Summertime, and the living is easy . . . but the travel choices can be so hard. This is the season when much of the world goes into full vacation mode and when nearly every type of traveler—from families and groups of friends to romance-chasing couples and respite-seeking CEOs—makes time for a getaway. But with so many alluring destinations out there, where should your adventures start?
Our handy guide breaks down 15 perennial summer favorites by type of traveler, so you can zero in on your passions and interests and then get out there and explore. So whether you’re a hiker, foodie, road-tripper, or overworked exec, read on to discover a whole host of picks around the world that will have you enjoying the season right down to its dog days. Now all you need to do is pack your bag.
Best For: Hikers
The Centennial State may be best known for its winter pursuits, but when the snow melts along the Rocky Mountains, those world-class peaks and trails become prime areas for hikers. For a varied selection of hiking options—and great pit stops at the end—look to the areas around Vail. The popular Booth Lake Trail (often called “the quintessential Vail hike” for its stunning mountain and alpine stream views) can be done in half- or full-day treks, with the former leading you to a waterfall. The Berry Picker trail on Vail Mountain is also not to be missed, offering two intensity options—the tougher trail brings you to the top of Eagle’s Nest, where you can enjoy a brunch at Game Creek Restaurant, while the easier downhill version will have you celebrating at Vail Brewing Company or 10th Mountain Whisky & Spirits.
If you prefer not to go it alone, consider booking a guided hike via Walking Mountains Science Center, whose guides are all certified first responders and nature experts. The popular Gore Creek Trail, a 10-mile round-trip journey that takes you along a creek and through meadows, Aspen groves, and fir and spruce forests up to an alpine tundra, also has playful add-ons like the Take a Llama to Lunch experience, in which a llama will ferry a locally sourced meal for you to enjoy at a creek-side picnic spot. When it comes time to turn in, soothe your well-used muscles at the Hotel Talisa, a member of the Luxury Collection portfolio. Following a recent $65 million renovation, the hotel now offers relaxing perks like a standout spa with outdoor pools, a Mat & Moët yoga-and-Champagne program, and a daily Champagne happy hour. (Sensing a theme here? Us, too.)
Best For: Romantics
When it comes to reconnecting à deux, few things beat an island getaway—especially when you’ve got that island pretty much all to yourselves. Ringed by some of the most stunning beaches around and blessed with consistently pleasant temps all year, the Indian Ocean archipelago offers both fun in the sun and a unique culture rich with African, French, British, Indian, and Islamic influences. For some quality couple’s time, though, check into one of the private islands resorts—some of which are convenient to exploring other islands, while others have a more Castaway feel. Set on the private island of Félicité, Six Senses Zil Payson features 30 pool villas and multi-bedroom residences, coral-fringed beaches, and a variety of activity picks. Stay on-property to swim with turtles (or simply lounge with your loved one) and enjoy a private dinner in the Wine Vault, or island-hop by boat, take a scenic helicopter tour, or ferry over to Praslin or La Digue islands for golf, nature walks, and bike rides through vanilla plantations.
Couples looking to seriously disconnect (or reconnect) should head to Four Seasons Seychelles at Desroches Island, which opened earlier this spring. A bit farther flung, everything at the private island property is designed for relaxation. Start the day with an in-villa couple’s yoga session, end it by cuddling up at the outdoor cinema, and in-between, grab a chef-prepared picnic and bottle of wine before bicycling off to a different intimate picnic spot along the nearly nine miles of pristine coastline.
Newport, Rhode Island
Best For: Families
Generations of families with names like Vanderbilt and Astor have spent their summers along the Rhode Island coast—so why not join in on the tony tradition when it comes to your multigenerational getaway? Lined with wide beaches and yacht-filled marinas, and dotted with fabled mansions and outdoor attractions (including a few vineyards), the East Coast gem offers something for all ages. Stroll along the paved, 3.5-mile Cliff Walk path to take in views of the coastline, explore the Ballard Park nature reserve, shop the cobblestoned streets of downtown, and enjoy a scenic trip along the famous, 10-mile-long Ocean Drive to catch a glimpse of beautiful homes and lighthouses. Several of the historic mansions in the area offer family-friendly tours: A dedicated kids’ audio tour of the iconic, 70-room Breakers tells the stories of some of the children that once lived here, while The Elms’ tour features a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the staff quarters. Rent a boat or take a sailing lesson via Sail Newport, or take a dip into the ocean from the beach—Easton’s Beach is a particular favorite, thanks to its lobster rolls and vintage carousel.
