Hands down, summer is the best time of year—long days of warm weather, barbecues with family and friends, beach vacations, the list goes on. Plus, with many folks getting vaccinated this spring, you can bet this summer is going to be better than ever. Whether you're planning a weekly outdoor movie night with all of your vaxxed friends or plan to blast the AC cuddling up inside with your S.O., there's no better way to unwind after a hot, fun-filled day than with an awesome summer flick.
From classics like Dirty Dancing to the just fun ones like Aquamarine, there's just something about summer that makes a good film great—and a great film unforgettable. But with so many summer-centric blockbusters, it can be hard to choose which movie to watch first. But, don't worry, I did the hard work for you and rounded up the 40 best summer movies of all time. Whether you're in the mood for a little summer camp nostalgia brought to you by a double dose of Lindsay Lohan in The Parent Trap, searching for a film that's just as smart and critical as it is entertaining, like Do The Right Thing, or looking for a good belly laugh via RV—these summer films are exactly what you need rn.
And the best part? They can be enjoyed wayyy beyond the three-month-long period of sunny weather. Remember: Summer is a feeling, and these summer films are here to give you the feels all year long. They can be streamed, rented, and watched on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and more. So... what are you waiting for? Summer is here!
Barb & Star Go To Vista Del Mar
From the ladies who created Bridesmaids comes a strange, yet loveable buddy comedy. Middle-aged friends Barb and Star decide to take a trip to Vista Del Mar, Florida after losing their jobs at the local furniture store. Oh, and they also end up getting involved in an evil villain's plan to kill the whole town.
Summertime = family road trips! Instead of having a relaxing vacation in Hawaii, this family rents an RV and takes a road trip to Colorado. Along the way, they make all of the mistakes of first-time RV-ers and meet a funky family who lives on a bus. Not only does Robin Williams star in this family comedy, but it also features a young Jojo and Josh Hutcherson.
Mermaids are always on my mind in the summertime. Relive the magic of being a teen and hoping you'd unexpectedly meet a real-life mermaid at your fave beach spot by watching this classic comedy.
What's more summer-y than young love? Two quirky twelve-year-olds run away together because they know they are, in rom-com terms, made for each other. The coloring of this Wes Anderson film will have you dreaming of a perfectly symmetrical pastel ice cream cone, combined with all of the summer camp and first love vibes you could ever need.
School is out, and it's time to party. At least, that's what these two high-achieving ladies hope when they realize they spent the majority of their high school careers trying to get into their dream colleges. That mission accomplished, they set their sights on another: Have one epic night together before graduation.
Nothing screams summer more than an wild trip with your best friends. And that's exactly what this film is about. Starring Queen Latifah, Regina Hall, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Tiffany Haddish, this film follows four college BFFs as they reunite for a crazy weekend in New Orleans during Essence Music Festival. Can you say choreographed dance routine?
The Parent Trap
This movie was so amazing they made it twice, first with Hayley Mills, and then Lindsay Lohan. Both are pretty freakin' amazing and tell the story of identical twins, Annie and Hallie, who were separated at birth after their parents’ completely preventable divorce (you know it's true). Their attempts to get their family back together—and their ways of torturing each other at summer camp—are epic.
What A Girl Wants
Amanda Bynes plays Daphne Reynolds, a New York teen who really wants 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—and who makes an impromptu entrance in the middle of a fashion show, among other hilarious antics—doesn't exactly fit into his picture-perfect lifestyle.
Call Me By Your Name
Seventeen-year-old Elio (Timothée Chalamet) is spending time with his father in Italy over the summer when he meets Oliver (Armie Hammer), a 24-year-old doctoral student interning for his dad. The two men end up developing an intense and emotional connection that can be felt through the screen. It's a summer romance worth watching.
Ferris Bueller's Day Off
High school kid Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick) decides to kick off his summer early by playing hooky from school for the umpteenth time. But his suspicious principal is determined to catch him in the act, and the two embark on the craziest cat and mouse chase you've ever seen.
Do The Right Thing
It's the hottest day of the year in Spike Lee's Do The Right Thing. The entire movies takes place in a 24-hour period as residents of a Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood in Brooklyn try to survive the insufferable heat. But as the temperature rises, so do the racial tensions on the block, eventually erupting into full-on chaos.
This movie came out in 1993, and people are still quoting it. ("You're killin' me, Smalls!" anyone?) The classic flick follows a bunch of kids who play baseball at the local sandlot, and all the adorable summer hijinks they get into.
Don’t Tell Mom The Babysitter’s Dead
Sue Ellen Crandell (Christina Applegate) is so ready for her mom’s plans to leave for the summer. But then, the babysitter dies, leaving Sue Ellen and her siblings without money. So, Sue Ellen lies about her age and experience and lands a great job in fashion, learning along the way that being an adult isn’t all that great.
This is quite possibly the summer movie. I mean, it’s got it all—adult summer camp, a dramatic love story, and lots and lots of sexy dancing. Oh and, of course, the perfect catchphrase: "Nobody puts Baby in a corner."
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
Packed with the dream team of Blake Lively, America Ferrera, Alexis Bledel, and Amber Tamblyn (who are all reportedly still tight), this movie follows the amazing story of four friends who separate for the summer and keep in touch by sharing a pair of jeans—that just so happen to fit them all perfectly. Sure, the whole pants premise is pretty unlikely, but it’s still so freaking good.
Freddie Prinze Jr. (Ryan Dunne) plays a pitcher for Boston College who meets Tenley Parrish (Jessica Biel), the daughter of a rich couple who "summer" on Cape Cod. Ryan and Tenley fall in love, as one does on the Cape, even though their families aren’t impressed. It's basically The Notebook plus baseball (minus the heartbreaking ending).
Lloyd Dobler (played by John Cusack), an underachiever with a heart of gold, falls in love with his school's ambitious valedictorian, Diane Court (played by Ione Sky). The only problem? It happens the summer before she goes off to college. Can their love last, or was it just a summer fling?
Wholesome exchange student Sandy (Olivia Newton-John) and leather-wearing greaser Danny (John Travolta) fall in love over the summer, but things don’t go according to plan when Sandy ends up moving to his town when the school year starts. Tbh, you can probably sing "Summer Nights" in your sleep at this point—but that doesn’t make this movie any less awesome.
Maybe wait until the end of the summer to watch this one? While it's a classic summer movie, duh, it's also one you don't want to see before going into the water (because also duh). Jaws follows the story of a human-hungry shark who seriously effs up peoples’ vacation plans. Watch at your own risk…
Ridiculously rich snobs and regular people collide at the Bushwood Country Club where Danny Noonan (Michael O'Keefe) is just trying to make money for college by working as a caddy. Come for the summertime fun; stay for Chevy Chase’s out-there wisdom and Bill Murray’s interactions with a stubborn gopher.
Alexis Jones is an assistant editor at Women's Health where she writes across several verticals on WomensHealthmag.com, including life, health, sex and love, relationships and fitness, while also contributing to the print magazine. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Syracuse University, lives in Brooklyn, and proudly detests avocados.
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