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U.S. News Best Vacations Badge

Best Summer Vacations in the USA

U.S. News Best Vacations Badge

Summer is meant for using vacation days, whether your ideal trip involves a big city, an all-American national park, a relaxing beach or a stay in a small town. U.S. News considered several factors, including affordability, weather and variety of things to do plus traveler and expert sentiment, to decide the top domestic destinations to visit in the summer. Like what you see? Vote for your favorites to help influence next year's ranking.

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#1 Boston

#1 in Best Summer Vacations in the USA

Boston appeals to travelers of all types come summertime, with average temperatures in the 60s and 70s. Fenway Park welcomes baseball lovers, the Freedom Trail invites history buffs to a scavenger hunt of historic sites and Little Italy and Faneuil Hall Marketplace beckon to foodies. Visitors can also check out numerous breweries or plan their vacation around one of several festivals held over the summer. Read More »

Boston Harbor View 43 photos
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#2 Seaside, OR

#2 in Best Summer Vacations in the USA

A beloved West Coast getaway for families, Seaside is a relaxing resort town. Popular activities include strolling along the 1.5-mile-long promenade, biking or hiking local trails, kayaking or canoeing through the area's waterways and relaxing on the wide, sandy beach. Seaside also boasts a tasty local food scene that spotlights seafood, street food and more.

Seaside
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#3 Steamboat Springs

#3 in Best Summer Vacations in the USA

Summer is one of the more affordable times to visit this Colorado town and excellent weather draws travelers looking to hike, backpack and bike through the surrounding mountains. The town also hosts many popular summer festivals, including the Hot Air Balloon Rodeo and Art in the Park. And a trip here must include a dip in the region's famous hot springs. Read More »

Steamboat Springs View 17 photos
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#4 Nashville

#4 in Best Summer Vacations in the USA

A top foodie vacation spot and home to an incredible live music scene, Nashville wins travelers over with its musical talent, Southern hospitality, laid-back atmosphere and budget-friendly accommodation options (especially in the summer heat). Visitors can hop between honky-tonks on Broadway to see up-and-coming musicians or stroll through cultural sites like the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, the Ryman Auditorium and the Parthenon. Read More »

Nashville skyline View 28 photos
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#5 Portland, OR

#5 in Best Summer Vacations in the USA

Portland is a quirky destination that appeals to visitors looking for a taste of the eclectic mixed with outdoor and cultural fun. Families can enjoy the numerous parks, bibliophiles will adore Powell's City of Books (the largest independent bookstore in the world) and all travelers must visit the Portland Saturday Market, an open-air art, crafts and food market. The city is also home to thriving culinary and craft beer scenes. Read More »

Portland in the Fall View 50 photos
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#6 Portland, ME

#6 in Best Summer Vacations in the USA

A quaint, coastal city, Maine's Portland attracts travelers looking for balmy temps (ranging from the 50s to 70s) and a laid-back vacation. A leisurely walk through the Old Port neighborhood – which features cobblestone streets, dining spots and charming boutiques – and a brewery tour should be on your list of things to do. And you can't leave without trying some world-class seafood. Read More »

Portland View 26 photos
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#7 Seattle

#7 in Best Summer Vacations in the USA

Seattle sees its best weather this time of year, with less rain and warmer temperatures, but it's also the most popular time to visit. While here, explore the arts scene, including the Chihuly Garden and Glass, sample goodies at Pike Place Market and visit the iconic Space Needle. Planning a cruise out of Seattle? Set aside a few days to explore the Emerald City's excellent offerings first. Read More »

Seattle Skyline View 21 photos
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#8 Bar Harbor

#8 in Best Summer Vacations in the USA

Bar Harbor, Maine, is a tranquil paradise praised for its coastal beauty and pleasant summer highs hovering in the 60s and 70s. A gateway to Acadia National Park, the area draws travelers who love to hike, bike, boat and soak up the destination's stunning scenery. Meanwhile, Bar Harbor's Main Street is home to shops, ice cream parlors, art galleries, pubs and restaurants (don’t forget to order a lobster roll!).

Bar Harbor
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#9 Sonoma

#9 in Best Summer Vacations in the USA

Does your ideal getaway include award-winning food and drink? If so, then Sonoma, California, is the summer vacation for you. The area is home to dozens of wineries (some of which offer free tastings), rustic eateries, local bakeries, bustling farmers markets and breweries and cideries, too. When it's time to burn off everything you drank and ate, wander through Sonoma Plaza or hit the trails at Sonoma Coast State Park. Read More »

Cline Cellars View 17 photos
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#10 Grand Teton National Park

#10 in Best Summer Vacations in the USA

Spellbinding beauty, wildlife-viewing opportunities and trails for hikers of all skill levels draw travelers to this Wyoming national park for a summer vacation. The nearly 500-square-mile Grand Teton National Park is also an affordable getaway: campsites abound and you can avoid pricey dining by stocking up on food at a grocery store in Jackson Hole before visiting the park. Read More »

