20+ Best Summer Vacation Spots in the US

Check out the best summer vacation spots in the US! Beach destinations, city trips, national parks, only the best places for all tastes! #USA #Adventure #Nationalpark #Summer

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Hair gets lighter. Skin gets darker. Drinks get colder. Life gets better. Yes, folks: summer is fantastic! And as the warmer months approach, you need to plan your vacation (or a long weekend getaway). If you don’t want to travel abroad, this list with best summer vacation spots in the US is perfect for you!

This list has the best places to travel spread across the US, where you can enjoy the good weather and those sights, sounds, smells, and tastes that only come in summer. So make sure to add them to your American bucket list.

No matter what kind of traveler you are, you’ll undoubtedly find a trip for your taste here. From mountains to beaches, national parks, city trips, ideas for couples, and more! Choosing only one will be difficult. Sorry, not sorry.

In today’s post we’ll talk about:

  1. Utah
  2. Kauai
  3. Oregon
  4. Acadia National Park
  5. Santa Catalina Island
  6. Portland
  7. Jekyll Island
  8. Rocky Mountain National Park
  9. Block Island
  10. New Orleans
  11. Yosemite National Park
  12. Fire Island
  13. Shenandoah National Park
  14. Assateague Island
  15. Cape Cod
  16. Buffalo
  17. Santa Fe
  18. San Francisco
  19. Anchorage
  20. Sonoma County
  21. Newport
  22. Philadelphia
  23. Glacier National Park

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Best Summer Vacation Spots in the US

1. Utah

If you love the outdoors, Utah is perfect for you. In southern Utah you can roam among the cactus and sagebrush in the desert, then drive five hours north and be enjoying the cooler temperatures surrounded by pine trees and alpine lakes. It literally has it all. While it may get insanely hot here in the summer, 100+ F, it’s still a great destination.

I’ve lived here for three summers now and visited the summer before I moved here, too.  It’s one the best summer vacation spots in the US because there are so many national parks, national monuments, recreation areas, state parks, and other hikes so close together.  Even if you don’t like hiking, the scenery is worth seeing. It almost feels otherworldly in places. Also, the drives between parks are hard to beat, and that’s usually the most tedious part, scenery wise. If you’ve never seen the desert, this is an excellent place for your desert experience.

Some of the highlights are walking among the hoodoos in Bryce Canyon, hiking to Delicate Arch in Arches, running with the goblins in Goblin Valley, and being awestruck by the scenery in Zion.  Whether it’s your first visit or your fiftieth, it’s hard not to be blown away by the landscapes.

Click here to check accommodation deals in Utah.

Megan at Red Around the World

Dry valley with a few pine trees in Utah during summer
Utah is one of the best summer vacation spots in the US

2. Kauai, Hawaii

There’s no bad time to visit the Hawaiian Islands, as long as you’re into swaying palm trees, gorgeous sandy beaches, and warm sea breezes. But if you’re heading to Kauai, summer is an ideal time to enjoy the best of all the natural features the Garden Island has to offer.

The northernmost of the archipelago, Kauai’s diverse landscape includes everything from lush, tropical rainforests and towering waterfalls to deep canyons painted in red and green. The picturesque Na Pali Coast to the northwest offers breathtaking hiking trails along the rugged shoreline and above the clouds, while plentiful sandy beaches like Hanalei Bay and Poipu provide spots to spread out and relax under the beaming sun.

Summer is the dry season on Kauai, making outdoor adventures and sightseeing flights to see the remote interior of the island more feasible. The ocean is calmer during this time of year, too, perfect for snorkeling and splashing around in the waves on warm afternoons that heat up into the mid-80s. And while summer may be on the heels of winter as the peak tourist season, the crowds tend to stay lower on this laid-back island full of small towns than on its more famous neighbors of Oahu and Maui.  

Click here to check accommodations deals in Kauai.

Michelle at Harbors & Havens

Sunset at Kauai beach in Hawaii during summer
Kauai is a dream!
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3. Oregon

Oregon has a lot to offer any summer traveler, but for a truly unique experience, stay a few nights in a historic fire lookout tower.  Decades ago, Oregon had more fire lookouts than any other state.  Now, the Forest Service has created a new travel experience by renting them out to anyone who wants to experience living in a house of glass.

