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33 Best Cool Weather Summer Vacations in the USA: Top Ideas for Cool Summers

January 26, 2022
Glacier National Park, One of the Best Cool Weather Summer Vacations USA

Dreaming of cool summers to escape the scorching heat? There are plenty of amazing destinations throughout the US that offer breezy and refreshing getaways. Here are the best cool weather summer vacations USA, from the West Coast to the East Coast.

You’ll find a wide variety of vacation ideas in this article, from hiking adventures and Northern Lights sightings to vibrant city breaks. We’ve also provided many insider tips for visiting each of these destinations so that you can better prepare for your trip.

You might also be interested in:
🇺🇸 60+ Best Vacation Spots in the US in 2022

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking one of these links, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. You can learn more about this in my disclosure policy.

🇺🇸 The Best Cool Summers in the USA: An Overview

Here are some highlights of the best cool summer vacations in USA. These are just a few of the places in this guide, but they stand out for various reasons.

  • 🌌 The best cool summer vacation in the US for Northern Lights: Fairbanks, Alaska
  • 🎉 The best cool summer vacation in the US for festivals: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • 🦌 The best cool summer vacation in the US for wildlife: Great Smoky Mountains, NC
  • 🥘 The best cool summer vacation in the US for foodies: Portland, Maine
  • 🗿 The best cool summer vacation in the US for history: Plymouth, Massachusetts
Beacon Rock in Columbia River Gorge, Oregon
Columbia River Gorge, Oregon — one of the best cool summer getaways in the US

⛅️ 33 Top Cool Weather Summer Vacations USA

🌊 Cool Places to Visit in Summer — Western US

33. Fairbanks, Alaska

🌡️ Average summer temperature: 50°-71°F | 10°-22°C
💧 Average rainy days in summer: 8

Northern Lights in Fairbanks, Alaska

⛅️ Why vacation here: Far up in Alaska, the city of Fairbanks is immersed in natural beauty, a Fairbanks summer offers Northern Lights views and endless sunlight. Its dramatic landscape and outdoor adventures make it one of the best cold places to visit in summer in USA.

🌌 Gaze at the Northern Lights: Fairbanks is one of the best places to witness the Northern Lights dance across the night sky. The prime viewing season is August 21–April 21. Watch the Aurora Borealis most nights yourself, or take a Northern Lights guided tour

🌞 Bask in endless daylight: Fairbanks is known for its ‘Midnight Sun Season,’ which goes from May 17–July 27. During that time, the sun stays out 24 hours a day. This natural phenomenon keeps Fairbanks energized all hours of the night for hiking, biking, golfing, and socializing.

🔥 Insider Tip: Due to 24/7 daylight from mid-May through July, the Northern Lights won’t be visible. To catch the Aurora, visit no earlier than August. The beginning of September is the perfect time to enjoy both plentiful daylight and the Northern Lights.

🏡 WHERE TO STAY: Sophie Station Suites (⭐️ 8.8) | River’s Edge Resort (⭐️ 8.7)


32. North Cascades National Park, Washington

🌡️ Average summer temperature: 28°-50°F | -2°-10°C
💧 Average rainy days in summer: 8

North Cascades National Park in Washington

⛅️ Why vacation here: Less than 3 hours from Seattle is the vast North Cascades National Park in Washington. This undeveloped park has a dramatic landscape of mountain ranges and glaciers. Its cool, dry summer climate allows for snowless hikes and scenic drives. 

🌿 Go on a scenic hike: North Cascades and its protected wilderness is a hiker’s paradise, and summer is when most high-elevation trails are snow-free. Embark on the 3.7-mile Cascade Pass Trail, which meanders through forests and flowered meadows, ending with dramatic mountain views. 

🚗 Take a winding road trip: The pristine landscape of this park is mostly undeveloped. While its rugged mountains can be explored on foot, why not take in the sights by car? Drive along the 127-mile-long North Cascades Highway; its switchbacks overlooking cascading waterfalls and alpine forests. 

🔥 Insider Tip: Looking for a basecamp for some backcountry exploring? Starting at Lake Chelan in the park, take a plane, boat, or hike to the tiny community of Stehekin. Here you’ll find lodging, food, and supplies. 

🏡 WHERE TO STAY: Sun Mountain Lodge (⭐️ 8.7)


31. Seattle, Washington

🌡️ Average summer temperature: 53°-70°F | 12°-21°C
💧 Average rainy days in summer: 4

Mountains and Buildings in Seattle, Washington

⛅️ Why vacation here: The seaside city of Seattle in the Pacific Northwest offers warm but mild summers that are perfect for enjoying breezy ocean activities, beautiful public parks, and historic open-air markets. You won’t find PNW sunshine like this during any other season! 

🌊 Paddleboard in the ocean: Take advantage of the sunshine and warmth of a Seattle summer while it lasts, and hit the ocean. Paddleboarding on Puget Sound is a local favorite because it requires minimal equipment and the waters of Puget Sound are fairly calm. 

🍅 Shop at a famous market: Pike Place Market is a historic marketplace in the heart of downtown Seattle. This massive farmers market is over a century old and remains one of the largest in the US. You’ll find hundreds of shops, vendors, and restaurants to explore here.

🔥 Insider Tip: Seattle is actually home to the largest fleet of ferries in the US. This makes for plenty of nearby island adventures. Bainbridge Island is one of the most popular ferry excursions and is bursting with waterfront activities, wineries, and family-friendly parks. 

🏡 WHERE TO STAY: Four Seasons Hotel Seattle (⭐️ 9.5) | Hotel Theodore (⭐️ 8.9)


30. Pacific City, Oregon

🌡️ Average summer temperature: 50°-68°F | 10°-20°C
💧 Average rainy days in summer: 5

Cape Kiwanda in Oregon at Sunset

⛅️ Why vacation here: Far up along the northwestern coast of Oregon is the seaside town of Pacific City. This off-the-beaten-path destination is a serene, breezy summer getaway. With a sandy cape and beachfront activities like surfing, Pacific City is one of the best cool summer vacations in US.

