Summer festival guide for the best summer ever – Nothing says summer like a great outdoor festival: sunshine, great company, and amazing food or entertainment.
Whether you’re looking for a foodie extravaganza or a legendary music festival, check out our summer festival guide for the best summer ever.
You will have a great time all across the US.
Summer Festival Guide for the Best Summer Ever
Rose Festival – Portland, OR
Even if you are not normally into flower festivals, you will love the Rose Festival in Oregon.
Part of Portland’s culture for over 100 years, the Rose Festival was started by the city to help put Portland on the map.
Kids and adults alike love the four parades held over three summer weekends.
Over half a million people turn out for the Grand Floral Parade, which makes this the largest single-day spectator event in the state of Oregon.
This urban fair is known for great food and entertainment.
Atlanta Jazz Festival – Atlanta, GA
If you’re looking for a great way to bring in the summer season, the Atlanta Jazz Festival is a great place to start.
As one of the largest free jazz festivals in the United States, it features jazz legends, as well as up and comers on the jazz music scene.
Each weekend in May, you can find jazz concerts all over the city.
But the big events are Memorial Day weekend, where all of the free performances take place at Piedmont Park.
Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival – Manchester, TN
Every year, nearly 100,000 people gather in Tennessee for the legendary Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, which has performances on 10 stages.
Festival ticket prices include camping, which is set up like a mini-city.
Each section is named so you can find your way “home.”
While Bonnaroo is not known as the most kid-friendly festival, they do have a special family camping area for families with small children.
Summerfest – Milwaukee, WI
700 bands take the stage for Summerfest, an 11-day music festival in Milwaukee.
For 45 years, local Milwaukee talent has played alongside headliners in a venue that overlooks Lake Michigan and downtown Milwaukee.
Known as the World’s Largest Music Festival, Summerfest is famous for providing great entertainment for fans from all over the world.
There are some great things to do in Milwaukee with kids as well.
Taste of Chicago – Chicago, IL
Over 3 million people flock to Chicago’s annual Taste of Chicago food extravaganza.
This kid-friendly foodie festival is the largest yearly event in the Windy City.
Each year, Taste of Chicago has the Race to Taste 5K Run/2-Mile Walk for adults and kids can participate in the Kids’ Dash.
The five-day festival features great performers each year, as well.
Entrance to the festival is free, but concert tickets are a fee.
SF Chefs Food and Wine – San Francisco, CA
For hardcore foodies, SF Chefs Food and Wine is the summer festival not to be missed.
A great way to bid farewell to summer, this September festival offers the opportunity to mingle with culinary superstars in San Francisco’s Union Square.
You can rub shoulders with master chefs and taste culinary creations from some of San Francisco’s favorite restaurants.
photo credits: SF CHEFS, allisonkpark, thepipe26, chris friese, TJOwens, jstuppy
Whether you’re looking for great food or amazing music, this summer festival guide for the best summer ever has the perfect festival for you.
Pabst Mansion in Milwaukee
America’s Greatest 4th of July Celebrations
As the summer heats up across the U.S., nothing beats a great 4th of July celebration.
Barbecues, hometown parades and, of course, fireworks make America’s birthday a fun holiday for the whole family.
While most cities have some sort of celebration, some are over the top.
America’s Greatest 4th of July Celebrations
5 Family Friendly Places to Ring in the New Year
The American Revolution began here, so it makes sense that Bostonians know how to celebrate America’s birthday.
Events at the 31st annual Harbor Fest start June 28th with activities running through the 4th of July.
Since 1973 the Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular has been one of the greatest fireworks shows in the country.
These days more than 500,000 people gather on the banks of the Charles River for the show.
The Boston Pops symphony orchestra plays the 1912 Overture as fireworks erupt over the river.
Starting at 11:45 on the 4th, thousands of spectators gather along Constitution Avenue for the massive parade.
Enjoy concerts starting at 6:00 p.m. on the west lawn leading up to the patriotic fireworks celebration.
The fireworks are launched at 9:10 p.m. from the Reflecting Pool and are visible from many areas in Washington, D.C. and Virginia.
The National Mall is a great place to catch these fireworks, but the National Park Services also has a list of other great viewing areas.
New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orlean’s 22nd Annual Go 4th on the River features concerts and a dueling barges fireworks extravaganza.
Concerts start at 4:00 p.m. in the French Market.
Fireworks start at 9:00 p.m at the river where fireworks come from two different barges.
If you’ve never been to New Orleans, you might associate the Big Easy with Mardi Gras and crazy parties — and nothing more.
But there’s a lot more to New Orleans than fishbowl-sized drinks on Bourbon Street.
In addition to being a jazz destination, the Crescent City is home to some amazing restaurants.
Whether you’re in the market for an expensive dining experience or a delicious dive, New Orleans has the perfect restaurant for you.
Here are the best New Orleans restaurants for first-time visitors.
Best High-End Experience: Commander’s Palace
Commander’s Palace is a landmark of New Orleans’ Garden District neighborhood, where it was founded in 1880 to be patronized by wealthy families.
