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.
While sunbathing, keep an eye on the water because you might get lucky and catch a glimpse of a whale or two! Most people think the beach is only a day activity, but that is not the case in Montauk. Grab yourself a metal bin, some wood, and some marshmallows to enjoy a bonfire on the beach. If you’re hungry while having your bonfire, you can get a delicious pizza delivered right to the Beach!
There are plenty of fishing tournaments that take place in Montauk throughout the summer months. You can participate in these tournaments or see what the fisherman brings in. It can be scary seeing the large fish and even sharks that these fishermen pull out of the water. Especially if you were just swimming at the beach earlier!
Another fun day activity is a trip to the Montauk Lighthouse. The lighthouse is filled with history and just a beautiful site. If you’re brave enough to conquer the height, climb up to the top for some incredible views of the ocean and the town!
Montauk is filled with amazing restaurants, especially seafood restaurants, given you are on an island and in a fisherman’s town. Some must trys include: Nick’s on the Beach, Gosman’s, South Edison, and The Point. There are also a bunch of ice cream shops, which are all equally delicious!
Submitted by Elena Pappalardo from The Carry-On Chronicles
Romantic Savannah, Georgia, makes for a wonderful summer destination in the US, provided you don’t mind a little heat. Fortunately, as temperatures rise, hotel and flight prices drop, making this highly desirable city more affordable. Plus, visitors will find plenty of fun ways to keep cool, whether hopping aboard a river cruise on the iconic Georgia Queen or catching some waves at neighboring Tybee Island.
Additionally, there are plenty of centralized city activities to enjoy in Savannah. From touring historic homes such as the Owens-Thomas House to browsing the Paris Market and Brocante, witnessing the paranormal on a stimulating ghost tour.
Plus, those traveling by car won’t want to miss the short drive to the infamous Wormsloe Historic Site, Georgia’s oldest plantation. The striking front entranceway is one of the most heavily photographed sites in the city and received cinematic fame from its appearance in The General’s Daughter.
Foodies, in particular, will swoon over scrumptious Savannah. This comfort food city is perfect for those looking to indulge in everything from savory brunches to decadent desserts. Crowd favorites include Maple Street Biscuit Company for mouthwatering biscuits, Mirabelle for delectable Belgian-style waffles, Huey’s for fresh beignets, Peregrin for delicious drinks with stunning skyline views, and The Olde Pink House for everything.
Submitted by Nate Hake from Travel Lemming
Summer is a great time to visit Denver, which has recently become one of the trendiest destinations in the United States. Denver comes alive in the summer when residents and tourists alike play the sun in the city's expansive parks or sip craft brews on Denver's many patio restaurants.
If you can, time your visit to make a concert at the spectacular Red Rocks Amphitheatre, whose dramatic setting on the mountainside amongst giant craggy rocks makes it arguably the best outdoor music venue in the USA. Also, be sure to visit Larimer Square, Union Station, and the gorgeous Denver Botanic Gardens, some of the most popular sites in town.
Hungry or thirsty? Denver has an up-and-coming food and drink scene, much of it centered around the trendy River North arts district. Check out Super Mega Bien for inspired Mexican fare, Dio Mio for delicious pasta, or Biker Jim's for fried mac and cheese and hot dogs. Oh, and be sure to stop by and check out the street art behind Denver Central Market.
There is so much to do in Denver itself, but one of the best things about it as a summer destination is making the perfect base for day trips to the nearby mountains. Just be sure to pack a pair of warmer clothing because, while Denver can be warm to hot during the summer, the mountain towns can sometimes get downright chilly even in July!
Bar Harbor, Maine
Submitted by James Ian from Parks Collecting
Bar Harbor is a quintessential northeastern coastal town. It is also the gateway to Acadia National Park, which is right next door.
There are lots of things to do in Bar Harbor and the surrounding area. Hike famous trails such as the Beehive and the Precipice. Relax afterward with a dip in the lovely Echo Lake or the chilly Atlantic Ocean at the gorgeous Sand Beach. Or catch a local ferry out to the Cranberry Islands, where you can visit a typical New England fishing village.
Bar Harbor is a major lobster fishing town, and if you like seafood, it would be a crime to visit without having freshly caught lobster at least once. Stewman’s Lobster Pound has an outdoor seating section right on the water in central Bar Harbor.
