Best Places to Travel in August
Editor's Note: Those who choose to travel are strongly encouraged to check local government restrictions, rules, and safety measures related to COVID-19 and take personal comfort levels and health conditions into consideration before departure.
Good things are happening in August as we begin to relax and enjoy the summer season. Healthful outdoor air at the beach or in the mountains lets us breathe easier, literally and figuratively. California's Malibu and Catalina Island offer both environments, with lots to do and see. On the Atlantic Coast, Virginia Beach is welcoming visitors to its shores and its classic oceanfront boardwalk.
Events like the Wisconsin State Fair, Anguilla's summer celebration, and Lexington's Railbird Music Festival are coming back this year, so you can join in on the festivities. It's a great time to take advantage of Alaska's extended daylight and Kauai's warm, dry weather, too.
Astoria, Oregon on the Columbia River offers history, quaint charm, and great seafood. Grand Junction, Colorado, set on two rivers, also reflects both past and present. Now is the time to enjoy the summer, perhaps this year more than ever, and to get together with family and friends, whether near home or far away. Here are the 10 best places to travel in August.
Related: More summer vacation ideas
This stretch of about 30 miles along the Pacific includes the oceanfront that first comes to mind when you think of Malibu, as well as hills, canyons, waterfalls, and mountain hiking trails. Glamorous residents and casual surfers alike enjoy Malibu's beaches along with the beauty of the Santa Monica Mountains. Visit in August for perfect weather, and for another example of what Malibu has to offer, add The Getty Villa to your itinerary. For a fun way to learn about local wines, check out Malibu Wine Safaris or Malibu Wine Hikes. Set on the sands of Carbon Beach, Malibu Beach Inn offers 47 guestrooms and suites with Pacific and Pier views. Or stay in the intimate 16-room Nobu Ryokan Malibu, an adults-oriented retreat in the traditional Japanese style, with teak soaking tubs, indoor/outdoor fireplaces, private patios, and luxury amenities. Steps away, Nobu Malibu restaurant overlooks the Pacific and features exquisite sushi, sashimi, Japanese-fusion cuisine, specialty cocktails, and a wide selection of sake. Don't miss Malibu Country Mart, an open-air, high-end shopping destination with boutiques, art galleries, and restaurants.
Catalina Island, California
People of a certain age know that Catalina is "26 miles across the sea," but everyone should be aware that the island off the coast of Southern California is just an hour away via ferry and even faster by air. August weather is sunny, with temperatures ranging from 65-73 degrees. Avalon, the main town, has been a popular destination for more than a century, visited by Hollywood stars, dignitaries, and vacationers through the years. Avalon's main area offers beaches, shops, restaurants, and sightseeing, all in just one square mile. Hiking trails at different levels of difficulty provide an excellent way to explore the island and enjoy spectacular views. Serious hikers might go for the Trans-Catalina Trail, a 38.5-mike trek that typically takes four to five days. Diving, snorkeling, boating, and other water sports are popular, and there's mini-golf and a historic nine-hole course. Away from Avalon, Catalina is rugged, and a herd of 150 bison roam in the open area, probably brought to the island for one of the Zane Grey westerns filmed there in the 1920s. They can be seen in the island's interior, and tours are available. Lodging on Catalina ranges from hotels to vacation rentals and campgrounds.
Grand Junction, Colorado
Located about 244 miles west of Denver along Interstate 70, Grand Junction is surrounded by rivers, canyons, mesas, and mountains, making it a beautiful summer destination. Visitors can take a scenic road trip to the area, spend some time at Colorado National Monument, and enjoy all that Grand Junction has to offer. You might be surprised to learn that the Grand Valley is home to 27 wineries with tours, tastings, and the annual Colorado Mountain Winefest, held each September. Mountain biking fans will want to be the first to take the Palisade Plunge, set to open this summer with one of the longest singletrack downhill mountain bike trails in the U.S. The Colorado and Gunnison Rivers meet in Grand Junction, hence the city's name, providing plenty of opportunities for fishing and water sports. A variety of RV parks, campgrounds, hotels, and vacation homes are available. The new pet-friendly Hotel Maverick, located on the campus of Colorado Mesa University, offers complimentary cruiser bikes, a pump park, disc golf, and a rooftop patio.
Located on the south shore of the Columbia River where it meets the Pacific, Astoria is Oregon's oldest city and the first American settlement west of the Rockies. It's a charming, engaging city, an ideal place to begin a northwest coast road trip once you've enjoyed all it has to offer. Astoria is the perfect combination of historical sites and current touches like breweries, distilleries, and new restaurants. The Columbia River was central to Astoria's founding, and it still provides a glimpse into the past. Arrow Tug and Tours offers charters and educational tours, and Columbia River Cruises takes guests on the Constance, a 41' classic yacht with modern amenities, to explore the region's ecological and cultural richness. On land, stroll along Astoria's downtown streets, climb the hill to see the Astoria Column and stunning views, and visit the Columbia Maritime Museum for fascinating stories of the area's history. The recently renovated Cannery Pier Hotel & Spa is set 600 feet into the Columbia River, with private balconies and sea views from every room. Modern and cozy, the hotel features old photographs and artifacts honoring Astoria's Finnish culture and canneries from its bygone fishing era.
