Last Updated on November 21, 2023 by Nicole
The United States is blessed with over 18,000 islands. Normally, they are a paradise for nature lovers with breathtaking views, beautiful beaches, and state and national parks to explore. Some offer sophisticated restaurants and accommodation, while others keep things simple, requiring you to bring your own tent or food. They are some of the best places to visit in America for a summer vacation. Whether you long for tropical heat or cool summer breezes, you will be able to find the perfect island destination. For many of these island destinations, June, July, August and September are the best time to visit, although some are fantastic all year round. Here are 21 of the best islands in the USA to visit in summer.
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If after reviewing this article you are still looking for some travel inspiration for your summer, I’ve got you covered.
For those who want a summer vacation destination that is not too hot, then check out 28 Best US Destinations To Escape The Sizzling Summer Heat.
You can have an amazing summer vacation without spending a fortune. Here are 25 Best Cheap Places In USA For A Summer Vacation.
If you only have a few days for a quick trip, then take a look at 25 Amazing Summer Weekend Getaways in the USA. Most of them are only 30 minutes from a significant airport.
For anyone who loves a beautiful sunset, check out 24 Best Places In USA For Most Beautiful Sunsets.
If you are looking for recommended spots for a particular summer month, please see:
- 21 Best Places To Visit In The USA In June;
- 22 Best Places To Visit In July In The USA; and
- 20 Best Places To Visit In August In The USA.
Best Islands In United States To Visit In Summer
Here are the 21 of the most beautiful islands to visit in the USA in summer. They are located all over the United States, including the Hawaiian Islands, as well as the Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands which are territories belonging to the United States.
The bottom line is that if you are an American, you do not need a US passport to travel to any of these destinations.
In this article, I separate these islands into regions of the USA – northeast, southeast southwest, and northwest – to help you identify which islands may be closer to your departure point or proposed itinerary. In addition, to keep things simple, I define summer to include all of June, July, August, and September.
As for the expected weather, that is outlined so that you can decide whether it will be too hot or too cool for your liking. In July and August, many of these islands have extreme heat and humidity, mimicking a tropical island even though it is firmly found in the USA.
The best things to do are highlighted as well as important annual events or festivals, if any. If there is a good hotel or camping ground nearby, those are also described.
There is a lot from which to choose. So, sit back, relax, read and dream about your next island retreat!
Best Islands To Visit In Northeastern USA In Summer
There are many beautiful islands to visit in the northeast of the United States for a magnificent summer holiday. Some are located in the Atlantic Ocean right off the coast while others are tucked inland in forests and lakes several hundred miles away.
Generally, these northern islands offer mild summer temperatures without much humidity throughout the entire summer. Of course, there are exceptions and those are noted below.
Each island offers unique experiences, outdoor activities, and fantastic summer vacation opportunities that compliment the breathtaking landscapes and beautiful beaches that they all offer. Here are 7 of the best islands in northeastern America for a summer getaway.
By Linn from Brainy Backpackers
One of the best islands to visit in the USA in the summer months is Nantucket in Massachusetts. Nantucket is a stunning island with a varied landscape of forest, cranberry bogs, and windswept beaches.
The best way to get around the island is by bike as there are wonderful bike paths connecting the different parts of the island. However, you can also drive your own car across the island or rent a car once you arrive on Nantucket.
Among the many wonderful things to do on the island, you can explore the best beaches which are Siasconset beach, Madaket beach, and Jetties beach among others. You can expect to find benches and restaurants on the beaches as well as parking and bike racks.
A nice walk if you are at the Siasconset part of the island is the Sconset Bluff Walk. It takes you from the village, past luxury villas on one side and the mesmerizing beach on the other, all the way to Sankaty Head Lighthouse, which is beautiful at sunset.
In downtown Nantucket, make sure you visit the Whaling Museum where you can learn about the whaling history of the island. While the whaling industry in Nantucket has ended, the island is the perfect destination to go whale watching during the summer months.
There are always fun summer festivals going on in Nantucket, so make sure you check for your travel dates.
No matter if you go on a day trip to Nantucket or spend a week, you can expect mild daytime temperatures in the high 70s F during most of the summer. You can expect around 7 days of rain each month and about half the days in July and August will have high humidity. Thus, you should bring both your swimsuit and your raincoat during the summer months in Nantucket.
Best Way To Reach Nantucket
Situated right off Cape Cod, Nantucket is easily accessed by ferry from Harwich Port, Hyannis, New Bedford, and even New York. But Nantucket also has a national airport that is connected to most US major airports. The closest international airport would be Boston.
Linn says, “In Nantucket Downtown, you can expect to find a whole lot of high-end restaurants and cute cafés as well as wonderful hotels like the Jared Coffin House which is within walking distance from the most popular museums on the island.”
Mackinac Island, Michigan
By Catherine from Family Travel, Postcard Narrative
When daydreaming of an island getaway, Michigan likely isn’t the first destination to come to mind. However, treating yourself to a vacation on Mackinac Island will transport you back in time. You’ll feel like you’ve left the US altogether.
Mackinac Island is famous for maintaining its 1898 ordinance that no modern vehicles are allowed on the island. Instead, visitors easily explore by foot, bicycle, or horse-drawn carriage.
Once here, you’ll be inundated with the smell of fudge! There are over a dozen fudge shops on Main Street, many of which offer tours or fudge making demonstrations. You won’t find chain restaurants or stores, making every shop you step into a one-of-a-kind experience.
