Where should we go in August?
April 4, 2007 6:12 PM   Subscribe

Where should two women go in August for about two weeks? A friend and I want to take a trip this summer. We're open to lots of different experiences, but would prefer that it not be too, too hot or too, too crowded. Places we're considering include Iceland, Norway, Nova Scotia, and Glacier National Park (Canada). Any experiences in these places or other ideas? Thanks, Mefites!
posted by walla to Travel & Transportation (17 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I can't speak to any of those places, but notice that your list is missing all of the places where it will be "winter." June-August is a great time of year for visiting places like Cape Town and Buenos Aires when they're cooler and not as crowded. Just wanted to mention it...
posted by whatzit at 6:26 PM on April 4, 2007

Considered Alaska? August is the end of tourist season, so it's less crowded. I went on a camping tour there in August and it was the best vacation ever.
posted by clh at 6:44 PM on April 4, 2007

Glacier National Park is awesome - right next door to Mount Revelstoke National Park, also very awesome. Amazing glaciers, highest point in the Canadian Highway system (Roger's Pass), craggy peaks right out of Tolkien, animals (bear, mountain goat & sheep, elk, owls, bats, etc.) and lovely interpretive stuff all though the parks - huge cedars, boardwalks through wetlands, campgrounds next to runoff rivers. Down the next valley is the town of Revelstoke - chill, old railhead, nice typical architecture, local scene; and south into the Kootenays you can do a tour of undeveloped hot springs (i.e. you walk in off the road to little pools developed by locals), tour an old ghost town (an old silver boom city of 10,000 - now pop. 16). Nakusp has a hilarious but serious mud bog competition on the August long weekend - giant home-built trucks going through the mud. Absolutely hysterical and down-home type entertainment for anyone who grew up urban. The whole area has lots of outdoors stuff to do - heli-hiking, biking, 4x4ing on trails, and down near Slocan there is a great low-key rafting/kayaking operation that employs fantastic local guides who'll tell you all about learning the river in high school "at full moon, like, ZIPPED on shrooms, eh?" Nelson is a small city at the southern end of the valley. Very charming, alt culture. This whole area is the nexus of the Canadian pot industry, so you could spend the whole time happily toked to the bejeezus on fine BC bud, if that's the sort of thing you'd be interested in.

I suggest you fly into Calgary, spend a day driving out to Revelstoke (lunch in Banff) - it takes about six or seven hours driving from Calgary to Revelstoke, totally do-able in one day. Base in Revelstoke for three days to explore the parks/do hikes, and then take the next nine or ten days to go south through the Kootenays: Nakusp, New Denver, Silverton, Nelson. Then drive the Crowsnest Highway east back to Alberta and head north to Calgary. Perfect circle!

This route is not crowded with Japanese tourists or American bus tours - very backwoods but safe and authentic. Feel free to email me re: details in the area... my mom lives in Nakusp and we've been going there for years.
posted by Mrs Hilksom at 6:51 PM on April 4, 2007

I'm a big fan of Bali. Takes a while to fly there but wow is it a gorgeous & interesting place to explore. Plus if you don't go the upscale tourist route & stay at the fancy resorts, life on the island can be cheap. :)
posted by miss lynnster at 7:29 PM on April 4, 2007

I was in Iceland last August. That's a great time to be there. It was sunny and in the 60's. The days are looonggg... the sun doesn't set until around 9:30. And you for sure don't have to worry about crowds. Especially if you rent a car and drive out around the country. (There were times when we drove for miles and never saw another car). Iceland is beautiful and otherworldy. The people were very friendly, and most spoke English.

Two weeks would be more than enough time to drive the Ring Road which circles the country and which features some truly incredible sites- geysers, glaciers, and waterfalls. We were there for 4 days and managed to drive half. However, unless you are really into hiking, biking, whale watching or long scenic drives in remote areas then you might get a bit bored. Reyjkavik is a cool little city, but it doesn't take more than a day or two to explore. The Blue Lagoon seemed like it might be a tourist trap when I first read about it, but it was a treat for sure.

The major detractor of Iceland is the cost. I think its the most expensive European city. The car rental was about $110 a day, and food and lodging were also expensive.

I know there have been a couple of other good AskMe's on Iceland if you search.
posted by kimdog at 7:43 PM on April 4, 2007

I should mention that if you fly somewhere with Icelandair you can do a free 3-day stopover in Iceland. I'm Icelandic, so I could answer most questions you'd have. If you have any specific ones, feel free to e-mail me (address in profile).
posted by Kattullus at 8:22 PM on April 4, 2007

Kattullus, actually, I think you can do up to a week as a free stop over. My trip there was en route to Amsterdam; and we stayed 4 nights at no additional cost.
posted by kimdog at 8:29 PM on April 4, 2007

Scotland? The weather should be good, without being too hot. It's small enough to see a lot of the place in two weeks. And of course the Edinburgh Comedy Festival will be on throughout August.