🏜 Explore a sandy cape: Cape Kiwanda, just north of Pacific City, is a stunning sandstone headland. With a wide sandy beach and views of Haystack Rock, there are plenty of outdoor activities here. Hike up the Kiwanda ‘Great Dune’ and slide back down on your butt. 

🌊 Surf some waves: Because of the natural breakwater, Pacific City’s beaches offer amazing surfing conditions. So rent or bring your own surfing gear, and ride some waves at Cape Kiwanda or Pacific City Beach. Once you’ve had your fill, grab a beer at Pelican Brewing

🔥 Insider Tip: Even in the summer, the waters of Pacific City are quite cold. For your safety, make sure to wear a wetsuit, booties, gloves, and even a hood. And if you’re looking for the best waves, head out right after a storm. 

🏡 WHERE TO STAY: Surf & Sand Inn (⭐️ 9.0)


29. Cannon Beach, Oregon 

🌡️ Average summer temperature: 52°-66°F | 11°-19°C
💧 Average rainy days in summer: 5

Cannon Beach in Oregon

⛅️ Why vacation here: Cannon Beach is a small coastal city in Oregon. This charming seaside spot has four miles of scenic beachfront and an adorable downtown with a plethora of shopping and dining options. Its stunning oceanic features are best explored during the mild Oregon summertime. 

🐧 Visit a famous sea stack: Haystack Rock is one of Oregon’s most famous landmarks. This 235-foot-tall sea stack off Cannon Beach is rich with marine life. At low tide, you can walk out to it to explore its tidepools. You might even spot some puffins lounging here! 

🌿 Explore a park with ocean views: Ecola State Park overlooks the Oregon coastline, with its capes and rock formations. Follow the Oregon Coast Trail that traces the park, stopping at Indian Beach and the Tillamook Rock Lighthouse for unforgettable panoramic sights. 

🔥 Insider Tip: Beach parking near downtown fills up fast during the summer. Look for parking in bigger lots along Spruce Street, 2nd Street, or Hemlock and Gower. Plan to stay at Cannon Beach for longer than a day trip to avoid a rushed visit. 

🏡 WHERE TO STAY: Schooner’s Cove Inn (⭐️ 9.2) | Hallmark Resort (⭐️ 8.9)


28. Columbia River Gorge, Oregon & Washington 

🌡️ Average summer temperature: 50°-77°F | 10°-25°C
💧 Average rainy days in summer: 2

Columbia River Gorge in Oregon

⛅️ Why vacation here: Spanning over 80 miles of the Columbia River is the Columbia River Gorge. A boundary between Oregon and Washington, this deep river canyon offers dramatic vistas, waterfalls, and cliffs that are perfect for outdoor exploration during the temperate summer months. 

🌊 Windsurf in the gorge: The port town of Hood River, at the heart of the Columbia River Gorge, is dubbed the ‘Windsurfing Capital of the World’. During the summer, wind channels through the deep canyon, creating ideal windsurfing conditions. Beginners: head for “The Hook” cove! 

🌿 Hike to stunning waterfalls: The Gorge is home to 90 waterfalls, including Multnomah Falls, Oregon’s tallest waterfall. You can witness the 620-foot-tall glory of Multnomah Falls from its parking lot. But if you want to work hard for rewarding views, hike to the Multnomah Falls Upper Viewpoint.  

🔥 Insider Tip: If you’ve had your fill of hiking, the town of Hood River in Columbia River Gorge has enjoyable entertainment options. Visit orchards and lavender farms on the Fruit Loop, or get a taste of homemade ice cream at Mike’s Ice Cream

🏡 WHERE TO STAY: Columbia Gorge Hotel & Spa (⭐️ 8.6) | Best Western Plus Inn (⭐️ 8.7)


27. Lake Tahoe, California

🌡️ Average summer temperature: 48°-77°F | 9°-25°C
💧 Average rainy days in summer: 1

Peaceful Lake Tahoe in California

⛅️ Why vacation here: Lake Tahoe is a freshwater lake surrounded by the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Filled with beaches and breathtaking views, Lake Tahoe makes for one of the best cool summers in the US. This peaceful destination is the perfect place to unwind.

🏞 Admire turquoise waters: Emerald Bay is aptly named for its turquoise water, and it’s known for its colorful granite cliffs and gorgeous panoramas. From there, hop on a boat out to Fannette Island to see glaciers and stop by Vikingsholm, a hidden Scandinavian castle.

🧘🏽 Enjoy yoga on a paddleboard: For something unique, relaxing, and exciting all at once, try stand-up paddleboard yoga with Lake Tahoe Yoga. Get to the lake before the crowds arrive and enjoy a reinvigorating morning with new friends. What better way to push your limits?

🔥 Insider Tip: To enjoy Lake Tahoe with fewer crowds in the summer, arrive midweek (on a Wednesday or Thursday) rather than Friday. Lake Tahoe is a popular weekend destination.

🏡 WHERE TO STAY: The Cedar House Sport Hotel (⭐️ 9.3) | Hyatt Residence Club (⭐️ 8.7)


26. San Francisco, California

🌡️ Average summer temperature: 55°-71°F | 13°-22°C
💧 Average rainy days in summer: 0

The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California

⛅️ Why vacation here: Famed for its not-so-gold bridge and relaxing vibes, San Francisco offers endless cultural experiences, delicious food, and gorgeous views. With something to offer any vacationer, SF is one of the best cool weather vacation spots in the summer.

🌉 Bike across the iconic bridge: While there are many ways to admire the famous Golden Gate Bridge, biking across it is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Rent a bike nearby and enjoy the stunning vistas from the bridge. You can bike all the way to charming Sausalito!

🎨 Soak in the culture: The stunning Palace Of Fine Arts has an incredibly photogenic exterior and hosts various theatre shows throughout the year. Museum lovers would love the amazing science exhibitions at the California Academy of Sciences inside the Golden Gate Park.

🔥 Insider Tip: There are endless stunning hidden gems in SF. Don’t miss the vibrant “Greetings from San Francisco” mural in Umbrella Alley, the quiet Transamerica Redwood Park, and the scenic Lands End Labyrinth.

