25 Beautiful Summer Vacation Spots If You Hate the Beach

Hot Air Balloons rise over California Wine Country, Temecula, California

Michael Valdez/istockphoto

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Wijnvelden en het kerkje van Orschwiller in de Elzas

Sand-less Summer Getaways

Summer is often associated with sandy beach days and dips in the ocean, but what if the beach just doesn’t do it for you? Unpack your swimsuits and put away your boogie boards: There are more than enough stunning destinations away from crowded stretches of sand, places where national parks are the star or where wine country is prioritized over waves. Here are a couple dozen summer vacation spots to visit if you hate the beach, from small New England towns with a historic slant to West Coast getaways with unforgettable hiking trails. 

Related: Where to Go for a Budget-Friendly Summer Vacation in All 50 States

Zipline adventure, Chiang mai, Thailand
Wattanapong plymat/istockphoto

Asheville, North Carolina

Located in western North Carolina, Asheville is far from the state’s famous beaches. The draw here? A vibrant arts scene, breweries galore, and the stunning expanse of the Blue Ridge Mountains, which serve as the focal point for plenty of outdoor activities. Summer vacationers can take advantage of the mountain’s hiking trails, waterfalls, fishing spots, and scenic drives, or explore downtown Asheville’s beer and culinary scene at places like Nani’s Piri Piri Chicken and Whistle Hop Brewing Co. If you’re looking for something thrilling to do, take a zip-line ride with Navitat Canopy Adventures, which offers routes as long as nearly three-quarters of a mile.

Related: 26 Summer Tourist Spots to Avoid — and Where to Go Instead

two cyclists ride bikes on bicycle path in city park at spring day. aerial photography with drone.

Burlington, Vermont

Though Burlington sits on the eastern shore of Lake Champlain, you don’t have to soak in the sun on a sandy beach. Instead, rent a bike and explore the Burlington Greenway Bike Path, which boasts 8 miles of trails along a glistening shore. Kids and adults alike will find plenty to fawn over at the ECHO, where visitors will find exhibits like “Giants, Dragons, & Unicorns: The World of Mythic Creatures.” Fancy some shopping? The Church Street Marketplace is an open-air shopping center, where visitors can pop into boutiques, grab a cup of coffee, and keep cool with some local ice cream.

Related: 20 Things You Never Knew About New England

White charter boat passing in front of a sandy shoreline

Bluffton, South Carolina

South Carolina in the summer? Okay, hear us out: Sure, it’s hot, but the town of Bluffton is postcard-worthy, and offers a slew of summer activities for the whole family. Take a fishing charter or an eco-tour along the May River, which weaves through Bluffton’s Old Town area, or explore Old Town by foot, taking in the antique shops, cafes, and historic homes. The Heyward House, a museum and visitor center, is an 1840 home suspended in time, and a project of the Save America's Treasures Program. 

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Grinnell Glacier Trail

Whitefish, Montana

Whitefish is a resort town that attracts plenty of snowbirds in the winter, but summer is just as enticing. Located at the edge of Glacier National Park, Whitefish offers breathtaking hiking opportunities at the nearby park, with attractions like Going-to-the-Sun Mountain and the Logan Pass. At Whitefish Mountain Resort, which stays open throughout the summer, there are opportunities to go on a zip-line tour, explore an aerial adventure park, and sled down the alpine slides. Meanwhile, the town itself is home to fantastic brewpubs, distilleries, and restaurants, making it easy to eat and drink your way through this picturesque Montana destination.

Hot Air Balloons rise over California Wine Country, Temecula, California
Michael Valdez/istockphoto

Napa, California

It may feel like you’ve landed in Tuscany, but California’s Napa Valley is squarely stateside. Summer is a beautiful time to visit, when the vineyards are lush and patio tastings can take up a whole afternoon. In addition to vineyard-hopping at picturesque wineries like Louis M. Martini Winery and Pine Ridge Vineyards, vacation-goers can opt for a hot air balloon ride that takes them over rolling hillsides. At night, stroll along Napa’s Riverfront, where you’ll find exceptional restaurants, shops, and, yes, plenty of fantastic wine. 

