Picture your ideal summer. Is it lounging on a glamorous Mediterranean beach? Perhaps it’s hiking around an American wilderness where there are more animals than people? Or could it be the chance to make up for two, mostly party-free summers with a jaunt to the Caribbean?
Well, we’ve got you covered if you crave any of these trips for your summer vacation—and we’ve got seven more ideas, too, with our top picks for the best places to travel in August.
1. Reno, Nevada
August is great for: a getaway for crafty creatives
Pack light if you’re heading here this August—after all, you won’t need to wear much for most of the time at Burning Man, the quirky festival that pops up in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert for a week or so starting on August 28. The hard-to-define bash (think a trippy mashup of concert, gallery, and costume party) has become a gathering place for creatives who come here in camper vans from across the world. Every year, the organizers announce a theme, intended to inspire costumes and artworks in equal measure: for 2022, it’s Waking Dreams, so expect plenty of surreal interpretations in the installations and events.
This is the first Burning Man to take place since 2019, and tickets are already sold out: If you can’t score one on a resale site, just linger in Reno, the nearest city and 2.5 hours’ drive away, where the spillover of artsy types will be evident all week. Take a tour to see the life-size Burning Man sculptures permanently placed around the city—the BELIEVE sign should be very familiar—and visit the Generator, a year-round maker space that’s like a de facto workshop for many local Burners with a flea market, kids programs, and stores.
Where to stay: Reno Renaissance Downtown Hotel & Spa
Book now: Reno Renaissance Downtown Hotel & Spa
If you’re not camping out in the desert, are you really committed to Burning Man at all? If you must crash in a real bed, the Reno Renaissance Downtown Hotel & Spa is handily located in the heart of downtown.
How to get to Reno
There’s nonstop service from RNO to more than two dozen U.S. destinations, from JetBlue to JFK, Southwest to DEN, and swanky charter firm JSX to BUR.
2. The Nordics
August is great for: exploring winter sports sites off-season
People might consider this northern region of Europe as a winter-only destination, somewhere that’s mostly for skiing, snowmobiling, and ice fishing. But outdoorsy types should consider it in the summer, too, when the days are so long they’re literally never-ending: Midnight sun occurs in midsummer in the Arctic, when it dips below the horizon but never totally disappears, keeping darkness at bay as a result of Earth’s axis tipping more toward the sun at that time.
Come to Finland, for example, to bike around the 46-mile Lake Pihlajavesi cycling route, which opened this year and includes a lake crossing on a sightseeing boat. In Iceland, explore the Westfjords, a barely inhabited peninsula in the northwest that’s ideal for hiking, sea kayaking, and bird-watching; in summer, the ferry routes between fjords are all operating, which makes logistics much quicker and easier.
Don’t miss Denmark’s rugged Faroe Islands, either, which sit south of Iceland: The culture here practices heimablídni or home hospitality, which means a dinner of classic dishes (mutton’s a go-to staple) will be accompanied by stories of the history and tradition of the area.
Where to stay: Icehotel 365 in Sweden
Book now: Icehotel 365
The concept of Icehotel 365 in Sweden is irresistible, especially in the summer. Come here for the chance to sleep in a room that’s carved entirely of ice.
How to get to Iceland
Icelandair operates at 16 airports in the United States, from which it still offers a free stopover program, allowing you idle for a few days in country before heading to your final destination.
3. Denali, Alaska
August is great for: huskies, home cooking, and hiking
Though you’re not likely to see the aurora borealis here this month–it’s too bright in midsummer for the phenomenon to occur as easily as it does for the rest of the year—there are ample reasons to visit Alaska’s Denali National Park & Preserve right now.
The 6-million-acre site, anchored by the 20,310-foot high namesake mountain, is ideal for whitewater rafting down the Nenana River or off-trail hiking. It’s the only national park with its own kennel of 30 sled dogs, and rangers hold demos daily over the summer, giving you a chance to tour the huskies’ kennels and see the traditional Alaskan mode of transport in action.
August is also when the town of Healy, 30 miles from the park, hosts its annual Blueberry Festival: expect concerts, family fun, and, of course, plenty of blueberry-powered treats, including the town’s very own Bake Off. Check the local Chamber of Commerce site for confirmation on this year’s date.
Where to stay: Denali Park Village
Book now: Denali Park Village
Denali Park Village’s lodges and cabins sit in a tucked-away valley along the Nenana River; there are trails to hike and explore right on property, or head to the Miner’s Village, where you can try your luck at panning for gold.