🏡 WHERE TO STAY: The Clancy (⭐️ 8.8) | Staypineapple – Union Square (⭐️ 8.6)


25. San Diego, California

🌡️ Average summer temperature: 66°-75°F | 19°-24°C
💧 Average rainy days in summer: 0

Palm Trees and Buildings By the River in San Diego, California

⛅️ Why vacation here: With a mild summer that never gets too hot, vibrant San Diego offers plenty of entertainment, cultural experiences, and water activities to fill your time. It is hands down one of the best cool places to go in summer for beach-loungers and museum-lovers.

🏝 Meet sea lions: San Diego is home to over 30 beaches with plenty to offer. Children’s Pool and Shell Beach are both great places to spot sea lions and seals. Sunny Jim Cave is another popular sea lion hangout, and it’s also the only West Coast ocean cave accessible by land.

🎨 Tour the museums: Museum-hopping is definitely one of the best things to do in San Diego. There are a whopping 17 museums in Balboa Park, including the Museum of Us, which chronicles the origins of human history; the San Diego Air & Space Museum, which displays spectacular space artifacts, and the San Diego Museum of Art.

🔥 Insider Tip: Enjoy the best breakfast at The Mission – East Village, which offers intriguing dishes and tons of vegetarian & vegan options.

🏡 WHERE TO STAY: Manchester Grand Hyatt (⭐️ 8.7) | InterContinental (⭐️ 8.8)


24. Big Sur, California

🌡️ Average summer temperature: 50°-75°F | 10°-24°C
💧 Average rainy days in summer: 0

Big Sur in California

⛅️ Why vacation here: The coastal area of Big Sur in Central California is home to some of the most dramatic sceneries in the US. This beautiful 100-mile stretch of coast along the Pacific Ocean is filled with iconic lookout points, campgrounds, and notable historical landmarks. 

🌊 Enjoy a coastal drive: Big Sur stretches along the stunning Highway 1. Cruising down this road, you’ll come across the unmissable Bixby Bridge, which offers breathtaking ocean views. Be sure to also stop by Point Lobos State Park to spot a blend of green forest landscapes.

🌿 Hike to waterfalls: There are many hikes in the Big Sur area that lead to charming waterfalls. Hit the Pfeiffer Falls Trail, Salmon Creek Trail, and Ragged Point Cliffside Trail to enjoy panoramic views of the coast, dramatic cliffside views, and many majestic waterfalls.

🔥 Insider Tip: Enjoy breathtaking ocean views at Sierra Mar, a unique restaurant with a fixed-price menu. Head there during sunset for even more epic vistas.

🏡 WHERE TO STAY: Alila Ventana Big Sur (⭐️ 9.2) | Big Sur Lodge (⭐️ 8.0)


23. Mount Rainier National Park, Washington

🌡️ Average summer temperature: 32°-48°F | 0°-9°C
💧 Average rainy days in summer: 7

Mountains and Wildflowers in Mount Rainier National Park, Washington - One of the Best Vacation Destinations USA

⛅️ Why vacation here: Mount Rainier National Park surrounds the glacier-capped Mt. Rainier and offers an incredibly scenic getaway for nature lovers. Vacationers can enjoy epic mountain views, wildflower meadows, and unique wildlife during the cool summers there.

🌸 Hike through wildflowers: From mid-July through August, vibrant fields of wildflowers bloom inside Mount Rainier National Park. Skyline Trail, Alta Vista Trail, Naches Loop Trail, and Pinnacle Peak are just a few of the many hikes that offer breathtaking views of these flowers.

🌅 Catch a glorious sunrise: At 6,400 feet, Sunrise Point is the highest visitor center inside the park. From there, you can watch the sun slowly rise and light up beautiful Mount Rainier — an absolutely magical experience, to say the least. You can also spot other nearby volcanoes!

🔥 Insider Tip: Starting around 11 am every day, clouds typically start rolling into the park and will cover its gorgeous peaks. They often stay all day. Get an early start for the best visibility!

🏡 WHERE TO STAY: Paradise Village (⭐️ 8.2) | Little Cabin on Big Creek (⭐️ 9.7)


22. Olympic National Park, Washington

🌡️ Average summer temperature: 41°-59°F | 5°-15°C
💧 Average rainy days in summer: 4

Olympic National Park in Washington

⛅️ Why vacation here: The lush Olympic National Park is definitely one of the best cool weather summer vacations USA. Home to rainforests, beaches, and glacier-capped mountains, this park offers endless outdoor activities to enjoy during its chilly summers.

🦜 Wander through a rainforest: Step into the fairytale that is Hoh Rainforest, one of the last remaining rainforests in the United States. Filled with more shades of green than you can imagine, it is home to the lush Hall of Mosses, an atmospheric forest of moss-covered trees.

🚴‍♂️ Enjoy a scenic bike ride: The Olympic Discovery Trail is a popular destination for bikers. Starting at the seaside town of Port Townsend and winding through the Quimper Peninsula, the path takes riders through beautiful forest landscapes, snowy mountains, and beaches. 

🔥 Insider Tip: The summer months are the busiest time of year at Olympic. Be sure to make reservations for campgrounds such as Kalaloch, Sol Duc, Mora, Hoh, and Log Cabin.

🏡 WHERE TO STAY: Misty Valley Inn (⭐️ 9.4) | Olympic Lodge by Ayres (⭐️ 8.9)


🏞 Cold Places to Visit in Summer — Central US

21. Jackson Hole, Wyoming 

🌡️ Average summer temperature: 39°-78°F | 4°-26°C
💧 Average rainy days in summer: 5

Mountains and a Cabin in Jackson Hole, Wyoming

⛅️ Why vacation here: Surrounded by the Grand Tetons is the valley of Jackson Hole, a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Dominated by the resort town of Jackson, Jackson Hole’s stark landscape and Wild West history make it one of the ultimate cool places to visit in summer.

