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5 Cool Destinations for Summer Travel

The word “summer” conjures images of sunshine and beaches. It brings to mind sunny days spent by the pool, eating ice cream, or sipping frosty drinks in the summer sun. For many, the summer is not complete without this. However, a surprising number of people, want nothing more than to escape the heat, come summer. As luck would have it, there are plenty of hip cool-down getaways available. Here are 5 amazing cool destinations for summer travel.

*Note: For clarity, this article refers to summer as the Northern Hemisphere knows it (the months of June through September).

Also see Jenny in Wanderland article, 8 Warm Destinations for Winter Travel

El Calafate, Argentina – 5 Cool Destinations for Summer Travel

Argentina in 5 Cool Destinations for Summer Travel
Photo by James Cheung

About

The Patagonia region sits at the tip of Latin America, holding a good chunk of Argentina and Chile. A field of ice lives at the end of southern Patagonia, within the Argentinean province of Santa Cruz. There, El Calafate rests, just south of Lake Argentino. Although it is a small town, El Calafate has become a tourist hot spot, famous for its proximity to the Perito Moreno Glacier and number of icy activities.

Experience the magical icy Perito Moreno Glacier on this full day, professionally guided tour from El Calafate that includes an unforgettable boat ride. It is difficult to see all aspects without a guide, and since this is a highlight, slots can fill up, so be sure to book early!

Fun Fact: El Calafate takes its name from the Calafate flower, a plant unique to Patagonia. It first blooms into a shrub of yellow flowers before gradually ending its cycle as purple berries.

Spanish is El Calafate’s official language and its official currency is the Argentine peso. English is spoken as well.

Climate

During the summer, El Calafate sees a cool season that lasts from May through August. Yearly temperatures hover around a maximum of 64° F (17° C), with average temperatures under 50° F (10° C) in the summer. In July, you can expect temperatures as low as 29° F (-1.6° C) and only as high as 39° F (4° C). This more than qualifies El Calafate as one of the 5 cool destinations for winter travel.

You can also expect to see some snowfall in the summer months, as well as sporadic days with light rain (especially in May). El Calafate has long hours of sunshine in its wintry months, but only sees a few hours of sunshine (3 to 5) from May to August.

Vibe

Famous for its icy attractions, El Calafate has the cool, chic vibe of a growing resort town. With plenty of hotels, restaurants, shops, and hosterías (think: small local inns and hostels), El Calafate is popular amongst visitors from all walks of life. Remote and unique, the town is a perfect cool-down getaway for those looking for a dash of winter in summer.

Try to book one of the coveted and arguably most luxurious rooms in the area (If you can snag one; There are only 17). Or try this trendy hotel with an indoor to outdoor heated swimming pool as a blissful place to unwind.

For an inexpensive, worry-free, and convenient option, book your transfer from the airport to your hotel ahead.

Los Glaciares National Park

El Calafate is a short distance from Los Glaciares National Park, which offers plenty of guided tours and nature excursions. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is the biggest park in Argentina with 2320 square miles in area. In addition to protecting an abundance of endangered species, the park is also home to around 47 glaciers, over 1000 square miles of ice fields, and a sub-Antarctic climate.

5 Cool Destinations for Summer Travel - Perito Moreno Glacier
Perito Moreno Glacier; photo by Luiza Braun

The park is most famous for the Perito Moreno Glacier, which stands 197 feet (60 meters) tall and looms over Lake Argentino. While the Perito Moreno is the tallest, the Upsala Glacier is the widest at 37 miles (10 kilometers long). Both glaciers are magnificent sights to behold, especially against the stunning backdrop of the park itself.

5 Cool Destinations for Summer Travel - Upsala Glacier
Upsala Glacier; photo by Rodri Caruso

Visit the Glaciers

There are a variety of ways to visit the famous glaciers. Most involve some sort of guided tour.

See some of the world’s most famous and spectacular glaciers on this full day cruise. Or hike with crampons on the Perito Moreno Glacier on this incredible Patagonian adventure.

In order to preserve these beautiful sites, it is becoming more difficult to explore on your own, however park entrance is free. In order to really experience all the beauty of Los Glaciares National Park, a tour is extremely beneficial. This shorter tour will cover some highlights and then you can explore on your own a bit after.

Another great cost effective option if you are a hiker, is this full day trek to see the glacier. You can book this incredible hike on your own, or with a guide.

