If you’re anything like me, you’re very ready to get back to your favorite vacation spots. And while the pandemic may have thrown a loop in our international travel plans for now, there are still plenty of stunning destinations right here in the United States that make for a memorable weekend excursion or end-of-summer vacation.
So to help you plan the perfect getaway, I’ve rounded up five of my favorite stateside summer vacation destinations below. These charming seaside towns and breathtaking beach views are the perfect places to unplug, unwind, and enjoy the last of summer.
While international travel may have to wait, you won’t want to miss out on these five must-see summer vacation destinations right here in The United States.
Big Sur, CA
If you’re in desperate need of an escape from the city, Big Sur will do just the trick. While it’s often overshadowed by cities like LA and San Diego, the rugged coastline is undoubtedly one of California’s best summer vacation spots. Big Little Lies fans will instantly recognize the sweeping arches and breathtaking ocean views at Big Sur’s famous Bixby Creek Bridge. It’s the perfect spot to hop out and take a photo before you head off for a beachside hike at Andrew Molera or Limekiln State Park.
Once you’ve gotten your fill of the stunning scenery along the California coastline, check out the two adorable coastal towns in the area: Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea. There you’ll find cute shops, tasty restaurants, and charming beach-front cottages to call home for the weekend. If you’re seeking total relaxation, I recommend staying at the Alia, a hotel and spa that offers everything from fitness classes to astrology readings to glamping.
But don’t forget to snap a sunset photo in front of the unique rock formations at Big Sur’s Pfeiffer Beach or overlooking the sandy cove and cascading waterfall at McWay Falls before you head home. While the central California coastline isn’t quite as warm as So Cal, it gets pretty sunny so keep your go-to Chanel sunglasses close by at all times.
While Seattle is best known for its rainy weather, any true local will tell you that the best time to see the city is in the summer. Without the rain, you’ll be able to fully experience the city and take advantage of all the outdoor activities the surrounding area has to offer. Brewery hop through the brick streets of the historic Ballard neighborhood, wander through Seattle’s famous Pike’s Place Market, paddleboard at Greenlake, or enjoy a sunset picnic with a city view at Gasworks Park. Plus, on a clear day, Queen Anne’s Kerry Park offers a breathtaking view of Mount Rainer peeking out from behind the everchanging Seattle skyline.
If you love to window shop, the eclectic neighborhood Fremont is the place to do it. There you’ll find everything from high-end boutiques like Les Amis and Bellefleur to impeccably curated vintage shops like the Fremont Vintage Mall. Seattle is known for having some of the best Thai food in The States, so head to the Jai Thai on the corner of the Fremont Bridge once you’ve worked up your appetite shopping.
After you’ve gotten in your fill of sight-seeing, take a break from the city to enjoy some of the Pacific Northwest’s stunning scenery with a hike at Rainer National Park or a ferry ride to Vashon or San Juan Island. No matter where you go, there’ll always be a coffee shop close by to keep you well-caffeinated and ready for your next adventure.
Montauk, a small village at the very tip of the Long Island Penninsula, is one of city-dwelling New Yorkers’ favorite vacation spots— and one of mine too. Most vacationers peel off at earlier hot spots like The Hamptons, so it feels a bit quieter and more laid-back than the rest of the island. Spending a leisurely day walking along the endless sandy white beaches and taking in the stunning ocean view at the Montauk Lighthouse is guaranteed to soothe the soul. When it comes to accommodations, I recommend The Montauk Beach House or Gurney’s Montauk Resort and Seawater Spa.
To get your daily dose of Vitamin D, head to Kirk Park Beach, a family-friendly public beach with lifeguards, public restrooms, and plenty of spots nearby for happy hour when you’re finished. If you’re a golfer (or you just want to pretend you’re one for a day), hit up the lush greens at Montauk Downs State Park Golf Course. And before you leave, be sure to enjoy some freshly-caught seafood at one of the two classic seafood shacks, The Clam Bar and The Lobster Roll, you’ll pass on your way out of town.
Portland, Maine, is the quintessential New England town. It’s filled with cobblestone streets, world-class seafood joints, postcard-worthy lighthouses, and a rocky coastline you have to see to believe. Thanks to careful architectural preservation and friendly locals, the town is incredibly quaint and cozy— especially the Arts District and Old Port area downtown. Plus, Portland boasts some of the best lobster in the world. Fore Street Restaurant and Miyake are must-visits for foodies.
When in Portland, outdoor adventures are an absolute must. Maine has over 3,500 miles of coastline for you to kayak, canoe, surf, paddleboard, or just take a stroll to enjoy the scenery. Portland’s Casco Bay waterfront is dotted with islands, cliffs, and exposed rocky ledges, which you can visit on a private daytime cruise or sailboat excursion. And you certainly won’t want to miss out on a sunset photo op at Maine’s oldest lighthouse, the Portland Head Light at Cape Elizabeth.
From the rustic cobblestone streets to the impressive Antebellum architecture, Savannah, Georgia is overflowing with Southern charm. In fact, it’s one of the oldest and most historic cities in the South, so there’s no shortage of things to do or places to visit. Consider it the perfect weekend getaway during a trip to Atlanta.
The charming city is best experienced on foot, so save your strappy Jimmy Choo sandals for another day and stick with your comfortable Golden Goose sneakers instead. Start your day at the sprawling Forsyth Park in Savannah’s Historic District then enjoy the sunset over the Savannah River as you take a scenic stroll down River Street on your way to one of the neighborhood’s award-winning restaurants.
You can’t come to Savannah without heading to Tybee Island, a small beach town about twenty minutes from downtown Savannah. It boasts five miles of public beaches where you can sea kayak, paddleboard, or sunbathe to your heart’s content. And don’t forget to stop by Leopold’s Ice Cream, a Savannah staple that’s been serving old-fashioned summer treats for over 100 years, before you head home.