Related: Drinking Pilgrimages You Need to Make

Whale Breach in Front of Breathtaking Mountains at Glacier Bay

Sitka, Alaska

Summer is an incredible time to visit Alaska, and Sitka is one of its most beautiful destinations. Visitors can soak in the mountain vistas surrounding the harborside town, take a trip to the Tongass National Forest, and get to know the city’s Russian heritage with visits to St. Michael’s Cathedral and the Russian Bishop’s House. If you’re musically minded, Sitka hosts the Sitka Music Festival every summer, with dozens of concerts and events spread out over a few weeks. And, of course, you can go whale watching — summer is the best time to do it, and the Sitka Sound is full of gray whales, minke whales, and orcas.

Related: World's Most Beautiful Glaciers to See Before They're Gone

Adventurous Man Sea Kayaking in the Pacific Ocean.

Eureka Springs, Arkansas

You won’t find beaches in Eureka Springs, a picturesque Arkansas town located in the Ozark Mountains, but you will find plenty of other outdoor adventures to tackle. Eureka Springs is bordered by three lakes and two springs, where visitors can enjoy kayaking, fishing, swimming, and paddleboarding. But if activities on dry land are more of your thing, check out the city’s Sacred Arts Center, zip-line tours, and the multiple shops and galleries that line Eureka Springs’ historic streets, many of them still home to the Victorian buildings that give the town its unique look.

Related: Small Towns Known for Being LGBTQ-Friendly

Portland, Maine Skyline

Portland, Maine

Sure, there are beaches near Portland, Maine, but it’s not the focus of this beautiful New England city. Food lovers flock here to load up on fresh shellfish and other local seafood at award-winning restaurants like Fore Street and Eventide Oyster Co., or to enjoy a vibrant nightlife scene that’s home to bars like Jewel Box and the Portland Hunt + Alpine Club. A quick 15-minute ferry ride transports visitors over to Peaks Island, or pop into the Portland Museum of Art, said to be the oldest public art institution in the U.S. 

Related: These Acadia National Park Vacation Rentals Get 5-Star Reviews from Renters

fly fishin’ on the mighty yellowstone river
samuel howell/istockphoto

Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Jackson Hole is an outdoor adventurist’s dream — and while there are beautiful lakes to swim in, you can certainly avoid a traditional beach vacation while visiting this Wyoming city. The Grand Tetons are a stunning nearby mountain range that makes for great hiking in the summer, while the Teton Pass trails are ideal for mountain biking. Gondolas and aerial trams are offered to those who still want views without strenuous hiking, and paragliding, fly fishing, and golfing round out outdoor activities. Looking for a taste of the Wild West? Attend a chuckwagon dinner at Spring Creek Ranch, or visit the Jackson Hole Rodeo for some wholesome fun.

Downtown Leavenworth

Leavenworth, Washington

A summer vacation to Leavenworth is like taking a trip to Germany. The Washington town, located on the eastern side of the Cascade Mountains, is steeped in Bavarian culture, from the architecture to the food to the festivals. Restaurants and wine-tasting rooms dot the quaint town, while a number of leafy parks can be found within walking distance. For some outdoor adventure located just outside of Leavenworth, hit the Icicle Gorge Trail, or take a horseback ride through the Wenatchee National Forest

Related: Where to 'Travel Abroad' Without Leaving the Country

Historic Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Portsmouth, New Hampshire

History buffs will find plenty to do in Portsmouth, the third-oldest city in America. Though there aren’t any beaches near the city itself, there are plenty of harborside strolls to take, and summer’s annual Prescott Park Arts Festival takes place right on the water. Visitors can get a glimpse into Portsmouth’s colonial past at the Strawbery Banke Museum, or learn about the city’s African-American history with a self-guided tour along the Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire. Into ships? Make like a pirate and climb aboard one of Porstmouth’s tall ships during August’s Sail Portsmouth Festival.

