Best Places to Visit in August
Late summer is generally marked by hot days and the desire to squeeze in one more vacation. That's why U.S. News evaluated attractions, events and weather (among other factors) to bring you this list of the best places to visit in August. From a mountain reprieve to a small-town retreat, there's a destination on this ranking for every traveler to enjoy. Vote below to help determine next year's list. (Note: Some of the below destinations may be affected by the coronavirus outbreak. Check with the CDC and the U.S. Department of State before traveling.)
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America's Finest City is warm and dry in August, giving you ample opportunities to soak up some sun. If you're eager to spend some time at the beach, you'll find 70 miles of coastline that's ideal for everything from surfing to swimming to paddleboarding. Away from the shore, there's Balboa Park, where you can admire beautiful architecture, check out various museums and explore the world-renowned San Diego Zoo. Plus, San Diego is home to the Gaslight Quarter, a popular place to go for a tasty libation, excellent live music and delectable Mexican fare.
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Plan an Outer Banks vacation in August to enjoy warm weather (think: average highs in the low 80s) and fun festivals like the OBX Watermelon Festival and the Outer Banks Pirate Festival. These North Carolina barrier islands are ideal for all kinds of beach activities, including sailing, surfing and sunbathing. Plus, some of them are rich in history. Head to Kill Devil Hills to visit Wright Brothers National Memorial (where the famous pilots took their first flight), or venture to Roanoke Island to check out Roanoke Island Festival Park's exhibits about what life was like in the 16th century.
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While other destinations in the Northern Hemisphere are experiencing high temps come late summer, Boston rarely climbs above 80 degrees, making this the ideal time for sightseeing along the Freedom Trail or relaxing in the Boston Public Garden. You should also plan to catch a Red Sox baseball game at Fenway Park or make your way across the Charles River to walk the grounds of Harvard University sans students. No visit would be complete without trying authentic Italian cuisine in the North End and fresh seafood in the Seaport District.
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For a quaint New England getaway in August, head to this coastal Maine city. Beach bums can take advantage of balmy temps at nearby shorelines, and foodies can stroll through the Old Port to sample some of the city's best restaurants. Meanwhile, art lovers can check out the Portland Museum of Art to see its collection of more than 18,000 works of art. End your day at the Eastern Promenade or the Portland Observatory to enjoy breathtaking harbor views at sunset.
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If you've traveled to Cusco to visit Machu Picchu, you'll first have to spend a few days in this Peruvian mountain city to get acclimated to the elevation – and August is the perfect time to do so. Because of Cusco's location in the Southern Hemisphere, August falls within the latter half of the winter season. That means temperatures range from lows in the mid-30s to highs in the upper 60s and the area experiences very little rain, making it a terrific time to explore the Plaza de Armas. There, you'll find restaurants, stores and stunning landmarks like La Catedral.
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Curacao is idyllic for those seeking a late summer Caribbean getaway thanks to its location outside the hurricane belt. Sustained daytime temperatures in the high 80s and low 90s mean you'll likely spend most of your vacation lounging on the beach or swimming past marine life, coral reefs and shipwrecks while scuba diving. But the charming, colorful Dutch colonial architecture found in the UNESCO-certified capital – Willemstad – is worth exploring, too. Plus, with fewer mega resorts and more boutique resorts and bed-and-breakfast establishments, you'll likely be able to score a deal on your accommodations.
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Few activities are more relaxing than soaking in water, and you'll find plenty of ways to do so in Hot Springs. This Arkansas town's biggest attractions are its naturally heated springs in Hot Springs National Park, where you can also enjoy a traditional bath, a massage and other spa services. When you've gotten your fill of the hot springs or want to beat the heat on days when temperatures climb into the 90s, spend a few hours zipping down waterslides or floating on the lazy river at the Magic Springs Theme and Water Park.
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Whistler may be best known as a popular ski destination, but this Canadian town offers just as much fun in summer. Average daytime temperatures in Whistler hover between the 60s and 80s in August, so you can enjoy all kinds of warm-weather activities. Popular summer pursuits include swimming and boating in Lost Lake Park, hiking to stunning Brandywine Falls and mountain biking and whitewater rafting at Whistler Blackcomb. Whistler also hosts its annual Outdoor Summer Concert Series on Fridays and Saturdays throughout the warmer months, so plan on catching a free show while in town.