Our family has stayed in two lookout towers, and there are at least 18 in Oregon that can be rented.  There are several styles of lookouts, some on stilts 20-40 feet in the air.  Others are on the ground but at the peak of a ridgetop.  Each lookout features expansive windows on all 4 sides, offering unabated views in every direction.

You’ll never forget your first night in a lookout, making it one of the best summer vacation spots in the US.  The stars spread out forever in an endless haze, and the Milky Way and constellations are crystal clear.  But my favorite time of day on a lookout is sunrise.  Don’t close the window shades!!  Let yourself be awakened as the sun colors the sky and watch from the comfort of your bed as it peeks over the ridgetops and filters through the trees.

Staying in a lookout isn’t for everyone.  The lookouts are very remote,  and while you can drive right up to a few of them, some include a steep hike to the top.  Amenities are few and don’t usually include running water or trash service.  They do feature wood stoves, and most have cots or beds.  And book early, because they tend to fill up fast.

You’ll never regret renting a fire lookout in Oregon, and I guarantee you’ll always remember it.

Click here to check tours and activities deals in Oregon on Viator.

Heather at Oregon Outdoor Family

Wooden house in a lookout tower in Oregon #EUA #Travel
Imagine waking up to this view?

4. Acadia National Park, Maine

Acadia National Park, located in Maine, USA, is one of the best places to visit during the summer. The food is glorious, the weather is fantastic, the hikes are out of this world, and the vibes are intoxicating.

One of the best places to stay in Acadia National Park is the Bar Harbor Grand Hotel located in the charming city of Bar Harbor. The historical hotel was built in 1881 and is only a walk away from all the restaurant’s, bars, and the pier.

Eating seafood in Acadia National Park is a MUST. Of course, it is necessary to have the obligatory lobster rolls. For dessert, try eating anything with blueberry as it is their specialty. There are blueberry pies, drinks, ice creams, and candies. I also recommend eating the popovers at Jordan Pond House. I highly suggest making reservations in advance because it does get pretty crowded.

One of the best things to do in Acadia is to hike! The National Park is filled with fantastic hiking trails. One of the most popular ones is called the Precipice Trail. It is a favorite hike due to having to climb and scramble up the mountain. It is not for the faint of heart, but it is a unique, fun hike.

Acadia National Park is a must visit in the summer. During the fall, winter, and spring, most of the shops close up for the year so it can become difficult to find accommodation, restaurants, and bars open. Plus, the weather in the summer is just glorious, which makes it one of the best times to visit this beautiful national park.

Click here to check accommodation deals new the Acadia National Park.

Michelle at The Wandering Queen

House on the rocks at the Acadia National Park in the US
It’s not a photo, but a painting ♥

5. Santa Catalina Island, California

Santa Catalina Island is a beautiful and popular island that sits right off the coast of California and is only a 45-minute ferry ride away. It makes for a fantastic summer getaway location, and there are 2 main towns on the island that you can go and visit, Avalon and Two-Harbors. The town of Avalon is by far the most popular stop for visitors, and many people opt to spend their entire time here.

Many people love to enjoy a lazier weekend on Catalina Island by spending time at the beach, shopping in Avalon, and eating out at one of the many local restaurants on the islands. However, if you’re up for the challenge, there is also a 39-mile long trail, the Trans-Catalina Trail, that traverses the length of the island that you can hike 3-5 days backpacking for one of the most unique ways to see the entirety of Santa Catalina Island.

If backpacking the entirety of the island isn’t your style, there are still many beautiful shorter hiking trails throughout the island, and no matter what you do at Santa Catalina Island, you’re bound to enjoy your time there, and maybe, if you’re lucky, you’ll spot one of the free-roaming bison on the island during your time there.

Click here to check accommodation deals on Catalina Island.

Allison at She Dreams of Alpine

Blond woman sitting on a bench and watching over a lake in Santa Catalina, California
Catalina Island

6. Portland, Maine

Portland, Maine is one of those up and coming destinations that while popular, doesn’t often receive the recognition it deserves as a prime summer vacation spot in America. I’ll even admit, that I didn’t visit with the highest of expectations. However, Portland has quickly become one of my favorite destinations and for many reasons.