🏞 Explore dramatic mountains: Jackson is the perfect gateway town to Grand Teton National Park. This stunning park has mountainous alpine terrain, winding rivers, and crystal-clear lakes to explore. For a breathtaking hike, take the 9-mile Cascade Canyon Trail into the base of Cathedral Group.

🐎 Step into the Wild West: Jackson Hole has a rich ‘Wild West’ history that’s both fun and fascinating to uncover. Within the valley, you can take traditional horseback rides, eat a chuckwagon dinner, or take a stagecoach ride. There are even shootout reenactments during the summer!  

🔥 Insider Tip: Are cowboys your jam? Head to Jackson Hole Town Square for an authentic shootout reenactment. It’ll have you on the edge of your seat! The shootouts happen Monday to Saturday at 6 pm, and last from Memorial Day to Labor Day.  

🏡 WHERE TO STAY: Wyoming Inn of Jackson Hole (⭐️ 9.1) | Elk Country Inn (⭐️ 8.5)


20. Ouray, Colorado

🌡️ Average summer temperature: 48°-75°F | 9°-24°C
💧 Average rainy days in summer: 7

Mountains and Trees in Ouray, Colorado, One of the Coolest Summer Weather in USA

⛅️ Why vacation here: Nestled within the heart of the San Juan Mountains is the small town of Ouray, Colorado. This mountain town is the outdoor recreation capital of Colorado. Its summers stay cool, offering the perfect weather for scenic outdoor adventures. 

🛀 Unwind in hot spring pools: The natural hot springs in Ouray bubble up into pools along the Uncompahgre River, their temperatures ranging from 80°F to 150°F. The town has developed the Ouray Hot Springs Pool, so you can swim or wade in these geothermal wonders. 

💦 Explore a waterfall formation: Take a trip to Box Canyon Falls Park to explore the 285-foot Box Canyon Falls. This incredible geological formation cascades from Canyon Creek into a narrow quartzite canyon. Take the easy hike up to the falls, and cross the bridge over its roaring waters. 

🔥 Insider Tip: Looking for a whimsical departure from outdoor adventures? Head to the Ouray Alchemist Museum, where you’ll find a collection of preserved pharmaceuticals used in the Wild West. This frontier pharmacy is quirky, fascinating, and historically informative.

🏡 WHERE TO STAY: Hot Springs Inn (⭐️ 9.1) | Abram Inn & Suites (⭐️ 9.0)

Read more: 35+ Best Hidden Vacation Spots in the USA

19. Aspen, Colorado 

🌡️ Average summer temperature: 46°-75°F | 8°-24°C
💧 Average rainy days in summer: 7

The Maroon Bells Peaks in Aspen, Colorado

⛅️ Why vacation here: Situated in the Colorado Rocky Mountains is the alpine town of Aspen, one of the top US ski resorts in the winter. This makes its more laidback summer season the best time to avoid crowds. Summertime festivals and activities shine a new light on Aspen. 

🏞 Find a snowless adventure: While Aspen is esteemed for its skiing, the summer offers different adventures. Wander through the downtown Aspen Farmers Market. Then, head for the mountains and hike the iconic Maroon Bells peaks. Or, go on a white water rafting trip in the Fork River.

🎸 Attend a fun festival: Summer is festival season in Aspen. There’s a wide variety of festivals for any interest. Music fans will have a blast at Jazz Aspen Snowmass in June. And for wine tastings, cooking demonstrations, and mouth-watering food, don’t miss the Food and Wine Classic.

🔥 Insider Tip: A slice of tranquility amidst the adventures of Aspen can be found at the John Denver Sanctuary. This lush outdoor retreat was designed in honor of singer John Denver. Picnic or mediate among the grass, blooming flowers, and engraved boulders.  

🏡 WHERE TO STAY: The Little Nell (⭐️ 9.8) | Viceroy Snowmass (⭐️ 9.2)


18. Glacier National Park, Montana 

🌡️ Average summer temperature: 42°-71°F | 6°-22°C
💧 Average rainy days in summer: 5

Glacier National Park in Montana

⛅️ Why vacation here: Spanning 1,500 acres across the Rocky Mountains is Glacier National Park. It’s home to an extensive network of hiking trails, alpine meadows, and pristine lakes. Visit its diverse landscape in the summertime to take scenic drives and explore picturesque nature on foot. 

🚣‍♀️ Enjoy the lake life: Glacier National Park was formed by glaciers, which created various bodies of water. There are 700 lakes alone in Glacier, including the pristine Lake McDonald and Avalanche Lake. You can kayak, fly fish, or admire the mountains reflecting in the crystal water. 

🚗 Take a scenic drive: The best opportunity for breathtaking park views without having to hike is by driving along the Going-to-the-Sun Road. This winding, 50-mile-long route takes you around dramatic switchbacks to high elevations. Its vistas are guaranteed to take your breath away.  

🔥 Insider Tip: Going-to-the-Sun Road has certain vehicle restrictions. It only allows vehicles 21 feet or less in length and 10 feet or less in height, so RVs and large vans likely can’t access this drive.

🏡 WHERE TO STAY: Glacier Outdoor Center (⭐️ 9.2)


17. Gooseberry Falls State Park, Minnesota 

🌡️ Average summer temperature: 50°-75°F | 10°-24°C
💧 Average rainy days in summer: 7

Gooseberry Falls State Park in Minnesota, One of the Cool Places to Go in Summer

⛅️ Why vacation here: Gooseberry Falls State Park is located on the north shore of Lake Superior in Minnesota. This park is an exciting outdoor destination with lush forests and flowing rivers, prime lake access, and excellent hiking trails. Every type of nature lover will enjoy a Gooseberry Falls summer vacation.  

🏞 Lounge by a Great Lake: Gooseberry Falls State Park has direct access to the North Shore of Lake Superior. The scenery and lakeshore activities here are abundant. Bring a packed lunch and hang out at Picnic Flow, lounge around Agate Beach, or wade in Gooseberry River. 

