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Great Vacation Ideas for May, June and July 2012

Updated on June 10, 2012

Great Vacation Spots for Festivals and Celebrations

It's not too late to plan an inexpensive spring or summer vacation. Whether you're looking for a quick, last minute getaway, an educational family trip, a way to celebrate The Fourth of July in style, or a bash with millions of party animals, there's certainly an appropriate vacation venue on this list.

Here's ten great travel locations where you can soak up some sun, enjoy diverse entertainment, delve into history and culture, and/or partake of some darn good food. Each year, these host cities hang out the welcome mat and provide their guests with outstanding events at a great value. Some of the celebrations are even free!

In addition, these cities offer great sightseeing and diverse activities as well as the main draw. And, with the travel industry still rebounding, now's the time to snag some great deals on last minute airfare and housing. Also, consider travel by car, train or bus; this could reduce costs even further. Visit travel sites and/or call hotels directly to take advantage of great opportunities and travel cheap. After reviewing all choices, proceed to the article end for websites with helpful information on each event.

2011 Toronto Comics Festival

When: May 5 - 6, 2012

Toronto, Canada

This unique festival features over 250 cartoonists who gather in Toronto to exhibit their art and books. This festival is committed to developing comic and graphic novel programming via readings, gallery shows,presentations and panel discussions.

Toronto is 3-1/2 hours from Detroit, Michigan and eight hours from Chicago, Illinois.

Memphis May International Festival

Memphis in May & World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest

When: May 4 - May 26, 2012

Where: Memphis, Tennessee

Memphis expects to welcome over 1 million hungry fans of cool blues and good food during this celebration of May festival. Over $100,000 in prizes await the teams with the culinary chops to smoke and grill the best barbeque. In addition to great food, you can expect plenty of music and dancing and tons of merry-making during the Hog Calling and other wacky contests. World famous Beale street is certain to be the hob of activity with its diverse mix of restaurants, hotels and shops.

Now you can party the entire month of May in Memphis starting with the Beale Street Music Festival, May 4 - 6, 2012, Salute to Philippines, World Barbecue Contest, May 17 - 19, 2012 and ending with the Sunset Symphony on May 26, 2012.

Check out these other attractions while you are visiting -- Graceland, Sun Studio (music studio where Elvis recorded his first record), Fire Museum of Memphis, Memphis Zoo, National Civil Rights Museum, The Peabody Hotel.

The Preakness

When: May 19, 2012 (race)

Where: Baltimore, Maryland

The city welcomes horses and horse fans from all over the world for this four-day celebration leading up to the second racing jewel of the Triple Crown held at Pimlico Racetrack. (The Kentucky Derby and Belmont are the other two races). But, it's not just about horses, there are parties for every taste including the black-tie Triple Crown Ball and a days' long block party.

Other notable attactions include: Oriole (Baseball) Park at Camden Yards, Fort McHenry National Monument, Urban Pirates, USS Constellation and the National Aquarium.

The Indy 500

When: Month of May

Where: Indianapolis, Indiana

Gentlemen and Ladies . . . Start Your Engines. The 500 Festival is another month-long celebration culminating in the exciting, Indianapolis 500 race (held May 30, 2010). News personality Robin Roberts will drive the pace car this year. May events include race car qualifications, the 500 Mini Marathon, music festival, fireworks, parade, spectacle of bands, and the Centennial Era Balloon Festival.

Other attractions: The Children's Museum (one of the largest in the country), Indianapolis Museum of Art, Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, President Benjamin Harrison Home.

Tulip Time Festival

When: May 5 - 12, 2012

Holland, Michigan

Celebrate Dutch history while you take in a visual treat during the Tulip Time Festival. This festival is listed as one of the top 20 festivals and includes a carnival, fireworks set to live music, floral design classes and a quilt show. The Dutch Marktplaats will recreate 19th century Holland for visitors and will include over 200 juried exhibitors. if you enjoy a good cry, you can enjoy the Town Crier Competition. There will be at least four theatre productions including A History of Jazz by the Holland Jazz Orchestra and the Next Stop: New York City presented by the Holland Chorale group. There will be a Tulip Time Run on May 7with a 10k, 5k and 1k run.

While you are in Holland, you can visit the Nelis Dutch Village Family Theme Park and Wooden Shoe Factory. The Windmil Island Gardens features a 250 year old working windmill with 150,000 tulips spread over 36 acres of gardens, canals and holland dikes. The Holland Musuem and Dutch galleries is another popular attraction.


