8 Cool-Weather Destinations to Escape the Heat This Summer

written by LAUREN BLUE
cool weather summer vacations"
cool weather summer vacations
Source: Pexels | Pixabay
Source: Pexels | Pixabay

IMHO, summer is by far the best season. Sure, pumpkin spice lattes are great, but fall doesn’t quite measure up in my book. Spring is lovely, but it’s really just summer lite. And winter… I mean, come on, it’s not even a contest. Another season will never dethrone summer from the #1 spot in my personal ranking. However, I somehow forget one aspect of summer every year as I eagerly anticipate the season’s return: the heat. Living in Texas in July and August makes me feel like I’ve taken up residence on the sun’s surface. The only way to survive the heat is staying in the AC 24/7, floating on a body of water, or escaping on cool-weather summer vacations.

If you can relate to a desperate need to travel somewhere cooler for relief, you’re not alone. According to Condé Nast Traveller, instead of following the sun and sand on vacation, people are seeking lower temps in a new travel trend called “coolcationing.” The article references a survey done by the travel advisor network Virtuoso that found 82 percent of its clients are considering destinations with more temperate weather for their travels this year. It’s no surprise travelers are choosing cooler destinations after 2023 brought us the Northern Hemisphere’s hottest summer on record. With temperatures only expected to continue rising as we get further into summer, coolcationing might be the way to go. Keep reading for eight cool-weather summer vacation ideas to beat the heat this season.

1. Seattle, Washington

cool weather summer vacations
Source: Unsplash | Jules Marvin Eguilos

Summer vacays in cities usually conjure memories of heat radiating from concrete, causing your summer beat to slowly melt off your face. However, just because you want a cool-weather summer vacation doesn’t mean you need to write off cities entirely. Seattle is the compromise you’re looking for. With an average temperature of 72 degrees in August and a never-ending list of things to see, it’s a fantastic vacation destination. Visit the iconic Pike Place Market, where you can peruse the seemingly endless numbers of stalls at the over 100-year-old marketplace. If you’re a coffee fan, the original Starbucks store is located just across the cobblestoned street. You also must stop by the famous Seattle landmark, the Space Needle, for 360-degree views of the entire city. Perhaps the biggest highlight of a temperate city is exploring the whole city on foot without the heat forcing you indoors.

Where to stay: Hôtel Ändra Seattle MGallery Hotel Collection (from $209 a night), Seattle Marriott Waterfront (from $273)

2. Mount Hood, Oregon

cool weather summer vacations
Source: Pexels | Michael McGarry

Located about two hours east of Portland, the Mount Hood area of Oregon is the ideal getaway if you want to experience the great outdoors without worrying about heatstroke. The stunning peak of Mount Hood (which is actually an active volcano) is always snow-capped, creating a gorgeous backdrop for your getaway. The area offers summer highs in the 70s to low 80s and activities aplenty for every level of adventurer. There are tons of hikes for beginners, but experienced backpackers should consider the Timberline Trail, a challenging 40-mile route that loops around to the peak of Mount Hood.

Beyond the mountain itself, the nearby Multnomah Falls is another must-see. The 620-foot-tall waterfall is the most visited natural recreation site in the Pacific Northwest and makes for a stunning photo op. If you’re looking for a nearby city to make your home base, Hood River should be on your list. This serene town is located right on the water and has been dubbed the windsurfing capital of the world. If windsurfing sounds a little too adventurous, the town also has plenty of breweries and delicious restaurants where you can kick back and dine al fresco.

Where to stay: Inn at the Gorge (from $190 a night), Carson Ridge Luxury Cabins (from $317)

3. Grand Haven, Michigan

cool weather summer vacations
Source: Unsplash | Ian Hutchinson

If you need your summer beach fix but don’t want to spend your whole trip sweating on the sand, allow me to introduce you to Grand Haven, Michigan. It has all the sandy beaches and small-town charm of a getaway to the Gulf right in the Midwest. Temperatures max out around 80 degrees in Grand Haven, and the refreshing Lake Michigan water will keep you cool. When you’re not lounging lakeside, walk along the town’s boardwalk, which will take you from the beach to downtown. There, you’ll find adorable historic buildings that house cafés, restaurants, and shops to stroll through. Once you’ve seen everything on land, take your sightseeing to the water on a sunset sail, kayaking, or paddleboard expedition.