How to get to Denali
Book a flight on Alaska Airlines to Fairbanks, the closest airport; from there, it’s a 125-mile drive through the rugged countryside to reach Denali.
4. St. Tropez, France
August is great for: channeling your inner Brigitte Bardot
Is anywhere more synonymous with Mediterranean summer glamour than this resort town? Brigitte Bardot helped catapult it to international fame in the late 1950s. (Look for the sculpture of the sex symbol in front of the Musée de la Gendarmerie et du Cinéma.) It’s been a hedonistic hot spot for more than six decades, anchored by world-famous nightclubs like Les Caves du Roy. But even in peak season, there are alternatives: Take the two-week-long concert series Festival Les Nuits du Château de la Moutte, with classical, jazz, and baroque performances alfresco at the namesake castle.
If you need a complete break from sashaying past the superyachts, head 50 minutes or so along the coast to the resort town of Fréjus, which hosts its annual Grape Festival from August 4 to 7 this year. It’s a centuries-old tradition celebrating the winemakers of the Var, with folk-costumed parades, concerts of Provençal songs, and the chance to sample some of the area’s best vintages.
Where to stay: Hotel Lou Pinet
Book now: Hotel Lou Pinet
The 34-room très chic Hotel Lou Pinet is owned by fashion mogul Patrick Pariente and his daughters, who rebooted the property when they took it over five years ago, with a deliberate nod to Bardot-era glamour.
How to get to St. Tropez
Score a bargain flatbed seat on the seasonal service from all-biz airline La Compagnie, which connects EWR and Nice three times each week, starting at $2,550 per person.
5. St. Lucia
August is great for: witnessing a once-yearly underwater phenom
Gaze into the blue waters around this Caribbean island in late August (specifically, one week after the full moon, on August 21–23) and you’ll witness an extraordinary sight: coral-spawning, when the reefs here release packets of eggs out into the ocean, pink, yellow, and blue, like watery confetti.
You’ll get glimpses of the once-yearly event from the surface, but it’s really most spectacular if you’re a diver. And this year, you can book a jaunt with Scuba St. Lucia under the auspices of guest lecturer Mickey Charteris, author of Caribbean Reef Life: A Field Guide for Divers, and an expert in the ecosystems here.
Where to stay: Anse Chastenet Resort
Book now: Anse Chastanet Resort
The 49-room Anse Chastanet Resort sits on its own 600-acre tropical forest site with killer views out across the Pitons; enjoy some local goodies made onsite at the hotel’s own chocolate lab.
How to get to St. Lucia
The U.S. legacy carriers all serve the main island airport, UVF, from their hubs—think Delta from ATL and United from EWR.
6. San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
August is great for: classical music buffs
This postcard-pretty city in Mexico’s central highlands is a UNESCO World Heritage site, anchored by its bubblegum-pink cathedral; the cobblestone streets are ideal for a lazy meander on a summer afternoon (and yes, a few irresistible Insta shots, too—we won’t judge).
San Miguel de Allende has long had an arty, boho vibe, in part thanks to the writers and artists who’ve called it home. Beatniks Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady lived here for a stint, as did Mexican surrealist painter Pedro Friedberg.
This month’s staple culture fest is the two-week Festival de Música de Cámara, a world-class celebration of string quartets. Perhaps even more appealing, though, are the impromptu jams that take place, often in the Jardin, the main plaza. They are performed by the 50 or so young Mexican musicians who are invited here to live and study over that same period, taking master classes with visiting violinists and others.
Where to stay: Namron
Book now: Namron
Mexican boutique chainlet Namron opened its newest site right here, in June 2022: La Valise San Miguel de Allende is a six-suite hotel in a converted colonial-era building in the city’s center.
How to get to San Miguel de Allende
Mexican low-cost carrier Volaris flies direct to Del Bajio airport in Guanajuato from Los Angeles, as does United from Houston. It’s around 90 minutes’ drive from there to the city.
7. Western Cape, South Africa
August is great for: whale watching with calves
Come to the town Hermanus on the southern tip of the western Cape this month for the chance to see newborns swimming with their mothers during whale calving season. The southern right whales migrate from the chilly waters of Antarctica starting in June, but their birthing season kicks off in August; there will likely be other whale species to see, but the southern rights are the stars.
This seaside town is the best perch to spy them thanks to a quirk of nature: The ocean waters remain deep close to shore, which means the whales will swim more readily nearby. Learn more about the animals at the Whale House Museum, and keep an ear open for honks from the official whale crier, who’ll keep an eye out for passing animals and blow on a kelp horn to alert locals of any sightings.
