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14 of the Best Summer Vacation Spots in the US

Considering I’ve had a chance to travel much of this country over the years, I like to think I know a thing or two about picking some of the best summer vacation spots in the US!

There really is nothing like traveling between the months of June and August. The weather is just about perfect in all fifty states; kids have off, and the sunnier days make everyone want to take a nice break from the normal 9-5.

Whether you’re looking for a classic beach vacation full of tanned skin and icy drinks, hoping to finally visit a historic city you’ve been wanting to explore, or just planning to escape the heat altogether for the cooler climates, I think any of these summer destinations will make for an excellent getaway!

14 of the Best Summer Vacation Spots in the US

Big Sur & Monterey, CA

Located along the northern coast of California and part of the famed Pacific Coast Highway, the land that stretches between Big Sur and Monterey Bay is probably one of the most ruggedly breathtaking places in the entire country. The whole distance is less than thirty miles, so you can take your time to enjoy the views and stay in the various towns on the way, like Santa Cruz, Carmel-by-the-Sea, and Pacific Grove. Plan for light hiking, visits to wineries, and even a soak in some hot springs. Whether you spend a weekend or a week, you’ll never get tired of the views.

Biltmore-Estate-in-Asheville-North-Carolina

Asheville, NC

To give you an idea of how Asheville has managed to mix mountain culture with a creative spirit, just know that it was nicknamed the “Paris of the South” back in the 1900s. Part of the Blue Ridge Mountains, this eclectic city is perfect for anyone who’d rather eschew a coastal summer vacation and instead head to the mountains. There are so many unique things to do in Asheville, it’ll be hard to narrow what you want to see down! Enjoy the city’s French-inspired architecture, especially the iconic Biltmore Estate, take advantage of being close to multiple national and state parks, and don’t miss out on experiencing the many, many subcultures and communities that call this place home. I’m warning you, though, you might only plan for a weekend and then fall in love enough to stay forever!

Places to Love - Orange County - Samantha Brown

Orange County, CA

Further south along the California coast, there’s a reason Orange County, stretched along 42 miles of coastline between Los Angeles and San Diego, was a character all its own in not just one but two popular TV shows from the early aughts. Soak up the sun at some of the most famous beaches in the country; try your hand at surfing, and be sure to relax and take in the very SoCal vibes that have attracted millions of people here for decades.

Oregon (RV Trip)

There’s really nothing quite as classic as a family RV trip. It’s a bit of a relief not to have to constantly unpack and there’s a certain joy in known you have the flexibility to explore as much or as little of a region as you want. Plus, you’ll save plenty of money on hotels, and your kids will love the adventure of it all.

If there’s one state I’d recommend the most for such an RV trip, it’d have to be Oregon, especially in the summer months when temperatures are at their warmest and this state is at its sunniest. You really have everything in this one place from unbelievable mountains, like Mt. Hood, the bluest of lakes, like Crater Lake, the most idyllic beaches, like Cannon Beach, and the coolest cities, like the hipster paradise of Portland.

giant wooden sculptures at Bernheim in Louisville Kentucky

Louisville & Bourbon County, KY

Louisville is easily one of the most underrated picks for this list. The most popular time to come, of course, is in May when the famous Kentucky Derby is held. However, don’t count this city out for a summer weekend just yet. Outside of horse racing, there are a ton of unique things to do in Louisville from enjoying the Kentucky State Fair to sampling the many, many bourbon distilleries nearby, and so much more.

New York

Corning & the Southern Finger Lakes, NY

Looking for a wine getaway but don’t want to go to the west coast? Then book yourself a trip to the southern Finger Lakes region in upstate New York, particularly around the very cool small city of Corning. This is an area to visit if you want to both enjoy some world class wines while learning more about the glass that holds them and the people that make them. Start with experiencing glass blowing at the incredible Corning Museum of Glass before meandering around to the many wineries and locally-owned shops, cafes, and restaurants nearby.

