Skip to Content

25 Best Summer Vacations in the US

The perfect summer getaway is an essential component of maintaining one’s sanity during the rest of the year – at least for me! The summer months offer opportunities to visit national parks, pristine beaches, historic sites, and other places that might not be as pleasant during the rest of the year.

Best of all, many of the world’s best summer vacation destinations are scattered around the 50 states. While it’s always exciting to go abroad, it never ceases to amaze me just how much diverse natural beauty and outdoor recreation opportunities are available without a passport or visa.

We’ve put together a list of some of the best places to visit in the summer around the United States to help you sort through the innumerable possibilities. Look below at our take on the best summer vacation spots for any kind of traveler, as well as what not to miss and where to stay for each.

Best Summer Vacations in the US

1. Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Hikers on a ridge at Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado
Bonnie Beach / NPS

First up is one of the highest summer destinations you can find in the states: Rocky Mountain National Park. Located just northwest of Denver, this is an easily accessible vacation destination that will make you feel a million miles from any city.

Rocky Mountain National Park is open year-round, and each season offers its own special scenery, but the summer months are the most popular by far. For one, you can be certain that one of the park’s most famous attractions won’t be closed due to snow – the Trail Ridge Road.

It’s the highest continuously paved road in North America, running for almost 50 miles and reaching over 12,000 feet into the sky. It’s an American favorite for some simple, scenic driving, with numerous hiking trails and picnic spots along the way.

There are plenty more outdoor activities to be found in this national park, allowing a ton of adventures to be had and new things to be tried. Fishing, horseback riding, and camping are some of the century-old staples of this magnificent place. But above all, don’t miss the opportunity to hit some of the 355 miles of hiking trails – especially to some of the park’s lakes, like Dream and Emerald Lakes, which can be done with a guide if necessary.

This park can be day-tripped from Denver, as it’s just over an hour away, but stay in the little gateway town of Estes Park to be at the mountains’ doorstep. The Estes Park Resort is an excellent option for its great location, awesome amenities, and authentic Rocky Mountain feel.

See Related: Best Ski Resorts in Colorado

2. Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Cape Cod Scenery
lunamarine / Adobe Stock

Plenty of folks on the East Coast want a beautiful summer vacation spot to enjoy without having to deal with leaving the East Coast. Cape Cod is somewhere that not only the region’s locals flock to, but so do visitors from all over the country.

The Cape has long been known as one of the best summer vacation spots for those balmy summer months in New England. Stretching from the Sagamore Bridge just south of Plymouth to Provincetown and the lighthouse on its tip, you’ll pass through 15 towns on the hour-long drive from end to end. Each of them is home to vacation resorts small and large, a ton of friendly local restaurants, and outdoor activities ranging from beaches to biking.

If you’re a history buff, you know this part of New England is chock full of some of the country’s most important roots – check out places like the New Bedford Whaling Museum or do a Provincetown pedicab tour to learn on your trip. There’s also the Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum in the town on the tip.

If you’re coming in from Boston, there’s a (relatively) high-speed ferry that will have you at the end of the Cape in 90 minutes, but most families like to road trip the entirety of this lovely drive. Choose a quaint motel or resort like The Village at Ocean Edge Resort & Golf Club for a stay to complement your experience.

See Related: Things to Do in Massachusetts & Places to Visit

3. Glacier National Park, Montana

The famous Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park, Montana
Tim Rains / NPS

It’s a great idea to take advantage of the summer warmth to see places far in the north or high in elevation – like the famous Glacier National Park, which checks both boxes. Peak tourist season is in July and August when the Montana snow (mostly) stops falling, and fresh flowers fill the fields.

This absolutely stunning expanse of wilderness is a remote paradise of meadows, valleys, alpine lakes, and of course, melting glaciers. There are more than 700 miles of hiking trails, the scenic Going-to-the-Sun Road, several mountain biking trails, and horseback riding facilities – leaving plenty of fun ways to get around and actually see all of the beautiful sights.

More fun activities that are especially popular at Glacier National Park are whitewater rafting trips on its rushing rivers and fly fishing lessons at one of its many lakes. As you’ll see, there’s plenty to do that warrants more than a quick visit.

