4 Great Places to Visit Before the Summer Ends
July is here, and with it comes the peak heat of summer. Soon to come are school supplies lists and ads for pumpkin spiced-everything. But don't let that fool you—there's still plenty of summer fun to be had! Below are four places to visit with fun end-of-summer activities going on, and there is something for every family and traveler.
Relax in the Mountains of North Carolina
Families can beat the heat at one of many swimming holes or waterfalls in the national and state parks surrounding Asheville, North Carolina. Kids of all ages love Sliding Rock – a 60-foot natural waterslide in Pisgah National Forest. When the sun goes down, Asheville Wellness Tours offers guided, full moon forest bathing walks during the summer months. Yogis shouldn't miss Love Shine Play, a three-day yoga festival with an accessible range of offerings for all. Free yoga classes are also offered weekly at Rabbit Rabbit and Carrier Park all summer.
If yoga and swimming holes aren't fast-paced enough for you, the Adventure Center of Asheville's Adventure Mountain Off Road Tours is Asheville's newest, ultimate off-road driving experience. Drive or ride along on a guided tour in a four-person off-road vehicle, while taking in spectacular views of the highest mountains in the East. For another fun family-friendly event, this year on August 4th Skate Night at Carrier Park transforms the free, outdoor skating rink into a roller-skating party, complete with retro drinks and nostalgic snacks.
An hour away in Tennessee's Johnson City, visitors can also attend Meet the Mountains (August 18-19). The festival is a free, family-friendly festival to experience all of the region's outdoor activities including live music, zipline, bike course, demo pool, air dog shows, yoga, rock wall and more!
Dive Into the Stories of the Old West
The Mescal Movie Set's Summer Sunset Tours in Benson, Arizona have started with tours available on select dates through mid-August. On the tour, guests can explore the iconic set where scenes from Western classics like Tombstone and Outlaw Josey Wales were filmed. The walking tour takes about one hour and is one-quarter mile long, allowing guests to explore the set which has been used in more than 100 film productions and soak in a stunning Arizona sunset. The tour is $15 per person. Visit their website for tour availability.
Love the storytelling experience, but can't make it out west? Back east in Tennessee is an equally fun experience. On July 22nd the Storytelling Festival takes place at Historic Collinsville with story activities and stations, book sale featuring books written by local authors.
Visit the Apple Fair in Sonoma County
More than grapes grow well in Sonoma County, California. Celebrating its 50th anniversary on August 13th and 14th, the Gravenstein Apple Fair, held at Ragle Ranch Park in Sebastopol has a classic country fair appeal. Serious foodies will find plenty to do, from sampling fabulous local food, or tasting iconic craft microbrews and premium Sonoma County wines. Along with a running soundtrack of live music on two stages, the 2023 edition of the Apple Fair will offer the option to enjoy a VIP Lounge for cider and cheese pairings, specialty cocktails, and bites from local restaurants. The DIY Arena, meanwhile, showcases cheesemakers as well as Sonoma County chefs leading apple-inspired demos. Last year, the Gravenstein Apple Fair earned the first-ever Green Resolution for events by Sonoma County Zero Waste, certifying the Apple Fair is 95% zero waste.
Fish, Hike, and Climb the Yakima River Canyon
With more than 300 miles of trails, 34 lakes and ponds and 6 rivers, there's never an end to the adventures one can find in the Yakima Valley of Washington state. In addition to road tripping along the Chinook Scenic Byway or White Pass for breathtaking views, visitors can participate in stand-up paddleboarding on pristine mountain lakes and winding rivers; traverse biking, hiking and running trails for every ability; climb majestic basalt cliffs; and spot wildlife like raptorsor bighorn sheep. Travelers can book with Girls with Grit and MADE clinics, classes and private instruction to learn more about the outdoor activity of their choice.
Additionally, tucked into the picturesque Yakima River Canyon and surrounded by dramatic cliffs, Red's Fly Shop is the destination for fishing on Washington's only Blue Ribbon trout stream. Take time for lunch or dinner at Canyon River Grill before heading to Yakima proper for a fun evening at local wineries and craft breweries. Try fly-fishing courses for all abilities and guided tours. Or, book with Canyon River Ranch Luxury Eco Tours which include a 2-3-hour guided scenic float through the Yakima River Canyon. In addition to identifying wildlife, guests will learn about the formation of this spectacular recreation area. You will meet your guide at Red's Fly Shop to begin your adventure.