[I love Scotland]
posted by kisch mokusch at 9:17 PM on April 4, 2007

A list of (possibly) not-hot, not-crowded suggestions off the top of my head:

The Azores
The Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania)
St. Petersburg and Moscow
Hokkaido, Japan
New Zealand
South Africa
Buenos Aires

If the heat wasn't such a factor, I'd also suggest
Oaxaca, Mexico
Kerala, India

Your ideas are great too. I'd jump on Nova Scotia in a second.
posted by mdonley at 10:59 PM on April 4, 2007

Depends what you like and how much money you have.

Iceland is amazing, otherworldly. Has remote areas and urban areas. Natural hot tubs everywhere. Constant wind, at least on southern coast. So worth going, though very expensive. Learn a little geology, or read some sagas/eddas before you go, to appreciate it more. Go to the Westman Islands if you can - Vestmannaeyjar, the island of Heimaey which is really the only one you can go to -- to see amazing lava formations and puffins.

Glacier is remarkable, beautiful, remote. Camping, no significant urban areas. Gorgeous. Much cheaper than Iceland.

Nova Scotia is much like coastal New England. Fishing villages, pine trees, coastal scenery. The most scenic areas (IMO) are to the extreme east - Cape Breton and the Bras d'Or lakes. (Though I didn't see the northwestern part.)
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:27 PM on April 4, 2007

Incidentally, the ferry to Vestmannaeyjar sucks - bring dramamine, eat it 30 min before getting on board, snooze for the trip.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:28 PM on April 4, 2007

The San Juan Islands or their Canadian neibo(u)rs the Gulf Islands are gorgeous that time of year, and not too hot. Or, if you do go to Nova Scotia, you could also head to Newfoundland and Labrador.
posted by bassjump at 1:51 AM on April 5, 2007

I've been to Iceland, and my girlfriend and I didn't do the round trip around the island. But we though one week was more than enough. The island is nice, but very VERY expensive. After one week of beautiful geisers, otherworldy landscapes, drizzle and a gorgeous waterfall, we'd seen enough of the island. So if you have two weeks planned, I would certainly try to combine Iceland with something else! Have fun.

posted by hz37 at 3:48 AM on April 5, 2007

I worked in the Glacier National Park a few years ago over the summer. There's a hotel in Roger's Pass (where I actually worked - nothing else there except a park station/museum, a gas station and tonnes of beautiful scenery), it's expensive but might be worth a night or two. Here is the website for the hotel.

There's two towns almost equidistant from the hotel, the one to the east is Golden BC and to the west is Revelstoke. I visited both frequently while I was there and both have hotels, fast food, bars and other assorted businesses. Of the two Golden was my favourite by far. It's a true glacial valley complete with truncated spurs and hanging valleys to the north and south. Both towns have rivers in them (as both are technically glacial valleys) but I found Golden to be more open and scenic than Revelstoke. YMMV. There's also a short boardwalk-type hike through some fantastic old growth forest that would be a must-do. I can't remember the name off the top of my head but if you really want to know email me (in profile) and I'll see if I can't come up with it.

As I recall there are also many little, independent lodges up and down the highway between Revelstoke and Golden but I don't have any additional info about them except that some of them look gorgeous.

If you and your friend do decide on GNP you definitely won't regret it. It is truly a beautiful place.
posted by LunaticFringe at 7:14 AM on April 5, 2007

I've been to Nova Scotia on several occasions, and it's a great getaway. As well as the traditional scenery/ocean/pine trees stuff, Halifax is a great city to spend time in.

All that being said, July/August is the high tourist season there. I don't think it ever gets Disneyland-level crowded, but there's a definite upswing in activity in the prime summer months. I spent a few days in the Cape Breton area early last June, and it was near-perfect timing: the seasonal places had just opened, and the flood of tourists hadn't quite arrived yet.
posted by flipper at 7:35 AM on April 5, 2007

Spent a week in Nova Scotia just after Labor Day a few years ago, and it was perfect. The weather was perfect, the crowds were perfectly absent (except at Peggy's Cove which is not so remarkable that you have to see it), the scenery was stunning, the food was good, the natives were friendly, they give you back the taxes (on purchases over $50 CD), it's a great place. We did see some of the northwest part, around the Minas Basin. If you go, find Medford Beach - it was amazing, unpublicized, and deserted.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 8:25 AM on April 5, 2007

Please go to the ice hotel and then tell me all about it!
posted by Sassyfras at 9:09 AM on April 5, 2007

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