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20 Last-Minute Summer Vacations You Barely Need to Plan

Let someone else handle all the details so all you have to do is show up and have fun!

Atlantis Paradise Island Nov 1, 2010 in Nassau, Bahamas: The Atlantis hotel, casino& water park, opened in 2007.The bridge suite is the most expensive in the world costing $25,000 USDLaszlo Halasi/Shutterstock

Water baby? Hit up an all-inclusive beach resort

There’s so much more to do at the beach than just lay on it! You can swim with dolphins, go snorkeling, take a hike to a local attraction, or even hit up a water park. But finding (and getting tickets to) each of those things can be a huge pain. Enter: The vacation resort. These giant resorts have something for everyone, from activities to dining to nightlife. Let the concierge take care of the details and you just show up for the fun.

Our recommendation: Check out the Atlantis Paradise Island Bahamas, select the type of stay you’re looking for, and go! We also love the coolest indoor water parks in the United States.

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bellagio las vegasvia

Do you love to roll the dice? Las Vegas all the way, baby!

With shopping, dining, shows, rides, and more, Las Vegas is about so much more than casinos (although there are plenty of those too!). But the best part is it’s all within walking distance of any hotel on the strip and many hotels offer package deals for their on-site attractions. Need more ideas? Try one of these 17 summer vacations everyone should try before 50.

Our recommendation: Trip Advisor makes it easy to see all your options, read reviews, and pick the ideal casino for your Vegas vacay.

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rafting on a mountain riverAleksandr Lupin/Shutterstock

Are you a risk taker? Sign up for a one-stop adventure

If you love river rafting, hiking, boating, or any type of outdoor adventure, then you already know how much work they can be to plan! Skip all the hassle by going with a company who will handle all the details, from gear to permits, so all you have to do is show up for the fun.

Our recommendation: G Adventures offers many types of preplanned active, outdoor trips for adventurers.

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Las Vegas, Nevada- April 4th: Hawaiian Airlines Airbus A330-243 reg. N361HA arriving at McCarran International Airport from Honolulu on April 4th 2018.christopheronglv/Shutterstock

Love Hawaii? Go to Hawaii

Hawaii is a destination unlike any other, going beyond the normal beach vacation. The islands offer a particular kind of relaxed attitude, cuisine, and culture that you can’t find anywhere else. Unfortunately, it can be super confusing to sort out all your options and plan everything. One option is to pick an island that suits your fancy and go with the flow there. For something a little more budget friendly, check out these 22 mini-vacations that won’t break the bank.

Our recommendation: Use Hawaiian Airlines. You can book affordable flights and follow their island guides about what to do once you get there. The only hard part is picking an island—they’re all so fun!

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Tourist with candomble group wearing traditional clothes at Bonfim Church in Salvador, Bahia, BrazilFilipe Frazao/Shutterstock

Looking for an authentic experience? Stay local

If you like to immerse yourself in the local culture, the best way to find the best dining, dancing, and fun is to skip tourist hotspots and stay where the locals go—you can even stay in their homes. Not only do you get a place to stay but it’s popular in many countries for the host to also act as a tour guide (for a little extra cash). All you have to do is show up and go where they tell you.

Our recommendation: VRBO has homes for rent by the owner all over the world. Check out the list of amenities, read the reviews, and contact the owner to see about finding a local guide for your stay.

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Father throwing his little son in the air near the Eiffel tower in Paris. Happy family of two enjoying their vacation in France.Ekaterina Pokrovsky/Shutterstock

Love to learn new things? Get a rail pass

For people who love history and expanding their knowledge, the more places they can see, the better. But putting together a comprehensive list of places and sites can take months of planning. Let your method of travel be your guide by signing up for a rail pass. Bonus: Many offer student and senior discounts. All you have to plan is which stops you want to explore. For more, try one of these 10 amazing European vacations for under $400.

Our recommendation: The Eurail Global Pass gives you access to 28 countries while riding first class for one flat fee.

