Bright sunshine. Long, warm days. Ice cream, lemonade, and nights by the campfire.
Oh, summer. It’s no surprise you’re so beloved, especially amongst those of us with a touch of wanderlust.
Summertime is basically synonymous with summer travel — that lengthy three-month break from school and those endless hours of daylight beckon. But when it comes to planning your summer vacation, things can get downright overwhelming really quickly. There’s just so much to see, do, and experience… and even twelve weeks isn’t nearly enough time to explore the whole country.
So that means just one thing: Time to do some prioritizing! Although it’s by no means a comprehensive list, in this post, we’ll give you the down-low on some of the best places to visit in the summer, and how to best go about planning your journey to get there.
Places to Go in the Summer
When long days coming calling, there’s no sense trying to resist. Here are some of our very favorite summer spots.
Glacier National Park, Montana
Here’s the thing about Glacier National Park: it’s so beautiful, it doesn’t seem like it should be real. (I regularly joke with people that visiting was like walking into a living desktop background.)
It’s also so far north that mid-June is still springtime there, with many of the massive park’s many hiking trails and other outdoor opportunities still encased in snow and ice well into what the rest of the U.S. considers summer.
So if you need a little bit of time to plan your getaway and your schedule’s making July and August look more doable than Memorial Day, consider checking this worthy national park off your list. Whether you stick to the easy hikes or take on a longer, more athletic venture, you won’t regret it — so long as you don’t forget your bear spray!
Mackinac Island, Michigan
Want to visit a place with charming Victorian-era architecture, abundant fudge and candy shops, and a working speed limit of, oh, 3 miles per hour?
If slowing way down is high on your summer itinerary, this Michigan island is a Midwestern treat not to be missed. (And since motor vehicles are prohibited throughout its expanse, horse-drawn carriages aren’t just present… they’re the norm. Though as you can see, bicycles are also very popular!)
From getting up close and personal with history by exploring the island’s 18th-century fort to viewing the stunning natural limestone arches that characterize this unique place, Mackinac Island truly has something for everybody, no matter what your ideal vacation activity is. Plus, it’s conveniently located to a wide variety of midwestern cities, whether you call Detroit, Columbus, Chicago, Milwaukee, or Erie home!
Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada
If you’ve got an up-to-date passport and you’re ready to really up your summer vacation game, consider adding this north-of-the-border destination to your list of potentials. Banff National Park is so famous amongst the outdoorsy, it actually lends its namesake to one of the largest touring, adventure-themed film festivals out there… and once you see it for yourself, you’re sure to understand why.
From hiking its challenging and picturesque peaks to relaxing in its perpetually-cool, turquoise mountain lakes, summer is the right time to explore this one-of-a-kind landscape, which has actually been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Plus, the nearby Canadian city of Calgary is full of both fun things to do, from museums to restaurants to shopping opportunities… and goodness knows the journey from the border is bound to be one of the most scenic routes you’ve ever driven.
Looking to get a little weird? Well, this west-Texas destination can accommodate. An artsy little town in the middle of what might otherwise seem a wasteland, Marfa is also home to a strange and unexplained phenomenon in which locals and visitors alike claim to see strange blinking lights along the horizon. We’re not saying it’s aliens… but I mean, you never know, right?
Page is one of those places that’s easy to fall under the radar… but you’ve undoubtedly seen pictures taken there! From Horseshoe Bend to the world-famous Antelope Canyon, there’s a reason this northern Arizona town is considered the epicenter of adventure and a convenient basecamp from which to explore the southwest. (It’s also a popular stop for those taking a Grand Circle tour.)
While there’s no shortage of things to see and do in the area, we do recommend reserving your campsite early and making sure you make arrangements for any tours you want to take ahead of time. Many of these famous sites and attractions are only accessible with a guide, and it’s a high-traffic travel area, which means adventure opportunities tend to sell out early!
Summer Family Vacations
Got little ones along for the ride? Here are some family summer vacation ideas that’ll put smiles on faces of all ages.
Literally Any Jellystone Park Location
If you’re a regular RVshare blog reader, chances are you’ve heard us wax poetic about Jellystone Parks before. But we have good reason! Not only are these family-owned locations packed full of fun activities for everyone on board you’re camper, but they’re also located in some of the most sought-after vacation destinations in the country.
From bouncing to oblivion on jumping pillows to participating in one of your chosen parks’ suite of pre-planned activities or themed weekends, Jellystone is the perfect place to take a summer family vacation.
This one pops up on best summer vacations lists all the time, but it’s no surprise. From Disney World to Universal Studios, Orlando is something of a vacation epicenter, with tons of fun, thrills, and spills for campers of all ages.
Of course, even if you’re not really into carnival rides, a trip to central Florida is well worth your time and energy. Those parks also offer a ton of amazing dining and shopping opportunities, and that’s to say nothing of the city life in Orlando proper… and the beautiful cold springs, oak hammocks, and rivers for those looking to get out of the urban center. And, of course, the beach is just a couple of hours away. It really is a “something for everybody” scenario, and there are plenty of amazing camping locations to choose from.
Need Even More Summer Vacation Ideas?
As we said above, we couldn’t possibly create a comprehensive list of all the amazing summer destinations there are to choose from. With more than 60 national parks (and well over a thousand federally-managed recreation sites), there are truly a mind-numbing number of options… and that’s not even counting state parks, destination cities, quaint towns, and trip-worthy scenic byways!
Fortunately, we’ve written about lots of those other potential travel spots before, so you’ve got plenty of content to keep you occupied while you do your vacation homework. Here are just a few RVshare blog posts to help get your trip-planning wheels in motion:
- 10 Quaint American Towns to Visit in your RV
- Digital Guides to Make your Next Trip to the U.S. National Parks Truly Amazing
- Our Guide to An Epic Road Trip Across the U.S. East Coast
- The Ultimate Road Trip Across the West Coast U.S.
- The State Parks You’ll Find Us At This Summer
- How to Mindfully Choose your Next RV Destination
Cheap Summer Vacations Without Sacrifice
Here at RVshare, we know your travel budget plays a not-insignificant part in your planning. After all, it takes money to go places, and most of us don’t have an unlimited supply!
But fortunately, renting by owner through the peer-to-peer market is a great way to save a bundle on your vacation. RVshare rentals are often available for just a fraction of the price you’d find at the big box stores… and the rigs themselves are often cozier and homier, to boot.
No matter where the road takes you this summer, we wish you safe, happy travels, and a whole boatload of sunshine along the way!
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