Glaciarium

The Glaciarium is a glacier museum where you can learn about the geology and importance of glaciers through interactive displays, models, documentaries and more. This is a great starting point prior to heading out to visit the glaciers.

5 Cool Destinations for Summer Travel
Photo by Joyce McCown

A highlight of the Glaciarium is the GlacioBar, an ice bar where everything is made of ice, including the chairs and tables. At below zero temperature, you can only stay for 25 minutes at a time. You’ll have a choice of soft drinks or alcohol, served in ice glasses.

Note: The bar provides you layers to shield you from the cold, but it is best to enter prepared for 20 minutes of -4° C (24.8° F) regardless.

Other Nearby Attractions

Chalten Soft

For one of the best ways to explore Chalten Soft, take this tour for a day of hiking and exploration. Alternatively, this day trip is an easy way to visit the historical town and its surrounding natural beauty, and includes a mix of transportation by foot and by vehicle, as well as a sit-down lunch.

Petrified Forest

Don’t miss the Lioness Petrified Forest for a really interesting day of unique landscape, including logs and fossils, some over 70 million years old.

Balcones

Take this thrilling 4X4 excursion to Balcones del Calafate to enjoy the stunning scenery of Patagonia up close and personal, with the ability to explore areas difficult to reach by foot.

*For even more El Calafate tours and activities, see here.

Los Glaciares National Park is, without a doubt, a must-see experience for travelers in search of a cool summer retreat. That cements El Calafate’s place as one of the 5 cool destinations for summer travel.

Easter Island, Chile – 5 Cool Destinations for Summer Travel

5 cool destinations for summer travel - Easter Island
The Moai; photo by Stephanie Morcinek

About

Located in the southeastern Pacific, Easter Island is a remote Polynesian volcanic island. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Easter Island is home to the gigantic Moai statues. That alone makes it one of our 5 cool destinations for summer travel, both literally and figuratively.

A special territory of Chile, Easter Island’s official language is Spanish and its currency is the Chilean peso. In addition to Spanish, many islanders also speak Rapa Nui, the official language of the island’s native people. Due to the island’s nature as a popular tourist destination, visitors can easily get by with English as well.

Climate

Easter Island has a subtropical climate that has warm temperatures from January to March and milder weather from July to September. Thanks to its proximity to the ocean, the island almost never sees temperatures that reach 80° F (30° C). In the summer, maximum temperatures hover above 70° F (20° C), with minimums of 60° F (16° C).

You might encounter some days with mild to heavy rains from May to August, with 5 to 6 hours of sunshine in the summer. Sea temperatures also take a dip into the mid to high sixties from June to September. This makes the water relatively cold, but if you can handle it, you may still enjoy a dip.

Vibe

Featuring rocky coastlines, cerulean waters, breathtaking sunsets, and starry night skies, Easter Island boasts an adventurous, picturesque vibe. The famous Moai monuments lend a layer of mystery to the atmosphere. With outdoor activities, stunning landmarks, dining experiences, and must-see attractions, Easter Island offers you more than enough spots for both relaxation and exploration. It is definitely one of our 5 cool destinations for summer travel.

For a laidback, friendly vibe, stay at this boutique hotel right on Main Street. This extremely popular quiet hotel is within walking distance to many restaurants and shops and is convenient to touring the island. This hotel is eco-friendly and offers true local hospitality and brings in the many exotic flavors and lushness of the island while offering boutique style comfort.

For upscale all inclusive luxury, book a room at this 5 star oceanside resort and listen to the waves crash from your own private hideaway.

Top Attractions

Although there is much to do on the island, no trip here is complete without a view of the Moai. In fact, many tourists are drawn to Easter Island just to see them.

Moai Statues

Sculpted by the Rapa Nui inhabitants thousands of years ago, the Moai are stone monuments carved from volcanic stone. They can stand up to 33 feet (10 meters) tall and are often in the shape of gigantic heads. Fascinatingly, their creators then managed to transport the stones and place them along the island coastline.

Take this small group tour that will have no more than 8 people to get an intimate experience and the most out of your time. Spend the day immersed in Easter Island’s culture, history, and folklore while visiting some of the most famous Moai sites as well as other important attractions.

Rano Raraku

Located in the Rapa Nui National Park, Rano Raraku is a volcanic crater that is home to the main Moai quarry. It was here that the ancient Rapa Nui created nearly 900 Moai. You can even see 397 Moai sculptures lying around the site in different states of completion.

