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13 Summer Vacation Ideas for 2021

Summer is just around the corner, and the promise of longer, warmer, sun-filled days—along with rising rates of vaccinations at home and around the world, and the recent CDC declaration that travel is low-risk for fully vaccinated people—has the Indagare Community buzzing with anticipation for some much-needed getaways. Whether you’re looking to plan a long weekend close to home or a longer trip out west to a family-friendly dude ranch or epic national park—or you’re ready to venture further afield to top summer vacation locales in Europe, Africa and beyond—we’ve gathered the top options currently open to Americans. Plus: our Trip Designers can help you evaluate the destinations that are right for your interests and comfort level, when you’re ready.

Contact your Indagare Trip Designer or Indagare, if you are not yet a member, to discuss summer vacation ideas for 2021 and beyond. Our team can match you with the destinations, accommodations and activities that are right for you and provide information on Covid-19 travel safety, private villas and charters and more tips for planning a safe, seamless and rewarding experience.

American Northeast

There’s much to delight in and discover in our own backyard, and a long weekend escape or extended stay in one of our favorite summer vacation destinations in the Northeast is an ideal option for travelers making their first foray back into the wider world—and for those who are looking to keep it simple. In the Hamptons, outdoor dining options abound, from the casual but über-popular Duryea’s Lobster Deck in Montauk (walk-in only) to the rosé-all-day haven at the Wölffer Estate Vineyard in Sagaponack; plus, a fresh crop of new boutique hotels offer unique experiences, including Water Mill’s wellness- and spa-focused Shou Sugi Ban House and Montauk’s boho-chic Marram and artsy Hero Beach Club. Further north, family-friendly mainstays Nantucket, Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard are always a good idea—where days are filled with boating, shopping and dining on fresh lobster and homemade ice cream (on our radar: a new boutique hotel in downtown Nantucket, Faraway). And for luxury with immersion in nature, look no further than Vermont and Maine (where top properties include Twin Farms, Cliff House and Hidden Pond).

Related: East Coast Vacations: Easy Summer Escapes from Memorial Day to Labor Day Weekend

American Northwest

If you’re craving adventure without customs, consider booking a wild dude ranch escape. Our favorite properties—like the Ranch at Rock Creek, Amangani, the Resort at Paws Up, Taylor River Lodge and Triple Creek Ranch—offer standalone cabin accommodations ideal for privacy and distancing; exceptional outdoor activities (with top options including horseback riding, hiking, fly-fishing, clay shooting, archery, kayaking, ATV touring and biking); and access to some of our finest national parks for off-road exploration, including Glacier National Park, Yellowstone and Rocky Mountain National Park. Plus: don’t miss the June 1 opening of the Paws Up sister property The Green O, a sophisticated, adults-only retreat located in Montana’s remote Greenough township, on the southern edge of the 37,000-acre Paws Up Ranch. The new property will feature 12 design-minded, freestanding “hauses,” a seasonal dining concept, a nature-focused spa and access to 100-plus miles of trails for hiking and riding, as well as 10 miles of the Blackfoot River.

Related: A Great American West Road Trip Through Idaho, Montana & Wyoming National Parks

Coastal California

Last summer saw the resurgence of the Great American Road Trip—and if you’ve yet to experience it, plan to spend your summer vacation traveling along one of the most iconic routes in the U.S.: the Pacific Coast Highway. Here, you can soak in the sea air, spectacular sunsets and culinary delights of the Golden Coast, while staying at our favorite properties, like Carmel Valley Ranch (great for families), The Lodge at Pebble Beach (beloved by golfers), Ventana Big Sur (best for romance) and Cal-a-Vie Health Spa (for rejuvenation).

Please note that a portion of the Pacific Coast Highway collapsed (due to rainfall and sea erosion) in late January, so you should expect some reroutes and potential pockets of traffic.

Related: Summer Road Trip Ideas: The Best U.S. Hotels You Can Drive To

Greece

After a year at home—and a year of being cut off from most of the Mediterranean—a summer vacation to Greece seems like nothing short of heaven. And starting May 14, this epicurean escape will once again be available to American travelers who have been vaccinated or can present proof of negative test results (or post-recovery antibodies), according to a recent announcement from Greek tourism minister Harry Theoharis. With over 2,000 islands to choose from, travelers can find their perfect match, whether they are seeking romance, seaside relaxation with family or authentic, incredible dining. For the ultimate resort experience—as if you’ve checked in to your own Mount Olympus—Amanzoe in the eastern Peloponnese commands a position atop a large hill, with an Ed Tuttle-designed complex so striking it would impress Alexander the Great. Thirty-eight palatial pavilions with private swimming pools are scattered throughout the property, offering views towards the sea or the valley, and a quick boat ride will bring you to nearby Hydra and Spetses for dining and exploring, should you tire of the on-property beach club, spa and fitness center. Plus: Don’t miss the May 20 opening of Kalesma, an intimate, design-minded stunner from K-Studio with a local, hip vibe, just outside of Mykonos, overlooking Ornos Bay.

