August is the month when summer starts inching toward autumn. As such, it’s not as popular a time to travel as June or July. However, that also means smaller crowds and better prices on airfare, lodging, and activities. It’s also your last chance to enjoy the warm, sunny weather before temperatures start to fall. Thinking about sneaking in one last summer vacation before back-to-school time? Check out my list of the best places to visit in August in the USA!
With its balmy weather and extended daylight hours, August provides the ideal backdrop for exploration, adventure, and relaxation across the USA. From the vast landscapes of national parks, the pulsating energy of cities, and tranquil coastal retreats, to the tapestry of historic sites, the US is full of unique places and hidden gems.
Of course, the sheer diversity and scope of the USA may leave one wondering where to begin. That’s where I come in. Below, I’ve compiled a list of what I consider the best places to visit in August in the USA. In addition to my own personal experience, I talked to many fellow travelers to get their opinions, too. Whether you’re a road tripper or a frequent flier, a history buff, or a nature lover, there’s something for everyone. Happy traveling!
Saving money on flights to the best places to visit in August
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Best places to visit in August in the USA: 8 great vacation spots
Looking for one last hurrah before summer is over? Don’t let autumn sneak up on you. Take some time off to treat yourself and your loved ones to a vacation at one of the destinations listed below. These are my picks for the best places to visit in August in the USA.
1. Glacier National Park, Montana
August in the USA is synonymous with the breathtaking beauty of Glacier National Park in Montana. Imagine standing on the precipice of a mountain, the sun’s golden rays cascading down as a backdrop to sweeping vistas of pristine alpine meadows, glacial lakes, and rugged peaks. With its 700-mile trail system and more than 130 named lakes, the park truly comes alive in August. And thanks to the many rustic cabin rentals in Montana, there’s no shortage of scenic lodging nearby!
The thrill of hiking to the iconic Grinnell Glacier, feeling the rush of crisp mountain air while taking in the panoramic views of the landscape, is an experience that resonates with a profound sense of awe. The sense of achievement and wonder as you reach the glacier, witness its majestic beauty and the turquoise glacial lake beneath it, is indescribable. I assure you that this is an adventure that stays with you long after the journey ends.
Boating on Lake McDonald offers another unique perspective on the park’s grandeur. As you glide through the sparkling waters, surrounded by towering peaks, you’ll find it easy to connect with nature. The scenic drive down the Going-to-the-Sun Road, a marvel of engineering that traverses the park, offers access to an array of viewpoints, each more awe-inspiring than the last.
In Glacier National Park, even the wildlife adds to the allure. From mountain goats nimbly traversing rocky outcrops, to grizzly bears and elks making appearances, each encounter makes you grateful for these wild inhabitants. If you’re searching for the best places to visit in August in the USA for wildlife-watching, you’re in for a treat.
2. Chicago, Illinois
As August arrives, the “Windy City” of Chicago, Illinois, becomes a playground teeming with culture, architecture, music, and delicious food. The city’s energetic aura, backed by its impressive skyline and picturesque waterfront, manifests in an array of experiences that place Chicago on the map as an unbeatable destination for your “best places to travel in August in the USA” itinerary!
Consider this: you’re strolling through the lively city streets, and you find yourself soaking in music and food festivals. Take Taste of Chicago, the largest food festival in the world, which transforms Grant Park into a gastronomic haven, featuring an astounding array of culinary delights. Similarly, Lollapalooza is an international music extravaganza whose impressive lineup of artists makes Chicago buzz with infectious energy.
Chicago’s architectural prowess is another compelling reason to visit. The towering Willis Tower is a marvel of modern architecture. Meanwhile, the Navy Pier, a 3,300-foot-long pier on the shoreline of Lake Michigan, is an iconic spot that offers unparalleled views of the city’s skyline. These scenic wonders are not just visually stunning, but also a testament to Chicago’s rich historical and cultural legacy.
Moreover, the city’s world-renowned museums adds an enriching dimension to your visit. Places like the Art Institute, Field Museum, and Shedd Aquarium offer fascinating insights into art, history, and aquatic life. This ensures that your Chicago experience is both entertaining and educational. What’s not to love?
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3. The Outer Banks, North Carolina
For those seeking a blend of leisure, adventure, and history under the summer sun, there’s nothing better than getting a vacation rental in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. This string of idyllic barrier islands boasts over 100 miles of pristine beaches that offer a respite from the summer heat. The rhythmic lull of the waves, the sparkling sandy beaches, and the endless Atlantic horizon have helped Outer Banks win my heart. I’m sure it will win yours, too.
