Be in the Azores in five hours from Boston. | Marcial Gomes/Shutterstock
Be in the Azores in five hours from Boston. | Marcial Gomes/Shutterstock

Take Summer by Storm with These June Travel Ideas

Make the most out of all those extra hours of sunshine.

Summer doesn’t arrive ‘till mid-June but mentally, we’re already there. We’ve rounded the corner on Memorial Day and now it’s full speed ahead to warm weather, blue skies, barbecues, and coolers full of icy beers. There are rivers that need floating, tents that need pitching, and beach boardwalks that need patrolling. As days stretch languidly into night, our task now is to decide how we’re gonna spend all those extra daylight hours.

Should we hop abroad for a weekend or explore our own backyards? Take in the lights of Tinseltown, or the tinsel-strewn floats of LGBTQ+ Pride? And don’t forget about the father figure in your life this June 19. Maybe treat him to a solstice-themed midnight baseball game in Fairbanks, or to sample the wares at a brewery—or cannabis museum—in Boston. Or surprise him with a visit to a city where there’s no need for cars, thus no pricey gas charges. Saving money! We hear dads love that. Here are our top travel ideas for a June to remember.

Get buzzed in Boston

In the late 19th century, Boston was thirsty… and tipsy. With the most breweries per capita in the US, weighing in at a whopping 31, 24 of those outposts called the neighborhoods of Jamaica Plain and Roxbury home (it’s said that local pets were wobbly on the days the tanks were steam-cleaned, thanks to the boozy mist seeping into the air).

Today, one of those buildings still carries the torch: In 1985, the Boston Beer Company (aka Sam Adams) moved into the complex that once housed the influential Haffenreffer Brewery from 1871 to1965. But this is no ordinary brewery. Here, hops-mad scientists focus on research and development, which result in limited-edition brews like Mole Milk Stout and Mango Guava IPA. Try them at the bar, the outdoor patio, or on a tour, where you get to sample new concoctions before the masses and sound off on whether or not they should go into wide circulation. The power! Tours are available Thursday through Monday via reservation.

Then it’s off to peruse other substances. A 15 minute walk gets you to the Core Social Justice Cannabis Museum, co-located with Seed Dispensary. Along with goodies for sale, the operation offers a free exhibition on the outsized impact of cannabis policing on underrepresented and low-income communities (plus a display of mugshots of celebrities arrested for possession). Before you leave, you can even share your own weed journey—be it recreationally, medicinally, or otherwise, by stopping into the Cannfessional, with the goal of destigmatizing the potent plant by showing the range of those who use it—scenic stained glass window included.

Gawk at natural phenomena

For two weeks every spring, fireflies light up the night throughout Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountains National Park, flitting their bioluminescence to the delight of all who catch it in person. This year, their synchronized light dance (aka their mating display) happens from June 3 to June 10, with admission tickets doled out through a lottery. But if the lottery eluded you, maybe just look around your backyard? Fireflies know no boundaries, right?

You could also try your luck spotting baby sea turtles, as we’re right in the middle of turtle nesting season. Along the coasts of (mostly) Florida, our shelled friends swim up to shore, dig a hole, and lay eggs to hatch a couple months later. It’s a delicate and miraculous process, and we’ve put together a guide of where to see it happening, as well as how to utilize the beaches during this time without endangering the industrious creatures.

Consider setting sail in a houseboat

Did you know that Lake Cumberland, Kentucky is the Houseboat Capital of the World? That’s what they dub themselves anyway, thanks to the sheer number of houseboats available to rent. The fact remains to be verified, but it does lead us to our next point: How about booking a houseboat vacation this summer? We’ve got your guide to all things floating homes, from the best spot to suspend yourself atop the Mississippi River to how to traverse the Erie Canal in a European-style narrowboat to how to simply book a houseboat Airbnb because you like being rocked to sleep by the waves. And if you want to try your hand at fixing up a drifting home of your own, we’ve got some advice for you there, too.