Related: Historic American Towns Where You'll Travel Back in Time

Little Lighthouse

Saugatuck, Michigan

Saugatuck’s beaches draw Chicagoans in during the summer, but that’s not all there is to do in this beautiful Michigan town on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan. Art lovers can peruse artwork in local galleries, while oenophiles can sample wine along the Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail — or the two can meet at Petter Wine Gallery Shop. Snap a photo at the Kalamazoo Lighthouse, which was first established in 1837; go fishing in Kalamazoo Lake; or get a workout in by climbing to the peak of Mount Baldhead, where you can take in Saugatuck’s beautiful scenery.

Harpers Ferry, West Virginia

Harpers Ferry, West Virginia

Sitting at the intersection of West Virginia, Virginia, and Maryland, Harpers Ferry is a scenic destination near Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. Inside the park, visitors can discover museums dedicated to the history of this famed town, walk to The Point and take in views of where the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers meet, or explore 20 miles of hiking trails. The Appalachian Trail runs through town, making it easy to hop on and off depending on how far you’d like to hike, but there’s plenty to see downtown, too, including shops, art galleries, restaurants, and bars. 

Related: Quaint Towns to Visit Along the Appalachian Trail

Llama trekking in Weminuche Wilderness, San Juan Mountains

Idaho Falls, Idaho

True to its name, Idaho Falls is home to a famous 600-foot waterfall along the Idaho Falls Greenbelt. It’s a stunning attraction to explore in the summer, and can be reached via a paved trail that passes by gardens, restaurants, shops, and a disc golf course. For a more out-of-the-box experience, sign up for an adventure with Wilderness Ridge Trail Llamas, which offers tours on the back of a pack llama, specifically bred to carry people and heavy payloads. If llamas aren’t your thing, book a ride on the Snake River Ferry, a boat tour that runs near downtown Idaho Falls.

Lake Placid, New York

Lake Placid, New York

Summer is the prime time to be in Lake Placid, a postcard-worthy town located in New York’s Adirondack Mountains. Outdoor enthusiasts will find plenty of opportunities to hike, bike, and golf, and lakes and ponds provide the perfect place to swim, paddleboard, and kayak. As the host of two winter Olympics (1932 and 1980), Lake Placid offers up its former Olympic sites for exploration: Mount Van Hoevenberg, the country's longest mountain coaster; the Olympic Jumping Complex, where a zip line offers a thrilling ride; and the Olympic Museum downtown, which details the town’s storied Olympic history.

Sun set time on Oak Street , Magnolia Springs , Alabama USA

Magnolia Springs, Alabama

To truly escape the crowds, head to Magnolia Springs, a beautiful Alabama town with a population of just over 1,000. (You know it’s a close-knit community when it’s the only town in the country with a U.S. Postal Service water delivery route.) Natural springs and magnolia trees dot the area, and people from around the South flock to eateries like Jesse’s Restaurant for incredible Gulf Coast fare. Take a self-guided tour through Magnolia Springs to gaze at colorful cottages and old churches.

Bulls Bridge, Kent CT

Kent, Connecticut

Just a couple hours away from New York City, Kent is often a must-visit destination for fall foliage lovers. But it’s also a great place to spend some time during the summer, with attractions like Kent Falls State Park and Macedonia Brook State Park offering beautiful hiking respites. Check out Bull’s Bridge, one of the few covered bridges remaining in Connecticut, or the Connecticut Antique Machinery Association, dedicated to the equipment that played an important role in this town’s history (think agricultural equipment, combustion engine, and more). For a sweet souvenir, stop by the Kent Coffee & Chocolate for truffles, nostalgic candy, and coffee sourced from around the world. 

Related: Beyond Niagara: Beautiful Waterfalls in All 50 States

Cloudcroft, New Mexico
Cloudcroft, New Mexico by Edward Jackson (CC BY)

Cloudcroft, New Mexico

Escape New Mexico’s summer heat with a trip to Cloudcroft, a mountain community founded more than a century ago. The Trestle Recreation Area offers a network of trails, with views of the old Mexican Canyon Trestle, a historic wooden trestle bridge (currently closed due to fire risk). At Mountain Foto, a popular Cloudcroft shop, visitors can have their photos taken with period costumes, while a stroll through Burro Street features attractions like the Burro Street Exchange, a mix of shops, restaurants, and offices; the Western Bar & Cafe, and the Cloudcroft Brewing Company

Stockbridge, Massachusetts - Downtown

Stockbridge, Massachusetts

Massachusetts is lined with dozens of picturesque towns on the water, but to avoid the throng of summer tourists, head inland to Stockbridge, located in the mountainous Berkshires. Pay tribute to its most famous resident, American painter Norman Rockwell, with a visit to the Norman Rockwell Museum, where you can take in Rockwell’s timeless art and view the rolling mountains in the distance. Other attractions include Naumkeag, a public garden and Gilded Age-style home, and summer festivals like the Summer Arts & Crafts Show.

