The summer is the most popular time for travelers and for good reason — the kids are off of school, you can pack lighter for on the go, and it’s too warm to sit around at home anyway! Traveling is one of the best ways to spend your time, and there’s truly nothing that can beat the experience of visiting different places and seeing the world hands-on.
Although there are wonderful sites to visit all around the world, some of the greatest summer travel destinations are in the good ol’ US of A. Here are six iconic destinations for your next big summer adventure!
Grand Canyon, Arizona
Situated in Northern Arizona, only a four-hour drive away from the exciting city of Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. Up to eighteen miles across and a mile deep, the Grand Canyon is truly an incredible sight to behold and a natural phenomenon unlike anything else.
Layers of colorful rock bands line the canyon walls, which when combined with the summer sun create a vast and beautiful effect that’s sure to take the breath away from even the most skeptic of visitors. You don’t have to be a nature lover to appreciate the sheer scale of this natural marvel.
The canyon itself is over 227 miles long, and scenic hiking trails run all along the site, leading tourists around the rim all the way down to the Colorado River that cuts through the bottom. For newcomers to the canyon, consider taking a guided tour down South Rim Trail, an easy-to-traverse, paved trail that connects some of the most famous viewing points of the canyon to the Visitor Center and Gift Shop.
For thrill-seekers who may be feeling a little more bold of heart, the iconic Bright Angel Trail extends steeply into the canyon, allowing guests to descend more than 4,000 feet in nine miles and revealing extraordinary sights unlike what can be experienced from the surface alone.
No matter who you are, there’s something for everyone at the Grand Canyon, making it a fantastic destination for a summer vacation with the kids, or a great day trip from Las Vegas to cool off after a night of adult fun.
Yellowstone National Park
The first national park in American history, Yellowstone is one of the most impressive and unique geothermal areas in the world. The site of the Yellowstone Caldera (one of the largest supervolcanoes on Earth), Yellowstone National Park is home to beautiful forests, hot springs, and some of the most impressive geysers in the world. This, of course, includes the famous Old Faithful, an extravagant column of hot water that consistently erupts every 44-120 minutes, earning it its nickname.
The park contains more than 900 miles of hiking trails, as well as paved roads that lead to all the most famous sightseeing areas if you’re not in the mood to walk or bike. Yellowstone also offers boating and fishing sites and services, as well as camping amenities.
The park is isolated from urban areas, allowing for some of the best stargazing opportunities anywhere in North America. Just be sure to bring an abundance of bug spray, so that when it’s time to roast smores you’re not being eaten too!
Cape Cod, Massachusetts
For a more urban destination, while still remaining connected to the great outdoors, Cape Cod, Massachusetts is a brilliant location to travel to get away from the hustle-and-bustle of city life while retaining some of the creature comforts you might be used to. Situated on a cape that extends in the Atlantic Ocean, Cape Cod, Massachusetts is comprised of a wonderfully scenic collection of towns filled with history, culture, and delicious seafood!
Cape Cod is claimed to have been first discovered by the Vikings, a group of nomadic warriors who primarily resided in Northern Europe. In fact, many sites in the area were supposedly constructed by Viking visitors, including such figures as Leif and Thorvald Eiriksson, the sons of the famous Viking Erik the Red.
The Pilgrims, aboard the famed ship Mayflower, first landed on North America at a site near modern-day Provincetown, a town within Cape Cod, on November 11th, 1620 and the region became one of the first European settlements in North America.
The area of Cape Cod is home to a large variety of beautiful beaches, including Nauset Light Beach in Eastham, Race Point Beach in Provincetown, and Skaket Beach in Orleans. Numerous lighthouses also line the shores of the cape which are open for visitors, such as the iconic Nauset Lighthouse with its distinctive red and white finish.
If you’re a seafood lover, you absolutely must try the variety of clams, lobster, and oysters available at local restaurants on Cape Cod; the difference between fresh seafood and the frozen variety that gets shipped further inland is incomparable, and the culinary traditions of the region make great use of local ingredients.
If you’d rather have more variety in recreation and a livelier nightlife instead of the quaintness of Cape Cod, while still remaining on the New England coast, the city of Portland makes a fantastic summer travel destination. The second most busy seaport in New England, Portland is a diverse city filled with culture and variety.
Old Port, nestled in the heart of the city’s downtown area, is home to amazing art galleries, local breweries, and shopping centers. This historic district also provides access to the city’s piers, where ferries depart daily to take visitors to the many islands of Casco Bay.
Summertime is also festival time in Maine, so for visitors in June, Portland Wine Week is a fantastic way to kick the festivities off. The city offers a weeklong assortment of events to experience, accompanied by wine tastings and delicious dinners.
This is followed closely by the Yarmouth Clam Festival in July (just fifteen minutes away, in neighboring Yarmouth), and the Maine Outdoor Film festival (which runs all summer long in Portland).
One of the largest cities in the United States, Chicago is an incredible sight to see for anyone not used to towering skyscrapers and enormous cityscapes. The city is built on the shore of Lake Michigan, a member of the five Great Lakes and one of the largest sources of fresh water on Earth.
Known as an international center of culture, finance, and commerce, Chicago is home to award-winning food, world-class museums, and over 200 theatres. Millennium Park, located in the center of the city, overlooks the lake and is home to Cloud Gate, the iconic silver bean-shaped statue that reflects the city skyline in strange and marvelous ways.
The summer is the best time to visit Chicago, as the city experiences viciously cold temperatures in the winter due to its location in the path of a polar current and the high humidity from the lake.
San Diego, California
Known as the “Birthplace of California,” San Diego was the first city settled by colonial Europeans all the way back in 1542. The city has come a long way since then, and is now the eighth-largest city in the United States.
Situated on the West Coast, San Diego is home to beautiful beaches, delicious seafood, and a variety of urban activities. The Gaslamp Quarter, a historic neighborhood in the center of the city, boasts a thriving nightlife and iconic Victorian-style buildings.
Tourists of all sorts will find something to love in the city, whether you want to relax on a beachfront, smash the club scene, or admire the city’s history and architecture.
Are You Ready for Summer Travel?
Hopefully, these six travel destinations help you to find the site of your next memorable summer vacation. There’s no better time to take a break after an exhausting and stressful year, so hop on a plane, order a mimosa, and head on down!