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We get it. Summer is not about planning. In fact, some of the season’s best moments happen spontaneously: the last-minute backyard barbecue that turns into an epic event, the late-night bonding sesh around the campfire, the water fight that breaks out when you’re hosing down the car in your driveway.

But some summer fun does require planning. With a little forethought, you can pencil in one of these events to be the cherry on top of your coolest summer ever.

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Step inside some of Canada’s most intriguing buildings during Doors Open Toronto. | Flickr Photo: Tsai Project

Doors Open Toronto: Toronto, ON (May 26–27)

One weekend a year, visitors are given the chance to explore some of Toronto’s coolest buildings that aren’t normally open to the public. Enjoy walking tours, lectures, music and more—all for free. For 2018, the theme is “Film: The Great Romance,” giving participants an opportunity to check out historic theaters, media studios and buildings featured on the screen.

MoMA at NGV: Melbourne, Australia (June 8–October 7)

Hot weather not your thing? Bypass summer all together when you head Down Under, where the Southern Hemisphere’s winter ushers in this contemporary art exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria, in partnership with New York’s Museum of Modern Art.

Flickr CC: sophie

Cannon Beach Sandcastle Contest: Cannon Beach, OR (June 9)

This weekend of all-American festivities includes pro and amateur sculpting contests, a parade, a 5k run/walk and a nighttime bonfire on the beach in a Pacific coastal town about 80 miles west of Portland.

Juneteenth Atlanta Parade and Music Festival: Atlanta, GA (June 15–18)

While many cities celebrate this holiday marking the end of slavery in the United States, the cradle of the US Civil Rights Movement does so in high style, with a weekend of music, speakers and parade floats with themes like black history and natural hair.

The Jazz Age Lawn Party is the cat’s pajamas (but don’t actually wear pajamas. | Flickr Photo: Aaron Dahlstrom

Jazz Age Lawn Party: Governors Island, NY (June 16–17 and August 25–26)

Two weekends during the summer, take a trip 800 yards from Lower Manhattan—and a century back in time—as crooner Michael Arenella and his Dreamland Orchestra transport you to a world of brassy music, flapper costumes and Charleston contests. With Prohibition no longer in effect, this party really is the bee’s knees.

Hopi Festival of Arts and Culture: Flagstaff, AZ (June 30–July 1)

See more than 100 Native American artists, musicians, dancers and lecturers—a summer tradition dating back to the 1930s.

ALSO: Earn CheapCash on these trips and more—sign up today!

Essence Festival: New Orleans, LA (July 5–8)

Part urban music fest, part beauty expo, part empowerment seminar, this year’s stage welcomes Janet Jackson, Mary J. Blige, the Roots and other A-listers.

California State Fair: Sacramento, CA (July 13–29)

Carnival rides and food on a stick come standard, but where else can you catch a concert, watch horse races, cool off in a water park and audition for Wheel of Fortune?

Guanajuato International Film Festival: San Miguel de Allende, Mexico (July 20–29)

Forego the latest movie reboots in favor of this cinematic event that includes innovative flicks, workshops and talks by some of Latin America’s most prominent filmmakers.

This session of Miami Salsa Congress is officially called to order. Photo credit: Sam Litvin/Flickr.

Miami Salsa Congress: Miami, FL (July 25–29)

Music is serious business in South Florida, as exhibited by this festival attracting the world’s best salsa musicians, dancers and DJs for nonstop concerts, workshops and even—because it’s Miami—pool parties.

Come out of your shell at the Maine Lobster Festival | Photo:

Maine Lobster Festival: Rockland, ME (August 1–5)

Strap on a bib and head to this crustacean celebration that includes a seafood cooking contest, live music, a fine art show, parade and more.

End of the Road: Dorset, England (August 30–September 2)

Close out your summer at this aptly named music festival whose lineup is as enchanting as the event’s fairy garden setting. This year’s headliners include St. Vincent, Vampire Weekend, Feist and Yo La Tengo.

Tagged: California, Festivals, Music, New York City, Seasonal

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