Rather than day-tripping from Missoula, which is more than two-and-a-half hours away, opt to stay in one of the small towns in or around the park, like West Glacier or Whitefish. A vacation rental, like this lakefront cedar cabin, can be the perfect way to spend a trip like this.

See Related: Best Places to Visit in Montana & Things to Do

4. Virginia Beach, Virginia

Virginia Beach Boardwalk
Sandy Allen / ViaTravelers

I have fond childhood memories of summer vacations in Virginia Beach, and it’s certainly another East Coast classic, especially for families with children of any age. This long stretch of coast is famous for its sandy beaches, its many historical sites, and an abundance of resorts, restaurants, and attractions on its long boardwalk.

The Fishing Pier is a great place to cast a line or enjoy the coastal views, while Neptune’s Park hosts live music and fun on summer evenings. At the northern end, First Landing State Park is a beautiful place for a walk on boarded paths through forests, swamps, and coasts that some of the first settlers of America would have seen on their arrival. You can even zipline through wetland forests nearby or do a kayaking-with-dolphins tour from this vacation hotspot.

Most families prefer to road trip to Virginia Beach, although much of this destination is walkable, especially along the shore. Be sure to stay at a beachfront property, like the Turtle Cay Resort, a paradise for any visitor to this area.

See Related: Best Beaches in Virginia to Visit

5. San Francisco, California

Famous Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco at night, USA
ventdusud / Shutterstock

Are you looking to go to a big city rather than escape from one? The cosmopolitan city of San Francisco offers something for just about everyone and makes for an excellent summer vacation.

San Francisco can be reached from just about anywhere in the United States easily, thanks to the multiple airports that serve it. Famous for its hilly streets and iconic Golden Gate Bridge, there’s a ton more to uncover in this young and lively place. One of my favorite parts is Pier 39 and the Fisherman’s Wharf area – touristy, I know, but you can’t deny an abundance of great food, views of sea lions sleeping on docks, and local shops and art galleries to explore.

While there are museums and attractions to keep you busy for weeks, you’ll never run out of day trips from the city that range from very near to very far. Alcatraz Island is probably the most popular and, of course, highly recommended. There are a ton of state parks within easy reach of the city, and you will find numerous tours to places like Napa Wine Country and even Yosemite National Park – more on that last one below.

San Francisco is a notoriously expensive place to visit, but there are ways to save money during your stay. Seek out budget properties in less expensive areas, like the Howard Johnson by Wyndham San Francisco Marina District.

See Related: San Francisco CityPASS Review: Is It Worth It?

6. Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Grand Teton National Park Scenery
Kim Magaraci / ViaTravelers

You may have heard of Wyoming’s Jackson Hole and Teton Village for their excellent wintertime attractions like skiing and snowboarding. This little corner of Wyoming comes alive again in the summertime, thanks to Grand Teton National Park and all its natural beauty.

The park encompasses the majestic Teton mountain range and its highest peak, the nearly-14,000-foot Grand Teton, as well as the valley below. As you can imagine, this is another place with an immense amount of hiking trails to explore. Visitor favorites include doing float tours down the Snake River or boat tours on the park’s lakes – some of the best views of these mountains arise when you combine them with the water.

You can create the ultimate Wyoming summer vacation by combining a trip here with Yellowstone – it’s less than two hours to drive from park to park, and we’ll go into more detail on Yellowstone later. No matter your itinerary, you’ll probably want to stay in the Jackson Hole area to visit this wonderful place, at a western-style spot like the Wyoming Inn of Jackson Hole.

See Related: Best Restaurants in Jackson Hole, Wyoming

7. Bar Harbor & Acadia National Park, Maine

Acadia National Park Scenery
mandritoiu / Adobe Stock

Maine has always been one of my favorite August vacation spots. After all, the state’s license plates brand it as Vacationland, and I certainly don’t disagree. In the summer months, I highly recommend a few days in Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park.

At just 4.5 hours north of Boston, this is a road trip within reach of many vacationers from the northeast. Bar Harbor is a quaint little New England town that sits on Mount Desert Island, barely separated from the mainland.

Its downtown area is a place to taste some amazing fresh seafood (lobster, in particular), shop for regional souvenirs like syrups and jams, and visit some of the many local art galleries. There are lots of boat tours of the waters surrounding the island on which you can learn about the lobster trade and see the amazing estate homes on the cliffs.

