5 places to visit in August

Kate Mackay, CNNPublished 1st August 2018
(CNN) — August can present something of a challenge when you're setting travel plans.
Some folks are getting their fill of summer (or winter in the Southern Hemisphere) by now and don't want to choose destinations too hot or cold. You have to start factoring in the probabilities of hurricanes or typhoons along certain coastlines. And in many spots, it's not yet shoulder season with its pleasing pricing discounts.
But where there's challenge, there's also great opportunity. As they say, it's a big world out there. We've got suggestions of five marvelous places to visit that could turn August into your favorite month to get out there and play:

1. Portland, Oregon

August is a gorgeous time of the year to visit Portland, Oregon. For a place often associated with rain, the City of Roses doesn't receive all that much in annual precipitation. It does, however, get rain spread out among an average 164 days per year. Thankfully, only two of those days typically fall within August.
Temperatures average a high of 80 Fahrenheit (27 Celsius) and a low of 58 Fahrenheit (14 Celsius) -- perfect weather for all the time you'll likely be spending outside.
Speaking of outdoor recreation, here a few options you might want to consider:
-- Mount Hood National Forest: Only 20 miles (32 kilometers) east of the city, the 311,448-acre forest offers a multitude of activities. There you can hike, horseback ride, climb, bike or drive your way around the scenic byways. Or, if you'd rather be on the water, there are more than 150 lakes and 14 rivers to float, boat, fish and kayak on. Spend the night in a cabin or a tent, and soak at Bagby Hot Springs. Be sure to consult the USDA Forest Service website about what type of pass or permit you will need and what temperatures you should expect on water and land. (Sandy, OR 97055; +1 503 668 1700)
-- International Rose Test Garden: Acquired in 1917, it is the longest continuously operated rose test garden in the United States and features 10,000 rose bushes of 650 varieties. Located in Washington Park, parking is limited. Free public tours are given daily at 1 p.m. from Memorial Day through Labor Day. (400 SW Kingston Avenue, Portland, OR 97205; +1 503 823 7529)
-- Portland Japanese Garden: Also in Washington Park, the Japanese Garden includes 12 acres with eight garden styles, peaceful walkways and a traditional tea house. A former Japanese ambassador called it "the most beautiful and authentic Japanese garden in the world outside of Japan." (611 SW Kingston Avenue, Portland, OR 97205; +1 503 223 1321)
-- Pickathon: The ecofriendly, six-stage music festival on Pendarvis Farm features headliners such as Built to Spill and Broken Social Scene, as well as a variety of a craft beers and gourmet food. Festivalgoers are encouraged to camp, bike or take the free ecoshuttle to the farm. Complimentary drinking water is provided. (16581 SE Hagen Road, Happy Valley, OR 97086; August 3-5, 2018)
Head indoors and check out the Portland Art Museum. Established in 1892, it's the oldest on the West Coast (219 SW Park Avenue, Portland, OR 97205; +1 503 226 2811).
Take a look into our not-so-distant future with the Robot Revolution exhibit at Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. (1945 SE Water Avenue, Portland, OR 97214; +1 503 797 4000).
Browse the rare, out-of-print books as well recent best-sellers at Powell's Books, the largest independent bookstore in the world. (Multiple locations)
Eat very local and dine al fresco at one of Portland's many multicourse farm dinners, where the table is brought to the farm. Or, keep it simple with a sandwich from the city's beloved Lardo. Get the pancetta sandwich with dirty fries. (1212 SE Hawthorne Boulevard, Portland, OR 97214; +1 503 234 7786).
For dessert, head to 180 for a xurro or some drinking xocolata. (2218 NE Broadway Portland, OR 97232; +1 503 477 9163)

2. Belize

The red-throated ant tanager.
The red-throated ant tanager.
Shutterstock
If you're looking for a beach getaway filled with adventure, Belize is an excellent choice. Located in Central America, Belize has Caribbean shores, coral reef, lush rainforest and Mayan ruins. August is in the nestled in the middle of wet season, but this month is a period known as "little dry," and you're likely to have a lot more sunny days than rainy ones as well as fewer crowds.
The toughest part of planning your trip may be which location to choose. Belize isn't a huge country -- it's about the size of Wales -- but narrowing down destinations will help cut down on transportation time and maximize your enjoyment.
If water-centric activities such as diving, snorkeling or beach-going are more your style, Ambergis Caye might be a good fit. It's Belize's largest and most visited island but still maintains a laid-back atmosphere. Snorkel at the Hol Chan Marine Reserve and admire the coral reef formations and marine life. If you're feeling daring, you can get up-close-and-personal with sting rays and nurse sharks in Shark Ray Alley.
There's no shortage of places to stay on this caye, but if you'd like to be close to Hol Chan, consider staying at Ramon's Village Resort in San Pedro. Choose from thatched-roof beachside or jungle cabanas and rooms, or more modern cottages. The resort stands where Ambergis' first hotel was built. (Coconut Drive - San Pedro, Belize; +501 226-2071)
For a slower pace, think about staying on Caye Caulker. Cars are not permitted on the island and shirts and shoes are optional at most establishments. Divers will undoubtedly want to explore the Great Blue Hole, a marine sinkhole that is a part of the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Belize Diving Services not only provides tours, but is a SDI/TDI five star instructor training center and a PADI dive center and resort. (Chapoose Street, Caye Caulker, Belize; +1 (888) 869-0233)
Belize is home to many archaeological sites. These are some great options to consider:
-- Caracol: The largest Mayan ruin site in Belize, and one of the largest in the Maya world, Caracol is in the Chiquibul Forest Reserve, at the foothills of the Maya mountains, near the border with Guatemala.
-- Lamanai: Located in northern Belize in the Orange Walk District, Lamanai was once a major Mayan city. The locations was inhabited as early as 16th century BC until the 17th century AD.
-- Xunantunich: West of Belize City, perched above the Mopan River, Mayan civic ceremonies once took place here. The largest pyramid, El Castillo, is a bit of a climb but well worth it.

