Nothing beats the anticipation of a summer trip.
Perhaps it harkens back to grade school and the promise of a weeklong sojourn on your parents’ dime, or maybe it’s just the prospect of a reprieve, however brief, from the monotony of day-to-day life, but even now summer is all but universally considered the best season for a recess.
Statistically, that’s a fact. But, because you’ve probably at some point gone toe-to-toe with a coworker (or five) on the vacation calendar for the same week in July, and because you’re likely no stranger to the trails and tribulations that come with booking summer airfare, we won’t bore you with numbers.
Instead, we tapped a few of the most seasoned travel writers we know for their top picks — from best places to visit this summer to travel gear and relevant booking details. Ya know, to help you get inspired.
Below are the ten best places to visit this summer for every kind of traveler, according to our most trusted correspondents. Now go forth and vacation.
There’s an unmistakable energy in Bangkok. You feel it as soon as you take your first step out of the airport and enter its humid environs. The food, the tuk tuks, the noise, the crowds, the grand architecture…it leaves its mark. And whether it’s your first visit or your tenth, you’ll feel the pull to return once more and do it all over again. Bangkok is perfect for the solo traveler in particular, as it’s easy to either get lost amid the action or connect with other solo travelers along the way. Grab a bowl of noodles from a street cart, hail that tuk tuk and dive in.
The Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok at Chao Phraya River is a swanky choice that opened in December 2020. Nestled against the banks of the Chao Phraya River, the nine-acre property is an enormous urban resort and an escape from the madness of the city, while still placing you in an easy locale for jumping off and exploring its major sites and attractions. The property’s large pool deck is a prime spot for relaxation, as its comprehensive wellness center and spa.
Street food is a way of life in Bangkok. It’s also the solo traveler’s idyll. When it seems like there’s a paralyzing range of options, simply follow the crowds to find a popular cart cooking up something that smells interesting, and go for it. Ban Tad Thong and Chatuchak Market are two bustling hubs with more options than you’ll ever work through. For an imaginative, modern riff on classic Thai flavors in a formal dining setting, visit Lahnyai and feast on a dozen-course tasting menu. Back at the Four Seasons, grab a cocktail at BKK Social Club and dine at one of its many highly touted offerings, including the Michelin-starred Cantonese restaurant Yu Ting Yuan, or Riva del Fiume, with wood-fired pizza, handmade pastas and seasonal Italian fare.
Wat Pho, known for its enormous reclining Buddha, headlines the list of core sightseeing attractions in Thailand’s capital. It’s adjacent to the Grand Palace, which is well known for its blindingly ornate aesthetic, while the brightly colored stupas or spires of Wat Arun are right across the river. If that’s all of the tourist to-dos you accomplish, you’ve done your job, but if you’re interested in further explorations, there are floating markets, train markets, weekend markets and flower markets, there’s the Golden Mount and there’s Wat Phra Kaew, or the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, the National Museum, the Jim Thompson House Museum and a burgeoning collection of art galleries.
Take it from a pro: Buyer beware in the Patpong district, friends, whatever it is you may be looking for.
The multi-functional Grab app remains your best ride-hailing, do-it-all friend in this part of the world.
It’s hot, it’s humid, it’s sunny, you’ve been walking around for hours. A portable, foldable, USB-charged handheld fan is a lifesaver.
Santa Monica is Los Angeles’s capital of seaside family fun with sandy beaches, miles of walking/biking/rollerblading paths, parks, playgrounds and ample PG entertainment. Picture-perfect summer weather calls for embracing the SoCal lifestyle of days spent outdoors and singing along to twilight concerts.
You’ve got all the nostalgia of the Santa Monica Pier — that means Ferris wheel rides and concession stand eats. It’s also home to the Heal the Bay Aquarium. Need to get the younger children out of the sun for a little while? Head to the Cayton Children’s Museum for an afternoon full of immersive play.
