The best places to travel in July
Editor’s note: This post has been updated with new information.
Summer is almost here, so it’s time to plan that long-anticipated getaway. You’re in luck because July is a great time to travel, with plenty of destinations offering unique experiences to suit every traveler’s interests.
From Independence Day celebrations to cultural festivals, the world is full of exciting destinations to explore. Whether you’re looking for adventure, culture or relaxation, these eight destinations will impress you.
So pack your bags and prepare for your next unforgettable summer vacation.
Washington, D.C., is a city that truly shines in the summer, and July is the perfect time to experience all it offers. Exploring the city’s many museums, galleries and historic sites during the long summer days is a treat for the mind and soul. The warm, sunny weather creates the perfect backdrop for enjoying the city’s outdoor activities.
During the week of Independence Day, the National Mall, with its iconic monuments and memorials, is a popular attraction and witnessing the fireworks illuminate the city skyline on the Fourth of July creates a magical atmosphere that’s hard to describe.
Additionally, the Smithsonian Folklife Festival celebrates cultural traditions worldwide during Independence Day week, adding to the city’s vibrant cultural scene. The National Symphony Orchestra’s Independence Day concert on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol is a musical feast for the ears.
Related: The perfect 1-day field trip in Washington, DC, for travelers of all ages
TPG tip: The Rosewood Washington, D.C. (available from 59,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points or $775 per night) provides a great location for families thanks to its Townhouses that boast private entrances, living rooms, kitchens and private back courtyards — perfect for hosting a July Fourth get-together with friends and family.
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Belize in July is a feast for the senses, a symphony of flavors and rhythms that will leave you breathless. The Belize Lobsterfests are the stars of the show, each one a celebration of the sea’s bounty and the ingenuity of the people who call these shores home.
From the barefooted havens of San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, to the bohemian charm of Caye Caulker, the festivals will tantalize your taste buds with such culinary delights as lobster macaroni and cheese, lobster ceviche and other mouthwatering creations.
But it’s not just about the food — there are music, dancing and competitions that will keep you on your toes. If that’s not enough, the Belize International Music and Food Festival is the cherry on top, a two-day celebration of the country’s diverse culinary landscape and rich musical heritage. With each bite and each beat, Belize will steal your heart and leave you yearning for more.
TPG tip: A great home base is Alaia Belize, Autograph Collection, available from 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy points for $342 per night.
Zurich is a vibrant and unforgettable destination for a summer getaway. In July, the city hosts the Züri Fäscht, Switzerland’s largest festival, attracting over two million visitors to enjoy culinary delights, fireworks and live music.
Open-air cinemas throughout the city, such as on the banks of Lake Zurich, offer a picturesque backdrop to watch classic movies under the stars.
The city’s parks and lake provide a great place to enjoy a lazy afternoon or rent a paddle boat or kayak. Adventure seekers can hike or bike in the surrounding hills and mountains or take a cable car to the top of Uetliberg Mountain, offering breathtaking views of the city and Alps.
Zurich has a rich history and culture, with its charming Old Town and museums such as the Kunsthaus Zurich and the Swiss National Museum. The city’s diverse offerings cater to all interests, making it the perfect destination for a summer vacation, whether seeking relaxation or adventure.
TPG tip: For a quick ride into the city center, book a room at Hilton Garden Inn Zurich Limmattal. Rates start at 31,000 Hilton Honors points or $120 per night.
Turkey in July is the perfect destination for beachgoers and cultural enthusiasts alike. The Istanbul Jazz Festival celebrates its 30th anniversary this July, bringing together artists from all over the world and pushing the boundaries of the genre.
For the adventurous traveler, the Uludag Premium Ultra Trail Marathon offers challenging running trails amidst the breathtaking landscapes of Uludag.
Related: 11 of the best hotels in Turkey, from Istanbul to Cappadocia
Finally, those seeking a more relaxed pace can enjoy the One Love Festival in Parkorman, a music festival that attracts hundreds of people with its six stages and diverse genres. From pop bands to techno performances, the festival appeals to a broad range of musical tastes and age groups.
TPG tip: Stay at the InterContinental Istanbul for around 67,000 IHG One Rewards points or $333 per night.
Embrace your inner cowboy this summer. Cheyenne is an exceptional place to visit in July, especially for those seeking an authentic Western experience.