Experience the joy of swimming in the warm ocean waters or surfing on the famous Outer Banks swells. Fishing enthusiasts can revel in the abundance of sportfish that populate these waters. Yet, the allure of the Outer Banks isn’t confined to its beaches. Adventurous souls seeking a unique thrill will find it in hang-gliding at Jockey’s Ridge. As the highest natural sand dune system in the Eastern United States, it provides an unparalleled, breathtaking perspective of the island.
The Outer Banks also hold a rich tapestry of American history. This is the land where English settlers first tried to make a home in the “New World,” remembered today at the Roanoke Island Festival Park. The Wright Brothers National Memorial, where the era of aviation began, adds another layer to this historical legacy.
No matter how you choose to spend your time, the Outer Banks in August offer sun-soaked relaxation, thrilling adventures, and intriguing historical journeys. Add to this the welcoming charm of its coastal communities and delicious seafood, and it becomes clear why this is one of the best places to visit in August in the USA.
4. Portland, Oregon
The city of Portland, Oregon, perfectly encapsulates both the vibrant spirit of summer and the laid-back comfort of autumn. Renowned for its verdant parks, innovative culinary scene, and rich culture that seamlessly merges the urban and natural world, there’s no doubt Portland is one of the best places to visit in August in the USA.
Let’s start with the city’s gardens. When I think of August in Portland, the first image that comes to mind is the International Rose Test Garden. It’s a sight to behold, with over 10,000 roses of different varieties painting the garden in a riot of colors. The intoxicating scent of the blooms and the splendid view of the city and Mount Hood in the backdrop are experiences that imprinted themselves in my memory.
But Portland’s allure in August is not just about its natural beauty. The city also hosts the Summer Free for All series, a collection of free concerts and film screenings in the park that bring a cheerful, creative vibe to the city’s green spaces. There’s no better way to spend a summer evening than enjoying great music or a classic movie under the starlit sky amidst the pleasant summer weather.
And let’s not forget about Portland’s celebrated food scene. With an array of food trucks offering everything from artisanal grilled cheese to Thai street food, the city is a haven for food lovers like me. Add to this Portland’s world-renowned craft breweries and coffeehouses, and you have a culinary adventure that complements the city’s cultural and natural charm perfectly. Bon appetit!
August may be synonymous with summer heat for much of the USA, but in Alaska, it is different. It’s a time of mild temperatures, majestic landscapes, and the chance to witness the Northern Lights. I can testify from personal experience that the unique charm and grandeur of Alaska make it a truly special destination for an August getaway.
The untouched wilderness of Alaska is a paradise for nature lovers and adventure seekers. Whether it’s the sight of humpback whales breaching the water in Kenai Fjords National Park, the thrill of hiking on the colossal glaciers of Denali National Park, or the tranquility of kayaking in the peaceful inlets of the Inside Passage, Alaska offers an immersive experience that leaves you feeling deeply connected to the natural world.
Perhaps the most captivating of Alaska’s August offerings is witnessing the Northern Lights, also known as Aurora Borealis. As the nights begin to darken in August, the chance to see the sky come alive with this dazzling light display is a spectacle that is quite simply, breathtaking. Experiencing the ethereal beauty of the Northern Lights dancing across the night sky is an experience that moves you, that stays with you.
Alaska in August is an unforgettable journey into the heart of Mother Nature. It’s a place where you can immerse yourself in the majesty of unspoiled landscapes. You can also experience thrilling wildlife encounters, and witness natural phenomena that leave you in awe. For those seeking a top-notch travel experience, Alaska is among the best places to visit in August in the US.
6. Maui, Hawaii
As the sun paints the sky in vibrant hues each August morning over Maui, it’s clear as day why this island in Hawaii is an ideal summer destination. Maui is more than a tropical haven of beautiful beaches and sparkling waters. It’s a place where the spirit of “Aloha” is tangible, the landscapes are breathtakingly diverse, and the cultural experiences are rich and enlightening.
After arriving at one of Hawaii’s many cheap airports, you can relax on the golden sands of Kaanapali Beach. Let the Pacific Ocean stretches out before you in an endless expanse of blue while palm trees sway in the summer breeze. The warm ocean beckons, perfect for snorkeling, where a mesmerizing world of vibrant coral reefs and colorful tropical fish awaits exploration. Or maybe you’re more inclined towards an adventure. The thrill of surfing the Maui waves is an epic experience.
But the magic of Maui extends beyond the coastline. Drive the legendary Road to Hana, where every twist and turn reveals lush rainforests, cascading waterfalls, and breathtaking coastal views. Or explore Haleakala National Park. From here, you can hike through alien-like volcanic landscapes or witness a mesmerizing sunrise from atop the Haleakala Crater. This blend of beach life and exciting inland exploration makes Maui an extraordinary destination.
