Summertime means vacation! Looking for the perfect place to escape this July? From spending Independence Day at the oldest Fourth of July celebration in the United States to heading north to Canada to avoid the heat and humidity, TravelAwaits writers share their favorite places to visit in July.
1. Kennebunkport, Maine
“Living in the Midwest where we have higher humidity all summer long, I like to find cool weather during the summer months. One of my favorite places to visit in July is the coast of Maine. The weather is perfect! Mornings and evenings are cool while the day heats up to perfect summer temps, no humidity included! Plus there’s so much fun to be had on the water.” — S. J. Morgensen
2. San Juan Islands, Washington
“One of my favorite July destinations is the San Juan Islands in Washington State. When it gets warm I enjoy not being around crowds, staying cool, and taking advantage of the long summer days. The San Juan Islands allow visitors to disconnect via various methods: hiking trails, views of the aquatic life, mom and pop restaurants, and, best of all, nature without the crowds.” — Keshler Thibert
3. Bristol, Rhode Island
“Bristol, Rhode Island has the oldest Fourth of July celebration in the United States, with 2022 marking the 237th year. Bristol is a darling coastal small town with so much to offer. In addition to the fun, local events, you will find historic sites, a beautiful coastline, and a variety of outdoor spaces. I love the 14.5-mile East Bay Bike Path, which begins in Bristol. You’ll also find Blithewold Mansion, Gardens & Arboretum, which has one of the best gardens in New England. Dining in Bristol lives up to its reputation for outstanding food sourced locally from farms and fishermen.” —Peggy Cleveland
4. Bismarck-Mandan, North Dakota
“Because of their northerly location, Bismarck and Mandan, North Dakota, enjoy long summer days. The metro area boasts many July events such as rodeos, tournaments, and foot and car races. Those activities are great fun, but the long evenings offer the perfect opportunity to hike the region’s trails.
Explore the interactions between Euro Americans and indigenous Americans at Fort Abraham Lincoln and On-A-Slant Village. Lewis and Clark came as explorers and traders. Visit the reconstructed village to see the culture that kept the explorers alive. The soldiers at Fort Lincoln came as enforcers and conquerors. Lt. Col. George Custer left the fort to his fate at the Battle of Little Bighorn.
When it’s time to eat, Downtown Bismarck is walkable and full of eateries offering various cuisines. I highly recommend the Butterhorn restaurant. Try the green gnudi (pronounced nude). For breakfast, eat an American Pie at The Copper Dog Cafe in Mandan.” — Roxie Yonkey
5. Waterton Lakes National Park (Canada)
“One of my favorite July trips ever was the short detour drive I took several years ago from Glacier National Park in Montana to Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta, Canada. At about 70 miles apart, the two parks are within an easy day trip from one another.
Even though July will undoubtedly be crowded in both parks, I found midsummer to be a perfect time to visit for a number of reasons. For one, the weather is at its loveliest, with both parks posting average highs in the low-to-mid-70-degree-Fahrenheit range. For another, the wildflowers appeared to be at their peak in the two mountain parks. Everywhere I looked, it seemed there were stands of daisies, beargrass, and lupine. I found the white daisies that framed the sky-blue surface of Waterton Lake to be especially delightful.
I loved Glacier as well, but Waterton Lakes — billed as being Where the Mountains Meet the Prairies — turned out to be the high point on my trip, largely because it was such a pleasant surprise.” — Cindy Barks
6. Columbus, Ohio
“Three cheers for the red, white, and blue in Columbus, Ohio, where the partying starts in late June and continues through July 4. The granddad of celebrations is the 40th anniversary of Red, White & BOOM!, one of the largest fireworks displays in the country. Head to the riverfront on July 1 at 10 am for live music, entertainment, children’s activities, and food.