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#11 Cape Cod

#11 in Best Summer Vacations in the USA

A family-friendly New England vacation destination, Cape Cod charms visitors with colorful clam shacks, cozy cottages, swanky resorts and its beautiful 40-mile stretch of shoreline. The best beaches include Skaket Beach and Sandy Neck Beach, both praised for their clean sands and calm waters. Other attractions to check out include the Heritage Museums & Gardens and the Wellfleet Drive-In Theatre. Read More »

Waves Crashing Along Cape Cod View 33 photos
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#12 Surfside Beach

#12 in Best Summer Vacations in the USA

Nicknamed "The Family Beach," this coastal South Carolina town is the ultimate kid-friendly summer vacation spot. You'll find a sprawling beach equipped with lifeguards and a popular water park, Wild Water & Wheels, which includes waterslides, go-carts and mini-golf. It also became the first autism-friendly travel destination in 2016. What's more, this area sits less than 10 miles south of Myrtle Beach, where additional fun family activities abound.

beach
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#13 Hilton Head

#13 in Best Summer Vacations in the USA

Hilton Head features everything from resorts to vacation rentals, and activities like golfing, tennis, spa-going and relaxing on the beach are what make it a popular summer getaway. Travelers can also go biking, kayaking, fishing, hiking, horseback riding or bird-watching. One thing's for certain: There's no shortage of things to do in this seaside South Carolina town. Read More »

Aerial Harbour Town View 22 photos
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#14 Great Smoky Mountains National Park

#14 in Best Summer Vacations in the USA

Sprawling across more than 500,000 acres, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is an affordable summer destination perfect for outdoor enthusiasts. The park – one of the few that offer free entry – straddles Tennessee and North Carolina, and offers impressive waterfalls, wildflower fields, scenic drives and exciting hikes. Stop by the Sugarlands Visitor Center to brief yourself on some park history, pick up trail maps and check out the ranger-led tours. Read More »

Autumn at Clingmans View 19 photos
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#15 Newport

#15 in Best Summer Vacations in the USA

Mansion tours, delectable seafood and scenic shorelines attract vacationers to Newport, Rhode Island, in the summer months. The excellent weather doesn't hurt either. You can expect sunny days and average highs in the low to high 70s. Once you've explored the Colonial homes and local shops on Thames Street, pack a picnic lunch and head to the beach – there are several to choose from. Read More »

Boats View 18 photos
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#16 Outer Banks

#16 in Best Summer Vacations in the USA

A quintessential family vacation spot, the Outer Banks fills to the brim come summer with beachgoers looking to relax. Activities for kids and teens abound in this North Carolina destination, including fishing, windsurfing, boogie boarding and mini-golfing. What's more, the beaches are wide and clean, and there are historic lighthouses to discover. Read More »

Outer Bank beaches View 24 photos
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#17 Golden Isles

#17 in Best Summer Vacations in the USA

These southern Georgia barrier islands are characterized by luxury resorts, pristine beaches and highly rated golf courses. Consisting of St. Simons Island, Sea Island, Jekyll Island, Little St. Simons Island and Brunswick, the Golden Isles are a great summer vacation option for active travelers: tennis, biking, boating, fishing and hiking are all popular activities. When it's time to dine, indulge in everything from barbecue to succulent local seafood.

Golden Isles
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#18 Bryce Canyon National Park

#18 in Best Summer Vacations in the USA

Photographers flock to Utah's Bryce Canyon National Park to snap photos of the incredible rock formations, which range in color from deep scarlet red to burnt orange to chalky white. Other reasons travelers love to visit this national park in the summer? The weather is warm during the day, the hiking is excellent and it's slightly less crowded than more popular parks, such as the Grand Canyon. Read More »

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#19 Glacier National Park

#19 in Best Summer Vacations in the USA

Glacier National Park in Montana is known for its stunning geological features, which include more than 100 lakes, several waterfalls and two mountain ranges across 1 million acres. July and August are the best times to visit this park (also the busiest), with average highs in the 60s and 70s. You'll want to spend time hiking the scenic trails, going on a leisurely sightseeing drive and kayaking or canoeing on a lake. Read More »

Glacier National Park View 23 photos
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#20 Mount Rainier National Park

#20 in Best Summer Vacations in the USA

National parks make for exceptional summer getaways, thanks to their budget-friendly lodging options (campsites) and abundance of free things to do (hiking, wildlife-viewing and photographing the scenery, for instance). Washington state's Mount Rainier National Park is no exception. Shining features here include an active volcano, wildflower fields and impressive hiking trails. Keep in mind, summer is quite busy so try to visit midweek or start your day early to avoid crowds. Read More »

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