Where to stay: Grootbos
Book now: Grootbos
Grootbos is a resort on its own 6,000-acre private nature reserve where you can explore the Cape’s countryside on quad bikes and horseback, or just take a scenic walk.
How to get to Hermanus
United Airlines operates a seasonal direct service to Cape Town from EWR; it’s a two-hour drive or so from there to Hermanus.
8. Zanzibar, Tanzania
August is great for: an unexpected African music fest
Reggae isn’t just a Caribbean obsession as the two-day Zanzibar Reggae fest on this island archipelago this month proves. This year’s edition, the fourth, will feature artists like Ras Coco and Ras Gumbo. It’s intended as a community rallying point as much as a concert or two, per the organizers: Festivalgoers are encouraged to join in on beach clean-up efforts before the bash and help with tree planting programs, too.
There is also an offbeat offering here year-round that will appeal to some music aficionados: the Freddie Mercury Museum, a space dedicated to the flamboyant rock singer and frontman of Queen, who was born and brought up here. It documents the early life of the Persian Zoroastrian singer, born Farrokh Bulsara. Centuries earlier, Persian immigrants first brought spices here for which Zanzibar is now famous. Pick up cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and black pepper, all of which thrive in the rich soil.
Where to stay: Nungwi Dreams
Book now: Nungwi Dreams
Nungwi Dreams by Mantis sits on one of the island’s most pristine beaches on its northern tip—there’s a deck that connects straight onto the sands.
How to get to Zanzibar
The Tanzanian capital of Dar Es Salaam is probably easiest to reach on one of the Gulf carriers—Emirates, for example, from JFK via Dubai. From there, it’s a short flight to Zanzibar, or opt for a scenic, two-hour ferry.
9. St. George, Grenada
August is great for: oiling up and getting down
Grenada’s carnival season kicks off in July but peaks on the second Monday and Tuesday in August—this year, August 8–9—with Spicemas, the climax of the fest that marks and celebrates the end of slavery in the Caribbean country.
Suspended for two years thanks to the pandemic, it’s returning with gusto in 2022: Expect costumed parades, the Indo Caribbean soca tradition, lilting calypso music, and slabs of black cake, the rum-spiked fruit cake that’s bathed in booze for weeks in advance. Look for people dressed as Jab Jab, the Grenadian devil-like figure (its name derives from diable or devil in French). They’re slathered in black oil and sporting horned headpieces; if you want to join in with this particular tradition, expect to get covered in oil by locals, too.
The Vieux Corps parade within Spicemas is another standout that combines celebration with commemoration: Revelers in this event wear masks as a nod to the fact that enslaved people were robbed of their individual identities when they were brought here from their African homes.
Where to stay: Silversands
Book now: Silversands
Splurge on a room at the ultra-luxe, ultra-modern Silversands on the two-mile-long Grand Anse Beach on the island’s southwest coast. You’ll always find space by the pool—at almost 330 feet, it’s the longest in the Caribbean.
How to get to St. George
There are nonstop flights to the island on American and Jetblue from JFK, CLT, and MIA.
August is great for: summer with the superyachts
The Bay of Kotor—locals call it the Boka—is an astonishing, fjord-like body of water on the Montenegrin coast. The dramatic setting has become a favorite among superyachters, which has conferred a new, glamorous sheen on this Connecticut-sized country.
In August, the nearby town of Kotor hosts not one but two important events. The Summer Carnival is a four-day event where more than 30 local groups gather to perform and parade through town in traditional costume, a practice that has continued unbroken for more than five centuries. A newer addition to the calendar this month is the Montenegro Film Festival, also held in early August, which has spotlighted the filmmakers of southeastern Europe since its founding about a decade ago. There are alfresco screenings inside the 400-year-old Kanli Kula fortress. This year’s program includes 20 movies and documentaries, all with English subtitles.
And the glitterati here even have their own special bash in August thanks to Polo in the Port, a two-day event that draws a roster of international players from around the world to compete on a pop-up field here.
Where to stay: One & Only Portonovi
Book now: One & Only Portonovi
One & Only Portonovi is the first outpost for the luxury hotelier in Europe, right on the entrance to Boka Bay, complete with a 43,000-square-foot spa onsite operated by tony Euro wellness brand Chenot.
How to get to Montenegro
United Airlines runs a direct flight from EWR to Dubrovnik, from which it’s a one-hour drive across the border from Croatia.
>> Next: 8 Unforgettable European Road Trips