💦 Experience the mighty falls: A summer at Gooseberry isn’t complete without visiting the three Gooseberry Falls that cascade right beneath Minnesota Highway 61. Upper Gooseberry Falls is a short hike from the visitors’ center, and the Middle and Lower Falls are seen further along the loop. 

🔥 Insider Tip: If you want to access the lakeshore or Picnic Flow areas of the park, you will need to purchase a car permit. Tickets are $35 a car for all-year access.  

🏡 WHERE TO STAY: Grand Superior Lodge (⭐️ 8.7) | Country Inn Two Harbors (⭐️ 8.7)


16. Upper Peninsula, Michigan 

🌡️ Average summer temperature: 55°-69°F | 13°-21°C
💧 Average rainy days in summer: 7

Mackinac Island in Upper Peninsula, Michigan

⛅️ Why vacation here: The Upper Peninsula region of Michigan borders three Great Lakes: Huron, Michigan, and Superior. This area makes for one of the best cool summer destinations USA thanks to its mild, sunny summers and multitude of lakefront activities.  

🏜 See colorful cliff formations: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Munising is a picturesque area of Lake Superior. Its multicolored sandstone cliffs, waterfalls, and lush forests mesmerize nearly a million yearly visitors. Breathtaking spots include Miners Castle, Pictured Rocks Cliffs, and Twelvemile Beach. 

🏝 Relax on a sunny island: A hidden Upper Peninsula gem is Mackinac Island, a cozy town with 16 hours of daily summer sunlight. This island is four square miles of charm and entertainment. Mackinac is car-free, making it ideal for strolls, bike rides, and horse-drawn carriages. 

🔥 Insider Tip: If you’re an adrenaline junkie, head to Presque Isle Park in Marquette. Black Rocks is a favorite local spot for cliff jumping into Lake Superior below. The cliffs rise about 30 feet above the cold waters. Exercise caution when cliff jumping. 

🏡 WHERE TO STAY: Staybridge Suites Marquette (⭐️ 9.0) | Superior Stay Hotel (⭐️ 9.0)


15. Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas 

🌡️ Average summer temperature: 57°-73°F | 14°-23°C
💧 Average rainy days in summer: 12

Guadalupe Mountains National Park in Texas, One of the Cold Places to Visit in Summer

⛅️ Why vacation here: Found in the vast Chihuahuan Desert of western Texas is Guadalupe Mountains National Park. Known for its white sand dunes and fossil reef mountains, Guadalupe Mountains is a great place to hike and explore unique, ancient desert landscapes in the mild summer. 

🏜 Take a desert day hike: The Guadalupe Mountains offer extensive hiking trails that reach elevations of 8,000 feet. For the highest point in Texas, hike to Guadalupe Peak. If you want a challenging hike featuring prairies and wildflowers, try the 3.6-mile Devil’s Hall Trail. 

🗿 Uncover an ancient landscape: Guadalupe Mountains NP is home to the world’s most extensive Permian fossil reef. You can get up close to these impressive preserved reefs by hiking the 3.2-mile Permian Reef Trail in the McKittrick Canyon. Interpretive signs will describe these ancient geological formations. 

🔥 Insider Tip: Summer temperatures in Guadalupe Mountains NP are milder than much of Texas. But keep in mind, it is still a dry desert climate, so frequent hydration is important. Drink around one liter of water for every two hours of hiking. 

🏡 WHERE TO STAY: The Plaza Hotel Pioneer Park (⭐️ 8.8) | Home2 Suites By Hilton (⭐️ 8.8)


14. Milwaukee, Wisconsin 

🌡️ Average summer temperature: 62°-73°F | 17°-23°C
💧 Average rainy days in summer: 8

The Cityscape of Milwaukee in Wisconsin

⛅️ Why vacation here: Sitting on Lake Michigan’s west shore is the city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Home to the country’s largest music festival and a thriving beer scene, Milwaukee offers one of the most entertaining cool weather summer vacations USA.  

🎉 Dance at a massive music festival: One of the best things to do in Milwaukee is attending Summerfest, the largest music festival in the US. The festival goes for 11 days in June and July, and hosts over 800 acts. For just $20, you’ll have full-day access to famous musicians.

🍺 Relax in a beer garden: Milwaukee has long, harsh winters, so in the summer the city comes alive. Its thriving beer scene is a source of Milwaukee pride. Join crowds of happy people sipping craft brews in seasonal beer gardens like South Shore Terrace and Estabrook

🔥 Insider Tip: Milwaukee isn’t just known for Summerfest. There are many fun festivals of all kinds during the summer months. Pridefest, Polish Fest, and the Wisconsin State Fair are great options, each with its own unique energy. 

🏡 WHERE TO STAY: Kimpton Journeyman Hotel (⭐️ 8.8) | Hyatt Place Downtown (⭐️ 8.7)


13. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

🌡️ Average summer temperature: 35°-69°F | 2°-21°C
💧 Average rainy days in summer: 7

Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming

⛅️ Why vacation here: Home to spectacular geological hotspots and wildlife, Yellowstone National Park is one of the top cool weather vacation spots in the summer. A trip to this outdoor paradise will dazzle you with unique landscapes, such as dramatic canyons and gushing geysers.

⛲️ Catch a water show: The famed geysers at Yellowstone are a sight to see. While there are several water features in the park, check out the Old Faithful for the best chance of seeing a geyser erupt. The eruption happens around 20 times a day and can reach as high as 180 feet!

🦌 Spot majestic wildlife: Yellowstone is home to 300 species of birds, countless bison, and many of the biggest land animals in the US. Head to Mount Washburn to watch bighorn sheep scale a mountain, and the calmer Lamar Valley to observe grazing moose and bison.

🔥 Insider Tip: There are bears roaming all over Yellowstone. While the chances of encountering one are very low, be sure to bring a bear bell or bear spray if you plan to hike off-the-beaten-path.