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Fiji is an excellent place to visit in August. Although August falls within Fiji's cooler, drier season, daytime temperatures commonly sit in the high 70s or low 80s, so you can spend the bulk of your vacation sunbathing on its white sand beaches and swimming in its vibrant blue water. Plus, several of the country's 333 islands – including Taveuni, the Mamanucas and the Yasawas – offer ample opportunities for water sports like surfing and scuba diving. If you're a fan of culture, you're in luck: Fiji also features all kinds of unique traditions, such as kava and firewalking ceremonies.
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Kluane National Park and Reserve#10 in Best Places to Visit in August
Head to Kluane National Park and Reserve in Canada's Yukon region if you want to enjoy an unconventional summer vacation. At this UNESCO World Heritage Site, you'll discover the world's largest nonpolar icefield and lots of snow, which you'll still see and can even camp on in August. Sign up for a flightseeing tour to view Kluane's glaciers from the air, or take advantage of the mild, incredibly long summer days by exploring the park on foot. A boat ride around Kathleen Lake or a rafting excursion down the Alsek River are also fun ways to admire your surroundings.
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Cape May#11 in Best Places to Visit in August
It's no secret that the Jersey Shore is a popular place to go in summer, and one of its top vacation spots is Cape May. This small town in New Jersey is the country's oldest seaside resort destination and a National Historic Landmark, so you can expect to find hundreds of Victorian homes and charming bed-and-breakfast accommodations in its historic district. But Cape May's biggest draws – especially in August – are its beaches. Head to The Cove to sunbathe and surf, or visit Sunset Beach to catch one of its famous sunsets.
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Rovinj#12 in Best Places to Visit in August
Summer is peak season in this Croatian town, so you'll likely rub elbows with other travelers during an August visit. However, Rovinj's beauty will more than make up for the influx of tourists. In August, you can comfortably walk along the car-free cobblestone streets of Rovinj's Old Town thanks to daytime temperatures in the 70s and 80s. This month is also a great time to explore Grisia Street, which hosts an open-air art exhibition on the second Sunday of August. If you need a break from the town's throngs of people, take a daytrip to one of 14 nearby islands.
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Petrified Forest National Park#13 in Best Places to Visit in August
Though you'll likely encounter rain showers in August, you'll catch a glimpse of blooming wildflowers if you visit Petrified Forest National Park in summer. The northeastern Arizona park is home to the world's largest, most colorful collection of petrified wood, which is visible during hikes and horseback riding excursions. Additionally, Petrified Forest features the Rainbow Forest Museum, where prehistoric animal skeletons are on display. To get a dose of culture while at the park, attend a craft demonstration at Painted Desert Inn National Historic Landmark in the late morning or early afternoon.
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Masai Mara National Reserve#14 in Best Places to Visit in August
Kenya's Masai Mara National Reserve is one of Africa's most frequented safari destinations, especially in August when wildlife viewing opportunities are superb. August marks the beginning of the Great Migration, an annual journey by more than 1 million wildebeest, zebras and other animals from Tanzania's Serengeti National Park into Masai Mara. What's more, the reserve is a year-round haven for additional animal species, including the big five (lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants and buffaloes), earning it its reputation as one of Africa's most diverse areas.
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Ixtapa#15 in Best Places to Visit in August
This former coconut plantation is now a highly regarded resort area on Mexico's Pacific coast. When you're not relaxing at an all-inclusive resort, venture off-site to sunbathe on one of Ixtapa's beautiful stretches of sand – Playa el Palmar and Playa Linda are two favorites – or practice your swing at a local golf course. Or, travel 6 miles northwest to Isla Ixtapa, a small island known for its terrific snorkeling and scuba diving. Keep in mind, August is part of Ixtapa's rainy season but rarely experiences long downpours, leaving you plenty of time to enjoy the outdoors.
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