WalletHub recently released their findings for the best places to celebrate Fourth of July this year. Independence Day is one of the biggest holidays of the year in the US featuring parades, cookouts, and fireworks shows. WalletHub compared the 100 largest U.S. cities based on how well they balance holiday cost and fun, using a data set of 18 key metrics ranges from average beer and wine prices to duration of fireworks shows to the weather forecast. Big Ticket Celebrations in the Northeast American flags hang from Union Station in Washington, DC by Caleb Fisher - Unsplash New York City was the #3 overall best place to celebrate this year, thanks to high rankings in the Celebrations (#2), Activities & Attractions (#2), and Safety (#3) categories. Nonetheless, it is one of the least affordable, so unless you plan a day trip, celebrating in the Big Apple is going to cost a lot. Equally expensive is a celebration in Washington, DC, which came in at the number 11 spot overall. However, a trip to the capital is an incredibly appropriate way to spend the day celebrating our nation's independence. For history lovers, the extra splurge may be worth it; the capital city ranked high in both the Celebration and Activities & Attractions categories. Texas Stars San Antonio, Texas by Henry Becerra - Unsplash Several Texan towns stood out in WalletHub's data. Dallas (#8), San Antonio (#9), Houston (#15), and Austin (#21) all ranked high overall. Dallas came in with the fourth best celebrations and Houston was the second most affordable, with the third lowest average prices for 3-star hotels. Laredo, Texas also stood out in several of the individual categories. It has the fifth lowest average prices for beer and wine, fifth cheapest 3-star hotels, and was the fifth overall most affordable place to celebrate. Perfect Weather and Parties in Vegas Las Vegas ranked fourth overall but came out on top in several of the individual metrics, including best weather forecast, fewest DUI-related fatalities, and cheapest 3-star hotels. It also ranked first in the Affordability category. It had strong showings in the Celebrations and Activities & Attractions categories as well—which should come as no surprise, since Vegas knows how to throw a party. It's also relatively safe and there are many good deals on flights to and from the city. California Comes Out on Top Fireworks on a beach in California by Diogo Fagundes - Unsplash Los Angeles was ranked the best place to celebrate the Fourth of July, with San Francisco coming in at second place. Los Angeles also came out on top in the Celebrations category, and San Francisco ranked #1 in the Activities & Attractions category and tied for the best weather forecast for July 4th. San Diego also had an impressive showing at the #7 spot. Unfortunately, all three of these cities faired poorly in the Affordability category. If you're looking for an affordable option in California, though, San Jose is a good choice. It comes in at a respectable 17th place overall, but is ranked 10th most affordable. Fresno also has the lowest average prices for beer and wine, which equals big savings if you plan to host a gathering with friends or relatives. Coast-to-Coast Cost Concerns No matter the city, though, Americans are reconsidering how they will budget travel plans. According to WalletHub's analysis, Americans plan to spend $9.5 billion this year on food for their Independence Day celebrations—this includes roughly 150 million hot dogs—and an additional $3 billion on beer and wine. About $2.7 billion will be spent on fireworks. The Vacationeer recently polled Americans about their Fourth of July plans and how inflation was affecting them. Even though nearly 40% of respondents planned to do nothing at all, compared to last year's survey there was a 5% increase in the number of people planning to travel. That being said, WalletHub found that 62% plan to spend less money compared to last year and The Vacationeer found that 64% of those surveyed say their plans have been affected by inflation. “Unfortunately, only 63% of Americans feel financially independent this 4th of July. Although that is a step up from the 56% who felt financially independent last year, there is still a significant portion of the population lacking financial freedom,” said Jill Gonzalez, WalletHub analyst. “The country has recovered from a lot of the financial damage done by the COVID-19 pandemic, especially when it comes to employment, but high inflation and the potential of a recession have continued to make life difficult for many Americans.” Mark Z. Meng, an associate professor at Indiana University's School of Business, suggests some money-saving tips for the holiday: "Think about some big money items during travel. Lodging: where you stay can make a huge difference, including whether it is close to a downtown area, brand name, and star level, duration of your stay, additional service requests, etc. Transportation: when you book the airline ticket and through where you book it can also make a difference in terms of price; normally I would suggest people book their tickets early if they can; last-minute booking tends to be pricy most likely. Many travelers often find out red-eye flights cheaper, but you need to be careful about whether it is feasible for your schedule and personal condition. Even if you are on a road trip driving your own vehicle, preplan your parking can save you some money. There is plenty of parking space finding APPs where they offer a huge discount if you reserve it in advance, especially in some dense urban areas. Event and entertainment: normally during such holidays, many destination communities organize and offer some free events open to the public; take advantage of those." —For the full rankings and data, visit WalletHub's report here.
