As summer approaches, you may be planning your vacation.
Not alone. The USA’s peak travel season is June-August when warm weather leads to increased crowds and prices. Summer is the most exciting time to travel the country, with music, food, and outdoor event festivals. Now that the school year is over, outdoor spaces like national parks are open for the season.
Explore these 5 amazing places in the US for a summer vacation, whether you prefer the crowds or off-the-beaten-path.
The Montana Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park is one of the most stunning and serene places on Earth. Glacier, along with Yellowstone, Yosemite, and the Grand Canyon, was protected in 1910 during the American conservationist movement. Glacially carved pinnacles, waterfalls, and turquoise lakes formed a stunning landscape. Forests surround the mountains, preserving a pre-Columbian ecosystem. Good park management has kept grizzlies abundant and wild.
Though the park is open year-round, most services are closed between October and mid-May, making summer the best time to experience it all.Crossing Glacier National Park, Going-to-the-Sun Rd opens once snow is ploughed, possibly in July.
Catch a ferry to Mackinac Island, Michigan, from Mackinaw City or St. Ignace. Because of its location in the straits between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, the island was a prized fur trade port and a frequent British-American battleground. 1898, when cars were banned to promote tourism, was the most significant date on this 3.8-square-mile island. All travel is by horse or bicycle today; even the police patrol on bikes. Mackinac Island is 80% state parkland.
Islanders call tourists Fudgies, and summer weekends can be unbearable. Mackinac’s real charm emerges when the last ferry leaves in the evening and clears out day-trippers, bringing back a slower era.
Discover the charming “First Town in the First State” on the coast, a must-see in summer. Lewes’ main draw is its wheelchair-accessible beach, part of the 5000-acre Cape Henlopen State Park, which also features a nature reserve with great programming (bird walk). Visit the town for its Victorian homes, antique shops, beachy boutiques, restaurants, and King’s Homemade Ice Cream.
Cannonball House is part of the 90-minute Lewes Legends Walking Tour, which interprets local history every Wednesday night. After visiting the Saturday morning Historic Lewes farmers market, enjoy a delicious breakfast at Eggcelent. Sit at an outdoor table at The Station on Kings, a stunning cafe, restaurant, and home and garden store, and enjoy the nearby Marigold Creamery ice cream truck. Book a table at Heirloom or visit Striper Bites for gourmet dinner and drinks. Enjoy a sea adventure with Cape Water Tours’ “Dolphin Watch” cruise.
Hawaiian Big Island
Hawaii’s largest island, “the Big Island,” boasts scenic beauty, volcanic rock formations, waterfalls, trails, and beaches, including Papakōlea. With eight of the world’s 13 climate zones, Hawai’i has thousands of unique plant and animal species.
With abundant sights, a car is essential, but roads are rarely crowded (except for Kona and Hilo rush-hour traffic). Try diving with manta rays in Captain Cook, horseback riding in Wailea, stargazing at Mauna Kea, swimming at Mahaiʻula Beach, and hiking in Volcanoes National Park. Consider staying at the historic Volcano House in the park, where Mark Twain originally stayed. Start the day with Kona coffee at 4000ft, end it with a catamaran sunset mai tai and a delicious dinner at Moon and Turtle in Hilo.
The Outer Banks
Located over 100 miles from the mainland by sounds and waterways, North Carolina’s Outer Banks are fragile sand ribbons along the Atlantic coast. The coast of Cape Hatteras National Seashore, divided by villages, features several notable lighthouses. One of the best American road trips is a winding drive down Hwy 12, which connects much of the Outer Banks and form part of the Outer Banks National Scenic Byway and its 21 coastal villages.
This charming waterfront town is a great base for exploring the Outer Banks. Roanoke Island Festival Park, located near the harbour, offers visitors insight into the first English colonies in North America. Attend the Lost Colony Outdoor Drama amphitheatre performance in summer to learn about the colonists who arrived in Manteo in the 1580s, before European settlers arrived at Plymouth Rock, and then disappeared afterwards.