Don't sweat it. We've got your summer figured out.
If your forecast looks like ours—hot, hotter, and scorching—you’re probably seeking ways to cool off that don’t involve climbing inside of your freezer drawer. We tried that, and it’s not very comfortable.
Fortunately, we’ve found more than a dozen ways to beat the midsummer heat. So stop squandering your vacation days (after all, there’s scientific proof that you need to take a break) and take a trip to a colorful seaside town where the streets are perfumed with begonias. Or escape to an island where the most difficult decisions are whether to snorkel or scuba dive, to kayak through limestone caves or to spend your afternoons bronzing on the beach.
Best of all, there’s no need to pack your bags. You can always stay put, crank the AC, and look at dreamy pictures of incredible beaches or read one of these irresistible summer books. Whether you’re inspired to take a staycation by the pool, or you need to put as many miles between you and the thermostat as possible, we’ve got you covered.
Experience a Mild Summer
Score a hot deal in the cool state of Alaska. Booking a last-minute cruise is a great way to find low fare. And while the sun rarely sets up here, you’ll find the temperatures much more mild. Enlist a travel agent to help you find discounted rates and to negotiate on-board perks.
Fall asleep to the sound of the surf crashing on your waterfront campsite. Pitch a tent on breezy Buzzards Bay, or lay claim to one of 175 sites on the Olympic Peninsula’s Kalaloch Campground. These scenic sites for beach camping will make you love every minute of summer.
Cross a World’s Best Island Off the Bucket List
This month, we announced the World’s Best Islands—and they’re scattered across the seven seas from the coast of South Carolina to New Zealand. Consider jetting off to the Philippines, home to three of the 10 best islands on the planet.
Give Your Brain a Break
A new study proves that beach vacations are beneficial to your wellbeing. People who are exposed to blue spaces (we’re thinking oceans, lakes, and pools) have lower levels of “psychological distress.” Alas, the study didn’t study the effects of short-term exposure, like an emergency beach getaway. But we say don’t chance it: go stare at some shimmering seas now.
Check Out a Hotel Pool Without Checking In
Fortunately, you don’t need to be a guest to take advantage of these amazing hotel pools (and cabanas, steam rooms, and sunbeds). Bostonians can escape to the Colonnade Hotel’s rooftop pool, where you can get all-day access for $40. Miami’s Mondrian South Beach, meanwhile, lures locals to their Biscayne Bay-adjacent pool and hammocks slung with white fur throws. For access, just drop $50 on food and cocktails.
Take the Plunge
Even if you don’t jet off to St. Lucia or the Maldives, you’ll feel refreshed just scrolling through these unbelievable plunge pools. Think: desert-facing infinity pools at the Amangiri Resort in Utah, and overwater bungalows with saltwater plunge pools, because why have one impossibly blue body of water when you can have two?
Escape to the Shade
Take the shade with you wherever you are in the world with one of these stylish sun hats. Chic Panama hats and dramatic, wide brims are guaranteed to make a statement.
Discover a Secret Hideaway
The only thing that makes us sweat more than this weather is an overcrowded beach. Fortunately, a bit of sleuthing has revealed tiny, tucked-away surf towns and secret beaches fringed by mangrove forests and accessible only by sailboat. These undiscovered stretches of oceanfront are some of the best, most well preserved places on earth to hideout during a heat wave.
Visit a Favorite American Beach Town
We asked readers to exhaustively score their favorite beach towns from sea to shining sea, taking into account everything from the quality of their picnic spots to the abundance of seafood shacks and caliber of their lobster rolls. You’re welcome.
Use Protection (From the Sun)
If the sun’s rays are keeping you from loving every minute of summer, lather on one of these fantastic sunscreens for personalized protection. We’ve even got a hydrating, non-greasy SPF 50 for multitaskers and specially formulated baby lotion, so everyone in the family is covered.
Some of the happiest people in American can be found at these seaside towns. And is it any wonder? We’d be grinning year-round, too, if we lived in colorful, begonia-scented Capitola, or on the tiny 3.3-mile stretch of shoreline known as historic Sullivan’s Island. Embrace those good vibes—at least for a weekend.
Soak in the View
Don’t just swim in a beautiful pool. Swim in a beautiful pool with an equally stunning view. Imagine watching dolphins and humpback whales ply the Pacific while you take a dip in your private plunge pool in Margaret River, Australia. Or, on the other hand, admire the reflection of the Andes, at sunset, from the infinity pool at Tierra Atacama.
Shake Things Up
It’s always tiki-time when things are this outrageously hot. Mix up one of these fruity summer cocktails and you’ll be transported to a tropical destination even if you’re just sitting in front of a window fan.
Find Comfort in Numbers
You’re not alone. It seems like everyone, everywhere is battling rising temperatures by diving off a pier or eating an exceptional amount of ice cream. Check out how people around the world battle hot spells.
Take a Lake Break
Have a little wholesome, all-American fun by planning a spontaneous lake vacation. Nothing can make you love the dog days of summer quite like paddling around one of these lovely bodies of water.
Don’t Underestimate the City
Summer festivals and world-class barbecue restaurants have helped these cities charm T+L readers even when you can fry an egg on the sidewalk. Find out which American metropolises received top marks for milk carton-boat races, downtown bonfires, and fireworks.
Plan a Staycation
Like we said, you don’t literally need to get out of dodge to, well, get out of dodge. Put your phone in airplane mode, and you may as well be on a deserted island. Throw in some frosty, frozen cocktails and you’re definitely going to have the best staycation ever.
Melanie Lieberman is the Assistant Digital Editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @melanietaryn.