When: June 27 - July 1, 2012, July 3 - 8, 2012

Where: Milwaukee, Wisconsin

This year's Summerfest, set against the beauty of Lake Michigan, boasts more than 3,000 regional and big-name acts on 11 stages. 2011 musical artists will be announced in early January; however Katy Perry and Keith Friday are already on board. And, of course, there's dancing, food, exhibits and marketplaces. And, if you like fireworks, this is one of the largest displays in the country.

Attractions to visit while you are in the city include the Pabst Mansion, Milwaukee Public Museum, the Lakefront Brewery and the Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory.

Welcome America

When: July 2012

Where: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

And, speaking of the Fourth of July . . . how about celebrating in America's history-laden Philadelphia. Events planned include a parade, the Taste of Philadelphia, Party on the Parkway, Go 4th and Learn and concerts. Celebrate WAWA Hoagie Day by snagging a taste of a mile-long hoagie. Even if you are not into fireworks (who's not into fireworks), visit this city for the historical significance.

Additional attractions to visit: Reading Terminal Market, Independence Hall, Morris Arboretum, Powell House, and University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.

Young folks enjoy the festivities in Boston
Young folks enjoy the festivities in Boston

Boston Harborfest

When June 28 - July 4, 2012

Where: Boston, Massachusetts

This year this huge festival showcases the colonial and maritime heritage of the American Revolution. The 2012 Harborfest incorporates more than 200 events including historical reenactments, tours, harbor cruises, free concerts, and of course, a huge fireworks display accompanied by music. This years' events include the 30th Annual Chowderfest where participants can vote for "Boston's Best Chowder."

Other notable attractions: Fenway (Baseball) Park, Museum of Science, Freedom Trail, Sam Adams Brewery and the North End.

Taste of Chicago

When: July 11 - 15, 2012

Where: Chicago, Illinois

Ready to experience some of the flavor of Chicago. Join over 6 million partiers, as they converge to experience a taste of the food, music and culture. Admission to this event, held in Grant Park downtown, is free. Feel free to visit the booths at the many pavilions and then grab a spot, relax and enjoy any of the concerts. Seventy restaurants will be participating in the 2012 Taste. You purchase food and drink by purchasing tickets at any of the ticket booths spaced throughout this venue. These tickets allow you to purchase portions of delectable items such as roasted corn on the cob, fish and chips, pizza, funnel cake, cheesecake, ribs, sweet potato fries, jerk chicken, bbq turkey legs, Italian Ice -- hungry yet?.

Other attractions include: The Navy Pier, The Art Institute of Chicago, Skydeck Chicago, The Washington Library Center (over 6.5 million books).

Montreal Jazz Festival Fans

Montreal Jazz Festival (Festival International De Jazz De Montreal)

When: June 28 - July 7, 2012

Where: Montreal, Quebec, Canada

If you love jazz, you should plan a visit to Montreal, Canada for their spectacular Jazz Festival. In addition to an unbelievable number of artists, events include a jazz cruise, walking tours and Jazz and French immersion courses. Check out the jazz website for value packages that include accommodations, breakfast, t-shirt, concert ticket, CD, and additional discounts.

Don't miss attractions include: Montreal Botanical Gardens, Notre-Dame Basilica, Jean-Talon Market, Old Montreal, Mont (Mount) Royal and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

Cheyenne Frontier Days

When: July 20 - 29, 2012

Where: Cheyenne, Wyoming

Looking for something a bit different to do . . . join the more than 500,000 folks who visit this frontier town for days of outrageous rodeo and hearty food. This event, held since 1897 is billed as the "world's largest outdoor rodeo and western celebration." Planned events include a parade with floats, marching bands and antique carriages, a tour of the Wild Horse Gulch, demonstrations by professional bull riders and numerous rodeo contests and performances and a free pancake breakfast.

Notable attractions: Historic Governor's Mansion, Nelson Museum of the West, CFD Old West Museum, Big Boy Steam Engine

Plan Now for A Great Time

The information listed here is accurate today, but always check with the websites listed and/or the appropriate travel and tourism department to confirm as events, dates, and musical artists are subject to change. And, if you don't see a venue here that suits your taste, review the second edition for additional vacation choices. So check it out, pack a bag and get ready to celebrate!


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    • CondoLux Rentals profile image

      CondoLux Rentals 6 years ago from North Myrtle Beach,South Carolina

      Boston Harborfest! That was where I tried chowder for the first time when I was 8. HATED it at the time, but now I love it! Too bad we don't get the REALLY good stuff here in Myrtle Beach.

    • ExpandYourMind profile image

      ExpandYourMind 7 years ago from Midwest USA

      Thanks for visiting -- hope you enjoy Boston!

    • profile image

      Linda Myshrall 7 years ago

      All great ideas! I'm hoping to make the Boston Harborfest this year...