5 Alternative Summer Destinations in North America

Although summer vacation is what many of us look forward to all winter, when spring finally comes, it can be difficult to figure out exactly where to go. Some destinations can quickly get expensive, while others may be overcrowded. Others still are simply too hot for some people, sweltering and miserable in the July heat. Thankfully, there are plenty of alternative summer destinations in North America that are sunny, summery, and full of plenty to do.

In order to figure out just where to go, who better than to call upon the locals? They’re the ones who know the best (and worst) of their hometown, after all. Travel app Stay.com offers guides created by local experts—baristas, musicians, and street artists—natives who know their city like the back of their hand—to share their favorite spots with users.

Summer in Toronto
Summer in Ontario

Alternative Summer Destinations in North America

Pacific Northwest

When we think of sunny summer destinations, rarely do we turn our attention northward. However, there are some true summer gems in America’s North. In the Pacific Northwest, Seattle and its surroundings offers lovely seaside breezes or hikes in the mountains. Hikes and thrill-seekers seem to gravitate to PNW for this very reason, including local adventurer Jason Horstman, who seems to climb a new peak every weekend.

Alternative Summer Destinations in North America: Climb one of the many peaks in the Pacific Northwest - photo by Jason Horstman
Climb one of the many peaks in the Pacific Northwest: Photo by Jason Horstman


It’s surrounding are simply breathtaking, and Monterey maybe one of California’s not-so-hidden gems. It is easily reachable from San Jose in the north, and even San Francisco is worthy of a day trip if you’ve never been. Monterey is fantastic for nature lovers, as it is surrounded by forests, parks, reserves, and of course, beaches. The best part about Monterey and its area in my mind, is that it is in vineyard country. Need I say more?

Monterey Surf
Hop in the car-from California to Toronto, Monterey Surf is calling you! Photo: Leah Plotz


Ever been to Toronto? No? A travesty in the mind of Canadian native Seattle (yes, that’s her real name). Her enthusiasm for Toronto is contagious in her guide to Toronto for first-timers. I particularly like the views up for grabs from CN Tower and liveliness at Kensington market! Toronto is without a doubt, one of the most underestimated destinations in all of North America–but not for much longer.

Summer Day by a Fountain in Toronto
Summer Day by a Fountain in Toronto


We all know Chicago is the Windy City, and home to long winters, but it is absolutely FULL of life come summer. This is proven if nothing else by Lollapalooza, which celebrates its 25th year in 2016. If you’re not interested in or can’t afford Lollapalooza, there are festivals of all types and sizes, from the Hot Dog Festival and the Windy City Lake Shake. Thanks to it being a big airport hub, it is easily accessible from all corners of the continent. And what’s better than a beer along the waterfront?

There's plenty to do for everyone in Chicago... Photo: stay.com
There’s plenty to do for everyone in Chicago… Photo: stay.com

Kansas City

Kansas City perhaps doesn’t seem so exciting at first, but makes for a great (extended) road trip stop while cruising through the country (on your way to Chicago, for instance!). There is an endless amount independent design shops, BBQ restaurants, and cafes. The real charm to Kansas City, however, lies in its proud residents. Locals are eager to show off this city they call their own. Its diversity caters easily to families, couples, and solo travelers alike.

Kansas City Skyline
Kansas City Skyline: Photo on Flickr by Zach Werner / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

These alternative summer destinations in North America may be a little bit off the beaten path, but there is something for everyone out there, you just have to know where to look, what looks interesting, and what best fits your schedule and wallet.

About Leah Plotz

Website: http://www.stay.com

Based out of Oslo, Norway, Leah Plotz is often a weekend travel warrior, jetting off to European destinations, mostly during the off-season. She tends to plan her trips around coffee shops, yoga studios, and concerts. She is also a content editor for travel app Stay.com.

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