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A street lined with townhomes in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia

Where to Experience the Best of Summer

Article by Sam Mittelsteadt 06.30.2017

One of the best parts of travel? Making memories. Throughout the U.S. and Canada this summer, memorable experiences await, from seaside festivals to special cultural events. Enjoy the best of the season!

Boston: The Sights, Sounds and Tastes of Summer

Boston dazzles in the summer, when blue skies and long, sunny days beckon residents and visitors alike to the city’s many outdoor events — from Shakespeare on the Common (August 1–6) to movies in the garden at the Family Film Festival (July 1–August. 26). Foodies will enjoy the Seafood Festival’s clambakes, lobster rolls and shareable plates at the Boston Fish Pier in the recently revitalized waterfront neighborhood (August 13).

Fresh seafood chilled over ice

New York City: Lower Manhattan’s Artistic Renaissance

Just over two years old, the new Whitney has made its mark on the culture of the thriving Meatpacking District. Through July 16, visitors can catch the famed Whitney Biennial exhibition, a bold survey of contemporary American art. Also on view is “Calder: Hypermobility,” which highlights movement and sound in the work of modern master Alexander Calder. The exhibition, which is on view through October 23, offers the rare opportunity to experience many of artist’s kinetic works in motion.

A bronze sculpture of a woman and colorful painting

Charlotte: Big Adventures

Thrill-seekers will revel in excitement at the U.S. National Whitewater Center. The 1,100-acre site is home to myriad water and land activities designed for both the brave spirit and the family outing. The first Deep Water Solo Climbing Complex in the world gives visitors the exhilarating opportunity to scale a 45-foot wall without a harness, then plunge into the refreshing 20-foot pool below. After a day of activity, guests can relax with a bite to eat while listening to live music at River Jam, the USNWC’s summer concert series.

A river-rafting group laughs while being splashed

Montreal: A Season of Fireworks 

Sparks will fly each Wednesday and Saturday evening July 1 - August 5, when countries battle to illuminate the skies with the best fireworks in l’International des Feux Loto-Québec. Almost 3 million fans each year gather on or near the Jacques Cartier Bridge to enjoy the international pyrotechnics competition, which this year will include Italy’s re-creation of the history of Sicily (July 8), France’s journey through the creation of music (July 22), and England’s jolly presentation “Gunpowder and Greasepaint” (July 29).

Fireworks fill the sky over Westchester, New York

Westchester, New York: Summer Nostalgia

The carefree days of summer shine in Westchester. Stroll among colorful, flitting butterflies at the Greenburg Nature Center. The family-friendly live butterfly exhibition, which features orange-winged monarchs and spotted painted ladies, runs through August 6. For a special evening treat, vivacious Tony Award-winner Sutton Foster performs a cabaret evening of song July 29 at the Venetian Theater on the Caramoor estate in northern Westchester County. Begin your evening with a cocktail hour and elegant catered dinner that resurrects the mood of the lavish soirées hosted on the grounds during the 1930s and ’40s.

A colorful butterfly sits atop a flower.

Washington, D.C.: A Cultural Extravaganza

D.C.’s celebrated museums spill out onto the National Mall with a series of alfresco summer events. The 50th annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival (July 6–9) documents the evolution and creative revival of circus arts, including performances on the Big Top stage. On Friday evenings through August, the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden transforms into a concert venue for Jazz in the Garden, which features an eclectic lineup of musicians and a light, summer menu.

The Washington Monument seen at sunrise from the portico of the Lincoln Memorial.

Atlanta: A Green, New Chapter for Football

The August 26 NFL preseason matchup between the Atlanta Falcons and the Arizona Cardinals will be the inaugural event in the city’s new $1.6 billion, 30-story-high Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The Georgia Dome’s replacement, which will host the National Championship in 2018 and Super Bowl LIII in 2019, is on track to be LEED Platinum-certified, which would make it the first professional sports venue to achieve the highest rating from the U.S. Green Building Council.

Inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta

Alexandria, Virginia: Small-Town Charms

Frequently overshadowed by the grand monuments and museums of D.C., Alexandria is northern Virginia’s hidden gem, and its quaint Old Town is the perfect place to enjoy small-town summer charms. Stroll the neighborhood’s cobblestone alleys and brick sidewalks, which are lined by shady trees, historic buildings, delightful boutiques and dozens of new restaurants and bars.

