Pack Your Bags, Unpack Adventure
This summer, it’s time to break free from the ordinary vacation itinerary and unleash your inner explorer like never before. For the free spirits wanting to chart new territories, a trip to one of the many national parks across the U.S. is the perfect way to reinvigorate your sense of adventure. Filled with endless thrills, quests that lead you off the beaten path, and just the right pace of relaxation, an expedition in the great outdoors is the best way to break free from your comfort zone. And not to leave you with any FOMO, but what’s an adventure if not embracing the most popular travel destinations of the year?
Luckily, many of our properties are close to some of the most beautiful national parks, making for a perfect day trip or glamping expedition. Whether it’s through a mountaintop hike or an oceanside retreat, we’re sure this guide on exploring the top national parks this summer will equip you for unforgettable memories and a greater thirst for living life freely.
Mount Rainier National Park
Want an adventure that will leave you with all the bragging rights? Try Mount Rainier National Park—a treasure trove of greenery, blossoming wildflower meadows, and pristine, glaciated peaks. This park is a prized destination in Washington not only because of its stunning views but because Mount Rainier is an active volcano, reaching a majestic altitude of 14,410 feet above sea level.
Between its 235,625 acres and over 260 miles of maintained trails, this outdoor venture offers the perfect balance between exhilaration, discovery, and expansive recreational space. Luckily, all those trails create a hiker’s heaven for the ultimate summer experience. As you go for a day hike in the park, you’ll be met with a diverse array of ecosystems, forests, lakes, wildflowers, and glaciers.
While there are many scenic trails you could hike depending on the level of difficulty and what you’d like to see, the National Park Service has a list of suggested day hikes to choose from. For stunning views of both the wildflowers and the glaciers, check out the Skyline Trail. Peak season for these vibrant blooms is typically around mid-July to August, making a summertime hike in Mount Rainier an optimal experience.
On the other hand, if you’re a tried and true mountaineer, climbing Mount Rainier is a bucket list item that offers more bragging points than you could imagine. By far the best prize though, is knowing you climbed over 9,000 feet toward the icy peak of this PNW wonder.
After a day of exploring this gorgeous landscape, head to Pan Pacific Seattle for an evening of luxurious rest. Providing a quiet escape away from the hustle and bustle of the city, this hotel is only a two-hour drive away from Mount Rainier, showcasing impressive road trip views to the park and back. Continue your outdoorsy summer getaway in the heart of Seattle with the perfect touch of modern accommodations, premium amenities, and the Emerald City’s top attractions within walking distance.
Channel Islands National Park
Life’s pretty colorful, and luckily, so are the natural environments of the Channel Islands that make life all the more adventurous. A little farther down the West Coast is a national park rich in wildlife and endless coastal adventures. Here, visitors can step into a scenic, colorful terrain of turquoise waters, rugged cliffscapes, and a plethora of activities so breathtaking, you’ll feel like you’re in a movie. Made up of five unique islands and their surrounding environments, each of the islands is a host to preserved areas such as beaches, dunes, wetlands, caves, and stunning rocky intertidal zones.
This national park offers an unparalleled variety of areas to explore, and activities to try, making it the perfect destination for a single-day trip, or a week of visits to the park—each day dedicated to a new island visit. With an overwhelming amount of activities to try and places to explore, the National Park Service has laid out a comprehensive guide on what you can explore at Channel Islands National Park.
With limitless options, you’ll feel like you’re stepping into a picture frame of artistic landscapes no matter what you choose to do. To add to the thrill of it all, you can go hiking, kayaking, whale watching, and diving. If it’s your first time visiting the park, we recommend hiking to Potato Harbor Overlook on Santa Cruz Island. This scenic overlook is notably acclaimed for its stunning views of the kelp forest and marine life living in the area.
After a day of playing adventure junkie, mellow out at Hotel Milo, SoCal style. Because the islands on the park are only accessible by boat, there is plenty of public boat transportation provided by park concessionaire, Island Packers, only 40 minutes away from the hotel. At Hotel Milo, you can expect to be met with a mix of art, wine, and culture for the ultimate beachfront oasis after a day of exploration.
Everglades National Park
For those seeking a riveting escape in the South, look no further than the Everglades National Park, home of the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States. With over 2,400 square feet to cover, there’s a world of wildlife waiting to be admired in this land of alligators, crocodiles, deer, bobcats, and an abundance more of wildlife.
