From tropical islands to beautiful mountains, these are the best places to travel this August.

By Patricia Doherty
July 02, 2020
Blue lupine wildflowers above the ski runs in Park City, Utah
Credit: Getty Images

Editor’s Note: Travel might be complicated right now, but use our inspirational trip ideas to plan ahead for your next bucket list adventure.

Summer is halfway over, but there’s still time to get away, even for a long weekend. It’s the season to be outdoors, get on the road, and enjoy fresh air and nature’s surroundings. Many of our picks for the best places to travel in August will take you to hiking trails, mountains, rivers, forests, and lakes — healthy and invigorating places to reconnect with the outdoors if you’ve been staying in lately.

There’s good news from the Caribbean region as reopenings are planned, and the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos are now welcoming visitors to their resorts and beaches. Nantucket Island’s cool weather and casual style will make many summer travelers happy, and fresh local seafood is another attraction. Further south, the oysters, crabs, and bounty of the sea also beckon visitors to Virginia’s Northern Neck peninsula. On the West Coast, Monterey Bay is home to an impressive aquarium and spectacular scenery.

The Poconos offer mountain air, whitewater rafting, and a convenient trip for east coasters. Further west, Park City’s mountains are the place for camping, hiking, and outdoor fun by day and a welcoming downtown by night. New York State’s Finger Lakes feature historic houses and wineries along with outdoor activities.

Travel to the Hawaiian Islands, a favorite vacation spot of travelers around the world, has been limited for the past few months. We’re featuring Oahu as a reminder of a place to look forward to visiting when the islands are open for tourism once again. Naturally, you’ll want to check on the latest safety guidelines at any destination you choose, as restrictions are being lifted gradually and vary by location.

1. Northern Neck, Virginia

Looking out over the Rappahannock River from it's Northern Shore you see the "White Stone Bridge" that has stood for decades.
Credit: Roth H. Carroll/Getty Images

Billed as the place “where the Potomac and Rappahannock Rivers meet the Chesapeake Bay,” this area of Virginia is a short road trip from Washington D.C. and several other mid-Atlantic cities. Surrounded by water, this peninsula offers a bounty of seafood including Virginia Oysters, rockfish, and blue crabs, as well as fresh produce from farmers markets and roadside stands. The historic towns are favorites for antique shopping and browsing art galleries and artisan boutiques. The Northern Neck Heritage Trail Bicycling Route, part of the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail, includes four relatively easy routes for exploring fishing villages, historic sites, and farmlands. Several state parks in the area include Westmoreland State Park where visitors can fish, camp, hike, and seek out the variety of bird species such as American bald eagles, great blue herons, gulls, ospreys, kingfishers, and other waterfowl. Add some wineries, cideries, and restaurants to your itinerary and feast on local seafood and wine. Stay at the newly-enhanced Tides Inn, historic and luxurious, offering a variety of ways to enjoy the sea and its culinary bounty. There’s also a golf course, marina, sailing school, and children’s program.

2. Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania

Jim Thorpe (Mauch Chunk), Pennsylvania
Credit: Alex Potemkin/Getty Images

An easy road trip of about a hundred miles from New York City and Philadelphia, the Pocono Mountains, referred to as “The Poconos,” offer waters sports, camping, historic towns, hiking, wildlife viewing, waterfalls, fishing, golf, and rustic settings for relaxing away from the city. Once called “Honeymoon Capital of the World” and known for kitschy heart-shaped bathtubs, the area is prized for its forested mountains, nine state parks, and two national parks including the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area with 40 miles of rivers, hiking and biking trails, and more than 100 miles of scenic roadways. Expansive Lake Wallenpaupack features six recreation areas, walking trails, campsites, and boat slips. Tour the lake by boat, ride the whitewater on one of several area rivers, or canoe and kayak in calmer waters. Campgrounds, RV parks, cabins, and B & B’s provide a range of places to stay along rivers, lakes, and streams or amid shady wooded areas. Camelback Resort offers a range of accommodations from guest rooms to three-bedroom suites along with indoor and outdoor waterparks, the Appalachian Express Mountain Coaster, ziplines, mountain adventure park, spa, fitness center, and a variety of restaurants.