Cultural immersion is another beautiful aspect of Maui in August. The traditional Hawaiian Luau parties are a highlight, where under the starlit sky, you can feast on a traditional Hawaiian meal, sway to the rhythm of the Hula, and feel a deep sense of connection to the rich cultural heritage of the islands. Be warned, though: you may never want to leave!
7. Cape Cod, Massachusetts
There’s a timeless charm to Cape Cod, Massachusetts, that makes it an enchanting destination for a New England vacation. Known for its stunning beaches, historic lighthouses, delightful seafood, and charming maritime culture, Cape Cod captures the quintessential New England summer experience.
Imagine strolling along picturesque beaches, the Atlantic’s waves lapping at your feet, and the salty breeze ruffling your hair. Charm is evident in every corner of the Cape, from the vibrant art scene in Provincetown to the quaint, historic charm of Sandwich, the Cape’s oldest town. And don’t forget the thrill of whale watching in the Atlantic; spotting a humpback whale breaching the water is a sight that will leave you in awe of nature’s majesty.
For food lovers like me, Cape Cod is a delight. The local seafood, especially the lobster and clam chowder, is a culinary experience not to be missed. The evenings are perfect for strolling in the bustling harbors or watching the setting sun paint the sky from one of the Cape’s iconic lighthouses.
In essence, Cape Cod in August is about embracing life’s simple pleasures. It’s about reconnecting with nature, indulging in delicious food, and experiencing the joy of small-town New England charm. If you’re looking for a place where you can unwind, enjoy, and make unforgettable summer memories, Cape Cod is one of the best places to visit in August in the USA.
8. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Yellowstone National Park, America’s first national park, is among the best places to visit in August in the USA. Located just minutes from the small town of Gardiner, Wyoming, and about an hour from the city of Jackson, the park is an American icon. Its awe-inspiring geysers, colorful hot springs, and diverse wildlife create an environment that feels both magical and primordial.
One of the key highlights of Yellowstone is undoubtedly the Old Faithful geyser. Witnessing this natural spectacle, as it erupts with a mighty force, is a sight that truly encapsulates the raw, untamed beauty of our planet. The Grand Prismatic Spring, another geothermal wonder of the park, enchants with its vibrant colors. This creates an otherworldly vista that’s a delight for photographers and nature lovers alike.
Yellowstone’s diverse wildlife is another compelling reason for an August visit. The park is home to hundreds of animal species, including grizzly bears, wolves, and herds of elk and bison. Wildlife viewing here provides an opportunity to observe these animals in their natural habitat. This makes it a true haven for wildlife enthusiasts.
Exploring Yellowstone in August allows you to experience the majesty of the park’s landscapes under the summer sun. Whether you are marveling at the park’s geological wonders, spotting wildlife, or hiking through the park’s extensive trail network, Yellowstone offers an adventure that is both exciting and enriching. For anyone seeking a travel experience that truly connects them with the wonders of the natural world, Yellowstone National Park is an unmissable destination.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the best places to visit in August in the USA
Better for forewarned than forearmed. To help you prepare for summer traveling, here are some FAQs about best places to visit in August in the USA. I hope my answers help.
What states are best to visit in August?
When it comes to planning a summer getaway in August, two states in the United States offer fantastic options: California and Colorado.
California, with its diverse landscapes, promises endless adventures. From the iconic beaches of Southern California to the majestic Redwood forests in the north, there’s something for everyone. Explore vibrant cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco, soak up the sun in San Diego, or embark on a scenic road trip along the Pacific Coast Highway.
Meanwhile, in Colorado, August is the perfect time to revel in the state’s breathtaking natural beauty. Hike through Rocky Mountain National Park, discover the enchanting beauty of Colorado Springs, or embrace outdoor adventures in Aspen or Telluride.
Whether you seek coastal charm or mountain majesty, California and Colorado offer unforgettable experiences for August travelers.
How can I save money when traveling in August in the USA?
There are plenty of ways to save money when traveling in the USA in August. Here are some of my favorite money-saving travel tips:
- Travel during weekdays or off-peak periods to take advantage of lower prices and avoid crowds.
- Look for deals and discounts on flights and accommodations by booking in advance or being flexible with your travel dates.
- Consider alternative accommodations such as vacation rentals or hostels, which can be more budget-friendly than hotels.
- Opt for local transportation options like public buses or trains instead of expensive taxis or rental cars.
- Explore free or low-cost attractions, parks, and festivals in the destinations you visit.
