Here’s where AFAR staffers travel to soak up the summer sun.
The perfect summer vacation is different for everyone. For some, an ideal summer adventure is best spent working up a sweat while hiking in the Rocky Mountains. For others, it entails working up an appetite while sipping fine wine in the French countryside. Nonetheless, ’tis officially the season for summer travel (or, at least, to start planning for it). We’ve rounded up some of AFAR editors’ favorite summer destinations—read on, get inspired, and plan your own adventures under the summer sun.
“My favorite summer trip I’ve ever taken was to the Mosel Valley in Germany. It’s known for its crisp, acidic rieslings, so there’s nothing better than sitting outside drinking a cold glass of the region’s best white wine. Tasting rooms generally pour for free, and the highest-end bottles top off at around 20 euro. We stayed in the tiny town of Bernkastel-Kues, which looks like something out of Beauty and the Beast. You’ll be hard-pressed to find another American there, too.” —Danielle Walsh, AFAR senior editor
“One of my new favorites for a summer trip: Ojai. Early summer (May-June) is best, because it gets hot near the Los Padres National Forest in high summer. Ojai offers great day hikes, luxurious spas, genuinely good organic food, and little shops that range from New Age to Kinfolk-y. Recently, we stayed at the Caravan Outpost, an all-Airstream motel with a fire pit, general store, and cruiser bikes, located two minutes from town and 30 seconds from the Ojai bike path. Travelers beware: Ojai has a way of working its way under your skin and making you wonder how easy it would be to transplant your entire life to the valley.”—Aislyn Greene, AFAR senior editor
3. Cape Cod
“I spent every summer of my childhood visiting my grandmother on Cape Cod, and to me, the Cape is summer nostalgia at its best—from the wooden picket fences to the beach-side snack shacks (which serve the world’s best curly fries). When we weren’t spending the day seaside, we’d grab old cruisers and bike along the area’s numerous biking trails to a local ice cream or candy shop. I still look forward to my Cape vacations every summer and to ending a meltingly hot day at the beach with a bowl of clam chowder al fresco.” —Maggie Fuller, AFAR editorial assistant
“I hate to sound clichéd, but Provence is a pretty good place to be in the summer. Just outside the tiny village of Saint-Antonin-du-Var we rented an old olive mill that’s been converted into lodgings and stayed for a week. We rode bikes past lavender fields and vineyards to the farmers’ market in Lorgues, where we bought cheese and sausage and spectacular radishes that we would slice and eat raw with salted butter. We strolled cobblestone streets that led to the shaded central square of the ancient hilltop village of Tourtour. We took a day trips to the coast, where we kayaked among the calanques, limestone cliffs that shelter tranquil bays of that incredible Mediterranean blue. We sipped pastis. We remembered what life is supposed to be about.” —Jeremy Saum, AFAR executive editor
“One long weekend in Denver was all it took to convert me. We landed just after midnight and went straight from the airport to Union Lodge No. 1 for cocktails with more garnish than ice. This isn’t a bad thing—one does not simply decline a Tom Collins with a six-inch sprig of rosemary wrapped in lemon peel, especially not during the summer. Every single drink and meal that followed was noteworthy, from bourbon sticky buns and apricot sour beer to brisket I still fantasize about. (Go to Owlbear Barbecue’s truck. You will not be disappointed.) During brief breaks from gluttony and brewery hopping, we hiked around Red Rocks Amphitheatre and strolled through the arts district, both of which benefitted from Denver’s stellar weather. I’ve never seen clouds so striking.” —Nicole Antonio, AFAR editorial production coordinator
“I’ve spent countless summers with my family in the San Juan Islands, the archipelago in the northwest corner of Washington State, and it’s still my most cherished summertime destination. There’s nothing quite like eating Dungeness crab fresh out of the water, collecting shells and stones along the rocky beaches, or seeing orcas swimming by your boat. Don’t miss dinner at the Willows Inn on Lummi Island, where Noma-trained chef Blaine Wetzel creates an extraordinary tasting menu inspired by the local landscape.” —Jennifer Flowers, AFAR deputy editor
“I spent one of my favorite summers in Tuscany, posted up in an old monastery-turned-lodgings in Certaldo. We lounged by the pool, biked to the market, cooked meals from scratch, tasted wine, and took day trips around the area (easily catching quick trains to Siena, Lucca, San Gimignano, Monteriggioni, and Florence). It was a well-balanced summer trip—pure relaxation with a pinch of exploration each day.”—Rachel McCord, AFAR assistant photo editor