While throngs of tailgaters chug Bud Light and devour Buffalo wings near the Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, and millions of other football fans gather in front of their TVs to watch the Super Bowl this year, in-the-know travelers will be sitting down to meals at some of the hardest-to-get-into restaurants in the country, skiing down empty slopes and zipping through Disney World without the usual lines.
If you’re willing to skip the game, set for Sunday, Feb. 5, here are areas where you aren’t likely to run into much competition.
Opentable.com, the restaurant reservation site, typically seats half the number of reservations on Super Bowl Sunday that it does on the Sundays before or after. That’s a bigger drop than on Oscars night.
“Super Bowl is without a doubt the single least-busy night of the year,” Mario Batali, whose restaurants include Del Posto in New York and Osteria Mozza in Los Angeles, said in an e-mail. With few exceptions, he added, “you can get into any of my restos with probably less than a week’s notice.” (It helps that the Super Bowl is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. Eastern time, just in time for dinner.)
“It’s a great night to get into a hot restaurant,” said Drew Nieporent, founder of the Myriad Restaurant Group, which operates Tribeca Grill, Nobu New York City and other chic spots. “It’s not a great day for a restaurateur.”
But don’t become too complacent — you should reserve now if you want a choice table at one of the hottest places. “Availability at some of the most highly sought-after restaurants is already slim to nonexistent,” said Tiffany Fox, a spokeswoman for OpenTable. While there were still a few tables available for Feb. 5 at Blue Hill, Craft, Maialino and Marea, in New York in mid-January, she noted, Per Se, Little Owl, Minetta Tavern and Red Rooster were booked. Still, it pays to keep checking. On Jan. 17, Alinea, a three-star Michelin restaurant in Chicago, had two tables open. Later that day they received a cancellation for two. “Guess they realized it was Super Bowl Sunday,” said Grant Achatz, an owner and chef.
The first week of February traditionally marks the beginning of prime golf season in snowbird retreats like Florida, California and Arizona. That means more players competing for tee times. Super Bowl morning is no exception, with tee sheets filling up with those trying to squeeze in 18 holes before kickoff.
But come noon, said Brett Brooks, a spokesman for Troon Golf, which manages 12 courses in greater Phoenix, “You’re going to have the course to yourself.”
In Scottsdale, Ariz., Super Bowl Sunday almost always coincides (as it does this year) with the final round of the PGA Tour’s Waste Management Phoenix Open, played at the Tournament Players Club. The final attracts 60,000 to 70,000 spectators, but courses are “virtually empty in the afternoon with everyone wanting to get to the tournament for the final holes and then go directly to their Super Bowl parties,” said Jerry Rose, vice president of Communication Links, a marketing firm specializing in the golf industry.
Even the popular 18-hole championship course at Rancho Bernardo Inn in San Diego is quiet that day. “Our golf rounds are down 50 percent on Super Bowl Sunday,” said John Gates, the hotel’s general manager.
Super Bowl Sunday is a great day to ski. Not only are lift lines practically nonexistent, ski resorts roll out the deals. The average saving on Liftopia.com last year was about 32 percent off window rates, including midweek deals, which tend to be the lowest. For Super Bowl Sunday, the average saving was roughly 40 percent. This year, game day is expected to hold similar savings.
Copper Mountain in Colorado, for example, has slashed lift tickets to $49.99, or about 50 percent off, according to Liftopia, while Canyons in Park City, Utah, has cut rates by 31 percent to $66.99. In Vermont, Jay Peak is offering tickets for $46, or 39 percent off.
Evan Reece, a founder of Liftopia, has made a tradition of skiing on Super Bowl Sunday, enjoying light lift lines at Alpine Meadows in Lake Tahoe last year. “I’m not a huge football fan myself,” he said, but he learned that the teams that make it to Super Bowl have a geographical impact on the number of people on the slopes. With the Giants and the Patriots playing, he said, slopes in the Northeast will surely be wide open.
Airlines including American, Delta, JetBlue and Virgin America say traffic typically dips on Super Bowl Sunday, offering more wiggle room onboard, though the next day is more crowded than usual. Customers don’t have to miss the game if their plane has live television. In addition to 36 free channels of DirecTV at every seat, JetBlue plans to offer all drinks including beer, wine and spirits for $1, down from $6 or $7 normally, and free Snyder’s Buffalo Wing Pretzels during the game.
Stage, spas and more
Want to score a Broadway show for less? New York City ticket prices for “The Book of Mormon” are 20 percent less the evening of Feb. 5 compared with a typical Sunday evening in February, according to Stubhub.com., an online ticket company. “Wicked” is roughly 15 percent cheaper in New York and 25 percent less at the Bass Concert Hall in Austin, Tex., on Super Bowl Sunday.
If you wait to buy tickets at the last minute, you may get even better deals. Last year, tickets for “Merchant of Venice” and “Spiderman” on Super Bowl Sunday were 25 percent off about a week ahead, according to Stubhub, but dipped 13 percent more in the days leading up to the shows.
What about theme-park lines? Rick Sylvain, a Disney World spokesman, says the event “has no appreciable impact on our parks.” But Mickey Mouse fanatics say it’s a good time to visit. EasyWDW.com, MouseSavers.com and other Disney planning sites point out that crowds tend to diminish. “Sunday during the Super Bowl is usually one of the best times of the year to tour the Parks due to all the people who will be home watching the Big Game,” states easyWDW.com on its Calendar of Crowds blog post.
Spas also see a dip in business. Super Bowl weekend is typically 10 to 12 percent less busy than the average weekend in January or February, according to SpaBooker, an online booking system used by spas across the country.
Perhaps the only places travelers will have a hard time getting into are in Indianapolis, the host of Super Bowl XLVI, and Las Vegas, where sports gamblers fill casinos and push up room rates. The Bellagio is sold out on Feb. 5 with $500-a-night rates for the weekend, compared with about $300 on other weekends that month.
“We are on a good pace to sell out or nearly sell out all of the rooms in our major Las Vegas Strip hotels,” said Micah Richins, a senior vice president at MGM Resorts International, which manages the Bellagio, Mandalay Bay and other Las Vegas hotels. “The big game is traditionally one of our busiest days of the year for our resorts.”
This story, , originally appeared in the New York Times.