Most hotels offer a horse-drawn “taxi” to transport you to your accommodation upon arrival on the ferry. If they not, don’t leave the island without exploring a portion of it by horse-drawn carriage, whether it is a brief jaunt or a guided historic tour.
Another popular way to take in the island’s coastline is to rent a bicycle and ride the 8-mile loop around the island, stopping at scenic viewpoints and historic sites along the way. Consider concluding your bike trip with a lunch reservation at the Grand Hotel.
While you won’t find traditional sandy beaches anywhere on Mackinac Island, you can enjoy the smooth rock beach at the south end of the downtown area.
The island is open from May to October. A visit during their 10-day Lilac Festival in June is a real treat for the senses.
No matter how you choose to experience the island’s charm, it will be one of the best places you visit in the USA in summer.
The best time to visit Mackinac island is in summer. It offers moderate temperatures (typically average highs in the 70s) throughout the summer months, making it a very comfortable place to visit in the United States.
Best Way To Reach MacKinac Island
To reach the island, you’ll take a 16 minute ferry ride from Mackinaw City with one of two companies: Shepler’s or Star Line. You’ll leave your car on the mainland.
The nearest airport is about 20 miles from Mackinaw City, the Pellston (PLN) Airport. Other nearby airports include Sault Ste Marie (YAM) and Traverse City (TVC).
Catherine says, “To fully immerse yourself in the island’s Victorian luxury, splurge on a stay at the Grand Hotel. It’s the most iconic building on the island and home to the world’s longest porch, fine dining, spectacular views, and nightly entertainment. To maintain traditions of a long lost time, the hotel enforces a formal dress code in the evenings.”
Grand Isle, Vermont
By Karen from Outdoor Adventure Sampler
Grand Isle is the largest of the idyllic islands in Lake Champlain in Vermont. It is known for its pastoral scenery and spectacular sunrises and sunsets over Lake Champlain. The charming bucolic beauty of the island will take you back in time. It is one of the best US islands to go to for an amazing summer vacation.
Biking the quiet roadways of the island is a popular pastime. There are miniature stone castles built along the roadsides to discover. Built by a Swiss artist who missed his homeland, these tiny castles are a delightful “I Spy” adventure on the island. While biking, stop at a local apple orchard for the classic Vermont treat, a maple creemee.
A visit to Snow Farm Vineyard is a must. Besides tastings of their wine and locally produced snacks, the winery hosts weekly summer concerts on its expansive grounds.
The state parks of Grand Isle offer beautiful scenery, lakeshore fishing, and beach time. Grand Isle State Park has camping and boat rentals for exploring the lake. You can also rent bikes and enjoy the large sandy beach.
Average temperatures in the summer range from 60-75 degrees Fahrenheit, with temperatures reaching the 80s in June, July and August. Days are mostly sunny and clear with an occasional afternoon thunderstorm.
Best Way To Reach Grand Isle
Grand Isle can be accessed from either Burlington, Vermont or Plattsburg, New York. They both have international airports. It’s a 30 minute drive from Burlington by bridge or a 15 minute car ferry from Plattsburg. Grand Isle is also a wonderful day trip from Montreal. Public transport is limited so a car is recommended.
Assateague Island, Maryland
By Denise from Chef Denise
Off the coast of the DelMarva Peninsula in Maryland, you’ll find Assateague Island, one of the best places to visit in America for a summer getaway. The Island is comprised of Assateague State Park and the Assateague Island National Seashore.
Assateague offers 37 miles of shoreline and some of the most beautiful beaches on the East Coast of the United States. All of the beaches facing the Atlantic Ocean have pristine sandy expansive shores with a barrier of protective dunes. They are perfect for swimming, surfing, and sunbathing.
Over on the bay side of the island, kite surfing and kayaking are popular. So if water sports and beach activities are what you’re after, summer is the best time to come. However, there is so much more!
Grab your binoculars and hike the Marsh Nature Trail and the Forest Nature Trail in the National Seashore for the best wildlife viewings. With more than 200 species of birds, you’re apt to see egrets and herons and possibly even bald eagles. The scenery is quite picturesque especially in the marsh where the seagrass is high and wooden bridges are your trail.
The famous wild ponies (which are really wild horses) also love this area, But then again, you never know where they will turn up. They roam the beaches, streets, parking lots, and trails freely. Look a little closer to see deer, fox, and other critters.
When making your plans, keep in mind that the Park Service limits the number of visitors, so if you’re going on a busy weekend or during peak summer holidays, go early.
Expect average highs in the 70s in June and September, but in the 80s in July and August. If you are looking for more tropical weather, it will be muggy the majority of the days in July and August. There is a 30% chance of rain in the summer.
Best Way To Reach Assateague Island
This small barrier island is accessible by walking, biking, or driving over the Verrazano Bridge near Berlin and Ocean City, Maryland. It’s about a 3 hour drive from Baltimore, Washington DC, and Philadelphia airports.
Mount Desert Island, Maine
By James from Park Collecting
Mount Desert Island lies just off the rocky coast of Maine in the far northeast corner of the United States. The island is hilly and covered in woods and the shorelines are lined with gorgeous pink granite rocks. The island is home to Bar Harbor and a large part of Acadia National Park, one of the best national parks in the USA, as well as several other small fishing towns.
The area is one of the main lobster fisheries in the country, and in summer you can eat fresh lobster at any of the many lobster pounds on the Island. A top pick is Thurstson’s, a casual restaurant right on the water’s edge, where you can watch the fishing boats arrive with its fresh catch as you enjoy your meal.
