How to start a summer bonfire

By Arran Wallace

The bringer of warmth, cooker of meat, and provider of a romantic atmosphere in a log cabin, fire has held a special and primal place in our hearts ever since early humans learned how to make ti and control it—marking a dramatic shift in human habits. It also ushered in a new era for man kind, the reduced risk from uncooked food and ability to stay warm in colder climates, among many others.

Given its historical importance to human life, it is surprising how few people actually know how to start a bonfire. We rely so heavily on modern appliances to warm ourselves and our food that we've forgotten one of the most important basic skills a human can have.

That's why we've put together this guide on how to safely start a bonfire this summer...and all year round, for that matter! When you head out on your next glamping getaway and want to start a bonfire to roast marshmallows or tell ghost stories, you'll know how to do so safely—protecting you, your fellow glampers, and the natural setting that surrounds you.

Step 1: Prepare the pit

Nonflammable surface? Check. Small pit for embers to fall into? Check. Perimeter of stones? Check.
Photo courtesy of Silver City Resort.

The first thing you'll need to do is choose a good location for your fire. It needs to be on bare earth, sand, or gravel—anywhere that can't catch fire itself. (Dry or dead grass is an absolute no-no.) Visualize an eight-foot safety perimeter, and clear any flammable materials within that area. If you're in a wooded area, make sure there are no low-hanging branches or vines that the flames could reach. Ideally, the fire should have open sky above it, so that smoke doesn't rise up into any branches nor affect any nests or animals up in the trees.

Once you've chosen your spot, start to dig out a pit that is a few inches deep, which will prevent the fire from spreading. As the wood turns into embers, they will fall into the pit rather then spread outwards. A perimeter of rocks also stops the spread of embers and ashes, especially in windy areas. It's also a good idea to have extinguishing materials nearby in case you need to put the fire out quickly in an emergency.

Step 2: Collect and arrange materials

From left to right, you'll see tinder, kindling, and firewood.
Photo courtesy of REI.

What you'll need

There are three main materials you will need to start your bonfire:

  • Tinder: Dry pieces of thin material that catch fire and burn very quickly. Good examples include straw, dry grass and leaves, newspaper, cotton balls, and even cattail reeds.

  • Kindling: Bigger pieces of flammable materials that catch fire quickly but burn slower than tinder. Good examples include twigs, thin branches, pine cones, and tightly-rolled newspaper.

  • Firewood: A standard log, about the length of one's forearm, and what most people envision when you picture a fire. These burn slowly and provide warmth for a long period of time.

Once you have these three things, you light the tinder, which is used to light the kindling, and then use the kindling to light the firewood. Try to collect twice as much as you think you'll need, because there's nothing worse than running out of materials before your fire is ready.

How to lay the fire

Once you have your tinder, kindling, and firewood, you can begin to arrange the materials, which must be done in a specific way, otherwise known as a fire lay. As an homage to glamping, we're going to go with the tipi fire lay, although there are many variations you can choose from.

This is a tipi fire lay, with tinder surrounded by kindling, leaving space to access the tinder.
Photo courtesy of Outdoor Life.
  1. Collect your tinder into a bundle, and place it in the middle of the fire pit.

  2. Use three or four twigs or sticks to form a tipi structure that contains the tinder bundle.

  3. Continue adding to the tipi structure, all while leaving a small opening upwind so you can access the tinder inside. Make sure to build upwards rather than outwards and leave spaces between the sticks for air to move freely.

  4. If you have a couple of small or thin pieces of firewood, you can add these, too, as long as their weight does not compromise the structure.

How to light the fire

Take your lighter or matches, and carefully light the tinder inside through the opening you left upwind. By leaving it upwind, this ensures that the wind pushes the flames through the tinder bundle. You may have to blow carefully to encourage the tinder to catch fire. If done correctly, the tinder will light the kindling, creating a quickly burning fire. At this point, you can slowly add the firewood, being careful not to suffocate the flames. As the anonymous quote says, "A fire is like a child; you must look after it carefully in the beginning so that it can look after you later."

Step 3: Safely extinguishing the fire

As the woman extinguishes the fire, note how she is upwind to avoid the smoke blowing in her face.
Photo courtesy of REI.

Now for the easy part! Remember that container of water you carefully prepared before lighting the fire? Take it and pour it slowly on top of the fire until the hissing stops. Don't stand directly above the fire to avoid breathing in the smoke.

Once you've done this, use a stick and stir the ashes into the dirt, which may reveal embers that weren't extinguished by the water. Put these out with more water, or simply stamp them into the ground with your foot. Make sure you're wearing shoes with thick soles, though!

If there are any sizable sticks or logs left, scrape away the surface to check they are not still burning. Finally, give everything the palm test: Hold your palms up to the embers and logs. If you can't feel any heat radiating off them, it is safe to leave.

In the unlikely event you don't have any or enough water on-hand, the extinguishing process is pretty similar. You'll use dirt or sand to cover the embers instead, which will deprive them of oxygen and stop the fire. Be careful not to fully cover the fire, as this could create extremely high temperatures under the dirt or sand that could reignite later. Once the flames have been extinguished, use a stick to mix the embers around in the dirt/ or sand to check that there isn't anything still glowing and then give it the aforementioned palm test.

One final tip

A camper strikes a flint and steel to create sparks, which land on the char cloth below.
Photo courtesy of Twin Eagles Wilderness School.

How to create a spark with no lighter or matches

Perhaps you left your lighter at home or it's run out of lighter fluid. Maybe you fell into a creek earlier, and now your matches are sodden and useless. In order to be prepared for every possible scenario, make sure you tuck some flint, steel, and char cloth in your backpack before you head out into the wilderness.

The steel is a C-shaped piece of tempered steel; the char cloth is a piece of sooty linen that has been burned in a low-oxygen environment, which catches fire easily and burns slowly; and the flint is a hard gray rock with a sharp edge. All of these can be found in any camping supply store. What's more? This old-school method of starting fires will impress your friends, won't run out of gas, and can't break. (You can still lose the materials, though, so be careful!)

The idea is to strike the steel against the sharp edge of the flint to create a spark, setting the char cloth aflame, which can then be transferred to your bundle of tinder. From this point, you can continue as described above, blowing the nascent flames carefully until your fire is blazing away.

Hot Tip: If weather conditions are windy, you may have to hold the char cloth on top of the flint, so that the sparks don't have to travel very far.

Another (easier) option is to invest in a ferro rod, short for ferrocerium rod, which is a small rod made from a compound of iron and cerium. Striking against it with a blade will produce a shower of sparks, similar to the ones created by 4th of July sparklers.

For those who prefer a visual, this video will show you how to create a spark with these materials:


Want to find somewhere to practice your skills? Check out all of these cabins with fireplaces, and don't forget to pack your flint!

