17 Best Places to Visit in July USA: Cities, Beach Vacations & Fireworks

Sunset at South Padre Island Beach in Texas

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Are you planning a trip in the USA this July and overwhelmed with all of the amazing destination choices? 

We totally get it!

July is one of the most popular months for travel because kids are out of school, the summer is at its peak, and everyone is itching for an escape.

Most people choose the beach scene to find some rest and relaxation for their vacay, others prefer to explore a big city, especially if you celebrate 4th of July.

And if you’re hoping to find a less busy spot with slightly cooler temperatures, we’ve got those covered too in this guide of the best places to visit in July in the USA.

Can’t wait for your July vacation? Check out this guide for the best places to visit in the USA in June too.

Path to the beach at Cape Henlopen State Park, in Rehoboth Beach.

Best Places to Visit in July in the USA for Couples, Families & Groups

1. Boston, Massachusetts for History, July 4th & Tours

If you want to celebrate Independence Day, Boston is one of the best places to visit in the US in July.

It is full of American history, celebrations, and of course, fireworks – but did you know Boston has a fantastic beach too? With temperatures from the mid-60s to the low 80s, you’ll be grateful for a dip in the water.

History buffs and beach lovers can find the perfect vacation combo here – and if you only have 24 hours for your trip, read this guide.

Green and orange trolley tour in Boston

Things to do in Boston in July

  • Fourth of July – Fourth of July in Boston consists of historical re-enactments, live music, parades, & a fireworks display over the Harbor. 
  • Explore the self-guided Black Heritage Trail or the seasonal Walk The Black Heritage Trail around Beacon Hill.
  • Revere Beach – Most people don’t think of beaches when they picture Boston, but Revere Beach has blue water, white sand, and tons of amusements and attractions.
  • Red Sox – Red Sox game at Fenway Park is a must-do activity when in Boston – just make sure not to wear any Yankees merch! 
  • Shakespeare on the Common – Shakespeare on the Common is a free event all summer long under the stars.
  • Boston Tea Party Museum Tour – Relive the early American roots with this interactive Boston Tea Party Museum tour; get your tickets here.
Boston Common park garden

2. New York, New York in July for Fireworks

People all around the country watch the Macy’s fireworks show on TV, and this year maybe you’ll get to see the infamous event for yourself.

Even if you miss the show, there’s so much to do, especially if you like to be outdoors in the low 70s to high 80s weather. 

There’s never a wrong time to visit New York, but July is definitely a great time to go. 

Yellow taxi Central Park New York

Things to do in New York in July

  • Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks – The classic NYC experience for the holiday, the Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks show features multiple various musical performances, and of course, fireworks!
  • Outdoors Summer Movies – New Yorkers love going to the free outdoor summer movies throughout the city. Bring a snack and a blanket with you!
  • Kayak on the Hudson – Get out on the water and kayak on the Hudson from Pier 26 and get a little respite from city life.
  • Broadway in the Park – Broadway in the Park is a great way to get a little teaser of the best of Broadway with free performances in Bryant Park.
  • American Museum of Natural History – Cool off from the heat in the American Museum of Natural History and explore the interactive exhibits, including the planetarium; get your tickets here.
Beautiful skyline of Central Park and New York city from Rockefeller Observatory - Top of the Rock - New York, USA

3. Lake Saranac, New York in July for Cooler Temperatures

About an hour south of the Canadian border, the sleepy town of Saranac comes to life in the summertime.

The sunny days are a little more bearable, with temperatures only reaching the mid 70s most days, meaning you can hang out on the lake for even longer!

Check out the best places to explore upstate with this New York bucket list.

Things to do in Lake Saranac in July

  • Saranac Lake – Saranac Lake is full of adventure; take out a jet ski and explore it for yourself!
  • Adirondack Carousel – Adirondack Carousel is full of hand-carved colorful woodland animals created by volunteer woodworkers and has been a beloved part of the town for ten years.
  • Adirondack Artists Guild – The Adirondack Artists Guild is the perfect spot to find a one of a kind masterpiece to take home to remember the views.
  • Downtown Saranac – Downtown Saranac is a charming little spot where you can have a coffee and marvel at a mountain or grab a souvenir at a shop overlooking a lake.
  • The Saranac Six – The Saranac Six refers to the six mountains around the lake, Baker, St. Regis, Scarface, Ampersand, Haystack, and Mackenzie; if you do them all, you’ll be a “Saranac 6er”.

