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16 Affordable Family Vacations to Take This Summer

From laid-back islands to charming small towns and bustling cities, here are some great getaways on a budget.

Evie Carrick is a writer and editor who’s lived in five countries and visited well over 50. She now splits her time between Colorado and Paris, ensuring she doesn't have to live without skiing or L'As du Fallafel.

easy summer travel ideas

Summer is right around the corner and vacation is top of mind. And while any trip will set you back a bit, there are plenty of destinations that won't break the bank. The trick is picking the right one — places where the summer season is quieter or lodging and food are more affordable. And when you're traveling with kids, things like pre-packing snacks and shopping at local grocery stores to prepare your own meals can go a long way toward lowering overall costs.

To lend a hand, we've rounded up 16 spots where you can have a memorable vacation at a reasonable price. The best family vacation destinations have free and lower-priced attractions, as well as properties that welcome kids with complimentary, family-friendly amenities.

Our roundup of the best summer vacation ideas includes a handful of relaxing beach destinations, bustling city excursions, and trips that include a bit of both. We've also listed domestic and international options, so you'll find inspiration for an all-out adventure and ideas for a long weekend away.

San Diego, California

Chelsea Loren/Travel + Leisure

California's sunny San Diego has tons of activities for families, with theme parks, water parks, kid-friendly museums, and 70 miles of beaches. The Go City All-Inclusive Pass can be used for top attractions such as the San Diego Zoo , Legoland California , harbor cruises, and several museums in Balboa Park, providing you with discounts of up to 50 percent per person.

Bar Harbor, Maine

Bar Harbor has plenty of places to go swimming, including the freshwater beach at Echo Lake, which has calm waves that are good for kids. You can also follow signs labeled " The Museum in the Streets " around Bar Harbor to create your own walking tour, or hop on one of the myriad hiking, walking, or cycling trails. At nearby Acadia National Park , a vehicle pass will get the whole family into the park for a day of hiking and views of Maine's wildlife and wild coast.

Winter Park, Colorado

While you might think of Winter Park as a snowy destination, it's also a great place to visit in the summer, especially if you're looking to escape the heat. In a single day, families can enjoy hiking, ropes courses, gondola rides, and climbing walls. Buy your day passes early — these provide access to all the activities noted — to secure the best available prices. Snow Mountain Ranch , a YMCA camp about 20 minutes away by car, has one of the only summertime tubing hills in the United States, as well as miniature golf, archery, and a climbing wall to keep everyone busy.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Haizhan Zheng / Getty Images

" Kidsburgh " has tons of great activities for families — from the Pittsburgh Zoo & Aquarium to the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh . In the summer, there's a 10-day Grand Prix with vintage cars and walking tours to help you enjoy the city and get some exercise. You'll also find economical lunch spots, while the subway line offers free rides around downtown. Consider hiking or biking along the Great Allegheny Passage , which provides a scenic, outdoorsy way to explore the city's many bridges and tunnels along a 150-mile trail.

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

If you and your kids love the water, head to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. At properties like The Breakers , guests can enjoy five water slides, several on-property pools, a sunken pirate ship, and a long lazy river. There's also shuffleboard, a giant chessboard, and cornhole. If your family is into mini-golf, look no further than this seaside town, which boasts over 30 courses .

St. Louis, Missouri

Barry Winiker / Getty Images

Free attractions in St. Louis include Purina Farms (open April to October), where children can enjoy dog agility shows and animal barnyards, and the Saint Louis Art Museum , which is kid-friendly. Admission to the City Museum , with its 10-story slide, huge ball pit, and 40-foot high Ferris wheel, is available through day passes or memberships. Afterward, stop by Ted Drewes Frozen Custard , known for shakes so thick they can be served upside down.

Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Sean Pavone Photo / Getty Images

Located next to Great Smoky Mountains National Park , Gatlinburg is for the adventurous outdoor lover, with plenty of opportunities for biking, horseback riding, and whitewater rafting, and more than 800 miles of hiking trails. For a day of shopping that the whole family can get behind, visit the Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community , an eight-mile loop road that features eateries alongside artisan galleries selling handmade goods.

Lodging options in Gatlinburg include resorts and cabins — check the tourism board's website to see which ones offer free nights or discounts . Gatlinburg is also about a 20-minute drive from country music icon Dolly Parton's famous Dollywood , a great day trip for all the amusement park lovers out there.

Lisbon, Portugal

Ready to explore the world with your kids? In Lisbon, families can enjoy an all-in-one city and beach vacation. Explore the city's distinct neighborhoods, castles, and palaces, or hop aboard a funicular to climb its steep hills for a scenic tour of the city. Lisbon is also home to 10 free museums, including the kid-friendly Money Museum.

Vienna, Austria

The walkability of Austria's capital city is part of what makes it such an affordable stop for families — plus, there are several free walking tours , including those that introduce you to the city's music, street art, and recreation. With the Vienna Pass , travelers receive complimentary access to more than 90 of the city's top attractions, including museums, a giant Ferris wheel, and spots like Madame Tussauds wax museum. The pass has single-day and multiday options, including up to six days at a steep discount.

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic is ideal for a family beach getaway thanks to its many  all-inclusive resorts . While the country has lots of amazing destinations that are worth visiting, it's pretty hard to top Punta Cana. All ages can enjoy the 30 miles of white-sand coastline, picturesque coconut palms, and direct flights from more than 28 countries and 96 cities around the world.

Washington, D.C.

Danita Delimont, Getty Images / Gallo Images

For a family vacation in a bustling city full of affordable hotels , kid-friendly restaurants, and free attractions, plan a visit to Washington, D.C. The nation's capital has lots to offer for anyone on a budget. All the Smithsonian museums, the National Zoo , and the monuments and memorials along the National Mall are free to enter, as are several outdoorsy spots like Rock Creek Park and the U.S. National Arboretum . Plan ahead, though, as some require free timed passes for entry.

Register in advance through your home state representative's office and take the kids on a free (and educational) tour of The White House — if all else fails, the White House Visitor Center just around the corner makes a worthy alternative. You can also reserve free timed tickets online for a guided tour of the U.S. Capitol Building .

Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

Mitch Diamond / Getty Images

There's plenty of free fun to be had right across the border in Canada. In Victoria, British Columbia, on the country's western coast, families can stroll through Beacon Hill Park , try their hand at lawn bowling, or drop by the children's farm to meet the park's residents and watch the twice-daily "goat stampede." For a day of coastal bliss, walk along the water at iconic Fisherman's Wharf and grab a sweet treat at Jackson's Ice Cream . A day at WildPlay Element Parks ' Victoria location offers a variety of aerial adventure packages with access to zip lines, wobbly bridges, rope swings, ax throwing, and bungee jumping.

Morro Bay, California

Daniel Gorostieta/Travel + Leisure

There's nothing quite like settling in along the California coast with your kids in tow, and the often overlooked community of Morro Bay is a great place to visit. Spot otters and whales from the coast, pack a picnic to enjoy on the beach, or spend the day sailing, golfing, biking, or surfing. When you need a break, grab a bite at Sylvester's Burgers — the garlic fries are out of this world! Afterward, head to Morro Bay State Park or drop by the Morro Bay Maritime Museum .

Rincón, Puerto Rico

Walter Bibikow / Getty Images

Puerto Rico has a little something for everyone, and it's easily accessible with direct flights from more than 50 cities. The surf town of Rincón, on the westernmost tip of the island, is about a 2.5-hour drive from San Juan. Its laid-back vibe, beautiful beaches, and great waves are perfect for families. Book a room at the Rincon of the Seas Grand Caribbean Hotel , or save on food by reserving a villa with a kitchen — the largest villas can accommodate up to six people. Either way, this hotel puts you right on the sea and has a stunning beachfront pool perfect for lounging and playing.

Mackinac Island, Michigan

Wiltser / Getty Images

In the summer, there's no place like Mackinac Island , a National Historic Landmark void of chain hotels and cars — yes, you read that right. Instead, your family will be treated to an old-timey experience filled with world-famous Mackinac Island fudge and days spent biking around the island, taking a ferry under the Mackinac Bridge, or cruising around the coast by kayak.

The star of the island is the historic Grand Hotel , which opened its doors in 1887. In addition to old-world hospitality and perks like afternoon tea, the hotel features on-site stables and an expansive pool. Kids can also spend the day playing lawn games and mini-golf.

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Dean Fikar / Getty Images

A trip to the Grand Canyon is almost certainly on the to-do list for lots of families. And while the natural wonder tends to be busy in the summer, you can avoid the crowds and find better pricing by heading to the North Rim (open seasonally). Cozy up in the Grand Canyon Lodge — book early to secure a room — or reserve a campsite at the North Rim Campground. This area offers pleasant summer temperatures and serves as the perfect base camp to enjoy the abundant wildlife, hiking trails, and views of the stunning canyon, which is 270 miles long, 18 miles wide, and a mile deep.

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view of diablo lake in north cascades national park, one of the best places to visit in summer usa

33 Stunning Places to Visit in Summer in the USA (Vacation Spots Not to Miss!)

When it comes to exploring our backyard, there’s no kind of trip that Americans hold nearer and dearer to our hearts than the delights of summer vacations in the USA.

There’s an exhilarating freedom that comes with hitting the open road in the US in June, July, and August, no matter how many years it has been since you were in school and actually had an assigned summer break.

And, if you’re like a lot of us, summer vacation in the US often means heading to your family’s classic spot at least once (for us, that’s Atlantic Beach, NC and the surrounding area).

The call of new destinations, though, can be just as strong–no surprise, considering how many fantastic places there are to go in the United States over the summer!

If you’re hoping to mix it up this summer, whether it’s with a long weekend in a new-to-you city or a road trip to one of America’s best national parks , we have some ideas here for you!

We teamed up with several other travel bloggers to round up some of the best places to visit in summer in the USA.

Here are some unforgettable travel destinations to add to your 2023 summer wish list!

Table of Contents

Cool Cities to Visit During Summer in the USA

Beaches + islands for classic summer vacations in the us, national parks to visit for usa summer vacations, epic usa summer road trip routes, more of the best places to visit in summer in the usa.

kate storm in elfreths alley philadelphia

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As the largest city in New England and the birthplace of the American Revolution, Boston is undoubtedly one of the absolute best places to visit over the summer in the USA.

With its coastal location, gorgeous architecture, a dizzying array of distinct neighborhoods, and world-class museums (not to mention universities), you’ll never run out of incredible  things to do in Boston .

That being said, thanks to the city’s dense historic center and easy-to-access attractions along the Freedom Trail, spending even one day in Boston can be incredibly rewarding.

We’ve been obsessed with Boston since we spent a summer living there, and will forever count it among our favorite cities.

During your trip, be sure to walk the Freedom Trail, relax at the Boston Public Garden and the Common, and enjoy the views from the water on  a whale-watching cruise .

2 Days in Boston Itinerary: Beacon Hill

When it comes to neighborhoods, make sure to visit the picturesque North End, fashionable Back Bay, and grand Beacon Hill–three Boston neighborhoods you absolutely can’t miss.

Summer is also the perfect time of year to enjoy a Red Sox game at historic Fenway Park, one of the best baseball stadiums in America.

And, thanks to Boston’s many connections to the American Revolution, you’d be hard-pressed to find a city that celebrates the 4th of July with more flair!

If you’re planning an early July vacation in the USA, be sure not to miss the reading of the Declaration of Independence from the balcony of the Old State House or the phenomenal fireworks display when visiting Boston.

Where to Stay in Boston

  • Found Hotel Boston Common: This boutique hotel in the Theatre District is perfect for exploring Boston. Rooms are bright and comfortable, and there is access to public transport a short walk from the hotel.
  • Revere Hotel Boston Common: Also in the Theatre District and close to Boston Common is this stylish hotel with a stunning rooftop terrace and bar, perfect for afternoon drinks. Rooms are spacious and have a coffee machine for those of you who need coffee the moment you wake up.

Things to Do in Boston: Boston 4th of July Fireworks

Chicago, Illinois

From Alyssa of An Apple a Plane

From an infamous skyline to countless outdoor activities, Chicago, Illinois, is without a doubt an incredible summer vacation.

Visitors love traveling to Chicago over the summer for its many festivals, from the Chicago Blues Festival in June to Windy City Smokeout in August and beyond.

No trip to Chicago is complete without exploring iconic architecture like “The Bean” at Millenium Park and walking along Lake Michigan at Navy Pier.

Consider riding the famous Ferris wheel, or dining at a rooftop restaurant or viewpoint of your choice to catch Chicago’s city views from up above.

Chicago Skyline with river filled with sailboats in the center, an excellent view to seek out during 3 days in Chicago

Be sure to also stroll along Michigan Avenue for world-famous shopping, and snap a photo at the iconic Chicago Theater sign.

Escape the heat in the evening by enjoying a famous show like Blue Man Group or a musical.

After a few days in Chicago , summer travelers can escape the bustle by chasing waterfalls at Starved Rock State Park and Matthiessen State Park located 2 hours by car in Oglesby, Illinois.

Travelers looking to cross a national park off their list can get their outdoor escape in just over an hour by car at Indiana Dunes National Park.

Where to Stay in Chicago

  • Warwick Allerton: Situated on the Magnificent Mile in Downtown Chicago, the hotel is perfect for shopping and discovering iconic architecture.
  • Staypineapple: This oddly named hotel was designed by a world renowned architect and features stylish details such as mosaic floors and marble ceilings. No detail is spared and rooms are a testament to the thought that has gone into each part of the hotel.

Photo of Chicago train traveling on a bridge over car traffic--using Chicago's public transportation is the best way to get around on a Chicago weekend getaway!

Portland, Maine

From Brittany of Travel By Brit

Portland, Maine, is undoubtedly one of the best places to visit in the United States in the summer.

If you love rocky coastlines, fresh seafood, gorgeous lighthouses, and craft beer, you’ll be especially drawn to this gem in New England!

June, July, and August are ideals time to visit — the balmy temperatures that hover around 75°F and cool breezes are perfect for enjoying all the best things to do in Portland, Maine .

While you’re in Portland, you can’t miss the chance to see the Portland Head Light, the most photographed lighthouse in the United States, and go on a whale-watching cruise or sunset cruise in Casco Bay.

Portland Head Light on a sunny summer day with flowers in the foreground

Portland is home to a slew of craft breweries, so visiting local favorites like Allagash Brewing Company, Foundation Brewing Company, and Oxbow Blending & Bottling is a must.

The Holy Donut, Duckfat, and Eventide Oyster Co. are some of the best places to eat in Portland, offering inventive donuts, gourmet dipping sauces, fries, and delicious lobster rolls, respectively.

Portland is a walkable city, so if you want to stay close to the restaurants, shops, and attractions in Old Port, book a room at the Portland Regency Hotel & Spa .

Where to Stay in Portland

  • Portland Regency Hotel & Spa : This historic hotel offers a hot tub, steam room, full-service spa, and other luxurious amenities that will truly make your summer vacation to Portland one to remember!
  • Portland Harbor Hotel: Located on Portland Waterfront is this luxury and stylish hotel. With beautifully designed rooms and a great restaurant, you are also well located to explore more of Portland.

Portland Bug Light as seen from the side with a sailboat passing by behind it

San Diego, California

From Kristin of Global Travel Escapades

Arguably one of the best places to visit during the summer for a classic American beach vacation is sunny San Diego.

With its gorgeous beaches and plenty of outdoor activities available, San Diego has everything you need to have a great getaway.

San Diego is most known for its many picturesque and inviting beaches.

From Del Mar to Mission Beach, there are plenty of options for those looking to sunbathe, swim in the ocean, or surf along some clean waves .

But for those looking to do something outside of the beaches, consider hitting one of San Diego’s many hiking trails.

San Diego CA harbor with rows of sailboats in the foreground and the skyline in the back right of the photo

For instance, Torrey Pines State Park offers lots of easy-moderate trails for hikers who prefer to appreciate the beaches from above.

Alternatively, those interested in doing longer trails can hike to the famous “Potato Chip Rock”!

And if you just want to relax and take in the sights, there’s no better spot than downtown San Diego.

There, you’ll find the Gaslamp Quarter, Little Italy, Seaport Village, and several other fun neighborhoods!

So if you’re looking for a travel destination with endless activities, great weather, and stunning views, then San Diego is the ideal place for your US summer vacation.

Where to Stay in San Diego

  • Handlery Hotel: This stunning resort style hotel in Downtown San Diego is a perfect summer escape spot. Rooms are spacious and bright and there is a huge pool with a beautiful terrace, perfect for snoozing in the sun.
  • Porto Vista Hotel : In the heart of Little Italy you will find this stylish hotel with views of the harbor and a short walk from the cruise terminal. The rooftop bar also has a pool to cool off over after a busy day exploring.

cityscape of san diego california on a sunny day

New York City

From Sam of Find Love and Travel

One of the best places to enjoy a summer trip in the USA over the summer is easily New York City.

In fact, summer is the city’s most popular time to visit due to the warm weather since it is a great walking destination.

June, July, and August provide the perfect opportunity to really browse the busy streets and embody that city lifestyle.

With a week in New York, you have a plethora of options for things to do beyond the usual first-timer sights, including enjoying a beach day in Coney Island or hanging out in Williamsburg.

If it is your first time in New York, you can’t pass up strolling around Times Square and being engulfed by the chaos of giant billboards and classic yellow cabs on your way to a Broadway show.

kate storm spinning in front of manhattan bridge in brooklyn, a must see duing 4 days in nyc

Additionally, don’t forget to enjoy the summer days walking around the famous Central Park, visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and experiencing Soho’s cobblestone streets and art murals.

Summer nights in NYC are just as amazing. From attending a show to drinking at rooftop bars, or hitting up the club scene, there will be something for everyone! 

An NYC travel tip to keep in mind is to wear comfortable shoes because you will be walking a lot!

Where to Stay in New York

  • The Plaza Hotel : For a memorable place to stay, this is one of the most classic and luxurious hotels in New York. It is located right by Central Park, the Rockefeller Center, and some of NYC’s most popular museums.
  • The Renwick: Offering stylish residential style accommodation, this beautiful hotel is equipped with plenty of amenities and high class comfort. It is also a short walk to the Empire State Building and Bryant Park for exploring.

4 Days in New York Itinerary: Rowboat on Central Park Lake

Los Angeles, California

From Catrina of 24 Hours Layover

Los Angeles is a brilliant place to spend a summer vacation in the United States.

It is an incredible city full of varied things to do and there are so many  Instagrammable places in LA !

You can spend a week exploring as it is a huge metropolis with many attractions spread out across the city.

Summer is the best time to visit Los Angeles as it is warm and dry.

The mornings and evenings feel very comfortable, but the afternoons are warm, which is the perfect time to head to one of the many beaches and cool down in the water!

Skyline of Los Angeles CA with palm trees in the forground, one of the best places to visit in the US

Whether it’s Malibu Beach, Laguna Beach, or Huntington Beach – there’s a beach to suit every taste in Los Angeles.

Make sure to visit the Venice Beach boardwalk and the ‘Venice’ sign, as well as the ‘End of the Route 66’ sign and the amusement park at Santa Monica Beach.

And when you’re feeling cultural, head to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to see the impressive Urban Lights installation!

Don’t miss heading up to the Griffith Observatory and hiking to the ‘Hollywood’ sign where you’ll get a fabulous panoramic view of the LA skyline.

Where to Stay in Los Angeles

  • Hotel Erwin: With views over the Pacific Ocean and Venice Beach Boardwalk, you will be hard pushed to find a hotel with more iconic views. Rooms are stylish and comfortable and most have balconies to take in the views. You can also lounge in the rooftop bar for a dreamy LA afternoon.
  • Palihotel Melrose: For something a little more city based this beautiful hotel in Hollywood spares no expense in charming details, homey comforts and stunning decor. The location is also excellent in the heart of the Melrose Shopping District.

aerial view of santa monica beach near los angeles, one of the best places to vacation in the united states

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

From Lisa of Waves and Cobblestones

For an exciting Midwestern getaway, Milwaukee, Wisconsin is a terrific choice for summer break in the United States.

There are many  amazing things to do in Milwaukee , whether you like museums, sporting events, or live music!

Summer is the best time to visit Milwaukee, as you can pack a lot of activities into the long summer days.

Take the family out to enjoy America’s favorite pastime and watch the Milwaukee Brewers play baseball at the American Family Field.

If you love live music, you’ll definitely want to attend Summerfest !

Summerfest is the largest music festival in the world, featuring hundreds of bands performing across eleven stages. Summerfest is held in Milwaukee over three weekends in June and July.

milwaukee wisconsin skyline at night

Don’t forget about all of the great museums in Milwaukee, either!

Admire the unique architecture of the Milwaukee Art Museum as well as its massive collection of over 30,000 works of art.

For a one-of-a-kind experience, visit the world’s only Harley-Davidson Museum or the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame.

Where to Stay in Milwaukee

  • The Plaza Hotel : If you’re looking for a memorable place to stay, this is a great choice for your stay in Milwaukee. The Plaza is conveniently located midway between Lake Michigan and the Downtown Riverwalk, so it’s within walking distance of many of Milwaukee’s top attractions. The rooms also have full-sized kitchens to give you more dining options during your vacation.
  • The Pfister Hotel: For stunning old world charm and a Victorian art collection on site this is the hotel to book. The entrance way is spectacular and the charming martini bar on the 23rd floor is historic. Many rooms also have views of Lake Michigan.

riverwalk in downtown milwaukee wisconsin, a fun city to visit in the usa june july and august

Cape Cod, Massachusetts

From Samantha of New England Wanderlust

One of the best summer beach vacation destinations on the East Coast is Cape Cod in Massachusetts.

Not only does it have some of the most beautiful coastline in the United States, but it’s also home to 15 unique and charming  towns   to explore, incredible seafood, and stunning scenery.

The best thing to do in this area in the summer is to explore the Cape Cod National Seashore, which is made up of 40 miles of the most scenic beaches, lots of nature trails, and dramatic sand dunes.

One beach you won’t want to skip at this park is Coast Guard Beach, which is regarded as one of the top beaches in the entire country.

You can often spot seals swimming along the coastline here, too!

Spending a day in Chatham should be on everyone’s itinerary, which is the most charming and picturesque town on Cape Cod.

hydrangeas blooming on cape cod with the ocean visible in the distance

A few things you can’t miss here are the iconic Main Street for shopping, Chatham Lighthouse, and the beautiful hydrangea displays in July. 

For a completely unique experience, you’ll want to head to Provincetown, which is located at the very tip of Cape Cod.

Provincetown is like no other place in the world because it not only has a relaxed, beach town vibe, but also a very lively nightclub and cabaret scene.

It’s something you truly have to experience for yourself!

While strolling through Provincetown, you’ll want to visit the shops along Commercial Street, pop into the art galleries, and grab lunch or dinner at the iconic Lobster Pot restaurant.

Provincetown Massachusetts on Cape Cod as seen from the water

Monterey, California

From Dhara of Roadtripping California

Monterey , on the Central California coast, is an excellent beach town to visit during summer break in the USA, especially in conjunction with nearby Carmel-by-the-Sea and the spectacularly beautiful Big Sur coast.

Monterey Bay is known for its temperate weather.

Expect daytime highs in the high 60s and low 70s, perfect for enjoying outdoor activities, and no rain.

You may run into a little fog in the mornings, but that’s part of the charm of the laid back coast, and it usually burns off by noon.

The long daylight hours and plethora of outdoor adventures in the region make for a great summer break.

path leading to the pacific ocean in monterey california

Go whale watching, or enjoy paddling the calm Monterey Bay.

Stroll the charming village of Carmel-by-the-Sea, known for its boutiques and art galleries, and go wine tasting and enjoy dining at the many fine restaurants in the region.

Do the popular 17-Mile drive, with its ocean views and the chance to soak in the sun at beautiful Spanish Bay Beach.

Explore Big Sur, where you will find no less than six state parks with beautiful hiking trails.

The drive itself, with the many scenic overlooks, is worthy of a full day or more. The trails at Point Lobos State Natural Reserve are particularly scenic.

Where to Stay in Monterey

  • Intercontinental the Clement Monterey : Located on historic Cannery Row and perfectly placed to enjoy the best of what Monterey has to offer.
  • Hotel Abrego: On the Monterey Peninsula this hotel provides access to the beaches and aquarium, just a short distance away.

road along the pacific ocean in monterey, one of the best places  to go during usa summer break

From Marcie of Hawaii Travel Spot

One of the best summer vacation destinations in America is the beautiful island of Oahu.

This is the most popular Hawaiian island and where you’ll find Pearl Harbor and Waikiki Beach.

One of my biggest  Oahu travel tips  is to plan to visit for at least 7 days.

There are so many amazing things to do on Oahu for all interests that you’ll need at least a week to do a few activities, explore Oahu, and have time to relax.

People who love adventure will definitely want to schedule an ATV tour at Kualoa Ranch.

waikiki beach as seen from above, one of the best attractions oahu hawaii

Joining a Hawaii Bucket List Tour is also a great option for Oahu first-timers as a local will take you to any place on your personal bucket list.

Foodies will definitely want to stop by Kahuku Farms in North Shore Oahu for the freshest farm-to-table dining.

Summer is a great time to visit Oahu because the weather is typically perfect.

That means there’s a low chance your scheduled activities will be canceled or postponed due to weather, which happens frequently in winter months.

Where to Stay in Oahu

  • A few top places to stay on Oahu include Disney Aulani Resort (especially for families), Turtle Bay Resort in North Shore Oahu, and the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Waikiki.

woman in a green tank top standing in front of waimea falls, one of the best places to visit oahu hawaii

Naples and Marco Island, Florida

From Lori of Travlinmad

If you’re looking for a perfect beach destination in the USA for a summer getaway, the Paradise Coast in southwest Florida boasts two great locations just minutes apart: beautiful Naples and Marco Island.

A vacation here is great to just kick back and enjoy the sun and sand as both places have some of the best beaches in Florida.

You can enjoy the warm waters of the Gulf by renting a stand-up paddleboard or kayak, and there are plenty of boat tours for watching a fiery sunset, dolphin or manatee watching, or a day of saltwater fishing on the water.

For nature and outdoor lovers, Naples and Marco Island are the gateways to the   Ten Thousand Islands  and Florida Everglades for abundant hiking, birding, and taking an exciting airboat ride through the Glades.

person in the distance walking down a beach in naples florida, one of the best places to visit in summer in america

For shoppers, high-end boutiques, art galleries, and souvenir shops can be found throughout both cities.

And when it comes to dining, both Naples and Marco are renowned for great restaurant choices.

From pizza shops and food truck parks to specialty fine dining, there’s something for every appetite.

Summer in southwest Florida is sunny and hot, and the Gulf of Mexico is warm and calm. Crowds are also at their lowest so dinner and tour reservations are easy to score.

Where to Stay in Naples and Marco Island

  • The Bellasera Resort : For a charming place to stay in the heart of downtown Naples, this is the perfect choice for couples or families.
  • Marco Island Lakeside Inn: For pretty self contained suites this resort is perfect if you are looking for something you can self cater yourself.

harbor and buildings at sunset in naples florida, one of the best summer vacation destinations in usa

Mackinac Island, Michigan

From Linda of Midwest Explored

If you’re looking for great summer vacation ideas in the USA, then consider beautiful Mackinac Island.

This picturesque island in Lake Huron sits right in between the upper and lower peninsulas of Michigan and is a Midwestern favorite for summer getaways.

It’s an ideal vacation spot for anyone who enjoys a bit of old-world charm since the island is totally car-free and filled with historic Victorian houses that overlook the lake.

Horse-drawn carriages also fill the streets since people use them to enjoy all of the best things to do on Mackinac Island .

Take time to explore Fort Mackinac, visit two different butterfly conservatories, and experience a bit of culture at the Richard & Jane Manoogian Mackinac Art Museum.

small road on mackinac island with lake huron visible in the distance, one of the best places to visit in usa summer vacation

However, no trip to this amazing island would be complete without a stop at Arch Rock.

Located in Mackinac Island State Park, this incredible natural rock formation is amazing to behold since it sits 146 feet above the lake.

Feel free to use either Arch Rock Bicycle Trail or Arch Rock Road to access this amazing landmark.

Both options are fairly easy to navigate and are only about one mile long each way.

Then, make the most of the idyllic summer weather and book a kayak tour around the island to enjoy views of Mackinac Island from a completely different perspective.

Where to Stay in Mackinac Island

  • Pine Cottage Bed and Breakfast: This charming old world style accommodation has a homey feel and feels like a family home. Enjoy breakfast on the terrace and take in the surroundings.
  • Island House Hotel: A little more modern than many properties on the island this property has a pool and a garden overlooking the streets and passing horse and carriages.

arch rock formation on mackinac island michigan

Outer Banks, North Carolina

From Pamela of The Directionally Challenged Traveler

There really is something for everyone in North Carolina’s Outer Banks, making it one of the best summer vacation ideas in the USA.

From stunning white sand beaches to historic towns, from family-friendly activities to nightlife, there is so much to see and experience.

The Outer Banks region is located along the northern part of North Carolina’s coast.

During the summer, the water offers plenty of activities!

Kayaking, sailing, fishing, swimming and surfing, are among the activities enjoyed by visitors.

Horseback riding, paragliding, hiking, biking, and golfing are also popular.

Beach of Duck North Carolina at sunset with one set of footprints in the sand. The Outer Banks of NC are some of the most beautiful beaches in the US

Visitors can choose between quiet seclusion or bustling activity.

If you’re looking for history, the Outer Banks has plenty of compelling sights, including the Wright Brothers Memorial at Kill Devil Hill where the first flight was taken, and Fort Raleigh National Historic Site.

Toward the southern part of the islands is the beautiful Cape Hatteras Lighthouse!

If you’re traveling with a group or family, head up north on the coast for some fun activities.

There are so many  things to do in Corolla, Outer Banks , where you’ll find wildlife refuges, the famous OBX wild horses, the historic Whalehead Club, and lighthouses to explore.

Pick up some souvenirs at Timbuk II shops while you’re in town!

Whatever you choose to do on your trip to the Outer Banks will be a memorable experience.

Where to Stay in Outer Banks

  • Outer Banks Beach Club: Better book fast because this hotel in Kill Devil Hills sells out fast! The resort is set up as residence style apartments for a homey summer vacation with access to indoor and outdoor pools and views of the ocean.
  • Wild Horse Inn: Situated in Corolla this pretty Inn provides comfortable accommodation with a garden and private parking. It is also walking distance to beaches.

view of black and white cape hatteras lighthouse north carolina

30A, Florida

From Roshni of The Wanderlust Within

Situated on the Panhandle, just off the Gulf of Mexico, the hidden gem of 30A in Florida is one of the best places for a classic US summer beach vacation.

There are 26 miles of pristine beaches lined with white sand derived from quartz crystal, and emerald green waters, that are especially warm in summer! 

30A is split up into 16 neighborhoods, all with their own individual charms.

Watercolor Beach is a favorite amongst families, whereas couples enjoy the serenity of Rosemary Beach, especially if they stay at The Pearl Hotel (voted the most romantic hotel in Florida).

aerial view of beach at 30a florida, one of the best beach vacations in usa summer trip

If diving is more your thing then Santa Rosa Beach is perfect, you can visit the free underwater sculpture park located a mile off the coast.

