Procrastinating on that summer trip? Well, it’s time to set up your out-of-office, grab a friend or two, book a spontaneous flight, check into that glorious hotel you’ve been peeping on Instagram for months and get ready to fall in love with the last days of summer. With cheap flights and warm weather—even in places not known for being particularly warm—August is the time to go.
The 5 Best Places to Travel in August (Bonus: They’re Affordable)
1. Bath, United Kingdom
Less than two hours west of London by train, Bath is a small city packed with lots to do and plenty of the creature comforts you’d expect to find in more cosmopolitan places. Built by the Romans over 2,000 years ago, the Roman Baths are this charming city’s crown jewel and most popular tourist attraction, for good reason. Here, you can learn about why people throughout history traveled to Bath for healing and culture—it was *the* place to be back in the day. Snap pics of the impressive, historic structure and its walking paths and gawk at the former bathing areas, which are still fed today by natural hot springs. While you can’t technically get in the water at the Roman Baths, you can just next door at Thermae Bath Spa, a modern spa influenced by the Roman Baths themselves and even fed by the same spring. You can and should spend an entire day here at the rooftop pool and terrace, multiple saunas, and even a restaurant serving up spa fare. Other musts in Bath include a meal at Noya’s Kitchen, a Vietnamese restaurant with some of the best spring rolls we’ve ever tasted. The produce-driven and therefore always-evolving menu also includes favorites like pho, spicy curry and bun cha, and lick-your-lips-good homemade sodas.
Visiting Bath in August means you’re more likely to find some sunshine, which we all know can be at a premium in the U.K. You can also consider booking the “Western Wonders” tour to see Bath alongside historical Truro and Salisbury—with popular Stonehenge just a hop, skip, and a jump along the way. The tour, available for booking on England Originals, starts at $721 per person and includes three nights’ stay in four-star hotels along with a four-consecutive-days BritRail England pass so you can hop on and off whenever you like, and even enjoy the sleeper train to Truro if you so choose. It’s the ideal way to see the English countryside and some of these magical cities along the way, especially if you’re starting or ending a trip in London.
Where to stay: Bath shows off its historic roots at The Francis Hotel, a handsome hotel housed in former Georgian-era townhouses overlooking one of the town’s most fashionable addresses, Queen Square. The rooms are a blend of classic meets contemporary, and it’s walkable to pretty much everything. Outside of town you can find a splurge-worthy and more romantic option at the five-star The Bath Priory. Set in a stately Georgian home lined by ivy, the property boasts four acres of whimsical gardens, which include both a classic English garden, a croquet lawn, a kitchen garden filled with herbs, and much more.
2. Fire Island, New York
A barrier island situated on the south shore of New York’s Long Island, Fire Island draws diverse crowds of travelers from across the globe as much as it does from New York City, which is roughly a two-hour train and ferry ride away depending on which of the many towns you decide to post up in. Most frequented by out-of-towners: Ocean Beach, packed—at least by Fire Island standards—with bars and restaurants and shops; the laid-back Ocean Bay Park, and Cherry Grove and Fire Island Pines, where a prominence of LGBTQIA+ people spend their summers, each with their own unique flavor of daytime charm and nightlife partying options. Wherever you decide to stay on the island, though, you’re likely to find wide, sandy, unspoiled beaches (thanks in part to being protected as a National Seashore) and a lack of vehicular traffic. Most places in this gorgeous slice of vacation paradise are walkable from the many ferries that leave from the south shore of Long Island and are connected by dock pathways. Our favorite experiences on Fire Island: A day with our toes in the sand at one of New York State’s best beaches, Robert Moses State Park; seeing a drag show that takes place around a pool at the Ice Palace in Cherry Grove almost every Sunday during the summer; and taking in the view with a cocktail as the boats go by from the outdoor deck at Island Mermaid.
Where to stay: The best way to experience Fire Island is to shack up in a share house, many with their own private pools and hot tubs, sun decks and/or gardens. It’s best to book in advance, but you can always find last-minute opportunities through Vrbo or Homeaway. There are hotels too, of course, like the Palms Hotel in Ocean Bay Park, which has a posh condo meets hotel vibe, or the more no-frills Cherry Grove Hotel or Hotel by ShareGurl.