🏡 WHERE TO STAY: Wyoming Inn of Jackson Hole (⭐️ 9.1) | Elk Country Inn (⭐️ 8.5)


🌿 Cool Places to Go in Summer — Eastern US

12. Great Smoky Mountains, North Carolina

🌡️ Average summer temperature: 53°-69°F | 12°-21°C
💧 Average rainy days in summer: 12

An Elk in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

⛅️ Why vacation here: The Great Smoky Mountains is a stunning mountain range that boasts various gorgeous hiking trails, breathtaking vistas, and an abundance of wildlife to spot. It offers refreshing cold weather in summer and is perfect for outdoor relaxation.

🦌 Spot diverse wildlife: There’s wildlife at every corner of the Great Smoky Mountains. In the early mornings and late evenings, you might spot black bears or elk. In the early afternoon, a flock of wild turkeys might cross your path and a white-tailed deer might be grazing near you.

Witness a firefly festival: One of the most unique things to enjoy in the Elkmont area of the park is the annual firefly viewing in the spring and summer. Book a tour with Cataloochee Valley to watch hundreds of fireflies light up the night skies, or apply for a lottery ticket to view it from the Sugarlands Visitor Center. Either way, act fast because this is a popular event!

🔥 Insider Tip: There are many uncrowded hidden gems inside this park. Two of the best ones are the Rainbow Falls Cave via the Schoolhouse Gap Trail and the House of the Fairies just off the Twin Creeks Trail.

🏡 WHERE TO STAY: Bearskin Lodge on the River (⭐️ 9.1) | River Edge Inn (⭐️ 8.4)


11. Rangeley, Maine

🌡️ Average summer temperature: 51°-73°F | 11°-23°C
💧 Average rainy days in summer: 9

Nature in Rangeley, Maine

⛅️ Why vacation here: Nestled in the Western Maine Mountains is the small town of Rangeley. This lake resort area comes alive during the temperate Maine summertime. From mountains and clear lakes to swimming holes, Rangeley makes for a scenic cool summer vacation spot. 

🚤 Take a lake cruise: The crystal-clear Rangeley Lake is at the heart of Rangeley. While you can swim, fish for salmon, or kayak on the water, there’s another way to enjoy Rangeley Lake. Take a scenic cruise to witness an incredible sunset and spot loons or bald eagles. 

🏛 Explore an outdoor museum: Outdoor enthusiasts will want to put the Outdoor Heritage Museum on their radar. This interactive museum displays the natural history and artifacts exhibits that highlight the long history of Rangeley and the region’s Native American tribes.  

🔥 Insider Tip: Looking to cool off from the summer heat? Head for Small Falls on the Sandy River. This multi-tiered waterfall is surrounded by a colorful gorge and cascades down into a clear, circular pool for swimming and wading. 

🏡 WHERE TO STAY: Rangeley Saddleback Inn (⭐️ 8.3) | Rangeley Town & Lake (⭐️ 8.3)


10. Wells, Maine 

🌡️ Average summer temperature: 55°-73°F | 13°-23°C
💧 Average rainy days in summer: 8

The Port of Wells in Maine, One of the Cool Places to Visit in Summer

⛅️ Why vacation here: Known as the ‘Friendliest Town in Maine’, Wells is a seaside village along the Atlantic Coast. This charming beachfront destination maintains mild, breezy temperatures all summer long, making for epic beach and harbor activities without the stifling heat.  

⛵️ Have harborside fun: Wells Harbor is the bustling heart of Wells. Yachts and lobster fishermen sail in and out, while its calm Webhannet River is great for paddleboarding and kayaking. Head to Wells Harbor Park to catch a live concert or festival, like Harborfest.  

🏖 Play on a sandy beach: Wells is blessed with four miles of sandy coastline to enjoy. The Atlantic remains cold year-round, but visitors still love to catch a wave or jump in at Wells Beach. If getting wet isn’t for you, toss a frisbee or bask in the sun. 

🔥 Insider Tip: What summer vacation to Maine is complete without eating some lobster? Many lobster shacks are only open for the summer season. Give Maine Diner or Mike’s Clam Shack a try for the freshest seafood around.  

🏡 WHERE TO STAY: Haven By The Sea B&B (⭐️ 9.3) | Hampton Wells-Ogunquit (⭐️ 9.0)


9. Portland, Maine 

🌡️ Average summer temperature: 59°-73°F | 15°-23°C
💧 Average rainy days in summer: 13

A Lighthouse in Portland, Maine, Somewhere to Travel East Coast USA

⛅️ Why vacation here: Perched on a peninsula extending into Casco Bay is Portland. This historic port city enjoys cool summers with salty ocean breezes, making it one of the most enjoyable cold places to visit in summer. Its world-class dining and coastal adventures are unforgettable. 

🦞 Dine on an oceanside terrace: Portland has become a top US foodie destination. Award-winning restaurants like Fore Street and Eventide Oyster Co. have magical outdoor dining terraces in the summer. Sit in Old Port’s cobblestoned streets by the ocean while you eat fresh seafood. 

🌊 Get close to the ocean: There are many ways to experience the ocean from Portland. Lounge around the Eastern Promenade for panoramic views, or shop on Commercial Street along the port. To get out on the water, take the Casco Bay Lines to the Casco Bay Islands. 

🔥 Insider Tip: Overwhelmed by the crazy number of restaurants packed into Portland? Let experts guide you by taking a city food tour. The Old Port Culinary Walking Tour (⭐️ 4.7/5) is an exciting combo of history, food, booze, and strolling.     

🏡 WHERE TO STAY: Portland Harbor Hotel (⭐️ 8.8) | Inn at St John Portland (⭐️ 8.7)

Read more: 40+ Best East Coast Vacation Spots in the USA

8. Acadia National Park, Maine 

🌡️ Average summer temperature: 53°-75°F | 12°-24°C
💧 Average rainy days in summer: 7

A Lighthouse in Acadia National Park in Maine

⛅️ Why vacation here: Spread out along the Atlantic Coast is Acadia National Park. This beautiful park offers a unique blend of remote wilderness and charming seaside towns. The craggy beaches and woodland trails are best explored during Acadia’s temperate summers.  

