The National Lampoon’s Vacation movie series is an iconic comedy franchise that began with John Hughes‘ short story “Vacation ’58”. Written by John Hughes, these full of entertainment films are all about the misadventures of the Griswold family. 

The first five films were all distributed by Warner Bros., while they also sponsored one more installment. The movie has inspired various advertising campaigns featuring some of the original cast members in recent years!

Related: What’s Good on Netflix: Watch 50 Popular Movies and Shows Now

The Clark Griswold family is a hilarious and entertaining group of people who always seem to be in the wrong place at just about every turn.

It’s great fun watching them try their best for laughs and out of sheer amazement that they can get into these crazy situations day after endless days!

The success of Vacation movies spawned a short-lived TV series, and there have been talks of a reboot in recent years.

What is the best sequence to view these films? Don’t worry; I’m here to help. Continue reading as I walk you through the perfect order to watch the National Lampoon’s Vacation movies.

While there is no perfect order to follow because each film has its distinct flavor, I have sorted them as per the release date of all the National Lampoon’s Vacation movies.

National Lampoon’s Vacation Movies in Order

There have been six National Lampoon’s Vacation movies to date. The following are all the National lampoon’s vacation movies in order of their release date.

  • National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983)
  • National Lampoon’s European Vacation (1985)
  • National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)
  • Vegas Vacation (1997)
  • National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation 2 (2003)
  • Vacation (2015)

National Lampoons Vacation movies are straightforward, and the series has no prequels. Therefore the chronological and release dates are the same.

Here is the list of all National Lampoon’s Vacation movies in their chronological order:

1. National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983)

“National Lampoon’s Vacation,” the first film in the Vacation series, was released in 1983. The movie follows the Griswold family as they embark on a cross-country road trip from Chicago to California.

Chevy Chase stars as the patriarch of the Griswold family, who are on a quest to get to Wally World, a fictional theme park.

The film follows their hilariously eventful cross-country road trip, fraught with mishaps and misadventures.

They pick up a few quirky companions, including Aunt Edna (Imogene Coca), who quickly becomes a liability.

“National Lampoon’s Vacation” is a hilarious movie that perfectly captures the chaos of family vacations.

They encounter several mishaps, including a flat tire, car trouble, and bad weather. Despite all of their challenges, the Griswolds eventually reach their destination and have a great time at the park.

“National Lampoon’s Vacation” is considered one of the best vacation movies ever made, and it spawned several sequels over the years.

Chevy Chase is at his best in this film, and the rest of the cast (Anthony Michael Hall as Rusty) is also excellent.

Director Harold Ramis did a good job, and as with all other movies in the franchise, John Hughes was the writer.

If you’re looking for a funny and entertaining movie to watch on your next vacation, then the National Lampoon’s Vacation movies are a perfect choice.

2. National Lampoon’s European Vacation (1985)

The next film in National Lampoon’s Vacation movie series is the film where the Griswolds go on a lovely, worry-free, all-expenses-paid, free vacation to cosmopolitan Europe.

They win the free vacation on the famous TV game show “Pig in a Poke,” following their successful Wally World excursion in “National Lampoon’s Vacation.”

The film “National Lampoon’s European Vacation” was released in 1985.

In the movie, the Griswolds, with kids Rusty and Audrey, are on a deadline this time around, attempting to see as much of London, Paris, Germany, and Rome as possible.

But another mishap strikes, as British driving habits, horrendous fashion crimes in the City of Lights, a huge language barrier in a Bavarian hamlet, and an encounter with the authorities in Rome all ruin their experience.

The film “National Lampoon’s European Vacation” also has some funny moments but is generally considered a letdown compared to the original.

However, the parents, played by Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo, continue to be excellent.

3. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)

The third installment in the National Lampoon Magazine Vacation film series is “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.”

The film was released in 1989, four years after the second title, “National Lampoon’s European Vacation.”

Directed by Jeremiah Chechik and written by John Hughes, the film follows the colossal movies “National Lampoon’s Vacation” (1983) and “European Vacation” (1985).

The well-intentioned but fatally ineffective paterfamilias, Clark Griswold, wants to have a lovely, traditional Christmas and host the finest family vacations.

However, this year, Clark Griswold’s good intention of having the most fabulous Christmas Eve celebration is thwarted by ineffectual relatives, broken equipment, and an unexpected yet spectacular confrontation with the authorities.

Chevy Chase’s happiness during the holidays is evident to anyone who watches him during Christmas Vacation. He seems like he enjoys these times, as you can see by all those smiling photos!

His efforts to make the best Christmas imaginable often backfire, and he loses control. So many people share this discontent. If you haven’t met a Clark Griswold, you could be one.

The picture also has a solid supporting cast. Beverly D’Angelo continues to be an excellent foil to Chase’s displeasure. Clark’s children were de-aged this time.

The Griswolds are a family that always seems to be in the wrong place at just about every turn. This time around, Christmas becomes their undoing as visitors from all over visit them.

If you have watched the other two National Lampoon’s Vacation movies, you should spend your weekend watching “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.”

4. Vegas Vacation (1997)

The third film in the “National Lampoon’s Vacation” movies is “Vegas Vacation.” The “Vegas Vacation” was released in 1997 by director Stephen Kessler starring Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, and Randy Quaid.

The Griswold family has never been more eager to hit the road. But, after their past failures at pleasure, they decide it is finally time for them to get away from all of life’s stresses and find peace in Las Vegas!

Just when everything seems too easy, though – cousin Eddie appears out of nowhere with his happy little band ready on stage; Clark becomes an even bigger star than expected while playing slots (he does hope nobody sees him lose).

