9 Destination-Worthy Summer Events in the United States

If you thought you were done booking summer travel, think again.

9 Destination-Worthy Summer Events in the United States

Photo by manray3/Flickr

Summer has arrived, and the time is right to sample art, food, and music festivities around the United States. The only requirements are an appetite for adventure and an appreciation of the local cultures hosting these seasonal celebrations.

1. Festival Napa Valley

July 14-23
California Wine Country reached triple-digit heat at the start of summer, so you may find yourself a bit more delirious than usual when attending Festival Napa Valley. (Feel free to blame the wine.) For many, this year’s FNV offers the chance to check out new music venues like Blue Note and Meadowood’s Redwood Lawn. The eclectic program for the 12th annual edition features a brand-new black tie opening gala with opera upstarts Danielle de Niese and Lucas Meacham, as well as events highlighting Gloria Estefan’s first full symphonic performance and a one-of-a-kind spoken word and music mash-up with Bill Murray and cellist Jan Vogler.

Times and locations vary | Napa County, CA | (888) 337-6272 | Free performances available

2. Prince Lot Hula Festival

July 15-16If Oahu is more your speed than Maui, July’s Prince Lot Hula Festival offers a chance to experience Hawaiian food and hula culture with locals amid the bustle of Honolulu. The festival is the largest noncompetitive hula event and pays loving tribute to Prince Lot Kapuāiwa, a 19th-century royal credited for reviving hula.

Times vary | ‘Iolani Palace, 364 S. King Street, Honolulu, HI | Free entry

3. Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival

July 16-30 The average temperature of a summer day in Fairbanks, Alaska is 73 degrees, making the annual Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival a chill choice without actually enduring stereotypically cold weather on the visit. Beyond the opportunity to passively consume art, the event offers a wealth of one-hour, one-day, and one-week workshops designed to promote the core mission of awakening anyone’s inner artist. There are options at every skill level (but more than enough for beginners) with cross-disciplinary action to inspire creative breakthroughs.

Times and locations vary | Fairbanks, AK | From $10

4. Atlanta Ice Cream Festival

July 22Picturesque Piedmont Park is a locals-approved must-see for visitors to Atlanta—why not see it when it is full of ice cream? The eighth edition of the annual Atlanta Ice Cream Festival includes a sensibly balanced competition for attendees who are game to eat as much of the frozen treat as possible and work out. Yoga and wellness sessions paired with dessert are geared to show that you really can have it all.

11 a.m.- 6 p.m. | Piedmont Park, 400 Park Drive, Atlanta, GA | Free entry

5. Panorama

July 28-30

Curious about Coachella? There’s still time to catch Panorama, a music festival hosted by the same production company that debuted in New York last year (and is also behind FYF Fest). Randall’s Island Park is a lot smaller and more manageable than Empire Polo Fields, home to Coachella, but the three-day affair still attracts big talent like Frank Ocean, Nine Inch Nails, Solange, and A Tribe Called Quest. It’s a great way to get a taste of the music festival lifestyle before committing to the main event in the desert.

12 p.m. | Randall’s Island Park, 20 Randall’s Island Park, New York, NY | From $99

6. Maine Lobster Festival

August 2-6Unless your grandmother lives in Maine, you’re probably making a summer visit to the state in hopes of scoring some lobster. While it’s plentiful in the region, head to Rockland for the 70th Annual Maine Lobster Festival to fully indulge. Musical performances, carnival rides, and a “Steins and Vines” tasting will all help keep your consumption in check when presented with 20,000 possible pounds to scarf down.

Times vary | Rockland Harbor Park, 1 Pleasant Street, Rockland, ME | From $1

7. Art Aspen

August 3-6

With ArtHamptons in New York and Houston Art Fair in Texas both postponed as of press time, the sister Art Aspen in Colorado might see a surge of interest in the photography, paintings, sculptures, and other media on display and for sale. Details of specific vendors have yet to be announced, but expect a major seasonal opportunity to expand or establish your art collection.

Times vary | Aspen Ice Garden, 233 W. Hyman Avenue, Aspen, CO |(800) 563-7632 | Free entry

8. Chicago Hot Dog Fest

August 11-13Sizzling summers in the Windy City taste like all-beef hot dogs on poppy seed buns with pickle relish, mustard, chopped onions, tomato wedges, pickled sport peppers, and celery salt. Try local micro-variations with “Dog Dollars,” pull up an inflatable hot dog seat, and learn how Chicago became so wrapped up in buns. Prepare to bask in the intense glow of an edible Midwest institution.

Times vary | Stockton and LaSalle Drive, Chicago, IL | Free entry

9. Minnesota State Fair

August 24-September 4 One of the more beloved summer fairs in the country, the Minnesota State Fair draws nationwide interest from stunt food consumers. Get your Instagram filters ready to tackle some of this year’s guaranteed curiosities: Cherry bombs (deep fried red licorice balls with powdered sugar), duck bacon wontons, and pizzarritos (pizza-burrito hybrid).

Times vary | Minnesota State Fairgrounds, 1265 Snelling Avenue, St. Paul, MN | (651) 288-4400 | From $12

Tamara Palmer is a daily news writer, rapper confidante, DJ, and celebrity chef ghostwriter from San Francisco.
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