Search: "kickin' back"

Texas may be the second largest state in the Union, but all of its residents seem to agree on at least one thing — there’s nothing better than kicking off your boots and enjoying some downtime in the Lonestar State. So we’ve traveled all over the state — and found some spots perfect for rest and relaxation. After all, when in Rome Texas! From Dallas to Corpus Christi, there’s a chill place calling your name. But we couldn’t help but start with Austin in honor of the (dreamy) Matthew McConaughey’s nuptials. After all, he is the *king* of chilling out.

The Lakeside Grounds at the Lake Austin Spa Resort

Grounds at the Lake Austin Spa Resort

Grounds at the Lake Austin Spa Resort

Why we love it: Though it looks like McConaughey had no trouble chilling in a hammock pre-ceremony, we’re thinking his guests could have preferred a stay at the romantic Lake Austin Spa Resort — rather than the tents the film star set up for them in his backyard. This waterside retreat, along the shores of Lake Austin, is more than a spa resort — with kayaking, canyon hikes, yoga and “discovery programs,” Lake Austin Spa Resort is a true wellness destination. But if you’re looking to kick back, there’s no better spot than the lush, lakeside grounds. Pick a grassy spot in the shade or head down to the water’s edge for some peace and quiet.

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Few people know how to take it easy better than South Carolinians. After all, some of the most popular activities in the Palmetto State are iced tea sippin’ and front porch sittin’ — and who can blame them? Especially with the intense heat that Southern summers bring, locals and visitors need plenty of spots to just be lazy. And fortunately for them, we found five incredible ones. So put your feet up and check out these prime spots for lounging; it’s time to sloooow doooown.

Lazy Spot #1: The Chrysanthemum Room’s Porch at The Jasmine Inn — Charleston

Porch in the Chrysanthemum Room at The Jasmine House Inn -- Charleston

Porch in the Chrysanthemum Room at The Jasmine House Inn -- Charleston

Housed in a beautifully renovated mansion built in 1843, the Jasmine House Inn has all the charm of a B&B and the comfort of an upscale hotel with an ideal location in downtown Charleston. The 12 large rooms emulate that good ‘ole Southern vibe, particularly ones like the Chrysanthemum Room, which features a large second-story porch overlooking a tree-lined street. Escape the heat on one of its shaded wicker sofas.

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We’re loving this recent heat wave, but it just makes us want to kick back and relax (preferably with a cocktail in hand). So it may be a bit ironic, but we decided to do an intensive search on the laziest spots we could find — starting in Florida. After all, it is the Sunshine State. From spas with plush lounge chairs to pools where you don’t have to lift a finger, we found five Floridian hotels that are prime for lounging. Relax and unwind; it’s time to take it easy.

Lazy Spot #1: The Beach at the W South Beach

Beach at the W South Beach

Beach at the W South Beach

Why we love it: Though many hotels in South Beach have direct beach access, the W offers an unparalleled experience on the sand. Cushy white-and-black-striped lounge chairs are spread out along the hotel’s 100-yard-deep stretch of beach, which is considerably removed from the crowds in order to create a relaxing vibe. While guests bask in the sun, on-call attendants are quick to bring towels, food, beverages, or even iPod shuffles.

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Built in 1900, this neoclassical mansion is the perfect place for a true Southern wedding.

The upscale, 48-room Mansion at Judges’ Hill is steeped in Southern history, making it an ideal spot for a wedding, darlin’. Housed in the neoclassical Goodall Wooten House — dating back to 1900 and listed in the National Register of Historic Places — the hotel combines old-fashioned charm with modern comforts. And the mansion, with its columned facade and wide veranda, looks like it was picked up from a storied estate and dropped on the residential street southwest of the University of Texas, just a 5-minute drive from downtown Austin, where it sits. The common areas maintain the elegance instituted by the entrance with hard-wood floors, coffered ceilings, white wainscoting, rich rugs, and original artwork. The library, a small room off the bar, is cozy, and the dining room features pretty crystal chandeliers. The rooms are perhaps a bit less impressive than the public spaces; they’re quaint, but not quite luxurious.

But for weddings, the Mansion pulls out all of the stops. The staff, which has coordinated many a wedding in the past, is dedicated to making the bride and groom as relaxed as possible on the big day. They assist couples with menu planning, ceremony and reception set-up, and ceremony personalization so you’ll leave your own stamp on the Mansion’s grand backdrop. There are eight reception sites available, the most popular being the grand ballroom (seats 50 to 250 guests), the Goodall Wooten House (seats 50 guests), and the central courtyard. See more wedding-inspired photos of the Mansion at Judge’ Hill here »  Read More »

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The Waterside Chapel at the Inn at Palmetto Bluff in Bluffton, South Carolina is a charming place to say "I do."