4. Long Beach Island, New Jersey in July for a Hot Holiday

Infamously one best vacation spots in July in the USA, LBI, as it is known to the locals, has everything you could ever want.

Just 45 minutes north of Atlantic City, you can tan on the beach, have fun in the parks, go shopping, explore, eat, drink, and live your very best life in the hot July sun (average temperatures are anywhere from the high 60s to the mid 80s). 

Read this guide to learn more about the best East Coast beaches to visit.

Things to do in Long Beach Island in July

  • Surf City – Surf City is a favorite spot for visitors, especially with its popular downtown area full of shopping and eateries and its bay beach.
  • Fantasy Island – Fantasy Island is a great family-friendly spot with rides, boardwalk games, arcades, places to eat, and more.
  • Thundering Surf Water Park – Thundering Surf Water Park is the longest, continuously operating waterpark in the world with a lazy river, tube slides, and even a toddler area to keep the whole family happy.
  • Barnegat Lighthouse State Park – Visit Barnegat Lighthouse State Park to walk the Maritime Forest Trail, enter the lighthouse itself or make a little picnic for yourself in the scenery. 
  • Atlantic City Cruise – Atlantic City, is just under an hour away from LBI and is a world of fun, take advantage of the nice weather and take a cruise; get your tickets here.

5. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in July for Patriotic Activities

Get your Fourth of July celebrations on in Philadelphia with some of the best patriotic activities in the country.

Nothing more American than a cold beer on a hot summer’s day (up to 90F!) and fireworks where the Founding Fathers met and created America.

Philadelphia Liberty Bell.

Things to do in Philadelphia in July

  • Stars and Bars – Stars and Bars is the best way to celebrate the nation’s birthday is with a cold beer, entertainment, great food, and even prizes and giveaways. (All July)
  • Fourth of July Wawa Welcome America – Fourth of July Wawa Welcome America has a variety of events to celebrate leading up to the holiday but is most well known for their concert on the 4th.
  • Liberty Bell – Liberty Bell is mandatory if this is your first visit to Philly; get up close and personal with the world’s most recognizable symbols of freedom.
  • Battle of Gettysburg – Gettysburg is about two and a half hours west; but, if you’re traveling in that direction in early July, the Battle of Gettysburg is an amazing historical re-enactment that you have to see to believe.
  • Founding Fathers Historical Walking Tour – Brush up on your knowledge of the nation’s history with a Founding Fathers historical walking tour; get your tickets here.
Philadelphia skyline at dusk

6. Washington DC for Museums, Jazz & July 4th Celebrations

With so many fun and festive things to do, it’s clear why DC is one of the best US cities to visit in July.

Whether you want to sit outside in gorgeous weather (expect the heat to get up to 90F) and listen to music or watch people pass you by, or go exploring to a new and secret spot, you’ll love your whole trip no matter what.

Washington Monument on the Reflecting Pool in Washington, DC

Things to do in Washington DC in July

  • Fourth of July – Fourth of July in the Capitol has to be on your DC bucket list; watch the fireworks over the National Mall as you celebrate. 
  • Smithsonian Folklife Festival – The annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival celebrates and brings together people from all over. (Early July)
  • Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens – Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens is a hidden oasis in the city where you can relax amongst the greenery.
  • Jazz in the Garden – Every Friday in the summer, Jazz in the Garden takes place in the Sculpture Garden on the National Gallery of Art grounds for free.
  • Nighttime Trolley Tour – Take a nighttime trolley tour to see the most famous DC monuments by moonlight; get your tickets here.

DC also features in our guide to the best places to visit in March for the cherry blossoms.

7. Rehoboth Beach, Delaware in July for a Beach Vacation

One hour south of Dover’s capital lies Rehoboth Beach, one of the best places to visit in the USA in July.

Average temperatures ranging from the high 60s to the mid-80s mean that you can hang out on the hot sandy beaches and gorgeous ocean all day long. 

You can also have fun on the old-school boardwalk full of great things to do for everyone in your family, from crazy bar scenes to kid-friendly arcades. 

Things to do in Rehoboth Beach in July

  • Nightlife – Rehoboth Beach has so many great places to explore the nightlife, often all within walking distance of each other, making for a great evening of bar hopping.
  • Gordon’s Pond – Gordon’s Pond is lesser known to the tourists and is a more secluded and quieter beach spot nestled in the Cape Henlopen State Park, just north of Rehoboth Beach. 
  • Funland – Funland is one of the beach’s biggest attractions for the whole family, with old fashioned carnival games and rides.
  • The Boardwalk – The Rehoboth Beach boardwalk is a mile long and filled with quirky shops, places to eat, attractions, bars, beach stores, and more.
  • Bandstand Summer Concert Series – The Bandstand Summer Concert Series takes place Friday-Sunday all summer long with various musical acts entertaining beachgoers.
Benches on the boardwalk in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. Depositphotos_105078830_l-2015

8. Lewes Beach for a Beach Town Parade and Fireworks

North of Rehoboth is another Delaware beach worth visiting in July, Lewes Beach.

