With pumpkins sprouting up in shops and cooler nights, fall is already beginning to show its colors in some parts of the US. But it’s still summer, and beach and lake towns are beckoning to you for one last hurrah. Here are a few of our favorite goodbye summer getaways.
1. Key Largo, Florida
Just a stone’s throw away from Florida’s mainland, Key Largo is the first island of the Florida Keys. Although close to the mainland, Key Largo’s beauty reminds visitors of tropical islands oceans away. It’s home to some incredible nature with two state parks, part of a marine sanctuary and a national park. Pack your gear, because scuba diving and snorkeling are huge here. Key Largo even boasts the world’s only underwater hotel!
Do not miss the 70-mile John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, grab some key lime pie at the Blond Giraffe Key Lime Pie Factory and soak in the last bit of summer.
2. Pawley’s Island, South Carolina
This sleepy island may be small, but it’s not short on charm at Pawley's Island. If you can, book a room at the historic Sea View Inn, located smack-dab in the middle of the island with a stretch of private beach. A dinner bell beckons you three times a day to delicious southern fare and the whole vibe is just relaxing. Bring a couple of books and leave your phone in your room.
If you want a break from the beach, a quick drive off the island takes you to the famous Pawley’s Island Hammock Shops – dozens of local artisan shops including a general store and even a Christmas shop.
3. Finger Lakes, New York
Named for its abundance of thin, long lakes, Finger Lakes isn’t your average summer vacation. Thick woods, waterfalls and freshwater glacial lakes make this a perfect trip for any nature lover. Don’t miss the Robert Treman State Park for hiking and breathtaking falls.
If you’re not so much into nature, you’re in luck, because this region of New York is also known for its wine. Founded in 1983, Cayuga Lake Wine Trail is considered America’s first wine trail. It’s comprised of 16 unique wineries, including a few distilleries and cideries, so there’s something for everyone. Afterwards, grab dinner at one of the many farm-to-table restaurants nearby.
4. Chelan, Washington
Located on the edge of the Cascade Mountains and the shore of scenic Lake Chelan, Chelan is a charming small town complete with the state’s longest continually-running movie theater, The Ruby. Spend a day at the lake fishing, jet skiing or soaking in the last bit of summer’s rays at local spot Willow Point Park.
Like Finger Lakes, Chelan is also known for its many wineries and farm-fresh food. Head to the Chelan Evening Farmer’s Market to grab some essentials before making a stop at Lake Chelan Winery for some good wine and even better barbecue.
5. Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin
As the county seat of picturesque Door County, WI, Sturgeon Bay is the perfect place to wrap up your summer. Here, it’s all about the boats. Rent a kayak or indulge in a guided sailboat tour as you take in the county’s 11 different lighthouses. Door County is also home to one of the best cherry crops in America, and the end of summer is peak picking season!
If you’re not full of cherries, make sure to try an authentic Door County fish boil at Scaturo’s Baking Co. and Café.
6. Asheville, North Carolina
Tired of the summer heat? Asheville is located along the Blue Ridge Mountains and offers a cool relief from hot beach temps. Cool off in one of Asheville’s hundreds of waterfalls or go whitewater rafting on the free flowing French Broad River. Asheville also has a funky side with its expansive River Arts District.
Be sure to catch an incredible end-of-summer sunset at the Omni Grove Park Inn’s Sunset Terrace with a nice glass of wine.