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 the 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.
Best Summer Vacation Spots in the US
If you love the outdoors, Utah is probably one of the best vacation spots in the US and also a great spring break destination 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.
Best US travel 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.
Where to stay in Utah
Click here to check accommodation in Utah!
Megan at Red Around the World
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, making it not only one of the best US vacation spots, but also an incredibly romantic getaway in the USA.
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.
Where to stay in Kauai
Click here to check accommodation in Kauai!
Michelle at Harbors & Havens
There are lots of things to do in Oregon, 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.
A starry night
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.
Where to stay in Oregon
Click here to check accommodation in Oregon!
Heather at Oregon Outdoor Family
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 historic hotel was built in 1881 and is only a walk away from all the restaurants, 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.
Pro tip: I highly suggest making reservations in advance because it does get pretty crowded.
Click here to book.
Hike, hike, hike
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 great vacation spot 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.
Where to stay near the Acadia NP
Click here to check accommodation near the Acadia National Park!
Michelle at The Wandering Queen
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 to 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.
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.
Where to stay at Santa Catalina Island
Click here to check accommodation on Santa Catalina Island!
Allison at She Dreams of Alpine
6. Portland, Maine
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 summer vacation in the USA.
Where to stay in Portland
Click here to check accommodation in Portland!
Jasmine at A Great Big Hunk of World
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.
Pro tip: Just be wary when entering the water, since the strong current and submerged branches can be dangerous for swimmers.
Great Dunes Beach
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, 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.
Where to stay at Jekyll Island
Click here to check accommodation at Jekyll Island!
Carrie at Maple & Maps
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.
Afraid of heights?
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.
Where to stay near the Rocky Mountain NP
Click here to check accommodation near the Rocky Mountain National Park!
Heidi at Fly Away U
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!
Where to stay at Block Island
Click here to check accommodation at Block Island!
Anisa at 2 Traveling Texans
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.
Explore the French Quarter
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 steamboats.
Spend the evening enjoying the music scene at Preservation Hall or one of the many clubs on Frenchmen Street.
Discover the Garden District
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!
Where to stay in New Orleans
Click here to check accommodation in New Orleans!
Michelle at That Texas Couple
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.
Yosemite’s Main Attractions
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
- 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 the 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.
Where to stay near Yosemite NP
Click here to check accommodation near Yosemite National Park!
Allison at She Dreams of Alpine
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 of 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).
A Car-Less Place
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 on Fire Island. You can find everything from family-friendly bars to crazy nightclubs.
Where to stay on Fire Island
Click here to find accommodation on Fire Island!
Harmony Skillman at Momma to Go
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.
Take in the view
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.
Where to stay near Shenandoah National Park
Click here to check accommodation near the Shenandoah National Park!
Maggie at Pink Caddy Travelogue
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!
Where to stay on Assateague Island
Click here to check accommodation on Assateague Island!
Meghan at Meghan the Traveling Teacher
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.
Read next: Best travel bras to feel safe on 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 saltwater 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.
Where to stay in Cape Cod
Click here to check accommodation in Cape Cod!
Cali at Cali On The Go
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.
A Pleasant Weekend
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.
Where to stay in Buffalo
Click here to check accommodation in Buffalo!
Jennifer at Sidewalk Safari
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 because 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.
More than just Opera
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.
Where to stay in Santa Fe
Click here to check accommodation in Santa Fe!
Stella at Around the World in 24 Hours
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.
A Dark Tourism Site
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:
- Fisherman’s Wharf sea lions and arcades
- 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.
Foodie in San Francisco
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.
Where to stay in San Francisco
Click here to check accommodation in San Francisco!
Katherine at Bright Lights of America
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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.
If you love beauty and adventure, head to Anchorage this summer.
Where to stay in Anchorage
Click here to check accommodation in Anchorage!
Corinne at Roving Vails
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.
Cool Breezes and Tasty Treats
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 saltwater 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.
Where to stay in Sonoma County
Click here to find accommodation in Sonoma County!
Sierra at Free to Travel Mama
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.
Explore the Outdoors
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.
Where to stay in Newport
Click here to check accommodation in Newport!
Sarah at CosmopoliClan
22. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia is the perfect summer destination in the USA for 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 in the USA for a weekend trip!
Drinks with a View
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.
Where to stay in Philadelphia
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Nina at Nina Near and Far
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.
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.
What to do in Glacier NP
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 times 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 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.
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.
Where to stay near the Glacier NP
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Michelle at The Wandering Queen
The first thing that comes to a person’s mind when they think of the state of Florida is usually beaches or Disney World.
However, Florida has a lot of unique outdoor and nature-based activities that go overlooked. Coined as “The Real Florida” there is an abundance of nature tourism opportunities.
Perhaps the crown jewel is the extensive collection of natural springs in Florida.
It should come as no surprise to anyone that Florida is located right at sea level which makes the water table very high.
This combined with the limestone deposits the state is situated on makes it a prime area for natural springs and sinkholes.
Over 700 natural springs
There are roughly 700 natural springs in Florida. Meaning, regardless of your vacation destination, there will definitely be more than one natural spring within an hour or two driving.
Each spring is unique, but they can be divided into two main types spring-only, similar to a swimming hole or springs that are located off of rivers.
Springs that are located off of rivers usually have an opportunity to tube or Kayak, which is always a ton of fun.
