6 Summer Vacation Destinations to Avoid (Slideshow)

It’s finally summer! It’s time to ditch all those heavy layers and come out from our caves to enjoy fun in the sun. But some of the most popular summertime activities are not the greatest for your health, the health of  animals and the environment. Click through to check out the summer destinations to avoid. But don’t worry, we’re not out to totally ruin your summer — check out our ideas for healthier, safer, more humane and environmentally-friendly alternatives.

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1. Many National Parks

Everyone wants to see the Redwoods, Mammoth Cave, and the Grand Canyon. And while these spectacular sights are worth visiting, the most popular national parks in the system are just that — popular. With popularity comes long lines, traffic jams and fierce competition for camping spots. Oh, and those beautiful sites you came to see? Yep, often, they’re clouded by all of the pollution from cars. Skip these popular destinations in the height of the sumer travel season to avoid the hassle.

Instead Try: For every Yosemite or Smokey Mountain, there are a dozen less famous, but just as beautiful parks out there. Who knows — you might even get a campsite! Check out Arches National Park in Utah, or Acadia National Park in Maine.

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2. SeaWorld.

There are countless reports of inhumane treatment at zoos and animal parks across the globe, but Seaworld is one of the worst offenders. They keep some of the largest animals in the world in captivity — which is terrible and unsafe not just for the animals, but for humans, too, all for the sake of entertainment. Don’t give them your money!

Instead Try: Volunteering at an animal shelter.

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3. The State Fair.

Each year, state and county fairs outdo themselves in terms of weird things to fry. We’re not impressed. Skip the state fair altogether if you can’t resist the temptation.

Instead Try: Grill up some veggies. With plenty of salad on the side!

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4. Cruise Ships.

With all of the ill-fated cruise ships in the news lately, it’s a wonder the industry is still so popular. But it’s not just the not-having-power-or-running-water thing that’s leading us to recommend you avoid taking a cruise, it’s also the environmental impact these giant ships have.

Instead Try: Flying and driving are both far better for the environment than cruising. Or, better yet, get a canoe!

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5. Public Pools.

If you have a queasy stomach, you should stop reading this now. I mean it! Public swimming pools are gross. Like, really gross. 58 percent of them, a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show, contain e coli, largely from human fecal matter. What else?!

Instead Try: You can still swim in pools, if you take some precautions, and if you still want to after learning these facts. Check out the CDC’s helpful tips here.

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6. Many Beaches Across the U.S.

There are thousands of miles of coastline across the country, and some of it is in better shape than others. You’ll find polluted beaches in every state with a coastline — largely due to storm water. You never want to swim in a beach that has posted warnings. You should also avoid city beaches after it has rained. But just because there’s no warning doesn’t mean the beach is safe.  Nearly half of beaches aren’t monitored at all, and, of the ones that are, only 45 percent are monitor at least once a week.

Instead Try: The NRDC has a searchable list of popular beaches across the country. Find a five star beach in your area. The list isn’t comprehensive, though, and the NRDC recommends finding out how often your beach of choice is monitored, because nearly half of beaches aren’t.

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Magdalen B.
Magdalen B.3 months ago

From what I've read the people working on the cruise ships have rotten wages and conditions. The "Don't go to the fair! Grill some veggies instead!" idea is bound to be a winner.

Debra W.
Debra W.2 years ago

Your article has me rethinking my choices. Thanks.

Diana R.
Diana R.2 years ago

My husband and I started making the state fair a family tradition. We love the ferris wheel and seeing the cows. I don't think I've eaten one thing from the fair, mainly because it's all quite gross to me, and the jacked up prices.

We just go to dinner first so we're not hungry!

MacKenzie H.
MacKenzie H.2 years ago

There's an idea I would like to try--being a tourist in my home town. I just live in a small Midwestern city, but it's interesting enough with museums and parks and two major universities. We even have several B&Bs.

Ana F.
Ana F.2 years ago

Definitely avoiding them!

Athena Milios
Athena Milios2 years ago


Myriam G.
Myriam G.2 years ago

Acadia National park is a real gem!

Geoff P.
Past Member 2 years ago


Ruth R.
Ruth R.2 years ago

Thank you for posting the article!

Thank you NRDC for the list of beaches.

Ruth R.
Ruth R.2 years ago

Low cost -- assembly-line produced -- private tiny pools -- some with that can turn on the river flow -- so a person can swim in place -- would be useful.