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There’s something about the warm weather of summer that sparks a desire to travel. While some have favorite hotspots they visit time and again, others crave new summer vacation destinations to create lasting memories.
With so many popular places scattered across the globe, selecting just one could be difficult. To help you decide on your next summer vacation, here are some great destinations you can check out in the U.S., Europe, and the Caribbean.
Great Destinations in the U.S.
Whether you’re looking for the upbeat energy of a big city, a laid-back retreat in the country, or somewhere in between, you can have a great summer vacation in the U.S.
New York City
New York City is one of the most popular destinations in the world, attracting over 60 million tourists each year.
With so many must-see sites in New York City, narrowing your choices to fit in the time you have available is a challenge. Stopping at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum may top your list and you can buy tickets up to six months in advance to ensure admission.
Do you love baseball? If so, you don’t want to miss a tour of Yankee Stadium, home to the 27-time World Series Champions. And while you’re in NYC, planning a visit to Liberty Island and Ellis Island can be done with one ferry ticket. Keep in mind that going up to Lady Liberty’s crown requires advanced reservations.
Seattle is the perfect place to take your summer vacation. With water, mountains, and forest all around the area, even the fussiest traveler will find something to love.
Make the Space Needle your first stop, where the sweeping views of the city will take your breath away. And families will love meeting the giant Pacific octopus and learning about the sea creatures found in Puget Sound at the Seattle Aquarium.
Of all the attractions in Seattle, you won’t want to miss the Museum of Pop Culture. Exhibits include kiosks to interact with and a variety of movie and music artifacts. Want to view Luke Skywalker’s severed hand from “The Empire Strikes Back?” Or how about the Wicked Witch of the West’s hat from “The Wizard of Oz?” Maybe weaponry from “Lord of the Rings?” You’ll find it at the Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle.
Nestled between Michigan’s upper and lower peninsulas is Mackinac Island. As you approach the island on the ferry, the magnificent Grand Hotel comes into view, which you might know from the 1980 classic movie “Somewhere In Time.”
Once you step off the ferry, you travel back to a simpler time. Mackinac Island doesn’t permit automobiles. Instead, you’ll get around by horse and carriage or bicycle. A horse-drawn carriage tour provides a taste of all the island has to offer, and exploring the 70+ miles of trails by bicycle opens up new possibilities.
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If you’re hungry, the Pink Pony restaurant sits on the water. The outdoor patio is the best place to enjoy your meal with views of the lake. And definitely visit Arch Rock. The more than 50-foot wide rock formation stands high above the water and is a fantastic spot for scenic views of the island’s coast.
St. Louis is home to the iconic Gateway Arch. As the tallest man-made monument in the United States, the arch towers 630 feet above the Mississippi River and has drawn more than 135 million people since its inception. The Arch’s Tram Ride to the Top is the best way to see the city. Grab a ticket to ride all the way up for unmatched panoramic views of St. Louis.
Thrill seekers will also want to check out the Six Flags St. Louis theme park. The infamous Screamin’ Eagle coaster pleases with speeds up to 62 mph. Live concerts and shows are part of the fun at Six Flags, and don’t forget to seek out your favorite cartoon character for a photo op, including Bugs Bunny and Supergirl.
Looking for the greatest hotspot for shopping, dining, and nightlife? Don’t miss the Delmar Loop. Known as just “the Loop” to locals, vacationing here in June lets you in on the week-long celebrations to kick off summer. And if you’re a baseball fan, you can’t miss a Cardinals game at Busch Stadium.
Great Destinations in Europe
Summer in Europe is beautiful. Warm weather and sunshine can fill your days, making touring the sites even more enjoyable.
From the Eiffel Tower and Louvre Museum to vibrant cafes and shops, what’s not to love about Paris? During the summer months, tourists to the City of Lights can relish the warmth of the sun as temperatures reach 70 to 80 degrees during the day.
The first thing to know about Paris is the price of attractions and travel throughout the city aren’t as lovely as the weather. To get more bang for your buck, consider the Paris Pass. For one price, you’ll have access to world-famous museums and attractions, unlimited use of public transportation, and discounts on shopping and dining.
With or without the Paris Pass, you don’t want to miss the Palace of Versailles. As you tour the hundreds of rooms, you’ll discover each one more breathtaking than the last. Going from the palace to the gardens gives you a chance to view gorgeous fountains and sculptures dating back to the 1600s.
