Vacation & Beach: The 45 Best Summer Movies of All Time

Summer is undoubtedly the best time of the year-long days of warm weather, barbecues with family and friends, beach vacations, the list are long. Whether planning a weekly outdoor movie night with all your friends or snuggling up indoors with your partner, there’s no better way to unwind after a hot, fun-filled day than with a great summer movie.

From classics like Dirty Dancing to funny movies like Adventureland, there’s just something about summer that makes a good film great – and a great movie memorable. But with so many summer blockbusters, deciding which movie to watch can be hard.

But don’t worry; we’ve done the hard work for you and compiled the 50 best summer movies of all time. And the best part? You can enjoy summer movies well beyond the three months of sunny weather. Don’t forget: summer is a feeling, and these summer movies are here to keep you feeling it all year long.

1. Dirty Dancing (1987)

Featuring the late Patrick Swayze in one of his most iconic roles, 1987’s Dirty Dancing is the kind of movie that makes you wish all your summers ended with an over-the-top, super romantic dance performance. Jennifer Grey stars as “Baby” Houseman, a young woman who falls in love with a dreamy dance instructor while spending the summer of 1963 with her family at a resort in the Catskills. And when the final unforgettable dance scene begins, you’ll definitely know why “nobody puts Baby in a corner.”

2. Forgetting Sarah Marshall

Peter Bretter is an unsuccessful musician who is really only known as a friend of TV star Sarah Marshall (Kristen Bell). When she dumps him, he takes a trip to Hawaii and finds that his ex is at the same resort. This is one of those movies with a plot that could have easily been predicted, but what’s a fun summer movie without an element of predictability?

3. Adventureland

In Adventureland (2009), James (Jesse Eisenberg) wants to vacation to Europe after graduating high school. Still, when his parents admit they don’t have the money for the trip, he works at a local amusement park instead. And while the days at Adventureland initially seem like a lousy way to spend summer, things start to improve when he meets his co-worker Em (Kristen Stewart). However, he also has to deal with puking customers, questionable corndogs, and quirky colleagues, portrayed by Ryan Reynolds, Kristen Wiig, and Bill Hader.

4. The Parent Trap (1998)

This movie was so awesome they made it twice, first with Hayley Mills and then with Lindsay Lohan. Both are pretty darn good and tell the story of identical twins Annie and Hallie, separated at birth after their parents’ completely avoidable divorce (you know it’s true). Their attempts to get their family back together – and their ways of tormenting each other at summer camp – are epic.

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5. Booksmart (2019)

School is out, and it’s time for a party. At least that’s what these two high-achieving ladies hope when they realize they spent most of their high school careers trying to get into their dream colleges. Mission accomplished, they set their sights on one more goal: spending one epic night together before graduation.

6. Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008)

Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) go to Spain for a vacation with their friend Judy (Patricia Clarkson). There they meet the painter Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem), who invites them to stay with him for a weekend. The two friends, who could not be more different, fall in love with Juan. Things get a lot more complicated when his ex-wife Maria Elena (Penélope Cruz) shows up.


The Singapore setting of this romantic comedy starring Henry Golding and Constance Wu is so beautiful that you’ll find yourself booking flights. But be warned: you’ll need a budget the size of the Young family’s fortune to afford a trip as extravagant as the one you see here.

8. Mamma Mia! (2008)

It’s high season on the island of Kalokairi, Greece – a fictional island whose name literally means “summer” – and Donna (Meryl Streep) is expecting many guests for the wedding of her daughter Sophie (Amanda Seyfried). But she doesn’t expect her past three lovers, who could all be Sophie’s father, to show up. As you watch the actors bounce around the beautiful landscapes to the beat of ABBA music, you’ll understand why tourism has skyrocketed on the islands of Skopelos and Skiathos (where the film was shot).

9. The Spectacular Now (2013)

“You have to live in the moment,” declares dangerously charming dreamboat Sutter Keeley (Miles Teller). He takes his advice. To his own surprise, he falls in love with Aimee Finicky (Shailene Woodley), a quiet “good girl.” The Spectacular Now is about two teenagers living in the moment in the summer after graduation, as change races quickly toward them. Rarely has young love been portrayed with such emotional honesty.

