There’s no reason to travel where the crowds will be if you’re looking for a good taste of what summer has to offer. Think outside the proverbial box and you just might discover an escape well worth traveling for this season.
Here are five underrated summer escapes that are on our radar now:
Summer is hot in Texas, but Austin is loaded with fun places to cool down. Your first stop: the Colorado River (it runs on the edge of downtown), where you can take out a rental kayak, canoe or stand-up paddleboard.
Or go for a refreshing dip in one of several natural swimming holes — Barton Springs Pool in Zilker Park is our pick for a quick swim and excellent people watching.
And is there really a better time of year than summer to eat barbecue? Austin is teeming with mouthwatering ’cue at practically every turn.
Where to stay: Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Four Seasons Hotel Austin is centrally located within the city, but feels more like a remote resort due to its coveted perch next to Lady Bird Lake. Bonus: it’s got an outdoor saltwater pool where you can order cool drinks while you lounge.
Summer may be the best time to visit the Northwestern city known for its perpetual rain, as July and August get the lowest levels of precipitation of the entire year. The warm (but not hot) temperature means you can do all of the outdoorsy activities Seattle is known for — kayaking, boat rides, biking — while staying comfortable.
Festivals of every ilk happen each weekend throughout the season, too. Events we have circled include the Seattle International Beerfest (July 7 to 9), Seattle Street Food Festival (July 15 to 16) and the Summer Meltdown music fest (August 10 to 13).
Where to stay: Embrace the charm of the city with a stay at Thompson Seattle, a property that manages to nod to the history of its surroundings near Pike Place Market and offer a cool, urban spot to lay your head.
Indie arts fans will have a lot to love about a trip to South Korea this summer — the 20th annual Seoul Fringe Festival (July 19 to 22) will host 52 acts with performances including music, visual arts, plays and more.
And from July 26 through 30, the Seoul International Cartoon & Animation Festival will consist of film screenings, exhibits and special events.
While you’re in town, take the time to visit the city’s stunning historical palaces. But if you’ve only got time for one stop, head to Gyeongbokgung to watch the changing of the guard.
Where to stay: Be one of the first hotel guests at Paradise City, a just-opened large resort complex roughly 40 minutes outside of Seoul (via public transportation). Located next to Incheon International Airport and accessible by monorail, the hotel is nicely situated for you to get to and from local hot spots easily. To really splurge, book a Deluxe Pool Villa, which features a private pool and stellar views.
Malaysia’s capital city is hot all year round, so just embrace the humidity and unpredictable thunderstorms (usually short in duration) like the locals. This summer the cosmopolitan city will host a slew of events like the 20th annual Rainforest World Music Festival (July 14 to 16).
Plus, the 29th Southeast Asia Games (August 19 through 30) will be held in KL and surrounding areas — the first time the city has hosted the competition since 2001.
Where to stay: When you tire of the bustling city, it’ll be a treat to refresh at Mandarin Oriental, Kuala Lumpur, which has a rooftop pool with views of the iconic skyline, an indoor golf range, a luxe spa, tennis courts and several top-notch restaurants. Its central location next to the Petronas Twin Towers makes for easy sightseeing, too.
School may be out at the University of Wisconsin, but Madison has so much going on in the summer you wouldn’t know that many of the college town residents have left for the season. Aside from the outdoor sports (boating, biking) and the cultural highlights (Overture Center for the Arts, multiple museums), the city is home to some all-American festivals come summertime. Our favorites include the Great Taste of the Midwest beer festival (August 12), the Sweet Corn Festival (August 17 through 20) and the Taste of Madison (September 2 to 3).
Where to stay: The Edgewater is a classic stalwart on the edge of Lake Mendota. Here you can take part in quintessential summertime activities like boating, eating alfresco at the lovely restaurant The Boathouse and taking in the free concerts and movies in the hotel’s outdoor plaza.