Though we always know it’s coming, the end of the calendar year never ceases to be a dizzying whirlwind of business obligations, social engagements, and stress-inducing holiday travel. But busy as December promises to be, there’s good reason to burn a few vacation days in November, when you’re still looking for great things to do in fall, the weather hasn’t yet taken a turn for the worse, and the shoulder season in most desirable destinations is in full swing. Here are eight best places to visit in November.
- The Iberian Peninsula
Places like Lisbon, Portugal, and Andalucía, Spain, are often overrun with tourists during the summer months thanks to their temperate climate and easy accessibility to the sea. But November is an ideal time to visit the southern reaches of the Iberian Peninsula: the scene is more laid back, the weather is generally pleasant (hovering around 70 degrees during the day), and the area’s UNESCO World Heritage sites (Sintra, La Alhambra) shimmer like jewels in the autumn sun. If you’re staying in Spain, the Costa del Sol towns of Málaga and Marbella offer plenty of alternatives to the beach, from world-class museums to championship golf courses.
Whether you’re an adventure seeker or an urban wanderer, November is a prime time to visit Argentina. In Buenos Aires, spring brings with it a profusion of jacaranda blossoms along the tree-lined boulevards, as well as an uptick in the city’s social engagements, from polo matches to ballet performances, but hotel rates remain reasonable. Meanwhile, the grapes peak during November’s harvest season in Mendoza, and the weather is perfect for exploring the breathtaking natural wonders and quaint villages of Argentina’s Lake Region, in the heart of Patagonia.
3. The Caribbean
December is the start of the high season at Caribbean resorts: snowbirds fly south for the winter, and the holidays mean vacation time for parents with school-age children. If you’re looking for a quiet beach holiday, plan for November. Although it’s the tail end of hurricane season (opt in for travel insurance) the weather is picture-perfect and hotels and airfare are available at discounted rates. And unlike other off-peak destinations, most island activities remain open and plentiful throughout the low season.
There’s never a bad time to visit the Holy City, but if you’re looking to beat the heat head there in November, when temperatures remain in the high 60s and low 70s—ideal for walks to the Battery and bike rides to view Charleston’s antebellum mansions and row houses. The city’s celebrated food scene also comes alive in the autumn, when the harvest makes some of the region’s best ingredients available. Sample them at iconic restaurants like Husk and FIG, or inventive newcomers like The Grocery and Xiao Bao Biscuit.
5. Hong Kong
Hong Kong is famous for its dismal weather—rain and humidity are the biggest complaints—but go in November, when typhoon season has passed and blue skies are a regular occurrence, and you’ll wonder what all the fuss is about. Camp out on a golden stretch of sand on nearby Lamma Island, hike the wilds of Lantau Island (the sunrise from Lantau Peak is legendary), or wend your way through the street-food stalls in Wan Chai—activities that seem all but impossible at other times of the year.
The Rocky Mountain State is typically regarded as a wonderland for winter enthusiasts, but Colorado shows a softer side in November, when ski runs are fringed with colorful foliage and double as hiking and biking trails before the big snows come. Fly-fishing is another autumn favorite, but if retail therapy is more your thing, the cooler days make shopping the Victorian streets of Telluride or the tony boutiques of Aspen a pleasant afternoon idyll. Of course, ski season is just getting underway in places like Vail and Beaver Creek, but seek and you may just find an early bird special.
7. New Zealand
The adventure sports capital of the world becomes even more of an adrenaline-junkie’s playground in November, when the warm spring season lets you have your pick of all the country has to offer, from white-water rafting and glacier hikes to horseback riding and swimming in primordial lakes and untouched bays. Head to North Island if soaking in hot springs and sunbathing on pristine beaches is more your speed.
From whale watching off the coast of Oahu to sunbathing in Maui, November is one of the best times to visit the Hawaiian islands. And shoulder season on the Big Island means more affordable hotel rates before tourists descend in full force for the winter holidays. And though there’s an uptick in rainfall, there is still plenty of temperate, sunny weather for snorkeling, ziplining, or hiking.