This small town beach doesn’t have boardwalk like Rehoboth, however, there are restaurants close by such as Big Oyster Brewery, Half Full and On The Rocks Dockside Grill.

Lewes, is known as the ‘first town in the first state’, and the community put on an annual parade and fireworks for Jul 4th.

If you can’t find accommodation in Lewes, stay in bigger Rehoboth or Dewey or Bethany Beach.

Lewes also features in our guide to the best beaches in the US.

Lewes, Delaware bench on beach

Things to Do in Lewes in July

  • Relax at Lewes Beach
  • Take advantage of the tax-free shopping at the Tanger Outlets
  • Stroll down Second Street, a quaint and popular street filled with shopping places and eating surrounded by historical homes and buildings.
  • Visit The Lewes Historical Society can tell you all about the rich history of this little town.
  • Get a photo of the famous Purple House on Savannah Road.
  • Hike or bike around Cape Henlope State Park.
  • Cape May Sunset Cruise – If you take the ferry from Lewes to Cape May, you can spend the evening on a cruise watching the sunset – just don’t forget to keep an eye out for the dolphins; get your tickets here.

Lewes also features in our guide to best US beaches.

Cape Henlopen State Park, Lewes

9. St Michaels, Maryland for a Small Town Getaway

 If small towns are your favorite vacation spots, St. Michaels needs to be on your list of places to visit in the USA in July.

Head 45 minutes west of the Delaware border, and you’ll stumble upon this small but gorgeous seaside town brimming with quaint streets and things to do.

Stay on land and learn about their history and check out the shops or take advantage of the nearly 90F weather and head out on the water to cool off. 

Things to do in St. Michaels in July

  • Talbot Street – Grab some ice cream, go antiquing, check out an art gallery, and more on this popular street.
  • Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum – The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum is a great way to learn about the history of the area, and you can even explore the 1879 Hooper Strait Lighthouse.
  • St Michael’s Winery – Taste some local wine at St Michael’s Winery and enjoy the sunshine on the outdoor patio.
  • Go Crabbing – Take a chartered boat like this one to go crabbing and catch your own infamous Maryland blue crabs.
  • Go Adventuring – Take a paddleboard out on the water or take a bike ride around the shore with rental companies like Shore Pedal & Paddle.

10. Outer Banks, North Carolina for a Chilled, Stunning Coastal Vacation

Classically known as one of the best US beaches to visit in July in the USA, the OBX is a great family-friendly vacation spot with temps ranging from the low 70s to the mid 80s.

Visitors love the low key 200-mile (320 km) stretch of the OBX – no boardwalks, high rise hotels or theme parks!

Two and a half hours west from Greenville, you can find some fantastic views, have a blast on the beach, explore some local history and go fishing from a famous pier – what else could you want?

Things to do in Outer Banks in July

  • Visit Fort Raleigh National Historic Site, part of the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom for enslaved people.
  • Jockey’s Ridge – Jockey’s Ridge is popular for kite-flying, sunset-watching, and sightseeing because it is the tallest sand dune on the Atlantic Coast.
  • Check out the cute beach cottages at Nag’s Head next door to Jockey’s Ridge.
  • Wright Brothers National Memorial – Visit the Wright Brothers National Memorial to learn all about the first flight with interactive exhibits, sculptures, and more.
  • Cape Hatteras Lighthouse – The 200+ year old Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is the tallest brick lighthouse in the country and offers fantastic island views.
  • Roanoke Island Festival Park – Roanoke Island Festival Park is a 25-acre historic site that takes visitors back to the life of the early settlers. 
  • Do the self-guided Northeast North Carolina African American Experience to discover 30 sites.
  • Fishing at Jeanette’s Pier – Fishing at Jennette’s Pier is a classic activity for anyone visiting the OBX interested in angling; try for a catch off of the 1,000-foot long concrete pier.
Beach with cottages at Nags Head in the outer banks. North Carolina

11. St. Augustine, Florida for History

When you think about the best places to go in July in the USA, a trip to Florida is usually high on the list; head 45 minutes south of Jacksonville and take a trip to St. Augustine. 

