Top 10 summer destinations for U.S. travelers
Maximize vacay mode in these top-searched destinations
The kids are almost out of school, temperatures are getting balmy, and beaches, pools, theme parks, and other summer adventures across the U.S. are beginning to beckon. Just in time, Tripadvisor’s Summer Travel Index is here to help serve up inspiration for your next sun- and fun-filled getaway. Ahead, we break down which destinations have been garnering the most searches on Tripadvisor for travel between May 29 and August 31 as U.S. travelers start getting into full-on vacation mode. Here’s how to make the most of these sun-splashed spots.
10. Nashville, TN
Nashville's status in the music world makes it a buzzy summer destination, whether you’re headed to town for June’s highly-anticipated annual Bonnaroo festival or to hit up the many live music haunts downtown. Beyond the usual bars and honky tonks, there are also free outdoor concert series and festivals in spots like Sevier Park, Centennial Park, and the Dyer Observatory at Vanderbilt University. The funky boutique hotel Holston House is the perfect location for music-lovers, just next door to the recently opened National Museum of African American Music and the iconic Ryman Auditorium, and within easy walking distance of Broadway and downtown’s classic music halls, bars, and restaurants.
Once summer finally arrives in Chicago, the city sheds off its winter layers like they were never there. Locals know how to make the most of the season: get outside, all day, every day, whether you’re eating, lounging, or kicking back to listen to live music. Cool off with a dip in Lake Michigan, dig into a slice of deep-dish pizza, stroll along the Chicago River for some sightseeing, or take in a concert at one of the city’s iconic parks (culminating in August’s mega-festival Lollapalooza at 319-acre Grant Park). The sleek Viceroy Chicago is a welcome retreat, with a convenient Gold Coast location and a rooftop pool.
8. Lahaina, Hawaii
Situated on Maui, Lahaina is all about laid-back relaxation: with some of the most spectacular coastal scenery in the world, it’s basically mandatory to unwind and soak it all in. Sit under the shade of a palm to relish a rainbow-hued shave ice, snorkel among green sea turtles at Maluaka Beach, or ride the gentle waves at The Cove, a favorite beginner surf spot in Kihei. Drive the 64-mile-long Road to Hana, considered among the most beautiful routes in the world. Meanwhile, the oceanfront Ka’anapali Beach Hotel is an ideal base, with spacious rooms, on-site watersports, and an extensive Hawaiian cultural education program.
7. Ocean City, MD
About three hours’ drive from both Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, Ocean City stretches along a 10-mile barrier island just south of the Delaware border, and springs to life from Memorial Day through Labor Day the way only a seasonal beach town can. Concerts take over waterfront parks, and the town’s century-old wooden beachfront boardwalk fills with families munching the area’s famous apple cider vinegar-splashed french fries. Stay close to the action at the Princess Royale Oceanfront Resort, where ocean views, rooms with spacious balconies, and an Olympic-sized pool (the city’s largest) make for a welcome escape.
6. Key West, FL
The U.S. mainland feels most tropical at its southernmost point in Key West, and there's no shortage of ways to soak up the summer vibes here. See gorgeous butterflies flitting about landscaped gardens at the Butterfly and Nature Conservatory, seek out shade under the tall pines at Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park (Key West’s best beach for swimming), or discover a fascinating network of shipwrecks by diving along the route known as the Florida Keys Wreck Trek. For a peaceful stay away from the crowds, but just a few minutes’ ferry ride from boutique- and restaurant-lined Mallory Square, head to Sunset Key Cottages, a resort situated on a private island that embodies laid-back luxury.
5. New York City
Summer in New York is all about soaking up every precious sunny day: lounging on park lawns for the lingering daylight hours, leisurely train rides to the beaches of the Rockaways, zipping around the city via ferry instead of subway, and making any time of day happy hour at the lively rooftops spread all over town. In between hitting up Manhattan’s must-see museums and landmarks, check out the seasonal offerings that bring New Yorkers out to bask in the heat, like free public pools and rooftop movies. Consider a stay at Smyth Tribeca, where the modern rooms have rainforest showers and one of the city’s coolest neighborhoods is at your doorstep.
Honolulu is bathed in sunshine from mid-June to August, making summer a perfect window for exploring the Hawaiian capital. Fewer rain showers make for easier hiking on the island’s scenic trails, like the Pu'u Ma'eli'eli trail, which offers spectacular views of Oahu’s windward coast. Learn to scuba off the shores of Waikiki Beach, get up close with sea life on turtle- and dolphin-spotting tours, and deep dive into American history with a visit to Pearl Harbor. For traveling families, the Disney-owned resort Aulani, offers luxuries that are both kid-approved (think meet and greets with Disney royalty) and adult-friendly (Hawaii-inspired craft cocktails at the poolside ‘Ōlelo Room).
3. Las Vegas
Vegas is known for seriously scorching summer days, but you can still enjoy the bounty of air-conditioned delights on and off the Strip. Hop on the monorail to travel between climate-controlled oases: if you start at the Sahara on the northern end of the Strip, you can hit dozens of hotels and their casinos, from Harrah’s to the MGM Grand, without breaking a sweat. Consider a stay at the Bellagio—not just for the iconic fountains, but the lush outdoorsy ambience within the resort's glass-walled botanical gardens, where thousands of plants are meticulously maintained and updated to reflect the changing seasons.
2. Myrtle Beach, SC
With a whopping 60 miles of coastline, Myrtle Beach is less about getting to the shore in summertime than it is about choosing how to enjoy it once you’re surfside. You’ll have your pick of oceanfront resorts just steps from the sand, like the Marriott Myrtle Beach Resort & Spa at Grande Dunes, where a massive outdoor pool looks out on a pristine stretch of beach. Once you’re settled, take in the oceanside scenery your way: sign up for surf lessons, or head out on a boat tour along the cypress-lined banks of the Waccamaw River, where you may spot osprey and alligators.
1. Orlando, FL
Sure, Orlando’s claim to fame is its legendary theme parks, but after getting your fill of rides and cartoon characters, there’s also plenty of freshwater fun to be had in this corner of Central Florida. Stay cool wakeboarding, waterskiing, kayaking in any of the many refreshing lakes nearby, or tube down the natural “lazy river” at Rock Springs. Plus, you’re within easy daytripping distance of both the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico’s beaches. Be sure to pick a hotel with a great swimming pool—or three, like The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes, which offers a heated lap pool, and even an adjacent waterpark.