Related: Circus World and Other Weird Museums Across America and Beyond

Small town village in Colorado with sign for city and flowers by historic architecture

Telluride, Colorado

Picture this: A former mining town dotted with Victorian homes and flanked by one of the country’s most beautiful mountain ranges. You’ll find all that in Telluride, a town surrounded by the Colorado Rockies and rich with cultural and historical landmarks. Often thought of as a ski town, Telluride, which is a designated National Historic Landmark, is just as vibrant in the summer. Hike up to Bear Creek Falls, take a dip in the Durango Hot Springs, or attend summer events like the Telluride Jazz Festival.

Restaurants at Federal Hill in Providence

Providence, Rhode Island

Rhode Island offers plenty of opportunities for beachgoers, but head inland and you’ll find Providence, the scenic state capital with a thriving arts scene. Kids will revel at the fossils found at the Museum of Natural History and Planetarium, while adults can peruse the fine art and contemporary art at the internationally renowned Rhode Island School of Design Museum of Art. At the award-winning Aleppo Sweets, diners can order kebabs, shawarma wraps, and baklava; for donut fiends, a trip to PVDonuts is a must.

Driving 4x4 in Costa Rica

Marble Falls, Texas

For a slice of Texas that doesn’t feel so much like, well, Texas, head to Marble Falls, roughly 45 minutes outside of Austin. Located in the Texas Hill Country, the town is rife with local produce — pay a visit to Sweet Berry Farm, where you can pick your own berries and pluck sunflowers and tulips. Wineries abound, including Flat Creek Estate Winery & Vineyard and Fiesta Winery Marble Falls, along with art galleries like Marta Stafford Fine Art. At nearby Hidden Falls Adventure Park, try your hand at skeet shooting or rent a dirt bike or ATV and hit the dusty trails.

Male mountain biker riding in a forest

Hood River, Oregon

There are picturesque towns all over Oregon, but you won’t want to put your camera away in Hood River, situated in the Columbia River Valley about an hour away from Portland. Mountainous views are at every turn, with opportunities to hike, mountain bike, raft, and kayak. Culinary adventures include exploring Hood River’s bountiful farmers’ markets and apple orchards, along with an incredible food scene that include Bette’s Place and Broder Øst. Of course, Oregon is known for its wine, and you can find plenty of that in Hood River at places like Hiyu Wine Farm and Stave & Stone Winery.

Galena in Illinois

Galena, Illinois

This charming Illinois town is steeped in presidential history: Abraham Lincoln and political rival Stephen Douglas gave speeches on the balcony of the DeSoto House Hotel, while Ulysses S. Grant considered it his home (you can even tour his former residence). But even if you aren’t a history buff, you’ll find plenty to do here. Check out more than 100 boutiques on Main Street, or hike around the Mississippi Palisades State Park. Wine enthusiasts can sip on varietals in Galena’s countryside, home to wineries such as Massbach Ridge Winery and Galena Cellars.

Young tourist couple enjoying horseback riding by the lake

Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Considered a gateway to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gatlinburg is an ideal summer getaway for outdoor enthusiasts. There are more than 900 miles of hiking trails within the park, as well as river rafting and horseback riding, and you can get more postcard-worthy views by ascending the Gatlinburg SkyBridge, Space Needle, or Aerial Tramway. Summer is rife with festivals, including the Gatlinburg Songwriters Festival, and fans of oddities will delight in the Salt & Pepper Shaker Museum, which houses more than 20,000 salt and pepper shakers from around the world. 

Discover more summer travel ideas right here.