27 Movies You Should Watch This Summer For the Ultimate Staycation
Summer is officially here. And while we're big fans of putting on a great swimsuit, cranking one of the many songs of summer, and soaking up every ray of the sun, we're also pretty big fans of staying inside in the air conditioning and watching a movie that perfectly captures all the best parts of the season. Add in some snacks — ice pops, anyone? — and you've got a movie marathon fit for the hottest days.
There are movies with sprawling ensemble casts like "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" and "Mamma Mia!" There are also movies that capture the moments just before summer vacation begins, like "Booksmart," "Dazed and Confused," and "Eighth Grade." Some movies even lean into summertime heartbreak like "Aftersun," while others are heavy with the comedy, like "Heartbreakers." Satisfy your craving for nostalgia with "The Parent Trap" or "Holiday in the Sun," or take a mini vacation without ever leaving your couch and watch "Luca" or "Roman Holiday." If romance is more your speed, however, there are, of course, two "Dirty Dancing" movies, and they always deserve a summertime rewatch.
Ahead, here are 27 summer movies to add to your watch list for another long, hot summer.
"Blue Crush" is our go-to movie at the start of every summer season, and even though we aren't out in the ocean or cruising the Hawaiian islands and sipping a sweet drink, watching this movie is almost like being on vacation . . . almost. The music (Bob Marley, anyone?), the scenery of Hawaii, and women kicking butt as surfers — what more could you want from a summer movie?
Let's be honest, we'd go to Kellerman's, take dance lessons with Johnny, and play lawn games any day, but sadly, this summer getaway is fictional — the hotel, however, is real and is located in Virginia, FYI — so we have to imagine ourselves on location while sitting on our couches instead. The one thing we can do at home, besides dance, dance, dance, is carry a watermelon into our "Dirty Dancing" viewing party!
"Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights"
Is the sequel to "Dirty Dancing" as good as the original? No, not by a long shot. But is "Havana Nights" full of sweeping tropical views, incredible dance routines, and hot romance? Yes, yes, and yes.
Netflix's romantic comedy "Someone Great" is about a woman (Gina Rodriguez) trying to get over her ex with the help of her two BFFs (Brittany Snow and DeWanda Wise) over the course of one drunken, neon-tinged summer night. It's perfect for anyone itching for a trip to the Big Apple (without any of the hot garbage smell). Plus, Taylor Swift revealed in 2019 during a radio interview that her song "Death by a Thousand Cuts" from "Lover" was inspired by the film.
"Dazed and Confused"
This iconic '70s-set film is about the last day of the school year and the first day of summer, so it's ideal for your summertime movie days. "Dazed and Confused" is groovy, has killer music, and is all right, all right, all right. Plus, Matthew McConaughey in his breakout role is something everyone should see.
"Holiday in the Sun"
Back in the late '90s and early '00s, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen were the queens of travel movies, and after all these years, they are still some of our favorite films to watch on our weekends off. Any classic travel film from the Olsen twins will do, but we suggest "Holiday in the Sun" because it takes place in the Bahamas, has amazing fashion moments, and, of course, has cute love interests.
"Forgetting Sarah Marshall"
This hilarious romantic comedy starring Mila Kunis, Jason Segel, Kristen Bell, and Russell Brand is surprisingly heartfelt and also takes place at a gorgeous Hawaiian resort. If you're craving vacation, whip up a mai tai, take a seat on the couch, and watch "Forgetting Sarah Marshall."
"(500) Days of Summer"
Summer is in the title, so yes, "500 Days of Summer" is on our list. Sure, this film has its heartbreaking moments, but the dates that Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel's characters go on are worth a watch — and possibly a re-creation with your bae, assuming you want to leave your house, which we would advise against . . . at least while you're in the middle of this summer-movie binge.
"The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants"
Almost everyone dreams of escaping to Greece and meeting a dreamy local and falling in love, and that's just one of the storylines in "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants," which enchanted viewers and made America Ferrera, Blake Lively, Amber Tamblyn, and Alexis Bledel lifelong friends.
While watching the first "Sisterhood" movie (and then the second, obviously), break out your beads and thread and make some friendship bracelets with your BFFs. It's the ultimate girls' night activity.
"Wet Hot American Summer"
Goofy camp vibes, a stellar cast, and a hilarious story set in the '80s are exactly what you get when you watch "Wet Hot American Summer." It stars everyone from Amy Poehler and Christopher Meloni to Paul Rudd and Elizabeth Banks, so it's obviously a win-win. Plus, if you want more from Camp Firewood, you can follow it up with the Netflix original series "First Day of Camp."
When in Rome — or in this case, when at home — imagine living like the Romans do! Audrey Hepburn is always stunning, and "Roman Holiday" is no exception. This black-and-white film is like a journey through time that fuels our never-ending desire to travel. Sadly, pasta and gelato are NOT included.
