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The Best (and Worst) Cities for Summer Travel

The Best (and Worst) Cities for Summer Travel
Portland
iStock

As many travelers know, choosing the right summer destination is essential—and for some, that ideal spot is a city. So what makes a great urban getaway in June, July, and August? Looking at the results of Travel + Leisure’s annual America’s Favorite Cities survey, we found that the recipe is simple:


•Good weather: It’s no surprise that some of the hottest cities in the summer ranked the lowest.


•Family-friendliness: With the kids home June through August, cities with offerings for the whole clan fared best.


•Great parks and easy access to the outdoors: Out of the 10 cities voted the best for summer travel, 8 also landed in the Top 10 for parks.


•Fantastic farmers’ markets: Simple pleasures make a difference; great local produce and purveyors helped sway opinions.


Read on to see how your favorite city fared.


The Best


#1 Portland


No. 1 for summer travel, eco-friendly Portland also grabbed the No. 1 spot for its parks and No. 2 for its farmers’ markets.


When Not to Go: Winter/Christmastime is when most respondents avoid this Oregon city. Unlike NYC with its tree lighting, Portland doesn’t offer much incentive for visitors to bear the damp cold.


Average Summer Temp: 66 degrees


Denver
Jim Havey / Alamy

#2 Denver


Despite a sub-par offering of farmers’ markets, Denver’s great parks and family appeal may have helped hoist the Colorado city up to the No. 2 spot.

When Not to Go: Thanksgiving seems to be the low point for this ski town. Perhaps the slopes are too hard to conquer with a food coma?


Average Summer Temp: 71 degrees.


Seattle
iStock

#3 Seattle


Voted best for farmers’ markets and No. 4 for its parks, the Emerald City’s moderate summer weather also likely played a role in its No. 3 spot.


When Not to Go: It landed dead last in both Thanksgiving and winter/Christmas travel—not shocking considering those are the rainiest months.


Average Summer Temp: 64 degrees.


San Diego
iStock

#4 San Diego


Sure, its farmers’ markets are okay at best, but the city welcomes families with open parks and, according to the survey, the best weather of any U.S. city—the perfect combo for a summer getaway.


When Not to Go: Almost never—the lowest placement that America’s Finest City received was No. 12 (for Thanksgiving travel). Not too shabby.


Average Summer Temp: 70 degrees


Minneapolis
Visions of America, LLC / Alamy

#5 Minneapolis/St. Paul


The Twin Cities received favorable marks across the board, helping make it the No. 5 city for summer travel.


When Not to Go: While folks may think twice about a Miami spring break trip because it’s too crazy, they probably avoid one here because it’s just too dull.


Average Summer Temp: 71 degrees.




The Worst

Phoenix
dougtone/Flickr

#1 Phoenix/Scottsdale


The lack of places for family fun, farmers’ markets, and decent parks gave little incentive for folks to withstand the intense summer desert heat.


Why to Go Anyway: Head to this Arizona city for a relaxing, all-inclusive getaway…preferably somewhere with a big pool.


Average Summer Temp: 91 degrees.


Dallas
iStock

#2 Dallas/Fort Worth


It’s odd that a destination known for BBQ—hugely popular in the summer—ranked so low for summer travel. Maybe if there were more parks to encourage family get-togethers, the score would improve.


Why to Go Anyway: If you have the urge to splurge on a luxury shopping excursion—hello air-conditioning!—book a trip here.


Average Summer Temp: 83 degrees.


Atlanta
Digital Vision / Alamy

#3 Atlanta


“Hotlanta” seems to be too hot for many people to stomach in the summer without the incentive of better parks, farmers’ markets, or something for the kids to do.


Why to Go Anyway: Wheeling and dealing—indoors, please—at one of the city’s top-ranked business hotels.



Average Summer Temp: 79 degrees.


Houston
iStock

#4 Houston


It has just so-so rankings for Mom, Dad, and the kids, fresh local produce, and parks, which may be why it ranked no-no as a summer hot spot.


Why to Go Anyway: An affordable vacation chock-full of cultural events. (Temperature-controlled museums are nice and cool, right?)


Average Summer Temp: 83 degrees.


New Orleans
Teshira Nobie

#5 New Orleans


Despite its No. 3 score for farmers’ markets, the Big Easy didn’t get much summer lovin’ from survey-takers. Maybe it’s because come summer, the city transforms into a steamy swamp.


Why to Go Anyway: Take off for lively Nah’lins when you want to get down with your bad self.


Average Summer Temp: 82 degrees.




See all of the Best Cities for Summer Travel


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