It’s school holiday time, which makes it peak summer in the Northern Hemisphere. But don’t assume the traditional beach getaway or cabin rental is the way to go.

Why not spend Independence Day overseas in a place that officially celebrates it with the United States, or slip on a costume or two to celebrate Marvel and more at a confab in California?

Then again, it’s also a fine time to venture to Australia and immerse in the traditions and practices of Indigenous culture there.

You deserve a vacation this month, and we have 10 places that are well worth visiting in July.

1. Jutland, Denmark

July is great for: experiencing Independence Day through another country’s eyes

The largest celebration of July 4 overseas takes place in the northernmost reaches of Denmark, in Jutland. Much as we do stateside, locals there celebrate the holiday with a fireworks display and speeches from prominent public figures from both countries—past headliners have included Dionne Warwick, former ambassador Rufus Gifford ,and Frederik X, the recently installed king. It’s a legacy of efforts by one emigrant Dane, Max Henius, who lived in the United States; he corralled his fellow ex-countrymen to contribute money to allow them to buy 200 acres of hilly land inside Denmark’s largest forest. They gifted it to the then-king more than 100 years ago, with two provisos: first, that it would be preserved as wilderness and, second, that it could be the site of a celebration of the links between both countries.

On Independence Day proper, the fireworks burst out at midnight; the following day, there’s a banquet for hundreds of attendees followed by music and dancing.

Don’t forget, either, that you’re right by Klitmøller, aka Cold Hawai‘i, where a meteorological anomaly creates superb surfing at more than 30 designated spots.

Where to stay

Book now: Pier 5

Perch on the waterfront in Aalborg at this recently refreshed midmarket property, its 154 rooms now have a midcentury-inflected decor, with dark walls and mod wooden furniture.

How to get to Jutland

It’s a two-hour flight from Copenhagen to Aalborg, the regional airport here; Copenhagen has nonstop service to Atlanta and Chicago among others, while American offers a seasonal service from Philadelphia for summertime.

Person diving off a rocky cliff into turquoise water

Decompress from Anguilla’s action by spending a few hours on some of the prettiest beaches in the region, whether it be mile-long Maundays Bay or the quiet Long Bay.

2. Anguilla

July is great for: calypso, Carnival, and captains racing open hull craft

The 15,000 or so inhabitants of this 40-square-mile island burst into raucous joy each July when Carnival—officially the Anguilla Summer Festival—takes place over three weeks: this year’s dates are July 21 to August 11, with Emancipation Day celebrated on August 5. This marks the time when enslaved Africans in British dominions were freed in 1838.

Carnival’s program includes the usual festivities, like beach parties and street food stands, a Calypso contest, and plenty of pageantry, too, including a Miss Anguilla competition. Notably, there’s a major focus on boat racing, one of the island’s prime pastimes. Today, that tradition is celebrated in these daytime boat races with open hull craft; head to Meads Bay and Sandy Ground to watch them. It climaxes with the Champion of Champions race, held on the final Sunday of Carnival.

Where to stay

Book now: Cap Juluca

The Belmond-operated property is one of the loveliest places to stay on the island; it has recently opened an $8 million, Guerlain-operated spa.

How to get to Anguilla

This was traditionally a harder-to-reach island nation, requiring a connection by air from San Juan or a ferry ride over from Sint Maarten. Now, though, American Airlines operates a direct nonstop flight from Miami every day.

People walking and sitting along Seine River, with a few trees lining walkway

The joys of watching the Olympics will be particularly vivid in Paris.

Photo by Bertrand Gardel/age fotostock

3. Paris, France

July is great for: the Olympic spirit

Expect a little extra je ne sais quoi from this Olympics, the first summertime games to be held without restrictions since the pandemic. It runs from July 26 through August 11 (the Paralympics follow starting August 28).

The entire city will be dragooned into serving as a de facto stadium for the duration, with clever repurposings of various buildings—the shuttered Grand Palais will partially reopen, for example, so that its nave can serve as the site of fencing and taekwondo contests, while the pyramid-shaped Bercy arena in the east will be where basketball and gymnastics take place. The only new, permanent venue built for the Games is the Aquatic Center, which is right on the edge of Saint Denis and will be converted into a community pool after the Olympics.

And if you want to catch the debut of breakdancing as part of the Games, head to Place de la Concorde, the central square best known as the onetime site of the Marie Antoinette–beheading guillotine.

Where to stay

Book now: Bulgari Paris

The glitzy spot sits in the heart of the so-called Golden Triangle, just off the Champs-Elysées. It’s carved out of a forlorn onetime post office, reimagined as a luxury, 76-room hotel.

How to get to Paris

Don’t forget there are two airports in Paris, the better-known international hub CDG and the lesser-known ORY. Check out prices to the latter on some alternative carriers: All biz startup La Compagnie flies from EWR, for example, while Air France’s low-cost offshoot French Bee connects ORY with EWR, SFO, and LAX nonstop.

 Garden of the Gods park in Colorado Springs, with red rock formations jutting out of the landscape

You don’t have to be an Olympian-level athlete to enjoy sights like the Garden of the Gods park.

