Where Americans Are Traveling This Summer
Europe is no longer a top vacation spot for American travelers, according to a new survey of summer travel destinations.
Allianz, a travel insurance company, analyzed customers’ trips to find where Americans are planning travel for the summer, at home and abroad — and European hot spots like London and Paris are noticeably absent from the list.
Instead, Americans are booking big cities in their home country and relaxing beaches a short flight away, plus a few destinations that may surprise you.
Join the throngs by booking your own vacation to one of the following hot spots — or, if you're hoping to beat the crowds, avoid them at all costs.
Top Domestic Destinations
Among the most visited destinations in the United States, big-name metropolises dominate, with a few glaring omissions — including Miami and Fort Lauderdale, both knocked off the list from last year. (Sorry, Florida!)
And the No. 1 destination is noticeably different from any other on the list, luring visitors with something other than beaches or city attractions.
The list kicks off, meanwhile, with a brand-new addition...
Share of domestic bookings: 2.3%
Portland, the Pacific Northwest’s hipster mecca, worked its way onto the top 10 destinations list for the first time this year.
Americans are understandably flocking to this city near the Washington/Oregon border — a burgeoning destination surrounded by some of the most beautiful nature and outdoors adventures in America.
Travelers in July can sip on the city’s main alcoholic attraction at the Portland Craft Beer Festival from July 4-7 in the Fields Neighborhood Park. Portland breweries in attendance include Breakside Brewery, known for its innovative batches; Deschutes Brewery, one of the largest independent brewing companies in the world; and Binary Brewing, applying a start-up mentality to beer culture with experimental “beta brews.”
Portland’s location makes for pleasant temperatures, a relief from the overwhelming humidity of other cities on this list.
9. San Francisco
Share of domestic bookings: 2.5%
San Francisco jumped from No. 10 to No. 9, even though it’s slightly down (a tenth of a percentage point) in bookings compared to 2018.
The unique geography of the Bay Area means mild summer weather, with cold air from the Pacific Ocean keeping temperatures considerably cooler than many other parts of California — that famous SF fog does not abate in the summer months.
The city is chock-full of festivals in the summer, showing off the best of the city’s local vendors. Favorites include Union Street Fair in the Marina District, the North Beach Festival in the city’s “Little Italy” neighborhood and Sunday Streets, during which select streets are blocked to traffic and transformed into bustling community spaces.
Escape to the Sonoma or Napa Valleys for a wine-soaked weekend outside of the city, getting tipsy in the sun; or cool off at one of the city's many beaches, like Agate Beach Park, which also serves up tidepools to explore.
Share of domestic bookings: 2.8%
Honolulu dropped three spots from its 2018 ranking of No. 5 on Allianz’s list, but the Oahu metropolis is still among the most coveted destinations for American travelers.
Summer and winter are Hawaii’s peak time for travel, with families in particular showing up in droves. While travelers may not find the bargains of shoulder season, they will still enjoy tropical paradise at its best.
Waikiki Beach is the city’s most popular spot, often overcrowded with beach revelers. Travelers looking for a quieter experience can visit Kaimana Beach, adjacent to Waikiki, or Waimanalo on the eastern side of the island.
The Prince Lot Hula Festival at Iolani Palace (July 20-21), once home to the last Hawaiian monarchs, is a delightful celebration of the native dance, showcasing both modern and traditional forms of hula.
Share of domestic bookings: 3.1%
Just slightly more popular than its fellow Hawaiian destination of Honolulu, the island of Maui nabbed 0.3% more bookings than last year to earn a spot on the list once again (it ranked in 2017 but not 2018).
Similar to Honolulu, one of Maui’s peak seasons is summer, but there’s enough to do here to make braving the crowds worth it.
Summertime in Maui means the freshest fruit, the island’s avocado and mango trees weighed down with juicy crops; pick up a sweet fruity refreshment at one of the island’s many roadside stands.
Maui also hosts the Kapalua Food & Wine Festival, the longest food festival in the U.S., from June 6-9. This indulgent long weekend includes wine tastings, samplings from the island’s top restaurants and celebrity chef demonstrations — all taking place on the island’s idyllic beaches.
