With school out and summer vacations in full swing for the kids, July is a best time for family vacations. But July is also the month when all the most popular places to travel with children are practically full of tourists. So when the mercury rises, the best option is to either find ways to avoid the crowds at the usual family resorts or go completely off the beaten track on a less visited summer destination.
Instead of the usual amusement parks, water parks and family beach destinations, the best places to visit in July tend to be places where there are many things to do away from the crowds.
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These also tend to be places where you can find deals on hotels, holiday rentals, car rentals and flights – even in the summer months, although you may need to be flexible with the holidays 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 is heavy on fun, but easy (or at least easier) for crowds.
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1. Anchorage, Alaska
Thanks to sunny days (up to 18 hours of sunshine), pleasant temperatures in the range 60-70 ℉ and dazzling wildflowers in full view, July is the most popular time to visit Anchorage. Fortunately, you do not have to work very hard to escape the city’s crowds of cruise lines. See the entire city on a small group Anchorage Trolley Tour, picnic among the natural beauty and hiking trails of Kincaid Park, enjoy the native plants that bloom in the Anchorage Botanical Garden or get a behind-the-scenes look just for summer on Alaska Zoo Memorial Day through Labor Day.
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Outside the city, you can hop aboard the Alaska Railroads Glacier Discovery train for a full day of sightseeing and unique stops, such as Spencer Lake and its incredible views of the Spencer Glacier. And budding conservationists will be thrilled with a visit to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, home to 200 acres of natural habitats for orphaned or injured animals, including bears, bald eagles, foxes, reindeer and elk.
2. Park City, Utah
It is perhaps best known for its snow sports, Olympic history and Sundance Film Festival during the winter months, but knowledgeable travelers know that summer is an equally great time to visit the mountain town of Park City. The months of June, July and August see smaller crowds, many outdoor activities and significantly lower accommodation prices. July is a particularly great time to visit thanks to the comfortable average heights of the 70s during the day and the 50s at night.
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Some activities not to be missed in hot weather include hot air ballooning, horseback riding along the area’s scenic trails, walking or biking among the wildflowers on the Union Pacific Rail Trail, river rafting or tubing on the Weber River, or just strolling down the historic Main Street with its local shops, restaurants and art galleries. Utah Olympic Park offers plenty to do in the summer as well, such as bobsledding, zip-lining, extreme tubing, alpine sliding and all-star freestyle shows.
Park City is also one of the best places to visit in July for its entertaining and kid-friendly events, including the Park Silly Sunday Market, an outdoor farmers ‘and artists’ market, and free music at the Newpark Resort Amphitheater on Thursday nights.
3. Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania
While the Pocono Mountains (Poconos) are a family-friendly destination year-round, there is no better time to visit with children than in summer. July is the warmest weather in the mountains with average temperatures reaching the upper 70s, so it is hot but not swell. And although July is a popular time for visitors, you can still find space to spread out, especially if you are an active family looking to get outdoors.
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A veritable playground for outdoor enthusiasts, there is no shortage of places to hike, bike, swim, boat, fish, kayak, ride or zip-line in the Poconos. One stop you should not miss includes the eight waterfalls at Bushkill Falls, known as the “Niagara of Pennsylvania.” Another is the Camelbeach Outdoor Waterpark, the state’s largest, and the sister property Aquatopia, one of the best indoor water parks in the country. And animal-loving children will enjoy Claws and Paws Wild Animal Park and the “zoo in the woods” which is home to more than 100 varieties of animals.
To learn more about the rich history of the Poconos, take a Pocono Day Tripper outdoor historic stroll to the city of Delaware Water Gap, the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area and the surrounding areas.
Known for its pristine beaches, all-inclusive resorts and prime location south of the hurricane belt, Aruba Island is a wonderful place to take your kids at any time of the year. But for a truly sunny Caribbean vacation without crowds, head there in July when visitor numbers drop and average heights reach 90 degrees. You will save a lot on accommodation and do not have to compete for a place on any of the island’s beautiful Caribbean beaches.
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Aruba stretches for only 70 miles and may be small, but it is also great for family-friendly activities. For animal lovers, the island offers a variety of ways to interact with furry and not-so-furry friends, including the Butterfly Farm, Aruba Ostrich Farm, Philip’s Animal Garden and Donkey Sanctuary Aruba. Or excite the kids with a quick ferry ride to De Palm Island for a deep dive of fun with water parks, snorkeling rides, underwater helmet hiking, body drop slides and banana boat rides.
Visit different parts of Aruba by horse, jeep, ATV, trolley or on foot, or get a glimpse of life while sea snorkeling along Arashi Beach. Take in the Caribbean’s largest shipwreck aboard the Seaworld Explorer Semi-Submarine without having to get wet. Or, if you prefer to go deeper, take a dip inside the Aruba Atlantis Submarine Expedition, which goes 130 feet below the waves to explore the Barcadera Reef and other shipwrecks.
5. Costa Rica
Tropical Costa Rica sees a decline in tourism during the rainy season from May to November, which means lower prices on everything from flights to all-inclusive resorts in Costa Rica. The sweetest place to visit during this period is July, when there is usually a dip in rainfall which means more time to explore the beautiful green area of the rainforest.
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Set aside time on your Costa Rica family vacation to visit the nation’s smallest national park, Manuel Antonio Park, and discover the unique biodiversity of the rainforest, beaches and coral reefs. (In addition, it’s the best place to see sloths.) Other kid-friendly things to do in Costa Rica include Arenal Hanging Bridges; get a taste of the chocolate making process on the Don Olivo Chocolate Tour; exciting to the adrenaline rush on a canopy ride in the Arenal Ecoglide Park; and enjoy the stress-relieving power of the thermal water pools at Baldi Hot Springs (kids will love the extreme water slides on site as well).
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