Updated: Jul 1, 2021
Hello again, America!
It’s summertime again in the USA, and I am so thankful to be home! Because we’ve moved to the other hemisphere, we are now getting back-to-back summers! We go from summer in New Zealand to summer in the USA for June and July, and now we’ll head south again for spring and summer.
Although we’ve traveled and lived all over, I can genuinely say that exploring the USA never disappoints. People worldwide have the USA high on their travel bucket list but usually complain about the cost of a USA vacation.
So if you’re already in the USA, a stay-cation might be in order! I’ve asked bloggers from around the globe to write about their top summer destinations around the USA. See any familiar cities? Maybe it’s time to explore some new summer vacation spots! And especially with COVID, global travel is minimal and banned in many places.
I hope you find inspiration in this post to explore somewhere new. Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway, a beach oasis, or a mountainy adventure, the USA has you covered.
Thanks to the many bloggers who submitted their favorite cities! I should mention that these are in no particular order; I posted them in the order that they were submitted. Enjoy!
Palm Springs, California
Submitted by Nele from The Navigatio
Palm Springs is a fantastic summer destination in the US, hidden in the Californian desert. Known for its luxurious spas and midcentury architecture, it makes for a lovely little getaway.
When visiting Palm Springs, make sure to stop by Moorten Botanical Garden. This family-owned garden stretches over an acre and is filled with over 3,000 cacti!
Afterward, head over to the aerial tramway. This tramcar takes you up the cliffs of Chino Canyon. In the summer, it’s 30 degrees cooler at the top - a perfect way to cool down and enjoy some lovely views.
Since Palm Springs is known for its midcentury influences, there are some gorgeous buildings. It almost feels like walking through a vintage movie set. Many hotels and other accommodations have bikes to rent, which you can use to go on a little self-guided tour through Palm Springs. Make sure to look out for the colorful doors!
If you’re looking for a quick caffeine fix, stop by Koffi. The cafe got so popular that it’s now got four locations around the city! And if you want to add a quick bite to eat, check out Cheeky’s - they serve the best breakfasts and lunches.
While Palm Springs has a lot to offer, you can also take a day trip to Salvation Mountain or Joshua Tree National Park. Both make for a lovely addition to your Palm Springs itinerary.
Submitted by Noel from This Hawaii Life
One of the best things to do for summer is to take a nice Hawaiian vacation to Maui. Always a famous island to visit in Hawaii, visiting Maui is a must if you are up for some beautiful outdoor fun, beach discoveries, and finding some of the best snorkeling spots around Maui.
With so much outdoor fun and adventure at your doorstep to choose from, it's easy to fill up your days to explore the island. Fill your day up with activities or do the opposite and just sip some delicious mai tais at the hotel pool or beach and contemplate where you'll have a lovely dinner and sunset view.
Maui delivers everything you can imagine for summertime fun and an active lifestyle. The small Covid numbers and requirements to visit the island and pre-testing ensure that all visitors and locals remain safe and protected from any widespread disease measures.
You'll enjoy all the things you would like to experience depending on your interests and if you want to explore and visit different parts of the island that are unique, have some historical or cultural attraction, or even just take a nice short road trip up the mountain or even the scenic route to Hana on the eastern side of the island.
Whatever you choose, visiting Maui for summertime fun on the beach, hiking up lush valleys, or doing some fun adventure experience will always fit your idea of what fun and sun are all about on the islands.
Salt Lake City, Utah
Submitted by Lisa from Planning Away
Salt Lake City is a perfect summer vacation destination. The beautiful Rocky Mountains surround Salt Lake City. It is a great place to enjoy the outdoors.
One thing that is great about Salt Lake City is the weather. Because Utah has a dry desert heat, it doesn't make you sweat like you would in a humid area. Another fantastic thing is that if it does get too hot in the Salt Lake Valley, you can quickly drive 20 minutes, and the temperature will be 20 degrees cooler in the mountains.
Salt Lake is perfect if you want to enjoy hiking and outdoor activities. The ski resorts such as SnowBird and Park City have summer activities that include the alpine coaster, alpine slides, rock climbing, summer tubing, and an aerial lift to the top of the mountain. You can take the aerial lift and mountain bike or hike down.
Salt Lake City is a great starting point if you want to explore more of Utah. Utah is home to the mighty five national parks: Arches, Canyonlands, Zion, Bryce, and Capitol Reef. These parks are amazing! Taking a Utah national park road trip is a must.
If you love the outdoors, Salt Lake City is an excellent place for a summer vacation!
Submitted by Tegan + Alex from Why Not Walk Travel Guides
Boston is one of the most historic cities in the U.S. and a beautiful place to spend a summer vacation due to its gorgeous, mild weather and wealth of attractions for all budgets and interests.