6. Los Angeles
Share of domestic bookings: 3.5%
Los Angeles kicks off Pride Month in the U.S. with its city-wide parade on June 9, preceded by a week of festivities. Whether spurred by Pride or LA’s bevy of summertime celebrations, the City of Angels maintains a place on the top destinations list.
Blessed with year-round sunny weather, many of LA’s outdoors attractions — from its sporty beaches to its picturesque hikes — can be experienced in any month. On a summer visit, stroll the botanical gardens in full bloom and beauty; escape the heat in the cutting-edge Broad museum; and sip on refreshing cocktails at the Broken Shaker atop the Freehand Hotel, featuring sweeping views of the revitalized downtown scene.
Share of domestic bookings: 3.5%
Boston rose 3 tiers from its 2018 ranking, indicating that many Americans are catching on to this not-so-well-kept secret.
Travelers to Boston can shed the winter coats that are required three-quarters of the year — the summertime blends cosmopolitan trends with historic attractions in sunny climes (just be ready to brave some humidity!).
Fenway Park beckons baseball lovers for warm evenings spent enjoying America’s favorite pastime; the city’s numerous breweries and beer gardens offer the perfect combination of imbibing and the outdoors; and Revolutionary War sites like Paul Revere’s house add a nice pop of red-white-and-blue color to the city.
Speaking of American pride: Don’t miss the Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular over the Fourth of July weekend, a rousing display of fireworks and patriotism along the banks of the Charles River, accompanied by the sounds of the Boston Pops Orchestra.
4. Las Vegas
Share of domestic bookings: 3.9%
Despite temperatures that can surge past 100 degrees, Las Vegas persists as a popular summer destination.
Sin City’s hedonism is most flamboyant in the summer — boozy days spent lounging poolside turn into nightclub partying until the dawn, interspersed with an often regrettable amount of gambling.
The celebrity residencies in town are always in high-demand, but a rite of passage on any Vegas visit. The current star-studded lineup includes Lady Gaga’s new “Enigma” show and Cher’s limited-time run in August.
Looking to really cool off? Mandalay Bay Hotel lets certified divers swim among sharks, schools of fish, stingrays and sea turtles in its massive 1.3-million-gallon aquarium.
Share of domestic bookings: 4%
The Emerald City earns its nickname in the summer, flaunting lush green nature that’s easy to explore during a season of coveted dryness. Seattle rose 4 tiers from the Allianz 2018 ranking, so it’s clearly on the up and up.
Immerse yourself in Seattle’s summertime scene by hiking the city’s countless surrounding mountain trails — the nearby Olympic Peninsula is filled with grand rainforests and stunning snow-capped vistas. Or stay within the city limits and hike Discovery Park, a former Army Post that shows off panoramic views of the downtown skyline from its bluff.
The Pacific Northwest is a burgeoning region for vineyards, and Seattle’s industrial-turned-trendy SoDo district is home to many tasting rooms where visitors can sip on local creations.
For an aquatic adventure, paddle board or kayak through the deep waters of Puget Sound.
2. New York City
Share of domestic bookings: 4.7%
Although fall in New York is praised as the city’s most picturesque season, summer is a great time to visit. May, June and most of July are pleasant enough in weather, if you can handle some humidity, and the city’s beauty during the time is undeniable, as the concrete jungle becomes rich with greenery and the tree-lined streets actually have living trees.
Most travelers agree, as New York once again is the no. 2 summer travel spot.
This summer, New York is home to World Pride — already renowned for its normal Pride festivities, this two-week celebration promises to be bigger, better and more colorful than ever.
Rainbow flags aside, summer is the opportune time for the city’s outdoor activities: beer gardens, rooftop bars, riverside parks, local beaches, day-drinking ferry rides and so much more. There are few things New Yorkers love more than drinking and being outside when the weather is nice, so naturally these two passions regularly blend together in the summertime.
Share of domestic bookings: 7.4%
Americans never grow weary of theme parks, proven by Orlando’s persistent claim as the top summer travel destination in the country.
Orlando travelers can brave the Florida humidity to play in a slew of new theme-park exhibits — the hotly anticipated “Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge” park opens at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in August; “Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure” bows at Universal Studios in June; and the Magic Kingdom’s traditional “Tree of Life Projection Show” debuts Memorial Day weekend, reimagined in honor of the new “Lion King” movie.
