Every year, you swear you’re gonna plan a big summer trip…only to find yourself posted up at your usual summer watering hole (what can we say? the pull of frozen Negronis is strong), jealously watching your coworkers’ Instagram stories of Barcelona street food and Caribbean beaches and kicking yourself for not booking something. Not this year. Hop on one of these (relatively) cheap flights and you’ll be the one inducing envy in no time.
OAXACA CITY, MEXICO
Fair warning, these flights usually come with a layover (or, ugh, two). But if that’s not a deal breaker, this town is brimming with charm. Amid the gorgeous colonial architecture, you’ll find bustling markets, some of Mexico’s best food and museums that run the gamut from indigenous culture to contemporary art. Head just outside town to explore archaeological ruins and take a swim in mineral pools at the top of a petrified waterfall.
It may be seem like the overlooked middle child between Copenhagen and Stockholm, but Norway’s capital has plenty to offer: its proximity to nature (we may finally find out what a fjord is), tons of public art and a serious coffee culture (the country is one of the most caffeinated in the world). Yes, the city’s known for being expensive, but it’s nothing a New Yorker can’t handle.
Just a two-hour flight from JFK, this adorable mountain town is prime three-day-weekend material. And Great Smoky Mountains National Park, 45 minutes outside town, just happens to be an excellent viewing spot for the solar eclipse on August 21. True, it’ll pass through some major cities (St. Louis, Nashville, Charleston), but think how magical it would be to see it from a mountaintop—not to mention free from artificial light.
OK, what you really want is a beach where you’re not going to run into everyone you know (looking at you, Rockaway). In just over two hours, you can be basking on pink—yep—sand, scootering around the island or exploring the colorful capital city, which has gotten some shiny new upgrades recently (like the Hamilton Princess Hotel), and is sure to pull out all the stops for the America’s Cup in June.
PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND, CANADA
Seen all the lighthouses in Maine already? (Or maybe you’re just an Anne of Green Gables superfan?) Head farther north to Canada’s teensiest province for rolling green fields, quaint seaside villages, crazy-fresh seafood (mussels and lobster, anyone?) and surprisingly warm beaches, thanks to some magical combination of geography and currents. Throughout the summer, there are also arts and theater festivals pretty much nonstop.