Another fun thing to do is to go hiking in Acadia National Park. This National Park is famous for the iron rung trails – where iron rungs and ladders are embedded into the sides of cliffs. Climbing up them and walking along narrow ledges is not for the faint-of-heart, but the views from the top of the mountains, overlooking Mount Desert Island and the surrounding seas and islands, are incredible.
The area around Mount Desert Island is also a great place to see whales and puffins in summer. One of the best thing to do is to take a cruise to get closer to these animals.
If you’d like to head to the beach, the appropriately-named Sand Beach is the only sandy ocean beach – it’s beautiful but the water is cold. For a warmer swim, Echo Lake Beach is the place to go.
And don’t miss the Bar Harbor Music Festival, which is held for the entire month of July.
Summer is the best time to visit Mount Desert Island, when average high temperatures are in the 70’s. These are also the driest months.
Best Way To Reach Mount Desert Island
To get to Mount Desert Island, which is connected to the mainland via a short bridge, you can drive from Bangor, which is where you’ll find the nearest airport to Acadia National Park. The nearest international airport is Boston Logan International Airport, which is a 4.5-hour drive away. From either airport, you can drive or take a bus to Bar Harbor and take the free Island Explorer shuttle around the island.
James says, “There are plenty of places to stay all over Mount Desert Island. A top pick is Bar Harbor Inn, with seaside rooms and the lovely Reading Room restaurant.”
Block Island, Rhode Island
By Sam from New England Wanderlust
Block Island is a gorgeous summer destination that sits just 9 miles off the coast of Rhode Island. This northeastern island in the USA makes for the perfect summer New England beach vacation.
With over 15 beaches to choose from, planning a day at the ocean is one of the best things to do on the island. And the best part? All of Block Island’s beaches are completely free for everyone. In addition, you won’t need any special parking permits or stickers to visit.
For a beach with a lively party scene, you’ll want to head to Ballard’s Beach, which is walkable from the ferry. Ballard’s Beach has tiki bars, volleyball nets, cabanas and an awesome restaurant with beachside wait service.
For a more relaxing day in the sand, Mansion Beach can’t be beat. This beach is more remote, and while it doesn’t have any facilities, that adds to the peaceful experience.
Block Island also has a charming downtown area that faces the ocean, which you’ll see as soon as you get off the ferry. Be sure to set aside a few hours to stroll along Water Street and visit some of the shops, and grab some ice cream at the Ice Cream Place (their homemade waffle cones are worth the splurge!).
For some of the most beautiful views of Block Island’s dramatic cliffs, the best place to visit is Mohegan Bluffs. Here, you’ll see a staircase that leads you down to the beach, and as you make your way down, you’ll take in some of the best views of the island. This is also a great place to watch a sunset.
Average highs in June, July, August and September rarely reach the low 80s Fahrenheit. It will be muggy about half the days in July and August.
Best Way To Reach Block Island
The closest international airport to Block Island is Boston Logan Airport, which is about 1 hour and 45 minutes away by car. The most convenient ferry option is the Block Island Ferry, which departs from Point Judith in Narragansett, RI. High speed passenger-only ferries take just 30 minutes to get to the island, but you can also choose to take your car on the traditional ferry, which takes about 1 hour.
Sam says, “One of the best places to stay on Block Island is Avonlea, Jewel of the Sea, which is a renovated beach house with 10 beautiful rooms and a gorgeous wrap-around porch that overlooks the water. Avonlea is also walkable to the shops and restaurants in town, which makes it the location perfect.”
Kelleys Island, Ohio
By Theresa from The Local Tourist
For a unique summer island destination in America, head to Kelleys Island in Lake Erie. It’s located off the coast of Sandusky, Ohio, which is home to the immensely popular Cedar Point Amusement Park. When you’re ready for a break from the roller coasters, you’ll find a slower pace a short ferry ride away.
At only 4.4 square miles, Kelleys Island is still the largest island on the American side of the lake (Lake Erie is shared with Canada), yet it’s small enough that the easiest way to get around is by golf cart.
One of the can’t miss attractions is the Glacial Grooves Geological Preserve. A National Natural Landmark within Kelleys Island State Park, the grooves are the largest easily accessible grooves left by glaciers in the world.
The State Park itself has two beaches: one made of pebbles, and one that’s sandy. The sandy beach is great for families, and you can also rent kayaks.
Art lovers will want to visit the Herndon Sculpture Garden and Galleries. The expansive property features a collection of outdoor sculptures as well as indoor galleries.
To get a feel for the people that shaped the island, visit the Kelleys Island History Museum, then head next door to pick up some baubles at the Parsonage Resale Shop.
The unique things to do on Kelleys Island will surprise you, and its laid-back vibe with natural beauty and a touch of history will charm you. It is an ideal summer destination and one of the best islands to visit in America.
When you visit, expect average summer temps of high seventies and low eighties. On average, there are around 10 days of rain each month and it will feel muggy about a third of the days in July and August.
Best Way To Reach Kelleys Island
There are international airports in Cleveland and Toledo, and Sandusky, where you can catch one of the ferries, is basically in the middle. You’ll need to rent a car to get to Sandusky, but the ferry is passenger-only. You can, however, take your car to the island if you take the ferry in Marblehead, which is closer to Toledo.
Theresa says, “There’s a primitive tent campground in the State Park, and is one of the few places visitors can stay overnight on the island.”
Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts
By Lauren from Wild Kids Wander
Martha’s Vineyard is a beautiful island off the coast of Cape Cod in Massachusetts. The island offers a unique getaway with over 120 miles of coastline and plenty of pine and oak trees to give visitors the typical New England experience. It is one of the best US islands to visit on a summer trip.