3. Dubai

Dubai's architecture isn't limited to skyscrapers -- it's an intriguing mix of old and new.
Dubai might not be an obvious choice for August travel. Situated on the southeast coast of the Persian Gulf and surrounded by the Arabian Desert, the average high is 106 F (42 C) this time of year. (Perhaps not ideal weather for everyone.) Luckily, the Las Vegas of the Middle East has plenty to do indoors -- and since it is low season, you can snag deals on accommodation, airfare and activities (air conditioning included). Be sure to check with the Dubai Department of Tourism for limited summer hours on some outdoor attractions.
Dubai is known as a global luxury shopping destination—and for good reason. If you happen to be visiting the first weekend of the month, you can take advantage deep discounts during the final days of Dubai Summer Surprises shopping festival. Participating malls and retailers will offer last-minute sales and prizes. Special events and live entertainment will take place throughout the city.
The Dubai Mall is the largest in the world (based on total area). The more than half a million square meters of retail space houses 1,200 stores. You'll find a wide range of labels (and price tags), from Alexander McQueen to Zara.
If shopping wasn't enough to keep you busy here, the mall has a ton of entertainment options including a virtual reality theme park, an Olympic-sized ice skating rink, the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo and the Emirates A380 Experience flight simulator.
Dubai is the fourth most-visited city in the planet, thanks to its beaches, entertainment center and rich heritage.
Don't leave the mall without taking an elevator ride up to the At the Top observation decks of the Burj Khalifa. At 2,716 feet (828 meters) and 160 stories, it is the world's tallest building and an offers remarkable 360-degree views of the city. Buy tickets in advance to avoid lines. (Financial Center Road, Dubai, UAE; +971 800 38224 6255)
With 560 stores, The Mall of the Emirates is on the smaller side (for Dubai). If high-end brands such as Chanel and Burberry are strictly your bag, this is the place for you.
If hitting the slopes at the Middle East's first indoor ski resort is your thing, this mall is also the place for you. Take a break from the heat and ski or snowboard Ski Dubai's five runs, meet the resident penguins and enjoy a hot chocolate at 25 degrees Fahrenheit (-4 degrees Celsius). (Sheikh Zayed Road, Al Barsha 1, Al Barsha, Dubai, UAE, 72999; +971 4 4099000)
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Where to stay in Dubai
Dubai is brimming with amusement parks. However, being outside in the sun for prolonged periods might not be the best idea for most. If you have kids in tow, or, even if you don't, check out IMG Worlds of Adventure. The indoor theme park is as big as 28 football fields, and, you guessed it, the world's largest. It features Marvel and Cartoon Network-themed zones and characters as well the fastest roller coaster in the emirate. (E311, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road، City of Arabia, Dubai, UAE; +971 600 500962)
Now for some relaxing. One&Only The Palm resort on Palm Jumeirah Island is a perfect place for that. Located on a private peninsula of the island, you can enjoy the secluded beach, a pool with air-conditioned cabanas and a word-class spa. (West Crescent, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai, UAE; +971 4 440 1010)

