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U.S. News Best Vacations Badge

Best Summer Vacations

U.S. News Best Vacations Badge

For many, the desire to travel peaks when summer rolls around. And with so many places experiencing warm weather and longer days, it's hard to decide which vacation is right for you. To help you narrow down your options, U.S. News weighed factors like activities and entertainment options, lodging, dining venues and weather to determine the best summer vacations. Use this list to help you plan your vacation, and don't forget to vote for your favorite spots below.

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#1 Paris

#1 in Best Summer Vacations

Excellent weather in the high 70s makes summer the best time to wander the Père Lachaise Cemetery, people-watch from a Champs-Élysées cafe or admire the flora at Luxembourg Gardens. The only cons: You'll encounter heavy crowds and high prices, so book well in advance to secure lower rates and start your sightseeing early for more elbow room. Read More »

Paris at night View 45 photos
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#2 Florence

#2 in Best Summer Vacations

Although you'll have to contend with plenty of other tourists, you'll find that the beauty of Florence's alfresco cafes, piazzas and Renaissance architecture shines brightest in the summer. Unfortunately, accommodation rates are at their highest this time of year, so plan to book your trip at least several months in advance. Read More »

Il Duomo View 30 photos
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#3 Boston

#3 in Best Summer Vacations

Soaking up the history of the Freedom Trail, the Paul Revere House and the Old North Church is more pleasant when daytime temperatures hover in the 70s and 80s. Summer is also when Beantown comes alive with frequent baseball games at Fenway Park and outdoor events like Boston Pride and Boston Harborfest. Read More »

Boston Harbor View 43 photos
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#4 Dublin

#4 in Best Summer Vacations

A summer trip to Dublin is expensive, but for many travelers, a visit during this season is worth the inflated hotel rates. Places like Grafton Street and The Temple Bar are lively, and flowers at St. Stephen's Green and Phoenix Park are in full bloom. To secure the best prices, book airfare and lodging at least a few months in advance. Read More »

Dublin from the River Liffey View 42 photos
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#5 Seaside, OR

#5 in Best Summer Vacations

By summer, this Oregon town offers comfortable 60-degree temps and mostly clear skies, making it a prime destination for families and outdoor enthusiasts. Spend your vacation surfing in the Pacific Ocean, biking the 1 ½-mile-long promenade and hiking Tillamook Head Trail. For those with little ones, the Seaside Aquarium's touch tank is a must-do.

Seaside
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#6 Steamboat Springs

#6 in Best Summer Vacations

While Steamboat Springs is known for its ski slopes, this Colorado town's breathtaking mountains also attract hikers and bikers during warmer weather. Plus, if you visit in July or August, you can attend fun local festivals, such as the Hot Air Balloon Rodeo and the Steamboat Wine Festival. Read More »

Steamboat Springs View 17 photos
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#7 Nashville

#7 in Best Summer Vacations

Summers in the Music City can be hot and humid, with daytime temps hovering in the 80s and 90s. Hotel rates are also at their highest. However, you'll quickly forget these woes while grooving to music at venues along Broadway, including Tootsie's Orchid Lounge. Additionally, you'll find plenty of free things to do in many local parks and art galleries. Read More »

Nashville skyline View 28 photos
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#8 Portland, OR

#8 in Best Summer Vacations

The City of Roses features blooming flowers, bustling outdoor markets and an array of festivals come summertime. Visitors will especially love embracing the city's "Keep Portland Weird" mantra at quirky events like the World Naked Bike Ride and The Big Float. Don't forget to save time for a hike in Forest Park or on Mount Hood. Read More »

Portland in the Fall View 50 photos
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#9 Bar Harbor

#9 in Best Summer Vacations

Bar Harbor's proximity to Acadia National Park's hiking trails makes it a superb spot to hang your hat in the summer. But don't leave this coastal Maine town without spending a day or two exploring its sights. You can shop for locally made souvenirs, tour a lobster hatchery, boat around Mount Desert Island and more.