Celebrate an Iconic Landmark in San Francisco This Summer
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) and its nonprofit preservation partner, Market Street Railway, have joined together with a dozen organizations, including business and merchant groups and history and preservation nonprofits, to stage a slate of special events in the Summer and Fall of 2023 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of cable cars, San Francisco's iconic symbol. “For the last 150 years, residents and visitors have enjoyed the incredible experience of riding our cable cars through our neighborhoods to experience stunning bay views that are famous all over the world,” said San Francisco Mayor London Breed. “You cannot imagine San Francisco without our iconic cable cars. In celebration of the 150th anniversary, we invite everyone to ride our wonderful cable cars to experience the magic of San Francisco.” “No other city in the world has cable cars. San Francisco was the first city with cable cars, and since 1957, we've been the only city to run them,” said Rick Laubscher, President of Market Street Railway. “Our special 150th anniversary website, sfcablecars.org, is filled with cable car history and little-known stories. It also makes it easy to combine cable car rides with walking tours of Chinatown, the Barbary Coast, Fisherman's Wharf, Nob Hill, Russian Hill, Union Square, Polk Gulch and the Financial District. It's a great year to rediscover San Francisco and the cable cars.” Experience New Tours The six-month-long series of events include the first-ever public tours of the Muni shop in San Francisco's Dogpatch neighborhood, where cable cars are built and rebuilt; history-themed walk/ride tours of neighborhoods served by the cable car lines; the planned operation of “ghost” cable cars from disappeared lines, and a reenactment of cable car founder Andrew Hallidie's historic first run. All are detailed on sfcablecars.org. San Francisco's cable cars are one of the only moving National Historic Landmarks. To make it easier for visitors and residents to experience cable car rides, starting July 1 through the end of 2023, a special $5 all-day pass will let riders hop on and off the California cable car line and explore neighborhoods along the route. A standard point-to-point cable car ticket costs $8. Residents and visitors can also take advantage of the existing all-day, all-Muni Visitor Passport for $13 to hop on and off all cable cars, F-line historic streetcars, Muni trains and buses to take walking tours of neighborhoods near the cable car lines. The passes are available on the Muni Mobile smartphone app. For guides to must-sees along and near the cable car lines here, San Francisco Travel Association has created three guides on its website for the Powell-Mason Line, Powell-Hyde Line, and California Street Line. Ride Historic Routes A cable car on Hyde Street by Arnaud STECKLE - Unsplash The cable car that starred in the kickoff event is unique. In the 1880s, it was open-sided and carried throngs of riders from the Ferry Building out Market and Haight streets to enjoy Golden Gate Park. After the 1906 earthquake and fire, 'Big 19' moved to the Sacramento-Clay route, successor to Andrew Hallidie's original 1873 cable car line, and ran there from 1907 until 1942, when that line shut down. Restored by Muni crafts workers, 'Big 19', one of the largest cable cars ever built, it inaugurated the celebration with a trip up California Street through Chinatown and over Nob Hill, just two blocks south of inventor Hallidie's Clay Street line. Later in the summer, Muni hopes to have 'Big 19' in regular service every Saturday on the California Street line through the fall as part of the celebration. Likewise, if work can be completed, Muni plans monthly operation of cable car 42 on its original Hyde Street trackage. Cable car 42 ran the O'Farrell, Jones & Hyde line until 1954, when the southern half of the line was abandoned, and the tracks on Hyde were connected to part of a Powell Street line. Car 42 retains its original 1907 paint scheme and details. Decades after being sold as surplus to a cattle rancher in Santa Barbara County when the O'Farrell line closed, Market Street Railway brought it back to San Francisco and worked with Muni to restore it for service. Watch the 150th Celebration