While I was visiting with a group of friends at the time, Portland is the type of location that is perfect for a couple, a family of all ages, or even someone traveling on their own. In just two days, we took part in a sunrise kayak tour, where we came within a few feet of a herd of playful seals; took a leisurely but scenic hike around Bradbury Mountain State Park, and rode on a schooner through the Casco Bay.

Regarding food, Portland offers an array of options, from dining on lobster and fresh fish on the rocky shore of Cape Elizabeth to the Holy Donut, which offers delicious donuts made entirely from potato flour. Portland is indeed one of those classic seaside towns that will make you feel nostalgic even if it’s your first time visiting, and being only a six-hour drive from New York makes it super convenient for those in the northeast looking for a quick but eventful getaway.

Click here to check accommodation deals in Portland.

Jasmine at A Great Big Hunk of World

People standing on a rock looking over many trees in Portland during summer
Summer vacation in USA – Portland

7. Jekyll Island, Georgia

With quiet beaches, gorgeous scenery, and lots of Southern charm, Jekyll Island, Georgia, is one of the best vacations in the United States in summer. While many other beach destinations in the Southeast have become overdeveloped and commercialized, Jekyll Island remains relatively untouched.

A highlight of any trip to Jekyll Island is a visit to Driftwood Beach. As the sea continues to erode the beach, it has left behind a graveyard of dead trees. The resulting landscape is hauntingly beautiful.

While Driftwood Beach’s unique scenery is breathtaking at any time of day, the views are best at sunrise and sunset.  Be sure to take your camera along, since you will want to snap a photo every 3 seconds. Just be wary when entering the water, since the strong current and submerged branches can be dangerous for swimmers.

For swimming, kayaking, and sunbathing, head to Great Dunes Beach. The vast, calm beach is sparsely populated even during peak summer months.

Once you’ve gotten your fill of the sun and sand, take some time to explore the island’s historic landmarks. Be sure to visit the Horton House, built by Major William Horton in 1743, and the Jekyll Island Club Resort, a once exclusive club boasting members as famous as J.P. Morgan and Joseph Pulitzer.

For families traveling with young children, a visit to the Summer Waves waterpark is a must.

Click here to check accommodation deals in Jekyll Island.

Carrie at Maple & Maps

Dry tree on a beach in Jekyll Island during summer in the US
Jekyll Island – Photo by Carrie

8. Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

If you’re looking for one of the best places to visit in summer in the USA; then you don’t want to miss the Rocky Mountain National Park. Towering snow-covered peaks greet you long before you enter the park, many over 12,000 feet tall. Inside, winding roads and trails (over 300 miles of them), old pine forests, wildlife, wildflowers, lakes, and views that go for miles – literally suck you into a land of wonder and intrigue.

See subalpine and alpine terrains, as you stare into distant vistas from the Trail Ridge Road, which winds for miles above 12,000 feet and crosses the Continental Divide. If that’s a little too high, seek out the two giant elk herds in the lower meadowlands. Just don’t get too close and keep a safe distance! But do make sure you take plenty of photos.

In the summer, soak up the warm days and cool nights in front of a fire in your reserved campsite. And in the fall snap gorgeous photos of the golden aspen groves flowing down the mountainsides. And if camping isn’t your style, stop into Estes Park, located just outside the east gates, for hot meals and soft beds. While there, don’t miss seeing the Stanley Hotel from Stephen King’s The Shining and more elk.

While in the park, don’t miss one of our favorite trails, the Bear Lake Trail. It’s short, easily accessible and has fantastic views of the surrounding peaks, including Longs Peak the highest in the park at 14, 259 feet.

Click here to check accommodation deals near the National Park.

Heidi at Fly Away U

Trees and mountains at the Rocky Mountain National Park during summer
Rocky Mountain National Park

9. Block Island, Rhode Island

Block Island is a small island off the coast of Rhode Island.  It’s the perfect summer destination because you can find beautiful beaches that are not crowded. The beaches are pristine, and some are ideal for clamming or fishing.  If you are serious about fishing, you can charter a fishing boat.

There are also plenty of trails for hiking or biking. As part of the Glass Float Project, hundreds of glass balls are randomly hidden across Block Island. Fans of geocaching will love the challenge of finding them.  You can also visit the two historic lighthouses on the island and take in the stunning views from the cliffs.

