Grenada waterfalls
Annandale Falls, Grenada | Landscapeography/Shutterstock
Annandale Falls, Grenada | Landscapeography/Shutterstock

Maximize the Dog Days with These August Travel Ideas

We’ve got your starry nights, your under-the-radar regions, and tons of batty fun—get it all in before the season’s over.

This August, we do not lament the fleeting days of summer. No, we embrace it, for there is still much to do in these steamy dog days. August is a time for lazy exploration and indulging whims, taking advantage of the last drops of the season while recharging for the months ahead. There are underwater museums to explore, a new culinary destination to digest, a joyous Caribbean carnival to parade in, and bats. All the fluttering bats—now with their very own festival!

Plus, stars to spark the imagination, both earthly and heavenly. Hit a music festival stateside or abroad, or catch the spectacular Perseid meteor shower wherever you land. And if you’re a fan of soccer (a.k.a. football), we’ve got your FIFA Women’s World Cup guide to New Zealand and Australia. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and kick up some fun.

Shake it off at an epic music festival

In 1991, in a grand gesture for his band farewell, Jane’s Addiction lead singer Perry Farrell created a gigantic touring music festival. He dubbed it “Lollapalooza,” possibly after a word he picked out when perusing the dictionary, but also maybe a word he saw used in a Three Stooges film. Regardless, all is forgiven for not remembering the origin story—that first Lollapalooza tour was an instant success. And though its current iteration is solely based in Chicago, over three decades later Lolla is still going strong. This year, it goes down August 3 through 6 in Grant Park, with acts like Carly Rae Jepsen, Kendrick Lamar, Foals, Lil Yachty, Rina Sawayama, Billie Eilish, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. While you’re in town, check out locations that inspired the hit series The Bear, from karaoke bars to an Italian Beef institution—both great places to check out after a day of tunes.

Over in San Francisco, they’ve got Outside Lands (August 11–13), featuring Foo Fighters, Interpol, Megan Thee Stallion, and Odesza. Rock the Bells lands in New York’s Forest Hills Stadium on August 5, with LL Cool J, Queen Latifah, Run DMC, the Roots, Ludacris, De La Soul, Slick Rick, Rakim, Salt-N-Pepa, Redman + Method Man, and more in tow.

But maybe you like traveling for your tunes? In that case, we’ve compiled the best international music festivals of the summer. August brings us the Oya Festival in the Norwegian city of Oslo, the lush Green Man Festival in Wales, and the dance-tastic Sonus Festival in Croatia, among others. Why not collect them all?

Appreciate some underwater art in Grenada

You never know what you’ll encounter under the sea. You could stumble upon a new species, a talking Jamaican crab, entire restaurants, or, if you’re lucky, a magical undersea sculpture garden providing play spaces for snorkelers and divers alongside new artificial reefs for native flora and fauna. One place you’ll definitely see this is in Grenada—in 2006 the Caribbean island was the first to install such an underwater museum, featuring works from British eco-artist Jason deCaires Taylor (we like to call him the Michelangelo of the Sea). After a massive renovation, it reopens this August 22, showcasing new sculptures by deCaires Taylor as well as pieces from Grenadians who were invited to contribute after participating in a design contest.

Maximize your immersion with a globe-trotting underwater museum tour. deCaires Taylor has submerged works everywhere from Cannes, France to Isla Mujeres, Mexico, to Australia, all refreshing—and enriching—to see on a hot summer day. Then maybe set your sights on seeing new life form around shipwrecks, downed planes, or even lost cities. What we’re saying is, there’s a whole world underwater—just keep cool if you spot any orcas. And if an otter tries to take your surfboard, hand it over. How cool would it be to see an otter surfing??

Set your sights on some silly aviation

If you’re thinking of heading to Cincinnati, you’re usually in the market for brews, Oktoberfest, or a cool haunted house come fall. Or maybe you’re dropping in for the American Sign Museum, the Cincinnati Zoo, or some history at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. But this month, get ready for something new: stupid human aviation tricks.

This August 11 and 12, the city will host Red Bull Flugtag, an event—nay, leap of faith—where engineering-minded competitors attempt to take to the skies in human-powered (usually) winged contraptions. It’s named after the German word for “flying day,” but the use of the term fly here is generous. Competitors launch their machines off an 8.5-meter flight deck over water. Past crafts have been shaped like pugs, birds, dragons, a sausage wrapped in a waffle (your guess is as good as ours), pterodactyls, and sometimes, even planes.

Red Bull Flugtag has been held in over 50 countries—last year alone it took over Turkey, New Zealand, and Hungary—with almost 9 million viewers to date. They gather to watch the aircrafts soar, but also, watch them crash. And a lot of it is crashing, hurtling straight down and splashing into the water below. However there have been some successes. Most notably, the longest flight, clocking in at 258 feet and launched in 2013 in Long Beach, California by a team called the Chicken Whisperers. Show up this month to see if an enterprising Ohioan can break that esteemed record.

