August in the USA: Weather, What to Pack, and What to See

august in the united states

TripSavvy / Yifan Wu 

In the United States, August is the warmest month and the busiest time at the beach and in the mountains, and State and National Parks see many visitors as well. Many families plan a summer vacation before school starts up again, so expect crowds in coastal and mountain towns. Generally speaking, those traveling to the southwest part of the country in August will encounter a dry heat, while the southeastern states are more humid.

The northwest's temperate climate may bring slightly milder weather with more average rainfall, and the northeastern cities have more heat and humidity. Numerous summer events and activities are fun to enjoy this month, like cultural and music festivals, sports events, and state fairs.

Hurricane Season

August is smack in the middle of hurricane season, for both the Atlantic and Eastern Pacific. In general, there is more potential for hurricanes forming in the Atlantic Ocean to make landfall in the coastal states, from Florida to Maine, as well as along the Gulf Coast states, such as Texas and Louisiana.

USA Weather in August

High temperatures in August for much of the country range from 80 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit (about 26 to 37 degrees Celsius), though hotter temperatures are not uncommon in much of the south. As for the nation's most popular destinations, Las Vegas is the hottest in August, with temperatures consistently reaching above 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius), while San Francisco is the most temperate, with highs just above 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius).

The average August temperatures for the top tourist destinations in the United States vary widely depending on location:

  • New York City: 83 F (28 C) / 69 F (21 C)
  • Los Angeles, California: 84 F (28 C ) / 64 F (17 C)
  • Chicago, Illinois: 81 F (27 C) / 63 F (17 C)
  • Washington, D.C.: 87 F (31 C) / 65 F (19 C)
  • Las Vegas, Nevada: 103 F (39 C) / 74 F (23 C)
  • San Francisco, California: 70 F (21 C) / 56 F (13 C)
  • Honolulu, Hawaii: 88 F (31 C) / 74 F (23 C)
  • Grand Canyon: 82 F (28 C) / 53 F (12 C)
  • Miami, Florida: 89 F (32 C) / 79 F ( 26 C)
  • New Orleans, Louisiana: 90 F (32 C) / 75 F ( 24 C)

Southern cities like New Orleans and Las Vegas typically run hotter, but both offer plenty of indoor activities and water-based adventures to help beat the heat. If you're looking for a more moderate temperature, even in the hottest month of summer, coastal Californian cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles and mountainous cities like Denver, Colorado, or Flagstaff, Arizona (near the Grand Canyon), offer a great reprieve from the heat.

What to Pack

With a variety of climates in the U.S., what you pack will depend on where you are going, and what activities you plan on engaging in. For warmer and tropical places, don't forget sun protection like a hat or umbrella, sunscreen, sunglasses, and swimwear—along with light clothes like shorts, tank tops, T-shirts, sundresses, and a water bottle. It always helps to pack a light shirt for air-conditioned buildings and possibly cooler temperatures in the evenings.

For somewhere with less intense heat, like San Francisco or Los Angeles, bring pants and long-sleeved shirts, plus a jacket or sweater for the evenings. No matter where you're traveling in the U.S., comfortable shoes and layered clothing are useful to have along. Checking the weather before leaving for your destination can help you plan for the perfect vacation.

August Events in the USA

Summer events in the U.S. offer something for people of all ages. Whether you are a sports fan, an Elvis Presley aficionado, or want to be surrounded with a huge group of motorcycle lovers, you'll find something entertaining to do in August.

  • State Fairs: In August, state fairs typically start to appear, and hordes of people load up their cars for the nearest event full of carnival rides, games, interaction with live animals, and fried food, among numerous other activities. This month catch state fairs from Alaska to Colorado to New York and beyond.
  • Elvis Week: Live music performances, talks, and competitions are all part of this celebration of "The King" at Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee. The week also offers tours to Elvis Presley's birthplace in Tupelo, Mississippi, an auction of Elvis memorabilia at Graceland, and additional activities.
  • Seafair Weekend Festival: This important part of Seattle's Seafair Festival takes place during the first weekend in August at Genesee Park on Lake Washington. Look for sky performances by aerobatic planes, wakeboarders, and BMX bike stunt riders, among other excitement.
  • World's Longest Yard Sale: This enormous event spans 690 miles from Alabama to Michigan and also goes into Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Georgia. The sale with thousands of vendors starts on the first Thursday in August and extends through the weekend.
  • Little League Baseball World Series: Head to Williamsport, Pennsylvania, if you'd like to see players ages 10 to 12 from around the world display their skills in August. Teams from various U.S. regions compete with Asia-Pacific, Australia, Canada, the Caribbean, Europe-Africa, Japan, Latin America, and Mexico regional teams.
  • Lollapalooza: This famous music festival displays a variety of styles in a four-day event, including hip-hop, techno, and pop. Check out about 180 performances on multiple stages in Chicago's historic Grant Park on the Lake Michigan shore.
  • Sturgis Motorcycle Rally: Since 1938, the country's oldest and biggest gathering of motorcycle enthusiasts has celebrated in Sturgis, South Dakota. From community rides to live music to motorcycle races, it's the place to be this August.
  • Burning Man: Experience something totally new at this event from late August through early September in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada, intended to be a temporary city rather than a festival. About 70,000 folks create experiential art performances, sculptures, light installations, and more, ending with the burning of a 40-foot-tall wooden figure.

Travel Tips

  • Since August is a popular time to travel in the U.S., prices are likely to go up, and flights, hotels, and other accommodations may be booked, so plan in advance.
  • Research national and state park locations, hours, and any regulations before you go; it's a busy time of year, and you don't want to miss your long-awaited destination due to having out-of-date information.
  • If you're planning a beach vacation, be aware of the potential for hurricanes in the southeast during August and September.
  • There are no official holidays in August, though Labor Day weekend sometimes includes the last weekend in August.