A cable car on Sutter Street by Milos Bojovic - Unsplash On the actual 150th anniversary date, August 2, history reenactors portraying Andrew Hallidie, Emperor Norton, Domingo Ghirardelli, Lotta Crabtree and other notable San Franciscans from 150 years ago will gather at Hallidie Plaza at Powell and Market Streets at 10 a.m. to honor Hallidie's historic first run. A by-invitation luncheon will follow, honoring cable car heroes including Hallidie; Friedel Klussmann, who saved the cable cars in 1947; Senator Dianne Feinstein, who as Mayor personally led the rebuilding of the cable car system 40 years ago; Fannie Mae Barnes, the first woman to work as a “gripman” operating a cable car 25 years ago; and others. Learn More at Local Archives The San Francisco Public Library has compiled a list of cable car books available at its various branches for interested readers. The Main Library's San Francisco History Center will mount an exhibit of historic cable car photos later this summer, in collaboration with the SFMTA Photo Archive. Market Street Railway's free San Francisco Railway Museum on Steuart Street across from the Ferry Building will debut a special exhibit on 150 Years of cable cars in mid-July. Participating partners in the celebration include the Chinatown Merchants Association, Chinese Historical Society of America, Downtown SF Partnership, Fisherman's Wharf Merchants, Friends of the Cable Car Museum, Pier 39, San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, San Francisco Chinese Chamber of Commerce, San Francisco City Guides, San Francisco Historical Society, San Francisco Public Library, San Francisco Travel Association, SF Heritage and Union Square Alliance.
These Unique Seattle Tours Explore Fascinating Historical Events and Mysteries
If you're a fan of true crime, urban legends, and unsolved mysteries pique your interest, then you'll want to add a brand new experience to your next trip to Seattle, Washington. With the Seattle Southside/Highline area being home to many well-known happenings that have been made famous on a global scale, the museum has planned to turn the history of these occurrences into unique storytelling experiences for out-of-town guests and locals alike. Highline's Fascinating Tours will uncover local findings relating to D.B. Cooper, the Green River Killer, Ted Bundy, Jimi Hendrix, a 12,000-year-old giant sloth discovered under the SeaTac airport, Des Moines Memorial Drive, and much more. From chilling murders infamously covered on Netflix and other streaming platforms to historically significant events that have been lost at bay, the Highline Museum will reveal it all. Guided by a seasoned storyteller, the experience will last two hours. Tours will also include the following: Shuttle service to and from the meeting locationSnacks and beveragesFree admission to Highline Museum's Glow ExperienceDiscounted admission to the National Nordic Museum The tours, which began operating this month, will be offered on Saturdays and Sundays. The public can purchase tickets for $65.00 per person. Discounted tickets will soon be available as part of the Seattle Southside Savings Pass. Pike Street in Seattle by Sabine Ojeil - Unsplash "The Highline Heritage Museum is thrilled to be launching these tours to shed light on some interesting happenings that have taken place in our community. Despite how well-known they might be, we have a dedicated team of researchers curating stories and uncovering untold facts to provide a one-of-a-kind experience" shares Executive Director, Nancy Salguero McKay. This award-winning museum features exhibits, public programs, and educational programs that enrich our cultural connections. The Highline Heritage Museum capture the stories of the Highline region, and bridges the years from the earliest of times, to the newest immigrant stories. History and heritage are personal matters to everyone. They believe that exploring everyone's heritage allows us to experience a personal journey that enriches us as a community. The Museum is passionate that its visitors have access to a broad spectrum of information sources and cultural perspectives. They envision themselves sitting at a round table where no one is the leader and stories are heard respectfully, regardless of gender, age, sexual orientation, disabilities, or ethnicity.
