Summer Vacation Standouts: 15 of Our Favorite TV Vacay Episodes

Victoria Leigh Miller

Summertime and the livin’ is easy — especially if you have a DVR, a remote, and some sun-free spare time. If a staycation is on your to-do list this summer, why not live vicariously through your favorite TV characters’ vacation plans with a look back at some of our favorite small-screen getaways? We’ve also listed why each episode is a summer vacation standout. Who needs a travel agent when you have us?

From the Brady family’s ill-fated Hawaii trip to Modern Family‘s dude ranch escapades, scroll through for a roundup of some of the most memorable TV show vacations of all time.

Wildest Waves: ‘The Brady Bunch’

“Hawaii Bound,” “Pass the Tabu,” “The Tiki Caves” (1972)

The ’70s sitcom featured episodes filmed on location at the Grand Canyon and Kings Island theme park, but the three-parter set in Hawaii was the ultimate Brady vacation. Mike Brady’s employer footed the bill for the all-inclusive trip (for a family of eight plus their housekeeper???), but things went downhill from there when Alice threw out her back during a hula lesson and Peter was stalked by a poisonous spider. Even more terrifying, Greg almost lost his life in a surfing accident, but on the plus side we got Vincent Price, a Don Ho serenade, and a groovy tiki idol souvenir.

(Photo: Everett Collection)

Most Chaotic: ‘Full House’

“The House Meets the Mouse” Parts 1 & 2 (1993)

Only the Tanner clan could take the happiest place on earth and turn it into a cliffhanger about a missing child. In this 1993 two-parter, the Full House fam headed to Florida’s Walt Disney World, but it wasn’t all theme park rides and Disney princesses during their visit to the House of Mouse. Sure, Danny finally proposed to Vicky (under the fireworks!), but little Michelle went missing and viewers were left with the dreaded “To be continued…”

(Photo: Everett Collection)

Most Manly: ‘Modern Family’

“Dude Ranch” (2011)

An annual family vacation is a must for the Pritchett-Dunphy-Delgado-Tucker family — the supersize clan has traveled everywhere from Hawaii to Down Under in episodes filmed on location. But in 2011, the gang rode off to a Jackson Hole, Wyo., dude ranch, where Phil (Ty Burrell) got into full cowboy mode after announcing he’d practiced all the core cowboy skills: “Shootin’, ropin’, pancake eatin’.” Yee-haw!

(Photo: Rick Rowell/ABC via Getty Images)

Messiest: ‘I Love Lucy’

“Lucy’s Italian Movie” (1956)

The 1950s foursome’s road trip to California featured many celebrity sightings (Cornel Wilde, Rock Hudson, Van Johnson, Richard Widmark, and John Wayne all made cameos on the Hollywood-themed episodes of Lucille Ball’s classic comedy), but our favorite Ricardo-Mertz outing took place across the pond. In 1956, the besties boarded the SS Constitution ocean liner and headed to Europe. The I Love Lucy European vacation episodes spanned most of Season 5, with a whirlwind tour that included stops in England, Scotland, France, Switzerland, and Italy, where Lucy famously soaked up some local color as a grape stomper in a wine vat.

(Photo: Everett Collection)

Best Sibling Moment: ‘The Simpsons’

“Summer of 4 Ft. 2” (1996)

They’ve been everywhere on the planet — Tokyo, Israel, Iceland, Africa — but the Simpsons’ best family vacation took place in the States. In Season 7, the animated clan (along with their pal Millhouse) took a vacay to Ned Flanders’ beach house. Lisa ditched her nerd look and got cool with some skateboarders, while Bart’s attempt to backstab her ended with a change of heart (yes, he has one) and a surprisingly sweet exchange between the siblings.

(Photo: Screengrab via YouTube)

Most Glamorous: ‘Gossip Girl’

“Belles de Jour,” “Double Identity” (2010)

After a drama-filled third season, Blair and Serena (Leighton Meister, Blake Lively) decided to drown their sorrows in Season 4 with a glossy, filmed-on-location summer trip to Paris. But the Chanel and croissants were offset by the arrival of Chuck Bass. Vacation over.

(Photo: Giovanni Rufino/ The CW/Courtesy Everett Collection)

Most Promising: ‘Sex and the City’

“I Love a Charade” (2002)

Over six seasons, HBO’s fabulous foursome made several trips to many New Yorkers’ go-to beach spot, the Hamptons. Carrie Bradshaw & Co. first landed in the rich kids’ playground in Season 1’s “Bay of Married Pigs,” but that was more frat house than fabulous. We much prefer the group’s more mature weekend getaway to Richard Wright’s amazing Hamptons spread in Season 5, where they partied with an A-list crowd — and Carrie got a Berger with a side of sexy.

