42 perfect summer trips

Treat yourself to one of these great drives, islands, beach towns, lakes, or wilderness escapes

Splashy adventures in Kremmling, CO

Ashley Davis

Splashy adventures in Kremmling, CO

This a real-deal ranching town at the confluence of the Colorado, Blue, and Muddy Rivers serves up splashy outdoor adventures for summer, from rafting to dips in hot springs.

More: Splash around in Kremmling, CO

Poolside R&R in Palm Springs, CA

Poolside R&R in Palm Springs, CA

Palm Springs in summer? Yep, we said it. Zero crowds, killer deals, and a pool around every corner make this the place to be.

More: Unwind by the pool in Palm Springs, CA

Climb to your heart's content in Lander, WY

Audrey Hall

Climb to your heart's content in Lander, WY

Dip into Lander, Wyoming, a cool town of climbers, killer coffee, and cowboys. Epic hiking trails also await you there.

More: Get sporty in Lander, WY

Sizzling deals in Scottsdale, AZ

Andrea Gómez Romero

Sizzling deals in Scottsdale, AZ

In Scottsdale, expect summer temps of triple digits with a chance of more triple digits. But hotels and resorts—even the ultraposh ones—drop their room rates by as much as two-thirds in summer.

More: Score summer deals in Scottsdale, AZ

Cody, Wyoming

Audrey Hall

Cowboy cool in Cody, WY

Grab your cowboy hat and hit the rodeo in this wild west town. Mountain trail horseback rides and whitewater rafting are just a few of the adventures that await you.

More: Spend the day in Cody, WY

Geyserville, Calif.

David Fenton

Vineyard hop in Geyserville, CA

Sip some poolside vino in low-key Northern California.

More: Explore Geyserville, CA

San Diego's Solana Beach

Andrea Gómez Romero

Hang ten on San Diego's Solana Beach

Visit artsy, cool shops, munch on good eats, or catch some waves at picturesque Solana Beach.

More: Get to know San Diego's Solana Beach

Jerome, Ariz.

Gina Sabatella

History lesson in Jerome, AZ

Explore this old mining town and you'll find an up-and-coming art scene, handmade pottery, and a refreshing cooler temperature than nearby Phoenix.

More: Discover Jerome, Ariz.

Cascade, Idaho

Andrea Gómez Romero

Splash around in Cascade, ID

Explore nature's very own water world in Cascade, Idaho. Sparkling lakes, flowing rivers, and natural hot springs boast fun activities for the whole family.

More: Visit Cascade, Idaho

Ashland theater

John Clark

On a budget in Ashland, OR

See a world-class play, hear live music, wander galleries, and beat the heat in woodsy 93-acre Lithia Park.

Here's what to do, where to eat, and where to stay on a bargain weekend in Southern Oregon's famous culture town.

Bargain Ashland getaway

Huntington Beach boardwalk

Andrea M. Gómez

Sun and surf in Huntington Beach, CA

Whether you're carving up the waves or watching the pros from the sand, this classic beach-town will work its charms on you.

Here's where to stay, get lobster tacos, watch the surfers, and learn to catch a wave.

More: Huntington Beach weekend escape

Edmonds beach park

Michael Hanson

Escape to Edmonds, WA

Summer brings out the all-American spirit in this small waterfront ferry port town. Grab some gourmet picnic grub and head to the beach, or hop a ferry for a scenic tour of the nearby Kitsap Peninsula.

More: Escape to Edmonds, WA

Sierra City lakes

Jen Siska

Cool off in Sierra City, CA

In summertime, a cool pine forest laced with bracing-cold streams sounds just right. Take a dip in ice-cold swimming holes, hike through fields of wildflowers, then jump back into the crisp alpine waters to cool off again.

More: Cool off in Sierra City

Sawtooth Mountains view

Thomas J. Story

Surrounded by nature in Sawtooth Mountains, ID

Imagine a national park-level wilderness without national park-level crowds. No bus tours. No traffic. No entrance fees. Just drop-to-your-knees gorgeous land full of hiking trails, hot springs, trout-filled streams, and some of the best lemonade we've ever tasted.

More: Escape to the Sawtooth Mountains

Gig Harbor boats

José Mandojana

Raise your sail in Gig Harbor, WA

Set sail—or just watch the boats glide by—in this mile-long harbor town. Rent a boat, watch one being made, or count them up in the harbor, then feast on the catch of the day at a local tavern.

