If your idea of a perfect vacation doesn’t include itchy sunburns and sweaty beach time, consider these 10 cool temperature vacation spots. It’s okay to leave the sunglasses at home.
Top Cool Temperature Vacation Spots
From Norway and Russia to closer-to-home locales like the Yukon and Oregon, here’s where to go when the weather heats up.
1. Geirangerfjord, Norway
Geirangerfjord, a UNESCO-protected jewel in the north of Norway’s fjords region, has high elevations and sheer canyon walls that keep you protected from the sun. It’s one of the great cool temperature vacation spots for kayaking and hiking along fjord-hugging trails—under typically Nordic skies.
Where to stay: The Hotel Union Geiranger offers unbeatable fjord-views.
2. Cannon Beach, Oregon
With an average high of 53 degrees year round, the perpetually cool weather at Cannon Beach is perfect for those who prefer to wear jeans and long sleeves year round. This cozy town is filled with locally owned shops (including art galleries), restaurants, and coffee shops.
Hike in Ecola State Park, with views overlooking the rocky shoreline and Terribly Till, the Tillamook Head Light House. Check out the marine garden by Haystack Rock at low tide—full of anemone and starfish—or look for the famous puffins that migrate to the rock in the spring. Be sure to watch the gray whales migrate; peak times are November and March. In the winter months, you should also keep an eye out for the elk herd that lives in Cannon Beach’s cool temperature vacation spots and often frequents the grassy knolls in town.
Where to stay: Book a room that overlooks the ocean at the Surfsand Resort.
3. The Barossa Valley, South Australia
The Barossa Valley, the wine capital of Australia, is home to more than 600 grape growers and more than 100 wineries. It’s a wine connoisseurs paradise, and since you’ll be spending plenty of time at the five dozen or so wine cellars, you’ll be mainly indoors.
Barossa Shiraz red wines and nearby Eden Valley crisp white Rieslings are perennial international world gold medal winners. You’ll get an inside look at the wine making experience up close and personal—plenty of good drinks, and no sunscreen needed.
Where to stay: The Louise has a range of exclusive experiences, from wine tasting with artisan winemakers to cooking classes.
4. Manchester, VT
The nearby Bromley and Stratton mountains translates into cool, shady days in Manchester, Vermont—perfect for alpine slides and Bromley fun zone zip lines in the summer, and skiing, snowboarding, and tubing in winter. Plus, there are plenty of shady hikes at Equinox Mountain (the tallest in the Taconic range) and on the Long Trail, which is part of the Appalachian trail. There’s also nearby fly fishing at Orvis.
Where to stay: Check into a historic guest room at Wilburton Inn, or at one of the inn’s seven vacation properties (including a 15-room mansion that sleeps 34 guests—perfect for big family reunions).
5. Dublin, Ireland
Cool temps and light rain are what makes this city (and all of Ireland) so green, not to mention one of Europe’s top cool temperature vacation destinations. Dublin is more than 1,000 years old and offers everything from historic churches to plenty of Guinness-serving pubs. Walking around, however, is one of the best ways to simply take in the warm and welcoming Irish culture.
Where to stay: Consider a stay at The Clarence, originally a 19th-century hotel that was completely renovated in 1996 by U2’s Bono and The Edge. Be sure to hit the Tea Room, one of Dublin’s most popular dining spots.
6. Seattle, Washington
Seattle‘s moderate temperature and cloudy days make it one of the best cool temperature vacation spots for those who want to avoid the sun (and heat). Among the top things to do: hiking in the Cascade and Olympic mountains (there are plenty of trails for every skill level), combing the not-so-sunny shoreline for crabs and snails while trying to spot killer whales, bike along the Burke-Gilman Trail, and trout fishing along the pier.
Where to stay: The Fairmont Olympic Hotel offers large rooms, including adjoining suites. The kids will love the indoor swimming pool.
7. St. Petersburg, Russia
It’s not just St. Petersburg‘s northern location that makes this port city on the Baltic Sea one of the world’s leading cool temperature vacation spots. Founded in 1703 by Peter the Great, this old-world city is also Russia’s cultural center. From the Hermitage museum (one of the largest art museums in the world) to the Peterhof Palace, the Winter Palace, and Peter and Paul Fortress—there’s no shortage of sightseeing opportunities.
Where to stay: Check into the Grand Hotel Europe, where Tchaikovsky honeymooned and Dostoyevsky was a regular. Stay at one of the suites overlooking the Arts Square.
8. Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin
Home to more than 200 waterslides of all varieties—including extreme plunge slides, tube rides, racing speed slides, bowl drops, water roller coasters, surf machines, wave pools, lazy rivers, and tot-friendly spray pads—Wisconsin Dells offers plenty of indoor parks for those averse to the sun.
In addition to water parks, there’s plenty of dry activities, including bowling and rock climbing. Plus, with almost 100 restaurants, the dining options are extremely diverse—from oysters on the half shell to deep dish Chicago-style pizza and a traditional Wisconsin fish fry.
Where to stay: Great Wolf Lodge Resort not only has a massive indoor water park, but has spacious suites and even a kids’ spa, too.
9. The Yukon, Canada (in the winter)
Sure, the Yukon may get almost 24 hours of sunlight in the summer, but it’s exactly the opposite in winter—and that’s the ideal time to go dog sledding, ice fishing, and searching for the Northern lights in one of North America’s best cool temperature vacation destinations. The Yukon is the size of California, and while that state has a population of 38 million, the Yukon only has 38,000, so you’re sure to see wildlife and beautiful scenery.
Where to stay: The Westmark Whitehorse Hotel is centrally located and its breakfast is super tasty.
10. Chicago, IL (in the Winter)
The Windy City shines when the temperatures dip. Winter is the time to ice skating in Millennial Park with the dramatic Chicago skyline behind you; take in the holiday lights at the Lincoln Park Zoo (it’s free and one of the best zoos in the country); hit the Children’s Museum and Navy Pier, then check out all the great stores along the Magnificent Mile.
Where to stay: The Palmer House is the oldest running hotel in the U.S. It has spacious suites and delicious food at its in-house restaurants.
More from SmarterTravel:
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- 10 Best Hidden Places in Ireland
- 27 Inspiring Places to See Before You Die
Judy Koutsky writes often about luxury, adventure, spa, and family travel. Her work has appeared in more than 30 publications, including Travel + Leisure and Condé Nast Traveler. She has traveled to six of the seven continents (Antarctica is next on her list). Whether it is hang gliding in New Zealand, shark-cage diving in South Africa, or swimming with whale sharks in Belize, she and her family of four are always up for an adventure.