Courtesy of Melanie Magdalena/Unsplash

4. Colorado Springs, Colorado

July is great for: an alternative way to celebrate the Games

If your budget, whether time or money, doesn’t quite stretch to a transatlantic trip to the Olympics proper, consider instead a jaunt to this town in the Rocky Mountains that’s the spiritual home of the games stateside. The U.S. operation priming athletes for both the Olympics and Paralympics has its HQ here, and the 60,000-square foot U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Museum is one of the best ways to immerse yourself in the games without actually being there. Exhibits include the scoreboard that marked the USA men’s ice hockey win over the USSR at the 1980 games; there are interactive installations too.

The training center in town won’t be full of the best athletes as they’ll be competing in the real games, but you can watch the games on a giant screen in the Museum Plaza. If you still want to test your prowess, head over to Manitou Springs, where there’s a dizzying via ferrata installed at the Cave of the Winds Mountain Park; the six-year-old course spans more than 2,700 feet of elevation.

Where to stay

Book now: Garden of the Gods Resort & Club

Garden of the Gods Resort has a storied history—both John Wayne and Walt Disney stayed there after its opening in 1951—and includes a 27-hole golf course and three outdoor swimming pools. Even better, the 116-key property completed a major renovation of all its guest rooms, suites, and dining venues late last year.

How to get to Colorado Springs

For the easiest access to Colorado Springs, consider Southwest, which runs to eight cities, including Baltimore and Phoenix.

5. Tulsa, Oklahoma

July is great for: rocking out in an underappreciated Music City

In 1972, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Leon Russell founded Church Studios (in a deconsecrated building, hence the name) in his native Tulsa, a recording hub that quickly attracted everyone from Stevie Wonder to Bob Dylan. Russell was a pivotal talent in the 1960s pop era, working as part of the Phil Spector–led Wall of Sound crew and bringing his distinctively Tulsa tastes in music—a fusion of gospel, blues, and country—as an influence.

Three years ago, the city established a formal program to honor this heritage: Tusla Music Month, which takes place every July, with giveaways and discounts at a variety of local venues. Don’t miss a show at Cain’s Ballroom, a National Register of Historic Places venue that celebrates its centenary this year. In July, the program includes a gig from ’80s rock icons The Pretenders.

Where to stay

Book now: The Brut Hotel

This brand-new, 82-room hotel is housed in a 1950s brutalist apartment complex, from which it earns its name; the reimagined site includes a superb rooftop restaurant with killer views run by local chef Rob Stuart.

How to get to Tulsa

There are more than a dozen direct nonstops from around the country, whether the Allegiant-operated route from LAX, Southwest from St. Louis or Delta’s daily service from Salt Lake City. Delta also added a new route from LGA starting in May this year.

Distant view of city along a coastline, rocky cliff top in foreground

While the Great Barrier Reef spans more than 1,400 miles of prime Queensland coastline, head interior to learn about its Indigenous culture.

Photo by Manfred Gottschalk/age fotostock

6. Cairns, Australia

July is great for: immersive Indigenous contemporary culture

Midwinter in Australia is the best time to head to the tropical north of Queensland, when the weather remains in the 60s and 70s with lower humidity and rainfall. Still, many make the mistake of heading off the coast when there’s ample reason to idle on the mainland; there’s a rich Indigenous culture here, centered in and around the Daintree Rainforest. (You can even experience the reef through the ideas of First Nations storytellers via the Dreamtime Dive & Snorkel program.)

This month, First Nations culture is particularly foregrounded thanks to the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair, which runs July 25–28 at the Cairns Convention Center. It showcases work by Indigenous artists in all media, yoked together under this year’s theme, “Country Speaking,” which intends to provoke dialog between those whose history with the country dates back more than 60,000 years and those whose ancestors arrived here far more recently. There will be satellite exhibitions around town at various galleries and parks, as well as performances, workshops, and children’s art.

Where to stay

Book now: Silky Oaks

Hole up in the rainforest canopy with one of the tree-house-like rooms, many of which sit cantilevered over the Daintree River amid the foliage. Make sure to book a room with one of the round, alfresco tubs, which sit on the terrace amid the greenery.

How to get to Cairns

The best of the international touchdowns in Australia for Cairns is undoubtedly Brisbane (United or Delta via SFO, United or American via LAX). From Brisbane, it’s about a 2.5-hour flight north.

Gray, red, and blue Transformer costume among crowd of pedestrians at the 2019 San Diego Comic Con

If you join those wearing costumes, make sure to pack something stretchy to wear.

Photo by Steady Hand/Shutterstock

7. San Diego, California

July is great for: indulging your inner nerd

From July 25 to 28 this year, cosplay’s spiritual home returns to San Diego. There are look- and sound-alike fests around the country and the world—although San Diego Comic Con has threatened legal action against many imposters—but the appeal of this OG fanfest is its location, only a few hours from the heart of Hollywood. The convenience for A-listers to make public appearances here is obvious, and it’s become an increasingly starry confab and an unparalleled launchpad for genre films above all: Remember when the Avengers assembled here for the first time, two years before the namesake movie?

