Summer time means vacation! Looking for the perfect place to escape this July? From Independence Day at the oldest Fourth of July celebration in the United States to driving north to Canada to avoid the heat and humidity, travel waiting Writers share their favorite places to visit in July.
1. Kennebunkport, Maine
“I live in the Midwest where we have a great deal of humidity throughout the summer and I like to find cool weather during the summer months. One of my favorite places in July is the Maine coast. The weather is perfect! Mornings and evenings are cool as the day warms up to perfect summer temperatures with no humidity! Plus it’s so much fun on the water.” – SJ Morgensen
2. San Juan Islands, Washington
“One of my favorite places to visit in July is the San Juan Islands in Washington State. When it warms up I enjoy being away from crowds, staying cool and taking advantage of the long summer days. The San Juan Islands offer visitors a variety of ways to unwind: hiking trails, marine life views, mom and pop restaurants, and most importantly, 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 charming small coastal town that has so much to offer. In addition to the fun local events, you’ll find historical sites, a beautiful coastline and a variety of outdoor spaces. I love the 14.5 mile East Bay Bike Path that starts in Bristol. You will also find Blithewold Mansion, Gardens & Arboretum which has one of the best gardens in New England. Bristol food lives up to its reputation for excellent food sourced from local farms and fishermen.” – Peggy Cleveland
4. Bismarck-Mandan, North Dakota
“Because of their northern location, Bismarck and Mandan, North Dakota, enjoy long summer days. The metropolitan area hosts many events such as rodeos, tournaments, and foot and auto races in July. These activities are great fun, but the long evenings provide the perfect opportunity to hike the area’s trails.
Explore interactions between Euro-Americans and Native 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 of Fort Lincoln came as enforcers and conquerors. Lt. Col. George Custer abandoned the fort at the Battle of Little Bighorn.
When it’s time to eat, Downtown Bismarck is within walking distance and full of restaurants offering a variety of cuisines. I highly recommend the Butterhorn restaurant. Try the verde gnudi (pronounced naked). Have an American Pie for breakfast at The Copper Dog Cafe in Mandan.” – Roxie Yonkey
5. Waterton Lakes National Park (Canada)
“One of my favorite trips in July was the short detour drive I took a few years ago from Glacier National Park in Montana to Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta, Canada. The two parks are about 70 miles apart and are within an easy day trip of each other.
While July will no doubt be crowded at both parks, I found mid-summer to be a perfect time to visit for a number of reasons. For one, the weather is at its best, with both parks having average highs in the low-to-mid 70-degree Fahrenheit range. Second, the wildflowers seemed to be at their peak in the two mountain parks. Everywhere I looked there seemed to be daisies, bear grass and lupins. I was particularly drawn to the white daisies framing the sky blue surface of Waterton Lake.
I also loved Glacier, but Waterton Lakes – known as Where the Mountains Meet the Prairies – turned out to be the highlight of my trip, mostly because it was such a pleasant surprise.” – Cindy Barks
6. Columbus, Ohio
“Three cheers for red, white and blue in Columbus, Ohio where the party starts in late June and lasts through July 4th. The granddaddy of the celebrations is the 40th anniversary of Red, White & BOOM!, one of the largest fireworks displays in the country. Head to the riverfront at 10am on July 1st for live music, entertainment, children’s activities and food.
More hometown fun is available at Stars & Stripes Softball Games, Firecracker Trot 5K and Street Fests. Watch the city’s traditional Fourth of July parade. Come hear the Columbus Symphony play “Patriotic Pops” with the Air Force Band of Flight in honor of John Williams’ 90th birthday. Take in the Doo Dah Parade and Music Festival, a zany tribute to Liberty & Lunacy in the Short North Arts District. Visit the Ohio Village on Independence Day weekend (July 2-3) and see how Buckeyes honored Independence Day with lots of old-fashioned fun in the 1890s. Play croquet, try hoop rolling and hear cannon shots.” — Mira Temkin
7. Calgary Stampede
“The Calgary Stampede has been called ‘The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.’ The event has been held every July since 1886 – when Canadian temperatures are ideal. Attendance was recorded at nearly 1.3 million in 2019 before being canceled in 2020. It was reopened in 2021 but severely scaled back. This year it’s back in full force! We’ll see those wild West competitions return at six rodeos: Barrel Racing, Bull Riding, Tie-Down Roping, Steer Wrestling, Saddle Bronc, and Bareback.
The whole city explodes in parades and celebrations while the Stampede Grounds host nightly evening shows and free cultural powwows with pounding country music. Agricultural and western events also return with animal shows and games. Many businesses sell their wares in marketplaces, while food courts offer Midway treats: sweets, snacks, and beverage concoctions. I remember how much fun my family in Calgary had at every Stampede we attended!” – Carol Colborn
8. Lake Jocassee, South Carolina
“Lake Jocassee is a 7,500 acre slice of summer heaven in upstate South Carolina where you can cool off and relax surrounded by breathtaking mountain views. This crystal clear lake was once the town of Jocassee until the gorges were filled with water in the 1970s. The city still lies untouched far below the surface of the lake.
Access Lake Jocassee via Devils Fork State Park in Salem. Bring or rent your kayaks, fishing gear or paddle boats and take a leisurely excursion along the Jocassee shoreline. Look for waterfalls that can only be seen from the water and take in the natural beauty throughout. Or relax on the beach with a picnic and numerous dips in the cool, refreshing water.
Arrive early to avoid the crowds. There are accommodation options nearby, including cabin rentals and campsites. 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 in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula by this time of year, making outdoor adventures all the more fun.
The special attraction in 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 lookouts overlooking fascinating underwater features. The spring is 45 feet deep and about 200 feet wide in stunning shades of blue and green. In the water below you can clearly count the lake trout. Water stays clear by constantly moving 10,000 gallons of water per minute.
The park creates an excellent picnic setting.
You 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 an afternoon stop at Palms Book State Park.” – 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 see North America’s tallest peak. The average temperature is over 140 degrees, perfect for hiking the many trails, touring the park, and learning about the wildlife that Denali calls home.
Take a Tundra Wilderness Tour, visit Denali Park’s sled dog kennels, or enjoy a drive on Alaska’s Highway 3 for panoramic views of the Alaska Range’s mountain peaks. If you are lucky you can see Mount Denali (formerly called Mount McKinley). You need to get up early in the morning and shine to catch a glimpse of this famous peak.
The Denali Visitor Center is the best place to get all the information you need to visit Denali. In addition, they have an interesting walk-through exhibit of the park’s wildlife and their habitat. When you’re ready for a snack, stop by Morino Grill.
A Denali adventure is perfect any time of the year, but in the land of the midnight sun, summer is extra special.” —Sandi Barrett
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