Eat your way through Trondheim, Norway

Move over, Copenhagen. Norway’s Viking Age capital is making a name for itself as the food lovers’ destination of Northern Europe. It’s home to three Michelin-starred restaurants—Fagn, Credo, and Speilsalen—and it was declared a European Region of Gastronomy just last year. But the food scene goes beyond the four-dollar-sign tasting menus. Consider the Trøndelag Food Festival, which runs from August 3 to 5 and will host more than 200 local food producers offering specialties from cured herring and smoked salmon to home-grown barley and reindeer sausage. In addition to sampling these delicacies, you can also choose from a number of food-centric classes taught by a collection of expert chefs at the nearby Britannia Hotel. There, you can learn about all things foraging, food preservation and fermentation, and seaweed preparation, among other skills.

And if all that food makes you thirsty, you’re in luck. The Trondheim Brewery Festival will be running simultaneously, so you can wash down all those eats with beer, cider, mead, and non-alcoholic brews from 30 different producers across the region.

Toggle between the real and unreal in Texas

Psychedelic immersive arts juggernauts Meow Wolf are at it again—this time, they’ve landed in a new exhibition space in the Dallas suburb of Grapevine, Texas, the first of two spaces planned for the Lone Star State. Called The Real Unreal, this exhibition enters the mind of a young man named Jared. He’s gone missing, and your task, should you choose to accept it, is to follow the clues to track him down. Should you not accept the mission, you can ditch the storyline and just explore the space, an immersive wonderland where nothing is as it seems and larger-than-life experiences lurk around every corner. Some advice: Always open the refrigerator door.

Should you catch the Meow Wolf bug, you might plan a road trip to see them all. From the original House of Eternal Return in Santa Fe, to Omega Mart in Las Vegas, to Convergence Station in Denver, and more to come, the company is cranking out a string of escapist dystopian Disneylands in an attempt to ensure you’ll never have to face reality head-on.

Take a detour to the Japanese Alps

Japan only reopened to independent foreign visitors in late 2022, so today’s travelers are understandably eager to finally be able to return to the Land of the Rising Sun. Most are headed for the big names: Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Okinawa, and Mt. Fuji, and there’s nothing wrong with that (if you don’t know where to start, you might want to book yourself a tour). But if you’re a been there, done that, savvy traveler, you’re going to want to go deep—to a place of culture, food, and fresh air without all the throngs of tourists. We’re talking about the mountainous area of Gifu and Nagano, two of nine prefectures scattered throughout Japan’s central Chūbu region.

See historic villages cut off from the rest of Japan due to their rocky terrain, book a stay in a traditional townhouse, and stargaze from the top of a mountain with virtually no light pollution. Visit storied resort towns—some having hosted both the Summer and Winter Olympics. Indulge in an herbal sauna where you collect your own clippings from the aromatic kuromoji trees. And of course sample some of the country’s famous Wagyu beef, but perhaps more under the radar, pick your own sweet Japanese strawberries, and make sure to arrive hungry—you’re encouraged to eat as you go.

Reach for the stars, just about everywhere

How about those James Webb telescope photos, huh? And now the incredible magnification may have spotted dark stars! Boy, is deep space incredibly old, incredibly gorgeous, and 100% populated. There’s no way we’re the only ones bopping around this universe. It makes you wanna get up in there and start introducing yourself around.

While you might not get the chance to explore actual space in person, you can experience what it’s like to be an interstellar traveler. Yup, we’re talking about none other than Adult Space Camp at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Just like the junior campers, grown-up participants gain behind-the-scenes access to the planetarium and get to do things like play in the multi-axis trainer (which simulates an aircraft tumble), build a model rocket, wear a flight suit, and participate in a simulated space mission. Not to mention, become the envy of all their friends. There’s currently a waitlist for the three-day courses, but keep an eye on the website, as more might be added in coming weeks.

And even if neither opportunity is in the, er, stars, there’s still a way to metaphorically float away in the open skies. Set a reminder for August 12 and 13 to catch the peak of the annual Perseids meteor shower, one of the universe’s most visually stunning showers featuring up to 60 meteors per hour at its most active. All you have to do is find yourself a dark place and settle in (with a telescope, if you have one). On August 14, Saturn will be at its closest approach to earth, shining its very brightest thanks to the illumination of the sun.

Illuminate National Lighthouse Day in Michigan

Did you know the state boasting the most seafaring beacons is not on either coast, but rather, good ol’ Michigan? Celebrate National Lighthouse Day on August 7 in this Midwestern gem, home to picturesque 115 maritime towers. Traverse City, once a major port on Grand Traverse Bay near the Manitou Passage, is a standout with eight lighthouses. Get lost in nautical history at Mission Point, where you can climb to the top of the tower and watch for wildlife from the observation deck, then ogle some artifacts at the keeper’s house below. Or head about 40 miles southwest to the iconically red Point Betsie in Frankfort, where you can even spend a night cosplaying as a lighthouse keeper.