5 ways to have the ultimate end-of-summer getaway on a budget

By Jessica Armstrong

Editor's note: This guest post was written by Ashley Rossi of SmarterTravel.

The end of summer, particularly in August and September, is often referred to as the "sweet spot" for travel. Summer crowds disperse, as families get ready to head back to school, meaning there is less demand at popular summer vacation spots. If your schedule allows, this is actually one of the best times to plan a long-weekend escape! Here are five budget-friendly tips from SmarterTravel that’ll make your end-of-summer getaway the best one yet.

Stay local

The best part about planning a staycation or a getaway to a nearby destination is that you'll save on transportation costs and time by staying local. Here are some suggestions for a number of major cities across the U.S.!

From New York City, we recommend a trip to Dutchess County in New York.

This quirky tiny house is located on a charming farm nearby in Sullivan County, New York.

From Atlanta, Georgia, head to Asheville, North Carolina.

Couples will love this romantic tree house cabin near Asheville, North Carolina.

From Houston, Texas, head to San Antonio.

A unique getaway awaits at these traditional tipis in nearby New Braunfels, Texas.

From Seattle, Washington, head to Bellingham or Whidbey Island.

A trip for two never looked so good than at this glamping tent on Whidbey Island in Washington.

From Los Angeles, head to San Diego, California.

This bell tent rental comes with its own mini-tennis court in nearby Carlsbad, California.

For even more exciting escapes near nine major U.S. cities, check out these top, cheap weekend getaways!

Hit the road

You can cut costs on transportation by driving to your weekend getaway. Even if you don't own a car, renting a car or using a service, like Zipcar, gives you freedom and flexibility to make a road trip a viable option. What's more? Zipcar has a partnership with state and provincial parks across the U.S. to give you free parking at select locations.

Make sure you're using an app, like GasBuddy, which is a crowd-sourcing app that tells you where the cheapest gas is nearby. Since you already have your smartphone out, take a second to download these nine other essential road trip apps, too!

Ditch the hotel

Try looking into different types of accommodations when planning an end-of-summer getaway—with glamping being a top choice. Not only are you staying in Instagram-worthy properties, but you'll likely be saving on nightly rates since these are usually a non-traditional form of shelter. You'll also be able to cut costs on dining out if you book a place with a kitchen or cooking area and avoid the potential high costs of hotel parking lots.

Embrace the off season

Significant savings can be found in destinations that are in their off season, as these locales are less popular this time of year and typically have lower prices to attract guests. This is especially true in summertime in mountain towns, like Stowe, Park City, Vail, and many more. Other popular destinations where summer is considered to be the off season include Arizona, Florida, and New Orleans.

Get outdoors

It's time to get outside! Most hikes and beaches are free to enjoy, and the great outdoors provides a naturally relaxing backdrop to celebrate the end of summer. Be sure to check out free National Park entry days—one is coming up on August 25!—and look at passes for state and national parks if you're looking to visit often. Don't know which park to visit? We've got some suggestions for you that come recommended by the park rangers themselves here.


Check out Glamping Hub and SmarterTravel's Weekend Road Trip Giveaway on Instagram! You and three friends have the chance to win the perfect end-of-summer getaway.

Costa Vicentina: A hidden surfers' paradise in Portugal

By Fred Jéquier

Photo from cEkonomista.

Every year, surfers across Europe flock to some of the most popular surf spots in the continent. Usual suspects include Biarritz in France; San Sebastian in northern Spain, Sennen Cove in Cornwall, England, and Peniche in Portugal. If you're looking for somewhere new to ride some waves this summer, look no further. The stunning Costa Vicentina is where you should be looking. This incredible coastline—rich in history, culture, and, of course, waves—has numerous beaches that are perfect for a summer surfing adventure.

Where is Costa Vicentina?

Costa Vicentina is set in the incredible Alentejo and Algarve regions of Portugal. Part of a natural park that starts further north and runs from the fishing village of Burgau in the south to Odeceixe Beach, Costa Vicentina is the longest stretch of protected Portuguese coast, with beaches as far as the eye can see.

This area of preserved nature has breathtaking, rugged character that is different to other parts of southwestern and southern Portugal. Heading west from Lagos, you'll leave the picturesque caves and coves behind you and will soon find yourself amid vast, empty swathes of sand or tiny, inaccessible beaches—perfect for the more adventurous surfer, as they are continually hammered by the full force of the Atlantic Ocean.

History of the region

Costa Vicentina has a rich history that precedes its current role as a surfers' paradise. Cape St. Vincent, the most south-western point in Europe, has religious traditions that stretch as far back as the Ancient Greeks, who called it the Land of the Serpents, and the Romans, who considered the horizon beyond which the sun set sacred, referred to it as Promontorium Sacrum, which means Holy Promontory, and is the Latin origin of the coastal town of Sagres.

The Romans saw the cape as the end of the world, where the sun would be submerged each day into the endless ocean—a belief that some still clung to during the medieval period. Skip forward to the 15th century, and Costa Vicentina became an increasingly important area during the European age of discovery.

Photo from Lisbon Tourism.

Prince Henry the Navigator (1394-1460), the fourth child of King John I of Portugal, and the Governor of the Algarve, dedicated his life to furthering Portugal's early voyages of discovery and founded the School of Navigation in Sagres. He also oversaw the creation of caravels—ships that were faster and lighter than their predecessors, as well as highly maneuverable, which was perfect for exploring the African coast line and going into the Atlantic.

The Fortaleza, or fortress on the headland above Sagres, located on a dramatic, narrow headland that juts out into the Atlantic Ocean, may well have been where Henry's School of Navigation was based, he certainly spent a good amount of time there planning his voyages. Nowadays, it's a must-see for tourists. This windswept spot overlooks the ocean, with incredible coastal views.

Top surfing spots

The Costa Vicentina has a plethora of beaches for you to choose from, each different to the last. Whether you're a beginner, or an advanced surfer used to charging waves as tall as houses, you are bound to find a beach that suits your needs when you head to this unique coastline. Here are just a few of our favorites!

1. Arrifana Beach

Half way between Praia de Odeceixe and Sagres, this crescent-shaped beach is perfect for surfers of any level. Beginners can make the most of the slightly slower waves at high tide, and those with more experience can head out at low tide for the faster waves. On days with a good swell, the beach can have a lot of visitors, but this is a great spot for both surfing, and relaxing. The town has a variety of restaurants and bars for when you've built up an appetite carving the waves.

2. Amado Beach

A 25-minute drive from Sagres, the waves that roll into Amado Beach are not reliant on the tides, making it the perfect spot for surfers all year round. One of the most consistent surfing spots in the area, it is open to all Atlantic swells, and as a protected area, it's not built-up, allowing you to enjoy a secluded, peaceful beach. If you're planning on visiting this stunning bit of coastline, you'll be able to find a place to stay in Sagres, or even Lagos, which is just 40 minutes away.

