A List of 20 Timeless Summer Vacations That Everyone Ought to Experience Once
There are summer vacations, and then there are summer vacations that defy description on a postcard.
Many vacationers already have their favorite annual destinations picked out, but there are also destinations that have earned a permanent place in travel lore and should be on everyone's list of must-sees. The timeless summer vacation ideas featured in Travel Leisure will get your creative juices flowing, challenge your way of thinking, and leave you with memories to share for years to come.
The world is so big that no matter how many countries you've visited or how many stamps you have in your passport, there is always somewhere new to go. Getaway plans for this summer include everything from road trips and train journeys to safaris.Professor Simon Watson
The beauty of Italy is unparalleled when it comes to inspiring feelings of love. You can enjoy the Mediterranean coast, the wines of Tuscany, the pizza of Pisa, and the history of Rome, Venice, and Milan. Considering how hot it can get in the middle of summer, it's best to schedule your trip for the beginning or end of the season. That way, you can enjoy a leisurely stroll through the parks and promenades without worrying about your third serving of gelato melting too quickly.Getty Images/Jeff Greenberg/UIG
In spite of the sweltering heat, the South has plenty of refreshing beverages like sweet tea and lemonade to offer. Start your trip in Charleston, South Carolina, where you can stroll along charming cobblestone streets, stroll along the oceanfront promenade, take photos in front of Rainbow Row, and indulge in some of the best Southern cuisine in the country. The next step is to get in a car, either one you own or one you rent, and head to Savannah. About two hours away, you'll find a coastal Georgia city with, yes, similar architecture and moss-covered live oaks, but also, if you like to keep busy on vacation, a bit more action (and ghost sightings).Illustration by Christian Kober & Robert Harding World Imagery & Getty Images
Medelln immerses visitors in art and culture, while Cartagena combines historical significance and coastal allure, making Colombia a top destination for curious tourists. Medelln, Colombia, is known as the "City of Eternal Spring," and its summers are filled with gin cocktails on patios, hikes in the nearby mountains, beautiful flowers in the surrounding rain forest, and a fantastic calf workout (the city is built on hills). When you visit the port city of Cartagena, you must spend some time in its classic Old Town, with its bright colonial buildings and cobblestone streets, which will transport you back to the 16th century. Additionally, the white sand beaches in the area are rarely crowded.Photograph by Eleanor Scriven / World Imagery / Getty Images
Summer is a great time to visit Paris if you haven't been before. Monaco is a great alternative to Paris if you're tired of strolling the Seine at sunset. This French microstate on the Mediterranean coast exudes a covert, international air. Monaco's seaside and hillside beauty will make you feel like you're in a James Bond movie as you try your luck at the casinos, eat at La Condamine market, and stroll the boardwalk.Photo by Vincenzo Lombardo/Getty Images
Morocco, in North Africa, is a fascinating destination due to its variety of cultures, long history, and interesting sights and sounds. A trip in the summer is both challenging and alluring, with opportunities to do everything from ride a camel into the sunset to get lost counting stars in the Sahara Desert. Just after the busy season has ended, so if you can stand the heat, it's a great time to take a vacation. That is, if you can call haggling over bathroom tiles and dodging speeding motorcycles "calm."Illustration by iStockphoto/Getty Images
Montego Bay, the capital of Saint James Parish, is just a short flight from the East Coast, so feel free to turn off the grid for a minute or two. Summertime brings scorching temperatures, but also some of the year's most beautiful sunrises, sunsets, and beach days. There are many beaches to choose from besides reading your latest beach read; some examples are Doctor's Cave Beach and Walter Fletcher Beach. And if you're a certified scuba diver or snorkeler, you can't miss the calm waters of Montego Bay Marine Park.iStock/Getty Images
Although summer is the busiest tourist season, it's also the most beautiful time to visit Machu Picchu, with clear blue skies, verdant grass, and breathtaking vistas. Spend a few days sight-seeing in Cusco at a leisurely pace to acclimate to the altitude before attempting the more strenuous Inca Trail or the more relaxing Inca Rail. This picturesque town in Peru has a lit-up hilltop, a lively market, and plenty of alpaca boutiques from which to purchase a warm sweater for the chilly evenings. Huayna Picchu, the mountain in front of Machu Picchu with the incredible views, should not be missed.Taveras, Caroll
Lima will feel like the holy grail of discoveries for foodies who prioritize dining over sight-seeing on vacation. The city is teeming with restaurants that have earned Michelin stars and offer affordable tasting menus. Summers in Peru's capital are warm and dry, with plenty of time to explore the city's many restaurants and other attractions, such as the many cats of Parque Kennedy or learn to surf on one of the city's many beaches. Warning: if you want to eat at Central or Astrid & Gaston, you should do so well in advance of your flight.Getty Pictures
Have a blast attempting to master surfing or getting a taste for it in Nicaragua. The waves here are great for both novices and seasoned surfers, making it one of the best spots to practice your hang 10. Located between the Pacific and the Caribbean, this Central American nation has more to offer than just breathtaking sunsets without the need for a filter. Be sure to visit Granada before you leave; the city is home to many tropical bird species and has a fascinating Spanish colonial past.Getty Images/Hoberman Collection/UIG
