Many people stay put most of November in anticipation of the money and time they'll spend on the impending Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Christmas holidays. But you may want to rethink that idea.
Because it's off or "shoulder" season for numerous destinations, there are plenty of deals to be had and discounted flight and hotel rates to enjoy. Also, the Southern Hemisphere is starting to warm up in November, as it enters late spring, while the Northern Hemisphere is cooling off both in temperature and travel intensity.
If you can get away in November, either before or during the holiday, you'll find plenty of moderate weather, thinning crowds and bargain prices.
In no particular order, here are five marvelous places to consider in November:
1. Phoenix, Arizona
November is the beginning of high season in the hottest big city in the USA. But because high season is just starting up, you'll likely get some relief from the peak high-season prices in winter, while still escaping the heat of peak summer temps.
Here are a few only-in-November events:
-- Arizona International Auto Show: If autos get your motor humming, this is the place to be. You can see hundreds of cars from dozens of manufacturers. November 22-25, 2018. (100 N. 3rd St., Phoenix, Arizona 85004; +1 602 262 6225)
-- Azcentral Wine & Food Experience: This is a must-attend event for fans of Martha Stewart things -- or really anyone who enjoys good food and wine. November 3-4, 2018. (16601 N. Pima Road, Scottsdale, Arizona 85260; +1 480 502 0815)
-- Fountain Festival of Fine Arts and Crafts: The festival started up in the 1970s and is one of the largest of its kind in the Southwest. Enjoy paintings, other artwork, jewelry, local food and more. November 9-11, 2018.
Let's look at some outdoor options since the summer furnace is off. (Heads up: You'll likely need a jacket at nights -- deserts can get quite cold, too):
-- Desert Botanical Garden: This is an excellent place to take a walk and learn more about the surprisingly varied plant life of the desert. (1201 N. Galvin Pkwy., Phoenix, Arizona 85008; +1 480 941 1225)
-- Camelback Mountain: You can partake in an inspiring mountain hike here, just 20 minutes from downtown Phoenix. Just be warned: Its two trails are considered quite difficult. Echo Canyon trail is the steeper one, and you'll need to use hand rails and pull yourself over boulders. (N. Echo Canyon Pkwy, Phoenix, Arizona). Cholla Trail is the longer one. (6131 E. Cholla Lane, Phoenix, Arizona 85253).
-- Goldfield ghost town: It's hard to resist a good ghost town out West. Come pan for gold, ride a narrow-gauge railroad and see what saloons were like back in the late 1800s. (4650 N Mammoth Mine Road, Apache Junction, Arizona 85119; +1 480 983 0333)
If you're a Frank Lloyd Wright follower or just like a good home tour, be sure to check out Taliesin West. It was Wright's winter home and is considered one of the most personal of the architect's works.
Phoenix has some fine museums, and that include the Heard Museum, which is devoted to the works and cultures of Native American tribes. (2301 N Central Ave, Phoenix, Arizona 85004; +1 602 252 8840)
Phoenix and its environs (particularly Scottsdale) are known as resort and spa country. Here are a couple of suggestions:
-- Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia: You might feel like you've traveled to the Andalusia region of Spain when you arrive here. The resort's Joya Spa offers massages, facials, meditation and naturopathic services such as IV therapy. (4949 E. Lincoln Dr., Scottsdale, Arizona 85253: +1 480 627 3200)
-- The Phoenician: Enjoy golf, fine dining and of course, the spa. From the rooftop pool to the tranquility room, the emphasis is on relaxation. You can even get your own specialized blend at the aroma bar. (6000 E Camelback Rd, Scottsdale, Arizona 85251; +1 480 941 8200)
2. Rome, Italy
November in Rome marks the beginning of the off season. The days (and lines) are shorter, a bit chillier and possibly wet.
If you plan accordingly, this can be a lovely time to visit, though: As temperatures drop, so do flight and hotel prices, and if the weather is not the most pleasant, there are plenty of indoor activities to partake in with a lot less people. A few rainy-day ideas:
-- Pantheon: Built by Emperor Hadrian between 118 and 125 A.D., it was for the worship of every god. In 609, it was converted to a Christian Church. In a city of many amazing ancient sites, this is one of the top.
-- Ara Pacis Museum: This museum has an interesting history, both ancient and recent: It is built around a sacrificial altar commissioned by Emperor Augustus dating to 9 B.C. while the new museum surrounding it dates to 2006. (Lungotevere in Augusta [corner via Tomacelli] - 00186 Rome)
-- Nuovo Mercato Esquilino: Peruse the stalls at this indoor international market. You can buy anything from fresh fruit to clothes. It's a great place for people-watching.
Many museums and archeological sites around Rome, including the Colusseum, are free on the first Sunday of each month, while the Vatican Museums are free on the last.
If you catch Rome on a nice afternoon, take in a sunset view at Gianicolo Hill, one of the more overlooked sights in Rome. You can take a taxi up to the viewing terrace, soak up the view then walk down to Trastevere for dinner.
While it's great that peak tourist season has come to an end in November, what's more important is that wild boar hunting and truffle season has begun. Which means menus throughout Rome will showcase these two delicacies. Not much of a wild boar hunter? Take a day trip from Rome to Umbria for a truffle hunt instead.
If that wasn't enough to keep you busy, check out the Romaeuropa Festival. This multidisciplinary and cultural arts fete with international participation hosts events from September 19 to November 25, 2018.
3. Melbourne, Australia
Australia's late spring is typically a shoulder season and a perfect time to visit. Pleasant weather coupled with the Melbourne Cup makes this a much busier time of the year in Victoria's capital than the rest of Australia. If you are planning a trip to Melbourne in the beginning of November, book lodging early so that you can witness the city of 4.5 million celebrate "the race that stops a nation."
