Our Guide for Heat Seekers and Beach Dwellers
Temperatures are warming, and if you’re anything like us, you’ve been itching to hit the road (or the skies) to visit your favorite cities and maybe fall in love with new ones.
Temperatures are warming, and if you’re anything like us, you’ve been itching to hit the road (or the skies) to visit your favorite cities and maybe fall in love with new ones. Not quite sure where to travel this summer? We’re kicking off summer with an itinerary for our heat seekers, highlighting cities with warm temperatures and beautiful beaches. From Chicago to Miami, here’s our itinerary for your next 6 months with Zeus.
Summer in the Chi
Chicago, Illinois: 45 days
We know exactly where to travel this summer. Start your adventure in July with 45 days in Chicago—a city with beautiful architecture, highly-praised food, and a summer average temperature of 80 degrees. We fully support taking advantage of the warm weather and spending as much time outside as possible, starting with drinks and bites at one of Chicago’s infamous beach bars. Make sure you stop by The Dock at Montrose Beach for live music, margaritas, lobster rolls, and sunset views. And if you can’t get enough of the sun, kick back on the lawn at the Ravinia and catch an outdoor concert (shows will run this summer from July through August). Even if you aren’t able to make a show, it’s a great spot to gather with friends and enjoy the breeze.
Other outdoor activities in the city include kayaking the Chicago River and strolling Navy Pier. Sign up for the Sunset Paddle tour for a chill vibe and breath-taking views. If you’re a history buff or architecture lover, hop on the Historic Chicago kayak tour for 90-minutes of storytelling and views of the contemporary urban landscape. Navy Pier is a popular attraction that stretches more than six blocks and has 50 acres of parks and 2,000 feet of boardwalk. There’s enough at Navy Pier to keep you busy for a day (or two—it’s likely you’ll want to come back). Take your pick from shopping, art, restaurants, Ferris wheel rides, and fireworks.
It’s no secret that Chicago is a baseball city, and even though the rule is to choose between the Cubs or White Sox, we say, while you’re there, root for both. Cheer on the Cubs on the North Side at Wrigley Field. Catchy enough, the entire surrounding area is called Wrigleyville where you’ll find lively bars and restaurants on game days. Check out the White Sox on the South Side at Guaranteed Rate Field. The park had a few huge updates recently, and now includes healthy food options, craft breweries, and a new 15,000 square foot Xfinity Kids Zone.
If you need a break from the heat, cool down in one of the city’s 67 museums. The Art Institute of Chicago is a must-see (and known to be one of the best art museums in the world). Check out current exhibitions, like Bissa Butler: Portraits (20 portrait quilts that capture personal and historical narratives of Black life) and Cosmoscapes: Ink Paintings by Tai Xiangzhou—monochromatic ink paintings that bridge the gulf between ancient traditions and contemporary artistic practice.
45 days can go by fast, but before you leave the city, you must explore Chicago’s food scene. We recommend planning to try at least one new restaurant a week. Here are a few outdoor dining restaurants you won’t want to pass up:
14 Parish Restaurant & Rhum Bar: Located in Hyde Park and celebrated for its upscale-casual dining experience, Caribbean-inspired cuisine, and rum-based drinks. Try the Jamaican Patty and Red Snapper Escovitch.
Offshore Rooftop & Bar: Located in Navy Pier, this restaurant not only has the world’s largest rooftop deck but incredible views and a tasty lunch and dinner menu. We recommend the Hickory Smoked Chicken Wings.
Virtue: Enjoy sidewalk patio seating and Southern cuisine at this Hyde Park gem. Virtue is a great spot to visit for a warm atmosphere and top-tier hospitality. The Mac and Cheese is a fan favorite.
NoMi Kitchen: This Michigan Avenue restaurant is known for its beautiful garden lounge, sushi, cocktails, and wine list. Go to NoMi Kitchen for the ambiance, service, and spectacular views. Although everything on the menu is delicious, we recommend trying the Crunchy Spicy Tuna.
Sunbathe in Santa Monica
Santa Monica, California: 30 days
After the hustle and bustle of Chicago, you’ll head west and enjoy 30 days of relaxation in Santa Monica. Santa Monica is all about the outdoors—summers are typically warm, perfect for endless beach days. Heads up: Santa Monica is a beach town, so temperatures will fluctuate throughout the day. Mornings are cool, but afternoons can reach the high 80s before cooling back down in the evenings. During your month-long stay, you’ll have plenty of time and beautiful weather to dig your toes in the soft sand at the 3.5-mile Santa Monica Beach. There’s much to do at Santa Monica Beach, like swimming, surfing, and exercising (make sure you check out the original Muscle Beach for climbing ropes, rings, and parallel bars). The area is full of trails, so if you’re into cycling, we suggest riding the Marvin Braude Beach Trail (locals call it “The Strand”). You can also visit the Santa Monica mountains for mountain biking.