3. Park City, Utah

Blue lupine wildflowers above the ski runs in Park City, Utah
Credit: Getty Images

Summer weather in Park City is just about perfect with lots of sunshine, little rain, daytime temperatures in the low 80s, and cool nights. Visiting the two state parks near Park City would be a great start for enjoying the season. Rockport State Park is centered around Rockport Reservoir for boating, fishing, water skiing, wakeboarding, kayaking, and other water sports. Campsites, yurts, cabins, and RV sites are available. Wasatch Mountain State Park offers fresh mountain air, campsites, hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, and golf. Utah Olympic Park’s zipline, rope course, exhibits, and rides are a family favorite in summer.  Back in town, it’s always fun to stroll down historic Main Street and imagine its past as a boomtown during the peak of silver mining in the area. Now the site of the annual Sundance Film Festival, Main Street is also home to clubs, restaurants, galleries, boutiques, and upscale hotels. Washington School House, a boutique 13-room luxury hotel, features a heated pool terraced into the hillside, antique furnishings, and exquisite touches with a nod to its historic beginnings as an actual 1889 schoolhouse. The luxurious year-round Montage Deer Valley offers a range of accommodations. Take a scenic drive among mountain passes and winding roads to see lakes, waterfalls, rock formations, natural springs, hiking trails, and historic sites.

4. Finger Lakes, New York

Lake House on Canandaigua in the Finger Lakes, New York
Credit: Courtesy of Lake House on Canandaigua

A scenic drive of about five hours from Manhattan, Philadelphia, or Boston is all it takes to get to the rolling hills, forests, waterfalls, and miles of shoreline in this 9,000 square mile western New York region. A year-round destination, the Finger Lakes area, so named because the eleven lakes are long and narrow like fingers, is lovely in summer. Formed by glaciers about two million years ago, the Finger Lakes’ more recent history included homes of notable figures like Harriet Tubman, Susan B. Anthony, Frederick Douglass, and Mark Twain. Wine growing in the region began in the early 19th century, and the area is the largest producer of wine east of California. Breweries, cideries, and distilleries also welcome visitors for tours and tastings. Boating, swimming, fishing, and water sports are popular in summer along with hiking, biking, and exploring museums. Letchworth State Park, known as the “Grand Canyon of the East,” features waterfalls, forests, and trails for hiking and horseback riding. Zipline over the forest canopy at Bristol Mountain Aerial Adventures. Campsites, hotels, and motels provide a range of lodging. For luxury and comfort on the banks of Canandaigua Lake, stay at the family owned and operated Lake House on Canandaigua. Opening mid-August, the hotel includes a pool, hot tub, spa, wellness center, and dining options.

5. Oahu, Hawaii

Oahu, Hawaii's Coco crater at sunrise
Credit: Getty Images/Westend61

The third largest of the Hawaiian Islands, Oahu is home to Honolulu, the state’s capital, as well as Waikiki, one of the world’s most famous beaches. Iolani Palace in downtown Honolulu, once the official residence of the Hawaiian Kingdom’s last two monarchs, is open for guided and self-led tours. The Pearl Harbor National Memorial and Battleship USS Arizona, Waikiki Aquarium, and Honolulu Zoo should also be on your Honolulu itinerary. Hanauma Bay, formed by a volcanic crater, is a favorite snorkeling spot teeming with colorful tropical fish and fascinating marine life. On Oahu’s leeward coast, sunny and dry weather prevails, and you’ll find quiet beaches, rural landscapes, and surfing waves. The area is home to the Four Seasons Oahu at Ko Olina, with a white sand beach, four pools, spa, golf course, and five restaurants including oceanfront Mina’s Fish House.

6. Monterey Peninsula, California

Monterey Bay from Monterey California
Credit: Mark Miller/Getty Images

About a two-hour drive from San Francisco, the Monterey Peninsula is one of California’s most stunning areas. Home to the cities of Monterey, Carmel-by-the Sea, and Pacific Grove, famed Pebble Beach Golf Course, and the scenic 17-Mile Drive, the Peninsula is a popular stop on the way to Big Sur. In Carmel-by-the-Sea, browse the tree-lined streets, art galleries, cafes, and boutiques before you stroll down to Carmel Beach at the foot of Ocean Avenue to watch the sunset. At the Monterey Bay Aquarium, you can see penguins, otters, bat rays, anemone, seabirds, sea lions, along with sea creatures of all kinds in their natural habitats. Once a fishing port and sardine cannery, Monterey now boasts upscale hotels, restaurants, and a prominent spot in Big Little Lies. Monterey’s beaches provide an ideal setting for a variety of water sports including kayaking, diving, surfing, and swimming. Set on the waterfront, steps from Cannery Row, the Monterey Plaza Hotel offers luxurious guest rooms and suites along with ocean view dining at Schooners. A few miles inland in Carmel, the Quail Lodge features a range of comfortable accommodations and a lush golf course. The all-suite Carmel Valley Ranch, set among rolling hills, is another luxurious option with golf, a spa, and its own vineyard.