Where to stay: Looking Glass Beachfront Inn (from $148 a night), Harbor House Inn (from $245)

4. San Francisco, California

cool weather summer vacations
Source: Pexels | Pixabay

If you’re so over the heat that even 70 degrees feels too warm, it’s time to head to northern California. Summer temperatures in San Francisco usually rest comfortably in the mid to upper 60s, getting down into the 50s when the sun goes down. With weather this mild, you won’t mind walking everywhere, though you might want to hop on a cable car or other public transportation due to all the hills. Trust me, your calves will thank you.

When in SF, you can’t miss walking across the Golden Gate Bridge, which takes about 30 minutes each way. Allow yourself plenty of time for photo ops because the view is unreal. Afterward, take the ferry to visit Alcatraz Island and learn about the history of the infamous federal prison, which operated from 1934 to 1963. For lighter sightseeing, head to Fisherman’s Wharf or the Ferry Building Marketplace for some shopping and dining, or soak up some culture at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art or the Legion of Honor Museum.

Where to stay: The Westin St. Francis San Francisco on Union Square (from $142 a night), Fairmont San Francisco (from $217)

5. Telluride, Colorado

cool weather summer vacations
Source: Unsplash | Mick Kirchman

If you want to experience breathtaking scenery no matter where you turn, try a trip to Telluride. Nestled in a valley and surrounded by the San Juan Mountains, this mountain town has no bad views. Plus, temperatures in the area rarely even hit the 80s. There are ample opportunities to experience nature in Telluride, from hiking or biking the trails to floating down the San Miguel River. While in town, spend an afternoon ambling down Telluride’s historic downtown and popping into the many local shops. Telluride is also well known for its festivals throughout the summer. They have a festival for everything—film, bluegrass, yoga, and even mushrooms—so be sure to check out what events are happening during your visit.

Where to stay: Mountain Lodge Telluride (from $298 a night), The Hotel Telluride (from $342)

6. Lake Tahoe, California

cool weather summer vacations
Source: Unsplash | Makenzie Cooper

Lake Tahoe is an absolute dream destination in the summer. The weather is impeccable—with an average high of 79 degrees and a low of 50 degrees in August—and the scenery is jaw-dropping. You could spend your whole trip in the crystal-clear water swimming, boating, fishing, stand-up paddleboarding, or kayaking. When you’re not living your best life in the water, walk around the lake via the East Shore Trail or find a hiking trail with Lake Tahoe views at Van Sickle Bi-State Park. For something more laid-back, grab a pint in the sun at one of the many craft breweries in the town.

Where to stay: The Landing Tahoe Resort & Spa (from $314 a night), Marriott Grand Residence Club (from $319)

7. Boston, Massachusetts

cool weather summer vacations
Source: Unsplash | Yuval Zukerman

Boston is a fabulous vacation destination year-round, but the city truly shines in the summer. Temperatures peak at around 80 degrees, giving you all the summer vibes without the sweat stains. Be sure to spend some time exploring Beacon Hill, one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods that’s full of brick row houses and charming streets. Walk along Charles Street to admire the historic architecture and shop some boutiques, ending up at the Boston Common, the oldest park in America. You also won’t want to miss visiting Cambridge to experience the Harvard campus.

And, of course, you can’t leave town without trying a lobster roll, the best of which you can find at The Barking Crab, a well-loved restaurant in the Seaport District. Afterward, stop by the nearby site of the Boston Tea Party, where you can see the ships and museum commemorating the event. For the full Boston experience, however, try catching a Red Sox game at the famous Fenway Park.

Where to stay: Hilton Boston Park Plaza (from $149 a night), Fairmont Copley Plaza Boston (from $274)

8. Jackson Hole, Wyoming

cool weather summer vacations
Source: Unsplash | Mick Kirchman

Ever since Beyoncé released Cowboy Carter, we have all been ready for a cowgirl summer, and Jackson Hole is the best place to tap into your country side. The temperature sits comfortably at around 80 degrees, making it a great environment to get outside. Put on your boots and hat and try horseback riding, locate some trails for hiking or biking, or try whitewater rafting if you’re feeling adventurous. Grand Teton National Park, only about a 20-minute drive from downtown Jackson Hole, allows you to try nearly any outdoor activity with unmatched surroundings.

Jackson Hole also has lots to explore downtown, including the famous Million Dollar Cowboy Bar, where you can two-step the night away to live music. Another activity only available during the summer months is the Ariel Tram, which takes you up over 4,000 feet for a summit with a 360-degree view of the surrounding mountains you can’t experience anywhere else.

Where to stay: Snow King Resort Hotel and Condos (from $226 a night), Cowboy Village Resort (from $355)