We don’t care who you are, everyone deserves a summer vacation. And summer is nearly over. Those vacation days you’ve been saving up for the perfect trip? Now is your moment to use them. Sure, you could do the normal, conventional thing and visit friends or hit up a hotel with a nice pool, but we think it’s time do something a little more fun with those precious days you’ve toiled away to accrue. Because like those tiny, heart-shaped lives in the Legend of Zelda, you’ve carefully conserved those bad boys, and now, it’s time to splurge on something special.
If you really want to get the most out of your vacation, you should take a beer-cation. Head to a city where absolutely loaded with breweries and beer-related good times. Because what would you rather do, lay around in a hammock trying to finally finish Infinite Jest or lay around in a hammock with beer having spent your day sampling some of the best craft brews in America?
We know what we’d pick. Plus, no matter where you live in the country, there’s a beer-cation destination within driving distance. Check out some of our favorites below.
Asheville, North Carolina
Few beer-centric cities are exploding with the magnitude of Asheville. Sitting at the foot of the Great Smoky Mountains, the city is home to a seemingly limitless number of breweries including: Wicked Weed (makers of pretty much any beer style you can imagine plus great IPAs and barrel-aged beers), Wedge Brewing, and Burial Beer. But the city has more to offer than just breweries. You can also travel from bar to brewery in the “Amazing Pubcycle”, a bar on wheels that moves using pedal power. Don’t feel like pedaling? Hop on the Brews Cruise, a brewery bus tour.
What to do between breweries: The surrounding areas (including the nearby Great Smoky Mountains) are full of great hiking trails. Get out there, explore, and earn that extra beer.
On top of being the perfect city to visit if you’re a fan of outdoor activities (hiking, skiing, and mountain biking experiences are a short drive away), Denver is a beer lover’s oasis. In fact, it might be the #1 city in America if you’re a fan of the sudsy stuff. Colorado, as a state, has the 3rd most breweries, and Denver is home to the likes of Great Divide, Crooked Stave, and Trve Brewing Company. And on top of the great breweries, the city is also home to countless beer bars like FreshCraft, Euclid Hall, and Highland Tap & Burger.
What to do between breweries: Walk off that flight of beer at the Denver Botanical Gardens. This 23-acre park contains a conservatory, exotic plants, and even a sunken amphitheater.
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Grand Rapids, Michigan
When you think of summer vacation destinations, Grand Rapids, Michigan might not seem like your first choice. But maybe it should be. Summer or early fall is a great time to visit the state — whether you want to check out the art scene in Detroit or rent a cabin by a lake and try some watersports. And making a stop in beer-filled Grand Rapids on your way to camp in Mackinac Island is a must. Similar to Asheville, the brewing industry has made this city a beer aficionado’s dream with the likes of Brewery Vivant, The Mitten, Harmony, and of course Founders.
What to do between breweries: A walk around Grand Rapids isn’t complete without a photo in front of the sculpture known as LA Grande Vitesse. This symbol of Grand Rapids is an Instagram must.
San Diego, California
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You might know San Diego as the home of Shamu and Ron Burgundy. But the city is also the perfect west coast beer-cation destination. After checking out the seals and watching the Padres lose, you’ll want to stop by some of the most respected breweries in the country. Ballast Point, Green Flash, and Alesmith have all taken up roots in this oceanside city. Plus, it’s home to some of the best beer bars in the country like Barrel Republic and Toronado. And that’s not all. The city is home to the famous Pizza Port (known as much for its pizza as its beer) and after a few rounds, nothing sounds better than pizza.
What to do between breweries: This is a beach city. Grab a surfboard and head out into the swells (You can take a class if you’ve never done it before).
Since it’s summer, you might already be planning a trip to Maine. There’s a reason they refer to the state as “Vacationland”. This northern New England state has everything you’d want in a summer vacation destination. Charming seaside villages, lobster rolls, rocky beaches, and Acadia National Park. But what many don’t know is that a few hours south of Bar Harbor and Acadia sits a beer mecca. Portland is more than just a quaint tourist town, it’s also home to Shipyard Brewing, Allagash, and Oxbow.
What to do between breweries: The Old Port is full of great shops and restaurants so even if you start stumbling on the cobblestone streets, you really don’t need to travel far. Stop by the Eventide Oyster Company to get a bowl of clam chowder before your next pint.
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The Pacific Northwest is already a perfect place to take a vacation if you enjoy the outdoors and beautiful scenery. You just have to be okay with the potential of a few rainy days. And after you check out a Mariners game and try to catch a flying fish at Pike Market, stop by one of the numerous breweries and sample until your heart’s content. Fremont Brewing, Reuben’s Brews, Standard Brewing, and (most famously) Elysian Brewing call Seattle home.
What to do between breweries: It might seem cliché, but you probably won’t find a better view than at the top of the Space Needle. Plus, while you’re up there you can scope out your next stop.