Located mere feet from the waves, Fairmont Miramar – Hotel & Bungalows has a lot to offer families in the summer — starting with 31 spacious bungalows, poolside movie nights, a serviced beach club and complimentary cruiser bikes.
I find the hotel concierge (provided it’s a family-friendly property) is one of the best resources for kids’ activities in any given city and they’re always happy to book tickets or passes ahead of your stay.
I’m always on the hunt for a great travel stroller. The Compact Stroller from Colugo ticks all the boxes — it’s lightweight, folds easily and comes with a backpack carry case.
Considering how towns like Aspen and Vail are basically catnip for honeymooners, it’s no surprise that Colorado is an all-seasons wonderland for couples. But beyond the well-trod mountain towns, Snowmass is a comparatively quieter gem, nestled in the mountains a few miles from Aspen, that wafts of romance at every turn. A break from the crowds — and expenses — of ritzy nearby towns, Snowmass has the perfect blend of quaint urban culture, soaring peaks, adrenaline-pumping activities, cozy cuisine and hot tubs aplenty.
As burly as it sounds, there’s something also inherently romantic about sharing a bowl of old fashioned beef stew with your boo — and you can do exactly that as you canoodle at The Stew Pot, the oldest restaurant in town, known for its hearty and heartwarming comfort food. For something a smidge more upscale, Il Poggio Ristorante is another community cornerstone that exudes romance with its wine cellar-like decor, making it the perfect place to share a plate of linguini, Lady and the Tramp-style.
With its copious fire pits and outdoor hot tub the size of a swimming pool, it doesn’t get much comfier than the Limelight Hotel Snowmass, a sleek and modern abode in the recently finished Snowmass Base Village, where you’ll be in close proximity to shops, eateries and outdoor activities like a climbing wall and movie screenings. The hotel also has a live music lounge and an enormous hot tub, and guests are able to order cocktails, beer and wine in to-go cups from the lobby bar to accompany them.
Steps from the Limelight Hotel, a gondola whisks couples up the mountain to a whole world of summery fun. Whether you’re in the mood for a simple scenic gondola ride (particularly nice at sunset), or something more action-packed — like disc golf, mountain biking, hiking or fly-fishing — the mountain has it all. Be sure to check out the Alpine coaster, a roller coaster-like track through the forest that allows riders to control their own speed on individual cars.
For guided excursions, like white water rafting the Colorado River or sightseeing tours of the Maroon Bells (the most photographed peaks in North America!), Blazing Adventures is a local company that offers both custom and group trips. Or for something extra romantic, it doesn’t get more swoon-worthy than a hosted sunset dinner atop Snowmass Mountain.
It may be summer in Colorado, but you’d be wise to pack for all seasons. That means sunscreen and sunglasses, warm layers for cozying up by a fire pit after sunset, bathing suits for the hot tub and a rain jacket for those unpredictable wet afternoons that are apt to happen at higher altitudes.
Tokyo is my favorite place on the planet, and its sensational culinary culture is at the heart of my unabashed love. You can walk into a convenience store and spend $2 on an excellent onigiri for a snack on the run, or you can browse a fruit specialty shop to pick out a $200 muskmelon. Either is an excellent decision. Train stations, vending machines and department stores offer boundless avenues of eating exploration before even diving into the endless array of tiny counters specializing in the precise execution of one particular dish or delicacy or another.
The Park Hyatt Tokyo is an iconic property in Shinjuku, putting you right into the thick of the action. Rooms feature understated Japanese décor, while amenities include a multistory wellness center including a large, atrium-style indoor pool. It doesn’t hurt that the property is home to the famed New York Bar, which you’ll recognize from Lost in Translation. The 52nd-story bar offers floor-to-ceiling window views of the city, a spectacular collection of prized Japanese whisky and live jazz music. Best of all, hotel guests skip the line at the bar, as well as its cover charge, with priority access. Be sure to start your day, and begin your culinary adventuring, with a can’t miss Japanese set breakfast.