To cool off, try a blueberry ice cream from Sunrise Café, which is right on the main square (they also do a mean crepe!). And to relax in the afternoon, head to Jordan Boathouse in Acadia National Park to enjoy freshly baked popovers smothered in butter and jam on the shores of Jordan Pond.
For more adventure, you can take a kayaking tour past rocky beaches, sip champagne on a sunset sailing trip around the surrounding islands, and rent a bicycle and cycle the historic carriage trails through Acadia. You can also take a walking tour around Bar Harbor and learn more about the town’s history and surrounding area. No matter what you like to do, you will love Bar Harbor in the summer.
Submitted by Trijit Mallick from BudgetTravelBuff
At the height of 625 feet, Lake Tahoe is located at the border of California and Nevada. It is one of the best USA summer vacation destinations where lush pine forests and beautiful beaches will surround you. Lake Tahoe can be visited throughout the year. However, summer is the best time when you can see the crystal clear water and enjoy numerous outdoor activities.
There are plenty of things to do in Lake Tahoe in summer. Explore the pristine, enjoy swimming in the turquoise water or just relax on the beach and enjoy sunbath with your partner. Adventure enthusiasts must go for kayaking, snorkeling, paddle boarding, jet skiing, or parasailing. Fishing is prevalent in Lake Tahoe in the summer.
You cannot go wrong with hiking in Lake Tahoe. It is the best way to get close to nature and enjoy the scenic views of surrounding areas. If hiking is not your thing, just rent a bike and explore the biking trails and nearby areas around Lake Tahoe.
Nightlife is pretty vibrant in north Lake Tahoe. You will also see some casinos in north Lake Tahoe. However, most casinos are located in the Nevada part.
Foodie travelers should not miss Evan’s American Gourmet Cafe, one of the best restaurants in South Lake Tahoe. This award-winning restaurant is highly recommended for its delicious food, amazing ambiance, and excellent service. Their Goat Cheese Hummus Spread can be a real treat for your tastebuds.
Tip: Summer is the busiest season in Lake Tahoe. Be prepared for huge traffic and expensive hotel rate. But if you plan early and book your accommodation two to three months in advance, you can save some serious bucks.
Submitted by Matt & Alysha of West Coast Wayfarers
There’s no better place than the Pacific Northwest during the summer when days are warm and dry, and the sun is up from 5 am to 9:30 pm. Portland, Oregon, is one of the best cities in the country for a weekend getaway if you’re into great food.
Cities like New York and San Francisco get more fanfare, but there’s no better place to visit than Portland if your idea of a good weekend is trying all sorts of different kinds of donuts. Or beer. Or ice cream. Or food trucks. The list goes on.
The first thing to know about Portland is that it doesn’t have any major tourist attractions, like the Space Needle in Seattle or the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Instead, it’s a young, thriving city with a solid small business culture, which means great restaurants, bars, and locally-owned shops.
Throughout a trip to Portland, you’re going to want to visit Powell’s Books, the best independent bookstore on the west coast, smell the roses at the International Rose Test Garden, where you’ll find 10,000 roses in bloom over the spring and summer, and hike to Pittock Mansion for great views of the city.
You’re also going to want to eat. Make sure to grab donuts at Blue Star, Pip’s Original Donuts & Chai, and Insta-famous Voodoo to decide for yourself who makes the best donuts in Portland (there are plenty of other options too). Eating at a food truck pod is a quintessential Portland experience - good pods are at the Prost! Marketplace (Matt’s BBQ and DesiPDX are phenomenal) and the Hawthorne Asylum.
For drinks, head to the industrial-turned-chic Central Eastside for breweries like Modern Times and Cascade Brewing, among others. On Saturday mornings, the PSU Farmers Market is among the best farmers markets in the country, with stalls featuring produce from the bountiful farmland surrounding Portland, and smaller food brands and food trucks selling everything from handmade tortillas to gluten-free cinnamon rolls.
Santa Barbara, California
Submitted by Dhara from Roadtripping California
Santa Barbara is one of the best cities in the USA for a summer vacation. Combining sun, sea, and sand, Santa Barbara makes for a fabulous beach getaway, but the city is not just about beautiful beaches.
From museums and gardens to historic architecture and great food and drink, you will find plenty of things to do in Santa Barbara, no matter what type of travel you enjoy, from outdoor activities to culture and history.
Visit Old Mission Santa Barbara, one of the most beautiful Spanish missions in California. The historic Presidio complex still has a couple of the original adobe structures. Visit the Santa Barbara County Courthouse, both for its fabulous views and for its art and architecture.
