Discover the Idyllic Summer Getaways: Central Coast, San Diego, Vancouver, Vancouver Island, Yosemite, and Costa Rica

2023-10-03 06:05:02 - Drany Macley Drany Macley, the senior editor of, brings extensive journalism background and over eight years of experience in travel writing and editing to the site, offering practical insights and first-hand knowledge through articles on innovative hotels, backed by a BA in Journalism from Ithaca College.

Are you dreaming of the perfect summer getaway? Look no further, because we've got the ultimate list of the best summer vacation spots just for you! From the breathtaking Central Coast of California to the sunny shores of San Diego, and the stunning beauty of Vancouver and Vancouver Island in British Columbia, all the way to the majestic wonders of Yosemite in California and the tropical paradise of Costa Rica - we've handpicked the most incredible destinations to make this summer your most memorable one yet. Get ready to embark on an unforgettable journey and discover your own personal slice of paradise.

Central Coast, California

Best for: A relaxing California beach getaway 

Why we love it: The Central Coast of California, situated between Los Angeles and San Francisco, offers charming beach towns like Cayucos, Cambria, and Avila Beach, where you can enjoy a serene small-town experience by the Pacific Ocean. In Cayucos, you can spend your days at a beautiful beach with vibrant tide pools, and explore the locally-owned shops and restaurants on Ocean Avenue. Don't miss out on visiting the Brown Butter Cookie Company for delicious treats and Hidden Kitchen for a scrumptious gluten-free breakfast.

If you're interested in wildlife, you're in luck. The Central Coast is home to ten of the top 100 spots in California for whale watching along the Whale Trail. You can catch a glimpse of gray whales in May and humpback whales from August to September. Another must-see attraction is the Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery in San Simeon, which is the only elephant seal rookery in the world that's open to the public every day. And if you're up for kayaking, the Morro Bay Estuary is a great spot to encounter playful otters. Families with kids will love the Pismo Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove, while older children can explore Cal Poly and the college town of San Luis Obispo. For an extraordinary experience, consider a seaweed foraging adventure with Marley Family Seaweeds, where you can learn about different types of seaweed, how to harvest them sustainably, and even cook fresh ramen on the beach.

Where to stay: If you want to be just steps away from the beach, the Pacific Motel in Cayucos is the perfect choice. It offers stylish and comfortable accommodations with a hip coastal vibe. Enjoy amenities like Parachute linens and robes, complimentary Linus bikes, and coffee in the morning. In the evening, unwind by the fire pits or play a game of ping pong.

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The Broadmoor is a sprawling resort that offers a variety of activities such as falconry lessons, cattle drives, and ziplining. With its expansive 5,000-acre property, you'll have plenty of options for adventure and relaxation.

San Diego, California

Best for: A vibrant California beach vacation 

Why we love it: San Diego is a fantastic destination for those seeking a combination of sandy beaches and exciting urban experiences. With its year-round warm temperatures, the city offers 70 miles of stunning coastline that caters to everyone, especially families. At La Jolla Shores, little kids can explore tide pools and enjoy gentle waves, while older children can take surf lessons with Surf Diva. If you're a fan of wildlife, make sure to visit Shell Beach to see the seals and sea lions. And of course, no trip to San Diego is complete without a visit to the world-renowned San Diego Zoo, where you can marvel at giant pandas and experience a safari park.

Balboa Park is another must-visit destination with its wide array of museums. The new Comic Con Museum is particularly popular with people of all ages due to its playful pop culture exhibits and programs that allow kids to bring their favorite characters to life. When it comes to dining, San Diego has something for everyone. Explore Little Italy's Farmer's Market with your little ones, savor delicious tacos on the outdoor patio of Puesto La Jolla or Coasterra, or indulge in Asian-inspired cuisine with your teens at Animae. And if you're looking for some entertainment, catch a theater performance at La Jolla Playhouse, which has produced multiple Broadway plays and musicals.

Where to stay: If you want to be right by the ocean, Shore House at The Del is the perfect choice. Located in Coronado, this new beach house hotel offers one to three-bedroom units with indoor-outdoor lounge areas and fire pits. For a central location, Pendry San Diego in the Gaslamp Quarter is a modern and stylish hotel that puts you close to restaurants and shopping. Don't miss out on their fabulous rooftop with a pool, ample lounge spaces, lively music, and a secluded spa.

New York Skyline at Sunset

Take a trip to New York City with your kids and explore iconic landmarks like Washington Square Park, which is just one of the many scenic stops you can make during your action-packed summer trip to the Big Apple. The city offers a multitude of attractions and activities for visitors of all ages.

