Happy July, folks! You know what July means—we are officially in mid-summer territory.

We’re out of that murky, gray area between spring and summer—a period often punctuated by randomly cool days and too much rain—and we’re now in the prime of beautiful weather up here in the Northern hemisphere.

If you’re in the US, July is the perfect time to kick back, relax, and enjoy a day at the beach—all without going too far from home. Budget vacationing has never been so easy. Plus, if you’re looking for a slightly more far flung adventure, it’s an awesome time for that too!

Check out the top places you should be hitting this July—and start planning your next summer vacation!

1.) The Jersey Shore

Jon Bilous / Shutterstock

Jon Bilous / Shutterstock

We’re not talking about the infamous reality show aired on MTV a few years ago—we’re talking about the actual beaches in New Jersey, which are some of the nicest in the country. Sure, I might be a bit biased, hailing from this region myself, but even the most well-traveled of beach bums agree with me. Jersey is where it’s at.

If you’re looking for a party, check out Seaside Heights or Belmar, both of which are known for their club scenes and young crowd. If a classy, relaxing day at the beach is more your style, swing by Cape May or Spring Lake for a gorgeous day lazing by the ocean.

Want a beach vacation that’s totally unique? Hit up Ocean Grove and Asbury Park. These two towns are right next to one another, and have a bounty of color and history to keep you entertained. Ocean Grove is a tiny little village of a town, filled to the brim with Victorian mansions and tiny cottages—all of which are painted in the brightest, happiest colors you can imagine. And Asbury Park? Its famous music venue, The Stone Pony, is where Bruce Springsteen got his start, and the town has an incredible local food and music scene to boot.

Fly into Atlantic City or into Newark Liberty International Airport, rent a car, and come on down to the Jersey Shore!

2.) Iceland

TTstudio / Shutterstock

TTstudio / Shutterstock

Want to get a little further from home? Check out Reykjavik, the Nordic capital of Iceland! This tiny little island nation is extremely cool—and often overlooked—meaning you won’t have too much tourist traffic to compete with when you’re out seeing the sites.

A super short flight from the American East coast, Iceland is filled with gorgeous glaciers, dramatic waterfalls, hot springs, and picturesque lagoons. Plus, the country is famous for being filled with tiny little ponies—you know you want to snuggle one!

If you like to hike, camp, or generally enjoy the great outdoors, Iceland is the place for you. In July, the national parks are open, the days are extremely long and sunny (what’s up, midnight sun!), and the scenery is ridiculously gorgeous. Also, they have insanely good hot dogs there. Who knew?

3.) Kenya

Oleg Znamenskiy / Shutterstock

Oleg Znamenskiy / Shutterstock

Iceland not quite exotic enough for you? Never fear. Kenya is calling your name.

It’s dry season over in this East African nation, and that means a few fabulous things. No rain translates to fewer mosquitoes, which is always a plus. And of course, it’s far less likely to rain on your parade—erm, safari—than it is any other time of the year. Score!

More importantly, the lack of rain causes the foliage to dry up, creating optimal viewing conditions for wildlife while you’re on safari. There’s less bush for them to hide in, and more water holes for them to congregate around. Awesome!

But the real reason to visit Kenya in July is the wildebeest migration. Each year, these majestic creatures move from Tanzania up into Kenya—traveling in breathtaking herds—and you definitely don’t want to miss it.

4.) Paris, France

Bikeworldtravel / Shutterstock

Bikeworldtravel / Shutterstock

July in France is absolutely beautiful. The sun is shining, the days are super long—we don’t quite get a midnight sun over here, but almost!—and the air is warm and pleasant. Plus, the city is still open! French workers haven’t gone on their en masse holiday yet—a phenomenon that happens every August—meaning all the shops and attractions will definitely be open.

But the best part of Paris in July? Bastille Day! The French Independence Day is complete with fireworks, parades, and festivals galore, so snuggle up to your travel buddy and enjoy the show. If you’ve ever dreamed of a Parisian vacation, now’s the time to go. Au revoir!

5.) Washington, DC

gary718 / Shutterstock

gary718 / Shutterstock

Speaking of Independence Day, the US has one of its own coming up this month! We didn’t forget about the 4th of July, folks, and neither should you. There are tons of cool places to celebrate our nation’s anniversary—the Jersey Shore, mentioned above, has a ton of great fireworks shows happening up and down the coast, for example—but the most appropriate place?

We’d venture to guess that’s Washington, DC.

By day, you can check out the actual Declaration of Independence—history buffs, get excited!—visit monuments galore, and even take a tour of the White House. By night, you can watch a gorgeous fireworks display go off over the National Mall. Awesome!

Where are you headed this July? Let us know in the comments!

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