Visiting Santa Barbara in the summer calls for plenty of beach time. From East Beach to Butterfly Beach, you have many sandy beaches for some quality time enjoying strolling, sunbathing, swimming, and more.
Summer is also the perfect time to enjoy the water, and you can go canoeing or kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding. Or you can take a relaxing cruise. If you enjoy gardens, you will find plenty of blooms at Lotusland in Montecito or the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden.
And finally, don’t forget ice cream to cool off: McConnell’s on State Street is a Santa Barbara institution and serves delicious, pure ice cream in numerous flavors.
Charleston, South Carolina
Submitted by Soumya from Stories by Soumya
One of the best American cities to visit in summer is the Holy City of Charleston in South Carolina. The city has a long and storied history, rich culture, a unique culinary scene, and a sunny coast, which means several interesting things to do in Charleston.
Summer is the perfect time to hit the beach. Folly Beach, Isle of Palms, Kiawah Island, and Sullivan’s Island – Charleston has some of the best beaches in America. Summer is also the official nesting season of sea turtles – so the best time to get involved in conservation efforts.
History lovers will love walking through a charming French Quarter, touring historic homes, and exploring Charleston’s historic district. Suppose you need more, head to Boone Hall or Magnolia Plantation for a deep dive into slave history. Be sure to check out Fort Sumter, the exact place where the American Civil War began.
If you are a foodie, you will love Charleston’s vibrant culinary scene. Shrimps and grits, fried green tomatoes, crab cakes, and pralines – you will find lots to satiate your Lowcountry cravings. Remember to check out the Summer Farmer’s Market at Freshfields Village to pick up fresh produce and authentic local crafts.
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Submitted by Agnes from The Van Escape
The capital of New Mexico, Santa Fe, is one of the most beautiful cities in the Southwest. Moreover, it is also one of the oldest cities with over 400 years of history. Santa Fe impresses its unique architecture, culture, art, cuisine, and a wide selection of outdoor activities.
The best places to see are Santa Fe Plaza, Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, Loretto Chapel, Palace of the Governors. Art lovers should visit Meow Wolf, Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Worrell Gallery, and the New Mexico Museum of Art.
Moreover, summer is the time of festivals in Santa Fe. The city is bustling with life and amazing attractions. The most interesting summer events are the Spanish Market in July. Which features over 250 local artists, offers their handcraft like carving, painting, tinwork, silversmithing.
The Indian Market in August is an opportunity to meet the artists and learn about contemporary Indian arts and cultures. During the Santa Fe Opera Festival from June through August, you can admire the most beautiful and important opera works in the world on the stage of the Santa Fe opera.
You can participate in Santa Fe Wine & Chile Fiesta and Zozorba Burn Him Festival in September - the fiery destruction of Zozobra – a 50-foot tall marionette.
The city is famous for its outstanding cuisine formed by a convergence of Spanish, Mexican, Indigenous, and Wild West. Numerous culinary workshops are also held here. The best restaurants are Palacio Cafe, Arroyo Vino, La Boca, Sazón, Maria's New Mexican Kitchen, Dr. Field Goods Kitchen, Jambo Cafe.
Santa Fe is also a great base for day trips for exploring New Mexico's amazing landmarks. The best are Native American cliff dwellings - Bandelier National Monument and 1000 years old Taos Pueblo. A worth visit is also the fabulous rock formation Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument.
Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Submitted by Shannon of Traveling Teacher Girl
Cape Cod is the perfect location in the USA for a summer vacation. With great beaches, restaurants, and activities- there is something to do here for every type of traveler. When planning a trip to Cape Cod, the first thing to do is to decide which area to stay in.
Provincetown is a popular town located in the “Outer Cape” at the tip of the peninsula of Cape Cod. This town has a ton of cute galleries and cafes and is a popular LGBTQ+ destination. While in Provincetown, be sure to get a meal at “Tween the Tides” and enjoy the view of the harbor.
The “Lower Cape” towns of Harwich and Chatham are popular destinations as well, with closer access to the Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket ferry lines. Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket are both great day trips from Cape Cod- be sure to take your return ferry during sunset to enjoy gorgeous sunset views.
Cape Cod is well known for its beautiful beaches with various bay and ocean beaches to choose from. A few popular beaches include Nauset Beach, Crosby Landing Beach, and Marconi Beach. In addition to going to the beach, some other seaside activities in Cape Cod include whale watching, kayaking, and paddleboarding.
