Hair gets lighter. Skin gets darker. Drinks get colder. Life gets better. Yes, folks: summer is fantastic! Summer Vacation
And as the warmer months approach, you need to plan your vacation (or a long weekend getaway). If you don’t want to travel abroad, this list with the best summer vacation spots in the US is perfect for you!
This list has the best places to travel spread across the US, where you can enjoy the good weather and those sights, sounds, smells, and tastes that only come in summer. So make sure to add them to your American bucket list.
No matter what kind of traveler you are, you’ll undoubtedly find a trip for your taste here.
From mountains to beaches, national parks, city trips, ideas for couples, and more! Choosing only one will be difficult. Sorry, not sorry. Summer Vacation
Best Summer Vacation Spots in the United States
If you love the outdoors, Utah is probably one of the best vacation spots in the US and also a great spring break destination for you.
In southern Utah you can roam among the cactus and sagebrush in the desert, then drive five hours north and be enjoying the cooler temperatures surrounded by pine trees and alpine lakes.
It literally has it all. Summer Vacation
While it may get insanely hot here in the summer, 100+ F, it’s still a great destination.
Best United States travel destination
I’ve lived here for three summers now and visited the summer before I moved here, too.
It’s one the best summer vacation spots in the US because there are so many national parks, national monuments, recreation areas, state parks, and other hikes so close together.
Even if you don’t like hiking, the scenery is worth seeing. It almost feels otherworldly in places.
Also, the drives between parks are hard to beat, and that’s usually the most tedious part, scenery wise. If you’ve never seen the desert, this is an excellent place for your desert experience.
Some of the highlights are walking among the hoodoos in Bryce Canyon, hiking to Delicate Arch in Arches, running with the goblins in Goblin Valley, and being awestruck by the scenery in Zion.
Whether it’s your first visit or your fiftieth, it’s hard not to be blown away by the landscapes.
Where to stay in Utah
to check accommodation in Utah!
Megan at Red Around the World Summer Vacation
2. Kauai, Hawaii
There’s no bad time to visit the Hawaiian Islands, as long as you’re into swaying palm trees, gorgeous sandy beaches, and warm sea breezes.
But if you’re heading toKauai, summer is an ideal time to enjoy the best of all the natural features the Garden Island has to offer, making it not only one of the best US vacation spots, but also an incredibly romantic getaway in the USA.
The northernmost of the archipelago, Kauai’s diverse landscape includes everything from lush, tropical rainforests and towering waterfalls to deep canyons painted in red and green.
The picturesque Na Pali Coast to the northwest offers breathtaking hiking trails along the rugged shoreline and above the clouds, while plentiful sandy beaches like Hanalei Bay and Poipu provide spots to spread out and relax under the beaming sun.
Summer is the dry season on Kauai, making outdoor adventures and sightseeing flights to see the remote interior of the island more feasible. Summer Vacation
The ocean is calmer during this time of year, too, perfect for snorkeling and splashing around in the waves on warm afternoons that heat up into the mid-80s.
And while summer may be on the heels of winter as the peak tourist season, the crowds tend to stay lower on this laid-back island full of small towns than on its more famous neighbors of Oahu and Maui.
Where to stay in Kauai
to check accommodation in Kauai!
Michelle at Harbors & Havens Summer Vacation
There are lots of things to do in Oregon, but for a truly unique experience, stay a few nights in a historic fire lookout tower. Decades ago, Oregon had more fire lookouts than any other state.
Now, the Forest Service has created a new travel experience by renting them out to anyone who wants to experience living in a house of glass.
Our family has stayed in two lookout towers, and there are at least 18 in Oregon that can be rented. There are several styles of lookouts, some on stilts 20-40 feet in the air.
Others are on the ground but at the peak of a ridgetop. Each lookout features expansive windows on all 4 sides, offering unabated views in every direction.
A starry night
You’ll never forget your first night in a lookout, making it one of the best summer vacation spots in the US.
The stars spread out forever in an endless haze, and the Milky Way and constellations are crystal clear. But my favorite time of day on a lookout is sunrise.
Don’t close the window shades!! Let yourself be awakened as the sun colors the sky and watch from the comfort of your bed as it peeks over the ridgetops and filters through the trees.
Staying in a lookout isn’t for everyone. The lookouts are very remote, and while you can drive right up to a few of them, some include a steep hike to the top.
Amenities are few and don’t usually include running water or trash service. They do feature wood stoves, and most have cots or beds.
And book early, because they tend to fill up fast. You’ll never regret renting a fire lookout in Oregon, and I guarantee you’ll always remember it.
Where to stay in Oregon
to check accommodation in Oregon! Summer Vacation
Heather at Oregon Outdoor Family
4. Acadia National Park, Maine
Acadia National Park, located in Maine, USA, is one of the best places to visit during the summer.
The food is glorious, the weather is fantastic, and the vibes are intoxicating. Oh, did I mention the hikes in Acadia are out of this world?
One of the best places to stay in Acadia National Park is the located in the charming city of Bar Harbor.
The historic hotel was built in 1881 and is only a walk away from all the restaurants, bars, and the pier.
Eating seafood in Acadia National Park is a MUST. Of course, it is necessary to have the obligatory lobster rolls. For dessert, try eating anything with blueberry as it is their specialty.
There are blueberry pies, drinks, ice creams, and candies. I also recommend eating the popovers at Jordan Pond House.
Pro tip: I highly suggest making reservations in advance because it does get pretty crowded.
Hike, hike, hike
One of the best things to do in Acadia is to hike! Summer Vacation
The National Park is filled with fantastic hiking trails. One of the most popular ones is called the Precipice Trail.
It is a favorite hike due to having to climb and scramble up the mountain. It is not for the faint of heart, but it is a unique, fun hike.
Acadia National Park is a great vacation spot in the summer. During the fall, winter, and spring, most of the shops close up for the year so it can become difficult to find accommodation, restaurants, and bars open.
Plus, the weather in the summer is just glorious, which makes it one of the best times to visit this beautiful national park.
Where to stay near the Acadia NP
to check accommodation near the Acadia National Park!
Michelle at The Wandering Queen Summer Vacation
5. Santa Catalina Island, California
Santa Catalina Island is a beautiful and popular island that sits right off the coast of California and is only a 45-minute ferry ride away.
It makes for a fantastic summer getaway location, and there are 2 main towns on the island that you can go to and visit, Avalon and Two-Harbors.
The town of Avalon is by far the most popular stop for visitors, and many people opt to spend their entire time here.
Many people love to enjoy a lazier weekend on Catalina Island by spending time at the beach, shopping in Avalon, and eating out at one of the many local restaurants on the islands.
If you’re up for the challenge, there is also a 39-mile long trail, the Trans-Catalina Trail, that traverses the length of the island that you can hike 3-5 days backpacking for one of the most unique ways to see the entirety of Santa Catalina Island.
If backpacking the entirety of the island isn’t your style, there are still many beautiful shorter hiking trails throughout the island.
And no matter what you do at Santa Catalina Island, you’re bound to enjoy your time there, and maybe, if you’re lucky, you’ll spot one of the free-roaming bison on the island during your time there.
Where to stay at Santa Catalina Island
to check accommodation on Santa Catalina Island!
Allison at She Dreams of Alpine Summer Vacation
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