Best Summer Getaways from Coast to Coast

From coastal towns to mountain hideaways, here are the best spots for weekend getaways across the USA that are perfect for summer travel.

Cape Cod’s scenic coastline. Photo © Chee-onn Leong/Dreamstime.

If you’re in New England:

Go to Cape Cod

While it may seem like an obvious choice for New Englanders, you can’t go wrong with this tried-and-true, quintessential getaway. People come here to enjoy the seafood, the beaches, and the lazy summer days.

Relax on miles of sandy coastline, admire 19th century lighthouses, take in some local lore at the Whaling Museum, or visit a wildlife sanctuary. Stroll the cobblestone streets of Nantucket, pop into the galleries and artisan studios on the Cape, or kick back at an old-school drive-in theater. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, feast on raw oysters, fried clams, and fresh fish.

Don’t miss: Provincetown

Part LGBTQ+ mecca, part fishing town, part nature preserve, and part fine-dining destination, you really can’t say you’ve seen the Cape until you’ve stopped in P-town.

If a mountain escape is more your style, Vermont offers inland adventures galore. Challenge yourself on a hike and then hit one of the state’s beloved breweries for a pint or two.

Bonus: If you’re feeling adventurous, head to Atlantic Canada

Northeasterners who have thoroughly explored New England and Upstate New York should consider a trip across the border to Atlantic Canada. Eat local oysters at a waterfront restaurant or kayak to a remote island for a picnic lunch. Drive the Cabot Trail or the Irish Loop to take in the stunning scenery and bike through UNESCO protected towns. At night, relax at a quaint colonial inn or set up camp under the stars.

If you’re in the mid-Atlantic states:

Visit the Hudson Valley

stone barns center in hudson valley
Hudson Valley’s Stone Barns Center. Photo © Nikki Goth Itoi.

City-dwellers can breathe a sigh of relief (and get a breath of fresh air!) with a trip to the Hudson Valley. At its heart, the Hudson River Valley is a place of contrasts—where dairy farmers mingle with concrete factory workers, hunters share the forest with conservationists, and the cosmopolitan meets small-town America. Wherever you choose to go, a trip through the region today promises a chance to discover and reflect.

Bike along rolling hills and quiet country roads or hike to rushing waterfalls. Take a tour of Washington Irving’s romantic home, admire the historic Rockefeller Estate, go antiquing in Cold Spring Village, or stroll through Sleepy Hollow. Gourmands can indulge in a cooking class at the Culinary Institute of America, browse the produce at a farmers’ market, sip their way along a Hudson Valley wine trail, or savor local cuisine at a farm-to-table restaurant.

Don’t miss: A taste of the valley’s bounty

From peaches and apples to wine and whiskey, it’s all grown and made among the farms of the Hudson Valley.

If you’re in the South:

Head to the North Carolina Coast

brown horse drinking water in north carolina
Wild horse in the Outer Banks. © Bob Decker

Beat the southern heat and answer the call of the coast with a visit to North Carolina. History buffs will find a lot to love, from exploring Civil War forts and discovering the remains of sunken pirate ships to climbing to the top of an iconic lighthouse. When it’s time to unwind, order the catch of the day at a local fish shack, sample fresh oysters, or indulge in some authentic North Carolina barbecue. Relax on a sandy beach, spot wild horses on the shore, and watch the sun set over the glittering Atlantic.

Don’t miss: The Outer Banks

This strip of narrow islands is a haven for anglers, sun-seekers, and history-lovers; they come for the ecological wonder of the maritime forest, the dune habitats, and the unique atmosphere that separates the Outer Banks from mainland North Carolina. Be sure to sign up for a wild horse tour to see the majestic North Carolina horses that roam the beaches in the Outer Banks.

If you’re in the Midwest:

Explore Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

old timey storefronts with flags waving and people riding bicycles
Downtown Mackinac Island. Photo © Michael Deemer/iStock.

Midwesterners, rejoice: you don’t have to take a trip to either coast to find adventure this summer—just head north. In Michigan’s Upper Peninsula you’ll find miles of freshwater coastline, hundreds of picturesque trails, and countless inland lakes, rivers, and waterfalls.

Sporting a rustic, even austere terrain, the U.P.’s sparse population provides peace and solitude. The eastern portion, part of the Great Lakes plain, contrasts sharply with the rocky western half. Each offers idyllic settings for camping, boating, and fishing. There’s a good chance you’ll catch a glimpse of moose, black bears, red foxes, and white-tailed deer.

