Things to Do

Not Jetting Off to Europe This Summer Like Everyone Else? Here Are 11 Things to Do Instead

written by EMMA GINSBERG
Source: Photos by Jess Ann Kirby
Source: Photos by Jess Ann Kirby

If you’ve repeatedly deleted Instagram off your phone over the past few weeks because your feed incessantly reminds of your lack of travel plans, I feel you. I’m not sure what it is about this summer, but suddenly everyone and their mother is taking off to Europe. While I love seeing my friends have the time of their lives exploring new cities across the globe, I can’t help but feel a little FOMO and wish I had something exciting to say in response to the dreaded, “So, what are you doing this summer?” query.

Luckily for those of us who will not be receiving a stamp on our passports this summer, there are plenty of ways to soak up this amazing season without catching a single flight. From road trips to winery visits, summer flings to summer reads, there is so much that the sunniest season has to offer, no matter where you are in the world. Here are 11 things to do this summer if you’re not jetting off to Europe:


1. Visit a museum or art gallery

No plans to wander the halls of the Louvre this summer? No problem. If you’re feeling the culture itch, set a day on your calendar to visit a museum, art gallery, or sculpture garden in your area. Even if you end up strolling around a history museum, you can still transport yourself worlds away by taking the time to appreciate interesting artifacts and stories. Whether you make a date out of your excursion or prefer to take in the art solo, you’ll find that there’s plenty of culture to appreciate right here in your backyard.


Source: @meganstokes


2. Host a dinner party themed after a specific country

If you’ve been scrolling through Tik Tok recently, chances are you’ve seen someone put together an elaborate dinner party, which as it turns out, is a great way to fend off travel FOMO. Choose a country you’ve been wanting to visit and host a dinner party inspired by that country’s cuisine. For example, if you want to lean into the Italian girl summer trend, plan a menu around a delicious caprese salad appetizer, your favorite pasta dish, and Aperol spritzes, finished off with some homemade gelato. The right food and ambience are all you need to bring your dream vacation to you.


3. Go on a restaurant tour of your own city

Speaking of delicious food, it doesn’t take a multiple-hour flight to get some. To appreciate what your own town or city has to offer, take a tour of nearby restaurants for a day. Map out the must-try spots with some friends, start as early or late as you want, and eat your way through your own city. Of course, this tour isn’t just limited to full meals. You could create a tour based on drinks, desserts, or any specific cuisine your city is famous for (Chicago dogs? New York slices? Texas BBQ?). By the end of the day, you might just learn something new about your old haunts.



4. Take a road trip

Still looking for a getaway, but not looking to cross the pond for a vacation? Whether you want to head out of town for a long weekend or you’re ready to commit to a longer trip, booking an Airbnb or VRBO driving distance away offers a break from day-to-day life without going overseas.

Hop in the car with some friends or a significant other, pack your favorite road trip snacks, pull up a good playlist, and drive somewhere new. Options may include a quaint cottage in the woods, a cabin by the lake or the ocean, or even a beautifully furnished city apartment (preferably with a tiny balcony that’ll make you feel like you’re in Paris). The possibilities are endless, and a totally new landscape is just a road trip away.


5. Shop at your local farmer’s market

Is there anything more romantic than strolling around a local farmers’ market in the summertime? Forget markets in faraway places and support your own local farmers by spending a morning or afternoon at an outdoor market. Selecting in-season produce, locally sourced cheeses, and freshly baked bread is a fantastic way to shop (and eat) as if you’re in Europe. Plus, avoiding a trip to the grocery store can help you switch up your Sunday reset for the summer.


Source: @menzabolamba


6. Read a book or journal at a coffee shop

One thing I personally would be doing if I were touring Europe this summer? Filling my bloodstream with as much local coffee as possible. Cute little cafés are a European staple, but you don’t have to travel overseas for a chic café experience. Grab a book or your journal, find a local coffee shop with a beautiful patio, and spend an afternoon sipping your coffee and enjoying the sunshine. Better yet, take a moment to be distraction-free and simply people-watch. Want to make the experience truly authentic? Ditch the iced vanilla latte and order your espresso straight.


7. Book a day trip to a vineyard or winery

France and Italy may be known for their incredible wines, but vineyards exist all over the world. If you live within driving distance from a vineyard or winery, book a day trip and enjoy a wine tasting with friends or family. Channel your inner Aubrey Plaza in The White Lotus (minus the drama) and traipse through the fruit trees in a cute outfit before tasting some fantastic reds and whites. Even if you aren’t far from your own city, a wine tasting can make you feel like you’re living a Tuscan summer.


Source: @jessannkirby


8. Go on a long bike ride

Dreaming of a summer vacation to Copenhagen or Amsterdam? Imitate an adventure in one of these cities by biking anywhere and everywhere you possibly can this summer. Biking is both a fantastic way to get moving and a wonderful way to slow down and soak in the sights around you. Plus, it’s wildly popular in many parts of Europe. Bike to the market and pick up some fresh flowers, or try out a new trail near you. It’s the ideal activity to bring a little more hygge into your summer at home.


9. Enjoy patio dining whenever possible

Any European summer vacation is sure to include some al fresco dining, so why not take advantage of the patio space near you? Gather a group of friends to check out a new spot or visit a tried-and-true favorite in your town. Eating a meal outdoors (and snapping a few aesthetically pleasing patio pics of your own) is the perfect way to enjoy gorgeous weather and amazing food, no matter where in the world you are.



10. Soak up the sunshine on a boat

Green with envy over the gondola lifestyle? Although you may not be floating through Venice this summer, there is likely a body of water near you ripe with opportunities to spend some time on a boat. From canoeing adventures to sunset sails, getting out on the water is the perfect way to romanticize the heat and enjoy the beautiful scenery near you. Whether you prefer to strike out on your own or would rather be steered straight by a captain or tour guide, finding a way to get on a lake, river, or bay in your area can be a fantastic way to explore without hopping on a flight. 


11. Visit a sauna or bathhouse

European cities like Budapest and Helsinki are known for their bathhouses and saunas, but these relaxing amenities are increasingly popping up in cities throughout the U.S., too. Although they may lack some of the grandeur of a bathhouse in Hungary, some spas, like this one in New York, have taken on the communal, social inspiration of European bathhouses and adapted them for U.S. city dwellers. At the end of a long staycation of biking, farmers’ markets, and museum tours, a relaxing visit to a bathhouse or sauna is a fitting way to treat yourself.