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10 American Summer Destinations to Visit Before They Get Too Expensive

Summer may be in full swing, but it isn’t too late to plan a getaway or snag a travel deal. New analysis from financial servicer First Data highlights some cities that are growing in popularity as summer destinations (and some that aren’t) to help you find the best deals.

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First off, when we say “up-and-coming,” we aren’t talking about cities you’ve never heard of. The data shows where people are spending more money year-over-year, which indicates an fast increase in popularity and, in all likelihood, stronger consumer confidence. So don’t be surprised by the well-known locales included.

The Fastest-Growing Summer Destinations

The large-market summer travel destinations that are growing the fastest are:

  • Boston, MA
  • Chicago, IL
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • San Diego, CA
  • Seattle, WA

The small-market summer travel destinations that are growing the fastest are:

  • Milwaukee, WI
  • Myrtle Beach, SC
  • Providence, RI
  • Salisbury, MD
  • Virginia Beach, VA

Some Familiar Faces

Among large cities, Boston spending grew the most at almost 10 percent, led by a 14.7 percent jump in restaurant spending. Boston is already a popular destination, especially in the summer, but this data suggests an increase in people coming for the city’s great dining scene in addition to the history and other attractions.

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Other big cities with significant spending increases include Los Angeles (4.5 percent), Seattle (4 percent), San Diego (3.2 percent), and Chicago (2.7 percent).

Among small cities, Providence, Rhode Island, saw a 12.1 percent increase in spending, while Salisbury, Maryland and Myrtle Beach also made the list. Providence, surprisingly, is the fastest growing market for international travelers.

Most Popular Activities

Overall, restaurants and “leisure” activities like golf, amusement parks, and museums drove the most growth in spending. That’s likely the result of increased foot traffic and rising costs, so travelers should be thoughtful when planning a vacation budget.

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This data also suggests that competition could be high for sought-after restaurants and attractions. In a city like Boston, for example, which has built a reputation for being a food destination, you might want to make reservations well ahead of time for popular spots, and keep an eye out for deals. Same goes for L.A. and its popular tourist attractions, some of which may have limited or timed entry only.

The other main spending driver was simply travel, indicating an increase year-over-year in the costs of getting to and around certain cities. According to FirstData, spending on both gas and “travel” increased, the latter of which includes travel to the destination and on-the-ground costs like taxis and public transportation.

Are these cities on your summer travel list? Comment below.

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By Carl Unger

Contributing Editor Carl Unger believes that every trip is worth taking. He loves an extended trip to Europe as much as he enjoys exploring the towns and landscape near home. Basically, you'll find him wherever there is good food, fresh air, and plenty of stories to bring home.

Carl has been writing for SmarterTravel since 2005. His travel writing has also appeared on USA Today and the Boston travel guide.

The Handy Item I Always Pack: "It's not revolutionary, but a small Moleskine notebook is my one travel must-have. It's great for noting things you want to remember and it takes up hardly any space in your bag."

Ultimate Bucket List Experience: "Japan. I'd love to take a month off and visit the cities, temples, and countryside. I'm fascinated by the country's juxtaposition of ancient traditions and modern ambitions."

Travel Motto: “Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.” –Terry Pratchett

Aisle, Window, or Middle Seat: "Window."

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