In St. Augustine, you can have the quintessential beach experience in temps as high at 91F but also explore some of America’s oldest history and even reimagine your life as a pirate!

Since it gets hot and humid in July, plan to do your activities in the morning and if you’re at the beach, reapply sunblock often.

Read this guide for some insider knowledge on the ultimate Florida bucket list.

Things to do in St. Augustine in July

  • Crescent Beach – Crescent Beach is popular for long beach walks; bike rides on the sand, volleyball, frisbee, and other fun and activities.
  • Colonial Quarter – Visit the Colonial Quarter for a chance to step back in time and explore 500 years of European History in St. Augustine with tours and interactive exhibits.
  • Fountain of Youth – Discover the Fountain of Youth, America’s oldest colony, and find out for yourself if the fountain’s magical properties are real or not.
  • Black Raven Adventures – Black Raven Adventures takes place on a pirate ship & will unleash your inner pirate whether you choose the adults-only or family-friendly version.
  • Trolley Tour & Museum – Get to know the city with a trolley tour and admission to St. Augustine History Museum; get your tickets here.
St.-Augustine-Florida with palm trees

12. Key West in July for Ernest Hemingway Banter

Key West, at the very southern tip of the Florida Keys, is one of the most fun places to visit in the US all year round but July is especially wild because it is the annual Ernest Hemingway Look-a-Like Competition.

Hemingway called Key West home for a while and become good friends with local, Joe Russell.

Hemingway and Russell fished together on Hemingway’s boat, Pilar, and drank at Russell’s bar Sloppy Joe’s.

In honor of the friendship, there is a contest every July where Hemingway look-a-likes are invited to see who looks the most like the Papa!

However, we do have to warn you that the temperature and humidity can be a lot in Florida in July.

Sloppy Joes bar in Key West Florida

Things to do in Key West in July

  • Fourth of July decor and fireworks
  • Sunset Celebration at Mallory Square
  • Sunset cruises
  • Visit the southern most point continental US marker
  • Partying on Duval Street
  • Eat conch fritters and Key Lime Pie
  • Watch or enter the annual Hemingway Competition

13. Chicago, Illinois in July for July 4th Festivities

If you picture nothing but baseball and old-school mobsters when you think of Chicago, you are missing so much!

Come to Chicago for the baseball but stay for the fun on the river, priceless art, and the 80 something degree weather on their beach.

Here’s our Chicago itinerary packed with things to do.

Chicago River Boat Tour

Things to do in Chicago in July

  • Fourth of July – Celebrate the Fourth of July with fireworks over the lakefront, take a boat cruise along the river, and catch-free live concerts in Millennium Park.
  • Chicago River – Take a kayak or canoe out onto the Chicago River to cool down and check out the sights.
  • Navy Pier – Navy Pier is one of the top spots in the city, full of places to eat a drink, attractions, sights, and more.
  • Shore Club Chicago – Shore Club Chicago is the best spot for beach life in the city, with great food and entertainment opportunities.
  • Art Institute of Chicago – Skip the line to the Art Institute of Chicago and see the extensive collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings; get your tickets here.
Chicago Beach with USA Flag
Cloud Gate silver Chicago Bean with reflections of skyline and skyscrapers behind it

14. South Padre Island, Texas for a Texan Beach Adventure

If you’re ready to have an amazing time, head to South Padre Island on the most southeastern tip of Texas, for one of the best places to travel in July in the USA.

There’s something for everyone here; the island isn’t just for beachgoers; adrenaline junkies, wildlife lovers, golfers, and anglers, will have a blast too.

Make sure to pack your sunscreen – temps range from the low 80s to the low 90s.

Check out this guide for the best Texas road trip route and this one for more about beach towns in Texas.

If this is too hot for you, keep reading to find out cooler July vacation ideas.

Things to do in South Padre Island in July

  • Port Isabel Lighthouse – Take a self-guided tour of the Port Isabel Lighthouse to see the view of the island from the top. 
  • Laguna Madre Nature Trail – Laguna Madre Nature Trail is a 1-mile long loop trail where you can see marshland, wildlife, and over 300 species of birds.
  • Gravity Park – Gravity Park is for all adrenaline lovers; this adventure/amusement park has got everything from mini-golf to the tallest reverse-bungee in the world.
  • South Padre Island Golf Club – Tee off at the South Padre Island Golf Club and enjoy beautiful sights around you. 
  • Queen Isabella Fishing Pier – Walk, fish, or people watch on Queen Isabella Fishing Pier.