To be in the thick of it all, make recently renovated Hotel Viking your home base while in Newport. Set atop the Historic Hill neighborhood, the property offers a Beach Butler service (including round-trip transport to the shore, umbrellas, chairs, breakfast, and a gourmet picnic lunch) as well as kid-pleasing perks like dedicated children’s menus at the restaurant and spa, daily ice cream socials, and interactive games in the lovely courtyard—plus elegant suites with plenty of room for all.
Best For: Foodies
This Canadian metropolis is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the world—so it’s no surprise that it’s become a culinary capital as well as a harbinger of foodie trends. From Modern Filipino at Lamesa on Queen Street, Japanese gastropub fare at Kinka Izakaya, and vibrant Peruvian plates at Kay Pacha to menus inspired by Canada’s indigenous and early-settler populations at Boralia, there’s no shortage of flavors to explore. Particularly adventurous palates can try sea tartare at Kukum Kitchen, another native-Canadian-inspired spot, while sweet tooths can’t miss the much-Instagrammed truffle-filled Ziggy Stardust Disco Egg at French resto La Banane. On the fine-dining front, spots like Copetín, from chef and MasterChef Canada judge Claudio Aprile; Alo, known for its French tasting menus; and contemporary Canadian outpost Canoe continue to draw crowds.
And just because it’s time to head back to the hotel doesn’t mean the food-filled frenzy has to stop, as several luxury hotels have become culinary hot spots, too. The Bisha Hotel is home to a new Japanese-Korean restaurant from Michelin-starred chef Akira Back, while the Shangri-La Toronto offers direct access to the three restaurants in Momofuku Toronto, including the recently opened Kojin.
Best For: Beach Bums
With over 120 miles of coastline, Maui has a stretch of sand to suit every type of sunseeker. As its name suggests, the mile-long, 100-foot-wide Big Beach can accommodate the crowds—not that it really needs to. It’s blissfully undeveloped, backed by the lush Makena State Park and protected by cliffs of black lava. Snorkelers love marine-rich Kapalua Beach, while self-proclaimed photographers can get the perfect shot at wild Honokalani Beach, where the black-lava pebble sand is bookended by dense tropical foliage and bright blue waters. Though West Maui’s Ka’anapali Beach is lined with resorts, you can still find pockets of solitude among its wide shores, which stretch up to Black Rock, a 16-foot cliff that—for the adventurous—doubles as a natural diving board.
The island’s top hotels take full advantage of the stunning sand: At the recently renovated Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua, naturalists from the on-site Jean-Michel Cousteau Ambassador of the Environment Program can guide you on snorkeling trips around Kapalua Beach’s two reefs, while at the Relais & Chateaux-member Hotel Wailea, the Beach Safari experience equips you with a map of “secret” beaches and top snorkeling coves, a chef-prepared picnic, and use of a reproduction 1957 Porsche 356 Speedster in which to explore.
The Swiss Alps
Best For: Wellness Seekers
Maybe it’s the Swiss dedication to perfection, the region’s popularity with a jet-set crowd, or just all the fresh Alpine air—whatever the reason, the Swiss Alps are a hotbed of world-class spa and wellness retreats. While wintertime sees guests heading indoors for hydrotherapy circuits and thermal water soaks, summertime wellness options aim to draw in the spectacular natural setting. At the iconic Tschuggen Grand Hotel, enjoy outdoor yoga or a hike along the Graubunden mountains that back the resort (we’d suggest trying the latter barefoot to really connect with nature), and then head to the Mario Botta–designed Bergoase Spa for a full range of therapies and medical wellness treatments.
