The 15 Coolest Places Around the World to Travel in August
All due respect to Florence + the Machine, but the dog days are definitely not over and depending on where you are in the northern hemisphere, August is shaping up to be one hot one mother. Despite the instinct to retreat into air-conditioning, August is one of the best months to travel for music and food festivals -- like Fringe Fest in Edinburgh, Scotland, or a lobster festival in Rockland, Maine. And speaking of Florence, she’s headlining at Sziget, one of Europe’s biggest parties of the summer.
Whatever you do, stay cool and get out there and dance like you were just named May Queen in Midsommar and all of your inhibitions have fallen to the wayside because you’re too hot to care or even comprehend what’s going on. Is there any other way to celebrate these fleeting days of summer?
Palm Springs, California
Even as I type the words "Palm Springs" I know what you’re thinking and I’m with you, but hear me out. First of all, yes, it will be all kinds of crazy hot, but why not just lean into the heat and see where it takes you? Like Splash House, which goes down on August 9-11, and is being hailed as the “ultimate pool party extravaganza” by the same people who put on Coachella. At the epic after-party at the Palm Springs Air Museum, Splash attendees can take in the vast desert sky and dance among vintage aircrafts. Coincidentally, that same weekend, Palm Springs will open the doors of The Bell, a Taco Bell pop-up hotel which will draw taco influencers and taco-enthusiasts to the city. Fire sauce has never been more on brand.
Barbados & Anguilla, Caribbean
August marks the beginning of the rainy season in the Caribbean, but it’s worth braving the elements to go to Barbados to see Rihanna, who’ll be making an appearance at this year’s Crop Over festival on August 5. Barbados’ Grand Kadooment Day -- the headline event during Crop Over -- gets pretty wild with a colorful masquerade of musicians and revelers dressed head-to-toe in sequins, feathers, and jewels.
Over on the Caribbean island of Anguilla where boat racing is pretty much a national pastime, Summer Festival will be kicking off August 1-11. By night the island turns into a full-fledged bacchanalian carnival with costume parties and parades; by day, it’s all beach parties and dance competitions all the time. The week culminates with the Champion of Champions boat race.
The coast of Maine
There’s probably no better time to take a drive along coastal Maine than in the summertime. If you’re planning on going to Boothbay Harbor, don’t miss out on a famous Cabbage Island Clambake. Continue up to the mid-coast from July 31-August 4 and you’ll hit the 72nd Maine Lobster Festival taking place in Rockland. More than 25,000 pounds of lobster is served every year over the course of the five day fest, and you better believe it’s some of the best you’ve never had. About an hour and a half north of Rockland in Bangor, the American Folk Festival runs from August 23 through 25 along the waterfront and is a celebration of multi-cultural traditional arts featuring plenty of music, dance, crafts, and food.
Another cool activity worth looking into: glamping recently became a thing in state parks across Maine. Tentrr has canvas-wall tents with queen-size bunk beds, wood stoves, and a fire pit. They have dozens of campsites along the coast to check out, from an organic farm in Acadia to a horse camp near Wells.
Costa Smeralda, Sardinia
August is a notoriously shit month to visit Italy, when many locals close up shop and flee the mainland in search of cooler climates by the sea. Leisure-loving Italians (and also George and Amal Clooney) spend their vacation on the Mediterranean island of Sardinia, and if you’ve got money to burn, why not join ‘em.
Sardinia boats some of the most drop-dead gorgeous beaches in Italy. Costa Smeralda translates to Emerald Coast due to the stunning aqua-marine hues of the water here. Rent a car at the airport in Olbia and head to Hotel Cala di Volpe and Cala Beach Club, one of the Med’s hottest spots set directly on a private beach (James Bond fans might recognize this hotel from The Spy Who Loved Me). A worthy day trip is San Pantaleo, a mountain-side village that’s completely ensconced by giant monolithic boulders. It’s a cute town and a great place to share a bottle of Vermentino with locals in the town square.
Budapest is easily one of Europe’s most underrated and affordable cities. From August 7-13, Sziget Festival is one of Europe’s largest music events and takes place on Óbudai-sziget, an island in the middle of the Danube River. The lineup this year ain’t too shabby, either -- Ed Sheeran, the Foo Fighters, Post Malone, and Florence + the Machine will all be in attendance. While you’re in town, head to the Jewish Quarter where some of the city’s best ruin bars are located. Taste Hungary offers some of the most highly rated food tours, including their Jewish Cuisine and Culture Walk where you’ll try everything from homemade cholent and chimney cake to sweet Hungarian wine and cocktails in a secret garden cocktail lounge.
Traverse City, Michigan
A trek “up north” to one of Michigan’s fabled beach towns is a rite of passage for Michiganders, with Traverse City being one of the most popular places to visit in the summer. Start with the Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula, a collection of 10 vineyards, and make a pit stop at Chateau Chantal, which, as the story goes, was founded by a priest and nun who defected from the ministry and got married. It’s a classic tale of romance, and today the winery and B&B offers some of the best views and wines in the area. If you’re looking to kick things up a notch and party like a priest with loose morals, head over to neighboring Torch Lake. Stretching roughly 19-miles long, Torch has been called the Caribbean of the Midwest due to its electric blue water, epic sand bar parties, and water sports for days. Ok, so maybe the water is a touch colder than the Caribbean… this is Northern Michigan.
