Best Summer Road Trip Ideas and Destinations

Plenty of sunshine is heading our way, so why not head out and soak up those rays? It’s the perfect time to start planning a summer road trip.

Many parts of the country see triple-digit temperatures during the summer months. Quite frankly, everyone could use a break from the sunburns and heat waves. During the hottest days of the season, Texas sidewalks can even become hot enough to fry an egg.

So how do you get a little reprieve from the sweltering summer days this time of the year?

Higher altitudes mean lower temperatures. Why not plan a long weekend break in the mountains? Or, plan a summer road trip to your favorite alpine hideaway?

Summer road trip guide

Here’s a list of road trip destinations that we recommend for this summer – from out-of-the-way mountain escapes to hidden lakeside hikes.

These breathtaking summer road trip destinations are well worth loading up the family SUV and making the drive. Our picks for America’s best summer vacation road trip destinations are:

1. Lake City, Colorado: Summer road trip to cool off

This treasure rests at the heart of the beautiful San Juan Mountains in south-central Colorado.

As a result, the average August high in Lake City, Colorado, is 75° F. Overnight, the low can dip into the low 40s. If you’re looking to cool off with some fresh mountain air, Lake City has it all.

Stay active outdoors with activities such as:

  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Camping
  • Fishing

Enjoy local shops and sample a home recipe at one of the local bakeries. Don’t miss one of the many festivals, either.

Pro Tip: stay in one of the town’s famous quaint, rustic cabins.

2. Lake Placid, New York: Best summer road trip for concerts

Whether you’re looking for a more primitive mountain getaway or a luxurious romantic retreat, Lake Placid, NY, has a lot to offer.

To start, choose from a multitude of traditional outdoor activities. Go a step further by spending time at the lakeside. You can even enjoy a show from their summer concert series.

As far as cooling off a bit, jump in the cool waters of Lake Placid. Look forward to average temperatures in the 70s.

3. Smoky Mountains, NC: Summer road trip through Appalachia

Cool off and check out the lush Smoky Mountains. This beautiful range is a great way for folks in the Southeastern states to escape the heat. It’s also a fantastic place to get away from the region’s famous humidity.

Admittedly, these peaks are not as high as some of the mountain ranges out west. This summer road trip destination offers the adventurous types plenty of pristine wilderness to explore. Plus, the area has some of the best whitewater rafting anywhere.

Stay in a cabin or any number of unique little towns in the area. Enjoy nighttime temperatures that usually drop into the 60s and 70s.

4. Port Townsend, WA: Summer vacation road trip favorite

When it comes to beating the heat, a road trip to Port Townsend is literally the best of both worlds.

To most of us, it’s a little town in the mountains. It just so happens to also be on the coast — a magical combination that creates cool summer temperatures. Evergreen pines and pacific breezes are just what the doctor ordered.

Cool off and chill out with all the outdoor activities you can handle. Port Townsend is the perfect end of summer road trip destination.

That’s our collection of the best summer road trip ideas to escape hot summer weather. North, South, Central and West — we’ve covered them all.

Some are laid back. Some have music scenes that are pretty hot. But make no mistake, they’re all the perfect places to go when you need to cool down.

So pack up the car and pay one of these mountain towns a visit! Before you head out, make sure to change your oil, and check that your tires have plenty of tread.

And of course, be careful along the way. Happy summer road tripping!

Note: before you book, make sure to research local covid restrictions.

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