Best Summer Vacation Spots for Students in 2024

Looking for summer vacation ideas? Finding the perfect vacation destination involves tons of research and a little bit of luck. Whether traveling as a student, with family or simply seeking options for a summer trip, here are some cherished destinations paired with Google destination insights, ensuring an affordable and refreshing summer escape.

In this blog, I will guide you through summer vacation ideas with nearby white-sand beaches, popular cities, nature locations, or even the choice of a charming small town all within the U.S. for the perfect summer months getaways.

Explore your next summer plans with eligible scholarship funds! Apply now for extra support and enjoy the season worry-free.

exploring the us

Exploring the U.S. for Summer Vacations

The U.S. can promise endless adventures for your summer getaway, from iconic landmarks to unique paradisiac destinations to hidden gems. These summer vacation spots will secure unforgettable travel memories for this summer with recommendations and details about each location, whether you are looking for fun or more relaxed family vacation spots.

puerto rico

The Beauty of Puerto Rico

A territory of the United States with its unique rich culture, gorgeous beaches, and amazing people, Puerto Rico stands as my number one travel destination within the country.

summer vacation spots

Puerto Rico’s Viejo San Juan fulfills all the vacation ideas you can think of. Take a picturesque walk through old Spanish-style buildings, with highlights like Castillo San Felipe del Morro and scenic spots like Parque de las Palomas. Nearby streets like Callejón la Tanca offer local food, drinks, and sunset views. Eateries and bars like La Factoría and Caficultura provide culinary delights and nightlife experiences. 

Moving from the coastal city towards Santurce, Condado caters more to mainstream tourists. At the same time, the Parque/Ocean Park area boasts hipster vibes and beaches like Playa del Pueblo and Playa Ocean Park.

Further exploration leads to the Hipódromo area’s vibrant nightlife spots, like Lote23 and El Local en Santurce. For LGBTQ+ visitors, El Local offers a welcoming atmosphere. 


Exploring beyond San Juan reveals natural wonders like El Yunque’s waterfalls and trails. At the same time, areas like Luquillo and Fajardo offer beautiful beaches, bioluminescent bay tours, and island hopping opportunities. On the West Coast, you have amazing surfing hotspots like Rincon and Guánica’s Isla de Gilligan, which provide unique experiences.

new york city

Summer Adventures in the Big Apple: Exploring New York City (NYC)

New York City attractions, like its skyscrapers, theater productions, and endless restaurants and nightlife, make the city of the Big Apple one of the favorites. Its vast population of around 9 million people makes it impossible to fully explore in just one visit.

With thousands of restaurants, museums, captivating attractions, theatrical productions, and an array of quirky experiences, visitors must come to the reality that they can only scratch the surface during their brief stay.

One of NYC’s key benefits is its metro, which operates 24 hours a day. Whether you are staying in Manhattan, Brooklyn, or The Bronx, the easy access to public transportation allows visitors to explore and stay in many different locations without missing the most attractive places in the city. 


Discover Austin: Your Gateway to Adventure and Culture!

Austin is a vibrant city with a Texas charm. It’s one of my favorite cities, full of creatives, professionals, culture, and a unique live music scene and nightlife. Austin is also well known for its lively student life, with multiple colleges and universities, such as The University of Texas at Austin. The city also provides eclectic food offerings, outdoor recreational opportunities, and entertaining weekend events.

At the same time, its beauty relies on how well it is cared for and how friendly its people are in every corner of the city. Austin invites exploration in every aspect, including the Mississippi River. Take a kayak excursion, available every week, or a bike ride through its parks.