History buffs will love walking the Freedom Trail, a 2-mile, 16-stop walking path outlining many major locations relating to Boston’s role in the American Revolution, such as Paul Revere’s house and the Old North Church, where the infamous “one if by land, two if by sea” bells were hung; Faneuil Hall Marketplace; the site of the Boston Massacre; and the site of the Battle of Bunker Hill.
Other must-sees in Boston include visiting the Boston Common, the country’s oldest park; shopping on Newbury Street and enjoying the Back Bay’s beautiful Victorian architecture; and sightseeing in Copley Square and visiting the gorgeous Boston Public Library, and perhaps the South End for brunch or cocktails.
Sports enthusiasts are spoiled for choice between the Red Sox at iconic Fenway Stadium or the Celtics and Bruins at TD Garden (if the season is still ongoing.) Nearby Cambridge is home to Ivy League heavyweights Harvard and MIT, which both have beautiful campuses and museums to explore, and the Seaport has excellent views of the Boston Harbor.
As for food, Boston has become a bit of a foodie destination in its own right. You absolutely cannot miss grabbing a bite to eat in the North End, Boston’s oldest neighborhood and home to a thriving Italian population. The area is teeming with restaurants serving handmade pasta, cannoli, and pizza. Some particular favorites are Regina’s for pizza (order the “Original North End”), Bova’s for enormous cannoli, and Monica’s or Giacomo’s for pasta.
Chinatown has delicious dim sum and dumpling offerings if you’re seeking different cuisines, and Brookline has several fantastic Jewish delicatessens. Lastly, don’t miss the opportunity to visit an Irish bar-- one great choice being The Black Rose for its nightly live music and Guinness always on tap.
Key West, Florida
Submitted by Camila Neves from Travel Cami
Key West in Florida is for sure one of the best places for an incredible summer vacation in the United States. This paradisiac island is the last of the Florida Keys and is located super close to Cuba and the Caribbean. This means amazing weather all year round!
Even though Key West is not super large, there are plenty of fun things to do there. For example, you can snorkel with dolphins, go kayaking in the mangroves, go to the beach, visit Ernest Hemingway's former house or even go on a memorable sunset sail. Oh, and watching the sunset from Mallory Square and going on a day trip to the Dry Tortugas National Park are also musts. You can read about more things to do in Key West here.
Key West also has a ton of excellent restaurants that serve the most delicious and freshest seafood. Visit Santiago's Bodega, Willie T's, and Blue Heaven for some fantastic food.
Regarding places to stay, some great choices of hotels are the Parrot Key Hotel & Villas, Orchid Inn, and Hyatt Centric.
Pro-tip: there is no need to drive in Key West! Rent a bike and take in all the amazing ocean views. Also, make sure to head to Duval Street at night for a legendary pub crawl, Key West style.
Submitted by Martin Soto from Travel Explorator
Chicago, Illinois, is one of the most famous cities in the world, known for its vibrant downtown culture and magnificent attractions like the Cloud Gate, aka "The Bean.”
If you're visiting Chicago, one of their most famous attractions you have to see is "The Bean.” It's found in Millenium Park, it's free to see, and probably one of the most Instagrammable attractions. Its reflective surface and unique design provide a wacky reflection.
Apart from checking out Cloud Gate in Millenium Park, Navy Pier is another highly sought out attraction, but this is more of a tourist area. The waterfront area is famous for its dining & shopping options and events like carnivals that occur routinely (it has a huge Ferris
Wheel). There is also a close-by kids museum and theater you can check out as a family.
Besides the museums you can find at Navy Pier, there are several much bigger museums around the city. One of the most well-renowned ones is the Museum of Science and Industry. It's a massive museum with multiple exhibits perfect for couples, kids, and solo explorers. You can easily spend anywhere between 3 to 4 hours exploring all of it since it has nearly 400,000 square feet of exhibits.
If you're looking for food, you can check out Gibson’s Bar & Steakhouse, one of Chicago's most iconic restaurants. Otherwise, if you're on a budget, you can go to Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken. Chicago has excellent dining options for every type of traveler. No matter what your budget is, you'll find something to your liking in this wonderful city.
Montauk, New York
Submitted by Nina Rossiello from Nomadic Neen
Most people only consider New York City when planning a vacation to New York, but exploring Long Island, specifically Montauk, should be at the top of your bucket list! Summer in New York is perfect. There are so many different activities you can do while you enjoy the heat and the summer sun.
Montauk is an old fisherman’s town and beach town. It has a chill, relaxing vibe all around and is the perfect place to get away from the stresses of life. You can sunbathe on the beaches all day and never tire of the views.