However, if you prefer kayaking or paddle boarding, then explore the unique coastal dune lakes at Grayton Beach and spot the wildlife. 

30A also has plenty of art galleries, boutique shopping, cycling trails, and distillery tours making it easy to spend a week at this coastal destination, especially as the temperatures in summer are usually in the high 80s!

One of the best places to stay no matter who you are traveling with is Sandestin Golf and Beach resort, it has luxury condos, hotel rooms, and villas so everyone is catered for.

2 white adriondack chairs overlooking the beach at 30a florida summer vacation usa

Glacier National Park, Montana

From Nina of Where in the World is Nina?

For an absolutely epic USA summer vacation, it doesn’t get much better than Glacier National Park!

Unsurprisingly, hiking here is the thing to do if you want the best views and animal sightings. The most recommended hikes in the park include Iceberg Lake, Redrock Falls, and Hidden Lake Trail.

Iceberg Lake, a 9-mile trail, is popular for a reason!

Not only will you be rewarded with the gorgeous azure Iceberg Lake at the end, but your chances of seeing bears along the trail are also pretty high (which is both terrifying and exciting).

glacier national park in the summer, one of the best national parks in america. there are wildflowers in the foreground, a turquoise lake in the center, and mountains in the background

Redrock Falls Trail is a nice easy stroll to some small falls you can dip your feet in, and if you want to extend it, continue along the Swiftcurrent Pass trail for more gorgeous vistas.

Hidden Lake Trail is a popular trail just behind the visitor center, offering beautiful views as well.

There are tons of waterfall stops, a stunning drive along Going-to-The-Sun Road, and more to enjoy during your time in Glacier.

The park is spread across nearly a million acres, and considering hiking is the best thing to do and where some of the most worth-it places to visit are, you’re going to need to spend your 5-7 days here to make your summer trip here worth it. 

One of the best tips is to make sure you’re choosing   where to stay in Glacier National Park   in advance, as places fill up quickly in summer.

If you happen to be visiting later in the year, do keep in mind some campsites, accommodations, and even Going-to-the-Sun Road close up for the season.

Where to Stay in Glacier National Park

  • The Islander Inn: Offering island style bungalows and suites on the edge of Flathead Lake in Bigfork, this is a great option for exploring the park.
  • Grouse Mountain Lodge: For pet friendly accommodation this is a great option in Whitefish. Rooms are spacious and family friendly and the hotel is a short distance from the amenities in Whitefish.

going to the sun road in glacier national park, one of the best places to visit in summer in usa

Yellowstone + Grand Teton National Parks, Wyoming

From Stef of Open Road Odysseys

If you’re looking for an American summer vacation that includes breathtaking scenery, geothermal wonders, lots of wildlife, and remarkable attractions, look no further than a visit to Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park.

These two national parks are located only a short distance apart and are a classic USA summer vacation.

With warm, sunny weather most of the season, as well as lots of hiking trails and outdoor activities, summer is a fantastic time to visit.

In Yellowstone, you can’t miss Grand Prismatic Spring, Old Faithful Geyser, Upper and Lower Falls on the Yellowstone River, and Mammoth Hot Springs.

View of Grand Prism in Yellowstone National Park, one of the best places to visit in USA

There are several geyser basins that are worth walking around and seeing if you can catch an eruption.

You’ll also see lots of wildlife, including bison, antelope, and elk. You may also be lucky enough to see a moose or a bear (from a safe distance, of course–hiking with bear spray is strongly recommended).

When you head to  Grand Teton National Park , make sure you drive around and stop at the dozens of lookouts, including Mormon Row, Schwabacher Landing, and Oxbow Bend.

If you like to hike, a great choice is Jenny Lake Trail to Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point.

And don’t forget to spend a bit of time in the town of Jackson, where you’ll find lots of choices for food and shopping!

Where to Stay in Yellowstone + Grand Teton National Parks

  • Elk Country Inn: Located in Jackson this is a great spot to base yourself for exploring the parks while having access to a great town.
  • Explorer Cabins: Less than a kilometer away from the entrance at West Yellowstone these cabins are perfect for easy access and comfort.

wooden barn along mormon row in grand teton np wyoming

Acadia National Park, Maine

From James of Parks Collecting

Acadia National Park is the perfect place to visit for a summer vacation in the US.

The park is spread over parts of Mount Desert Island (reached by a short bridge from the mainland), the tiny Isle au Haut, and the nearby Schoodic Peninsula, and as a result, it’s surrounded by water.

The park itself is covered in wooded hills, which are perfect for hiking.

The trails are their best in summer, when temperatures are ideal.

There are several iconic ‘iron rung’ hikes in Acadia – for part of the trails, you need to climb up iron rings embedded into the cliffs for part of them, as well as clamber along narrow ledges.

It can be a little scary, but the reward – spectacular views over the hills and surrounding islands – is well worth it. The most famous of these hikes is The Beehive, which is not to be missed.

Summer is also a great time for swimming in Acadia NP.

kate storm overlooking the view from cadillac mountain during sunset, one of the best things to do in acadia national park maine

The only ocean beach, appropriately named Sand Beach, is chilly even in summer, but nearby Echo Lake has perfect temperatures for swimming.

There are also plenty of water sports, including kayaking and sailing, to enjoy.  Plus, summer is when puffins come to nearby islands to nest, and whales are often seen swimming in the surrounding seas.

June, July, and August are also perfect times for outdoor dining.

Don’t miss having popovers at Jordan Pond House! Tables are set up on the lawn, overlooking the beautiful Jordan Pond, and it’s a perfect way to while away a summer afternoon.

The national park is also laced with miles of historic carriage roads. Take a horse drawn carriage ride (only available in the warmer months) or rent a bike in nearby Bar Harbor and spend several hours cycling through the woods, cooling off in tiny streams along the way.

There is  so much to do in Acadia  that it makes the perfect summer vacation destination.

Where to Stay in Acadia National Park

  • Acadia Inn: Located less than 2km from the park, the grounds have a trail that connects to the park for easy access from your doorstep. Rooms are clean and bright and comfortable after a long hike.
  • Bar Harbor Grand Hotel: In the heart of Bar Harbor is, as the name suggests, a grand hotel! With swimming pool and sweeping views this is the perfect luxury spot to base your park explorations.

aerial view of cars driving through acadia national park in maine

Yosemite National Park, California

From Nina and Garrett of California is for Adventure

Spending 5-7 days checking out all the  things to do in Yosemite National Park  is a dream trip for many, and for very good reason!

Yosemite National Park is deserving of at least a few days, but a week is ideal and will offer you a great overview of one of the country’s most popular destinations.

While visiting Yosemite in summer will certainly bring the crowds, this is still a great USA summer vacation spot!

If you come outside of summer, you risk some of the roads being closed and some of the best areas to visit totally inaccessible—most notably, Glacier Point Road.

Glacier Point Road is a highlight of Yosemite National Park and deserving of a day or two during your summer visit.

Yosemite national park as seen from above, one of the top national parks in america. yosemite falls is visible in the background

The road is typically open for the summer season starting in late May, though it can vary based on conditions.

Hike up Sentinel Dome and Taft Point for a great leg stretcher and epic views of Half Dome.

Glacier Point at the end of the road is a stunning area to wander with some of the park’s best views.

In Yosemite Valley, hiking up Vernal Falls is a must, and if you can, continue on to Nevada Falls for a more challenging hike (and thinner crowds).

Wandering The Valley and stopping at the viewpoints and roadside waterfalls are also some nice leisurely activities during your visit.

Other days can be spent expanding into the giant sequoia forests at Merced Grove or taking a relaxing dip in Tenaya Lake!

Where to Stay in Yosemite National Park

  • Tenaya Lodge: Nestled in the mountains of Fish Camp, this beautiful lodge is perfect for a summer base in Yosemite. There is also an on site spa to relax any sore hiking muscles.
  • Alpenhof Lodge: Located at the pretty Mammoth Lakes, this hotel is close to Yosemite as well as the attractions in Mammoth Lakes including the Mammoth Mountain Gondola.

tenaya lake in yosemite national park as seen from above, one of the best national parks for summer vacation in america

Summer Road Trip Through Vermont

From Emily of Emily Embarks

To enjoy one of the best places to visit over summer break in the USA, take to the trails in Vermont!

Known for its picturesque landscapes and rustic charm, Vermont is undoubtedly one of the best USA summer vacation destinations.

Preferably explored over the course of 5-7 days (though you won’t be sorry if you have some more time to spare), you can start your journey in the Green Mountain State with a full day at the Killington Ski Resort.

No, there’s no snow come July and August, but that’s what makes it perfect for day hiking and epic views across the Appalachian Mountains.

Be sure to get a celebratory drink at the mountaintop bar and reward yourself with a stunning gondola ride back down to the valley below!

From Killington, head an hour north to the beautiful capital of Montpelier.

aerial view of curving road in vermont during a summer trip in america

Here, you’ll find an impressive collection of local independent stores and plenty of delicious restaurants and breweries.

If you’re looking for an activity, take a kayaking or canoeing tour down the Winooski River and enjoy being surrounded by untamed nature.

Or, if you prefer to go for a leisurely stroll, don’t miss the city’s vibrant farmers market that takes place on State Street every Saturday in the summer months.

After spending a night or two in Vermont’s iconic capital, head 30 minutes north to Stowe where you’ll find a small town overflowing with antique shops, art galleries, decadent chocolate stores (be sure to check out Laughing Moon Chocolates), and amazing breweries (Von Trapp Brewery & Bierhall is a personal favorite).

From Stowe, you can finish off your itinerary with a drive south towards Woodstock if you’ll be leaving the state, or you can continue your journey north to the beautiful city of Burlington which overlooks Lake Champlain.

To combine your classic American summer trip with an international one, you can also hop across the border to Montreal or Quebec City–just be sure to pick up some currency and  brush up on your French   prior to heading into Canada!

Where to Stay in Vermont

  • Montpelier – The Inn at Montpelier: This cute Vermont inn has cosy rooms and a great on site restaurant. It is in a great location and free parking for your car to rest on your road trip!
  • Burlington: Green Mountain Suites Hotel : This stunning mountain style lodge is packed with amenities as well as luxurious bedrooms. Breakfast is also included in the restaurant overlooking the gardens.

Historic Henry Covered bridge in Bennington Vermont painted with aging red paint

National Parks of Washington State Road Trip

From Kassidy of The Hiking Helper

If you’re looking for one of the most beautiful road trips in the country to take this summer, then look no further than a Washington National Park road trip.

You’ll hit three of the country’s national parks plus the state’s largest city, Seattle .

Summer is the perfect time to pay a visit to these parks because there will be little to no snow on the trails, which doesn’t happen often when you’re tucked away in the mountains.

Starting with Mount Rainier National Park , embark on popular trails such as the Skyline Trail or Naches Peak Loop, search for mountain goats, and see Myrtle Falls.

hiker in a field of wildflowers in mount rainier np with mount rainier visible in the background

Next will be Olympic National Park, on the Pacific coastline.

When planning your Olympic National Park itinerary , make sure to leave room for some time exploring the Hoh Rainforest, one of the country’s few rainforests, time to search for tide pools at Rialto Beach, and time to enjoy the views from Hurricane Hill.

Before heading off to the final national park, make a stop in Seattle for some seafood and explore Pike Place Market and highlights like the Space Needle.

Lastly, North Cascades National Park offers remoteness, jagged mountain peaks, and beautiful hikes such as Maple Pass and Blue Lake.

Combined, these beautiful national parks easily rank among the best places to visit in the USA on a summer vacation.

Where to Stay in Washington State

  • Mount Rainier National Park – Mountain Meadows Inn: Stay in Ashford just 10km away from the park in this quaint inn. Enjoy morning coffee on the sundeck overlooking the expansive gardens.
  • Olympic National Park – Olympic Railway Inn: Turn your road trip into a themed stay and book this unique accommodation. Each ‘room’ is in a renovated train carriage, each with a different theme. No detail has been spared, some rooms even have a roll top bath.
  • North Cascades National Park – Mt Baker Hotel: The rural landscape of North Cascades means there is little to choose from in accommodation, but this hotel in Concrete is a solid option for close proximity to the park.

Rocky Beach in Olympic National Park washington at sunset, a fantastic view along a west coast usa road trip destination

Classic Route 66 Road Trip

From Kylie of Between England & Everywhere

A fantastic USA summer vacation idea is taking a road trip along Historic Route 66.

Route 66 is officially 2448 miles long, stretching from Chicago, Illinois to Los Angeles, California.

Popular side trips from the route include Grand Canyon National Park and Las Vegas .

A solid 2-3 weeks is a reasonable amount of time to spend traveling Route 66 but it could be made a little shorter or longer depending on flexibility!

Route 66 in California with Joshua trees on either side. Route 66 is one of the absolute best road trips in USA

When traveling through the 8 states included on Route 66 (Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California), there are hundreds of things to do and attractions to see, ranging from interesting parks to quirky roadside attractions.

Highlights include the Blue Whale in Catoosa, OK, Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, TX , staying in a wigwam in Holbrook, AZ, and seeing the wild Burros along the Oatman Highway, AZ.

Those traveling with kids (or adults that are big kids at heart!), may enjoy Route 66’s connection to the Disney Pixar Cars movie.

Radiator Springs   doesn’t actually exist as an individual town, however, real-life people and places along the whole of Route 66 inspired many of the characters and businesses in the fictional town.

Where to Stay on Route 66

  • Catoosa – La Quinta: With plenty of amenities such as an on site swimming pool, hot tub and fitness centre this is a great stop off along Route 66.
  • Amarillo – The Big Texan Motel: When passing through Texas you should get as involved in the Texan style as you can, this hotel is a perfect example of that!
  • Holbrook – Starlight Wigwam: A highlight of the trip is staying in a wigwam in Holbrook. These are equipped with comfortable beds and seating to stargaze in the clear skies of Arizona

jeremy storm sitting on top of a car at cadillac ranch in amarillo

Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia and North Carolina

From Victoria of Southern Trippers

One of the best summer vacation ideas in the USA is to enjoy an amazing road trip along the Blue Ridge Parkway . 

This incredible 469-mile drive will take you through the Blue Ridge Mountains and past amazing mountain landscapes as you make your way from Charlottesville, Virginia to Asheville, North Carolina .

And while there are many places to stop along the way, major attractions include Humpback Gap, Natural Bridge State Park, the Blueridge Music Center, and more. 

Just be sure to give yourself plenty of time since the speed limit on this road is often just 45 mph.

view of sunset along the blue ridge parkway with pink flowers in the foreground, one of the best summer vacations in usa

With enough sightseeing along the way, this short road trip could easily take you upwards of a week to complete. 

You also cannot do this trip without making a well-deserved pit stop at Rough Ridge Overlook. Not only are the views incredible but you can enjoy a fun hike to Linville Falls too.

And then when you finally make it to Asheville, don’t forget to visit the Asheville Art Museum and the idyllic Biltmore Estate . 

Then, grab a pint of amazing craft beer at Wicked Weed Brewing Pub before checking out some stellar panoramas of the mountains at the historic Omni Grove Park Inn !

Where to Stay on Blue Ridge Parkway

  • Charlottesville – 200 South Street Inn : For some old world charm stay at this charming inn with a pretty sundeck, cosy rooms and an incredible breakfast served every morning.
  • Asheville – Cedar Crest Inn: This pink 1891 mansion house is a perfect place to base yourself in Asheville. Packed with historical details and stunning architecture you can imagine it as a mini Biltmore.

kate storm jeremy storm and ranger storm at craggy pinnacle on blue ridge parkway during 3 days in asheville nc

Oregon Coast Road Trip

From Jac of Weekend Path

Road-tripping the Oregon Coast is a quintessential summer vacation in the United States.

With wild beaches, forest-filled hikes, and delicious food and craft beer to sample, you certainly won’t get bored on the Oregon Coast!

Summer is the best time to visit the Oregon Coast if you want to experience good weather; during other seasons, it can be pretty rainy and cold.

There are lots of different routes you can take, but if you have 5-7 days for your trip, one of the best driving loops starts in Portland .

From Portland, you can drive to Astoria, Cannon Beach, Newport, and Florence before looping back to Portland via the inland I-5 freeway.

Cannon Beach Oregon as seen from above, one of the best stops on a west coast usa road trip itinerary

Highlights along an Oregon Coast road trip include Ecola State Park, Short Sand Beach, and Cape Perpetua.

For food stops along your trip, don’t miss Pelican Brewing in Cannon Beach and the Tillamook Cheese Factory in Tillamook.

You’ll find plenty of hotel options in the major towns along the Oregon Coast, but an even better option is to go camping!

In addition to regular campsites, most of the Oregon Coast State Parks have yurts you can rent.

Make sure to book ahead, though, as campsites and yurts are both popular in the summertime.

Where to Stay on Oregon Coast

  • Portland – Hotel Lucia: This luxury hotel is a perfect choice to stay in Portland, rooms are spacious and stylish and the bar area is also well stocked with craft beers. Parking is also available.
  • Cannon Beach – Ecola Creek Lodge: A great mix of motel and self catering, this lodge is close to Ecola State Park and offers free parking. There is a pretty deck to enjoy the summer sun.
  • Tillamook – Tillamook Bay City: This is a great place to book into a yurt and enjoy the outdoors life for your stay. The yurts are cosy and surprisingly spacious, definitely worth trying for something different.

One car driving along the oregon coast as shot from above

South Dakota Road Trip

From Kristin of World on Wheels

South Dakota is one of the best USA summer vacation destinations because it has so much to offer.

You can explore  Badlands National Park and Wind Cave National Park, and enjoy the amazing scenery that South Dakota has to offer.  

Custer State Park is a large and incredible area not to be missed during your trip.

It has mountains, lake views, plenty of hiking opportunities as well as tons of wildlife.

Make sure to look for Bison, Pronghorn, Big Horned Sheep, wild donkeys, and more during your time in the park.

In fact, many people choose to stay in one of the campgrounds or lodges located within the park for convenient access to all the area has to offer.

You can also add Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorial to your summer vacation itinerary.

If you are visiting these locations from Custer State Park, make sure to take the scenic tunnel drive to get there.

3 praire dogs in badlands national park, a great stop on a south dakota midwest road trip

This drive will take you through rocky tunnels which perfectly frame Mount Rushmore as you drive through them.

Kids will love visiting Bear USA, and the Mammoth Site, an active archeological site where you can see actual Mammoth bones.

You can also tour an old gold mine and learn more about the Gold Rush era.  

The best part of visiting South Dakota is that all the activities listed above are in the same area and can make for a fabulous weeklong vacation in the USA.

Visiting in the summer will also give you incredible weather for exploring.

Choose to visit in the early or late summer (May-June or late August-early September) for fewer crowds and to avoid the hottest weather.

Where to Stay in South Dakota

  • Badlands National Park – Badlands Frontier Cabins: Staying in a cabin is always a great option on a road trip and these cozy cabins are a great choice. They are the perfect balance of rustic and are located in Wall, right next to the park.
  • Custer State Park – Little Joy Bungalows: Another great cabin option is this bungalow on a cute site in Custer. There is a pretty deck to sit on with a stunning mountain view.

landscape of badlands national park in south dakota, one of the best things to do usa

Florida Springs Road Trip

From Victoria of Florida Trippers

A Florida Springs road trip is an incredible trip for anyone looking for some great USA summer vacation ideas. 

After all, this great state is home to more freshwater springs than any other spot in the country!

So, make the most of this and cool off from the intense summer heat with a fantastic road trip to some of the best natural springs in Florida . 

To start, head north of Tampa and check out the Weeki Wachee Springs.

And while the spring itself is stunning, there’s a cool mermaid show in an underwater theater that is unlike anything you’ve ever seen. 

Next, ditch the hordes of tourists and experience Three Sisters Springs in Crystal River Natural Wildlife Refuge before renting a kayak and seeing what Manatee Springs has to offer.

clear waters of three sisters springs in florida with sup board, one of the best places to visit in summer in the united states

Just know that while this is a great place to see manatees, there are typically only seen in the waters here during the winter months. 

However, if you love the great outdoors then be sure to add Ginnie Springs to your itinerary. It features amazing camping spots and is a great place to go tubing on the river.

But, for a truly unique experience head to Devil’s Den in central Florida. This spring is incredibly memorable since it is completely subterranean. 

You’ll have to walk down a long wooden staircase beneath a cavern if you want to access the cool waters here!

Where to Stay in Florida Springs

  • Weeki Wachee Springs – Vintage Waterfront Home: This cozy villa is just 5km from the springs and comes equipped with kayaks to use on the river directly outside the villa. There is also a fabulous fireplace perfect for any chilly evenings or warming up after a day on the water!
  • Ginnie Springs – Santa Fe River Landing: If you prefer not to camp then this is a marvellous alternative. Set as a private holiday home but with shared facilities similar to a hotel, such as a fitness center. Free bikes are also on offer to explore the area and get to the springs just 16km away.

devils den in florida as seen from above with staircase prominent

Grand Circle Road Trip, Nevada, Utah, and Arizona

From Jennifer of Glasses and Boarding Passes

If you’re looking for the best USA summer vacation ideas, nothing is more classic than a road trip around the Grand Circle , which includes Utah’s five national parks and Arizona’s Grand Canyon!

From sprawling canyons to otherworldly red rocks, the landscapes of the southwest can’t be beaten.

Start your trip in Las Vegas and drive the Grand Circle clockwise to Zion National Park, where you can pick from two of the most famous hikes in the world: Angel’s Landing or the Narrows.

Head to Bryce Canyon for an epic sunrise over the hoodoo-filled valley.

Next, stop at Capitol Reef National Park for an off-road adventure to visit the white rocky monoliths of the Temple of the Sun and Moon.

rock formations in capitol reef national park, one of the best places to visit in the us summer break

In Arches National Park, don’t miss a visit to the aptly-named Delicate Arch .

At neighboring Canyonlands, enjoy the sunrise at Mesa Arch and grab that famous sunburst photo.

Finally, round out your trip with a hike around the rim of the Grand Canyon for some truly breathtaking views.

While the long, sunny summer days make it a great time to see these parks, don’t underestimate the heat in the desert.

Always pack plenty of water , wear sunscreen , and hike in the morning where possible!

Where to Stay on a Grand Circle Road Trip

  • Zion National Park – Zion View Camping: This site is a perfect way to experience camping with a touch of luxury. Book into one of the covered wagons with private deck and take in the epic views of Zion.
  • Arches National Park – Big Horn Lodge: For a refreshingly iconic lodge style accommodation this motel is a great option. With delicious on site restaurant as well as a heated outdoor swimming pool, this is perfect for resting after exploring the nearby parks.
  • Grand Canyon – Cabins at Grand Canyon West: It is hard to find somewhere closer to the canyon than these cabins. They are less than 3km from the Skywalk with amazing views from every cabin.

man in a red jacket as seen on one of the best day hikes in the grand canyon, with a tree in the left foreground and the canyon consuming most of the image

Northern California Road Trip

From Anu of Destination Checkoff

Northern California is a treasure trove of incredible places to visit in the USA, and summer is a great time to embark on a Northern California road trip.

The weather is excellent during the late summer (June can be rainy in the Bay Area), and the daylight hours are longer giving you more time to explore.

San Francisco is a great base to start and end your road trip as you can fly from pretty much anywhere to San Francisco. 

Spend a few days in San Francisco and check out the popular San Francisco neighborhoods like Fisherman’s Wharf, Golden Gate Park,  Haight-Ashbury , Sausalito, Ferry Building, and Embarcadero.

Be sure to also see the famous Golden Gate Bridge, and consider a day trip to Muir Woods to be amazed by the redwood trees.

woman in a yellow jacket hiking amongst the redwoods when visiting california usa

Mendocino and Fort Bragg are great coastal cities on the Northern California Pacific Coast.

From there you can drive to Mount Shasta and enjoy some great hiking.

Lassen National Park is a great volcanic park with geothermal activity, and nearby Burney Falls is also worth a visit.

From Lassen make your way to Lake Tahoe, a picturesque lake with lots of recreational activities like hiking, parasailing, canoeing, and swimming at the many beaches. Spend at least a couple of nights in Lake Tahoe.

Finally, drive back to San Francisco from Tahoe to conclude your USA summer vacation.

Plan for at least 10 days for this road trip so that you can spend a couple of days or more at each of these incredible places on the way.

Where to Stay in Northern California

  • San Francisco – Petit Auberge: For an iconic start to your trip this adorable hotel in Nob Hill is the perfect place to begin. Styled like a French Auberge with cozy furnishings and fireplaces in the rooms, opening onto pretty terraces, the hotel also has private parking. Essential in the city.
  • Mendocino – Headlands Inn Bed & Breakfast: Keeping with the cute theme, this Victorian B&B is 5 minutes walk away from the beach and perfectly maintained. Rooms have fabulous feather beds and fluffy duvets, and many of the rooms have wood-burning fireplaces and ocean views. Breakfasts are also stunning.
  • Lake Tahoe – Tahoe Lakeshore Lodge: Located right on the edge of Lake Tahoe this is the perfect summer resort. There are also private beach concerts in the summer. The lodge also has an on site spa and lake views from the rooms.

Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco CA shot from above on a clear day

Colorado Rockies Summer Road Trip

From Sierra of Island + Alpine

The stunning Colorado Rocky Mountains are easily one of the best places to to visit in the USA over summer!

Summer is the perfect time to visit as the weather is warm but mild, the roads are clear of the winter snow, and the land is alive with the colors of wildflowers and opportunities for outdoor adventures.

Denver is the gateway to the Rockies in Colorado and its airport makes for a great place to start a trip through the mountains.

The mile high step on the Capitol building, the street art in the RiNo district, a Rockies baseball game, and numerous breweries are all great activities to enjoy before heading out of the city.

Rocky Mountain National Park is located right by Estes Park , just north of Denver, neither should be missed!

The historic downtown is charming, and it is just minutes to the gate into the park.

view of dream lake in rocky mountain national park from above, one of the best places to visit during summer usa june july august

The park offers incredible scenery when driving Trail Ridge Road and picking up a souvenir in the Alpine Visitor’s Center, a beautiful hike to Emerald Lake and Alberta Falls, the easy walk around Bear Lake, as well as the chance to see wildlife at dusk each evening.

Located within a couple hours of Estes Park, several other incredible mountain towns can be enjoyed as day trips or home bases for other legs of the trip.

In Breckenridge, summer provides the opportunity to take the free BreckConnect gondola up to Peak 8, ride the alpine slide down the mountain, mine for gems, hike the many trails from town, discover the Breckenridge Troll, and  many other adventurous activities .

Check out Steamboat Springs for white water rafting, hot springs, and hiking to Fish Creek Falls.

Georgetown is also a great stop with its Georgetown Loop Railroad complete with outlaws, stunning views, and a silver mine tour.

No matter which mountain towns you choose to explore, the options are endless for a summer vacation in the Colorado Rockies!

Where to Stay in Colorado Rockies

  • Denver – The Slate: Located in Denver center this stunning hotel is a great start to your road trip. Rooms are spacious and stylish and you are well situated to explore the city from here.
  • Estes Park – Mountain Shadows Resort: Get into the rustic feel with these incredible cottages in Estes Park. Cottages have private terraces, hot tubs and wooden 4-poster beds.
  • Breckenridge – Longbranch: Accommodation in Breckenridge can get booked quickly and is often wildly expensive, but this apartment is a great option without breaking the bank.

chipmunk in front of bear lake in rocky mountain national park colorado

Lake Tahoe, California and Nevada

From Meg of Fox in the Forest

Easily one of the best USA summer vacation ideas, Lake Tahoe is a stunning alpine lake that straddles the border between Nevada and California in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

As a result, there are a ton of incredible things to do in this oasis of natural beauty all summer long.

Highlights include hopping aboard a catamaran and cruising through the lake with Action Water Sports before taking a ride on the Heavenly Mountain Gondola so that you can admire sweeping panoramic views of the area all around you.

Next, make the most of the beautiful weather and enjoy one of the  best Lake Tahoe hikes   since many of these trails become totally impassable in the winter.

Clear water of Lake Tahoe California in summer with snowcapped mountains in the background--one of the best places to visit in the USA bucket list

Amazing hikes in the area include Cave Rock, the Eagle Falls hike, Marlette Lake, Mt. Rose, and the Emerald Bay hike.

For the latter, be sure to bring a bathing suit since there are plenty of places to swim along the way.

And if you still want to do a bit more swimming, then you can always visit amazing local beaches like Sand Harbor, Emerald Bay, and Zephyr Cove.

Whatever you do though, don’t leave without visiting Bonsai Rock, a cool natural rock formation in the lake that is well worth a stop for a photo.

Where to Stay in Lake Tahoe

  • Tahoe Lakeshore Lodge: Located right on the edge of Lake Tahoe this is the perfect summer resort. There are also private beach concerts in the summer. The lodge also has an on site spa and lake views from the rooms.
  • Lodge at Kingsbury Crossing: Close to Zephyr Cove this resort features individual suites with private terraces and fireplaces in each room.

Lake Tahoe from above during the summer, one of the best USA travel destinations

Door County, Wisconsin

From Theresa of The Local Tourist

There are a lot of reasons Door County, Wisconsin, has long been a summer getaway destination for Chicagoans and other Midwesterners.

One of the biggest is its outstanding natural beauty. The peninsula is home to five state parks and nearly thirty county parks.

With three-hundred miles of coastline, it’s a popular spot for boating and fishing.

One of the coolest things to do in Door County is kayak to Cave Point and float into the caves.

It’s also fun to take a guided boat tour and learn the history of the area, and why there were so many shipwrecks. (But don’t worry; it’s safe now.)

If you want a relaxing vacation, there are sandy beaches.

red barn in door county wisconsin, a fun place to visit in july usa

There are no chain stores or restaurants in the quaint harbor towns that line the shores, so you’re sure to find unique shopping and dining.

One of the most well-known restaurants is Al Johnson’s. While the Swedish cuisine is good, the goats on the roof are what really draw attention.

A Door County dining experience you’ll definitely want to experience is an authentic fish boil. It’s dinner and a show rolled into one.

Don’t forget to finish it off with a giant ice cream sundae at Wilson’s.

A unique place to stay on the peninsula is Schoolhouse Inn. It’s an intimate hotel in the former Baileys Harbor Schoolhouse.

Where to Stay in Door County

  • Sister Bay – Country House Resort: Located in one of the pretty towns in Door County this resort has lots of facilities and spacious rooms with balconies and views of the coast.
  • Ephraim – The Lodgings at Pioneer Lane: This pretty Inn is a typical Door County property with cozy rooms, beautiful views and warm hospitality. Free bikes are also on offer, perfect for cycling to the nearby Cana Island Lighthouse.

Lakeshore at golden hour in Door County Wisconsin with evergreen trees on the right side of the photo

Southwest Colorado

From Caitlin of Twin Family Travels

If you’re looking for an unforgettable summer road trip, then southwest Colorado is the perfect destination.

With its dramatic mountain scenery and abundance of outdoor activities, you’ll be able to enjoy a wealth of amazing experiences.

Whether you’re hiking, biking, or simply taking in incredible views, you’re sure to have a memorable time.

Taking a classic USA summer vacation is a great way to explore southwest Colorado.

The weather is warm and the days are long, providing plenty of time to enjoy all that the area has to offer.

Another advantage of summer is that you will not need to worry about poor road conditions caused by the weather.

black canyon of the gunnison, one of the national parks in colorado, as seen from viewpoint

There are plenty of scenic drives to take including the San Juan Skyway Scenic Byway.

