5 Best Places to Travel in November
At the first onset of a late fall chill, November will inspire you to quit your job and move to a tropical destination—or you can simply get out of town and get your mind off the impending winter. Any of these spots on our November list will put your final few vacation days to good use, plus they’re an otherwise great deal and offer plenty of variety in terms of food and shelter. Here, the best places to travel in November.
1. NEW YORK, NY
The Big Apple is a hell of a town, but like many hot global tourist destinations, it doesn’t get a true “off-season.” Instead, if you’re looking for a deal—hard to come by generally in NYC—you should try to travel during shoulder months like November, when hotel rates and flights are cheaper than usual. Before the holiday rush, we were able to find nonstop, roundtrip flights on Skyscanner from multiple U.S. cities at under $100 (!). A rep for NYC & Company, “official destination marketing organization for the five boroughs of New York City,” tells us that because locals tend to leave town, rates decline around Thanksgiving. This means your dream of seeing the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade can actually be a reality this month.
Aside from the main event, two of our favorite things to do in November are free, free, free: You can see a Broadway performance of some pretty popular shows (Waitress, Chicago, Oklahoma!, Come From Away, Rock of Ages, Dear Evan Hansen and Frozen, to name a few) at the fourth annual “Broadway Under the Stars.” The series of events starts November 11 at The Shops at Columbus Circle, a popular place to get some retail therapy in too. The gratis performances are open to the public, and no reservations or tickets are required so you can literally just show up early and snag a good spot. You can also reserve a free spot at Moxy Chelsea on November 14 to play a Real Housewives-themed game. Hosted by Kelly Dodd, star of Real Housewives of Orange County, it’s happening in conjunction with BravoCon, the three-day event filled with your favorite Bravolebrities.
We’d be remiss not to mention what’s going on food-wise in New York this month, too. There’s PRICELESS—an international culinary collective that brings rotating global culinary hot spots into town. This month, they’re giving visitors with a Mastercard access to eat at esteemed chef Pia León's Kjolle through November 20. You can also stop by artisanal ice cream haunt Van Leeuwen before it gets too cold to try “Keep Summer Swirling,” the red velvet cheesecake flavor that’s a delish collaboration withpersonal styling service, Stitch Fix. Meanwhile, Black Tap, the restaurant famed for those eye-popping milkshakes that dominate your Insta feed, just released an updated menu with vegan and vegetarian options. Try the Nashville Hot, a vegan take on the Nashville hot chicken sandwich—it will not disappoint.
Where to stay:
If you want to feel like you’re the center of the universe, opt to stay at The Knickberbocker, a stylish midtown hotel that’s located at the actual center of the universe—Times Square. The friendly staff and service you’ll receive at this property is above and beyond, and it even extends to your pooch since the hotel is pet-friendly. Plus, The Knick is home St. Cloud, a rooftop bar with corner terraces that overlook the dazzling LED displays of New York’s most tourist-friendly nabe, so you can snap the most enviable New York pics possible.
Located in the trendy Nomad neighborhood, the boutique HGU Hotel is another great option for staying central to everything Manhattan has to offer, and it just changed over its on-site restaurant concept. Called Lumaca, it's headed up by chef and restaurateur John DeLucie of The Lion, Waverly Inn, and Empire Diner fame; the restaurant focuses on a Southern Italian, seafood-focused menu, with dishes like “Calamari in Umido with tomato sauce, garlic, on sourdough crostini” and a simple, out-of-this-world Branzino al Cartoccio that will make you consider fish for every meal.
PLAYA DEL CARMEN, MEXICO
Need a relaxing beach vacay before pre-holiday stress sets in? Seek out a long weekend in Playa del Carmen on the Yucatán Peninsula's Riviera Maya. November may be the tail end of hurricane season, but with highs averaging in the mid-80s and (usually) little rainfall, it’s a great month to take advantage of nearly perfect beach weather without the peak season crowds (or prices). Hit the beach, dive/snorkel the Great Mayan Reef, drive less than an hour to discover remnants of the Mayan walled city of Tulum, or stay in town and visit one of the many shops, restaurants and laid-back bars. Just a few miles south of Playa is Xcaret, a popular eco-park showcasing the region’s culture and animals and marine life. It’s a must, especially for families.
Where to stay:
In a region jam-packed with resorts, the oceanfront, eco-friendly Hotel Xcaret Mexico—which opened late last year—certainly stands out. The architecture and design of the sprawling jungle complex (and its 900 guest rooms) is inspired by local traditions, art and culture. Built on top of a cenote, the hotel’s construction takes full advantage of its surroundings. Think: beaches, tunnels, caves, rope bridges, coves and rivers to kayak or paddleboard through. The Muluk Spa, which offers massages, facials and regionally-inspired packages (or journeys), is itself carved into the limestone…and you really haven’t lived until you’ve gotten an 80-minute massage in a cave.