Although there are year-round reasons to visit the 49th state, summer is best for activities like watching whales around Anchorage, salmon fishing, glacier cruises, and even dog sledding. You might be on wheels instead of snow, but the dogs are just as cute, and you won't be freezing. Plus, the long days give you lots of time for kayaking, hiking, biking, tours, and exploring. Among the many ways to visit Alaska, Vacations by Rail offers a 9-day tour that begins in Fairbanks and includes Denali National Park, Anchorage, Seward, Kenai Fjords National Park, and a ride aboard the Glacier Discovery Train. Intrepid Travel's Alaska adventures range from six days to 14 days, with August 2021 dates available. For the fishing trip of a lifetime, stay at Salmon Falls Resort in Ketchikan, ideal for both experienced and first-time anglers. Situated at the southernmost entrance to Alaska's Inside Passage, the setting is picturesque, and the King and Silver Salmon are running in August. Skilled captains with new boats and state-of-the-art gear provide the guidance their guests need for a successful trip. The staff filets, packages, and ships the fish to enjoy later — perfect souvenirs of the experience.
Virginia Beach, Virginia
This coastal city, located on the Chesapeake Bay, is known for swimming, dolphin watching, water sports, and fresh seafood. Temperatures in the high 80s provide perfect weather, and the beaches and oceanfront boardwalk are ready for summer. The three-mile, 28-foot-wide path includes separate bike lanes, and nightly entertainment takes place on four oceanfront stages. A few blocks away, the ViBe Creative District features art galleries, artisan shops, restaurants, coffee houses, and murals. You can combine an evening stroll with a self-guided mural tour to enjoy the work of local artists, and art fans also might want to visit the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art. For families, there's the Virginia Aquarium and Atlantic Fun Park, with rides, midway games, and Go-Kart tracks. A variety of lodging includes hotels, vacation homes, cottages, and campgrounds. Norfolk International Airport is 20 minutes from the oceanfront, and Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport is less than an hour away.
If the recent Kentucky Derby got you thinking about a visit to "The Bluegrass State," you might consider a trip to Lexington. Known as the "Horse Capital of the World," Lexington is home to the Kentucky Horse Park, with live shows, a museum, horseback trail rides, pony rides, and a campground with full amenities. Keeneland, a National Historic Landmark, features horse racing, tours, and morning workouts open to the public. This August, Keeneland is also a must-visit destination for music lovers, as the Railbird Music Festival returns on August 28-29, with Grammy-winning headliners including Dave Matthews Band, Leon Bridges, and favorite Kentucky artists. Meet local artisans at the new Greyline Station, a former bus terminal that's been transformed into a mixed use space featuring a farmer's market, restaurants, shops, and an outdoor entertainment venue. Summer is the perfect time to be outdoors in Lexington, with hiking, golf, kayaking, and zipline tours. Take the Mural Challenge and view more than 25 street art murals by international artists. Dine on traditional Southern dishes or international cuisine at Lexington's restaurants, and don't miss the bourbon distilleries along the famed Kentucky Bourbon Trail.
Anguilla, located in the eastern Caribbean about 12 miles north of St. Martin, is a bit out of the way, and that might be part of its beauty. With no direct flights from the U.S., visitors can fly from Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, or St. Martin. The annual Anguilla Summer Festival takes place this year from July 28 through August 8, with ten days of boat races, costumes, parades, parties, music, and celebrations of Anguillian culture. The island is known for its white-sand beaches, water sports, deep sea fishing, golf, natural beauty, and friendly citizens. A variety of places to stay includes the oceanfront Zemi Beach House and Altamer with villa-style accommodations. On Long Bay, Quintessence Hotel by Relais & Châteaux features nine villas and suites. On Meads Bay, the Malliouhana, Auberge Resorts Collection offers guestrooms, suites, and expansive villas. Also on Meads Bay, Frangipani Beach Resort's range of rooms includes a four-bedroom villa. The Four Seasons Anguilla Resort is set on the island's northwest shore, with a variety of spacious accommodations. Cap Juluca, a Belmond Hotel, is located on Maundays Bay. As you plan a visit to Anguilla, be sure to check for current travel requirements.
After months of special quarantine rules, Kauai is now part of Hawaii's Safe Travels Program, requiring a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours before departure. "The Garden Island" is lovely in August, one of Kauai's driest months, with weather in the low to mid-80s. After enjoying Kauai's beaches, make time to explore some of the small towns that recall the island's history. Hanalai, on the north shore, includes the Waioli Huiia Church, founded in 1834. Old Koloa Town on the south shore was home to Kauai's first sugar mill in 1835, the beginning of Hawaii's sugar production. Stay at Timbers Kauai, where modern three and four-bedroom residences are ideal for family gatherings and The Farm at Hokuala provides fresh fruits and vegetables daily. Also featuring an expansive farm and the very best of island ingredients for guests, The Lodge at Kukui'ula offers a variety of accommodations set on more than a thousand acres on the south shore. The elegant buildings provide a historic feel combined with modern amenities. On the island's east side, Sheraton Kauai Coconut Beach Resort boasts newly renovated rooms, an infinity pool, oceanfront bar, and several dining options.
Located on the southwestern shore of Lake Michigan, Milwaukee is Wisconsin's largest city. Its location makes it an ideal summer spot with sailing, windsurfing, boating, and other water sports. Known for its beer industry, Milwaukee is nicknamed "Brew City," and it has created a special map detailing its past and present brewing landmarks. The annual Wisconsin State Fair will be held from August 5-15 at Wisconsin State Fair Park where it has taken place for more than a hundred years. The Milwaukee Riverwalk is a more recent addition to the city, winding about a mile and featuring changing art exhibitions, restaurants, breweries, and shops. A convenient one-hour road trip away, the five-star Destination Kohler resort offers a variety of accommodations, dining, a spa, and golf. Speaking of golf and road trips, many of the state's top courses are within three hours of Milwaukee, making Wisconsin one of the most accessible — and undiscovered — golf destinations in the U.S.