Take a train ride in Durango, a mine tour in Silverton, soak in hot springs and hike to waterfalls in Ouray, ride the free gondola and do some shopping in Telluride.

Don’t miss the hiking and biking trails at the amazing national parks! Sled and summit a dune at Great Sand Dunes.

Be sure to tour the ancient cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde . Drive the mesa top loop and stay at the lodge to get sunset views.

Enjoy the sights along the South Rim Scenic Drive and hike the rim of the canyon at the epic Black Canyon of the Gunnison.

If you’re looking for an adventure this summer, be sure to add southwest Colorado to your list!

Where to Stay in Southwest Colorado

  • Durango – General Palmer Hotel : For some old-fashioned elegance this is a great hotel for your trip, there is even a library! The Durango and Silverton Railway is just 130m away.
  • Great Sand Dunes – Sandhill Inn & Suites: With bright and fresh rooms this is the perfect place to rest. There is also a hot tub!
  • South Rim Scenic Drive – Teller House: Another old-timer charming hotel, this is the perfect place for exploring the scenic drive and sights around Silverton. Rooms also have beautiful mountain views to wake up to.

pueblo of mesa verde national park as seen from afar

Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Minnesota

From Stephanie of The Unknown Enthusiast

If you’re looking for an offbeat getaway this summer, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in northern Minnesota is a fantastic summer destination in the USA.

This wilderness area is wild and pristine and is perfect for anyone who loves an outdoor adventure and spending quality time in nature.

The Boundary Waters area is absolutely chock full of lakes, so visiting the Boundary Waters is a multi-day canoe trip filled with exploring forests, waterfalls, and, of course, beautiful lakes.

Most people spend several hours each day paddling across the lakes to reach their next campsite and portaging to cross between lakes.

person in red sweatshirt at the front of a canoe on minnesota boundary waters

Once you’re done canoeing, go swimming or cliff jumping, go fishing, explore the area (there are hikes and waterfalls you can climb), watch birds and wild animals, or just relax at your campsite.

Permits are required and limited in number, and campsites are very spread out, so you will hardly see another person while in the Boundary Waters.

The water is crystal clear and the views are incredible!

Thanks to its far north location, this trip can really only be done in summer, so put it on your calendar now!

Where to Stay in Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness

  • South Pier Inn: Settled right on the edge of Lake Superior this is a great waterfront base. Book a suite for lake views from your balcony.
  • Sheraton Duluth Hotel: For a classic modern hotel with all the amenities this is a great option in the area. Every room has either city views or lake views, there is also an on-site fitness centre with a hot tub.

canoe pulled up to the shore in minnesota boundary waters, one of the most underrated vacations in usa

Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio

From Jenn of Those Johnson Boys

If you love the outdoors, Hocking Hills State Park in Ohio should definitely be on your radar this summer!

Located about an hour southeast of Columbus, Ohio, you’ll be able to unplug, immerse yourself in nature, and enjoy the warm, Midwest summer weather.

When visiting, you won’t want to miss the  hiking trails . Each trail is unique, with varying length and difficulty.

Some are even handicap accessible and pet friendly, so everyone can enjoy this beautiful area.

When you head out on your hike, you’ll soon feel like you were transported to a different world, as you’ll be surrounded by huge rock formations, towering trees, and lush greenery.

waterfall in hocking hills ohio, a fun usa summer break travel destination

While Hocking Hills is known for the hiking trails, there are plenty of other fun things to do in the area to keep you busy.

You can visit the college campus of Ohio University, do a wine tasting at Hocking Hills Winery, check out a couple of the breweries nearby, enjoy some time at the spa, attend a blown glass workshop, or stargaze at the John Glenn Astronomy Park.

When choosing accommodation, aim to stay in the heart of Hocking Hills to really get the full experience.

Where to Stay in Hocking Hills State Park

  • The Inn at Cedar Falls: This idyllic cottage-style accommodation is hidden in the forest and the perfect location. Set up as individual cottages with spa bathtubs and onsite spa facilities as well as dining facilities, it feels like private accommodation with your own catering and spa!
  • Acorn Cottage: Another cute cottage option is this self-contained cottage with a sweet deck and cozy interior. Easy access to nearby Logan and your own private hot tub!

sun filtering through the forest with a stone bridge of hocking hills ohio

Lake Placid, New York

From Samantha of PA on Pause

Sometimes forgotten about, tucked away in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York, Lake Placid is a great destination for a USA summer vacation.

There are nearly endless outdoor activities and things to do in Lake Placid in summer , best experienced when the snow has finally melted from the high peaks.

You can climb to the top of Mount Marcy, the tallest point in the state of New York, or the 45 other 4,000+ footers in the Adirondack Mountains.

If this sounds too adventurous, you can still experience the views from a high peak by driving to the top of Whiteface Mountain.

hiker at the top of whiteface mountain in new york, one of the fun places to go in usa summer trip ideas

Views from the access road are stunning, and there are plenty of pull-offs to stop and enjoy.

Once you reach the end of the road, you can enjoy the views from there or continue on a few hundred yards over uneven, rocky stairs to reach the actual summit.

Spend your days out chasing waterfalls, and evenings enjoying a delicious dinner by the lake on one of the outdoor restaurant patios. Rent a kayak or paddleboard and float the day away on the lake. 

Don’t forget to explore some of the historic Olympic sites from the 1980 games. Travel to the top of the ski jump ramp and see the views that jumpers have just before flying downhill, or try out the bobsled track experience. 

You won’t be bored on your summer vacation in Lake Placid!

Where to Stay in Lake Placid

  • Town House Lodge: Set on acres of private gardens with an outdoor swimming pool, this lodge is a fantastic option for Lake Placid. Rooms are comfortable and have kitchenettes if you like to keep your own snacks on hand!
  • Mirror Lake Inn & Spa: For a luxury stay this is the perfect place to book during your Lake Placid trip. Situated on the banks of Mirror Lake with views of the Adirondack Mountains, this spa resort has plush rooms, incredible beds and views from every room. The onsite restaurant is also first-class if you don’t feel like venturing out to eat at the end of the day.

two adriondack chairs set up on the shore of lake placid, a cool usa summer vacation

Bayfield, Wisconsin

From Jenny of Traveling in Focus

Summertime in Bayfield, Wisconsin, is truly special.

Nestled on the shore of Lake Superior, Bayfield offers a variety of activities to enjoy and makes for a memorable summer vacation in America.

One popular activity is taking an apostle boat tour, which takes you around the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore to see its spectacular sea caves, lighthouses, and cliff formations.

Keep a lookout for bald eagles and snow that still clings to the cliffs even in summer.

Drive the “fruit loop” and visit all the fruit farms in the area.

Whether your preference is cherries, strawberries, or some other berry, you are sure to find it here.

sea caves as seen from the water at apostle islands, one of the best places to visit in the us

One of the best things to do is hop on the ferry to Madeleine Island for the day.

Rent a bike or moped to get around the island and visit Big Bay State Park, the stunning beaches, and wander through the shops in town.

And there is nothing better than grabbing an ice cream cone and sitting along the waterfront.

June is incredibly picturesque when the city celebrates “Bayfield In Bloom.” This annual event sees thousands of vibrant daffodils on display all over town.

Take a self-guided tour through the blooms that add a splash of color and beauty to the streets.

With so much to do in summer, don’t miss your opportunity to visit one of the best small coastal towns in the US.

Where to Stay in Bayfield

  • Woodland Lodging: Set up as private suites this cabin-style accommodation is a lovely place. to stay in Bayfield. With private terraces and well-equipped kitchenettes, you have everything you need to get cozy. Sit on the terrace and enjoy the sounds of the forest in summer.
  • Old Rittenhouse Inn: Perfect for old-world charm and traditional hospitality, this Inn is a step back in time and wonderfully comfortable. Rooms have huge bathtubs and overlook the pretty gardens. Breakfast is served in the charming dining room every morning.

4 photos of places to visit in usa in summer including pacific coast highway, outer banks, cape cod. black and red text reads "33 incredible usa summer vacations"

About Kate Storm

Image of the author, Kate Storm

In May 2016, I left my suburban life in the USA and became a full-time traveler. Since then, I have visited 50+ countries on 5 continents and lived in Portugal, developing a special love of traveling in Europe (especially Italy) along the way. Today, along with my husband Jeremy and dog Ranger, I’m working toward my eventual goal of splitting my life between Europe and the USA.

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Bucket List Journey | Travel + Lifestyle Blog

Summer Bucket List Activities: 80 Fun Things to Do this Sunny Season

There is something about summer that just brings the life out of us, isn’t there? Well, those sun-filled, warm-breeze days are here with us yet again (thank goodness) and of course you will be looking for fun summer activities and things to do.

Besides sunbathing, walking around in those cute sun dresses and letting the sand run through your toes (if you are lucky enough to be at the beach), there are several other fun ideas to add to your summer bucket list.

easy summer travel ideas

1. ✦ Go to an Amusement Park

2. ✧ leap off a rope swing, 3. ✦ pick strawberries, 4. ✦ try a new food.

Have you ever tried raw oysters, escargot or frog’s legs? Maybe you have never had something as simple as sushi. Think of all the things you have yet to taste (for some fun ideas go to an Asian market!), then go out and try something new. You never know, you may stumble upon some delectable delicacies that you may never have heard of had you not been adventurous with your food.

If you are a timid eater then you may want to start with checking off some things from our American Food Bucket List: 60 Foods in the USA to Eat . But, if you’re feeling really adventurous than pick an item from this list: Weird Food Bucket List: 60 Strange Foods From Around the World

easy summer travel ideas

5. ✦ Attend an Outdoor Concert

In the United States, 40 to 50 million people attend outdoor concerts each year—it’s a top thing to do!. Find the perfect venue in your area, bring a lawn chair and spend a bucket list worthy evening listening to tunes. Unsure of where to see your show? Check out the 10 Outdoor Concert Venues Worth a Summer Road Trip .

6. ✦ Ride a Ferris Wheel

easy summer travel ideas

7. ✦ Attend a Parade

8. ✦ have a picnic.

Pack a traditional wicker basket with your favorite picnic foods and enjoy the feast as well as the weather. Real Simple magazine can help you out with their Picnic Packing Checklist . If you want to set up an Instagrammable picnic, here’s a cute red checkered picnic basket .

9. ✦ Play on a Slip-n-Slide

10. ✦ take a road trip.

Pick a spot on the map, get in your car and just drive. There are very few activities in this world that are as fun-filled and as exhilarating as going on a road trip either solo or with your best friends.

Make a list of all the things you would like to do along the way and let the other chips fall where they may. Just go with it and have fun. The open road calls to all of us. One of my favorite road trips was Canada’s Cabot Trail !

easy summer travel ideas

11. ✦ Feed the Ducks

12. ✧ grow an herb garden.

Gardening can be a lot of fun and growing your own herbs is a great way to promote a healthy lifestyle and teach the same to your kids. They will definitely have a blast digging in the soil and planting seeds, growing seedlings and watering them. You don’t need a lot of space and the vessel can be anything from a wooden crate to a mason jar to an old tire.

For an easy option, just buy an herb starter kit. Nature Blossom’s Sow & Grow makes it simple by giving you everything you need to grow five organic favorites: Basil, Thyme, Parsley, Sage, Cilantro. Or get creative with these top 30 low-budget garden pots & containers

easy summer travel ideas

13. ✦ Be a Tourist in Your Own City

Can you confidently say that you know your city in and out? If Frommer’s was to contract you to write a guide to your city, would you do it justice? Take the time to visit more than just your usual hangout places. There is more to life than hanging out at the bowling alley and the mall.

Be a tourist in your own city, go someplace new and you may be surprised by just how wonderful that old town can be. Most cities have free tours too. You could discover streets, shops, and landmarks that you never knew existed. You could also do the tour via segways, making it a little bit more fun.

14. ✦ Go to the Beach

easy summer travel ideas

15. ✧ Learn to Juggle

16. ✦ ride in a hot air balloon.

Take yourself to new heights and see what the world looks like from a birds-eye view. Better yet, make a champagne toast whilst flying high in the sky. If you are too afraid for the flight, then watch from the ground at a Hot Air Balloon Festival .

easy summer travel ideas

17. ✦ Nap in a Hammock

18. ✦ make tie-dye t- shirts.

Do you have a bunch of white T’s you would like to breathe some life into? Why not make tye-die T-shirts this summer? Again, this is something that the entire family can get into and enjoy as you all try to outdo each other with your various brands of creativity. This Tie-dye Kit will make it much easier for you!

19. ✦ Run Through Sprinklers

20. ✦ go wine tasting.

easy summer travel ideas

21. ✧ Learn to Fly Fish

This may be a challenging bucket list goal, but what could be a more serene thing to do than casting a line into the river? Besides, you get to wear really cool pants.

22. ✦ Go Whitewater Rafting

Take a thrilling ride down the river in an inflatable raft, hitting rapids along the way. Whitewater Rafting is considered an extreme sport, so be careful when choosing this as one of you Summer Bucket List ideas.

23. ✦ Do a Cannonball into a Body of Water

24. ✦ go to a baseball game.

easy summer travel ideas

25. ✦ Go 24 Hours without Internet, Radio or Television

Now, I know, this is a tall order. We use the internet for everything nowadays. But think about it. When was the last time you went for two hours without your phone? Try going 24 hours without internet, radio or TV. Go camping; sit and read a good book; talk to your friends and family or use the time to complete some of the ideas on this summer bucket list.

Soon enough you will wish you had these quiet and peaceful moments more often.

26. ✧ Have a Water Balloon Fight

While we all love to feel the sun in our faces, sometimes the heat of summer can get a little too…toasty! On those days, very few things even come close to feeling as good as having a cold shower, but the next best thing is to have a water balloon fight.

Fill up dozens of these latex fun makers and target your favorite friends, while trying to stay the driest of the bunch. If winning the fight is just as important as having fun, research techniques on How to Survive a Water Balloon Fight .

27. ✦ Ride a Big Water Slide

28. ✦ do a random act of kindness.

Random acts of kindness are some of the most fulfilling and most humane and human things you could ever do. Especially when it is done for a complete stranger.

  • Donate some food
  • Pay the bridge toll for the person behind you
  • Go to an animal orphanage and help out for the day
  • Feed someone’s parking meter.

The possibilities are endless. The best way to approach this is to look at your local community and see what it is they need the most. Or check out my post for ideas: 75 Random Acts of Kindness Ideas: Examples of Kind Things to Do .

easy summer travel ideas

29. ✧ Play Disc Golf

30. ✧ have the ultimate bbq.

Good food, good company, cold beers and warm outdoor weather, what more could you ask for in this world? Having an Ultimate BBQ is one of the best ways to while away a boring Saturday or Sunday afternoon. Everyone has their own specific style when it comes to BBQ’s so do not let anyone tell you anything about what you like. You go right ahead and grill that meat the best way you know how. Enjoy!

31. ✦ Watch Fireflies

32. ✦ go waterskiing, 33. ✧ run a themed 5k.

Themed 5k marathons are a wonderful way to not only bring the community together for a common course, but to also show off your extreme levels of fitness and fun loving nature. Make sure the theme is something fun, like a mud run (check Active’s 5k Race Finder for ideas). It’d be a bonus if running the 5k was to support a local organization.

Don’t know where to start? Read How to Train, Run & Finish Your First 5k Race

34. ✧ Host a Bonfire

A bonfire can add incredible ambiance to any party, especially on a warm Summer night. So, invite your friends, load up your cooler with beverages, bring lots of wood and a radio to play your favorite tunes.

easy summer travel ideas

35. ✧ Make Sangria

There is nothing like a refreshing glass of Sangria to quench your thirst on a hot Summer day. One of my favorite recipes is the Plum and Nectarine Sangria from William-Sonoma.

36. ✦ Paddle a Canoe

37. ✧ make a summer playlist, 38. ✦ go to a farmer’s market.

Enjoy strolling through the Summer farmer’s market while gathering fresh and local ingredients for your dinner. Take your bounty home and try making a delicious farmers’ market salad loaded with veggies.

39. ✦ Sleep in a Cabin

easy summer travel ideas

40. ✦ Read a NYT Best Seller

If you are an avid reader, then those warm summer evenings make for some of the best times to just sit by your porch and read a New York Times Best Seller . This list is considered one of the most reliable when it comes to suggesting excellent books in the United States. Whether you are looking for fiction, non-fiction, auto-biographies or even a children’s book for those bed time stories, you will find it here.

You could give ‘The Thief’ by J.R Ward a try. Although, I must warn you, this is the 16th book in the thrilling Black Dagger Brotherhood series. So if you do not want to be so hooked that you simply must read the other 15, maybe you should try something else. Like ‘Shoot First’ by Stuart Woods or go non-fiction and read ‘Russian Roulette’ by Michael Isikoff and David Corn.

Or…you could check out my book ‘ Bucket List Adventures: 10 Incredible Journeys to Experience Before You Die’ . That should get you bitten by the wanderlust bug real quick.

41. ✦ Ride a Roller Coaster

42. ✦ go to a drive-in movie.

If you are looking for a unique and cheap date night, how about going to a drive-in movie? They may be more difficult to find these days, but they are a whole lot of fun when you do. Look at the Drive-In Movie Website to locate the nearest one.

43. ✦ Watch the Sunset

easy summer travel ideas

44. ✦ Watch Fireworks

45. ✦ go skinny dipping, 46. ✦ make s’mores.

If you haven’t had these yet, drop everything you are doing and go make some—s’mores are absolutely divine. As the perfect campfire treat, making S’mores is something that the whole family can get into and thoroughly enjoy.

Allow me to elaborate: The best kind of S’more, the ones I like most, go a little something like this – You take a fire-roasted marshmallow, sandwich that with a layer of your favorite chocolate and then cover it all up with two pieces of graham cracker.

This recipe should help to get you started on the right foot. This treat has been a campfire staple long before most of us here were even born. The very first recorded s’mores recipe was published in 1927 in ‘Tramping and Trailing With the Girl Scouts’, a Girl Scouts handbook. So you are in good company. And if the traditional style doesn’t do it for you pick a unique one from the 12 Creative S’mores ideas.

easy summer travel ideas

47. ✦ Get a Pedicure

48. ✦ sleep under the stars.

If you are lucky enough to travel the world, then try to sleep under the stars in the Northern Hemisphere. The Northern Lights are a spectacle that you will never forget. But if Sweden is too far, then maybe you can make a good go of it right in your backyard? On those warm summer evenings, get a bunch of your friends and just camp outdoors sleeping under the stars.

49. ✦ Fly a Kite

Flying a kite is a relaxing way to spend a Summer day that has a bit of wind kick to it. If you haven’t previously had any luck getting your kite in the air, wikiHow can tell you How to Fly a Kite in 8 Steps . And if you need a kite, this octopus kite is so cute!

50. ✦ Watch the Sunrise

easy summer travel ideas

51. ✧ Spend the Entire Day Barefoot

This may not be such a great idea if you are walking across hot concrete, but it would be fabulous and freeing if you were spending the day at the beach or in a soft grass field.

52. ✦ Walk Barefoot in the Sand

Sinking your barefoot toes in the warm sand is the perfect way to spend a warm day.

53. ✦ Go Backpacking with a Friend

You haven’t lived until you’ve experienced wilderness and gone backpacking. Grab an adventurous friend or two and take on Mother Nature. You can do something as simple as visit the local park or the neighboring county. Or plan a few day trek, and check “sleep under the stars” off your summer bucket list at the same time.

54. ✦ Make Ice Cream

Instead of going to the grocery store to buy your favorite ice cream flavor, set up shop and make some at home. If ice cream seems too complicated, try making fun flavored popsicles, like Blueberry Vanilla Yogurt . Yum!

Here is the ice cream maker and popsicle molds that I use for my sweet summer treats.

55. ✦ Bake a Fruit Pie from Scratch

easy summer travel ideas

56. ✧ Brew Your Own Beer

Speaking of mojitos, how about you brew your own beer? Brewing your own beer is not that difficult. You will just need a starter kit and some excellent advice , but once you get it right, you may never set foot in a bar again.

57. ✦ Go Star Gazing

58. ✦ porch sit for the afternoon, 59. ✦ make a sand castle.

You really can’t avoid the beach with that much success during summer. Since you will be headed that way anyway, why not put your creativity to good use while you show off that killer bikini body? Building a sand castle is much tougher than it looks, especially if you are going for the ‘uber-elaborate’ kind. Doing this with your loved ones is a wonderful way to spend some time together, get an enviable tan and maybe even have a mojito while you are at it.

For the more creative bucket lister you can learn How to Build the Perfect Sandcastle .

60. ✧ Get a Tattoo

For travel related tattoo ideas, check out 55 Beautiful Tattoos That Tell Their Own Travel Stories .

easy summer travel ideas

61. ✦ Go Bowling

62. ✦ learn to surf.

This is a bit more challenging than most of the things to do on this Summer Bucket List Ideas, but you can enjoy the warm weather while also learning how to catch a wave. You can find fun, beginning surfing lessons near just about every surf beach.

easy summer travel ideas

63. ✦ Skip Stones in a Lake

64. ✦ take a boat ride, 65. ✧ go on a scavenger hunt.

Scavenger hunts can be exhausting if you are playing with strangers or someone you do not know that well. Luckily, I have my husband with me and we enjoy driving each other crazy trying to find new ways to outwit each other. You could do the same with the people you love and have a good old time.

For ideas, see How to Set Up a Scavenger Hunt for Grownups.

66. ✦ Visit a Historical Site

easy summer travel ideas

67. ✧ Attend Burning Man

Burning Man encapsulates everything fun and exciting about summer. It combines the desert heat, amazing creativity, wonderful musical revelations and a huge group of people who want nothing else but to have a wild, wonderful time out in the middle of nowhere. At Burning Man you can be yourself, have unbridled fun and you can definitely party all night and try to sleep all day. Just like you used to when you were younger.

68. ✧ Stand Under a Waterfall

Standing under a waterfall is a ritual purification practice to some Japanese, but for you it could just be a bit of warm weather fun.

69. ✦ Chase Down the Ice Cream Truck

70. ✦ hike a new trail.

easy summer travel ideas

71. ✧ Build a Treehouse

72. ✦ learn to shoot a bow & arrow.

Though archery is an easy sport to learn, it’s a hard one to master. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t give a shot at hitting the bulls-eye this Summer.

73. ✧ Compete in a Food Eating Competition

74. ✦ volunteer.

Volunteer your time and effort to make the world a better place. You don’t have to join ‘Greenpeace’, although that’s not such a bad idea, you can volunteer right in your own community.

Help the elderly, give blood , volunteer at the local soup kitchen or just make sure that your neighbor’s yard is well-kept. Give back to the society and you will be the better for it.

easy summer travel ideas

75. ✦ Go Somewhere You Have Never Been

Accomplishing this bucket list goal doesn’t mean that you have to travel to the ultimate location, just go somewhere you have never been. It could be something as simple as visiting a new park in your city or taking a day trip to a nearby town that you have been meaning to explore.

easy summer travel ideas

76. ✦ Create a Cocktail

Many foodies are also experimentalists, and becoming your own mixologist will test your skills. The best part about this bucket list goal is that you will have to do a lot of sampling before coming up with your own perfect harmony of flavors. Practice makes perfect!

In the heat of the Arizona Summer, I decided it was the perfect time to create my own refreshing cocktail. The funnest part? Testing all the different concoctions. In the end, my signature drink was a Lemon-Basil Fizz made with prosecco, coconut rum, raspberries, basil and lemon sorbet (see the video below). What will yours be?

Related: 10 Tips on How To Make a Great Cocktail Related: Foodie Bucket List Read: Your House Cocktail is the Most Important Recipe You’ll Ever Invent

YouTube video

77. ✦ Sip a Umbrella Cocktail by the Pool

78. ✧ make fresh squeezed lemonade.

Lemonade and summer go hand in hand like Christmas and Santa! You simply must have some when the sun is out. Squeezing your own lemonade allows you to add a bit of your own flair into the mix. Go wild and let your inner mixologist come out and play!

79. ✦ Get a Summer Hair Cut

80. ✦ go camping.

easy summer travel ideas

This summer, when the sun comes out, get your backside out there and do something fun as well. That’s a bucket list order!

This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through my links, I earn a commission that helps to keep this blog running—at no extra cost to you. For more information read my full disclosure .

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My Book: Bucket List Adventures

41 thoughts on “Summer Bucket List Activities: 80 Fun Things to Do this Sunny Season”

I love this way of thinking about your summer travel and adventure plans! By activity, not necessarily place.

Hopefully, it will help to make peoples Summer fun filled with activities!

And joy and make them happy

Great list I’m ready to live. My peace of mind is more important than anything right now.

I love these ideas! Especially the drive through movie, I’ve NEVER done that xx

I haven’t been to one since I was a teenager! I need to go as an adult too :)

Great list…I haven’t had a summer bonfire in years! Would be a great way to spend an evening! Of course, the s’more go without saying – they are really just an extension of the bonfire!

S’mores (& any variation of them) are my favorite! I even made S’mores creme brûlée at my restaurant for a dessert special.

What an awesome list!!!

I will DEFINITELY complete the barefoot all day one! I’ll also be hiking at least once a week, exploring new parks around my hometown, since I’ll be at mom’s for the summer. Great list!!!

Hiking is such a great way to spend the Summer and have a new experience, since every trail is different. Have Fun!

What I love in your list, Annette, is that it’s fun and very accomplish-able. I’ll definitely borrow a few items from it :)

Hi Annette, Thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting. I think I like your bucket list better than mine!:) We are going to do the last one on yours, go somewhere we’ve never been. I can’t wait. I enjoyed looking at your blog very much, and look forward to seeing future posts.

I am going to try #1 on yours, though I live in California now so it may be a bit difficult!

I love this! So many of these remind me of my childhood in rural Virginia. Would love to do them again and recapture those memories!

I agree, I would love to do some again to recapture the memories.

Going ziplining and getting up in the tree’s at a new height is very empowering. Many counties offer ziplining as an adventure and a way to see the sites in a new way. TreeGo has many parks throughout North America that include not only ziplining but aerial challenge course that anyone can do. No special skills are required and its tons of fun.

I understand you are in Toronto this July, we would love to host you and your team at our park to add a new dimension to your bucket list.

Wow! Finally Igot a blog from where I be capable of reeally take useful facts concerning my study and knowledge.

Estoy encantado de haber visto con esta Web y poder disponer de tanta información.

Uh oh…you owe us one more! hahaha

#38 & #77 are both “Go to a Farmer’s Market”

Ha! Good find. Replaced it with another :)

Wow! this list looks fun, have to try out all if possible. Especially learning how to juggle and surfing. Thanks for sharing this awesome bucket list ideas.

I love these!! Perfect for on trips or staying home!! Love it thanks for sharing!!

Aww these are so sweet! Great for solo or with a date or bestie!

An eye-opening. thanks for making me go out of my bed :P

wow, babulous, i love to enjoy nature beauty here, near the lake. :D

Great adventure & pictures are amazing.

Aww! Such an awesome list. I’ll start making my own!

I would still choose the beach aside from making myself cool all the time, I get to bond with the beautiful nature around me…

This list helped me a lot !!!

Happy to hear it!!

Ha! Such a beautiful list. Continue your great work!

I love summer

hihihihihihihihihihihihihihihihihihi summer

This is quite the list! Thanks for sharing!

Thanks for the list, these are great ideas 🙂

Amazing blog, please keep on writing blogs like this.

Wow, that was a very good blog, it was really informative, and I felt very happy to read it, Thank you so much to share it with us. by the way i am doing a plan to travel to the Seychelles resort and this blog is doing help me for that trip.

Thanks for the list. Fireflies was my favourite/one I forget about. Got to use pieces from here for an intro to a Toastmasters meeting today. The topic I used? ‘Summer’!

AS this was published a long time ago, I hope you got most or all of your list done.

Thanks again,

This is what I have done already this year. Hold a summer garden party Do raspberry and strawberry picking Have a nice free picnic in a park Eat ice cream Go on countryside walks Drive to a nature reserve

You did a lot already. Great job!

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I’m a goal obsessed mid-lifer, traveler, experience collector, fear crusher, digital marketer and author with big bucket list dreams. Let's Connect!

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The 26 Best Places to Travel This Summer

Adventures in Banff? Serenity in Ojai? Châteaux of the Loire? We've got you covered.

So what will it be this year? Will you be spending three months flitting between seaside hotspots along the Mediterranean? Or will it be a European cultural grand tour? Maybe you'll revisit classic American destinations for old time's sake, or journey to the farthest reaches of Earth? From adventures in Jackson Hole and Banff, to wellness in Ojai and on Ischia, to the ultimate geo-tag brags of Fiji and the Galapagos, a T&C -curated guide, below, to 25 of the best destinations to consider for summer 2023.

Jackson Hole, Wyoming

mountain, mountainous landforms, natural landscape, nature, sky, mountain range, wilderness, cloud, morning, highland,

Jackson Hole is a year-round playground for the rich and adventurous, but come summer, the list of things to do expands exponentially. Proximity to two national parks—Grand Teton and Yellowstone—means plenty of warm weather activities like hiking, paddle-boarding, kayaking, whitewater rafting, horseback riding, wildlife tours, biking, fishing, camping, you get the idea. Plus, the spectacular mountain scenery and perfect summer temperatures really can't be beat. Stay at the Amangani , whose in-house naturalists will lead private tours through the national parks.

Athens & Mykonos, Greece

view on mykonos island, cyclades, greece

Summer in Greece really needs no further explanation. There are so many places to visit, from the ancient wonders of Athens to the islands dotting the Aegean and Ionian Seas. For plush digs in the country's capital, book a room at the year-old xenodocheio Milos , the city's first-ever luxury boutique hotel, located near upscale Kolonaki. As for seaside havens, the Kalesma Mykonos is a paragon of serenity and zen on an island famous for its thumping party scene. A sleek design aesthetic also differentiates this 27-key hotel (12 suites, 13 villas, two grand villas) from its peers. Think Rick Owens furniture in the lobby, custom artwork in each room, and horsehair sconces in a nod to the Greek god Apollo, who was said to have kept his horses in the area. Oh, and best of all, 360-degree views.

Read Reviews Kalesma Mykonos

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

san miguel de allende mexico

With pleasant spring-like temperatures pretty much all year long, there really is no bad time to visit this charming, historic town. While summer is technically its rainy season, here's the silver lining: arid hills bloom into a rainbow panoply of wildflowers. Make the Rosewood San Miguel de Allende home base from which to explore the colorful UNESCO World Heritage Site. The hotel's 67 rooms and suites are a study in hacienda chic, with wood-beam ceilings, hand-carved artisan furniture, spacious terraces, and a palette of warm tones. With six restaurants, clay tennis courts, a spa, and activities from movie nights to lavender workshops, you'll find plenty to do.

Read Reviews Rosewood San Miguel de Allende

Mallorca, Spain

port de soller mallorca at sunset

Ancient honey-hued stone cottages, fragrant olive trees, the cobalt blue of the Mediterranean. The charms of Mallorca, crown jewel of Spain's Balearic Islands, are innumerable. So are the picturesque villages to discover, from Valldemossa, where composer Frédéric Chopin famously found refuge, to artsy Deià, which helped British author Robert Graves escape the psychological ravages of World War I, to polished Palma, where the Spanish royal family has their summer residence. For your very own Mallorcan idyll, head to La Residencia , a Belmond Hotel snugly nestled between mountain and sea in Deià. In keeping with the town's creative spirit, the property features eccentric design touches throughout, plus more than 800 works by local artists. The activities list is equally inspired: art and sculpture classes are on offer, including the option to paint by the sea under morning's dreamy light.

