The sun-drenched months from June to September are ripe for cultivating the memories that last a lifetime. The secret to reflecting on a vintage summer come Labor Day is more than fresh ideas, great company and spontaneous moments to savor. It’s also about planning well. There are tickets to be booked, transport to be arranged and priorities to be set. Not every plan will make the cut, so aim to create a broad palate of experiences from a manageable menu of activities. That could mean a balance of big crowds and alone time, paid and free attractions, culture and nature, and watching and doing.
A Little Wine Tasting?
Long summer evenings and slow, lazy afternoons lend themselves to a crisp glass of fine wine. If you’ve ever wondered about the community and culture behind each grape and region, you’ll find your curiosity satisfied on a wine tour. Think of New World wine and the internationally famous vineyards of Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley spring to mind, but you might be surprised where else in the U.S. you can visit a vineyard. Like the Finger Lakes vineyards in upstate New York or in central Virginia.
If you’re heading to the more prestigious California wineries, book your accommodation and tour well ahead, as the crowds build steadily from early summer to harvest time in fall. A day trip will give you a taste, but ideally give yourself a few days to immerse yourself in the local dining, hiking and cultural scene.
Where could you go this summer and telling people “I was there” for years to come? The chances are you’ll need to start planning right now. If you want to secure your bleacher seat at the July 9 MLB All-Star Game in Cleveland or join the crowds at the US Open in late August, sign up for price-tracking apps and ticket marketplaces to avoid premium prices. Traveling in a group? You’ll find more room but no less glamor at the Belmont Stakes in June, or you can turn a few days at the US Open of Surfing on Huntington Beach into a California mini-break.
For the gourmand gourmet, don’t miss these summer food festivals:
Whichever you choose, if you’re heading out of state or farther afield, you can take the strain off flight costs by setting up an alert with a price-compare app, by booking early or by choosing budget “no frills” airlines, instead of better-known carriers. Alternatively, add a train journey or long-haul coach trip to your bucket list. If you’re in a group, you might find it turns into a journey you’ll remember for years to come.
Summer Festivals for Live Music
When the sun comes out, the world’s biggest bands and DJs also emerge from their slumber. You can choose from city festivals, such as Chicago’s Pitchfork or Lollapalooza, if you just want to enjoy the bands and then head back to a hotel or Airbnb at night. If, on the other hand, you want to take a group, camp out and drink in the atmosphere, New York City’s Governors Ball Music Festival in May is worthy of any summer bucket list.
The best-known summer festivals are ticket-only and last two to three days, although you can opt for a single day pass. If you’re happy to stick to up-and-coming or niche performers, look out for free summer festivals in your state or city — a great excuse to discover a new corner of your own backyard. After all, new experiences are what a bucket list is all about.
Of course, your summer bucket list doesn’t have to be a roll call of big names and famous locations. The important point is to keep it personal and check the boxes that matter to you. Whatever you choose, start planning as early as possible to beat the rush, keep your options open and create a list to remember.
Traveling abroad is exciting — but volunteer travel is both exciting and enriching. Imagine getting free travel opportunities while doing some good.