Summer 2023 is the hottest on record here in the U.S. and throughout much of the world. If you’re like us, you’re looking for ways to beat the heat as you enjoy your summer vacation. Here are 5 ways we’re planning to keep our cool during our summer travels:
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Get Soaked at Niagara Falls, New York
Niagara Falls is always a popular tourist destination. The sheer volume of water crashing over the edge of the falls is truly an awe-inspiring sight. The 12,000 year old waterfalls – there are 3 of them – on the border of the U.S. and Canada aren’t officially listed among the seven natural wonders of the world, but we feel they’re worthy of making a revised or expanded list.
The best part during a scorching hot summer? You don’t even have to go on one of the boat tours to get thoroughly soaked by the mist! Just make your way to one of the lower viewing points. Ponchos are provided for boat tours and other spots, but they won’t do much good.
If you go, plan to arrive early, because crowds are inevitable and parking may become difficult as the day wears on. Parking in town and at the Visitor Center can cost in the ballpark of $20 or more.
HOT TIP: We parked in one of the first two lots after entering the State Park entrance on Riverway. These small lots are located along the Niagara River, where there is an active and beautiful walking and biking path. It’s about a quarter-mile walk up the path from the lot to the falls, but if you’re able and up for it, the parking there is free and there are no time restrictions.
How To Visit Safely: It’s tempting to get that up-close view and shot of the rapids in the river. They’re pretty impressive! But please stay back from the edge and mind all safety signage. Those rapids are powerful and could be devastating if you fell in.
Don’t Miss This: One of our favorite surprises at Niagara Falls was the main street in town, Rainbow Boulevard, which was lined with food trucks! They were very international, with food from India, Pakistan, the Middle East, and more. We tried Pakistani food for the first time and loved it! The population there seems to be very international and diverse and that is reflected in the food options in town.
For More Information: Niagara Falls State Park site
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan
This is a destination that’s high on our list and we can’t wait to visit this summer.
One of the best ways to beat the heat is to head to a beach. Except maybe in Florida, where water temperatures have been reported to be entering the 100-degree range. Yikes! But the Great Lakes are lined with picturesque coastlines that enjoy warm-to-hot days and cool, refreshing nights. Popular area activities include swimming, fishing, kayaking, checking out the waterfalls and hiking.
Don’t Miss This: Detroit-style pizza. Have you heard of it? If you’re road tripping up to the Upper Peninsula and can swing a detour through Detroit, look for Buddy’s Pizza for one of our favorite styles of ‘za. It’s square, in a deep dish with crispy edges, and they put the sauce on TOP of the other toppings. Game changer.
Washington, DC is hot. And very humid. And there are a LOT of mosquitos there. So how did it make our list of places to travel to this record-breaking summer?
Washington, DC is on the list because it has a lot of indoor (air conditioned!) activities that kids and adults can enjoy alike. They cater to all kinds of interests, whether they are history, pop culture, science and technology, spy craft… you name it! And the best part is that several of these activities are free! In some cases you will need to receive timed-entry tickets, so you do want to plan ahead and check online for each of your destinations and activities.
Another reason we love DC is because the public transit in the city is probably the best in the U.S. We would compare it to some of the better public transit we’ve experienced in Europe and Asia. It makes getting around the city so easy. And did we mention the transit is also air conditioned? Just saying… 😉
A final major point for Washington, DC is the food. The city has so many amazing neighborhoods, each with their own character and world-class dining options. Whether you’re looking for an American institution like Ben’s Chili Bowl (which also has vegan options!) or want to try something a little more exotic like Khachapuri; from ultra casual to the fanciest fine dining; Washington, DC is one of the country’s great food cities.
Take an Alaska Cruise
Well, you’ve figured by now that the top trick to beat the heat is heading north. And you may be surprised to learn that Alaska isn’t all snow and cold. Parts of the state have beautiful summers with warm, mild weather, and one of the best ways to enjoy it is to tour the coastline.
The cruise we took made several stops in southeast Alaska, stopping at popular ports of call like Ketchikan and Juneau, and touring the waters of Glacier Bay National Park. While our day in Juneau was sunny and 80 degrees, we wore sweaters as we toured Skagway.
What to pack: Bring layers. As we mentioned above, weather can vary dramatically from one day and/or region to the next. And since rain will almost definitely be in the forecast, take waterproof shoes – we recommend hiking boots – and ponchos.
Acadia National Park, Maine
We can’t have a list of U.S. destinations without including at least one of our amazing National Parks. And Acadia National Park in Maine is a must-see.
Acadia is the perfect destination for a long-weekend getaway. Give yourself three days at the park to do a hike or two, drive Park Loop Road, rent bikes to explore the carriage roads and take a boat tour off the coast. You’ll even have time to try the popovers at Jordan Pond House and get your instagram sunset pics from Cadillac Mountain.
Wildlife Alert!: One of the highlights of a visit to Acadia and the coast of Maine is the chance to view puffins. Boat tours to spot puffins run from May through August, but June and July are the prime months for sightings.
Can’t Make It In The Summer?: While July and August are the perfect months to visit Acadia if you like warm (but not scorching hot) weather, the ideal time to visit may be in the fall. The park’s location in New England makes it a prime spot for colorful leaf peeping.
Please remember to practice Leave No Trace
It’s up to all of us to preserve the places we visit, whether cities or nature. By following the seven principles of Leave No Trace, we can protect destinations from the impacts of trash, overuse, and threats to wildlife:
- Plan and prepare
- Travel and camp on durable surfaces
- Dispose of waste properly*
- Leave what you find
- Minimize campfire impacts
- Respect wildlife
- Be considerate of others
It’s always so discouraging when we’re enjoying a beautiful beach or National Park (or even city street) and we come up on someone’s coffee cup or snack bag just tossed on the landscape. Cigarette butts are litter, as well, when not disposed of properly. And even food scraps can be problematic. Yes, they may be biodegradable, but if they contain seeds of a fruit or vegetable that is not endemic to a location, it may grow where it shouldn’t be and become invasive. Or if an animal picks it up, it may be toxic or otherwise unhealthy for it. Please take everything you bring with you back out again.
For more information on Leave NoTrace, visit the official website at https://lnt.org/.