My husband and I got married in the middle of August. In Texas. Outside. My reasoning behind this was that I would rather deal with heat than rain, and it rarely rains in August.
The night before our wedding, we were sweltering in the 101 degree heat during the rehearsal, the ladies wearing breezy, short dresses and the guys in shorts, with a dread for wearing anything more constricting the next day.
Then, Texas weather happened, as it does. Hours before the ceremony, thunderstorms started rolling in and our guests were driving through flooded waters to get to our wedding. The storms hadn’t made it to our ceremony site yet, and the thunderstorms caused the temperatures to drop by a refreshing 15 degrees.
We made it through the ceremony with no rain, and not passing out from the heat, thanks to the thunderstorms that were on their way. Literally as soon as we made it inside for the reception, the bottom fell out for some sweet, sweet summer rain.
Now, every year on our anniversary, we take a trip to somewhere cooler as an ode to the slap in the face we received thinking we knew exactly what the weather was going to do.
It’s one of our favorite parts of the year, so I am on a mission to encourage my fellow Texans to give a summer vacation like this a try because I’m convinced that you’ll become as addicted as we are to escaping the heat. Because even though the weather surprised us that day, you can hang your hat on the fact that this summer will be as long and hot as the next. And the one after that.
Here are my recommendations for some amazing summer vacations that will give you a break from the stifling heat and replace it with a breath of fresh and crisp mountain air. All destinations are easily accessible from Texas.
The charming town of Cody is known as the “Rodeo Capitol of the World” and it’s the destination to choose if you want to place yourself in the “Wild West”. It’s also the perfect location to base yourself for some of the most scenic road tripping in the state.
The cute downtown has plenty of shopping, affordable restaurants, and is home to the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, an award-winning museum complex of the American West. You can go out dancing at Cassie’s Supper Club, attend the Cody Nite Rodeo, which occurs every night of the week from June through August, or enjoy a night of live country music at Dan Miller’s Music Revue at the Cody Theater.
Situated just west of the Bighorn Mountains, you can easily take day road trips through the steep mountain range and valleys in search of bighorn sheep, moose, and elk along the Big Horn Scenic Byway. The highlights of the drive include amazing scenic overlooks, Shell Falls, and the Big Horn Medicine Wheel.
The eastern entrance of Yellowstone National Park is 1 hour from Cody, making it an accessible home base to explore the eastern portion of the park (but don’t think about trying to tackle the entire park from Cody!). The drive from Cody into the park along the Buffalo Bill Scenic Byway will take your breath away as you pass through tunnels, winding mountain passes, and rambling rivers, always keeping your eyes peeled for wildlife.
Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada
Famous for the jaw-dropping turquoise lakes and mountain views and for being a destination for outdoor activities, an escape from the Texas heat to Banff National Park will bring life back to your soul. The park is very popular in the summertime, because that’s when you can see the lakes in all of their turquoise glory, but the weather – with an average of low 40s to high 70s – is too perfect to pass up.
The cute resort town of Banff is adorable and rustic, and is a great place to stay as your home base for exploring the park. There are top-notch restaurants, breweries, distilleries, shopping and a farmer’s market to keep you entertained when you aren’t out exploring in nature. After a day of hiking, there’s no better way to reward yourself than having a soak in the Banff Upper Hot Springs, which is a commercially developed facility with amazing views and a definite not-miss.
For lodging options, there are historic and luxury hotels, charming boutique hotels, cute B&Bs, cozy cabins, and standard hotels with a lodge-like flair. Lodging in Banff town runs on the expensive side due to its close proximity to the main highlights of Banff National Park and convenient amenities.
For rugged travelers looking to escape the Texas heat to an authentic yet relaxing experience with amazing scenery, the tiny town of Lowman is the perfect off-the-beaten-path destination. Nestled in a deep canyon along the beautiful South Fork of the Payette River in the Boise National Forest, it has just enough natural beauty and charm to make you want to come back every year.
You can truly disconnect and escape from reality, because you won’t be finding cell reception out there. You can spend a few days seeking out and soaking in natural hot springs, hitting some hiking trails, and driving along scenic byways in search of wildlife and dreamy views.
Avid hikers can find some trails close to town or head east for more challenging hiking in the Sawtooth Mountains. Kirkham Hot Springs is a popular and accessible natural hot spring located in town. Being situated along the Payette River allows the cold water to coalesce with the hot mineral spring water to create pools with a variety of temperatures, so you can find the perfect pool for your liking.
After hitting the trails or taking a soak, stop in at the Lowman Inn, your local bar adorned with wildlife taxidermy from local hunters, a friendly dog or two, and plenty of conversation. The owner Kevin will keep your glass full and you’ll find yourself staying longer than you had originally intended.
If you’re looking for a place to stay, there’s a variety of rugged lodging options to fit your style, from cabin rentals, motels, and campgrounds. Haven Hot Springs is a 4-room motel with a developed natural hot spring pool, which is the perfect place to soak and stargaze after sunset. The Eagle Horizons B&B is a charming stay with cozy rooms and an enjoyable porch and grounds. Carol is an attentive host who makes a delicious homemade breakfast for her guests.
For a unique mountain retreat, you can rent a yurt at the Lowman Inn for more immersion into nature.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Jackson Hole refers to the valley in southwestern Wyoming, which includes the town of Jackson, Teton Village, Wilson, and surrounding areas, just south of Grand Teton National Park. It’s a perfect escape from the Texas heat for those looking for an upscale western experience with plenty of restaurants, shopping, and active adventure options.
The town of Jackson is full of top-notch hotels, world-class restaurants, elegant spas, boutique shopping and fantastic art galleries. Whether you buy a new pair of cowboy boots, stock up on local whiskey, or spend the night dancing at the famous Million Dollar Cowboy Bar, you will feel connected to your inner cowboy or cowgirl, in style. You can also still enjoy the buzz of the famous Jackson Hole ski resort in Teton Village in the summer, by taking the gondola up the mountain in the evening for amazing views of the valley while enjoying drinks and live music.
The uber pretty Grand Teton National Park is situated a short 20-minute drive north of Jackson and is known for its perfect mountain peaks and beautiful lakes. Avid hikers have plenty of options , including the popular Paintbrush Canyon trail. The warmest lake in the park, String Lake, is popular for swimming, kayaking, and SUPing, but it’s very frigid for those of us with Texas blood, so I dare you to see how long you can stay in.
Lodging in Jackson ranges from $275/night for basic 2-star options in the summer, though local home rentals may be more affordable.
Which Escape from the Texas Heat is Right for You?
These are my favorite summer escapes from the Texas heat, but just because I enjoy these destinations, doesn’t mean that they will be perfect for everyone. You have your own unique travel style that may not be like mine, so it’s important to understand exactly how you want to feel on your vacation (other than not as hot) and then narrow down the things you want to see and do.
If you’re looking for more detailed and personalized help in choosing the perfect summer destination with cooler weather, I offer 1-on-1 destination matching as part of my free consultation. When you sign up for a free consultation, you start by filling out a questionnaire to tell me the basics about your vacation to help me do some initial filtering. I follow up with you via e-mail with some more personalized questions to get a better feel for what you’re looking for before recommending some options to you. It’s a super convenient back and forth 1-on-1 process that you’re gonna love as much as I do because I’ll be saving you some brainpower.
Do you have absolutely no idea where you should go on vacation and are looking for some new inspiration? Get an instant personalized recommendation by taking my Where Should You Go On Vacation Next? quiz.