3. Castelejo Beach

Just 12 kilometers from Sagres, Castelejo Beach can be affected by westerly winds, meaning that in the summer months, the waves are conducive to anyone who wants to learn how to surf from scratch. Meanwhile, in autumn, the beach can come into contact with some fairly strong Atlantic swells that create world-class waves—perfect if you're a seasoned surfer.

4. Beliche Beach

Even closer to Sagres than Castelejo Beach⁠—a 10-minute drive in fact⁠—Beliche Beach is surrounded by large cliffs, creating a stunning spot to get in some surfing. The waves are at their best here either side of the main summer months, and they are perfect for intermediate to advanced surfers to enjoy.

5. Zavial Beach

Just east of Sagres, Zavial Beach is one of the first major surfing beaches when you enter the Costa Vicentina—and one of the best-known. With fast waves that are enhanced by strong winds, it gets good swells that are great for beginner and intermediate surfers. On days when there is a lull and the waves are not at their best, the beach itself is a stunning spot to relax or swim.

Surf schools

If you've never been surfing before, but fancy having a go at it while visiting the Costa Vicentina, we've got some suggestions of surfing schools that'll help you on your way to becoming the next Kelly Slater.

1. Boa Onda Surf School

The Boa Onda Surf School has a great reputation. Set just a 10-minute drive from the town of Aljezur, Boa Onda Surf School has classes throughout the year, with prices ranging from 35€ for half a day or a five-day course that costs 225€ in high season. They also have options for a residential course, and you can rent all the necessary equipment from the school, so you don't need to invest in a pricey new board and wetsuit.

2. Odeceixe Surf School

Founded in 2008, the Odeceixe Surf School is set close to the beach and has a small team of experienced instructors. For a day's class in high season, it'll set you back 60€, and up to five days will cost 250€. Typically, one class will get you between three and four hours in the water with an instructor.

The price doesn't just cover your lesson, though. You will get the use of a board and wetsuit, transport to beaches only locals know about, and even sports insurance—along with a comprehensive guide in dangers, such as rips, currents, and how to safely paddle in and out of the surf.

3. Mission To Surf

With more than 20 years experience, Mission To Surf will make the impossible possible. Set in Palmeirinha, and with surf classes for beginners to advanced surfers, Mission To Surf has something for everyone. A beginner course will place you in a class of no more than eight students, so you can be sure of maximum supervision from your instructor. A week-long course costs 250€ in high season and 200€ in the low season, with classes typically lasting four hours. You can also opt for one-on-one classes for an hour, which 55€ for the first hour, with the option of a second hour for an additional 28€.


Keep exploring the incredible beauty of Portugal with a stay at one of our amazing accommodations!

Easy-to-make summer recipes while at home or away

By Eleanor Stanesby

Photo from The Gateway.

When temperatures are high, the thought of spending hours in the kitchen is dreaded by most. The already-warm nights are exacerbated by the oven and stove heating up the entire home, creating a flustered cook and sometimes a failed meal. Imagine when you throw in the additional pressure of cooking on vacation for a large group and in an unfamiliar kitchen, too!

Good food can be difficult to get right if you don't have a plan, so we've sourced some summer recipes that are easy, quick, refreshing, and something that the whole group will love, whether you're at home or away on vacation. They'll even leave time for you to ensure that you can achieve your sunbathing, reading, and afternoon napping goals this summer, too!

Dinner

No-cook zucchini noodles

A delicious zucchini recipe from Healthy Seasonal Recipes.

This no-cook zucchini noodle recipe is the perfect summer meal. With nothing but prep time, this meal is ready in just 15 minutes, and no cooking means no extra heat from the stove top or ovens. These noodles can be prepared multiple ways, no matter where you are or what kitchen equipment may be on hand, so you can even serve this meal on vacation. It's also a low-carb, low-cost recipe, with only three main ingredients: zucchini, pesto, and tomato—and seasoning, of course—all of which are easy to find, cheap to buy, and healthy! What could be better?

Fish tacos

A fish taco recipe from Foodie Crush.

This blackened fish tacos recipe offers the perfect opportunity to take advantage of the warm summer evenings and cook outside. The fish can be prepared on an outdoor grill, and after that, all you have to do is add fresh vegetables and seasoning. If you want to add a salsa, too, this recipe has the steps to an awesome, homemade creamy avocado topping. All these ingredients can be served separately, allowing the group to make their own tacos to taste at the table and take some pressure off of the cook. It's the perfect excuse to call up your friends and invite them over for a summer dinner!

Sweet treats

Chocolate peanut butter cookies

A no-bake chocolate peanut butter cookie recipe from House of Nash Eats.

Oats, peanut butter, and chocolate—what could be a better cookie combination than these three mouthwatering ingredients? Even better, these cookies are no-bake and can be created in just 15 to 20 minutes. If you're looking for a quick, no hassle dessert, this is the recipe for you, and if you're going on vacation, you don't even need an oven to whip up this heavenly creation. They're sure to be a hit with both kids and adults—the perfect way to end a hot summer's day.

Chocolate-covered watermelon

A chocolate covered watermelon recipe from Delish.

These tasty slices of chocolate-covered watermelon have got you covered when on the hunt for something refreshing to eat while in the heat. This delicious dessert needs only four ingredients: watermelon, chocolate, coconut oil, and flaky sea salt. Coconut oil may be hard to come by if on vacation, so this ingredient can be left out; however it does speed up the process from prep time to indulging. In a mere 10 minutes, you can have the ideal after-dinner snack for the whole group.

Frozen coconut s'mores

A frozen coconut s'mores recipe from Womans Day.

This recipe requires a little more work, but it'll be so worth it in the end. A summer s'more without the hassle and heat of a campfire? Sounds too good to be true! All you need is a freezer to achieve the ultimate frozen dessert. Made in batches, these frozen delights can be served to a large group, with the recipe designed to provide 32 servings, ensuring you won't need s'more once you've polished off this desert! If you love this combination of flavors, making this recipe is the ideal alternative in the summer heat.

Bonus recipe

Pink grapefruit gin slush

A summer drink recipe from David Lebovitz.

No summer vacation is complete without a delicious, chilled drink. This pink grapefruit gin slush is the perfect recipe for that lip-smacking, delicious summer drink. Ice cold, gin-infused, and sweet, there's no better homemade concoction to keep you cool. All you need to do is pour the ingredients together and put it in the freezer⁠! And now you don't have to worry whether your guests prefer their cocktails shaken or stirred.


