7 Summer Trips Your High School Grad Will Love (Slideshow)
May 13, 2016
We explore 7 summer escapes for the graduate in your life to celebrate high school graduation
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Austin is currently one of the hippest destinations in America, and for good reason. The people are friendly, the weather is warm, the music scene is happening, and the food is fantastic. During the day, the Texas State Capitol is a good stop for a dose of history, but staying outside and active is very much encouraged in and around the city. Barton Springs in South Austin is great for swimming, as are Big Stacy Pool and Deep Eddie, and nearby Lake Travis and Lake Austin. The Colorado River flows right through downtown, so kayaking, canoeing, and paddle-boarding are popular activities. In the evening, grads can head to dinner at a seemingly endless number of barbecue restaurants, like Franklin Barbecue (which we named the No. 1 casual restaurant in America in 2015), or Perla’s Seafood and Oyster Bar for some aquatic fare. Afterward, there are plenty of opportunities to catch live music performances around the city (like at Austin City Limits and Stubb’s Bar-B-Q), and tons of shows, if they’re the theater type.
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What better way to put all the history learned in high school to use than experiencing some of the locations first-hand in one of the most historic cities in America? Boston winters can be brutal, but summer break is a perfect time for a visit. The Freedom Trail walking tour (with a guide or solo) is an excellent way to spend the day, as it covers 16 historically significant sites in a 2.5-mile, red-lined route around the city. Afterward, grads can stop by The New England Aquarium, which, until recently, had the largest fish tank in the world — and when the sun starts to set, a Red Sox game at iconic Fenway Park is always an entertaining experience. For food, Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market (recently named by us as the No. 14 food hall in America for 2016) offer endless options for every palate, or they can grab a meal at one of the many restaurants featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, like Boston Burger Company, home of the “Mac Attack” (topped with bacon and homemade four-cheese mac & cheese).
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There are beach trips, and then there’s this beach trip. Sure, there a lots of cities that have beaches, but none will be more beautiful and peaceful (in this country, at least) than jetting off to America’s 50th state. The pros for you as a parent (if you don’t go along): You don’t need to worry about your baby leaving the country, you can still keep in contact via cell phone without changing his or her plan or incurring additional charges, and no need to worry about your child getting ripped off when exchanging money. The pros for your grad: He or she is as far away as possible (but still in the U.S.), it’s relatively easy to get around each island, and, of course, the beaches are unbelievable. There’s also some interesting history, whale watching, snorkeling, scuba diving, hiking, and luaus to attend — all while experiencing a culture drastically different from that of any other state.
To some people, Las Vegas might seem like an odd entry in this list. Not only is Sin City notorious for debauchery of all kinds, the two most famous activities associated with the city — gambling and drinking — both require visitors to be 21 or older. But there’s so much more to Vegas, and it’s more family-friendly than ever before. There are rides scattered all over the city (like the Big Apple Coaster at New York New York, the Big Shot at The Stratosphere, and basically all of Circus Circus), shows galore (like the magic of Penn & Teller at the Rio or Britney Spears’ show at Planet Hollywood), and a ton of museums and exhibits (we recommend The Mob Museum for history buffs and Bodies…The Exhibition for science fans). Vegas is also perfect for the hungry appetites of growing young adults — thanks to the ample all-you-can-eat buffets and big portions at places like Heart Attack Grill.
Los Angeles is a safe bet for grads because there’s a little bit of everything all in one city. Beach bums will love Santa Monica and Venice Beach (and the perfect weather), sports fans can choose ballgames at Dodgers Stadium or Angel Stadium, artsy teens will enjoy Hollywood and the Museum of Contemporary Art, and science students will appreciate trips to the La Brea Tar Pits and Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History. Don’t forget about Disneyland either! Whether your grad is looking for sun, surf, celebrities, or science, L.A. has it all.
New York City
If your grad has never been to The Big Apple (or even if they have), now is the perfect time. Whether his or her trip is a couple days long or over a week, there will always be plenty to see and do. Of course, the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, Times Square, Central Park, and World Trade Center are the standard stops, but there are also two baseball stadiums (both of which have fantastic food, as we recently explored), Broadway and off-Broadway shows, historical and unique tours, countless museums, and enough shopping to blow his or her entire college fund. New York also has some of the finest restaurants in the world, from fine dining (like Peter Luger Steak House and Del Posto Italian) to food halls (like Eataly and Chelsea Market) to bakeries (like Magnolia and Dominique Ansel Bakery).
Orlando, Florida, and its theme parks are usually thought of as a destination for little kids, which makes this trip the best way for your grad to bid his or her childhood adieu. Magic Kingdom provides nostalgia, Epcot offers a tour of the world, Animal Kingdom appeals to the wildlife-lover in us all, and Hollywood Studios is the perfect place for film buffs. If your child is really opposed to the shenanigans at Disney, there’s still Universal Studios, with its exhilarating roller coasters, fun movie-themed rides, and behind-the-scenes features at every turn. Even if they visited before as kids, the two Universal parks have many new additions worth seeing; and if there’s a kid who isn’t into either Harry Potter or The Simpsons, I don’t want to meet them.