The Best Places to Visit in July


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Slide 1 of 8: School's out, the weather is glorious, and the wanderlust is fierce, which means you’re probably looking to plan a proper summer vacation. If you still need help deciding where to go this July, here’s a few timely suggestions—from a real life Lion King safari to the ideal spot for celebrating America’s birthday.
Slide 2 of 8: An all-American destination for decades (thank you, Dirty Dancing) the Catskills has emerged in recent years as a younger, more relaxed alternative to the shellacked glamour of the Hamptons. This month, sleep under the stars at one of the wooden A-frame tents at the Eastwind Hotel & Bar, which also has conventional rooms for less outdoorsy travelers. There are ample events to keep visitors busy during July: the Grey Fox Blue Grass Festival in Oak Hill brings acoustic performances of everything from Cajun to swing, while the German-inflected Mountain Brauhaus Festival combines live music from the likes of the Bratwurst Boys with the challenge of a Masskrugstemmen—an endurance contest started in Bavaria, in which contestants are challenged to hold a one-liter stein of beer for as long as they can. And though the 50th anniversary celebrations of the Woodstock festival in August remain in limbo, there are ongoing efforts throughout the area to commemorate the milestone: try the after-hours counter-culture evening at the Museum at Bethel Woods on July 3 for cocktails, music, and a side of history.
Slide 3 of 8: Each July, Montreal can lay credible claim as the world’s cultural hub, thanks to a diverse trio of high-profile festivals: the four-decade-old Montreal International Jazz Festival, with more than 1,000 different concerts, plus the world’s largest comedy bash, Just for Laughs (this year, catch everyone from Crazy Ex Girlfriend’s Rachel Bloom to Queer Eye’s Jonathan van Ness) and the International Circus Arts Festival. The latter is a nod to Cirque du Soleil, which was founded in the city in 1984 by two street performers. Since then, other cabaret-circus mashups have emerged, too, like Cirque Eloize and the Seven Fingers; there’s even a circus district in Saint Michel on the city’s north side, complete with school, performance area and Cirque du Soleil’s HQ. The Montreal Cirque Festival, which started in 2010, now runs for 11 days each July, filling the streets, parks and sidewalks with performances. Take refuge from all this energetic programming with a room at the newly opened Four Seasons, the Toronto-based brand’s fourth property on its home turf, complete with a food and beverage program run by celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson.
Slide 4 of 8: Just south of Seattle, the 55-mile long Whidbey Island is an outdoorsy mecca, dotted with small towns and crisscrossed by hiking trails, surrounded by the clear, clean waters of Puget Sound. Stay at the Captain Whidbey, a historic inn originally built in 1907 that was just rebooted by design-minded brothers Matt and Mike French, and their friend Eric Cheong, who was formerly head of design with Ace Hotels and Roman & Williams. The six-acre, 30-room property has its own private lagoon and dock, and the best way to arrive is by seaplane at dusk. From there, head to nearby Ebey’s Landing National Historic Reserve, a tiny national park with working farms that’s anchored by the seafront town of Coupeville. The island is also the base for Whidbey’s Island Race Week, a regatta which brings keen sailors to the island for five days this month, with a goal to party as hard as they race. But if you’d rather relax than hit the high seas (or the bar), try Greenbank Farm, a small converted farm that now features galleries and shops, plus an impressive array of herons, bald eagles, and other birds that regularly flit into view.
Slide 5 of 8: Skip the crowds in Italy and Croatia and head to the lush, neighboring country of Slovenia instead. For beaches, try Portoroz, or Port of Roses, a Belle Epoque-era resort town on the edge of the Mediterranean, known for its lively nightlife and casinos. The other coastal option is Piran, a fishing port that was largely built by the Venetians; explore its winding streets and then tuck into the local seafood. Slovenia is also known for its spas, many of which rival those of nearby Budapest, but are much less overcrowded. Follow in the footsteps of aristocracy and make your way to Rogaska Slatina, long-heralded for its magnesium-packed waters, or head to the spa town of Laško, an hour outside the capital Ljubljana. Each July, the city is transformed into the biggest summertime party in the country, thanks to the five-day Beer and Flower Festivals. There are more than 60 musical performances throughout town, lots of flower displays, and the cut-price beer is provided by the almost 200-year-old Laško Brewery, the country’s largest brewer. Slovenia has never been easier to reach, either: connect via London on the new seasonal service operated by British Airways.
