How to “Theme” Your Summer Vacation
As you plan out your summer vacation ideas, whether they include a cross-country road trip or a quick holiday to the beach, consider including a “theme” to make the trip even more exciting. For example, your road trip could revolve around taking selfies with all of Alberta's unique and iconic roadside attractions. You could go on a quest to find the best cheeseburger, ice cream cone, cinnamon bun, or cup of coffee (or go on a quest to find all of those things — no judgment here!). Perhaps you specifically visit places where you can teach your children to fly a kite, or you seek out the best places to go in the summer to paddleboard. You get the idea.
Think of going on a theme-based holiday like vacationing with a purpose — even if that “purpose” is rather quirky. Then, following that theme, ask yourself, “Where can we go to fulfill that?” This unique and decidedly modern way of planning summer getaways puts the process in reverse and adds a whole new element of fun and excitement.
Having said that, here are some of our favorite themes to inspire your trip planning and help you decide what to do on summer vacation this year.
Bird Watching, AKA “Birding”
There are a couple of ways to approach this type of summer vacation with family. You can decide beforehand what specific types of birds, if any, you'd like to see, or you can decide to visit one of the best places to travel in the summer, then research the bird populations in that area.
Possible locations for Bird Watching
- Lethbridge, AB: One area known for its excellent bird-watching opportunities is Lethbridge, in the southern part of the province. Lethbridge is home to the Alberta Birds of Prey Foundation, and this region serves as the breeding ground for countless bird species, from migratory birds to waterfowl.
- British Columbia: Because of BC's incredible diversity — find everything from deserts and warm wine regions to Pacific coastline and mountains exceeding 4,000 meters — the province's birdwatching opportunities are endless. Boundary Bay, in Greater Vancouver is an internationally recognized bird area due to its location on the Pacific Flyway migration route.
Flying a Kite
Can you think of anything more timeless and whimsical than flying a kite? As you plan your summer vacation activities, consider adding kite-flying to your itinerary — or base your whole summer vacation around it! Whether you have children or you're a big kid at heart, flying a kite is a wonderful way to connect with The Great Outdoors and get some exercise. Plus, kite-flying is actually rather competitive in some areas.
Possible locations to fly a kite
- Swift Current, SK: Swift Current is home to the SaskPower Windscape Kite Festival, so you could say flying kites is kind of a big deal here. Watch kite makers and performers from all over the world, plus music, children's activities, and more. The festival is scheduled to go on as planned in June 2021.
- Seattle, WA: Did you know there's a World Kite Museum? It's in Long Beach, Washington, three hours from Seattle and two from Portland. The museum is also home to the annual International Kite Festival, a week-long competition and celebration of all things kite-flying. Both Seattle and Portland have tons to offer in terms of where to go summer vacation (or visit both!), with plenty of beaches and shores perfect for flying a kite. Of course, both destinations also have legendary foodie scenes and natural scenery for hiking and exploring. In Portland, stay at The Benson and near Seattle, stay at the Coast Gateway Hotel.
Whether you prefer wildlife viewing in nature or visiting a zoo or wildlife preserve (or even a petting zoo!) is more your style, there are many summer vacation activities revolving around animals. Think about the animals you'd most like to learn about or interact with, then select a location based on that. It's also a good idea to learn more about the animals you plan to visit before your trip — there's no rule that says things to do during summer vacation can't be educational!
Possible locations to visit animals
- Langley, BC: The Greater Vancouver Zoo is the largest zoo in BC, with over 900 animals. Stay at the Coast Langley City Hotel to be just 20 minutes away.
- Kamloops, BC: If you're an animal lover, Kamloops is one of the best Canadian summer vacations. The Coast Kamloops Hotel & Conference Centre enjoys proximity to both the BC Wildlife Park and Little Farmers Petting Zoo.
- Seattle, WA: Aside from having spectacular scenery, the PNW is also famous for its abundant wildlife. Stay at the Coast Gateway Hotel and take a Pacific Northwest Wildlife tour with Island Adventures Whale Watching in Everett, about 30 miles away.
- Williams Lake, BC: The Cariboo Chilcotin area of British Columbia is a wilderness enthusiast’s dream, with ample opportunities to encounter majestic animals such as moose. A great introduction to wildlife in the area is offered by the Scout Island Nature Centre. The Centre includes marsh, island, and lake environments and all the creatures that inhabit them!
Museums offer numerous benefits, serving the community and providing excellent educational resources. Visiting a museum is one of the best summer vacation ideas, especially if it's hot outside!
Possible locations with the best museums
- Edmonton, AB: No matter what type of museum you want to visit, Edmonton is a wonderful destination because it has over a dozen to choose from. You can't go wrong with any, but we recommend visiting the Royal Alberta Museum, Alberta Aviation Museum, Art Gallery of Alberta, Railway Museum, or TELUS World of Science Museum. Daytrip three hours south of Edmonton, to take in the world renowned Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller, AB. It’s a must for all dinosaur enthusiasts.
Water activities are synonymous with summer getaways. Whether you prefer the beach, water parks, waterfall hikes, kayaking, snorkeling in the ocean, or enjoying resort-style pools, there are many perfect places to go in the summer.
Possible locations for water sports
- Santa Barbara, CA: The "American Riviera" offers pristine beaches, water sports, boat cruises, and more. Stay at the West Beach Inn to be in the center of it all.
- Osoyoos, BC: Want to plan a lakefront summer vacation with family or visit the Okanagan wine region? The Coast Osoyoos Beach Hotel puts you in a prime location to enjoy both, plus has private beach access! There's also a wonderful family-friendly indoor swimming pool with a waterslide.
- Waimea, Kauai:, HI If you're able to follow Kauai's pre-travel guidelines, the Garden Isle is one of the best places to travel in the summer. The coastline, ocean, and beaches here are some of the best in the world. On top of that, Kauai offers snorkeling, kayaking, dolphin and whale-watching tours, surfing, and waterfall hikes like Wailua Falls. Treat yourself to a stay at the Waimea Plantation Cottages to enjoy all these water activities and experience authentic Hawaii.