Best American Cities To Visit In Summer (PHOTOS)

by Travel + Leisure Subscribe to Travel + Leisure's posts Posted Jun 22nd 2011 09:30 AM

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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 beach-y 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 annual Aquatennial.

"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."

Text by Katrina Brown Hunt. Photos courtesy of Travel + Leisure.

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