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The best U.S. destinations to visit this July

Get far, far from home this summer at some of the best U.S. vacation spots. Bonus: No passport required!

Man standing triumphantly atop a peak in New Hampshire's White Mountain National Forest.
Matt Collamer/Unsplash

Hurray! Summer is officially here, and July is just around the corner. For many Americans, it’s a month full of backyard barbecues, crisp summer beers, and epic road trips. But, if you’re looking to enjoy the season and the perfect weather by getting far, far from home, here are five destinations where July is the perfect time to visit. Bonus: No passport required!

The Colorado Rockies

Closeup of a small cluster of yellow flowers with mountains in the background in Colorado's Rocky Mountain National Park.
Rocky Mountain National Park

If you love snow, you already know all the reasons to visit Colorado the other 11 months out of the year. But The Centennial State has a distinctly different vibe during the summer in general and July in particular. Naturally, it’s a great time to get outdoors and experience the Colorado Rockies when they’re not covered in white. Colorado’s national and state parks come alive in a unique way that’s rarely seen in winter. During the summer, for example, Crested Butte turns into an ocean of wildflowers. The annual Crested Butte Wildflower Festival is a sight to behold and an even better one to photograph. For nature lovers, it’s a worthy destination in its own right.

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Mackinac Island, Michigan

View of buildings amid flowers and greenery on the water on Michigan's Mackinac Island.
Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau

For outsiders, Michigan might seem an unlikely destination to visit any time of year. Not so in the summer, when it’s the ideal time to experience Mackinac Island. With no cars allowed, calm lake waves, crisp weather, and a laid-back vibe, it’s the closest inlanders can feel to a legit beach vacation without actually heading to the coast. July is a prime time to visit as the island’s annual July 4th/Independence Day fireworks celebration is among the best in the state. The Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac also takes place at the end of the month, which guarantees plenty of beach-style partying and general high-society shenanigans.

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Southeast Alaska

Group of travelers gathered on the bow of a cruise ship in Alaska's Glacier Bay National Park.
Robert Linder/Unsplash / Unsplash

For outsiders, much of Alaska feels (and is) pretty inaccessible throughout most of the year. It is huge, cold, and full of grizzly bears, after all. But summer is the ideal time to visit much of the state, and southeast Alaska, in particular. Cruising the area around Sitka and the capital city Juneau is the best way to see some of the state’s best sights in the shortest amount of time. On just a weeklong cruise, you can expect to kayak glacial waters, come face-to-face with humpback whales, trek massive glaciers, and explore some of the state’s coolest and funkiest small towns. July is also a great time to find last-minute cruise deals. Best of all: you won’t need a parka. This time of year, the weather is far milder and more comfortable than you might expect.

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Boise (and the rest of Idaho)

A high-angle view of downtown Boise, Idaho with mountains in the background.
City of Boise

Idahoans have undertaken a decades-long campaign to ensure every outside American associates their state only with potatoes. To the uninitiated, Idaho appears to be a vast, uninteresting farmland to provide the rest of the country with French fries. So, you might be surprised to know that it’s one of the most beautiful, adventure-heavy states in the country.

July just happens to be the best time of year to visit, particularly if you’re not down with snow. For amateur astronomers, it’s home to one of the best dark sky reserves in the country. Rafting enthusiasts will find no shortage of whitewater challenges on the Snake River. The Sawtooth Mountains boast hundreds of miles of killer single-track and ATV trails, and Boise is way more fun and sunny than you’d expect the capital of Idaho to be.

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The White Mountains in New Hampshire

A still mountain lake surrounded by evergreen trees in New Hampshire's White Mountain National Forest.
U.S. Forest Service White Mountain National Forest

The White Mountains might seem an obvious summer getaway to local New Englanders. However, the epic day hiking, legit mountain biking, and cycling opportunities here still fly under the radar for some adventure enthusiasts from other parts of the country. The most heavily trafficked trails center around Loon Mountain in particular and Lincoln in general. But, with more than 148,000 acres to explore in White Mountain National Forest alone, it’s easy to escape the town center and find ample green space all to yourself. For a more relaxed getaway, Newfound Lake is the largest freshwater beach in the state, while Squam Lake provides endless canoeing and kayaking opportunities.

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Mike Richard
Mike Richard has traveled the world since 2008. He's kayaked in Antarctica, tracked endangered African wild dogs in South…
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