Vancouver and Vancouver Island, British Columbia

Best for: Adventure-seeking explorers in the Pacific Northwest

Why we love it: Vancouver and Vancouver Island in British Columbia are hidden gems in the Pacific Northwest, perfect for those who crave adventure and want to explore lesser-known destinations. Vancouver is a diverse and stunning city that blends First Nations culture with Asian influences. The city is also surrounded by breathtaking coastal wilderness. Encourage your kids to step out of their comfort zones and fully immerse themselves in this unique experience.

Start by indulging in the city's exciting food scene, which offers everything from Asian street food at the Richmond Night Market to delicious donuts at the Granville Market. Visit Stanley Park, where you can ride bikes past beautiful totem poles, or venture to Grouse Mountain for hiking trails and a grizzly bear refuge. For an unforgettable experience, take a floatplane to Vancouver Island and explore its rugged coastlines and temperate forests. Tofino, known as the "surf capital" of Canada, offers fantastic opportunities for surfing.

Where to stay: The Fairmont Waterfront in Vancouver provides stunning views of the harbor and mountains, along with a rooftop pool. If you're looking for a splurge, Nimmo Bay Resort in the Great Bear Rainforest offers guided coastal safari tours, heli-fishing, and intertidal cabins right on the water.

landscape view of Lewa Wilderness

Enjoy a unique experience at Lewa Wilderness Lodge, located at the edge of the protected Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. Here, you'll feel like you have the African bush all to yourself, surrounded by breathtaking scenery and abundant wildlife.

Yosemite, California

Best for: Breathtaking scenery and national park adventures

Why we love it: Yosemite National Park offers unparalleled beauty and endless opportunities for exploration. Whether you're driving through the park's scenic roads or marveling at iconic landmarks like Half Dome and El Capitan, the views will leave you in awe. There are countless ways to experience the unique environments of Yosemite. Take your family on waterfall hikes in the valley, scramble up the fun Pothole Dome, enjoy swims and picnics at Dog Lake, or wander through the mesmerizing giant sequoias of Tuolumne Grove. For those seeking a challenge, embark on a day hike deep into the woods and up to the top of Clouds Rest, which stands at an impressive 9,931 feet. The Yosemite Guide provides detailed information on the best hikes and attractions in the park.

Where to stay: Immerse yourself in nature by staying at Curry Village in Yosemite Valley. This accommodation option offers cozy tent cabins inside the park. If you prefer a gateway town experience, consider Autocamp in Mariposa. They provide fully equipped tents, cabins, and airstreams with private campfires. Additionally, there are several charming cottage and A-frame home rentals available near the park through Airbnb.

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Chatham Bars Inn offers a unique experience with its partnership with the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy. You can join tours of great-white shark receivers, also known as shark-watching stations, and visit shark centers that provide educational insights into these magnificent creatures.

Costa Rica

Best for: Your first international family adventure 

Why we love it: Costa Rica is an incredible destination for families embarking on their first international adventure. Unlike the typical all-inclusive resorts, the country offers intimate and eco-focused properties like those in the Cayuga Collection. These properties take you off the beaten path, allowing you to explore local communities and marvel at the country's natural beauty. This is especially vibrant during the green summer season. Arenas Del Mar in Manuel Antonio is a fantastic hotel that situates you in the rainforest while providing direct access to a beautiful beach and two pools. You can also explore Manuel Antonio National Park right at your doorstep. Another great option is Senda Monteverde, located in Monteverde. This hotel serves as a perfect base for exploring the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, where you can enjoy thrilling zip-line tours, guided climbs through giant trees, and spot wildlife from treetop suspension bridges. For families looking to experience a hip local town, Hotel Aguas Claras in Puerto Viejo is the ideal choice, offering residential-style casitas and a picturesque beach on the vibrant Caribbean coast. As a bonus, all of these hotels offer Spanish lessons and back-of-the-house sustainability tours as part of their regular free programming.

Where to stay: If you're traveling with family, Senda Monteverde offers modern two-bedroom suites that provide plenty of space. Arenas Del Mar offers oceanfront suites, and Hotel Aguas Claras has a beautiful two-story, five-room house just steps from the beach.

Yosemite Falls

Make sure to include a visit to Yosemite Falls during your trip to Yosemite National Park. It's the perfect backdrop for family hikes, swimming, and picnics amidst the breathtaking natural scenery.


As the summer season approaches, it's time to start planning for that perfect vacation spot. If you're seeking a mix of stunning coastal beauty and vibrant city life, look no further than the Central Coast of California or San Diego. Alternatively, embark on a journey to witness the majestic natural wonders of Yosemite National Park. For those yearning for an international adventure, Vancouver and Vancouver Island in British Columbia offer both breathtaking landscapes and a thriving cultural scene. And if you're dreaming of a tropical escape, Costa Rica promises lush rainforests, pristine beaches, and exhilarating wildlife encounters. Whichever destination you choose, these top summer vacation spots will undoubtedly create memories to last a lifetime. So pack your bags, get ready for an unforgettable experience, and let the summer adventures begin!

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