Summer is prime vacation time, and people often take the chance to hit their top summer spots while the weather is warmer. Many also take the chance to visit otherwise chilly destinations so that they can enjoy them in all their sunny glory. As summer draws to a close and fall approaches, however, the days are once again getting shorter in many northern hemisphere destinations.
Now is the time to catch the last rays of summer in the places where fall will soon descend with its chilly mornings and gorgeous foliage. Places like Alaska or Stockholm are beautiful in the winter, but far better appreciated when one isn't bundled up against harsh winds or blizzards. Other spots, such as South Africa or Buenoes Aires, simply have some of the best weather towards the end of the season. Take the family to the beach before the water gets too cold or take in the beautiful summer scenery. Whether you're excited to greet autumn or already mourning the loss of warmer weather, consider a trip to these destinations perfect for bidding farewell to summer.
As gorgeous as snow can be, the days in Alaska can get very short in the colder months. To get the most out of this vast and magnificent state that has plenty of reasons to visit, a trip in the summer is best. Anchorage in particular is a fantastic spot to beat the summer heat, with temperatures averaging around 60 degrees at the height of summer and days that are 18 hours long. Alaska's beauty really shines through in the summer in gorgeous towns like Sitka, as well as Instagram gold mines like Denali National Park and Reserve.
Summer is peak season in the super cultural destination of Amsterdam, but there's a reason for that. The Netherlands are quite chilly the rest of the year, and summer temperatures average in the high 60s and low 70s. Over 300 festivals occur in the city every year, and the vast majority of them are in the summer; you'll find festivals celebrating food, music, culture, and art nearly every weekend. When you're not partying outdoors, you're likely to be eating or drinking there; Amsterdam's food scene is impressive, and restaurants and bars tend to take things outside once the weather gets nicer.
Buenos Aires was recently dubbed the first ever Art Basel City, and in celebration, this Argentinian capital will be hosting a week of public arts events in September in celebration. Lovers of arts and culture will relish this city any time of the year, however, as Buenos Aires is known for its dance, design, and galleries. Come in August to witness the spectacle that is BA Fashion Week. Try some Argentinian cuisine while you're there, too, as the locals sure know how to eat right.
Copenhagen might be one of the best places to celebrate Christmas, but we still think the freezing temperatures can put a damper on the festivities. You'll have far more fun at Tivoli Gardens in the summer when open-air concerts and gorgeous flowers take over the amusement park and high temperatures in the city average in the low 60s. Just outside Copenhagen you'll find beautiful beaches along the Danish Riviera, as well as Funen, an island with castles, manors, and public gardens that was the birthplace of famed writer Hans Christian Andersen.
Not only should you definitely visit Greenland this year, but you should also consider doing so in the summer. This northernmost North American country is generally freezing most of the year, and so average temperatures reach a cool average of 50 degrees in the middle of summer. You can still enjoy the glaciers and mountains of this large island nation in addition to its unique cuisine, but summer also means you'll have fewer crowds to deal with as well as a chance to see the awe-inspiring midnight sun - a phenomenon in the northern two-thirds of the country in which the sun is up for days or even weeks. Go around the summer solstice and the sky won't even go fully dark, with the sun only setting for a short while at night.
One of the safest cities in the world, Helsinki is best seen in the summer when temperatures are far more comfortable and the days are far longer as opposed to the colder days throughout the rest of the year. Enjoy the Scandinavian sunshine in the city's many outdoor bars and cafes, and visit the sea fortress of Suomenlinna. Helsinki also has plenty of interesting museums and beautiful parks, and the average temperature at the height of summer is around the mid-60s.
Enjoy the best of the Emerald Isle when it's at its greenest and sunniest. There are plenty of magical spots in Ireland, which is known for its rolling hills, green landscapes, and picturesque waters, and summertime is the best time for a drive, hike, or a bike ride through the Irish countryside. Ireland has an abundance of beaches to offer, as well as famed music, art, and food festivals throughout the summer.
Known for being the summer home of the Bush family, Kennebunkport's trademarked slogan is "The Place to be all Year," but the town is best visited during warmer weather. There are multiple beaches for your swimming and sunning needs, and the Franciscan monastery is open year round, with beautifully maintained grounds and a beautiful view of the harbor. Whale watching and golf are also popular endeavors. There's even a Seashore Trolley Museum, which offers the chance to operate a trolley for yourself!
