America's Best Cities for Summer Travel
Travel + Leisure readers rank the best cities around the U.S. for a summer getaway.
A lot of people like Chicago, but some only love it
one season of the year.
“I’ve had a lot of clients in Chicago,” says Miami public
relations exec Julie Fogel, “and I dread going there in the brutally cold fall
or winter months.” But summer? “It’s my favorite place to visit,” she says. “The
weather, the people, the ambience—it’s absolutely phenomenal. The city comes
Come to Chicago in July, and you’ll find the lakeshore
beaches hopping with volleyball players, restaurant patios buzzing with
patrons, and fireworks going off from the Navy Pier.
That unfettered enthusiasm helped Chicago secure its spot as
one of the top 20 summer destinations, according to the America’s
Favorite Cities survey. Every year, Travel + Leisure readers rank
cities for qualities such as great
food or excellent
shopping. Readers also vote on best times of year to visit—including the
classic, all-important summer vacation.
More Americans are planning to take that vacation this
season. According to a poll by the American Express Spending & Saving
Tracker, 59 percent of Americans will take some kind of summer getaway, up from
51 percent last year.
Since many of these getaways are still brief, major U.S.
cities are appealing choices. San Diego, Los Angeles, and Honolulu typify the
dream beachy vacation, and all made it into readers’ top 20 picks.
While some cities likely didn't make the cut due to triple-digit summer temps (sorry, Phoenix), other cities managed to overcome heat-index issues, perhaps because of their great summer cuisine. Kansas City, with plenty of summer street festivals but nary an ocean breeze, landed within the Top 20 thanks partially to its summer-friendly barbecue.
Mention highly ranked Portland, ME, and naturally people
start waxing poetic about that lobster. But the New England city also shares a
quality with other cities that dominated the Top 10: it’s joyfully emerging
from winter’s Gore-Tex cocoon, and locals are ready to party.
In Providence, for instance, the Waterfire festival
literally sets the city ablaze, with bonfires burning along the city’s three
rivers. And in Minneapolis, they’ll do anything outside in summertime, whether
it’s strolling around lakes or racing boats made out of milk cartons at the
“Every man, woman, and child in Minnesota spends the warmer
months out and about, stockpiling vitamin D,” says Annie D’Souza, a community
manager for Yelp. “We’re all just so thrilled that winter is over.”