Brief Raptures
May 16, 2016 12:43 PM   Subscribe

I enjoy spending time in temporarily deserted places that usually bustle during daylight hours. Examples include San Francisco during Burning Man weekend, Penn Station at 2pm on Christmas day, almost everywhere in the US on Easter Sunday, the Financial District in Boston on Saturdays and Sundays, many major European cities during August. Where should I go, and when?
posted by sleepy psychonaut to Travel & Transportation (86 answers total) 116 users marked this as a favorite
The City of London at the weekend (ie the financial district). It's eerily quiet.
posted by crocomancer at 12:51 PM on May 16, 2016 [9 favorites]

Costco during the Super Bowl.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 12:51 PM on May 16, 2016 [16 favorites]

New York City over Fourth of July
posted by Suffocating Kitty at 12:51 PM on May 16, 2016 [3 favorites]

London over Christmas. There no one there, it's eerie.
posted by fshgrl at 12:52 PM on May 16, 2016 [6 favorites]

Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA, for the three weeks between graduation and the beginning of summer school. It's not totally dead, but there's a big difference and you can actually find a parking space and restaurants are pretty quiet.

Any community that is all Orthodox Jewish (parts of Brooklyn, whole towns in upstate NY, etc.) is deserted on Saturday (sabbath).
posted by Melismata at 12:52 PM on May 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

Any big amusement park on a day when it's raining. The heavier the rain, the fewer people. (Cue family flashback to an idyllic day at Disneyland when there was hardly anyone there.)

Busy beaches/piers/boardwalks, but at sunrise.
posted by BlahLaLa at 12:54 PM on May 16, 2016 [4 favorites]

Any mid-sized amusement park during the last weeks they're open. We have Canobie Lake Park here in my neck of the woods, and the days (not the nights) before they're ready to close (just before Halloween) are dead, dead, dead and that's kind of fun.
posted by xingcat at 12:54 PM on May 16, 2016

Any college campus, last week in May. Blissful silence. Bliss, I tell you. Bliss.
posted by Dashy at 12:56 PM on May 16, 2016 [12 favorites]

Martha's Vineyard and Cape Cod, after Labor Day and before everything closes (lots of places close Oct. 1).

This is one of the best questions ever.
posted by Melismata at 12:57 PM on May 16, 2016 [4 favorites]

I had a long layover in Amsterdam on the morning of May 5, Dutch Liberation Day. The city center was nearly deserted and everything was closed except for a few cafes and convenience stores. It was fantastic.
posted by theodolite at 12:57 PM on May 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

Unless there's a special event, people don't go to museums in the evening.

Here's what the British museum looks like if you go on such an evening.
posted by vacapinta at 1:00 PM on May 16, 2016 [6 favorites]

Any Colorado ski resort town during the summer when there's not a festival going on. The ski paths are alpine meadows full of flowers you can hike on, and the streets are pretty much empty. Also renting condos there is super cheap off-season.
posted by ananci at 1:03 PM on May 16, 2016 [3 favorites]

The Roman Forum* during/right after a torrential summer rainstorm.

* or any other normally-packed destination that is exposed to the elements.
posted by acidic at 1:05 PM on May 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

Costco during the Super Bowl is not a safe bet, depending on the demographics of where you live. It may be a different crowd than usual, but my Costco was packed this year. Very disappointing.

The port towns in Alaska that cater to the cruise ship routes are basically empty anytime there's no ship in port. And if you go on an Alaska cruise near the end of the season many of them are only half open.

My husband made a u-turn in the middle of a block on Pico near Sepulveda at 2pm on Christmas day because he had never had the opportunity before and wanted to see what it was like. So, west LA on Christmas, I guess.
posted by town of cats at 1:08 PM on May 16, 2016 [2 favorites]

Similar to Melismata's suggestion, Harvard Square is almost unrecognizable (in a really nifty way) if you go before 7am on a Saturday. Parking meters don't turn on until 8am, too!

