With warm weather just around the corner and children finishing up their school years, many families have begun planning their summer vacations. Here are some of the top places to spend a few days in the sun, with plenty of activities and attractions for everyone to enjoy:

  • San Antonio – In recent years, Alamo City has been working to overturn its sleepy stereotype. For instance, the historic St. Anthony Hotel downtown opened after a multimillion-dollar renovation. This overhaul follows an epic project that converted the River Walk into 15 miles of trails that connect the city’s Spanish missions (just named a World Heritage site) to The Pearl up north. The Pearl, once a 23-acre brewery complex, is now a neighborhood brimming with locally owned shops and acclaimed restaurants, in addition to a Culinary Institute of America campus. At Hotel Emma, an independent boutique inside the former 1894 brewhouse, you can see the Roman & Williams aesthetic in the lobby – where ammonia tanks once used to cool Pearl beer sit. The hotel has two restaurants: Supper, which specializes in grilled meats; and Larder, for grab-and-go baked goods, flowers and beer.
  • Kelowna – Lying between two mountain ranges, the geography varies from the desert-like conditions in the south to the green plateau of the Naramata Bench and Okanagan Lake’s sandy beaches. While the area’s stark beauty and hot, dry summers have always drawn outdoorsy types, there’s now an increasingly sophisticated scene revolving around food and local wine. Wine-focused restaurants like the Sonora Room at Burrowing Owl and Miradoro at Tinhorn Creek Winery serve up spectacular views and farm-to-table specialties, along with Pinot Gris and Meritage. It’s easy to spend a few days roaming around the countryside, hopping from winery to winery (there are more than 130), but one place in particular is worth a special trip: the exquisitely modern Black Hills tasting room, where you can sample a glass of Nota Bene, one of the area’s big reds. Last year was even hotter than usual, which is good news for those planning a visit: many of the 2015 vintage wines, predicted to be the best in a century, will be ready for tasting this summer.
  • Seattle – The Seattle streetcar system is adding a line to connect people to Capitol Hill, an up-and-coming culinary destination. Likewise, Link, the light rail, is building a line to take visitors right from the SeaTac airport to Capitol Hill. The most in-demand tables there include Lionhead, a Sichuan-inspired spot by Jerry Traunfeld (former chef at the Herbfarm), and Soi, a husband-and-wife team serving Thai food from the Isaan region. Don’t miss the new Capitol Hill Hot Cakes; though it sounds like a brunch destination, it’s actually a “molten chocolate cakery” nighttime spot that also has soft-serve you can top with potato chips and roast-your-own marshmallows for s’mores. In addition, the news expands past the city proper: 16 miles northeast is the McMenamins Anderson School, a 1931 Art Deco-style former junior high school in the town of Bothell that’s now a hotel. The classrooms and ball fields are gone, replaced with three restaurants, two bars, a brewery, movie theater, indoor pool, and outdoor fire pits.
  • Madison – This lovely lake-filled city is vibrant in summer when most of its residents and visitors are getting in the water. There are 12 beaches where you can enjoy freshwater swimming. Rent canoes, kayaks, or rowboats, or fish for crappies, bass, northern pike, and more (just be sure to obtain a fishing permit if you’re heading out on your own). After a day of water-play, choose one of the many waterfront restaurants and sip a cocktail with a lake view. For mountain bikers of any skill level, Kettle Moraine State Forest boasts five loops of various lengths and difficulties. The more technically difficult Blue Mound State Park should only be attempted by seasoned bikers, but offers exciting terrain and views. If you’d rather stay on the pavement, head to the Capital City Trail, nine miles of which run through the wild Capital Springs Recreation Center. During the summer months, Madison plays host to various summer concert series, including Concerts on the Rooftop during June and July.
  • Portland – You can literally taste summer in this northwestern city: top-ranked farmers’ markets bursting with berries, fresh-caught salmon at inventive cafés and plenty of cool summer drinks. The city also gets top marks for its microbrews. The wholesome cuisine will make you want to get active, too, whether you’re bicycling around town or hiking near the waterfalls outside the city limits.
  • San Diego – There’s a lot to love in San Diego, from the year-round beach weather to the good-looking locals – even if June can be cool and gray. Summer also brings the kooky ComicCon convention and events at the Del Mar racetrack, an old-Hollywood star magnet. And the city’s zoo, SeaWorld and Legoland are a natural draw for families on summer vacation.

To learn more about our many terrific spots for a summer trip, visit our website at www.takeagetaway.com. If you have questions, drop us a line at info@takeagetaway.com. To explore and get additional information about all of our remarkable destinations, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!