5 Wildly Popular Summer Destinations You Should Avoid

Horseshoe Mesa from Grandview Trail - Grand Canyon - South Rim
By Robert McGarvey

NEW YORK -- Every year, millions of us make the same predictable vacation mistakes: we go where everybody else is going, we pay too much and we complain about the crowds. But there are some places -- wonderful destinations at other times of the year -- that are truly awful in the summer, kind of a Hall of Fame of really bad destinations and, yes, very probably on your list. Read on to know what to delete, right now.

And, no, the Hamptons isn't on the list. Sure, it's wildly over-popular there, not to mention ridiculously expensive ($5,000 a week for a decent house is normal). But, listen, for the right people, just being in the Hamptons is as critical as oxygen. People will be impressed back home when you let drop, "Last week, when we were in East Hampton ..."

Ditto for Martha's Vineyard.

But then there are the places that don't get a pass.

Orlando, Florida. Break the kids' hearts, tell them no Orlando, no Disney World not this or any summer. Sriram Srinivasan, who blogs at Upgrd.com, told why. "I've had plenty of experience with Orlando in the summer," he said. "The main reason not to go is simply the weather. It's very hot and humid to be walking around outside at a place like Disney World during the day."

He added: "To make matters worse, you're all but guaranteed a 30-60 minute interruption or two each afternoon for thunderstorms. It all adds up to kids complaining constantly first about being hot, then not being able to go on the rides because of the rain." Did we mention the lines? Peak attractions can involve a wait of a couple hours. In the heat and humidity.

Northern Arizona -- Grand Canyon. In July and August last year, over 600,000 flocked each month to the Grand Canyon. Go in April, and only 320,000 did. Go in October, and 411,000 did. Here's one other number to seal the deal: 105 degrees. That was the lowest high temp predicted for the first week of summer. The highest high was 109 degrees. What you do at the Grand Canyon is hike. Get the drift?

Traveler Ted Sindzinski, who blogs at theunseenside, agreed. "The Grand Canyon is a place I'd go to every year, but going back in summer?" he said. "No way. Just driving in feels like a visit to Disneyland with parking lots that go forever but crowds are hardly the worst part; what really does in a summer visit is the heat. Walking and hiking into the canyon is the experience you come for and at 100+ degrees, that's just not a fun adventure."

Oh, many of the prime Grand Canyon hotels, such as El Tovar, are already booked for much of the summer, the area's busiest season.

Jersey Shore. We know: half of New Jersey, much of Philadelphia, and parts of New York (namely Staten Island) power "down the shore" from Memorial Day to Labor Day. A Jersey oddity: many of the beaches are private and involve fees, typically $4 or $6 a head a day just to walk on the sand. It gets worse. Popular beaches are overrun early on prime days (most weekends and holidays). Screaming about towel placement -- and louder curses about sand kicked into a face -- are frequent. Good beach houses and many local motels are already sold out for prime summer days. Better luck next year.

The Jersey Shore can be beautiful in the off-season, even on some mid week days in summer (when some beaches that charge on weekends waive the so called "badge fees"). Go then.

San Francisco. The weather is why Baghdad by the Bay is a no-go in the summer: the town is just cold. In July the average high is 66 degrees. In August it's 67 degrees. Those temps may be welcome by residents of hot towns such as Phoenix and Houston -- but much of the country just chatters its teeth in a San Francisco summer, which -- supposedly -- is why Mark Twain famously quipped that the coldest winter he ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.

Insiders know the best time to visit San Francisco is September through November when rain is unlikely, hotels have slashed their summer rates, and it just is easier to get around the city center because tourists are fewer. September, by the way, is also the hottest month with an average daily high of 70 degrees.

Bonus: Don't Go: Rome. "No one goes to Rome in the summer," said travel expert Joe Brancatelli, himself a frequent visitor to Rome who blogs at JoeSentMe.

The problem of course is precisely the opposite: just about everybody goes to Rome in the summer, and long lines to get into the attractions such as the Colosseum and the Sistine Chapel are common.

Added Brancatelli about Rome in the summer, "It's hot and humid, and the old stone buildings hold the heat at night." He also noted that if you go in August, you won't see any Romans, because they are all out of town.

Go in late November, early December. Crowds are thin. Hotel prices have tumbled. Weather is mild. Experience Rome like a Roman.

Add it up: go to many prime places anytime but the summer, and you pay less. There are no lines. And people, generally, just are nicer. That makes the decision easy.
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