Submitted by Rebecca from Whatever Packs Your Bag
Louisville, Kentucky, is a fabulous city to visit in the summer. There are many things to do, including Churchill Downs, The Bourbon Trail, and 4th Street Live.
Churchill Downs is the location of the Kentucky Derby every year, and even if you aren’t a gambler, you can appreciate the history and energy in this place. Tours are available during the week, and there is usually racing during the weekends. Check their calendar to see what is available to suit your interests. Grab yourself a mint julep, honestly not a fan, but still glad I tried it, and place a bet and enjoy the thrill and fastest thirty seconds in sports.
The next stop is some of the world-famous distilleries along the Bourbon Trail. There are 18 stops on the main Bourbon Trail and 20 stops on the Craft Bourbon Trail. If you are a bourbon drinker, you have now found heaven.
You can hire a tour to take you to several stops along the trail, and then you don’t have to drive. If you are like me and not totally into the Bourbon, hit the Jim Beam Urban Distillery and Angels Envy. You get the history, info, and tastings without as much leg work.
If you are at the Jim Beam Urban Distillery, then you are already at 4th Street Live. It is a local venue with restaurants, clubs, and live music. It has such a fantastic vibe and encapsulates the Louisville highlights.
Some places to hit are Howl at the Moon, a dueling piano bar, which is some great fun, and Whiskey Dry for some amazing food and unbelievable Whiskey selection. When in Rome?!
Some other great spots to hit, The Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory, The Speed Art Museum, and Muhammad Ali Center, a fun fact he was from Louisville!
Submitted by Milijana Gabrić of World Travel Connector
Celebrated Malibu is a favorite beach vacation destination of Hollywood celebrities.
If you are dreaming of a perfect beach vacation in California, do it like celebrities do, and go to glorious Malibu!
Beautiful Malibu has all for a perfect beach vacation: all-year-round sunshine, pristine sandy beaches, amazing ocean, sensational beachfront rentals, classy bars, fine-dining restaurants, fantastic trails ... You name it, Malibu has it all!
Book a fantastic Malibu beach house rental and start your day by waking up with the sounds of ocean waves. Relax watching magical ocean sunsets with a glass of fine sparkling wine from your deck. Have a beach time of your life on amazing Malibu beaches. Just to remind you, Malibu beaches are some of the prettiest beaches in California.
Scenic Malibu’s Zuma Beach is one of the most popular beaches in California for the fine sand and perfect surf waves. But, Malibu’s Lagoon State Beach, Carbon Beach (aka ‘Billionaires Beach’), El Matador State Beach, El Pescador State Beach, Point Dume State Beach, and Topanga State Beach are some of those sandy beaches that make you want to live on the beach for the rest of your life.
For the best coffee, head to the celebrated Paradise Cove Beach Cafe. You will spot several Hollywood A-listers there, for granted! For a romantic dinner, go to iconic Geoffrey’s restaurants with breathtaking ocean views.
Explore the trails of the incredible Point Dume Natural Preserve if you are a nature enthusiast. But if you are an art lover, the impressive collection of Getty Villa Museum will take your breath away. In short, if you would like to have a celebrity-style beach vacation, head to mesmerizing Malibu!
Submitted by Lori Sorrentino from Naples Florida Travel Guide
If you're looking for one of the best summer vacation destinations in the US, look no further than Naples, the jewel of southwest Florida’s Paradise Coast. With sugary white sand beaches and the calm warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, Naples has some of the top rated beaches in Florida, and bonus, in the summer they’re not crowded, and finding parking at the beach is a breeze.
There are plenty of things to do in Naples. Name a water activity, and it’s here. You can rent stand-up paddleboards, kayaks and canoes, jet skis, and boats. But it’s not just about the water.
When you’ve had enough fun in the sun, you can enjoy high-end shopping, a staggering number of restaurants, cultural events, and hiking — it’s just a short drive to visit and hike the Everglades.
In downtown Naples, the 5th Avenue shopping and dining district is home to Naples’ best restaurants and dining al fresco is perfect with the streets aglow with tall palms wrapped with twinkle lights.
Summer in Southwest Florida brings afternoon showers to cool things off, but this also is why it’s a great time to see migratory birds, nesting sea turtles, alligators, and every visitor’s favorite — manatees.