Bar Harbor
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#10 Sonoma

#10 in Best Summer Vacations

With pleasant temps in the 70s and 80s and few rain showers, Sonoma draws in summer vacationers eager to sip wines, hike and take in Sonoma Plaza's historic architecture. Keep in mind, though, that wine-tasting tours fill up fast and room rates are pricier in the summer, so allot plenty of time for securing reservations. Read More »

Cline Cellars View 17 photos
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#11 Grand Teton National Park

#11 in Best Summer Vacations

Trails may be packed with hikers in the summer, but Grand Teton National Park's 70- to 80-degree highs are ideal for climbing Grand Teton, fishing at Blacktail Spring Ponds, swimming in Jenny Lake and rafting down the Snake River. If you do decide to hike, start your journey early for more elbow room and sunnier skies. Read More »

View 16 photos
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#12 Great Barrier Reef

#12 in Best Summer Vacations

The Great Barrier Reef offers world-renowned diving and snorkeling, and some of the best months for both are June, July and August. But remember, these months see an influx of tourists to the Cairns and Ribbon reefs, which causes hotel prices in Cairns to soar. For cheaper rates, stay farther south in Rockhampton or Bundaberg. Read More »

Aquatic Life View 27 photos
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#13 Machu Picchu

#13 in Best Summer Vacations

Summer features fewer rain showers in the Peruvian mountains and daytime highs in the 60s, meaning experienced hikers will have terrific conditions for trekking the Inca Trail. Non-hikers can still enjoy the iconic Lost City of the Incas, but keep in mind that trail spots (and admission tickets) are limited and require advance reservations.

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#14 Cape Cod

#14 in Best Summer Vacations

Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, locals and tourists swarm Cape Cod's picturesque beaches – and for good reason. Daytime temperatures are commonly in the 70s, giving New Englanders a chance to thaw after chilly winters. To ensure availability (especially on weekends), reserve your rooms as soon as possible. Read More »

Waves Crashing Along Cape Cod View 33 photos
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#15 Hilton Head

#15 in Best Summer Vacations

Hilton Head's 70- to 80-degree summer temps along with its predominantly clear skies make hitting the links and sunbathing at Alder Lane Beach must-dos for vacationers. When you need a break from the sun, cool off with some ice cream in Harbour Town or in the fountains at Coligny Beach Park. Read More »

Aerial Harbour Town View 22 photos
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#16 Kruger National Park

#16 in Best Summer Vacations

June through August make up half of Kruger National Park's dry season, when wildlife-viewing opportunities are generally at their best. With less vegetation and fewer watering holes, animals like zebras and hippos are easier to spot while on a game drive or bush walk. What's more, mosquitoes won't bother you as much during the day. Read More »

Elephants View 18 photos
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#17 Great Smoky Mountains National Park

#17 in Best Summer Vacations

Summer brings sunshine to this park that straddles the North Carolina and Tennessee border, meaning you'll have prime conditions for traversing hiking paths like the Chimney Tops and Laurel Falls. For the ultimate outdoorsy vacation, camp out in the park. Just remember to buy and print your permit before you arrive. Read More »

Autumn at Clingmans View 19 photos
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#18 Newport

#18 in Best Summer Vacations

Like other New England locales, this Rhode Island town is hot, humid and expensive in the summer. But Newport's Cliff Walk and Thames Street are even more picturesque when rain or snow is not in the forecast. If you need to escape the heat, duck inside one of the lavish mansions lining Ochre Point and Bellevue avenues or swim at a nearby beach. Read More »

Boats View 18 photos
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#19 Outer Banks

#19 in Best Summer Vacations

This collection of North Carolina barrier islands features beaches with everything from top-notch water sports conditions to dog-friendly sands. Plus, you'll find fun summer events like the Outer Banks Pirate Festival. Most lodging here comes in the form of beachfront rental properties, so make sure to secure your spot by spring. Read More »

Outer Bank beaches View 24 photos
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#20 Golden Isles

#20 in Best Summer Vacations

Georgia's port town of Brunswick and its four barrier islands are named for their golden sands and golden sunsets. Each island attracts summer vacationers to its quiet stretches of sand – such as the aptly named Driftwood Beach on Jekyll Island – and plentiful outdoor activities, which include birding, golfing and fishing.

Golden Isles
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