5 Cool Destinations for Summer Travel - Easter Island
Ranon Raraku; photo by Franz Nawrath

The volcano itself stands at 525 feet (160 meters), with a deep freshwater lagoon at the center. It is comprised of cooled volcanic ash known as lapilli tuff. This tuff is the same material that makes up the moai, and you can see faces and heads actually carved into the volcanic slope.

One of the most beautiful and famous landmarks in Easter Island, you can easily spend hours admiring the moai scattered about the quarry or the stunning view of the sea from Rano Raraku’s crater.

Note: You must purchase tickets to the Rapa Nui National Park in advance. Tickets are valid for 10 days, but pass holders can only visit Rano Raraku and Orongo once with each ticket. Buying tickets online can be complicated. If in doubt, book a tour where local guides will assist you because traveling all this way and not seeing the park would really suck!

One of the easiest ways to see and access all of these main sites is through a small group, full day tour with a reliable and knowledgeable guide.

*While admission tickets are not usually included to the park, your guide will help you secure one during the tour at the cost of approximately $80 US.

*A local guide will bring so much more to your experience as the history, culture, and folklore is important and contributes meaning to what you are seeing.

Ahu Tongariki

Early risers will not want to miss out on the chance to see the sunrise in Ahu Tongarkiki, another site in the Rapa Nui National Park. Here, you can see 15 moai standing tall side-by-side against a dramatic backdrop of ocean, sky, and mountain. When the sun rises, it gives the moai an otherworldly effect and casts shadows longer than the statues themselves.

Sunrise at Ahu Tongariki; photo by Thomas Griggs

Once knocked inland by a tsunami, these moai have since been restored are now the most well-kept sculptures on Easter Island and worth a look no matter the time of day. One of the 15 moai even weighs up to 86 tons. So whether you see them at sunrise, sunset, or any time in between, you can expect to have your breath swept away. As such, Ahu Tongariki makes Easter Island one of the 5 cool destinations for summer travel.

Note: Ahu Tongariki is one of, if not the most, popular sights on Easter Island, so there can be crowds. For the best photo opportunity, be sure to arrive ahead of the crowds at sunrise or try to wait until after they leave. This private tour offers one of the best sunrise opportunities here, but reserve ahead!

Anakena Beach

Anakena Beach is Easter Island’s most scenic and popular beach for a reason. With soft white sand, turquoise waves, and green landscapes, this is a tropical summer paradise, complete with tall palm groves and a sprawling mountain in the background. The greatest highlight, however, is the presence of 8 distinct moai that flank the beach.

Note: The water currents here can be strong, so be careful!

Orongo Ceremonial Village

Another of Easter Island’s most famous archaeological sites, the Orongo Ceremonial Village sits near the Rano Kau volcano. The village is home to an array of stone buildings and structures, including petroglyphs and the quarry from which the buildings were built, and even a shrine.

Most famously, Orongo was home to the Birdman Cult and competition. The contest involved local tribes engaging in a contest of strength and wits. Competing chiefs would select a champion to represent the tribe. The contestants then raced to find a sooty tern egg (after first scaling a cliff and swimming to the nearby island of Motu Nui). In order to win the contest, the competitor who found the egg had to return to Orongo without breaking it. His chief then won the title of Birdman and for a year, his tribe would have special rights on the island. That same year, the winning Birdman would also isolate himself in a ceremonial house. This competition lasted until 1867.

You can easily tour through Orongo yourself, but one of these options that include a knowledgeable local guide provide more cultural and historical context for the village’s significance.

Scuba Diving and Snorkeling

Photo by Jakob Owens

Easter Island offers scuba excursions that you can prebook with a premium company. If you prefer to snorkel, book this professionally guided tour that includes equipment. No matter which you choose, you will have an unforgettable underwater experience. 

Horseback Riding

horse
Photo by Silje Midtgård

Horses are a common sight on Easter Island, and you can expect to see many roaming the land. This 3-hour island tour on horseback offers panoramic scenery while exploring some of the most important ceremonial sites.

Entertainment

Reserve this cultural dancing show with dinner, for a lively evening out on the island. For another really unique and interesting evening out, join this incredible stargazing experience.