Don’t miss the opportunity to go into Acadia National Park, to which Bar Harbor serves as a gateway. The Cadillac Mountains that it encompasses are full of pine forests, lakes, and trails cutting through them. The park has several sandy beaches in between its rocky shorelines dotted with tide pools.

If you aren’t driving in, Bar Harbor is very walkable, and guided tours of the national park can take you to its best spots. There is no shortage of hotels in this vacation destination – I recommend staying at one of the typical New England inns of the area, like the Sand Bar Cottage Inn.

See Related: Best Beaches on the East Coast

8. Yosemite National Park, California

Boardwalk along Hetch Hetchy Reservoir near Wapama Falls in Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park is California’s most visited national park, and for good reason. This mountainous preserve is packed with iconic natural wonders like waterfalls and limestone cliffs.

Yosemite Valley, the village that serves as the center of the park, is a nearly four-hour drive from San Francisco. That makes it a doable day trip, albeit a very long one, and many visitors prefer to spend a few days nearby to explore all that the park has to offer. The Yosemite Valley Lodge, located in the heart of the village, is a great place to base yourself.

From there, many of the park’s most popular hikes and sites can be reached on foot. Yosemite Falls is a must-see, and its several trails ranging in difficulty start from the village.

If you don’t mind a serious elevation gain, Glacier Point is one of the park’s most famous panoramic spots. Vernal Falls and Horsetail Falls are a few others – but this is really just scratching the surface of all this park has to offer.

You can create one of the ultimate California summer vacations from the Yosemite area if you’re driving. Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks are just 3.5 hours to the south and offer thousands more acres of mountains, lakes, and iconic giant tree forests to explore. If that drive sounds fair to you, from there, Pinnacles National Park is the same distance to the west and consists of a totally different, cave-filled landscape.

See Related: Best National Parks in California

9. Outer Banks, North Carolina

Nags Head Beach, Outer Banks, North Carolina
Sandy Allen / ViaTravelers

Another of the most popular summer vacation destinations in the east is the Outer Banks area of North Carolina. This part of the state consists of long and skinny barrier islands separating the bays and shorelines of mainland North Carolina with the open ocean, and their pristine beaches have been appreciated by vacationers for decades.

There are endless opportunities for outdoor fun on these shores. Consistent breaks make it a great place to take surf lessons. The ocean and backwater bays and rivers create great conditions for stand-up paddle or kayaking adventures.

AvGeeks like myself will have to see the Wright Brothers National Memorial to the north, where the first powered flight took place. You can even take to the skies yourself on a beginner’s hang-gliding lesson.

There are plenty of great restaurants, hotels, and resorts along the islands, but this is a place where many visitors like to rent a house or condo for extra space. You can find some with bonus amenities great for a family, such as this dog-friendly ocean-view home with a private pool and hot tub.

See Related: Best Restaurants in Asheville, North Carolina

10. The Grand Canyon, Arizona

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
SeanPavonePhoto / Adobe Stock

A visit to Grand Canyon National Park is one of the most iconic summer vacations in the United States. This northern Arizona landmark is a symbol of the country and draws visitors from all corners of the world.

The massive canyon was carved by the water of the Colorado River over millions of years. The result is natural beauty that’s hard to describe in words and not much easier to capture in a photo – in order to really appreciate it, you have to stand in front of the endless landscape of cliffs, valleys, plateaus, rivers, and colors. It’s also a prime location for simply epic road trips.

You can trek through the canyon on one of its hikes, but note that it gets very hot during the summer. Honestly, the view is best from above – prioritize some of its best viewpoints like Mather Point, Hopi Point, Grandview Point, and Bright Angel Point.

Some do require a bit of hiking. You can also see the best of the Grand Canyon by helicopter tour, consistently rated as one of the best things to do there.

The vast majority of Grand Canyon visitors go to the South Rim, where there’s far more tourist infrastructure. The towns of Tusayan and Grand Canyon Junction are at the park’s doorstep and have a few very nice hotels, like the Best Western Premier Grand Canyon Squire Inn.

See Related: The Ultimate Grand Canyon Itinerary

11. San Diego, California

Hotel Coronado at sunset San Diego
HannaTor / Shutterstock

San Diego is known as a place for year-round pleasant weather and sun, making it a great winter escape for northern Californians and out-of-staters alike. However, the summer is when San Diego turns into a true seaside paradise.

