10 Summer Getaways for Every Kind of Traveler

Summer Getaways for Every Kind of Traveler

The sunlight stretches past 8 p.m., the ice cream trucks jingle their aimless melodies, and all the normals have fled the city for the Hamptons.

It must be summer in New York. That throbbing urge to pack your bags and vamoose has returned with the rising mercury.

But where to go?

Fret not, wanderlusters – I’ve curated 10 summer escape hatches to quell your warm weather whims, no matter your travel tribe. From family frolics to romantic rendezvous, consider this your official summer getaway guide.

Cape Cod, Massachusetts (Best for Families)

Where: New England’s iconic crooked arm dangles out into the Atlantic, brushed by craggy cliffs, salt-sprayed beaches, and the brine of cracked-open lobsters. The classic summer colony has been drawing families for generations with its nautical charm and all-American idylls.

Do: Lighthearted pursuits await – sailing regattas, cranberry bog tours, lakeside picnics, and scouring colonial towns like Sandwich for quirky antiques. Beach baby or not, Craigville, Coast Guard, and West Dennis beckon with their buttery sands and rolling dunes. For kitschy kicks, catch a summer flick at the preserved Wellfleet Drive-In theater.

Stay: Tuck the kids into the wood-paneled walls of a classic Cape Cod rental cottage or inn, like the homey Lamb and Lion Inn ($200-$400/night) in Barnstable. Wrentham’s family-run Southcote Inn ($90-$200) offers kitchenette cottages, lawn games and an outdoor pool.

Bragging Rights: You picnicked alongside seals at Maguire Landing, sunned at the same beaches as the Kennedys, and brushed up on your maritime history at the Whydah Pirate Museum.

Reykjavik, Iceland (Best for Nightlife & Festivals)

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Where: The capital of the “Land of Fire and Ice” beats with the electric pulse of a thumping Nordic nightlife scene and quirky summer festivals under the atmospheric glow of the midnight sun.

Do: In June, the hubbub of the Secret Solstice festival takes over Reykjavik with a head-spinning lineup of electronic acts and rowdy crowd antics like partying inside a glacier. Daytime calls for Golden Circle explorations – glaciers, geysers, and fjords around the capital. Don’t miss wandering the colorful streets of the city center for artisan boutiques and avant-garde restaurants.

Stay: The sleek, eco-conscious Alda Hotel hits all the design-forward notes ($300-$500/night). Prefer historical digs? The Skuggi Hotel ($150-$300/night), once a WWII military quarters, fuses vintage bones with au courant amenities.

Bragging Rights: You frolicked in the surreal Blue Lagoon hot springs by night under the summer’s never-setting sun. Count the resulting photos among your funkiest souvenirs.

Portuguese Riviera, Portugal (Best for Romance)

Where: Sprawling along the rugged Estoril Coast, this dreamy seaside haunt earns its nickname as the Portuguese Riviera with sherbet-colored villas, charming fishing villages, and secluded cover-worthy beaches. Hello, lovers’ lair.

Do: Get footloose in Cascais, a seaside village combining romantic ruin hikes, museum meanderings, and sips of vinho verde at clifftop restaurants. Lounge on the soft sands of Conceição and Aberta beaches or charter a private boat cruise along the coast. Splurge on the regal High Tea at the swoon-worthy Palácio Estoril hotel.

Stay: The aristocratic Tivoli Palácio de Seteais ($300-$500/night), anchored in the foothills of Sintra’s UNESCO-listed center, evokes Downton Abbey vibes with its romantic facade and manicured grounds. Or rewind to the 1930s glamour of the Hotel Palacio ($250-$400/night) facing the Estoril beach.

Bragging Rights: You channeled your inner European royal, sipping sangria in the shadow of historic estates and strolling cobblestone streets hand-in-hand.

San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua (Best for Adventure)

Where: Sure, Cabo and Costa Rica get all the glory. But the fiery coastal town of San Juan Del Sur on Nicaragua’s Pacific Emerald Coast has that rugged, not-yet-tamed spirit. Surfers rejoice.

Do: Welcome to waterfall chasing and volcano hiking nirvana. Brave the dramatic rock cliff jump into the picture-perfect Playa el Coco pool, then catch a swell at Playa Maderas surf break. Rise early for epic bird’s-eye views by hiking up Cerro de la Cruz hill and continue your volcano assault at Masaya or Mombacho Volcano Nature Reserve.