Queenstown, New Zealand – 5 Cool Destinations for Summer Travel

5 Cool Destinations for Summer
Photo by Michael Amadeus

About

Hundreds of islands make up New Zealand, but its two largest and most prominent are the North and South Islands. Although the majority of New Zealanders live on the North Island, the South has a bigger area and boasts a number of glaciers and mountain ranges. Located in the Otago region, Queenstown rests against South Island’s Lake Wakatipu and its famous Alps.

A haven for wintry sports and activities, Queenstown is known for its wineries and vineyards as well, thanks to its famous red wine.

The official language of New Zealand is English, with native Maori widely spoken as well, and the official currency is the New Zealand Dollar.

Climate

Queenstown sees dry, wintry weather from the end of May through August, with temperatures falling below 50° F (10° C). In that period, Queenstown has maximum temperatures of 49° F (9° C) and lows of 30° F (-1° C). You can also expect some rain and snowfall throughout the summer, with more snow in June and less rain in July.

Queenstown has between 9 and 10 hours of sunshine in these months as well. However, sea temperatures can be quite cold, falling below 68° F (20° C).

Vibe

A sporty resort town, Queenstown is a vibrant world of nonstop activity. Featuring brilliant skies and scenic landscapes, Queenstown offers a plethora of sights, adventures, and attractions. It has an exciting vibe that provides something for everyone, from outdoor aficionados to those who would rather spend their vacation cooling down with spas, shops, and restaurants.

Stay at this well equipped Lakeside retreat where the lake and mountain views surround you. This resort is a few minute walk from some of Queenstown’s popular nature trails. It also is home to a popular art-deco restaurant that has floor to ceiling panoramic windows.

Top Attractions

Lake Wakatipu

Photo by boketto

A Queenstown icon, Lake Wakatipu is known for its unique Z shape and how its water rises and dips every twenty minutes. Queenstown sits right on the shore of Lake Wakatipu, lining it with an array of restaurants, shops, and street performers. You can feed the ducks, take a dip, or just admire the lush blue water surrounded by gorgeous mountains and skies. If you want to get out on the water, there are also plenty of boat tours and cruises available.

Note: If you fancy some relaxing time, you can buy bags of duck feed for $2.

While near Lake Wakatipu, stroll through the historic Queenstown Gardens on its shore. Scenic and peaceful, the gardens contain a wide number of flora for visitors to admire and enjoy.

Shotover River

Shotover Rapids; photo by Bulb Creative

The Shotover River is a narrow body of water sandwiched within a tight canyon. It spans 246 feet (75 meters) of fast, shooting water. As such, one of the most popular and thrilling activities in Queenstown is the Shotover Jet. For an unforgettable thrill, take a ride on the jet boat zooming over the Shotover River and feel the speed.

Bungy Jumping

Fun fact: the bungy jumping phenomenon first began in Queenstown in 1988 and spread from there to popularity. If riding the Shotover Jet has not fulfilled your need for thrills, consider bungy jumping from the Kawarou Bridge, the location that started it all, at 141 feet (43 meters)! If you are very experienced, or just very daring, try Nevis Point at 440 feet (134 meters), or the Ledge location at 154 feet (47 meters). All offer a stunning view of Queenstown from above, and adventure in the purest sense of the word. These jumping locations are not always available, so you can also try this popular one.

For additional adrenaline pumping extreme sports in New Zealand, try some of these experiences!

Visit a Ski Resort

The Remarkables ski area; photo by Phil Botha

Queenstown provides many opportunities for skiing in summer. Locally known as “ski fields,” there are plenty of ski resorts to choose from around Queenstown. Visitors can ski along snowy slopes, admire the picturesque landscapes, and spend the night relaxing with luxury amenities. Although the resorts do not sit directly on the mountain slopes, most provide transportation services to and from the ski sites.

Zipline Tour

The Ziptrek Ecotour is exactly what it claims to be: a zipline eco-tour that takes you through Queenstown’s gorgeous trees and mountains. The Ziptrek Ecotour boasts the world’s steepest zipline, with options for both beginners and thrill seekers. Regardless of what you choose, you can expect a breathtaking view of Lake Wakatipu and the Queenstown landscape from above.

Other exciting ziplines in New Zealand are in the Rotura Forest and on Waiheke Island.

