Best American Cities To Visit In Summer (PHOTOS)

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



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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June 25 2011 at 3:45 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I was born in Seattle and even tho we llive on the Eastside in Bellevue area, we love being here... And we go to Hawaii every year right after the the Holidays... and It takes all the stresses off of us the minute on Ocean Front at the Hotel... It is a REAL DEEE Stresser...

June 25 2011 at 2:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

can't recommend Seattle enough, and the weather's dry and beautiful in July

June 25 2011 at 12:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I say cedar rapids, ia is the place to hang. We have it all here. If you like to hang by the waters edge, just hang in this town and the water will come to you sooner or later. OOO & want to feel safe, just come here, the oinkers have cameras everywhere to make sure you stay & keep in you`re proper plase.

June 25 2011 at 12:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

BOY Did you these guys svrew up BIG TIME they totally forgot one of the absolute BEST cities to visit in the summer (Or winter for that matter) TRAVERSE CITY MICHIGAN voted the BEST beaches in the country that isn't on an Ocean where things can kill and eat you .... No sweat swimming in thsi beautiful town on the GREAT Traverse Bays ..... winter evn with skiingh and snow mobiling and Comedy Festival
Shows you how Myopic these folks are to places where you swim and take a chance of Death by JAWS

June 25 2011 at 9:15 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to hawkscove's comment

You hit the nail on the head. Live 190 miles from there and get up there for two to three weeks every year.Best four season place in Michigan. Also has many winerys

June 25 2011 at 9:20 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I appreciate this list is AMERICAN cities but I had to put a plug for my hometown of Toronto, Canada, I now live in San Francisco (which should be on this list...please!) but Toronto is truly an amazing, diverse city and summer is the time to visit. I made this guide on things to see & do in Toronto:

Best Things to See and Do in Toronto

June 22 2011 at 1:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to EdenG's comment

Toronto is one of my favorite places to go. My wife and I used to go for a long get away week-end every year. We live near Cleveland so TO is just about a 5 hour drive.

June 25 2011 at 9:12 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply