The 25 best summer movies to watch at the beach... er, well, maybe not

For three-quarters of the year we long for that one season where everything feels like it's going to be okay: summer. Legendary parties and once-in-a-lifetime vacations are planned around that glorious part on your calendar. There's a vibe and excitement to summertime, a nostalgic remnant of childhood summers, where anything seems possible and nothing's going to hold you back. It's all about those never-ending days and nights where the heat, unmistakable whiff of sunscreen and smiles on everyone's chops make life seem pretty damn good - and it's inspired a load of flicks out to capture that very spirit. Here are 25 of the very best summer movies ever made.

25. Wet Hot American Summer (2001)

The movie: It's the last day at Camp Firewood and counsellors and campers alike are desperate to cop off before going home. This early 2000 comedy mashes up all the best bits from past summer movies and throws in a bunch of major comedy names, making this a cult classic. 

Hottest moment: The camp counsellors head to town. Within an hour, they have descended into utter debauchery, achieving most of their summer goals.

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

The movie: Four teenagers decide to celebrate 4th of July by getting hammered and going for a drive (well, one is utterly toasted, the others are merry). They mow down someone on the road and one year later start getting death threats from a hook-handed fisherman who witnessed the hit-and-run accident.

Hottest moment: After witnessing a hideous murder (aren't they always?) Helen (Sarah Michelle Gellar) flees to her family's store and is stalked through the aisles by the killer. 

23. Almost Famous (2000)

The movie: If you thought your vacation was the height of awesome, prepare to re-think your so-bad-it's-good Butlins getaway. Wannabe teenage journo William Miller (Patrick Fugit) has got you beat when he gets mistaken for an actual journalist and goes on tour with '70s rockers Stillwater. Sex, drugs, and.... you guessed it, rock'n'roll. 

Hottest moment: Never mind rock'n'roll when there's a near-death experience aboard a crashing plane that involves some brutally honest revelations. 

22. Dirty Dancing (1987)

The movie: The Houseman family take a trip to Kellermans resort, a prestigious club in the mountains where the wealthy go to unwind. But for Baby (Jennifer Grey)? It's all about what happens behind the scenes as she befriends the staff and discovers a group of swaggering dirty dancers led by swoonsome dance instructor Johnny Castle (Patrick Swayze).

Hottest moment: In front of the whole resort, Johnny stands up for Baby and delivers the now-classic line: "Nobody puts Baby in the corner."

21. Before Sunrise (1995)

The movie: American tourist Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and French student Celine (Julie Delpy) strike up a conversation on a train and he persuades her to get off the train and wander around Vienna with him. The first in Richard Linklater's superb trilogy, it no doubt has inspired plenty of backpacking trips across Europe in the hopes of sparking a romance like this. 

Hottest moment: Jesse and Celine confess all on improvised phone calls to imaginary friends.

20. My Summer of Love (2004)

The movie: A dark, humid drama set during one of the hottest summers on record. The upper-crust Tamsin (Emily Blunt) and local lass Mona (Natalie Press) become fast friends but seeing as there's nowt to do for bored teenagers in Yorkshire the pair take their friendship a little farther. 

Hottest moment: Seeing as it's absolutely sweltering, the girls head off for some semi-naked skinny-dipping in the river.

19. Caddyshack (1980)

The movie: A salute to the weirdos and geeks of this world, this '80s comedy classic follows student Danny Noonan (Michael O'Keefe) when he scores the absolute dream gig of bring a golf caddy over the course of a summer. Taking a job at the Bushwood Country Club turns into chaos as he figures out life while the club's staff do the same. 

Hottest moment: Crazed greenskeeper Carl (Bill Murray) blows up the course in a failed attempt to kill a malicious gopher.

18. Summer of Sam (1999)

The movie: New York City swelters in Spike Lee's underrated late-'90s flick about a small Italian-American community in The Bronx during David Berkowitz' reign of terror. Triple-figure temperatures are causing blackouts, which isn't exactly helping a paranoid population deal with the serial killer in their midst. 

Hottest moment: In an attempt to rekindle their floundering relationship Dionna (Mira Sorvino) and Vinny (John Leguizamo) visit Plato's Retreat - an adult club where the film's notorious sex orgy occurs.

17. The Great Outdoors (1988)

The movie: Waiting all year for your family getaway only for it to turn into family meltdown is exactly what happens when the easygoing Chet Ripley (John Candy) and snobbish Roman Craig (Dan Aykroyd) - are forced to share a camping holiday. Hitting up a Wisconsin lake resort with their respective broods, it's not long before the kum-ba-yahs turn competitive. 

Hottest moment: Chet goes mano-a-mano with the legendary bald-headed bear.

16. The Seven-Year Itch (1955)

The movie: Businessman Richard Sherman (Tom Ewell) packs off the wife and kids to the coast for the season and imagines a bachelor-style summer for himself. His family's barely gone when his new neighbour moves in - known only as The Girl (Marilyn Monroe) - and he's doing everything in his power to control his feelings. 

Hottest moment: Marilyn cools down by standing over a subway vent... even though it's worth pointing out that it is hot air that rises.

Gem Seddon

Gem Seddon is GamesRadar+'s west coast Entertainment News Reporter, working to keep all of you updated on all of the latest and greatest movies and shows on streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime. Outside of entertainment journalism, Gem can frequently be found writing about the alternative health and wellness industry, and obsessing over all things Aliens and Terminator on Twitter.