Cotswolds, United Kingdom
When people talk about the Cotswolds, it’s often accompanied with the words charming and quaint. And yes, it is definitely those things. It’s also a great place to see some of the country’s most amazing exhibitions, art installations, and shows -- like at Shakespeare’s Rose Theater, an intimate venue running four of Billy Shakespeare's most popular plays (Macbeth, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Richard III, and Romeo & Juliet) all month long. Another cool production taking place this August is Wonderland: A Wander Through The World of Alice at The Oxfordshire Museum, an interactive exhibition that lets visitors attend the Mad Hatter’s tea party and play croquet with flamingos and hedgehogs. Finally, in Cornbury Park in the idyllic heart of Oxfordshire, Wilderness Festival runs August 1-4 and offers four days of live music and art performances of all stripes, plus workshops, wellness classes, dining experiences, costumes, and camping in one of the most beautiful settings on earth.
If the Great Barrier Reef has always been on your bucket list, well, there’s really no time like the present. Set in the heart of Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef, The Whitsundays consist of 74 freakishly beautiful islands (I mean, look at that photo) with tropical year-round weather and powdery beaches. August is one of the best months to visit, when the annual humpback whale migration goes down. Also worth a stop is the newly re-opened Daydream Island Resort and Spa, which offers a new underwater observatory complete with a 20-seat dining room looking into the Living Reef, one of the world’s largest man-made living coral reef lagoons.
If it’s food you’re after, head over to Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, a region that’s gaining a culinary reputation for its diverse food trails and home-grown organic cuisine. New this year is a four-day food festival called The Curated Plate which runs from August 8-11 in Maroochydore, a town that doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, but promises to bring together the region’s best produce and chefs from around Australia.
This year marks the bicentennial of Memphis, and the city by the Mississippi has stepped up its game big time this summer with festivals, concerts, and food fests that stretch far beyond Beale Street all summer long. Of course, no trip to Memphis is complete without experiencing all things Elvis. That’s right people, Elvis Week is back August 9-17, so join the thousands of fans and impersonators and pay your respects to the King on the anniversary of his death. Another good time worth checking out is the Delta Fair, from August 30-September 8. Highlights include pig races, carnival rides, live music, and a daily banana derby. Come one come all.
Boston’s having a bigger summer than usual, what with the $2.8 billion-dollar Encore Boston Harbor opening recently. The behemoth features a 210,000-square foot Vegas-style casino with 15 restaurants and bars, a luxe spa, and almost 700 guest rooms. You can take a water shuttle from Boston’s seaport to get there and see what the new Mass Vegas is all about. Or, take a ride out to Boston Harbor Islands. A few minutes’ ferry ride from downtown, the Harbor Islands consist of 34 islands and peninsulas that offer camp sites, summer clambakes, and even an 1860’s costume day this month, if you’re into that kind of thing.
If you’re one of those people who just can’t wait for winter to roll back around so you can strap into your bindings and hit the slopes, August is a fantastic time to visit Argentina. The crowds are thinner, the days are longer, and most South Americans are on their "winter" vacations. Resort towns like Bariloche, in the Patagonia region, and Ushuaia (otherwise known as the end of the world), are home to some of the best ski resorts in the country. In particular, Cerro Castor Ski Resort near Ushuaia receives some of the most snowfall and is an excellent place to scratch that ski itch.
Reno has been called a city on the rise, and whether or not you agree with that sentiment, there are some pretty cool Reno events happening this month. First up is Hot August Nights from August 6-11; there will be music, muscle cars, and merriment. If you’re more of a music fan, check out Jazz & Beyond from August 19-25 in nearby Carson City. Finally on August 17 at Sparks Marina, the Northern Nevada Dragon Boat Festival is free and celebrates ancient Chinese culture, food, and sport. Anyone age 16 to 25 can form a team and compete in the Dragon boat race, no experience necessary.
Kazakhstan is, ahem, climbing the ranks as a go-to destination for mountain climbers, with August being an ideal time to catch the country’s dry season. Hikers especially love Issyk Lake and the Big Almaty Lake, a nature reservoir in the Trans-Ili Alatau mountains. If you’re looking to join some like-minded travelers, join luxury tour operator Remote Lands, one of the most respected tour companies in the region. Another popular destination is the Aksu-Zhabagly Nature Reserve located in the far southern reaches of the country in the western Tien Shan mountains. The reserve is home to 44 endangered mammals including snow leopards, Himalayan brown bears, and Indian crested porcupines. Remote Lands organizes itineraries to Kazakhstan and in particular recommends their nine-day Cultural Highlights of Kazakhstan tour, which encompasses all of the history, culture and spirituality the country has to offer, mixing in waterfalls, stunning vistas, and a falcon show in between.
The Catskills, New York
It's been 50 years since Jimi Hendrix and Jefferson Airplane made their way to Woodstock New York, where the famous festival infamously did not take place (it actually went down in the town of Bethel). While Woodstock is still a haven for all things hippie, you’ll also find sleek new bar concepts like Early Terrible, a barn that’s been converted into a wine bar. The Catskills is also home to some seriously cool new hotels like this animal sanctuary bed and breakfast and this funky themed motel in Roxbury, which has everything from a coconut cream pie-themed room and a Wizard of Oz room. There’s even this full-fledged Catskills hotel and casino in the middle of the woods. With an abundance of beautiful hiking trails and water tubing spots in Phoenicia, along with nightly concerts at Bethel Woods Center For The Arts, there’s a little something for everybody here.
Not that you really need an excuse to visit Scotland’s beguiling capital city, but just in case, Fringe Festival is probably the coolest time to go. Called “the world’s greatest platform for creative freedom,” Fringe runs from August 2-26th and features more than 50,000 live performances city-wide, from cabaret and circus acts to opera and improv comedy. If you’re looking for some inspired digs to hang your kilt after a day of fringing, Market Street Hotel opened in July and is located within the city’s Old Town.