There’s no shortage of fun things to do in San Diego. There’s the USS Midway Museum, the famous San Diego Zoo, and plenty of whale and dolphin-watching cruises.

You can also appreciate Pacific marine life at SeaWorld San Diego or directly in the water on sea cave kayaking tours. This is only the beginning – we’d call this one of the best cities to visit during summer for adults and kids alike.

There’s also an abundance of absolutely lovely luxury resorts and golf courses in the San Diego area. Don’t get me wrong, I love getting out and exploring, but there’s nothing like having a lazy pool or spa day. Somewhere like the Fairmont Grand Del Mar certainly does the trick, and there are plenty more options, too.

See Related: Do You Need a Car in San Diego? Things to Know

12. Cannon Beach, Oregon

Sweeping view of the Oregon coast including miles of sandy beach
Crin / Adobe Stock

The Oregon Coast is known as rocky and rainy. Cannon Beach is a place that defies both in the summertime, making it one of the most popular destinations in the state for summer vacations.

Just 90 minutes west of Portland, Cannon Beach is a small seaside town famous for its wide, sandy beach. July and August see the least rainfall and the most visitors.

Some of its most famous landmarks include a few towering rocks just offshore, including Haystack Rock, a haven for puffins. Beyond the long, sandy part of the shore, there are tide pools and sea caves to explore.

Many visitors make Cannon Beach a day trip from Portland, but it doesn’t need to be. The streets of downtown are lined with lovely restaurants, shops, and art galleries, and there are plenty of great hotels to make a multi-day stay out of this special place. The Hallmark Resort is especially popular as it’s directly on the beach and offers a luxurious spa.

See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in Eugene, Oregon

13. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Grand Prismatic Spring and Grand Prismatic Spring Overlook Trail
Bucchi Francesco / Shutterstock

Yellowstone National Park has to be one of the best summer vacation spots any nature-lover could ask for. It was the first national park in the world and sits mostly in the northwest of Wyoming, but it also creeps across its borders with Montana and Idaho. As mentioned, it’s a great idea to combine Yellowstone with Grand Teton National Park.

There are so many things to see and do in Yellowstone. It’s amazing to see the outrageously colorful hot springs and powerful geysers around the park, boiled by the intense heat of lava deep underground. Wildlife viewing is easy and can be done from the car, as bison herds will freely cross the road without a care in the world, while bears and bald eagles aren’t uncommon either.

There are plenty of guided tours and experiences around the park that will pick you up from nearby places to stay, but I highly recommend having a car and self-driving Yellowstone. You can camp at one of the campgrounds within the park, stay in Jackson Hole to the south, or in West Yellowstone in Montana – the Holiday Inn West Yellowstone is comfortable and budget-friendly.

See Related: Best Things to Do Near Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone

14. Jekyll Island, Georgia

Jekyll Island Scenery
Margaret / Adobe Stock

Jekyll Island is just off the southern Georgia coast near the town of Brunswick, about an hour and a half south of Savannah. At less than 6,000 acres in size, it isn’t the largest vacation destination on our list, but it’s absolutely packed full of interesting history and white sandy beaches.

The entire island is a state park serving to protect two particularly important things about it: the abundant wildlife that calls Jekyll home, like fox, deer, whales, and dolphins, as well as its old structures dating back to an important time in Georgia’s history. A place called Millionaire’s Village was once where some of America’s most prominent families took their summer vacations, including the Rockefellers, the Vanderbilts, and the Goodyears. Their historic cottages, as well as the local resort they relaxed at, still stand and are maintained for their interesting past.

Besides visiting these structures and playing on the beaches of Jekyll, visitors can also enjoy a boat tour for fishing or dolphin watching, play a round on the local golf course, or visit the Summer Waves Water Park. There are a number of hotels on the island, like the beautiful Westin Jekyll Island, and you can also check nearby Sea Island for even more inventory.

See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in Atlanta, Georgia

15. Block Island, Rhode Island

Block Island Lighthouse
SE Viera Photo / Adobe Stock

Sticking with the eastern islands theme, Block Island is another great summer vacation destination a bit further north up the coast. It’s about 9 miles south of mainland Rhode Island and 14 miles northeast off the tip of Long Island, making it just remote enough from the hustle and bustle of the northeast.

