Memorial Day has finally passed, and that means summer has officially begun!! To follow up on my list of the best country songs to get you in the mood for summer, I've decided to address the movies that also give us the best summer vibes. From classic '70s and '80s flicks to more modern options, and from romance to horror to comedy, there are some movies that just capture the essence of summer in all its glory so completely.
Between beach vacations full of romance, cross-country road trips with your family, summer camp on a lake, or being busy at your summer job, we've all had summers that are at least a little like the ones in the movies. So no matter where you are or what you're doing this summer, there's bound to be a movie on this list that you can relate to, and they are all sure to put you in the mood for sunshine, warmth, and vacation!
1. "Dirty Dancing"
Starting off with a true classic here. "Nobody puts baby in a corner," and nobody disses this summer feel-good movie about a forbidden fling at a lakeside resort. Who doesn't want to get up and dance during that last scene, am I right??! (It's literally a lifelong dream of mine to someday do that famous lift!)
2. "The Parent Trap"
A particular childhood favorite of mine (pretty sure I watched this movie at least once a week when I was in first grade), this heartwarming movie perfectly evokes feelings of summer camp and lakeside vacations. Not to mention, the houses in these movies are #goals.
I didn't say that all of the movies on this list were going to be warm and happy! While this classic horror film may give summer beachgoers a particular fright, the pretty low-quality special effects are just enough of a reminder that this is, in fact, just a movie, and we can all count our blessings that it's not based on true events!!
4. "The Notebook"
Nicholas Sparks knows how to do summertime romance right, and "The Notebook" is truly the shining example. Everything about this beautifully heartwrenching film screams summer, from the beach to the rowboats, to the carnival where Noah first met Allie. Not to mention, the chemistry between Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams is SO spot on. Although this one may be seen as cliche and overrated, there's no way you won't get even the slightest bit emotional watching it.
5. "Grown Ups"
What do you get when you combine five of the greatest comedic geniuses into one movie about a summer vacation? "Grown Ups" (or the apparent lack thereof).
Ok, this movie might seem a bit cheesy when you watch it as an adult, but come on, the storyline is so sweet, the soundtrack is good, and the beachy setting makes for the perfect summer rom com!
7. "Cheaper by the Dozen 2"
Another childhood fave! A lake vacation, bonfires, clambakes, watersports, and some great family bonding all add a special summery touch to this hilarious but heartwarming family comedy. Also, gotta love young Taylor Lautner.
From "Summer Lovin'" right up until the graduation carnival, "Grease" is one of the most definitive American teenage summer movies. You'll be singing along to the soundtrack the entire summer!
9. "Forgetting Sarah Marshall"
This romantic comedy may take place in Hawaii, but there's clearly some trouble in paradise... When Peter takes a much-needed vacation to get over his recent breakup, he ends up running into his ex Sarah who is staying at the very same resort with her new beau.
10. "High School Musical 2"
"HSM2" may not really be a true classic, but anyone from my generation will count this DCOM as one of the summer-iest movies of all time. Taking place at a country club (which is actually a hotel you can stay at!) and following your fave Wildcats during their summer jobs (or lack thereof if you're Sharpay and Ryan), this movie has the best summer poolside scenery ( especially "Fabulous") and is highly relatable for anyone who's spent a summer working alongside their friends. Moreover, "What Time Is It" will always be the ultimate last day of school anthem!
11. "Moonrise Kingdom"
"Moonrise Kingdom" is a quirky combination of summertime adventure, young love, seaside setting, and stunning visual aesthetics. There's just something about Wes Anderson's playful vintage vibe that really screams American summer.
12. "The Last Song"
What did I tell you about Nicholas Sparks??! "The Last Song" is another one of his beachy summer romances that will really rip your heart out. It's also pretty amazing that this was the start of Miley and Liam's relationship!
13. "Wet Hot American Summer"
The title says it all!! If you've ever been a camp counselor, you'll definitely get a kick out of this quintessential summer camp comedy with a star-studded cast.
14. "Friday the 13th"
Speaking of summer camp, this classic slasher film franchise puts a nightmare-ish spin on summer camp, where the camp counselors are terrorized by a mysterious killer. The hockey-masked Jason Voorhees from the sequel films will continue to haunt your nightmares for long after the summer is over.
Every time I go on a family vacation, I can't help but think of this "worst case scenario" comedy movie about a cross-country RV trip turned wrong. The moody teenagers, constant bickering, and your parents' wish to "unplug" and do "traditional family things" while on vacation is all too familiar, making this film entirely relatable for the whole family. However, the ultimate lesson learned is the importance of spending quality family time and having crazy adventures that will turn into the fondest memories, which is exactly what summer vacation is all about.
16. "The Talented Mr. Ripley"
Set on the Amalfi Coast in the 1950s, this psychological thriller is chock full of beach vibes and vintage summer vacation style. Plus, young Matt Damon and young Jude Law are just as easy on the eyes as all of the gorgeous seaside scenery!
If you've ever had a weird summer job and worked with a pretty vibrant group of characters, this quirky rom-com will definitely hit home.
18. "The Sandlot"
Yet another childhood summer classic. Baseball is one of the quintessential parts of American summer, and to this ragtag group of boys in the summer of 1962, baseball is everything. This coming-of-age story really captures what it feels like to be as free as a kid on summer vacation, when days revolve around playing outside with friends and going to the local pool.
19. "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants"
This movie about the summer adventures of four best friends is truly a testament to the power of friendship and sisterhood. Even if you and your friends can't find a special pair of pants to connect you like in the movie, the message to take away is the importance of always being there for your friends and still being able to connect even when you're apart for the summer.
20. "Just Go With It"
A tropical beach vacation and a huge, elaborate lie make up this romantic comedy. The Hawaiian scenery is breathtaking and will have you dreaming of sunsets, palm trees, and tropical drinks.