More: T&C Travel Guide: Mallorca

Read Reviews La Residencia, a Belmond Hotel

Banff National Park, Canada

scenic view of lake and snowcapped mountains against blue sky

Stunning turquoise lakes fed by glaciers. Grand, snow-capped Rocky Mountains. Blankets of emerald-hued pine forests. Canada's oldest national park certain doesn't disappoint—it's a constant feast for the eyes (not to mention for mind, body, and soul). As far as lodging goes, the Fairmont Banff Springs , a 757-room Châteauesque grande dame that dates back to 1888, is in the center of all the action (and in the charming town of Banff) and near the main attractions, like Lake Moraine and Lake Louise, and the Upper Hot Springs. As for activity and sport, the list is endless: think horseback riding, tons of hiking, canoeing, kayaking, whitewater rafting, a Via Ferrata, ATV tours, and visiting the Columbia Icefield. For those who want to hit the links, the Fairmont has an 18-hole championship golf course—just imagine the views.

Read Reviews Fairmont Banff Springs

Montecito, California

best summer vacations 2021

Maybe leave the kids at home for this one. Arguably the most romantic hotel on the west coast, the 130-year-old San Ysidro Ranch has quite a storied history—Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier were married here, while Jackie and John F. Kennedy honeymooned at the resort. Just 38 standalone cottages—decorated with antiques and appointed with stone fireplaces, outdoor rain showers, deep soaking tubs, and private decks—are sprawled out over 500 acres of lush gardens and hiking trails lined with lavender, jasmine, orange blossoms, and eucalyptus. Need we say more?

Read Reviews San Ysidro Ranch

Watch Hill, Rhode Island

where to travel this summer 2021

It's not hard to see why A-listers from Clark Gable to Taylor Swift have found refuge in Watch Hill. And for a classic New England vacation, the answer is always Ocean House . The grand hotel, constructed after the Civil War, epitomizes a bygone era when "summer" was popularized as a verb by members of the one percent. But that's not to say that this hotel is dated. The 154-year-old Ocean House masterfully toggles the line between respecting history and embracing modern comforts—all the windows are in their original position, for example, but the rooms have been whittled down from 159 to a much more spacious 67. Then add in 13 acres of prime oceanfront landscape, plus a private beach, tennis courts, a croquet lawn, and a shuffleboard court.

Read Reviews Ocean House

Zurich, Switzerland

zurich old town by the limmat river on a sunny summer day in switzerland largest city

Basel may be considered the art mecca of Switzerland but don't sleep on Zurich. After all, this is where the Dada movement was born. The city is brimming with more than 50 museums, more than 1,300 public installations by the likes of Augusto Giacometti and Niki de Saint Phalle, and hundreds of galleries, which annually host tours, events, lectures, and studio visits during the 3-day festival known as Zurich Art Weekend in June. What's more, British architect David Chipperfield recently completed an extension of the Kunsthaus, making it the largest art museum in Switzerland. The city is also the home of Pavillon Le Corbusier, the iconic architect's last finished work and now a museum dedicated to him. Even the hotels have architectural bragging rights: not too long ago La Réserve Eden au Lac underwent a restoration by Philippe Starck.

Read Reviews La Réserve Eden au Lac

Ojai, California

summer vacation ideas ojai valley inn

Ojai is famous for its New Age, woo woo vibes—and what's wrong with a heaping dose of positive energy (delivered via its seven spiritual vortexes)? A few years ago the Ojai Valley Inn completed a renovation of its renowned, award-winning Spa Ojai, upgrading all treatment rooms, public spaces, and even the two 1,500-square-foot penthouse suites. There are ample opportunities to continue the wellness journey elsewhere on the hotel's 200-acre property. The vast activities and classes list includes aromatherapy oil blending, beekeeping, spiritual counseling, crystal healing, and floral design. Or you could just laze about in one of the hotel's four pools all afternoon, then enjoy an alfresco dinner while admiring Ojai's iconic pink sunsets.

Read Reviews Ojai Valley Inn

Ischia, Italy

italy, campania, naples, gulf of naples, ischia island, aragonese castle on rock island

Skip uber-touristy Amalfi Coast for dreamy Ischia, an island that has long attracted a certain set of in-the-know jetsetters in search of peace, healing, and true barefoot luxury—Truman Capote chose the town of Forio for his self-imposed exile in the '50s, while Ischia provided the backdrop for scenes of la dolce vita in The Talented Mr. Ripley . Thanks to an abundance of natural thermal springs, a holiday here can be that perfect blend of wellness and Italian indulgence. Stay at the Mezzatore , a 16th-century terra-cotta jewel perched on the edge of the Gulf of Naples. The historic property began its life as a watchtower before seducing the Italian elite, including the legendary director Luchino Visconti, who owned a villa, La Colombaia, on the grounds. Along with sea views in most of its 56 rooms and restaurants that emphasize the freshest daily catch, its spa pools are fed by its own springs. Be sure to double up your daily soak with a treatment—the spa uses products by Santa Maria Novella and Biologique Recherche.

Read Reviews Mezzatore Hotel & Thermal Spa

Montego Bay, Jamaica

summer vacation ideas 2021

Sure, the Caribbean might be really hot this time of year, but does that really matter when you've got pools, beaches, bottomless rum cocktails, a languorous island pace, and fewer crowds? With 27 villas plus 36 rooms designed by Ralph Lauren, Round Hill makes for a chic and blissfully relaxing getaway. Spend your days swimming in the sea, bobbing in the infinity pool, sipping cocktails on the beach, luxuriating in a spa treatment or two, and indulging in delicious Jamaican cuisine. Want to incorporate a little activity? You can take a kayak out on the water, play tennis, or even partake in pickleball —in keeping with the trends of the one percent, the hotel created two new courts for the sport.

Read Reviews Round Hill Hotel & Villas

Mount Desert Island, Maine

acadia national park iii

Since the Gilded Age, this beautiful coastal region has provided refuge and respite for generations of American gentry. It's not hard to see the appeal: a slow and laidback pace of life, nature all around, heaps of fresh lobster to be enjoyed ad infinitum, and, of course, Acadia National Park, established in 1916 thanks in part to land donated by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. (who also financed the construction of an extensive network of carriage roads throughout). For the intrepid, a hike up Cadillac Mountain just before dawn is bucket list-worthy—it's the first place in the U.S. to see the sunrise. And for a taste of how the Rockefellers, Morgans, and Astors used to holiday, book a room at the Claremont in Southwest Harbor. The property dates back to 1884 but worry not: a 2021 gut renovation gave it a modern refresh, complete with Very T&C design touches like Sister Parish wallpaper, Pierre Frey furnishings, and Frette linens.

Read Reviews The Claremont Hotel

Paris, France

buildings at waterfront against sky

Paris is always a good idea, especially in the summer when daylight seems to stretch on forever and temperatures are generally delightful. Plus, this is a city made for alfresco revelry: think picnicking along the Seine, brushing up on your French lit in one of its many pristine parks, people watching from sidewalk cafes, treasure hunting at the Marché aux Puces fleas. As for where to stay, you'll be spoiled for choice with all the magnificent grande dames in town. One of the latest to join the club: Cheval Blanc Paris , which opened last year in a historic Art Deco palace right on the river. Its location and views are phenomenal, but the biggest draw of the place might be that its parent company LVMH also revived OG department store La Samaritaine, on whose hallowed ground the hotel is located—because shopping in Paris, as everyone knows, is an obligatory sport, no matter the season.

More: The New Cheval Blanc Paris Finally Opens

Read Reviews Cheval Blanc Paris

Loire Valley, France

chateau de chenonceau is a french castle spanning the river cher near chenonceaux village, loire valley, france

France's most popular summertime playground is obviously the Côte d'Azur, but the countryside is just as—if not more—alluring. Take the Loire Valley: under 3 hours from Paris yet seemingly worlds away, sprinkled with more than 300 historic châteaux built as far back as the 9th century and through the Renaissance, when artists, including Da Vinci, were commissioned to design these splendid residences for the French monarchy. Castles can certainly fill up an itinerary—don't miss Chambord, the largest, and Chenonceau (pictured), which was once owned by Catherine de' Medici–but that's not all this UNESCO-listed region has to offer. The valley is also the home of Sancerre, which is as indispensable to a French summer as rosé is to an American one. And where will you stay? In a place with royal roots, naturally. The 55-key Fleur de Loire , which opened last summer, is in a property that was once owned by King Louis XIII's brother. Expect several princely amenities, like a restaurant helmed by 2-Michelin-starred chef Christophe Hay, a Sisley spa, and wonderful gardens.

Read Reviews Fleur de Loire

The Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

ecuador, galapagos islands, santa cruz, marine iguana, amblyrhynchus cristatus, and red rock crabs, grapsus grapsus

Galapagos enthusiasts are generally split into two camps when it comes to how best to experience the area's wildlife-strewn marvels—by sea or by land? For those in the former group, there is good news. Last May marked the inaugural expedition of the Aqua Mare , Aqua Expeditions' sleek teak- and mahogany-lined superyacht built specifically for the archipelago. There are just seven spacious suites on board, including an 861-square-foot Owner's Suite, plus a jacuzzi, movie room, library, BBQ area, and two naturalist guides. This may be about as close as you can get to cruising around the Galapagos like Logan Roy.

Hudson Valley, New York

wildflower farms

For New Yorkers who prefer the bucolic charms of country life over the sandy scene of the Hamptons, the Hudson Valley is the perfect destination. Its quaint little towns, antique shops, and farm stands are an easy—and best of all, sans traffic—drive away. The region is upping its luxury game, too, thanks to the new Wildflower Farms , an Auberge Resort. Sixty-five cozy cabins dot the 140-acre property, which, true to its name, brim with orchards, gardens, and wildflower-strewn meadows. And as is an Auberge signature, there is plenty to do, from miles of hiking trails to explore to a cooking school where you can learn the art of pickling, preserving, and even making your own floral focaccia.

Read Reviews Wildflower Farms, an Auberge Resort

Hvar, Croatia

hvar croatia

It’s time to upgrade your thinking about an island vacation. This summer, the Croatian isle of Hvar is poised to be a destination for travelers looking for a bit of culture (the Hvar Summer Festival has been a landmark for art and music for more than 60 years), some gorgeous scenery (the Lavender Festival, based around the 14th-century town of Velo Grablje, takes place in mid-July), or some serious wine (harvest season kicks off in August, and the Viticultural Museum, which charts wine culture on Hvar back to the 4th Century B.C., has been recently renovated). And, of course, there’s also the chance to just unwind. World-class hotels like the Palace Elisabeth —named for everyone’s favorite Austrian Empress —offer spa treatments and seaside dining, and the nearby Pakleni Islands, a destination for sunbathers and history buffs alike, are a short boat ride away.

Read Reviews Palace Elisabeth, Hvar Heritage Hotel

Vancouver Island, Canada

humpback whale tail on the british columbia coastline, canada vancouver island

For glamping with a side of Canadian hospitality, head over to the 25-tent Clayoquot Wilderness Lodge on the edge of Clayoquot Sound, a pristine UNESCO-designated Biosphere Reserve nestled in the wilds of Vancouver Island. The Canadian Pacific Coast's "Big 5"—whales, bears, bald eagles, sea lions, and sea otters—are the star sightings here, with summer being especially promising for witnessing orcas, gray whales, and humpbacks. But even if you miss these colossal mammals, there are plenty nature pursuits to keep you entertained: hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, rock climbing, swimming in hidden glacier-fed watering holes, fly fishing in remote spots accessed only by helicopter, the list goes on.

Read Reviews Clayoquot Wilderness Lodge

Sicily, Italy

the greek theatre and mount etna, taormina, sicily

According to Greek mythology, the deadly serpentine giant Typhon is said to be buried under Mount Etna, banished there after losing an epic battle with Zeus. Perhaps this is why Etna is one of the world's most active volcanos. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is also a nourishing presence, its fertile soils making Sicily a verdant oasis for lemons and oranges, olives and honey, grapes and wine. Plus, it sets the tone for an Italian holiday that has it all: amazing food, ancient history, plenty of mountain-to-sea nature. As for where to stay, the Four Seasons's San Domenico Palace is an excellent Hollywood-worthy choice—surely you've seen The White Lotus ? — though the Mediterranean's largest island has many options. Villa Sant’Andrea , a Belmond Hotel set in a secluded bay in Taormina is a good base for activities like catching a show at the ancient Greek theater, or sailing to Aci Trezza to meet members of the Rodolico family, who have been building handcrafted boats since 1908.

More: The White Lotus -Inspired Travel Guide to Sicily

Read Reviews San Domenico Palace, a Four Seasons Hotel

Read Reviews Villa Sant'Andrea, a Belmond Hotel

pristine beach of anguilla

With its silky soft beaches and crystal clear waters, Anguilla, a perennial T&C favorite, is the utmost in barefoot luxury. All this and more can be found at the Belmond Cap Juluca , well-situated in a secluded spot in Maundays Bay with 66 spacious, terrace-equipped rooms, 42 suites, an infinity pool, and much to do, from snorkeling, sailing, scuba diving, and exploring uninhabited islands, to croquet, volleyball, tennis, and golf. And it's all easier to get to: American Airlines now has direct routes to the island from Miami.

Read Reviews Belmond Cap Juluca

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Leena Kim is an editor at Town & Country , where she covers travel, jewelry, education, weddings, and culture.

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Our Favorite Summer Trips With Family and Kids of All Ages

Some of the best memories and connections are forged when we travel as a family. these are our top picks for places to go when we’re traveling with everyone from tiny tots and teens to a multigenerational group that spans many ages and stages..

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The best way to instill a love of travel is to start ‘em young.

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For many families, school holidays—most especially the lengthy summer break—present the ideal opportunity to engage in a different type of education: the lessons learned out on the road. Travel is one of the best ways to foster curiosity, inspire awe, and encourage a better understanding of other cultures, languages, cuisine, nature, and the environment. The world is a living, breathing classroom.

It’s also a great way to reconnect with one another, whether we are hitting the road with the people we live with day in and day out, extended or blended family, or are reuniting with our chosen family. When traveling with companions who are at different ages and stages of life, it’s important to make sure that every member of the family, regardless of their age, has a fun and memorable getaway.

Between our own time spent circling the globe with our families, as well as feedback we have collected from readers and family travel experts, we’ve compiled the top destinations for family travel in 2023—places that we have vetted ourselves—to set families up for straight-A success. Let our list inspire you and your crew to get out there and create some meaningful adventures of your own.

North and South America

interior view of stage and seats at the famous and historic Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires

The famous and historic Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires hosts special programming for kids.

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Perfect for : Urban adventurers, including families with younger kids.

For families looking to explore South America, Buenos Aires is a great place to start. Argentines are super kid-friendly which translates to playgrounds and carousels throughout the city and children being welcome everywhere (even late-night fancy dinners.) A favorite cultural activity for families is the Teatro Colón, considered a crown jewel for any performer because of its superior acoustics. The venue offers kids programming ( Colón Para Chicos ) in which they do abbreviated performances of their regular shows on weekend mornings. It’s a fun introduction to opera, ballet and symphonic music.

For visual arts, check out the MALBA , the museum of Latin American art. It’s fully stroller accessible and the contemporary collection is engaging for even the youngest visitors. Check the website for kids workshops, especially during Argentine summer holidays, which are mid-December to mid-February. Buenos Aires is also full of street art. Have some fun hunting for the craziest murals the family can find, or try a walking tour . Take a break with some ice cream—there are parlors every few blocks.

For something more low key, head to the Rosedal, reminiscent of Paris’ Bois de Boulogne. Walking around the artificial lake you might catch an open air circus or musical performance. On the weekends, the city offers free classes ranging from zumba to roller blading. You can also rent bikes or a paddle boat if you’ve got some energy to burn.

Where to stay: A vacation rental in Palermo is your best bet if you want extra space for the kids, and to eat dinner before 9 p.m—most restaurants don’t open for dinner before 9 p.m., so having your own kitchen is a must. If you want to have access to a pool and Elena, one of the best restaurants in the city (which also has a generous kids menu), consider the Four Seasons Hotel Buenos Aires .— recommended by Marianne Perez-Fransius, co-founder of Bébé Voyage , an online resource for traveling families

a river boat floats along the Chicago River with skyscrapers on either side

Kick back, relax, and watch the stunning buildings go by on a Chicago architecture river cruise.

Chicago, Illinois

Perfect for: Culture-curious kids and adults eager to get their museum, architecture, and comedy club fix.

Chicago has a lot of outdoor spaces and museums that will keep children active and engaged while also being home to a plethora of great restaurants for the adults (and their up-and-coming foodie kids). Some wonderful museums for all ages include the Field Museum and the Museum of Science + Industry . An architecture river cruise is ideal for when everyone in your crew is tired—you get to see Chicago’s amazing collection of structures while relaxing on the river. Another solid option for older kids is a kayak tour on the river or Lake Michigan. Millennium Park is a great outdoor space with a climbing wall and concerts in the summer. You can go biking or exploring in the vast Lincoln Park, which has some great beaches for relaxing and a conservatory that houses the tranquil Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool. An evening comedy show at the iconic Second City is fun for everyone.

Where to stay: The younger gens will think you’re the coolest when you book a stay at the cheeky boutique property Virgin Hotels Chicago (which has rooms with two queen beds and suites to accommodate fams). Or book this beautiful Wicker Park home on Airbnb with direct access to one of Chicago’s buzzy neighborhoods (and to the L train, aka Chicago’s public transit network for easy access to the downtown Loop). — recommended by AFAR reader Margo James

a pelican on a dock in Islamorada Key West

Beautiful beaches, ample swimming, and cute coastal towns make Key West a great getaway for families.

Key West, Florida

Perfect for: Elementary school kids that are full of energy and love beach time.

Key West is an amazing destination for young kids that happens to also be an incredibly beautiful place. Head to the Turtle Hospital in Marathon for some humbling time with shelled beauties. Go swimming at Bahia Honda State Park and in Islamorada . In Islamorada there is also a great little cluster of independent shops and restaurants—look out for Bad Boy Burrito . Make sure to head to the Hemingway Home and Museum and the Key West Lighthouse , both of which are steeped in history. Some fun off-the-beaten-path restaurants that are great for families include Havana Jacks Oceanside Restaurant in Key Largo (good for live music and cold drinks); Sunset Grille and Raw Bar in Marathon (for sunsets and playing games outside); and Blue Heaven in Key West (true to its name, it’s heaven). Ultimately, Key West has the perfect mix of swimming, eating, play time, and spotting wildlife—a winning formula for a truly memorable family vacation.

Where to stay: Kimptons are known for their classy updates of classic structures and Kimtpon Key West Winslow’s Bungalows are no exception. Located in the heart of Old Town, this historic property dates back to 1856 and now includes three pools and suites and guest rooms that can accommodate larger groups. The resort fee also includes loaner bikes, snorkel gear and continental breakfast. For the full resort experience, book a stay at Casa Marina Key West , which boasts two pools, bikes for guests, ample water sport activities, and a beachfront location. — recommended by AFAR reader Emma Maksimovic

Waimea Valley waterfall with people in the water

Explore Native Hawaiian culture and flora on a history-laden trek through Waimea Valley that ends with a dip in the falls.

Mari Sparacino/Unsplash

North Shore, Oʻahu

Perfect for: Kids (and adults) of all ages. And all the surfing.

No amount of beach and pool time is too much for kids, so that alone sets families up for endless fun when visiting Oʻahu. Despite its reputation for gnarly waves, the North Shore also has plenty of alcove beaches with calmer waters and soft sand like Kawela Bay. Older kids who want to give surfing a try will find plenty of surf schools at their disposal—and what better place to learn than in such an iconic surf destination. For a break from the beach, visit Gunstock Ranch for horseback riding or a rewarding tree-planting experience, and Waimea Valley for a hike along cultural and historic sites that ends at a lovely waterfall (that you can take a dip in). Get coffee (for the adults) at The Country Eatery and massive burgers at Seven Brothers —or try any of the food trucks and stands around the historic Kahuku Sugar Mill, where kids also have fun climbing the mill’s old gears.

Where to stay: The recently overhauled Turtle Bay Resort is the sole resort property at the northernmost tip of Oʻahu and it does not disappoint. In addition to pools with waterslides and calm, sandy beaches (with complimentary sand toys for guests), there’s a seemingly endless menu of family-friendly activities, including kayaking in search of sea turtles, stargazing, and ukulele lessons. The Stables at Turtle Bay are a great place for horseback riding for the entire family; they even have a pony experience for children six and under. — Michelle Baran, senior travel news editor

Punta Mita, Riviera Nayarit, Mexico

Perfect for: Families with younger kids and multigenerational travel.

Located about an hour north of Puerto Vallarta on Mexico’s Pacific Coast, Punta Mita is a resort enclave that offers families a perfect mix of sun and sand, Mexican culture and cuisine, and beautiful jungle flora and fauna. Whether you’re traveling with younger kids or are hosting a multigenerational reunion, Punta Mita allows families to be as busy or relaxed as they need or want to be. Spend the day sprawled out on the beach or by the pool, or get active with rainforest treks, snorkeling adventures, and whale watching outings. World-class resorts offer the highest level of service and amenities (including kids clubs, spas, and restaurants), while the surrounding region provides day trip opportunities to colorful local towns like Sayulita and San Pancho, where travelers can seek out locally made crafts and bustling markets.

Where to stay: There are two options in Punta Mita proper and you can’t go wrong with either. Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita is extremely welcoming to families with its Kids for All Seasons programming (which was recently enhanced with a Kids Well element that focuses on kids’ mental health and wellbeing), specialty kids’ menus, and family-friendly pools and cultural activities. Accommodations range from newly renovated casitas that sleep up to six all the way up to four- and five-bedroom villas, perfect for larger reunions and gatherings. Nearby is the St. Regis Punta Mita Resort , which offers family cooking classes, a children’s club, and a full menu of outdoor adventures (from SUP to surf to snorkeling). Nearby, several new properties with family-friendly accommodations and programming have recently been unveiled, including luxury property Susurros Del Corazón, Auberge Resorts Collection (with one- and two-bedroom suites and sprawling beachfront villas with up to seven bedrooms) and Conrad Punta de Mita (with experiences curated for families like movie night and beach barbecues). —M.B.

two bikes among rows of vineyards at sunset

Biking among the vines is fun whether you drink wine or not.

Sonoma County, California

Perfect for: A multigenerational family trip. Wine for the adults, outdoor adventure for the kids. Everybody wins.

Bring the grandparents or older members of the family together with the youngest ones for some memorable, multi-gen family fun in wine country. You can spend a day cycling up and down rolling hills and among vineyards with Getaway Adventures . The company offers guided tours or rentals and is well stocked with bikes and equipment for any age or weather condition. Well-behaved kids are welcome at many wineries in Sonoma, including Truett Hurst , a rare organic and biodynamic operation just outside town where kids can explore the gardens and creek while adults sip zinfandel. Families will also enjoy meandering among enormous redwoods at Armstrong Redwoods Natural Reserve , followed by a rewarding visit to the well-stocked toy store Toy Chest in downtown Healdsburg. For dinner, opt for kid-friendly but elevated food such as big pizzas at Pizzando .

Where to stay: Splash out for Hotel Healdsburg on the main square or the stunning, recently opened Montage Healdsburg , which has all the luxury amenities you’d expect from the name (plus an included kids club for guests ages 5-12, as well a family pool). Hotel Trio is a great spot to use up some Marriott Bonvoy points , with an outdoor pool, bocce ball court, bike rentals, and a car-free path straight into town. — Tim Chester, deputy editor

buildings along the Vancouver waterfront with boats on the water

Water taxis, ferries, Vancouver offers so much waterfront fun.

Vancouver and Whistler, British Columbia, Canada

Perfect for: Babies and toddlers. British Colombia is a great starter international trip (with no or minimal jetlag from the U.S.).

Vancouver and Whistler make for an ideal getaway for younger travelers for several reasons. To start, western Canada offers the option of international travel with minimal (or even no) jetlag, which makes getting there with sleep challenged babies or toddlers much easier. Secondly, British Columbia is all about gorgeous natural landscapes that provide the perfect backdrop for getting outside—during the summer temperatures hover in the 60s and 70s, making it a great time to visit.

In Vancouver, the combination of the city and the sea is perfect for littles. Families can really lean into the numerous opportunities for boats and ferry rides, like water taxis that criss-cross False Creek and deliver passengers to Granville Island for a buzzing food market and shops, and to Science World , a kid-focused learning center. Stanley Park and its Vancouver Aquarium and totem poles are also must-sees. Vancouver is a very bike-friendly town, which makes for another fun way to see the sights. Head to the Shipyards on Vancouver’s North Shore for endless food trucks, music, art, and entertainment (plus another fun ferry ride).

Summer is the off-season in Whistler, a popular ski destination, so it makes for a much more mellow time to visit with kids. In this beautiful, mountainous region, walking and hiking trips are the way to go. Children will especially love the Train Wreck hike, a forested trek to the site of an abandoned train crash with train cars splattered about the forest floor and a hanging bridge mid-hike. On the road between Whistler and Vancouver, head to wildlife sanctuary Grouse Mountain , where a gondola ride will bring you to natural enclosures housing orphaned bears and owls.

Where to stay: For family-friendly lodging in Whistler, try Nita Lake Lodge , where you can borrow kayaks and canoes for paddling on the lake, rent bikes, take a dip in the pool and hot tub, and hike the nearby trails. In the heart of Whistler is the extremely kid-friendly and classic Fairmont Chateau Whistler with its indoor/outdoor pool and miniature bathrobes for little guests. In Vancouver, the Douglas, Autograph Collection offers prime access to the False Creek waterfront, while the Fairmont Pacific Rim places you right on Vancouver Harbor with views of sea planes taking off and landing. — M.B.

FEBO, a Dutch chain where food is served out of vending machine–like Automats

For an entertaining fast food experience in Amsterdam that everyone in the fam will get a kick out of, head to FEBO.

Amsterdam and Schiermonikoog, the Netherlands

Perfect for: Exploring with device- and freedom-loving preteens and teens.

When it comes to traveling with teenagers, any destination where you can get them outdoors for hours at a time with limited cell-phone reception is key in an effort to keep them off screens and engaging with the world. Enter: A trip to Amsterdam and Schiermonikoog, the latter of which is located in the Netherlands’ Friesan Islands. In Amsterdam, families will get a solid dose of culture and history exploring the Anne Frank House and the Van Gogh Museum . The Van Gogh Museum offers family tours designed to engage kids. Be sure to hit up FEBO, a Dutch chain where food is served out of vending machine–like Automats. For active exploration, opt for a bike ride to see windmills and a trip to the sprawling urban recreational space Vondelpark . For some post-city relaxation, head to Schiermonikoog, a mostly carless self-contained island where kids are issued a bike and the independence to ride around, head to the beach, grab lunch, and play and socialize with their peers on their own, without parents having to worry too much.

Where to stay: Reserve a family suite at the Pulitzer Amsterdam and you’ll have accommodations for up to four guests right on two of the city’s main canals, Prinsengracht and Keizersgracht. Alternatively, your wanna-be-adult teens will love the sophistication of Conservatorium Hotel in the city’s museum district. On Schiermonikoog, it’s all about scoring a great vacation rental like this stylish two-bedroom house in the heart of the main village. — Laura Simkins, chief operations officer

the colorful Sintra castle

What kid wouldn’t love a real-life castle that is as colorful as Sintra just outside of Lisbon?

Lisbon, Portugal

Perfect for: Families traveling with babies and younger kids.

Portugal is extremely family-friendly. There are parking spots just for pregnant women and airport security lanes just for families. Toddlers are welcome at wine bars and in trendy restaurants like Prado in Lisbon. Portuguese playgrounds are also next level. Or you can simply let the little ones loose in the centuries-old castles of Sintra and Óbidos and the open square of the Jeronimos Monastery in Lisbon, where history provides more than enough entertainment. Take the tots to the bustling Time Out Market Lisboa , a 50-stall food hall in the old fish-and-meat market, Mercado da Ribeira, where even the pickiest eaters are likely to find something they fancy. Pro tip: Rent an automatic car and bring a baby carrier, because the hilly cobblestone city streets are not friendly to manual transmission or strollers.

Where to stay: Martinhal apartments are famed for their kids club and baby concierge and The Lisboans feature stylish one- and two-bedroom apartments with full kitchens, along with hotel-style services like check-in, room cleanings, and breakfast delivery. —Laura Dannen Redman, digital content director

colorful toy boats float in the fountain at Luxembourg Palace in Paris

Take the kids to the Luxembourg Garden where small boats are often floating along in the fountain.

Nikonaft/Shutterstock

Paris and Provence, France

Perfect for: Whether you’re traveling with le bébé , energetic younger kids, or more sophisticated high schoolers, there’s something for everyone in the City of Lights and south of France.

Let the youngest members of the fam scurry up the stairs of Sacre Coeur, marvel at the magnitude of seeing the Mona Lisa firsthand at the Louvre, and climb to the top of the Eiffel Tower. Or head to Luxembourg Gardens, where kids will delight in a carousel ride and playing with the toy sailboats—Paris is full of fantastic playgrounds and parks. Have a high schooler who is learning French? Let them lead the way and practice their français by helping with ordering meals at bistros and cafés.

When you’re ready for a break from the city, rent a car and explore southern France’s endlessly charming Provence region. Make the antique streets of UNESCO World Heritage site Avignon your home base while roaming Provence’s lavender fields, wineries, art history (numerous impressionists lived here in the 19th century, including Van Gogh ), and impressive churches and palaces, such as the gothic masterpiece Palais des Papes in Avignon.

Where to stay: When traveling to Paris with kids, a little extra space and access to parks are key. This effortlessly stylish two-bedroom Airbnb right by Luxembourg Gardens offers both. You can also opt for Residence Nell’s full-service apartments in the Ninth arrondissement or go all-out at the eternally elegant Le Bristol Paris , which is as kid-friendly (with its pool and kids club) as it is classy. We’ve also rounded up a selection of chic Paris hotels with rooms big enough for families . In Avignon, babies and younger guests are welcome at Le Prieuré , a small and luxurious property built inside a 14th-century monastery, surrounded by gardens and complete with a pool. For a beautiful guest house with a pool and some family-friendly suites, check out Les Jardins de Baracane . — — recommended by AFAR reader Shira Berger (Provence) and Lyndsey Matthews, senior commerce editor (Paris)

Aerial view of Spetses, Greece

After a busy school year, sometimes you just want to go somewhere where everyone can relax. Enter: Spetses.

Spetses, Greece

Perfect for: A laid-back island vacation the whole family can enjoy.

