Forget Europe! We decided to find the some of the best U.S. vacations this summer. With airfares and gas prices at record lows, experts are predicting a busy travel season for destinations near and far. A recent Travelocity survey prompted them to declare this the “summer of the Great American Road Trip”. The press release goes on to say: “In this survey, 65% of those polled stated that they were more likely to take a road trip this summer compared to last summer.”
Whether you drive or fly, there are tons very cool cities that don’t top the lists of go-to destinations. This also makes them a little cheaper and a little less crowded than hotter places like Las Vegas or Orlando. Bonus! We’ve rounded up 10 cities where you can take the best vacations in the U.S., so read on and book your trip now!
1. Tybee Island • Georgia
Beach lovers will adore Tybee Island, a barrier island near Savannah. Beautiful beaches, historic lighthouses, deep sea charters that include a dolphin watch and fantastic fishing. Summer!
2. Memphis • Tennessee
Move over Nashville, Memphis has a lot going on! Elvis fans have to visit Graceland and Sun Studio. Then soak up the history and live music on Beale Street and explore the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Hotel. Memphis also has one of the best zoos in the country and some of the best barbecue. Need any more reasons to go?
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3. Ann Arbor • Michigan
Every July for the past 50 years Ann Arbor has been home to one of the best art fairs in the country. For live entertainment, the Ann Arbor Summer Festival runs from June 12-July 5. You can also do some kayaking on the Huron River and Fodor’s named Ann Arbor’s Main Street one of the 10 best in the country for 2014.
4. Tuscon • Arizona
One of the best U.S. vacations for taking in breathtaking scenery, Tuscon is home to the Coronado National Forest which definitely needs to go on your bucket list stat. The gorgeous landscape extends underground at the Kartchner Caverns State Park. The city has a rich cultural history as well as an urban downtown shopping area and the quaint Lost Barrio.
5. Greenville • South Carolina
Greenville is at the northwest corner of South Carolina in the foothills of the breathtaking Blue Ridge Mountains. Devil’s Fork State Park is great for fishing and a hike up Chimney Rock offers a spectacular view of the mountains. Rent a bike to soak up the city sights and you can’t leave without visiting the Beef Jerky Outlet. Yep, there’s artisan beef jerky in Greenville.
6. Bend Oregon
Bend has been called “the outdoor playground of the West”. They also boast one of the highest per capita dog populations in the U.S. They’re proud dog lovers, so that gives you an idea of the city’s overall personality. Kids will have fun at the High Desert Museum and Bend’s got everything from volcanoes and caves to rivers and forests for nature lovers. For the adults, the Bend Ale Trail is a tour of 14 local breweries—taking the tour by bike and over two days is recommended unless you have an unusually high tolerance.
7. San Antonio • Texas
A visit to the legendary Alamo has got to make the list of best vacations in the U.S. Then spend an afternoon strolling around the nearby River Walk, which has everything from fantastic cuisine to historic Spanish missions and museums. San Antonio is an especially LGBT-friendly city so if you plan your trip on July 4, be sure to visit the Pride Bigger Than Texas Festival.
8. The Catskills • New York
The Catskills isn’t technically a city; it’s actually a region just north of New York City. Best known for skiing, summer is the off-season so you can find major deals on lodging. In addition to exploring the beautiful mountains, the Catskills offer canoeing, wineries and quite a few summer festivals to keep you entertained.
9. San Diego • California
San Diego is California’s second biggest city. Who knew? This is truly a fantastic choice for a family vaycay, there’s something for everyone. This town is so chock full of activities there is actually an app specifically for Coronado Island, the #1 beach in America according to their website. And that’s only a small part of San Diego! Mission Bay also has great beaches, the Gaslamp Quarter has a bustling nightlife and La Jolla is yet another gorgeous beach.
10. San Juan Islands • Washington
The San Juan Islands are all about relaxation and getting in touch with nature. The terrain includes spectacular forests as well as sandy beaches. Get an up close view of orcas without visiting Sea World on a whale watching tour and indulge in a huge array of fresh farm-to-table cuisine. The world-renowned boating around these northwest islands is not to be missed.