The restaurant’s historic atmosphere, combined with white tablecloths and uniformed waitstaff, lends it a pleasant heir of formality.
The service is fantastic and its food is on par with expensive restaurants in Washington, DC, New York, and LA.
If you’re up for an expensive meal in New Orleans, Commander’s Palace is a must-do experience.
The tasting menu, Chef Tory’s Playground, offers an array of delicious options for $90.
If you’re not up for a huge meal, you’re sure to find something you’ll love on the a la carte menu.
My sea scallops were divine — cooked perfectly and served on a bed of risotto.
My parents loved the pecan crusted gulf fish and the quail was excellent.
The only thing I’d skip is dessert; we tried the bread pudding and the tortuga rum cake and both were good, but not amazing.
Commander’s Palace has amazing food, great service, and an interesting history.
If you’re dining out in NOLA, I highly recommend Commander’s Palace.
Commander’s Palace, 1403 Washington Ave., New Orleans, LA 70130
commanders palace new orleans restaurants
Best Dive: Mother’s Restaurant
Established in 1938, Mother’s Restaurant is everything you could hope for in a dive: delicious food, low prices, and a fun atmosphere.
On a busy day, be prepared to stand in line outside the cool old building that is home to Mother’s.
Once inside, you’ll go through a cafeteria-style line where you’ll place and pay for your order.
Then you’ll take a number to a table and wait for your gastronomical experience to being.
There are 15 types of po’ boys to choose from, ranging in price from $9.50 to $17.50.
If that sounds expensive, bear in mind that the po’ boys are gigantic.
Each one includes an entire loaf of Leidenheimer Baking Company’s famous bread and could easily feed 2-3 people.
I highly recommend the Famous Ferdi Special, which includes Mother’s signature debris (the roast beef that falls into the gravy while baking in the oven), and the oyster po’ boy.
Mother’s also serves an amazing greasy spoon breakfast (served all day) and the Breakfast Special, which features 2 eggs, meat, grits, and a biscuit, is fantastic.
Mother’s Restaurant, 401 Poydras, New Orleans, LA 70130
Best Brunch: Brennan’s
I wasn’t sure what to expect when my mom suggested Brennan’s, a 67-year-old New Orleans restaurant, for brunch.
I was pleasantly surprised by the cool, historic building and the vastness of the restaurant — it’s huge!
And there’s courtyard seating, which would be great in the spring or fall, or even a warm winter day.
I love a good Eggs Benedict, so I was thrilled that the menu offered twelve variations of poached eggs and/or meat with Hollandaise sauce.
After much indecision, I settled on the Eggs Shannon, which featured poached eggs served over fried trout a creamed spinach, all covered in Hollandaise sauce.
It was delicious. Brennan’s also has a three-course prix fixe breakfast menu.
If you’re a breakfast person, make sure Brennan’s is on your list when you visit New Orleans.
No matter what time of day you go, order the Bananas Foster, supposedly created by Brennan’s.
It’s delicious, but the spectacle alone is worth it.
Bananas are sauteed in butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and banana liqueur, and doused in rum.
Then the whole concoction is lit on fire right in front of you and served with vanilla ice cream.
Brennan’s, 417 Royal Street, New Orleans, LA 70130
brennans new orleans restaurants
Best Beignet: Cafe du Monde
The first time I went to New Orleans, I skipped Cafe du Monde because I’d heard it was a tourist trap.
This time, the lure of tasting my first beignet got to me and I decided I had to go.
Fortunately, I have a 14-month-old who wakes me up at 6:00 am every morning, so I was able to beat the rush.
Our party of 2.5 was able to get a table immediately.
Later that day, we walked by the restaurant and there were probably 40 people in line.
Two minutes after we sat down, I was biting into a beignet.
Beignets don’t sound like much — fried dough covered in powdered sugar — but they rival the best donut I’ve ever had.
And the coffee at Cafe du Monde is fantastic: dark, strong, and delicious.
We split one order of beignets between two of us (and let our son have a few bites) and that was plenty; there are three large beignets to an order.
If you travel to New Orleans, be sure to stop at Cafe du Monde.
Note: We also sampled Cafe Beignet’s offerings, but the coffee was terrible and the beignets weren’t quite as good as Cafe du Monde.
Cafe du Monde, 800 Decatur Street, New Orleans, LA 70116 (and a number of other locations)
cafe du monde new orleans restaurants
Best Take-Out: Domenica
On New Year’s Eve in New Orleans, we ordered take-out gnocchi and pizza from Domenica and it was some of the best Italian food I’ve had in a long time.
Located in the historic Roosevelt Hotel, Domenica has a great vibe.
The pizza was fantastic, with a thin crust covered in gorgonzola, apples, and pecans.
The perfectly tender, melt-in-your-mouth gnocchi was coated with a cream sauce and served with duck and toasted almonds.
I’m confident anything you order there will be amazing.
Be sure to check out the happy hour (7 days/week from 3-6 pm) for half price pizzas, wine, cocktails, and beer.