Block Island also has several boutique shops where you can find unique gifts.  In the evenings, you will have plenty of bars and restaurants to check out. If you like lobster, you will be in heaven because it is relatively cheap!

The National Hotel is located right in the middle of the town.  It has a fantastic restaurant, The Tap & Grille, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Buildings.

Just keep in mind, Block Island is a summer destination, and most businesses shut down during the off-season.  It’s not the most accessible place to get to, it’s best to take a ferry to Block Island.  The journey is worth it!

Click here to check accommodation deals on Block Island.

Anisa at 2 Traveling Texans

Beach at Block Island during summer in the US #USA #Travel
Relaxing at the beach

10. New Orleans, Louisiana

You cannot have a top list of best summer vacation spots in the US and not include New Orleans. New Orleans is a fascinating mix of people, sights, and sounds that cannot be found anywhere else in the United States, or possibly the world. Known for fabulous food, great music, and friendly people, New Orleans is sure to steal your heart.

Take time to explore the historic French Quarter with its gorgeous wrought iron balconies overlooking the gas-lit streets below. Wander in and out of the art galleries and antique shops on Royal before heading to Café du Monde for a world famous beignet and café au lait.  After stopping to take a selfie in front of the iconic Jackson Square, walk the Mississippi Riverfront and check out one of New Orleans’ historical steam boats. Spend the evening enjoying the music scene at Preservation Hall or one of the many clubs on Frenchmen Street.

Keep in mind that there is so much more to New Orleans than just the French Quarter.  Take the trolley into the Garden District to see the many gorgeous mansions that call NOLA home.  You might just catch a glimpse of Sandra Bullock or Beyoncé since they both own homes here! While you’re in the Garden District, treat yourself to lunch at Commander’s Palace and enjoy white glove service with 25-cent martinis!

New Orleans has plenty to keep you busy for days and to make you want to return again and again.  For that reason, a great New Orleans itinerary is definitely needed.  Granted, you will definitely experience some southern heat during the summer months, but do not let that deter you from visiting this diverse city! 

Click here to check accommodation deals in New Orleans.

Michelle at That Texas Couple

New Orleans main square during summer
New Orleans main square

11. Yosemite National Park, California

Yosemite National Park in California is one of the United States most iconic national parks. Thousands of people flock to it every year to see the dramatic, glacially formed, tall granite walls that make up the entrance of Yosemite Valley and are part of the epic Sierra Nevada Mountain Range.

The summer months are the best and most accessible times to visit the park as the roads, and most hikes should all be open, campsites will be active, and Yosemite village will be in full swing. Some of Yosemite’s main attractions include hiking to the top of Half Dome, river rafting in the Merced River, standing at the base of Yosemite’s tallest granite wall, El Capitan, hiking to upper, lower and middle Yosemite Falls, and driving up to Glacier Point to grab a beautiful photograph of the entire valley.

Just be sure to check with a park ranger before your visit as most popular hikes in the valley require hiking permits which can be obtained ahead of time or during your stay depending on availability.

Every type of explorer can come here and enjoy what Yosemite has to offer. Whether your aim is beautiful photography, day hikes, or even multi-day backpacking adventures into the thick of Yosemite, you will not be disappointed. In fact, you will most likely leave here wishing you had more time to explore its charms.  

Click here to check tours and activities in the Yosemite National Park.

Allison at She Dreams of Alpine

Trees and mountains at the Yosemite National Park during summer
Best places to visit in July in the USA – Yosemite National Park

12. Fire Island, New York

A perfect summer vacation destination? How about an island that is only OPEN in the summer! That unique place is Fire Island, New York, a barrier island about 32 miles long off the south coast of Long Island in the southern part of New York State. From where I live, it’s close to home and the perfect place for a summer day trip, but many folks make Fire Island their summer vacation spot!

Fire Island is accessible only by ferry! There are several that go to Fire Island, some which depart from Bay Shore (to the lighthouse and 9 of the western towns) and from Sayville (which will take you to the three eastern towns). Fire Island is a car-less place, so when boarding the ferry, you will see most folks dragging their beach carts or fully stocked wagons! While on the island, to get around you can walk, bike, or take a water taxi!

