We’ve all heard of people going South for the winter, but what do you do during the late spring and summer to escape the heat and the crowds? Here, we explore five destinations that don’t immediately conjure imagery of smiles in the sun but should.
Lauded for its breathtaking vistas of the Teton Range to the northwest and the Gros Ventre Range to the northeast, Jackson Hole has two distinct seasons — snow and summer. Most hotels close after ski season ends in April, but when summer arrives, the city comes back to life for hunters, fishermen, rafters and hikers who are ready to trek through wilderness or visit nearby Yellowstone National Park. If that sounds like fun, the top-notch concierges at Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star The Wort Hotel and Five-Star Four Seasons Resort and Residences Jackson Hole will set you up with your own outdoor adventures. Once you get your fill of the action, visit the restaurants that have put Jackson Hole on the culinary map. Take a seat at The Handle Bar, a gastropub launched by celebrity chef Michael Mina in 2012 in the Four Seasons, or take the aerial tram to the top of Rendezvous Peak to enjoy waffles with Nutella at Corbet’s Cabin (elevation 10,450 feet) — either way, you won’t want to leave.
Is there really an “off-season” when wine is involved? Probably not. But harvest in wine country is September to October — when prices and crowds are at their peak. Many hotels and resorts offer discounted rates during summer months, when travelers are more prone to head to the beach. The weather is warm and pleasant during a Napa summer, which makes it ripe for exploring. You’ll want to rent a car — or better yet, hire a driver — for a side trip to Healdsburg, the hidden gem of nearby northern Sonoma. If you have time, make a stop at the historic Oakville Grocery Co. to pack a picnic or make reservations at Forbes Travel Guide Tastemaker Thomas Keller’s famed Ad Hoc for a four-course, family-style meal worthy of the nation’s best wine pairings. Stay at Four-Star The Carneros Inn, a lovely property that comes complete with three full-service restaurants, a general store and complimentary bicycles. Perhaps you won’t need that driver after all.
In Vail, the June-to-September off-season makes for an underrated time of outdoor adventure and reprieve from muggy humidity that engulfs much of the rest of the country. Stay at The Sebastian Vail, a boutique hotel in the heart of Vail Village that’s within walking distance of some of the resort town’s best restaurants (try the short rib ravioli at The 10th) and shopping (don’t miss the high-end designer boutique Perch). If you love classical music, the Bravo! Vail summer outdoor concert series is scheduled for June 27 to August 2, with performances by the New York Philharmonic, Dallas Symphony Orchestra and Philadelphia Orchestra. If adventure sports are more your speed, enjoy nearby hiking and biking trails and keep kids occupied at The Sebastian Vail’s Battle Mountain Kids Camp and Tyke’s Room for children. Though the weather remains moderate in the summer months (the average July high temperature is 76 degrees), The Sebastian Vail offers a heated pool and four hot tubs — so don’t forget your swim trunks.
Since filing for bankruptcy in July 2013, the Motor City seems to be stuck in a permanent off-season, growing famous for photos of abandoned buildings and stalled factory lines. But the Michigan metropolis is a wealth of buried treasures just waiting to be discovered, right on the banks of the Detroit River and Lake St. Clair. Creative types have moved in to reshape the city with restaurants such as La Feria, a Spanish tapas place that opened in 2012. For a view of Detroit by night, head to Coach Insignia, a fine-dining establishment located on the 71st and 72nd floors of the General Motors Renaissance Center that entices with root-beer-braised short ribs, truffle roasted chicken and delicious 360-degree views of the city. For some history, check out The Henry Ford Museum, which houses national treasures such as the Rosa Parks bus, Lincoln’s chair and the Kennedy limousine. For a great place to stay, look no further than Four-Star The Townsend Hotel, a property that maintains a glimpse of old-Detroit glory with modern accommodations and amenities.
The largest city in Maine feels quaint by most standards. Still, Portland comes alive during the summer, and while it isn’t exactly “off-season,” it’s the time to go — when the water is abuzz with sailboats and the sunsets are brilliant on Casco Bay. Summer temperatures still hover in the mid-70s, so don’t bother packing a bathing suit. But you will definitely want to stow a pair of sneakers in your carry-on. If you stay at Portland Harbor Hotel, for instance, bikes and helmets are available to explore downtown. Like its West Coast namesake, Portland is a progressive city with plenty of modern updates to its art and music scenes. If you’re a fan of restaurants that maintain a casual setting with elegant food, there are plenty of places to discover. From The Front Room’s house-smoked salmon pastrami to Eventide Oyster Co.’s lobster roll, you will not go home without your fair share of omega-3s. For a fun time with the family, head to a Portland Sea Dogs Minor League Baseball game — just don’t forget to grab a Sea Dog blueberry wheat beer and a Sea Dog Biscuit (chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwich) in between all of the cheering.
Photos Courtesy of Portland Harbor Hotel and Plumpjack Group