4. Medellín, Colombia

Downtown Medellín is great for history and people-watching.
Downtown Medellín is great for history and people-watching.
Shutterstock
Tucked in the Aburrá Valley in the Andes Mountains, the City of Eternal Spring enjoys temperate weather year-round and makes it an ideal August destination. Once synonymous with drug and gang-related crime and violence, Medellín has emerged as a safe and popular tourist destination for dining and culture. Local initiatives to improve infrastructure, parks and public transportation have helped to revitalize Medellín and have won it such accolades as one of the world's most innovative cities.
To get acquainted with Medellín, start off by taking one of Real City Tours, which are free walking tours. While Pablo Escobar-centered tours are plentiful, they are generally looked down upon by locals as they tend to sensationalize the city's violent past.
To get a better understanding of Medellín's tumultuous recent history, head to Casa de la Memoria Casa (The House of Memory Museum), which serves as a memorial for the victims of the armed conflicts that plagued the city and Colombia over the past 50 years. (Parque Bicentenario, Cl. 51 #36-66, Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia; +57 4 5202020)
Comuna 13, one of Medellín's poorer barrios and previously a stronghold for gangs and drug lords, is as a prime example of the city's resilience. The hillside community has undergone a lot of changes, especially since a series of escalators were completed in 2011 to allow easy access for the 12,000 residents to get to and from work -- previously about a 28-story hike to and from the city below. Take the Comuna 13 Graffiti Tour to gain insight on the district's past, transformation and street art.
Several points of interest can be reached by the Metrocable, a gondola lift system that complements the city's metro. Here are a few must-sees:
-- Museo de Antioquia: Colombia's second-oldest museum and the first in Antioquia, holds more than 5,000 pieces and features the artwork of natives Pedro Nel Gómez and Fernando Botero. (Cl. 52 #43, Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia; +57 4 2513636)
-- Rafeal Uribe Palace of Culture: Now a public building that holds concerts and conventions, the building is well-known for its gothic architecture. (Carrera 51 #52 01 Medellín Antioquia 050012, Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia; +57 4 320 97 80)
-- Plaza Botero: Just out front of the Museo de Antioquia and the Uribe Palace of Culture, the Plaza Botero boasts 23 of artist Fernando Botero's bronze sculptures.
-- Parque Arví: This ecotourism park and archeological site just outside Medellín in Santa Elena is a great place to get out of the city and explore the nature of Aburrá Valley. (Via a Piedras Blancas, Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia; +57 4 4442979)

5. Berlin, Germany

Berlin winters are cold, cloudy and dreary. But if you come in August, you'll find a city of people still wringing out the pleasures of summer with German gusto.
In August, you're not into the lower prices of shoulder season yet, but Berlin is a relative bargain compared with other cities in Europe such as Copenhagen, London and Venice. Just be ready to mingle with the crowds and indulge in Berlin's creative pleasures.
One great way to get outdoors and pick up some history is to bike the path of the dismantled Berlin Wall. Divided into sections that vary from seven to 21 miles, the "Mauerweg" (Wall Trail) traces its entire path. Outfitters such as Berlin on Bike! offer guided tours. Or you can map it yourself, arrange your own bike rental and go out on your own.
How about a swim? The water has had all summer to warm up, and Berlin has plenty of lakes from which choose: Schlachtensee in the southwestern part of the city is just one of many. (Schlachtensee 1 14129 Berlin)
August is the perfect time to stroll through the Tiergaren (think of it as Berlin's Central Park). It contains or is very close to numerous tourist attractions, including Brandenburg Gate and Potsdamer Platz. (The Tiergarten is just below the Spree in the Mitte borough of central Berlin)
If you're catching Berlin in a heatwave and seek something indoors, we recommend the Pergamon Museum. Its highlight is the namesake Great Altar of Pergamon, which dates to around 170 B.C. You can also see fine examples of Middle Eastern and Islamic art. (Bodestrasse 1-3, 10178 Berlin, Germany; +49 30 266424242)
A few other attractions worth your time:
-- Fernsehturm (TV tower): An excellent place to take in 360-degree views of the city. (Panoramastrasse 1A, 10178 Berlin, Germany)
-- Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe: An immersive, emotionally moving Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, it opened in 2005. The memorial consists of 2,711 concrete slabs of different heights and is open 24 hours a day. (Cora-Berliner-Strasse 1, 10117 Berlin, Germany)
-- Brandenburg Gate: This neoclassical structure is an iconic symbol of German history and has seen visiting figures in history from France's Napoleon to US President Ronald Reagan. (Pariser Platz, 10117 Berlin, Germany)
And finally, a few events you can enjoy only in August:
-- Berliner Bierfestival: You're in Germany. They have beer here. Enjoy the festival! (Karl-Marx-Allee, 10243 Berlin, Germany; August 3-5, 2018).
-- Young Euro Classic Concert Festival: Hear young musicians from Europe and all over the world play classical works (At the Konzerthaus on Gendarmenmarkt, 10117 Berlin; August 3-20, 2018)
-- Taz im August: A must-see if you love contemporary dance and fine outing for the novice, too. See international stars in the dance scene as well as newcomers. (Sony Center am Potsdamer Platz; August 8-September 2, 2018)
If you're looking for an interesting place to stay, check out Hotel nhow Berlin. MTV Berlin and Universal Music are a short walk away. And should you overdo Berlin's infamous nightlife scene on a sultry Saturday night, nhow has free late checkout on Sundays up to 5 p.m. (Stralauer Allee 3, 10245 Berlin, Germany; +49 30 290 2990)