Discover a domestic island…

From houseboats to your own domestic island (okay, one you’ll have to share). We recently introduced you to the Spoil Islands, an under-the-radar paradise off the coast of Florida, and now we’re back with another: Amelia Island, part of a chain that climbs up from the Sunshine State along the coast of Georgia. Here you’ll find 13 miles of breezy oceanfront, with restaurant options spanning seafood shacks to the fancy fare of the Ritz-Carlton. Plus plenty of beachy activities and historical finds, including a brick fortress originally built during the War of 1812.

Or hop abroad for a long weekend

Say you really want to finally take that big international vacation, but don’t have a ton of time to do it. Enter the short-haul overseas trip. We’ve rounded up 17 international cities that sit a hop and a skip from America’s airports, from the blue-green waters of the Cayman Islands and the Azores in Portugal to the cobbled streets of Dublin and the not-technically-international-but-still-feels-like-it St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands (you’ll forgive us once you see the photos).

While you’re in St. Thomas, it’s just a short boat ride over to Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands, home of The Baths National Park, which joins Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, Grace Bay in Turks and Caicos, and many more on our list of the best Caribbean destinations for an easy beach getaway. What are you waiting for? Dig out that swimsuit and go.

Explore the stars up above…

Are you ready for some celestial phenomena? This month brings one of the year’s two highly anticipated supermoons. First up: The Super Strawberry Moon, which appears larger than average because it’s located at the moon’s closest approach to the earth, what’s called “perigee.”

On June 24, it’s the last of three planet parades this year. This time, you’re gazing upon Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn—plus a crescent moon wedged in there—all aligned and bright enough to be seen with the naked eye.

For the best views, post up at adark sky location. Here are a few spots within driving distance of major US cities. Book an Airbnb particularly geared towards stargazing or set out on a star-walking expedition. Either way, make sure you get to bed early, or plan to stay up all night—the alignment happens just before sunrise, so this time the early bird really does get the worm.

Or shift your sights to beings that sparkle on land

Have you checked out the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles yet? Opened in September of 2021, it’s stuffed full of costumes, paraphernalia, and more movie magic. See Rosebud from Citizen Kane (no spoilers here, but you should probably know what it is by now), or take the Barbra Streisand bridge to the gorgeous open-air overlook to survey the city. Be immersed in a step-by-step replication of a Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark soundscape, see costumes from films like Midsommer and The Big Lebowski, and hear notable Oscar speeches (we dare you not to cry when Halle Berry takes the stage). Plus so much more. Don’t know where to get started? We’ve made you a handy list.

Later, see where some of the magic actually happens over in Culver City, less traveled by visitors to LA yet chock full of Hollywood history. There, the current Sony Picture Studios—where you can also take a studio tour—began life as the storied Metro-Goldwyn–Mayer, the filming locations of everything from Ben-Hur to Euphoria to Wheel of Fortune. Not to mention The Wizard of Oz, whose Munchkins cast all stayed nearby at the Culver Hotel, sleeping three to a bed and reaching legendary status with their wild shenanigans.

In Culver City, you’ll also find offices for HBO, Apple, and Amazon Studios, which recently moved into the historic Culver Studios. For an inside scoop on what’s happening in Hollywood, snag a table at a local standout venue and eavesdrop on some power lunches in the area. We suggest the rooftop pool at boutique hotel newcomer The Shay, part of the Ivy Station shopping development complete with sweeping views of the Baldwin Hills. At night, conversations move to etta, the downstairs restaurant in the hotel, helmed by a Michelin-starred chef.

Save your gas money for snacks…

How about the prices at the pump these days, huh? We say ditch the gas-guzzlers altogether. Plenty of cities welcome the car-free crowd, where rentable bikes whizz you in and out of traffic as you take in the sights. You’ll save money, help the environment, and get some exercise while you’re at it—there’s no downside. Our list includes hot spot destinations like Mexico City, Toronto, and Bogota, as well as off-the-beaten-path places like Seville. And we can’t forget, Amsterdam. Because there are two things that come to mind when we think of Amsterdam, and biking is one.