Vacationers can escape the bustle of the landlocked city for a relaxing day by the sea — Cocoa Beach is less than a 40-minute drive from downtown Orlando, a slow-paced locale with great surfing and breezy beach bars.
Top International Destinations
If Americans aren't going to Europe for their international travel fix, where are they going? The answer is the Caribbean, in spades: The popular vacation region occupies all top 10 spots for international travel.
Allianz spokesperson Daniel Durazo noted that budget-minded tourists in particular are drawn to beaches down south: “Summer means shoulder season in much of the Caribbean and Mexico, so deals and discounts make it a great time to visit our tropical neighbors.”
The following locales are tops, starting with another new entry to the list...
10. Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
Share of international bookings: 2.9%
Rounding out Allianz’s list of international summer destinations is Grand Cayman, the largest of the Cayman Islands, landing in the top 10 for the very first time.
The Cayman Islands are a wonderful vacation destination with versatile offerings, swaying between relaxation and adventure at every turn. The island of Grand Cayman is ringed by shipwrecks, from a Soviet warship to the Kittiwake submarine, available for diving excursions and possible treasure discoveries — this island is no stranger to Spanish galleons washing up on its shores.
Grand Cayman’s abundance of all-inclusive options ensures its status as a sought-after destination for families, honeymooners and warmth-seekers alike.
9. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Share of international bookings: 3.1%
Also breaking into the list for the first time ever, Puerto Vallarta (or just “PV”) is quickly ascending as a favorite American hot spot. Gorgeous waters and pristine beaches make for exciting water sports — kitesurfing, paddle boarding, surfing, jet skiing and scuba diving are all popular among beach-loving thrill-seekers.
PV’s adventurous side is balanced by its quiet, cobblestone streets overflowing with boutique shops selling art and trinkets from local craftsmen, and its quaint restaurants doling out fresh catches and inventive dishes.
The coastal city is one of Mexico’s most LGBT-friendly as well, a possible catalyst for its rise in American tourism numbers.
8. San Juan, Puerto Rico
Share of international bookings: 3.7%
In the final recovery stages from Hurricane Maria, San Juan retains its 2018 title as the no. 8 most popular destination.
Although Europe is no longer on the list of top summer destinations, Americans can still see a bit of its history in San Juan, the second-oldest Spanish-founded settlement in the Western Hemisphere. Spanish forts and bastions dot the city, and Old San Juan is composed of bright, colorful streets caressed by the Atlantic sea breeze. This section of the city is perfectly manicured, patrolled by police and frequented by tourists, the undeniable hub of San Juan. The city’s two forts, Castillo San Cristobal and Castillo San Felipe del Morro, are within close walking distance — a cannon’s shot away.
Wander along San Juan’s white-sand beaches flanked by coconut trees, and indulge in a sweet rum cocktail of locally distilled alcohol.
7. Providenciales, Turks and Caicos
Share of international bookings: 3.8%
The turquoise-blue waters of Providenciales seduce more Americans every year — the island jumped more than a full percentage point from 2018 in its share of bookings, after being unranked entirely in 2017.
A slew of all-inclusives are sprinkled along Providenciales’ shores, understandably answering the demand by travelers to experience this Caribbean jewel. The Gansevoort, located on hotel-heavy Grace Bay, leads the pack as the most luxurious, never shying away from its elegance. World-class chefs, pristine villas with private pools and a clean white design expands on, rather than detracts from, the colors of the ocean.
Travelers can spend days lazing on the white sands and snorkeling in the surrounding sea, the water pleasantly warm in the summer. The Bight Reef and Smith’s Reef are teeming with not only colorful tropical fish, but lobsters, stingrays, moray eels, nurse sharks and sea turtles.
6. Montego Bay, Jamaica
Share of international bookings: 5.2%
The carefree, reggae-overlaid lifestyle of Montego Bay is consistently alluring to Americans.
Home to a major cruise port, dozens of hotels and world-class golf courses, the destination has all the infrastructure travelers need for a comfortable stay. And what it’s selling is near-impossible to pass up: Forget about your worries as you sip on rum daiquiris, serenaded by dancehall tunes.