Standing at 100 feet tall, South Manitou Island Lighthouse is one of the tallest Great Lakes houses visible from the mainland. Hop a ferry to South Manitou Island, which is part of Michigan’s Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. After hiking to the lighthouse, explore the shipwreck of the Francisco Morazan before wandering around the Valley of the Giants, a collection of the world’s largest cedar trees.

Kick up some dust at the FIFA Women’s World Cup

In case you haven’t heard, the FIFA Women’s World Cup will be taking place across Australia and New Zealand from July 20 until August 20, and this year’s tournament is set to be bigger than ever, with a whopping 32 competing teams. Attending one of the matches—which span major cities like Sydney/Wangal, Melbourne/Naarm, Brisbane/Meaanjin, Auckland/Tamaki Makaurau, and Wellington/Te Whanganui-a-Tara—is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. And if we said it once, we’ve said it a zillion times: There’s never been a better time to travel for sports.

Even if you don’t get the chance to snag tickets to the big show, the energy inside the stadiums spills over into the streets. Follow the games (for free!) alongside adoring crowds at official FIFA Fan Festivals taking place in all nine host cities. Sydney/Wangal’s iteration, held at Tumbalong Park, will welcome musical acts like Steph Strings, Jacoténe, Jack River, and Mia Wray, while Brisbane/Meaanjin’s South Bank Parklands plans to broadcast all 64 matches on a massive riverfront screen paired with a mini-pitch primed for pick-up games. Learn more about the festivities—including those going down in Melbourne, Adelaide, and Perth—on FIFA’s official website.

Across the pond, New Zealand, is the place to be for Statesiders, as the reigning champs United States Women’s National Team will split their group stage time between Auckland/Tamaki Makaurau and Wellington/Te Whanganui-a-Tara. Look out for a similar warm welcome from the Kiwi hosts, with Fan Zones stocked with live performances and photo-ops with the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 Trophy in all her sparkling glory.

And as if that weren’t enough, Truly Hard Seltzer is partnering with cheeky “unofficial-official” USWNT supporters’ club American Outlaws for a series of pregame meet-ups and watch parties in select stadium-adjacent bars around New Zealand. Here, soccer fans can get in on giveaways like limited edition scarves, rally towels, and throwback Burger King-inspired crowns while crushing cans with fellow die-hards. The first three parties—for the matches against Vietnam, the Netherlands, and Portugal—have just been announced with further programming to come as the girls creep closer to reclaiming their throne.

Partake in Carnival and crafts in the Caribbean

St. Kitts and Nevis in the Eastern Caribbean might be sister isles, but they pride themselves on their distinct personalities. St. Kitts is like the laid-back, older sibling, grounded in its history and rife with chill, uncrowded beaches. While Nevis—probably now best known as the birthplace of Alexander Hamilton—sports luxury properties, celebrity sightings, and sought-after wreck- and reef-diving.

From July 27 to August 8, Nevis throws Culturama, a 12-day carnival with parties and cultural traditions or, as they say, “De Caribbean’s greatest summer lime.” It concludes over Emancipation Weekend, marking the day when slavery was finally abolished in the Caribbean back in 1834. Emancipation Day is held annually on the first Monday in August, and while the tone in St. Kitts is more somber—usually consisting of a concert at Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park, which was built by enslaved peoples—Nevis goes all out with parades, J’ouvert, food, and drink, showcasing their own way of paying homage to the generations of enslaved people responsible for building the country.

Elsewhere in Saba, the Dutch island known as the “Unspoiled Queen of the Caribbean,” you can embrace your childhood spirit with summer art and crafts at Create & Learn, a series of workshops (August 24–Sep 7) taught by artists of varying skills. There, visitors can learn all about pottery, knife sheaths, pyrography, silver clay, and painting.

Go batty

Each August Austin, Texas goes batty, leaning into their ranking as the best place in the US to witness bat migration. The urban Mexican Free-Tailed bats set up shop under the city’s Congress Avenue Bridge, which, after a renovation in 1980, apparently makes for a great bat cave. And from late March to early fall, the fuzzy nocturnal fliers put on a nightly show, emerging and fanning out over Lady Bird Lake and paying their rent by helping mitigate the mosquito and agricultural pest population.

There are plenty of spots to witness the phenomenon, but it’s probably most fun from the middle of the lake via a cruise, kayak, or paddleboard. And if you’re there in August—a.k.a. peak migrating season—you’ll definitely want to hit Bat Fest on August 26, a bat-viewing extravaganza with local food and drink, crafts, and a musical lineup including George Birge, Tim Dugger, and Mike Jones. Plus! A bat costume competition.

For a batty National Park experience, Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico shelters 17 different species of bats that swirl out of the caves in a spectacular nightly flight. Through October, there’s a free bat flight program with ranger talks at the amphitheater near the cave entrance. And if you find yourself awake from 4 to 6 am, you can catch a second show, as the winged critters dive from incredible heights back into the caves in search of sleep.

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Vanita Salisbury is Thrillist's Senior Travel Writer.
Jessica Sulima is a staff writer on the Travel team at Thrillist.