If you want to be a little bit closer to civilization, the Kulm Hotel St. Moritz balances activities like stand-up paddleboarding in the surrounding lakes or hiking around the Engadine Mountain trails with time in a saltwater grotto, infrared sauna, and spectacular outdoor pool. On the flip side, if you’re looking to truly check out, head to Alipna Gstaad, which is set on five acres in the heart of the Bernese Alps. The property has launched a number of innovative well-being programs designed to reduce stress, improve sleep, and heal the body using everything from yoga, meditation, and herbal therapies to watercolor classes, forest walks, and Tibetan singing bowls.
Best For: Animal Lovers
Often called “The Greatest Show on Earth,” the annual Great Migration that takes place through parts of Kenya and Tanzania sees over two million wildebeest and zebra traverse parts of the Serengeti and Masai Mara in search of food and breeding grounds. “The incredible journey highlights the majesty of nature, the essence of Africa,” says Elizabeth Rand of Explore Inc., a member of Safari Pros, a network of expert guides and outfitters that can help you nail the safari experience. The migration moves through different parts of the regions throughout the year, primarily from June to October and December to March. And during the summer months, prime viewing can be enjoyed from Kenya’s Masai Mara, particularly along the mighty Mara River and the vast plains.
Located on the banks of the Sand River, Elewana’s 16-tent Sand River Masai Mara camp is prime territory for catching the action. Surrounding you in 1920s-inspired style, the camp offers easy access to a national reserve, where you can spot resident leopards, cheetahs, and lions in-between the dramatic migration arrivals. Over at Mahali Mzuri—part of Richard Branson’s Virgin Limited Edition collection—the 12 tents, main lodge, and intimate spa (which is located on the valley floor) were designed to get you as close to nature as possible. Even the infinity-edge pool has been perfectly placed into a natural alcove so you can watch the migration herds pass through the valley while enjoying a swim.
Amalfi Coast, Italy
Best For: Mariners
Few destinations more perfectly embody the spirit of a summer vacation than the Italian coast, where the la dolce vita philosophy is irresistible—encouraging you to slow down and savor the good life. Base yourself along the Amalfi Coast, a UNESCO World Heritage–designated stretch of coastline along the Gulf of Salerno, and then spend days island- and cove-hopping on a private yacht or sailboat. On the way to Capri, you’ll spot landmarks like the Li Galli islands in the Bay of Positano (said to be the home of the mythological Sirens) and the Faraglioni rock formations. Along the less-visited Secret Coast, you’ll find Norman watchtowers, old lighthouses, hidden beaches, and warm, sulphur-rich waters around the Ballvaia Grotto. Come lunchtime, skip the crowds in Capri or Positano, and head to Nerano, a colorful coastal village known for its famous spaghetti Nerano, made with freshly grilled zucchini. Top spots for a delicious waterside meal include the family-run Maria Grazia in the Marina del Cantone and the splashier Conca del Sogno, both best accessed by boat.
If you don’t want to charter a sleek superyacht for your Italian adventure, the legendary Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria in Sorrento makes a day out on the water a snap, thanks to private elevator access to the marina where guests can make use of its houseboat. The 47-foot yacht can accommodate up to 12 and comes with a captain, steward, and all the perks needed for a beautiful day out.
Best For: Snow Bunnies
If you’d rather follow the snow than the sun this summer, the Southern Hemisphere has you covered. New Zealand offers especially fertile ground, with both the North and South Islands boasting an array of spots to hit the powder between June and October. In the north, the Mount Ruapehu region is home to the country’s largest ski area, complete with the recently renovated Happy Valley Snow Park with areas for beginner skiers and snowboarders.
