Adventure Travel

Summer Travel: The Ultimate Activity Guide

Add these three summer bucket list trips for a memorable season

The Vacationeer
Palm trees and Pacific Ocean coastline in Southern California at sunset

Whether you're looking for an epic road trip from the city to sea, outdoor adventures like hiking, whitewater rafting or mountain-range horseback riding, or hot summer nights in cities that never sleep, we've got ideas for your summer vacation.

Add these iconic journeys to your bucket list today.

Pacific Ocean coastline from California, Highway number 1 near Big Sur   

Idea 1: Buckle Up for an Epic Roadtrip

Pacific Coast Highway

Load up the car and head to California's Pacific Coast Highway. This ultimate summer road trip offers every vacation wrapped into one: beach breaks, city sights, the great outdoors, farm-fresh food, vineyards and more.

From San Diego to San Francisco, the PCH stretches nearly 600 miles through a coastal wonderland of rugged cliffs, towering trees and crashing waves. Non-stop, it's a 10-hour drive, but give yourself a week to take in the best of the Golden State.

Linger awhile in Carlsbad near San Diego before catching waves in famous oceanfront towns like Laguna Beach and Huntington Beach, also known as Surf City. Next, the bright lights of Los Angeles and Hollywood await.

Further north, sip and savor at more than 30 nearby wineries, or gawk in awe at Hearst Castle in San Simeon. Get lost in the redwood forests and dramatic cliffs of Big Sur, or watch sea otters swim in Morro Bay. San Francisco, with its famous trolleys, bridges and dramatic streets, is your final stop, with the vineyards of Napa and Sonoma just beyond.

Palm trees and pool on a sunny day at MarBrisa, a Hilton Grand Vacations Club, in Carlsbad, California   

Stay at the start: The charming seaside hamlet of Carlsbad is your starting point at the MarBrisa, a Hilton Grand Vacations Club. This Mediterranean-style resort neighbors LEGOLAND California, with the beach, shopping and world-class golf courses mere minutes away.

Studio to 3-Bedroom Suites, with private outdoor and kitchen spaces, make family summer bucket list travel a breeze. Amenities include a pool with a splash pad for the little ones, a spa, a fitness center and multiple dining options.

Stay at the end: Club Donatello is a four-star, gold-crown boutique timeshare in San Francisco's Union Square entertainment hub, adjacent to the theater district and iconic cable car line. Experiences in the 1-Bedroom King Suites spare no detail, with evening turndown service, a private spa and a rooftop lounge offering breathtaking views of the City by the Bay.

Idea 2: See the City Lights at Night

If you're craving the concrete jungle, check out these summertime hot spots.

A cozy poolside fire pit at The Boulevard, a Hilton Grand Vacations Club, in Las Vegas, Nevada   

Las Vegas

Check items off your summer bucket list, adult edition, by seeking out Lady Luck in Las Vegas. With world-famous casinos, headliner performances, nightclubs and marquee dining, there's no shortage of entertainment for all you night owls out there.

Pool parties are a highlight of summer. You'll find instagrammable backdrops galore at the Neon Museum, home to 200 neon signs of yore. For early birds, daytime excursions include the Hoover Dam and Lake Mead, exploring the Valley of Fire and Red Rock Canyon or dune-buggy racing through the desert.

Stay: Stay in style at a Hilton Grand Vacations Las Vegas timeshare resort, with five locations on the iconic Strip, just steps from all the action. Multi-bedroom Suites are a respite from the fray — no gaming here — with full kitchens and high-end amenities like private pools, relaxing spas and concierge services to make all your vacation dreams come true.

The High Line green space park in New York City   

New York City

New York City comes alive in summer with street-side al fresco dining, outdoor theater and dance performances, rooftop nightlife and, yes, even beaches, making for a fun summer bucket list.

Downtown, check out performances under the stars at The Amph at Little Island, a new public park that seems to float above the Hudson River, then walk the nearby High Line, a 1.5-mile-long park built atop an abandoned elevated train line. Uptown, score free tickets to Shakespeare in the Park in Central Park's outdoor Delacorte Theater. Then grab a drink or two at a rooftop oasis.

When daylight rolls around, recuperate like a local in the city's bustling bathhouse scene at hip hangouts like Bathhouse in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, upscale options like AIRE Ancient Baths in Tribeca or 24-hour options like Juvenex in Koreatown.         

Stay: With five Hilton Grand Vacations New York City timeshare properties to choose from, you can have a coveted Manhattan address whenever you want. Take your pick: steps from Central Park, Carnegie Hall, Broadway or famous Fifth Avenue.

Each location offers Studios and Suites in the heart of the Big Apple to suit every type of guest, including solo travelers, couples and families. Amenities include spas, in-house dining, fitness centers, concierges, sky lounges and skyscraper views.

Idea 3: Explore the Great Outdoors

If you're craving some quality time with Mother Nature, these scenic locales make for the perfect getaway.


The Rockies

The sun shines 300 days a year in Colorado, making this state perfect for a host of summer adventures.

In Breckenridge, the water awaits. Try your hand at fly fishing with pro anglers, or go whitewater rafting on a gentle family float in the Colorado River. Try stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) in town on Maggie Pond or kayak on Lake Dillion.

If you want to stick to dry land, trails for hiking, running, road and mountain biking abound.  You can also ride horseback through the open range or mush on a summer dog-sledding adventure.

In town, take a stroll along historic Main Street and toast to the season at an array of summer festivals celebrating beer, wine, bourbon, bacon and more.

Stay: Valdoro Mountain Lodge, a Hilton Grand Vacations Club, in Breckenridge, offers Studio to 3-Bedroom Suites complete with gas fireplaces for cool mountain nights and a heated pool for hot summer days, plus dazzling views of the Rockies beyond.

Stream flowing through forest in Smokey Mountain National Park in Tennessee   

The Smokies

The most-visited national park in the United States, Great Smoky Mountains National Park stretches 522,427 acres over two states. Explore 850 miles of backcountry trails, including 70 miles of the famous Appalachian Trail.

Park-goers can chase the region's plentiful waterfalls, fish among 2,900 miles of stream, cycle, horseback ride and more past wildflowers, wildlife, valleys and stunning vistas. Gatlinburg, Tennessee is the perfect home base for exploring the park and nearby attractions like Dollywood.

Stay: The Park Vista, a DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, offers sweeping views of the Smoky Mountains. A short trolley ride brings you to the heart of downtown, or a short drive brings you to the gates of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Amenities include a multi-level indoor pool with waterslides and whirlpool, pet-friendly rooms and on-site dining.

Read “All Aboard! Hop on a Train to These Hilton Grand Vacations Destinations” for summer bucket list trips you can take by train.

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The Vacationeer

The Vacationeer is a collective of Hilton Grand Vacations storytellers whose goal is to inspire travelers to go further. We're always on the lookout for new destinations to explore, useful travel tips, and unique ideas to help you plan the most memorable vacations possible.

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