With all there is to see and do in Naples, at the very top of everyone’s bucket list is watching the pastels and fiery colors of the setting sun over the Gulf from the Naples Pier, which in the summer is seldom crowded.
Ocean City, Maryland
Submitted by Denise of Chef Denise
If you’re looking for a USA summer vacation destination that has it all, head to Ocean City, Maryland, with fun in the sun activities for everyone. Ocean City’s beach stretches for 10 miles on the Atlantic Ocean, providing ample opportunities for water sports like surfing, swimming, jet-skiing, stand-up paddling, and for the more adventurous, parasailing.
Walking the 3-mile boardwalk is a must while visiting O.C. Enjoy a few amusement park rides and then fuel up for your stroll. A bucket of the self-proclaimed “best fries in the world” from Thrasher’s is a great way to start. For refreshingly delicious ice cream, try Dumser’s, and for the best caramel popcorn on the boardwalk, you’ll want to go to Fisher’s.
Plenty of restaurants line the boardwalk, but the best restaurants in Ocean City are not here. For dinner on the beach (literally), Seacrets will treat you well. Seafood lovers do not leave without having a Maryland blue crab feast at Hooper’s or Waterman’s.
Nature-lovers should not miss Assateague Island, just 8 miles from downtown Ocean City. With two herds of wild horses and over 200 species of birds, the wildlife here is a nice respite from the wildlife in O.C. You can hike, fish, rent kayaks, and even four-wheel on the beach (permit required).
Check out Ocean City’s neighboring town of Berlin for a charming “Mayberry” experience. Antique shops, eateries, boutiques, art galleries, and leftover set pieces from the filming of Runaway Bride are a great way to fill a few hours.
Los Angeles, California
by Alanna Koritzke from Periodic Adventures
Los Angeles is a must-see city in the summer! While it does get crazy hot at temperatures frequently over 90°F, there are several great summer activities indoors and outdoors.
First, be sure to visit one of the many museums in Los Angeles. See fantastic art collections at the Getty and Getty Villa, intriguing science exhibits at the California Science Center, and fascinating history and culture at the Autry Museum of the West, among others.
There are many hikes, but during summer, make sure to hit those in the mornings before it heats up too terribly. Some options include Millard Falls to a small waterfall, Echo Mountain to ruins of a Victorian mountaintop hotel, and Brush Canyon Trail to see the historic Hollywood sign.
Of course, the most popular thing to do in summer is lounge at the beach. For fewer crowds, arrive in the morning to pick your spot. Will Rogers Beach is a good choice away from the nearby crowds at Santa Monica and Venice.
There is a plethora of fantastic food in Los Angeles. To get a good idea of your choices, visit Grand Central Market and pick your cuisine of choice. There are Jewish, Italian, Japanese, Chinese, American, Mexican, German, Filipino, and Salvadorian vendors!
While weekend getaways are popular, actually 5 days in Los Angeles is the perfect amount of time to visit. Stay in Burbank, Glendale, or Silver Lake to stay central to everything. One example is the Hilton Garden Inn in downtown Burbank, which is pretty affordable at $125 a night.
Submitted by Chantae from Chantae Was Here
The small red rock city of Sedona, Arizona, is one of the best places to combine outdoor adventure with art, culture, shopping, and great food. Many residents of Sedona believe there’s an air of mysticism surrounding the city and that the region itself is home to spirals of positive energy, known as the Sedona vortexes.
There are five vortexes within a short drive of Sedona’s city center, all found at scenic spots—so whether you believe in them or not, you’re bound to find yourself in beautiful surroundings nonetheless.
Visit the Tlaquepaque Arts and Shopping Village, a quaint shopping center with art galleries, clothing boutiques, fortune tellers, and shops selling crystals. For a hearty breakfast, head to the Coffee Pot Restaurant. There’s often a wait to be seated, but this southwest café serves over 100 types of omelets and is a great way to fuel up before a big day out.
To escape into nature, head to one of Sedona’s many iconic vantage points and hiking trails. You can see the city from above at the Airport Mesa, a lookout point found on the edge of the town. Or, hit the red dirt trails and trek to the top of Devil’s Bridge for sunrise and Cathedral Rock for sunset. Seeing the city from a hot air balloon is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, too.
Submitted by Linn Haglund of Brainy Backpackers
Nantucket is the perfect summer vacation destination for beaches, history, and wildlife. The charming Massachusetts island is well-connected with Hyannis by daily ferries. But you can also fly straight into the island. There are many amazing things to do in Nantucket, and you should rent a bike to explore the island in the best possible way.
