These warm weather picks are perfect for travelers seeking summer vacation spots without the typical crowds
At first glance, some of our top picks for summer travel aren't the first places you’d think to go. But, that's what makes them great! You’re guaranteed to have plenty of exciting things to do as our summer travel list offers culture, dining and outdoor adventure with a heavy helping of regional flair.
Relaxing beaches, local restaurants and the Channel Islands are Ventura’s best summertime excursions.
Ditch the California theme park crowds and book a stay in Ventura for a relaxing seaside vacation. Chill by the waves at Harbor Cove Beach, where soothing waters become the perfect haven for anyone wanting to spend time on the waterfront. Find your favorite seafood dish walking along the many local restaurants on Main Street, including Lure Fish House that offers their version of house ceviche. Be sure to stop at Mission Basilica San Buenaventura and learn the story of the missionaries who built the historic landmark in 1782. You can also experience some of the best snorkeling and scuba diving on the planet by hopping the ferry to Channel Islands National Park.
Savor Days of Wine and Roses – Grand Junction, Colorado
Colorado summers are great for wine tasting, nature walks and exploration.
Strike the perfect chord between outdoor adventure and culture by booking a hotel in Grand Junction for your Colorado vacation. Head out for heart pounding, world famous mountain biking or meander the serene walking path beside the Colorado River. Unwind after your excursion while sipping wine at one of 20 local vineyards or enjoy the fragrance of roses, herbs and desert flowers at the Western Colorado Botanical Gardens. You'll also find the nation's most extensive outdoor sculpture collection in the city—known as Art on the Corner along downtown’s Main Street—with more than 100 pieces of art. Head up the mesa behind the city to discover 300 lakes and trails winding through Grand Mesa National Forest.
Murals, museums and delicious street food give Tucson its distinct Southwest flair.
It might sound counter-intuitive to head into the deserts of Arizona where heat can exceed 100 degrees in the summer. The upside? The crowds are gone! Stay in Tucson and enjoy climate-controlled attractions like the Pima Air and Space Museum—one of the largest air museums in the world. Check out the eye-catching murals in Tucson’s hip downtown area before grabbing a delicious meal and ice-cold brew at Street- Taco and Beer Co. Rise above the desert heat with a drive up the Catalina Highway to the area's famous sky island, Mt. Lemmon. In just 27 miles, the journey takes you through every climate zone found from Mexico to Canada, ending up in cool high forests.
Not far from Savannah, Georgia is Tybee Island where you’ll find a lighthouse, water sports and bird watching.
The South can feel hot and humid in the summer, but on Tybee Island, 15 miles east of Savannah, Georgia, you'll enjoy milder temperatures and cool ocean breezes. Climb 178 spiral steps to score an amazing view from the Tybee Island Lighthouse, the tallest and oldest in the state. Walk along the island's five miles of sandy beach or rent a kayak or paddleboard to explore the coastline from the water. When you’re ready to take on some city attractions, make your way to Savannah for a trip back in time. The historic district features boutique shops, foodie-worthy dining and majestic Forsyth Park. Walk or bike the 50-acre green lung and be sure to snap a photo in front of the iconic water fountain dating back to the 1840s.
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Puget Sound is a picturesque haven for summer recreation in the Pacific Northwest.
Stay in Everett, Washington, and you'll be perfectly poised to enjoy all the Pacific Northwest has to offer. Hop aboard a free ferry to Jetty Island to splash in Puget Sound along a gently sloping beach with sun-warmed waters. The island is also a prime kiteboarding and bird-watching area. Evergreen Arboretum and Gardens is a peaceful haven of lush greenery, including a sculpture garden, rock garden and Northwest native plant trail. If you’re looking to fill out your itinerary with nearby attractions to keep you busy, you can visit a handful of heritage farms on Whidbey Island or jump on I-5 to head south to Seattle.
Along the North Atlantic Coastline – Portland, Maine
Maine is where you can eat lobster, breathe in the fresh breeze and plan a summer vacation connected to the great blue ocean.
