Remember summer vacation? As a kid, the excitement of waiting for it to arrive, watching the classroom clock ticking toward the magical last day of school and the weeks of freedom, sunshine and fun that lay just ahead of you?
Lazy days spent at the beach with your family, trips to the amusement park, playing with friends late into the night as the moist, warm air grew heavy with the sound of crickets and katydids. Summer. Relaxation. Joy.
That same excitement is right around the corner, should you choose to embrace it. (And really, you should – it’s been a grueling two years!) We’ve rounded up some summer vacation ideas just perfect for bonding with family members and friends and bringing a little more laughter and levity into our lives. So this year, enjoy your summer vacation. You’ve earned it.
For the Younger Set
Of course, the perennial favorites – Walt Disney World Resort and Universal Orlando Resort – are favorites for a reason: The Orlando, Fla., attractions feature rides, characters and events that cater to all ages.
New at Disney is the “Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser,” an immersive “Star Wars”-themed hotel. The “Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind” roller coaster should start accepting riders in the summer. At Universal, new attractions include the “Jurassic Park VelociCoaster” and DreamWorks character encounters with Puss in Boots, the “Madagascar” crew, “Kung Fu Panda” and more.
Road trips to national parks are a great way to introduce children to everything America has to offer. And you don’t have to worry about luggage fees – you can just throw everything you need into the trunk.
“There’s so much to see in the U.S.,” said Anne Lischwe, a travel sales manager at AAA Northeast who spent her childhood visiting national parks with her family. “And road trips are so easily customizable to all budgets, time frames and interests.”
If your children love critters and are awed by nature, Alaska may be a good choice. Families can de-stress while kayaking among glaciers, spotting moose and caribou in Denali National Park and Preserve and exploring coastal towns like Juneau and Ketchikan. From mid-May to mid-September, visitors will find moderate temperatures and plenty of sunshine.
Why let kiddos have all the fun? Consider taking a summer vacation with your adult children or siblings, or with friends you haven’t been able to see in a while (eyeing you here, COVID-19!).
If you’re all about easing away from the world and relaxing, AAA Travel advisor Claudete Fujikawa suggests escaping to a luxury all-inclusive resort somewhere tropical and warm.
“I’ve had a lot of clients booking trips to Aruba,” said Fujikawa, who works in the Hackensack, N.J., branch. “It’s very safe, and you get the typical sun-and-surf kind of vacation. But you also have a lot of history and culture to explore, too.”
She’s also seeing an increase in national park bookings since the pandemic hit, something she credits to the healing qualities of spending time outdoors. For those seeking panoramic views mixed with the genteel art of railway travel, she suggests a jaunt on the Rocky Mountaineer. A new “Rockies to the Red Rocks” route takes guests through the sunbaked landscapes of Moab, Utah, to Denver, winding a picturesque trail through canyons, rivers and mountains.
A luxury spa getaway is always a good option for a girls’ getaway. Who can’t feel the stress melt away during a mud wrap, massage or just lounging by a pool with a refreshing beverage. Women Explorers trips from Club Adventures are another choice: You can’t help but bond with your travel mates while snorkeling in the Galapagos Islands or cooking a meal in a local host’s home in Jordan.
With cozy ships and hundreds of ports to choose from, river cruising may be the ultimate in small group travel. And they’re not just in Europe: Viking now has sailings on the Mississippi River, as well as voyages of the Great Lakes.
But, of course, you can always cruise through hundreds of years of history, culture, scenery and amazing cuisine on a European river cruise. Whether you want to see tulips in Amsterdam or castles along the Rhine, AmaWaterways has you covered. You can even cruise down the Nile and explore pyramids and other Egyptian antiquities during port excursions.
Contact a AAA travel advisor for help planning your next summer vacation.