(Photo: Screengrab via YouTube)

Biggest Gamble: ‘Roseanne’

“Vegas Vegas” (1991)

In Season 4, Roseanne and Dan ditched the kids to head to a quickie Vegas vacation, but the Conners clashed over the craps table. Still, they got to hobnob with Wayne Newton and renew their wedding vows in a Vegas chapel, so this trip was definitely worth the gamble.

(Photo: Everett Collection)

Most Partner-Swapping: ‘Friends’

“The One In Barbados” (2003)

Monica had a bad hair day every day when the Friends crew headed for some fun in the sun in Barbados. While Mrs. Bing dealt with her high humidity hair scare, Pheebs had two men asking for her hand in marriage, and Ross was locking lips with Joey’s ex Charlie (Aisha Tyler). So it only makes sense that Joey made a play for Rachel. Confused yet?

(Photo: NBCU Photo Bank)

Most Far-Fetched: ‘Happy Days’

“Hollywood Part 1, 2, 3” (1977)

Remember that time the Fonz was in line to be the next James Dean, so the entire Cunningham clan hightailed it out of Milwaukee for an epic three-parter set in Hollywood? Happy Days’ Hollywood vacation episodes may be best remembered for Fonzie’s silly shark-jumping stunt, but there were also some hidden gems, like Lorne Greene making a cameo in his Ben Cartwight Bonanza costume. While “Hollywood, Part 3” is credited for inspiring the term “jump the shark,” the point at which a TV series begins to decline, the ABC sitcom chugged on for six more seasons after this.

(Photo: ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)

Best Summer Love Story: ‘The Wonder Years’

“Summer Song” (1989)

Back in the day, the Arnold family ventured to Ocean City for a good old-fashioned beach week, but tag-a-long pal Paul Pfeiffer developed an allergic reaction to fish he ate, so he ended up bedridden. With no wingman in sight, Kevin (Fred Savage) took a stroll on the beach and met an older girl, Teri. One boardwalk arcade date and kiss under the pier later and Kev was smitten, but his summer love had to head back home to Albuquerque. This was the pre-texting era, so he’s still waiting for those letters she promised to send.

(Photo: ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)

Most Dangerous: ‘Married … With Children’

“Poppy’s By the Tree” (1987)

The second season of the early Fox sitcom kicked off with a two-parter about the Bundys vacation to Dumpwater, Fla., a place best known as the hometown of the man who met Andy Griffith. Al Bundy’s cheapness meant his family stayed at a cut-rate motel where an axe murderer who hated tourists turned up for his recurring reign of terror. The maniac kidnapped poor Peg, but the locals were more interested in placing bets on what time all of the Bundys would get axed.

(Photo: Everett Collection)

Most Reluctant Relaxation: ‘Fresh Off the Boat’

“Family Business Trip” (2015)

The second season of the ABC comedy had the Huangs headed to Gator World, home of the Death Roll thrill ride. Jessica (Constance Wu) had a hard time unwinding as she battled Gator Carol over hidden hotel fees and spearheaded a travel-size toiletries heist to get her money’s worth. But Jessica finally did let go — of her purse! — to succumb to a massage that was scored to a recording of underwater humpback whales singing or, possibly, a John Tesh song.

(Photo: Michael Ansell/ABC via Getty Images)

Most Unexpected: ‘Mad Men’

“Tomorrowland” (2010)

Ad exec Don Draper made regular trips from NYC to California, but in the final Mad Men episode before that excruciating 17-month hiatus over contract negotiations, he segued his business with old friend Anna Draper into a Disneyland vacation with his kids — and secretary, Megan Calvet. This cross-country trek was a life-changer for Draper, who was so mesmerized by Megan’s nurturing poolside manner with his young children that he surprised everyone — including himself — by proposing to her.

(Photo: Mike Yarish /AMC / Courtesy: Everett Collection)

Longest Vacation: ‘The Detour’

Jason Jones and Samantha Bee’s entire TBS comedy is about a family road trip. The Parker family’s wild ride from Syracuse, N.Y., to Florida has included police run-ins, car troubles, medical mishaps, and a whole lot of off-color comedy. Now with a third season renewal already greenlit, at least the family has that pee-in-a-cup thing down.

(Photo: TBS)