What is there to do on Fire Island? The beach is the most popular activity – the south part of the island faces the Atlantic Ocean making the perfect spot for shelling, swimming and relaxing! Restaurants and nightlife seem to be a close second regarding favorite things to do in Fire Island! You can find everything from family-friendly bars to crazy nightclubs!

Renting, or owning a home on Fire Island is a popular choice for accommodations, but the best lodging options is Fire Island Hotel and Resort – the only hotel on the island with a pool!

Click here to find accommodations on Fire Island – If you’re new to Airbnb you get a $28 credit! Click here to sign up.

Harmony Skillman at Momma to Go

Lighthouse at the Fire Island during summer in the US #USA #Travel
I can almost feel the breeze on my face

13. Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

If you’re looking for a summer vacation away from the crowds and cities, Shenandoah National Park is the place to go. Only 50 miles from Washington D.C., it provides a perfect respite from the hectic hustle-and-bustle life inside the Beltway. With over 200,000 acres of protected wilderness, it’s the ideal getaway for families, couples, and solo travelers alike. In the summertime, the wildflowers are blooming, and the lush, green scenery Virginia is known for is on full display, making this the perfect time to visit.

The main attraction in Shenandoah is Skyline Drive. The National Scenic Byway travels along the crest of the Blue Ridge for 100 miles between Front Royal and Rockfish Gap, where it connects to the Blue Ridge Parkway. There are dozens of overlooks providing vistas of the lush rolling hills of Virginia’s Piedmont to the east and the Shenandoah Valley to the west. It’s most popular in the fall when the leaves are changing, so the summer is the perfect time to enjoy it without as many fellow tourists.

The park is also a hiker’s paradise, naturally. There are over 500 miles of backcountry trails, include 101 miles of the Appalachian Trail, ranging from easy “walks-in-the-woods” to more moderate and strenuous treks. Also, there are places for horseback riding and bicycling. And the two main resorts in the park, Skyland, and Big Meadows, are for those who want a getaway in nature without being too rustic. But there are also some campgrounds.

Click here to check accommodation deals in near the National Park.

Maggie at Pink Caddy Travelogue

Person sitting on the edge of a stone while watching the sunset at Shenandoah National Park
Shenandoah National Park

14. Assateague Island, Maryland & Virginia

Assateague Island has to be one of my favorite spots in the summer. It’s situated on the Maryland and Virginia border making it very accessible to many people especially if you’re coming from Washington, DC or somewhere else along the East Coast. Assateague is known for something very unique and special – wild horses! Wild horses live all over the island in groups, and they are truly wild.

Once a summer they all move from the island to the mainland during the pony swim in July to shield them from the cold as the summer ends. It is an incredible experience to get to see in real life.

Just be careful when you see these wild horses, they are known to bite and hurt people because they are truly wild animals. While there, make sure you take a swim on the beautiful beach, go on a fun bike ride through the marsh to spot ponies, lighthouse house, and eat lots of seafood. Assateague is the perfect summer getaway!

Click here to check accommodation deals near Assateague Island.

Meghan at Meghan the Traveling Teacher

Assateague Island during sunset in the summer
Assateague Island during sunset
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15. Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Cape Cod holds some of my fondest summer memories. Geographically, it looks like a hooked finger telling you to, “come hither,” and in reality, a destination that allows you to escape the hustle and bustle of Boston and the rest of Massachusetts.

When driving, the Bourne and Sagamore bridges are landmarks that transport you into vacationland filled with sea breezes, sunsets, and beaches with water that will never be warm enough to swim comfortably. You don’t go to the Cape for a tropical vacation. Cape Cod is cute.

There are cute cottages with shingled siding, lovely shops -where you can go to support the local small business owners, and charming restaurants with clever yet gimmicky names like Crepe Cod. You rent bikes and ride the rail trail, consume salt water taffy till you burst, and seek out the “dunes on the Cape” made famous by the “if you like pina coladas” song.

You can find some of the world’s freshest seafood, including a famous New England lobster roll. Lobster manages to sneak its way into every dish: mac and cheese, quesadillas, soup, etc. And let me tell you, I don’t hate it! Cape Cod provides a sensory overload. The sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of the Cape just scream summer.

Click here to check accommodation deals in Cape Cod.