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vacation house in sarasota, floridavia

Just want some relaxation? Rent a beach house

Some people go on vacation to be entertained and see the sights but others prefer to find a beautiful spot and spend the whole time enjoying doing nothing. With miles and miles of beachfront property, Florida is the perfect spot to shack up in a beach house—like one of these 50 best beach house rentals in the United States—for a week. Enjoy the sun, sand, and good food with zero distractions. Ahh!

Our recommendation: Choice hotels offers beach house rentals but without the hassle of working with the owner yourself.

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Bixby Bridge and Pacific Coast Highway near Big Sur in California, USANick Fox/Shutterstock

Is driving your jam? Take a pre-planned road trip

Road trips may remind you of your dad pouring over maps (paper ones!) for weeks, trying to design the perfect summer vacation for your family before school started, but hitting the highway doesn’t have to be that complicated. Thanks to road trip geniuses who share their plans online, all you have to do is find one that scratches your itch, print it out and hit the road.

Our recommendation: Trip Advisor has a whole list of pre-planned road trips with suggestions for hotels and activities along the way.

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romantic lunch on motor yacht at sunset, Table setting at a luxury yacht.freevideophotoagency/Shutterstock

Foodie? Book a cruise

What would a low-effort vacation list be without a cruise, the ultimate in show-up-and-go vacays? Pick from a variety of destinations, themes, and groups, book your suite, and show up at the pier on departure day. But no matter what type you pick you’re always guaranteed one thing: Insane amounts of amazing food! It’s a foodie’s dream. Landlubbers won’t want to miss these 10 epic summer road trips every foodie should take.

Our recommendation: Priceline, the site you already know and love for getting you great deals on flights and hotels, also offers sales on cruises.

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A loving couple on a beachOcta corp/Shutterstock

Need a romantic getaway? Head to the Caribbean

Whether you’re a newlywed or have been together for many years, your relationship could definitely use some quality time. And what’s more romantic than the Caribbean? Beaches during the day, dining and dancing in the evening, and luxurious hotels for…other activities, at night.

Our recommendation: Sandals all-inclusive resort offers special packages just for couples. For some vicarious travel thrills, check out the best Secrets Resorts from people who have been there.

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NEW JERSEY USA - JUNE 20 2016: Kingda Ka is the tallest and fastest roller coaster in North America. It is 456 feet high and accelerates from 0 to 128 miles/h in 3.5 seconds. Six Flags Great AdventurePitK/Shutterstock

Thrill seeker? Ride the coasters at a theme park

Theme parks are known for having everything you need to make great memories—food, rides, games, shows—in one spot. But while Disney may be the most famous theme parks, you’ve got lots of other options. If you’re an adrenaline junkie, check out Six Flags in Jackson, New Jersey, home of the fastest coaster in the United States. The Kingda Ka hits a whopping 128 miles per hour. Want more? You can’t go wrong with these scariest roller coasters in America.

Our recommendation: Orbitz has a section specifically for theme park lovers, helping you pick just the right one for your vacation.

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Swimming poolomers/shutterstock

Craving quiet? Head to the desert

You never realize how noisy modern life is until you escape into a vast expanse of nature. The desert provides a perfect place to disconnect from your wired life and reconnect with yourself and loved ones. Make no mistake though, desert resorts are equipped with all the modern conveniences that make life enjoyable so you won’t have to sacrifice to relax. Do you know these 10 travel tricks that will completely change the way you vacation?

Our recommendation: The Sanctuary Camelback Resort and Spa allows you to get the stillness you crave with the full spa experience you love.

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Governor's Mansion Colonial Williamsburg CarriageMatt McClain/shutterstock

US History buff? Tour historical sites in Virginia

The greater Williamsburg area in Virginia—including Williamsburg, Yorktown, and Jamestown—was the site of many important sites in early U.S. history including Colonial Williamsburg, the new American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, Historic Jamestowne, Yorktown Battlefield, and the Jamestown Settlement and is one of the top U.S. cities for history buffs. Once you’ve got your history fix, check out Busch Gardens and Water Country USA for some modern entertainment.

Our recommendation: Start with the official Williamsburg site to decide what sites and attractions you’d like to see most.