Wyoming’s most famous event, Cheyenne Frontier Days, will return for its 125th year from July 21-30, 2023. This 10-day celebration features the world’s largest outdoor rodeo and Western festivities, including thrilling carnival rides, a chuckwagon cookoff and world-class country music performances. Visitors can also expect to witness incredible rodeo action, bull riding and other exciting events throughout the festival.
The event also features standout headliners like Eric Church, Zach Bryan and Tim McGraw, who will grace the stage with exceptional musical talent.
TPG tip: Those planning to attend Cheyenne Frontier Days can stay at the nearby Little America Hotel & Resort — from 13,500 Chase Ultimate Rewards points or $203 per night — which offers a B.B.Q. with live music and brunch specials.
Flagstaff is having a moment as an under-the-radar travel destination and Northern Arizona’s hub for adventure. Perfect for summertime road trips and national park exploration, Flagstaff sits along Route 66 and is just over an hour from the Grand Canyon.
Incredible stargazing in July makes Flagstaff a destination unto itself. The world’s first dark sky city, it’s home to the Lowell Observatory. Visitors can look forward to observing a Full Thunder Moon on July 3 or the Delta Aquariids Meteor Shower on July 28-29.
Related: A retro renovation on Route 66: My stay at a modern-day motor lodge
Art lovers flock to the annual Art in the Park, which returns July 1-3, welcoming over 70 artists across the Southwest with live music, food and a beer garden. Flagstaff will also host the P.D.G.A. Masters Disc Golf World Championships from July 11-15.
TPG tip: As far as where to stay, the reimagined Americana Motor Hotel (rates from $135 per night) will reopen in June 2023 following an extensive renovation led by Practice Hospitality. Parked on historic Route 66, the retro-futuristic motor hotel offers a welcome respite after a day of adventure with “dive-in” movies in the heated pool and an expansive backyard with fire pits, games and telescopes to explore the star-spangled sky.
Japan‘s summer months are perfect for immersing oneself in local culture, hiking picturesque national parks and relaxing on breathtaking beaches.
Furthermore, some of the country’s most famous festivals occur in July. Tokyo’s Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival is considered one of the oldest and most significant celebrations in Japan. The festival was established in the 18th century to ward off evil spirits and pray for the end of famine. Today, visitors gather by the Sumida River on the last Saturday of July to witness innovative and mesmerizing fireworks displays while indulging in delicious food and drinks.
The lavender season in Hokkaido is another breathtaking sight. Starting from late June, the stunning purple flowers reach full bloom from early to mid-July, offering visitors an opportunity to engulf themselves in the beauty of nature while enjoying the picturesque scenery.
Kyoto’s Gion Matsuri festival is a month-long celebration that transforms the city into a lively party. The main processions occur on July 17 and 24, featuring stunning parade floats, Yoiyama festivities (evening street parties) and delectable street food. The Owari Tsushima Tennoh Festival has been a part of Japanese culture for over 600 years, attracting locals and tourists alike with traditional Japanese arts, musical performances and dazzling fireworks over the water.
Lastly, the Soma Nomaoi in Fukushima celebrates martial arts and horseback riding, which symbolizes resilience for the people of Soma. Visitors can experience the samurai spirit at this thousand-year-old festival, watching races, processions and other enticing events during the last weekend of July.
TPG tip: Just in time for the festivals, Fairfield by Marriott Hokkaido Eniwa just opened and is available from 15,500 Marriott Bonvoy points or $91 per night.
San Diego in July is where the worlds of Pride and pop culture come together in an epic collision.
One of the month’s highlights is San Diego Pride, which will take place from July 8-16. This event is one of the largest Prides in the United States, attracting over 300,000 visitors from near and far. The festival celebrates the LGBTQ+ community with a parade, live music, food and drink. It’s a great opportunity to experience the city’s diversity and inclusivity.
Another must-see event in July is Comic-Con International, which returns to San Diego from July 19-23. This annual convention is a mecca for comic book enthusiasts and pop culture fans, with panels, workshops and celebrity appearances. It’s a fantastic opportunity to indulge your fandom and meet like-minded people from around the world.
To make it even easier to visit San Diego, Alaska Airlines has launched two new direct routes from D.C. and Tampa, making the city more accessible for East Coast dwellers.
TPG tip: Book a stay at The Westgate Hotel for around 46,500 Chase Ultimate Rewards points or $183 per night. Timely with ComiCon in July, The Westgate Hotel will transform its afternoon tea service to a superhero-themed tea, with themed cocktails and delectable bites.
Related: The best hotels in San Diego