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Some might say that summer is the best time of year to travel. The sun is out more frequently than at any other time of year, the chance of canceled or delayed flights due to snow is pretty much none, and beaches — the American ideal of the vacation spot — are really only accessible then.
However, some people might be interested in summer destinations that are a bit more off the beaten path. After all, not everyone can handle tons of sun, heat, and humidity! Here are five truly unique places to visit this summer:
Portugal’s landmass consists of more than the one big strip at the very western end of Europe. The Azores is a Portuguese archipelago located thousands of miles westward into the Atlantic Ocean, and it offers natural sights including lava tubes, calderas, and crater lakes that are tough to find elsewhere. Flying to London and then to The Azores is probably smart as finances go, but otherwise, there are few reasons not to check out this truly remarkable, distinct travel spot.
For a more readily accessible destination with the natural wonders that The Azores offer, try Iceland. Sure, WOW Air no longer exists to offer super affordable U.S.-Iceland flights, but getting to this island nation on a budget is still entirely possible. What’s more, in the summer, Iceland experiences as many as a full 24 hours of sunshine per day. For a sunlit experience that rarely exceeds 60 degrees Fahrenheit and includes natural wonders such as hot springs, geysers, waterfalls, geothermally heated outdoor pools, and sunken caves, there’s no better location.
Not willing or able to cross international borders? Alaska is a domestic location that doesn’t get as many tourists as other parts of the country do as the heat rises. Cities including Anchorage and Juneau give glimpses into how urban centers function in parts of the world where temperatures dip into the extremes lows the state is known for during winter. Denali National Park, about four hours north of Anchorage, offers a summer national park experience with temperatures similar to Iceland’s summer numbers. Why not travel to the largest U.S. state?
San Juan Islands
The name might be deceiving: These islands are not in Puerto Rico. Instead, they’re up in the very top corner of the Pacific Northwest, about three hours north of Seattle. This 400-island archipelago — which is primarily centered around the four San Juan, Orcas, Shaw, and Lopez islands — is home to amazing food options, plentiful biking options, and, of course, the modest summer weather that Washington is known for.
This Michigan lakefront town is renowned for its idyllic swaths of cherry trees. Many are also quick to point out its thriving beer and dining scenes as reasons for making the trek so far north in a state better known for its more southern hot spots such as Detroit. As well, Traverse City offers a bounty of canoeing, sailing, and kayaking options, but the town’s arguably best-known attraction is on land. Climbing the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is known among Michigan residents as a rite of passage — why not top summer off with a climb?
Where are you thinking of going this summer? What are some of your favorite unusual travel spots? Sound off in the comments!