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a young woman in sunglasses poses at Balboa Park in the sunshine

5 Destinations for Your Best Summer in the City

OK, yes: you might reasonably believe that summers were made for beaches, campfires, and backyard barbecues. But if you’ve never considered the summertime-only wonder of some of the United States’ biggest cities, you’re missing out. That’s because summer doesn’t just mean great weather for walking around and taking in the sights — it means taking advantage of all the unique ways the locals cool off, get outside, and experience their city in a new light. Here are five picks for an unforgettable city summer.


Did you know that in Chicago you can kayak in the river that cuts through town, take a stand-up paddleboard out on Lake Michigan, or sip beachside tropical drinks against a backdrop of skyscrapers? And that’s just the start of what the warm weather’s got in store for you there. Check out our guide to the best outdoor activities for sunny Chicago days to see why we love summer in this city.


fireworks on the fourth of july over the Boston Skyline

Paddle out on the Charles River, watch the Fourth of July fireworks while the Boston Pops play at the famous Hatch Shell, or just enjoy the slower pace of life that comes when Boston’s dozens of colleges and universities let out for the summer. However you choose to spend your summer days, Boston is a great place to do it. It’s also an easy jumping-off point for day trips to beachside towns like Hyannis and Gloucester, and hikes on Spectacle Island. While you’re in town, don’t miss the chance to cool down with an ice cream cone from local favorite JP Licks or a unique craft beer on the shady patio at Trillium Brewing.

San Diego

a young woman hiking at sunset in San Diego

San Diego’s famous for its year-round sunny weather, but summertime’s still special. Head to Belmont Park for nostalgic beachfront rollercoaster rides, learn to surf, go for a sunset hike, or celebrate at the city’s legendary Pride parade. Whatever your mood, you won’t regret spending time outside

New York City

an aerial view of governor's island in New York City

There is absolutely nothing like New York City in the summer. Yes, it can get very hot and humid during the day – fair warning. But across the city’s five boroughs you’ll find unique, world-class experiences from outdoor activities to cultural events, many of which are free or cheap to attend. Take the quick ferry ride from lower Manhattan to Governor’s Island and spend an afternoon relaxing in a hammock by the water; line up for free tickets to celebrity-headlined Shakespeare productions in Central Park; join the locals for free outdoor movie screenings in parks across the city; or ride the world-famous Cyclone roller coaster at Coney Island. The possibilities are endless!

Los Angeles

four friends on the beach in Santa Monica at sunset

It’s no secret that LA has a strong beach culture and the weather to match, and summer’s the time to make the most of it. The beaches in Santa Monica, Venice, and Malibu are all calling your name, but don’t stop there: there’s lots to do inland, too. Grab a day pass to a fancy hotel pool and spend a day sipping poolside cocktails from your lounge chair, or opt for something a bit more active and take a hike through Topanga Canyon. Catch an outdoor movie screening in a city park or even at the famous Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Farmers’ markets all over the city (we’re partial to Santa Monica’s huge market every Wednesday) have the best of summer’s locally grown berries, stone fruit, and other produce. Top it all off with a visit to one of LA’s free summer music festivals, or take a break from the city with one of our favorite day trips from LA.