Best Places to Vacation in July/August

British Columbia Parliament Buildings, Victoria B.
••• Nancy Rose / Getty Images

Wondering when to go where for the best vacation experience in July or August? It's a cruel irony that although many weddings take place in the summer, the Northern Hemisphere's hottest months are not always the best ones for a romantic holiday.

People from many Western nations are on holiday, prices on everything from flights to hotel rooms are higher, and the most-desirable destinations are more crowded than in cooler months, their off-season.

Still, odds are you can find good weather and experiences at the following places in summer (especially if you book well in advance):

USA

  • USA Beaches - From the East Coast to the Gulf shore to the Pacific Ocean, America's beaches await. So don't feel guilty about skipping the French Riviera or the Caribbean. Each beach in America has its own personality, so consider visiting a few on your July or August vacation.
  • Northeastern US - New York State and New England all the way up to Maine are simply glorious at this time of year. Whether you're by the Atlantic Ocean or inland, these states offer countless places to revel in the sun. 
  • State Fairs - Places to experience local pride and sample local products, State Fairs are fun for all ages. The best time for adults to visit is late in the day, when a lot of families clear out, and the best entertainment and concerts take place.
  • Ski Resorts - Although the snow and the skiers are long gone, plenty of reasons to visit remain. Ski resorts are particularly welcoming in summer, and many have added attractions such as zip lines to capture summer travelers. Pick a lively town like Park City, Utah and treat yourself to an ultra-luxe mountain aerie while enjoying off-season prices.

    Tropical Destinations

    • Aruba - Sure, it's hurricane season—but traditionally Aruba, Barbados, and Curacao have escaped weather's wrath. So you can stretch out on one of the island's pristine beaches without worrying about stormy weather.
    • Barbados - Don't be surprised if the bathers next to you speak with a British accent; this island has a long history of attracting visitors from the United Kingdom all times of year.
    • Curaçao - The Caribbean island with the prettiest capital (Willemstad), Curacao has more to explore than just the beach. And like Aruba and Barbados, it lies outside of the hurricane zone.
    • Tahiti - Yes, it's a lo-o-o-ong plane ride. Yet it's worth being patient if you want to reach paradise, where several hotels offer utterly romantic overwater bungalows.

    Be Cool

    • Canada - Truth to tell, Canadian cities that aren't close to water get just as hot as those in the USA. But the coasts—Montreal on the St. Lawrence Seaway in the east and Vancouver and Victoria on the Pacific Ocean—are spectacular in summer.
    • Iceland - It's not just like visiting another country; it's like visiting another planet. Just go! And the one place not to miss is the Blue Lagoon, where you can find a private nook and experience what heaven must be like.
    • South America - The seasons are reversed here. In cities closest to the Equator, you won't experience a chilly winter. Buenos Aires, for example, is usually in the comfortable 60s. But if you want bragging rights about skiing in summer, ski areas like Bariloche in the southern part of the continent are open.

    Sure Things

    • Year-round, the weather's just about perfect in Hawaii.
    • Around the world, every month of the year, a cruise ship is sailing some place wonderful. The best bargains are short cruises on big ships out of Florida since there's so much competition. The best chance to steer clear of families with kids is on a river cruise or on a transatlantic cruise on a big ocean liner.

    Beat the Crowds

    If you've always dreamed of going on safari in Africa, summertime in the northern hemisphere is winter in that part of the world and the weather is usually temperate in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Tanzania, all of which are teeming with wildlife at this time of year.

    Not the Best Time to Visit

    • Europe is crowded, hot, and many Europeans themselves abandon cities for their own summer vacation, so service can be slow and surly.
    • It's hurricane season in the Caribbean until November 30. The three Caribbean countries listed above are located below the hurricane belt and considered safe destinations.
    • The Southern US is swelteringly hot. Only the natives can bear it.
    • School's out, so theme parks and other places that attract families with kids will be crowded.