The island is surrounded by sandy beaches, making it a cool-off getaway for New Englanders in the summertime. Even if you aren’t a beach person, you should see the famous Mohegan Bluffs, a series of large clay cliffs with dramatic views of the sandy shore and waves below. Two historic lighthouses stand guard at either end of the island, with the northern one offering a scenic hike to get to it.

To get to Block Island, you can take the ferry from Narragansett or fly on New England Airlines from Westerly, both in mainland Rhode Island. A few quaint inns are available on the island, like the Spring House Hotel, just a short stroll from downtown.

See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in a Small Town

16. Niagara Falls, New York

Aerial view of Niagara Falls State Park
CPQ / Adobe Stock

America’s most famous waterfall may straddle the border with Canada, but you won’t need a passport to enjoy it! Summer is a great time of year to make this trip to upstate New York, where fall, winter, and even spring can all be brutally cold – especially when the mist from the falls is blowing at you.

You’ll need to travel to the town of Niagara Falls, where the state park of the same name covers all the best viewing spots. It’s a short and easy drive from the town of Buffalo, too, which offers plenty more add-ons to your summer getaway in the region. Don’t miss the iconic Maid of the Mist boat ride, and be sure to cross the bridge to Goat Island for the best views.

Of course, if you did happen to bring your passport along, it’s a short stroll over a bridge to cross into Canada on foot, where you can eat some tasty poutine and get a different view of the falls. There are plenty of great hotels within walking distance of Niagara Falls State Park and the border bridge, some with casinos – like the Seneca Niagara Resort & Casino.

See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in Amsterdam, New York

17. Washington, D.C.

Crowd walking around the Washington Monument
Roman Babakin / Adobe Stock

Following the logic from above, it’s a great idea to save the nation’s capital for a summertime visit. While the winter-spring transition brings the magnificent cherry blossoms that Washington D.C. (or just DC) is known for, it can be seriously cold and gray!

Washington is one place that you could take fifty trips to and still not see everything. The National Mall is an awe-inspiring landscape of monuments for Washington, Lincoln, various wars, and a beautiful reflective pool.

The White House is just down the way. Don’t miss Capitol Hill and the Library of Congress, and summer is a great time for a cruise on the Potomac. The various Smithsonian Museums are each absolutely incredible and also happen to be totally free!

It doesn’t have to be all city, either – places like Theodore Roosevelt Island and Rock Creek Park are wonderful pieces of nature to enjoy the fresh summer air. Choose a hotel with a pool to go back to at the end of the day, like the Washington Marriott at Metro Center – DC gets hot in the summer!

See Related: Washington D.C. Sightseeing Pass Review: Is it Worth it?

18. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Scenery
boundlessimages / Adobe Stock

America’s most visited national park is that of the Great Smoky Mountains, straddling the Tennessee-North Carolina border. Summertime is an excellent period to take advantage of the pleasant weather at its higher elevations, as well as the many places for country family fun on the Tennessee side.

The gateway town to Great Smoky Mountains National Park is Gatlinburg. It’s from here that you’ll drive into the park to explore its trails and vistas, and there are fun activities like ziplining and mini-golf right there in town. Stay at a resort with a pool and outdoor activities like the Margaritaville Resort Gatlinburg to take advantage of the sunny weather.

The other popular option for accommodation is Pigeon Forge, barely 20 minutes down the road and necessary to visit whether you stay there or not. This is where the world-famous Dollywood theme park is located, as well as other country-themed activities like lumberjack shows and Elvis impersonator concerts. Dollywood has its own hotels, which are great, but you can save some money by staying somewhere like the RiverStone Resort & Spa.

See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in Memphis, Tennessee

19. New Mexico

Albuquerque Hot Air Balloons
Tricia / Adobe Stock

I can’t decide on one particular place within it, so I’m going to name the whole state of New Mexico as a place for summer vacations. This southwestern destination is often passed up for better-known places like Utah and Arizona, but there’s a ton to do in New Mexico.

Albuquerque is a great place to start, as it hosts a relatively well-connected airport and sits on the major highways of the state for road-trippers. This is where the famous Balloon Fiesta takes place each October, and a hot air balloon ride is an appropriate, quintessentially New Mexican, and particularly scenic way to see the high desert and the Sandia Mountains. You won’t want to miss the picturesque old town and its many interesting museums and restaurants.