Ramen is my first, second and third desire in Tokyo. Start at Fuunji, a bustling counter spot known for its tsukemen, or dipping style ramen. Ramen Takahashi, Kuroobi, Afuri and Mutekiya are all recommended, depending on where you are. After a night of bar hopping in Golden Gai, Nagi Ramen is a staple late night offering. Ginza Hachigou is six-seat Michelin-starred ramen counter. The restaurant opens daily at 11 a.m., though the line starts forming hours earlier and the restaurant turns later arrivals away once it has sold out of its daily allotment.
Ready for tonkatsu? Head to Tonkatsu Suzuki in Tokyo station. Instagram-worthy omurice curry? Loup De Mer. The fish auction may have moved from the old Tsukiji market, but the fleet of wonderful sushi spots and purveyors surrounding the market remain. Don’t leave town without finding some okonomiyaki; Harajaku Okonomiyaki Yai-Yai is a strong choice.There’s no shortage of splurge-worthy meals in Tokyo, either. Omakase sushi spots abound; I had a memorable one at The Sushi at thee Andaz Tokyo. For a meal you’d never experience anywhere else, head to Nanachōme Kyōboshi, a 101-year-old tempura restaurant that held three Michelin stars until willingly surrendering them.
Take it from a pro: Many ramen joints and other counter-style establishments process orders via vending machine, and cash is often required.
Book a food tour with Arigato Travel. The operator offers a number of different culinary-centric tours in Tokyo, during which you’ll visit a string of authentic stalls and shops for tasty treats while learning about the history and culture behind everything you’re eating.
Your gear is your phone that you’ve Tokyo-proofed by downloading offline copies of the entire city map via Google Maps, along with the Japanese language pack from Google Translate. Go forth and venture.
Wine-drinking is an evergreen pastime in Sonoma County, home to hallowed vineyards and foodie towns like Healdsburg, but summer is particularly prime time for the more coastal-adjacent communities — like Jenner, Guerneville, Occidental and Monte Rio — within this sprawling wonderland of rolling hills, soaring redwood trees and the postcard-perfect Russian River.
Savor rigorously seasonal plates at boon eat + drink, a Guerneville fixture from local celebrity chef Crista Luedtke, where ever-changing options exhibit the best and brightest of California wine country — think burrata with fava bean and mint pesto, Moroccan-glazed carrots with smoked yogurt and pea shoots, and seared cod with fennel-braised gigante beans and herbed pistou. Follow it up with a nightcap down the block at El Barrio, a hip agave-anchored watering hole teeming with mezcal cocktails and fancy margs.
Hole up at boon hotel & spa, the boutique inn offshoot of Luedtke’s restaurant. Nestled in the woods and outfitted with a series of cabin-style rooms, fireplace-equipped suites and glamping tents, the intimate resort feels more like a twee adult summer camp, complete with outdoor hot tub and pool, fire pits and an “honor bar,” where guests are free to mix their own cocktails and charge it to their rooms.
Zoom through the redwoods at Sonoma Zipline Adventures, which takes fearless adventurers high into the world’s tallest trees for an adrenaline-pumping ride through the forest in Occidental. If you’d prefer to stay closer to solid ground, you can hike through the same trees at Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve, or go swimming, tubing or kayaking at Johnson’s Beach on the Russian River.
Take it from a pro: The tiny coastal town of Jenner is what sunset dreams are made of, and there’s no grander finale for a day in Sonoma than drinking local wine at Tasting By The Sea, a cottage-like wine bar with a patio on a bluff that overlooks the convergence of the Russian River and the Pacific.
Between the Russian River and the omnipresence of hot tubs in the region, you’re gonna want to pack a bathing suit, for starters. And just in case you can’t pack a kayak or paddle board into your carry-on, rentals can be acquired at places like Russian River Paddle Boards, King’s Sport & Tackle and Sup Odyssey.