Valley of Wines

Photo by Camille Brodard

If you are looking for relaxation instead of adrenaline, consider joining this Queenstown wine tour that hits 4 vineyards. In addition to being known for adventure and scenery, the area is also famous for its numerous vineyards and breweries. Queenstown is renowned for its pinot noir, but it also produces numerous other world-class wines as well. As such, there is an abundance of opportunities for wine tasting and wine tours, as well as visits to deluxe restaurants with wineries attached. There is even a hop on hop off wine tour that offers 4-8 hours of easy exploration and scenery. While not an adventure in the traditional sense, wine exploration is definitely an adventure for your taste buds.

Do not Miss this Famous Attraction!

The glow worm caves have been a famous tourist attraction in New Zealand for over 130 years. This network of caves can be explored on foot or by boat. Not only do they contain beautiful formations such as stalactites and stalagmites, but an abundance of magical glow worms. Be very quiet (as glow worms prefer) and watch the fantasy-like natural show unfold. Caves cannot be entered on your own, but these options offer something for everyone; This amazing visit offers a combination of touring by boat and foot, this one a longer, guided walking tour, an evening kayak tour, or take this small group eco-adventure tour that includes wading through streams.

Are You a Film Buff?

New Zealand was the filming location for much of the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films. A sheep farm on North Island is now Hobbiton, from JRR Tolkien’s, Middle Earth. Take this scenic half day Lord of the Rings Tour that offers exclusive access to the Arcadia Station filming locations in the Paradise Valley, has a picnic, and the opportunity to wear costumes if you’d like.

If you are a fan of The Hobbit, do not miss a visit to Hobbiton, that even includes a visit to the glow worm caves. Or take this tour that includes an in depth look at the sets, free time to shop and wander, and lunch.

Oslo, Norway – 5 Cool Destinations for Summer Travel

Photo by Christoffer Engström

About

Another of the 5 cool destinations for summer travel, Oslo sits in the northern hemisphere on the southern shore of Norway. Despite its low population density, Oslo is one of the most urbanized and environmentally conscious cities in the world. Nicknamed “Tiger City,” the Norwegian capital is famous for its diverse infrastructures, Viking roots, and mouthwatering seafood. Surrounded by the scenic Oslo Fjord, the city lives in harmony with scenic open waters and lush greenery.

Oslo’s official language is Norwegian and its currency is the Norwegian krone. English, Swedish, and Danish are spoken as well.

Climate

Oslo sees a mild climate in summer, with average temperatures under 70° F (20° C). Low temperatures can dip to 44° F (7° C) and highs only reach 73° F (23° C). You might see some rainy days during the summer months, especially from June through August.

However, you can also expect long hours of sunshine in the summer, with around 8 hours of daylight from May through July. You might also experience the white night phenomenon wherein some days in May through July can last so long that night never completely falls.

Sea temperatures are relatively cold in summer, dipping to 51° F (10° C) and rising to 64° F (17° C).

Vibe

Uniquely Scandinavian, Oslo has a sleek, laidback vibe that is perfect for anyone looking to cool down and relax. A hub of art and innovation, Oslo is home to countless world-famous restaurants, museums, and parks. Whether you visit for the tranquility of its cafés, the novelty of its architecture, or the culture of the city itself, you will definitely find something to your taste. 

Robbers and prostitutes used this hotel as their hideout in the 18th century, but now it’s trendy atmosphere hosts celebrities and fashion icons. Reserve a room in this historic hotel, in the city center to have both luxury, and easy access, to many of the city’s top attractions.

Attractions

As one of the 5 cool destinations for summer travel and a city with plenty to do in its own right, there are so many attractions to explore. We have included some of our favorite picks below, but you can book a variety of fabulous Oslo tours here as well.

Nobels Fredssenter

The Noble Peace Center is a must-see stop in Oslo, especially for those interested in the history of the Noble Peace Prize. Oslo awards the prize every year on December 10th, so it is fitting that the city has a museum dedicated to the award. The center hosts exhibits on past and current winners, as well as issues around the world. Visitors are also sometimes invited to participate in educational games and other activities.

*When the Noble Peace Center is closed, you can opt for this self-guided audio tour of Oslo that takes you to this center as one of its many stops and provides the history and interesting information on this and other popular Oslo attractions.

Museums

There are numerous museums to choose from when visiting Oslo. Each has its own distinct architecture, ranging from antiquated to modern and always fitting with both the cityscape and the art within.

