View of basalt stacks Reynisdrangar, black sand beach near Vik and violet lupine flowers and lonely church, South Iceland
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Best Places to Vacation if You Hate Mosquitoes and Black Flies (and Where to Avoid)

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View of basalt stacks Reynisdrangar, black sand beach near Vik and violet lupine flowers and lonely church, South Iceland
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Itching to Travel?

As summer arrives in full force, in many places, so do the bugs. If you're like most outdoor enthusiasts, mosquitoes and black flies are on your list of things to avoid on summer vacation. To help you plan your vacation around mosquitoes and black flies, we've rounded up the best and worst places to visit with input from industry experts and travelers from all over the world. 


Related: Off-the-Grid Rentals for an Unplugged Vacation

Black fly
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Why Avoid Mosquitoes and Black Flies?

At worst, these bugs can sometimes carry deadly diseases. At best, you're still likely to have painful, itchy bites anywhere these bugs can get at. While almost everyone has had a mosquito bite before, black flies aren't as common in many areas. If you've never experienced black flies before, consider yourself lucky. These nasty insects will leave you with painful bites. Even worse, they are faster and harder to swat away than mosquitoes. They've even been enough to make me cancel my vacation plans in the past. 


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Two Muskoka chairs on a wooden dock overlooking the blue water of a lake in Muskoka, Ontario Canada. A red canoe is tied to the pier and life jackets are visible near the chairs.
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How to Avoid Black Flies

Johnson also says, "Biting black flies are really nasty, and they don't even respond to repellent in some cases. They peak in June, so if you want to avoid them you might want to steer clear of that time of the year. Black flies need to be near clean, running water. That is where they breed. So you give yourself a better chance of not being around them if you are not near a stream or river." Lakes, including the Great Lakes, are also a common location for black flies in my experience. 


Related: 15 Ways to Repel Bugs Naturally (and Cheaply)

Prairie Pond in the Early Spring in Moraine Hills State Park in Iliinois
Wildnerdpix/istockphoto

Best Places for Avoiding Mosquitoes

The best places to avoid mosquitoes are dry. Stagnant water is a breeding ground for mosquitoes whereas clean running water is the choice for black flies, according to Paul Johnson, an expert at The Tick and Mosquito Project. Arid locations have fewer mosquitoes and black flies. However, a word of caution from Johnson: He warns that mosquitoes in arid areas carry more diseases. So bring the bug spray along just in case. Following are some of the best places to go if you want to avoid mosquitoes.


Related: We Tried 4 Bug Sprays and This Is the Best

Suttle Lake and Mount Washington view, Oregon, USA
peeterv/istockphoto

Sisters, Oregon

Van-life blogger Hilary Bird of Green Van Go says the lack of bugs in Sisters, Oregon, shocked her. Dry summers, low humidity, and lack of standing water make Oregon a fabulous place to visit.


Things to Do Nearby: Of things to do in the area, Bird says, "You could do an all-day hike up North or South Sister Mountain, go for a swim at Suttle Lake, or even walk around Main St. on the downtown strip."

Bandon, Oregon
MRaust/istockphoto

Bandon, Oregon

As a surfer, Marc Bromhall, founder of Beginner Surf Gear, spends lots of time near the water. Luckily he says mosquitoes are few and far between near the salty seas of Bandon. 


Things to Do Nearby: Bromhall recommends visiting the Bandon State Natural Area. I also spent some time here last summer and recommend strolling through the town and perusing the many shops. Bandon Beach is also a wonderful place to see wildlife and hunt for critters in the tidepools.


Related: The 20 Best Beaches on the West Coast

City of Portland Oregon and Mount Hood in Autumn
4nadia/istockphoto

Portland, Oregon

If you haven't caught on by now, much of Oregon is relatively mosquito-free. Locals and travelers alike recommended various places across the state for avoiding mosquitoes. Ryan Smith of Ant and Garden Organic Pest Control in Beaverton, Oregon says Portland is a pleasant place for a summer vacation without bugs. 


Things to Do Nearby: Smith recommends taking advantage of the outdoors with a trip to the Portland Japanese Garden. "Think about beautiful cherry blossoms, lovely maple trees, small ponds and streams teaming with koi, bright lanterns, lush surroundings, temples and traditional houses," says Smith.

Sedona, Arizona
ImagineGolf/istockphoto

Sedona, Arizona

Although you won't beat the heat in Sedona in the summer, you will avoid both mosquitos and black flies. Travel writer Taryn Shorr of Chasing Trail lives in Arizona and can attest to the bug-free environment. 