- Cook some of your meals or choose budget-friendly dining options like food trucks or local eateries.
- Utilize travel rewards programs or credit cards that offer travel benefits to earn points or miles for future savings.
- Pack light and avoid excess baggage fees by traveling with just a carry-on bag.
- Research and compare prices for activities, tours, and attractions to find the best value for your money.
- Take advantage of free city maps, guides, and tourist information centers to help plan your activities efficiently.
Last but not least, if you’re traveling by air, don’t forget to use Going (formerly Scott’s Cheap Flights). Use it for free to get mistake fares and other travel deals sent directly to your inbox. Or, sign up for a Premium membership or an Elite Membership for access to more features and better bargains. Use my coupon code JON20 to save 20% when you join!
What is the best major city to visit in the USA in August?
The best city to visit in August will depend on your personal preferences. If you love cultural festivals, innovative food scenes, and vibrant music, Chicago, Illinois might be your best bet. For outdoor adventure enthusiasts, Portland, Oregon, offers remarkable nature experiences without sacrificing the fun and convenience of city exploration.
What is the best coastal destination to visit in August in the USA?
Both the Outer Banks in North Carolina and Cape Cod in Massachusetts offer fantastic coastal experiences. This includes beautiful beaches and delightful seafood. However, for a more tropical experience, Maui, Hawaii, with its golden beaches, thrilling water activities, and rich cultural heritage, is a standout choice.
Where can I go to escape the heat in August in the USA?
Alaska offers a cooler climate in August, coupled with the opportunity to witness the Northern Lights and explore vast wilderness. Glacier National Park, Montana, is another excellent destination with cooler temperatures and stunning landscapes.
What is the best place to travel in August?
Looking for an incredible destination to visit in August? Look no further than the island of Bali in Indonesia.
August is the ideal time to experience the best of Bali’s tropical paradise. With its stunning beaches, lush landscapes, and vibrant cultural heritage, Bali offers a mesmerizing blend of relaxation and adventure.
Dive into crystal-clear waters, catch breathtaking sunsets, explore ancient temples, and indulge in delectable cuisine. August provides favorable weather for outdoor activities. This makes it a perfect August place to visit for surfing, hiking, and exploring the island’s natural beauty.
What are the best family-friendly destinations in the USA in August?
All the destinations mentioned in this post offer family-friendly experiences. However, for educational experiences that kids will love, consider Chicago with its museums, or Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, with its geothermal wonders and wildlife viewing. For beach fun and water activities, the Outer Banks, North Carolina, or Maui, Hawaii, are great choices.
Are these destinations crowded in August?
Though June and July are the peak seasons for most of these locations, some can be busy in August, too. However, with proper planning and early reservations, you can have an enjoyable visit. If you’re particularly concerned about crowds, consider visiting natural destinations like Glacier National Park, Montana, or the Outer Banks, North Carolina. Each place offers plenty of space to spread out and explore.
What activities can I do in these places in August?
The activities vary by destination. You can enjoy music and food festivals in Chicago, beach activities in the Outer Banks and Maui, hiking and nature exploration in Glacier National Park and Portland, wildlife viewing in Yellowstone, cultural experiences in Maui, and historical tours in Cape Cod.
Is August a busy month to travel?
Without a doubt, August is a busy month for travel. As the peak of the summer season in many parts of the world, August attracts a significant number of tourists. Popular tourist destinations, beaches, and attractions are often bustling with activity as people take advantage of school vacations and pleasant weather.
Flights and accommodations may be in high demand, leading to higher prices and limited availability. It’s important to plan and book well in advance if you intend to travel in August, especially to popular destinations. That way, you can secure the best deals and ensure a smooth journey amidst the bustling crowds.
What kind of weather can I expect in these places in August?
Generally, expect warm, summer weather in most of these destinations, with cooler temperatures in Alaska and Glacier National Park. However, weather can be unpredictable. So, it’s always a good idea to check the local forecast closer to your travel dates.
Where is the cheapest holiday destination in August?
If you’re seeking an affordable holiday destination in August, consider the charming country of Portugal.
Known for its beautiful coastlines, rich history, and warm hospitality, Portugal offers great value for travelers. In August, the Algarve region, with its stunning beaches, becomes a popular destination. But there are still affordable options available, particularly if you venture slightly off the beaten path.
Explore the colorful streets of Lisbon, visit historic sites in Porto. Or, discover the hidden gems of lesser-known towns and villages. With its pleasant weather, vibrant culture, and relatively low costs, Portugal beckons budget-conscious travelers seeking an August getaway without breaking the bank.