When it comes to summer vacations, we imagine ourselves relaxing, exploring, and taking great photos. But then the reality hits when we're stuck in a line 15-people deep or shoulder-to-shoulder with people trying to get the photo we want. It's pretty much inevitable that we will get stuck in the rat race of beating the crowds.
I am notorious for my strong dislike of crowds and wanting to get as far away as possible. It's kind of crazy to think I've managed to live in a densely populated city for so long (and a heavy tourist city at that!), but I think doing so has taught me the art of fending off the tourists.
So without further ado, here's some of my favorite ways to beat the summer tourist crowds.
1. Hit the trails
Hitting the trails is a perfect way to experience all that a place has to offer. In fact, it can actually be a better way to get up close and personal with a location rather than standing back and viewing it from a distance.
Don't limit yourself to thinking that trails are for National Parks or outdoor locations only, you can find fantastic trails or walks in major cities like Hong Kong (try the Dragon's Back hike), Los Angeles (try hiking to the Wisdom Tree), and even New York City (walk the High Line or a waterfront park).
Of course when it comes to outdoor location and National Parks, hitting the trails is the best way to avoid the crowds. I always try to plan for at least 1 hike to give myself a different perspective on a place - it usually ends up being my favorite perspective :)
2. Drive a little further
This is true for cities, National Parks, or pretty much any destination. Most people try to stay close to "home base" because they either lack time or are afraid to venture out too far. If there's a beach that's a further drive, a part of the park that's a little out of the way, or a part of the city that takes a while to get to, chances are the crowds will be minimal. You may also stumble upon a hidden gem that ends up being way better than a popular tourist spot!
A great example of this in Los Angeles is Leo Carillo State Beach. It's in the northern part of Malibu and therefore, is much less frequently visited (even by locals). However, it's truly one of the most scenic and relaxing beaches that Los Angeles County has to offer. Making the extra drive up there is totally worth it.
3. Wake up early
I know, getting up early is hard, especially for my fellow snoozers. But waking up early is key when it comes to beating the tourist crowds. Most travelers do not wake up early or take their time at breakfast, so if you hit up major tourist spots first thing in the morning, chances are you will have the place to yourself.
If you're visiting a museum, try to get there when they open or shortly before closing. When Jesse and I visited The Louvre in Paris, France a few summers ago, we were already standing in line for tickets when the museum opened. This enabled us to get awesome photos with the Mona Lisa before the crowds became impossible. Friends of mine were asking how on Earth I got a photo with her without 100 other people in the shot!
Pro tip: combine 2 of the 3 of these for the ultimate escape!