Relax in quaint European-style towns, kick back at an outdoor summer concert, and sample local delicacies like Cornish pasties, Swedish meatballs, and Mackinac Island fudge. Spend the day out on the water boating, fishing, and swimming, hike through maple forests, and set up camp under the starry sky.

Don’t miss: Mackinac Island

If you’re looking for a long, romantic weekend away, look no further than Mackinac Island. You’ll find Victorian charm, picturesque views, and horse-drawn carriage rides to enjoy with your significant other.

If you’re in the West:

Hit up Denver, Boulder, or Colorado Springs

denver skyline and highway at dusk
Denver skyline. Photo © f11photo/iStock.

When it comes to trendy getaway spots, Denver and Boulder are heating up, and Colorado’s central location makes for a quick flight for travelers from all over the western half of the country. On a visit to the Front Range, historic towns, distinctive architecture, mountain peaks, and funky college towns are all within easy reach.

Check out a new exhibit at the Denver Art Museum, take in the waterfalls, lakes, and stellar views of Rocky Mountain National Park, or explore the Wild West at the Museum of the American Cowboy. Go rafting on the Cache La Poudre river, rock-climb in the Flatirons, or hike slickrock trails to stunning mountain vistas. Sample gourmet treats at a vibrant public market, or chat with locals over a delicious microbrew—Colorado has a buzzing beer scene!

Don’t miss: A concert under the open sky at Red Rocks Amphitheatre

This unique amphitheater is known for its phenomenal open-air acoustics and live concerts, but the scenery can be enjoyed anytime, even without music.

If you’re on the West Coast:

Kick back in Monterey, Carmel, and Big Sur

Bixby Bridge in Big Sur
Bixby Creek Bridge in Big Sur. Photo © Lunamarina/Dreamstime.

Some of the most beautiful and adventurous coastline in the world is along the Pacific Coast Highway, and this stretch of wild and rugged coastline is no exception. Take in the scenic views on a road trip and stop to explore all the marine ecosystems, historic sights, and charming small towns along the way.

In Monterey, spot gray whales and sea lions in the Bay and then discover their environment for yourself on a trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium (or head out in a kayak for an even closer view!). Wander around in the art galleries of Carmel-by-the-Sea and then take a stroll on the light sands of Carmel Beach. Wine lovers will want to visit Carmel Valley to taste some of the region’s best varietals, while families should plan to spend a day on the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, enjoying the thrill rides, carnival games, and retro-cool live music.

Don’t miss: Point Lobos State Natural Reserve

The crown jewel of California’s impressive state park system has pocket coves, tide pools, forests of Monterey cypress, and diverse marine and terrestrial wildlife.

If you’re in the Pacific Northwest:

Visit the Olympic Peninsula

Hoh Rainforest. Photo © Dreamstime.

The Olympic Peninsula is constantly evolving. It’s a blue-collar area with first-class natural amenities, including fish and timber, providing jobs of all sorts. Today, it’s just as common for the peninsula’s residents to promote these same resources in the name of tourism. Both the people and the land are testaments to how special this place is, and one visit is all the evidence you’ll need to agree.

This is a place where the sky stays overcast and moody well into the summer, but locals know that rain is part of the region’s charm—as well as the reason it’s so beautiful in the first place!

Soak in the Sol Duc Hot Springs, enjoy the fragrant gardens of the Sequim Lavender Farms, or take hikes that range from casual strolls along coastal beaches to walks through old-growth timber to ridge treks with panoramic views.

Don’t miss: The Hoh Rain Forest

Wander one of the wettest places in the United States—also one of the prettiest, greenest spots in the world.

Bonus: If you’re feeling adventurous, consider a trip to Alaska

While it’s a bit far for a traditional 2-day getaway, travelers in the Western U.S. shouldn’t sleep on the adventure of a lifetime to the Last Frontier. Embark on a cruise to admire stunning fjords, watch brown bears catch wild salmon out of a river, or hike through alpine forests. Dine on fresh king crab at the best restaurants in Anchorage or catch your own halibut on a fishing expedition. Take a flightseeing tour to secluded glacier landings in Denali National Park and discover the best spots to watch the northern lights dance across the sky (yes, you can catch them as early as late August!).

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Big Sur coastline. Pinterest Graphic.