Astrup Fearnely Museum of Modern Art; photo by Nick Night

Visit the Astrup Fearnely Museet, (closed until 22 May 2024), which is a private modern art museum with a rich collection of contemporary art. Alternatively, see the famous The Scream up close at the Nasjonalgalleriet, along with more of Edvard Munch’s work and collections from artists such as Picasso and Degas. Fans of Munch can also visit the Munch Museum, which dedicates itself to his life and work.

Or, take a tour of the Ibsen Museum, converted from the late playwright’s last apartment for a look at his life and that of historical Oslo. You can also visit the fantastic Viking Ship Museum for an immersive look at preserved Viking ships, artifacts, and history. You can also cpre-book your ticket to Viking Planet, a multimedia exhibit on Viking culture with lots of selfie opportunities!

Norsk Folkemuseum

The Norwegian Museum of Cultural History is a folk museum that displays the culture and artifacts from every social class and region in Norway. It is most famous for its collection of 140 restored buildings from around the country. Visitors can see structures from the 17th and 18th centuries, as well as a medieval church and a town replica from the early 1900s. Beautiful and immersive, this open air museum allows visitors to take a trip back in time with its display of period houses, schools, stores, and more. This is ideal for a stroll in mild weather, another reason why Oslo is one of the 5 cool destinations for winter travel.

Frogner Park

Vigelandsparken; photo by Ditte Yven

The largest park in Norway, Frogner Park is a sight that visitors must see. Picturesque in its own right, it is home to green grass, ponds, picnic areas, and more. However, it is most famous for featuring Vigelandsparken, a display of sculptures by Gustav Vigeland. Vigelandsparken has 212 sculptures showcasing (mostly nude) figures with distinct detail and expertise. So admire these sculptures and snap a few photos while strolling through Frogner Park.

Holmenkollen Ski Jump

Holmenkollen Ski Jump; Photo by Michael Ankes

Established in 1892, Holmenkollbakken is a ski jumping hill that stands at 472 feet (144 meters) tall. The Holmenkollen Ski Museum lets you see the view from the top of the ski jump. The museum itself also displays a comprehensive history of skiing. This may be heaven for ski enthusiasts, but regular visitors will also appreciate the thrill and beauty of the ski jump as well, thanks to its vivid panoramic view of Oslo from above. You can visit the ski jump as well as the folk museum, the fjord by boat, the sculpture garden, and many other key sights on this one day, action packed Grand Tour of Oslo with all transportation and most admissions provided.

Oslo Opera House

Oslo Opera House; photo by Gunnar Ridderström

Famous for its resemblance to a floating glacier, the Oslo Opera House is one of the city’s most famous architectural displays. You can tour the interior of the building, as well as its rooftop. Here, you can soak in views of the city from the roof while appreciating the marble blocks that comprise it. Tour the opera house as well as other significant Oslo landmarks on this locally guided, small group E-scooter tour.

As interesting inside as it is outside, the opera house is more than worth a visit. If you have the time, consider booking an opera or ballet performance within as well!

Oslo Fjord

Photo by Anastasiya Dalenka

As the name implies, the Oslo Fjord is the fjord that surrounds the Norwegian capital. There is constant activity around the fjord year-round, from this fjord sightseeing cruise to fishing like a Viking in the Fjord. You can also lounge around the promenades, taking in the scenery while shopping and dining. Regardless of what you choose to do, the Oslo Fjord will be a majestic sight that seamlessly blends into your plans for a relaxed summer day.

Nearby Nature

Oslo and its surrounding areas are full of natural beauty. If you love hiking, or just being out in scenic nature, plan a few extra days. While there is much to see and do in Oslo, have a travel plan that includes a few days, after touring the city, for all the scenic wonders. You will thank yourself.

Book this small group 3.5 hour scenic Oslofjord hike or if you are not keen on hiking, take this full day, relaxing tour that highlights Norway’s nature and includes waterfalls, a ride the scenic Flåm Railway and a boat cruise on the Sognefjord.

Anchorage, Alaska – 5 Cool Destinations for Summer Travel

Photo by Zetong Li

About

Anchorage is the largest city in the U.S. state of Alaska, the northernmost state on the American west coast and another of the 5 cool destinations for summer travel. Famous for its glaciers, mountains, and wildlife, Anchorage is also known as the center of Alaskan culture. It is home to heritage sites dedicated to Alaska’s indigenous groups, as well as local artists and musicians. With a cityscape as impressive as its landscapes, there is no shortage of recreational activities in Anchorage.

The official language is English and the currency is the United States Dollar.