Salty sea breezes, fresh lobster and fishing village ambiance are just three reasons to plan a summer vacation in Portland, Maine. The rocky shoreline has its share of beaches whether you decide to stay in town or head north to Freeport or south to Kennebunk. The coastal town is known for its Victorian-style homes located in a district known as the West End. You’ll also get breathtaking views of the Fore River and surrounding mountains atop Western Promenade. When it's time to for dinner, head over to the Luke’s Lobster Portland Pier. Enjoy fresh lobster roll while taking in views of the fishing boats cruising along the river. Ready for an adrenaline-pumping change of pace? Head to Palace Playland amusement park to scream your way through rides dotting the beachfront.
On the Sunny Side of the Smokies – Maggie Valley, North Carolina
You won’t have to go far to experience the relaxing and enriching spaces of the Great Smoky Mountains.
Tucked in the folds of the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina are the small town feels and endless green spaces of a relaxing vacation in Maggie Valley. Head off to explore Great Smoky Mountains National Park 16 miles west. Or follow the Blue Ridge Parkway out of town to the most scenic vistas. You'll also find plenty to do without ever leaving the town limits. The mild temperatures are ideal for playing a round of golf at the Maggie Valley Golf Club or casting a line in the Mountain Heritage Trout Waters along Jonathan Creek. Love old motorcycles and memorabilia? Check out the Wheels Through Time Museum, with 40,000 square feet of space that displays the history of old motorcycles and related art.
Soak in the Southern Waves – Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Summertime fun for everyone awaits on the white sands and boardwalk of Myrtle Beach.
It's no secret–one of the all-time best places summer destinations is South Carolina’s Atlantic Coast. If you plan your vacation in Myrtle Beach for late May or June, you're more likely to avoid the crowds that flock here later in the summer. However, the crowds are well-worth braving in this family summer paradise. You'll have plenty of room to spread out along 60 miles of tan sand and a selection of piers where you can rent equipment to fish. The Myrtle Beach Boardwalk provides hours of fun. Get an unparalleled view from the Myrtle Beach SkyWheel as it soars 200 feet into the air while you enjoy climate-controlled comfort in your enclosed gondola. Back on terra firma, you'll find arcades, museums, motion-activated movie theaters and ziplines!
Haven for History Buffs and Motorcycles – Keystone, South Dakota
The faces of Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse Memorial will you’re your summer trip to South Dakota unforgettable.
If you like road trips by car or by motorcycle, visiting Keystone, South Dakota is a great summertime destination for history, nature and bike enthusiasts. Mount Rushmore is a national treasure, carved into the granite mountainside by Gutzon Borglum in 1941. The impressive sculpture is visible from the road, but you’ll want to stop for a few hours to experience this larger-than-life monument. Another impressive mountain sculpture is Crazy Horse Memorial located less than 20 miles from Mount Rushmore. Still under construction, this landmark is history in the making, complete with hard hat tours that give visitors an up-close view of the carving in progress. Bikers can hit the open road with a visit to Sturgis, home of the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum & Hall of Fame.
Spend Time in Mother Nature’s Playground – Bozeman, Montana
Ousel Falls Waterfall is one of Mother Nature’s natural treasures close to Bozeman, Montana.
Travelers who love the great outdoors can expect the best of Mother Nature with a trip to Bozeman, Montana. Even though the region is renowned for its winter skiing, the town becomes a summertime playground with a wide variety of outdoor activities. For those who are more adventurous, plan on mountain biking, fly fishing, white water rafting and horseback riding. If you want to hike the Rocky Mountains, drive one hour to hike Ousel Falls Park Trail with its rushing waterfall and scenic views. For those who can’t get enough of outdoor recreation, Adventure Mountain at Big Sky Resort just 30 miles from Bozeman is great for kids of all ages with a bungee trampoline, giant swing, gemstone mining and minigolf.