Maybe you want to lean into the gas-less lifestyle with a vacation spot that either prohibits or restricts motorized vehicles. Consider the pedestrian wonderland of Venice, Italy, the nature-filled Holbox Island in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, or the historic, cobblestoned Trogir in Croatia. Closer to home, Maine’s Monhegan Island only has 70 residents but comes complete with an art museum, brewery, and dark skies fit for epic stargazing adventures. On the opposite end of the country, Catalina Island offers plenty of opportunities for fun without having to get behind the wheel, while Michigan’s charming Mackinac Island offers all of the above with a side of delicious homemade fudge.

Or blow all your cash on music festivals

June is an excellent month for music festivals. Being outside is still a novel and exciting concept, and the weather hasn’t yet had a chance to become unbearable. Kicking off the month in New York is Governors Ball (June 10–12), toasting the onset of summer in the parking lot of Citi Field with headliners J. Cole, Halsey, and Kid Cudi. That same weekend, the CMA Fest packs four days in Nashville with Country’s biggest stars (June 9–12), while a week later in Manchester, Tennessee, Bonnaroo captivates the camping crowd with acts ranging from The Chicks to Machine Gun Kelly to Stevie Nicks and TOOL (June 16–19). Wrap it all up with Milwaukee, Wisconsin’s legendary Summerfest, which spans three weekends and hundreds of performers like Lil Wayne, the Breeders, and a dash of Rod Stewart for good measure (June 23–25; June 30–July 2; July 7–9).

If you feel like traveling for your tunes, Denmark’s Northside Festival (June 2–4) lines up The Avalanches, Disclosure, and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, while Meltdown Festival in London (June 10–19) was curated by model, actress, and all-round badass Grace Jones. On her roster: Peaches, Skunk Anansie, Baaba Maal, and Jones herself, gracing us with intimate tunes. Finally, wrap things up in the Caribbean at the fun-in-the-sun St. Kitts Music Festival (June 23–25), with local soca, reggae, and calypso artists performing alongside international stars like Keyshia Cole, Wale, and Ashanti.

Show off your Pride

Some big city LGBTQ+ Pride marches including those in Los Angeles (June 12) and New York (June 26) are back in full force this year, and we can’t wait to see how people get creative with masks… and parts of the body where masks aren’t usually worn. And after being cooped up for years, Pride will be especially lively in small towns and unexpected Red states. Did you know Anchorage, Alaska, is home to one of the best gay bars in the country? (Tagline: “Over 22 years of fabulous in the last frontier. We’re all a little mad here.”) And here’s something for everyone: a new Pride Oreo to help fuel the celebratory mood, created in conjunction with PFLAG.

But if you’re less about crowded parades and more about working on your tan, we’ve rounded up some options. Check out this list of the best LGBTQIA+ beaches for socializing or a pleasant traipse through the country’s top queer-friendly small towns, plus some curated road trips to keep love-is-love vibes cranking all summer long.

Explore the meaning of Juneteenth

June 19th—or Juneteenth—commemorates the emancipation of enslaved people in the US. Even though President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation took place in 1863, it wasn’t made official until June of 1865, granting freedom to the last 250,000 enslaved peoples in Galveston, Texas. Last year, in its honor, the city unveiled a new 5,000-square-foot mural, “Absolute Equality,” in Old Galveston Square. This year, they’re celebrating with multiple events including a poetry festival (June 12), freedom walk tours (June 11), and day-long outdoor festival (June 18) with food vendors, a basketball tournament and art show, and live performances featuring the delightful-sounding Pee-Wee & The Too Laid Back Band.

Tulsa, Oklahoma will throw a free weekend Juneteenth Festival (June 16–18) with music, food, arts, and entertainment on Greenwood Avenue, the former site of Black Wall Street. While you’re there, check out Greenwood Rising, the new world-class institution focused on the legacy and historical impact of Greenwood. Entry to the museum is free.

And in Montgomery, Alabama, the birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement, the Rosa Parks Museum will hold special Juneteenth programming. After taking part in the events, stop by the Equal Justice Initiative’s National Memorial for Peace & Justice and the Legacy Museum, where deeply powerful exhibits educate visitors on the history of racism in the US, from the past up to the present.

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Vanita Salisbury is Thrillist's Senior Travel Writer. She's thinking of taking the summer off to follow Rod Stewart on tour.