From there, be sure to make the hour-long drive to Santa Fe, the capital city and an important place for art lovers. Visit the New Mexico Museum of Art, Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, and the many independent galleries that line the streets. The New Mexico History Museum is a great place to learn about the local adobes and the state’s native past and can be complimented with a walking tour of the town.

If you don’t mind the drive, I highly recommend heading several hours through the desert to the south of the state, where there’s an amazing natural wonder to be explored. Carlsbad Caverns National Park is packed with more than 100 underground caves, some of them absolutely gigantic and filled with stalactites.

It’s a great way to escape the intense desert sun! You’ll probably need to spend the night in nearby Carlsbad – there’s a lovely La Quinta with an outdoor pool.

See Related: New Mexico vs Colorado: Which Is Better?

20. Southeastern Alaska

Scenic View Of Lake By Mountains Against Clear Sky at Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau, Alaska
sergio piumatti/EyeEm / Adobe Stock

If there’s ever a time to visit Alaska, it’s the summer. And you definitely should – this is undoubtedly one of America’s most beautiful states and is home to more national parks than any other. I recommend starting with the southeastern part of the state if it’s your first time.

However, this part of Alaska is largely unconnected to the rest of the state (or even Canada) by road! Therefore, one of the most popular ways to visit is to take a cruise that weaves its way through the many islands and bays of the coast. Otherwise, you can also fly to cities like Juneau, where whale-watching tours and canoe tours to glaciers are possible, or Ketchikan, where you can catch a lumberjack show or hike the Tongass Forest.

These are great places to stay, too, and they’re particularly great places to seek out vacation rentals. You can find places with waterfront views, like this 3-bedroom in downtown Ketchikan, and full Alaska-style cabins in the wilderness, like this fully-stocked cabin in Juneau.

See Related: How Much Does an Alaska Trip Cost? [Average Cost Per Day]

21. Oahu, Hawaii

Ke Iki Beach on Oahu's North Shore, Hawaii
Woodrow Matthews / ViaTravelers

It would be a sin not to mention the Hawaiian Islands as a top summer destination. I’d say this is one of the best June vacations you can take – it’s a great month for weather, the ocean is just the right temperature, and the crowds of July and August haven’t hit yet.

I’m singling out Oahu specifically for summer vacations. This is because the famous North Shore and its spectacular beaches are actually enjoyable over the summer. During the winter, massive waves of 30, 40, 50 feet, or more pummel the shoreline – a big wave surfer’s paradise, but not great for people who want to swim or sit on the sand.

There are newer countless examples of awesome places to stay in Oahu for all types of travelers, but I’d recommend a stay at the beautiful Turtle Bay Resort if you want to base your trip around the North Shore attractions, which provides easy access to snorkeling at Shark’s Cove or dining in Haleiwa town. It’s also close to a few golf courses and the wonderful Polynesian Cultural Center theme park.

Of course, the calm shores of Waikiki are just an hour south, too, and there are a ton of great resorts there. You can find plenty of circle-island guided tours to take you to the iconic spots of the North Shore and beyond from there. You’ll also have a ton of amazing dining options around Waikiki and greater Honolulu.

See Related: Best Restaurants in Oahu

22. Isle Royale National Park, Michigan

The view from a fire tower on Isle Royale National Park, Michigan
Derrick Jaeger / NPS

If many of these places are too obvious for you, allow me to suggest something really different: Isle Royale National Park, one of the least visited national parks in the country. This Michigan island is closer to Canada and Minnesota than anywhere else, as it sits in a remote part of northern Lake Superior.

You can only get to Isle Royale by ferry, seaplane, or private boat. It’s a very rugged wilderness with almost no infrastructure.

That makes it an outdoor enthusiast’s dream playground, and summertime is ripe for fun – the island is also closed from November to April. Popular activities include backpacking from campsite to campsite, boating or kayaking the shoreline, fishing, and scuba diving.

If you don’t want to camp, the only place to stay on the island is the Rock Harbor Lodge. You can also stay in one of the Minnesota or Michigan towns where ferries or seaplanes depart from. You’ll probably be most comfortable in Grand Marais, Minnesota, which has a few places to stay and eat – the East Bay Suites is the place to stay in town.