🌿 Hike a serene trail: The trails around Acadia National Park cover a biodiverse landscape. From wooded ponds and rocky beaches to cliffside vistas, you’ll get to see everything that makes the park special. Walk or bike the Carriage Roads, or hike the forested Jordan Pond Loop Trail. 

🌊 Relax in a seaside town: The town of Bar Harbor is considered the soul of Acadia National Park. This gateway village has a bustling downtown beside the harbor where you can shop at boutiques, browse galleries, or dine on fresh seafood. 

🔥 Insider Tip: Sucker for sunrises or sunsets? There’s no better spot in the park than atop Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the East Coast. Take a drive to the summit for quick and easy access.  

🏡 WHERE TO STAY: The Elmhurst Inn (⭐️ 9.5) | Acadia Hotel – Downtown (⭐️ 8.8)


7. Block Island, Rhode Island 

🌡️ Average summer temperature: 60°-73°F | 16°-23°C
💧 Average rainy days in summer: 5

Block Island in Rhode Island, One of the Cool Weather Vacations in Summer

⛅️ Why vacation here: Not far south of mainland Rhode Island is Block Island. This island is lined with sandy beaches and coastal wonders that are fun to explore during its cool summers. Block Island is scenic, with a laidback energy that makes for a memorable summer escape. 

🌊 Stand atop dramatic bluffs: The clay cliffs of Block Island are rare coastal gems to admire. Climb the stairs to the top of Mohegan Bluffs, and take in the panoramic ocean vistas. The secluded, untouched sandy beaches here are perfect spots for swimming and surfing. 

🗼 Visit a historic lighthouse: A vacation to New England wouldn’t be complete without some lighthouses. Block Island’s two iconic lighthouses were built in the 1800s to guide mariners through the Sound. Take a drive or hike to see North Lighthouse and Southeast Lighthouse for yourself! 

🔥 Insider Tip: If you want to do a little souvenir shopping, head to Water Street, which runs along Old Harbor. You’ll find adorable shops there, as well as interesting spots like Ballard’s Beach Resort and a moped rental company. 

🏡 WHERE TO STAY: Block Island Beach House (⭐️ 8.8) | The Sullivan House (⭐️ 8.8)


6. Newport, Rhode Island 

🌡️ Average summer temperature: 60°-77°F | 16°-25°C
💧 Average rainy days in summer: 6

A Lighthouse in Newport, Rhode Island

⛅️ Why vacation here: Set on Rhode Island’s Aquidneck Island is the coastal city of Newport. This resort town is a cool, relaxing destination to explore in the summertime. Its rich Gilded Age history and sailboat-filled marinas make for a scenic and luxurious vacation. 

🌊 Soak up ocean views: Newport has panoramic ocean views that go on for miles. The best way to capture it is to take a stroll along the Cliff Walk. This 3.5-mile cliffside trail features tranquil picnic spots, benches, and access points to other interesting Newport experiences. 

🏡 Tour lavish mansions: The most famous Newport features are its Gilded Age mansions found across the city. These lavish summer cottages built for the rich and famous are open to the public for tours. Head to Bellevue Avenue to explore the iconic Breakers and Marble House.

🔥 Insider Tip: If you plan to walk the entirety of the Cliff Walk, wear layers, sturdy shoes, and sunblock. Utilize the public restroom found a mile into the walk — it’s the only one directly along the route.

🏡 WHERE TO STAY: Hydrangea House Inn (⭐️ 9.3) | Bouchard Restaurant & Inn (⭐️ 9.0)


5. Portsmouth, New Hampshire 

🌡️ Average summer temperature: 60°-77°F | 16°-25°C
💧 Average rainy days in summer: 7

A House by the River in Portsmouth, New Hampshire

⛅️ Why vacation here: Found along the Atlantic Coast of New Hampshire is the seaside city of Portsmouth. Due to its proximity to the ocean, this quaint New England town enjoys mild summers. Its historic downtown lined with shops and restaurants makes for a vibrant cool summer vacation getaway. 

🌳 Capture New England charm: Portsmouth is the definition of New England charm. Its serene seaside parks, cobblestone streets, and locally-owned shops are picture-perfect. Stroll around Market Square with an Italian pastry, peek into boutiques and galleries, or eat seafood on a restaurant deck overlooking the sea. 

🗿 Learn about American history: Portsmouth played a role in the early European colonization of the US, which still echoes in its stunning colonial architecture across the city. You can also visit Strawbery Banke, an outdoor history museum with 300-year-old buildings once occupied by settlers. 

🔥 Insider Tip: During the summer, Prescott Park hosts the Prescott Park Arts Festival. An eclectic group of events and musicians are staged here, often free of admission. Catch a live concert as the sun sets behind the ocean — it’s magical.    

🏡 WHERE TO STAY: Residence Inn by Marriott (⭐️ 8.9) | Ale House Inn (⭐️ 8.7)


4. White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire 

🌡️ Average summer temperature: 53°-62°F | 12°-17°C
💧 Average rainy days in summer: 8

Fall Foliage in White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

⛅️ Why vacation here: Far up in New Hampshire is the expansive White Mountain National Forest. This mountainous region with alpine peaks is packed with dense hardwood forests, clear lakes, and charming villages. It is a fantastic cool-summer destination.

Stay in a mountain village: There are some special towns nestled in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Quaint villages like Sugar Hill enjoy blooming fields of lupines in the summer, while North Conway is home to ziplining tours and Alpine Slide adventures.  

🌿 Explore the alpines: The White Mountains are filled with exciting activities like hikes and sweeping summit views. Ride the Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway to feel like you’re flying, hike the famous Artists Bluff Loop, or drive to the summit of Mount Washington. 

🔥 Insider Tip: Don’t want to take the difficult hike or the foreboding drive up to Mount Washington? Ride the historic Mt Washington Cog Railway. This steam train will chug its way up to the summit.  