And make sure to stroll through Le Marais, one of the oldest and most notable districts in Paris. Rambling through the cobblestone streets gives way to stunning buildings and stone architecture reminiscent of medieval Paris, which is truly a site to see.
Fewer cities are finer than London, and this historic destination is a fantastic choice for your summer vacation. On the River Thames, you’ll find the exceptional Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, and Buckingham Palace.
The Big Bus London Hop-On Hop-Off Tour gives you a chance to personalize your visit to the top activities in London. With it, you can take in the sights at your own pace. One of the most famous spots is the Tower of London. History buffs will recognize the Tower as home to the collection of Crown Jewels and former prison cell of Sir Walter Raleigh.
No visit to London is complete without stopping at King’s Cross Station. Harry Potter fans know this is home to Platform 9 3/4 and the Hogwarts Express. No matter which House you identify with, you’ll love this underground station.
The astounding attractions of Rome are endless. From staggering monuments to mouth-watering Italian food and world-class shopping, you’ll never run out of things to do. And getting around is easy since you can wander the streets on foot.
As you walk through this Italian city, you’ll notice the abundance of piazzas. They’re great spots for people watching, and the Piazza Navona is definitely worth a visit. The landmark is near several outstanding attractions such as the Pantheon, Gladiator Museum, and Fountain of Neptune.
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The Vatican Museums are a great choice to view paintings, sculptures, and other art pieces that popes have collected over the centuries. One highlight is the Sistine Chapel with the legendary ceiling painted by Michelangelo. Another is the Bramante Staircase which you’ll see as you leave the museums.
And don’t forget to tour the Colosseum – despite being opened in 80 AD, the building is still largely intact and a true wonder to behold.
Great Destinations in the Caribbean
For endless white sandy beaches cascading into vibrant blue waters, the Caribbean is an excellent pick for a laid back summer vacation.
As part of the Windward Islands, St. Lucia is a lush tropical paradise waiting to be explored. The island’s west coast is a hub of activity including hiking and snorkeling. Plus, there’s a sleeping volcano you can drive through.
Consider Treetop Adventure Park, which lets you fly through the rainforest on various ziplines. Cruising through the air gives you an inside look at the exotic plants and wildlife. For more adventure, hike up the gorgeous Gros Piton to take in spectacular views of the Caribbean.
Sulphur Springs is a dormant volcano that you can drive through – a one-of-a-kind experience you won’t soon forget. Sulphur Springs is also well known for their mud baths. Jump in for a full-body detoxification and see why they attract visitors from around the world.
U.S. Virgin Islands
This is really three destinations in one since it comprises three main islands: St. John, St. Croix, and St. Thomas. One of the best parts is that U.S. citizens can enjoy the islands without needing a passport.
Buck Island Reef National Monument is the place to be on St. Croix. The location is perfect for diving, snorkeling, bird-watching, and hiking.
On St. John, check out the Virgin Islands National Park. This attraction makes up more than half of the island and you can take your time exploring the rainforest, boating areas, and nature trails. And hopping over to St. Thomas will give you the opportunity to visit Mountain Top. Famous for its banana daiquiri, Mountain Top has magnificent views of Magens Bay.
Luxurious resorts, crystal blue waters, and delicious culinary experiences are what Aruba is all about. A summer vacation on this Caribbean island delivers the greatest adventures on land and sea. Once you arrive, staying at your hotel might sound tempting. Instead, unwind from your travel with a walk on the beach or book a Sunset Catamaran Cruise for a glimpse of the stunning coastline.
Aruba has an expansive gold history. If you journey to the northern shores of the island, you’ll find the Bushiribana Gold Mill Ruins. Hiking and walking trails feature impressive island views, including the Casibari Rock Formation.
In addition to taking in Aruba’s incredible beaches, you’ll want to stop at the remarkable Natural Pool while you’re here. Made from a circle of volcanic rock, the pool is inside Aruba’s Arikok National Park. After all the adventure, relax with your toes in the sand while you watch the sunset.
Where Will You Go?
After a long, dreary winter, the excitement of planning a summer vacation is enough to lift your spirits. With the rich history of Europe, mountains and valleys in the U.S., and the exquisite tropical paradise that is the Caribbean, your options are endless.
And no matter what your budget is, you can plan a memorable trip full of adventure. Whether you desire to kick back and relax or take it all in, you can’t go wrong with any of these summer vacation destinations.
What are your summer travel plans? Are you doing anything new for the first time? Share your plans with us in the comments!