8 Cool Destinations to Beat the Summer Heat
With temperatures rising both across the U.S. and in Europe, summer travelers are looking for cool weather destinations to beat the heat. If you want to get out of town and go on exciting adventures – whether you're into nature, food, city life, or anything in between – we've got you covered.
Read on for our favorite destinations with cooler temperatures where you can beat the summer heat.
8 Cool Weather Destinations to Beat the Summer Heat
1. Fairbanks, Alaska
Fairbanks is immersed in natural beauty, with the summer season giving you the chance to enjoy Northern Lights views and endless daylight. Alaska's dramatic landscape and outdoor adventures make it one of the best cool-weather destinations in the United States.
Fairbanks is known for its "Midnight Sun" season, which runs from May 17th through July 27th. During that time, the sun stays above the horizon 24 hours a day, making it ideal for all-day hiking, biking, golfing, and other outdoor activities.
The prime viewing season for the Northern Lights starts on August 21 and runs through April 21st. However, due to 24/7 daylight from mid-May through July, the aurora borealis aren't visible. To catch the lights, visit no earlier than August. The start of September is the perfect time to enjoy both plentiful daylight, pleasant cool temperatures, and the Northern Lights.
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2. Upper Peninsula, Michigan
If you enjoy taking quiet strolls along moss-covered paths, the thundering sound of falling water across a vivid blue lake, and scenic landscapes, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is the place for you to visit. You'll be far from the scorching summer temperatures while feeling like you've stepped foot into another, more peaceful dimension. Summer daytime high temperatures end to be around 75 while the evenings see lows in the high 50s, which is perfect for gathering around a fire. This is a stunning, often overlooked vacation destination in Michigan that draws families with its forests, lakes, falls, and dreamy cool temperatures.
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3. Vancouver, British Columbia
Vancouver Island is set in one of only seven temperate rainforest ecosystems in the world, with summer temperatures in the high 60s and low 70s. Of course, that makes for comfortable outdoor excursions, and the opportunities for fun and adventure are infinite. Not only is Vancouver home to some of the most magnificent landscapes on earth, from the open sea and calm inland waters to lush, towering mountains and rain forest, but you’ll also have the chance to try everything from kayaking, surfing, and sailing to hiking, biking, bird watching, and more. If you don't want to sacrifice the buzz of city life while exploring nature, Vancouver is the perfect cool-weather destination to visit.
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4. Lake Tahoe, California/Nevada
Lake Tahoe is a freshwater lake surrounded by the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Thanks to its beautiful beaches and jaw-dropping vistas, Lake Tahoe makes for one of the best cool summer destinations in the United States. Mountain breezes off the water mean that swampy summer heatwaves are nothing but a distant memory.
Travelers love Emerald Bay for its turquoise waters, colorful granite cliffs, and gorgeous panoramas. Those looking for even more adventure can take a boat out to Fannette Island to see glaciers and stop by Vikingsholm, a hidden Scandinavian castle.
One drawback is that Lake Tahoe is far from being a hidden gem. In the summer season, it's extremely popular with locals and tourists alike, meaning that crowds can sometimes be a problem. You can try to arrive midweek rather than a Friday to reduce your chances of getting crammed in with the masses.
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5. Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Sitting on Lake Michigan’s west shore is the city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Home to the country’s largest music festival and a thriving beer scene, Milwaukee offers one of the most entertaining summer destinations with cool weather in the U.S.
One of the best things to do in Milwaukee is attend Summerfest, the largest music festival in the country. It runs for 11 days in June and July and hosts over 800 acts. Consider it a music lover's paradise!
Since Wisconsin is known for its long, cruel winters, Milwaukee really comes alive in the summer. Its bustling beer scene is a source of pride for the city's residents and is an excellent way to get to know the locals.
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6. Portland, Maine
Perched on a peninsula extending into Casco Bay is Portland. This historic city enjoys cool summers with salty ocean breezes, making it one of the most enjoyable cool-weather places to visit in summer. A world-class dining scene and abundant options for coastal adventures are the icing on the cake.
Portland has become a top foodie destination in the United States. Award-winning restaurants have beautiful outdoor terraces for visitors to enjoy fantastic dinner in an even more stunning setting. The quality and availability of fresh seafood, especially Maine lobster, mean you'll be hard pressed to have a bad meal.
Visitors can take a sail or visit the Casco Bay Islands. If you prefer to stay on solid ground, the shopping district around the port is just as charming, while offering views of the water.
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7. The Berkshires, Massachusetts
The Berkshires are a rural collection of towns nestled in the mountains of western Massachusetts. This nature retreat, with its farm-to-table food and thriving arts scene, is a serene yet active destination to escape the summer heat.
The Berkshires are certainly beautiful in all seasons, but summertime is ideal for outdoor adventure and exploration. GO for a hike in the mountains or do a rail-trail bike ride. Climb to the summit of Mount Greylock or get close to the roaring waterfalls of Bash Bish Falls State Park.
The Berkshires feel like a home away from home. These towns enjoy a fresh farm-to-table food culture along with a unique arts community. Local farms dot the rolling hills of the Berkshires, where you can interact with the animals and buy some pure maple syrup, natural beef, or fresh produce to take home.
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8. Aspen, Colorado
Situated in the Colorado Rocky Mountains is the alpine town of Aspen, one of the top ski resorts in the United States. Its more laidback summer season is a perfect time to avoid crowds. In the summer, festivals and other adventure-related activities offer up the city in a new light.
While Aspen is esteemed for its winter sports, the summer offers different adventures. Wander through the downtown Aspen Farmers Market and then head for the mountains and hike the iconic Maroon Bells peaks. Or, go on a white water rafting trip in the Fork River.
Summer is festival season in Aspen, with a wide variety for anyone and everyone. Music lovers will have a blast at Jazz Aspen Snowmass in June, and for all of the gourmands, the Food and Wine Classic is heaven on earth.
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