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America’s best cities for summer travel

What makes a great urban getaway in June, July, and August? From San Diego to Honolulu, read on to see how your favorite city fared.
Image: San Diego
San Diego welcomes families with open parks and the best weather of any U.S. city — the perfect combo for a summer getaway.iStock
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“There’s almost no place else I’d rather be than the Twin Cities in the summer,” says New York City resident Fernando Oliveira, who attended Macalester College in Minneapolis/St. Paul and prefers the cultured but outdoorsy Land of 10,000 Lakes to the Big Apple, which he says “gets that nasty summer stench” once temperatures start to rise.

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.

Oliveira isn’t alone in his seasonal attraction to Minneapolis/St. Paul. The Twin Cities — which enjoy a comfy average summer temperature of 71 degrees — earned the No. 5 spot for summer travel on the survey.

But it’s not just about the weather. This time of year, you can stroll around Harriet and Calhoun lakes, take in an outdoor concert, or savor a scoop of small-batch artisanal ice cream at Sebastian Joe’s.

Check out the expansive Lyndale farmers’ market, which sells everything from sweet, just-picked strawberries to local cheeses. And on the odd chance of a heat wave, there’s also the nearby — and air-conditioned — Mall of America, home to an indoor water park and roller coaster.

Honolulu, a perennial favorite, also fared well as a summer getaway, placing No. 9. Sure, it fell short in the farmers’ markets category, but we have a sneaking suspicion that fresh pineapple isn’t as high on people’s list of priorities as, say, surfing.

Which cities didn’t do so well? New York, for one, landed in the bottom 10 — perhaps because respondents don’t find Gotham to be family-friendly, or maybe because July and August can be brutally hot. (If folks think New Yorkers are unpleasant normally, just imagine them overheated and cranky.)

And while Miami overall garnered raves for its good weather, the Florida city’s miles of beaches were not enough to compensate for the summer’s rainfall and intense humidity. Of course, travelers would rather have a wild spring break than a summer vacation in this party town anyway.