[of course, not much is open, either...]
posted by gregvr at 1:16 PM on May 16, 2016

I was told by a friend that New York on the morning of January 1st is pretty deserted. I wouldn't know because as a New Yorker; I was asleep.
posted by Julnyes at 1:28 PM on May 16, 2016

Any northern beachy place before Memorial day and after October. I have family on Cape Cod and love being there in April or May, or September or October.
posted by tchemgrrl at 2:01 PM on May 16, 2016 [4 favorites]

24-hour supermarkets between, oh, 2 and 4 am. (Adjust for local bar-closing time.) Also any airport that stays open landside all night.

The Yale campus is even quieter in that period, since there's not a lot of city traffic and fewer tourists. Delightful.
posted by praemunire at 2:02 PM on May 16, 2016

Pittsburgh during any Steelers game.
posted by serena15221 at 2:14 PM on May 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

The port towns in Alaska that cater to the cruise ship routes are basically empty anytime there's no ship in port. And if you go on an Alaska cruise near the end of the season many of them are only half open.
As a resident of one such town, I can confirm this to be true.. BUT it's not a recommended time to visit because there's a reason why our visitor season is what it is and you are very likely to get bad weather especially at the end of the season as fall equinoctial storms blow in off the Gulf of Alaska. And if you visit after the last cruise ship of the season comes through you won't find any visitor-oriented businesses open (many of them will literally be boarded shut for the off-season) and even many year-round residents will have left for their own vacations after finishing out the peak season.

For an area that gets not quite as deserted but is much nicer to visit after the end of the usual season, you have to promise not to tell anyone (because this is a secret) but the beach towns along Lake Michigan are just about empty by a week after Labor Day but the beaches are actually at the nicest they will be all season because the lake has been warming all summer. Mid-September is a really nice time of year to visit the Great Lakes if you like clean, deserted beaches, farm markets full of fresh produce, restaurants with plenty of open tables, and relaxed hospitality staff who are happy to have survived the summer.
posted by Nerd of the North at 2:59 PM on May 16, 2016 [18 favorites]

Any seaside or summer vacation town out of season or optionally a winter resort town in summer.

I went to the Muse D'orsay deep off season in the days before Christmas. Being alone in a room full of Van Goghs for at least 10 minutes (well but for a security guards & cameras) is still one of the highlights of my life. Not to mention all the other lovely artworks I had all to myself.
posted by wwax at 3:18 PM on May 16, 2016 [3 favorites]

Hohenschwangau (the little town near Castle Neuchwanstein and Castle Hohenschwangau) in Bavaria is deserted the week after January 5---everyone goes on holiday, apparently. Mind you, I can't guarantee that there will be any place for you to stay, either.
posted by leahwrenn at 3:28 PM on May 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

Los Angeles during Coachella. In fact, I always refer to those couple weekends as The Hipster Rapture.

Any brunch place will be wide open.

It's less noticeable, but any of the big Industry award shows (Oscars, Grammys, etc.) will reduce the wait time at restaurants on the days leading up to them. A significant number of people are getting ready for the events, rather than going out to eat.

As a kid, we always went to the museums (Science and Industry, Natural History, Aerospace, etc.) on Superbowl Sunday.
posted by sideshow at 3:40 PM on May 16, 2016 [7 favorites]

Coney Island boardwalk in December or January
posted by egeanin at 4:37 PM on May 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

Go for a drive in Atlanta in the middle of the night.

I drive to the airport at around 4:30 am and it's eerie.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 4:38 PM on May 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

Any big amusement park on a day when it's raining. The heavier the rain, the fewer people. (Cue family flashback to an idyllic day at Disneyland when there was hardly anyone there.)

Seconding. Disneyland, especially a weekday, the later in the day it rains the better. If it rains after 3:00 or 4:00 on a weekday you have a good chance of having the place to yourself the rest of the evening. I've done it a few times and it's pretty great. Literally no one in line anywhere, and just a few people wandering around.
posted by bongo_x at 5:14 PM on May 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

Almost anywhere during the Superbowl: movies, restaurant without a television, shopping; I still remember my visit to Wal-Mart during the Superbowl, it was so silent.

