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.
July typically kicks off the summer vacation season, so we’ve rounded up some of the best places to travel this year. Healthful outdoor air and sea breezes beckon in Southern California’s Orange County and on the East Coast in Baltimore and Cape Cod. The vast lakes and mountains of the Ozarks are also perfect places for communing with nature.
Some vacationers prefer the restaurants, nightlife, and atmosphere of cities, and New York’s attractions as well as Philadelphia’s history and cuisine are ideal for them. Wineries, redwoods, and California coastline await visitors in Sonoma County. Santa Fe and San Antonio feature their own summer styles, with history, great food, and relaxing ambiance.
For those who have been longing for an exotic, far away destination, the Maldives is welcoming visitors to the luxurious resorts on their many islands for an idyllic July holiday. Whether you decide to travel afar or treat yourself to a local vacation, we hope you’ll be ready to celebrate this summer season. Here are 10 of the best places to travel in July.
Related: More summer vacation ideas
Orange County, California
Mild July weather, ocean breezes, and miles of beaches make a trip to California’s Orange County, about an hour south of Los Angeles, a great summer option. The Orange County Fair, cancelled last year, will return from July 16 – August 15, appropriately themed “Time for Fun.” For health reasons, capacity will be limited and advance tickets are required. Favorite “O.C.” places include Laguna Beach, known for its art scene, coastline, and Surf & Sand Resort, with ocean views from every room and the surf just steps away. In Dana Point, the Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach Resort & Club features a beach club, spa, and Scottish links-style golf course. Newport Beach is home to the retro-style Balboa Fun Zone, the elegant Resort at Pelican Hill, and the waterfront Balboa Bay Resort with its new Activity Center and dedicated Recreational Concierge. Huntington Beach, also known as “Surf City,” offers the Paséa Hotel & Spa. In the birthplace of Orange County, Inn at The Mission San Juan Capistrano overlooks the historic Great Stone Church and offers an expansive outdoor patio, pool, and several dining options,
New York, New York
The city that never sleeps is awakening from pandemic restrictions, and many attractions are open, albeit with limited capacity. Enjoy the outdoors at the Bronx Zoo, home to more than 6,000 animals in diverse habitats spread over 265 acres of forest in the borough of the Bronx. Visitors can tour the 9/11 Memorial & Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim, and many other museums. Stroll along the High Line for its landscaping, views, art, and people watching. Overlooking the High Line, The Standard features floor-to-ceiling views of Manhattan and the Hudson River. From downtown to uptown and throughout the five boroughs, New York City offers a wide range of things to do and places to stay. Be among the first to stay at the new luxurious Pendry Manhattan West or for a tropical vibe in the midst of Manhattan, choose Margaritaville Resort Times Square. Also in Midtown, The InterContinental New York Times Square offers skyline views and optional private floor buyouts. The Peninsula New York features a spa, indoor pool, and rooftop bar with two outdoor terraces and stunning views.
Celebrate July in historic Philadelphia, where the Declaration of Independence was signed, and where there’s much to see and do in the summer. A visit to Independence National Historical Park provides a chance to see the Liberty Bell, the Rose Garden, Magnolia Garden, and several restored vintage homes. Enjoy the outdoors along the Delaware River at Spruce Street Harbor Park with illuminated trees, craft beers, and restaurants. Walk across the Ben Franklin Bridge or work out like Rocky and run up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The new Faith and Liberty Discovery Center offers an immersive experience for visitors. Philly’s dining scene is reason enough to spend a few days in the city. Stay in Center City at The Rittenhouse for luxury and afternoon tea at The Mary Cassatt Tea Room. Or choose the conveniently-located Hyatt Centric Center City. Hotel guests at Fitler Club have access to all the club’s amenities at the 14-room boutique property. The Bellevue Hotel, a landmark dating to the city’s gilded days, features XIX (nineteen) Restaurant for dinner with skyline views.
Sonoma County, California
Sonoma’s wines come to mind when we think of the area about 30 miles north of San Francisco. There are more than 250 wineries, and lots more to do after touring and tasting. July’s weather, with temperatures reaching into the 80s, is ideal for being outdoors swimming at a Pacific coast beach, kayaking along the Russian River, or camping among the redwoods. If you prefer a hotel, consider MacArthur Place, with a luxe spa, garden setting, and all-day dining at Layla. The newly-renovated Flamingo Resort, on 10 acres in Santa Rosa, features a year-round heated pool with poolside dining. Hotel Healdsburg is set on the edge of the historic town plaza, with dining in the popular Dry Creek Kitchen. Nearby, the h2hotel and Harmon Guest House offer boutique-style amenities. The new Montage Healdsburg is located on 258 acres, offering 130 bungalow-style rooms and 40 Montage Residences nestled among oak trees and vine-covered hills. Visitors can also choose a vacation home, perfect for group travel, through AvantStay, with properties featuring up to five bedrooms, pools, and expansive outdoor spaces.
Santa Fe, New Mexico
July weather, with temperatures in the mid-80s, makes this month an ideal time to enjoy the outdoors. A variety of hiking trails include the Dale Ball Trails, which cover nearly 25 miles in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Biking, fishing, boating, and golf are other ways to enjoy the fresh mountain air. In town, Santa Fe’s museums delve into art, history, and culture. The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum contains the largest collection of her art in the world. The Museum of Indian Arts and Culture tells of the achievements of the diverse Native peoples of the Southwest. Santa Fe is a shopper’s paradise, whether browsing or buying art, antiques, or collectibles. Galleries feature pottery, paintings, jewelry, and Native American creations. Opening in July, Bishop’s Lodge, Auberge Resorts Collection will feature trout fishing, al fresco art classes, horse stables, and trail rides on its 317 secluded acres. The Eldorado Hotel & Spa, Hotel Chimayó, and Hotel St. Francis are steps from the Historic Plaza. Also in town, the boutique Inn and Spa at Loretto was inspired by the famed Taos Pueblo. The Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado is just 10 minutes from downtown.
