9 Best Places to Go This Summer
Though nothing beats the guilty pleasure of a winter escape, summers are synonymous with vacation. When the cold eventually snaps, it feels as though the world seems to hit its stride, welcoming you with picturesque landscapes, buzzing street festivals, and more. These nine destinations come into their own during the warmer months, when sunny days and temperate climates make exploring them that much easier. From seaside locales to urban getaways, these are the best places to visit this summer.
Jen has been a staff editor at Architectural Digest, Travel + Leisure, and Martha Stewart Weddings, and her work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Afar, and Elle Decor. When she's not snowmobiling in the French Alps or tasting scotch straight from the barrel in Scotland, she's at home in Brooklyn with her husband and daughter.
The presidential election may have finally spurred many Americans to seriously consider their neighbor to the north, but there are plenty of other reasons to visit Canada this summer. To celebrate the country’s 150th birthday, some 200 national parks from British Columbia to Labrador are offering free admission all year long, so you can hike the primordial evergreen forests in Banff or slurp oysters on Prince Edward Island for less. Not the outdoors type? Montreal, which also turns 375 in 2017, is a multicultural food mecca that’s best discovered when there's no chance of snow.
If wine is what you seek—and why wouldn’t it be?—then mark your calendar for early September, when the grape harvest is in full swing. Sure, it’s peak season, but reservations made in advance (say, now) will help you nab spots at the most coveted vineyards, tables, and hotels including buzzy new Las Alcobas, in St. Helena. The swanky 68-room property is practically on the grounds of the historic Beringer estate and brings with it a cedar-beamed spa and saltwater pool. When the grapes become too much, you can switch to the craft ales made at the brand new outpost of Oakland’s Fieldwork Brewing Company.
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Explore More: See hotel details | See all St. Helena, CA hotels
Okavango Delta, Botswana
For years, Kenya and South Africa have dominated the safari game, but Botswana is poised to up the ante. The Okavango Delta, known as the Cradle of Humankind, is best observed during the dry season from May through September, when vegetation is sparse and animals congregate at watering holes (this allows for better viewing). Thanks to government-led anti-poaching and conservation efforts, you can now see elephants, lions, and more at Duba Plains Camp, a sustainable five-tent luxury safari lodge in a 77,000 private reserve from National Geographic filmmakers Dereck and Beverly Joubert and responsible adventure outfitter Great Plains Conservation.
Whether you’re a food connoisseur looking for the next great ingredient or a sun worshipper in search of the ultimate stretch of sand, there’s something for everyone in Mexico. Mexico City, its capital, has become a veritable melting pot for foreign cuisines (witness the barbecue brisket at Porco Rosso and oyster po’ boys at La Docena) and new takes on Mexican staples. It’s also a bona fide design destination, with world-class museums, stylish hotels, and fashion-forward shops that draw an Instagram-happy crowd. The pace is decidedly slower outside the city, in places like Valle de Guadalupe, where the wine scene is thriving, and the bohemian coastal surf town of Puerto Escondido.
Anyone who has watched an episode of Game of Thrones knows what beauty lies in store in Croatia. Many of the show’s scenes capture the terra cotta roofs and limestone walkways of Dubrovnik, a panorama best viewed from a cable car ride up Mount Srdj. Follow the azure Adriatic coastline toward Italy and you’ll hit Split and the fourth-century ruins of the Roman emperor Diocletian; farther still lies Istria, an under-the-radar culinary destination that, thanks to its earthy truffles and fresh seafood, may be Europe’s best-kept secret.
To find a true city that never sleeps, head north to the land of the midnight sun. Long days arguably make the summer months the best time to visit Norway, where adventure seekers can get their kicks hiking the crystalline fjord lands outside Bergen or surfing the remote Lofoten Islands. City slickers will appreciate the booming coffee culture in Oslo, where the activities are more civilized. There, an easy walk along the Aker River takes you to the Waterfall at Molla, while a five-minute ferry ride brings you to an island where monastic ruins date back to the 1100s.
Medieval alleys. Cobblestone streets. Sunset-hued facades. A stroll through Portugal’s capital of Lisbon feels like a trip back in time that’s on par with Europe’s iconic cities—for only a fraction of the cost. If the fado-infused nightlife and laid-back café culture on seaside Praça do Comércio isn’t enough of a draw, consider the turquoise waters of the fishing villages to the south (Comporta is our pick) and the distinctive terroir of the Douro Valley wine region to the north (don’t miss Portugal’s second city, Porto, where port wine comes from). Then remember that Lisbon is one of the continent’s sunniest cities and get packing.
The fish-speckled reefs and pink-sand shores of Bermuda lure water babies for obvious reasons, but Bermuda will also court a sea’s-worth of boating enthusiasts this summer when it plays host to the 35th Annual America’s Cup yacht race in June. No wind in your sails? You can reap the benefit of the island’s infrastructural and commercial investments once the crowds disperse. Case in point: the iconic pink Fairmont Hamilton Princess recently underwent a $100 million renovation that added 43 new suites, a spa, and a beach club on the harbor.
Explore More: See hotel details | See all Hamilton, Bermuda hotels
With new boutique hotels opening in up-and-coming neighborhoods—if you haven’t heard of Fishtown by now, you’re living under a rock—there’s never been a better time to explore America’s most exciting food city. Philadelphia’s creative class is channeling their energy into ever more inventive cuisines, from the lamb tacos at South Philly Barbacoa to the fennel-and-radish-topped hummus at Center City’s Dizengoff. And with the Museum of the American Revolution opening later this month on the anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord, the city will be the perfect place for celebrating July 4th festivities.
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