8 destinations to escape extreme heat this summer

Follow these trends to more palatable temperatures

(iStock/Washington Post Illustration)
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Vacations are meant to help us unwind from the stress of daily life, but that dream goes out the window when extreme weather hits your travel destination. And it’s happening more and more lately, thanks to climate change.

Excessive heat has swept across the United States, with record temperatures and heat index values topping 110 degrees in some places. Europe is experiencing punishing early-season heat, too. Experts warn that heat waves, flooding, hurricanes and fires are just some of the climate disasters forecast this summer. The same was true last year, with nearly 1 in 3 Americans experiencing a weather disaster over the summer, according to Washington Post analysis of federal disaster declarations.

“Things are generally getting hotter. But on top of that, variability is also changing,” says climate scientist Nick Cavanaugh, founder and CEO of Sensible Weather, a climate risk company that offers travelers weather insurance coverage.

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Travel planning is becoming more difficult as we try to anticipate whether wildfire smoke will affect a honeymoon in Australia or a record heat wave will hit during a bucket list trip to Europe.

While you can’t predict the unpredictable, there are some weather trends that can help you pick a vacation spot where the temperature is more palatable.

Hawaii

Andy Turlington, owner and travel adviser at Wildest Dreams Bookings, recommends Hawaii for a temperate vacation — like the city of Lihue on the island of Kauai, where the average temperature is between the 70s and 80s during the summer. Plus, “there aren’t many heavy storm fronts in the area,” Turlington said.

Shayna Mizrahi, founder and CEO of Vive Voyage, also vouches for Hawaii in the summer.

“With all of the current unreliable temperature changes, traveling to Hawaii is a safe bet that you will enjoy the trip with fantastic weather and great sunshine,” Mizrahi said.

Seattle

According to AAA, Seattle is expected to be the second-most-popular domestic destination for Independence Day travelers this year. That may be because the city is a perfect place to find relief from the heat, with summer temperature highs in the upper 70s. Go for the forecast, stay for Seattle’s restaurants, book shops, parks and museums. Our Seattle City Guide writer Seth Sommerfeld says, “We don’t dispute the ‘it’s always rainy in Seattle’ stereotype, because we don’t want any of y’all to find out that summer here is perfect.”

Sweden

For comfortable weather (highs in the 70s) and long daylight hours in the summer (like, sunrise at 3:40 a.m. and sunset at 10 p.m.), ​Jill Fischbarg, an OvationNetwork travel adviser, recommends Sweden. Start your trip in Stockholm for museums — such as the ABBA museum, the National Museum and the Vasa Museum — and a vibrant food scene that highlights seasonal and local ingredients (Fischbarg’s musts are Ostermalm Market Hall and chef Fredrik Eriksson’s restaurant at the National Museum).

And for people looking for outdoor activities, “take a boat over to the Stockholm Archipelago, for hiking, stand-up paddleboarding, fishing, swimming or biking,” Fischbarg said.

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Mexico

While parts of Mexico experience brutal heat, tropical cyclones and floods, it also has oases that are never too hot or too cold.

With temperatures in the summer averaging in the low to mid-80s, San Miguel de Allende in central Mexico is a top pick for Terika L. Haynes, owner of Dynamite Travel. The walkable city is famous for its Spanish Baroque architecture and cultural attractions.

“It is also one of the more safer travel destinations, which makes it great for a solo explorer,” Haynes said.

For a beach, InteleTravel travel adviser Trish Smith sends clients to Puerto Vallarta — the region has some hurricane risks, but less so than other parts of the country. Travelers can expect weather around the 80s and 90s.

Slovenia

A top summer vacation pick for Eeva Ruuska, Riskline travel intelligence’s head of U.S. operations, is the capital city of Slovenia, Ljubljana. Based on Weather Spark’s tourism score, visitors should aim for mid-June to early September for their Ljubljana trip for highs in the 70s and 80s.

The city’s old town is fully pedestrian, so no rental car required. If you do need to get somewhere in the car-free zone a little quicker, the city has “Kavalir” electric vehicles available to use free year-round. Ruuska recommends adding some side trips to hike nearby Alpine peaks, visit vineyards or sunbathe at the Adriatic Sea.

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San Diego

With some of the most pleasant weather in the country, San Diego ranks high for travelers looking for reliable sun. July through October are the Southern California city’s warmest months, with average highs in the 70s.

Canada

With summer highs in the 80s, Montreal offers Americans a European-feeling vacation without the European heat waves. Ruuska says the Canadian city is easy to explore, between its reliable public transportation and nearly 500 miles of bike paths. Her other tip for your visit: Don’t miss a day trip to Quebec City.

Aruba

Aruba is always the first destination Elaine Esposito, a travel adviser at OvationNetwork, recommends to clients looking for a vacation destination with consistent weather.

“The temperature is almost always in the 80s,” Esposito said. “Aruba is an arid island with a dry climate where trade winds blow to lessen the heat.”

Beyond selling points such as pristine beaches and excellent snorkeling, Aruba is south of the hurricane belt, making such disasters rare.

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