The Best Places to Visit This Summer
Go because… the comeback kid is ready for ya.
You don’t need to be heading to Mackinack Island this summer to justify a few days in Detroit. America’s Motor City has been on the rebound for some time, and a few key hotel openings in the past year make it finally ready for primetime. First came Trumbull and Porter, a boutique hotel that brought 144 minimal rooms and a bike rental program to the waterfront, meaning guests could easily cycle to the Motown Museum and Detroit’s phenomenal Institute of Arts two miles away. But what really hooked us was the November opening of the Foundation Hotel (on our Hot List of best new hotels), which took over an old firehouse in downtown with a bar that goes heavy on bricks and raw wood and a Michelin-starred chef who does a tasting menu at his own table that has the top foodies in Chicago taking notice. If you can’t get one of the 12 seats (in hot demand among Detroit’s emerging artists and gallerists), head a few blocks away to Takoi, which started out as an Ann Arbor food truck before becoming a James Beard nominee; it does killer onion fritters and chicken sandwiches at happy hour.
Go because… Eden has a killer wine festival.
Ninety minutes’ drive north of Los Angeles sits Ojai, California’s unofficial New Age capital. It stood in for the mythical Eden of Shangri-La in Frank Capra’s classic Lost Horizon, and fittingly so: It’s a lush, sun-soaked town that’s said to sit on an energy vortex—meaning you can get spiritual as well as physical R&R. But even a lost paradise can’t hide from angry Mother Nature. Last December, Ojai was at the center of one of the largest wildfires to consume Southern California, and it spent early winter rebounding from the ash and flames. The spirit was never lost, though, and now Ojai is ready for you. In June, there’s more to explore than just the counterculture and the countryside: There’s the weekend-long 72nd annual Ojai Music Festival, with concerts from dawn to late night. It coincides with the local wine festival, starring vintages from more than 60 local vineyards and 30 craft breweries. The month ends with a charming pick-your-own Lavender Festival at Frog Creek Farm. Whenever you visit, make sure to set aside one evening to sip sundowners while watching light dwindle on the Topatoga Bluffs, turning them a brilliant shade of pink—the ultimate Insta-friendly moment.
Asbury Park, NJ
Go because… the traffic to Long Island is going to be miserable. And there are Korean tacos to die for.
Asbury Park has emerged as one of the New York region’s best beaches, so set aside your misgivings and go down the Shore. Book a night at the Asbury Hotel, where you can watch the sun set over the ocean at the rooftop bar—cocktail in hand—and recover the next morning with a sinfully delicious Taylor ham, egg, and cheese. The boardwalk is a two-minute walk away, lined with beach bars, food stalls hawking everything from Korean tacos to loaded crepes, and a slew of boutiques to grab a last-minute bathing suit. Be sure to head downtown, too: The vintage stores are famous for their music merch (hello, Bruce tour shirts), and there’s a delicious Mediterranean restaurant, Reyla, that will change what you thought you knew about couscous. For nightlife, check out the Stone Pony’s summer lineup, dance the night away at Porta (beware—the line goes out the door), and pay a visit to the newly opened Asbury Lanes, a live music venue/bowling alley/bar/art space hybrid that you wouldn’t have found in Asbury a decade ago.
Denali National Park, Alaska
Go because… you want to feel like a great explorer (but with fine wines and whiskey).
It’s thought that fewer than 100 people in history have ever tread the lands that now make up parts of Alaska’s Denali National Park, due to their near-impossible-to-track terrain—though the team behind five-month-old Sheldon Chalet, our newest obsession and one of Alaska’s only true luxury-level lodges, may triple that by Labor Day. Sheldon, sitting 6,000 feet up in a natural amphitheater just ten miles from Denali, North America’s highest peak, is all about bragging-rights-till-you-die access. Guests (the chalet sleeps ten) will helicopter to Ruth’s Glacier to explore its 3,700 foot gorge—the world’s deepest—before a soak in natural hot springs formed in the mountainside. (Few things are as epic as views across Denali, glowing a subtle pink from the mix of sunlight and snow, as you sit in those springs with some bubbles in hand.) Once back at the lodge, a private chef grills up thick steaks paired with California reds into the night—which stays light until around midnight, all summer long.
Isla Holbox, Mexico
Go because… you want a Mexican beach vacation without the crowds.
A stretch of sand. A nature preserve. A single small town that feels completely of another time. Isla Holbox, less than three hours from Cancún, is everything we’re looking for in a beach vacation—and even though the word’s out, the island is holding onto its identity, steadfastly refusing to add a Starbucks or two-for-one marg nights. We hope it stays that way. Now, why go to Mexico in the dead of summer? It’s actually a surprisingly good time to visit: the island, only 26 miles long, is less crowded, the weather’s comfortable (under 85 degrees Fahrenheit), and accommodation costs less. Use this summer as an opportunity to get to the hot new Punta Caliza resort before everyone else heads there and raves about it this winter.