del Rosedal, where visitors can also see 1,000 different-colored roses in bloom. While the temperature warms and gets more humid in December, the city tends to clear of tourists during the holidays, allowing for more space to roam without crowds. Whichever month they choose, travelers shouldn’t miss the chance to explore one of the oldest neighborhoods in Buenos Aires, San Telmo. If it’s a Sunday, they can explore the open-air market where vendors sell antiques, handmade products and souvenirs.
Where to Stay: Guests visiting this cosmopolitan city should be sure to snag a room at Hilton Buenos Aires. Situated in the riverside Puerto Madero district, the property is less than half a mile from the historical Plaza de Mayo. There, they can easily access spots like the Metropolitan Cathedral, the Museo Histórico Nacional del Cabildo y la Revolución de Mayo and Casa Rosada, the executive mansion and office of the President of Argentina. Some highlights at the hotel include a rooftop pool, the on-site trendy El Faro restaurant, the always-busy Alberto’s Lobby Bar and a fitness center equipped with modern training equipment.
Photo: Hilton Buenos Aires