I can’t believe summer is finally here! I’m so excited to be making this guide to the best summer vacations in the US.
It feels like we’ve been waiting forever for a somewhat normal vacation time.
As things start to open again and more people are vaxxed, I’m sharing some fun summer vacation ideas for destinations around the United States.
You don’t need to travel abroad to have an unforgettable summer. The US is filled with so many fun places to explore and sights to see all across the country.
So, I’m going to be covering a lot today! Get your notes ready for this summer travel guide to the best summer vacation spots.
If you’re looking for a city summer getaway San Francisco is definitely the way to go!
There’s really so much to do around the city like seeing the main tourist attractions like the Golden Gate Bridge, Palace of Fine Arts Theatre, Fisherman’s Wharf, Alcatraz Island, or Golden Gate Park.
Some other fun activities you can try are going on a trolley ride through the city, exploring Chinatown, or checking out the many museums the city offers.
The food here is incredible and they have so much variety. So, there’s really something for everyone like Michelin star food to cute coffee shops.
Check out my SF content here:
Check out all of my SF restaurant reviews:
I’m also biased whenever I talk about SF since I lived there for the past 9 years before moving to Napa. The city holds such a special place in my heart so I always recommend a visit.
Nothing screams the perfect summer than traveling to a beach town. Santa Barbara is known for its sunny weather and gorgeous beaches.
On top of that, you can spend the day wine tasting—check out Santa Barbara’s Urban Wine Trail—and dining at the top restaurants in SB.
Some popular activities to try while you’re in town are surfing, hiking, swimming, shopping, visiting museums or the zoo.
If you’re feeling super adventurous you can head over to the neighboring Channel Island to go kayaking through caves, snorkeling, or catching some wildlife.
Check out my Santa Barbara content here:
Honestly, it doesn’t even have to be the summer months to travel to LA. The weather is warm all year round, but the summertime is special because of the positive energy that’s in the air.
The city life is what LA is most famous for. The art scene is super fun with so many museums and concerts to visit.
The restaurants are amazing with so many food options to try. You’ll also find cute cocktail and wine bars everywhere—making a great Instagrammable moment.
Not only does LA have the city, you can also explore the famous beaches like Malibu or Venice. While you’re there make a stop at the Getty Villa Museum to get breathtaking views.
If you’re looking for more classic Cali beach spots, you can drive out to the outer banks in Orange County to visit some of the best beaches like Laguna, Dana Point, or Newport.
Or you could head down to Disneyland in Anaheim or stop by the best restaurants in Buena Park on your way to Knott’s Berry Farm.
Check out my LA content here:
New York City
Traveling to NYC is a must at least once in your lifetime. There are seriously so many things to do and there’s never enough time to do it all here.
If you’ve never traveled here before, I recommend exploring all the classic touristy spots just because they’re really special and fun to see.
Not your first time? Then I recommend taking advantage of the warmer weather and hang out at the beach or even go to the Hamptons.
Go on a picnic in Central Park and spend quality time in a different place than home with the people you love.
The food options in the city are amazing of course. The pizza, bagels, coffee, and brunch spots are chef kiss!
Take advantage of being on the East Coast and take a quick weekend trip to Cape Cod for more endless views of the ocean.
Check out all my New York content here:
If you’ve been following me, you know how much I love Scottsdale! I recently went and it seriously never gets old.
You can check out all of my Scottsdale content here:
There are so many fun things to do in Scottsdale, whether you’re going on a girls’ trip, babymoon, or adventurous weekend.
Like going on a hot air balloon ride, watching the sunrise or sunset, horseback riding, kayaking, hiking, and spending time at the resort pool.
The hotel options are amazing here with so many resorts to choose from. Check out my hotel guides here:
I also recommend treating yourself to a nice spa day to unwind. The food here is also super yummy!
My personal favorite spot is Little Miss BBQ right by PHX airport, which makes delicious Texas-style barbeque—the ribs are the best. Check out my Top 10 Best Scottsdale Restaurant guide to help you plan out where to eat.
This is another favorite city in Arizona! Sedona is the perfect place to explore with groups of people. You get endless views of the Red Rocks and being immersed in nature again.