🏡 WHERE TO STAY: Christmas Farm Inn & Spa (⭐️ 9.0) | White Mountain Resort (⭐️ 8.8)


3. Lake Champlain, Vermont 

🌡️ Average summer temperature: 59°-77°F | 15°-25°C
💧 Average rainy days in summer: 9

Lake Champlain in Vermont, One of the Cooler Summer Vacations

⛅️ Why vacation here: Nestled between Quebec, Vermont, and New York is the freshwater Lake Champlain. Surrounded by the NY Adirondacks to its left and the VT Green Mountains to its right, a summer at Lake Champlain offers fun recreational opportunities in every direction. 

🏞 Take a lakeside stroll: For a wide-open lakefront park with plenty of outdoor activities, head to Point Au Roche State Park in New York. Its open-forest walking trails and sandy beaches along Lake Champlain will have you exploring for hours. 

🌳 Discover Burlington: Situated on the eastern shore of Lake Champlain is the picturesque town of Burlington, VT. Locals love getting active at Waterfront Park and Burlington Bike Path. If you want to venture away from the lake, browse the eclectic shops of Church Street Marketplace. 

🔥 Insider Tip: Burlington has its own folklore: Champ the Lake Monster. Sightings of this Loch Ness-looking monster in Lake Champlain date as far back as the 1800s, and since then there have been over 300 sighting claims. Can you spot Champ?  

🏡 WHERE TO STAY: Hotel Vermont Burlington (⭐️ 9.1) | DoubleTree by Hilton (⭐️ 8.0)


2. The Berkshires, Massachusetts 

🌡️ Average summer temperature: 53°-77°F | 12°-25°C
💧 Average rainy days in summer: 8

A Waterfall in the Berkshires in Massachusetts, One of the Best Cool Summers in the US

⛅️ Why vacation here: The Berkshires are a rural collection of towns nestled in the mountains of western Massachusetts. This nature retreat, with its farm-to-table food and thriving arts scene, is a serene yet active destination to escape the summer heat.

🌿 Get out in nature: While the Berkshires are beautiful in all seasons, summertime is perfect for outdoor exploration. Take a hike in the mountains or do a rail-trail bike ride. Climb to the summit of Mount Greylock or get close to the roaring waterfalls of Bash Bish Falls State Park.  

🎷 Enjoy down-to-earth culture: The Berkshires feel like a home away from home. These towns enjoy a fresh farm-to-table food scene along with a unique arts scene. Experience the immense talent of this artists’ colony at Tanglewood, Jacob’s Pillow Festival, or a Berkshires Jazz concert. 

🔥 Insider Tip: Local farms dot the rolling hills of the Berkshires. Explore the grounds of Ioka Valley Farm to meet adorable farm animals and purchase pure maple syrup, natural beef, or fresh produce.   

🏡 WHERE TO STAY: The Cornell Inn (⭐️ 9.3) | The Porches Inn at Mass MoCA (⭐️ 8.8)


1. Plymouth, Massachusetts 

🌡️ Average summer temperature: 59°-78°F | 15°-26°C
💧 Average rainy days in summer: 7

Townhouses in Plymouth, Massachusetts

⛅️ Why vacation here: Just south of Boston sits the coastal town of Plymouth. This quaint town is known for being the site of the first pilgrim settlement in the US. Its rich history and coastal scenery make Plymouth one of the best cool weather summer vacations USA.

🗿 Visit the pilgrims’ landing site: The pilgrims were said to have docked the Mayflower at Plymouth Rock in 1620. Visitors can explore this legendary historical site at the Pilgrim Memorial State Park, where you can witness the rock and its National Monument.  

🌊 Take in coastal wonders: Plymouth isn’t just rich in history; it also has beautiful coastal landscapes. For great hiking and biking, head to Miles Standish State Forest. For tranquil trails along cold-water streams, wander the protected Tidmarsh Wildlife Sanctuary.  

🔥 Insider Tip: Due to Plymouth’s rich US history, the 4th of July is a big town celebration. A large parade moves through Water Street, followed by an open-air patriotic concert and fireworks over the harbor.  

🏡 WHERE TO STAY: Mirbeau Inn & Spa (⭐️ 9.3) | Hilton Garden Inn Plymouth (⭐️ 8.5)


✈️ Planning These Cooler Summer Vacations

The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco

🌸 Cool Weather Vacations in Summer: A Recap

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about these cool summer vacations in US. Whether you’re into history, culture, food, or the outdoors, there are plenty of ways to escape the scorching sun and enjoy cool summers.

If reading about these cold places to visit in summer has made you curious about warmer places in the US, don’t miss out on the many incredible tropical places and white sand beaches that this country has to offer.

A Street and Mountain in Ouray, Colorado

I hope these 33 best cool weather summer vacations USA were inspiring!

For more travel inspiration in the US, discover:
🏝 51 Most Tropical Places in the USA to Vacation in 2022
🏖 24 Prettiest White Sand & Clear Water Beaches in the USA
🇺🇸 60+ Best Vacation Spots in the US in 2021: Top Bucket List Places
🏙 40+ Best East Coast Vacation Spots in the US in 2022
💎 37 Best Hidden Vacation Spots in the US to Visit in 2022
🗽 32 Best Things to Do on the East Coast of the US in 2022
☀️ 31 Best Warm Winter Vacations in the USA in 2022
🎃 40+ Best Warm Places to Visit in October in USA [2022]
🍂 33 Best Warm Places to Visit in November in the USA [2022]
🎆 36 Best Warm Places to Visit in January in USA [2022]

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1 Comment

  • Barbara August 3, 2022 at 7:19 pm

    I have traveled to most of the locations referenced in your January, 2022 post regarding cooler summer destinations. Further, I have lived in several of these locations. One important aspect you omitted in your post is elevation. Aspen (the town of) is at 8,000 feet absl, but if you are in Snowmass Village (close by with accommodations) you could be at 8,700 feet up to 9,000 feet absl. Ouray, Colorado is ~7,800 feet absl. Jackson (the town of) 6,200+ feet absl. Most people do not know what elevation can do to one’s physiology, both short term and long term, day hikes or residential ownership, alcohol or no imbibing. People need to understand this before just heading “up hill.” And this applies to both young and old, particularly if someone has underlying heart and or pulmonary issues. You might wish to mention this locational aspect in your next post.

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