Nearly 3 million people annually make it out to the border of California and Nevada to visit Lake Tahoe, one of the biggest, clearest, and deepest freshwater lakes on the planet. Lake Tahoe is a year-round destination with offerings that vary with the seasons. While it's known as one of the best winter destinations for skiing and snowboarding, it's still a great place to be in the summer with plenty of opportunities for hiking, golfing, boating, and other watersports. Get some of the country's best waffles at the Red Hut Café. Dining, shopping, and nature sightseeing are all worthwhile endeavors to pursue in this beautiful getaway spot.
Pronounced "MAK-i-naw," Macinac Island is the hidden gem of Michigan with its Victorian charm and fun activities for the entire family. The island is a three-in-one destination: You can visit Active Mackinac for a more outdoorsy time with biking, hiking, horse-riding, and paddling; Grand Mackinac for a more upper-class experience at the Grand Hotel resort; or Fudgie Mackinac to indulge your sweet tooth with the island's famous fudge amid historic and shopping sites. As it is located between the Upper and Lower Peninsulas of Michigan, Mackinac is chilly through most of the year, and outright freezing in the snowy winter, making this destination most enjoyable in the summer sun. Tours of the island are available on foot, bike, or even via kayak or stand-up paddle board, both of which are available for rentals. We also recommend bringing your own bicycle; Mackinac is known for its island-wide motor vehicle ban.
The island of Nantucket is a small destination off the coast of Massachusetts, but it has long been a vacation spot for the average Joe as well as upper-class Americans and celebrities. Perfect for a weekend getaway, the island is particularly popular in the summer, as the area sees its best weather all year. The marine life of Nantucket can be seen at the local aquarium, and eaten at fantastic seafood restaurants such as the Nantucket Lobster Trap. Nantucket is also an extremely safe destination, and families have been known to allow their children to wander on their own.
Oslo is another top destination this year thanks to the king and queen's golden wedding anniversary as well as recent expansions to Oslo's airport. The city is full of museums and parks, all of which will be more enjoyable (and more likely to be open) in the warmer months, as well as restaurants and cafes full of great food and fantastic Norwegian coffee. Mid-summer temperatures average in the mid-60s, meaning you won't be sweating as you would in much of the rest of Europe, which makes it the best time to go island-hopping in the Oslo Fjord for amazing views of blue waters against the backdrop of white mountains.
South Africa offers everything from safaris to cosmopolitan city life to beaches to historical sites. Being located in the Southern Hemisphere, the summer months of the Northern Hemisphere are actually wintertime here. Tourism is at its lowest and the weather is at its coldest - which actually isn't too cold, with high temperatures averaging in the upper 60s and low temperatures rarely going below the upper 30s. Enjoy iconic street food like bunny chow, hit world-class beaches like Camps Bay Beach, and stay in affluent hotels in the Western Cape. Hotel rates drop by as much as 40 to 50 percent, and safaris and tours are much cheaper as well. And if you really are a safari buff, South Africa's winter is the best time for one; as it's dry season, animals are more likely to be found at water sources and are also easier to see with shorter grass and barer trees.
A city made up of 14 islands and over 50 bridges, Stockholm really is best visited in warmer weather. Summertime sees a truly pleasant average of the low 70s, perfect for sailing among the Baltic Sea and enjoying freshwater swimming. Whereas Stockholm only receives about six hours of daylight in midwinter, summertime can get you up to 18 hours of sunlight and therefore more time to the city's ports, amazing architecture, and hiking and biking opportunities. Boat tours are particularly popular for enjoying the city's sights and history, and the warmer the weather and the more daylight you have, the more enjoyable they'll be.
Known for being cold and, in many parts, rainy throughout much of the year, the United Kingdom - made up of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland - is a prime summer vacation spot. Take a tour of diverse and ever-popular London, the music and arts scene of Manchester, Welsh culture in Cardiff, the political and historical monuments of Belfast, and the hub and capital of Scotland, Edinburgh. Outside of summertime, the U.K. can be quite sleepy, so take advantage of the season's many festivals, markets, and events. Average temperatures can vary between high 50s and mid-60s, so you're not sweating it out, and the coastlines are full of picturesque beaches and stunning cliffs. Because the U.K. is a far better place to be in the summer than any other time of the year, however, prices can go up quite a bit; to avoid breaking the bank in order to plan the perfect summer vacation, make sure you use the right tips and tricks to land cheaper flights.