Stay: Splurge on the exquisite eco-lodges like Mukul Beach Golf & Spa ($800-$1500/night) and be lulled by the crashing Pacific waves from your clifftop villa. On a tighter budget, surfer-chic digs like the cozy Nica Vida ($75-$100/night) place you in the heart of San Juan’s rambunctious nightlife scene.

Bragging Rights: “Yeah, I surfed that crazy double overhead beach break in Nicaragua…and lived to talk about it.” Also, you can now say you’ve scaled an active volcano.

Vail, Colorado (Best for Wellness)

Where: Colorado’s fresh alpine air, endless aspen forests, and wildflower-strewn landscape simply begs for a recharge of your mental and physical batteries.

Do: Take a deep breath and exhale – you’re in one of America’s most iconic outdoor sanctuaries. Explore the jagged Rocky Mountain trails on foot or horseback, test your mettle rock climbing, mountain biking or white water rafting the Colorado River. Or opt for mountain serenity like forest bathing walks, full moon mountaintop yoga sessions, and meditating before a campfire under the starry night sky.

Stay: The eco-luxe Vail Wilderness Resort ($215-$350/night) provides a seamless launchpad into your alpine adventures with its prime location perched along the Gore Creek. Or relax at the Sonnenalp ($300 – $550/night), channeling an authentic Bavarian wellness retreat with its saunas, steam caves and heated outdoor pool.

Bragging Rights: You’ve leveled up your athleticism – or just mastered the art of doing absolutely nothing in paradisiacal mountain environs.

Sitges, Spain (Best for Beaches)

Llafranc Beach Spain

Where: This charming Spanish oasis, tucked just 30 miles southwest of Barcelona, gilds the sun-drenched Costa Dorada coastline with a beachside beauty that makes it the Catalan capital’s ultimate beach escape.

Do: Stake your claim to one of Sitges’ 17 sun-worshipper approved beaches, be it the wide sandy sweeps of Les Botigues and Balmins, glamorous St. Sebastia beach with its seaside Palm-fringed promenades, or the more secluded, hilly coves. Recover from your lazy beach days by exploring the Old Town’s lantern-lit alleyways, browsing the boutique shops, and savoring tapas feasts paired with local Penedès wines.

Stay: The whitewashed villa vibes of the elegant Hotel Romantic ($200-$400/night) set the tone with their sun-dappled outdoor pools and greenery-shrouded patios. Or embrace your inner Gaudi fanatic at the Hotel Calipolis ($150-$300/night) with its fanciful carved ceilings and bursts of Mediterranean tile work.

Bragging Rights: You’ve basked on some of Spain’s finest seaside strands and soaked up all that laid back Catalan beachside living.

Budapest, Hungary (Best for History & Culture)

Where: One of Europe’s most sparkling jewels, Budapest straddles the banks of the mighty Danube and oozes Old World grandiosity with its majestic architecture, thriving cafe culture, and thermal bathhouse rituals.

Do: Give your sightseeing legs a workout tramping across the iconic Chain Bridge to gawk at the Neo-Gothic turrets of the Buda Castle District, pose before the monumental Parliament Building, and ascend to the turreted Fisherman’s Bastion for sublime panoramas. Embrace Budapest’s distinctive cafe culture at opulent wood-carved haunts like Szabó Ervin Library’s Renaissance Reading Room, all while refueling on potent Turkish coffee and flaky strudel. Cap off your nights with a rejuvenating soak in one of the city’s illustrious Turkish bathhouses.

Stay: The art nouveau marvel of the New York Palace ($300-$600/night) drips with Brutalist grandeur and provides a sumptuous home base with its indoor pool amidst original stained glass and stone archways. The bohemian-chic Brody House ($120-$250/night), housed in a former Baroness residence, blends modern Hungarian design with historical noble home elements like vaulted cellars and stucco ceilings.

Bragging Rights: You savored goulash and Tokaji wine in Budapest’s famed ruin bar district, an abandoned apartment complex turned quirky nightlife hotspot. Feeling extra smug? Brag that you endured the intense heat of Budapest’s famed Széchenyi Thermal Bath’s sauna ritual.

Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts (Best for Small-Town Charm)

Where: This idyllic Atlantic isle, located just off Cape Cod, epitomizes summers in coastal New England with its charming gingerbread cottages, working harbors, and low-key living. Seafaring and celebrity sightings guaranteed.