Washington DC in August.
posted by bessiemae at 6:13 PM on May 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

Cape Cod in a January snowstorm. I have fond memories of strolling a beach that I had seen packed and sunbaked the summer before, but deliciously forlorn and somber and flurries galing all around me.
posted by ClaireBear at 12:13 AM on May 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

Also: Paris in August.
posted by ClaireBear at 12:14 AM on May 17, 2016

Berlin is pretty deserted over Christmas. It's especially cool if it's snowing.
posted by kinddieserzeit at 2:48 AM on May 17, 2016

Grand Canyon in early February. Kids are in school. Snow on the ground, it's practically deserted. BLISS.
posted by Sophie1 at 7:50 AM on May 17, 2016

In Los Angeles, for all the talk of the beach people don't really go that much. They may be packed wall to wall on Labor Day, but after that it's pretty easy to find a day when you can be there nearly by yourself, even though it's still warm enough to swim. Go in the winter or at night and you will be alone.
posted by bongo_x at 11:05 AM on May 17, 2016

The south shore of Lake Superior in northern Wisconsin is deserted in a mild winter with no snow. If there's snow it's full of snowmobilers, if it's really cold people are out visiting the ice caves..... if it's both ice cold and snow, it's like Times Square.
posted by lstanley at 1:40 PM on May 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

Tokyo on January 1st.

Second and third also, maybe the whole week; but the first is especially spooky.
posted by Rash at 7:06 PM on May 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

Beijing during first week of Chinese New Year or the National Week holidays in October.
posted by beijingbrown at 7:52 PM on May 17, 2016

We went to Chichen Itza on a 90ºF sunny August day. The pictures I took are devoid of other people since people were clinging to the shade.
posted by advicepig at 7:19 AM on May 18, 2016

London over Christmas. There no one there, it's eerie.

I remember being dropped off in Parliament Square at around 6am on Christmas Eve after an overnight ride in a van (and ferry) from Amsterdam. It felt like I was a tiny Fantastic Voyager into the heart of British government, and I had it all to myself.
posted by holgate at 7:29 AM on May 18, 2016 [3 favorites]

Upscale European beach resorts in late September. I have fond memories of Biarritz in France, Fanø in Denmark, and Rügen in Germany. The trick is to arrive just before everything closes down entirely.
posted by Nelson at 7:32 AM on May 18, 2016

I remember loving New York City in August. Unlike Paris and some other European cities, most of the town is still open, but oodles of people have fled to the Hamptons or the Jersey Shore, and tourists don't like walking in the heat.
posted by Mo Nickels at 7:54 AM on May 18, 2016

My wife and I took an overnight train into Venice a couple years ago, and got to the city just before sunrise. Our hotel was near St. Mark's Plaza, so we got to enjoy sitting in the square and enjoying our nougat breakfast more or less alone.
posted by Plutor at 7:57 AM on May 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

New Orleans, very early morning after Mardi Gras. The streets had been swept and washed, and I walked for blocks in the Quarter without seeing a person. At moments it felt like it could have easily been 1880, or 1920....
posted by kiblinger at 9:59 AM on May 18, 2016

Palma, Mallorca over Christmas. Take a train into the farmland, wander round the otherwise hellish German/UK football-pubscape of Magaluf: Sun/Bild-reader Rapture.
posted by runincircles at 10:06 AM on May 18, 2016

The monuments in Washington DC around 10pm, preferably Sunday through Thursday. Was one of my favorite parts of living there.
posted by talldean at 10:39 AM on May 18, 2016 [4 favorites]

Also, beaches in the wintertime seem to be spot-on, for wherever the beach happens to be.
posted by talldean at 10:41 AM on May 18, 2016

Yosemite in Winter is incredibly empty. I spent a week before MLK day in the valley staying at the lodge and one random Thursday morning at 8am I walked to Bridal Veil Falls and when I realized I was alone at the base of the falls, I decided to stay until another person showed up.