The bike paths are good and take you to most of the best places. If you do not bring your bike, there are several rental places Downtown.
One of the best places to go is to Siasconset, where you can admire some of the oldest houses in Nantucket. The beach is mesmerizing, and you can walk the Sconset Bluff Walk to Sankaty Head Lighthouse – a local tip is to go there at sunset. It is worth it!
To learn more about Nantucket’s history, take a tour of the museums Downtown. You can learn about the African American history of the island at the Museum of African American History and the whaling history at the Nantucket Whaling Museum. It is also worth visiting the Nantucket Shipwreck and Lifesaving Museum and Nantucket Lightship Basket Museum.
While Nantucket has a long history of whaling, it is one of the best places to go whale watching today. But there is also other wildlife to see like rabbits, turtles, and deer if you go hiking.
San Francisco, California
Submitted by Mal from Raw Mal Roams
San Francisco, located in California, is one of the best cities to visit in the summer! The city is famous for its unpredictable, windy weather, iconic Golden Bridge, and many epic things to see and do.
Stroll along the lively Fisherman’s Wharf jam-packed with shops, street food stools, and cafes, and make sure you pay a visit to the sea lions that like hanging out by the famous Pier 39. Also, make sure to try clam chowder served in a sourdough bread bowl in one of the cafes!
A visit to San Francisco would not be complete without riding over 100 years old cable cars up the steep streets the city is renowned for. Check also Lombard Street – a windy road with eight hairpin turns.
Other must-do things in San Francisco include going over the Golden Bridge either on a bicycle or double-decker open bus and visiting a world-famous prison – Alcatraz situated on a small island. Explore some of the most exciting neighborhoods, such as Haight Street, known for its hippie culture and colorful Chinatown.
For some spic views, head to Twin Peaks for some jaw-dropping vistas over the entire bay, or head to Baker Beach for a superb view of the Golden Bridge, which is best enjoyed at sunset. Another great place to enjoy some city views is Alamo Square Park, home to the iconic painted ladies.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Submitted by Jenny Javitch of Global Game Plan
You will not be disappointed with your decision to visit the popular summer mountain town of Jackson Hole, Wyoming. If your travels take you through the local airport, note that in addition to boasting beautiful views from the runway, it is the only United States commercial airport completely located inside a National Park (Grand Teton).
Speaking of visiting the National Parks, one of the best things about Jackson Hole is its proximity to both Yellowstone and Grand Teton, so take advantage of the opportunity to visit one or both during your stay.
There are plenty of lodging options to fit the style of your trip, ranging from luxury resorts and boutique hotels to vacation rentals and nearby campgrounds and RV parks. To fully enjoy nature in all its glory, white water rafting (or a scenic float trip) on the nearby Snake River is a must-do activity.
Take a private nighttime tour of the stars with Wyoming Stargazing, ride the aerial tram and gondola at the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, and grab some local beer at Snake River Brewing.
Downtown is very walkable and where you will find popular restaurants (and saloons!), art galleries, boutique shops, and the famous four antler arches surrounding the Town Square.
When you’re there in the evening from Memorial Day to Labor Day, gather around with the rest of the tourists to experience the popular western gunfight reenactment called “The Shootout,” put on by actors from the local playhouse. Jackson Hole is a family-friendly destination and perfect for a just-adults getaway so put it on your list for an awesome summer adventure.
New York City, New York
Submitted by Victoria from Guide Your Travel
New York City is the ultimate summer vacation destination. The city is packed with activities and things to do, and there is no better time to go for it than when the weather is nice. New York summers can get hot, so be prepared to sweat if you’re walking around a lot.
Central Park should be at the top of your to-do list during the summer. There is plenty of shade to escape the heat, and you can rent bikes to ride around. The High Line Park should be your next stop, especially if you enjoy being outdoors and exploring. This former railway line has been converted into an elevated park and will let you enjoy the city without having to worry about crowded streets.
If the heat is getting too much, why not escape into one of New York’s many museums. With air conditioning and plenty of things to see and do, this is a great afternoon activity. The MOMA (Museum of Modern Art) is one of the best ones in the city, and exhibits change regularly.
In the evenings, head out to one of New York’s rooftop bars or lounges. For views of the city, The Spyglass Rooftop Bar is a fantastic choice.