View rock spires and trees on Sunday Gulch Trail

11 Summer Vacation Ideas

It’s never too late or too early to plan your next trip. So branch out and try something new this year. Need inspiration for summer vacation ideas? We loved these destinations, and I hope you will too!

11 Awesome Summer Vacation Ideas

1. Buffalo National River, AR

The 135 mile Buffalo National River is located in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas. It is one of the few free-flowing rivers in the lower 48 states. The Buffalo is the perfect place to float, and the area offers excellent hiking opportunities. You might even spot an elk or two.

Buffalo River in the foreground and cliffs in the background

2. North Shore of Lake Superior, MN

When I planned our trip to the North Shore of Lake Superior, the main point was to visit Isle Royale National Park. Little did I know that the area between Duluth and the Canadian border was a phenomenal vacation destination. Visitors can enjoy an uncrowded rocky shoreline, beautiful waterfalls, and exceptional hiking trails. While you’re there, be sure to check out the Point at Grand Marais.

Lighthouse at the Point in Grand Marais

3. Boothbay Harbor, ME

I LOVE Maine! Boothbay Harbor is a great little town about an hour north of Portland. In this coastal community, you can enjoy whale watching, water sports, and of course, lobster but without the crowds of Bar Harbor.

Lighthouse in Boothbay Harbor, Maine
Boothbay Harbor, Maine

4. Philadelphia, PA

There is a lot to love about the City of Brotherly Love. Philadelphia is a must if you enjoy American history or just love a great cheesesteak. I recommend staying in the heart of the action near Independence National Historical Park. Check out these 21 Things to Do in the City of Brotherly Love.

Summer Vacation Idea: Independence Hall at night in Philadelphia

5. Big Sky, MT

I love the mountains in the summer. Big Sky, Montana, is a great place to enjoy spectacular mountain views. The nearby Gallatin River is a fantastic place for rafting and fishing. And only an hour south of Big Sky is the West Entrance to Yellowstone National Park.

Big Sky, Montana scenic mountain view
Big Sky, Montana

6. Black Hills, SD

The Black Hills of South Dakota is one of my favorite summer vacation ideas. From Custer State Park to Mount Rushmore to the Crazy Horse Memorial, you’ll have plenty of options to explore. And, the wildlife is impressive too! Check out 8 Must-See Sights on a Black Hills Vacation.

Summer vacation idea: Silvan Lake in the Black Hills of South Dakota

7. New River Gorge National Park, WV

New River Gorge is one of America’s newest national parks. Nestled in the mountains of West Virginia, the New River is flanked by sandstone cliffs that provide dramatic views from above and below. Beyond the spectacular scenery, this national park has an intriguing past.

Summer vacation idea: View of the New River through the trees with clouds

8. Newfoundland, Canada

Newfoundland and Labrador is the easternmost Canadian Providence. The island of Newfoundland is a fabulous summer vacation idea, and it was a huge hit with my family. Newfoundland offers breathtaking scenery, particularly in Gros Morne National Park. And if you time it right, you can go whale watching and see icebergs off the coast. Check out 7 Reasons to Add Newfoundland to Your Bucket List.

Iceberg in the Ocean off the coast of Newfoundland

9. San Diego, CA

Who doesn’t love San Diego? Even if you’ve been more than once, there is always something new to explore. Of course, you have to visit the San Diego Zoo and Coronado. But, don’t miss the USS Midway and sea cave kayaking in La Jolla. Check out 5 Must-See Sights in Sunny San Diego.

Summer vacation idea: California Coastline near San Diego

10. The Four Corners, CO, NM, UT, and AZ

If you want variety on your vacation, the Four Corners is the place to go. You can explore the mountains, the desert, and ancient Ancestral Puebloans ruins all in one trip. You’ll likely discover, like we did, that more than one visit is a must! Check out 4 Corners: 4 Different Experiences.

Mesa Verde National Park Cliff Palace

11. Chicago, IL

Whether you’re into museums, water sports, shopping, or architecture, the Windy City has something to suit your fancy. Ride a bike along Lake Michigan. Tour a German U Boat at the Museum of Science and Industry. Eat Pizza until you can eat no more. Chicago has something for everyone.

dinosaur at the Field Museum in Chicago
Sue the T Rex at the Field Museum

It’s a great time to explore someplace new. See some new sights. Have a new adventure. Whether you travel far or stick close to home, the possibilities are limitless. So what are you waiting for?

I’d love to hear your summer vacation ideas! Please share your favorites in the comments below.

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