Summer is finally here, which means you're probably starting to get that travel itch. Whether it's time for a family vacation now that school's out, or you feel like your passport is gathering dust while your tan fades, it's a very good month to travel.
But if you think "summer vacation" has to mean "beach resort", think again. Change it up this year and maximize your July holiday by visiting one of these unique July vacation spots that have been elected by popular travel magazines and websites.
Surprised? Both the name and the location of this North Atlantic island suggest a chillier-than-desired summer vacation, but Condé Nast Traveler, Fodors, and Lonely Planet all agree that July is a fantastic time to see Iceland at its warmest. After all, you're enjoying these long stretches of daylight, right? Just wait until you experience them in Reykjavik, where the sun isn't setting until midnight... and then rises again at just 3 am! That gives you all the time you need to visit the famous Blue Lagoon geothermal spa (perfect for getting the most out of bikini season), climb the volcanoes of Eldfell and Helgafell, and ride the glaciers by snowmobile. Sleep when you get home.
Yeah, yeah, you were hoping for more exotic beach spots, right? Don't worry, the temperatures in an Alaskan summer can be in the pleasant 60° to 80° F range, and Frommer's says that July is the warmest month. Plus, a trip there will take you far enough away from home to feel out of your comfort zone while still flying domestic. So rather than laying on a towel staring at the inside of your own eyelids, keep them peeled for a sight you will never forget. It's time for the annual salmon run, and that brings the hungry bears out. Travel Channel names Katmai National Park the best bet for this migratory sight, and Rough Guides agrees, suggesting a trip to Brooks Falls to watch nature take its course from a safe distance.
As an alternative for passport stamp collectors, National Geographic suggests spotting the grizzlies in British Columbia, in the sanctuary of Khutzeymateen Provincial Park.
England and Wales
Forget those photos of foggy, rainy England. They're not fake — the U.K. gets mighty wet — but when the sun comes out, so does the beauty of the countryside. Even for locals, who don't have too far to travel to get to the Mediterranean, the southwest of England is an incredibly attractive vacationing spot for warm-to-hot weather, beaches with good surf, and charming B&Bs. Lonely Planet and Condé Nast Traveler both cite the higher likelihood of pleasant weather in July, especially in the coastal regions of Cornwall and Devon. Fodors also recommends working in a trip to Wales by trying this hiking itinerary.
If you haven't seen one of the nature documentaries about the great annual migration, go put one on now, so you can better understand the scope of the event that Condé Nast Traveler calls "stunning and awe-inspiring". Well over one million wildebeests, zebras, and antelopes make their way from Tanzania's Serengeti Plains to Kenya's Masai Mara National Reserve next month. Crocodiles lie in wait at the Mara River crossing, which is where Rough Guides suggests you catch the action in one of nature's most epic showdowns.