As you soak up the last few rays of sun this season—and sneak in one last getaway!—we’re spotlighting the best end-of-summer vacation ideas for a small-town escape. No matter what part of the country you call home, there’s a postcard-worthy destination here with your name on it.
From old-fashioned Main Street shops to nostalgic summer attractions (picture berry patches, swimming holes, and mountain trails), these small towns capture the essence of summer. Whether you decide to close out the season with s’mores around the fire pit or a family beach day, makes it easy to book an affordable trip and send off the summer with a bang.
COOS BAY, OREGON
As the largest city on the Oregon Coast, Coos Bay is known for its famous dunes, excellent fishing spots, and deeply rooted maritime traditions. Downtown, you’ll find a range of charming shops and Coos Bay Art Museum; if you’d rather spend time outside, head for the beach boardwalk or book a fishing charter. Don’t miss the chance to explore Cape Arago State Park and Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area—especially if you love to hike, fish, clam, or watch wildlife.
This gem on Penobscot Bay shouldn’t just be on your list of summer vacation ideas; it’s worth earmarking for this fall, too. With a central location near Acadia National Park (not to mention a number of lighthouses!), this scenic spot offers airy cottage rentals on the waterfront. Depending on the season, you might find yourself swimming, kayaking, or watching seabirds before heading downtown to explore the galleries at Farnsworth Art Museum or catch a show at Strand Theatre.
If you’ve never heard of Poulsbo, then you’re missing out on windswept beaches and some of the most beautiful scenery in the Pacific Northwest. Also known as “Little Norway on the Fjord,” this quaint destination is located on the Kitsap Peninsula (just a ferry ride from Seattle). Top attractions include shopping on Front Street, hiking in the Olympic Mountains, and kayaking on Liberty Bay.
With a nickname like “America’s First Destination,” it’s hard to oversell a place like Provincetown. The history, culture, and stunning scenery—coupled with all the bars, museums, and entertainment venues—make this seaside spot as perfect for a romantic escape as a family vacation or creative retreat. Rent a bike and roam the dunes, discover the galleries on Commercial Street, or spend a day by the waves before returning to your rental and firing up the grill.