See Related: Best Things to Do on the North Shore, Minnesota

23. Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston Angel Oak Tree
Sandy Allen / ViaTravelers

Charleston is a city that’s fast-growing not only in popularity among travelers, but also among new residents, who fall in love with its cobblestone streets and mild climate. This is a great summer vacation spot for anyone who loves beach time, American history, and great food.

Charleston was where the first shots of the Civil War were fired, and you can see where it all took place by visiting Fort Sumter, the site of the first battle. The picturesque downtown area still has elements of its founding in the 1600s, and a horse-drawn carriage tour will transport you back to the era to learn all about it. If you travel just a bit further outside the city, places like Sullivan’s Island and Isle of Palm Beach have excellent beaches without the crowds of Myrtle Beach or Hilton Head Island.

There are a ton of places to get authentic southern comfort food in Charleston and a growing number of hotels to cater to the growing number of visitors. Choose somewhere central to stay, like the Courtyard by Marriott Charleston Historic District.

See Related: Is Charleston Safe To Visit? Things To Know

24. Florida Panhandle

A Destin, Florida stretch of white sand beach
Rotorhead 30A / Adobe Stock

Florida is the ultimate year-round destination for East Coasters, providing a sunny escape from the snow. It’s also home to the Happiest Place on Earth.

However, summer is a great time to take advantage of the northwestern part of the state, often referred to as the Panhandle. It doesn’t always stay hot through the winter here, so the summer months are a way to guarantee some time on its unbelievable beaches.

Popular destinations up here include Pensacola, Destin, and Panama City. State Road 30A (just refer to it as the latter part) is quieter, with smaller coastal towns where you can truly relax.

You’ll find plenty of ways to get out on the water here with activities like dolphin cruises, sunset catamarans, and snorkel tours. Panama City is particularly legendary for its partying and nightlife.

I’ve always found Destin to be the right balance of lively activity and a most relaxing atmosphere. The Hyatt Place Sandestin at Grand Boulevard is one of many places to stay here, while the smaller towns are packed full of vacation rentals.

See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in Orlando, Florida

25. Puerto Rico

The Colorful Coast in Old San Juan known as La Perla, or The Pearl
dbvirago / Adobe Stock

Last but not least, this is one of the most separated and exotic places that U.S. citizens can get to without needing a passport – the territory of Puerto Rico. This Caribbean paradise is just a short flight from much of the country and has a ton of tourist infrastructure suitable for any type of visitor.

The Old Town of San Juan will have you transported back in time to the colonial Caribbean, while its newer parts are home to beach resorts that you’ll never want to depart from. A trip into the Yunque National Forest reveals waterfalls and rainforest landscapes that look like they came out of a movie set. You can hop over to the tiny islands of Vieques and Culebra on a local ferry to see bioluminescent bays and a much slower pace of Puerto Rican life.

This only scratches the surface of all there is to do on this special island, and you could easily spend more than a week here. Find a really nice resort to base yourself at – I’ve always liked the Hyatt Hacienda del Mar in Dorado Beach for its quiet location and luxurious amenities.


What’s the best state to visit in the summer?

The 50 states and several US territories all offer some wonderful scenery and fun, making it hard to choose one. Some of the best summer vacation spots in the western states can be found in California, Wyoming, Colorado, and Arizona, while the East Coast offers places like North Carolina, Virginia, and New England.

What are the best places for summer vacation with kids?

Summer getaways are absolutely essential for a memorable childhood! Kids love playing under the sun on the beach in places like Cape Cod, Virginia Beach, and the Outer Banks. They’ll also surely appreciate having outdoor adventures at national parks like the Grand Canyon or the Rocky Mountains. Finally, you can’t go wrong with a city like San Diego with plenty of attractions and amusement park fun.

What are the best national parks to visit during the summer?

June, July, and August are some of the best months to see most of America’s national parks. Some favorites are the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Glacier, Yellowstone, and Rocky Mountain National Park, to name a few. Keep in mind that since these are the best months for weather at these parks, they’re also the most crowded months.

Related Resources

We take pride in providing authentic travel recommendations based on our personal experiences. We may earn a commission when you purchase a product or book a reservation. Learn more ›