The Best Summer Movies to Put You in a Vacation State of Mind

You may not be able to go to the theaters to watch those summer blockbusters, but that shouldn't stop you from indulging in a good summer movie, especially one that transports you to another time or place (because we could all use a little wanderlust right about now). We tapped our SwearBy Editors to see if they'd share their go-to summer movie. The next time you find yourself on the couch, wondering what you should watch, pull up this handy guide for the best summer movies to put you in a vacation state of mind. From Rome in the '50s to the Italian countryside in the '80s, these films will make you forget you're nestled under blankets at home, even if it's just for a couple hours.

Roman Holiday

“Whenever my wanderlust pangs, I throw on this classic black and white film, which showcases the beauty of Rome in the summertime. Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck zip around the gorgeous city by foot and vespa, visiting its most iconic spots while enjoying all it has to offer, like beautiful vistas and gelato on their little holiday adventure. There’s plenty of summertime dressing inspiration from Hepburn as well. It’s just the movie to watch if you’re craving an escape for a few hours or need a holiday of your own.” –Jessica Leigh Mattern 

The Young Girls of Rochefort

“Summer is all about those chance encounters you make at a beach party, a Fourth of July cookout, or a sunny vacation abroad. And nothing captures those fleeting moments, full of promising excitement and joy, like Jacques Demy’s 1967 musical Les Demoiselles de Rochefort, or The Young Girls of Rochefort. Starring real-life sisters Françoise Dorléac and the legendary Catherine Deneuve, Demy’s follow-up to his iconic The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (which served as inspiration to 2016’s Oscar-winning La La Land) is a sparkling explosion of color and fun. The music is entirely addictive and the fashion (full of sundresses) worthy of Instagram mood boards, and it even features a musical number with sailors! I turn to this movie whenever I’m in a bit of a lull, and it never fails to put me in a cheerful, summery mood.” –Nina Huang

The Parent Trap

“This movie was the single reason I begged my parents to go to summer camp from ’98 to ’04. I’m not sure what I love most: the excitement of camp discoveries, the heartwarming and hilarious family moments, the magic of young Lindsay Lohan, or the perfect summer soundtrack (I will always blare “Never Let You Go” out my car windows). More than 20 years later and the film is still one of my favorite ways to get in the summer spirit.” –Katie Macdonald


“Heartbreaker is one of my favorite foreign films. It is a charming romantic comedy set in Monaco that has great acting and a fun, lighthearted storyline. After watching the movie for the first time a few years ago, I’ve always wanted to go to Monaco, and finally had a trip planned for this summer. Since my European vacation was canceled due to coronavirus, I’ll just be watching this on repeat and making a list of places to visit until I can hopefully make it to Monaco next year.” –Rebecca Carhart 


“I’m from Cape Cod, Massachusetts so I hold fast to the belief that nothing is better than a New England summer. And while I summer by the shore is certainly idyllic and calm, it doesn’t truly feel like summer until we’ve had a beach closing due to a shark siting. It’s not surprise then that “Jaws” has been one of my favorite summer movies. I worked in Martha’s Vineyard during my college summers and jumping off the “Jaw’s Bridge” and watching the sunset from the beach where they film the opening shark attack scene are some of my favorite memories. Sure, I may not be able to swim in the ocean for a few weeks after watching “Jaws,” but it still remains one of my favorite summer films.” –Stephanie Perry

Little Miss Sunshine

“A cute, laughable movie thats quirky and inspiring. With a great cast, it’s hard to miss!” –Maya Gandara

Jamón Jamón

“For me, summer is Spain. I travel there every year with my family to drink sangria and eat paella with the rest of our family. Whenever we don’t go, it’s because something terrible has happened: 9/11, my dad getting sick, a global pandemic that has no signs of stopping anytime soon. So my sadness about not going isn’t just about missing a place that means so much to me but mourning for the current state of everything that caused these vacation-less circumstances. And the perfect remedy is definitely a Spanish film that’s not serious or sad or dramatic but all sorts of ridiculous. Jamón Jamón is exactly that movie. It directly translates to Ham Ham and is a fun eccentric ride that features a young Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem. Watching a Spanish film instantly transports me to Spain for two hours and Cruz’s wardrobe basically foreshadowed every big summer trend. Plus, Cruz and Bardem are the eye candy we all need right now. That and a little red dress with a cute jelly bag that’s the perfect size for a baguette. If vacation could be an outfit, it would be exactly that. Of course, the perfect background is the Spanish countryside but I’ll take my Brooklyn balcony for now.” –Tara Gonzalez

Call Me By Your Name

“Not only does this film present a moving love story with a dreamy score to match, but it also takes place during the summertime in Italy. It’s packed with 1980s fashion, scenic bike rides, night swimming, and painstaking first love. It’s about as close to a vacation in the Italian countryside as you can get from your couch.” –Christie Calucchia

Dazed and Confused

“In my humble opinion, Dazed and Confused is the ultimate summer movie. It’s a coming-of-age story following a group of Austin, Texas teenagers as they celebrate the last day of high school in 1976 and the soundtrack is really just too good. Plus, this movie was Matthew McConaughey’s first big break — whilst he wore salmon bellbottoms and coined his “alright, alright, alright” catchphrase, nonetheless.” –Jayla Andrulonis 

I am Karla, the Editorial Coordinator for SwearBy. Life moves pretty fast, and nothing makes me happier than curating the amazing product recommendations from this community so women can discover the best new products, quickly. Outside of SwearBy HQ, I spend my days with my kids, dogs, husband...and TRY to find time to travel and hang with friends