We’re starting off with one of our all-time favorite cities to visit during Summer - and pretty much any time of the year. Best known for its beautiful beaches and world famous zoo, San Diego isn’t just Ron Burgundy’s favorite city: It’s a popular destination for tourists around the world. You’ll find great restaurants and happening nightlife in the Gaslamp Quarter. For hiking, there’s the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve. And make sure you set aside some time to explore Balboa Park.
If you have some extra time, drive up to Carlsbad for a day. It's a charming, laid-back beach town, and it's only 45 min from San Diego. Definitely a fun place to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon.
Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve
Winters in Chicago are long, dark and brutally cold. Nobody there takes Summer for granted. They live it up in the Summertime with tons of festivals, block parties, concerts and outdoor markets. As a visitor, you can’t help but feel just as excited as everyone else to be outside soaking up the sun.
Millennium Park is a must-see for first time visitors. And Chicago's two most famous museums - the Art Institute and Field Museum (natural history) - are both walking-distance from the park. You’ll also find plenty of walking/biking trails nearby along the lake. Venture up to the north side of Chicago later in the day for some of the city's best bars and restaurants.
Summer is the most popular time to visit Seattle, so you shouldn’t expect to have the whole city to yourself. October is also a great time (less busy, potentially more rainy) but we included Seattle on this list because it’s really just one of America’s coolest cities. And it was ranked by U.S. News as one of the best Foodie Cities in the county. So if you love seafood, look no further. And if you love Sushi, you might just be in Heaven. Seattle’s also known for its coffee and beer - two drinks that humans have been known to enjoy from time to time.
Bar Harbor, ME
A small coastal resort town located on Mount Desert Island in Maine, Bar Harbor is a popular Summertime destination for travelers who love the great outdoors, because it’s only an hour away from Acadia National Park. Known for its spectacular views, Acadia is one of America’s most beautiful parks. But Bar Harbor has much to offer as well. There’s no shortage of charming shops and great restaurants (Lobster is a local specialty) so it’s no wonder the quaint costal town tops many lists of the best US cities to visit in Summertime.
Acadia National Park
Steamboat Springs, CO
Steamboat Springs is another popular destination for nature-lovers. Named after its famous hot springs, Steamboat usually sees the most tourists in the Wintertime because it’s so great for skiing and snowboarding. But the city has a lot to offer in the Summer months as well. For hiking, check out Fish Creek Falls or the Yampa River Core Trail. Other popular outdoor activities include fishing, zip-lining, tubing, and camping in the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests. Riding the Steamboat Gondola is a must-do for first-time visitors. And there’s no shortage of places to eat and drink: downtown Steamboat has over 100 bars and restaurants.
Fish Creek Falls
Outer Banks, NC
U.S. News recently ranked the Outer Banks as the #1 best place for a family beach vacation in the country. So you know it’s busy in the Summertime. But don’t let that stop you from going. According to U.S. News, the “beaches are more populated during the summer months, but with so many destinations spread out along the barrier islands, you likely won’t experience unmanageable crowds.” If you love spending time by the ocean, the Outer Banks are for you. The beautiful beaches are great for swimming, sun-bathing and water sports like kayaking.
Tour the Wright Brothers National Memorial and learn more about the brothers’ first flight right where it happened. Another highlight (pun intended) is the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, which you can't miss because it’s the tallest traditional lighthouse in the country. You can make the climb for a small fee.
Santa Barbara, CA
Here’s another coastal town worth visiting in the Summer. Santa Barbara’s smaller than some of the other cities on this list, but some people see that as a plus. It’s history is well-preserved, and the distinct Spanish architecture and red-tile clay roofs give Santa Barbara it's own unique aesthetic. The courthouse is a must-see. You'll get a full panoramic view of the entire city from its watchtower.
You'll also find plenty of outdoor activities like hiking, biking, and swimming. And the beaches are beautiful. But the best part of Santa Barbara might just be the plethora of great bars and restaurants. Locally produced wine and craft beer are always within an arm’s reach. You’ll find taprooms and tasting rooms all over the city - particularly in the Funk Zone. Wine-lovers with some extra time should visit Los Olivos or the Rideau Vineyard in Solvang (each are 40 min away) for a glass of locally-produced wine in a beautiful setting.
Capital City Public Market
Boise is a beautiful city - especially in the Summer - and a fabulous place to visit. Situated along the Boise River, it has a bustling downtown with plenty to explore and a host of things to do outdoors. Get some fresh air and exercise on the Boise River Greenbelt, which hugs the water’s edge and cuts right through downtown. It features over 25 miles of trail for walking and biking. The 41-acre Kathryn Albertson Park is just a mile west of downtown, and according to their website, it hosts a “multitude of animal life” including owls, herons, salamanders, turtles, bullfrogs, raccoons, beavers, rabbits, foxes, and deer. The Idaho Botanical Garden is also a beautiful place is visit, and they offer free tours on select days during the Summer.
Have any suggestions for other great US cities to visit? Share in the comments below!