The South Island kicks things up a notch with heli-skiing experiences for moderate levels and above. Award-winning luxury lodge Blanket Bay offers an à la carte heli-skiing experience that whisks you via private helicopter to prime spots along the Southern Alps, while the exclusive Minaret Station lodge grants you access to hundreds of square miles of untracked terrain via its house fleet of helicopters. The luxury lodges around Queenstown also offer easy access to top skiing and snowboarding sites like the Remarkables and Coronet Peak. The five-star Rees features a mix of hotel rooms, apartments, and multi-bedroom residences right on Lake Wakatipu, while the intimate Eichardt’s Private Hotel features one of the country’s top penthouses (though all of its suites and apartments boast water and mountain views).
Best For: Divers
The largest and most intact coral reef system in the Northern Hemisphere, the Belize Barrier Reef is made up of seven marine reserve zones spread out along the country’s 185 miles of scenic Caribbean Sea coastline. In addition to its impressive size, the Reef was also recently removed from the United Nations’ list of endangered World Heritage Sites, thanks to Belize’s concerted efforts to protect and preserve the coral—which means the area’s underwater splendor is as dazzling as ever. Scuba divers have plenty of sites to choose from here, as world-class dive spots range from the legendary Great Blue Hole, Hol Chan Marine Reserve, and the marine-rich areas around Ambergis Caye to more remote atolls that require multiday trips.
Explore your options from one of the country’s newer luxury resorts. Turtle Inn, a Family Coppola Hideaway property, is a short boat trip from the great Blue Hole, and its newly opened two-cottage private islet is ideal for groups looking to spread out. And when Itz’ana Resort & Residences in the southern beach town of Placencia finally makes its grand debut, it will also prove to be a summertime hot spot thanks to its stylish decor, over-the-top residences, and proximity to vibrant sections of the Barrier Reef.
California’s Central Coast
Best For: Road Trippers
Winding its way along the Pacific Ocean coastline from Orange to Mendocino counties, the Golden State’s 656-mile-long Highway 1 is the stuff of road-trip legends. In the summer, put vacation time to good use by skipping Laguna and Malibu to explore sections of the drive—and the state—that you may not be as familiar with, such as the Central Coast. Start in the historic college town of San Luis Obispo, and then wind your way north along rolling hills, past Bishop Peak, and into lovely Morro Bay, where shops and restaurants line the waterfront Embarcadero boardwalk. As your head further north, you’ll hit an array of unique towns (including the ranching-meets-surfing hub of Cayucos), historic sites like Hearst Castle at San Simeon, gorgeous spots for hiking and ocean-view selfies, and plenty of farm-fresh dining. And be sure to save time for detours inland—the wineries and vineyards around Paso Robles shouldn’t be missed. (Sorry, Napa!)
Eventually, you’ll make it to the shores below Big Sur, where plenty of luxury getaways await. You can’t go wrong by checking into Ventana Big Sur, the region’s newest property, or by heading to the iconic Post Ranch Inn—which, just off Highway 1, practically hangs over the Pacific Ocean. Head just a bit further north and you’ll find the 20-room L’Auberge Carmel, a Relais & Chateaux member in charming Carmel-by-the-Sea.
The Greek Islands
Best For: Fashionistas
From the signature clean-lined, all-white interiors and Cycladic-inspired decor to the breezy attire and deceptively simple jewels of its jet-set denizens, the Greek islands epitomize summertime chic. “Timeless design is never forced or obvious and always relates to its surroundings,” says Elena Fotiadi, marketing director (and unofficial style guru) of White Key Villas, which specializes in the rental of luxury villas and the creation of customized experiences throughout the islands. For particularly style- and design-savvy clients, White Key experts suggest getaways to islands like Mykonos, which is home to noted galleries, sophisticated shopping (including a boutique from iconic Greek fashion brand Parthenis, known for its effortlessly cool silhouettes), and beautiful-people-filled hot spots.
Though more low-key, the island of Paros is no less stylish (head to the port town of Parikia for custom-made leather sandals, on-trend caftans, and artisan ceramics from labels like Yria), while upscale, mansion-lined Spetses—a favorite of royalty and VIPs—is a treasure trove of unique antiques, fashion, and accessories, including swimsuits from Greek designer Ellie Rassia and handmade contemporary jewelry by Ileana Maki. Overall, Greek style is less about flashing labels or big-name brands and more about living a streamlined, modern, and eternally sunny lifestyle—something that even the least sartorially inclined could get used to with enough time spent summering in a Grecian villa.