More hometown fun includes Stars & Stripes Softball Games, Firecracker Trot 5K, and Street Fests. Check out the city’s traditional July Fourth parade. Come hear the Columbus Symphony play ‘Patriotic Pops’ with the Air Force Band of Flight for a tribute to John Williams’s 90th birthday. Join the Doo-Dah Parade and music fest, a wacky tribute to ‘Liberty & Lunacy’ in the Short North Arts District. Visit Ohio Village on Independence Day weekend (July 2-3) and see how Buckeyes honored Independence Day in the 1890s with plenty of old-fashioned fun. Play croquet, try your hand at hoop rolling, and hear cannon-firings.” — Mira Temkin
7. Calgary Stampede
“The Calgary Stampede has been dubbed the ‘Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.’ The event has been held every July — when Canadian temperatures are ideal — since 1886. Attendance was recorded at nearly 1.3 million in 2019 before it was canceled in 2020. It reopened in 2021 but was greatly scaled back. This year, it returns full-blast! We will again see those wild, Wild West competitions at six rodeos: barrel racing, bull riding, tie-down roping, steer wrestling, saddle bronc, and bareback.
The whole city explodes into parades and celebrations, while at the Stampede Grounds there are nightly evening shows and free cultural powwows with stompin’ country music. Agriculture and Western events also return with animal exhibits and games. Many businesses sell their wares at marketplaces while food courts offer Midway treats: sweets, snacks, and drink concoctions. I remember how much fun my Calgary family had at every Stampede we attended!” — Carol Colborn
8. Lake Jocassee, South Carolina
“Lake Jocassee is a 7,500-acre summertime slice of heaven in South Carolina’s Upstate where you can cool off and chill out surrounded by stunning mountain views. This crystal clear lake was once the town of Jocassee until the gorges were filled in with water in the 1970s. The town still lies untouched far below the lake’s surface.
Access Lake Jocassee via Devils Fork State Park in Salem. Bring or rent your kayaks, fishing gear, or paddle boats and take a leisurely jaunt along Jocassee’s shoreline. Look for waterfalls that can only be viewed from the water, and drink in the natural beauty everywhere. Or relax on the beach with a picnic and numerous dips in the cool, refreshing water.
Arrive early to avoid the crowds. There are nearby lodging options, including cabin rentals and campgrounds. Families, fun, and happy times are what Lake Jocassee is all about.” — Penny Zibula
9. Michigan’s Palm Books State Park
“July is the perfect time to visit Michigan’s Palms Book State Park near Manistique. The weather will have warmed up at this time of year in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, making outdoor adventures all the more fun.
The featured attraction at the park is Kitch-Iti-Kipi (The Big Springs), Michigan’s largest freshwater spring. You’ll find a self-guided observation raft that takes visitors to vantage points overlooking fascinating underwater features. The spring is 45 feet deep and about 200 feet across in stunning blues and greens. You’ll be able to count the lake trout clearly in the water below. The water stays clear by constantly moving 10,000 gallons of water per minute.
The park creates an excellent picnic setting.
You’ll need a Michigan Recreation Passport to enter a Michigan state park with a vehicle. Indian Lake State Park is about seven miles away if you want to camp, and make Palms Book State Park an afternoon stop.” —Amy Piper
10. Denali National Park And Preserve
“Visiting Denali National Park and Preserve in the summer season is a perfect time to explore the park and view North America’s highest peak. The average temperature is in the high 60s, perfect for hiking the numerous trails, touring the park, and learning about all the wildlife that calls Denali home.
Jump on a Tundra Wilderness Tour, visit the Denali Park sled dog kennels, or enjoy a drive down Alaska’s Highway 3 and feast on the panoramic mountain top views of the Alaska Range. If you are lucky, you will get to view Mount Denali (formerly called Mount McKinley). You need to rise and shine early in the morning to sneak a peek at this famed peak.
The Denali Visitor Center is the best spot to get all the information you need about visiting Denali. Additionally, they have an interesting walk-through display of the park’s wildlife and their habitat. When you are ready for a snack, pop into the Morino Grill.
A Denali adventure is perfect any time of year, but in the land of the midnight sun, summer is especially special.” — Sandi Barrett
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