I sat in awe, alone for 45 minutes and it was glorious.
posted by mathowie at 10:57 AM on May 18, 2016 [6 favorites]

Iceland in the winter (or anytime other than the summer, really). I drove the Ring Road in March with my wife and we had almost every single major attraction to ourselves - waterfalls, black sand beach, short hikes through snow. The majesty of Iceland is pretty epic and having it all to yourself is pretty magical.

Bonus winter location: Yellowstone. Yellowstone is awesome in the winter! There is a Snowcat that takes you to the lodge and the sites, there are only a few other crazy people there and you can get some amazing photos. The bison in the snow/ice are pretty iconic and I also saw elk, coyotes, rams, eagles and more. Plus I got to experience Ol' Faithful completely by myself as a coyote wandered by. Much different than going in the summer!
posted by lubujackson at 11:17 AM on May 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

When I studied abroad in 2009, I was taking trains from Canterbury to Maastricht and ended up in Paris on the last train of the night, and had to kill 6 hours from Midnight til 6 AM when the first train headed towards Liege. I locked my large backpacker backpack in a locker at Paris du Nord and took the Metro to Notre Dame, and wandered Paris for hours. I stuck to the touristy areas, going from Notre Dame to the Arc de Triomphe then the Eiffel Tower. It was incredibly surreal, and rare to see any other people. I'll never forget when I finally happened upon the Eiffel Tower at 3:00 AM and a light show began, and I sat on the steps of the Trocadero and watched in silence for 20 minutes.

In retrospect I do realize this was not the safest thing in the world, but I benefitted from being a young large white guy with very little of value. Also I saw twice as many police as civilians so I felt pretty safe the whole time. It was one of my favorite experiences from that trip.
posted by DynamiteToast at 11:53 AM on May 18, 2016 [3 favorites]

Venice over Christmas was very quiet - at times (and away from the obvious tourist parts) we were the only people in sight. Venice often feels unreal anyway, but seemingly emptied of other humans it was incredible.
posted by YoungStencil at 1:37 PM on May 18, 2016 [3 favorites]

Amazing that the first post suggests City of London on a weekend as it was the first thing that came to mind. Especially on a Sunday.
posted by stackhaus23 at 3:42 PM on May 18, 2016

I had to visit a college campus last Sunday (planning an event there, had to survey some rooms). The campus usually has 15,000 students. I spent an hour there and walked through multiple buildings and down many long hallways. I literally didn't see another human being, and the vast parking lot was completely empty.
posted by miyabo at 9:32 PM on May 18, 2016

San Francisco is amazingly quiet on Thanksgiving day. I imagine that'd be true for a lot of US cities.
posted by kristi at 8:46 AM on May 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

BlahLaLa: Any big amusement park on a day when it's raining

Or on January 1st. In fact, I'm sure lots of places are quiet on January 1st, especially in the morning.

If you're looking to travel, either hiking down to Machu Picchu early or staying at the Belmond Sanctuary Lodge will allow you to get into the grounds before they're full of people, so you can hike up Huayna/ Wayna Picchu/ Pikchu and look down on the ruins and area when no one else is there.

Similarly, Victoria Falls National Park is magical when on one else is there, but I'm sure you could say the same about most beautiful locations that are usually mobbed by people.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:35 AM on May 19, 2016

Here in very very crowded Hong Kong, surprising amounts of the city are actually shockingly empty.

The outlying islands positively heave on summer weekends and holidays since going overseas is a relatively expensive hassle for most families, but the touristy parts of the islands are deserted on those lovely dry, still-warm weekday mornings through the fall and early winter. I have been the only person on hiking trails and beaches and once was one of maybe ten people on a ferry built for hundreds headed back out to Cheung Chau after dropping off a ton of commuters in Central. The magic wears off by around 12:00 as the first kindergarten sessions let out and people start returning from errands and work in the city.