Head for the waterfront in this walkable city, and enjoy Maryland’s famous crabs and fresh seafood along with cooling sea breezes. Explore Baltimore’s Inner Harbor on a water taxi or harbor cruise, or watch an Orioles baseball game at Camden Yards, one of Major League Baseball’s most beautiful stadiums. Get acquainted with some of Baltimore’s history at places like Patterson Park Pagoda, a unique four-story observation tower built in the 1890s and restored in recent years. Visit Fort McHenry, where the Battle of Baltimore in 1814 inspired Francis Scott Key to write the national anthem. The Reginald F. Lewis Museum covers Maryland’s African American history through a collection of objects, documents, and photographs. Stay at the newly-renovated Hotel Revival Baltimore in the historic Mount Vernon neighborhood. In the same area, The Ivy Hotel is set in a historic mansion with 17 guest rooms and suites, a luxury spa, and Magdalena, a bistro inspired by classic French dishes.
San Antonio, Texas
San Antonio’s River Walk is one of the city’s best known attractions. Visitors can stroll along the walking path or cruise in a river barge to explore the 15-mile urban waterway. The Alamo is another favorite, with tours and exhibits of the complex that was the site of the Texas Revolution battle in 1836. Families enjoy the San Antonio Zoo and Six Flags Fiesta Texas. In San Antonio, stay at the new Thompson San Antonio featuring a rooftop bar, outdoor pool, and convenient location. Add a scenic road trip to a San Antonio vacation, and drive about 90 minutes to Texas Hill Country, passing through small towns, farms, and ranches. Explore Enchanted Rock State Natural Area with a hike, picnic, or climb to enjoy the view. If time allows, spend some time in Hill Country with a stay at the JL Bar Ranch, Resort & Spa for a wide variety of outdoor activities, cooking classes, wine tastings, and more.
Republic of Maldives
The nation is made up of 1,192 islands in the Indian Ocean, spanning the equator about 500 miles southwest of Sri Lanka. Visitors generally arrive at Velana International Airport and from there take a seaplane or boat to their resort destination. The exotic appeal of the remote location includes white sand beaches, blue seas, marine life, and coral reefs. Visitors are welcome, but it is always advisable to check the current guidelines. Only about 200 of the islands are populated, and there are many exclusive resorts and private islands to choose from. Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi offers overwater, beach, and reef villas. Conrad Maldives Rangali Island features villas, suites, an undersea restaurant, and the new Muraka two-level residence. At The Nautilus, guests can choose from 26 shorefront beach and ocean houses. The new Patina Maldives Fari Islands offers a variety of accommodations. Other options in the “one island, one resort” destination include Ritz-Carlton Fari Islands, Baros, Coco Collection resorts, and Velaa Private Island.
Cape Cod, Massachusetts
One of the country’s favorite summer destinations, Cape Cod attracts many visitors during the summer for good reason. The weather is perfect, the beaches are beautiful, and the clams, lobster rolls, and fresh seafood are at their best when eaten among ocean breezes. The Cape Cod National Seashore covers 40 miles of beaches, marshland, and hiking and biking trails. For a change from a beach day, bike through six Cape Cod towns on the Cape Cod Rail Trail, offering 25 miles of varied scenery. From July 9-18, the annual Hydrangea Festival celebrates the colorful flowers with garden tours and workshops. If your visit extends into August, you might enjoy the Provincetown Jazz Festival. Cape Code offers a variety of lodging, including luxurious properties like the newly-renovated boutique Chatham Inn, with 18 guest rooms and suites. In the same town, Chatham Bars Inn features 217 accommodations located in more than 30 separate buildings over 25 acres. In Yarmouth Port, the new Chapter House is a 21-room historic property. Sesuit Harbor House offers a variety of guest rooms in East Dennis. Family-friendly Sea Crest Beach Hotel features 253 rooms and suites as well as a poolside ice cream shop.
The Ozarks, Missouri
Summer in the Ozarks brings warm weather in the low- to mid-80s — ideal for being outdoors. Missouri’s largest state park, Lake of the Ozarks, features 89 miles of shoreline, swimming beaches, marinas, campgrounds, hiking, mountain biking, and equestrian trails. From there, a scenic road trip of about two hours takes visitors to Table Rock Lake, an even larger lake with 45,000 surface acres and 800 miles of shoreline. Nearby Branson offers more to do, including museums, theme parks, golf, shopping, and nightlife. Minutes away in Ridgedale, Big Cedar Lodge, spread over 4,600 acres overlooking Table Rock Lake, is a destination with a variety of accommodations, restaurants, marinas, golf courses, and a spa. At Camp Long Creek, luxury glamping tents with access to a pool, dining, and lake views make pet-friendly camping a plush experience. Golfers of all skill levels can enjoy the new Payne’s Valley course, paying tribute to Ozarks native and World Golf Hall of Fame member, Payne Stewart. Other must-see attractions are Dogwood Canyon Nature Park and the Wonders of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium in Springfield.