If you really want to get to know a city, you’ve got to immerse yourself in the local culture: walk the streets, window shop, and stop in all those cute little cafes on a whim. That’s never going to happen if you get rained out. And it’s especially not going to happen when you’re walking through slush in minus twenty-degree weather. Sometimes, there’s a reason places are busier in the summer, and when it comes to these five cities, we’d say it’s worth putting up with the crowds.
Because no one wants to travel to Newfoundland in the winter. It’s still beautiful, of course, but temperatures average in the negatives, and the province’s capital is known to get pretty generous snowfalls. In the summer, however, the city comes alive, providing visitors with the perfect combination of big-city frills and small-town charm. As the country’s oldest city, St. John’s is full of character, from the criss-crossing streets carved by horse and carriage more than 100 years ago to the colourful houses that line Jellybean Row.
No matter what time of year it is, food, sports, and architecture should dominate most of your trip to Chicago. But if you’re headed there in the summer, don’t forget to make time for a lazy beach day. Located on Lake Michigan, the city is home to an incredible array of sandy spots, which provide the perfect mid-week break. Just don’t spend too much time resting your head—between March and September, the city hosts around 200 festivals, most of which are geared toward music lovers. Alongside small barbecues and street festivals, there’s Blues Fest, Pitchfork, and the three-day, internationally recognized mega-party known as Lollapalooza.
This city is notorious for its wet and soggy winter weather, but it stays pretty dry and sunny in the summer. Seattle’s known for its coffee houses and outdoor market, but make sure you take advantage of the weather and head to one of the country’s most gorgeous urban green spaces. In Green Lake Park, you’ll find more than 300 acres of waterfront jogging trails, tennis courts, baseball diamonds, an outdoor theatre, and a small lake for swimming, boating, and windsurfing. Summer’s clear skies also mean it’s the perfect time to ride the giant Ferris wheel that’s been added to the waterfront or catch a glimpse of the nearby Mount Rainer, which is shrouded by clouds for much of the year.
If you’re already in Seattle, why not hop over to Portland? You’ll find local craft breweries and coffee roasteries on nearly every corner, but summer in Portland is all about indulging in fresh produce from the city’s many farmers’ markets. The healthy cuisine served here will inspire you to get active, and it’s not hard in this northwest city. With a 300-kilometre network of bike trails that’s set to expand, it’s one of the most cycle-friendly cities on the continent. There’s also a ton of greenspace worth exploring, including Tom McCall Waterfront Park and Forest Park.
In Quebec City, they celebrate winter with a huge carnival filled with parades, snow sculpting, canoe races, and even an ice castle. But no matter how great French Canadians are at embracing harsh temperatures and snow, summer is still the best time to explore this historic city. The cobblestone streets and 400-year-old stone buildings that make up the city’s Old Town are reminiscent of Old Europe, and when it’s warm, they’re filled with musicians, artists, acrobats, and even actors in period costume. Once you’ve had your fill of history, head outside the city’s walls to the neighbourhoods of St-Jean Baptiste, Colline Parlementaire, Montcalm or St-Roche for some equally enchanting restaurants, shopping, and nightlife.
Also on RNR: