Author Jenny Han once wrote, “everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August.” We couldn’t agree more. Those three months hold a special place in everyone’s hearts. For kids, it’s when school ends and homework ceases to exist. And for the adults, those cherished time-off requests begin to kick in. Oh, what a glorious time it is.
But where should you drive off to this summer? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. As part of our all-American series, we asked 1,000 Americans for their favorite summer destinations. Here are the 10 best places to visit this summer.
Upstate New York is peppered with idyllic towns, but Saranac Lake—mentioned by name in our survey—is a cut above the rest. Nestled in the middle of the picturesque Adirondacks, this place has everything you need to enjoy a summer getaway: watersports, charming downtown, and plenty of nature to explore.
- Must-do: Walk the elevated footpath known as the Trail Across the Tree Tops at The Wild Center.
- Must-eat: Anything off the daily menu at the Fiddlehead Bistro.
This Ventura County town has dubbed itself “Shangri-La” and for good reason. Ojai and the Ojai Valley as a whole is a worthy contemporary of that fictional utopia—which is probably why California showed up so much in our poll. Whether you’re exploring the shops and restaurants downtown or taking a scenic drive through the valley via California State Route 33, summer days spent here are perfect.
- Must-do: Check out the awesome exhibits at the Ojai Valley Museum of History and Art.
- Must-eat: Eggplant parmesan from the local landmark Boccali’s.
The Atlantic coast got a lot of love in our survey, but the Jersey Shore isn’t the only stretch of shoreline with an epic boardwalk scene: Rehoboth holds its own. Walk up and down the plywood planks under a hot summer sun and enjoy the people watching. Or play mini golf and get an ice cream cone.
- Must-do: Get your thrills on the rides at Funland.
- Must-eat: Get a giant hunk of salt water taffy and caramel corn from Dolles Candyland.
If you’ve never been humbled by the sight of Mother Nature, a few days in Alaska this summer will do the trick (according to our respondents). Where should you go? Sitka. Between the towering green mountains and glacier blue waters, this place is a nature lover’s delight. Don’t be surprised if you see a bald eagle flying down Lincoln Street in the middle of downtown. And don’t worry about losing daylight because summer in Alaska means the sun won’t set until about 10 at night.
- Must-do: See giant black and brown bears at the Fortress of the Bear, a sanctuary specifically built for orphaned bears.
- Must-eat: Get yourself a warm pizza pie from Mean Queen.
New Jersey was mentioned time and again in our survey, and if you’re looking for a suitable summer colony along the Atlantic Coast, look no further than the entire length of Long Beach Island. Whether you’re in Barnegat Light in the north, surfing at Beach Haven in the south, or any of the other towns in between, your summer stay on this barrier island will be worth it.
- Must-do: Rent a stand-up paddle board from Island Surf & Sail and paddle around the gentle waters of Manahawkin Bay.
- Must-eat: Stuff yourself with oysters, crab cakes, fresh fish plates, and shrimp cocktails at Ship Bottom Shellfish.
Maine was another favorite destination in our survey. And what’s not to like? Whale watching, hiking and biking in Acadia National Park, and lobster rolls are just a few things to expect when you visit one of the best spots in the state: Bar Harbor. Located on the eastern shore of Mount Desert Island, this town went from a remote fishing settlement to a budding tourist attraction in less than 100 years and it hasn’t slowed down since.
- Must-do: Rent a Pedego bike and cruise through Acadia National Park.
- Must-eat: Dinner consisting of local mussels and wood-fired ratatouille at Sweet Pea’s Café.
Yellowstone National Park was mentioned by name numerous times in our survey, and the gateway to this magical place starts with this western Wyoming town. Named after the famous scout, bison hunter, and showman “Buffalo Bill” Cody, this place is the epitome of an Old West settlement. There’s nearby ghost towns you can tour and a rodeo every night of the summer courtesy of the Cody Nite Rodeo.
- Must-do: Long live the Wild West at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West.
- Must-eat: Order a medium rare steak at the Proud Cut Saloon & Steakhouse.
Massachusetts showed up numerous times in our survey, and we have a particular town in mind for you to visit. Welcome to Essex: The town with superb beaches, a rich shipbuilding history, strong shellfish industry, and where, allegedly, the recipe for the fried clam was invented. Whether that last part is true is up for debate, but who cares; they’re delicious. Wander the red brick streets of downtown and shop for cool antiques that will tie your whole living room together.
- Must-do: Learn a bit of history at the Essex Shipbuilding Museum.
- Must-eat: Since they were invented here, you have to order fried clams from the Village Restaurant.
North Carolina might be home to the best barbecue on earth, but it’s also the home of the Outer Banks (mentioned by name in our poll). Kill Devil Hills, more specifically, is a destination straight out of your summer fantasies. The beaches are pristine and the water is warm. The main hub has great restaurants and cheeky shops. And the nearest big city is hundreds of miles away. There’s just something special about North Carolina in the summer.
- Must-do: Learn the history of flight at the Wright Brothers National Memorial.
- Must-eat: Get yourself a crab cake sandwich or a plate of steamed spiced shrimp at Goombays Grille & Raw Bar.
A summer season isn’t complete without a visit to a California—one of the most mentioned places in our survey. To help narrow it down, we recommend the perfect beach town: Del Mar. This classic enclave along the Pacific Coast has everything you need in order to have a good time. Spend the morning learning to surf with a local surf school or head to Del Mar Thoroughbred Club racetrack for a day of thrilling horse races. You may come out a big winner.
- Must-do: Put on some hiking boots and explore the trails at nearby Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve.
- Must-eat: A surf and turf meal at Jake’s Del Mar should suit you just fine.
We know ten towns seem like a lot, but you’ve got three glorious months ahead of you. That’s plenty of time. But you better go now—before you know it, the kids will be back in school and you’ll be back in your cubicle.