Things to Do Nearby: "Sedona is a world-renowned outdoor destination best known for its iconic red rock formations. Hiking and mountain biking are the main outdoor pursuits of choice, but Sedona also offers upscale shopping, luxurious spas and resorts, and a laid-back culture focused on health and wellness," says Shorr. 

Red Rocks at sunrise, near Denver Colorado
Adam-Springer/istockphoto

Denver

Eva Lerma, a travel photographer and writer at My Travel Tripod, had insights on where to vacation to avoid those pesky bugs. "Denver has to be one of the best travel destinations if you look to avoid mosquitoes and blackflies," says Lerma. 


Things to Do Nearby: You can't miss a visit to Red Rocks Park and amphitheater when in Denver. The amphitheater is "naturally created and formed by rocks," says Lerma. This feature makes it a unique sight. 


Related: 15 Iconic Music Venues Across America

The dormant volcano known as Diamond Head located adjacent to downtown Honlulu, Hawaii, as shot from an altitude of about 1500 feet over the Pacific Ocean.
Art Wager/istockphoto

Hawaii

Paul Johnson of The Tick and Mosquito Project says "Interestingly, Hawaii does not have a lot of mosquitoes, considering how warm and humid it is. Mosquitoes were introduced by settlers, and while there are some, they have not established themselves at the level you might expect when you think about the climate there."

Things to Do Nearby: There is no shortage of adventure to be had in Hawaii. From snorkeling to hiking, to relaxing on the beach, Hawaii has it all. 


Related: 20 Tips for Visiting Hawaii on a Budget

Salt Lake City
f11photo/istockphoto

Salt Lake City

Johnson says Utah is a good place to avoid mosquitoes, especially those that are disease-carrying. While living in Utah, I found this to be true. There are still some bugs in the mountains, but overall they are quite scarce. 


Things to Do Nearby: There is no shortage of activities in Salt Lake. Whether you go for a hike in the nearby Wasatch Mountains or enjoy a nearby shop, eatery, or museum, there is plenty to keep you busy.

Albuquerque, New Mexico
Faina Gurevich/istockphoto

Albuquerque, New Mexico

I lived in New Mexico for two years, and I don't remember seeing a single mosquito. Anywhere in the state will do, but Albuquerque's location in the high desert makes it a perfect place to avoid mosquitoes. You'll need to prepare for the summer heat, though. 


Things to Do Nearby: Albuquerque offers a mix of culture, history, and outdoor activities. In the city and surrounding areas you can visit Petroglyph National Monument, stroll the streets of Old Town, or visit one of the many restaurants for some delicious (and spicy) New Mexican food.

Disney Word, Florida
JodiJacobson/istockphoto

Disney World, Florida

The most magical place on Earth is magic for more than simply the obvious. If you want to visit one of the most mosquito-free places in Florida, look no further. Disney has an extensive mosquito-mitigation plan in place. One way they do this is by eliminating standing water in park attractions. They even go as far as having landscaping and architecture that minimizes water's ability to pool.  


Things to Do Nearby: If you want to avoid the bugs, you can visit one of the many Disney World attractions. Epcot Center, Magic Kingdom Park, Disney's Animal Kingdom and more await you here.

View of basalt stacks Reynisdrangar, black sand beach near Vik and violet lupine flowers and lonely church, South Iceland
Neurobite/istockphoto

Iceland

If a place without mosquitoes sounds too good to be true, think again. Iceland really is mosquito-free. The main theory behind the lack of mosquitoes is that Iceland's low temperatures don't allow for enough warm time for mosquitoes to breed in shallow lakes and ponds. 


Things to Do Nearby: I spoke with Victoria Yore of Iceland Trippers. Here are some of her travel recommendations: "There is so much to see and do from driving the whole Ring Road or keeping it closer to Reykjavik with the Golden Circle. There are tons of animals from whales to arctic foxes, but no mosquitoes!" Iceland is also well-known for its hot springs and spas


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

Big Ben and westminster bridge in London
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London, England

Will Hatton, founder and CEO of The Broke Backpacker, says London allows you to "get some of the summer weather, but there will be much less risk of mosquitoes during your stay."    


Things to Do Nearby: Hatton says London is a perfect home base for exploring Britain. You can go shopping and see many attractions all in one place. If you want to venture out further, he recommends taking a short train ride to the beautiful Brecon Beacons in Wales.

Beautiful cityscape of the downtown with a waterfront in a street lighting at night. Volga region of Russia, the city of Yoshkar-Ola
Mordolff/istockphoto

Russia

According to Megan Cavanaugh, an expert at Done Right Pest Solutions, Russia is another place to avoid mosquitoes. In fact, she says most places in Europe have lower mosquito populations than the United States.