Spetses is close enough to the mainland to make for an easy ferry ride, yet offers the relaxed vibes of a typical Greek island. Get your culture fix at the Bouboulina Museum and eat fresh seafood at countless waterfront restaurants. Beaches are located right in town, or you can venture a kilometer or two away for something quieter. Let your kids play in the rocky sand for hours while the local beach club brings lunch and a cocktail straight to your lounge chair. The island is mainly car-free, but horse and carriage rides make for a great way to transport the kids to dinner. Should you find yourself with an hour or two sans kids, rent an e-bike and cruise the scenic road that goes around the entire island. Make sure to stop at one of the hidden beaches you’ll encounter along the way. Pro tip: Greek sidewalks are not terribly welcoming for double strollers. If you have two kids in tow that need one, it’s better to pack an umbrella stroller for each of them.

Where to stay: The Poseidonion Grand Hotel is just steps from the ferry terminal, offering stunning waterfront views and kid-friendly amenities, including two outdoor pools. Just a short distance up the road you’ll find Nissia Traditional Residences with suites and residences that can accommodate a large group and serves as absolutely delicious Greek salad. — Anni Cuccinello, director of audience development

Africa and Asia

Introduce the next generation of travelers to the ornate palaces (and large mustaches) of Jaipur.

Introduce the next generation of travelers to the ornate palaces (and large mustaches) of Jaipur.

Aditya Siva/Unsplash

Jaipur, India

Perfect for: Elementary school aged kids and up.

India is a wonderful trip for kids who have graduated from the more challenging younger (ahem, toddler) years and are ready to explore and engage in the rich history and culture of this beautiful South Asian destination. After landing (and adjusting to the time difference) in Delhi, head to Jaipur, also known as the “Pink City,” which is famous for its grand palaces and Rajasthani culture. Kids can run around in the courtyard of the Hawa Mahal, a palace made of red and pink sandstone and will stare in bewilderment at the mustachioed guards at the adjacent City Palace (some of the mustaches are seriously giant). Then, hit the shops in search of shimmering silver jewelry and traditional Rajasthani outfits. At the Chokhi Dhani cultural village , families can ride camels and indulge in a Rajasthani feast.

Where to stay: Book one of the beautiful and spacious suites at the the Johri at Lal Haveli from AFAR’s 2021 Stay List or get lost at the Oberoi Rajvilas , a sprawling and palatial resort where rooms range from over-the-top villas with private pools to luxury tents inspired by royal caravans of yore. —Sarika Bansal, editorial director

a giraffe alongside Giraffe Manor hotel in Nairobi

Even the most “over it” teens are bound to think Giraffe Manor in Nairobi is pretty darn cool.

DongDongdog/Shutterstock

Nairobi and Masai Mara, Kenya

Perfect for: Even jaded teens who will be totally awed by the nature and beauty of a safari experience.

Start by splurging on a night at Giraffe Manor in Nairobi, because who doesn’t love feeding giraffes during breakfast? Then it’s off for a safari adventure. Take the group to Elewana Elsa’s Kopje in Meru, which is the site of the original camp of Kenyan wildlife conservationist George Adamson. Follow that up with Mahali Mzuri in Masai Mara. The entire family will be captivated when they spot lions, elephants, wildebeest, and zebras in the wild. Consider using a luxury Africa travel specialist such as Mahlatini , which handles everything including airport transfers, bush flights, tours and all the little details. A bucket-list trip for sure and something teens will be excited to do even if they are over being excited to travel with family.

Where to stay: If you feel inspired by the idea of doing an African safari with the family, we’ve rounded up some additional family-friendly safaris —including lodgings—that will make planning an epic safari trip much easier. — recommended by AFAR reader Jenn Thomas

Head to Robot Restaurant in Tokyo for a memorable evening.

Head to Robot Restaurant in Tokyo for a memorable evening.

Alex Waltner Photography/Shutterstock

Tokyo, Japan

Perfect for: Kids of all ages, but you’d be surprised how much Tokyo will surprise and delight even young toddlers (just make sure to build in some buffer for jetlag).

This beautiful, bustling capital city is a feast for the senses that will thrill the younger gens to no end. Just walking around and taking in all the sights is fun for kids, with countless stores to pop into and fun snacks to try. Head to a robot-themed show at the Robot Restaurant , visit the city’s owl and hedgehog cafés, and explore Sakurazaka Park in Roppongi (also known as “robot park”) and Ueno Zoo . The Tokyo Disney Resort , which features both a Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea theme park, is easy to get using the Tokyo subway system. Another great stop for kids is the Tokyo Skytree —head to the top terrace, 1,500 feet above the city, and walk around, and then down below to the mall that has tons of restaurants. Get your noodle knowledge fix at the ramen museum in Yokohama , which has a nearby giant Ferris wheel called the Cosmo Clock.

Where to stay: Splurge on a room at the Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Otemachi , with a pool, playroom, and discounted breakfasts for younger guests. Another luxury option is the iconic Grand Hyatt Tokyo in the lively Roppongi nabe. Or book a kid-friendly vacation rental through Homes & Villas by Marriott Bonvoy , like this sleek apartment downtown . — recommended by AFAR reader Lauren Ide

Riverdale Park East

Summer travel checklist: 11 things to do now to make your trip great

Clint Henderson

Editor's Note

It might be early April, but there are things you should be doing now to make your summer vacation a hit.

Sure, booking your summer trips is an important step, but there are also some housekeeping items to take care of to ensure your summer travel goes off without a hitch.

Here's everything to add to your planning checklist so you can minimize travel headaches when away from home this summer.

Book travel and select seats now

easy summer travel ideas

Believe it or not, summer is just around the corner. Airfare prices are already high and will likely get much higher. So, it may be time to book those trips before you're priced out of your vacation.

A great tool to use for deals is Google Flights . You can set an alert for your ideal days and itineraries and then monitor everything for a week or two before pulling the trigger. Google will tell you the average airfare for your journey and whether you are getting a deal, so you can rest easy knowing you can make an informed decision. Google will even email you if the price jumps or drops drastically.

What about when to book ?

There's no magical best day to book your trips, but you might be better off traveling on a Tuesday or Wednesday to score the best deals. Traveling midweek is likely your best chance at saving some cash, whether traveling in the U.S. or abroad.

Related: These are the best times to buy an international flight

Don't forget to also periodically double-check prices to see if you can get a credit if prices drop between now and your departure date.

If you are booking a hotel, make sure you purchase a refundable rate. That way, if the price drops, you can cancel and rebook at the lower price. That applies to points redemptions as well.

It's also a great time to check your airline seat maps and choose seats now. The longer you wait, the more the plane will fill, meaning fewer desirable seats will be left for you to choose from.

Related: How to avoid airline change and cancellation fees

Triple-check your passport expiration date

easy summer travel ideas

This may seem obvious, but it's always important to check your passport expiration date before an international trip. You typically need at least six months of validity .

Don't forget to factor in the renewal process when planning a trip, too. Right now, it's taking six to eight weeks for routine renewals and up to three weeks for expedited service.

Some countries also require you to have at least one or two empty pages in your passport if you need a visa — one empty page is required for Mexico, Canada and many countries in Europe, while two are necessary for countries like China and South Africa — so make sure your passport has ample free space.

Related: The world's most powerful passports for 2023

Sign up for TSA PreCheck

easy summer travel ideas

Have you ever been waiting in a long security line at the airport while people in the line next to you breeze on by? If you've ever wondered why they're able to do this, the answer is likely because they have TSA PreCheck .

Related: Which airports and airlines use TSA PreCheck?

TSA PreCheck is an expedited airport security program administered by the U.S. government in which prescreened, low-risk travelers can use a designated security line rather than wait in the regular Transportation Security Administration line at the airport. The line is typically much faster than the regular security line because travelers in the TSA PreCheck line do not need to remove liquids or electronics from their carry-on luggage or take off their shoes, belts or light jackets before passing through metal detectors.

Currently, a five-year TSA PreCheck membership costs $78 per person and can be renewed online for a reduced cost of $70 per person. If you have the right credit cards in your wallet, however, you can have that fee reimbursed. Many credit cards offer up to a $100 statement credit reimbursement for the application fees associated with TSA PreCheck and/or Global Entry as long as you pay for your membership with that card.

Related: TSA PreCheck just got cheaper, but remember that you can get it for free

The following are just a few of the nearly 50 cards that cover TSA PreCheck (and/or Global Entry) fees:

  • The Platinum Card® from American Express
  • Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve®
  • The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
  • Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card
  • Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card

If you have several international trips coming up, you may want to apply for Global Entry instead of TSA PreCheck. Global Entry is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection program that allows for expedited reentry into the U.S. after international travel. A Global Entry membership includes TSA PreCheck, so it may be worth the higher fee ($100 for a five-year membership) if your summer travel plans include some international trips.

Related: Should you get Global Entry or TSA PreCheck?

While going through the express security lane does come at a cost, it can significantly reduce the time you'll need to get from the ticket counter to your departure gate. This is especially important during busy travel times like Memorial Day weekend, Independence Day and Labor Day weekend.

Related: 7 ways to get free or discounted TSA PreCheck, Global Entry and Clear

Enroll in Clear PLUS

easy summer travel ideas

Although some airports like Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) still have long lines even when using Clear, being a member of this program can often save you a ton of time at airports like New York City's John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and San Francisco International Airport (SFO).

But what exactly is this program?

Like TSA PreCheck and Global Entry, Clear is an expedited security program. It is now at 51 airports, among other locations , and has more than 14 million members nationwide.

Related: Hate airport lines? Why your family may want to get Clear before your next flight

To sign up for Clear , you'll need to allow the company to catalog identifying features (which Clear does through fingerprint and iris scans) to automate the identity verification step in the TSA screening process. Once you are enrolled, you can then enter a separate (often shorter) security lane with speedier access to the TSA agents and security screening. All you'll need to do is scan your eyes before a Clear representative escorts you to the front of the line for the traditional security screening machines.

If you have TSA PreCheck with Clear, there are sometimes special lines that will get you through security even faster.

easy summer travel ideas

Related: Why you should get TSA PreCheck and Clear — and how you can save on both

While Clear costs $189 , making it pricier than a five-year membership for TSA PreCheck, some elite members are eligible for reduced or even free membership fees.

If you are a Delta Diamond Medallion , Delta 360, United Global Services or United Premier 1K status holder, you can enroll in Clear for free. Delta Platinum, Gold and Silver Medallion members and United Platinum, Gold and Silver members can pay a reduced rate of $149 per year. Even entry-level Delta SkyMiles and United MileagePlus members qualify for a discount; they'll pay just $179 a year.

Some credit cards will also give you a statement credit for Clear.

Anyone with the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card , the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card , or the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card will pay only $149 per year for the service.

The same applies to those with a United cobranded credit card, such as the United℠ Explorer Card , the United℠ Business Card or the United Club℠ Infinite Card . Cardholders can enroll for a reduced rate of $149 per year.

Additionally, you can get up to a $189 statement credit for Clear Plus membership via these cards (enrollment required):

  • American Express® Green Card, including an annual statement credit for up to three family members
  • The Platinum Card from American Express
  • The Business Platinum Card from American Express

The information for the American Express Green Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Check your Global Entry membership to make sure it's valid

easy summer travel ideas

If you already have Global Entry status to enter the U.S. after an international trip, then you already know how speedy it can make the immigration process. Global Entry works for both land ports of entry — like crossing the border from Canada or Mexico — and airports. It's valid for five years.

Related: Practical Pointers: How to get a new or replacement Global Entry card

Before you travel, make sure you check your Global Entry card for the expiration date so you avoid the mistake this reader made a few years ago. The expiration date for your Global Entry membership (which always falls on your birthday following the fifth anniversary of your approval date) appears both in your online account and on the back of your Global Entry card.

Due to delays in processing renewals, CBP has extended grace periods of up to two years for renewals, but you must submit your renewal application online in your account prior to the expiration date.

As a reminder, children cannot go through Global Entry lanes with a parent unless they have their own membership. Remember that select credit cards offer Global Entry credits, so your membership may be free.

Related: 13 things you need to know about Global Entry

Download your airline's mobile app

easy summer travel ideas

Regardless of which airline you are flying, it's essential that you install the app of that carrier on your phone (and don't forget the TPG App ).

Before you leave home, you'll want to download the app, log in to your account and set up push notifications so you'll know right away if there are any changes to your reservation. This will ensure you receive updates about your flight as soon as they're made available, which is especially helpful during irregular operations; updates sometimes appear in the app before they are announced at the airport.

In situations involving delays or cancellations, having easy access to your airline's mobile app can be a huge help. In addition to receiving flight change notifications in one easy-to-access spot on your phone, you can track your flight to see where it's at. Some airline apps will even let you track your checked luggage, request to be placed on standby for an earlier flight, rebook yourself if something goes wrong with your original flight and chat with a live customer service agent should you need assistance.

Related: All the reasons to download your airline's mobile app

Double-check lounge access policies

easy summer travel ideas

A lot has changed recently when it comes to airport lounges . As such, you'll want to read up on airport lounge access, including guest restrictions, before you set out on your summer travels.

For example, just because you could bring the rest of your travel party into the lounge with you as guests last summer, you won't necessarily be able to do that this time around.

American Express updated the guest policy for its network of Centurion Lounges . Unless cardholders hit a $75,000 minimum spending requirement on their eligible American Express card annually, they can no longer bring two guests in without incurring an additional charge. There are still ways to ensure guest access to Centurion Lounges , but you'll have to pay (unless your entire travel party is younger than 2, in which case they can still enter for free).

Related: Alaska Airlines makes big changes to lounge access

Similarly, Delta recently made its entry rules stricter than ever . Now, Sky Club members flying on basic economy tickets no longer have access to Sky Clubs unless they have an eligible Amex card with Sky Club access. Elite members on international flights in Main Cabin or Comfort+ seats are subject to the same restrictions but can also use their Sky Club membership to access Sky Club lounges.

Eventually, Delta Air Lines will limit the number of visits you can make to lounges each year.

It isn't all bad news regarding airport lounge access this summer. New lounges are popping up in frequently visited airports, giving you even more options for fueling up or resting up on travel days.

For example, Chase just opened a huge new lounge at JFK.

Other new lounges include the recently opened Sky Club at Kansas City International Airport (MCI) and American Express' new Centurion Lounge at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) .

Related: Delta unveils 7 new or reopened Sky Clubs

Book high-demand activities as soon as possible

easy summer travel ideas

No matter where your travels take you this summer, it's likely others are headed to the same vacation hot spots as you. National parks, cabanas, tours and even theme park restaurants book up early for summer dates. Fortunately, there are a few tips for snagging reservations before they sell out.

Related: Visiting a national park this summer? Better plan ahead

National parks

Certain national parks have adopted advance reservation requirements in recent years to manage crowds. Currently, only Arches, Glacier, Mount Rainier, Yosemite, Haleakala, Zion and Rocky Mountain national parks require advance reservations. However, other parks do deem it necessary to book select activities before you arrive.

To be sure you have the latest information for the parks you plan on visiting, check out the official national park websites.

Tours and attractions

As temperatures rise, so does the number of travelers wanting to visit or take guided tours of popular attractions. Some now require advance reservations or timed entry tickets for guests.

For example, most of Washington, D.C.'s Smithsonian museums are free to visit, but a few require timed-entry passes that you can acquire in advance. Other must-dos, such as tours of government buildings like the U.S. Capitol, are also free but do not accept walk-ups; you'll need to request a tour in advance through the official online reservation system.

Disney tickets and restaurant reservations

Disneyland still requires theme park reservations in addition to a ticket. Disney World no longer requires reservations, with the exclusion of annual passes and certain promotional tickets.

It's unlikely that every park would sell out on any given day, but it is possible that the park you want to visit could run out of entry slots. Because of this, it's vital that you purchase your tickets and make your park reservations (where applicable) as far in advance as you're able if you have your heart set on visiting a certain park during the busy summer months.

Related: Tips for visiting Disney World: 19 ways to save money and have more fun

Likewise, reservations for popular Disney World and Disneyland restaurants often book up faster than you can say "bibbidi bobbidi boo," despite becoming available 60 days in advance. As a result, you'll want to lock in your dining reservations as soon as possible, especially if you are planning a princess dinner at Cinderella's Royal Table or a space-age cocktail at Oga's Cantina.

Beach and poolside cabanas

Unfortunately, you can't reserve shaded poolside cabanas with cushioned loungers and fully stocked coolers by simply throwing your towel over a chair and hoping everybody else who walks by will think it's already taken.

Typically, you can reserve cabanas on the day of your visit, but during busy times of the year, you may want to do it beforehand. This doesn't just include hotels; you'll also want to keep this in mind for cruises and water parks .

Know your rights

What happens if something goes wrong when you're traveling?

You should know what you are entitled to if a trip is delayed or canceled by your airline. Fortunately, you are entitled to certain rights based on rules from the Department of Transportation .

If the airline cancels your flight, you are entitled to a full cash refund . Don't just accept a voucher for future travel (unless you are sure you can use it).

Long delays, however, are a different story. You are not guaranteed a refund in the event of a long delay, though it never hurts to ask for one.

Additionally, you'll want to be aware of any credit card protections that may apply, depending on how you booked your trip. Some travel credit cards offer compensation in the event of a canceled or long-delayed flight.

Here are just a few examples:

  • Chase Sapphire Reserve® : Provides up to $20,000 in trip cancellation coverage and trip delay benefits of up to $500 per person that kick in at a delay lasting at least six hours.
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred ® Card : Includes trip cancellation and interruption insurance , trip delay reimbursement , emergency assistance services and more.
  • The Platinum Card from American Express : Provides trip cancellation and interruption insurance * for up to $20,000 of a covered trip and incident ($10,000 per covered trip and a maximum of $20,000 per eligible card in a 12-month period).

If you realize your flight is likely to be delayed based on where it's coming from or because of bad weather, know that standing in line isn't the only way to get rebooked (though you may want to try that, too). You can also check the airline's app, visit an airport kiosk, call the airline or reach out via the airline's social media channels for rebooking options. If you decide to call and are stuck on a long hold, try dialing an international number for faster service.

Ultimately, you are your own best advocate when something goes sideways; knowing the rules and your rights will go a long way in helping yourself get out of a bind when something unexpected happens.

* Eligibility and benefit level varies by card. Terms, conditions and limitations apply. Visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for details. Policies are underwritten by New Hampshire Insurance Company, an AIG Company.

Consider purchasing travel insurance

easy summer travel ideas

Travel insurance may be worth paying for, especially if you are traveling internationally. Before you invest in travel insurance, though, be sure to check if it's already covered with one of your credit cards. Many premium cards offer trip interruption, delay or cancellation insurance, so you may not need to buy a separate policy.

However, in some cases, you may still want to buy extra insurance for added peace of mind. Depending on your chosen policy, you may receive coverage for situations like medical evacuations or illnesses that cause last-minute cancellations (many of which are part of "cancel for any reason" insurance ).

Related: The best travel insurance policies and providers

Get a credit card that pays for your bags

Airline baggage fees can quickly add up, particularly for families and those taking trips that require a lot of gear or more items than can fit in a carry-on bag .

All the major airlines recently raised the cost of checked baggage.

The fees vary greatly , with most now starting around $35 for the first checked bag. Depending on how many bags you check, you can easily end up adding an extra $70 to even hundreds of dollars to your travel costs just by bringing luggage for you and the family.

Luckily, there are a few ways you can avoid paying baggage fees . One of the easiest involves having the right credit card in your wallet.

There are more than 20 different cards that offer free checked bags, most of which are cobranded cards from airlines. That means that travelers who are loyal to a particular airline can both benefit from waived checked bag fees and earn additional miles just by paying for their flights with a certain credit card.

Keep in mind that the rules vary by card when it comes to how many free checked bags are allowed under the benefit. Even if only one bag is covered, that money you save can go toward other vacation expenses, such as ride-hailing services, meals and attraction fees.

Related reading:

  • Key travel tips you need to know — whether you're a beginner or expert traveler
  • The best travel credit cards
  • Where to go in 2024: The 16 best places to travel
  • How to apply for Global Entry: Tips for first-timers
  • Top travel tips to keep your trip on track and on budget
  • Tips from a flight attendant to avoid the worst of summer's travel headaches
  • 30 essential travel apps every traveler needs
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50 Easy Beach Vacation Dinner Ideas For A Stress-Free Trip

easy summer travel ideas

Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Southerners love a trip to the beach like a grandpa loves naps. Something about spending lazy days walking along the shore or lounging in a chair—toes in the sand and whatnot—just hits differently than any other type of vacation. Other than packing the essentials like pimiento cheese , it always bodes well to have a low-key meal plan that means less stress and more sun. We're talking portable pasta salads, hand-held sandwiches, easy seafood recipes (shrimp tacos, anyone?), and other fresh recipes to make your beach trip feel footloose and fancy-free.

These vacation-ready recipes require minimal prep, helping you channel the loose, carefree spirit of your time off. Many of them can be made on the grill so you can maximize your time outdoors. Feeding a family? Most of these recipes are kid-friendly , too. Here are dozens of super delicious beach meal ideas to make all summer and beyond. We love a beach trip any time of year, after all.

Shrimp-And-Corn Succotash

This dish basically screams summertime, from the fresh corn succotash to the herby mayo mixture that coats shrimp. The shrimp and green beans need just a few minutes to cook before they are stirred in with the other ingredients. You can substitute any fresh veggies you picked up on the road, making this a decidedly vacation-friendly recipe.

Bourbon- And Cola-Glazed Steak Kebabs

Victor Protasio; Food Stylist: Ruth Blackburn; Prop Stylist: Christine Keely

Fire up the grill to make these kebab skewers marinated in bourbon, cola, and brown sugar. Simmer down the reserved marinade in a pan for a sweet and tangy dip. All you need is a side salad and crusty bread to complete the meal.

Lemon Vinaigrette Pasta Salad with Field Peas

Buy a bag of frozen field peas to save yourself some time after a busy day out on the water. Loads of herbs and tomatoes give this pasta salad that fresh summery flavor you desire. A lemony vinaigrette adds refreshing zing.

Slow-Cooker Carnitas Tacos

If we can put it in the slow cooker and forget about any worries while having a stroll on the beach, we're happy. These carnitas make taco night oh-so easy. You just need to gather the toppings and make a pitcher of your favorite drink.

Summer Brunswick Stew

This classic stew starts with a pound of pulled pork from the nearest barbecue spot. Throw in a few fresh vegetables, chicken broth, and barbecue sauce, and you've got a hearty meal in less than 45 minutes. Start with a little barbecue and adjust according to taste.

Creamy Broccoli Slaw

Store-bought broccoli slaw mix can be a real timesaver. This slaw makes a dependable sidekick for any casual lunch or dinner during the summertime. Pair with grilled fish or a hamburger—your choice.

Sheet Pan Fajitas

We've transformed more time-intensive fajitas into a family-friendly recipe you can pop in the oven and have ready in just 20 minutes. Drizzle it with fresh-squeezed lime juice at the end to really take it over the top. Make your own fresh salsa or pick some up from the deli.

Creamy Avocado Dip

Like a creamier take on guacamole, this dip is the perfect snack to replenish tired beachgoers after a long day. The addition of sour cream makes it that much more luscious and creamy. You can serve it with tortilla chips and sliced vegetables, or use it to top burgers, tacos, and sandwiches.

Buttermilk Alfredo Pasta With Chicken And Spinach

Fact of the matter: Everyone loves this easy one-pot supper (made with rotisserie chicken for ultimate ease), adults and kids alike. Throw in some baby spinach to cover all the food groups. Whip it up on any hungry but lazy night.

Hot Crab-And-Artichoke Dip

There is always a place for creamy crab dip on the snack spread during the summer—or any season, really. This bubbly, warm dip is supremely satisfying on a breezy night. For the best-tasting dip, look for freshly picked crabmeat at the local seafood counter. 

Fried Chicken Sliders With Pimiento Cheese

If these don't become an instant family favorite, we're not sure what tree they're barking up. It calls for store-bought chicken tenders, which means you can assemble them in seconds. Make the homemade pimiento cheese in the morning so it has time to gel in the fridge.

Bacon-Ranch Pasta Salad

Bacon and ranch always make a dynamic flavor duo—including in this hearty pasta salad that is begging to be paired with your burgers. Cooking the bacon in the oven allows you to sit back and relax. This recipe tastes best when it has a little time to chill in the fridge.

Maque Choux With Sausage

This classic Louisiana dish makes the most of all of the summer veggies like corn, okra, and tomatoes. Sausage is just an extra perk. Even better, it comes together in 25 minutes.

Southern Fried Corn

Introducing the newest all-star side dish to make with fresh corn kernels. It's skillet-fried and packed with buttery flavor, but the ingredient list is simple and short.

Egg Salad Sandwiches

We couldn't forget this classic sandwich spread you can make ahead and snack on all week. The well-rounded flavor comes from the addition of grated onion, salad seasoning, and just a pinch of sugar. Put some fresh fruit and potato chips on the table, and you've got a quick and easy meal.

Tuna Pasta Salad

Here's a marriage of two of our most favorite portable things: tuna salad and pasta. Dressed with a lemon vinaigrette, the pasta salad is packed with fresh arugula, cherry tomatoes, and pickled peppers. Serve it as a dinner side and eat the leftovers for lunch all week long.

Slow-Cooked Barbecued Chicken Sandwiches

A little brown sugar, Coca-Cola, and bourbon (optional) are the secrets to this slow-cooked chicken. It can be served over cornbread, like seen here, or on sandwich buns whenever hunger strikes. Our recipe for Sweet Potato Cornbread adds a touch of sweetness to the Southern favorite.

Chicken Salad-Stuffed Tomatoes

Summer tomatoes have never looked so delicious. This five-ingredient recipe makes use of a rotisserie chicken, which you'll shred and mix with peppers and mayonnaise. Serve on a slice of bread for the kiddos who haven't gotten on the 'mater train yet.

Creole Burger

Every beach trip needs a burger night, but we've upped the ante on the basic hamburger. We added the bold flavors of Creole seasonings (hello, Zatarain's) to the ground chuck and topped the patties with grilled red onions and a tangy sauce.

Shrimp-Tomatillo Tacos

Tasty shrimp tacos in just 20 minutes? Yeah, that'll do. A homemade tomatillo sauce and fresh-sliced veggies will turn your Taco Tuesday into something special.

Shrimp-Okra-And-Sausage Kebabs

This recipe is basically jambalaya on grilled skewers, which we never knew we needed—but totally do. Using a very hot grill allows them to char beautifully and cook in just three minutes. Brush them with lemon juice, butter, and hot sauce for the final touch.

Spaghetti With Marinated Tomatoes And Mozzarella

Fans of Caprese salad will eat up this summery dish. Once you make the Mouthwatering Marinated Tomatoes , all you need to do is toss them with cooked spaghetti and fresh mozzarella. As a bonus, you can serve this pasta at room temperature on a sweltering night.

Potato Salad With Dijon And Scallions

This mayonnaise-free potato salad is quicker to prepare than many. The recipe gets a major upgrade with fingerling potatoes, tangy Dijon mustard, and pickled onions. The pretty pink color of the onions will add a dressed-up feeling to your barbecue or picnic.

Sweet-And-Spicy Salmon Rice Bowl

Just a half hour is all that's needed to turn out this hearty one-bowl meal. Salmon is topped in a super delicious honey-Sriracha sauce. Or, use Sambal oelek if you see it in the Asian food section in the market.

Greek Grilled Chicken Pita

These hand-held pitas are ideal to pack for lunch on the beach or to prepare for a casual dinner after a busy day. Pick up a container of tzatziki from the deli for a cool and creamy topping.Throw in a bag of Zapp's potato chips for good measure.

Deviled Crab Melts

Melty, toasty, and wonderfully crabby, these melts are an easy seafood dinner just waiting to happen. Use fresh lump crabmeat and a good sourdough from the bakery. Stir together a spicy crabmeat mixture and stick these open-faced sandwiches under the broiler for a speedy supper.

Skillet Shrimp Destin With Orzo

You won't believe how easy this elegant dinner is to throw together in one skillet. The orzo simmers right in the garlicky wine sauce, and then we throw the shrimp in to cook at the end. Sprinkle with fresh herbs to make it fancy and serve with hunks of crusty bread.

Fish Muddle

Our Test Kitchen pros say you can taste the coast in every bite of this old-school Lowcountry dish. The hearty combination of shrimp, fish, and potatoes makes for an incredibly satisfying meal. Serve over rice or grits.

Old Bay Rémoulade With Crudités And Shrimp

Test Kitchen Pro Ivy Odom created this recipe as an ode to her family beach vacations as a child. "It's the perfect first-day-at-the-beach supper, which, now that I'm an adult, is ideal paired with rosé spritzers and enjoyed with my friends," she says. Keep it in an airtight container in the refrigerator and serve it all week.

Sweet Heat Hot Dogs

Nothing says "its summertime" more than a cookout, and nothing says "cookout" more than hot dogs right off the grill. These hot dogs get fired up with a brush of Sriracha sauce and a mayonnaise dressing spiced with sweet-hot pickles.

Crab-And-Bacon Linguine

You'll be surprised how easy this pasta is to prepare. White wine, heavy cream, and bacon combine to make an elegant pan sauce for the jumbo lump crab. Serve the pasta family-style outside for a relaxed meal that tastes like it came from a restaurant.

Fish Tacos And Toppings Bar

Bake your own fish at the beach house for a lighter take on the deep-fried fish tacos you'd get at a restaurant. Set up a fresh toppings bar for everyone to personalize their plates. Prepare the Asian slaw we included in this recipe, or use your own slaw if you have some on hand.

Summer Orzo Salad

This is the ideal dish to have on hand at the beach. Not only will it save in the refrigerator all week while you're there, but it can be adapted to lunch or dinner with additions like chicken, steak, shrimp, or whatever veggies you have on hand. And you don't have to fire up the stove for anything except boiling the orzo.

Beef Sliders With Bacon Jam

Not in the mood to flip patties on the grill? Make a big batch of oven-baked sliders with this fun recipe the whole family will enjoy. They'll especially love the bacon jam, a smoky, thick, and caramelized concoction you'll prepare on the stove.

Grilled Cajun Shrimp Kabobs With Sausage

Run by the local seafood market to grab some fresh shrimp, and you can have dinner on the table in just 20 minutes with this recipe. Smoked sausage, bell peppers, and cherry tomatoes cook alongside it in this all-in-one meal. For a more filling dinner, serve the kabobs over rice or grits.

West Indies Crab Salad

If you're looking for something lighter than crab cakes, this is your recipe. This Mobile, Alabama, original is an easy and delicious way to use fresh crab meat. The crab salad is dressed with a delicate mixture of rice vinegar, lemon zest, and chopped mint instead of mayonnaise.

Black Bean Burgers With Avocado Slaw

You can freeze these flavorful black bean burgers ahead of time and bring them to the beach with you for an easy meatless dinner. Pro tip: Pre-baking the beans on a sheet pan will reduce the moisture, resulting in the perfect binder for these lightly spiced burgers.

Tropical Lettuce Chicken Wraps

Bring a touch of the tropics to your table with these easy chicken wraps. With a rotisserie chicken from the store, dinner will be ready in 15 minutes. You can serve them on lettuce leaves or in a whole wheat wrap.

Grilled Grouper

Throw your fresh catch on the grill and enjoy a full-flavored meal that takes only minutes to prepare. The fish marinates for a few minutes in lemon juice, but it's the caper and herb sauce that really packs a punch. Prepare some white rice or new potatoes to round out your dinner.

Ham Delights

This easy, crowd-friendly dinner starts with a package of King's Hawaiian Rolls . Give the ham and cheese sliders a few minutes in the oven to get gooey and warm. Serve them right out of the oven.