We honestly don’t think there’s a bad time to visit Amsterdam, but with cooler weather and cheaper flights (with roundtrips from the U.S. at as little as $300, according to Skyscanner) and hotel prices, fall has a lot to offer in Holland’s capital. High temps average near 50 degrees, so outdoor activities, like strolling through the city’s historic neighborhoods, cruising through the famed canal ring, or picnicking in Vondelpark, aren’t out of the question. Without the throngs of peak-season tourists, you’ll have an easier time seeing “The Night Watch” at the Rijksmuseum, visiting the Anne Frank House or shopping for crafts and souvenirs on the Kalverstraat. Early in the month, there’s the annual Museumnacht (Museum Night) Amsterdam, when the city’s participating museums stay open till 2:00 a.m., letting visitors late-night museum-hop complete with live music, performances, specials tours and food and drinks. The Dutch kick off the holiday season in mid-November when Sinterklaas arrives by boat. This real-life Santa rides into town with a parade and the festivities last until early December.
Where to stay:
The newly-opened citizenM Amstel Amsterdam blends the old and new in one of our favorite European cities. Converted from one of those existing funky, Amsterdam School-style structures dating back to the early 1920s, the property lets its roots shine but juxtaposes it with super modern, almost futuristic interior decor and design. Below the boutique hotel’s 88 rooms—each with oversize XL king beds—you’ll find a communal “living room” and co-working spaces that are bound to attract a young, hip crowd, a welcome bonus if you’re traveling solo or looking to make a connection sans the apps.
Another lodging option? If you want unique-to-Amsterdam accommodations, consider staying on one of the city’s canals in a houseboat. We found some great rental options on HomeAway.
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA AND THE GRAND CANYON
If you’ve ever visited the Grand Canyon in the summer, you know that it’s CROWDED and hot. Discerning travelers know a better time to take in its splendor is during one of the two shoulder seasons, and in November, daytime temperatures are cool, and the crowds are thin. You’ll find deals (and better availability) on lodging near the park and on hotels and airfare into Las Vegas. Pro tip: Make Vegas your home base and rent a car at Hertz to drive the 2.5 hours to Grand Canyon Skywalk or approximately five hours to the popular South Rim—arguably the best spot for views. There are coach tours that will take you to and from the canyon in one day. Helicopter tours from The Strip to the Canyon are also an option, especially if want to save time and play the slots.
Where to stay:
In Vegas, we’re digging The NoMad right now. Located on a prime section of The Strip—within walking distance of the Bellagio fountains and that fancy Shops at Crystals mall, its location is ideal. And while many Vegas hotel options feel exhaustingly large and somewhat cookie-cutter, The NoMad has a sophisticated, intimate and cozy feel, filled with details at every turn. You don’t have to go far to get a solid meal, either: The NoMad restaurant is located on the casino level and is still one of the best meals you can have in town. A gluttonous meal here should start with the Brussels sprout wedge salad—applewood-smoked bacon, Gorgonzola and miso dressing—and the white truffle tagliatelle, finished off with truffle butter and Parm. For entrées, order the roast chicken. It may sound boring, but with foie gras and black truffle stuffing, baby leeks and a mustard-brown butter vinaigrette, it’s anything but ordinary.
For accommodations close to Grand Canyon National Park, the Yavapai Lodge is your best bet near the South Rim, and the Hualapai Lodge in Peach Springs, along historic Route 66 on the Hualapai Reservation, is close to the Skywalk.
The winter season, which lasts from November to February, is the best time to visit Myanmar. November is ideal because temps drop (average 84 degrees), rainfall considerably decreases, and the number of tourists starts to increase gradually. The ancient city of Bagan, home to the largest collection of Buddhist temples and stupas in the world—more than 2,500—is like no place you’ve ever been. With monuments built between the 10th and 14th centuries, the entire city is an archaeological site. You can explore amongst the ruins, go inside some of Bagan’s many temples, climb atop certain religious structures to watch the sunset, or tour the 26-mile zone via hot air balloon at sunrise. November is also one of the most festive months in this Southeast Asian country: A number of colorful celebrations are held to mark the end of the rainy season and Buddhist Lent. In Bagan, the Shwezigon Pagoda holds its temple festival around the full moon (November 8 through 11). If you’ve made the trip to Myanmar (we found roundtrip flights from the U.S. to Yangon from $462, as of press time), another festival that’s a must is the spectacular Hot Air Balloon Festival and Festival of Lights (November 3 through 12) in Taunggyi, Shan State, about 160 miles southeast of Mandalay.
Where to stay:
The Hotel at Tharabar Gate, on a leafy estate overlooking temples and pagodas, is just a few miles from the Shwezigon Pagoda and its large garden villas start at $245 a night, which is a steal when you consider how posh the property truly is. Both the Bagan Thiripyitsaya Sanctuary Resort and the Aye Yar River View Resort are four-star hotels on the Ayeyarwady River in Old Bagan, making them ideal locations for sightseeing in the archaeological zone. With rooms hovering around $100 a night in November, it’s definitely luxe for less…but if you’re looking for accommodations that are even easier on the wallet, consider staying in New Bagan. The Hotel Yadnarbon Bagan is a three-star that gets high marks from visitors and has rooms averaging $39 a night on most weekends in November.
Additional reporting by Kristen Boatright