The outdoor life of Austin is enigmatic. Whether you’re strolling through the historic streets of downtown, enjoying a hike along the scenic trails of the Greenbelt, or indulging in some of the best barbecues and tacos in the state, Austin offers an exceptional experience for visitors and locals alike, truly embodying the spirit of Texas.

san diego

San Diego: Where Coastal Beauty Meets Urban Excitement

San Diego perfectly balances pleasant weather, fewer crowds, and endless entertainment. A Californian coastal gem where sunny skies, immaculate beaches, and a laid-back vibe create the perfect setting for fun adventures. From the famous Gaslamp Quarter with its bustling nightlife to the historic neighborhoods of Old Town, San Diego offers a diverse tapestry of summer vacation ideas. 

beautiful water vacation

Outdoor enthusiasts can surf the waves through the more than 70 miles of fresh coastline along the Pacific Ocean or enjoy the stunning views through the scenic hike trails in the nearby mountains. 

Whether traveling with your family, solo, or with friends, San Diego has a place for everyone, from famous skate parks in Oceanside and the vibrant nightlife of Hillcrest to stunning beaches with cliffs rising over 300 feet above sea level. 

With world-class attractions like Legoland, whale watching tours, or Balboa Park, there’s no shortage of things to see and do. Add a booming culinary scene, craft breweries, and a rich cultural heritage with some of the best Mexican food. 

It’s easy to see why San Diego captures the hearts of visitors from around the globe and is becoming one of the most popular destinations in the world for fun and sun in the surf and on white sand beaches.

new orleans

New Orleans: A Magical Place

When you arrive to New Orleans, the city welcome you. A city with an enchanting blend of history, culture, and culinary treasures. Also cuddled along the mighty Mississippi River, New Orleans attracts summer travelers with its dynamic energy and irresistible charisma during the high season.

In New Orleans, every day can feel like a celebration. From the iconic Mardi Gras parade to the jazz rhythms of the French Quarter, the city comes alive with many places and festivals throughout the year. However, one of my favorite things about New Orleans is being able to experience authentic Creole and Cajun cuisine flavors at iconic eateries like Commander’s Palace and Brennan’s or dance to the rhythm of live music that literally echoes through the streets.

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If you are into the paranormal misteries, you can delve into the mystical side of New Orleans and uncover its rich witchy history. From voodoo queens to haunted mansions, the city’s historical sites are steeped in tales of the supernatural, like the St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, where the tomb of the voodoo priestess Marie Laveau. Join a guided ghost tour through the historic French Quarter and discover the secrets in its shadows for the best summer break.

New Orleans also has world-class museums. Visitors can step back in time at The Historic New Orleans Collection and delve into the city’s fascinating past through exhibits and artifacts or explore the wonders of science and nature at the Louisiana Children’s Museum.

In New Orleans, every experience is infused with a sense of magic and mystery. Whether you’re savoring the flavors of the city’s culinary delights, immersing yourself in its vibrant festivals, or exploring its rich history and culture, one thing is sure – New Orleans will make you want to repeat for more summer vacations!


Miami: Sunny and Clear Waters

Bienvenido a Miami! The unique city offers sun-kissed beaches, endless nightlife, and a rich Hispanic cultural tapestry that come together to create an unforgettable experience. 

Situated along the Atlantic Ocean, Miami attracts visitors with its spectacular skyline and endless display of attractions. Miami is synonymous with summer, famous for beaches with sky-blue waters, making it a paradise for beach lovers. The iconic sands of South Beach with warm waters invite visitors and locals to enjoy water sports or explore the natural beauty of Virginia Key Beach Park.

Miami’s Historic District, Ocean Drive, and buildings adorned with geometric shapes create an atmosphere that must be seen during one’s lifetime. With over 800 Art Deco structures, Miami’s historic district is a living museum of 20th-century design.

The colorful neighborhoods of Little Havana and Little Haiti are great places to start your best summer vacation, where rhythms of Latin music and the aroma of Cuban coffee fill the air. In Miami’s culinary scene, world-class chefs blend global flavors with local ingredients and create unforgettable dining experiences. From fine dining to classic local dishes, Miami’s restaurants offer a gastronomic journey that reflects the city’s diverse heritage.

