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Pack Your Bag and Visit These Top Summer Vacation Spots
These cities heat up with possibility during the summer months, making them some of the world’s best summer vacation destinations. | By Joanna Tweedy | August 20, 2021
It’s time for a summer vacation getaway. Whether you’re looking for sun or shade, these vacation destinations truly come alive in the summer months, promising exciting nightlife, delicious food and buckets of culture. Make new memories with these summer travel ideas, including:
- Feel the heat and the beat: Go dancing in cities known for live music
- Steam your cares away: Soothe your summer stressors in a historic setting
- Local heroes: See the city through a secret garden or less-traveled panoramic view
Music is the lifeblood of Tennessee's capital, and summer sees Nashville living its best life. Your toes will start tapping as soon as you step over city limits. You’ll find dozens of festivals taking place — grab tickets for the bluegrass-heavy Full Moon Pickin' Parties from May through September — and restaurants and bars making the most of their outdoor space.
Six blocks — that are hugged up on the east side of the Cumberland River — are home to Nashville’s most famous honky-tonk bars. From noon on, you’ll find up-and-coming bands picking their guitars, line dancers doing the 10 Step and craft cocktails being mixed at the bar.
Before you begin though, head to The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum (222 Rep. John Lewis Way S), where you'll learn remarkable stories of some of the genre’s biggest names. You’ll need two hours to do it properly.
Spice It Up
The dish you can’t leave without trying is Nashville’s fired-up take on fried chicken — known as “hot chicken.”
Hungry? Fine-dining eateries are popping up all over — try The Catbird Seat (1711 Division St.) for thoughtful, seasonal menus using local produce.
Feeling extra spicy? Eat like Nashvillians do at Prince’s Hot Chicken (5814 Nolensville Pike), which has been serving up wings and tenders since 1945.
A happy collision of global cultures meld in Singapore. This green island nation has shrugged off its image as a stop-over destination, wooing global summer vacationers with its tropical climate, futuristic architecture and fusion restaurants. You’ll enjoy smaller crowds if you book a visit between July and September.
There are plenty of free attractions here if you know where to look. Try the nightly light show at Gardens by the Bay and the picturesque 6-mile (10 km) Southern Ridges tree-top walk.
If you fancy a shopping spree, head to one of the many upscale malls. The Shoppes at Marina Bay (10 Bayfront Ave.) promises three stories of couture brands, while you'll find 300 stores inside the futuristic-looking ION Orchard (2 Orchard Turn).
Boston is America’s oldest city and boasts world-class museums. Don’t miss the gourmet restaurants, loyal sports fans and a thrilling music and art scene. We love the small but mighty Museum of African American History and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.
A cab ride from Logan International Airport to downtown takes about 15 minutes, and you can explore the historical center on foot once you’re there. The red-brick Freedom Trail, a 2.5-mile self-guided route includes stops at many key places that paved the way for U.S. independence. There are accessible routes, and you can find more information at Boston Common Visitor Center.
Public Green Space
Go for a stroll or bike ride along the Charles River Esplanade for greener views of the city.
Boston shrugs off its cooler weather by June, which is when blue skies — and comfortable temperatures (mid-70 degrees Fahrenheit, or mid-20 degrees Celsius) reign. Bostonians love to be outdoors. Join them by taking in a Red Sox baseball game at Fenway Park.
Feeling cerebral? Get coffee at the Harvard Coop and browse books alongside students. If you have a spare day, rent a car and drive an hour south to Cape Cod for cute tourist towns and beautiful, breezy beaches.
England’s capital promises one of the best summer vacations in the world because you can see its famous landmarks with a cloudless sky behind them. The evenings are gloriously long too, with sunset long after 9 p.m. local time in July.
Enjoy historic sites such as Downing Street, Buckingham Palace and the Houses of Parliament; fancy shops in Knightsbridge; and acres of green space — hello, Hyde Park.
You don’t have to rely on the Tube to get around, either. Take an easy stroll (about 1.5 miles/2 kilometers) from the Southbank to Oxford Street, via Covent Garden, Piccadilly Circus and Soho.
Want a perfect summer scene that Londoners love? Spend an early evening on Parliament Hill on Hampstead Heath. The panoramic view arcs west from St. Paul’s Cathedral to the financial center’s gleaming skyscrapers.