Samantha Brown enjoys oysters in Boston MA

Boston, MA

Given its northern location, Boston has a very narrow window of time where the weather is pleasant enough to want to vacation here, and that window of time is between June and August! This historic city hardly needs an introduction as it’s one of the few places linked so thoroughly with the founding of our nation! This city is a must-visit for history buffs, and considering it played such a role in the American Revolution, why not plan your trip here around July 4th? With so many unique things to do and places to eat, you’ll be sure to leave Boston both full in spirit and stomach. And hey, if you’re still craving some beach time, combine this city trip with any one of New England’s famed coastal getaways.

Cape May Beach - Jersey Shore - Samantha Brown Places to Love

Jersey Shore, NJ

The Jersey Shore is an absolute classic on any list of the best summer vacation spots in the US. While it’s gotten a specific reputation in the last decade or two, I’ve found that it offers so much more than a thriving nightlife scene. Jersey locals are fiercely proud of their hometown and are more than happy to show visitors all the unique things you can do in this region. Considering the shore alone stretches over 140 miles, a weekend or even a week might not be enough to fully explore!

Colorado Springs, CO

Colorado Springs has to be the ultimate destination for those who like a little more adventure with their summer vacation. The whole state is an outdoor lover’s paradise no matter the season, but it’s especially great during the hotter months as visitors can truly see nature and history collide. Seriously, this is the kind of place that has inspired “America the Beautiful.” From the Olympics to the Garden of the Gods and more, trust me when I tell you the list of incredible things to do in Colorado Springs is endless.

Places to Love - Maine - Samantha Brown

Coastal Maine

Coastal Maine is another great summer vacation spot if you’re hoping for cooler climates. It holds a special place in my heart as I spent my summers waitressing in a local seafood restaurant here, and to this day I still find it to be one of the most beautiful places out there. Maybe because I have a wave of nostalgia associated with its rugged beaches, historic lighthouses, beautiful hiking trails, and, of course, it’s incredible food, but there’s just something about Maine. Come prepared to enjoy the outdoors, risk a dip in the icy waters of the Atlantic, and eat your weight in more than just lobster rolls.

Sonoma County, CA

Sonoma, CA

As far as wine getaways are concerned, the northern region of California is practically iconic. However, I’d recommend skipping the more famous Napa Valley for the smaller and more underrated Sonoma County instead. After you’ve enjoyed its famous wines, explore the county’s smaller, local businesses more and see what makes this area such a perfect retreat.

genesee river valley - places to love - samantha brown

Genesee River Valley, NY

Genesee River Valley is another part of the Finger Lakes region, and a great spot if you want to combine wine with the great outdoors. There are truly so many unique ways to fill up a weekend in Genesee, from exploring the Grand Canyon of the East to learning more about the actual monks behind Monks’ Bread, you’ll find yourself wondering how this region isn’t even more well-known.

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Florida Keys, FL

Known as the land of eternal vacation, The Florida Keys has been a playground for some of America’s most notable figures in the last century. Pick up a car in Miami and prepare to road trip along the 113 miles of road known as the Overseas Highway to the many keys, or islands, that make-up the southernmost part of the continental US. Prepare to get outside and in the crystal blue waters surrounding the keys, take in the very cool history of Key West, and, of course, try the many, many iterations of key lime pie.

summer vacation spots in the us - san antonio

San Antonio, TX

You can never go wrong planning a trip to San Antonio! It’s one of the US’s most visited destinations for good reason. This is a place where multiple cultures have blended over centuries and where you can enjoy both some of America’s oldest landmarks as well as a river that has played a pivotal role in the city’s formation. Spend a weekend or more discovering all the things that make San Antonio so unique from its food scene to its natural wonders and more!

And there you have it! Some of my top picks for the best summer vacation spots in the US. There truly are so many incredible places to visit all around the country during the hottest months of the year, but this list would never end if I tried to add them all!

Want to explore even more of the best summer vacation spots in the US? Check out any season of our “Places to Love” for even more inspiration.

All the best summer vacation spots in the US!

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Great choices, Samantha, but I can’t imagine including Boston yet omitting that Historic Triangle of Virginia (Jamestown, Williamsburg, Yorktown). It’s certainly worth adding to the list.

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