One of the best things to do on Martha’s Vineyard is to explore the three main small towns: Vineyard Haven, Oak Bluffs, and Edgartown. All three have their own cool vibe and history.
There is plenty of opportunity to enjoy the water on Martha’s Vineyard. There are several public beaches on the island and places to rent kayaks and SUPs. You can even rent small sailboats. The surf tends to be calm on Martha’s Vineyard, but you can catch some waves at South Beach.
If you’d rather spend your time on land, there are over 40 miles of paved bike trails and several miles of hiking trails. Take the time to visit Gayhead Light, the first lighthouse on Martha’s Vineyard. You might recognize it from the movie Jaws.
Martha’s Vineyard has several fun summer events, including Edgartown’s Fourth of July parade and Oak Bluffs’ Illumination and fireworks, which happens during the third week of August. These events draw big crowds!
August is the most popular time to visit Martha’s Vineyard, with consistently warm weather (the mid-80s) and warmer ocean temps. However, June and July can also be lovely, with temps in the high 70s to low 80s. There is the occasional heat wave and it is muggy about half the days in July and August.
Best Way To Reach Martha’s Vineyard
There are no bridges to Martha’s Vineyard, so you must take an airplane or ferry to the island. The main ferry leaves from Woods Hole in Cape Cod. However, smaller ferries leave from New Bedford, MA, Quonset, RI, and Hyannis, MA.
Once on the island, you’ll either want to rent a car or a bicycle to get around easily. However, the island’s public transportation is also a good option.
Lauren says, “You have multiple options on where to stay on Martha’s Vineyard. Home rentals are plentiful, and there are several independent hotels and bed & breakfasts. Martha’s Vineyard even has a campground.”
Isle Royale National Park, Michigan
By Anwar from Beyond My Door
Located deep in Lake Superior, the 45 mile Isle Royale National Park is one of the least visited National Parks in the lower 48 states. Established in 1940, the Park consists of over 90 % wilderness within its boundaries.
The island is home to wolves, moose, deer, and other wildlife. Many believe the animals crossed over “ice bridges” that form during some winters.
Most visitors to the Island visit either as a day trip or on an adventure to cross the island. It takes roughly 4-5 days to cross the island, with various primitive campsites across the National Park.
Hiking is available at each of the different landing points. Day visits often include exploring wreck sites and lighthouses in the area. One of the most interesting lighthouses, Rock of Ages is a popular stop for visitors from Minnesota. Built on a small rock outcropping, it is an engineering marvel. Visits to the lighthouse are possible, often through the Rock of Ages Preservation Society.
The Island and Park are open from mid-April to the end of October annually and closed (even to private boats) otherwise. Summer is the best time to visit this American island due to weather and boat service options.
Average highs in June, July and August are in the low to high 70s Fahrenheit. The average high goes down to 64 degree Fahrenheit in September.
Best Way To Reach Isle Royale National Park
Access to the National Park is only via ferry and while the Park is located wholly within Michigan’s boundaries, access is either from Michigan or Minnesota. It’s actually closer to reach from Minnesota for those looking to do a day trip.
Day visitors from Minnesota generally land at Windigo on the western shore and from Michigan at Rock Harbor. However, there are ferry services to both sides generally from each location for thru-hikers. The Minnesota ferry terminal is located in the Grand Portage Reservation with few hotels and services.
Due to popularity and the short season, it is recommended to book ferries ahead of time.
Most visitors fly into Minneapolis or Duluth and drive. Michigan boats depart from Hougton or Copper Harbor on the Upper Peninsula. These boats are much further from international airports and also require a longer boat ride.
Anwar says, “Backcountry Camping is the only option on the island. Permits are required for all camping and are generally free for groups fewer than six.”
Most Beautiful Southeastern Islands To Visit In Summer In America
There are spectacularly beautiful islands in the southeast of the United States. One of the best times to visit them is in winter when you are looking for an escape from the cold. However, they are also some of the best places in the USA to visit in summer.
If you are considering a summer holiday to any of these islands, you must be aware of two issues. First, most days in July and August will have high humidity. If you love tropical heat, then you will love these islands in summer.
Second, it is technically hurricane season in this region from June through early November. However, peak season is mid August to early October. Hurricanes do not happen every year and they range in severity. Having said that, if you are planning a summer trip to one of these southern US islands, make sure you doublecheck the weather forecast.
Key West, Florida
By Candace from CS Ginger
Key West is a small island located in the Florida Keys in southern United States. The island is known for its clear turquoise waters, stunning sunsets, and laid-back atmosphere. If you’re looking for a relaxing summer getaway, look no further than Key West!
Florida is home to some of the best beaches in the USA with the beaches in Key West being some of the most beautiful. Smathers Beach is a popular spot for swimming, sunbathing, and kayaking. If you’re looking for a more secluded beach experience, head to Fort Zachary Taylor State Park. The park is located on the southernmost tip of the island and features a beautiful beach with plenty of room to spread out.
One of the most popular things to do in Key West is to watch the sunset at Mallory Square. Every night, locals and tourists alike gather at Mallory Square to watch the sun dip below the horizon. While you’re there, keep an eye out for the street performers who put on shows for the crowd.
No trip to Key West would be complete without a visit to Hemingway House. The house was home to author Ernest Hemingway for nearly 10 years. Today, it stands as a museum dedicated to his life and work. Tour the house and learn about Hemingway’s time spent living in Key West. If you visit in July, you can participate in the highly touted Hemingway Festival on famous Duval Street.