Cali at Cali On The Go

House and bike near the sea in Cape Cod during a cloudy afternoon in the summer
A peaceful afternoon in Cape Cod

16. Buffalo, New York

Buffalo New York is a city associated with harsh winters. Lake Erie, the cause of Buffalo’s snow woes is one key reason that Buffalo is an outstanding summer destination. Lake Erie is lined with sandy beaches (e.g., Woodlawn Beach State Park) so take a picnic and go for a summer swim.

Buffalo is a city of amazing architecture and summer is the best time to see it. Buffalo’s affluence peaked in the early 20th century. Many Downtown Buffalo skyscrapers were built during this period and feature a classic Art Deco style.

Buffalo is at the terminus of the Erie Canal and was a hub for transporting goods across the Great Lakes. Huge grain elevators line the Buffalo River. Take a Buffalo River History Tour and hear the ghosts of Buffalo’s past while exploring the rise, fall, and rise again of the Queen City.

Buffalo’s Canalside is another awesome summer destination in a revitalized area of downtown. Stroll along the Buffalo River and catch the cool breezes rolling in from the lake.

Looking for something to eat? Look no further than Buffalo’s famous beef on weck sandwich. Paired with corn on the cob and a loganberry pop, this is Buffalo summer at its finest. Sit outside Charlie the Butcher’s, home of the original beef on weck, and enjoy this quintessential Buffalo experience.

We spent a weekend in Buffalo, stay at the recently renovated Art Deco Curtiss Hotel in the heart of downtown. You’ll feel like you’ve been transported back in time but with high tech modern amenities discretely added.

Click here to check accommodation deals in Buffalo.

Jennifer at Sidewalk Safari

Black plastic buffalo in the city of Buffalo, New York
Buffalo, New York

17. Santa Fe, New Mexico

Many suggest visiting Santa Fe, New Mexico in autumn. The weather is crisp, and nearby Albuquerque hosts the famous Balloon Fiesta. However, these well-intentioned people are wrong. The best time of year to visit Santa Fe is the summer. It’s the only season when you can view the world-famous Santa Fe Opera. This opera is located outdoors in an acoustically flawless spot in the desert. Not only does the music sound amazing, but you can actually watch the sunset in the desert in the background while attending the performance.

But Santa Fe in the summer offers so much more than just opera. Treat yourself to a day of pampering at the blissful Japanese-style spa Ten Thousand Waves. Museum lovers will flip over the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, one of the greatest small museums in the country. Lovers of the avant-garde will prefer Meow Wolf, which is an immersive art experience created with the help of Game of Thrones writer George R.R. Martin.

Also, no visit to Santa Fe is complete without a taste of New Mexican cuisine, loaded with fresh local green chiles. Try Cafe Pasqual’s for huevos rancheros, visit 1950s throwback The Shed for lunch, and experience fine dining at Restaurant Martin. After a full day in Santa Fe, enjoy a pleasant and convenient night’s sleep at The Inn of the Governors. Just one glass of their complimentary sherry and you’ll see why I love Santa Fe in the summer.

Click here to check accommodation deals in Santa Fe.

Stella at Around the World in 24 Hours

Santa Fe Opera house with a view over the desert.
Santa Fe Opera

18. San Francisco, California

Summer in San Francisco equals fun, food, and adventure. It’s when the street fairs really get underway, kayaking and boating around the famous Bay gets really comfortable, music festivals spring up, and you can take advantage of the many great hiking opportunities.

You can’t miss a visit to the Golden Gate Bridge, and if you’re keen, riding a bike over it to Sausalito (about 4 miles north of San Francisco). Take in the houseboats bobbing along the bay, and enjoy an ice cream at the famous Lappert’s (689 Bridgeway, Sausalito). Those with tired legs can take the ferry back and enjoy the view of the city from the water.

Visiting the prison island of Alcatraz is also high on the list for many San Francisco visitors, and for a good reason. It was home to some of the most notorious gangsters, such as Al Capone, but there is also much more history to the place. Be sure to book tickets in advance though, because they sell out quickly.

