Last updated: 08:38 PM ET, Wed July 15 2015

When To Avoid The Busiest Times At The Most Popular US Vacation Spots

Features & Advice | Tom Bastek | July 15, 2015

When To Avoid The Busiest Times At The Most Popular US Vacation Spots

Photos courtesy of Thinkstock

There is no better feeling than hearing over the loudspeaker at the grocery store, “Checkout number five is open with no lines and no waiting.” What if we could do that for our vacation destination? Although it is almost impossible to completely avoid some crowds at the most popular spots, here is a little advice about when you definitely don’t want to go, when the flood of tourists just gets ridiculous.

New York

The City That Never Sleeps is also the city that is never without tourists. The only real lull in the tourism traffic is from late January to the cusp of spring. The only problem is this span of time is filled with cold, slushy, windy days.

But truly the worst time to go is between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Be prepared to deal with sidewalks obstructed by tourists, making you feel like a fish swimming upstream. Also, the subways are twice as crowded as usual (if that is even possible).  Summer is nice in NYC, but lines at the attractions are around the block, and wait times are measured in hours.


Orlando is the biggest draw in the state, and there are multiple periods in the year that are not the best times to go. Holiday weekends are notoriously bad and in summer, the city's attractions are usually slammed from Memorial Day to Labor Day. But the worst time to go is the day after Christmas to New Years.  Unlike with schools having different summer and spring breaks, all of the kids are off at the exact same time and they are all at the amusement parks. 

Expect long lines, standing room only at shows, and hotels at capacity. I know that Florida in the winter sounds great, but you would be better off pulling the blanket up a little higher and snuggling in for six more weeks.


As far as most people are concerned, there probably is no bad time to go to Hawaii. The temperatures are beautiful year-round, the locals are always chill and laid back, and even if there is rain on your side of the island, drive to the other for a beautiful sunny day. The truth is that the most expensive time to go is in the winter, which is easy to imagine as everyone wants to escape that cold. 

In terms of tourism traffic, the islands are the most populated with visitors during the summer months. Most of the events that take place in Hawaii happen in the summer so if you are planning to go and take in a surf contest or local festival, plan to go when everyone else is there.

San Francisco

Believe it or not, the summer is not the best weather that San Fran has. The heat inversion that the state gets traps the fog and chilly damp weather to the coast. So if you are looking for the beach, that is not the time to go.  In terms of tourism traffic, summer is the worst as well. You will see your greatest lines at attractions, street fairs and festivals. And although the spring is typically a little less touristy, the fall is the sweet spot here with good weather, dropping hotel rates and fewer tourists. Just don’t tell anyone else about that.

Las Vegas

Let’s get this out of the way right now: Las Vegas is in the desert. Guess what time is the worst time to go to the desert? You got, it; summer. Now if you are going for no other reason then to sit inside a casino and drink and gamble and see shows and go to nightclubs, then the summer is fine. But there are so many other things to do outside of the canned air of the resorts that you might want to think about another time of year. 

Spring and fall are the best weather months and just like the desert, the nights in the winter can be downright cold.  The summer is also the touristiest time of year for Sin City. Hotel rates are up and because of the crowds, you can expect limited space at and in the pools. A word to the wise: Los Angeles dumps every fresh out of college kid, bachelor/bachelorette party, and guys/girls weekend away into Las Vegas every Friday through Sunday. Plan on going midweek if you would like to find lower limit tables, more accessible cocktail waitresses, and more abundant restaurant reservations during your stay.


You may use your Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook information, including your name, photo & any other personal data you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on Click here to learn more.