You’ll find dining options along the beach—try them all during your stay. Some of our favorites are:
1 Pico: Upscale. Go for brunch or lunch and indulge in flavorful seafood and Italian-inspired dishes.
The Lobster: The name speaks for itself. Enjoy sunset views along with your choice of Maine or California spiny lobster entrees.
Pier Burger: Sometimes beach days call for the classic burger and fries. And Pier Burger won’t steer you wrong. Take your pick from a selection of burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, and tasty milkshakes.
It’ll be hard, but try pulling away from the beach for a few days to explore Santa Monica’s love for art and culture (fun fact: more than half of Santa Monica residents are employed in the arts). The city is home to 130 street art murals and more than 75 museums and art galleries. We recommend Bergamot Station Arts Center, where you can browse and enjoy 30 galleries and creative businesses.
Before your month in Santa Monica draws to an end, take advantage of the nearby towns and plan day trips to Malibu and Venice. Just about 45 minutes from Santa Monica, you’ll find Zuma Beach, a 4-mile treasure of sand, clear ocean water, and breathtaking sunset views. It’s best to arrive by 8 a.m. during the summer months to secure a spot to sunbathe and people-watch. A 15-minute trip to Venice will delight you with bright golden sand and a laid-back but spirited vibe on Venice Beach. Enjoy a variety of sights, ranging from artists at work, palm readers, belly dancers, and street performers.
Austin, Texas: 45 days
Where to travel this summer? Texas. By September, make your way down to Austin, Texas. You’ll find hot temperatures this time of year, with an average high of 90 degrees. It’s no surprise that the outdoors is a big deal in Austin. Locals flock to Barton Springs Pool to cool off. Enjoy 200 yards of roughly 68-degree clear water, deep diving, and a manicured lawn for sunbathing. It’s perfect solo or with friends and family.
Another must-visit swimming hole is Jacob’s Well. It’s about 40 minutes outside of Austin, but you’ll get a chance to swim directly in an artesian spring. The well is crystal clear and is also the opening of a series of the longest underwater cave systems in Texas. Bring goggles to see straight to the bottom of the caves.
During your time in Austin, explore the city’s diverse neighborhoods and their unique charms. These are some of our favorites:
Central Austin: This neighborhood is home to vintage shops (Room Service Vintage has great finds), fantastic dining (if you’re a fan of the film Dazed and Confused, you’ll want to stop in Top Notch Hamburgers), dive bars, and iconic music venues.
South Austin: Visit this neighborhood for a look at old Austin. Take in the old-fashioned homes, boutiques, and popular vintage restaurants.
West Austin: If you want to live like a local, this is your spot. Go fishing on Lake Austin and stay until evening to dine on the water (Abel’s on the Lake is a local favorite). Make time to explore Bee Cave Sculpture Park for seven acres of permanent and rotating sculptures.
Austin thrives on its culture. From world-renowned museums, like the Blanton Museum of Art to the West Austin Studio Tours, creativity defines the spirit of Austin. To learn more about Austin’s cultural heritage, visit the Mexic-Arte Museum for a look into Mexican, Latino, and Latin American exhibitions and preservations, or the Carver Museum, which features galleries, theaters, and a dance studio that pay homage to Austin’s African-American heritage.
To experience more of the culture and meet new people, check out First Thursdays. Hosted by the South Congress Hotel, this large outdoor event is filled with live music and an all-night happy hour that lures anyone looking for an evening of fun and inexpensive drinks.
Don’t miss Austin’s food scene. We’re confident you’ll eat well during your time there, but just in case you need some help navigating, here are a few restaurants you must try before you leave:
Slab BBQ & Beer: Drop in for one of the largest barbecue sandwiches you’ll have in your life. If you’re feeling adventurous, try the B.C.B.C. (a massive sandwich packed with brisket and chicken breast). And if there’s any room left, order a side of mac and cheese.
Polvo’s Mexican Restaurant: A staple in South Austin, Polvo’s is the place to go for tasty margaritas and traditional Mexican dishes. The steak fajitas (or any of the fajitas) are a fan favorite.
Launderette: This gem is located in an old laundromat (yes, you read that right). It’s a hot spot in town and dishes up seafood and American entrees. Try the whole branzino.
Beach Hop in Florida
Clearwater, Florida (30 days)
Miami, Florida (30 days)
Farewell, Texas. Hello, Florida. If you’re still wondering where to travel this summer, make your way to Clearwater and then swing by Miami. Although it’ll be October by the time you reach these cities in our itinerary, you’ll still feel the summer heat. During your two months in Clearwater and Miami, you’ll experience average temperatures range from high 70’s to low 80’s.
Clearwater, Florida (30 days)
Clearwater, Florida is known for its grid-worthy Gulf sunsets and beautiful white-sand beaches. And although the city averages 361 days of sunshine a year, we find that the best time to visit is in October. The weather is just about perfect, which lends itself to plenty of time to lounge on the beach, swim in the clear ocean, and enjoy the many activities in town.