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Darwin Falls, Death Valley National Park, CaliforniaDoug Meek/Shutterstock

Want vacation bragging rights? Stay overnight in Death Valley

Those looking for something Instagram-worthy can stay in Death Valley, a national park known for having some the hottest temps in the continental U.S. But don’t worry, you won’t feel deprived thanks to a variety of outdoor and indoor attractions, including luxury spas and restaurants, that are all practically guaranteed to garner you plenty of social media likes on the ‘gram. Make sure you do your research before heading out—being under-informed is one of the 9 super common travel mistakes people make and can really put a damper on your vacation.

Our recommendation: The Oasis At Death Valley gives you the full luxury experience of this natural wonder without, you know, the death part.

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Healthy lifestyle - people riding bicycles in city park Jacek Chabraszewski/Shutterstock

Love to stay active? Do a bike tour

Setting out on foot or by bike allows you to see more of the place you’re visiting while also getting some extra movement in your day. Fortunately for fit folk (or just those who’d like to increase their fitness while having fun), there are a ton of vacations designed specifically for walkers, hikers, and bikers.

Our recommendation: VBT offers packages on five different continents in a variety of price ranges.

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Skier skiing downhill in winter mountainsIvanRiver/shutterstock

Skiier or snowboarder? Hit the slopes

“Vacation” often conjures images of sun-soaked beaches or amusement parks, but winter vacations can be just as fun. Skiing and snowboarding are the most popular ways to enjoy the snow but you can also do sleigh rides, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, ice fishing, or a variety of other cold-weather activities. And guess what? You can ski in the summer at Timberline in Oregon or head to the Southern Hemisphere (where our summer is their winter) to Australia or Chile.

Our recommendation: Check out Liftopia to get sweet deals on ski resort packages that include not just the lift ticket but other activities, food, and lodging.

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Aerial image of train and rail line Agawa Canyon, Ontario, CanadaRuss Heinl/Shutterstock

Prefer slower travel? Take a train tour

Europe is well-known for its train-based tourism (see above!) but it’s not the only place you can visit by rail. North America offers many longer, scenic tours via railway. Book a sleeper car and skip the hotel. You can even find fine dining on some lines. Go as luxurious or efficient as you like, there’s a train for every taste, including these 15 luxurious train rides around the world.

Our recommendation: Vacations By Rail offers full packages through must-see places like Alaska, the Canadian Rockies, and East Coast fall foliage tours.

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Two lady hiker on the walkway at the Grand Canyon National Park, USADudarev Mikhail/Shutterstock

Ladies only? Book an adventure designed just for women

Whether you’re worried about safety traveling as a solo woman or you just want a great experience for you and your gal pals, women-only vacations are one of the hottest trends right now. You can do an organized group tour or a more casual female-friendly meet-up.

Our recommendation: Wild Women Expeditions provides a wide range of adventures all over the world, from African safaris to paddle-boarding on the West coast.

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Picturesque Renaissance Islands of Aruba in Southern CaribbeanChiyacat/Shutterstock

Camper who likes the good life? Go glamping

“Glamping” is glamorous camping: It starts with the basic tent-in-the-outdoors idea but takes it to the next level with piles of cushions, tents from lux fabrics, chef-cooked meals, and spa treatments. You get all the fun of being outdoors but without any of the work.

Our recommendation: The Lover’s Overnight Island package at the Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino. If you’re going to go glamping might as well go big or go home, right?

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Red Pagoda with Mt Fuji on the background skyearth/Shutterstock

Can’t make up your mind? Sign up for a travel pass

So many fun vacation spots, so few vacation days? If you want to maximize every minute of your free time and pack in as much excitement as possible, sign up for a travel or city pass. These passes allow you entrance to multiple venues/locations for one price. Need more ideas still? Check out these 15 must-see hotspots as recommended by travel experts.

Our recommendation: The Multi-City Explorer pass from Urban Adventures. They have passes for popular metropolises all over the world.

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Every product is independently selected by our editors. If you buy something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Charlotte Hilton Andersen
Charlotte Hilton Andersen, BS, MS, has been covering health, fitness, parenting, and culture for many major outlets, both in print and online, for 15 years. She's the author of two books, co-host of the Self Help Obsession podcast, and also does freelance editing and ghostwriting. She has appeared in television news segments for CBS, FOX, and NBC.

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