Travelling in summer can be a double whammy, what with the heat and the holiday crowds. However, if it is the U.S. you are planning to visit, you have no worries. No matter what you are looking for – beaches, national parks, festivals, museums – you are likely to find it all at one of these American summer escapes.
1. Chicago, Illinois
Interest level – festivals, summer activities, music concerts
If Chicago, the city of skyscrapers, has ever been on your bucket list, then summer is definitely the time to be there. Temperatures are warm and comfortable, the windy lake-shores more fun, and the skyline views to die for. What’s more, Chicago is a pedestrian-friendly city that goes all out to take advantage of the warm weather with activities galore. Take a stroll along the Magnificent Mile. Check out the amazing Chicago Bean steel sculpture at the Cloud Gate. Indulge in some playful beach ball on the lake front, explore the Navy Pier Boardwalk, eat al fresco, or be a part of a beer festival. Chicago night life caters to all tastes, so you can choose to party at a street fest, catch a free ‘movie in the parks’ or a free concert at Millennium Park. From being the “Windy City” Chicago is the capital of music festivals, best enjoyed in the warm summer.
2. Denver, Colorado
Interest level – outdoor fun, hiking, mountain biking, sports, summer festivals, music concerts, parks, museums, family holiday
Visit this Mile High City, a pulsating metropolis with sunny skies almost the year around. Denver offers beautiful views of the Rocky Mountains. Whether you want to hit some of the big-league sports here, or local breweries and pubs, there is a plenty to do in Denver. Hiking and mountain biking vies with other outdoor fun. Moreover it has a thriving art and culture scene, much of which is a throwback to Denver’s Gold Rush history. Denver is also known for its many summer festivals – wine, music, art, beer, food, entertainment and more. You will have a tough time juggling your interests here.
Denver is a great destination for a summer family holiday with kids. It is home to world class water parks, the Denver Zoo, the Butterfly Pavilion, the Downtown Aquarium, a unique Dinosaur Ridge, and a children’s interactive museum at Marsico.
3. Las Vegas, Nevada
Interest level – partying, music, entertainment, casinos, night life dining, pool fun, concerts and festivals, trade shows, adventure thrills
Las Vegas is known as ‘The City of Lights’ for being the brightest city on the earth when viewed from space. Today the city may have emerged as the ultimate pit stop for conventions and trade shows, but it continues to be the ultimate venue for night life. You’d never know that the city is hottest in summer, going by fully booked hotels, packed pools, celebrity encounters and crowds everywhere. Kick off the summer with the wild Memorial Day Weekend, akin to New Year Day’s celebrations, when concerts, grand openings and special DJ party events mark the calendar. The World Series of Poker tournaments, Fourth of July celebrations, and the Cine Vegas Film Festival are other summer events. As the summer heats up, so does the music festival and outdoor concerts scenario. Play golf in the morning, or take a walk along the famed Strip to experience the spectacular scenic beauty. Indulge in hi-end shopping or get behind the wheel of an exotic sports car at the Speedvegas Track. A-list entertainers, big-budget stage shows and megastar music performances, Las Vegas is chock-a-block with summer activities in air conditioning cool.
There is more to Las Vegas than partying, casinos and colourful nightlife. It has some of the best architectures, the world’s highest thrill rides, a unique Voodoo Zipline between skyscrapers, a spectrum of dining choices and the biggest, boldest, fun high-end hotels with a range of price tags. Unique encounters at the Mob Museum and aboard the zero gravity thrill flight are the icing on the cake!
4. San Francisco, California
Interest level – sight-seeing, walking, historical immersion, dining, winery tours, cruising, shopping, romance
Revisit the hippy movement of the 60s, the Summer of Love, with the 50th anniversary celebrations at San Francisco. Highly ranked as a city for romance, it is also the nation’s food and wine capital. Fisherman’s Wharf is every tourist’s must-do. You will find fishing boats, sea lions, souvenir shops, markets and seafood restaurants. Check out the Maritime National Historical Park, have a deep encounter with the past at the San Francisco Dungeon and wrap up with the thrilling Escape Alcatraz drop ride. Cycle along the trails fronting the waterfront, and drive across the famous Golden Gate Bridge to the Marin Headlands for best views.
You cannot visit San Francisco and not go cruising. Go sailing under the Golden Gate Bridge and enjoy the beautiful city skyline, or cruise around the San Francisco Bay. Union Square is where you can shop to your heart’s content! If you still have time, pack in winery tours to the neighbourhood Napa and Sonoma valleys.
6. Salt Lake City, Utah
Interest levels – outdoor fun, hiking, camping, mountain biking, dramatic mountain views, swimming, water activities, carnivals
If you are looking for an exciting summer destination, then pack your sun screen and head to Salt Lake City. The summer air is crisp and clear with breathtaking views, and sunsets to die for. With its proximity to the mountains, you can choose from dozens of mountain hikes and campsites. Hone your spikeball skills at a park, swim in outdoor pools, go shopping in Downtown and visit the Temple Square. For the curious and historical, you have the best dinosaur museum at Thanksgiving Point, This is the Place Heritage Park and the Natural History Museum of Utah
Hold on, there is more. Besides hiking and mountain biking, you can go water skiing and paddle boarding at the reservoirs close by. Summer is also the time for events – the Utah Arts Festival, the Butlerville Day carnival, Independence Day Celebrations and the Pioneer Day Parade. The Red Butte Garden and Pioneer Park hold musical concert series every summer. Salt Lake City is indeed, all about outdoor fun that only a summer can bring!
7. Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota
Interest level – outdoor adventure, unique experiences, family fun, food, fairs, fun activities
As the bitter cold gives way to summer, Minneapolis goes all out to welcome the sunshine. The twin cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul squeeze fun and gaiety out of the next few months with a carnival-like Midwest bonhomie.
Dotted with lakes and gardens, and the Mississippi River running through it, Minneapolis is as much a foodie’s paradise as an art and culture centre. Besides the unique Social Science Nights and the action-packed Running Acres Horse Racetrack, the cities host a week’s worth of dining deals at the Restaurant Week. There’s more summer fun. From a Rainbow Race where you get bombarded with every hue, to the Glow Run, it is all about summer frolic. Indulge in Pizza Camps. Enjoy the Torchlight Parade, and Target Fireworks. Make the most of outdoor movie showings under the stars. Or sway to music at the Rock the Garden and the Basilica Block Party music festivals.
This is a great place to visit with your family. There are amusement water parks, zoos, and fairs – the Uptown Art Fair, and the Minnesota State Fair spread across 320 acres between Minneapolis and St. Paul. Another summer event is the Minnesota Renaissance Festival featuring live performers, shopping, artisan booths, great food and drinks. And when you feel you want some time-out from the wild festive fun, hang out at the many brew pubs and indulge in the Minneapolis brand of Patio dining – rooftops, decks, sidewalks – a popular dining phenomenon here!
8. Honolulu, Oahu Island, Hawaii
Interest level – island destination, surfing, swimming, beaches, hiking, family travel, summer camps, events, festivals
If an island destination is where you want to be, there is no time like summer to visit Honolulu. The weather is dry at this time and schools closed for holidays. Plenty of activities and camps are lined up for you and your kids. Entertainment zones with great rides, the State Fair events, concert series and summer camps hosted by the Waikiki Aquarium and Honolulu Zoo, arts and theatre training events, and more. Splash in the ocean, go hiking in the forests, and walk along its iconic crescent beaches. Looking for more adventure? Go surfing at one of these best spots.
From the Kailua Independence Day Parade, to the Japanese Moilili Summerfest, international Hula competitions and island music festivals, there is plenty of choice!