Montego Bay city is starkly different from the beaches — a more congested, stressed version of Jamaica than that of Bob Marley-inspired dreams.
If visiting Montego Bay this summer, be sure to check out its exciting festivals: the Reggae Sumfest, Montego Bay Fine Arts and Mobay Jerk Festival are the most noteworthy.
5. Higuey, Dominican Republic
Share of international bookings: 5.6%
Higuey is the Dominican Republic municipality containing the famed resort town of Punta Cana. While still beloved among American tourists, the destination has slipped from its No. 2 spot in 2018.
Calm waters, leisurely living and jungle adventures are just a few of Punta Cana’s most enticing features. The resort town is very much created for American tourists, with plenty of all-inclusive hotels, but beyond these seaside stereotypes are many outdoor adventures. Horseback ride through the mountains and old plantations surrounding Higuey, hike up to Hoyo Azul or zip line over massive jungle canopies.
But be warned — Higuey, like many other Caribbean destinations, is especially humid in the summer.
4. Nassau, Bahamas
Share of international bookings: 5.7%
Despite recent State Department travel warnings, the Bahamas remains comfortable in the no. 4 spot for summer bookings. One of over 700 Bahamian islands, Nassau is the capital of this archipelago nation.
Close in proximity to Florida — less than an hour flight or a day-long boat ride — Nassau is super convenient for American tourists. Luxury resorts like Baha Mar, Atlantis and Melia Nassau Beach grant wishes for pure relaxation and waters so electric blue that you just have to dive in.
Go with a scuba-diving company to explore the breathtaking coral reefs, some of the longest on the planet and home to hundreds of brightly colored fish, intricate coral structures, mighty sea turtles and a biodiverse ecosystem.
3. San Jose del Cabo, Mexico
Share of international bookings: 6.2%
Situated on the tip of the Baja Peninsula and comprising one half of Los Cabos, San Jose del Cabo is a quieter, artsy alternative to its rambunctious sister, Cabo San Lucas.
A detour from the holiday activities typical to the peninsula — i.e., laying on the beach — San Jose has many cultural activities for Americans to enjoy in the summer. Every Thursday, the downtown neighborhood hosts an art walk, full of dancing, galleries, traditional mariachi bands and friendly locals.
Follow this by eating at one of the town’s superb dining options, with fare that is most accurately called “modern Mexican.” Think fresh Mahi tacos, mango salsa, and beet and goat cheese salads, culminating in sweet vanilla flan.
2. Aruba Island, Aruba
Share of international bookings: 6.6%
The tiny Dutch island near Venezuela is one of the most touristed islands in the Caribbean, shooting up from its no. 6 rank last year.
Despite its small size, Aruba remains a maritime mecca. The vision of laying on a radiant white beach in the shade of a divi-divi tree, soothed by the smooth sounds of lapping water…is hard to resist. Once synonymous with exclusivity, Aruba is a little more democratic to the masses these days, with a diversified slate of hotel options at various price points.
Arikok National Park is Aruba’s craggy wonder, comprising 20 percent of the island. Travelers can swim in its many natural pools, explore sea caves and hike to mountain peaks for panoramic views of the pristine coastline.
1. Cancun, Mexico
Share of international bookings: 10.5%
Cancun is undoubtedly Americans’ preferred travel destination, snagging an incredible 1/10th of all international bookings — almost 4 percent higher than second-place Aruba. The seaside paradise retains its no. 1 spot for the third year running, an impressive feat that demonstrates Americans’ continued fascination with beachy, culturally rich and very accessible Mexico.
Interestingly, Cancun dropped 5 percent in bookings from last year due to Mexico’s defunding of the Mexico Tourism Board and closure of its international offices, but this did not affect its overall ranking.
Cancun, in the Quintana Roo state, is home to gargantuan resorts located on sandy beaches, exciting nightlife, golfing, watersports and international shopping, to name just a few enticements.
Sometimes a bit too touristy and Americanized, it can nonetheless serve as a launching point for another Yucatan adventure, perhaps to sophisticated Playa del Carmen or bohemian Tulum.