There are plenty of great reasons to visit one of the best islands in the USA for a summer vacation. From its stunning beaches to its lively nightlife, there’s something for everyone on this small island paradise.
The weather in the summer averages a high of 90 Fahrenheit and a low of 80 Fahrenheit, with only about 7 or 8 days of rain. Most days will be tropical and muggy.
Best Way To Reach Key West
To get to Key West, you can fly into the Key West International Airport. It services flights from a number of US cities and some international destinations. You won’t need a car unless you plan on venturing from one side of the island to the other.
Candace says, “For a great hotel option, check out the Marquesa Hotel. It is a highly rated 4-star hotel that is close to many of the fun activities and nightlife.”
St. Croix, US Virgin Islands
By Kim from LA Family Travel
If you are looking for a summer Caribbean getaway but don’t want to leave the States, then the island of St. Croix is where you want to be. It is one of the most beautiful islands to visit in the USA in summer.
At 84 square miles, St. Croix is the largest of the U.S. Virgin Islands. Within the island, there are two cities (Christiansted and Frederiksted), a variety of beautiful beaches, mountains, and loads of fun cultural and recreational activities to enjoy.
If you love the water, try your hand at snorkeling or scuba diving. There are several local spots such as Big Beards Adventure Tours and Cane Bay Dive Shop that rent out equipment and offer guided tours. Chances are you will see a plethora of tropical fish, sea stars, and even sharks.
For those that prefer to view nature on land, the St. George Village Botanical Gardens is a must-see. Located on an old sugar plantation, the gardens feature over 1500 varieties of plants.
If you are lucky, your trip might coincide with one of the island’s four Jump Up festivals. During these Friday night events, the area around the Christiansted boardwalk transforms into a pedestrian village where locals and visitors gather to eat delicious food, shop from pop-up vendors (some selling the best candy!) and enjoy watching fire-dancing, musicians, and other entertainers. The best part of every Jump Up is the Moko Jumbies. These colorful guardians draw a huge crowd as they dance and parade up the streets on six-foot stilts.
When you visit St. Croix, you will definitely want to spend time at the beach. There are over twenty beaches on the island and all are open to the public.
For a great party atmosphere, water sports, and a restaurant/beach bar, Rainbow Beach in Fredricksted is the place to visit. Protestant Cay in Christiansted is a favorite among families because it offers calm waters and a sandy shore.
Summer in St. Croix is considered the off-season, making it a great time to avoid the crowds. Temperatures this time of year average around 87 degrees and flash rainstorms often pop up and offer a respite from the hot tropical weather.
Best Way To Reach St. Croix
It is about a two-and-a-half-hour flight from Miami International Airport to St. Croix’s Henry E. Rohlsen International Airport. There are also flights from San Juan, Puerto Rico, and St. Thomas, USVI. Your best bet is to rent a car upon arrival. It is important to note that although St. Croix is an American territory, cars drive on the left side of the road.
Kim says, “For a great all-inclusive island experience, check out The Buccaneer Beach and Golf Resort. The resort includes three beaches, multiple dining options, and golf.”
Outer Banks, North Carolina
By Abbey from Trips on Abbey Road
Some of the best islands to visit in southern USA for a summer vacation are the Outer Banks (or as the locals call them, the “OBX”). This is a beautiful stretch of barrier-type islands right off the eastern coast of North Carolina.
You can break down these islands into three different sections. You have the northern section full of beaches, Hatteras Island in the middle, and the southern sections of Manteo and Roanoke Island.
There is so much to do in the Outer Banks in summer. The famous fishing show Wicked Tuna is filmed here right off of the Oregon Inlet. You could charter a boat and try your hand at catching yourself a monster fish just like they do.
Another fascinating and historic thing to do in the OBX is to go and see where the Wright Brothers first took flight. Located in the heart of Kitty Hawk, you will find the Wright Brothers National Memorial.
There are plenty of beaches to enjoy. All you have to do is find a parking lot along the side of the road and pull in! All of the beaches are free and open to the public. In the summer months, it can be hard to find a good parking spot so try to arrive early to avoid a long walk.
You can expect the temperature in the summertime to stay in the high 90s during the day and cool off to the mid-80s at night. Perfect beach weather.
Best Way To Reach The Outer Banks
To reach the Outer Banks, fly into Norfolk International Airport in Norfolk, Virginia and drive 82 miles north. There are only two ways to get to the beautiful OBX islands. You can take highway 12 all the way down and pass over the brand new bridge or take a ferry from the mainland. Both ways are scenic and safe.
Abbey says, “If you are looking to stay in a hotel, there are not many on the islands. Most people book a beach house for the week or weekend. But there are plenty of camping spots! One of the best ones is the Cape Hatteras KOA. They have spots for tents and RVs, and they even have spacious cabins to rent.”
By Melissa from Parenthood And Passports
Puerto Rico is a popular destinations in the United States for a vacation. The US territory is located in the Caribbean Sea, and boasts beautiful beaches, rainforests, caves, bioluminescent bays, and historical Spanish colonial architecture.
Spend some time exploring Old San Juan, the colorful historic district and tour both El Morro and San Cristobal Forts.
There are lots of adventurous things to do in Puerto Rico. From San Juan, you may want to rent a car or take some guided excursions to visit other parts of the island. Areas worth exploring are El Yunque Rainforest, the only rainforest in the US National Forest System, and the area around Arecibo and Rincon, where you’ll find lots of impressive caves, as well as great beaches. These are also great options if visiting Puerto Rico with kids.