Tomato-And-Watermelon Salad

Combine sweet, juicy watermelon chunks with fresh tomato, onion, and a red wine vinaigrette for a salad that is the essence of summer. This recipe uses basic pantry ingredients and is quick to prepare, but tastes best after it has time to chill in the refrigerator.

Cajun Shrimp Foil Packets With Red Potatoes And Zucchini

With foil packet dinners, cleanup is minimal and cooking is quick. These flavors are ideal for a beachy night, and the only seasoning you'll need to buy is a jar of Cajun spice.

Lemon-Pepper Shrimp Scampi Pasta

Antonis Achilleos; Prop Stylist: Lydia Purcell; Food Stylist: Ruth Blackburn

No Southerner can turn down fresh Gulf shrimp sautéed with garlic in plenty of butter. The scampi sauce comes together quickly in a skillet. Adding some pasta water thickens the glossy sauce just enough to coat the pasta.

Scallops With Pesto, Corn, And Tomatoes

This dish combines the best produce of the season with fresh-caught seafood in one spectacular dish. Thanks to a jar of refrigerated pesto, it can be prepared in less than 20 minutes. If you've never cooked scallops before, don't worry. We've provided tips on how to get the perfect sear.

Crab Boil With Beer And Old Bay

Blue crabs should be plentiful at the beach considering they're in season from April to October . Grab a few pounds of the live ones for a traditional crab boil. A seafood boil is simple to prepare; just remember to save the crabs until the end so they don't overcook.

Simple Pan-Seared Fish

This basic recipe works well with grouper or red snapper or any other firm, white fish. The fillets are seasoned simply with salt and pepper. It's the vibrant  pea salad that really makes the dish shine.

Fried Whole Fish With Tartar Sauce

This classic  fried fish  recipe came to us from the kitchen of Chef Nicole Mills of  Pêche Seafood Grill  in New Orleans. She recommends using using snapper, redfish, or flounder. To enhance the flavor, whip up a snappy homemade tartar sauce spiced with peppers and garlic.

Oven-Roasted Corn On The Cob

After you try this life-changing recipe, you may not cook corn any other way. Slathered in butter and herbs and wrapped in foil, these ears soak up all the flavor you could ever hope for. Serve them with seafood or whatever you're cooking on the grill.

Crab Cake Bites With Old Bay Mayo, Chives, And Lemon

Crab cakes are a staple on the coast that offers endless variations. Here's a simple recipe from Adam Evans, chef at award-winning Birmingham restaurant  Automatic Seafood and Oysters . Make sure to include a dollop of Old Bay Mayo with every bite.

Shrimp Salad

If you're looking for a cool meal on a hot summer night, try this chilled shrimp salad. We've mixed up a creamy and lemony dressing with a touch of fresh dill and Creole mustard. Serve it in soft bread rolls, in a wrap, or as a salad topper for a low-key dinner on the porch or poolside.

Related Articles

Jennifer Maker

50+ Easy Summer Vacation DIY Projects And Crafts

Jennifer Maker sitting with her Cricut Joy and summer vacation DIY projects.

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Get ready for summer vacation, or keep crafting while you’re away with my favorite fun ideas!

Whether they’re for a journey or a staycation, I love making summer vacation DIY projects ! Customizing clothing , accessories, and travel items for yourself and others is a great way to stay organized , too! I’ve gathered some of my best summer crafts that you can make ahead of time, or even while you travel!

Get the free SVG cut file for this project

This is a Cricut Mystery Box project — it uses all the same vinyls that you could have gotten in the “World of Enchantment” mystery box that came out in April 2023. While this mystery box is no longer available for sale, you can still purchase the individual vinyls, which are all links below in my material list. Learn more about Cricut Mystery Boxes and their contents in my Cricut Mystery Box Guide .

Ready for some amazing summer vacation DIY projects? This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience (which means if you make a purchase after clicking a link I will earn a small commission but it won’t cost you a penny more)! Read my full disclosure policy .

Quick Links to Information in this Post

I just got back from an AH-mazing vacation that I’d been looking forward to for a while! We visited many beautiful places around Hawaii, which is now one of my favorite places ever! I’m so grateful for the experience and would love to share some of the highlights with you !

As usual, I prepared for the trip by making things! I made special luggage tags and some themed clothing for Greg and myself. We really love getting into vacation mode together, especially since we celebrated our 15th anniversary on the trip! Many of you have sent us well wishes for the milestone and we appreciate all the nice thoughts!

Greg Reese and Jennifer Maker standing together with big smiles in front of a greenery and water scene in Hawaii. Jennifer is wearing a light yellow dress she sublimated designs on to.

I used vintage-style polyester dresses as the bases for my Dole Whip and Orange Bird dresses. It took some time to print and place the designs, but was a lot faster than sewing dresses with themed fabric. I’m so excited make more sublimation dresses, it’s a really fun activity!

A flat laid white vintage style dress with yellow checked pattern and Dole Whip-inspired designs sublimated on the skirt, with a monogrammed white purse, pineapple shoes, white sunglasses, and beach hat.

And it was super comfy to wear since the sublimation designs didn’t change the texture of the fabric!

Jennifer Maker smiling in the sun wearing her custom sublimation design Dole Whip dress on vacation in Hawaii.

Also, I knew I’d have the urge to craft and customize on the trip, so I packed my Cricut Joy and a handful of supplies and materials. Some of my best ideas happen when I get to relax, is it the same for you?

We decided to pay our respects at the Pearl Harbor memorial, so I added some simple color-changing hearts to a polka dot dress that morning.

A blue and white polka dot dress with red and white vinyl striped hearts, a sun hat, and red and white popsicle shoes for Jennifer Maker's vacation.

In the sun , the blue showed up to create the stars and stripes design . I feel very fortunate that we were able to visit and remember those lost and who served.

Jennifer Maker at the Pearl Harbor memorial, wearing her polka dot dress in the sun, showing that the vinyl hearts have blue accents when exposed to UV light.

Later, I was so happy to share the beautiful view from my vacation “craft table” with many of you on Facebook Live and decorate a sun tea jar in Kona. I edited the free file right in Cricut Design Space, so I was able to add the location and create a vacation souvenir! And I had so much fun with you! The file and font are in my free resource library , so you can make your own custom craft projects, too!

A glass jar of sun tea with a light pink vinyl design that says Sippin on Sunshine, Kona, Hawaii, from a JenniferMaker tutorial.

It was an easy peasy little project but I love it so much! And the temperature-activated vinyl I tried is so cool! When it’s cooler than 88℉ (31℃) it’s dark magenta like the color on the roll in this photo. When it gets hotter than that, it turns light pink like you can see on the jar and my Joy! What a fun project.

It was a fabulous vacation full of wonderful experiences and memories. I am so fortunate to do what I love and appreciate your support, which made this vacation a reality!

Are you ready for a vacation? I hope you get to take one to your favorite place, no matter where it is! Check out some of my favorite summer vacation DIY projects below the tutorial to help you get ready!

Materials to Make A Sippin’ On Sunshine Sun Tea Glass Jar

  • Glass Carafe – I used a 67 oz style from Target, but you can easily resize the design to fit another jar
  • Heat Activated Color Changing Vinyl – I used Magenta to Light Pink for this fun craft
  • A way to cut your vinyl – I used a Cricut Joy, but any Maker or Explore will work, too, that’s the best part of a small design
  • Weeding Tool
  • Scraper tool – or a gift card!
  • Cricut Joy StandardGrip Machine Mat
  • StandardGrip Transfer Tape
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Lint-free cloth
  • Design #476 – My free SVG/PDF/DXF cut files (available from my free resource library — get the password at the bottom of this post)

And here are some bonus links for the other projects I made!

  • Hearts Dress: Polka Dot Blue Dress with red and white Iron-On Vinyl and white to blue UV Activated Iron-On Vinyl to match my Popsicle Shoes
  • Orange Bird Outfit: Champagne Polyester Dress (color is currently available, but I hope it comes back!) with sublimation designs and Orange Shoes
  • Dole Whip Outfit: Yellow Stripe Polyester Dress with sublimation designs , Pineapple Shoes   and a  White Faux Vinyl Purse  with gold Iron-On Vinyl

Missed the World of Enchantment Mystery Box ? Not to worry, here is the full list of items!

  • Permanent Mosaic Vinyl Sampler, Dragon – four 12″ x 12″ sheets in Lime Green Holographic Scales, Cherry Metallic Circles, and two Solid Silver Matte Metallic (Project Idea: Glitter Wine Glasses )
  • Ceramic Mug Blank, White – 12 oz (Project idea: Cricut Mug Ideas )
  • Glitter Iron-On Vinyl, Muliti-Pink – one 12” x 19” roll (Project idea: Custom Cork Coasters )
  • Infusible Ink Transfer Sheets, Ultra Violet – two 12″ x 12″ transfer sheets (Project idea: Infusible Ink Hat )
  • Foil Iron-On Sampler, Spring Meadow – four 12″ x 12″ transfer sheets in Chrome, Lilac, Pink, and Lemongrass (Project idea: Heart Mandala Shirt )
  • Permanent Heat-Activated, Color-Changing Vinyl, Magenta – Light Pink – one 12” x 24” roll (Project idea: Tutorial Coming soon)
  • StrongGrip Cutting Mat , three 12″ x 12″ mats – (Project idea: Waterfall Card )
  • Infusible Ink Pens set, Neons – five (.04) in Neon Pink, Neon Blue, Neon Orange, Neon Yellow, and Neon Green (Project idea: Easy Infusible Ink Pen Projects )
  • Cricut Cutie – Blush (Previously Released) (Project Idea: DIY Display Case )

Jennifer Maker sitting with her Cricut Joy and summer vacation DIY projects.

How to Make a Color-Changing Jar for Sun Tea

Summer Vacation DIY Project: Color-Changing Sun Tea Jar

Summer Vacation DIY Project: Color-Changing Sun Tea Jar

Make a sun tea jar with a vinyl design that changes color in the sun!

  • Cricut Color Changing Permanent Vinyl - Magenta
  • Cricut StandardGrip Transfer Tape
  • Glass Pitcher with Lid
  • Design #476 – My free designs (available in my free resource library—get the password at the bottom of this post)
  • A method to cut your vinyl, I used the amazing Cricut Joy but you can also use the Cricut Maker 3, Cricut Maker, Cricut Explore 3, or the Cricut Explore.
  • Cricut Joy StandardGrip 4.5" x 6.5" Machine Mat
  • Small Scraper
  • Isopropyl Alcohol
  • Lint-Free Cloth or Coffee Filter

Instructions

Step 1: get my free sippin on sunshine decal design.

First, download my Sippin on Sunshine Decal SVG/DXF/PDF files from my  free resource library . It's Design #476. You can cut the design in many ways, but I uploaded the SVG to Cricut Design Space and Added it to a blank Canvas.

TIP:  If you're not sure how to upload an SVG cut file to Cricut Design Space, watch this  helpful video training series  I made. If you're on an iPhone or iPad,  here's how to download and upload SVG files to the Cricut Design Space app .

STEP 2: PREPARE AND CUT YOUR DECAL DESIGN

Be sure to measure your item and size it accordingly. Remember when resizing and object in Design Space, keep the lock icon closed in the Size menu.

Make sure your machine is selected and click Make It in the upper right corner. I chose my Joy.

Check that the mat looks correct, and you don't have to mirror the design since we're using adhesive vinyl. Click Continue.

On the Make screen, select "Heat/Cold Activated Color Changing Vinyl" and set the pressure to "More

Trim your vinyl to size and place it face up on the mat. Use a brayer to make sure it is adhered to the mat.

Load your mat into the Cricut Joy and click the Go button. Make sure the cut has gone all the way through. If it didn't, just press Go again before removing the mat.

Unload your mat, flip it over and unroll the vinyl from your mat.

Using your weeding tool, weed the excess vinyl away from you image. Don't forget the counters (inside) of your letters. I put the flower designs right on my Joy!

STEP 3: APPLY YOUR DECAL

Clean the pitcher with rubbing alcohol and a lint-free cloth, then let it dry.

Cut a piece of StandardGrip transfer tape a bit larger than the decal, then peel it off the liner. Using the taco method, lower the sticky side of the tape on to the middle of the design, then let the sides fall in place to cover the rest. Use a scraper to burnish both sides to help the vinyl move off its liner and on to the transfer tape.

Place the pitcher with the area you want to decorate facing you. With the decal straight (you can fill it with water to create a level line where you want the bottom to go!) place the vinyl on the jar. Use the scraper to burnish the vinyl to the glass, then carefully peel off the transfer tape.

STEP 4: SHOW IT OFF

When you fill the jar with cold water or place it in the sun, watch it change colors!

I used JM Groovy, a font I designed in the Sippin on Sunshine SVG. You can get it in my library under Design #477 .

Even More of My Favorite Summer Vacation DIY Projects

Summer vacation in style.

easy summer travel ideas

Star Wars Cosplay without the Costumes: Disneybounding!

With a few DIY details, we can all be big kids on vacation!

easy summer travel ideas

Bleach Stencil Shirt Made with a Cricut!

Summer weather is perfect for bleaching shirts outside!

easy summer travel ideas

DIY Mouse Ears Tutorial -- Sew or No-Sew!

Get ready to visit everyone's favorite mouse!

easy summer travel ideas

DIY Minnie Mouse Nail Tips - Vinyl Appliques Made on the Cricut

Complete your Disney outfit with custom nail designs!

easy summer travel ideas

Personalize Your Shoes with Iron-On Vinyl

Take your vacation theme all that way to your toes!

easy summer travel ideas

Easy Felt Sunflowers (and My Cricut Dress!!)

Use any felt designs for an instant wardrobe upgrade!

easy summer travel ideas

Custom Hats!

Remember to stay sun safe!

easy summer travel ideas

DIY Masquerade Mask

Create your own DIY Masquerade Mask for parties or just for fun!

easy summer travel ideas

Make Hair Bows with Mermaid Tails, Butterfly Wings, and Hearts!

Add some vacation fun to any 'do with these easy craft ideas!

Host With the Most!

easy summer travel ideas

Freehand Marker Mugs

Use Cricut Infusible Markers to turn mugs into works of art with the whole family!

easy summer travel ideas

How To Layer Vinyl For Custom Cups

Having guests over for a summer party? Make a custom cup to help keep their drinks straight. Gift them at the end of night (fewer to wash!) or if you use removable vinyl, start over with rubbing alcohol.

easy summer travel ideas

Kitchen Boas

Grill in style with a custom scarf that doubles as a prep towel.

easy summer travel ideas

How To Glitter Wine Glasses

If you want to celebrate with some sparkle, I have tips on containing the glitter!

Prepare For The Fun!

easy summer travel ideas

Cricut Projects to Sell!

Earn some extra cash for fun on summer holidays with these easy crafts!

easy summer travel ideas

Family Command Center

Keep track of schedules and countdowns!

easy summer travel ideas

Cricut Cards For Beginners

Learn how to make easy beginner cards with your Cricut to invite your friends to party!

easy summer travel ideas

How to Make Envelopes

Sending invites for a barbecue or summer party? Make some custom cards and envelopes!

The Great Outdoors!

easy summer travel ideas

DIY Glamping Ideas

Camp in style with some glamorous DIYs!

easy summer travel ideas

Camping Light Bucket

Make easy Camping Light Buckets to illuminate your campsite at night!

easy summer travel ideas

Infusible Ink Coasters on a Joy

Make weather-proof designs to match any theme!

easy summer travel ideas

Lantern Decor Ideas

Make my favorite DIY lanterns and luminaries for a table centerpiece, a front porch, host gift. Just make sure the weather will be dry!

For The Perfect Beach or Pool Day!

easy summer travel ideas

DIY Personalized Beach Towels

Make a splash and keep your towels straight on hot summer days!

easy summer travel ideas

100+ Cricut Vinyl Projects With Beach And Cruise Designs

Create fun, nautical Cricut vinyl projects and find links to dozens of other tutorials for fun summer crafts!

easy summer travel ideas

Etch Tumblers with Citristrip

Celebrate summer with a new tumbler to keep your drink cool!

easy summer travel ideas

DIY Family Vacation Shirts

Get the entire family ready for summer activities!

easy summer travel ideas

How to Sublimate Socks

It's summer, wear your flip flops everywhere, even inside!

easy summer travel ideas

Personalized Pet Bandanas

Your pet deserves a new summer look, too!

easy summer travel ideas

DIY Funny Socks with Sayings — "If You Can Read This, Bring Me..."

Custom vinyl socks are great for a family vacation!

easy summer travel ideas

Beginner Sublimation T-Shirt

Learn how to make a beautiful sublimation T-shirt with easy techniques for flawless application!

Yay For Your Yard!

easy summer travel ideas

DIY Porch Signs: How to Cut & Apply Long Vinyl

Prepare your porch for summer!

easy summer travel ideas

How to Recover Your Outdoor Cushions Quick & Easy

Be guest-ready with revived outdoor seating!

easy summer travel ideas

DIY Plant Pot with Tiles

Spiff up your staycation greenery with custom plant and flower pots!

easy summer travel ideas

Paper Spider Plant

You'll never have to worry about watering this houseplants in the dry weather

easy summer travel ideas

How To Cut Metal With Cricut

Make a custom wreath and learn which adhesive won't melt in the summer heat!

easy summer travel ideas

How to Make a No-Sew Face Mask From a T-Shirt or Cotton

Yard work means pollen! Keep the sneezing at bay with a simple mask.

easy summer travel ideas

How to Sublimate Garden Flags

Summer is the perfect time to add some new yard flags!

easy summer travel ideas

Paper Cut Lamp

Learn how to make your very own Paper Cut Lamp with incredible detail and a wilderness scene!

Craft On The Go

easy summer travel ideas

Paper Flower Designs - 20+ Options!

Cut your flowers ahead of time and you can assemble these paper crafts anywhere!

easy summer travel ideas

Easy 3D Paper Birds

These Easy 3D paper birds can sit unassisted on a shelf or be hung to add a fun pop of color.

easy summer travel ideas

Ice Cream Treat Box / Popsicle Box

This cute ice cream treat and Popsicle-shaped box holds party favors, trinkets, and gift cards!

easy summer travel ideas

Paper Succulents

Cut ahead and assemble at your leisure!

easy summer travel ideas

Flower Fairy Doll

These little whimsical flower fairy dolls are a delight to make on the go.

easy summer travel ideas

DIY Lollipop Holders

Easy to make and have on hand for last minute treats!

easy summer travel ideas

Dollar Tree Cricut Projects

If you get the urge to craft on vacation, I bet there's a Dollar Tree nearby! Here are some projects for inspiration using common products and simple materials.

easy summer travel ideas

How to Make a Simple Rolled Paper Sunflower

It's simpler than it looks once everything is cut!

Travel Memories

easy summer travel ideas

DIY Map Pillow with State-to-State Hearts

Commemorate a summer road trip with a keepsake you can stitch along the ride.

easy summer travel ideas

DIY Exploding Butterfly Box with Flying Butterflies!

Save your vacation mementos in any of the boxes! And make your own butterflies with popsicle sticks!

easy summer travel ideas

Longitude and Latitude Wall Art

Remember a special spot from your trip when you have to come home!

easy summer travel ideas

House-Shaped Display Case

This house-shaped display case makes a great home for Cricut Cuties, Funko Pop figures, or anything small and lightweight like vacation souveniers!

easy summer travel ideas

Christmas Day Countdown

In case your family thinks it's never too early to start counting!

Answers to Your Questions About Summer Vacation DIY Projects

Q: How do the color-changing vinyls work?

A: There are two kinds to try! I used UV-reactive vinyl on a dress, and it worked really well, even in lightly filtered sunlight! And then I tried the temperature-reactive vinyl on a sun tea jar, which completely changed colors when the jar cooled or heated up! Both are prefect for the summer months and are a fun way to customize projects.

Closeup of the striped heart design with vinyl layers, showing the blue field that highlights white stars in the sun.

Q: Which font did you use in the Sippin on Sunshine SVG? A: I used JM Groovy, which is available in my free resource library as Design #477 . You can learn how to create your own fonts, too, in my Fonts Firsthand Workshop over summer break.

Q: Can I really create a custom dress for my vacation?

A: Yes! As long as you start with a mostly polyester dress in white or off-white, you can add sublimation designs to bring your dream dress to life! I can’t wait to see your great ideas.

Flat laid vintage style dress with Orange Bird-inspired sublimation designs from Jennifer Maker's vacation ideas post.

Q: What kind of summer vacation DIY projects are good for rainy days?

A: You can try any easy craft ideas you like to celebrate the summer holidays! If you need to keep the whole family entertained, even the big kids, try a big project like a paper flower wall . Especially if you’re having a celebration! The colorful paper flowers are easy crafts, but making enough for a backdrop might take the entire family working a little bit at a time. Rainy or hot summer days are the perfect time to relax and make some beautiful paper crafts together!

Get my free SVG/DXF/PDF files for the “Sippin’ on Sunshine” pitcher design!

JenniferMaker.com

Want to remember this? Save the list of summer vacation DIY projects to your favorite Pinterest Board.

Pinterest link showing Jennifer Maker sitting with her Cricut Joy and summer vacation DIY projects.

Jennifer Marx is a designer, an enthusiastic crafter, a lifelong teacher, and a proud overcomer of a variety of life's challenges. In her spare time she loves to play D&D and video games, garden, sew costumes, and go to Disney. She lives a full, happy life in beautiful Ann Arbor, Michigan with her partner Greg, her daughter Alexa, their two dogs, Hunter and Chloe, and their sassy orange cat, Butterscotch.

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Southern Eats & Goodies

These Southern recipes are mouth watering, easy to make, and sure to get you recognized as a Southern cook.

family enjoying their beach dinners on vacation

Easy Vacation Dinners

These easy vacation meals will be a breeze to make in your beach house, rental house, or anywhere really that you need to feed the family. For the nights you don’t want to go to a restaurant but still want a yummy dining experience, keep this recipe list at your fingertips.

Depending on where you go on vacation and how much your eating out budget is, you will likely want some easy meals to make yourself. (But if you’re just looking for snack ideas for a day at the beach, head over to our Beach Food Ideas post!)

Whether you are in an VRBO, AirBnb, a townhouse, or a hotel with a kitchenette, you usually will have a few key appliances and ingredients to make these vacation meals.

I’m focusing this post on recipes that don’t require tons of spices, specialty appliances, or less common herbs you simply won’t have on hand.

Watch How to Make Ham and Cheese Casserole

Here’s an easy ham casserole that won’t drag you down with carbs. It’s keto and great for a vacation meal. This dish works well for breakfast, lunch, or dinner!

Easy dinners to make on vacation

When you’re out of town and want to feed our family without having to go out to eat every night (and without sticking them with peanut butter sandwiches) try these easy vacation dinners. They are simple enough and you don’t need tons of ingredients. You also don’t lots of spices or tricky cookware you don’t have.

They’re simple, inexpensive, and satisfying. Of course, while you’re on vacation you’ll want to eat some meals out in restaurants. But for the other nights, try these dishes.

These meals are easy to make on vacation without all your normal spices, tools, appliances, and cookware. Simple and easy to make to fill your family if you want to save money while away on vacation.

easy summer travel ideas

Super Easy Spaghetti Recipe (Done in 15 Minutes!)

This easy spaghetti doesn't require hours of cooking (who wants that when you're busy on vacation having fun?) and is tasty.

easy summer travel ideas

Caprese Chicken (5 Ingredient)

This is a five ingredient chicken dinner dish. If you need to fill up with some healthy protein, this is a healthy vacation dinner option.

easy summer travel ideas

Chicken Feta Pasta (5 Ingredient)

This chicken feta pasta is tasty, cheesy, and healthy. It will be filling and easy to make in an evening after a long day.

easy summer travel ideas

Broccoli Chicken Mac and Cheese 

With 5 ingredients (not including salt and pepper, of course) is filling and quick and easy. It won't leave you with a lot of food or ingredients that go bad.

easy summer travel ideas

Taco Casserole (5 Ingredient)

This taco casserole blends quite a few spices, still with only a few ingredients. It's inexpensive and super tasty.

easy summer travel ideas

Chili Dog Pizza

Now, if you're going for broke and want to cook something that's a crowd pleaser you wouldn't ordinarily eat at home... this is it.

easy summer travel ideas

Pasta With Tomatoes, Basil and Garlic

This is another super easy tasty pasta dish that'll fill you up after a long day of sightseeing.

easy summer travel ideas

Sheet Pan Pesto Chicken and Vegetables

This is a sheet pan dinner (meaning, throw everything on a sheet pan and bake it, voila, SO QUICK AND EASY!) and only requires

easy summer travel ideas

Ground Beef Teriyaki Ramen

Ramen is the KING of easy dinners. This 5 ingredient meal throws in some veggies and takes the ramen up a notch.

easy summer travel ideas

Chicken Enchilada Bake

This chicken enchilada bake is easy to make, super tasty, and only has a few ingredients.

easy summer travel ideas

Cheeseburger and Fries Casserole

This cheeseburger and fry casserole is comforting, filling, and uses frozen or canned ingredients.. read: super easy and inexpensive.

easy summer travel ideas

Pizza Chicken Roll-Ups

These pizza chicken roll ups combine two beloved dinner staples... pizza and chicken. Put them together with a side of a roasted veggie and voila, easy dinner.

easy summer travel ideas

Best Grilled Cheese Recipe 

These yummy grilled cheese sandwiches are perfect dinners, serve it up with some roasted veggies or a nice salad and you'll be filled up and ready to sight see again tomorrow.

easy summer travel ideas

Best Buttered Noodles Recipe

Talk about only using a few ingredients... this one is simple, inexpensive, and still super delicious.

easy summer travel ideas

Easy Crescent Taco Bake

This is one of our family's personal favorites. Easy to find ingredients, quick, filling, and a crowd pleaser on those late vacation nights.

easy summer travel ideas

Smothered Chicken Bake (5 ingredient)

This is beautiful, rich, creamy, and a great way to make an inexpensive vacation dinner with baked chicken.

easy summer travel ideas

Chicken And Broccoli Pasta (Instant Pot)

Chicken and broccoli pasta is a family dinnertime staple for many. Use the instant pot and make it tasty and quick for a 30-minute meal.

Beach vacation meal planning

Now, we’ve already talked about beach food ideas , which are easy foods for a day in the sand. But this list is about great foods to cook during your beach vacation in your beach rental house.

Tasty, light, fresh, and great off the grill; these are quick ways to whip up an amazing meal.

Idea for Beach Dinners

These are great meals that are beach inspired, you can get easy seafood, or foods you can cook with your grill, and easy beach dinners that you can either eat on the beach or in your beach vacation rental.

easy summer travel ideas

Easy Shrimp Pappardelle (5 ingredients!) 

Got some fresh shrimp? Here's a great and super simple 5 ingredient garlic shrimp pasta recipe.

easy summer travel ideas

Best Oven-Baked Tilapia Recipe

If you've caught some fresh fish and want to cook it up, this uses the oven (so you don't have to spend an hour on a charcoal grill!) and the result is amazing.

easy summer travel ideas

Best Crab Cake Recipe - How to Make Crab Cakes

These can be a little more difficult to make, but if you've been crabbing and want to try and whip up some yummy crab cakes, this recipe is simple and easy to follow.

easy summer travel ideas

Balsamic Glazed Salmon

Embrace the seafood side with this easy to make and delicious glazed salmon.

easy summer travel ideas

Prosciutto-Wrapped Scallops with Spinach

Gone scalloping? Here are some easy recipes to cook a delicious meal with scallops that are wrapped in prosciutto... which is always a winner.

easy summer travel ideas

Express Shrimp & Sausage Jambalaya

Get some sausage with that shrimp and make an awesome cajun jambalaya one evening.

easy summer travel ideas

No-Frills Shrimp Boil Recipe

New to the shrimp boil? This is a no frills shrimp boil that you can make as long as you have a pot, shrimp, potatoes, and corn. This is one of our favorite beach house dinners because it's so easy and delicious.

easy summer travel ideas

Fried Whole Fish with Tomatillo Sauce Recipe

Ever wanted to try your hand at cooking a WHOLE FISH? Now's your chance to be the chef of this dish. Plus, you know the kids would think it's fun.

easy summer travel ideas

Grilled Shrimp with Old Bay and Aioli Recipe

This shrimp dish is another one of our favorite evening meal recipes for when you're on vacation and want to whip up something quickly. It looks fancy but is super easy to pull off.

easy summer travel ideas

Tilapia with Corn Salsa

This tilapia with corn salsa will please even the pickiest of seafood eaters. Plus it's simple and can be baked.

family enjoying their beach dinners on vacation

25+ Easy Vacation & Beach Meal Recipes

Ingredients   .

  • 15-Minute Spaghetti https://www.averiecooks.com/easy-15-minute-spaghetti/
  • 5-Ingredient Caprese Salad https://www.seasonalcravings.com/five-ingredient-caprese-chicken/
  • Chicken Feta Pasta https://www.wellplated.com/chicken-feta-pasta/
  • Instant Pot Chicken & Broccoli with Penne https://southerneatsandgoodies.com/instant-pot-chicken-broccoli-pasta/
  • Broccoli Mac and Cheese https://audrasappetite.com/broccoli-chicken-mac-and-cheese/
  • Taco Casserole https://www.theseasonedmom.com/lightened-up-taco-crescent-casserole/
  • Chili Dog Pizza https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/chili-dog-pizza/
  • Pasta with Tomatoes, Basil, & Garlic https://cupofjo.com/2014/07/pasta-with-tomatoes-basil-and-garlic/
  • Sheet Pan Pesto Chicken https://neighborfoodblog.com/sheet-pan-pesto-chicken-and-vegetables/
  • Ground Beef Teriyaki Ramen https://dinnerthendessert.com/ground-beef-teriyaki-ramen/
  • Chicken Enchilada Bake https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/chicken-enchilada-bake/
  • Cheeseburger & Fries Casserole https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/cheeseburger-and-fries-casserole/
  • Pizza Chicken Rollups https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/pizza-chicken-roll-ups/
  • Best Grilled Cheese https://www.delish.com/cooking/recipe-ideas/a19610233/how-to-make-best-grilled-cheese/
  • Best Buttered Noodles https://www.delish.com/cooking/recipe-ideas/a25636049/buttered-noodles-recipe/
  • Easy Crescent Taco Bake https://www.pillsbury.com/recipes/easy-crescent-taco-bake/9c2bd5f7-63f7-4a6c-afa3-56baeedbc35a

Dinners Perfect for the Beach

  • Garlicky Shrimp Pasta https://www.cookingforkeeps.com/5-ingredient-garlicky-shrimp-pasta/
  • Oven Baked Tilapia https://www.delish.com/cooking/recipe-ideas/a19665918/oven-baked-tilapia-recipe/
  • Crab Cakes https://www.delish.com/cooking/recipe-ideas/recipes/a58704/best-crab-cakes-recipe/
  • Balsamic Glazed Salmon https://www.cookingclassy.com/balsamic-glazed-salmon/
  • Prosciutto Wrapped Scallops https://www.eatingwell.com/recipe/249554/prosciutto-wrapped-scallops-with-spinach/
  • Express Shrimp & Sausage Jambalaya https://www.eatingwell.com/recipe/252103/express-shrimp-sausage-jambalaya/
  • No Frills Shrimp Boil https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/no-frills-shrimp-boil
  • Fried Whole Fish with Tomatillo Sauce https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/fried-whole-fish-with-tomatillo-sauce
  • Grilled Shrimp with Old Bay and Aioli https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/grilled-shrimp-with-old-bay-and-aioli
  • Tilapia with Corn Salsa https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/tilapia-with-corn-salsa/

Instructions  

  • Select meal from list above.
  • Follow link provided for the recipe.
  • Prepare and enjoy!