Things to Do Nearby: Some popular Russian attractions include the St. Basil's Cathedral, the Red Square, or Savior on the Spilled Blood with their iconic colorful towers. You can also visit Europe's highest peak Mount Elbrus. There probably aren't any mosquitoes up there.

San Pedro de Atacama, Chile
Skouatroulio/istockphoto

Chile

Cavanaugh says Chile is another safe bet for travelers looking for places to avoid mosquitoes. She says Chile has a lower concentration of mosquitoes due to its climate and its overall lower temperature. 


Things to Do Nearby: The top-rated tourist attractions in Chile include Torres del Paine National Park, Valle de la Luna, and Easter Island. Since these are all outdoors, it is excellent to know there won't be many mosquitoes to contend with. 


Related: 14 Under-the-Radar Destinations in Latin America

An Aedes japonicus mosquito rests on the water surface from which it just emerged.
doug4537/istockphoto

Worst Places for Avoiding Mosquitoes

Mosquitoes and black flies thrive in hot, humid environments. Areas with an abundance of lakes, rivers, and streams mean bugs galore. In the United States, much of the Midwest, the East Coast, and the South meet these criteria. Johnson says, "It is all about the type of mosquito when it comes to disease, and the sicker mosquitoes are often in the South and West." The further south you go, the more infections are likely. Cavanaugh says, "The most infection rates for any illness-borne mosquito bite occur around the equator line and south." Following are some of the buggiest places you can go and what you can do there and avoid being bitten.

Atlanta
Kruck20/istockphoto

Avoid: Atlanta

Atlanta held the top spot on Orkin's "Top 50 Mosquito Cities List" for seven years running, which probably isn't something that its tourism bureau advertises. It was just downgraded to No. 2 in 2021.


Things to Do Nearby: If you want to beat the heat and avoid the mosquitoes, there are many popular indoor attractions in Atlanta. Local favorites include the Georgia Aquarium, the High Museum of Art, and the World of Coca-Cola.

Los Angeles
DutcherAerials/istockphoto

Avoid: Los Angeles

Angels aren't the only thing flying around here. Los Angeles jumped 10 spots on Orkin's 2020 mosquito list. In 2021, it claimed first place. There has been a recent uptick in mosquitoes in the past year. If you've visited in the past, come prepared with this new information in mind. 


Things to Do Nearby: When in L.A., you won't want to miss a trip to Disneyland and Universal Studios. Travelers can also enjoy countless museums or a stroll along the Santa Monica Pier.

Tulips in front of the US Capitol building
bentrussell/istockphoto

Avoid: District of Columbia

Our nation's capital ranks among the worst places for mosquitoes. Nicholas Martin, an entomologist and pest control consultant, says that, statistically speaking, if you want to avoid mosquitoes you'll need to avoid the entire East Coast. It's no surprise then that D.C. is the third worst on Orkin's list. 


Things to Do Nearby: There is no shortage of activities in Washington, D.C. Your trip might include a visit to the Smithsonian, the White House, or one of the many monuments throughout the city. 


Related: Free or Cheap Things to Do in Washington, D.C.

Aerial view of the Central park in New York with golf fields and tall skyscrapers surrounding the park.
Ingus Kruklitis/istockphoto

Avoid: New York

A trip to the Big Apple will come complete with more than a few mosquitoes. It ranks sixth for most mosquito-control customers. Clearly, such a large city has lots of opportunities for customers. So, you should use caution when traveling here in the summer months. 


Things to Do Nearby: Broadway, the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, Central Park, and more await you here. You'll have plenty to keep you busy inside or out in New York City. 


Related: Free or Cheap Things to Do in New York City

Looking down South Beach in Miami. Full view of the beach on the left and the city on the right. Beautiful blue sky on a clear day.
ULora/istockphoto

Avoid: Miami

In the summer of 2020, Miami issued a mosquito-borne illness alert because of multiple cases of West Nile virus. Not only are the bugs here annoying, but they can even make you sick.

Things to Do Nearby: Martin Soto of Travel Explorator says, "Despite this abundance of mosquitoes, Miami is still one of the most visited cities in the world for a good reason." Soto recommends visiting the Everglades, South Beach, Little Havana, or one of the city's many museums. Just be sure to load up on bug spray. 

San Diego
Sean Pavone/istockphoto

Avoid: San Diego

While San Diego was previously considered to be mostly mosquito-free, a new non-native species started to increase in the summer of 2020.  Worst of all, these mosquitoes specifically target the ankles and feet. San Diego, which was previously not on Orkin's mosquito city list, made an appearance in 2021. 