Some of the most popular springs in Florida are the Ichetucknee, Ginnie, Silver, and Weeki Wachee Springs.
From great white herons, freshwater turtles, monkeys, manatees, and even mermaids each spring has something exciting to offer.
So, if you are looking for a break from the busy beaches or the long lines of Disney, I recommend checking out the list of springs to start planning a day trip to one of the many natural springs in Florida.
Where to stay in Florida
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Allie at WOC Travel
25. Detroit, Michigan
Detroit, Michigan, isn’t the first place most Americans think of when planning their summer vacation.
The city has gotten a bad reputation recently, especially when it filed for bankruptcy back in 2013.
However, for the discerning and adventurous traveler, Detroit has much to offer.
And summer is by far the best time to visit. After all, two great reasons to visit Detroit are its stunning architecture and its river, and these are both more pleasant to enjoy in warm weather.
What to do in Detroit
On a sunny day, the locals head to Belle Isle, an island park in the Detroit River. It’s possible to get there by taking the scenic 5.5-mile Riverfront walk from downtown Detroit.
Wandering through the Nature Center on Belle Isle, it’s easy to forget one is in a major metropolis.
Those who are more interested in Art Deco architecture should wander around the ornate green Guardian Building, aka The Cathedral of Finance.
Music lovers will want to visit the Motown Museum and see where legends like Smokey Robinson and Stevie Wonder recorded. (Bruno Mars, Beyonce, and Paul McCartney have all paid this museum a visit too.)
When it’s time to eat, there’s everything from the James Beard-nominated restaurant Selden Standard to coney dogs at American Coney Island to baklava in Greektown.
Oh, and no tourist to Detroit should miss the interior of this library, which was designed by legendary architect Cass Gilbert.
Moreover, Chartreuse is an excellent choice for dinner near the hotel. They offer the Last Word cocktail, which was invented right here in Detroit and is the perfect libation for a warm summer evening.
Where to stay in Detroit
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Stella at Around the World in 24 hours
26. Fort Worth, Texas
If you are looking for a unique summer destination in the United States, then look no further than Fort Worth, which is a short road trip from Dallas.
Fort Worth is a unique blend of its fabulous cowboy heritage with a down-home modern twist that is sure to make you fall in love with this fabulous city. While the temperature heats up in the summer, so does the fun!
First things first, we have to find you some fabulous digs to stay in while visiting Fort Worth. I suggest staying around Sundance Square.
Sundance Square is a 35-block area of downtown Fort Worth that is filled with restaurants, shopping, and entertainment venues.
It is easily walkable and close to public transportation, making it a wonderful place to call home during your visit. I love staying at the Worthington Renaissance Hotel or the Omni in Sundance Square.
While in Sundance Square be sure to visit Yold for an awesome breakfast before heading to Del Frisco’s Grill for some fabulous food and cocktails later in the day.
The Stockyards is home to the ‘World’s Largest Honky Tonk”, Billy Bob’s and some great food venues. We love to eat Tex-Mex as Los Vaqueros or dive into some authentic Texas Bar-b-Que at Risky’s Bar-b-Que.
There are so many things to do in Fort Worth, you are guaranteed to stay busy.
After visiting the tourist attractions like the Stockyards, the Botanical Gardens, and Sundance Square, it’s time to immerse yourself in some of the other activities that make Fort Worth a unique summer destination.
If you are visiting during July, then you have to head to Panther Island Pavillion to celebrate America, Texas-style. Fort Worth does it up big for the 4th of July, and it is definitely a party you don’t want to miss.
Also during July, we hit the river to cool off from the Texas heat with our annual “Rockin’ the River” celebration.
Every Saturday night from July 6-August 10, Panther Island Pavillion hosts 5 live bands that end in a fireworks show to entertain you while you float a tube in the cool river water!
To continue your trip in the Lone Star State, you might want to read about these fantastic road trips in Texas.
Where to stay in Fort Worth
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Michelle at That Texas Couple
27. Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
Grand Teton National Park offers breathtaking mountain views, stunning hikes, and challenging mountain peaks.
Located just outside of the Town of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, this park boasts iconic mountain scenery that is easily accessible for all abilities. No trip to Grand Teton National Park is complete without a trip to Mormon Row.
Check out the iconic homesteading barn with a mountain skyline backdrop. For a picture-perfect sunrise, head to Jenny Lake.
After the sun rises, take a short hike to Inspiration Point or hop on the ferry and cross the lake to see Hidden Falls.
Moderate to expert hikers should check out the stunning Cascade Canyon or hike to the saddle between the Middle and Grand Teton via Garnet Canyon.
Wilderness backpackers may want to consider getting a backcountry permit to Paintbrush Canyon or tackling the Teton Crest Trail, a 25.7-mile hike that traverses a large part of the park.
If you are a seasoned mountaineer, consider climbing the Grand Teton, a towering 13,770-foot mountain that requires ropes to the summit.
In town, you can explore the famous central square, catch a real rodeo every Wednesday and Saturday evening from Memorial Day to Labor Day at the Snow King Resort.
Grab a pie cooked to perfection from Hand Fire Pizza, nosh on a tasty treat from Moo’s Gourmet Ice Cream and wash it all down with a beer at the famous Million Dollar Cowboy Bar.
Where to stay near Grand Teton NP
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Meg at Fox in the Forest
Wrapping up on the best summer vacation spots in the US
In your best summer vacation spots in the US list, what are the top 3? Let us know in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!
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