There’s no shortage of activities to try at this park, including biking, kayaking or canoeing, hiking, experiencing a ranger-led program, or taking a guided tour through the park.
One of the most popular hikes in the Everglades is the Anhinga Trail due to its bounty of wildlife lining the trail. Set your own pace as you traverse through this trail, channeling all the ways Steve Irwin taught you to admire wildlife around—with respect, ease, and undeniable awe.
As you end your day at the park, delve into a space of communal gathering, art, and exciting culinary surprises at THesis Hotel Miami, a AAA Four Diamond hotel in Coral Gables. About an hour away from the Everglades, this highly sought-out hotel is the perfect glamping retreat to relax in. Designed to be a place of belonging for the curious, the courageous, and the creative, this hotel is the perfect space for the souls that like to spend their mornings in the outdoors, and evenings discovering all the bustling events Miami has to offer.
Shenandoah National Park
As the seasons evolve, so do our tastes for adventure, thrill, and the pace of life we so deeply crave. Shenandoah National Park offers a seasonal escape for every traveler year-round, with summer being one of the best times to experience the park’s dense green foliage. This park is a mid-Atlantic adventure for travelers who seek serene mountaintop views, with just the right touch of a coming-of-age, cinematic feel.
If your summer dreams include turning on your favorite playlist in the car as you drive through miles and miles of picture-perfect roads, lined with vibrant trees, then we recommend driving through Skyline Drive—the only public road that runs through the park. This road runs along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains, providing the ultimate breath of fresh air this summer. For those who want to visit a national park without having to hike or walk long distances, this is both an accessible and convenient option.
Alternatively, if you’re craving to reach new peaks this summer, Shenandoah National Park has plenty of day hikes to choose from, including hikes to Old Rag, the most popular destination in all of the park. If you’re up for the challenge, these hiking options offer a strenuous challenge for some, matched with a rush of adrenaline and vibrancy when you reach the top. Go for the 360-degree views, leave with endless stories to tell, and an added sense of adventure to foster in the summers to come thereafter.
Continue the road-trip vibes on your way back to the city when you stay at The St. Gregory Hotel. A one to two-hour drive to Washington, D.C. will take you to this luxe hotel, purposefully perched in the center of the nation’s capital. With sophisticated design touches, stylish accommodations, and inspiring energy, you’ll be left wanting to discover more. Start your journey up top on mountain peaks, and end it by delving deep into a world of history, art, and cultural landmarks, only steps away from The St. Gregory Hotel.
Cape Cod National Seashore
The seaside escape of your dreams has arrived, and it’s filled with pristine beaches, beautiful lighthouses, and calming coastal views. The Cape Cod National Seashore is a Massachusetts gem, stacked with plenty of relaxing activities to take part in. Visitors can explore over 40 miles of beach, walking, and biking trails—plenty of space to spend summer on the quieter side.
For those who desire to calm their mind, body, and soul from the rush of everyday life and responsibilities, this renowned area provides the perfect space to destress, while taking in all that nature has to offer. Start your carefree getaway by hiking the Great Island Trail—offering around four to eight-mile loop options that display stunning vistas to relax in.
To amp up the adventure, there are many ranger-led programs that take place throughout the park for the optimum Cape Cod experience. Immerse yourself by hiking, paddling, or touring with a ranger, and get ready to gain unforgettable memories amidst the radiant shorelines.
Not ready to let go of this coastal dream? Continue your retreat at Sea Crest Beach Hotel, where the tide washes over every worry, and unparalleled amenities and accommodations leave you refreshed from the inside out. Sea Crest is only an hour’s drive away from Cape Cod National Seashore, making it a convenient stay for your summer trip. Lounge beachside, by the pool, or indulge in classic New England dishes at Red’s Restaurant & Lounge.
Tips from the National Park Service
Out of all of these thrilling adventures you could plan for the summer, there’s just so much that could come to be. As you unwind, log off of work, and step into a summer season filled with lively adventures, the National Park Service has a fantastic site and quippy social media presence filled with all the tips you need to know for your trip.
We hope you’ll take these tips from the National Park Service, pair them with a stay at one of our many treasured destinations, and unleash your wild side like never before.