Things to Do Nearby: Although you'll have some bugs to contend with, San Diego is still worth visiting. There are multiple beaches to visit as well as the popular Torrey Pines Natural Reserve. You also won't want to miss the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park if you're traveling with kids.

Raleigh NC USA April 28, 2019 This is a summer weekend in the park. There is a band in the park. People are sitting on blankets together and talking.
APRIL ANN CANADA/istockphoto

Avoid: Raleigh, North Carolina

If you ask a local, they'll tell you the summer is unbearable when it comes to mosquitoes. So it should be no surprise, Raleigh ranks No. 10 on Orkin's list of mosquito cities. 


Things to Do Nearby: Raleigh has something for everyone. You can enjoy the walkable downtown and visit restaurants and museums. If outdoor adventure is more your style, there is hiking in Umstead State Park and kayaking on one of the nearby lakes or rivers (which of course are popular locations for bugs).

Chicago
Pgiam/istockphoto

Avoid: Chicago

"Your trip to this city will be fun-filled if you know how to deal with mosquitoes and black flies because they're present in abundance here," says travel photographer Eva Lerma. 


Things to Do Nearby: There are many fantastic activities to enjoy in Chicago. Lerma recommended "visiting the beach, dining outside on the bank of the river, and taking an architectural tour of the Chicago River." Just be sure to pack the bug-spray if you visit in the summer.

Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Wisconsin
Amy Wilkins/istockphoto

Avoid: Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Wisconsin

Another point against the Midwest comes from Samantha Meabon, owner of PA on Pause. Of her recent trip to this park, Meabon says the mosquitoes "continued to bite, even through pants and long sleeves with insect repellent, with swarms of them, just buzzing around our heads."


Things to Do Nearby: Meabon recommends "taking a kayak trip out on the lake would to get away from the bugs." If you want to enjoy the water, the quicker you move the better, says pest expert Cavanaugh.

Relaxing feel with two chairs on the bay side of the Park Point, Duluth, MN
LIKE HE/istockphoto

Avoid: Northern Minnesota

Martin says Minnesota is another awful place for black flies. In my experience, as a Minnesota native, the further north you go, the worse the black flies.

Things to Do Nearby: Northern Minnesota is a vast area with lots of wilderness activities. Popular locations include the Boundary Waters, the North Shore of Lake Superior, and the city of Duluth. Black flies (and mosquitoes) are prominent in all these areas, but they are still worth visiting if you can get there in the "off-season" for bugs.

Houghton, Michigan
ehrlif/istockphoto

Avoid: Houghton, Michigan

On one of my many trips to this Upper Peninsula town, my plans were quickly canceled. The black flies were so ravenous they almost had me in tears. Not even long pants and long sleeves were enough to fend them off. Entomologist Nicholas Martin recommends avoiding the entire Upper Peninsula if you want to avoid black flies. 


Things to Do Nearby: Luckily black fly season is typically short-lived and there are many activities to do in this cute college town. You can explore the rocky shores of Lake Superior or hike to one of the many nearby waterfalls. The best way to start your day is with breakfast at Suomi Restaurant.

A beluga whale swimming in the Churchill River, MB, Canada
Eduardo Baena/istockphoto

Avoid: Churchill, Canada

James Ian, a travel blogger at Travel Collecting, has been to 82 countries. He says Churchill was the absolute worst for black flies. So why would anyone bother visiting in the summer?


Things to Do Nearby: Ian says, "The reason to visit then is to see beluga whales swimming in the river there. It's amazing!" Black flies often don't respond to bug spray, so plan accordingly and wear lightweight, long-sleeved clothing if you venture out to this area. 


Related: 14 Budget-Friendly Places for Whale Watching on the West Coast

Atlantic Forest in Brazil, Mata Atlantica
FG Trade/istockphoto

Avoid: Much of Central and South America

Not only are there many mosquitoes in these tropical countries, but they are more likely to carry diseases as well. Cavanaugh says Zika is a major concern throughout much of the area since mosquitoes love hot, damp places.     


Things to Do Nearby: This is a massive geographic area, which means almost any activity can be found somewhere on the continent. Most of the top things to do in South America involve outdoor adventure. Bring bug spray and proper clothing to make your trip more enjoyable.

Buenos Aires, Argentina
Solange_Z/istockphoto

Avoid: Buenos Aires, Argentina

Becca Siegel of Half and Half Travel says there was a massive amount of mosquitoes in Buenos Aires when she visited in April and May. Not only that, but the mosquitoes themselves were massive. 


Things to Do Nearby: Siegel says luckily there are many amazing indoor activities in Buenos Aires. Her favorites included "the cafes, the bars, and the museums of this lovely city."