This “inn” — which is really more akin to a sprawling estate – in Carolina Lowcountry is surrounded by natural beauty: rivers, misty marshes, old oaks draped with wispy Spanish moss, and salty breezes characterize this gorgeous property. The main building at the Inn at Palmetto Bluff (an Auberge resort) looks like a classic Southern mansion, and the 50 Cottages and Cottage Suites are simultaneously homey and utterly luxurious, with working fireplaces, screen porches, and beautiful bathrooms. Guests can enjoy a range of recreational facilities, including golf, bicycling, tennis, croquet, kayaking, and swimming (in the two pools), and the luxury spa is highly acclaimed.

Many couples choose to get married at the inn, particularly those who are drawn to its Southern charm. Plus, the sunny South Carolina weather makes it a popular wedding destination year round (Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds said their “I dos” just a couple of weeks ago in Charleston). The Waterside Chapel, seen here, offers expansive views of the May River and moss-laden Spanish oaks. (Take a look inside the chapel, here.) After the ceremony, the quaint Village Square — nestled under massive branches of ancient oak trees — is an attractive spot for a champagne toast with guests. Couples can choose to either move the party inside — via horse and buggy, if so desired — to the elegant ballroom and oversized verandas of the River House, or continue the celebration outside under a starry Southern sky. First class service (including the help of an on-site wedding planner) and gourmet catering round out this luxurious wedding experience. Check out more wedding-inspired photos of the Inn at Palmetto Bluff here » Read More »

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The Best Road Trips is a weekly summer series highlighting our favorite getaways from major cities all over the United States.

With a thriving arts scene, diverse shopping districts, the NFL’s Buccaneers, and a rich local history, the Floridian city of Tampa has a lot to offer itself. The beaches along Tampa Bay are lovely spots to take a dip and — after exploring such attractions as Busch Gardens, the Florida Aquarium, and the historic Ybor City (once the bustling center of America’s cigar industry, and now a great shopping area and artistic haven) — a welcome respite at the end of the day. With average temperatures staying at a nice 75° to 80° Fahrenheit nearly year round, it must be hard to convince Tampanians to part from the Big Guava. But Buccaneers are known to set sail, and while the whip can’t take you off to sea, it can certainly get you to some great land locales. So pack your bags, crank the A.C., and hop in the car — we’ve got some miles to cover.

Road Trip #1: Tampa to Jacksonville, FL

  • Total Driving Time: 3 hours, 50 minutes
  • Distance Covered: 226 miles
  • Take This Trip If: You’re looking to hit the links (and maybe the shops).
Street at the One Ocean Resort Hotel & Spa

Palm tree lined streets will guide you from the shops to the links in no time.

Beach at the One Ocean Resort Hotel & Spa

The One Ocean Resort Hotel & Spa offers a luxury stay on an expansive stretch of white, sandy beach.

Pool at the Holiday Inn Express Jacksonville Beach

The heated pool and Jacuzzi at the Holiday Inn Express Jacksonville Beach is a relaxing find in a value hotel, perfect for families on a budget.

With a lively arts scene, a great downtown district, and some of the country’s best golf courses, Jacksonville is a hidden gem located in Northern Florida. But since the weather is a bit crisper upstate (winters are too cold to play on the sand), the conditions make for ideal golf weather. And with a less-crowded beach scene, this once underrated seaside city has become a vibrant spot, with an NFL team to boot. Those seeking a luxury experience should head straight to the One Ocean Resort Hotel & Spa. Situated directly on a clean, white-sand beach, this resort has a fantastic on-site spa (great for girls’ weekends or couples’ vacations), contemporary decor, and bathrooms with double shower heads. Or, save a bundle and book a space at the Holiday Inn Express Jacksonville Beach, a value hotel that offers awesome freebies like Wi-Fi, breakfast, and self-parking. Rooms are clean, the pool is relaxed, and the prices are great. And although you’re just a few minutes drive from the beach, that won’t matter — you’ve got the whip with you.

  • Top Driving Tip: While taking I-75N is faster, we recommend sticking it out an extra 15 minutes or so in the car. Take I-4E to I-95; you’ll pass right through Orlando — and maybe stop for a few roller coaster rides.

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The Deluxe King Oceanview Room at the One Ocean Resort Hotel & Spa -- Jacksonville, FL

The Deluxe King Oceanview Room at the One Ocean Resort Hotel & Spa -- Jacksonville, FL

The One Ocean Resort and Spa is a modern resort located directly on a calm white-sand beach. The 193 rooms have a lively, trendy feel with bright colors, contemporary decor, flat-screen TVs, floor-to-ceiling windows, and bathrooms with double shower heads. The spa is luxurious and couples-friendly, and the excellent kids’ club has a marine biology theme. The hotel also has a full range of infant amenities on hand, including cribs, bottle warmers, and baby suntan lotion. Despite the extensive kids’ offerings, the property tends to draw more couples than families. It’s one of the chicest (albeit priciest) options in the area. See more incredible photos after the jump or read our full review now»

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The Best Road Trips is a weekly summer series highlighting our favorite getaways from major cities all over the United States.