Other posts you’ll enjoy!

  • BBQ Menu Ideas
  • Family Backyard Picnic Ideas
  • Beach Food Ideas
  • 25+ Champagne Cocktails
  • 50+ Easy Southern Pie Recipes
  • 30+ Awesome Pound Cakes

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Rachel Norman

Rachel is a southern born and bred mother of 5 and founder of Southern Eats & Goodies. She's an entrepreneur, country girl, and world traveler who speaks 3 languages and loves Southern food.

easy summer travel ideas

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10 Tips for Successful Summer Travel with Kids

Get ready for your next vacation with these kid-friendly travel tips, perfect for traveling across country or even globetrotting around the world.

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The summer season is just around the corner, which means that memory-making adventures are on the horizon. After all, the biggest gift we can give our kids is time: time creating, time discovering, and time together. When planning a vacation, whether you’ll be traveling internationally , road-tripping across the country , or romping around in nature at a nearby forest preserve, there’s much to consider. 

As a seasoned travel writer and a mother of three, I’ve been all over the globe with my brood, exploring not only far-flung destinations like Peru, Japan, and India but also closer-to-home outdoorsy locales like our national and state parks. Let me tell you, I’ve learned some helpful tips along the way. Additionally, I’ve reached out to other parents and caregivers, including a pediatric doctor, to get their tips for successful summer travel with kids. 

Take a Deep Breath

Traveling with kiddos for the first time? Akanksha Shrivastava Hanna, MD , pediatrician in Park Ridge, Illinois, says that you should start by taking a deep breath. 

“Parents want to make sure we plan for everyone and everything to create the best trip possible,” says Hanna. “A great step to take is to acknowledge we won’t see or do everything, and that’s fine. Set reasonable goals, [have] a flexible itinerary, be as prepared as you can, and be ready to pivot since travel is not always a smooth process. Making lists is helpful and think of your child's needs for an entire day, including meals, toiletries, car travel, and safe sleep equipment.”

Find a Playground or Outdoor Space

Playing outside is a great way to burn off energy and have a healthy reset. Go on a hike , stop at a local playground, or take the dogs to a fenced-in park. Your little ones will thank you. 

Janette Thompson is currently enjoying a gap year with her family in tow as they travel across Asia. “While traveling we usually research the surrounding areas for playgrounds, parks, and other child-friendly activities,” Thompson says.

If you can swing it, pack everything you need in carry-on luggage . The last thing you want to do on vacation is constantly worry about managing and schlepping everyone’s large suitcases. Rather than checking luggage, waiting for it on the other end at the baggage carousel, or trying to figure out what to do if it gets lost or misplaced, if you carry on what you need, you can fly through the airport much faster. Plus, light luggage makes it easier when switching hotels and locales. 

“Moving large luggage multiple times on a trip is exhausting and logistically challenging,” says Thompson. 

Don’t Stuff Too Much into the Itinerary

I have a confession to make. As a curious traveler, I often operate with FOMO: fear of missing out. When I’m traveling by myself, I like a full itinerary with lots of activities and very little downtime. I want to make the most of my experience, especially if I’m visiting a country I’ve never been to before. But here’s the thing: kids need breaks. Lots of breaks. If you plan too much and don’t leave enough space for their needs or interests, you might find that moods shift and sour. 

Producer, TV host, photographer, and writer, Rachel Rudwall , travels with her family somewhere warm at least once per year. “Take, for example, our journey to Sardinia, Italy from Portland, Oregon. Not a single person would argue that this trip is logistically simple,” Rudwall says. “We would, however, argue that this journey was both doable and   worth the haul—even with our then 14-month-old in tow .”

Sardinia was where her toddler took his first steps, creating an indelible memory not soon forgotten. While the beach time and Italian food were expected highlights, the multi-hour flight itinerary from the U.S. to Sardinia was less than desirable. Rudwall thought ahead and arranged for a two-night stopover in Amsterdam, creating space to deal with jet lag. “This layover allowed us a soft spot to land between our flights, plus a beautiful couple days noshing on pastries and enjoying leisurely strolls in another wonderful European destination,” Rudwall says. “If I were to offer one piece of advice it would be this: wherever you go with your kids, build in buffers. These bonus windows of time will offer you the space to breathe, top up on snacks, and better navigate logistical challenges. Plus, they just might inspire some of your favorite moments of the journey.”

Bring a Travel Medical Kit

While we all hope that nothing goes wrong on a trip, you’ll want to be prepared and plan accordingly. Put together a travel medical kit that includes over-the-counter medicines and supplies. 

“This can include fever-reducing/pain medications, antihistamines, antibacterial ointment, band-aids, tweezers, and Vaseline,” says Hanna. “Make note of your child’s weight for dosing certain medications and make sure you have a supply of prescription medicines ahead of time. Discuss with your medical team if your child has medical conditions.”

“In warmer climates remember to pack reef-safe sunscreens (and reapply), bug sprays, and protective clothing (hats, sunglasses, UV-protected clothing),” Hanna says. “If heading outdoors, be sure to keep most skin covered and check bodies and hair for ticks daily. Before traveling internationally, consider notifying your child’s pediatrician if any additional recommended immunizations can be given. I guide parents to  CDC.GOV/travel  which breaks down pertinent information by country of travel.”

Research the Hotel and Destination Ahead of Time

While it’s advisable to leave plenty of open space on the itinerary, it’s important to research where you’re going and to know what activities and cultural experiences are available. What is the area known for and what are the highlights that everyone should know about? You’ll also want to know what the hotel amenities are so you can plan accordingly. Is there a swimming pool at the hotel? On-site laundry? Does the resort have a concierge that can arrange tours? Finding a property that is fun for both the parents and the kids is key. 

Let the Kids Be Part of the Planning 

If children are part of the planning process, they’ll be more invested in the trip. Let them decide which restaurant your family eats at or what activity everyone participates in. Teach kids how to navigate and read maps. Bring journals and encourage them to write about their daily adventures.  

“Parents can get caught up in the things they want to do on vacation since kids don't exactly plan these things out, but we've made it a priority to make sure that the kids think of it as their vacation too, so if we pass by something that interests them, we want to make those things happen as much as possible,” says Thompson. 

Keep the Ages of Kids in Mind When Planning and Packing

Whether you’re traveling with toddlers or teens, you’ll want to consider your children’s ages when structuring an itinerary or thinking about safety issues. 

“With younger children we want them to be comfortable and safe, so keep some soothing items from home such as blankets, pacifiers, a few toys, or a stuffy,” says Hanna. “Older kids can enjoy music, books, card games or using their electronic device[s]—remember, parents get to decide how much screen time their child consumes, and don't forget the chargers!”

Of course, safety should always be top of mind. Depending on your children’s ages, have discussions with them to go over the rules. “In new environments, review the safety plans regarding water play (never leave a child unattended near water) and review parent phone numbers—consider putting them inside their pockets,” says Hanna. “Trusting our older kids with more responsibility comes with varying comfort levels, but in a semi-controlled environment, this can be a good opportunity for them to demonstrate it, i.e., reading the map, guiding you through the airport, having them order their meals or pay for souvenirs. Learning how to budget on a trip with spending money is a nice exercise.”

Bring a Bag O’ Fun

For every car trip I’ve ever planned, I’ve always brought a “bag o’ fun”. This could be a deck of cards, snacks, new books, or mini-Lego sets. The idea is to bring along little surprises or fun things to do that will brighten up the moment.

Anastasia Gonzalez and her husband Gilbert take their grandchildren to South Padre Island every summer for fishing and exploring. One year they rented an RV to travel from Illinois to Texas. “It was the most beautiful experience,” Gonzalez says. “The driving, the board games, camping out, taking showers at the campsites, sleeping in the RV, and cuddling with those two boys was wonderful and cozy.”

Her advice for grandparents? “Allow your grandchildren to be themselves with you on your trip,” Gonzalez says. “Go with the idea of having fun. Break some rules. Ask what they want but have a plan. Make meals interesting and make one night a special meal night.”

Attitudes, Good or Bad, are Contagious

Most parents who travel with their kids will tell you that if one person has a bad attitude, that same mood can transfer to siblings or even adults. Staying positive is key, especially if you’re on a long vacation away from the comforts of home. 

“Kids love time with their family, but they are humans, and we all get moody sometimes,” says Hanna. “Our kids learn by our example, so parents take the lead with many deep breaths, exercise when possible, be mindful about handling stressful situations, and take lots of pictures. Parental well-being trickles down into children's well-being.”

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20 one-week europe trip itinerary ideas.

One Week Europe Itinerary Ideas

Wondering where to spend one week in Europe? These 20 ideas for your Europe trip will help you decide how to maximize your time.

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How to Choose the Best One Week Itinerary for a Europe Trip: 20 Europe Itinerary Ideas

If you’re like most people and getting time off work or kids out of school is challenging, you may only be able to manage one week of vacation. Europe is a great destination to go for one week, simply because of the cultural diversity in such a small geographic area.

The small size, proximity, and ease of transportation between many of the countries in Europe make it a good choice for a culturally rich one week holiday. If you’ve only got one week in Europe, and really want to maximize your time, but you’re wondering where to go in Europe, here are 20 perfect one-week Europe travel itineraries.

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If you're heading to Europe and only have one week to enjoy it, try one of these 20 one week European itineraries that will help you make the most of your time. #Europe #Itinerary #Vacation

  • Before You go to Europe

Europe is an amazing destination, especially if you pick any of these awesome itineraries, but before leaving there are a few things you should consider when planning your Europe trip:

  • KNOW BEFORE YOU GO: Before you go to Europe, be sure you follow my 50 travel tips for Europe. You can find those here. 

And the winter months are generally cold in most European countries, especially in the north.That doesn’t mean you should avoid those times, it just depends on your tolerance for crowds and your preference in weather.

  • WHAT TO PACK FOR EUROPE: What you pack for Europe will highly depend on what time of year you go and where you decide to go. This  packing guide for Europe will ensure you have the essentials.
  • GETTING AROUND: Getting around Europe can be a little daunting, but if you do some research before you go, you’ll be just fine. Transportation in every country in Europe is a little different. I’ve linked many of my articles with helpful advice below like   How to Survive Train Travel in Italy   and   Driving in Scotland . Some itineraries will require you to go by train, car, plane or boat. Travel around Europe doesn’t have to be scary if you learn what to do ahead of time.

If you’re renting a car, there are two companies we prefer to use: Rental Cars and Expedia Cars. We have had no issues with them and have been able to find the best prices available.

What to do in Europe for One Week: 20 European Vacation Ideas for Your Europe Trip

These are my best one week vacations in Europe. Taking a multi city European vacation can be a great way to experience several different cultures on one continent. I know that one week in Europe isn’t a lot of time, so I’ve picked cities that are either close in proximity or a quick and cheap flight between each other.

I’ve also tried to choose each Europe travel itinerary with a mix of classic sites and unique destinations. There are so many cool places to visit in Europe that are still undiscovered. Hopefully, some of these locations will be new to you and you’ll be able to discover a new European favorite!

Here's a Short Cut

1 | Amalfi Coast + Rome

2 | paris + london, 3 | ireland + iceland, 4 | heidelberg, germany + strasbourg, france, 5 | colmar, france + basel, switzerland, 6 | interlaken + lucerne, switzerland, 7 | lake como, italy + zermatt, switzerland, 8 | paris + normandy, 9 | iceland and the scottish highlands, 10 | venice and lake como, 11 | the ionian islands, greece, 12 | ireland + northern ireland, 13 | edinburgh + scottish highlands, 14 | colmar + strasbourg, 15 | loire valley + paris, 16 | london + cotswolds, 17 | cinque terre + florence, 18 | prague + vienna, 19 | budapest + bratislava, 20 | lucca + sardinia, 21 | lisbon + algarve, 22 | vienna + hallstatt + salzburg , 23 | croatia + montenegro, 24 | budapest + bratislava + vienna, practical tips for booking your trip.

Europe Itinerary- 20 Europe Trip Ideas

This is one of my very favorite European vacation destinations. There are hundreds of choices for stunning history and scenery when you visit Italy, but this Amalfi Coast and Rome itinerary gives you the best of both worlds. Rome is one of the top places to visit in Europe and offers history around every corner…literally, while on the Amalfi Coast you will be overwhelmed by breathtaking ocean views.

Spend several days in Rome, then head south to the Amalfi Coast via Naples and spend a few more relaxing on the beach and driving the coast. It’s one of the best European beach vacations you can take! Amalfi is also one of the most popular Europe vacation spots during the month of August, so you may want to take that into consideration when planning your trip.

Check out these other 5 amazing itineraries for Italy.  Italy is one of the best countries to visit in Europe due to its size and variety of landscapes, cultures, and attractions.

GETTING THERE: Fly into Rome

GETTING BETWEEN CITIES: Getting from Rome to Amalfi is easy. Take the train from Rome to Naples, from there take the bus to Sorrento. There are many tour buses that travel along the coast, or you can rent a car and do the driving yourself.

WHERE TO STAY Rome | Amalfi RESOURCES How to Spend One Day in Rome Family Guide to Rome How to Spend 2 Days in Naples How to Survive Train Travel in Italy The Best Places to Visit in Italy How to Spend 10 Days in Italy Tips for Renting a Car in Europe i Heart Italy

Europe Trip Itinerary

If you’re looking for a European vacation with a lot of history and class, this is it! I can’t even count the number of times that I have done the Paris/London combo. I’ve done it with kids, as a couple, as a girls’ trip, and as a field trip. No joke! And every time I go, it’s like completely different cities. You can follow completely different options for London and Paris itineraries and have an amazing time no matter what you choose. In my opinion, these are two of the best cities to visit in Europe as they offer a huge amount of culture, food, and entertainment bang for your buck!

When I plan our family trip to Europe each year, I make sure to always include both Paris and London. These are two of my favorite places in all of Europe. They are popular for good reason. Both Paris and London are so vast and diverse that you can have a new experience each time you visit. The best part about visiting these two cities is that they are very easy to travel between with the help of the Eurostar. It’s a quick journey from the heart of one city to the next that requires no airports, no flying, and no hassle. Note: You will need a   passport or visa   to travel between England and France and you will need to go through customs before boarding the Eurostar.

I’ve created an easy-to-use day-by-day itinerary for Paris and London so that you can show up and enjoy your trip. 

easy summer travel ideas

GETTING THERE: Fly into London or Paris GETTING BETWEEN CITIES: Take the Eurostar

WHERE TO STAY Paris | London

RESOURCES Paris Walking Guide Paris with Kids Foods You Must Try in Paris Paris Neighborhood Guide How to Use the Paris Bike System London Travel Guide Perfect London Itinerary London with Kids Christmas in London Paddington’s Guide to London How to Use the Paris Bike System

Europe Trip Itinerary Ideas

If you’re looking for a European vacation with wild nature and rural beauty, this option is a winner. While both of these spectacular islands really deserve their own week (or weeks really), a trip combining the two is possible, thanks to affordable flights between Iceland and Ireland. A good route would be Reykjavik and the Golden Circle, combined with the west of Ireland including Killarney, the Ring of Kerry, and the Cliffs of Moher. These countries are some of the best places to go in Europe if you love majestic natural beauty.

GETTING THERE:  Fly into Iceland as its one of the cheapest ways to get to Europe. GETTING BETWEN COUNTRIES:  From Iceland , take a quick flight to Ireland. Dublin , Belfast , Cork, or Shannon Airports are usually where you’ll find the best deals.

WHERE TO STAY Ireland | Iceland

RESOURCES Iceland on a Budget Bucket List Things to do in Iceland Iconic Things to do in Dublin Day Trips from Dublin What to do in Killarney Perfect Ireland Itinerary Ireland with Kids Ireland Packing List

Europe Trip Itinerary Ideas

This one-week European itinerary includes two of my favorite cities in Europe! Heidelberg, Germany, known for its ancient castle and walkable downtown is a perfect companion to Strasbourg, France only an hour and a half away, in the Alsace region of France, known for its impressive cathedral and half-timber houses. These towns are particularly spectacular during the Christmas season and some of the best places to spend Christmas in Europe. This will be the best Europe itinerary for those looking to spend time in provincial looking towns!

GETTING THERE:  Fly into Frankfurt, Germany GETTING BETWEEN COUNTRIES:  Drive for 1.5 hours or take the train for 1.5 hours.

WHERE TO STAY Heidelberg | Strasbourg

RESOURCES Best European Christmas Markets European Christmas Market Treats What to do in Strasbourg What to do in Heidelberg, Germany What to do in Strasbourg, France

Europe Trip Itinerary Ideas

If you want to spend your Europen vacation wandering charming streets and feeling like you’re in a fairytale, this is it. Basel, Switzerland holds a special place in my heart and is often an overlooked town. Only a quick 45-minute train ride from the popular and iconic Colmar, France, Basel offers a unique culture that only a town on the border of three countries can. Basel is especially fun during Herbstmesse, the local Autumn Fair when the city literally turns into a fair! Combine these two beautiful cities for a one-of-a-kind holiday.

GETTING THERE: Fly into Basel or Zurich GETTING BETWEEN CITIES:  Drive 45 minutes or Train 30 minutes

WHERE TO STAY Colmar |  Basel

RESOURCES What to do in Basel Guide to Colmar, France

Europe Trip Itinerary Ideas

No European vacation list would be complete without including the unimaginable beauty of the Swiss Alps. Switzerland is a wonderland of natural beauty for the outdoor enthusiast or even anyone who has a remote interest in pretty scenery! It’s one of the best countries in Europe for those who love outdoor activity and natural beauty. It’s just jaw-droppingly gorgeous.

For such a small country, there is so much to see and with two of Switzerland most breathtaking areas just a few hours from each other, it’s worth visiting both of them. These areas offer pristine lakes, ancient gorges, colossal mountains, and a vast array of cultural activities.

GETTING THERE: Fly into Zurich, Switzerland GETTING BETWEEN CITIES: Train to Lucerne, Train to Interlaken

WHERE TO STAY Interlaken | Lucerne

RESOURCES Switzerland Itinerary Swiss Food Guide Switzerland Packing List 24 Hours in Zurich What to do in Interlaken What to do in Lucerne

One Week Europe Itinerary

If you’d like your Europe trip to have a good mix of beach and mountain time, this is the perfect combination. Lake Como is probably one of my top favorite places on the planet. It is totally magical and peaceful, and I’ve written about it multiple times and helped friends and family plan trips there. Don’t skip Lake Como on your next trip to Italy. One of my favorite parts of Lake Como is its proximity to the Swiss border. You can actually hike over the borer and into Switzerland! But if you’d rather not hike, hop in the car and take a trip to Zermatt, Switzerland, home of the famous towering mountain, Matterhorn.

GETTING THERE: Fly into Milan, Italy GETTING BETWEEN CITIES: Drive 3 hours to Zermatt or take a 4 hour Train ride from Milan

WHERE TO STAY Lake Como | Zermatt

RESOURCES Guide to Lake Como Boating Lake Como Guide to Zermatt Best Places to Visit in Italy How to Spend 10 Days in Italy i Heart Italy

Europe Trip Itinerary Ideas

This is a European vacation full of charm, but also a healthy dose of history and reality. A Paris-Normandy itinerary of Europe combines all the glamor and romance of the city of light with the charm, history, and beauty of Northern France. Spend several days in Paris, taking several day trips, including the impressive floating Mont Saint Michel. This area is one of the best places to visit in Europe for history lovers.

GETTING THERE: Fly into Paris GETTING BETWEEN CITIES: Drive 3 hours

WHERE TO STAY Paris | Normandy

RESOURCES Paris Itinerary Paris Walking Guide Paris with Kids Foods You Must Try in Paris Paris Neighbgorhood Guide Guide to Normandy Guide to Visiting Mont Saint Michel France with Kids

Europe Trip Itinerary Ideas

Two naturally and culturally beautiful countries are just a short and cheap flight apart and a great combination for a one-week European itinerary, although both countries could take weeks to explore on their own.  Spend a few days in Iceland, then take a cheap hopper flight and explore the mystical highlands of Scotland.

GETTING THERE: Fly into Reykjavik GETTING BETWEEN COUNTRIES: Fly into Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, or Aberdeen

WHERE TO STAY Iceland | Scotland

RESOURCES Iceland on a Budget Scotland Itinerary What to do in Inverness What to do on the Isle of Skye Scotland Packing List

Europe Trip Itinerary Ideas

Some of my favorite Italian destinations, Venice and Lake Como, both built on water, are ideal locations for aquatic enthusiasts. Taking a ride on a gondola in Venice is one of the best things to do in Europe! Take the Vaporetto (water bus) in Venice, then take a short drive or train ride to Lake Como and enjoy boating and relaxing on the beach in one of the adorable villages lining the lake.

GETTING THERE: Fly into Venice or Milan GETTING BETWEEN CITIES: 3.5 hours by car or 10 hours by train

WHERE TO STAY Venice | Lake Como

RESOURCES Guide to Lake Como Boating Lake Como Surviving Train Travel in Italy Guide to Venice Best Places to Visit in Italy How to Spend 10 Days in Italy i Heart Italy

Europe Trip Itinerary Ideas

If you’re interested in cheap Europe trips, the gorgeous Ionian islands of Greece are one of the best-kept secrets in Europe. Naturally and culturally diverse, affordable, and downright beautiful, Kefalonia and Corfu make great choices for one week in Europe.

Explore ancient ruins, relax on pristine beaches with locals, and dine, affordably, like a Greek god. If you’re travelling Europe on a budget, this is a great option and Greece is one of the best places to visit in Europe in summer if you’re looking for gorgeous beaches at affordable prices.

GETTING THERE: Fly into Kefalonia from London on Ryanair GETTING BETWEEN ISLANDS: Take a ferry between the Ionian Islands from Greek Ferries

WHERE TO STAY Kefalonia | Corfu

RESOURCES Guide to Kefalonia Greece The Ionian Islands The Best Beaches on Corfu What to Wear in Greece Guide to Athens

Europe Trip Itinerary Ideas

Two countries on one island? Yep! Take a visit to Ireland AND Northern Ireland. Two countries that are very similar, but also very different. Explore the entire island with this perfect itinerary.

GETTING THERE: Fly into Dublin or any airport in Ireland GETTING BETWEEN COUNTRIES: Rent a Car. Driving in Ireland can be tricky and slow, but worth the views and the adventure.

WHERE TO STAY Ireland | Northern Ireland

RESOURCES The Best Places to Visit in Ireland Perfect Ireland Itinerary Ireland with Kids What to do in Killarney Scotland and Ireland Itinerary Ireland Packing List

Europe Trip Itinerary Ideas

Scotland is one country that should really be given an entire week. You could definitely say that about any destination, but for a relatively small country, but it has so much to offer that you could spend years here and not see it all.

For one week in Scotland, I recommend visiting Edinburgh and the Scottish Highlands, including the Isle of Skye. Read here for an entire Scotland Itinerary, here for Edinburgh , here for Inverness and the Highlands , and here for the Isle of Skye.

GETTING THERE:  Flying into Edinburgh is usually the cheapest option. GETTING BETWEN AREAS:  It’s best to rent a car or hire a driver or tour company. Be sure to read my guide to driving in Scotland.  

WHERE TO STAY Ediburgh | Inverness | Isle of Skye

RESOURCES Perfect Scotland Itinerary What to do in Edinburgh What to do in Inverness What to do on the Isle of Skye Scotland Packing List

Europe Trip Itinerary Ideas

What could be more charming than a week spent in these “poor provincial towns.” Ok, so they’re definitely not poor or provincial, but you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into Belle’s hometown from Beauty and the Beast .

The ancient half-timber homes built along scenic rivers provide a feast for the eyes, while the patisseries, boulangeries, shops, and restaurants provide a feast for the tongue. Split your time between these two idyllic towns and enjoy a peaceful trip back in time.

If you visit Colmar or Strasbourg during Christmas, these towns will be even more magical! Strasbourg is known as “The Capital of Christmas” and both towns have incredible Christmas markets and decorations!

GETTING THERE:  Fly into Zurich GETTING BETWEEN COUNTRIES:  30 minutes by train or 1 hour by car

WHERE TO STAY Colmar | Strasbourg

RESOURCES 24 Hours in Zurich Guide to Colmar Guide to Strasbourg The Most Magical European Christmas Markets Must-Have European Christmas Market Treats 

One Week Europe Trip Itinerary

Divide your time between the ancient and modern city of light and the historic Loire Valley , home to magnificent palaces, stunning gardens, and green pastures. This one-week itinerary is the perfect balance between city and country life and will provide you with a mix of excitement, peace, and romance. It can be hard to squeeze everything you want into one week European itineraries, but this is a must!

Be sure to map out the castles and palaces you want to see along the way. Our favorite is Chenonceau ! Don’t miss it!

GETTING THERE: Fly into Paris GETTING AROUND:  Rent a car and drive two hours to the Loire Valley

WHERE TO STAY Loire Valley | Paris

RESOURCES Walking Guide to Paris Paris with Kids Day Trips from Paris Foods You Must Try in Paris Guide to the Loire Valley 15 Affordable Castles You Can Stay In

Europe Trip Itinerary Ideas

This London and Cotswolds Itinerary provides the best of both British worlds, encompassing both the hustle and bustle of one of the world’s oldest and largest cities and the peace and tranquility of the quaint cottage speckled Cotswolds.

As much as I love London (it’s my favorite city), I do get tired of the crowds and the constant noise. It is so refreshing to get into the countryside and have a change of scenery during your time in London. The Cotswolds are a fairytale-like dream trip. Be sure to grab cream tea every chance you get!

GETTING THERE: Fly into one of three London Airports GETTING AROUND: Rent a car and explore the whole Cotswolds area

WHERE TO STAY London | Cotswolds

RESOURCES London Travel Guide Complete Guide to London Perfect London Itinerary London with Kids Paddington’s Guide to London Christmas in London Guide to the Cotswolds

Europe Trip Itinerary Ideas

I call this itinerary the best of Northern Italy. Italy is huge and has so much to offer geographically and culturally, but one of my favorite parts of Italy is the train system. The trains in Italy allow for easy access to most major sites, but it can be slightly confusing, so be sure to read this guide to train travel in Italy before you go. Getting between Florence and Cinque Terre is simple with the right knowledge.

The great thing about this itinerary is that you will get to see a big city full of culture, history, and art, and also spend time swimming at the beach and on a boat soaking up rays in in the Liguerian Sea. Read here for Florence, here for Cinque Terre, here for Trains in Italy.

GETTING THERE: Fly into Florence GETTING BETWEEN CITIES: Two hours by train

WHERE TO STAY Cinque Terre | Florence

RESOURCES Guide to Cinque Terre Guide to Florence How to Survive Train Travel in Italy Best Places to Visit in Italy How to Spend 10 Days in Italy

Europe Itinerary

I think Prague and Vienna might be some of the most underrated cities in Europe, and they are worth dedicating an entire week to. Stunning architecture, delicious cuisine, and cultural activities abound in these cities that are just a few hours apart.

GETTING THERE: Fly into Vienna or Prague GETTING BETWEEN CITIES: 3-hour drive or 4-hour train ride

WHERE TO STAY Prague | Vienna

RESOURCES One Day in Prague What to do in Vienna

One Week European Itinerary

If you’re looking for cheap European vacations, the farther east you go, the cheaper it generally gets. These are two cities that had never really been on my bucket list, and to be honest, I had never even heard of Bratislava, which is in Slovakia by the way! Both cities are charming and culturally rich. They are especially festive and beautiful around Christmas time.

Bratislava is on the way between Budapest and Vienna (you can even cycle between Budapest and Vienna ) and Budapest and Prague, so if you’re thinking of doing a combination of any of those cities, it’s a great stop.

GETTING THERE: Fly into Budapest GETTING BETWEEN CITIES: 2 hours by car, 2.5 hours by train

WHERE TO STAY Budapest | Bratislava

RESOURCES What to do in Budapest European Christmas Markets What to do in Bratislava

Europe Trip Itinerary Ideas

These incredible destinations in Italy are not well known, but that is part of the appeal. I would say they are a good option for a cheaper and less crowded alternative to the  Florence and Cinque Terre itinerary.

Lucca is a walled city in Tuscany offering stunning architecture and culture with great family fun activities such as riding bikes along the top of the medieval wall around the city. Sardinia is a heavenly island, just a ferry ride away full of breathtaking beaches, delicious food, and friendly locals. Known as one of the five blue zones in the world- places in the world where people live longer and healthier than anywhere else on earth-Sardinia will make you feel younger and more alive just by visiting.

GETTING THERE: Fly into Rome or Florence GETTING BETWEEN DESTINATIONS: Take a Ferry from Civitavecchia to Olbia

WHERE TO STAY Lucca | Sardinia

RESOURCES One Day in Rome What to do in Lucca Sardinia Best Places to Visit in Italy How to Spend 10 Days in Italy What to Wear in Italy

easy summer travel ideas

Portugal is a beautiful country full of diverse landscapes, amazing beaches, and cultural city centers. Lisbon is a stunning city and the Algarve region in the south of Portugal offers sunny beaches with world-famous surfing. There are some really cheap flights to Lisbon from the US right now and you can either drive, train, bus, or fly to the Algarve easily. As a southern European country, Portugal is a great choice for a winter destination. We were there last January and could still get in the water. There are many towns to choose from in the Algarve and they are all equally unique and beautiful. 

GETTING THERE: Fly into Lisbon GETTING BETWEEN DESTINATIONS: Take a plane, car, or bus to the Algarve.

The Perfect Portugal Itinerary

easy summer travel ideas

This one week in Europe spent in Austria is a dream. Combining the culture of Vienna and Salzburg with the picturesque feel of Hallstatt, it’s sure to satisfy any traveler. In my opinion, this is a great winter destination if you don’t mind the cold. Vienna and Salzburg have several amazing Christmas markets and Hallstatt is simply a dream to see in the snow! 

GETTING THERE: Fly into Vienna GETTING BETWEEN DESTINATIONS: Take a train to Salzburg (2.5 hours). A great way to see Hallstatt is to take a day trip from Salzburg.

Hallstatt Day Trip

European Christmas Markets

Christmas Market Treats

easy summer travel ideas

If you’re into coastal towns, walled cities, and breathtaking scenery, this combination is for you. The Dalmation Coast is absolutely stunning. The bordering country of Montenegro is really the hidden gem of Europe, offering the same draw as Croatia, but with far fewer tourists. I recommend going during shoulder season (April-May or September-October) to be able to enjoy warmer weather with fewer crowds. 

GETTING THERE: Fly into Dubrovnik, Croatia  GETTING BETWEEN DESTINATIONS:  Take a Day Trip to Montenegro

easy summer travel ideas

Two of the most underrated cities in Europe if you ask me, Budapest and Bratislava are both cities that offer an amazing array of culture and also incredible food. If you’re up for the cold weather, these cities all have incredible Christmas markets and stunning decorations around the holidays. These cities are also all connected by rail so you can easily navigate between them. 