This city has evolved into a truly 21st century European capital, but the most authentic Budapest experience you’ll find lies in the thermal waters at the city’s historic 1918 Gellert Baths. The outdoor wave pool is a huge hit in summer; soak and swim in the open air, and then take a book and relax on a lounger on the terrace. Staff will bring you a glass of Champagne to make the afternoon really sing.
The average summer vacation temperatures are 82 degrees Fahrenheit (28 degrees Celsius), but it can feel hotter in the middle of the city. Retreat to one of the mini-riverbank beaches — sand is shipped in to make it feel like you’re relaxing along the Mediterranean — and enjoy a pálinka (fruit brandy) on ice, a Hungarian favorite.
Not many global cities scream summer vacation more than Los Angeles thanks to swaying palm trees, golden sands, pier fun and a sun that is high and hot over this balmy metropolis for much of the year.
Come for the Beaches
Watch skateboarders fly at Venice and surfers soar on Malibu — but be sure to tick off the sites, too.
Hollywood Boulevard pays homage to Tinseltown’s most famous names – hover over the handprints of all your favorite stars. The iconic-looking Getty Center art museum highlights LA’s vibrant culture, while the Griffith Observatory gifts winsome views of the city. For pure, unadulterated fun, head to the theme parks.
Wherever you stay, you’ll need a car. Make use of it by heading south to gorgeous resort towns, including Newport Beach and Laguna Beach; you’ll find some of California’s best whale-watching on offer at Dana Point.
Colorful flowers and winding canals add to Amsterdam’s charm during the summer months.
You don’t need to spend much time here to feel like a local in the summer. Rent a bike and pedal over the cobblestones in the morning sun or stroll around the vintage shops in the Nine Streets district.
When you’re hungry, stop for a pannenkoeken (Dutch pancake) and an espresso outdoors at one of the pretty cafes. Head to The Pancake Bakery (Prinsengracht 191) for an authentic taste, or to Cloud Gallery (Prinsengracht 276) if you want to browse art while eating breakfast.
The museums are reason alone to visit, though. The Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum reveal an art legacy that belies Amsterdam’s compact size.
Famous sights? Check. Designer shopping? Check. Romance? Bien sûr! You could spend a month exploring always-in-fashion Paris and still want a return visit.
Average temperatures hover around 75 degrees Fahrenheit (23 degrees Celsius) in the summer, and the city transforms into an alfresco version of its winter self. Bistro tables set up on the sidewalk, food and music festivals spring up in city parks.
Ooh La La
Boat trips on the Seine offer cooling breezes and a stunning vantage point for photos.
The French capital offers some of Europe’s finest art at the Louvre and arguably the continent’s most iconic monument — take a bow, Eiffel Tower.
Follow the tourist crowds to L’Arc de Triomphe and Montmartre and Notre Dame Cathedral - some of the city’s most enthralling architecture — but take time to wander, too.
An enduring favorite beach destination for decades, Myrtle Beach’s 60-mile stretch of powder-soft South Carolina sand lets you buy into the all-American vacation dream. The city’s Grand Strand, which includes the whirling SkyWheel, majors on fun with water parks and celebrity-designed golf courses, along with flea market, mall and outlet shopping.
Ocean-to-plate dining shouldn’t be missed here, with catches of the day including grouper, crab and conch. Step back in time at North Myrtle Beach, a more laid-back resort that lays claim to inventing the swing dance “The Shag” you can learn how to do it here, too.
A holiday playground in the desert, glamorous Dubai bestows wide-screen blue skies, turquoise waters and balmy beaches.
Thrills and Frills
This big-spending emirate aims high when it comes to thrilling tourists, with its water parks, shopping and cloud-skimming hotels among the most impressive in the world.
The weather is properly hot — expect 90-to-100 degrees Fahrenheit (32- to-37 degrees Celsius) during the day, but Dubai has long since mastered air conditioning and it’s easy to stay cool, with the evenings warm and pleasant.
Dubai is also quieter in the summer, with many residents heading elsewhere for vacation, meaning the madding crowds are rare. The locals love to brunch on Fridays, with many restaurants offering banquets, often with bottomless drinks.
You can also experience the Middle East's vast, arid landscapes on a desert safari tour; there’s opportunities for dune surfing, camel rides and sunset barbecues.
Joanna Tweedy is an award-winning travel writer and editor who lives in London.
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