1. Splash down in Austin
It doesn’t get any hotter than Austin—from the hot music clubs and the spicy eats to the sun-soaked summer days. You’ll find no shortage of cool splashing opportunities like Barton Springs, Deep Eddy Pool, Sculpture Falls, and Red Bud Isle. At Lady Bird Lake, in the heart of the city, you can rent a boat, kayak, or paddleboat or scoot along the hike and bike trails. Once you’ve had your fun in the sun, catch the sunset over Lake Travis, visit the bats under South Congress Bridge, or sample the city’s many restaurants, bars, and live music venues.
2. See the sights of Los Angeles
The City of Angels is synonymous with summer. Think of Malibu surfer dudes, Venice Beach bodybuilders, and scantily clad starlets. You’ll love the flip-flop flair of the city’s many beaches. At the Annenberg Community Beach House, pay just a small fee to spend the day at this oceanfront club, once the site of a 110-room mansion built by William Randolph Hearst. After you’ve had your fill of sand and surf, lace up your hiking shoes and trek through Griffith Park, get your game on at Dodgers Stadium (family-friendly prices available), or gaze down at the stars along the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
3. Heavenly days in Maui
Paradise on earth? Yes. Perfect for families? You bet. Affordable? You may be surprised. Flights to paradise can be pricier than mainland destinations, but once you reach this vacationing mecca, you won’t have to sell a kidney to experience Maui’s beauty. Take the long and winding road to Hana for breathtaking scenery, discover undersea mysteries with simple snorkeling gear, ascend multiple climate zones to the summit of Mt. Haleakala, or sit in the lotus position under a waterfall and contemplate the wonders of the universe. No charge!
4. Cool adventures in Ottawa
With 15-hour days in the summer, you’ll feel like you’re on bonus time in Ottawa. You can pack in the outdoor fun with whitewater rafting, bungee jumping, biking, and a boat ride along Rideau Canal. Canada’s capital city boasts world-class restaurants and museums, charming farmers’ markets, and shopping areas. And no trip would be complete without a visit to Parliament Hill, where you can watch the changing of the guard in the morning and a free sound and light show at night. Don’t forget the biggest party of the year, Canada Day, is on July 1—we’re just sayin’.
5. The sunny side of Lake Tahoe
When the snow melts, Lake Tahoe trades its white winter coat for spectacular shades of green. It’s hard to compare the beauty of this vacation destination. Take the gondola at Heavenly ski resort for panoramic views, or try a day hike to the top of Mt. Tallac. You can mountain bike and zipline in the area’s resorts. And we haven’t even mentioned the star attraction—the cobalt blue lake—where you can swim, jet ski, kayak, and parasail to your heart’s content. After a day in the sun, you can even slip over to the Nevada side and play a few hands of blackjack.
6. Fun for all in Savannah
On the one hand, it’s a charming city with cobblestone streets, picturesque squares, and spooky-fun cemeteries. On the other, it’s a coastal destination with white-sand beaches and water sports offerings. You can’t go wrong with a summertime retreat to Savannah. Take a stroll along the Savannah River and dip into restaurants and stores along the way. Or see the sights at a faster speed on a riverboat cruise or trolley tour. History buffs can find Civil War reenactments and tours of antebellum homes. And kids of all ages can build sand castles galore at Tybee Island beach.
7. A water wonderland on Marco Island
For a summer splashdown, Marco Island has all your bases covered. You can snorkel, jet ski, paddleboard, kayak, swim with dolphins, sail on a catamaran, or while away the hours under a beach umbrella with a cool beverage and a paperback book. Charter a boat and channel your inner Hemingway with deep-sea fishing, or spend a morning on the golf course or tennis court. Take a day to visit Everglades National Park, or hike through miles of unspoiled coastal wilderness. Don’t forget to hit the beach at low tide with a bucket and shovel—you won’t believe the seashells you’ll find.