With school out and summer vacation in full swing for the kids, July is the perfect time for family vacations. But July is also the month when all the most popular places to go with kids are practically packed with tourists. So when the mercury rises, your best bet is either to find ways to avoid the crowds at the usual family vacation spots, or to go completely off the beaten path in a less-visited summer destination.
Instead of the usual theme parks, water parks and family beach destinations, the best places to visit in July tend to be places where there’s plenty to do away from the crowds.
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These also tend to be places where you can find deals on hotels, vacation rentals, car rentals and flights – even in the summer months, although you may need to be flexible. with your vacation days to get the best prices and availability.
From Anchorage to Aruba, here are the best places to visit in July for a family vacation that’s full of fun but light (or at least lighter) on the crowds.
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1. Anchorage, Alaska
Thanks to sunny days (up to 18 hours of sunshine), pleasant temperatures in the 60-70℉ range, and dazzling wildflowers in full display, July is the most popular time to visit Anchorage. Luckily, you don’t have to work very hard to escape the city’s crowd of cruise passengers. See the whole city on a small-group Anchorage Trolley tour, picnic amidst the natural splendor and hiking trails of Kincaid Park, admire native plants in bloom at the Anchorage Botanical Garden or take a a behind-the-scenes look in summer only from the Alaska Zoo Memorial to Labor Day.
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Outside of town, board the Alaska Railroad’s Glacier Discovery train for a full day of sightseeing and unique stops, such as Spencer Lake and its incredible view of the Spencer Glacier. And budding conservationists will delight in visiting the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, home to 200 acres of natural habitats for orphaned or injured animals including bears, bald eagles, foxes, reindeer and moose.
2. Park City, Utah
It may be best known for its snow sports, Olympic history and the Sundance Film Festival during the winter months, but savvy travelers know that summer is an equally great time to visit the city of Park City mountain. June, July and August see fewer crowds, plenty of outdoor activities and significantly lower accommodation prices. July is a particularly pleasant time to visit thanks to comfortable average highs in the 70s during the day and in the 50s at night.
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Some must-do warm-weather activities include a hot air balloon ride, horseback riding along the area’s scenic trails, walking or biking among the wildflowers on the Union Pacific Railroad Trail, rafting or tubing on the Weber River, or simply take a stroll down historic Main Street with its local shops, restaurants and art galleries. Utah Olympic Park also offers plenty of activities in the summer, like bobsledding, ziplining, extreme tubing, alpine sliding, and all-star freestyle shows.
Park City is also one of the best places to visit in July for its fun, kid-friendly events, including the Park Silly Sunday Market, an outdoor farmers’ and artists’ market, and free music at the Newpark Resort Amphitheater. Thursday night.
3. Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania
While the Pocono Mountains (the Poconos) are a year-round family destination, there’s no better time to visit with kids than summer. July enjoys the warmest weather in the mountains with average temperatures reaching the upper 70s, so it is warm but not sultry. And while July is a popular time for visitors, you can always find space to spread out, especially if you’re an active family looking to get out.
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A veritable playground for outdoor enthusiasts, there’s no shortage of places to hike, bike, swim, boat, fish, kayak, horseback ride, or zipline in the Poconos . A must-see stop includes the eight waterfalls of Bushkill Falls, known as the “Niagara of Pennsylvania.” Another is Camelbeach Outdoor Waterpark, the largest in the state, and its sister property Aquatopia, one of the best indoor waterparks in the country. And animal-loving kids will enjoy the Claws and Paws Wild Animal Park and the “Zoo in the Woods” which is home to over 100 varieties of animals.
To learn more about the rich history of the Poconos, take a historic open-air Pocono Day Tripper trolley ride to the town of Delaware Water Gap, the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, and surrounding areas.
Known for its pristine beaches, all-inclusive resorts, and prime location south of the hurricane belt, the island of Aruba is a fabulous place to take the kids any time of year. But for a truly sunny Caribbean vacation without the crowds, head there in July when visitor numbers drop and average highs hit 90 degrees. You’ll save big on accommodations and won’t have to compete for a spot on one of the island’s beautiful Caribbean beaches.
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Spanning just 70 miles, Aruba might be small, but it’s also a great city for family activities. For animal lovers, the island offers a variety of ways to interact with furry and less furry friends, including the Butterfly Farm, Aruba Ostrich Farm, Philip’s Animal Garden, and the Sanctuary. Aruba donkeys. Or delight the kids with a quick ferry ride to De Palm Island for a deep dive into the fun with its water park, snorkeling tours, helmet underwater walk, slides and banana boat rides.
Visit different parts of Aruba on horseback, jeep, ATV, wagon or on foot, or discover the underwater life while snorkeling along Arashi Beach. Admire the largest shipwreck in the Caribbean aboard the Seaworld Explorer semi-submarine without ever having to get wet. Or, if you prefer to go deeper, dive into the Aruba Atlantis Submarine Expedition, which descends 130 feet below the waves to explore Barcadera Reef and other shipwrecks.
5. Costa Rica
Tropical Costa Rica experiences a drop in tourism during its rainy season from May to November, which means lower prices on everything from flights to all-inclusive resorts in Costa Rica. The ideal time to visit during this time is July, when there is usually a drop in rainfall which translates to more time to explore the beautiful greenery of the rainforest.
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During your family vacation in Costa Rica, take the time to visit the country’s smallest national park, Manuel Antonio Park, and discover the unique biodiversity of its rainforest, beaches and coral reefs. (Plus, it’s the best place to see sloths.) Other kid-friendly activities in Costa Rica include the Arenal Hanging Bridges; sample the chocolate-making process on the Don Olivo Chocolate Tour; thrilling to the adrenaline rush of a canopy tour of Arenal Ecoglide Park; and reap the stress-relieving power of the thermal water pools at Baldi Hot Springs (kids will love the extreme waterslides on-site, too).
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