Still trying to find the perfect spot for your summer vacation? Keep reading to find the perfect accommodation to complete your summer!

Top 7 ways to beat the heat while traveling

By Eleanor Stanesby

When summer rolls around, many of us have the urge to pack up our things and go in search of an epic adventure. Soaring summer temperatures, however, can turn travel plans into a sticky situation. In order to combat the heat and ensure that all summer plans go off without a hitch, it's important to prep for warm weather pre-vacation.

Without further ado, check out our top 7 tips for beating the heat on your summer travels!

1. Dress appropriately

There's nothing worse than dressing wrong for the weather. Being uncomfortable can affect every part of your travel experience, and searching for the next patch of shade away from the scorching sun is not usually a fun past time. Make sure you pack loose-fitting, lightweight, and light-colored clothing for your summer trip. Think breathable materials, like cotton or linen, in light colors that won't trap heat. Not only will this tip save you from overheating, but packing just got a whole lot easier!

2. Stay hydrated

This may seem like an obvious tip, but many people don't realize how easy it is to get dehydrated in the the heat. Excessive sweating means we lose a lot more water than we're used to, which can become dangerous if you're on the move. Invest in a reusable water bottle that you can carry around with you, which will save you money and help the environment...a win-win situation! If you know your day will be filled with activity and the temperatures are predicted to be extra hot, you can even freeze your water bottle over night, which will you keep cool throughout the day.

3. Make use of natural resources

Whether you're lying on a beach or going on a hike, use the bodies of water around you to cool off. The area of the brain that regulates your body temperature is located at the base of the neck in the brain stem. Find a stream, a lake, or the ocean for some cold water, and cool your internal body temperature down immediately. Better yet, place a small wet towel on the back of your neck for a more time-effective method. One last top tip, is to run your wrists in the water for around 30 seconds for relief against the scorching sun.

4. Wear sunscreen

The highest-rated sunscreens, according to Consumer Reports.

Applying sunscreen may feel like a chore, especially if you have kids who won't stay still while you try to slather it on. If you're on the move, you'll need to stop and apply every couple of hours to avoid getting sunburned. Researching the best sunscreens is always a good idea, as some have more durability than others, and it will save both time and a painful burn by choosing the right one.

5. Carry a handheld fan

Handheld ice cream cone-shaped fan from Amazon.

If the place you're traveling to is known for being humid, a handheld fan may be the only option for some extra relief from the heat. This may seem a little "extra," but we think you'll be thanking us when your feeling cooler than the rest of your group. If you're worried about it popping up in photos, check out these cute handheld fans shaped like ice cream cones that are more than worthy of an Instagram post.

6. Eat cooling foods

Eating heavy, spicy, and protein-rich foods will only make you feel worse in the heat, as they have a metabolic effect that will cause you to feel warmer. Stick to light foods, such as fruit and vegetables, which both help with your temperature and won't make you feel drowsy. Treat yourself to an cold ice cream to cool your core temperature down and reward yourself with a sweet treat, too. You're on vacation—why not?

7. Avoid the hottest part of the day

The hottest part of the day is hard to withstand and brings with it many problems that are hard to avoid. Your best bet is to not be outside during this time of day. Become an early riser and get all your activities done in the morning while the temperatures are still reasonably low, or wait until late afternoon to take that hike you've been dying to do. You'll thank yourself later!


If you still haven't decided where to take your summer vacation, check out these getaways for the perfect trip to up your travel game!

Where to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing

By Mikaela Amundson

"That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind." - Neil Armstrong

It's been 50 years since the United States put a man on the moon and this month of July will mark some extraordinary events for history and astronomy lovers alike! Five decades after the "Eagle" landed, mankind still looks to the sky in awe like they have for thousands of years. We love any excuse to get outside and bask in the awesomeness of nature, so let's honor this momentous leap that was taken in 1969 and where the space frontier will take us next!

Keep reading to find out where to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

Apollo 11 astronaut, Buzz Aldrin, walks on the surface of the moon on July 20, 1969,
in a photograph taken by Neil Armstrong.
Photo courtesy of History HD.

U.S. celebrations

Alabama

At the US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama, otherwise known as “Rocket City," the whole area is celebrating its integral role in developing and building the Saturn launch vehicles for the Apollo Moon mission. There will be a whole week of events, including music performances, moon landing reenactments, and even an attempt to break a Guinness World Record by launching 5,000 model rockets simultaneously.

Photo courtasy of Nasa on Unsplash.

Washington, D.C.

D.C. is home to world-class museums, and the National Air and Space Museum is no exception. Their celebration of Apollo 50 will feature special, hands-on exhibits, an outdoor festival, and a chance to see Neil Armstrong's suit on display for the first time in 13 years.

The celebrations here culminate with a late-night party called, “The Eagle Has Landed," at 10:56 p.m. on July 20 to mark Armstrong’s first step onto the moon. The D.C. celebration focuses a lot on President Kennedy's leadership and promotion of the U.S. Space Program, which makes for a great history element to this event!

Portland

At the OMSI, a.k.a. the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, they're hosting a block party for stargazers. At Rooster Rock State Park and Stub Stewart State Park, starting at 9 p.m. on July 20, you can see some sky highlights—Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, star clusters, and the gorgeous waning gibbous moon. This museum is always great, but it has a lot of extra special fun up its sleeve this week!

Ohio

What better place to celebrate Apollo 50 than in Neil Armstrong’s hometown of Wapakoneta? The Armstrong Air and Space Museum is hosting a week's worth of events, filled with celebrations of their most famous resident that include rocket launches, interactive museum exhibits, music events, a fun run, a gala, and more.

U.S. stargazing

Photo courtesy of Joshua Earle.

If you can't make it to any formal celebrations for Apollo 50, you're still in luck for a star-filled July! There is a fair amount of notable celestial activity expected throughout the month that you can read about here. Below, you'll find the ones we're most excited about!

  • July 13: Close Approach of the Moon & Jupiter
  • July 16: Partial Lunar Eclipse (North and South America can expect to see this eclipse in the dusk and night hours of July 16, while Europe, Asia, Africa, India, and Australia can expect the early morning and before dawn hours of July 17.)
  • July 21: Peak of the α–Cygnid Meteor Shower
  • July 29: Peak of the δ–Aquarid Meteor Shower
  • July 31: Peak of the Piscis Australid Meteor Shower

TV

If you can't get out to any moon events this year, be sure to check out NASA's special TV programming on Friday, July 19, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m EDT for their showing of "NASA’s Giant Leaps: Past and Future" to celebrate. The show will be coming to you live from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, with segments in Houston, Huntsville, D.C., Ohio, and Seattle. You'll see Apollo memorabilia, anniversary celebrations, and hear from Apollo astronauts. Find the stream here on NASA's Apollo anniversary events page.

