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(CNN) — 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 tourism 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.
Here are our top 5 places to consider traveling to in November:
1. New Orleans, Louisiana
Boudin, beignets and brass bands — what more could you want? What about football and gumbo, you say? Well, New Orleans has got you covered in November.
While the Big Easy never disappoints on the dining, cultural and entertainment front, the heat and humidity can be downright oppressive in summer — especially if you’re not accustomed to it. November, however, welcomes cooler temperatures and bids adieu to hurricane season. (It technically lasts through November in the Atlantic, but poses its biggest threat in August and September.) With the crisper fall weather in the air, festivals abound in NOLA. Here are a few you may want to check out:
First up is Emeril Lagasse Foundation‘s Boudin, Bourbon & Beer. Held on November 3 at Champions Square, more than 60 chefs from around the country will be serving up their take on boudin. The full, mouth-watering menu can be found here. Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats headline the food and music festival. There will be plenty of local craft beer as well as fine wines and spirits to imbibe. The event is 21+, so be sure to leave the kids at home.
If you’re in town the latter half of the month, there’s still plenty to do.
The Tremé Creole Gumbo Festival is held November 18 and 19 at Louis Armstrong Park. Admission is free, and the event features some of New Orleans’ best brass band jazz including Grammy Award-winning Rebirth Brass Band. Of course, a cornucopia of gumbos will be offered up (even gluten-free and vegan options). This year debuts a “gumbosium” — a gumbo symposium with cooking demonstrations and panel discussions.
Celebration in the Oaks in New Orleans City Park kicks off November 24. Touted as “the most spectacular holiday lights festival in the country,” 165,000 visitors file in to the 25-acre park to witness the oaks brimming with lights each year. The festival runs through January 1 with a handful of dates closed in between. Avoid long lines by buying tickets online.
What to do after recovering from your Thanksgiving food coma? Watch football, of course.
The 44th annual Bayou Classic at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on November 25 pits Grambling State University against Southern University and A&M College. Don’t miss the Bayou Classic Parade the morning of the game. On November 24, music enthusiasts might want to check out the Bayou Classic Battle of the Bands and Greek show.
2. 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. It’s due to open on November 15.
Not much of a skier or snowboarder? With average highs in the low 50s Fahrenheit, 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. Our recommendation? Stop by Great Divide Brewing Company for a seasonal Hibernation Ale.
Denver Arts Week takes place November 3 though 11 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.
In conjunction with Denver Arts Week, the Denver Film Festival runs from November 1 to 12 and will show more than 250 features, documentaries and short films. The films will be screened at a variety of venues across the city including UA Denver Pavilions, Ellie Caulkins Opera House and the Festival AnneX at the McNichols Civic Center Building.
3. 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.
Touring the Pantheon, Ara Pacis Museum or perusing the stalls at the indoor Nuovo Mercato Esquilino should make the most of any rainy days. 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.
Catch a sunset 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 and get a pizza alla napoletana at Pizzeria Nerone. Or, if you prefer Roman-style, check out the ever-popular Pizzeria ai Marmi.
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, these November festivals should do the trick:
— Romaeuropa Festival, a multidisciplinary and cultural arts fete, hosts events from September 20 to December 12.
— The Rome Film Fest runs from October 26 to November 5.
— The Roma Jazz Festival is held from November 5 to 30.
4. Melbourne, Australia
Australia’s late spring is typically a shoulder season and a perfect time to visit. Pleasant weather coupled with the Emirates 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 is held on November 7 (a public holiday) 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.
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 events you might want to check out:
— The House of Dior: Seventy Years of Haute Couture. The National Gallery of Victoria is presenting this exlusive-to-Melbourne exhibit through November 7.
— Dogapalooza. This dog-friendly music festival, takes place on November 12 in Burnley Park. There will be foodtrucks, dog washing stations and beer provided by Moon Dog Brewery.
— Women of the Land. Presented by the Melbourne Museum through November 26, this exhibition documents Victorian women strongly bound to the land.
5. Beijing, China
November marks the waning of Beijing‘s autumn. 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). Approximately 44 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.
Compared with Badaling, Mutianyu Great Wall is less well-preserved and slightly more difficult to get to 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.
Fragrant Hills Park is an imperial garden in northwestern Beijing. It offers stellar autumnal views as the maple, smoke and persimmon trees change hue. Baiwang Mountain Forest Park is approximately two miles from Summer Palace. Soak up the colors from the flat Friendship Pavilion or from Lanfeng Pavilion on top of the mountain.
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 Da Dong makes the best crispy roast duck in Beijing.
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.
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