"Eat Pray Love"
"Eat Pray Love" is basically a guide to living it up on your own terms and loving life, which is exactly what we want to do every summer — even if we're not traveling to Bali or Italy and eating delicious foods. We do, however, want to host a sleepover with plenty of food and wine and watch this movie, like ASAP.
Greek nights and dancing scenes, that's what "Mamma Mia!" is to us, and therefore we can never get enough of this movie. In addition to Meryl Streep and Amanda Seyfried making the best mother-daughter duo, the music from ABBA and the Greek setting are like watching a summer festival come to life in your living room.
"Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again"
Just in case the first film isn't enough for you, we also suggest checking out its colorful sequel. The movie takes us back to 1979, where a young Donna, Tanya, and Rosie graduate from Oxford University and embark on a series of adventures throughout Europe. In addition to enjoying jaw-dropping views of Greece, you'll find yourself swooning and singing along to updated versions of classic ABBA songs.
"The Parent Trap"
Whether it's the original 1961 film or Lindsay Lohan's memorable version from 1998, "The Parent Trap" is pretty much the definition of a summer movie. It revolves around camp, features amazing locations (London and Napa), and highlights the amazing side of sisterhood. Oh, and it's the best excuse to eat Oreos with peanut butter.
In need of a trip to Napa with your friends but no one can get their schedules together to actually plan out a weekend? Queue up Netflix's ensemble comedy "Wine Country" starring Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Emily Spivey, Tina Fey, Paula Pell, Rachel Dratch, and more.
This 1993 comedy will flood you with nostalgia for summers spent running around the neighborhood with friends and hanging by the public pool. In it, Scottie Smalls (Thomas Guiry) moves to a new town and strikes up a friendship with a group of kids who play baseball at a nearby sandlot. Touching, dangerous, and hilarious adventures ensue.
Some people might think this is a Halloween movie, which isn't exactly wrong, but a story about sisters and magic really has no seasonal timeline in our minds. Oh, and midnight margaritas are always on the menu for any staycation! Just watch Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman's margarita scene in this movie, and you'll know what we mean.
"Book Club: The Next Chapter"
"Book Club: The Next Chapter," the sequel to 2018's "Book Club," sees the group of friends go on an iconic Italian vacation. Jane Fonda, Mary Steenburgen, Diane Keaton, and Candice Bergen get up to all sorts of Italian hijinks, meet lots of attractive men, and get deep about their relationships and friendships. It's the perfect little getaway.
"Desert Hearts" follows Vivian, a professor in her 30s who heads to Reno, NV, to get a divorce. But since it's 1959, she has to stay for six weeks to establish residency. While she's there, she meets Cay, and she quickly finds herself confronted with feelings for the other woman she's never felt before. Set against the desert backdrop, it's the perfect swoon-y romance for summer.
"Eighth Grade" follows Elsie Fisher as Kayla, a middle schooler who's heading into the very last week of eighth grade. The movie captures all the cringe moments of youth but also the sweet connection between Kayla and her dad and the joys and pains of being on the edge of teenage-dom.
Paul Mescal was nominated for a 2023 Oscar for his role in "Aftersun." The movie chronicles a Turkish vacation taken by a 31-year-old father and his 11-year-old daughter in the '90s. In the present day, the daughter looks back on the vacation and tries to make sense of her dad during the time. The movie gorgeously captures the sticky, messy days of summer, all tinged with deep and real emotions. Summertime sadness never felt this hard.
"Fire Island" takes Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" and moves its romance and drama to Fire Island on New York's Long Island, a historic gay vacation spot. Written by and starring Joel Kim Booster, the movie perfectly captures the highs and lows of summer vacation and all the sticky sweetness of falling in love at the beach.
Pixar's "Luca" follows Luca and Alberto, two sea monsters and best friends who just want to experience life on land. As they create chaos both in the sea and on land, they cement a lifelong friendship and branch out into the world. Gorgeous Italian vistas come to life with stunning animation, and it'll make you long for your own days on the Italian seaside.
"In the Heights"
"In the Heights," based on the musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda, follows Usnavi (Anthony Ramos) and his Washington Heights community as they deal with some of the hottest days of summer. There's fireworks, a blackout, a winning lotto ticket, and one of the greatest dance scenes filmed in a pool ever. Grab some ice pops and sit back for this musical extravaganza.
"Heartbreakers" follows a mother-daughter duo — played by Sigourney Weaver and Jennifer Love Hewitt — who have a shared vocation: scamming. They agree to one last con in Palm Beach, FL, where of course things get out of hand. "Heartbreakers" combines, humor, romance, and some absolutely iconic swimsuit moments for a very enjoyable ride.
"Booksmart" is another film that takes place during the last days of school before summer. In the movie, Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever are set to graduate high school but realize that while they were studying, everyone else was partying. They vow to have one last, wild night out before they graduate in the morning. "Booksmart" is about the promise of the future and the friendships you take with you on your journey.