The best summer travel destinations offer great outdoor activities and a break from the everyday. Summer is the peak travel season for most of us. Whether a late summer holiday in the UK, a wild trip to Vegas, or a romantic exploration of Tuscany, the truly best summer vacation is whichever one is right for you. Everyone has their own top places to go. The Vacation Gals asked some of the top travel experts about their favorite places to go in the summer. Their added insight adds a level of personal expertise to their picks.
British Columbia – Jessica Spiegel mans the Italy ship at BootsnAll, but especially recommends British Columbia for non-US summer travel destinations. Much of Canada is often cold for a fun winter vacation, but perfect in the summer weather-wise. Jessica told us, “British Columbia was all over the news leading up to the most recent Olympics, and I think it’s an excellent summer travel destination. The province beefed up its tourist information offices and literature, the roads are in great shape and (in some places) almost entirely empty, and the scenery is breath-taking. I was particularly enchanted by the islands off the northern coast of British Columbia, the Haida Gwaii. There’s a stillness on those islands you can almost taste, some ancient native totems slowly being reclaimed by the earth, and an interesting collection of people who call the islands home. Even if you don’t make it all the way up to Haida Gwaii, however, a drive into the northern reaches of British Columbia is something I’d highly recommend for any summer vacation.”
France – Amie O’Shaughnessy, who owns and operates CiaoBambino, loves France in the summer. From a cosmopolitan romantic trip to Paris, to the countryside charm of Provence and seaside ambiance of Cote d’Azur, it’s easy to daydream about a luxury vacation in France. Amie says, “We have a wonderful new hotel in our France family hotel portfolio, a 500-year-old property called Chateau de Saint Paterne. The family I interviewed about their stay raved about gorgeous grounds, exceptional food, and best of all, hosts that go out of their way to create a kid-friendly atmosphere. Located in the Normandy region, the surrounding area is filled with extraordinary attractions from Mont Saint-Michel to the D-Day Beaches to picturesque rural villages to grand chateaus in the adjacent Loire Valley.”
Ireland – Michelle Duffy knows a thing or two about Ireland, having grown up there. Wandermom considers Ireland a best summer family travel destination, as children are warmly welcomed everywhere (including the famous pubs, but only until 6:00 PM). There are family rates for most activities and accommodations: “For example, on our recent visit to Ireland, we spent a morning at the World Heritage Site at Newgrange in Co. Meath. The entrance fee for a family was 15 Euros “for two adults and a reasonable number of children”. The Celtic Tiger may have turned tail with the recent economic downtown, but the imprint of the boom years is visible in better roads all around the country making it significantly easier to explore the length and breath of the island in one trip. From the Giant’s Causeway in Co. Antrim to the beautiful glens of Wicklow and west to the remoteness of the Aran Islands, you will find Cead Mile Failte (a hundred thousand welcomes) waiting for you and your family in Ireland.”
Italy – Travel editor and writer Mary Jo Manzanares can’t get enough of Italy. She told The Vacation Gals, “Whether you choose to go to historical and fashionable Rome, the mega-fashion city of Milan, the art city of Florence, the ruins of Pompeii, or wander the hill towns, there is so much to experience. The corner cafe offers fantastic pasta, red table wine that is superb, and there’s a gelato stand everywhere you turn. You can have a slow paced rural vacation or experience the fast pace of major city. It’s all there. Except for the ridiculously priced air fares to Europe and the dollar to Euro valuation, it’s perfect!”
Ontario – Kim Mance, host of the popular GoGalavanting travel web series, chooses Ontario for a vacation that’s not in the US, but easy to get to. She says, “One of my favorites is Ontario Cottage Country. It’s drivable from states that border on Canada, or flights to Ottowa or Toronto will put travelers within striking distance. Many reasonably-priced lakeside getaway cottages can be found online nowadays. And it’s a roadtrip Mecca — stop along the way at one of the the blueberry pie stands, then visit local artists while passing through tiny towns that pop up between picturesque farms. Nearby Algonquin National Park also offers great remote canoe trips and wilderness experiences.”
Scotland – Andrew Hayes is a prominent travel writer and industry expert. He wisely points out that there are some excellent travel bargains to be had for the budget summer travel planner, and encourages tourists to get off the beaten track. “Given the economic downturn and ash related mayhem, the UK is going to be ripe for bargain shopping this summer – there were good deals to be had before everyone got stranded, and don’t let the volcano scare you away – there are far worse places to be stuck.” He continues, “Instead of spending your time on the popular choice of Edinburgh, why not rent a car and head into the Scottish Highlands? For those wanting solitude, head for Campbeltown. It’s in Scotland, but in many ways it is as far away from anything else as you can get.”
Spain – Jamie Pearson, publisher of TravelSavvyMom, points out that Andalusia, Spain, is a best destination for summer family travel. She says, “One of my best summer trips ever was a family vacation to Andalusia, Spain. We spent our mornings exploring Seville’s narrow, winding cobbled streets, gawking at the Alhambra, and touring the Bullfighting Museum in Ronda. Then when it became too hot to breathe, we lazed around the pool eating ice cream. Sadly siestas were not in the cards, but we tried. Other highlights included a lazy beach day at Conil (the Atlantic beaches are far better than the Mediterranean), the dancing horses show at the Royal Andalucían School of Equestrian Art in Jerez de la Frontera, and the Mezquita in Cordoba (where we were astonished to find the grave of Christoper Columbus. Yes, that Christopher Columbus). It was a great family trip and you can easily see all the area highlights (and relax a little!) in two weeks.
United States – The Vacation Gals love to travel in our home country. In the US, Orlando and Las Vegas are among the top US summer travel destinations. Orlando likely gets more family travelers, what with Disney World, Universal Studios, and other theme parks all in close vicinity. Las Vegas, on the other hand, mostly appeals to single adults and couples taking a vacation without children. Hopefully, anyway; I’ve seen kids there, mouths hanging open in disbelief at the naughty sights, next to their parents walking the Strip at night, oblivious. New York City, Seattle, and San Diego are also some of the most popular summer travel destinations. This makes sense, as all offer many fun activities for family travel, romantic weekend, girlfriend getaways, and all other sorts of travel.
It’s a wonderful world, with countless wonderful places to go and explore. Whether you prefer to soak up the history and culture of a travel destination, or just soak up the sun, The Vacation Gals hope this year’s summer vacation is the best one yet.