When I went with my family a couple of summers ago, we loved spending the day at Slide Rock State Park, which is a naturally-made slip and slide! This is the awesomest place to take a dip and cool off during those hot summer days in the desert.
When you’re done with that, hop on a Pink Jeep Tour to explore endless views of Red Rocks and canyons—check out my Pink Jeep Tour review here. Maybe after you can go on a hike to Devil’s Bridge for a super cool Instagram shot—use my Best Hikes in Sedona guide to help you plan.
Once you’re finished exploring the outdoors, you can spend your days relaxing by the pools at the resort you decide to stay at. Sedona offers lots of hotel and cool Airbnb options—check out my guide to the Best Sedona Airbnbs.
Sedona also has a really yummy food scene with plenty of restaurants to try—don’t worry if you’re a vegetarian or vegan they have lots of accommodations.
Get inspiration from other Sedona travel content here:
How could I not include Maui on my best summer vacations in the US travel guide? If you’re really searching for those classic tropical vibes Hawaii is the place to go.
I love Maui so much that I’ve come a few summers now. You’ll get to lay out on the beach all day long, swim, and snorkel—what more can you ask for.
Enjoy the scenic hikes, drive on the Road to Hana, go on a helicopter ride, or head to a luau.
Check out all of my Maui content here:
The food is also amazing—eat endless bowls of fresh fish and poke. Explore my Maui food guides here:
Kauai is another popular island to travel to in Hawaii and is most known for its jaw dropping views. Most people visit Kaui to explore the natural landscapes by going on hikes.
You can even snorkel with dolphins here by booking with Na Pali Experience. I seriously almost cried because I love dolphins.
On a hot summer day, there’s nothing better than grabbing some shaved ice from JoJo’s Shave Ice. Be sure to get coconut or macadamia nut ice cream on the bottom!
Explore all my Kauai travel guides here:
If you’re looking for parties on the beach, delicious Cuban food, and fun nightlife, then Miami is definitely the place for you this summer. If you’re looking for somewhere to stay use my Best Miami Airbnbs guide to help plan.
The weather will be warm and humid—so be prepared to sweat and wear sunscreen. Explore downtown Miami to get your shopping on.
After you’re done check out the art museum to be enriched with Miami culture. Go on a city boat tour to get a feel for Miami Beach and to see the skylines from the water.
Everywhere you go with be filled with vibrant energy. The food here is amazing!
You’ll find everything like seafood, Cuban food, Peruvian food, Caribbean, and so much more. The food will definitely be an unforgettable part of your visit.
If you’re looking for more outdoor fun, you can try visiting the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens or go on a drive to Everglades National Park to spot gators. There are also opportunities to go jet skiing or parasailing.
Nothing screams more childhood summer than going on a trip to Disney. This is honestly a fun place to go with family, friends, or significant other. If you’re looking for food recs during your visit, check out the best food in Magic Kingdom. And of course when you’re there, you have to pick up some iconic Disney items, so check out this list of the best Disney World souvenirs.
You’ll also get be super close to neighboring theme parks like the Wizarding World of Harry Potter or Universal Orlando Resort. You can cross everything off your travel bucket list.
Besides the amusement parks, you can go on a day trip to the beaches in the neighboring cities.
If you love the outdoors or if you’re in need of some disconnection from social media, visiting the National Parks around the country is the way to go.
There’s nothing better than seeing endless breathtaking landscapes and wildlife. It’s also a great way to get your body moving since you can explore all the hiking options every National Park offers.
You can even go on multiple summer road trips to see all of the parks since some are not too far from each other.
You don’t even need to be a California native to know or have heard of Yosemite. It’s truly one of the most stunning places to visit.
See how I spent a weekend in Yosemite here.
Yosemite is a great spot to travel for family vacations since they offer tons of activities like hiking, biking, camping, and wildlife viewing.
Located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, you’ll get to see views of granite cliffs, sequoia trees, and waterfalls.
The park is open all year long, but the summertime is special because the weather is perfect to take a dip in the typically freezing Merced river and the waterfalls are flowing since the snow is melted—need I say more.
If you’re wanting to do a roadtrip and stop by a few national parks on the way, I would consider driving from Yosemite National Park to Sequoia National Park. You’ll get to see three national parks and drive through some beautiful parts of California.