Other sometimes-deserted bits of Hong Kong:

- the upper floors of public markets after the morning rush
- Indian and Nepalese restaurants on Chinese New Year
- the country parks furthest from mass transit on weekdays
- the abandoned villages of the New Territories, especially the ones near Kuk Po, on weekdays
- Lugard Road, which rings the Peak, is absolutely magical after the Peak Galleria closes and all the tourists go home after midnight: seeing the lights of the city go off in the morning as the sun rises is a memory I'll take to my grave
- most dim-sum places in Central around 11:00 on weekdays - the early-bird senior citizens are gone but the lunch rush hasn't started yet
- Terminal 2 at the airport has a woefully-underused cinema that is incredibly nice and almost always empty
- Kai Tak Cruise Terminal has a great view of the harbour but is a pain to get to and is seen as a massive white elephant; do check there's no ships docked, though!
- Hong Kong's Chinese temples are, aside from Wong Tai Sin, Man Mo in Central and the Big Buddha on Lantau Island, utterly charming and usually deserted save for caretakers and a few older folks playing chess under trees nearby; there's also the Tsz Shan Monastery, built by Hong Kong's richest man, Li Ka-Shing, featuring a stunning Guan Yin Buddha statue over 70 metres tall but accessible by (easy, free, online) reservation only and accessible to only a few hundred people a day
- finally Causeway Bay, Mong Kok and Tsim Sha Tsui, the city's biggest shopping districts, are pretty relaxed early on weekend mornings, say until 10:00 or so - people haven't arrived from the residential neighbourhoods yet, and Chinese bus-borne day-trippers haven't made it in yet.

The city can absolutely exhaust you if you are stuck with a 9-5, Monday to Friday schedule, but I work nights and weekends and have Mondays and Tuesdays off, so I've been lucky enough to see the city through a less-crowded lens. As a total devotee of urban living, I find it supremely comforting to know there's always someone nearby, but those moments of actually being able to hear birds or waves are truly delightful and feel a lot more special in a city like this.
posted by mdonley at 10:38 AM on May 19, 2016 [11 favorites]

Matt Groening is an alumni of The Evergreen State College. I attended Evergreen during the first years of The Simpsons, and distinctly remember how surreal it was to wander the campus from 8 to 8:30 on Sunday nights. You wouldn't see another soul, and every dorm window would flicker in unison.
posted by Shadowkeeper at 12:05 PM on May 19, 2016 [3 favorites]

Anywhere in Hong Kong during Chinese New Year.
posted by awfurby at 4:14 PM on May 19, 2016

Martha's Vineyard before Memorial Day. We went in early May and most of the restaurants were open but the beaches were empty, the streets were empty, parking was plentiful and the ferries weren't overbooked!

Maine in the spring (before mid May) and late fall (after mid-October) is also exquisite and devoid of tourists. Entire beaches to yourself. We went to the most popular hike in Acadia and saw three other couples.
posted by barnone at 5:44 PM on May 19, 2016

For an area that gets not quite as deserted but is much nicer to visit after the end of the usual season [and is] just about empty by a week after Labor Day but the beaches are actually at the nicest they will be all season because the lake ocean has been warming all summer

This could also describe the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
posted by Rash at 4:38 PM on May 21, 2016

When I used to live in Santa Cruz we talked about how tourists (at least those with kids in school) stopped visiting around Labor Day (beginning of September) but the University didn't start until near the end of September (quarter system) leaving a "secret season" of a couple weeks that were really awesome. I liked this concept so much I started using it as an internet handle.
posted by secretseasons at 5:49 PM on May 21, 2016 [3 favorites]

I just read this on Wikipedia: "Reykjavík is famous for its weekend nightlife. Icelanders tend to go out late, so bars that look rather quiet can fill up suddenly—usually after midnight on a weekend."
posted by aniola at 9:32 AM on May 23, 2016

Oh, that reminds me that central Amsterdam on a Saturday morning -- not early-early, just earlyish -- is often really quiet, because (from personal experience) the Dutch who spend their time in the Centrum can be beasts on Friday nights and need the lie-in, while the tourists are recovering from trying to out-drink the Dutch.
posted by holgate at 10:00 PM on May 23, 2016

The center of Madrid in August at 4pm. Absolutely deserted. Although you have to not mind the oven-like heat and oppressive sun. Any of the more residential outlying neighborhoods will be completely deserted at any time of day during the whole month of August.