I love to try fresh ceviche along the waterfront, enjoy brunch on a Sunday, or sample authentic Cuban cuisine in a family-owned business – the options are endless. Miami will leave you craving more long after you’ve said goodbye!

Best Summer Vacations in National Parks

One of the best choices for summer vacations is exploring some of the breathtaking National Parks that the U.S. has to offer. Although there are tons of nature gems, these are some of the most popular and my favorites to visit. 


Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Visitors can explore Yellowstone’s 2.2 million acres and observe wildlife in an intact ecosystem. The geothermal areas contain about half the world’s active geysers, one of visitors’ favorite unique attractions to experience in this lifetime.

The enigmatic and magical geologic wonders like the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River (Different from the famous Grand Canyon) are one of the many places that can contribute to relaxing, exercising, and enjoying nature while doing outdoor activities.

Although an entrance pass is required to enter Yellowstone National Park, vehicle reservations are unnecessary, so I highly recommend to purchase a pass online in advance since this magical place is in high demand as one of the best summer vacation spots.


Yosemite National Park, California

Located in sunny California, Yosemite National Park is one of the most iconic and amazing destinations to see the splendor of nature. With towering granite cliffs, majestic waterfalls, and ancient sequoias, families or travelers can secure an exciting yet life-changing exploration. Hike through dense forests, admire the mere beauty of Yosemite Valley, and most importantly, breathe in the fresh mountain air as you soak up the tranquility of this iconic park.

The popularity of the park makes visitors buy and reserve passes in advance as one of the top vacation ideas, so don’t wait because you will not regret visiting this unique natural playground. 

smoky mountains

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee/North Carolina

Between Tennessee and North Carolina, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park beckons adventurers with its peaks, valleys, and rich biodiversity, making it the perfect choice for the best summer vacation. As one of the largest protected areas in the eastern United States, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a testament to the importance of environmental conservation.

From mist-covered mountains to dense forests and cascading waterfalls, the park’s diverse landscapes offer opportunities to recenter and explore nature. Hikers can explore hidden gems tucked away in secluded corners of the park on trails like the Appalachian Trail.

One fun aspect is the park’s diverse wildlife, including black bears, white-tailed deer, and elusive elk. Birdwatchers can spot rare species like the peregrine falcon, the cerulean warbler, and over 1,500 flowering plants.

Whether you’re an avid hiker, a seasoned angler, or simply seeking a peaceful nature retreat, Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers something for everyone. Visitors can spend their days fishing, horseback riding, or simply picnicking amidst the breathtaking beauty of the park making it one of the the best vacation ideas for the summer.

Are you thinking about college this summer? Consider visiting colleges during the summer break to help you make a decision for your dream college.

Budget-Friendly Charming Towns: Hidden Gems for Your Summer Vacation

When it comes to planning a summer vacation, finding charming towns that offer both affordability and attraction can be a challenging task. Fortunately, options and hidden treasures across the United States promise unique experiences without breaking the bank. 

From the red rocks of Sedona to the cobblestone streets of Asheville and the adobe architecture of Santa Fe, these three budget-friendly towns are perfect for your next summer getaway.


Sedona, Arizona: Red Rock Adventures Await

Sedona offers a picturesque location for a budget-friendly summer vacation. With its sunny weather and abundant outdoor adventures, Sedona is the one of the best summer destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.

Bring your hiking boots and explore the miles of scenic trails that wind through the surrounding red rocks, or if you don’t like the effort, you can hop on a Jeep tour or a boat tour to discover the corners of this beautiful place. For those preferring relaxation, nearby Oak Creek offers spots for picnicking and swimming. At the same time, the charming shops and art galleries of downtown Sedona provide great opportunities for souvenir shopping and local foods. 

With affordable vacation rentals and plenty of budget-friendly dining options, Sedona is ideal for an unforgettable summer escape.