Domenica, 123 Baronne Street New Orleans, LA 70112
domenica new orleans restaurant
What do you think are the best New Orleans restaurants for first-time visitors?
Would you add anything to this list?
New York, New York
The 36th Annual Macy’s 4th of July fireworks will take place on the west end this year.
Called “Ignite the Night” this year, the patriotic extravaganza will feature 40,000 fireworks synchronized to music.
There will be also be performances by pop star Katy Perry and country legend Kenny Chesney.
You can view the fireworks from anywhere with an unobstructed view of the Hudson River.
Access points, viewing areas and transportation options are all available on the website.
San Diego, California
A holiday smack in the middle of summer calls for a beach party in San Diego.
Or, if you prefer, spend the day at the San Diego County Fair enjoying concerts and a parade.
And, of course, you can’t miss the 12th Annual “Big Bay Boom” Fourth of July Fireworks show starting at 9:00 p.m. on the 4th of July.
There are five great locations to view the epic fireworks show, including North San Diego Bay & the Imperial Beach Pier.
St. Louis, Missouri
Home to “America’s Biggest Birthday Party,” you can spend the day in St. Louis enjoying fabulous air shows and concerts under the Gateway Arch.
If you’re feeling ambitious, you can start your day with an early morning run (choose between a four-miler or a one-miler).
Then at 10:00 a.m. find a spot to enjoy the 135th Annual Veiled Prophet Parade.
Dazzling air shows and great concerts will keep you entertained until the fireworks start at 9:20 p.m.
Awesome Fireworks Displays Around the World
In celebration of the U.S.’s Independence Day we’ve pulled together some photos of events celebrated with fireworks around the world.
United States of America: Fourth of July (Independence Day)
England: Guy Fawkes Day (aka Bonfire Night)
Singapore: National Day
Australia: Australia Day
Brazil: Reveillon (New Year’s Eve)
India: Diwali (Festival of Lights)
Malta: Malta International Fireworks Festival
Great Last-Minute Summer Vacation Ideas and Suggestions
There are only a few weeks of summer left! If you haven’t planned your summer vacation yet, it’s time to get moving.
Fortunately, late summer is an ideal time to visit many parts of the U.S. And with kids starting to go back to school, the crowds have died down and you can even save money with off-season pricing.
Here are 5 great last-minute summer vacation ideas.
Summer vacation ideas – big and small
Go to Walt Disney World
Late summer is a great time to visit Walt Disney World.
Although many of us view Labor Day as the unofficial end of the season, this year September 22 marks the official end of summer.
With school in session, theme parks are typically dead after Labor Day.
Take advantage of short lines and cheaper accommodations.
If you’re headed to Walt Disney World, the weather will still be warm enough to spend the day poolside, but it’s not sweltering like it is in July and August.
Take a Cruise
If you haven’t planned a summer vacation yet, chances are it’s been a busy summer.
Whether you’ve had a wedding every weekend or been swamped at work, a cruise is a perfect option if you don’t have time to plan.
Once you book your tickets, the only thing left to do is pack and check out the excursion list.
If you do book a cruise for late summer or fall, invest in hurricane insurance.
It adds a small amount to the cost, but you’ll be thankful if there happens to be a hurricane while you’re supposed to be at sea.
Check Out Washington, D.C.
The nation’s capital can be surprisingly affordable for travelers and September is a beautiful time to visit.
The summer crowds have subsided and Congress is not back in session yet.
Book a hotel last-minute using Priceline and take advantage of the plethora of free attractions the city offers, like the Smithsonian Museums, the National Zoo, and the Lincoln Memorial.
As summer comes to a close, you’ll find that it still warm during the day, though it may start to cool off at night.
Plan a Staycation
Many travelers turn up their nose at the idea of a staycation, but staycations can be a great way to explore your local area.
A staycation means that you stay in your local area, but treat it like a vacation.
So unplug from your normal life for a few days and explore your surroundings.
Whether you’ve recently moved to your town or have lived there for years, chances are you have a bucket list of things you’d like to do.
Staycations are great for last-minute vacations because they don’t require a lot of advanced planning.
Consider staying at a local hotel to get a real vacation experience.
Turn to websites like Groupon to get deals on restaurants and local attractions.
Visit the Grand Canyon
Are the outdoors more your style?
September is one of the best times to visit the Grand Canyon.
With kids back in school, there are fewer tourists on the trails and competing for hotel rooms.
The weather is also ideal, it’s not as hot during the day and it hasn’t started to get really cold yet.
Also, all of the trails are open — as you start to get closer to winter and snow starts falling, many areas will be closed — making September an ideal time to visit.
While you’re there, be sure to check out the Annual Grand Canyon Celebration of Art (it runs September 8-November 25 this year).
Here’s even more last minute summer vacation ideas.
From there, we journeyed west to Iowa and Nebraska.
At the end of the month, we further journeyed to Wyoming.
We went fossil hunting, and then to Utah and Arizona.