Puerto Rico offers a tropical climate. That means temperatures range from high 70s to high 80s year round with lots of humidity. Summertime is actually low-season in Puerto Rico because you can get afternoon rain showers.
Best Way To Reach Puerto Rico
There are direct flights to Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in the capital city of San Juan from more than 25 cities in the continental United States, so getting to the island is typically easier and more affordable than getting to most tropical islands.
St. John, US Virgin Islands
By Rachel from Caribbean Uncovered
St John, USVI is the perfect island to visit in the USA in summer. As the smallest of three territories in the US Virgin Islands, this tropical paradise is surprisingly unpopulated and doesn’t draw huge crowds like its sister islands, St Thomas and St Croix.
Covered in pristine beaches and reefs protected under the Virgin Islands National Park, St. John is one of the best places to relax and enjoy the natural beauty of the Caribbean.
The white sand and clear waters at Trunk Bay and Honeymoon Beach attract visitors from all over the world. The seagrass in the shallow waters of Maho Bay offers the chance to see sea turtles snacking on the sea floor. At Salomon Bay Beach, you can hike through the National Park and snorkel through the healthy coral reefs off of St. John.
For visitors that like to cross things off their bucket list, there is a tour that brings you to “LIME OUT!” a taco bar you’ll find floating in the middle of the Caribbean. If you want more adventure, you can catch a quick ferry ride to the British Virgin Islands and explore the Virgin Gorda Baths.
As for annual festivals, every year St Johns hosts a carnival to celebrate the end of slavery in USVI. Emancipation day is celebrated on July 3 and it is a public holiday. There is musical entertainment, games for children, and food stalls to enjoy, among other things.
So whether you’re looking for hiking trails, quiet beaches, or panoramic overlooks, St. John is one of the best places in America for your summer vacation.
In summer, temperatures sit around 75-85 degrees Fahrenheit. While you might catch some afternoon showers, peak hurricane season isn’t until the end of the summer season.
Best Way To Reach St. John
St. John is conveniently a US territory, meaning a US citizen doesn’t need a passport for a summer trip. You’ll fly into the Cyril E. King Airport in St. Thomas and then, hop on a ferry to get to Cruz Bay, St. John.
Best Islands In Southwestern USA For A Summer Vacation
California and Hawaii offer several beautiful islands to visit in summer. They offer both hot tropical weather and lovely mild summer temperatures.
By Marcie from Hawaii Travel With Kids
If you’re looking for one of the best islands to visit in the United States, look no further than Maui, Hawaii. This is one of the prettiest Hawaiian islands and it’s perfect for couples, families, and even solo travelers.
If you’re an early riser, you’ll definitely want to get reservations to see the sunrise at Haleakala Crater, on top of Haleakala National Park, a dormant volcano. It’s a breathtaking view and totally worth the early wake-up call.
Another popular Maui activity is to go snorkeling at Molokini Crater. This is a little crescent-shaped crater off the coast of Maui. You’ll need to book a boat tour to experience it.
One of the best Maui travel tips is that you’ll want to plan a full day for the Road to Hana. A lot of people use GPS and see that it only takes a few hours to get from Paia to Hana. However, this Maui activity is all about the journey and the cool stops along the way. You’ll want to leave early enough to see waterfalls, check out some beaches, and enjoy the roadside stands before the sun goes down.
In addition, if you want to experience a black sand beach, make sure to get reservations for Waianapanapa State Park in Hana.
If you’re heading to Maui in June, check out the Kapalua Wine & Food Festival featuring internationally known winemakers, sommeliers, and top Maui chefs. There’s also the Maui Film Festival, which takes place in June. What makes this unique is that many of the screenings take place under the stars.
Summertime is a great time to visit Maui because temperatures are usually in the upper 80s, there’s rarely any rain, and it is tropical and humid.
Best Way To Reach Maui
While there are many direct flights from the Mainland to Kahului Airport, international travelers will likely have to fly into Honolulu Airport and take an inter-island flight to the Kahului Airport.
Most visitors will want to rent a car to fully explore Maui. However, there are a few trolleys with limited routes, a public bus, and ride shares.
Marcie says, “There are plenty of places to stay on Maui. The Honua Kai Resort & Spa or the Hyatt Regency Maui are popular Ka’anapali hotels. There are also some great condos in Kihei for those looking for more budget-friendly accommodations. Whatever you choose, you won’t regret a summer trip to one of the best Hawaiian Islands!”
Channel Islands National Park, California
By Shannon from Adventuring With Shannon
One of the best islands to visit in the United States in summer is the Channel Islands off the coast of Ventura, California. There are five islands that make up Channel Islands National Park and the surrounding marine nature reserve.
Thousands of people flock to the islands every year in search of the incredible amount of aquatic wildlife in the area. Multiple currents collide around the islands and bring in a huge amount of fish, and in turn, a large population of whales.
Channel Islands National Park is home to a large variety of whale species including gray whales, humpback whales, blue whales, and minke whales. There are also hundreds of dolphins swimming in the channels. If you are lucky, you may even spot some sea lions and fur seals as well.
There are so many things to do in the Channel Islands including camping, multi-day hikes, and even sea cave kayaking. If you are feeling extra adventurous, sea cave kayaking in the Channel Islands is an adventure to remember. Instead of simply taking your kayaks out on the ocean, your guide will navigate you in and out of sea caves while avoiding the rising tide and sharp turns in the caves.
If you are looking for a more relaxing vacation, there are many hikes on the Channel Islands that take you to the tops of cliffs that overlook the ocean. They make for beautiful afternoons.