Climate

Similar to Oslo, Anchorage has a mild climate from May to August. Its average temperature hovers around 60° F (16° C) in summer, dipping as low as 41° F (5° C) and rising no higher than 68° F (20° C). You can expect 8 to 9 hours (or more!) of sunshine in Anchorage in the summer, with several white nights as well.

Precipitation is quite low, but there is still a chance of rain in the summer, especially in August. Sea temperatures remain cold, hovering from 55° to 65° F (7° to 13° C).

Vibe

A bustling city in a small town, Anchorage has a distinct cosmopolitan vibe. The city co-exists with nature, and you can expect to see plenty of greenery and wildlife. With a myriad of nature trails, museums, art centers, seafood restaurants, and public art displays, Anchorage is ideal for visitors looking for a quintessential Alaskan summer.

For the full luxury spa and nature vibe, book a room at this amazing resort, located about 40 miles from Anchorage in the Chugach Mountains, surrounded by breathtaking scenery and wildlife. If you are set on staying in town, try this chic and comfortable inn that offers many suites with kitchens.

Attractions

If you are based in Anchorage, you can easily tour the Portage Glacier on your own with this easy self guided tour with included transfers. For more Anchorage tours and possibilities, see here and here.

Alaska Native Heritage Center

The Alaska Native Heritage Center features 11 different indigenous Alaskan cultures (they are the AthabaskanEyak Tlingit HaidaTsimshian, AleutAlutiiq Yup’ikCup’ikSiberian Yupik, and Inupia). Visitors can learn more about the art, history, and traditions of these groups in addition to seeing live performances and Q&As from native artists. Local and regional artwork are on display as well. The center has also set up six scale villages around Lake Tiulana meant to be demonstrations of traditional dwellings. You can see artifacts and witness other individual experiences in each village.

If you are traveling to Anchorage for the first time, the center is a must-see stop, especially for those interested in Alaskan culture.

Chugach State Park

Chugach State Park; photo by Paxson Woelber

Spanning over 495,000 acres, Chugach State Park is among the four biggest state parks within the U.S. It has sights straight out of postcards and paintings, with sprawling mountain ranges, nature trails, glaciers, waterfalls, and more. The park is also home to Flattop Mountain, Alaska’s most famous peak with a difficult, but breathtaking hiking trail. You can marvel at the wide range of flora and fauna, from summer blueberries to black bears, moose, and salmon.

With plenty of surprises and beautiful landscapes, the park is perfect for hiking, cycling, mountain climbing, and kayaking. The summer offers on-site bike and kayak rentals. Chugach allows visitors to camp on its official camping grounds as well, so trekkers can swing by with their RVs or rent an on-site cabin. 

Rent an RV here for one of the most exciting ways to see Alaska.

Also see Jenny in Wanderland article Travel Planning Guide for RV Road Trips

Ski Resorts

Anchorage is home to one of Alaska’s best ski resorts. Open year-round, it spans 1,400 acres with plenty of snow throughout the year and a stunning view of the surrounding mountains. With world-class amenities, restaurants, and sports areas, the resort is a paradise for skiers and snowboarders of any level. If you simply want to relax with luxury, you will also feel right at home.

Wildlife Watching

Rescue moose at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center; photo by Sophia Simoes

Famous for its abundant wildlife, there are more than enough opportunities for nature enthusiasts to observe animals in the wild. The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center is a 200-acre sanctuary and home to a myriad of species such as elk, wolves, bison, and more.

Photo by Kevin Bessat

Visit a musher kennel to see sled dogs and even take a dogsled tour or one that also includes a helicopter ride. They may not be racing in summer, but the kennels are open to visitors all year. Anchorage also has many opportunities for bear viewing, but be sure to book this amazing tour in advance. Alternatively, look for salmon near the Anchorage coast and keep an eye out for whales on this wild ride. No matter what you set out to do, you will see something special in this vast wild.

Flightseeing Tours

Photo by Paxson Woelber

No trip to Anchorage, or Alaska for that matter, is complete without a flightseeing tour like this highly rated one. Visitors can hop aboard a bush plane or this helicopter tour (that even makes a glacier landing), with professional pilots that will take them on a journey through the Alaskan air. See wildlife, glaciers, and mountain ranges from up high, and marvel at the experience of a flightsee tour. An Alaskan specialty, flightseeing definitely helps makes it one of the 5 cool destinations for summer travel.

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