The August calendar may not include a national holiday, but the summer-season finale still gives you plenty of reasons to head out on a road trip in the United States. You won't be the only one planning a last getaway before school starts, so expect crowds in seashore and mountain towns. In general, cities feel less crowded in August because residents go on vacation too. Look for many free activities, from concerts to museum days to outdoor movie screenings.
The Maine Lobster Festival dishes out more than 12 tons of lobster each year during this internationally-recognized event on the central coast. An August fixture in Rockland since 1947, the festival draws tens of thousands of locals and visitors, and of course, lots of butter. Feast on bisque and rolls, mac, and wontons all made of lobster, while you learn about the state's revered crustacean and the people who make a living harvesting it from Maine's chilly waters.
Part flea market, part yard sale, and fully American, the World's Longest Yard Sale extends 690 miles from Alabama to Michigan—you'll also find the sale in Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Georgia. Headquartered along Highway 127 near Jamestown, Tennessee, the sale has brought together thousands of vendors and even more shoppers since 1987. It starts on the first Thursday in August and extends through the weekend.
Join half a million people and head to Sturgis in the Black Hills of South Dakota for a two-wheeling road trip this August. A yearly event since 1938, the country's oldest and largest gathering of motorcycle enthusiasts celebrates biker culture with tattoo and beard contests, community rides, and motorcycle races. This leather-optional event gives you plenty to do, whether you ride or not, with a 5K for the health-conscious and a pub crawl for those who want to party. Plus there's live music and a Street Food Throw Down where over 100 vendors compete to be "The Best of the Best."
Tune up your best "Yeehaw!" and travel to the picturesque mountain town of Payson, Arizona, for the World's Oldest Continuous Rodeo held for more than 130 years. The three-day event features bull riding, calf roping, a parade, music, and food. The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association sanctions the event and rodeo riders from around the world travel to the August Doin's Rodeo to compete for hefty prizes.
In the temporary communal metropolis of Black Rock City, Nevada, Burning Man brings together about 70,000 free-spirited individuals participating in the creation of experiential art, from impromptu performances to complex light installations to larger-than-life-size sculptures. The weeklong experiment in self-expression ends with the ritual burning of a 40-foot-tall wooden figure (hence the event's name). Burning Man typically starts the last week of August and extends through Labor Day weekend.
This four-day music fest in Chicago's historic Grant Park on the Lake Michigan shore got its start in 1991 as a touring concert of alternative bands. After a few rocky years, the stage went dark. But after landing in the Windy City in 2005, Lollapalooza added a wider variety of styles to its lineup, including techno, hip-hop, and pop, with around 180 performances on multiple stages throughout the park. The August event draws more than 200,000 fans each year.
Monterey Car Week culminates in the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, a dream come true for automobile aficionados. On the 18th fairway of Pebble Beach Golf Links, 200 curated collectible cars compete for recognition in style, technical merit, and historical accuracy categories. Throughout the week leading up to the signature event, classic cars fill the streets of Monterey, Pacific Grove, and Carmel-by-the-Sea, with numerous opportunities to check out the beauties up close.
At Flushing Meadows Park in Queens, New York, August brings the U.S. Dragon Boat Open Championship Race. The headliner event of the two-day festival taking place since 1990 features serious racers competing for prizes in open, mixed, and women's divisions. Invitational races let festival sponsors, charity organizations and nonprofits, seniors, and families in on the fun. Spectators can watch the races for free and enjoy cultural performances, traditional arts and crafts demonstrations, and a global food court.
Dubbed "Saratoga's Midsummer Derby," the Travers Stakes, originating in 1864 in Saratoga Springs, New York, might be summer's most exciting two minutes as 3-year-old thoroughbred horses compete for more than $1 million in prize money. But the fun takes place all week leading up to the race, traditionally held on the last Saturday in August. During the Travers Festival, the quaint town of Saratoga Springs welcomes sports fans with restaurant week deals, live music, racing events, and themed parties.
Time travel back to the Tudor period in England at the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire held at the Mount Hope Estate & Winery near Hershey on weekends from August through October. Elaborately costumed performers and attendees lend the gathering a historical air, while shows, demonstrations, hands-on activities, and savory 16th-century foods let you sample life during the European Renaissance.
Summer and music go together like birds and bees, and outdoor festivals bring out the best in the season. Outside Lands in Golden Gate Park presents San Francisco's superlative character in a three-day mishmash of music, art, and noshing opportunities, with, as you might expect, a gentle social undercurrent propelled by the D.A.V.E. (Discussions About Virtually Everything) series of speakers.
The annual Elvis Week at Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee, celebrates the life and legacy of "the King" with tribute artists competing for the title of Ultimate Elvis; pilgrimage tours to Elvis Presley's birthplace in Tupelo, Mississippi; a Mississippi Delta Blues Tour; an auction of Elvis memorabilia at Graceland; and fittingly, a dance party. Live music performances, talks, meet-and-greets, and good eats round out the schedule of events.
Seafair Weekend Festival
The culminating weekend of Seattle's summerlong Seafair Festival, this event takes place during the first weekend in August at Genesee Park on Lake Washington. A Boeing air show features the Blue Angels, while hydroplane racing, world-class wakeboarders, and BMX bike stunt riders keep things exciting back down on Earth.
Up-and-coming young ballplayers aged 10 to 12 from around the globe travel to Williamsport, Pennsylvania, each August to show off their skills in the Little League Baseball World Series. Regional U.S. teams face off against teams from Asia-Pacific, Australia, Canada, the Caribbean, Europe-Africa, Japan, Latin America, and Mexico regions.
State fairs take place across the U.S. throughout summer and fall, but Iowa's may well deliver the ultimate country experience. For 11 days every August since 1854, the Iowa State Fairgrounds has hosted more than 1 million visitors looking for carnival thrills, 4H action, fried food, and quirky memorabilia. Headliner music performances at the Grandstand over the years have included Sonny and Cher, the Beach Boys, Johnny Cash, and the Oak Ridge Boys.