There is something for everyone in San Francisco – from Fisherman’s Wharf sea lions and arcades, to shopping in Russian Hill and Market Street, visiting Union Square, wandering through the many museums (The Legion of Honor is my absolute favorite), taking ghost tours and walking tours of Haight Ashbury, where the hippie counterculture first began in the 1960s. The San Francisco bucket list has them all and so much more.

While you’re in town, head to Bob’s Doughnuts (1621 Polk Street) for a sweet treat, or line up outside of Tartine Bakery (600 Guerrero Street) for breakfast with locals. For a no frills delicious dinner, you can’t go past Tommy’s Joynt (1101 Geary Boulevard), and for a meal at any hour of the day or night, there’s always the Grubstake Diner (1525 Pine Street), which lives inside of a cable car.

San Francisco heats up in the summer, but that doesn’t mean you can get away with only packing shorts and tank tops. The city is full of microclimates, which means it can be a beautiful, sunny, warm day in one area, and windy and cold in another.

Click here to check accommodation deals in San Francisco.

Katherine at Bright Lights of America

Pastel colored houses in San Francisco during summer in the US #USA #Travel
Victorian Houses in San Francisco

19. Anchorage, Alaska

When you think of Alaska, you might think of dog-sledding, ice-fishing, and lots of snow. However, Alaska is just as majestic and fun in the summertime, too. There is so much to do in this northern city, such as camping, hiking, fishing, kayaking, anything outdoors.

Alaska is the Land of the Midnight Sun, and during the summer the sun hardly sets in Anchorage. It really doesn’t get dark. One of the great effects of so much sun is the plants grow fast and large. Anchorage takes full advantage of this and sports beautiful gardens all over the city.

Some other things to do in Anchorage are going wildlife viewing, rent a bike and biking on the many trails, watch the small prop sea-planes taking off and landing on Lake Hood. Some great sights include: the Alaska Native Heritage Center, the Anchorage Museum, Fish Creek, the Alaska Railroad, try some Alaska game dishes like reindeer sausage, and enjoy all the green spaces around the city.

There are some great places to stay in Anchorage like the Hotel Captain Cook or the Historic Anchorage Hotel.

If you love beauty and adventure, head to Anchorage this summer.

Corinne at Roving Vails

Skyline picture in Anchorage, Alaska
Skyline view in Anchorage

20. Sonoma County, California

Sonoma County will complete your summer destination bucket checklist. The Russian River runs through this valley offering many beaches for a swim or canoe down the river. Its surrounding vineyards and redwood trees will leave you in awe of its views. If you need some time out of the sun, Armstrong Redwoods State Park offers simple walking trails through the majestic trees.

Wineries are plentiful throughout the county. Check out the Dry Creek Valley for a small town spot with delicious tastings or drive southeast through Kenwood to compare the wine options available there in one of their gorgeous picnic spots.

On particularly hot days, head west out to Bodega Bay on the coast. It promises cool breezes, mouthwatering clam chowder at Spud Point, and tasty salt water taffy at Patrick’s.

Tasty but casual dining options are perfect for summer nights, like BBQ at Kinsmoke or Willi’s Seafood Bar in Healdsburg, or dress up a bit for El Dorado Kitchen in Sonoma.

No summer day is complete without cool tasty treats! Amy’s Wicked Slush will never leave you disappointed with its constantly changing flavors and innovative combos. The blackberry slush with cheesecake soft serve is to die for. Noble Folk is just as delicious with flavors like Salted Caramel and Vegan Passionfruit.

Enjoy your glass of red or white at the end of the day in your gorgeous room at h2hotel in Healdsburg or the beautiful Kenwood Inn & Spa. Enjoy your stay!

Sierra at Free to Travel Mama

Path in a forest covered in yellow leaves in Sonoma County, California
Sonoma County

21. Newport, Rhode Island

This little gem called Newport tucked away Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay, may not be New England’s most famous summer resort but it sure is one of my personal favorites. It’s an understated town where natural, cultural and culinary delights meet, all connected by miles of scenic bike-lanes. For the ultimate summer picnic, head to the Sweet Berry Farm in the morning to pick your own berries and peaches.

You’re then packed and ready to let the energizing sea breeze guide you as you explore the 3,5-mile-long Newport Cliff Walk, a designated National Recreation Trail along the town’s spectacular cliffs. Where the pathway gets too rocky, you could opt to enjoy the striking vistas from one of the opulent Gilded Age mansions that dot the coastline, such as The Breakers, the Elms or Rosecliff Mansion.

