Summer rhymes with holidays! Looking for the perfect place to get away in July? Whether it’s spending Independence Day at America’s oldest July 4 celebration or heading north to Canada to avoid the heat and humidity, The journey awaits you the writers share their favorite places to visit in July.
1. Kennebunkport, Maine
“Living in the Midwest where we have significant humidity all summer, I like to find cool weather during the summer months. One of my favorite places to visit in July is the coast of Maine. The weather is Perfect! Mornings and evenings are chilly as the day warms up to perfect summer temperatures with no humidity! Plus, there’s so much fun to be had on the water. —SJ Morgensen
2. San Juan Islands, Washington
“One of my favorite destinations in July is the San Juan Islands in Washington State. When it’s hot, I like not being in the crowd, staying cool and enjoying the long summer days. The San Juan Islands allow visitors to disconnect through a variety of methods: hiking trails, views of aquatic life, family restaurants, and best of all, nature without the crowds. —Keshler Thibert
3.Bristol, Rhode Island
“Bristol, Rhode Island has the oldest 4th of July celebration in the United States, with 2022 marking the 237th year. Bristol is a darling little coastal city with so much to offer. In addition to fun, local events, you’ll find historic sites, a beautiful coastline, and a variety of outdoor spaces. I like the 14.5 miles East Bay Bike Path, which begins in Bristol. You will also find Blithewold Manor, Gardens and Arboretum, which has one of the best gardens in New England. Dining in Bristol lives up to its reputation for exceptional food sourced locally from farms and fishermen.” —Peggy Cleveland
4. Bismarck-Mandan, North Dakota
“Due to their northern location, Bismarck and Mandan, North Dakota enjoy long summer days. The metropolitan area offers many events in July such as rodeos, tournaments, and foot and car races. These activities are great fun, but the long evenings provide the perfect opportunity to hit the area’s trails.
Explore the interactions between Euro-Americans and Native Americans at Fort Abraham Lincoln and sloping 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. Lieutenant Colonel George Custer left the fort to its fate at the Battle of Little Bighorn.
When it’s time to eat, downtown Bismarck is within walking distance and has plenty of restaurants offering a variety of cuisines. I highly recommend the butter horn restaurant. Try verde gnudi (pronounced naked). For breakfast, eat an American pie with 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 I took several years ago from Glacier National Park in Montana to Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta, Canada. About 70 miles l apart, both parks are within an easy day of each other.
While July will no doubt be crowded at both parks, I have found mid-summer to be the perfect time to visit for a number of reasons. For one thing, the weather is at its finest, with both parks posting average highs in the low to mid 70 degree Fahrenheit range. On the other hand, the wildflowers seemed to be at their peak in the two mountain parks. Everywhere I looked there seemed to be stands of daisies, bears and lupine. I found the white daisies that framed the sky blue surface of Waterton Lake particularly lovely.
I loved Glacier, too, but the Waterton Lakes – billed as where the mountains meet the prairies – turned out to be the highlight of my trip, largely because it was such a pleasant surprise. —Cindy Barks
“Three cheers for red, white and blue in Columbus, Ohio, where the party begins in late June and continues through July 4. The grandfather of the celebrations is the 40th anniversary of Red, white and BOOM!, one of the largest fireworks in the country. Head to the riverside on July 1 at 10 a.m. for live music, entertainment, kids’ activities and food.
More hometown fun includes Stars & Stripes softball games, Firecracker Trot 5K, and Street Fests. Experience the city’s traditional 4th of July parade. Come hear the Columbus Symphony perform “Patriotic Pops” with the Air Force Band of Flight for a tribute to John Williams’ 90th birthday. Join Doo-Dah Parade and music festival, a wacky tribute to “Liberty & Lunacy” in the Short North Arts District. Visit Ohio Village on Independence Day weekend (July 2-3) and see how Buckeyes honored Independence Day in the 1890s with lots of old-fashioned fun. Play croquet, try your hand at hoop rolling and hear the cannon fire. —Mira Temkin
7. Calgary Stampede
“The Calgary Stampede has been dubbed the “Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth”. The event has been held every July – when Canadian temperatures are ideal – since 1886. Attendance was recorded at nearly 1.3 million in 2019 before being canceled in 2020. It reopened in 2021 but has been significantly reduced. This year, it is back in force! We’ll see those wild Wild West competitions again at six rodeos: barrel racing, bull riding, rope hitches, steer wrestling, saddle bronc and bareback.
The whole city explodes in parades and celebrations, while at the Stampede Grounds there are late-night shows and free cultural powwows with upbeat country music. Farming and western events also return with animal exhibits and games. Many businesses sell their wares at markets, while food courts offer Midway treats: candies, snacks and drinks. I remember how much fun my Calgary family had at every Stampede we attended! —Carol Colborn
8. Lake Jocassee, South Carolina
“Lake Jocassee is a 7,500 acre piece of summer paradise 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 gorge was filled with water in the 1970s. The town is still intact well below the surface of the lake.
Access Lake Jocassee via Devil’s Fork State Park in Salem. Bring or rent your kayaks, fishing gear or paddle boats and take a leisurely ride along the Jocassee shoreline. Look for waterfalls that can only be seen from the water and drink everywhere in the natural beauty. Or relax on the beach with a picnic and plenty of dips in the cool, refreshing water.
Arrive early to avoid the crowds. There are accommodation options nearby, including cabin rentals and campgrounds. 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 Palms Book State Park near Manistic. The weather will have warmed up this time of year in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, making outdoor adventures even more fun.
The park’s star attraction is Kitch-Iti-Kipi (The Big Springs), Michigan’s largest freshwater spring. You’ll find a self-guided viewing raft that takes visitors to lookout points overlooking fascinating underwater features. The spring is 45 feet deep and about 200 feet wide in stunning blues and greens. You can clearly count lake trout in the water below. Water stays clear by constantly moving 10,000 gallons of water per minute.
The park creates an excellent picnic setting.
You will need a Michigan Leisure passport entering a Michigan state park with a vehicle. Indian Lake State Park is about seven miles away if you want to camp and make Palms Book State Park an afternoon stop.” —Amy Piper
10. Denali National Park and Preserve
“Visiting Denali National Park and Preserve during the summer season is the perfect time to explore the park and take in the tallest peak in North America. The average temperature is in the high 60s, which is perfect for hiking the many trails, touring the park, and seeing all the wildlife that call Denali home.
Jump on a Wild Tundra Tourvisit the Denali Park Sled Dog Kennels, or enjoy a drive along Alaska Highway 3 and feast on the panoramic mountain views of the Alaska Range. If you’re lucky, you might see Mount Denali (formerly called Mount McKinley). You have to get up early in the morning to take a look at this famous peak.
The Denali Visitor Center is the best place to get all the information you need to visit Denali. Plus, they have an interesting presentation of the park’s wildlife and its habitat. When you’re ready for a snack, hop in the Grill Morino.
A Denali adventure is perfect any time of year, but in the land of the midnight sun, summer is especially special. —Sandi Barrett
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