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Summer’s Last Gasp: Best Places to Visit in August

Don’t miss out on one last summer getaway. We pitch three Opal destinations that are best to visit in August – not just because they’re natural places to beat the heat, but offer some unexpected things to do in each, from a day trip to an island-bound national park off the coast of Key West to an elevated treetop trail system that weaves through the Adirondacks.

Bar Harbor

Why Visit in August

If August brings record temperatures to your hometown, our best advice is to beat the heat by escaping to the coast of Maine. Mount Desert Island, home to both Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park, is one of the best places to visit in August, thanks to the cool breezes coming in off the ocean.

The Big Attractions

Window shop through town, and experience all that Acadia has to offer. With hiking trails, beaches, carriage roads, and Cadillac Mountain, the first place in North America to see the sun rise, Acadia National Park has something for everyone. 

Our Unexpected Pick of What to Do: Rock-Climbing Acadia

A fresh perspective on the park is rock climbing the pink granite of Otter Cliffs that overlooks Frenchman Bay. The climbs range from easy all the way up to extremely difficult, but no matter what your skill level (including first-timers), Atlantic Climbing School will show you the ropes, literal and figurative.

What to Eat

Mount Desert Island Ice Cream was named one of the “Best Ice Cream Shops in the US” by Food & Wine and was included in Yankee Magazine’s Best of New England – and that’s just this year alone. Insider tip: The Brigadeiro ice cream is heaven on Earth.

Where to Stay

Harborside Hotel, Spa & Marina

Nestled in Bar Harbor’s picturesque waterfront, the Harborside Hotel, Spa & Marina embodies the elegant history of “summering” in Maine. Thanks to its location right downtown and yet also right on the harbor, nearly all of the 193 stylish guest rooms, deluxe studios, and luxury suites offer views of Frenchman Bay.

West Street Hotel

In Bar Harbor’s former life as the summer home of families like the Rockefellers, Vanderbilts, and Fords, West Street was where famous mansions and estates (then called “cottages”) were built. Today, it’s where you’ll find town’s only luxury boutique hotel, featuring modern design, magnificent ocean views, and one truly breathtaking rooftop pool.

Lake Placid

Why Visit in August

If you feel like you’ve done everything there is to do, time to change your perspective and your elevation. Where better to keep the August heat at bay than in Lake Placid, surrounded by the towering Adirondack Mountains?

The Big Attractions

Enjoy plenty of time right on the lake, explore the village of Lake Placid, and hit up the Olympic Center and Museum – home to the 1932 and 1980 Games. Lake Placid is often pegged as a winter destination, but we think it’s one of the best places to travel in August to escape the heat.

Our Unexpected Pick of What to Do: Wild Walk at the Wild Center

The same way that the High Line in New York City has delighted people by offering a bird’s-eye view of the city streets below, the Wild Walk in Tupper Lake grants visitors a peek at the Adirondack forest from a unique vantage point. Spend a morning following a trail of elevated bridges through the treetops, get a taste of a squirrel’s life in the Wild Walk’s snag, a towering white pine that snapped off to leave a four-story trunk big enough for a stairwell inside; or get an authentic bird’s-eye view by clambering inside Wild Walk’s Nest, located at the highest point of the walk. Then head to the 54,000-square-foot Wild Center to check out the exhibits and have an encounter with one of their animals, let the kids run free in the Pines Wild Play Area, or see what magic awaits you on the woodland trails on the 81-acre campus. A ticket to the Wild Center is good for two days, so take your time and explore every nook and cranny.

What to Eat

Because almost every table offers a view of Lake Placid, there really are no bad seats at Artisans. Known for its menu of fresh, seasonal, Adirondack-inspired cuisine, it’s one of the most celebrated restaurants in Lake Placid. The trick is to make a valiant effort to save room for the desserts, which are too good to miss.

Where to Stay

Lake Placid Lodge

In the heart of the Adirondacks, there’s a retreat hand-built in the Arts and Crafts tradition but with a modern spin. The lodge’s setting on the shores of Lake Placid promises guests luxury and comfort in an idyllic lakeside woods setting.

Key West

Why Visit in August

Yes, it’s hot with daily temps in the high 80s, but summer is made for island adventures. Cut loose in laid-back, fun-loving Key West before getting back down to business as summer draws to a close.

The Big Attractions

Walk the shops and galleries of Duval Street, take in a sunset celebration at Mallory Square, while away plenty of hours by the pool, and come back to Duval for a late-night pub crawl.

Our Unexpected Pick of What to Do: Fort Jefferson

Accessible only by way of ferry, charter boat, or seaplane from Key West, Dry Tortugas National Park is a 100-square mile water-bound park. On Garden Key, visitors can explore the awe-inspiring Fort Jefferson, one of the nation’s largest nineteenth-century forts. In addition to walking around Fort Jefferson, you can also snorkel around the moat wall, where you might see reef squid, nurse sharks, hogfish, and even some antique anchor chains.

What to Eat

Dunkin’ Donuts, watch your back. With gourmet options like the Pineapple Upside Down Brulee and Maple Bourbon & Candied Canadian Bacon, Glazed Donuts is giving run-of-the-mill donut shops a run for their money. Everything here is made from scratch – pair your donut of choice with an organic café con leche, a traditional Cuban coffee.

Where to Stay

The Laureate Key West

Overlooking the Atlantic from the eastern side of the island, the all-suite retreat is home to 64 accommodations that encourage guests to live as the laureates did of the mid-century: carefree, inspired, and ready to be immersed in the life and vibrancy of the town of Key West. When you’re not hobnobbing with locals and living the classic island lifestyle, full kitchens, plush bedding, and chic coastal decor welcome you home with open arms.

Sunset Key Cottages

Located on its own private Florida key just a four-mile ferry ride from Key West, this secluded cottage-studded resort marries a castaway vibe with opulent amenities, where hammocks hang between palm trees just steps from a luxurious spa and an AAA Four Diamond restaurant.

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