Who else is ready for a summer vacation? I know I definitely am!
We’ve all been playing it pretty safe for the last year and sticking close to home. So I’m sure you’re ready for a real trip. With the possibility of international travel becoming more likely soon, it’s hard not to dream of jetting off to Europe or Asia in the next year. However, domestic travel is still going to be the most accessible for most of us this year. So I’ve come up with some awesome summer destinations around the US.
The Best Summer Destinations
San Francisco CA
Mark Twain may have said “the coldest winter he ever had, was a summer in San Francisco ” but the times, they are a-changing, and summer in the city is really quite pleasant now. Soak up the sunshine in Dolores Park, bike over the Golden Gate Bridge, and enjoy all the new parklets for outdoor dining all around the city. San Francisco’s famous fog is still around but it just doesn’t seem quite as imposing anymore, leaving visitors and locals with more sunny days and summer weather.
Summertime in Seattle is seriously the most beautiful time of year. The long days and the pleasantly warm weather make it easy to get outside and enjoy the city and all the beautiful surrounding nature. Get awesome views of the city from Kerry Park. Visit the Space Needle, and the Chihuly Garden and Glass museum – I know they’re touristy, but they are totally worth it. And if you are looking for some outdoor adventure, get out of the city for a hike, Mount Rainier National Park is less than a 2-hour drive.
Portland is another great PNW summer destination. It is known as the ‘City of Roses’ and in the summertime all those roses (and every other flower around) are in bloom making the city look and smell amazing. To really enjoy the roses check out the International Rose Test Garden. In true Portland style see the city by biking around town with the BikeTown bike share program. Try all the food trucks you can. There are tons of food truck parks all around the city and they are serving up some amazing food. You’ll probably be hungry from all that biking.
Santa Cruz CA
Santa Cruz has the beach and the mountains, what else could you need in a summer vacation? Enjoy the warm sunny beaches on Santa Cruz’s 29 miles of coastline. Try your hand at surfing with a lesson from Club Ed Surf School, or just hang out and watch the surfers from the shore. There’s also the Beach Boardwalk which is full of fun rides and games. You’ve got to take a ride on the Giant Dipper roller coaster, it’s the oldest wooden roller coaster in California. You can also get up into the Santa Cruz mountains for a hike through the Redwoods.
San Diego CA
Rob Burgundy once said “You stay classy San Diego”, and it did, or at least it tried. With all those beaches and breweries you’re bound to get into at least a little trouble. San Diego has got some of the best beaches in California, and in the summertime, the ocean is warm enough to swim in and not freeze which makes it perfect for all the water sports. Surfing, paddleboarding, snorkeling, swimming, you can do it all. And after the beach relax with a craft beer from one of the 150 breweries. Yep, you read that right. There are 150 breweries in San Diego, choose from the classics like Stone or Ballast Point or go for a smaller neighborhood spot like Pizza Port or North Park Beer Company.
Lake Tahoe CA/NV
I’ve always got to give Tahoe some cred, but summertime in Tahoe might be even better than the winter. You can hike and mountain bike in the mountains, and you can hang on the beach and enjoy the lake. The water doesn’t really warm up so a jump in the lake is always refreshing. You can also enjoy the water without the cold by cruising around in a boat, paddleboard, or kayak. Tahoe feels a little bit like summer camp with all the outdoor adventures and alpine scenery.
As live music begins to come back into our lives, Nashville is the perfect place for your first concert in a year! Nashville has also been named a “Safe Travels Destination” by the World Travel and Tourism Council, which means the city has effective health and safety measures in place. So get out and enjoy some good music, excellent food, and awesome neighborhoods. And don’t miss the newly opened National Museum of African American Music.
Gatlinburg is situated at the base of the Great Smoky Mountains making it easy to get into nature in the National Park. There are tons of hikes to do in the park ranging from easy day hikes to more strenuous overnighters, or for something a little different you could try a river rafting adventure. Gatlinburg is also just 20 minutes from Dollywood which is a must, obviously! For reals though, Dolly Parton is a legend and Dollywood is awesome.
If you love the great outdoors Bozeman is where you want to go. It is surrounded by amazing outdoor space and you can use it as a home base to explore both Glacier National Park and Yellowstone National Park. Bozeman itself is home to tons of hiking, mountain biking, fishing, horseback riding, and rock climbing. They also have dinosaurs. The Museum of the Rockies has a full T-Rex skeleton as well as a huge collection of other dinosaur fossils.
Juneau might be one of the most underrated destinations in the country. It’s got mountains, it’s got water, it’s got wildlife, and tons of outdoor adventures to be had. Take an expedition to the Mendenhall Glacier, kayak on Glacier Bay, hike some of the most beautiful trails around, and if you’re feeling extra adventurous take a helicopter tour. The epic scenery will not disappoint.
Best Fall Destinations
Best Winter Destinations
A Girls Trip to Seattle
A Weekend in Portland
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