Slide 6 of 8: It was 50 years ago this July when Neil Armstrong’s Apollo 11 mission called back to its base in Houston, Texas after successfully landing on the moon for the first time. The newly restored Apollo Mission Center will be the focus of celebrations between July 16 and 24, the original dates of the mission. Expect everything from pop-up science labs to the chance to have lunch with folks who worked there during the historic mission. Elsewhere in the city, multiple museums have undergone major expansions or renovations, from the Museum of Fine Arts and the Holocaust Museum to the Menil, with its eclectic, impressive collection that includes hopscotches from Henri Matisse to Cy Twombly. And where better to celebrate America’s birthday than in Houston, the most diverse city in America? (Nearly a quarter of its current population was born outside the country.) There are plenty of ways to honor July 4, but highlights include a concert at Eleanor Tinsley Park, headlined by country darling Kellie Pickler, and an al fresco picnic at the Miller Outdoor Theater, where the fireworks will be serenaded by a live performance from the Houston Symphony.
Slide 7 of 8: Ever fancied staying in a lighthouse? Several of the beacons around Finland’s craggy coast welcome visitors to spend the night in the summer: Kylmäpihlaja in the Bothnian Sea National Park has 15 rooms plus a delicious, seafood-heavy restaurant and a couple of saunas (it is Finland, after all). Bengtskär, on the southernmost tip of the country, is only accessible by boat in the summer; there are six rooms on the island where you can stay—and, yep, it has its own sauna too, this one made from granite. Either lighthouse would make the ideal perch to enjoy the midnight sun, a brief period when there’s almost 24 hours of daylight across the country, and Fins are keen to make the most of every moment. Helsinki’s Fashion Week also takes place this month, with a focus on sustainability and zero-waste, while the Ilosaarirock music festival runs for three days in Eastern Finland (past headliners have included The 1975 and Ellie Goulding). Don’t miss the chance to go for a hike in one of the country’s national parks: July is when berry-picking season begins, and the hedgerows burst with bilberries and cloudberries. Even better, every walker is entitled to gather as much as they can carry (or eat) while they’re roaming.
Slide 8 of 8: If you’ve already bought tickets to see the CGI-powered remake of The Lion King when it hits theaters this month, why not book a trip to see the places in Kenya that inspired the original? Near Laikipia, you’ll find the outcrop that the movie’s signature Pride Rock was based on, while spending an overnight at Giraffe Manor is a chance to meet not only the namesake animals, but the noisy, sweet-natured warthogs who live them among them—clear inspiration, of course, for Pumba. Even better, if you book this itinerary via the Safari Collection, you can rely on Robert Carr-Huntley as your guide, the man who squired Disney’s animators around the country almost 30 years ago as they researched locations. (They even tapped his knowledge of local languages and sayings to help flesh out the screenplay—leading to, of course, the Hakuna Matata song.) Consider tacking on a few extra days to see Kenya’s coast; perhaps on Lamu, the Zanzibar-like spice island that has soaked up influences from both Arabic and Swahili culture (luxe lodge The Majlis is the place to stay there). Even better, Kenya Airways now flies direct from New York to Nairobi, one of several handy new services operated by Africa’s new class of international carriers.

School’s out, the weather is glorious, and the wanderlust is fierce, which means you’re probably looking to plan a proper summer vacation. If you still need help deciding where to go this July, here’s a few timely suggestions—from a real life Lion King safari to the ideal spot for celebrating America’s birthday.

The Catskills, New York

Montreal, Canada

Whidbey Island, Washington

Piran, Slovenia

Houston, Texas

Finland

Kenya

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