Asheville, North Carolina: A Mountain Retreat with Southern Charm

Tucked away in the mountains of western North Carolina, Asheville offers a perfect combination of natural beauty, history, and southern hospitality. 

Visitors can escape the summer heat by visiting the nearby Pisgah National Forest, where miles of hiking trails, waterfalls, and mountain vistas await. Explore the cobblestone streets of downtown Asheville, where boutiques, art galleries, and local breweries line up in the street.

Visit the historic Biltmore Estate, America’s largest privately-owned home, or walk through the lush gardens of the North Carolina Arboretum. With its abundant vacation rentals and affordable accommodations, Asheville is an ideal destination for budget-conscious travelers looking for a summer retreat in the mountains.

santa fe

Santa Fe, New Mexico: A Southwestern Oasis of Culture and Charm

Immerse yourself in the rich culture and colors of the American Southwest with a visit to Santa Fe, New Mexico. Known for its architecture, art galleries, and cuisine, Santa Fe offers a special blend of history, art, and wild beauty to enchant visitors of all ages. 

Explore the bending streets of the historic district, where centuries-old buildings and colorful gardens create a dramatic backdrop for charming walks and photo opportunities. Discover the arts scene with a visit to the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum or the Museum of International Folk Art.

Afterward, indulge in a culinary adventure with a meal at one of Santa Fe’s famous restaurants. With its warm weather, stunning desert landscapes, and affordable vacation rentals, Santa Fe is a perfect destination for a budget-friendly summer vacation in the Southwest.

Don’t feel like vacationing? Do you want to spend your summer in an internship? Check out these internships for high school students!

Financing Summer Vacations as a Student

Financing your summer vacation as a student can seem daunting, but here are some resources and recommendations that helped me explore destinations while in college– making it entirely possible.

Saving During the Academic Year

When it comes to saving, you can start by creating a detailed budget outlining your expenses and setting aside a portion of your income (which can be $10/week) for your vacation fund. Consider cutting unnecessary expenses, such as dining out or entertainment subscriptions, and redirecting those funds towards your travel fund. Look for cost-effective travel options, such as discounted transportation or accommodations, and be flexible with your travel dates to take advantage of off-peak pricing.

Furthermore, consider alternative accommodations like hostels, Airbnb, or camping to save money on lodging costs. Look for free or low-cost activities at your destination, such as hiking, exploring local parks, or attending community events. Don’t forget to plan ahead and take advantage of early booking discounts and travel deals.

Firstly, consider applying for scholarships specifically designated for summer travel or academic pursuits. Many organizations offer funding opportunities for students seeking to enrich their summer experiences through travel, research, or internships. Additionally, explore part-time job opportunities or freelance work to supplement your savings.

By combining scholarships, smart budgeting, and strategic planning, you can make your summer vacation dreams a reality while staying within your student budget.

You can also view study abroad scholarships, which will allow you to learn and explore something new!

summer vacation

Frequently Asked Questions About Best Summer Vacation Spots

Explore iconic destinations like San Juan, New York City, Austin, San Diego, New Orleans, and Miami. These cities offer a blend of cultural experiences, outdoor adventures, and vibrant nightlife, catering to diverse interests for summer travelers with close proximity to other nearby city options, other travelers, and unforgettable experiences.

Which national parks are ideal for a summer trip?

One of the best summer choices is to discover the natural beauty of Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Great Smoky Mountains National Parks. These parks boast stunning landscapes, hiking trails, and opportunities to observe wildlife in their natural habitats, making them perfect for outdoor enthusiasts, students, or couple’s getaways seeking adventure in the summer months.

Can you recommend affordable towns for a summer getaway?

Consider charming vacation spots like Sedona, Asheville, and Santa Fe for budget-friendly summer vacations. With picturesque scenery, cultural attractions, and outdoor activities, these towns during the summer months offer unique experiences without breaking the bank, ideal for travelers seeking affordable yet memorable summer escapes.

Don’t miss out on potential funding for your education – begin your scholarship search now!

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