Outside of the U.S.

Europe

If you're not in the U.S. for this momentous, month-long space extravaganza, don't worry! We've got you covered with a few other places around the world that are known for their incredible nighttime views.

La Palma, Canary Islands

The northernmost island of the Canary Islands' seven main islands, La Palma is known for its incredible stargazing and has been named an UNESCO Starlight Reserve, in honor of the amazing celestial views you can catch there.

Hella, Iceland

This small town in South Iceland is known for not only amazing star views, but also the Northern Lights! It's one of the southernmost viewpoints for the Aurora Borealis, making it perfect if you're not quite prepared for the arctic cold.

Tuscany, Italy

The birthplace of the telescope is another spot well known for its stargazing. See the same stars Galileo did when he first looked to the heavens, and enjoy a dazzling display out in the Tuscan countryside.

You can find more details about these places, as well as some more European stargazing locations here.

Photo courtesy of NASA.

Australia

There are some great spots for viewing the stars in Australia—its low light pollution and unique southern hemisphere placement make it a premier spot for star enthusiasts.

Parkes Telescope

At the Parkes Observatory in New South Wales, you'll find the telescope that was watching when Neil Armstrong took his first steps on the moon in 1969. This spot offers great views, interesting exhibits, and activities for the whole family to explore the stars.

Gingin Observatory

In Western Australia, visit the Gravity Discovery Centre to find this observatory, which houses the world's largest radio telescope ever built. The dark skies, guidance from expert astronomers, and accessible telescopes make this a top-notch spot.

Sydney Observatory

Back in NSW, just outside the capital city of Sydney, this observatory can be found on a hill overlooking the harbor. The Sydney Observatory houses the oldest working telescope in Australia, which was originally built to view the Transit of Venus in 1874.

For more details about Australia stargazing, check out these resources here.

Photo courtesy of NASA.

Check out more properties on Glamping Hub to find the perfect stargazing escape today!

Your guide to Greece in the summertime

By Eric Wright

As far back as 480 B.C, the rivaling city-states of Ancient Greece faced fierce power struggles from within, as well as the threat of slavery and death by distant tyrants with armies so massive they shook the ground. Throughout the passing centuries, the war-torn region experienced periods of conquest by the Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman Empires, who left footprints that would echo throughout eternity. From these complex political movements and often brutal confrontations, the influx of new technologies, engineering techniques, and precious materials allowed Greece to prosper into the multi-faceted culture we see today.

On March 25, 1821, Greece declared its independence from the Ottoman Empire and was officially recognized as a country in its own right, ushering in an age of freedom. Nowadays, the spellbinding history surrounding the aptly named cradle of Western civilization sees over 30 million visitors flock to its lands each year to soak up the rich historical legacy, as well as enjoy world-class beaches and a continental climate.

We've compiled the ultimate summertime guide to Greece, the legendary home of the gods of Greek mythology.

Before you go and good to know

Getting there and around

The busiest airport in Greece is in the capital of Athens. This international hub receives direct flights from most European cities; however, the airports in Santorini and Crete also run several flights throughout Europe.

As a country with thousands of hidden islands, the ideal way to travel to them once in Greece is by ferry, while taking in the epic coastlines along the way. One of the best sites to book ferries is Ferryhopper, which offers daily trips to the major ports scattered across the peninsula. Although tickets don't generally sell out, it is a good idea to book at least a few weeks in advance to give yourself some peace of mind while vacationing.

In terms of traversing the islands, there are several options. Renting a car from Athens and taking it on the ferry can be a handy way to avoid wasting time once the ferry arrives; however, all of the islands have affordable rental companies that offer scooters, buggies, ATVs, and bikes at a reasonable price, too.

Culture

Widely considered to be the birthplace of democracy and Western civilization, Greece's evolution has transformed the country into one that enjoys a captivating mix of both history and myth. With a tale that traverses the Bronze age and the classical, Roman, and Ottoman periods, the secluded islands and vast mainland of Greece offer a compelling insight into human history.

Start your own Herculean adventure by visiting the birthplace of civilization at the Acropolis in Athens and the throne of Zeus at Mount Olympus on the mainland, all before journeying across the horizon to the Minoan palaces of Knossos on the island of Crete.

Events

Photo courtesy of Why Athens.

A great way to discover the roots of the time of legend is by attending one of the diverse and vivacious events around the country every year. The Athens Epidaurus Festival takes place from June to August and showcases ancient drama, plays, ballets, operas, art exhibitions, and classical music concerts around several theaters in Athens.

Other popular summer festivals include Megaro Gyzi Festival in Santorini every August, with its traditional music and eclectic art exhibitions; Naxos Festival in the Cyclades, showcasing theater performances and art workshops between July and August; and Sani Festival in Halkidiki, which offers dance performances and painting exhibitions from July to September.

Food and drink

The Greek's intense pride in their history means that many of the dishes found in the charming restaurants nowadays very closely resemble those eaten decades, even centuries, ago. One such ancient dish is the absolutely delicious, sun-dried octopus. Found in most fish taverns across the remote islands, the octopus is first hung out in the sun for up to 24 hours before being charcoal grilled, seasoned with fresh lemon, and washed down with a generous glass of some local ouzo. Truly a meal fit for Zeus himself!

Other tastebud-tingling dishes not to be missed in the land of the setting sun include creamy feta cheese salads; fried fish and calamari fresh from the Mediterranean or Aegean Sea; gyros filled with spit-roasted meat and Tzatziki sauce; the iconic, oven-baked Moussaka; and, of course, olives with lashings of that famous olive oil that has been perfected by the Greeks over thousands of years.

Places to visit

1. Athens

As the capital of Greece and one of the world's oldest cities, with a recorded history dating back over 3,000 years, Athens is an ideal way to start your Greek adventure. There are few sites as iconic as the 2,500-year-old Acropolis, which rests majestically on a rocky outcrop right in the heart of the city. Some of the monuments found at this fabled site are generally considered the greatest architectural achievements of Ancient Greece, such as the towering Parthenon. The city flourishes with history around every corner; however, those looking to delve deeper into how advanced the ancient Greeks were shouldn't miss the chance to visit The National Archaeological Museum—widely regarded as one of the best in the world.

In terms of soaking up the local culture, the Monastiraki Flea Market offers a veritable feast for the senses. It's one of the liveliest squares in the city, where locals come from far and wide to sell their wares. The crisscrossed streets of the neighborhood itself are also a great spot to take a much-needed break by sipping on a cocktail at one of the rooftop bars while gazing upon the monumental views of the magnificent Parthenon. After a busy day exploring, there's no better end to the day than watching the sunset over the Acropolis from Mount Lycabettus.