Do: Cycle along the seabird-dotted shoreline paths, picnic among the sandy dunes and salty beach rose brambles, and venture out to spot celebs like the Obamas or Larry David on the island’s bucolic Main Streets. Explore the Aquinnah Cliffs, a dramatic 180-foot outcropping of red clay cliffs and boulder beaches, kayak the peaceful kettle ponds, or shop the quaint gingerbread cottages in Oak Bluffs for antiques and saltwater taffy.

Stay: The iconic Ocean View Hotel in Oak Bluffs ($400-$1000/night) offers up postcard-worthy porches, a wraparound grand veranda, and easy access to the bustling harbor scene. Or spread out in one of the classic shingled cottages offered through rental agencies like Sandpiper Rentals ($2,000-$5,000/week).

Bragging Rights: “You’re soaking in the same salty waves the Kennedys used to.” Perhaps you even spotted Bill Murray bartending for laughs.

Molokai, Hawaii (Best for Unplugging)

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Where: While Maui and Honolulu lure throngs of tourists, the lesser-visited isle of Molokai promises a refreshingly un-crowded Hawaiian escape to truly disconnect amid pristine nature and authentic native culture.

Do: Reset your internal rhythm while indulging in simple pleasures – sunbaking on empty stretches of beach (hello Papohaku), diving into the turquoise Kepuhi beach cove, exploring the towering sea cliffs of Halawa Valley by horseback or mule ride. And even the mere 10% tourist group of Molokai peel off by sunset, leaving you to relish oceanfront sunsets in blissful serenity.

Stay: The beachfront cottages of Molokai Shores ($350-450/night) pair contemporary amenities with prime oceanfront locations on Kaunakakai’s 3-mile stretch of white powder sand. For a more rugged Hawaiian stay, book one of the Aqua Hospitality beach cottage rentals ($150-$300/night) in Kepuhi.

Bragging Rights: You can humbly report having the remote, idyllic island almost entirely to yourself.

Juneau, Alaska (Best for Cruises)

Where: Alaska’s glacially-carved capital exudes a rugged, larger-than-life frontier spirit and serves as the prime departure point for Inside Passage and Glacier Bay cruises that sail alongside ice-blue glaciers, through kettle-carved fjords, and into whale-dense channels.

Do: Lace up your hiking boots for alpine adventures in the Tongass National Forest, gold panning at Juneau’s old mining camps, and glacier hiking along the Mendenhall Glacier trail. In town, learn about the region’s rich indigenous culture through attractions like the Juneau-Douglas City Museum. Summer evening entertainment spotlights the bustling sidewalk scene with street performers, open-air markets, and a rowdy cruise ship party vibe.

Stay: Stay downtown at the rustic-chic Silverbow Inn ($200-$400/night) and revel in the Alaskan lodge ambiance of pine furnishings, mounted wildlife, and cocktails beside the lobby’s river rock fireplace. Or splurge on the lavish Pearson’s Pond Luxury Inn and Adventure Spa ($500-$800/night), tucked away on an isolated salmon spawning lake yet offering posh amenities like a full-service spa.

Bragging Rights: Not only did you cruise the famed Inside Passage, but you also helicoptered onto a glacier to go dog-sledding and ice-trekking. Now that’s an Alaskan brag.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the best family destinations on this list?

The family-friendly summer getaways highlighted include classic New England destinations like Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard, known for their charming beach towns, kid-friendly activities, and nostalgic summer vibes.

Which destinations are ideal for adventure travel?

For adrenaline-fueled adventures, consider the rugged surf town of San Juan del Sur in Nicaragua for waterfall rappelling and volcano hiking, or Juneau, Alaska for glacier trekking and heli-adventures. Vail, Colorado also offers an array of outdoorsy pursuits like rock climbing and mountain biking.

Where should I go for a romantic summer getaway?

Topping the list for romantic summer escapes is Portugal’s idyllic Riviera region with its seaside castles and elegant retreats. Reykjavik, Iceland and its mesmerizing summer nightlife under the midnight sun could also spark some adventure for couples.

Are any of these destinations ideal for unplugging and relaxation?

Yes, the pristine Hawaiian island of Molokai offers a chance to truly unwind in nature, away from crowds. The beach towns of Portugal’s Riviera and Spain’s Sitges also provide ample opportunity to simply unwind seaside.

Which destination has the best nightlife and festivals?

For non-stop nightlife and an exhilarating festival scene, head to the Icelandic capital of Reykjavik, which truly comes alive in summer with events like the raucous Secret Solstice festival and a pulsing club and bar culture under the midnight sun.

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