It is important to note that there are no services, food, or lodging available on the Channel Islands. Everything you need must be brought to the islands with you.
The weather in the Channel Islands is similar to the “sunny and warm” weather that California is famous for. Expect average highs in the high 70s and low 80s, with much cooler evenings. There is little to no rain or humidity. It is important to be prepared for warm weather, but also to bring a sweater or jacket.
Best Way To Reach Channel Islands National Park
In order to get to the Channel islands, take the ferry run by Island Packers. It is offered a few times a day. If you are coming from out of town, you can fly into LAX in Los Angeles and rent a car to get to the Ventura marina where the ferry launches. This ferry is your main way on and off the island.
Shannon says, “If you wish to stay on the island for more than one day, you can book a campsite on the National Park’s website. Just remember to bring a cooler with food and drinks with you!”
By Megan from Next Is Hawaii
Kauai is the second westernmost island of the main Hawaiian islands chain. Nicknamed the “Garden Isle,” Kauai is known for its lush rainforests and stunning coastline. It is one of the most beautiful islands to visit in America for a summer holiday.
There are so many amazing things to do on Kauai, but there are a few stand-out activities you can’t miss. First, spend some time on the Na Pali Coast. This gorgeous coastline has a state park with wonderful hiking trails, where you can marvel at the island’s sheer cliffs, white sand beaches, and tropical foliage. It’s also a fantastic place to snorkel or take a boat tour to see the coastline from a different perspective.
Next, drive through the famous Waimea Canyon. This multi-colored canyon will give you beautiful scenic views with lookout points and hikes.
Lastly, a helicopter tour of the island is highly recommended. From the air, you can really appreciate the magnificence of Kauai’s cliffs, canyons, jungles, waterfalls, and beaches. It’s an unforgettable experience and one of the most highly rated activities on the island.
If you’re looking for a relaxing day of swimming, sunning, surfing, or snorkeling, check out some of Kauai’s best beaches like Poipu Beach, Tunnels Beach, Anini Beach, or Anahola Beach Park.
If you’re there in July, consider attending the Koloa Plantation Days festival, a festival celebrating Hawaiian and immigrant cultures that has made Hawaii a melting pot of diversity through music, dancing, food, and other festivities.
The weather in the summer in Kauai is tropical, with consistent average high temperatures in the mid 80s. It is also mostly muggy in June, July, August and September.
Best Way To Reach Kauai
To get to Kauai, you’ll fly into the Lihue Airport, which connects to Oahu, the Big Island, Maui, destinations on the US mainland, and some Canadian cities. While it’s possible to get between the larger towns on Kauai by public bus, it’s best to rent a car to easily access the popular destinations the island has to offer.
Megan says, “Camping is a fantastic option on this island. There are many campsites, including beachfront ones, where you can set up your tent or camper.
If you prefer more luxurious accommodations, check out the highly-rated Grand Hyatt Resort. There are also quite a few cottage rentals and B&Bs scattered across the island if you’re looking for a more local experience.
Santa Catalina, California
By Gwen from California Family Travel
Located just 22 miles off the coast of Southern California, Santa Catalina Island – with its Mediterranean charm, fun activities and relaxed island atmosphere – will truly transport you to another world.
The town of Avalon is the heart of Catalina Island. It offers tree-lined pedestrian walkways that trace the waterfront and homes that climb the steep hills surrounding town. It is where you’ll find the majority of restaurants, hotels, beaches and activities, including the world-famous Casino Building and botanical gardens. The boat terminals are also located here.
Avalon is almost free of cars, with most people opting to walk or drive golf carts. The fact that it is only one square mile makes it easy to get around. The picturesque harbor around which Avalon is nestled provides a good excuse to slow down and enjoy the view.
There are many things to enjoy on Catalina Island during the summer. Stroll through Avalon’s quaint shops and galleries, or go for a bike ride or rent a golf cart. Enjoy a meal at a harbor-view restaurant. Alternatively, pack a picnic and go for a hike, or kayak, snorkel, go fishing, or simply relax on the beach.
As wonderful as the town of Avalon is, it is only a very small part of Catalina Island. If you want to experience the “wild” side of the island, a journey into the island’s vast interior is a must.
Catalina Island’s interior, about 88% of the island, is owned and managed by the Santa Catalina Island Conservancy. The interior is covered with broad valleys, isolated coves, pristine beaches, two thousand-foot peaks and near-vertical shoreline palisades. It is also home to thousands of species of unique native plants and animals.
Go camping, hiking or mountain biking in the island’s protected wilderness. Or, explore the island’s interior on a Jeep Eco-tour or sightseeing tour. You can even go zip lining!
Summer is the best time to visit this island. The weather is mild with average highs in the 70s F and it almost never rains, making it the perfect island escape!
Best Way To Reach Santa Catalina
Santa Catalina Island is easy to reach. It is about 60 minutes boat ride from Newport Beach, Long Beach or San Pedro.
Best Islands In Northwestern United States For A Summer Holiday
The Pacific Northwest and Alaska offer lots of beautiful islands for a summer vacation. They all have dramatic landscapes filled with evergreen trees, mountains and breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean.
San Juan Island, Washington
By Jessica from The Uprooted Traveler
San Juan Island is the second largest – and namesake- of the San Juan Islands, an archipelago in northern USA, off the coast of Washington state in the Salish Sea. Here, you’ll find rolling hills, covered with pine tree forests, rugged cliffs, and charming small towns, all of which offer you one of the best islands to visit in the USA in summer.