2. Mykonos

The whitewashed oasis of Mykonos is just a scenic, two-hour ferry ride from Athens, with tickets generally costing between 20 and 40 euros. Located in the center of the Cyclades, the picturesque paradise offers a fantastic mix of glamorous nightlife and old-world simplicity. The winding streets of the capital, Hora, or Mykonos Town, create a wonderful, labyrinth-like setting, with colorful wooden doors, charming local houses, and tiny Greek churches at every turn, while Little Venice boasts jaw-dropping vistas come sunset.

Other must-see corners of this island gem include the iconic Mykonos windmills, standing high on a hill near Mykonos Town; the Church of Panagia Paraportiani, with its four, unique chapels, each built at a different point in history; and the mythical birthplace of Apollo, Delos island, which showcases the ancient ruins of temples, villas, and theaters. If dancing until the sun comes up is what you're looking for, Cavo Paradiso is the place to be. The international DJ lineup at this beach club offers an unforgettable night of clubbing, meeting fellow partygoers, and watching an indescribable sunrise across the vast Aegean Sea.

3. Milos

As one of the lesser known islands, compared to tourist hubs, such as Santorini, the enchanting island of Milos truly is a hidden gem not to be missed during a Greek adventure. Generally cheaper and less crowded than its more popular counterparts, the undisturbed coves and caves of Milos make a welcome respite away from the crowds.

The beaches of Sarakiniko and Kleftiko will leave you breathless with the sheer beauty of their white cliffs and rich geology. Kleftiko, an old pirate hideaway, is only reachable by boat, meaning that taking a trip around the island from one of the many tour companies is an absolute must. At Sarakiniko, you'll find a moonscape, alien-like environment, where you can explore the hidden coves, bathe in the calm, shallow inlet, and even try some exhilarating cliff jumping.

There are so many remote beaches on the island that you'll need at least a few days and a rental car to truly get the most out of Milos, including Firiplaka Beach, Paliochori Beach, Firopotamos Beach, the ancient village of Klima, and the fishing village of Mantrakia, which has some of the best seafood found anywhere in Greece at the superb Medusa Restaurant.

4. Santorini

The quintessential image of the Greek islands for many is the blue domed churches of Santorini. This rugged, volcanic island affords some spectacular sunsets, and the whitewashed towns that dot the jagged slopes are sure to captivate visitors.

That world-renowned image of the dreamy, blue domes can be found in the quaint village of Oia, located on the northern point of the island. Although this may be one of the most picture-perfect spots on the planet, it's important to take note that the town gets incredibly busy in the afternoon—often with hour-long queues just to get that perfect snap. Try getting the early bus to arrive by around 9 a.m. so you can take in all the beauty away from the impending mobs.

Another unique spot in Santorini is Red Beach, found on the south side of the island, which is a curious red sand cove that is towered by dramatic, Mars-like cliffs. There are other black and gray sand beaches nearby that are worth a visit, including Perivolos, Perissa, and Kamari, while the towns of Akrotiri, Caldera, and Fira offer a generous combination of old-world charm and Instagram-worthy photo ops.

5. Crete

The ferry route from Santorini to Crete runs several times a day and takes just a few hours—making the historical center of Europe's earliest advanced civilization an essential stop while island-hopping. As the biggest island in Greece, it's advisable to prolong a stay at the birthplace of Zeus to take in all the godly sights on offer. Regularly spoken of as Europe's oldest city, the Palace of Knossos is an ancient architecture lover's dream, while the Sacred Monastery of Arkadi and the Koules Fortress both offer a glimpse into the more recent history of Crete.

Heavenly beaches are also scattered across the island, one of the most beautiful and notable being Balos Lagoon. Wedged between the capes of Gramvousa and Tigani, the shallow turquoise waters are simply divine. Another essential day trip while in Crete is Elafonisi Beach, made famous by the movie, "Captain Corelli's Mandolin." In this dreamlike nature reserve, the angelic pink sand and clear turquoise water offer a genuine celestial slice of paradise.

Local culture brims on the island, too, with Chania's Venetian Harbour, Lake Voulismeni, and Rethymnon Old Town containing a gorgeous blend of sweet cobblestoned streets, intriguing Renaissance architecture, and a plethora of lively bars and delectable local restaurants that serve fresh local produce.


For more exciting travel guides, jam-packed with helpful information for your upcoming trips, check out our Travel Guide series on the blog!

Staff Picks: Our favorite summer traditions

By Jackie Dreyer

As we ease into July, we asked Glamping Hub staffers what their favorite summer traditions are. With 78 people from 17 different countries, we got a lot of fun answers that we wanted to share with you.

Maria

UX/UI Developer

"Going to music festivals around Europe!"

Caroline

Director of Business Development

"Strawberries, Pimms, and Wimbledon!!! Just kidding—glamping, of course!"

Talal

Co-Founder

"My favorite summer tradition is definitely to connect with nature in a new destination and do different activities that involve movement, like trekking, hiking, and cycling, as well as my two favorites, skateboarding and surfing."

Haitam

Business Development Intern

"Go as deep as possible in the sea in Tangier by boat and then swim for hours!"

Pablo

Product Analyst

"Music festivals or non-touristy places."

Maria C.

Financial Controller

"I'm very simple. My favorite summer tradition is going to the beach with my friends or family and spending all day swimming and rolling around in the sand. My favorite time of day is sunset—that moment when the whole world seems to stop and the sea is reflecting the pink and orange lights. For me, those days at the beach are the ones I feel most alive."

Lauren

Business Development Manager

"Barbecues!!"

Marta

Social Media Manager

"It's not very unique, but for me, the summer means the beach! There is nothing better then spending days at the beach swimming in the ocean and spending nights eating dinner, playing board games, and laughing with the people you love!"

Ross

SEO Content Writer

"The obligatory summer festival—music, mates, BBQs, and everything in between."

Inés

Growth Assistant

"Healthy food and drinks, sports, and the beach."

Alexa

Business Development Manager

"Summer in Miami is really hot, so we spend most of our time at the beach. Most locals have both mango and avocado trees in their backyards, and summer means that both are available in extreme abundance—lots of tropical meals and drinks! On weekends, we visit Key Largo or Key West, but typically spend most of our time at Miami's beautiful beaches because, let's be honest, it's Miami (and summer is actually our low season tourism-wise, so less tourists on the beaches and at the best restaurants!)."

Rocio

Operations Manager

"Celebrating my niece's birthday together with my family in Galicia."

Jessica Armstrong

PR Partnerships Manager

"Beach and BBQs."

Caitlyn

Host Specialist

"I'm from Martha's Vineyard, and a really special summer tradition is visiting the old fishing village, Menemsha, at least once a summer. You can order whole lobsters and fresh seafood at one of the fish markets and then enjoy it with some white wine at the nearby beach—all while watching one of the prettiest sunsets there is! People come from all around the world to enjoy this unique summer tradition."