There's still plenty of time left this summer to plan a great vacation, and if you didn't think you could add it to your budget—think again. Forbes Advisor recently ranked the most affordable cities in the US to take a family vacation. While popular vacation destinations like New York City, Boston, Honolulu, and West Coast urban areas are some of the worst when it comes to affordable options, that doesn't mean you have to miss out on the fun. In fact, you might even enjoy getting off the beaten path and avoiding the most crowded spots. The most affordable cities list is dominated by East Coast and Midwestern locales, but the destinations still encompass a wide variety of travel styles and activities to give families different options when planning a budget-friendly getaway. To create the list, Forbes Advisor analyzed the 100 largest US cities, excluding any cities with an average temperature exceeding 95º F during the summer months (June, July and August)—when families tend to travel. They looked at metrics like the average round-trip airfare, hotel room rates, rental car prices, and meal costs. Below are the top cities that they found when it comes to affordable family vacations this summer. #5. Wichita, Kansas Airfare to Wichita can be on the pricier side but don’t let that deter you from a trip to Wichita. Once there, costs are lower than other cities for an average overall trip cost of $3,673. As a bonus, you’ll find plenty of low-cost activities to keep your expenses down further. Nearby Kansas City, Missouri also came in at #9. Head to the Old Cowtown Museum for a look at Wichita in its booming cattle town days, complete with reenactments. Outside of town, the Strataca underground salt museum includes tram rides that kids will love. Also nearby is the Cosmosphere, a space museum with exhibits intended for adults plus a whole section called CosmoKids for the other half of your family #4. Buffalo, New York Niagara Falls at night by Vinayak Sharma - Unsplash To combine affordable prices with comfortable summer temperatures, plan a trip to Buffalo, New York, where the average family trip cost is $3,669. Summer is primetime for local festivals, with something nearly every weekend from June through August, giving you a great opportunity to add low-cost entertainment to your trip plans in addition to the city’s permanent attractions, such as the Buffalo AKG Art Museum which reopens in June after a $230 million renovation. Only thirty minutes away, Niagara Falls is a can’t-miss add-on to your Buffalo vacation. Kids will love getting soaked on the hurricane deck at Cave of the Winds, an attraction that takes you practically to the base of the waterfalls. No passport is required for families staying on the American side of the falls. #3. Orlando, Florida Palm trees in Orlando, Florida by Drew Coffman - Unsplash Orlando is certainly a popular family vacation destination, thanks to Disney and Universal, but it may not be on your radar when it comes to cheap trips. However, a plethora of low-cost airlines and healthy competition keep flight prices reasonable. Overall, the average trip cost for our example family comes in at $3,634. Hotels, while on the higher side, often come with extra space, which might mean you can downsize to one room instead of two or make breakfast in your kitchenette instead of paying for a restaurant. While tickets to popular theme parks may be too much of a stretch, those aren't the only things to do in town. Gatorland has thrilling shows, a zipline plus off-road swamp rides. The beach and aqua park at Nona Adventure Park is the perfect summer day out. #2. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma The sun shines in downtown Oklahoma City by Karsten Winegeart - Unsplash Oklahoma City takes a prominent position on this list, in part thanks to its lower cost of hotels. Here, the average cost of a three-night trip totals $3,272. Families will find plenty to do at the Boathouse District, an outdoor recreation spot with activities for all ages. Similarly, the Myriad Gardens and Six Flags Frontier City will appeal to kids and adults alike. Nearby Tulsa also comes in at #7. Families that have time could combine both destinations with a single airfare purchase. In Tulsa, don’t miss the riverfront Gathering Place—a free park with one of the country’s largest playgrounds. #1. Toledo, Ohio A splash pad in downtown Toledo, Ohio by Cathy Holewinski - Unsplash Toledo, Ohio, comes out on top as the cheapest travel destination in Forbes Advisor's rankings. For a family of four, the average cost totaled $2,731 including economy airfare for four, three nights in two rooms at a mid-range hotel, a three-day rental car and three meals per day. Since Toledo is within a day’s drive of metro areas including Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Nashville, families may be able to save on airfare, too. Nearby towns Cleveland (#13) and Columbus (#16) also ranked high in affordability. The Toledo Zoo is an interactive experience with giraffe feeding platforms, a stingray touch tank and behind-the-scenes tours. The Imagination Station museum is equally hands-on and children and adults can hunt for corals, brachiopods, and trilobites at Fossil Park. Round out your trip with a day at Maumee Bay State Park Marina or Cedar Point amusement park, an hour away. —For more family vacation ideas, check out the full rankings at Forbes Advisor.