Languid summer vacation fantasies are made in the Luberon. This low-key part of Provence is located about two and a half hours from Côte d’Azur, which gives it a more pastoral feel. Days unfold slowly with Provencal markets, leisurely lunches, strolls through hilltop villages and wine tasting. It’s the perfect combination of historic and halcyon.
Sample the freshest produce and local products at Marché de Lourmarin. Get your fix of charm and scenic views while wandering the enchanting town of Gordes. Stop by Abbaye Notre-Dame de Sénanque to see fragrant lavender blooming outside an ancient monastery. Commune with nature in Luberon Regional Natural Park and hit a few of the wonderful wineries.
Tourists and locals unwind over daily specials enjoyed on the sunny deck at Café du Progrès in Ménerbes. La Terrasse invites diners to savor line-caught hake with fennel butter coconut beans (or something equally seasonal and delicious) and views of Goult.
A stay at Coquillade Provence Resort & Spa, a member of Relais & Châteaux, typifies summer in the Luberon. Fragrant lavender, olive trees and Mediterranean pines set the tone for a relaxing getaway complete with pampering spa treatments, swimming in the outdoor pools and sipping rosé at the on-site winery.
Take it from a pro: Mini kits are the key to keeping up a good skin care regimen while traveling. I love Summer Fridays The Morning Routine and The Nighttime Routine because they take the guesswork out of everything. Instead of packing a whole bunch of makeup, I just pack Tower28 SunnyDays SPF 30 Tinted Sunscreen, which offers UV protection and just enough coverage to make me feel put together after swiping on.
Some people love the ritual of researching and planning a vacation down to the last detail. If you don’t fall into that camp, I highly recommend tapping Black Tomato to book all the travel logistics and put together a fabulous, curated itinerary based on your specific interests.
I recently got a Solo Re:serve Carry-On Spinner. It’s made from recycled PET water bottles and ABS plastic, making it a sustainable and stylish luggage choice.
Head far, far south to the town of Coyhaique, Chile, for fly-fishing, empanadas and plenty of friendly hospitality. Spend a half-day exploring Coyhaique’s cute downtown area (stop in Café Konken for caffeine and a homemade snack), then drive just 20 minutes to ChileTrout’s small, cozy lodge for family-style hospitality and all the comforts of home. Owners Karina and Pancho will make you feel right at home, and you’ll be able to take a relaxing soak in the hot tub before heading out for a day of fishing for trout and exploring local rivers and lakes. ChileTrout is focused on appreciating and celebrating the natural beauty of the Aysen Region, and Karina and Pancho’s warmth and easygoing nature make them the perfect hosts.
Chilean Patagonia — especially the Aysen Region — is known worldwide for its quality outdoor activities, and especially its trout fishing. Whether you prefer to hike and wade rivers while chasing rainbow and brown trout, or hop in a boat and explore the massive, Crayola-blue lakes dotting the region, Pancho and his team will take care of you. The bespoke, family-run operation tailors to anglers of all skill levels, showcasing Patagonia’s wild, unpopulated areas as only true locals can. Don’t be surprised if you drive past working gauchos and their herds while traveling the area’s dirt roads, and be sure to stop at a local gas station to pick a few hand-crafted empanadas as a quick riverside snack. And after a long day on the water and in the never-ceasing Patagonian wind, retreat to the lodge for a cozy meal and sharing stories while enjoying fine wines around the hearth.
Take it from a pro: Pack warm layers! Even in summertime (the Northern Hemisphere’s winter), Patagonia can be cold due to both its longitude and the winds that frequent the region. I like to start with a warm base layer, add a puffy later, and then top off with wind shell. I can always take off a layer if needed, but the ability to finesse my warmth keeps me comfortable throughout changing weather and activity levels.
A trip to Patagonia usually involves a few different airlines, and possibly a transfer or two. To keep things organized and “together,” I like to enter everything into Tripit (I use the free phone app version). This keeps all my details in one place, and I print out anything critical just in case my phone decides it, too, is on vacation.