P.S. You can tell we love the beach, right?


For more Glamping Hub staff favorites, check out our Staff Picks blog series!

Fun, outdoor summer adventures and activities for kids

By Eleanor Stanesby

School is out, and summer is here, so as temperatures warm up, it's no wonder that kids want to spend their free time outdoors, whether in the backyard or on a fun-packed day trip. Making sure your kids are entertained for the whole summer can be a daunting task for any parent, but rest assured, as we've complied a list of summer activities and adventures that will supply hours of endless fun.

Read on to find some awesome activities and adventures that will create summer memories your kids will never forget!

Backyard-based fun

1. DIY slip 'n' slide

Cool the kids down (and tire them out!) with this frugal, DIY slip 'n' slide. Visit the hardware store and invest in a heavy-duty, clear plastic sheet or a camping tarp. Place the material on a slope, add flowing water from a garden hose and a bit of baby shampoo, and watch the hours of entertainment unfold for the kids, no matter what their age.

2. Outdoor arts and crafts

Photo from Broogly.

Kids love to get creative. When you supply them with paints, pens, and paper, though, things are sure to get messy. An outdoor arts and crafts station allows them to spend time outside on a sunny day and will hinder your worry of them spilling paint on the floors, walls, and everything in between. Combine bubble mix and food coloring, and watch the kids create a masterpiece while simultaneously in complete awe of this cool craft.

3. Obstacle course

Photo from Parents.

A backyard obstacle course can help kids use up the endless amount of innate energy they all seem to have. Create a mini competition for the older kids and offer a small prize, which is bound to make things more interesting. You could even include the aforementioned slip 'n' slide for even more enjoyment!

Using pool noodles is a great way to create your own obstacles while also being safety conscious and preventing injuries. Be sure to check out these other awesome backyard games just using pool noodles, too—who knew they were so versatile?

4. Scavenger hunt

Photo from Soeasybeinggreen.

A backyard scavenger hunt is a great way for kids to use there curiosity and discover new things. Hours of determined exploration to find these items—and the inevitable excitement on their faces when they do—will be a joyous afternoon for both you and them. Check out this free, printable scavenger hunt checklist to make your job even easier!

Day trip adventures

5. Visit a local fair or theme park

It's no surprise that visiting a fairground or theme park during summer holidays is a popular adventure. Kids love the epic rides, fairground games, and food and sweets that are likely to pair with this kind of day trip. With rides and activities catered to all ages, this is sure to be a hit no matter the age.

5. Explore a national park

Share the serene beauty of a national park with your kids, and prepare for a look of wonder to spread over their faces all day long, thanks to the views, lakes, and wildlife spotting sure to ensue. Many national parks have events, trails, and activities catered towards children, which is super helpful to know before choosing which one to head to.

The U.S National Park Service has a page where you can check out what park is best suited to your children's ages and what ongoing events there are to participate in. Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, for example, is perfect for visiting with kids, as there are many smaller hikes and free activities available, as well as some adrenaline-pumping activities for eager teens.

Quick tips:

  • Bring the basics, including SPF and plenty of water to stay hydrated.
  • Create games using the surrounding nature.
  • Be prepared for spontaneous exploration.
  • Don't forget to take snacks with you!

Feeling inspired? Want to plan an outdoorsy vacation with the kids? Tiny Camper Pro is ready to help you find the ultimate outdoor getaway for when you don't have a camper here!

A breakdown of the best beaches by region in the U.S.

By Eric Wright

Spanning an astonishing 3.8 million square miles and bordered by three different oceans, the U.S. is one of the most geographically diverse countries on the planet. From the vast deserts in the southwest and the plains of the Midwest to the Colorado Rocky Mountains and icy tundras of Alaska, it really is a world unto itself—and it doesn't stop there. The sheer diversity of the U.S. extends all the way to its 12,383 miles of coastline, which means a plethora of beautiful beaches for you to visit and enjoy.

Plan your summer trip accordingly with our breakdown of the best beaches by region in the U.S.

The West Coast

The West Coast cozies up to the Pacific Ocean and offers a fantastic variety of stunning beaches—from rugged, windswept cliffs to soft sand that stretches on as far as the eye can see. Although the temperature may be lower than the beaches of the southeast and Gulf Coast, this area more than makes up for it with its peaceful beauty and awe-inspiring views.

1. Laguna Beach, California

For many, the 36 stretches of Orange County's Laguna Beach are the epitome of a West Coast beach getaway. Whether you're spending the day spiking up a volleyball at the popular Main Beach, exploring ancient caves at Thousand Steps Beach, or snorkeling the epic underwater marine park at Crystal Cove, a summer vacation at Laguna Beach offers something unforgettable for everyone.

2. Cannon Beach, Oregon

The iconic image of Haystack Rock, reaching up 235 feet into the heavens, is one of the most recognizable natural attractions on the coast of Oregon, and Cannon Beach itself is full of majestic coves just waiting to be discovered. The upscale resort town has many charming boutiques and quality restaurants, which are great to stop in at after days of long, scenic walks and, of course, saying hello to the resident puffins!

3. Cape Disappointment State Beach, Washington

Contrary to its name, the 2,032-acre Cape Disappointment State Park on the Long Beach Peninsula is the ideal spot to enjoy a beach vacation, with a great variety of both terrain and wildlife. The freshwater lakes and majestic cliffs create a unique landscape right where the Pacific Ocean meets the Columbia River. If its hiking, calm weather, and endless ocean views you're looking for, you've just found your perfect beach getaway!

4. El Matador State Beach, California

The jagged coastline of El Matador State Beach is one of the most unmistakable coastlines in Malibu, and the area is brimming with long sandy stretches, fabulous rocky inclines, and otherworldly sunsets. With the ocean full of kelp forests, visitors to the area can embark on an amazing whale-watching tour with majestic views of the coastlines massive boulders, steep cliffs, and mysterious sea caves.

5. San Gregorio, California

As one of the many state beaches running along the scenic Route 1 between Santa Cruz and San Francisco, San Gregorio boasts one of the best places to enjoy the gorgeous bluffs, vast sandstone cliffs, and sandy beaches found along this gorgeous coastline. Nature lovers will also be in their element, with a protected estuary housing a variety of native birds and animals, as well as the opportunity to spot a whale passing by.

The Gulf Coast

The Gulf Coast stretches on for hundreds of miles through the states of Louisiana, Alabama, Texas, Mississippi, and Florida—welcoming millions of tourists each year for summers of enjoying year-round warm waters, idyllic fishing conditions, and water sports. The white sand and emerald green waters of the Gulf of Mexico are sure to enchant any visitor, making it the ideal beach vacation destination.

