Summer is just around the corner and most of us are ready for a sunny break somewhere hot. Whether you have the budget for a big European trip or need something small and affordable in the US, we’ve compared a selection of destinations to inspire both blow-out and budget vacation packages for this summer.
Known as ‘America’s Riviera,’ Santa Barbara is quiet yet smart, with a slightly European feel. It’s small and the buildings have Spanish influences – so it feels like you are somewhere quite exotic. LA is a short drive away if you do want more excitement, and San Francisco is also within driving distance if the heat gets too much. You can take in the Big Sur along the way. Summer is the busiest and most costly time to visit, but it’s also when most events are on. From June until September you can enjoy the Summer Solstice Celebration, French Festival, and Old Spanish Days Fiesta. The weather is reliably hot and there’s next to no rain. Enjoy the free public beaches, get active and go hiking in the Santa Ynez Mountains, or explore the vineyards to be found just outside the city – this is wine country, after all.
If you are on a budget but want somewhere with real holiday appeal, then Hawaii is an option for your summer vacation package. Technically low season in the summer, hotels are more affordable at this time, though flight prices creep up in July and August. It can be more humid and hot, but sea waters are calmest (ideal for swimming), and there’s very little rain. Maui is a good choice outside of the Big Island, being a mid-sized island with a bit of everything. It’s also the spot for high-end hotels.
If you love being outdoors then a visit to Yellowstone has to be on your summer short list. At 2.2 million acres, there’s more than enough to explore, even though it is peak season. Activities include horse riding, hiking, water sports, plus the world’s most geothermal features in one place. There’s a choice of lodges and campsites within the park, and more outside. Many will offer a vacation package that combine activities, accommodation, and meals in one affordable price – all you have to do is show up. Lodges and restaurants will open from May, with many winding down in September. The park is closed for some winter dates. 2016 is also a special year for the US National Park Service, having its 100-year anniversary. To celebrate, there’s free entry to all national parks from the 25-28th August.
If you don’t miss the ocean, then Chicago is an affordable choice for your summer vacation package. This is when you’ll find the best weather here – though it’s still a pleasant 80 Fahrenheit on average – and it’s when it’s the busiest also, with lots to see and do. There are 26 miles of lakefront with beaches (yes, you read that right) and events focus on music, food and sport. Highlights this year include the Grant Park Music Festival, Lollapalooza, Chicago Blues Festival, America’s Cup, Cope America Centenario, Chicago SummerDance and Chicago Air and Water Show.
If you have the budget then a vacation package to Santorini is a very memorable one. While Greece has had its share of troubles recently, this has made it more affordable if anything. Santorini is a beautifully picturesque island and is ideal for couples and honeymoons. Hotels range from small and cheap to 5-star stunning coastal dreams. It’s also easy to get around the Greek islands using the ferry system, so if you want something more lively Mykonos is only an hour or two away, or you could island-hop through your trip. Bear in mind that summer is peak season, so while there is a good price range for accommodation, it will be more limited the nearer you get to departure.
Like most Northern European cities, Amsterdam has relatively mild but reliably warm summers, which makes this a good time to visit. There’s also lots of events, with over 300 festivals taking place mostly in the summer months. These can range from food and drink to music, culture or dance. Unlike other European countries where the weather is hotter and many residents escape to the countryside, Amsterdam’s city social scene really gets going during the summer. Street markets are at their busiest, open-air theater performances take place at Vondelpark, and locals grab the opportunity for al fresco dining and drinking. There are even beaches within a half hour train ride at Bloemendaal aan Zee and Zandvoort aan Zee.
This may be a controversial choice. While vacation packages for the theme parks reach peak season in the summer, it can be off-putting for many people. Not only do you have to contend with the crowds everywhere, but hotel and plane tickets are at their highest. What’s more, the weather is hot and humid with regular thunderstorms breaking up the day. If you want to visit and aren’t dependent on the school holidays, try the spring or winter when the parks are quieter, and the weather is cooler and drier.
This Caribbean island is glamorous but overpriced and very crowded at this time of year. It’s easy to spend a lot of cash on a vacation package that isn’t actually all that fun. Instead, try Anguilla. This is a quieter, more relaxing island, and it actually has more beaches per mile anyway.
An Italian summer is beautiful but it can also be a nightmare time to visit this country. While cities will be quieter, especially during the summer vacation period in August, this means that many smaller shops and restaurants will also be closed. It can also be unbearably hot, especially in Rome. An escape to the southern coast may be tempting but this is where you will meet many of those holidaying locals, and it can be very crowded. If you plan to drive, that can also be a hair-raising experience on the narrow coastal roads. Go in early or late season to experience the scenery without the stress and hassle – it’s cheaper too. Alternatively, consider an Italian cruise.
Anywhere in the Gulf suffers from very high summer temperatures and the UAE, home of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, is no exception. Temperatures can hit 120F, combined with 100% humidity. Ramadan, the month of fasting, also falls in June for 2016 and it can be very challenging for non-Muslims. Eating and drinking is not allowed in public, and social activity is quieter for the month too. Winter is the perfect time to visit the UAE, as it is much cooler and the weather is akin to a Mediterranean summer.
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