Related: Secret Greece: Our Favorite Under-the-Radar Greek Islands

Croatia

The jagged strip of land that stretches from the Gulf of Trieste down to Albania and Greece, Croatia boasts one of the finest coastlines in the world. Blessed with sun-drenched islands, ancient walled cities, hilltop villages and a rich history, the country is made up of a fascinating mix of cultural influences—from Slavic to Italian—which permeate daily life. Croatia is one of the few European countries that has remained open to American travelers, and it is currently welcoming U.S. citizens who can provide documentation of their accommodations (paid in full, in advance) as well as one of the following: proof of full vaccination, with the final dose having been administered more than 14 days prior to arrival; negative results from a PCR or rapid antigen Covid test taken no more than 48 hours prior to arrival; a medical certificate confirming recovery from Covid (valid 11-180 days after receiving positive results from a PCR or rapid antigen test); or negative results from a PCR or rapid antigen Covid test taken immediately upon arrival in Croatia (travelers must quarantine until results are received). 

Related: Join Indagare Founder Melissa Biggs Bradley this June on an Insider Journey to Croatia

Iceland

With otherworldly landscapes, exhilarating outdoor adventures, fascinating Viking history and a host of luxury hotels and top-notch restaurants, Iceland has risen to the top of many savvy travelers’ wish lists in recent years for good reason—and summer is one of its most beautiful seasons. As of this week, this European country is now open to American travelers with certificates of completed vaccination or previous Covid infection, provided they submit to a single Covid test upon arrival and quarantine until negative results are received (usually within 24 hours; travelers are able to quarantine in their scheduled accommodations). And if there was ever a destination worth quarantining for, it’s Deplar Farm in the remote Troll Peninsula (reopening June 5). One of the world’s most fabulous far-flung adventure hotels, this 13-room treasure by Eleven Experience is tucked into the Narnia-like wilderness where, year-round, some of the world’s best guides demonstrate the proper technique for skeet shooting, surfing or fat biking and illuminate hidden hot springs and exclusive Atlantic salmon and Arctic char runs—and entertain, in the evenings, with a heavy dose of wit and perhaps some music. Most evenings conclude with a dip in the pool to gaze at the Northern Lights or an Arctic night sky. Plus, according to the Deplar Farm website, the Fljót Valley (where the lodge is located) has recorded zero active or recovered Covid cases.

Please note that Deplar Farm is being booked quickly!

Related: Melissa Biggs Bradley On the Traveler’s Mindset in the Age of Covid

Turkish Riviera

Bodrum is a glamorous seaside escape (nicknamed “the new St. Tropez”) on the Turkish Riviera, where travelers can find stylish beach clubs, secluded coves and fishing villages—and the region is open to all U.S. citizens who present proof of negative results of a PCR test taken 72 hours prior to arrival in Turkey. There are several wonderful options for places to stay—but one of our top recommendations is the Mandarin Oriental Bodrum, the most polished, family-friendly resort in the region. With sweeping vistas of the coast and the Aegean’s crystal-clear turquoise waters from almost every part of the property, the resort has a chic yet relaxed vibe that celebrates its setting through minimalist design. For ultimate privacy, book one of the 12 villas, 36 apartments and 25 suites (all of which have private pools and gardens). The Blue Beach Club & Bar is where stylish Turks come to unwind—and guests can often spot visitors traveling along the coast by private boat stopping in for a meal.

Related: Why Go: Montenegro

Colombia

From the charming colonial streets of Cartagena to the creative spirit of Bogotá and Medellín, and the remote coffee region, Colombia promises dynamic cultural immersion at the northern tip of South America. Equally thrilling for history and politics buffs, foodies and art and design lovers, the perfect Colombia itinerary balances meaningful discussion of the country’s troubled past with an authentic look at the many colorful ways that it is moving into the future—and its many treasures await American travelers who can present negative results from a PCR test taken within 96 hours of departure for the country.