7. Turks and Caicos Islands

Hawkbill sea turtle swimming, Turks and Caicos
Credit: Ryan Henke/Getty Images/500px

The 40 islands and cays of Turks and Caicos, a British Overseas Territory in the Caribbean region, are actually surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean almost 600 miles southeast of Miami. Known for soft sand beaches, a relaxed atmosphere, warm waters, and sunny breezes, Turks and Caicos will be open for visitors on July 22. August weather, with temperatures in the high 80s, is ideal for enjoying the islands’ beaches or a comfy lounge by the pool. Only eight of the islands are inhabited, and Providenciales is the main tourist center. The clear blue seas attract scuba divers and snorkelers, while kayaking, boating, and fishing are also popular with visitors. There’s golf, gambling casinos, shopping, nightlife, and restaurants serving fresh seafood and local music. It’s no wonder the Turks and Caicos Islands have attracted celebrities like Prince, Tracy Morgan, the Kardashians, and Steph and Ayesha Curry. Flights to Providenciales International Airport from Miami, New York, Dallas, Atlanta, and other major cities make it easy to get to the islands. On Long Bay Beach, The Shore Club offers suites, villas, and luxe amenities like butler service and yacht cruises. Enjoy the ocean views from the infinity pool at The Palms on Grace Bay Beach. Also on Grace Bay Beach, Ocean Club Resorts features all-suite properties and a Seafari program for young visitors. On its own private island, COMO Parrot Cay boasts a mile-long beach, beach villas, and personalized butler service.

8. Nantucket, Massachusetts

View of Nantucket village at dawn
Credit: Getty Images

If getting away to a tiny island with miles of beaches, bike paths, breezes, and temperatures in the mid 70s sounds delightful, think about Nantucket, just 30 miles off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Get there by plane, boat, or ferry, all of which are operating this summer (with safety precautions of physical distancing and face mask requirements), and once you’re there, a bicycle might be all the transportation you’ll need. Bikes are also the best vehicle for exploring the island, and paths wind throughout. The many beaches around the island let families, couples, surfers, water sports fans, and beachcombers find their perfect place on the shore. Nantucket’s history as a whaling center during the 18th century is on display at the Whaling Museum where visitors can learn about the island’s history through art, artifacts, and interactive exhibits. Nantucket’s three lighthouses, one of which still guides ships safely away from the island’s northernmost point, are lovely to see and photograph. The recently renovated year-round Nantucket Hotel offers guestrooms, suites, and private cottages along with Breeze for indoor and outdoor dining and Monday night clambakes. The luxurious waterfront White Elephant, with a variety of accommodations, features Brant Point Grill overlooking the harbor.

9. The Bahamas

View of the marina of the Atlantis hotel in Nassau, Bahamas on May 1, 2019.
Credit: DANIEL SLIM/AFP via Getty Images

The good news from the Bahamas is that they’re once again welcoming visitors to enjoy their clear blue waters, white sand beaches, and colorful marine life. The 700 islands, spread over 100,000 square miles in the Atlantic Ocean southeast of Florida, are said to have the most pristine water on earth. There’s a beach for everyone, from secluded to family friendly, and your choice of islands with a similar range of styles. Pink sand, sweet pineapples, and historic architecture are hallmarks of Eleuthera and Harbor Island. The Exumas are possibly best known for the swimming pigs that greet visitors to their beach. Freeport and the Abacos are gradually recovering from last year’s hurricane damage, and many hotels are reopening. Nassau and Paradise Island offer modern amenities, hotels, resorts, golf, nightlife, and gambling casinos.

The Island House on Nassau features a range of luxurious accommodations and dining options. For a more secluded retreat, stay at Nassau’s 10-room Ocean West Boutique Hotel with sea views and a rooftop fitness center. Atlantis on Paradise Island is a tropical playground for visitors of all ages, with a water park, eleven pools, golf, casino, and five miles of white sand beaches. Also on Paradise Island, The Ocean Club, a Four Seasons Resort, features a golf course, spa, and Versailles-inspired gardens.