A trip to California's wine country is not only a fun and relaxing way to recover from the recent wildfires, but also a great way to help the state's economy recover. That is to say, both parties benefit equally. Napa Valley, located just north of San Francisco, is a popular tourist destination due to its year-round supply of sunshine and chef-recommended meals. Attending Festival Napa Valley in July will allow you to sample wines from dozens of wineries. Book a trip on the Napa Valley Wine Train for a more lighthearted approach to the afternoon.Littleny/Alamy
If you ask any native New Yorker, they will likely agree that the summer is not the ideal time to visit the city. Most New Yorkers, in the summer, seek any opportunity to get out of the city, escaping the oppressive heat trapped by the city's skyscrapers and the hordes of tourists who descend upon it. On the plus side, visitors to New York City during this time of year are more likely to adopt a "local's" perspective. If you have the time and patience (the heading-out-of-town traffic is no joke), you can seek out rooftop pools, eat small artisanal bites at Smorgasburg in Brooklyn, or make a break for the Hamptons.Thanks to the St. The Punta Mita Regis
Hop from one all-inclusive resort in Mexico to another for a week or so outside of the late summer, when hurricanes are most likely to strike. Hotels are cheaper, domestic one-way flights are cheaper, and there are fewer people at the beaches in July and August because of the extreme heat. Travelers can begin their trip in Mexico City to see the ruins, then fly to Los Cabos to sunbathe in style, then travel to Punta Mita for the seafood, then to Tulum to get their Instagram on, and finally to the beautiful Isla Mujeres to relax for a few nights.A. Sarah Nankin
South Africa has earned a special spot in the passports (and hearts) of many seasoned travelers. The weather — and the culture — in every region of the United States is unique. A summer vacation in South Africa promises to be full of robust and fascinating experiences, from the animal-dotted plains of Kruger National Park to hiking Table Mountain in Cape Town and experiencing the cliffs at the Cape of Good Hope and the wine country of Franschhoek. September is the end of the dry season, so if you can, plan your trip then to increase your chances of seeing elephants, leopards, and other animals on their way to watering holes.Nick Stangel
We could go on and on about the breathtaking landscapes and adventures that await you in our nation's national parks all summer long, from the Grand Canyon and Yosemite to Joshua Tree and Haleakal in Hawaii. Clear, bright skies will surround you during the day, while you can relax under the twinkling lights of the stars at night. It's possible to find free, unique, and even underwater parks.Illustrations by Getty Images
Many people, from young adults to the elderly, put a trip to Europe at the top of their bucket lists, and with good reason. Enjoying a croissant while gazing up at the Eiffel Tower in Paris, pedaling through the picturesque streets of Amsterdam, exploring the ruins of Ireland's castles, and filling up on pizza, pasta, and gelato in Italy are all fantastic vacation ideas. Europe is full of once-in-a-lifetime opportunities like pulling out your wildest antics to try to make the Buckingham Palace guards crack a smile. If you want to travel between countries on a budget and with little hassle, a Eurail pass is your best bet.Image Source: Getty Images
From St From St. Augustine, Florida, to Key West, Florida, the southernmost point of the United States, S Visit Florida at least once in your life; you won't regret it. Florida is home to a wide variety of tourist attractions, including amusement parks, beaches, swamps, the Everglades, Key Lime pie, the glitz and exclusivity of Palm Beach, the tropical island vibe of the Keys, and the vibrant sizzle of Miami.Illustrations by Getty Images
It's difficult to have a bad time on a cruise, which is why they're so popular. You can visit many different places while only having to unpack once and enjoy all-inclusive meals and a wide variety of on-board entertainment options by taking a cruise. Is there anything more satisfying than a summer break? And upstarts like Virgin Voyages are leading the way to even greater heights for the sector. Consider a European river cruise for a more refined and personal take on the cruising experience.Those Pictures Were Taken By Getty Images
Don your best cowboy garb and get ready for an exciting journey through the American frontier. In states like Colorado and Nevada, you can feel as free as you want to thanks to the region's rich history, vast open spaces, and centuries-old cowboy legends. Take a trip down Nevada's Electric Highway, where you can recharge your battery at any of the many strategically placed EV charging stations, including Tesla Superchargers. Gold Rush ghost towns and cutting-edge technology make this route feel both futuristic and retro.Images by Getty
The Pacific Coast Highway, or State Route 1 on the West Coast of the United States, is one of the most beautiful stretches of roadway in the United States, if not the entire world. Schedule your activities around the beautiful sunsets and numerous photo opportunities. Currently, I'm not in road trip mode. Amtrak's Coast Starlight service travels from Los Angeles to Seattle, stopping in cities like Santa Barbara, San Francisco, and Portland en route to the Pacific Northwest.
You've seen the pictures on Instagram; now actually visit Bali, Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia. Book an ethical elephant encounter (which never includes riding) and take a cooking class all without breaking the bank. Food, lodging, activities, and tours are all known to be much more affordable in the region than in the West.
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