Cool Places to Vacation in Hot Weather

Where to Enjoy The Big Chill

couple on a mountain top
••• Reach for the sky on your next vacation. Getty Images.

 If you crave a spot on the cool side, you've come to the right place. There are plenty of cool destinations and activities where there's a distinct -- and refreshing -- chill in the air. If none of the places below appeal, follow these general guidelines to stay cool:

  • The farther you travel from the equator, the cooler it will be.
  • The closer you are to a body of water, the cooler it will be.
  • The higher you are above sea level, the cooler it will be.
  • The less you exert yourself, the cooler it will be.
  • And, the summer rule that supersedes all others: The closer you are to an air conditioner, the happier you will be.

Let's go first to the cool north:

Canada

On both coasts, honeymooners can find ocean-side environments where cool breezes make for comfortable days. Vast Nova Scotia, jutting from the country's eastern shore, is home to one of the world's natural wonders (and cooling systems): The Bay of Fundy, where the highest tides on earth ebb and flow as much as 60 feet each day.

Yet there's more to do in this place than simply watch the tide roll in and out.

Honeymooners can spend time rafting, searching for dinosaur remains, panning for gemstones, driving the spectacular Cabot Trail circle, sailing the Bras d'Or Lakes, feasting on fresh Atlantic salmon, visiting the summer haven of St. Andrews by the Sea (doesn't the town name itself sound cool?) and exploring Halifax.

Surrounded by cooling water, the city of Vancouver and nearby Vancouver Island in British Columbia are popular summer destinations. They boast splendid gardens, great restaurants, beaches, and cultural and sporting attractions. Plus there's a range of accommodations to suit every budget, from a KOA campground to inexpensive places to an utterly romantic hotel.

The only problem is, Vancouver's so nice this time of year that it tends to get a bit crowded. If you're the kind of couple who needs your space, consider heading even further north...and take a ferry to Alaska.

Alaska

Although Alaska State Ferries are relatively inexpensive, if you want to see the Inner Passage in style, take a ​cruise. Cool sea breezes, blue vistas that extend for miles...and suddenly, sparkling turquoise glaciers ahead.

What makes cruising to Alaska especially interesting are side trips you can take from the port: a helicopter ride to the top of a glacier...panning for gold after scarfing down fresh-caught and just-cooked chinook salmon...taking the train deep into the wilderness of Denali National Park.

(If you plan to stay for a few days, consider a deep-in-the-woods lodge; most are open from June to September.) Since there are few roads in Alaska, you may want to continue flight-seeing on a sky-trek to remote freshwater lakes where brown bears pluck dinner from cool, rushing streams.

Iceland

Across Iceland, temperatures rarely go above 60 degrees, even in July when the sun barely sets. It's perfect weather to hike the amazing countryside or see it from the back of an Icelandic horse and then unwind in the Blue Lagoon, a place with soothing, mineral-rich waters naturally warmed to over 100 degrees that will leech the stress right out of you.

And you can easily combine a trip to Iceland with a hop over to Northern Europe.

Europe

While only the tallest peaks in Switzerland are topped with snow, the high elevations keep things cool. So even if you go hiking, you won't necessarily break a sweat.

All Scandinavian countries provide plenty of fresh air, access to the sea, and sane summer temperatures. Stockholm, which consists of 14 islands crisscrossed by ferries, is exceptionally scenic.

In Denmark,​​Tivoli Gardens is a summer refuge where concerts draw crowds to an open-air stage set beside a rose-filled garden. Beyond Copenhagen, there's even cooler Aalborg in North Jutland, home to Legoland in Billund, where the pieces fit together almost as well as the two of you.

Summer is prime time in Norway and the best time to sail the fjords.

On the train ride from Oslo to Bergen, there's a good chance you can see Finse covered deep in snow.

From Oslo, you can fly to Greenland, go glacier skiing, tour the mighty polar cap, and perhaps even make nookie in Nuuk. Since it's a wild and remote place, remember to affix an "I brake for musk oxen" sign to your backpack.

South America

The amazing thing about going south of the equator in June, July, and August, is that you can actually find snow if you travel far enough south. Icy, cool, white, granular snow. Ski areas and resorts in the southern hemisphere, such as Bariloche in Argentina, generally open in mid-June and close in early October.

If you play your cards right and hop from hemisphere to hemisphere, you may be able to avoid summer heat altogether.