Wayne Newton falls head over heels and loves Ellen, who performs every night near where we first see our lovely travelers during opening credits; the Griswolds are finally in Vegas.

The “Vegas Vacation” lacks the same way that “Christmas Vacation” does, relying too much on Chevy Chase mugging for the camera, but there are some funny bits, including some priceless scenes of Clark and Rusty.

In “Vegas Vacation,” I had difficulty finding anything amusing; the script is uninspired and sloppy.

Although the only practical joke in “Vegas Vacation” was a reference to the first vacation with an appearance by Christie Brinkley as the “hot chick,” there wasn’t much effort put into it.

The first movie in the series, “National Lampoon’s Vacation,” was excellent; however, the second one, “National Lampoon’s European Vacation,” was not that hit.

The next film in Vacation movies in order, “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” was excellent. Once again, my expectations for the movie were high, but “Vegas Vacation” turned out to be the weakest. If you have watched the previous films, you may find the “Vegas Vacation” just ok!

5. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation 2: Cousin Eddie’s Island Adventure (2003)

Finally, the fifth film from the Vacation movies franchise in order of their release date is “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation 2.”

The film was released in 2003 and directed by Jeremiah S. Chechik, Starring Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, and Randy Quaid.

The “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation 2” is about the Griswold family spending their Christmas in Wally World. Clark is trying to do everything to make it a perfect Christmas for his family, but things don’t seem to be going his way.

The movie is slightly light-hearted than the previous installment, with less focus on the family’s misadventures and more on the funny situations they find themselves in.

The film “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation 2” is structured like a Gilligan’s Island episode. The entire party and their tour guide get stranded on an isolated island that is not suitable to stay for long. Almost all of the characters have their personal stories, but none advance.

The fifth movie in “National Lampoon’s Vacation movies” is unsightly. It would be one thing if the film were wrong, but it’s also unattractive. The slapstick humor is cringe-inducing and overused, and the movie features lots of terrible blue screen, green screen, and poorly produced visuals.

If you want to watch a film with Christmas vibes, this is undoubtedly not the best pick. The holiday spirit has long departed from the “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation 2” before the team departs for Hawaii.

6. Vacation (2015)

The final and last film of “Vacation Movies” in order of their release date is “Vacation.” The film came out in 2015 after twelve years of the previous movie in the franchise, i.e., “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation 2.”

The movie was written and directed by John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein.

When Clark Griswold, the father in “National Lampoon’s Vacation” (1983), said, “I want to take you guys on a journey,” he was referring to himself and his family.

In the “Vacation,” it’s time for Rusty. He has always been there with hardworking roots but never got any recognition until now. Thanks mainly to having some great ideas alongside keeping up appearances at home. To surprise those close enough who love him most by suggesting an incredible cross-country road trip across America!

He set on his journey on his leased SUV to return to the locations of his childhood, the fascinating Walley World.

“Vacation” had a very cheap budget and mainly received negative reviews, yet it performed well at the box office. Chevy Chase got nominated for a Razzie award for Worst Supporting Actor for his brief appearance in the movie.

The movie’s plot is essentially the same as that in all Vacation movies. As a result of their irritation and annoyance, a furious, unhappy family is compelled to spend time together as a unit and travels across the country.

“Vacation” is the last movie released in the “The National Lampoon’s Vacation” franchise.

FAQs about National Lampoon’s Vacation movies

How many National Lampoon’s Vacation movies are there?

There is a total of six National Lampoon’s Vacation movies. The first movie was out in 1983, and the most recent film came in 2015.

Here is the list of all the movies as per their release date:

  • National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983)
  • National Lampoon’s European Vacation (1985)
  • National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)
  • Vegas Vacation (1997)
  • National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation 2 (2003)
  • Vacation (2015)

Do you need to watch National Lampoon’s Vacation movies in order?

There is no such compulsion to watch all the National Lampoon’s Vacation movies in order.

However, if you want to follow the chronological order of the events in the film, then yes, the film needs to be watched in the order mentioned.

The stories of all the six films in the franchise are different and not connected.

Who wrote the National Lampoon’s Vacation movies?

John Hughes wrote the screenplays for all six “National Lampoon’s Vacation” movies. Hughes also directed the first movie in the franchise.

Hughes began his career in 1970 as a writer for National Lampoon, where he authored humorous essays and tales. He followed that with a move to Hollywood to write, produce, and sometimes direct some of the 1980s’ most successful live-action comedies.

Will there be more National Lampoon’s Vacation movies?

There is no such news about a new “National Lampoon’s Vacation Movie” when writing this post. The last movie in the franchise “Vacation,” came in 2015.

Are all the National Lampoon’s Vacation Movies connected?

The “National Lampoon’s Vacation” movies are all part of the same series, with each tale focusing on the Griswold family and their various vacation disasters. However, the film is not all related to one another, and you can watch them in any order.

Which National Lampoon’s Vacation movie is best?

The first film, “National Lampoon’s Vacation,” released (in 1983) gets the award for being the best in all of the six movies about “National Lampoon Vacation.” It has the best comedy from the ’80s, and it is very raunchy and reckless. The movie also spawned many sequels, but the original will always be the best.

So there you have it, everything you need to know about the “National Lampoon Vacation Movies” in order! Whether you’re a fan of the series or are just getting started, we hope this article has been helpful.

Check out our other movie articles for more information on your favorite flicks!


Senior Writer, BuddyTV

Experienced Writer and Graphics Designer