Last year’s talent roster was dimmed by the Hollywood strikes, leaving major players like HBO to skip the celebrations. Expect them to return in full force this year. (Marvel president Kevin Feige has been a regular in the past.)

Where to stay

Book now: The Alma

The 211-room Kimpton hotel in the downtown Gaslamp Quarter was once part of its Palomar mini-chain, but has just reopened with a new name and a snazzier decorative scheme that draws on classic Mexican textiles.

How to get to San Diego

Take your pick: If you’re not close enough to drive, there’s Alaska-run service from Spokane or Jackson Hole, JetBlue from Boston, and Allegiant from Medford, Oregon.

People in multicolored uniforms and helmets riding horses in a race.

The Palio di Siena is held twice each year.

Photo by M. Rohana/Shutterstock

8. Siena, Italy

July is great for: a unique horse racing spectacle

Oh, the Palio, that hard-to-describe mashup of horse race, NASCAR, and street party that dates back centuries in the Italian town of Siena. Each summer, there are two races, the first on July 2 and the second on August 16, though it’s the July race that dates back the furthest; the second one was added in the 18th century.

The Palio di Provenzano, as this month’s iteration of the race is known, effectively blocks off the entire center of the city, in and around the clamshell-shaped campo: Only 10 of the 17 districts or contrade can compete at any one time, chosen both by lottery and by whichever didn’t participate in the race that month last year. It’s a startlingly quick event, usually over in 90 seconds or so, when the first horse—with or without its rider—crosses the finish line. Whichever neighborhood triumphs will see the hardest partying in its wake.

Where to stay

Book now: Grand Hotel Minerva

To make the most of the region’s sightseeing opportunities, take an hour-long train ride north to Florence and stay at the family-run luxe Grand Hotel Minerva. Its rooftop pool and terrace offer a 360-degree view of the city, right on Piazza Santa Maria Novella.

How to get to Siena

Instead of the Florence airport, which has a short runway that makes it vulnerable to changing weather, opt for Pisa. It’s a bigger airport with better connections; you can find a low-cost intra-Europe flight on Ryanair to any of the major international gateways from there.

Panoramic view of a European city beside a river

Salzburg Festival’s founders include composer Richard Strauss.

Photo by canadastock/Shutterstock

9. Salzburg, Austria

July is great for: the Olympics of classical music

For classical music buffs, Salzburg’s summer festival needs no introduction: The five-week program in Mozart’s birthplace offers some of the world’s finest performances across all genres, with more than 200 opera, theater, and concert events. It was first established in 1920, and quickly earned accolades across the world, notably under the artistic direction of Herbert von Karajan for more than three decades until 1988.

This year’s program includes Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito, his last stage work that superstar mezzo Cecilia Bartoli will perform here. Peruvian tenor Juan Diego Florez will also appear this summer—he’ll sing an assortment of works by Rossini, Bellini, Verdi, and more on August 18. The charmingly kooky Les Contes d’Hoffmann by Offenbach will see Benjamin Bernheim in the title role, under the direction of acclaimed French director Mariame Clément.

Where to stay

Book now: Rosewood Schloss Fuschl

The second Austrian location for the Hong Kong–based luxury chain is intended to evoke a fairy-tale castle when it opens this summer, right on the shores of the turquoise blue Lake Fuschl right outside of Salzburg. The renovation of a 15th-century landmark, originally built for Austrian royalty, will feature 98 rooms (including six self-contained chalets).

How to get to Salzburg

Frankfurt is the major international hub, with service to many cities—check out low-cost carrier Condor from Phoenix, for example. It’s an hour or so quick connection by plane down to Austria’s second city.

 A few men in two small canoes with elephant in the water near them

A traditional canoe lets you explore Botswana’s Okavango Delta without the din of a 4×4.

Photo by Ger Metselaar/Shutterstock

10. Okavango Delta, Botswana

July is great for: a near-silent safari

It’s widely known that the Northern Hemisphere’s summer is a smart time to go on safari, as the wintry conditions in the savanna mean that greenery is sparse and so animals are easier to spot. That’s not the case here, the world’s largest inland delta; in fact, the water level here is at its highest now during supposedly dry season, mostly because the rainfall that deluges Angola’s highlands in summertime takes so long to meander down to pool on the plains.

The reason to visit this region now, though, is that you can explore without revving up the noisy 4×4: There’s an otherworldly magic to gliding over the waters in a traditional canoe or mokoro in near-silence, eyeballing unfamiliar insects and flowers up close and seeing animals unaware of your presence nearby.

Where to stay

Book now: Tubu & Little Tubu

Luxe operator Wilderness has reopened this twin camp in the Delta’s northwestern Jao Reserve after a gut renovation that entirely reimagined the property but retained one aspect: its reputation as a prime place to easily spot lion and leopard both.

How to get to the Okavango Delta

The easiest intercontinental gateway to Botswana is Johannesburg in South Africa—connect from there to the capital of Maun, and then you’ll likely need to take a charter puddle jumper to most safari camps.


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