I always travel with my Icebreaker Quantum Hoody — and usually with several other Icebreaker Layers as well. The merino wool doesn’t smell even after a long trip, and the soft hand feel is luxurious during long flights. (I’ll pull the hood up for privacy on the plane and pretend I’m cozy at home in my own bed.)
Thrill seekers flooded New River Gorge even before it became our nation’s newest national park in January of 2021. The whitewater rafting is among the best in the country; several outfitters including Adventures on the Gorge operate on both the New and Gauley Rivers, each body of water offering a mix of mellow and wilder sections. Rapids with names like Miller’s Folly, Lost Paddle and Meat Grinder hint at the fun times, but there remains an element of danger. On our bus ride to the raft put-in, the trip leader reminded us that multiple people have died on these rapids. (Luckily my friends and I managed to avoid that fate.)
If you prefer your thrills to be a little less wet, check out Arrowhead Bike Farm. Choose between the flowy, purpose-built singletrack or the rugged former rail lines that connect riders to the area’s coal mining past.
The Endless Wall hike packs in nearly endless scenery along its 2.5 miles (one-way). Late spring and early summer may be the best time to go, as purple and white rhododendrons bloom throughout the woods, punctuating the lush green oak and hickory trees. Diamond View at the hike’s zenith gives a spectacular look at the surrounding limestone cliffs and the Gauley River below.
Take it from a pro: If you’re hiking solo on an unfamiliar trail, download the map ahead of time on AllTrails or similar app, so you can have real-time location info as you go. I wandered a bit off track while hiking up Mt. Bierstadt a couple of years ago, and checking the app allowed me to get back on the trail much, much sooner than if I’d figured it out on my own. In fact, I’d probably still be wandering out there if it wasn’t for the app.
Dream of seeing wild coastal grizzly bears in Alaska, lions in Botswana or massive sea turtles in the Galapagos Islands? Natural Habitat Adventures has you covered, with top guides, incredible food and comfortable accommodations. You might have so much fun this summer, you may want to tag along with them to see polar bears and the Northern Lights this winter.
When traveling in my camper van, I always try to bring a bike of some kind. Lately, that’s been an ultra-versatile e-bike. I’m particularly fond of Gazelle’s new flagship model, the Ultimate 380, which pairs a powerful Bosch motor, Enviolo’s smooth-shifting CVT 380 trekking hub, and the nearly maintenance-free Gates carbon belt drive. I can wear out my legs hiking during the day, then ride into the nearest town for a recovery beer in the evening and not worry that I’ll be too tired to pedal back.
The past two summers were the hottest on record for the U.S. and with the world gearing up to “breach a new average temperature record in 2023 or 2024,” this one will likely be much of the same. It’s enough to turn anyone off to a jaunt of the even warmer variety. Instead, consider an easy flight to a city like Dublin where temperatures hover between 60-70 degrees all summer long.
The Merrion Hotel — located on the south side of city in the heart of Georgian Dublin — is a perfect home base that counts Bruce Springsteen among its regular clientele. With 123 rooms and 19 suites, The Merrion is actually comprised of four Georgian townhouses that date back to the 1760s. It’s home to one of Ireland’s largest 18th-19th century art collections, as well as it’s first two-star Michelin restaurant (and several other F&B concepts, for that matter). The perfect fusion of new and old, The Merrion sits just steps from Merrion Square Park (or, rather, Dublin’s “Central Park”), Oscar Wilde’s old digs and the shopping district.
Of course, if you’re in Dublin for the first time, you’re likely holding space on the itinerary for the Cliffs of Moher and The Guinness Storehouse, as you should — they are the two biggest tourist attractions in Dublin. Should you, however, desire some more off-the-beaten path fun, consider The Perfect Pint Tour, where you’ll sample the best pints of Guinness from some of the most iconic and traditional pubs in the city, or a walking tour of the Howth Cliffs (where Brendan Gleason lives), which are both stunning and exponentially quieter.
