The warmer months are here and like you, many are hitting the road for that long-awaited summer vacation. But not everyone will want to spend their well-deserved time off in scorching summer heat or unbearable humidity. Instead, why not choose destination with a cooler summer climate and great places to stay. If you do, you’ll likely have a far better experience, especially when traveling by car.

Where Are Best Cooler Summer Destinations In America?

Downtown Ann Arbor at dusk, with a view of the illuminated marque of the Michigan Theatre
Downtown Ann Arbor (credit: Randy Yagi)

Ann Arbor, Michigan

Among the cities with the coldest annual temperatures is Detroit. In fact, it also ranks as one of the cities with the lowest normal daily maximum summer temperatures. Indeed, during the height of summer, Motor City only has an average high of 83 degrees and low of 64. On the other hand, Ann Arbor is a city with a cool vibe and a vibrant food scene. In fact, it’s arguably much better than Detroit. What’s more, it’s only 30 minutes away from its larger, neighboring city.

Home to University of Michigan

Just the sixth largest city in Michigan, Ann Arbor is best known as a college town. One of the country’s best public universities, Michigan home to Michigan Stadium. In fact, the stadium is the largest in the country and world’s second largest. Additionally, you will find attractions like Gerald Ford Presidential Library. If that’s not enough, you should see the University of Michigan Art Museum and Law School Quadrangle.

Downtown Ann Arbor

Amongother leading attractions are Washington Street Gallery, Michigan Theater, and the vibrant Main Street area. Moreover, it’s the same Main Street that Bob Seeger once sang about. Among the leading events coming up this summer are Michigan Elvisfest in Ypsilanti’s historic Depot Town and Ann Arbor Street Art Fair. Indeed, the latter has been recently the best art fair in the country. If you really want to beat the summer heat in Ann Arbor, book a reservation towards the end of summer. Not only is it cooler, you’ll have smaller crowds.

Related: Summer Travel Tips

Ann Arbor Foodie Scene

Of course there is no shortage for dining in a rising foodie city like Ann Arbor. In detail, there are Zingerman’s Delicatessen and the James Beard Award-winning Zingerman’s Roadhouse. In addition, are the French-fusion restaurant Mikette Bistro and Bar, the and French-New American Taste Kitchen. Even further are restaurants with James Beard Award-winning chefs, like Vinology and the Slurping Turtle. For lodging, stay at Graduate Ann Arbor, Residence Inn Ann Arbor, the Bell Tower and the Kensington Hotel.

Related: Rare Cars In American Car Museums

Denver, Colorado

Despite summer highs in the mid 80s, Denver ranks among the top five cities with lowest daily temperatures. But the primary reasons behind these mild temperatures are actually quite simple. To illustrate, it has a semi-arid, high desert climate with very low humidity. What’s more it has an altitude of 5,280 feet above sea level. Of course, this lends to the city’s claim of more annual hours of sunshine than Miami or San Diego. But then again, there is far less summer heat than those two coastal cities.

Denver Top Attractions

There are several exceptional spots to visit outside of the city. For instance, there are Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park, University of Colorado and Grand County’s Winter Park. Of course, there are plenty of great things to do right within the Mile High City. For example, there are Coors Field, 16th Street Mall, Denver Zoo, Colorado State Capitol and Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Clearly, Denver is an awesome spot to visit to escape the summer heat.

Denver Lodging

Among the top recommendations for lodging are Brown Palace Hotel and Spa, the ART, a hotel named best hotel in Colorado, the landmark Oxford Hotel and the dazzling new Crawford Hotel.

Portland, Oregon

Portland is a great city to visit any time of the year but there’s no better time to visit than in the summer. Nicknamed the City of Roses, Portland has a daily summer mean of 67 degrees, but that doesn’t mean temperatures won’t reach 80 and above. Even then, visitors can enjoy many of this vibrant city’s leading attractions, the world famous International Rose Test Garden in Washington Park, Portland Japanese Garden, Pittock Mansion, Portland Museum of Art and the beloved Powell’s City of Books, the largest independent bookstore in the world.

Take In The Natural Beauty

Visitors should also consider traveling outside of the city, especially along the Columbia River Gorge to see the famous Multnomah Falls, a wine tour of the Willamette Valley, a trip to the breathtaking Oregon coast, a luxury steamboat ride onboard the American Empress, or a day trip to the city of Vancouver, Washington, just north across the Columbia River from Portland.

Portland Events

If that’s not all, Portland will also feature several important summer events, like the Oregon Zoo Summer Concerts featuring leading artists like Melissa Etheridge, Billy Idol and the Roots, the Waterfront Blues Festival featuring George Thorogood, the Revivalists and more, Oregon Brewers Festival and the Pickathon indie roots music festival. As the largest city in Oregon, Portland offers several lodging options, including upscale hotels like the Duniway Portland, the Nines, the Sentinel and the Heathman Hotel. Best of all, you won’t have to experience any type of summer heat.

Related: Get Around Seattle Without A Rental Car

People enjoy the view of the Palace of Fine Arts on a summer vacation in San Francisco
Palace of Fine Arts (credit: Randy Yagi)

San Francisco, California

Despite its reputation as an expensive city, San Francisco is a great place to visit and especially for visitors seeking a cooler climate. In fact, San Francisco consistently ranks at the top amongst all major American cities with the coolest summer temperatures. Although the crowds will definitely be larger, visitors will always want to visit the city’s most famous attractions, like Alcatraz Island, Chinatown, the largest outside of Asia, Fisherman’s Wharf  and Pier 39, Oracle Park,home of the San Francisco Giants and Golden Gate Bridge. If you really want to get away from the summer heat, the City By the Bay is a top choice.

Related: Best Hiking On The West Coast

San Francisco Lodging

For lodging, visitors may be surprised how affordable the weekday rates can be, especially when booking last minute reservations through reliable booking sites like Expedia, Kayak and Trivago, as well as last minute travel apps like HotelTonight. Recommended hotels include the Marker, Galleria Park Hotel, Hotel Zoe and Hotel Zephyr or even pricier spots like the Argonaut Hotel, Hotel Vitale and the St Regis San Francisco.

Related: Fun Things Onboard Princess Cruises

Seattle, Washington

As the largest city in the Pacific Northwest, Seattle ranks just below San Francisco for perfectly cool summers, with an average of 65 degrees between June and August. While there will be a slight chance of rain, the Emerald City offers all sorts of fun activities to enjoy, particularly because of its location between Puget Sound and Lake Washington, as well as its close proximity to its many evergreen forests. For instance, visitors can enjoy a boat tour from Seattle Harbor, kayaking at places like Discovery Park Lake Union, a ferryboat ride to Bainbridge Island or even a day trip to Mount Rainier.

Additional Things To See In Seattle

However, the most famous attractions are right within the city, such as Safeco Field, home of the Seattle Mariners, Pike Place Market, summer festivals like Bite of Seattle, Seattle Street Food Festival and Seafair. Seattle offers several luxury hotels, including the Fairmont Olympic Hotel and the  Edgewater Hotel. Incidentally, you typically won’t need to turn up the heat at any hotel in Seattle.

About The Author

Randy Yagi is an award-winning freelance writer who served as the National Travel Writer for CBS Local from 2012-2019. More than 900 of his stories still appear in syndication across 23 CBS websites, including CBS New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco. During his peak years with CBS, Randy had a reported digital audience reach of 489 million and 5.5 million monthly visitors. Additionally, his stories have appeared in the Daily Meal, CBS Radio, Engadget and Radio.com.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *