Skip to main content

Summer hot spots: Where to head to on vacation this year

Summer is almost upon us and that means vacation. With the dollar getting stronger each week and a relatively robust economy, getting out of dodge has never been easier nor more affordable. But where should you head to this year if you’ve only got a week or two of vacation time? We’ve picked the five best under-the-radar summer travel spots—from national parks to quaint towns to whole countries—in the U.S. and beyond. So pack your bags and dopp kits and hit the road. Your journey awaits.

Isle Royale National Park

The United States is known for its vast national park system—who hasn’t heart of Yellowstone or Glacier?—with thousands of miles of wooded and coastal terrain featuring native flora and fauna. One of the least-visited and -heralded national parks is Isle Royale on Lake Superior. Michigan’s national park is a little more than 200 square miles in area but packs a wallop in scenery and solitude. It’s a backcountry mecca, boasting acres of unspoiled rocky terrain and small lakes amid spruce and fir trees. The island doesn’t have any permanent residents nor roadways, which means you have to head here by ferry or seaplane. Hike, kayak, scuba dive, or bike to your heart’s content. You might spot moose or wolves or a variety of other reptiles and mammals.


Bora Bora is well known to honeymooning couples but nearby lies an island chain worth visiting for its beautiful beaches, world-class diving and authentic feel. Rangiroa is the one of the largest atolls in the world and is a scuba diver’s paradise. Shaped like South America, the atoll has only two permanently inhabited islands but its coral reef and sandy beaches lure in-the-know visitors every year. Divers head to Les Sable Roses—yes, that’s really pink sand!—to spy marine fauna. Shoppers haggle with local farmers for affordable freshwater pearls. Le Sauvage remains the place to stay on Motu Avea Rahi. Here you won’t find a spa, electricity, water sports or WiFi. It’s a place to literally and figuratively unplug from the every day (don’t worry, the staff does provide oil lanterns after sunset).


I wrote about Albania before but nearby Montenegro deserves a mention, too. This coastal Balkan nation is filled with national parks, historic cities and beautiful unspoiled beaches. Think Croatia 20 years ago. Like it’s neighbor to the south, Montenegro is an emerging economy with tourism as its strong suit. You’ll find old towns and beautiful lakes galore. Head to the Ulcinj coast region on the Adriatic Sea for well-preserved monasteries, sandy coves and beautiful blue water. Perast is a small town in Boka Bay that boasts old architecture and seaside restaurants featuring flavorful grilled fish. Skader Lake sits in a valley with indescribable views. Breathe in the air and breathe in the joy.

Segesta, Italy

If you think you’ve seen one ruin you’ve seen them all, think again. Segesta, Italy, is fast becoming a go-to spot on the archaeological vacation circuit. Once the capital of the ancient and elusive Elymian people, today it enjoys an enviable position as a historic site not overrun with tourists. Encompassing seven structures, the site is worth a day trip if you’re staying in Sicily. The doric temple, built around 430 BC, is the highlight, boasting 36 well-preseved columns. The other six structures on the site—the amphitheater, agora, fortress, church, mosque and city walls—are a must for history buffs, and photographers will enjoy picture-perfect views of the hills and canyon beyond from various vantage points. Local thespians sometimes enact plays at the amphitheater during the summer.

Røros, Norway

Since Frozen became a hit, everyone is Norway crazy and thanks to great deals on Norwegian Air, it’s never been easier or cheaper to get there. Yes, Oslo, Bergen and the fjords are a must but don’t miss picturesque Røros. Situated just below the Arctic Circle, this small mountain town, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, boasts clean lakes and forested valleys that can be enjoyed year round. Try your hand at mushing or taste some rømmegrøt (aka sour cream porridge) at one of the local farms. Admire the medieval-looking wooden one- and two-story homes in this former mining town that was destroyed by the Swedes in the late 1600s.

Editors' Recommendations

Shandana A. Durrani
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Shandana A. Durrani has been a magazine editor and travel writer for more than two decades. Her work has appeared in numerous…
Travel report says this surprising spot is where you can find the bluest water
Which beaches topped the list?
Blue waters

Have you ever wondered which corner of the globe boasts the most mesmerizingly blue waters? The answer might just surprise you. In a quest to uncover the world’s bluest waters, CV Villas embarked on a unique study. To find this information, the company scrutinized unedited Google Maps screenshots of 200 beaches worldwide, employing a color dropper tool to unveil the RGB code of each body of water. They then cross-referenced these findings with the RGB code of the world’s bluest shade of blue, YInMn Blue, a hue that was officially declared the bluest shade by Oregon State University in 2016. 

Using a color calculator, CV Villas determined which locations’ waters came closest to the coveted YInMn Blue, thus crowning them as the beaches with the world’s bluest waters. Contrary to the assumption that tropical paradises like the Caribbean or Bora Bora would dominate the rankings, CV Villas’ findings paint a different picture altogether. Nearly all of the destinations on the list are located within Europe, which is a surprising revelation to many. 
The world’s bluest water

Read more
Travel tips: Why you need to set a flight alert even after you book a flight
Set a flight alert (even after you book) so you won't miss out
man holding smartphone in white shirt

When you finally book those plane tickets after weeks of research and price tracking, it can be tempting to kick back and stop monitoring flight prices. After all, you locked in your airfare and your travel dates, so why keep checking?

Here's why -- setting flight alerts for your booked itinerary can end up saving you a good chunk of money, preventing a lot of hassle, or both. Airlines constantly adjust pricing, and sometimes lower fares become available even after you purchase tickets. 
How do flight alerts work?

Read more
This luxury cruise is perfect for Aston Martin, F1 fans
Aston Martin and F1 take to the seas
Side view of Aston Martin Formula 1 car

The Aston Martin nameplate evokes images of style, sophistication, and performance. From the legendary DB5 to today’s Vantage, the company’s vehicles have a combination of muscle and verve that’s hard to match. Sultry bodywork and roaring powerplants make a scene, whether on the road or track.

Similarly, Formula 1 inspires passion and excitement like few sports can. Racecars on the leading edge of tech compete on storied circuits, requiring lightning-quick reflexes from the world’s best drivers. Each race brings tension and drama, as drivers and machines explore the limits of performance. 

Read more