Follow that with a tour of Windmill Lane Studios — the recording studio where U2 famously got its start. They offer two options — the “Artist Pass” and the “Backstage Pass” — both of which allow you unparalleled access to a studio where The Rolling Stones, The Cranberries, David Bowie, Willie Nelson, The Spice Girls, Ed Sheeran, Hozier, Kate Bush and, again, Bruce Springsteen have all come before. Depending on which package you choose, you can even record your own track (10/10 recommend).
Then plan for a stop at EPIC — the Irish Emigration Museum named “Europe’s Leading Tourist Attraction” at the 2019, 2020 and 2021 World Travel Awards. It’s the first fully digital museum in the world, which feels ironic given that its housed in a 200-year old former warehouse, and incredibly curated. The guided tour comes highly recommended and takes about 90 minutes. At the end, you’ll have an opportunity to enter your name in a database and unearth your own Irish roots.
It’s not exactly revolutionary, but I still use the travel app Hopper to track flights. This is especially important during the summer months when airfare goes for a premium. Every time there’s a drop in price, I get a push notification to my phone signaling its time to book. It’s especially helpful if you can be flexible with your travel dates, though you can set it for specific dates, too.
Shoe bags aren’t a radical concept, but they have totally changed the way I pack. Whereas I used to cram my shoes — albethey often sandy or caked with mud after having been in Ireland — into the main compartment of my suitcase alongside everything else, up to and including clean clothes, thanks to Calpak’s Compakt Shoe Bags, I’m now able to keep them separate, without detriment to space.
It’s okay to have complicated feelings about cruises. We do, too. At their worst, they’re amusement parks at sea — rowdy, polluting and not particularly safe. But their core premise is as enchanting as ever: every morning, breakfast at a brand-new port. A chance to stockpile passport stamps, while sleeping in the same bed, night after night.
To that end, Viking Ocean Cruises is your best entry-point for a palatable bucket-list summer cruise. We’ve personally sailed with the MV Viking Sea, which traces the Norwegian liner’s “Ancient Empires of the Mediterranean” route each summer: Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro and Greece over 10 days. Famous for its river cruises, Viking has long branded itself as the “thinking man’s cruise.” Instead of water slides and margaritas, its calling cards are world-class cuisine (from nightly sushi offerings, to the ocean’s “best Italian restaurant), polished decks that evoke the golden age of transatlantic travel and endless opportunities to learn more about every destination you visit. Oh, and an added bonus: no kids. You have to be at least 18 to step foot on a Viking ship.
There are many Ocean options to choose from these days. We happily recommend our Mediterranean itinerary to all parties, but you can find cruises in Scandinavia, The Americas, Australia…and even Antarctica.
Take it from a pro: Make use of Viking’s Nordic spa. Like most wants on the ship, access is included in your ticket. After an early morning and six hours or so spent moving about a new city or country, you’ll learn to treasure a daily pilgrimage to the facility. It offers both traditional fare (cold plunge pool, sauna, steam room) and offbeat amenities (snow grotto, vibrancy pool and a bucket shower).
When booking your fare, take some time to carefully peruse Viking’s full supply of “shore excursions.” Each day offers a half-dozen different tours, ranging from fishing trips to castle tours to descents deep into karst caves. Viking hires bus fleets in every country, meaning you aren’t limited to activities along the coastline. Wine tastings, hikes and other hinterland adventures are all well within reach. Just bear in mind: these excursions are add-ons, at $50-200 a head. If you have a change of heart as the date approaches, see the on-ship concierge up to two evenings before, to either cancel or slot in a different excursion. Our personal favorite shore excursion: oyster shucking an hour outside Dubrovnik, Croatia.
Viking days regularly push past 20,000 steps — if you’re not ambling around a hilly European hamlet, you’re walking up and down decks of the ship. A good pair of walking shoes is critical. We’re fans of ON’s collaboration with Swiss compatriot Roger Federer. A clean and understated silhouette, with a comfy footbed.