South Padre also features in our best college spring break destinations.

Sunset at South Padre Island Beach in Texas

15. San Juan Islands, Washington in July for Island Life with Cool-ish Temps

If you want to escape to island life but can’t make it as far over as Hawaii, try the San Juan Islands.

Much cooler than Hawaii, with temperatures usually in the low 70s, the San Juan Islands offers everything from fantastic views to beautiful art to amazing wildlife sightings. 

Just hop a ferry from Anacortes, located an hour and a half north of Seattle, to begin the fun.

Things to do in the San Juan Islands in July

  • Mount Constitution – The highest point on the island, Mount Constitution has a stone tower that offers a 360 view of the area.
  • Orcas Island – Orcas Island is 57 square miles of lush green that many people love to scenically drive-through or explore by bicycle.
  • Lopez Village – Lopez Village offers coffee shops, galleries, farmer’s markets, restaurants, and more — everything it needs to be self-sustaining and a quaint place to visit.
  • San Juan Islands Sculpture Park – San Juan Islands Sculpture Park holds over 150 rotating sculptures on its 20 acres — you might even be able to purchase your favorite one.
  • Whale Watching – Taking a whale watching tour is a great way to see the best of the islands; Orcas live here year-round along with other species like sea lions, minkes, grey whales, and more.

16. Portland, Oregon for Craft Beer, Coffee & a Cool City Break

Calling all music and beer lovers – Portland in July is the place for you!

Slightly cooler temperatures (from the high 50s to the low 80s) mean that you will still enjoy the long days of sunshine but not feel so lethargic – leaving plenty of energy for beer tastings. 

If you’ve only got a few days in Portland, check out this guide for the best way to spend them.

Portland Oregon sign at night

Things to do in Portland in July

  • Sunday Parkways – Sunday Parkways promote health and wellness, and community by pedestrianizing city areas for people to walk and cycle, set up vendor booths, and try something new to eat. 
  • Cathedral Park Jazz Festival – Cathedral Park Jazz Festival is the longest-running free jazz festival west of the Mississippi and is any jazz lover’s paradise. (Mid July)
  • Waterfront Blues Festival – Waterfront Blues Festival is one of the world’s premier blues festivals and has raised over $10 million to help those facing hunger in the last 20 years. (Early July)
  • Oregon Brewers festival – Oregon Brewers festival is one of the country’s longest-running craft beer festivals and features every sort of brew you could imagine. (Mid July)
  • Craft Brewery Walking Tour – Explore the Eastside neighborhood, taste the best beer samples, and learn about the brewing history in the city; get your tickets here.

Portland also features in our guide to the best places to visit in January if you prefer a city to yourself.

Alternatively, visit Portland at Christmas for lights, independent shopping and boat decorations.

Portland Oregon Waterfront with buildings and bridges

17. Lake Tahoe, California  in July for Outdoor Activities

On the border of Nevada, just 45 minutes south of Reno, lies the beautiful Lake Tahoe.

The temperatures fluctuate from 50-80F, meaning warm sunny days and chillier cozy nights leaving you tons of choices of things to do, from exploring the outdoors in the day to huddled bonfires at night.

Get the best out of your trip to California by following this guide.

Crystal clear waters of Sand Harbor Lake Tahoe

Things to do in Lake Tahoe in July

  • Vikingsholm Castle – Standing for nearly a century, Vikingsholm Castle is considered one of the finest examples of Scandinavian architecture in the United States and is open for summer tours.
  • Baldwin Beach – Baldwin Beach has stunning views of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and gorgeous sandy beaches along Lake Tahoe.
  • Eagle Falls and Lake – Eagle Falls and Lake is full of breath-taking scenery but is an easy enough hike that most people can endure the journey.
  • Rubicon Trail – Rubicon Trail is a moderately difficult and very popular 16-mile trail near South Lake Tahoe.
  • Emerald Bay Helicopter Flight – Take a helicopter flight over Emerald Bay to see the best views in the area; get your tickets here.
  • Visit during fall to see the aspen trees change colors.

There are also lots of free things to do in Lake Tahoe you can try on your next visit.

Stunning Emerald Bay in Lake Tahoe

Final Thoughts

July is such a great time to get away if you love the sun (and who doesn’t love the sun!) Independence Day celebrations bring lots of fun and festivities and warm sunny days mean lazy beach days or city exploring – or both!

Not ready to go on a vacay in July and need more time to plan? Check out this guide for the best places to visit in September.

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