10. 500 Days of Summer (2009)

Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a greeting card writer whose head is filled with romantic ideas. When he meets Summer (Zooey Deschanel), she fulfills his biggest dream of a mate. But when Summer dumps him, he is absolutely heartbroken. Like any sad, nostalgic person, Tom goes through the 500 days of their relationship and tries to figure out where it went wrong.

11. The Notebook (2004)

In 1940s South Carolina, Noah Calhoun (Ryan Gosling), a working-class boy, and Allie Hamilton (Rachel McAdams), a girl from an affluent family, meet and fall in love with each other. Allie’s family disapproves of Noah and fears that this romance will sidetrack her from going to college and marrying a suitable man.

After their breakup, Noah is drafted to fight in World War II, and Allie meets and becomes engaged to Lon Hammond (James Marsden). When Noah returns from war and reunites with Allie just before their wedding, they find their love for each other is still alive.

12. Clueless

Cher (Alicia Silverstone) has everything a high school girl could want in a 90s movie: She’s popular, rich, and has access to all the finest clothes. When a new girl named Tai (Brittany Murphy) moves to town and goes to school with Cher in Beverly Hills, Cher decides to make Tai her social project. However, this plan backfires when Tai becomes more popular than Cher and falls for Cher’s ex-stepbrother Josh (Paul Rudd), just as Cher realizes she has a crush on him too.

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13. Girls Trip (2017)

Four best friends who call themselves the Flossy Posse have grown apart, but when Ryan (Regina Hall) is asked to be the keynote speaker at the Essence Festival in New Orleans, Sasha (Queen Latifah), Lisa (Jada Pinkett Smith), and Dina (Tiffany Haddish) decide to join her for a weekend of fun and cohesion. They are also rediscovering how to have fun (drinking, dancing, possibly pushing the limits of public urination laws, etc.)

14. What a girls want

Amanda Bynes plays Daphne Reynolds, a teenager from New York who is desperate to meet her father for the first time. But when she travels to London to find him, she discovers he’s basically royalty and running for political office. And a daughter he didn’t know existed who shows up in the middle of a fashion show doesn’t exactly fit into his perfect lifestyle.

15. Call Me By Your Name | Official Trailer HD (2017)

Seventeen-year-old Elio (Timothée Chalamet) is spending the summer with his father in Italy when he meets Oliver (Armie Hammer), a 24-year-old graduate student who is interning with his father. The two men develop an intense and emotional connection that you can feel on-screen. It’s a summer romance worth watching.

16. Little Miss Sunshine

There’s nothing quite as summery as a great Road trip movie, and this near-perfect indie comedy from the early 2000s is one of the best. Young Abigail Breslin plays Olive, a little girl who dreams of becoming a beauty queen. She persuades her entire family – played by a star-studded cast of character actors including Toni Collette, Steve Carrell, Greg Kinnear, Alan Arkin, and Paul Dano – to drive from New Mexico to California to compete in a pageant.

17. The Kissing Booth

The Kissing Booth was a real sensation in 2018 and became the most-watched film of the year on Netflix. Elle (Joey King) recounts the tumultuous experience of actually getting the guy she loves. She kisses her secret crush Noah (Jacob Elordi), at a kissing booth at the county fair. Sparks fly – literally!

18. Jaws (1975)

Prepare to swear off swimming in natural waters after watching “Jaws.” (We can only assume that you have already seen this American classic directed by Steven Spielberg). In the 1975 film, Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, and Richard Dreyfuss play three men tasked with tracking down a great white shark after it attacks beachgoers at the fictional summer resort of Amity Island in New England. Although you’re more likely to be struck by lightning or killed by fireworks than devoured by a shark, you’ll have flashbacks to this movie every time you dip your toes in the water.

19. Something Borrowed (2011)

Like a good beach read, Fishing Strangers is breezy, mindless fun filled with love triangles and messy romantic dramas. But it’s the lush setting of the Hamptons that secures the film a spot in this roundup. Still, bonus points to Kate Hudson and Ginnifer Goodwin for their “Push It” dance routine.

20. The Way, Way Back (2013)

If you’ve ever been to a beach town – or, you know, a 14-year-old – you’ll appreciate this cute movie about a boy who gets dragged to Massachusetts for summer by his mom and her sleazy boyfriend. The epic cast (Toni Colette, Steve Carell, Maya Rudolph) and believable story make this film a must-see.