I just went to the south of Portugal during Easter week and it was also deserted. Only a handful of people on the beach and almost no one in the streets.
posted by lollymccatburglar at 5:03 AM on May 25, 2016

So, the second time I went to NYC was when I was interviewing there in the spring of 1993, and happened to time my visit with the worst snowstorm that they'd had in over a century. The interviews themselves went fine, but my flight out was delayed by a day. I was determined to do a little bit of sightseeing before I left, so I went out on the subway from the outer borough where I was staying with a friend into Manhattan... where almost everything was deserted. The subway was running, but most places were closed, and that included the usual touristy places. On a hunch, I went up to the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. It was still snowing heavily, and when I went into the cathedral, the lights were down; I wandered around this absolutely huge, cavernous space (the Statue of Liberty could stand upright within it, minus the pedestal, and famed tightrope walker Philippe Petit is an artist-in-residence there) with the wind audibly howling outside.

It was sublime.
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:32 PM on May 25, 2016 [2 favorites]

Pretty much the entire state of Alabama becomes a ghost town outdoors during the annual Auburn / Alabama game.
posted by TwoToneRow at 3:56 AM on June 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

Melismata: "Any community that is all Orthodox Jewish (parts of Brooklyn, whole towns in upstate NY, etc.) is deserted on Saturday (sabbath)."

Deserted? Most orthodox neighbourhoods are more active on Shabbat, because everyone's walking about. No driving though!

If you want even more of the no-driving experience, try Tel Aviv on Yom Kippur.
posted by vasi at 5:43 AM on June 15, 2016

Slopes in Park City are famously devoid of any skiers during Sundance.

Also, a bit out of the way, but the downtown streets - frequently referred to as Central Business District (CBD) - of any sub-Saharan African capital city, at 10am on a Sunday. They're almost all ex-protestant colonies so everyone is in church.
posted by allkindsoftime at 8:34 AM on June 15, 2016

Niagara Falls in Winter.
posted by blue t-shirt at 10:58 AM on June 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

Seoul is wonderful during the big Korean holidays of seollal and chuseok. Just be sure to have enough cash on hand before the holidays start. When I lived in Korea, lots of banks didn't restock their ATMs for the duration of the holidays.
posted by peppermind at 8:05 AM on June 16, 2016

I don't know personally, but a couple of Vegas cab drivers have remarked to me that the best time to visit Las Vegas, crowds-wise, is in early-to-mid January, right after the New Years' Eve crowd has left.
posted by savetheclocktower at 6:38 PM on June 16, 2016

I was in Bermuda over American Thanksgiving one year, and the beaches were totally deserted -- it was incredible. The water was cold for swimming but not so cold that I couldn't go in, and walking along the pink sand with no one else around was terrific.
posted by cider at 12:19 AM on June 19, 2016

Buenos Aires in January. It's high summer, and porteños are down south in Mar del Plata, or up in Uruguay enjoying Puenta del Este. It's hot and humid though; walking down Calle Florida is hot, and plenty of things are closed. Quiet.

On a similar tip, Canberra in Australia is mega quiet when university and parliament are off. This is the summer again: early December time. The weather is pretty good in Canberra this time of year (though it can get a pretty hot).
posted by sarcas at 9:49 AM on June 21, 2016

Not quite the right place for this story, and I don't know how or why, but on 23 December 1994 (if memory serves me correctly) I had 12 minutes entirely alone (aside from a bored guard) with the Mona Lisa at the Louvre.
posted by jjderooy at 5:30 PM on June 21, 2016 [2 favorites]

Revere beach just outside of Boston. Before 10 and most weekdays, a couple miles of open beach with pretty houses peeking over the dunes. You may see some old guys pretending to surf cast. Just keep the dog out of their lines.
posted by LuckyMonkey21 at 8:27 PM on June 21, 2016

I must dissent to "New York City on the Fourth of July" above. There are actually quite a few people here, waiting to see the fireworks on the East River.