GETTING THERE: Fly into Vienna or Budapest GETTING BETWEEN DESTINATIONS: Take the train between each city. Bratislava would be a good day trip from Vienna.

25 | Berlin + Prague

easy summer travel ideas

If you love history and architecture, then these two cities will captivate you! Split your time between the two, rent a car and take a road trip between them to enjoy some beautiful scenery. 

GETTING THERE: Fly into either Berlin or Prague, whichever airport is cheaper.  GETTING BETWEEN DESTINATIONS: Rent a car and take a road trip between Berlin and Prague.

Whichever Europe Itinerary you choose, you’re guaranteed to love it. You can definitely see so much of Europe in a week and you really can’t go wrong with any of these choices. Just remember to relax and enjoy and also remember that this probably won’t be the last Europe trip of your lifetime.

Not the Trip You Need?

Not exactly the trip you’re looking for? Don’t worry, I also offer custom trip planning by request for many destinations! Learn more here.

Book Your Flight s and Car Find a budget airlines by using  Skyscanner . This is my favorite way to search for flights because they crawl websites and airlines around the globe, so you always know you’re getting the best deal. Learn more tips for finding the best flight deals here. For cars, I like to use Rental Cars because they have good filters and its easy to search for multiple companies.

Book Your Accommodation My preferred way to stay around the world is VRBO . I find it usually gives you a unique local experience in any destination. If you want to stay in a hotel, use  Booking , as it consistently gives the cheapest rates for guesthouses and hotels. I use them both all the time.

Always Get Travel Insurance Travel insurance protects you and your family against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s peace of mind in case anything goes wrong. I never travel without it. I’ve been using World Nomads for the last few years and love how easy it is to use. I have also used Allianz . Compare rates to see which is best for the coverage you need.

Looking for ways to save money on travel? Check out my  resource page  for the companies I use for traveling! I share everything I use to save me time and money.

easy summer travel ideas

Wanderlust Crew

9 thoughts on “ 20 one-week europe trip itinerary ideas ”.

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Hi there, My husband and I will be celebrating our 20th anniversary next March and would love to go somewhere in Europe for a week. I have only been to Italy (over 20 years ago) and he’s never been. I’m a bit overwhelmed by even trying to figure out where to go. Can you help? Thanks! Hannah

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Hi Hannah. I can definitely help! I’ve got several Italy Itinerary ideas for Italy here: https://wanderlustcrew.com/10-days-in-italy/ I also do custom trip planning, specifically for Italy, if you’re interested in that, you can find more info here: https://wanderlustcrew.com/custom-travel-planning/ Italy will be so much fun! One of my favorite places on earth! xo Vanessa

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Very helpful! Thank you. We are planning a one year stay & this helped with our itinerary tremendously.

Oh that sounds amazing! You’ll see so much!

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Great ideas! We hope we’ll be able to travel to Europe again soon!

Thanks so much! Me too! Going as soon as it’s safe!!

Pingback: Backpacking around Italy with kids - Travel Mad Mum tips

Pingback: How to Find the Best Gelato in Italy! | I Heart Italy

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Very good these tips I was even thinking about taking a vacation for a few days, thank you

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There are also alternatives to the hotel for cheap summer vacations. Bloomberg reports that European hotel rates have increased 50% since 2019, according to market researcher CoStar Group, so maybe a boat would be better value.

Alternatively, HomeExchange, the home swap website, allows members unlimited exchanges for only $220 per year, meaning you can travel relatively cheaply but also visit places that might not be quite so crowded this summer.

The U.K's Telegraph also advocates finding some of the nicest youth hostels or staying in a mountain bothy in Britain —these are remote shelters in some of the most breathtaking hills and woods across the U.K. that are free to use for just an annual subscription of $32 from The Mountain Bothies Association. There are similar refuge schemes across Europe in the most spectacular places—many also run a basic menu for breakfast and dinner.

Change your mode of travel for cheap summer vacations. Though there are cheaper ways to fly (the London to New York route remains one of the most competitive, if you are available to fly at any time) but one of the most inexpensive ways to travel on holiday this summer might be by train.

The Telegraph lists several examples, notably Eurostar tickets if you book a long time in advance (around $50 one-way)—it's sometimes easier to find deals if you book to Brussels and not London to Paris. The 51-hour rail journey from Chicago, Illinois to Emeryville, California can be had for just under $100 if booked in advance.

Inter-railing across Europe can be cost-effective or you can take the train on a 28-hour, 1,300-mile journey from New Delhi to Goa for just $13 (first class is only $67)—and it can cost less than a dollar to travel across parts of the Himalayas.

Change your mode of finance for cheap summer vacations. One final way of limiting the damage is to use multi-trip travel insurance (if you travel often) and definitely go for a bank card that doesn't add on charges for overseas use and find one that charges lower fees when transfering between different exchange rates.

Alex Ledsom

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Choose your own adventure: Where to go and how to save on summer vacations

easy summer travel ideas

Revenge travel is so last year.

“It's not necessarily about just getting out of the house anymore,” said Sydney Stanback, Global Insights and Trends lead at Pinterest, which has seen more than 1 billion travel searches and more than 10 billion travel saves over the past year. 

Sure, many of the usual suspects are once again among the most popular destinations across multiple search engines this year, but she said this summer, “It's more so about traveling with intention.” 

According to NerdWallet’s Summer 2024 Travel Report , 45% of Americans plan to take a trip requiring a hotel stay or flight this summer with expenses averaging just under $3,600. A fifth of those travelers expect to go into debt to pay for vacations.

Here’s what to consider when booking a summer trip, including where to go, when to travel and how to save:

Learn more: Best travel insurance

What is the best place to travel in summer? 

The answer is subjective, especially this summer.

“Everyone's kind of choosing their own adventure based off of what their needs are for travel,” Stanback said. 

Pinterest’s Summer 2024 Travel Report found summer travelers are most interested in adventure, exploring mysterious or uncharted destinations, and rest. Searches for “quiet life” jumped 530%, but that doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone.

“My mother actually just took a yoga retreat to Panama,” Stanback said. “That's what she needed to do in order to get the rest that she needed and the well-being that she needed. But for me, when I think of rest and restoration, I simply think about going to a beach spa and just sitting and being by myself.”

Solo travel remains popular. Solo travel searches reached an all-time high in Google in January, but again, not for everyone.

“For Gen Z specifically, that need is to gather and reconnect with their community because they were in isolation for so long and during very meaningful moments in their lives,” Stanback said. She noted group travel and road trips are of keen interest to Gen Z.

“It's not necessarily about traveling and going out and going to restaurants and going to bars and clubs,” she added. “We actually see that a lot with younger generations. They’re kind of stepping away from that and really considering their well-being when they're taking time off.”

Where do most tourists go in summer?

Expedia’s Summer Outlook and Google Flights identified the same cities among their most searched summer 2024 destinations based on flights, though rankings varied by platform.

Top 5 domestic destinations 

◾ Orlando, Florida

◾ Los Angeles

◾ Las Vegas

Top 5 international destinations

◾ Cancun, Mexico

◾ Paris, host of the Summer Olympics

Allianz Partners found slightly different results in their analysis of “more than six million flight itineraries for trips between five and eight days in length for travel booked between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day.”

Instead of LA and Vegas, Allianz named Boston and Honolulu among this summer’s top five domestic destinations. Internationally, San Jose del Cabo, Mexico; Oranjestad, Aruba; and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, made Allianz’s top five, instead of Rome, Paris and Tokyo.

“I am expecting crowds to rival last summer's in popular overseas cities,” Expedia’s travel expert Melanie Fish said, noting how places like Barcelona and Venice are trying to curb overtourism. “They're trying fees and if that's not enough, they're going to have to go even further.”

How can I save on a trip?

Summer trips are already costly for many travelers. “Americans with household income under $100,000 accounted for nearly half (46%) of intended leisure travel spend in summer 2023,” according to Deloitte’s Facing travel’s future report from April.

Expedia’s Fish shared five tips for booking summer 2024 vacations:

◾ Bundle your trip. Booking airfare and a hotel at the same time can earn you deep discounts.

◾ Travel midweek or later in the summer if it's an option. You'll save money and save yourself from fighting crowds. 

◾ Fly early in the day … The early bird who takes the first flight of the day will typically get a better price and a lower chance of delays and cancellations.

◾ Book once, earn twice. You can stack rewards from your travel credit card (and) your airline.

◾ Just go. Don't pressure yourself to create the trip of a lifetime … Do it in a bite-sized chunk if possible. 

'Expensive in every way': What travelers should expect this summer

How far ahead should I book travel?

“The sweet spot is now,” Fish said. “We're within that 21- to 60-day pre-travel window to save around 15% on airfare, so now is the time to plan. That means ready, set, but maybe wait until August to actually go.”

She said travelers can save an average of $250 on international flights if they wait until the peak summer travel season passes. 

“It's 15% cheaper on average to fly domestically in August versus June, 30% cheaper to fly to Europe in late summer, and 55% cheaper to fly to Mexico and the Caribbean in August,” she said. “Of course, August is peak hurricane season , so that has something to do with that price dip.”

7 Scenic, But Affordable Summer Vacation Spots For 2024

You've been working hard, and summer vacation should not break the bank! Here are 7 ideas for your scenic and affordable getaway in 2024.

  • Don't break the bank on summer vacations! Hunt for deals & find cheap international destinations for under $1,000 per week.
  • From Greece to Indonesia, scenic & luxurious destinations like Zakynthos & Bali offer beauty without the high price tag.
  • Explore affordable gems in 2024 like Istanbul & Hội An for picturesque views, rich cultures, and budget-friendly travel experiences.

Gone are the days when week-long summer vacations would cost a fortune. A big part of travel in 2024 is hunting for the best deals and offers and unearthing cheap last-minute international vacation destinations for summer that give you the best value for your money. In fact, there are several international vacations you can take that will cost less than $1,000 per week !

Whether you're looking for a dreamy island getaway in the US or a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Europe or Asia, you'll be surprised by the number of cheap places to travel to in 2024 that are equally scenic and luxurious. Still not sure what destination to pick? Here are some ideas for scenic, but affordable summer vacations in 2024!

7 Affordable Towns In Western Europe I Loved Staying In During The Summer

7 zakynthos, greece, average cost to visit: $331 per week.

Yes! You can visit Greece without spending thousands of dollars! Zakynthos is a beautiful island in Western Greece that is famous for its crystal-clear waters, secluded beaches, and beautiful villages.

One of the many great things about Zakynthos is that you can enjoy the beautiful beaches for free.

In addition to swimming and sunbathing, you can also go snorkeling, sea kayaking, and even scuba diving. For more budget-friendly activities, you can take a hike to the top of Mount Skopos or visit the heavily photographed Shipwreck Beach for stunning views of the coast.

7 Cheap International Family Vacations This Summer

6 istanbul, turkey, average cost to visit: $882 per week.

For those who are seeking insanely picturesque views and an entirely new and rich culture to dive into this summer, Istanbul, Turkey is the perfect budget-friendly option. Because of the lira exchange rate in Turkey, you can travel here for a very low cost.

There is so much to see and do in Istanbul on both the European and Asian sides, so it's recommended to spend at least four to six days here to experience everything.

During the summer, beat the heat by visiting Istanbul's numerous beaches or one of the 13 museums in the city that are completely free to visit!

If you're planning to visit the mosques in Istanbul, read up on a guide on what to wear and everything that needs to be covered! The dress code varies for men, women, and children.

5 Seaside, Oregon

Average cost to visit: $929 per week.

Located on the West Coast of Northern Oregon, Seaside is a beautiful beachy town that's perfect for an affordable summer vacation.

With a three-mile-long beach, seaside promenade, and an adorable downtown, Seaside is never short of fun and affordable activities for all ages.

After swimming in the ocean and relaxing on the sand, rent a bike to explore the town's scenic promenade or go for an evening hike in and around the town to a lookout of the Pacific Ocean.

Seaside is also a next-door neighbor to Cannon Beach, so I highly recommend taking a day trip to see the famous Haystack Rock and enjoy its quirky downtown shops!

4 Bali, Indonesia

Average cost to visit: $516 per week.

When people think of Bali, turquoise waters, rice fields, and ancient temples are usually what come to mind. But did you know that this tropical island in Indonesia is also extremely budget-friendly to visit?

For an average of $500, travelers can stay in high-quality beach hotels and resorts in Bali for all budgets and enjoy every aspect of the area's rich and inviting culture without breaking the bank.

Bali is every nature lover's dream. The island is filled with beaches and beach clubs, waterfalls, hiking trails , ancient temples, and rice terraces that will keep you busy for days on end!

A great way to immerse yourself in the Balinese culture is to explore the cuisine. Food and drinks in Bali are very inexpensive and even most cooking classes are an average $20-30 per person.

17 Things You Should Know Before Booking A Trip To Bali

3 tallinn, estonia, average cost to visit: $712 per week.

Tallinn, Estonia, is Europe's most hidden gem. And not only for its breathtaking views and fairytale streets, but also because of its insanely cheap restaurants, museums, and transportation.

Estonia's capital city sits on the Baltic Sea and is considered one of the most beautiful cities in all of Europe .

Tallinn is also one of the most well-preserved medieval cities. Today, you can wander through the Old Town, walk through the old gates, and explore the museums that feature 17th and 18th-century artifacts. Tallinn also offers free walking tours of the city every day that are worth checking out!

Ferries from Tallinn to Helsinki, Finland are available every day and usually cost around $114.

7 European Vacations Under $1,000

2 hội an, vietnam, average cost to visit: $318 per week.

While Hội An is one of the most visited cities in Vietnam, it remains one of the cheapest places to travel in 2024 for summer.

This charming city is known for its ancient architecture, vibrant lantern-lit streets, and mouth-watering street food for an insanely low price.

The cheapest and most efficient way to see Hội An is by renting a bike. For less than $2 a day, you can go on a self-guided tour through the city, the rice fields, and the beaches.

A free activity that everyone can enjoy is the Hội An Lantern Festival , which takes place on the 14th of every lunar month.

1 Cape Town, South Africa

Average cost to visit: $686 per week.

Cape Town is a beloved city in South Africa that is both a bustling urban center and surrounded by breathtaking nature. Not to mention, it's an ideal place for Americans to visit during the summer on a budget.

The summer months in North America are actually the winter months down in Cape Town, which means fewer crowds, cool temperatures, and great value for low prices.

Plus, the winter in Cape Town means you'll have a great chance at whale watching due to the whale migration at this time of year, and the cooler temperatures make it the perfect season for outdoor activities like surfing, paragliding, and hiking the famous Table Mountain .

Low Carb No Carb

Low Carb No Carb

15 Summer Desserts You Had No Idea Are So Easy

Posted: May 17, 2024 | Last updated: May 17, 2024

<p>Lemon lovers, rejoice! These cupcakes are like a sunshine-filled bite of happiness. With fluffy meringue and tangy lemon curd, they’re the ultimate pick-me-up dessert. Whether you’re celebrating or just craving something tasty, these cupcakes are sure to hit the spot.<br><strong>Get the Recipe: </strong><a href="https://www.lowcarb-nocarb.com/sugar-free-meringue-lemon-curd-cupcakes/?utm_source=msn&utm_medium=page&utm_campaign=msn">Meringue Lemon Curd Cupcakes</a></p>

Find 15 summer desserts that are surprisingly easy to make. These desserts are perfect for those hot days when you want something sweet but quick. Each dessert is designed to be straightforward, requiring minimal effort and delivering maximum enjoyment. Whether you’re hosting a BBQ or just want a refreshing snack, these desserts are sure to impress without the hassle.

Rainbow Chia Pudding. Photo credit: Low Carb – No Carb.

Rainbow Chia Pudding

Vibrant layers await in this Rainbow Chia Pudding. It’s as much a feast for the eyes as it is a joy for the palate. Ideal for the health-conscious, it’s packed with nutrients while still providing that sweet kick. Perfect for a summer gathering, it proves that nutritious can also be fun and festive. Get the Recipe: Rainbow Chia Pudding

Wild Blueberries Yogurt Cake. Photo credit: Best Clean Eating.

Wild Blueberries Yogurt Cake

Think of a light, moist cake that’s perfect with your afternoon tea or coffee. Its simplicity belies its rich taste and texture, making it an understated go-to at any picnic or potluck. The bright notes of blueberries offer a refreshing bite on warm days. Quick to prepare, Wild Blueberries Yogurt Cake is guaranteed to go fast once you slice it up. Get the Recipe: Wild Blueberries Yogurt Cake

<p>If you’re after a sophisticated yet simple dessert, Dark Chocolate Almond Bark is your answer. It’s the kind of treat that looks impressive without requiring much effort. Perfect for last-minute guests or as a thoughtful homemade gift, it’s versatile and delicious. The rich flavors make it a favorite among adults and kids alike.<br><strong>Get the Recipe: </strong><a href="https://bestcleaneating.com/chocolate-almond-bark-recipe/?utm_source=msn&utm_medium=page&utm_campaign=">Dark Chocolate Almond Bark Recipe</a></p>

Dark Chocolate Almond Bark Recipe

For a sophisticated touch that’s ready in moments, opt for Dark Chocolate Almond Bark Recipe. Its simplicity in preparation is ideal for last-minute gatherings or when you need a quick treat. It’s an excellent source of antioxidants, thanks to the dark chocolate, and the almonds give it an irresistible crunch. Bring it to the beach or park for an instant hit. Get the Recipe: Dark Chocolate Almond Bark Recipe

Brioche French Toast Casserole. Photo credit: Best Clean Eating.

Brioche French Toast Casserole

Think of waking up to a breakfast that’s ready to indulge in after a simple overnight prep. With its golden crust and soft center, it’s a morning game changer. Brioche French Toast Casserole is ideal for lazy summer brunches, it allows for more time with guests and less in the kitchen. Plus, it fills the house with an aroma that’s sure to get everyone to the table fast. Get the Recipe: Brioche French Toast Casserole

<p>Crepes are the epitome of a fancy breakfast, but these Low Carb Crepes take it to the next level. They’re light, they’re elegant, and they’re surprisingly easy to make. Fill them with your favorite sweet or savory toppings, and you’ve got a breakfast that feels gourmet but is totally doable on a weekday. Whether you’re in the mood for something sweet or something savory, these crepes have got you covered. It’s a sophisticated way to start your day.<br><strong>Get the Recipe: </strong><a href="https://www.lowcarb-nocarb.com/low-carb-crepes/?utm_source=msn&utm_medium=page&utm_campaign=msn">Low Carb Crepes</a></p> <p>The post <a href="https://www.lowcarb-nocarb.com/rock-your-morning-routine/">15 Breakfasts That Will Rock Your Morning Routine</a> appeared first on <a href="https://www.lowcarb-nocarb.com">Low Carb No Carb</a>.</p>

Low Carb Crepes

Feather-light and satisfying, Low Carb Crepes prove that you can watch your diet and enjoy indulgent foods. They’re the perfect vessel for a variety of fillings, from fresh fruit to creamy cheese. Every bite feels gourmet yet they’re straightforward enough to whip up on any given morning. Enjoy them as a refreshing yet filling start to the day. Get the Recipe: Low Carb Crepes

Rhubarb Dump Cake. Photo credit: Best Clean Eating.

Rhubarb Dump Cake

This dish brings the tartness of rhubarb to center stage, complemented by a sweet, tender cake. Rhubarb Dump Cake is a fuss-free, requiring you to just “dump” the contents together. Ideal for those impromptu BBQs or family dinners, it’s a nostalgic nod to simple home cooking. Never underestimate the power of humble ingredients to create a really special dessert. Get the Recipe: Rhubarb Dump Cake

<p>Sprinkle some joy onto your holiday treats with my Gluten-Free Sprinkles Recipe! These vibrant and crunchy sprinkles are a game-changer for anyone with gluten sensitivities, allowing you to add a festive touch to your Christmas desserts without worry. Customize the colors to match your holiday theme and watch as these gluten-free sprinkles transform your cookies, cupcakes, and cakes into delightful works of edible art. Elevate your holiday baking with this easy-to-make recipe that brings a pop of color and joy to every Christmas treat!<br><strong>Get the Recipe: </strong><a href="https://bestcleaneating.com/gluten-free-sprinkles/?utm_source=msn&utm_medium=page&utm_campaign=msn">Gluten-Free Sprinkles Recipe</a></p> <p>The post <a href="https://www.lowcarb-nocarb.com/festive-desserts/">23 Blissful Christmas Desserts: Indulge Your Sweet Tooth</a> appeared first on <a href="https://www.lowcarb-nocarb.com">Low Carb No Carb</a>.</p>

Gluten Free Sprinkles Recipe

With a burst of color and none of the gluten, these Sprinkles liven up any dessert. They’re versatile and can adorn everything from cupcakes to sundaes. For those with dietary restrictions, this little touch allows full participation in the joy of dessert. Sprinkle them on for a crowd-pleasing finish to your favorite sweets. Get the Recipe: Gluten Free Sprinkles Recipe

Chia Coconut Pudding. Photo credit: Low Carb – No Carb.

Chia Coconut Pudding

A creamy coconut base and chia seeds come together for a pudding that’s both refreshing and filling. Chia Coconut Pudding is a cool escape on a hot day, ideal for those seeking a dairy-free option. Enjoy in the early morning or as an after-dinner dessert that won’t sit heavy. Plus, it’s a make-ahead marvel, setting you up for effortless entertaining. Get the Recipe: Chia Coconut Pudding

Sugar-Free Gummy Bears. Photo credit: Low Carb – No Carb.

Sugar-Free Gummy Bears

Candy lovers rejoice—you can nix the sugar but keep all the fun. Sugar-Free Gummy Bears are perfect for snacking or sharing, and without the sugar, you can feel good about reaching for more. They make a playful addition to any summer snack table or as a fun edible gift. Homemade means you’re in control of every ingredient that goes into these chewy treats. Get the Recipe: Sugar-Free Gummy Bears

Fruit Roll Ups. Photo credit: Low Carb – No Carb.

Fruit Roll Ups

Channel the nostalgia of childhood with this homemade Fruit Roll Ups. These are straightforward to make and even more fun to eat. Roll them up for a portable snack that’s perfect for picnics, hikes, or beach days. Natural sweetness shines here, and you’ll love the fresh taste without any additives. Get the Recipe: Fruit Roll Ups

<p>Peanut Butter Low Carb Cookies are chewy, nutty, and absolutely satisfying. They’re a great snack for anyone looking to reduce their carb intake but still indulge in a peanut butter treat. These cookies are so good, you won’t even miss the carbs.<br><strong>Get the Recipe: </strong><a href="https://www.lowcarb-nocarb.com/easy-peanut-butter-keto-cookies-recipe/?utm_source=msn&utm_medium=page&utm_campaign=msn">Peanut Butter Low Carb Cookies</a></p>

Peanut Butter Low Carb Cookies

With just the right balance of nutty and sweet, Peanut Butter Low Carb Cookies are a dream for those cutting back on carbs. They have a satisfying chew and rich taste that makes it hard to stop at one. A great companion to your coffee or tea, they’re so simple to make, you’ll find any excuse to bake a batch. Plus, they keep well, giving you a treat to look forward to all week long. Get the Recipe: Peanut Butter Low Carb Cookies

Strawberry Coffee Cake. Photo credit: Low Carb – No Carb.

Strawberry Coffee Cake

Juicy strawberries add a fresh, summery twist to this Strawberry Coffee Cake. It strikes a balance between moist cake and crumbly topping. Ideal for a leisurely breakfast with friends or a quick snack, it’s a versatile option that’s always welcome. Each slice is a reminder of sunny days and leisurely mornings. Get the Recipe: Strawberry Coffee Cake

Sugar-Free Sesame Brittle Bars. Photo credit: Low Carb – No Carb.

Sugar-Free Sesame Brittle Bars

Get your crunch on with Sugar-Free Sesame Brittle Bars that bring a toasted sesame goodness without the added sugar. They’re brittle, which means a satisfying snap with each piece. Perfect for those who enjoy a little punch to their treats. Carry them on the go or serve them up after meals for a light yet crunchy finish. Get the Recipe: Sugar-Free Sesame Brittle Bars

Meringue Lemon Curd Cupcakes

Meringue Lemon Curd Cupcakes offer a burst of lemon in a light, airy meringue. They’re just the pick-me-up for a hot day, especially with tea or as a dessert after a light meal. Enjoy how they look just as impressive as they taste. They’re actually easy to make, saving you time in the kitchen without sacrificing any charm. Get the Recipe: Meringue Lemon Curd Cupcakes

<p>Dive into the magic of our Sugar-Free Chocolate Magic Shell! This recipe delivers a magically hardened layer of chocolate goodness for all your late summer treats. Whether you’re dipping ice pops or drizzling it over dessert, it’s the ultimate topping you need.<br><strong>Get the Recipe: </strong><a href="https://www.lowcarb-nocarb.com/sugar-free-magic-shell-recipe/?utm_source=msn&utm_medium=page&utm_campaign=msn">Chocolate Magic Shell</a></p>

Sugar-Free Chocolate Magic Shell

Experience the joy of a crisp chocolate shell that hardens on contact with cool ice cream. It’s sugar-free, which means you can enjoy more of it without the worry. Perfect for dressing up scoops on a hot day or for adding a special touch to a homemade sundae bar. Sugar-Free Chocolate Magic Shell is a fun, interactive treat that both kids and adults will enjoy making and eating. Get the Recipe: Sugar-Free Chocolate Magic Shell

The post 15 Summer Desserts You Had No Idea Are So Easy appeared first on Low Carb No Carb .

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No-Churn Fudge Ice Cream

This simple-as-can-be recipe tastes just like a Fudgsicle!

no churn fudge ice cream in a loaf pan with bowls near by

In 1946, the Popsicle brand offered its first chocolate-based treat in the form of a fudge-y fan favorite: the Fudgsicle. 

For a scoopable twist, dig into our No-Churn Fudge Ice Cream, made with sweetened condensed milk, cocoa powder, cream, and brown sugar. It couldn’t be easier to make.

Ingredients

(14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

Dutch-processed cocoa powder, sifted

pure vanilla extract

kosher salt

heavy cream

packed light brown sugar

  • Step  2 Whisk heavy cream and brown sugar with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form, 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk 1/3 of whipped cream into cocoa mixture. Carefully fold in remaining cream, in 2 additions, until fully combined. Transfer to a 9- by 5-inch loaf pan. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze until firm, at least 8 hours.

.css-1shyvki:before{background-repeat:no-repeat;-webkit-background-size:contain;background-size:contain;content:'';height:0.819rem;margin-bottom:0;margin-right:-0.9375rem;width:3.125rem;}.loaded .css-1shyvki:before{background-image:url('/_assets/design-tokens/countryliving/static/images/arrow.svg');}@media(max-width: 48rem){.css-1shyvki:before{display:none;}}@media(min-width: 40.625rem){.css-1shyvki:before{display:inline-block;}} Celebrate Summer .css-unxkmx:before{background-repeat:no-repeat;-webkit-background-size:contain;background-size:contain;content:'';height:0.819rem;margin:0.7rem auto 0.9375rem;width:3.125rem;}.loaded .css-unxkmx:before{background-image:url('/_assets/design-tokens/countryliving/static/images/arrow.svg');}@media(max-width: 48rem){.css-unxkmx:before{display:block;}}@media(min-width: 40.625rem){.css-unxkmx:before{display:none;}}

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See the New Starbucks x Stanley Tumbler, Plus the Entire Summer 2024 Collection

The fresh lineup includes 14(!) new cups in tropical colors and pretty pastels.

preview for 10 Starbucks Facts Coffee Lovers Should Know

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The coffee empire debuted three new Summer-Berry Refreshers ® — the basic Summer-Berry Refreshers ® Beverage which features a "blend of raspberry, blueberry and blackberry flavors shaken with ice," the Summer-Berry Lemonade Starbucks Refreshers ® Beverage which has the added addition of lemonade and the Summer Skies Drink, a non-dairy drink that features Summer-Berry Refreshers creamy coconut milk over ice — all of which have raspberry-flavored boba pearls as well.

They also released their 2024 summer cups earlier this week , which features 14 new designs in tropical colors and pretty pastels.

With everything from a collapsible water bottle perfect for packing on the go-to, to the brand's standard tumbler in a new color with a matching keychain and a specialty sunset-themed Stanley, Starbucks' latest line certainly captures that fresh, sunny aesthetic June, July and August seems to exude.

And as dedicated Starbuckgoers know, "any Starbucks Rewards members who bring a clean, personal cup will earn 25 stars in addition to 10 cents off their beverage." This goes for customers who order in-store, on the Starbucks app or through the drive-thru.

Here's everything we know about the 14 new designs you can look forward to scoring, how much you can expect to pay and where you're most likely to find them.

light blue swirl cold cups and keychain

The Light Blue Swirl Cold Cups (16 oz, $19.95 and 24 oz, $22.95) have a pastel blue design with a sparkly sheen and straw with a crystallized design that conjure up images of the glistening waters reflecting the bright hot sun while you're sitting poolside. And the adorable matching keychain ($12.95) "adds fun seasonal flair to any key ring."

starbucks 2024 summer lime green collapsible water bottle

Keep hydrated wherever you go with the Lime Green Collapsible Water Bottle (24 oz, $12.95). It's easy to spot and easy to store — win-win!

starbucks 2024 summer lilac drink thru tumbler

Perfect for the coffee drinkers who are firmly team hot over iced, the glossy Lilac Drink Thru Tumbler (24 oz, $24.95) makes sipping some brew on a breezy morning, or watching the sunset and winding down with some tea in the evening, an experience to look forward to each day.

starbucks 2024 summer canna lily butterfly hot and cold cup

The Canna Lily Butterfly Hot & Cold Cup (24 oz, $27.95) celebrates the "beauty of nature" with a gorgeous butterfly design that uses shades of blue, purple and green on the cup, lid and straw.

starbucks 2024 summer sunset gradient starbucks x stanley quencher

Nothing quite beats a summer sunset (or even a sunrise, we're not picky!) and nothing quite beats this Sunset Gradient Starbucks x Stanley Quencher (40 oz, $54.95). This hefty cup has an ombre sunset design that starts with a light yellow at the top and quickly transforms to burnt orange then a reddish pink at the bottom, with a hot pink straw and handle.

starbucks 2024 summer pastel blue vacuum seal cold cup

The perfect vibe for those stunning summer blue skies, the Pastel Blue Vaccuum Seal Cold Cup (24 oz, $29.95) is designed to keep ice beverages "refreshingly cold so the summer sips last longer.

starbucks 2024 summer light green jeweled cold cup

The Light Green Jeweled Cold Cup (24 oz, $29.95) has a reflective, almost iridescent sheen that will absolutely shine when the sun hits its surface.

starbucks 2024 summer gray twist to sip water bottle

For those who like something simple and straightforward, the Gray Twist-to-Sip Water Bottle (20 oz, $32.95) keeps beverages ice-cold with little risk of spill thanks to the special twist-to-sip mechanism.

starbucks 2024 reusable dome lid cold cup set

It doesn't matter how hot the temperature gets this summer because you'll be cool as a cucumber with any of these icy cups from the Reusable Dome Lid Cold Cup Set (24 oz, $22.95) featuring five "super chill summer designs" with matching straws and lids.

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