1. Galveston Island State Park, Texas

As a protected territory, Galveston Island State Park offers a more peaceful getaway than many of the Gulf Coast beach destinations, with its vast wetlands, dunes, and tranquil beaches being a respite from the busier tourist traps. Located just an hour from Houston, the 32 miles of sandy beaches couldn't be more of a contrast from hectic city life.

2. South Padre Island, Texas

Located off the southern tip of Texas, the half-mile-wide barrier island of South Padre offers a retreat packed with incredibly clean shorelines and shimmering water. The shallow water makes the island a perfect spot for families, while those looking to get their blood pumping can try their hand at boating, kayaking, and parasailing. With some of the best waves on the Gulf Coast, those surfers out there will have also found their slice of southern heaven.

3. Gulf Shores, Alabama

The "sugar sands" in Gulf Shores, Alabama, offer a family-friendly destination full of impeccably well-maintained beaches and glistening ocean. Although Alabama doesn't boast as many miles of beaches as its neighboring states, the champagne shores dotted around this area are simply incomparable, and the 6 miles of soft sand at West Beach are a testament to this. Get ready for relaxing beach days full of collecting seashells, taking a dip in the calm waters, and enjoying the warm gulf breeze.

4. Orange Beach, Alabama

Situated just a 10-minute drive east from Gulf Shores, Orange Beach offers even more white quartz beaches and pristine, green-blue ocean waters. Open year-round, with public beach access, Orange Beach has earned a reputation as one of the best beaches on the Gulf Coast. Why not spend days swimming, sunbathing, and building sandcastles with the kids? You can even take a thrilling parasailing trip high above the scenic beauty of this fabulous area.

5. Gulfport, Mississippi

The second-largest city in Mississippi after the capital of Jackson, the diverse downtown of Gulfport is a southern tourist hub steeped in charming local history. With pristine sands stretching 6.2 miles and outlined by swaying palm trees, this is a paradise for those looking to kick back and enjoy a true beach vacation. The theme and water parks draw many visitors each year, while the various water sports rentals along the coast are perfect for some high-thrill experiences on the emerald waters.

The East Coast

While the West Coast gets a lot of the credit for the best beaches in the U.S., the 3,000 kilometers of Atlantic Ocean coastline on the other side of the country boast their own unique selection of sandy shores, rocky outcrops, and charming beach towns. From the hip vibes of Miami Beach to the peaceful sunsets of Hilton Head Island, the East Coast is a must-visit destination in and of itself.

1. Block Island, Rhode Island

Nicknamed "The Bermuda of the North,” New England's Block Island is home to 17 miles of beaches, which surround the vibrant town center. The clear waters of Crescent Beach are simply unmissable, while the dramatic clay cliffs at Mohegan Bluffs are well-worth making the descent down the 141 wooden steps to the spectacular shoreline. Those seeking some history should head to the northern tip of the island to the North Lighthouse, built in 1867, and nature lovers can spot migratory songbirds at the Block Island National Wildlife Refuge.

2. Miami Beach, Florida

Connected by bridges to mainland Miami, the island city of Miami Beach truly is one-of-a-kind, in terms of the unique atmosphere found in this idyllic area. Models, A-list celebrities, and eccentric locals alike can all be found at South Beach every summer, making it a perfect destination for afternoons of people-watching in the Florida sunshine. The wide beaches, full of fine sand, are just begging for you to sink your toes in them while sipping a mojito, and after sunset, the clubs and bars start to fill with nightlife-lovers ready to dance late into the night.

3. Virginia Beach, Virginia

Just a short 30-minute drive southeast of Norfolk International Airport in Virginia, where Chesapeake Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean, Virginia Beach is an outdoor enthusiast's dream. The North American Sand Soccer Championships and annual Coastal Edge East Coast Surfing Championships both draw in fans from far and wide, while the opportunities to go kayaking, parasailing, and jet skiing are practically endless. An iconic part of the beach is the 28-foot-wide boardwalk, which stretches on for 3 miles, with arcade games, live music, and street entertainers.

4. Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Full of tranquil Atlantic Ocean beaches, world-class golf courses, and historic lighthouses, the coastline of Hilton Head Island offers a laid-back vacation surrounded by scenic natural beauty. The subtropical climate also means the boot-shaped sea island enjoys mild weather year-round, while the high-class restaurants, summer festivals, and epic water sports provide something for everyone. With a welcoming atmosphere and small-town charm, this really is one of the best family vacation destinations on the East Coast.

5. Nantucket Island, Massachusetts

Those looking for an undisturbed, peaceful beach getaway have found their solution with a vacation on Nantucket. Found at the easternmost end of the island, Great Point is widely regarded as one of the most secluded beaches in the U.S. The reason for this is that visitors to the area need a beach permit to drive their 4x4 across the rugged sandy tracks to the historic Great Point Lighthouse. The beauty of this hidden gem is simply breathtaking, while watching the sun set across the vast Atlantic Ocean from Madaket Beach, located on the opposite side of the island, is an unforgettable experience.

Non-Continental

From absolutely incredible reefs and some of the most romantic coves imaginable to beaches with green, red, and black sands, its no wonder that Hawaii is widely considered to have some of the best beaches on the planet. If you're looking for a vacation of discovering a stunning new coastline every day, you've found your perfect getaway in Hawaii.

1. Sunset Beach, Hawaii

Located on Oahu's North Shore, the 200-foot-wide Sunset Beach stretches on for 2 miles and boasts prime surfing conditions, so much so that it forms part of the world-famous Triple Crown surfing competition. You can spend an afternoon watching surfers try their luck on the legendary waves or spotting some of the exotic tropical fish in the reef. Don't miss the enchanting sunset over the distant horizon before nightfall, too!

2. Kailua Beach Park, Hawaii

With crystal-clear, aquamarine water and talcum white sand, along with great swimming conditions, it's no surprise that Kailua Beach Park on Oahu regularly ranks at the top of the list of the best beaches in the U.S. Located on the eastern shore, it's difficult to imagine an ocean more turquoise blue than it is here, and with the powdery, 2.5-mile beach, kayaking along the coast is sure to be a dream-like experience that no one will ever forget.

3. Lanikai Beach, Hawaii

As a constant rival to Kailua Beach Park, Lanikai Beach also often ranks as one of the best beaches in the world. As the endless, aqua blue waters stretch on seemingly forever, it comes as no shock that the meaning of Lanikai is actually "heavenly ocean." The alluring waters are simply asking to be dived into! One of the main attractions here is the staggeringly beautiful sunrise, so be sure to get up early and make your way down to the beach for some other-worldly imagery at dawn.


Not ready to head back home after you've checked out? No worries! Check out Knock Knock City's of places you can visit and store your luggage nearby.