More: A day in Gig Harbor

Maui snorkeling

Andrea M. Gómez

Take in the beauty of Maui, HI

Maui’s got all the essentials for the ultimate tropical vacation. Snorkel, shop, head out on a horseback ride, and enjoy the island's immense beauty.

More: Insider's guide to Maui

Yosemite waterfall

Andrea M. Gómez

One perfect day in Yosemite

See the sun rise over glistening meadows, trek to three waterfalls, eat lunch beneath El Capitan­—and still have time for an ice cream break. Here's our hour-by-hour breakdown of the perfect day in Yosemite.

More: A scenic day in yosemite

Orcas Island park

Andrea M. Gómez

Explore nature in San Juan Islands, WA

A long summer weekend in Washington's San Juan Islands is just enough time to savor the area’s patented pleasures: orcas and eagles, kayaking and hiking, and a food scene that shows the influence of a burgeoning slow-food movement.

More: An explorer’s long weekend on the San Juan Islands

Sand Harbor

David Fenton

Sparkling scenery at Lake Tahoe

Clear, blue, and still a classic: Summer in Tahoe is the same as it ever was. Go for a sunset sail, take a shot at paddleboarding, or find a slice of beach and take in the to-die-for beauty.

More: Lake Tahoe summer

Quails' Gate Estate Winery

Thomas J. Story

Go wine tasting in British Columbia's Okanagan Valley

This achingly beautiful wine country is in full-throttle discovery mode, with new wineries and different kinds of grapes going in all the time ― nearly 60 varietals, planted all over the benchlands, hillsides, and valley floor.

Add to this the Okanagan's pristine lakes, orchards, and wide range of non-wine-related things for the whole family to do (from riding the century-old Kettle Valley steam train to biking and hiking), and you have a wine-country experience like no other.

More: Your guide to the Okanagan Valley

a kayaker on the south platte river

Andrea Gomez

Kayak through Denver, CO

Rock the South Platte River's rapids or simply relax on the banks of Confluence Park and sip a beer at notorious Beat Generation hangout My Brother's Bar.

More: Denver by kayak 

The view from the Chehalem Ridge B&B.

John Clark

Pour a glass in Oregon's Willamette Valley wine country

With luxe new inns and tons of tasting rooms, Willamette is ready for prime time. 

You can get lost on the backcountry roads but always find a good glass of Pinot around the bend.

And now, with new hotels opening and tasting rooms mustering in towns like Carlton, you can experience the valley’s off-the-beaten-path vibe yet have the comforts of a soft bed close by.

More:  Oregon's wine country

Wonderland of Wyoming Montana

Brown Cannon III

Road trip through Yellowstone, WY

This is the granddaddy of national parks, full of waterfalls, bison, and geysers. From cabins to fishing to camping, here's our tips on what to do, where to eat, and where to stay.

More:  Unforgettable Yellowstone vacation 

U.S. 2

James Marshall

Tear up the road on Big Sky drive, MT

Hit the road this summer on an epic road trip through the Rocky Mountain Front to Glacier National Park.

You'll pass through Montana's Rockies through the plains and you can stop to explore tipi villages, hunt for dinosaur bones and Indian relics, stay at a guest ranch, and catch a small town rodeo. 

More:  Big Sky drive

Lake Tahoe

Charles Shapiro / Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority

Cruise along Highway 395 in the Eastern Sierra

Hop from lake to forest to charming mountain town on the Sierra’s eastern slope.

More:
Gold Country to Mono Lake
Five great Eastern Sierra eats along U.S. 395
Rock Creek Lake Fresh Peach Pie

 

 

 

Tree-lined street

Jim Henkens

Delicious eats in Long Beach Peninsula, WA

If you like oysters ― we're talking just-harvested Willapa Bays ― you'll love the Long Beach Peninsula.

More:  Washington's hidden coast

Kayaking in Alaska

Discover Prince William Sound, AK

Adventure therapy? Paddling the pristine Prince William Sound ― alongside humpback whales, floating icebergs, and 350-pound sea lions ― soothes Sunset's editor-in-chief. 