3. Orlando, Florida
Psst, August is a particularly good time to visit Disney World, especially if you want to avoid huge crowds and save a buck or two. This particular month in Florida can get quite steamy, and since lots of kids go back to school at the end of the month, the final dog days of summer provide cheaper than user flights (with some domestic flights clocking in at just $142 as of press time on Skyscanner), so park goers can truly take advantage and enjoy Disney, Universal and many of Orlando’s other popular attractions. Some of our favorites at the moment: Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy, a live show that just opened at Disney’s Hollywood Studios; Disney Springs, which is a new upscale eatery and shopping area where Downtown Disney used to be; and of course, Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, the new ride in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which opened recently to replace the former Dragon Challenge.
Outside the park, we’re partial to Winter Park, the artsy Orlando neighborhood that’s packed with non-theme-park things to do, like the Morse Museum, which houses the world's most comprehensive collection of Tiffany artwork; the gorgeous Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, which hosts Broadway-caliber shows like Hamilton and where Legall
restaurants, shops and even a brewery; there are also plenty of chef-driven restaurants at East End Market to keep your belly full.
Where to stay: The boutique Alfond Inn in Winter Park is not probably what you’d expect to find in a town like Orlando—which makes it that much more special. The property’s stylish interiors spill over into its outdoor areas and never noisy pool. It’s also dog-friendly, so you can bring Fido along.
4. Dublin, Ireland
Though Dublin is lively no matter what time of year you visit, the summer is an especially wonderful time to sightsee in the Irish capital. Start your time strolling through the impressive Guinness Storehouse and have a pint—which comes along with the price of admission—while learning the story behind Ireland’s most iconic beer. Once you’ve seen it, it’s easy to understand why the Storehouse is Ireland’s most popular tourist destination and the neighborhood surrounding it has long been an important part of the fabric of this magical city. Speaking of magical: Tour the Old Library at Trinity College, and artifact that sits at its centerpiece. Make sure to book ahead to get a glimpse of the Long Room—which looks straight out of the world of Harry Potter—and is filled wall to wall with other significant works and documents.
Once you’ve gotten your fix of culture, make your way next to the Temple Bar—this is Dublin, after all! The landmark bar is painted bright red and cloaked in twinkling lights and hanging plants and other foliage, making for a do-not-miss Insta moment. Just a skip down the cobblestone streets of this charming neighborhood packed to capacity with nightlife options is a restaurant, Boxty House, certainly worthy of your time, even if it looks like a tourist trap from the outside. The buzzing restaurant serves all types of Irish stews, plus an assortment of other crowd-pleasers like a Bread Slate with Irish soda bread, and boxty (a typical Irish potato pancake) creations that’ll suit all kinds of tastes. With flights as low as $388 from the U.S. in August (Skyscanner, as of press time), you can be enjoying one of the pretty mean whisky sours in no time.
Where to stay: No address in Dublin is more prestigious than The Shelbourne, Autograph Collection—a historic hotel that’s basically like staying in the Irish version of The Plaza. Imagine a grand entrance filled with checkered tiled floors, exquisite moldings and a grand staircase built for a princess. Upstairs, the rooms are plush, posh and filled with a handsome mix of antique details and contemporary comforts. Many rooms have views over St. Stephen’s Green, one of the city’s most enchanting parks.
5. Providence, Rhode Island
Providence is the not-on-your-radar East Coast city that really should be on your radar. It’s packed with tons of historical architecture and charm, has a thriving arts scene, sophisticated dining and nightlife options, and lots of cultural institutions for even the most discerning of travelers. Ideal for quick weekend trips or pairing with an extended stay at the nearby and famed summertime retreat of Newport—there’s even a one-hour ferry that runs in the summer to take you between the two—you’ll quickly become a fan of this small city big on things to do. Some highlights: Waterfire, the Barnaby Evans-installed bonfires that light up Providence rivers in a mesmerizing way, with two separate lightings in the month of August (8/3 and 8/17); and the RISD Museum of Art, which is home to 100,000 works of art and is opening the forthcoming Raid the Icebox Now in mid-September 2019. The original Andy Warhol exhibition from which it is influenced opened 50 years ago and “presented entire sections of objects as they appeared in storage regardless of their condition, authenticity, or art historical status,” a rep tells us. The new show will feature nine contemporary artists and designers creating original bodies of work or curatorial projects using the museum as a site for critical, creative production and presentation.
Where to stay: The Dean Hotel, a boutique property with a funky, industrial feel that highlights Providence’s rich history. Rooms are housed in a building originally constructed in 1912 but today are contemporary, crisp and a great value with rates in August under $200 as of press time. If you stay here, you won’t have to travel far for some of the best grub and cocktails in town. The Dean is home to a popular restaurant, lively karaoke bar and cozy cocktail lounge.