Although, if you want to get more specific about New York City on the Fourth of July, you could go with "any place inland without a view of the East River", maybe.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:45 AM on June 23, 2016

Shibuya crossing at 7pm on new years day.
posted by JPD at 5:48 PM on June 23, 2016

Bars in Ann Arbor Michigan the week before school starts. Been there, enjoyed that.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 7:27 PM on June 24, 2016

a waterpark on a cold-ish day if they offer wetsuit rental! I spent 2hrs at Noah's Ark in WI running around in a wetsuit riding all the big slides multiple times over with zero wait time. it was amazing.
posted by nanhey at 9:32 PM on June 25, 2016

A recent study showed that the city of Jakarta, for which "bustling" is not a strong enough term, loses 83 percent of its residents during Eid, after Ramadan, as people return to their hometowns and ancestral homes. It's not empty, but the contrast is striking.
posted by texorama at 5:35 AM on June 28, 2016

We always go to museums in the US on Christmas Eve day for exactly this reason.
posted by chbrooks at 4:16 PM on June 29, 2016

Amsterdam during a major soccer game.
posted by Namlit at 11:45 PM on June 29, 2016

My dad loves it when there is a multi-day public holiday in Malaysia because the Causeway between Johor and Singapore (and a lot of the city roads) become really clear and driving is way easier. The first & last days of the holiday (and the days bracketing that) are horrible, but in between? Bliss.

Also I have no idea how (or even if) you'd replicate this, but during the 2011 Brisbane floods, the day they scheduled to open the dams to let out the water was the first day it hadn't rained in a very long time. There were no buses or CityCats running and almost everyone & their vehicles stayed home, so the streets were deserted and the town was eerily sunny and quiet. Like that moment in horror movies juuuuuuust before some monster or alien shows up. I was catching a train to head to the airport to escape the flood and I half-expected a sea monster to show up from the river and gobble us all.
posted by divabat at 12:30 AM on June 30, 2016

I'm all for quiet right after major weather events, or the early morning hours outside after a blizzard is ending, before everybody starts making footprints. In fact I love making footprints of my own and being "first".

Standing in the eye of a smaller hurricane (and then running back inside before the other side hits [Cat 2 at most here, I'm not crazy crazy]. The whole enviroment is different. In hurricanes, afterwards the air is amazing is its own way, getting ocean breezes way further inland and things.

Obviously it's easier to live in places where these things happen, and you need to take safety percautions, know your way around and such.

I also find it really fun to drive around the city between 4 to 5 am,. I'm jealous of the uturn on supulvida ! I also find fun in taking the train away from major events when they are starting. There are so many people but the train is near empty. (For example, leaving a baseball stadium 1 hour before the game starts). This is also a good way to stake out which stop is the best to still get a seat on the train if you want to take it in for a different game)

After writing this, I'm concluding I'm wierd.
posted by AlexiaSky at 6:41 PM on July 1, 2016

Martha's Vineyard and Cape Cod, after Labor Day... Maine in the spring (before mid May) and late fall (after mid-October) is also exquisite...

There's actually been a phenomenon here in Bar Harbor/Acadia where the week before Labor Day finds the streets (relatively) deserted. It seems like families have all had to return home because school now starts so early, and the people without kids think, in the tradition, I'll just wait until after Labor Day.

Right now it's an absolute mess trying to get around town, and it will be for another two months, but during that last week in August, in recent years, there haven't been a lot of visitors around.
posted by LeLiLo at 9:49 PM on July 1, 2016

Metafilter on July 4th weekend.
posted by bongo_x at 8:31 PM on July 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

Any college campus, last week in May. Blissful silence. Bliss, I tell you. Bliss.

Oh, sure, you semester schools.

Anyway, my suggestion would be San Francisco on Thanksgiving Day. I wandered around through cheesy shops selling Alcatraz merch without hardly anyone around. But oddly enough, not Christmas Day, because that apparently became hella tourist day now.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:31 PM on July 10, 2016

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