Summer’s nearly over and for many people it means the inevitable return to the office or time to pack the kids off to school.
But for everyone else, now's the time to check out a quintessential summer destination or two before fall arrives. If you're out of vacation time to hit up some of these selected highlights, fret not. You can add them to your bucket list for next summer.
Whether you've got your eye on Cancun or Copenhagen, perusing the pleasures of Portland or Polynesia, you'll find something here that perfectly captures what summer travel is all about for you.
Summer Destinations To See Before It's Too Late. Gallery text follows for mobile readers below.
Swim With The Whale Sharks In Cancun
Available until mid-September, Cancun visitors can have the breathtaking experience of swimming with whale sharks, the world’s largest fish species, in the Caribbean’s warm waters.
Here’s how your adventure might unfold if you were staying, say, at the Moon Palace Golf Spa and Resort. Get up at 6:30 am and take a half-hour drive to the Dreams Cancun resort in the hotel zone of this coastal Mexican city. After a safety briefing at Solo Buceo, the on-site dive operator, board a motorboat and journey 90 minutes across the waves to the whale shark feeding grounds.
Snorkeling alongside a veteran guide, you’ll marvel at these broad-faced beasts of the deep, known to grow up to 18 metres in length. Watch as they vacuum up plankton with their gaping mouths while enormous sting rays and sea turtles loom into view and you've got an unforgettable experience.
Frolic At The Tivoli Gardens In Copenhagen
Colourful, glowing lamps and beautiful flower gardens create the perfect ambience for a relaxing summer at the 21-acre Tivoli Gardens. Founded in 1843 in the capital of Denmark, the Tivoli Gardens remains Scandinavia’s most popular theme park and its outdoor concerts have everyone from Sting to the Smashing Pumpkins. Enjoy the thrills of Rutschebanen, the 1914-built wooden roller coaster, or dig into sweet traditional pancakes at Petzi’s Pancake House.
Visit The Harley Davidson Museum In Milwaukee
For generations of North Americans, riding a Harley Davidson motorcycle has symbolized the freedom of the open road in summertime.
Founded in 2008, the Harley Davidson Museum in Wisconsin’s largest city enables visitors to view up to 500 gleaming, historic ‘Hogs, try a virtual riding experience, or buy anything from branded golf balls to leather jackets at the gift shop.
From Aug. 29 to 31, the company will celebrate its 110th anniversary in Milwaukee with a parade, special group rides, street parties, and Aerosmith and Kid Rock concerts.
Enjoy A Craft Beer Tasting Tour In Portland
Denver, Colorado might argue otherwise, but Portland, Oregon can stake its claim as the craft beer capital of the United States. Want proof? Take a Pubs of Portland tour with Marc C. Martin, a 25-year veteran of the local microbrewing scene.
Travelling via the city’s light rail system on your five-hour, $30 tour, you’ll sample some perfect summer brews. Drain a fruity Saison at Rock Bottom Brewery, housed in an Italian Renaissance-style building. Try a hoppy, but gluten-free Northwest Pale Ale at Deschutes Brewery -- possibly Portland’s most beautiful brew pub, decorated with carved wooden herons and otters. Finish with an essential stop at Bridgeport Brew Pub: their IPA is the city’s best-selling beer.
Party At A Music Festival In London
The weekend of Aug. 23-25 is magical for music lovers in the London area. The Reading Festival, held about 60 kilometres west of the British capital, is the world’s oldest ongoing pop music festival. This year, headliners include Green Day, Eminem, and Nine Inch Nails.
If you prefer electronic dance music, get your groove on at South West Four, staged at Clapham Common in London. The lineup features high-profile DJs like Paul Oakenfold and Armin van Buuren.
Attend The Pacific National Exhibition Fair In Vancouver
For summertime family fun, it’s hard to beat the Pacific National Exhibition, Running from Aug. 17 to Sept. 2, attendees can guzzle cinnamon-coated mini-donuts, ride the swinging pirate ship or the 1958-built wooden roller coaster, and check out those cute cows, pigs, and sheep.
Unique to this year is a special exhibition on Mongolian warlord Genghis Khan. There's also nightly pop concerts (free with your $16 admission) include the Beach Boys (Aug. 23), Foreigner (Aug. 27), and REO Speedwagon (Aug. 31).
Explore The Athabasca Glacier In Alberta
Eager to cool off from the heat amid Canada’s Rocky Mountains? The Athabasca Glacier, a four-hour drive from Calgary, Alberta on the Icefields Parkway, can be accessed courtesy of Brewster Sightseeing Excursions.
To start your one-and-a-half narrated expedition, board a 60,000-pound Ice Explorer vehicle. Gaze at the hanging glacier and 10,000-odd crevasses as you climb up this majestic blue-grey landmark. At the top, enjoy a refreshing drink from a glacial stream before heading back down.
Relax On The Island Of Moorea In French Polynesia
Moorea is an incredible, greenery-laden oasis, and it’s just a half-hour ride away on the Aremiti 5 ferry from Papeete, the capital of French Polynesia on the island of Tahiti.
Check into the luxurious Intercontinental Moorea Resort, and snorkel in the lagoon. Sample banana liqueur at the Jus de Fruits de Moorea distillery. Go jet-skiing in Opunohu Bay, where Captain James Cook anchored in 1769. Or watch traditional dancing while feasting on roast pork at the Tiki Village.
Take An Alaska Cruise From Seattle
The majesty of Alaska comes alive on a seven-day West Coast cruise out of Seattle. You could, for instance, board Holland America’s ms Westerdam on August 31.
Once on board, you can marvel at huge glaciers calving in Glacier Bay, shop for dazzling diamonds in Juneau, and check out giant crabs and bald eagles on the dramatic Bering Sea Crab Fishermen’s tour in Ketchikan. Devouring eggs Benedict and rack of lamb at the on-board restaurants and catching nightly concerts and comedy shows augments the fun
Go Fishing At The West Coast Fishing Club In Haida Gwaii
Nothing says summer like fishing. If you crave an upscale sport fishing option, the West Coast Fishing Club awaits. Located in the Haida Gwaii archipelago (formerly the Queen Charlotte Islands) off the coast of British Columbia, this luxurious lodge on Langara Island is two hours from Vancouver via plane and helicopter.
Head out in a Boston Whaler Guardian guide boat and catch a 50-pound chinook salmon. View Haida totem poles on nearby Graham Island. Feast on shellfish and steak for dinner. Enjoy a massage at the lodge’s spa before retiring to your suite with an ensuite bathroom and a beautiful Pacific Ocean view.