Best For: Culture Buffs
Like many major cities around the world, Paris is always a treasure trove of arts and culture—but there’s something particularly magical about exploring the City of Lights in the summertime. Even if you know the city well, you’ll see it from a new perspective with a tour of its top architecture sites via a vintage 2CV Citroen or via private yacht along the Seine. While onboard, you’ll spot that the banks of the Seine have also become home to the Paris Plages, a series of artificial beaches and pop-up esplanades that host concerts, open-air movies, and outdoor exhibits curated by the Louvre and Musee Galliera. If the sun gets too strong, head into one of the city’s many museums—we’d suggest skipping the classics in favor of newer arrivals like the Frank Gehry–designed Fondation Louis Vuitton, a hub for cutting-edge arts and culture (from installations to music and sound); the Rem Koolhaus–designed Lafayette Anticipations; and the super-buzzy L’Atelier des Lumieres, which takes you “inside” the works of iconic artists via 360-degree digital projections.
To help navigate it all—and, if you’re a collector, to connect with local artists—check in to the five-star, Philippe Starck–designed Raffles Le Royal Monceau, where the dedicated Art Concierge, the first of its kind in Paris, can help plan personalized art itineraries, private tours, and VIP experiences based on your interests (with enough notice, they can even get you into the Louvre after-hours). The hotel also has a noted on-site gallery curated by local experts; recent exhibits have highlighted street artists from around the world.
Best For: Eco-Conscious Adventurers
This island nation’s glittering Indian Ocean coastline, lush tropical forests, and wealth of wildlife are just some of what makes it such a special destination and such a draw for tourists—so it’s particularly vital that these natural assets are well-protected. Luckily, the country’s fledgling hospitality industry already features several upscale properties that have been developed with sustainability in mind. A member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, the Fortress has earned a Green Globe certification for its environmentally conscious practices, educational initiatives, and community programs while still treating guests to beachfront access, contemporary interiors, gourmet meals, and Ayurvedic spa treatments.
If you want to head further inland, Tri, located on the shores of Koggala Lake, is dedicated to sustainable luxury in all aspects, from the creation of its contemporary spaces to the fresh, organic ingredients used in its restaurant and spa. Spread across six acres, the property’s 11 unique suites include treehouse-style villas and romantic rooms set inside a cinnamon-wood-covered, converted water tower. And recently opened at the intersection of the ocean and jungle, the spectacular, 28-suite Relais & Chateaux–member Wild Coast Tented Lodge was crafted to honor the landscape by blending in. Near the leopard-rich Yala National Park, there are plenty of activities—from safari drives to hikes around the property—that connect guests to nature responsibly.
Best For: Overworked Execs
Sometimes, to truly de-stress, you have to tap into feeling like a kid again—or, at least, go somewhere with limited cell service. With its spectacular natural settings, wealth of engaging activities, and remote resorts, Montana fits just that bill. It’s easy to ignore all your devices (not to mention the outside world) when you’re surrounded by panoramas that stretch from snowcapped peaks to alpine lakes, and when there are plenty of opportunities for good old-fashioned fun.
At the 37,000-acre, ranch-style Paws Up Resort, activities like ATV rides, fly-fishing in Blackfoot River, and horseback rides get you out into the great outdoors, while chuck wagon dinners, tubing down the river, and evenings around the campfire take you back to summer camp. For even more opportunity to disconnect, book a three-hour private escape to the recently launched Island Lodge at Salmon Lake, where you can engage in water sports, sip cocktails, and enjoy the services of a dedicated island butler and adventure guide. Get even further away from the daily grind by heading further south to Triple Creek Ranch. Located in the foothills of the Bitteroot Mountain Range, the resort will tap into your inner cowgirl/cowboy with cattle drives, horseback rides (including along the Lewis & Clark trail), and trap shoots, while fly-casting lessons, nature safaris, and lawn games help you live in the moment.