10Best's Top July Destinations

  • Huntington Beach, California

    Surf City USA, named "Best California Beach" in the 10Best Readers' Choice awards, hosts its biggest event in July: the Vans US Open of Surfing (July 25-August 2). Surfing, stand-up paddleboarding, jet skiing and swimming offer an escape from the SoCal summer sun, and in the evenings when temperatures drop, bonfires light up the beach (not all California beaches permit them).

    Photo courtesy of Visit Huntington Beach

  • Washington, D.C.

    Where better to celebrate Independence Day than in our nation's capital? If you can handle the heat and humidity, you'll find a city alive with outdoor festivals, parades, concerts and events. Plus, Washington offers a wealth of free attractions, including all the air-conditioned Smithsonian museums, so there's always a place to escape the afternoon heat.

    Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

  • Estes Park, Colorado

    Rocky Mountain National Park celebrates its centennial in 2015, and there's no better place to join in the celebrations than at the gateway town of Estes Park. Thanks to its high altitude temperatures remain delightfully cool in summer, yet are warm enough that Trail Ridge Road and Old Fall River Road should be open. Summer adventures include hiking, birdwatching, mountain biking, horseback riding and rock climbing within and near the park.

    Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

  • Calgary, Canada

    Calgary in July means you can cool off (average highs are only in the low 70s) while enjoying one of Canada's biggest events, Calgary Stampede (July 3-12). This 10-day celebration of Western heritage features the largest purse in outdoor rodeo, as well as live music, a midway, agricultural exhibits and a parade.

    Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

  • Scotland

    Scotland was recently crowned the winner of the 10Best Readers' Choice award for "Best Cinematic Destination," and if that's not reason enough to visit, July 27th is also National Scotch Day. It's the perfect excuse to hop across the Pond for some distillery tours and tastings during the country's warmest season (and that's a good thing!).

    Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

  • Key West, Florida

    If cooling off this summer means finding an island paradise and hitting the beach, you could certainly do worse than the beautiful Florida Keys. Key West's annual Hemingway Days celebration (July 21-26) celebrates the island's most famous literary legend with a look-alike contest, a marlin tournament, book readings, a street fair and other special events. As a bonus, July also sees less average rainfall than other summer months. Foodies can gorge on pie during the July 4th Weekend Key Lime Festival.

    Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

  • Denali National Park, Alaska

    For a really wild July adventure head up to Alaska's Denali National Park, where longer daylight hours create ideal conditions for spotting wildlife, including some of the 39 species of mammals that live in the park. While July falls in the middle of Denali's high season, the park is big enough that you'll rarely feel crowded.

    Photo courtesy of NPS / Jacob W. Frank

  • Michigan's Upper Peninsula

    Outdoor adventure enthusiasts looking for a cool summer escape will find just that in the wilds of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. With harsh weather conditions throughout much of the year, July is one of the best months to explore the region's many natural attractions, including Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and Isle Royale National Park.

    Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

  • Rapid City, South Dakota

    If you're feeling patriotic this July but don't want to contend with the crowds and heat of Washington, opt for a trip to Rapid City, South Dakota to pay tribute to great past presidents at Mount Rushmore (Readers' Choice "Best Presidential Attraction" winner). The town also serves as a gateway to Badlands National Park, Custer State Park, Devils Tower and the Crazy Horse Memorial.

    Photo courtesy of South Dakota Department of Tourism

  • Isla Holbox, Mexico

    There isn't really a bad time to escape to Isla Holbox, a sleepy island northwest of Cancun, but those who visit in July have the thrilling opportunity to swim with whale sharks. These gentle giants, the largest fish in the sea, visit local waters from May through September, but July represents their peak season

    Photo courtesy of Thinkstock