San Juan Island is home to Friday Harbor, the largest town in the islands, with a whopping 3,000 residents. This town is stuffed with wine bars, farm to table restaurants, and eclectic boutiques to peruse, all with the stunning Pacific Northwest backdrop.
Friday Harbor, famously the location of the witchy movie, Practical Magic, has a funky, free-spirited vibe to it. For example, it plays host to the San Juan Summer Arts Festival, usually in August of each year, with local art, live music, and lots of tasty food and drinks on the menu.
While most visitors stay in Friday Harbor when visiting San Juan Island, they mainly come for one thing – whales. The San Juan Islands are largely regarded as the best place for whale watching in Washington and is one of the best spots on the planet to see orcas in the wild. You can opt to go on a whale watching tour or alternatively, simply keep an eye out from land.
One of the best places to do so is Lime Kiln Point State Park. Even if you’re not lucky enough to spot whales, there’s a historic lighthouse and a coastal hiking trail to enjoy.
Alternatively, if a beach sounds more up your alley, the island has many of them, from the rugged South Beach, which is best for its wildlife spotting opportunities and dramatic landscape, to Granny’s Cove, with shallow waters that can warm up enough to wade around in during the summer.
Don’t expect beach weather here – summertime temperatures rarely exceed 80° F. Average highs are more likely in the low 70s in July and August, and in the high 60s in June and September. There are only a few days of rain each month and no humidity.
Best Way To Reach San Juan Island
To reach the island, you’ll take a ferry from Anacortes. You can either fly into Bellingham International airport and drive 50 minutes, or fly into Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and drive just under 2 hours.
If you’re headed here in the peak of summer, be sure to book your ferry tickets early, as they frequently sell out. There’s no need to bring a car – there’s a trolly and public transit system that stops at the most popular sites on the island.
Chicahagof Island, Alaska
Contributed by Karen from Forever Karen
Chichagof Island might not be on most people’s radar, but it’s the fifth-largest island in the United States. This wilderness land is located in the Alaska panhandle and features some incredible natural beauty. Less than 1,500 aboriginal Huna Tlingit people call Chichagof Island their home.
When arriving by cruise ship, the lack of urban development captivates you. Instead, the Tongass Rainforest fronts the coastline filled with bald eagles. The Huna Totem Corporation and Norwegian Cruise Line have developed the docking area to retain its natural beauty.
As you step off your vessel, you wont find any roads or town, just an old cannery repurposed into a cannery museum with some retail shopping. But, if you’re looking for things to do in Icy Strait Point, this Alaskan destination offers many unique adventures.
Since Chichagof Island has more bears per square mile than anywhere else globally, you should take a bear-watching tour.
Alternatively, the marine-rich waters around the island provide one of the best places to take a whale-watching excursion. As humpback whales migrate to Alaska to feed in the summer, their arrival matches Alaska cruise season.
But Icy Strait Point might be best known for its gondola, the ZipRider. At 5,330 feet long, it’s rated the longest worldwide. You’ll enjoy magnificent views on the gondola ride to the top of Hoonah Mountain. The 60 MPH ride to sea level will have your heart racing.
You don’t visit Alaska for the beaches or the weather. In summer, the average temperature hovers around 57F and June offers the driest month, with 3-1/2 inches of rain. However, this is a fantastic summer destination for nature lovers and summer would be the best time to enjoy it.
Best Way To Reach Chichagof Island
Visitors can access the island by ferry, take a plane from Juneau, or stop at Icy Strait Point during an Alaska cruise.
Karen says, “Most who visit only stay for the day. However, Icy Strait Lodge provides accommodation if you plan to stay longer.”
Lopez Island, Washington
By Lindsay from WanderBig.com
Tucked between mainland Washington state and the majestic Olympic peninsula lies Puget sound’s San Juan archipelago. The San Juan islands include vacation hotspots for ordinary Americans and Seattle’s elite. But take a ferry to the southernmost island, Lopez island, to discover a rugged island less curated for tourists.
Outdoor activities are among the most popular things to do on Lopez Island. You can explore tide pools at Shark Reef Sanctuary, hike to the wind-swept cliffs of Iceberg Point to watch bald eagles, or cool off with a dip in the calm waters off Spencer Spit State Park.
On days too cold to swim, it’s the perfect spot to rediscover the joy of flying a kite.
This small bicycle-friendly island is navigable entirely by bicycle, although most travelers do bring a rental car across on the ferry.
Thanks to the temperate climate in the Pacific Northwest, Lopez island is a fantastic destination year round. For swimming, kayaking, and biking safely, plan your trip during the summer when the weather is typically dry and sunny (average highs low 70s to high 70s). For a winter vacation with stormy skies, dramatic fog, and brooding water views, consider a fall or winter visit.
Best Way To Reach Lopez Island
There are several ways to get to Lopez Island. Many travelers fly to Seattle’s Sea-Tac airport, rent a car, and drive to the ferry terminal that connects Lopez to the mainland.
For budget travelers or those who wish to explore the island by bicycle, private shuttles and public buses can bring visitors from Sea-Tac to the ferry terminal. With prior arrangement with one of the island’s bicycle rental companies, you can arrange to have a bike waiting for you at the ferry terminal.
Lindsay says, “Though Lopez has- so far- been spared from development by hotel chains, you’ll find a number of cozy inns and campgrounds at every price point dotted around this 28 sq mile island.”
Whether your ideal summer vacation is basking in the sun in tropical weather, or exploring forested trails with mild summer temperatures, you will find fantastic island summer vacations all over the United States.