21. Almost Famous (2000)

When 15-year-old William gets an assignment from Rolling Stone magazine to interview the up-and-coming band Stillwater, he goes on tour and experiences everything they have to offer. Kate Hudson, by the way, won an Oscar for her performance as a groupie.

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22. Charlie’s Angels (2000)

Everything about this action-packed film will put you in the summer mood – from the costumes to the soundtrack to the casualness of it all. Starring Lucy Liu, Drew Barrymore, and Cameron Diaz as an elite crime-fighting team, the film also stars Bill Murray, Matt LeBlanc, LL Cool J, and Luke Wilson.

23. Grease (1978)

If you love summer, you can revisit this perennial musical based on the 1971 Broadway show of the same name. Set at a fictional high school in the summer of 1958, Grease follows a group of teenagers, led by good girl Sandy (Olivia Newton-John) and “greaser” Danny Zuko (John Travolta), whose supposed summer fling becomes increasingly complicated after they unexpectedly end up at the same school.

24. Before Sunrise (1995)

Before Sunrise begins with Jesse (Ethan Hawke), an American, and Céline (Julie Delpy), a French student, meeting on a train. Over the course of the next eight hours, they stroll through Vienna and realize that their connection is special and undeniable. But will these two travelers ever meet again? If the movie feels real, it’s because the actors lived so deeply in their characters that they rewrote many of the original scenes. The first film in Richard Linklater’s “Before” trilogy was shot in the summer of 1994.

25. Wet Hot American Summer

The 2001 film is a polarizing comedy. Cult fans will say it’s one of the smartest and funniest movies ever. Unlike Camp Firewood counselors, naysayers won’t be able to wait for the dreaded summer to end. Either way, a movie starring Janeane Garofalo, Molly Shannon, Paul Rudd, Amy Poehler, Bradley Cooper, and Elizabeth Banks is worth watching at least once.

26. Crossroads – Pact with the Devil

This 2002 film was written by Shonda Rhimes and starred Britney Spears, Zoe Saldana, Taryn Manning, Dan Aykroyd, and Kim Cattrall. Lucy (Spears), Kit (Saldana), and Mimi (Manning) are three friends living in Georgia who come up with the idea of building a wish box. After putting their secret wishes in the box, they bury them. The summer after graduating high school, they dig it back up to pursue the things they once wanted as kids.

27. Now and Then – Then and Now

Roberta Martin (Rosie O’Donnell), Samantha Albertson (Demi Moore), and Tina “Teeny” Tercel (Melanie Griffith) comes home to be with their friend Chrissy DeWitt Williams (Rita Wilson) before she gives birth to her first child. During their reunion, they reminisce about their childhood and the summer of 1970, when they all began to grow up. Christina Ricci, Gaby Hoffmann, Thora Birch, and Ashleigh Aston Moore each play the women in the flashback as pre-teens.

28. Mystic Pizza – A Piece of Heaven

Julia Roberts made her breakthrough in this coming-of-age film set in a small town called Mystic, Connecticut. Daisy (Roberts), her sister Kat (Annabeth Gish), and their friend Jojo (Lili Taylor) all work at a pizza restaurant called Mystic Pizza the summer after they graduate high school. They all face romances, decisions, and formative experiences that prove adulthood has already begun for them.

29. I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)

On the Fourth of July 1997, Julie James (Jennifer Love Hewitt) and her friends Ray Bronson (Freddie Prinze Jr.), Helen Shivers (Sarah Michelle Gellar), and Barry Cox (Ryan Phillippe) were on their way to the beach when they hit a pedestrian with their car. The group decides to dump the body in the water and never discuss the incident again. The following summer, Julie receives a letter with no return address that says, “I know what you did last summer!” As Julie and her friends try to get to the bottom of who sent the letter, they suddenly become those in grave danger.

30. Stand by Me – The secret of a summer

Although based on a Stephen King novella, this coming-of-age classic is more wistful and emotionally thrilling than scary. Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, and Jerry O’Connell play four guys who go in search of a body that is said to have been spotted near their town in Oregon.

31. Moonrise Kingdom

32. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

33. Dazed and Confusion

34. It Takes Two (1995)

35. Independence Day

36. Someone Great

37. Set It Up

38. The Last Summer

39. American Pie 2

40. Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again

41. Midsommar

42. Ghostbusters (2016)

43. Blue Crush

44. Austenland

45. Ibiza

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