A street lined with townhomes in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia

New York City: Midtown’s Performing Arts Hub

New Yorkers know Lincoln Center is the place to be for performing arts this summer. The Out of Doors Festival features days and nights filled with music, dance and family fare. This year’s lineup includes more than 150 events, including NPR Music’s Turning the Tables Live, which celebrates the 100 greatest albums created by women (July 26–August 13). The Bolshoi Ballet performs its lively and modern production of “The Taming of Shrew” (July 26-30), and for a 10th year, Trio de Paz returns for a two-week residency of its Brazilian jazz. 

Three ballet dancers perform on stage

New Orleans: A Spirited Affair

The theme of the 15th annual Tales of the Cocktail festival in New Orleans may be “The Year of the Martini,” but the weeklong event (July 18 - 24) will be filled with hundreds of workshops, presentations, competitions and pop-up shops focused on everything intoxicating, from pisco and porto to chartreuse and shochu. Some events are geared toward industry professionals, but cocktail enthusiasts are welcome at many others, where they can get a sneak peek at what’s next in the spirit world.

Three craft cocktails at The Ritz-Carlton, Georgetown

Lake Oconee in Reynolds, Georgia: Rural Pleasures

Georgia’s bucolic Lake Oconee is a festive playground on select Sundays through September 3 thanks to the Summer Concert Series and Fireworks Display at The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee. Guests can enjoy live musical entertainment, from jazz to country to Motown, along with the spirited atmosphere and show-stopping fireworks extravaganza.

Fireworks in the night sky over Lake Oconee

Georgetown: Movies and Moonlight

When day turns to night, the Georgetown Waterfront Park tranforms into a beautiful outdoor theater for the annual Sunset Cinema. This year’s movie theme is Women in Film, with screenings that feature such empowering films as “Hidden Figures,” “A League of Their Own,” “Erin Brockovich” and more.

An old-fashioned movie reel

Philadelphia: Rediscover American History

Philadelphia’s summer of patriotic experiences doesn’t end on July 4. At the National Constitution Center, visitors can view one of 12 surviving copies of the Bill of Rights at the limited-run exhibition “Constituting Liberty: From the Declaration to the Bill of Rights.” Alongside is a first-edition stone engraving of the Declaration of Independence, as well as a rare copy of the first public printing of the U.S. Constitution.

The façade of the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia

Tysons Corner, Virginia: Star-Studded Summer Nights

Beautifully set in the woods of northern Virginia, Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts presents an impressive lineup of more than 100 performances this summer. From Aretha Franklin and Diana Ross to the B-52s and Wilco, the musical guests are many. Events featuring writers David Sedaris and Neil Gaiman are also part of this summer’s docket.

Inside a theater at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts

Plan Your Summer Getaway In These Destinations

  • Atlanta

    Location Downtown, Atlanta, Georgia

    Experience Discover more than 11,000 works of art at the nearby High Museum.

    • Relax in comfort in The Club Lounge
    • Downtown Atlanta's only luxury hotel
    • Culinary experiences at AG
  • Boston

    Location Boston, Massachusetts

    Experience New England Charm and Modern Elegance.

    • Craft cocktails at Avery Bar
    • Local seasonal menu at Artisan Bistro
    • Minutes from theatre and historic sites
  • Charlotte

    Location Charlotte, North Carolina

    Experience Enjoy urban sophistication in the heart of Uptown Charlotte.

    • Enjoy delectable desserts at Bar Cocoa
    • Sip a craft cocktail at The Punch Room
    • Relax and recharge in our luxury Spa
  • Georgetown, Washington, D.C.

    Location Washington D.C.

    Experience The most historic luxury hotel in Georgetown

    • Renovated factory building from 1932
    • One of only 3 AAA Five-Diamond D.C. hotels
    • Modern amenities set in a historical ambiance
  • Montréal

    Location Montreal, Canada

    Experience Quebec’s only AAA Five Diamond hotel.

    • Enjoy French cuisine in  Maison Boulud
    • The largest hotel suite in Montreal
    • Rooftop wellness sanctuary with indoor pool
  • New Orleans

    Location New Orleans, Louisiana

    Experience Enjoy a Celebration of the Senses.

    • Explore the iconic French Quarter steps away
    • Enjoy jazz in our Davenport Lounge
    • Relax in the Maison Orleans Club