Whether you’re spending a few weeks honing your skills at debate camp, visiting your best friend on the Cape, watching your neighbor’s dog while they head to Hawaii, or loafing around on the couch for countless hours at a time, fully absorbed in doing nothing, one thing’s for sure: this is down to be the most epic summer ever. The best thing about summer vacation is that it’s full of possibilities, but also provides ample time to lounge in your PJs. You only have a finite number of summers in your lifetime, and what better way to enhance those lazy, warm, blissful days than by watching one of these 25 best summer vacation movies while you celebrate your temporary hiatus from school? Whether you’re in the mood for romance while on a summer trip, shenanigans at a camp, or finding yourself through something such as a summer job, check out these iconic films.
Grace (Selena Gomez) and Emma (Katie Cassidy) have been saving for a trip to Paris after graduation, and they’re finally ready to head out of their sleepy small town and experience the world. Their trip isn’t quite what they envisioned, however everything changes when Grace is mistaken for a famous British heiress and swept away to Monte Carlo for a super-glam, celebrity-style summer vacation.
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
Caution: this movie is sure to dish up all the feels. When four best friends (Bridget, Carmen, Lena, and Tibby), are forced to spend the summer apart, they find their bond strengthened by a pair of seemingly magical pants that astonishingly fits all of them. Although the girls are at different points in their lives, and in different cities all over the world, the pants bring them together and make the summer truly special.
When two star-crossed lovers meet at a resort tucked away in the woods, they’re in for a summer of surprises. Baby and Johnny are forbidden to be together, but they defy Baby’s parents and spend the summer dancing under the stars — which was super scandalous back in the ‘80s, trust. Find a dance partner and have a go at the epic “lift” move at the end of the flick, and you too will be dancing in no time.
The Parent Trap
Who doesn’t love young LiLo and some classic twin shenanigans?! This 1998 remake follows twin sisters, Annie and Hallie, who were separated at birth and miraculously reunited at summer camp. The two employ countless hijinks in an attempt to get their feuding parents back together, and in the meantime, prove that Oreos dipped in peanut butter are perhaps the greatest snack of our time. We owe this movie so much.
Although nowadays we know that “playing ball like a girl” is actually a great thing, The Sandlot epitomizes what summer vacation felt like as a kid. This epic coming-of-age tale will have you itching to call up your old neighborhood gang, and will rekindle your fear of the Beast.
I Know What You Did Last Summer
Looking for a spooky way to kick off your vacay? I Know What You Did Last Summer is as scary now as it was back when it debuted in 1997. This piece of slasher cinema stars Ryan Phillippe, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Freddie Prinze Jr., and Sarah Michelle Gellar — the original scream queens and kings of the 90’s.
This list would definitely not be complete without Camp Rock*. The Disney Channel movie about Mitchie, a girl with a big voice working in the kitchen at a music camp, and Shane, a pop star, is a bona fide summer classic and gave us the real-life romance between its stars, Demi Lovato and Joe Jonas. Talk about #summergoals.
The Wackness is a severely underrated summertime movie. Starring Josh Peck as Luke, a down-and-out teenager living in New York City during the summer of 1994, The Wackness dishes up some prime ‘90s style and a cute coming-of-age story that will have you remembering the first time you had your heart broken.
Although Blue Crush isn’t specifically about summer vacation, the movie takes place in Hawaii and will have you itching to suit up in your favorite bikini. The 2002 surfer flick will inspire novice boarders and sage surfers alike to paddle out to your nearest break and “take the ride.”
“Camp Hope, Camp Hope, we sing to thee…the greatest camp in history!” You might have fond memories of summer camp from your youth, and so do the boys of Camp Hope…after some serious bad guy beat-downs. This 1995 comedy follows a group of kids sentenced to spend the summer at an all-boys “fat camp.” It seems like the summer will be all fun and games until one camp counselor (hilariously played by Ben Stiller) takes things too far. But don’t worry, these boys know how to extract revenge…
Dunnnnn dun, dunnnnn dun, dun dun dun dun…Raise your hand if watching Jaws gave you an irrational fear of swimming with sharks in the ocean. You’re more likely to get hit by a car than get attacked by a shark, but this iconic movie and its legendary soundtrack will send watery shivers down your spine — and have you swearing that you’ll never end up vacationing anywhere that looks remotely like Amity Island.
Wet Hot American Summer
What do Paul Rudd, Bradley Cooper, Molly Shannon, and Amy Poehler have in common? They all starred (and slayed) in Wet Hot American Summer. This hilarious movie became such a cult classic that Netflix recently brought it back to life as a series. This movie is especially ideal for anyone who has ever worked as a camp counselor.
You’re counting on spending the summer traipsing around Europe, until your parents tell you that you need to get a job in order to pay for grad school — buzzkill. This is the predicament that leads James (Jesse Eisenberg) to spend the summer slaving away at Adventureland with Em (Kristen Stewart). Between awful shifts and shifty coworkers, the two form a bond that just might outlast summer vacation.