Yellowstone is another National Park that I’m sure everyone’s heard of, especially since it was the very first National Park established.
Located in 3 different states—Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho—you can cross off being in 3 states all in one day!
Yellowstone offers so many fun activities for both adults and kids. You can see tons of wildlife, hot springs, canyons, rivers, forests, and the famous geyser—Old Faithful.
If you have some time make a stop at Grand Teton National Park which is a neighboring National Park. Might as well check everything off your bucket list.
And if you want to explore Montana, you could also make a stop at Glacier National Park to see incredible views of one of the most picturesque lakes and the Rocky Mountains.
I’m sure you’ve seen the infamous Joshua Trees on your Insta or at least have heard of the neighboring town to Coachella.
Joshua Tree is a very cool place to travel to—although it does get extremely hot in the summer.
Go on early morning hikes or go on a driving tour through the National Park to see big boulders and vast desert landscapes. You can check out my guide to the best hikes in Joshua Tree here.
If you go early enough, you may even get the chance to go rock climbing if that’s your thing. You can also do some animal watching to see if you spot lizards or birds.
Once you’re done in the park, you can explore the unique little desert town or even stay at some of the best Airbnbs in Joshua Tree.
This is another very famous National Park located in Arizona. Visiting this park makes a super fun road trip especially if you’re already in Arizona visiting Scottsdale, Sedona, or Phoenix—check out my Phoenix to Grand Canyon Road Trip guide.
You’ll get to see a huge canyon filled with layers of red rock and the Colorado River running right through the canyon.
It’s so breathtaking once you walk over to the edge and see the cliff drop down and the rows of canyon go on for miles.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even hike into the Grand Canyon or take a helicopter down to explore.
You have to visit the Grand Canyon at least once in your life!
So this National Park is located in Maine’s Mount Desert Island, which is definitely not an easy road trip if you’re based on the West Coast like me.
But I’ve heard Acadia is seriously breathtaking with gorgeous views of the rocky beaches, granite peaks, and woodlands. If you’re lucky you’ll be able to see whales in this National Park.
After you’re done exploring you go into town and check out the harbor, restaurants, hotels, and shops.
Since you’re on the East Coast already you can hit Shenandoah National Park, which is located in Virginia and showcases wetlands, waterfalls, and rocky peaks. Or go check out the Virginia Creeper Trail which is located in southwestern Virginia.
Or you can head over to Michigan to spend some time at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park. It’s one of many great summer vacation spots where you can spend all day lounging in the rivers and lakes.
Perfect time to get your tan on!
I’m sure most of you have heard of the Rocky Mountains, so why not spend the summer visiting Rocky Mountain National Park.
This is another fun summer destination where you can unwind in the outdoors and see endless rows of mountains and forest—it’s really something magical to see.
While you’re there you can go on a hike and feel transported into the middle of nowhere with endless views. It’s the ultimate way to disconnect.
The Rocky Mountains are in Colorado, so from there you can head north to Washington and check out the San Juan Islands. What makes the San Juan Islands especially cool is being able to see orcas!
While you’re traveling through all of these states you can also take advantage of checking out the State Parks too. Don’t ride them off just because they’re not a National Park!
That covers all the best summer vacations in the US to plan your next trip.
There’s seriously so much ground to cover but with things opening back up again, I hope you’re feeling excited about your next vacay!
Definitely tag me @wtfab on insta so I can see where you end up traveling to this summer! And let me know if you think I missed any other spots to travel to.
This summer you should visit:
The best states to visit in summer are:
– New York
The best places to visit in the US with the coolest weather are:
– San Francisco
Elise Armitage is an entrepreneur and founder of What The Fab, a travel + lifestyle blog based in California. At the beginning of 2019, Elise left her corporate job at Google to chase her dreams: being an entrepreneur and helping women find fabulous in the everyday. Since then, she’s launched her SEO course Six-Figure SEO, where she teaches bloggers how to create a passive revenue stream from their website using SEO. Featured in publications like Forbes, Elle, HerMoney, and Real Simple, Elise is a firm believer that you can be of both substance and style.