Related: Discover Colombia Indagare Departures Itinerary 2021

Peru

A must-visit for hikers as well as culture fiends and lovers of ancient history, Peru is once again open for travelers who have long had the country on their dream list—or who are looking for alternatives to rich, well-rounded summer destinations like Switzerland or Italy. The ideal itinerary should include time to explore in Cusco, Lima and, of course, the famous Sacred Valley—and travelers interested in wildlife and conservation should also consider adding on a cruise down the Amazon river aboard the intimate, luxurious Aqua Expeditions vessel Aria Amazon. (Peru is open to American travelers who present negative results from a PCR or antigen test taken within 72 hours of departure).

Related: Covid Travel Outlook 2021: Indagare Travel Sentiment Survey Results

Maldives

This nation of more than a thousand tiny islands contains a water world to satisfy the tropical fantasies of surfers, scuba divers, beach lovers and honeymooners. For an extended summer vacation that is truly far-flung—with five-star service and amenities—escape to one of the many luxurious overwater bungalows and beachfront villas available at properties like One&Only Reethi Rah, Cheval Blanc Randheli or COMO Maalifushi. Proof of a negative PCR test taken within 96 hours prior to departure is required to enter the country.

Related: How to Build a Bucket List for Your Life

Seychelles

This archipelago of white-sand islands, over 1,000 miles off the coast of east Africa, is a renowned tropical destination for good reason: it is remote, luxurious and gorgeous. Perfect for a post-safari beach escape—or a summer destination in its own right—the Seychelles offer a castaway place to process, reset and rediscover your sense of wonder (with over-the-top luxury accommodations at such resorts as Six Senses Zil Pasyon and Frégate Island Private). Proof of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to departure is required to enter the country; travelers must also have valid travel and health insurance to cover potential Covid-related costs (note: travelers who have visited South Africa within 14 days prior to arrival will not be allowed to enter).

Related: 10 Ultimate Wilderness Vacations

Rwanda

In 2020, Indagare Founder Melissa Biggs Bradley hosted two Insider Journeys trips to Rwanda—our first group trips since the outbreak of the pandemic—and several of our team members also visited the country. All returned in awe of the efficiency with which the country has responded to the pandemic—as well as the beauty of its landscapes, the majesty of its famous endangered mountain gorillas, and the resilience and magnetism of its people. For a first trip abroad since the pandemic, Rwanda is a wonderful place to start. (Travelers to Rwanda must present proof of a negative RT-PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to departure, or documentation from a licensed health care provider of recovery from Covid within 90 days prior to departure, in order to enter the country. Upon arrival, travelers must take a second PCR test and quarantine until negative results are received (approximately 24 hours later). Within 72 hours prior to departure from Rwanda, travelers must take a third PCR test and present negative results in order to exit the country.)

“I felt an imperative to travel before I left, but I returned with a powerful new understanding of it. By supporting a destination in a time of real need, we not only felt the magnified impact we were having on the country (“Your visit made us believe that things will slowly get better as tourists come back into our country,” the designer Joselyne Umutoniwase told me). We also felt its lasting impact on us. Our encounters were global exchanges in which we learned from each other and they were also genuine exchanges of hope. When we travel now, we experience a true partnership of humanity and in order to emerge from this crisis, we must recognize the strength we have together.” — Melissa Biggs Bradley, upon return from Rwanda in November 2020

Related: The Positive Power of Travel in Rwanda

Namibia

Often described as Africa’s final frontier—and one of the least-populated places in the world—Namibia consists of desert, sand dunes, huge open spaces and great swaths of silence. Here, you can strike a balance between meditation and adventure, on nature walks through otherworldly landscapes, game drives to see incredible wildlife, excursions by air and by water, and tours for photography and cultural exchange—all while based at the region’s most beautiful luxury safari lodges, including Little Kulala and Hoanib Skeleton Camp. To enter, travelers must present results from a negative PCR or antigen test taken within seven days of departure.

Related: Final Frontiers: Wild Namibia Indagare Departures Itinerary

Contact your Indagare Trip Designer or Indagare if you are not yet a member to discuss summer vacation ideas for 2021 and beyond. Our team can match you with the destinations, accommodations and activities that are right for you and provide information on Covid-19 travel safety, private villas and charters and more tips for planning a safe, seamless and rewarding experience.

– Elizabeth Harvey on April 7, 2021

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