Take your time to explore the elegant gardens too. Then head to a nearby picnic spot overlooking the ocean or pick a secluded beach, like Gooseberry Beach, to enjoy a late lunch. Newport’s historic identity is tied to the ocean making it seafood heaven. For me personally, nothing beats a casual sunset dinner at the upper deck of the Midtown Oyster Bar overlooking the marina.

Click here to check accommodation deals in Newport.

Sarah at CosmopoliClan

People walking on the cliffs in Newport
Newport Cliff Walk

22. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Philadelphia is the perfect summer destination in the USA history lovers and foodies. It’s home to Independence Hall, and the birthplace of the United States flag and the Declaration of Independence. What’s more – there’s no bad food in Philadelphia.

History lovers, spend a day exploring the Historic District and the Old City. Tour Independence Hall, the Betsy Ross House, or any of the other historical sites in this area. Make sure you take a morning to visit Eastern State Penitentiary and some museums on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway too! It’s possible to see all the key historical sites and enjoy the nightlife and some great food with just 2 days in Philadelphia. It’s the perfect summer destination on the USA for a weekend trip!

Get incredible views of the city from the top of City Hall, or Liberty One Observation Deck. If you want drinks with your view, check out SkyGarten downtown, or the infamous Book Bar in South Philly, a bar on top of an old high school that is open all summer.

Come summer, Penn’s Landing is the place to be at night! The trees are strung up with beautiful lights, and there are live music and plenty of vendors for drinks and snacks.

Make sure you stay somewhere central, like Philadelphia 201 of the Sofitel, so that you’re walking distance from pretty much everything you will want to see on your visit.

Nina at Nina Near and Far

View over the buildings in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, during the summer
Philadelphia

23. Glacier National Park, Montana

Glacier National Park is the perfect national park to visit during the summer. Since the park is situated at a higher elevation, visiting during the summer is crucial to experience the national park to its fullest.

One of the best activities is to take a drive on the “Going To The Sun Road.” The road usually opens around the end of June beginning of July. It is one of the most breathtaking roads in America. The famous road has many stops along the way with stunning views and excellent hikes. Driving on the road can be a bit sketchy, and at time worrisome, but if you drive carefully, you will be just fine.

Taking a boat tour on one of the lakes is another fun activity. One of the most popular boat rides is the located on the Many Glacier Lake. The journey takes you on two boat tours and even drops you off close to a favorite hike to Grinnell Lake.

The best food to eat at Glacier National Park is anything with huckleberry. All the restaurants are filled with huckleberry pies, ice creams, pancakes, and salads. You can even buy some berries at fruit stands.

One of the best places to stay in Glacier National Park is the Reclusive Moose Cabins. The cabins are located in West Glacier and have a full kitchen, living room, and dining room.

Click here to check accommodation deals near the Glacier National Park.

Michelle at The Wandering Queen

Mountains and a lake in Glacier National Park in Montana
Glacier National Park

What about you? In your best summer vacation spots in the US list, what are the top 3? Let me know in the comments! I would love to hear from you!



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8 thoughts on “20+ Best Summer Vacation Spots in the US

  1. April says:

    What a great list of ideas! I agree, Utah is amazing. And, I’ll be going back there this summer and can’t wait!! But, permission to disagree, I think Yosemite is best visited in the shoulder seasons of summer. Though all trails are open in summer, the masses of people who go into the valley can be a nightmare. Rather, go next door to Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Park. Still epic scenery but less people.

    • Bruna Venturinelli says:

      Hi April, thanks for your comment!
      Fair enough, I have to admit that I also don’t like crowds. That’s why when I travel in the summer, I make sure to visit the most popular places very early in the morning!

  2. Mayuri says:

    Virginia and Portland are definitely underrated. I hope I can visit them soon on my next trip to the states
    Thanks for compiling this great list!

  3. Ryan Biddulph says:

    Hawaii is A1 on my list of places to see in the US Bruna. We will be there in 2 weeks but alas; short 4 hour layover, flying from New Zealand to NYC. Seeing the featured image from this post I know I need to get to the place. Pure paradise.

    Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Ryan

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