Shoes for vacation: What to wear sightseeing, out to dinner, on the beach and more

Prepare for your next trip with these sneakers, high heels and sandals.

May 31, 2024, 4:07 PM
Shop shoes to wear on vacation
Shop shoes to wear on vacation
ABC News, nordstrom, adidas, crocs, amazon, allbirds

Packing for vacation? Don't forget to plan ahead for the most important part: Shoes.

Proper footwear take up valuable suitcase space and can make or break your entire trip if they're not right for the type of activities you're planning while gone.

Comfortable sneakers are a given, but you'll also want a nice pair for nights out on the town, flip flops to throw on at the beach and, if you're traveling to warmer spots, sandals you can walk in.

PHOTO: Shop shoes to wear on vacation
Shop shoes to wear on vacation
ABC News, nordstrom, adidas, crocs, amazon, allbirds

Choosing comfortable shoes

When looking for shoes, there are plenty of tips and tricks out there to help you find the perfect pair for you.

For instance, the University of Nebraska's health center offers tips such as selecting a shoe with a solid but flexible sole so it yields as your foot bends but maintains a strong foundation.

They also suggest selecting shoes with good arch support that conforms to your particular foot shape too -- something you can determine using a simple test with water and cardboard outlined by the Mayo Clinic. Once you know what type of arch you have, you can adjust the level of support you seek to maximize your comfort.

Other tips to consider: Laces will generally offer more support than slip-on shoes due since they also help shape the shoe to your foot, and one of the most important things you can do is replace old, worn-out shoes to avoid injury over time. And don't rely on advice you read from others alone -- the ultimate arbiter of your own comfort is you, and the shoes you choose should reflect that.

Keep scrolling to shop our picks for smart and stylish new shoes to take on your next vacation.

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Comfortable sneakers for sightseeing

Whether you're hitting a museum, amusement park, city streets or embarking on a rural escapade, good sneakers are a must. Go with a trusted brand in a style you like so you'll feel comfortable and confident while exploring the area you're visiting.


Women's Samba OG Shoes

Sambas are always in style when yo'ure going for a "model off duty" look, but they're having a bit of a trend swell for summer 2024 and will look effortless while staying lightweight and comfortable as you take in the local delights and shop for souvenirs on vacation.

  • $100
  • Adidas

Men's Tree Dasher 2

With a seamless, one-piece upper and flexible, cushioned midsole, these shoes offer maximum comfort and shock absorbency while looking sleek in a wide range of colorways so you can look good while getting in the extra steps travel so often demands.

  • $135
  • Allbirds

Nike Dunk Low Retro

Comfort doesn't have to mean sacrificing style with these bestselling, retro-influenced Nike Dunks. They're built to look and feel better the more you break them in, so start wearing them now so they hit their sweet spot by your planned vacation.

  • $115
  • Nike

Off-White Canvas

This popular sneaker goes with absolutely everything, and their heart canvas uppers with 100% vegan insoles offer support and comfort as well as long-lasting quality.

  • $85
  • Cariuma

Walking sandals to help you stay cool & comfortable

Sneakers are great, but traveling to a tropical locale might require a cooler option for your feet. Invest in a well-made pair of sandals with features such as cushioned footbeds and soft straps to avoid blisters and achy arches.

36% off

Birkenstock Uji - Nubuck/Suede (Unisex)

Birkenstocks are a classic, comfortable choice that look great on any gender thanks to their versatility, soft suede and nubuck leather upper and a cork footbed shaped to cradle your foot.

  • $96
  • $150
  • Zappos

Cougar Antony Platform Sandal (Women)

These sandals are great for keeping your feet cool and looking stylish with their lightweight construction and soft leather straps that won't rub or dig into your feet. The thick sole absorbs impact, too, so you can enjoy added height and cushioning while you walk.

  • $150
  • Nordstrom

Hiker Xscape Festival Sandal

Crocs can be controversial in the sense that they're a "love them or hate them" type of shoe, but even avowed dislikers might like these cute sandals that offer the brand's signature comfort with a dash of retro, nineties-inspired color. 

  • $69.99
  • Crocs

Ora Recovery Slide 3

These all-gender slides are some of the cushiest, most supportive you'll find on the recovery slide market. Air vents keep your feet cool while the plush cushioning feels like walking on clouds. They have variable stability that offers a solid step without compromising neutral gaits, and multiple color options to best suit your needs. Caveat: Since they are recovery sandals and not traditionally made for long walks, consider these for shorter strolls and slipping on easily to run errands.

  • $60
  • Hoka

Shoes for a night out

For a nice night out or fancy dinner, it's important to strike a balance between style and comfort. Try bright colors to liven up your look, and look for a padded foot bed or thicker heel to offer support and a chic silhouette.


Miss Cleo Pointed Toe Loafer Pump (Women)

These shoes are a splurge, but they'll turn heads and stay gorgeous for years to come thanks to their handcrafted quality, a stacked heel that's easy to walk in and sumptuous patent leather that gleams in this stunning chili pepper red. They also manage to be both trendy and timeless as a unique take on the loafer, the style that has dominated shoe trends for several seasons.

  • $675
  • Nordstrom

Taft Men's Preston Leather and Jacquard Wingtip Dress Shoes

For a quick way to dress up a basic slacks-and-dress shirt look, try wingtips with a touch of unexpected floral detailing. It will look fresh and chic, and the neutral color palette works with a wide variety of colors and patterns throughout your outfit.

  • $275
  • Macy's
25% off

Comfortable Women's Platform Sandal in Virtual Pink Leather

Touted by the brand as an "influencer fave," this bright pink shoe is playful and flirty but has a proprietary diamond flex outsole, a cushioned insole and flexible straps so you can stroll to your dinner reservation in style and hit the dance floor after for a full night of vacation fun.

  • $99.99
  • $135
  • Aerosoles

Sperry Men's Authentic Original 2-Eye Boat Shoe

Sperry boat shoes toe the line between casual and dressy, adding a hint of sophistication without the stiffness of a more traditional lace-up men's shoe. While we're putting them in the "night out" category, these could easily work for an all-day shoe whether you're boating, hitting the beach, dining out or simply taking a stroll to enjoy the change of scenery.

  • $107.95
  • Amazon

Shoes to wear at the beach

Whether you want flip flops for traipsing through the sand or a more protective shoe to wear in the water, these options will keep sharp shells and hot sand at bay.

41% off

Havaianas Slim Flip Flop Sandal

The classic flip flop is still a go-to when it comes to gliding across hot sand without the pain. Try Havianas' slim version for a lightweight version that's easy to toss in your bag and go -- this particular flip flop comes in 17 colors so you can match your swimsuit or your mood.

  • $17.55
  • $30
  • Zappos
49% off
Old Navy

Flip-Flop Sandals (Partially Plant-Based)

There's nothing fancy about Old Navy's sandals -- other than being created from partially plant-based material -- but they're reliable, perfect for the beach and best of all, you'll never spend more than $10 on a pair.

  • $3
  • $5.99
  • Old Navy
33% off

Water Shoes for Women Men Quick-Dry Aqua Socks

Protect your feet from sharp shells and debris when swimming in the ocean with these convenient water shoes that have sold more than 10,000 pairs on Amazon in the past month. They're unisex and dry extra quickly, and the elastic material ensures they'll fit your feet perfectly every time.

  • $7.99
  • $11.98
  • Amazon