The Cup will be held on November 6 in 2018 at Flemington Racecourse and is one of the most famous horse races in the world. Some 100,000 people are expected to attend, and another 700 million will watch it televised.
If you are attending the race, be sure to dress in your best derby attire and to plan your transportation in advance. If not, you can still participate in this national phenomenon by watching it at a local watering hole. If you miss actual Cup day, there are still plenty of related festivities before and after.
Not feeling so racy?
Get out on the Great Ocean Road. It spans 249 miles from Torquay to Allansford and includes such iconic sites as Twelve Apostles and Port Fairy. There are several one and multiday tours that can be booked out of Melbourne.
Melbourne was designated a UNESCO City of Literature in 2008 and is considered the cultural capital of Australia. Here are a few cultural places and events you might want to check out:
-- National Gallery of Victoria: The gallery has more than 8,000 Australian paintings and drawings as well as an impressive international collection of art. Founded in 1861, it's the nation's oldest museum. (Two locations about 10 minute walk from each other: 180 St. Kilda Road, Melbourne, VIC 3006 and Federation Square, Flinders St & Russell Street, Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia; +61 03 8620 2222)
-- Dogapalooza: This dog-friendly music festival takes place on November 11 in Burnley Park. There will be food trucks, dog washing stations and beer.
-- State Library Victoria: Book lovers should go wild for this historical, stunning building, which in addition to books has art displays, lectures, historical exhibits and more. (328 Swanston St, Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia)
4. Denver, Colorado
Winter has just arrived in Denver come November, which means that ski resorts are starting to open. There are a handful of decent slopes within a few hours' drive from the city. (Just be sure to verify opening dates before you jump in the car.)
Winter Park is a little more than an hour from Denver and is the longest continually operated ski resort in Colorado. Check with the website for the opening of the winter season, which is usually around mid-November depending on conditions. (85 Parsenn Road, Winter Park, Colorado 80482; +1 970-726-5514)
Another option not so far from Denver is Keystone Resort. It's set in the scenic White River National Forest of the Rocky Mountains, with grades from gentle to steep. (1202 Jones Gulch Rd, Keystone, Colorado 80435; +1 970 754 0001)
Not much of a skier or snowboarder? With average highs in the low 50s Fahrenheit (around 11 Celsius , being out-and-about in the Mile High City is still quite pleasant when dressed appropriately. This beer town has plenty of breweries to sample.
A couple of annual events in November to consider:
-- Denver Arts Week: It takes place November 2 though 10 in 2018 and features more than 300 events across the city, including Know Your Arts First Friday, free admission to museums and plenty of family-friendly functions.
-- Denver Film Festival: The festival shows more than 250 features, documentaries and short films from October 31 to November 11 in 2018. The films are screened at a variety of venues across the city.
If you're looking for a hotel stay that adds to the Denver experience, you may want to consider The Oxford Hotel. It's the city's oldest operating hotel, having opened in 1891. It can give you a real sense of the city's past while still providing all the modern touches. (1600 17th St, Denver, Colorado 80202; +1 303 628 5400)
5. Beijing, China
November marks the waning of autumn in Beijing. There is still plenty of fall foliage to see in the beginning of the month. Hotel and tour prices begin to drop mid-November as it gets increasingly cooler, transitioning into winter.
Expect cool, clear days at Badaling Great Wall in November (and pack a warm jacket). About 45 miles north of Beijing, it is fairly easy to reach by bus or train from the city. Give yourself at least two hours for viewing this feat of ancient engineering. If you didn't get enough of the sea of red maples there, check out nearby Bandaling Forest Park on your way out. (The Great Wall at Badaling, Badaling, Yanqing County 102112 China; +86 10 6912 1383)
Compared with Badaling, Mutianyu Great Wall is less well-preserved and slightly more difficult to reach via public transportation from Beijing. It also draws less of a crowd (especially on holidays) and offers a later leafing season, well into late November. So, depending on when you plan your trip, it might be the better option. (Great Wall at Mutianyu, Mutianyu Road, Huairou District, Beijing China; +86 10 6162 6505)
On nicer November days, you can still enjoy the outdoors and the fall color. A couple of ideas:
-- Fragrant Hills Park: This imperial garden in northwestern Beijing. It offers stellar autumnal views as the maple, smoke and persimmon trees change hue. (40 Maimai St., Haidian District, Beijing, China)
-- Baiwang Mountain Forest Park: It's about two miles from Summer Palace. Soak up the colors from the flat Friendship Pavilion or from Lanfeng Pavilion on top of the mountain. (19 Heishanhu Beikou, Haidian District, Beijing; +86 10 6288 4508)
Beijing (and the rest of China) has not been left out of Asia's creative architectural boom -- a delight for people who love to take pictures. The CCTV Headquarters Building, completed in 2008, is certainly one of the most unusual and striking ones, with an emphasis on shape versus height. Navigating Beijing on your own can be daunting, but a self-guided architectural tour can be rewarding, too. (32 E 3rd Ring Rd Middle, GuoMao, Chaoyang Qu, China, 100001)
After all this sightseeing and leaf-gandering, you'll surely be hungry. What is a trip to China's capital without eating some Peking duck? Many tourists and locals agree that DaDong makes the best crispy roast duck in Beijing. (5/F, Jinbao Dasha, Jinbao Jie, Dongcheng District; + 86 0 10-5169-0329)
If you're looking for luxurious accommodation, look no further than The Opposite House. This boutique hotel melds traditional and modern Chinese aesthetic, and the 400 thread-count sheets, complimentary minibar and deep-soaking oak bathtubs don't hurt either. (Building 1 No 11 Sanlitun Road Chaoyang, Sanlitun Road, Beijing, China, 100027; +86 10 6536 0601)