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NEW YORK (MainStreet) — A dirty little secret in the travel business is that there is a handful of destinations that always top the best places lists - but they are downright horrendous in peak summer months.

Sometimes it's because of suffocatingly thick crowds. Sometimes awful weather. Sometimes both.

Read on for your where to avoid list.

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The Jersey Shore

Note: parts of the Jersey Shore - Victorian Cape May for instance - are delightful pretty much anytime other than July-August. Prices are lower. Crowds are few. Attitude is scarce.

Just don't tell us about the summer months. Get out of there.

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Didn't see this coming, did you? Not with half the kids in America clamoring for a Disney World vacation.

But listen to Eileen Gunn, founder of family vacation planning service FamiliesGo!: "I would strongly encourage parents to resist the urge to go to Orlando theme parks in the summer. Florida heat and sun is serious, and kids wilt too quickly. Parents who have done so have reported to me that it was quite a waste of their pricey theme park tickets. They spent their whole vacation at the resort pool because it was just too hot to do anything else."

The average high in July is 92 F. It's humid. It rains about seven inches in the month. The tourist crowds are thick. Listen to Gunn: go elsewhere.

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Warned personal travel planner Kelly Mazur: "Rome in the summer months is hell! It's packed with tourists, tour groups and high school trips. There are so many tourists at every restaurant and attraction that it's impossible to have an authentic Italian experience! I would avoid Rome at all costs in the summer."

In early December, Rome is empty. Daytime highs are in the 40s. Precipitation is slight. Crowds are scarce (you'll walk right into the prime sites in Vatican City). In the summer, you will wait two hours to get into the Sistine Chapel. In 80+ F, sticky humid weather. Your hotel will cost twice as much as it will in the off season without crowds.

Now you know when to go and when to avoid it.

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Real New Yorkers elaborately plot out of town escapes in July - to the Hamptons of course, but also to the Hudson River Valley (the town of Hudson, 2+ hours north of Manhattan is a personal favorite) and many go farther north to western Massachusetts. Their search is aimed at escaping the heat, the humidity, the smells, the throngs of tourists.

In May the city is lovely (walk in Central Park when it is in full bloom, before the summer heat wilts many plants). In October it also is lovely, with a cool snap in the night air but plenty of sun and warmth in the days. There also aren't many tourists in town in those months. That's when New York is the place to be.