You worked hard all spring, fall, and winter -- now it's time to relax. Whether you're on break from school, lucky enough to get summer Fridays, or simply ready to indulge in your wanderlust, summer is a prime time to pack your bags and hit the road. And with the Olympics, U.S. presidential election, National Park Service birthday, and other major events on the horizon, there are plenty of reasons to do just that. But, where? To help you answer that loaded question, we've rounded up 10 destinations offering something extra special this summer.
1. Rio de Janeiro
With the 2016 Summer Olympics inching closer, there's no doubt Rio de Janeiro is the place to be this summer. Luckily, plenty of tickets under $100 are still available for several sporting events, from football to gymnastics. Book it to Brazil from August 5 through 21 to cheer on your home team and witness athletic records break before your eyes. Flights don't come cheap, but it might just be a gold medal trip that's worth the splurge. Alternatively, you could fly into one of Brazil's many other international airports and road trip to Rio.
Where to Stay: Ipanema Beach House still has rooms available during the Olympics. Plus, the pool here makes for a nice break between the games.
2. Washington, D.C.
School’s out for the summer and that means it’s peak season for visiting Washington, D.C. However, what better time to scope out the country's capital than during a presidential election year? If this is your first summer in the city, be sure to hit up all the monuments. Book a bike tour after sunset when the weather is cooler and the monuments’ lights make for even more photo ops. Those who have already seen the D.C. sites can take advantage of other local attractions, including outdoor summer concerts at Wolf Trap, a game at Nationals Park, and the 24th Annual National Capital Barbecue Battle on June 25 and 26.
Where to Stay: W Washington D.C. may be one of the city's most stylish hotels, complete with a rooftop bar and easy access to major sights, thanks to its prime downtown location.
3. Las Vegas
TripAdvisor named Las Vegas as the top summer 2016 destination for its low cost of hotels and airfare as well as the city’s popularity. Nevada is known to be pretty steamy in the summer, but if you’re spending your days cooling off in the air-conditioned buffets, casinos, concert halls, and all-day pool parties, you’re doing it right. TripAdvisor also reported the average cost of a one-week summer trip to Sin City is $2,224, but hey, if you win big, you may even be ready to book your next vacation -- Vegas or elsewhere.
Where to Stay: You basically get two trips for the price of one when you check in to the Venetian, a 5,030-room Venice, Italy-themed resort and casino located right on the Strip. Half of the fun of this city is seeing the extravagant properties, so don't eliminate hotel-hopping from your itinerary without giving it a chance.
Idaho was recently named one of the best places to travel in August, leaving us intrigued. Although it might not have reached the top of your bucket list (or the bottom, for that matter), it turns out the U.S. state has a lot to offer. Nicknamed "The Gem State," Idaho is packed with national parks, outdoor attractions, and plenty of Midwestern hospitality. Summertime in the Midwest means county and state fairs, so make sure to stop by Boise's Western Idaho Fair (August 19 to 28) or the Eastern Idaho State Fair (September 3 to 10) and brace yourself for all the foods on a stick you can eat, livestock competitions, live music, carnival rides, and more.
Where to Stay: The Coeur d'Alene Resort provides a beautiful Midwestern retreat, featuring with indoor and outdoor pools, a spa, golf course, five restaurants, and lakeside views (okay, we won't blame you if you skip the state fair).
Those with ample time to travel over the summer should go down under. Keep in mind that June, July, and August are Australia's winter, so temperatures could be in the mid-60s. Winter is the best time to enjoy Sydney's cultural attractions, including art galleries, the Australian Museum, and renowned Sydney Opera House, which hosts a wide variety of seasonal programs. Those craving outdoor activities should visit Sydney's various organic markets that are packed with local produce.
Where to Stay: Check in to the Shangri-La Hotel Sydney for a slice of Australian paradise. Overlooking the Darling Harbor and Sydney Cove, the large and bright rooms feature big marble bathrooms complete with separate showers and soaking tubs.
6. George Town
With plenty of full-service hotels available in George Town this summer for under $100 a night, we're ready to check in, sit by the pool, and sip out of a coconut. Located on the island of Penang, the city is known for its street art and food and flea markets. Foodies will want to pay a visit to the Wonderfood Museum, which is packed with non-edible replicas of Malaysian dishes and delicacies that are ready for your ridiculous selfies.
Where to Stay: Housed inside a beautiful historic building from 1885, the Eastern & Oriental Hotel comes with a full-service spa, fitness center with a sauna and steam room, opulent fine-dining restaurants, and an oceanside pool that's flanked by palm trees -- need we say more?
7. Yellowstone National Park
A destination for families from all corners of the country, Yellowstone attracts tourists eager to see Old Faithful. August 25 also marks the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, which means the summer is full of special celebrations and activities. For example, kids can become Centennial Junior Rangers this year, earning badges and commemorative souvenirs. Entry to all national parks will also be free from August 25 to 28 in honor of the big birthday. Make the most of this and visit nearby Grand Teton National Park, which is less than a 10-minute drive from Yellowstone.
Where to Stay: For those who have already vetoed out camping, Canyon Lodge and Cabins offers rustic, yet comfortable accommodations that also include a full-service restaurant, cafeteria, gift shop, and more.
8. New York City
Thanks to a fantastic combination of air-conditioned indoor activities and hot outdoor offerings, New York's prime tourist season is over the summer. Enjoy the sunshine at Coney Island beach or Central Park or cool down indoors at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, which hosts its annual Costume Institute exhibits over the summer. Sports fans can catch either a Yankees or Mets game most nights of the week or visit from August 29 to September 11 for a U.S. Open tennis tournament.
Where to Stay: The James New York, a 114-room boutique property in SoHo, boasts a stunning rooftop bar and pool, great freebies (including nightly wine and cheese), a restaurant by David Burke, and a 24-hour fitness center.
Tourists flocks to Antalya, the eight largest city in Turkey, to enjoy the stunning Turquoise Coast and its breathtaking views, beaches, and nearly perfect weather. This summer, Antalya is also hosting the annual Expo (last year it was held in Milan), an international horticultural exposition showcasing products and innovations.
Where to Stay: The all-inclusive Delphin Imperial Hotel Lara offers 13 acres of gorgeous grounds, pools with water slides, a Turkish spa, nine restaurants, nine bars, and much more.
10. Mexico City
While many plan to visit Mexico from March to May (the best time for a beach vacation), visiting off-season is key to getting great rates. Summertime brings on the rainy season, but showers are shot and cool things down. Visit July 16 for the Fiesta de la Virgen Carmen, an annual religious celebration featuring street performances and more. Be sure to also check out the Museo de Arte Moderno as well as the Blue House (La Casa Azul), the former home and studio of Frida Kahlo.
Where to Stay: Located in the lively Zona Rosa neighborhood, the historic Hotel Geneve Ciudad de Mexico offers beautiful architecture, antiques, and museum-worthy art. If that's not enough reason to book a night here, perhaps the modern amenities (flat-screen TVs, an on-site cinema) will give you some incentive.