Start with visiting the Cleveland Street District downtown. Take in views of the Clearwater Harbor and Marina then eat and shop your heart out on the waterfront. Obviously, you can’t visit Clearwater without making your way to Clearwater Beach (protip: hop on the ferry from downtown to avoid traffic to the beach). Clearwater Beach is often full of activity no matter the time of day (or year). Stretch out on the white sand (you’re likely to find the perfect spot on a weekday) and listen to the sounds of the waves or hop on a boat for deep-sea fishing or an up-close look at the dolphins.
While on the beach, you’ll definitely want to check out Beach Walk—a winding promenade that’s adorned with white sand, artwork, and plenty of entertainment. You’ll even have a view of the Gulf of Mexico between the palm trees.
If you get hungry, there are several options to choose from, like Frenchy’s South Beach Cafe (get the Grouper Sandwich—a local fave), Ryan’s Island Cafe (great for classic American breakfast and lunch, and local craft beer), and Sandbar (kickback on the oceanfront with a tiki cocktail and fish tacos). There are also several other eateries near Pier 60, where you can find the best views of the sunset, pelicans, and dolphins. Sunsets at Pier 60 is a Clearwater tradition: a daily festival that showcases artisans and street performers each evening from 6-9 p.m. Also, catch Sunset Cinema on Friday and Saturday evenings for free movies in Pier 60 Park.
Caladesi Island is another can’t-miss gem. If you’re in need of more beach time, visit this natural island along Florida’s Gulf Coast for a quiet escape, white sand, mangroves, and hiking trails. The best way to get there is by foot from the North Beach side of Clearwater Beach (you could also try catching the Caladesi Connection ferry from Honeymoon Island State Park), so if you’re up for it, prepare for a 2.2-mile walk. We promise it’s worth it!
Other nearby cities to check out during your stay are Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Orlando.
Miami, Florida (30 days)
After a month in Clearwater, head south and spend your final 30 days with us in Miami. Get into a little bit of everything—beach days, architecture tours, shopping, and lively nightlife. With its beautiful weather and high temperatures, the first thing you’ll want to do is head to the beach (in Miami, every day’s a beach day).
For a quiet and less crowded experience, we recommend visiting Miami Beach. Not only is the beach spectacular, but the boardwalk is perfect for peaceful strolls and morning jogs. The beach is also close to sidewalk cafes and plenty of bars. Head to the southern tip for South Beach and lots of party vibes (and maybe some celebrity sightings). Definitely take an Art Deco tour to gain an appreciation for the soul of Miami’s architecture, and don’t forget to get a few selfies in front of the iconic neon-colored lifeguard stands.
A bit farther north, you can find quieter areas of Mid-Beach and North Beach where there’s space to spread out and enjoy a relaxing day. Check out North Beach Bandshell—a charming open-air music venue that hosts the most eclectic musicians in the area. Also north of Miami Beach is Haulover Park. This 99-acre waterfront is dog-friendly, has bike trails and fishing, and food truck festivals every Tuesday evening.
Aside from its beaches, Miami has some of the most eclectic neighborhoods in the country. We recommend exploring these popular areas:
Little Havana: Home to Cuban-influenced art, culture, and the best Cuban food out there, Little Havana is a neighborhood you must explore during your stay in Miami. Look out for festivals and special events, and swing by Cultural Fridays for live music, dancing, cigar rolling, domino playing, and arts and crafts.
Wynwood: Home to funky art galleries, colorful street art, and some pretty awesome restaurants and bars. Check out Wynwood Walls, an outdoor museum featuring some of the world’s renowned street artists.
Miami Design District: Warehouse-turned showrooms of gallery spaces and chic furniture designs. Visit the Design District for all things luxury, including brand names, like Cartier, Givenchy, and Christian Louboutin. Popular restaurants in the area are MC Kitchen and Swan.
Speaking of restaurants, you’ll never go hungry in Miami and it won’t be hard to find some good eats. Especially at Time Out Market Miami, where you can find the highest-rated restaurants in the city all under one roof. Try dishes from restaurants like Kush, Love Life Cafe, Peace Pie, and Hapa Kitchen & Eatery.
Miami has a lot to offer, but here are two final things you must do before you leave:
- Take an Everglades tour. It’s not every day you can ride an airboat and explore in-your-face wildlife, like the Florida alligator. Plan to spend at least half the day navigating through the swamplands. Keep your eye out and camera close for crocodiles, snakes, and more than 300 species of birds that live in the Everglades.
- Adventure off to Key West. Technically this isn’t something to do in Miami, but you must squeeze in one last beach moment in the glorious land of Key West. Start your day early and take a 3.5-hour ferry ride to Key West. Lounge for a few hours on the beach or get adventurous and go kayaking. Whatever you do, make sure you watch the sunset at Mallory Square.
Life’s about living freely wherever, whenever. Thinking of where to travel this summer? Take a look at our locations to plan your next 6 (or 12 or 36) months with Zeus Living.