More:  Kayak adventure in Alaska

Visiting Idaho's lake country

Brown Cannon III

Pristine waters in Idaho's lake country

Deep, blue, and busy are three words that sum up three of the West's most beautiful lakes: Coeur d'Alene, Pend Oreille, and Priest. Each has its own character -- Coeur d'Alene's got boats and golf and high-end resorts; Pend Oreille has the little town of Sandpoint; and Priest has huckleberry pie. 

More:  Idaho's lake country

Enjoying the Oregon coast

Family time on the Southern Oregon Coast

First-time family camping is best done by car. There's nowhere more fun than this boulder-strewn, hermit-crab-crawling stretch of the Southern Oregon Coast.

More:  Car camping on the Oregon coast 

Olympic National Park

Rob D. Brodman

Natural surroundings in Olympic National Park, WA

A national park to yourself? In prime summertime? Yup ― it's possible in superlush Olympic ― the greenest, wettest, wildest of the bunch. 

More:  Explore Olympic National Park

Northwest isle keeps things local

Jim Henkens

Fresh and organic in Lummi Island, WA

Calling all locavores to this little land of blackberries, just-plucked salad greens, and sustainable salmon.

More:  Great taste experiences on a Northwest isle

BC Gulf Islands

Robert Leon

Paddle through North and South Pender Island, BC

The Southern Gulf Islands is a paradise for paddlers ― and anyone who loves hidden beaches small farms, and seaside spas.  

More:  Quiet islands in British Columbia

20. Sooke, Vancouver Island

Relax and refresh in Sooke, Vancouver Island

Escape to the wild seaside on the south coast of Vancouver Island. You'll need a car to drive the pretty back roads, where there is a meadery and honey farm, but you can also rent a bike and pedal the Galloping Goose Trail.

Cap it off with a stay at the artsy Sooke Harbour House. Berries seem to hang on every bush in the summer.  

More:  Take a seaweed tour on Vancouver Island

Upper Meadow

Thomas J. Story

Embrace nature in Lassen Peak, CA

All the scenery of Yosemite, but without the crowds.

More: Lassen Peak: California's hidden treasure

Inverness Ridge

Thomas J. Story

Amazing eats in Point Reyes/Tomales Bay, CA

 An hour from San Francisco, you’ll find rolling hills, a placid bay, wild coastline ― and some of the most amazing food anywhere.

More:  Savor Tomales Bay

Pescadero California Pigeon Point Light Station

Rob D. Brodman

Tour the coast from Half Moon Bay to Santa Cruz, CA

Just south of San Francisco, mile after mile of undeveloped, rugged coastline.

More:

Meander through Pescadero

Discover Purisima Creek Redwoods

More coast, less cost in Half Moon Bay

 

 

Devils Garden Campground

Jason Todd

Pitch your tent the West's best campgrounds

Camping is the ultimate bargain getaway. From the rim of the Grand Canyon to the sweeping Arch Rock Campground in Nevada’s Valley of Fire State Park, here are 90 great spots to roll out your sleeping bag.

More:  The West's best places to camp

 

4 Catalina Island

Dave Lauridsen

Soak up some sun on Catalina Island, CA

This is an island retreat only 40 minutes by ferry from the mainland. You can splash around on Avalon Beach, stroll through the harbor town of Avalon, or take a jeep tour of the wild backcountry. 

More:  Island romance, Catalina-style

Santa Barbara's waterfront

Andrea Gomez

Get sandy on the waterfront in Santa Barbara, CA

Tall palm trees, a great sweep of beach and wine country just over the San Marcos pass. This is the beach town off 101.

More:  Head to Santa Barbara's waterfront

ten thousand waves hot springs

Jen Judge

Cultural experience in Sante Fe, NM

The high-altitude capital of New Mexico is an ideal summer escape. See a different side of it with our picks for 4 ways to experience Japan without leaving the city.

More:  Find Japan in Santa Fe

 

Devils Garden Campground

Jason Todd

Make a pit stop in Williams, AZ

This tiny Route 66 town has been dubbed the gateway to the Grand Canyon, but it’s much more than a refueling stop along the way. Take in Old West history at Wild West Junction, shop in the reinvigorated downtown, and explore the town’s own secret ― and dazzling ― canyon.


Williams: The town next door

 

San Diego bikes

Andrea Gomez

Have some fun in San Diego, CA

What to do, where to stay, and where to eat in the city's three best neighborhoods for summer fun

More:  San Diego getaway


 

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