Now and Then
Not only does Now and Then star some iconic ‘90s babes (Christina Ricci, Thora Birch, and Demi Moore, to name a few), but its soundtrack will have you dancing like no one is watching. Told as a series of flashbacks, we get the skinny on how one summer affected the lives of four young girls— and how it impacted them as adults.
The Lizzie McGuire Movie
Who wouldn’t want to jet off to Rome, fall in love, and be mistaken for an Italian pop star? Hilary Duff is an early 2000s queen in this cute flick, and you’ll be hopping on your Vespa, er, bicycle, after viewing to get to your neighborhood gelato shop A.S.A.P.
The Baby-Sitters Club
Talk about a summer job. The seven BFFs at the heart of The Baby-Sitters Club spent their summer break taking care of lots of mischievous kids. Honestly? That sounds like a lot of fun, considering your have your friends by your side … and maybe a few cute guys too. Plus, we’ve always had a soft spot for the book series, and the movie adaptation brings those beloved characters to life in a very fun and faithful way.
Teen Beach Movie
This 2013 Disney Channel Original Movie is a cute and goofy little tribute to the ‘60s beach and surf movie genre, wherein modern-day teen surfers are trapped inside the plot of a ‘60s movie called Wet Side Story. Sure, it’s a little silly, but its fun summer escapism at its best — and the beachy scenery isn’t bad either. Oh, and there are musical numbers. If you end up loving this movie, make sure you watch the sequel Teen Beach Movie 2.
Friday the 13th
Horror movies set in the summer is a genre in itself, and 1980 Friday the 13th is one of the most iconic of all time. Camp Crystal Lake was the site of a grisly death in ‘50s, and as it prepares to reopened decades later by a group camp counselors, there’s still something evil lurking on the campgrounds. Who’s killing the counselors at this cursed summer spot? You may be familiar with the legend of Jason Voorhees, but if you haven’t seen the movie that started it all, grab some friends and give it a watch — just don’t queue it up right before you head off to camp!
You never forget your first love, especially when it all unfolds during the summer time. Wes Anderson’s movie about two star-crossed preteens, formerly pen pals, who run away to spend time together on a secluded beach is sweet, funny, and relatable all at once — those “first crush” feelings sure are powerful. The escapades of Sam (Jared Gilman) and Suzy (Kara Hayward) are so much fun to watch and we’d definitely go to camp at Fort Lebanon.
The Way, Way Back
Duncan (Liam James) isn’t having the best summer vacation. He’s staying with his mom and her boyfriend, who he doesn’t exactly vibe with. To stay out of the house and out of their way, he gets a job at a water park and finds his own version of a family there. The Way, Way Back is a coming-of-age story about figuring out who you are, learning that your parents are people too, and creating a community of support for yourself to lean on when things aren’t going your way.
Addams Family Values
Sure, it’s not your typical “summer movie,” but nothing Addams Family-related is typical — that’s what makes it so much fun. In this sequel to the Addams Family movie, Wednesday (Christina Ricci) and Pugsley (Jimmy Workman) are sent to summer camp after a new nanny realizes the children are onto her secret plan. The Addams siblings at a summer camp goes about as well as you think it would. It’s not a total fail, however — Wednesday does get her first kiss at camp, just like so many other teens have.
Stand by Me
In this beloved ‘80s film based on a short story by Stephen King, four best friends embark on a trip to find a dead body. It’s the summer of 1959, and Gordie (Will Wheaton), Chris (River Phoenix), Teddy (Corey Feldman), and Vern (Jerry O’Connell) are very different and will soon follow their own special paths, but for now, they’re together and on a dark adventure. Stand by Me is the perfect example of how your relationships with your childhood friends can change through the years, but the shared memories will always stay with you.
It Takes Two
Though its storyline is similar to The Parent Trap,It Takes Two can boast actual twins (that’d be Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen) in its cast, unlike the Lindsay Lohan version. This ‘90s classic has probably been one of your faves since childhood, and for good reason — you get the Olsens during the height of their movie days, a story about twins separated at birth, and a truly epic summer camp food fight. What more could you ask for?
The Talented Mr. Ripley
If you prefer your summer vacation movies with a side of intrigue and danger, queue up this one — it’s set in “la dolce vita” Italy in the ‘50s, but it’s definitely not all glamour and beach days. The unassuming, nerdy Tom Ripley desperately wants to live the glam lifestyle of Dickie Greenleaf and his girlfriend Marge, who are rich, young, and beautiful, and there’s no telling exactly what he’ll do to get it.
Crossroads might just be the ultimate road trip movie. A three BFFs (Britney Spears, Zoe Saldana, and Taryn Manning) hit the road together after they graduate high school in hopes of accomplishing their goals, and while that’s not exactly what happens, they learn important lessons about themselves and each other — and they do karaoke and sing “I’m Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman,” because this is a Britney Spears movie, after all.