Nothing screams summer quite like a summer vacation. Sunglasses are on, the greenery is in full show, al-fresco dining is the norm, and park days are a weekly ritual. It’s time to take a trip. Some opt for an annual beach vacation to the same rental year after year with the whole family in tow. Others love to fight the hordes of tourists in the Louvre to catch a glimpse of the Mona Lisa. And while more and more New Yorkers are taking advantage of their summer Fridays to go camping upstate rather than fighting the bumper-to-bumper traffic to the Hamptons and Montauk, the Condé Nast Traveler office is mostly heading to Europe or somewhere along the East Coast this year.
Read on to gather inspiration from those of us who travel for a living for your own summer vacation, from Istanbul to Italy and Ecuador to Maryland.
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In what is my third trip to this city in a year (I can't help myself), I will be spending four glorious spring days in Copenhagen with my sister. Things I'm looking forward to include visiting the newly renovated DesignMuseum, and hanging out in its courtyard garden with its linden trees and placed sculptures, as well as Ordrupgaard, a beautiful, neo-classical country mansion-turned-museum which got an exciting new extension courtesy of international design studio, Snøhetta. Tivoli Gardens is celebrating its 180th anniversary with an impressive culinary calendar that includes Michelin restaurant pop-ups and Danish produce markets—so I cannot wait to sample some of that as well. I'm staying at Nimb, which is a magical oasis in the city, and offers ringside views to Tivoli. And then, there's always the harbor: for gathering, wine-drinking, and dipping. —Arati Menon
My friend is getting married this summer at a beautiful villa in Lucca, Tuscany. I’m equally excited for the big day as I am to visit Cinque Terre with the bridal party. Afterwards, I’m headed to Florence—a city that’s been at the top of my travel bucket list for years. I plan to eat as much as I can and finally see the extraordinary architecture for myself. I’m staying at a gorgeous Airbnb with a private outdoor patio in the heart of Florence. To say I’m excited is an understatement. —Meaghan Kenny
To ring in my birthday this year, I'm hitting Nantucket with a few friends and staying at the newly renovated White Elephant Nantucket for the beach-chic vibes and close proximity to all the best shopping and dining in Town. Since my trip is coinciding with the island's film festival that attracts plenty of actors and filmmakers, I'm crossing my fingers for a celebrity sighting (or two). —Shannon McMahon
Turkey and Greece
My husband and I are off to spend the last two weeks of Summer (August) in Istanbul, Santorini, and Crete. I haven't been to Istanbul and Santorini since college and this will be his first time in both places so I'm extra excited to show him the way—granted I'm sure both are completely different from a decade ago. In Istanbul, we'll be enjoying a 4-night stay at the new The Peninsula Istanbul overlooking the Bosphorus. We're looking forward to visiting all the heritage sights and strolling the narrow paths of the grand bazaar. In Santorini and Crete, we're going to spend our days honing our Mediterranean diet and catching the breathtaking sunsets while dipping in cliffside pools. —Eugene Shevertalov
I'm heading to Tuscany for a wedding in June, and somehow it has morphed into a full-blown Euro Trip reminiscent of the way I traveled in my 20's. I'm spending a few days in Amsterdam before the main event, which will be my first time returning since I studied abroad there, then driving from Rome to Florence where I'll spend a long weekend. I was supposed to come straight home after that, but my flight on TAP offered the chance to stick around in Lisbon as a stopover (I said yes—five nights—I couldn't resist). I'm excited, though, that they're all places I last visited over a decade ago. I can't wait to see how they've grown and changed. —Megan Spurrell
Stone Harbor, New Jersey
My family has been vacationing in Stone Harbor, a small town off the coast of New Jersey, for the last 20-odd years—and recently, my now-husband's family has joined in on the fun. This summer, we're all renting a house together on 102nd Street, just south of Stone Harbor's charming downtown, and crucially, only a block from the beach. I can't wait to take long, leisurely bike rides up and down the island, and spend whole afternoons on the beach, whittling down the stacks of books I've been meaning to read; I can already envision the quiet, early-morning cups of coffee I'll savor on the front porch, and the pre-dinner vodka tonics we'll all toast together after a long day on the sand, just before we dig into a fresh seafood feast. But mostly, I can't wait to spend time with my loved ones in a place we all love. —Betsy Blumenthal
I know some people grow out of camping as they get older (the hard ground! the lack of showers!), but I'm grateful I've gone the opposite way. There's nothing like sleeping outside, especially in the warmth of summer. One of my upcoming camping trips is to Assateague National Seashore in Maryland, which I've read about for years—a herd of wild horses roam free on the beach, and if you manage to snag a reservation when they open in January, you get to sleep right on the sand. My friends and I are going to swim, watch the sunset with cold beers, and stop for some of that famous Maryland seafood on the drive home. —M.S.
I'm also heading to Quito this summer for a locally hosted wedding that has me armed with plenty of expert recommendations on where to eat, from the city's World's Best-winning dining venues to the open-air food vendor squares, and what to explore, from La Floresta's artisanal shops and markets to the nearby mountainside hot springs. I'm staying at the JW Marriott Hotel Quito for views I'm told are some of the absolute best of the Ecuadorian capital. —S.M.
I’ve always wanted to take a trip with my best friend, and when she told me she wanted to explore her Scottish heritage, I was honored to join her (and embrace my own Scottish roots, two percent of them, thank you very much). We’re flying into Edinburgh where we’ll stay for a few nights, walking and eating our way through the city before renting a car and driving through Glasgow and up to the highlands, where we’re hoping to spend a lot of time hiking, plunging into chilly fairy pools, and experiencing the Highland Games. —Mercedes Bleth
Last summer I won an Instagram contest and was awarded an annual National Park pass, but I haven’t had a chance to use it yet. My dad and I try to go on a road trip every summer so I decided, before the park pass expires, I would call my dad and ask him if he wanted to go to Maine. The state has been on my travel list for a long time because I’ve wanted to experience the natural beauty of Acadia National Park. Starting in Portland for one night, we will travel to Bar Harbor for two nights to enjoy the “Gateway to Acadia National Park” before heading back to Portland. I can’t wait to eat my weight in seafood, enjoy the Atlantic coastline, and spend time with my dad. —Kayla Brock