Miami is one of the U.S.’s most celebrated metropolises, a Cuban-influenced coastal city on the Southern tip of Florida, known as the “gateway to the Americas.” But Miami’s wild reputation and glamorous lifestyle can really wear on the locals (and their bank accounts). With its high-brow art scene, luxurious shopping, and A-list clubs, Miami is an energetic, ultra-lively hub for young partiers and jet-setting tourists — but to escape the rowdy scene, southern Floridans have several spots to flock to within the Sunshine State for some much-needed R&R. Put on you sexiest string bikini (or Speedo), pack your bags, and jump in the whip — we’ve got some miles to cover.

Road Trip #1: Miami to Key West

  • Total Driving Time: 3 hours, 11 minutes
  • Distance Covered: 161.7 miles
  • Take This Trip If: It’s been too long since you’ve last passed out in a hammock with margarita in hand.
Key West is known for extreme leisure

Key West is known for moving at an...errr... leisurely pace.

Casa Marina Resort is island luxury at its finest.

Eden House boasts beautiful grounds at an affordable price

There’s a reason even the most sunny of Floridians love visiting Key West: Its laid-back atmosphere and beautiful surroundings make it one of the best vacation destinations in the country. Miami residents may get their share of water sports and authentic Cuban cuisine, but Key West maintains a much slower pace. The island boasts warm weather year-round thanks to its Southernmost U.S City status, which even steamy Miami can’t compete with. For a supremely luxurious experience, the Casa Marina Resort, a Waldorf Astoria Resort, offers a sophisticated setting while maintaining a chill vibe with its poolside bar, beach hammocks, and lush grounds. Although not quite a steal, the Eden House is offers a variety of amenities at a fraction of Casa Marina’s price. Within the beautiful grounds, guests can enjoy complimentary happy hour, outdoor pool (make sure to apply your FREE sunscreen!), koi ponds, hammocks, or barbecue on the small rolling grill. What more do you need for some fun in the sun?

  • Top Driving Tip: Be prepared for Seven Mile Drive to the Keys to feel like Seven Hour Drive. The bridge spanning the Florida Keys is usually heavily congested, but does offer some of the most scenic views of the Altantic Ocean just about everywhere.

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The Best Road Trips is a weekly summer series highlighting our favorite getaways from major cities all over the United States.

Houston has just about everything Texans could want right at their fingertips. The Lonestar State’s biggest city also has some of the biggest attractions including the famed Museum and Theater districts as well as NASA’s Johnson Space Center (as in, “Houston, we have a problem”). But one of Space City’s greatest assets is its mere proximity to some of the other most unique and cultured cities. So saddle up for a true taste of Texas goodness, from beaches and rock ‘n roll; from water parks to oil rigs. Let’s hit the road!

Road Trip #1: Houston to Corpus Christi, TX

Corpus Christi is the best beachside locale in Texas.

  • Total Driving Time: 3 hours, 51 minutes
  • Distance Covered: 222 miles
  • Take This Trip If: You need a much-needed day at the beach.

The rooftop restaurant at the Omni Corpus Christi lets us enjoy miles of the Gulf.

The fishing dock at the Lighthouse Inn is perfect for enjoy the Gulf of Mexico.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sitting pretty on the Gulf of Mexico’s crystal blue coast, Corpus Christi really does live up to its “sparkling city by the sea” nickname. With more than 131 miles of beaches, the city’s main shores of Corpus Christi and McGee beaches draw large summer crowds. The city’s sand helped earn Corpus Christi a “Best Restored Beach “award from the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association last year, one of only seven cities in the nation to receive the honor.  For some of the best views of the beach, the waterfront Lighthouse Inn at Aransas Bay can’t be beat, especially when looking out from on-site fishing dock and private balconies with rocking chairs. And a slightly more affordable option is the Omni Corpus Christi Hotel Bayfront Tower. The hotel also has incredible views from the rooftop lounge, and is within walking distance of many other downtown attractions.

  • Top Driving Tip: Weedhaven was once a tiny bustling village settled by wealthy businessman J.F. Weed, about halfway between the two cities. His store, cafe, and inn may have closed, but the Wild West remains of Weedhaven make it a popular roadside stop along the route.

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Foto Friday: A Spa Sanctuary

by Devon on June 15, 2012

We’ve been doing a lot of kickin’ back lately, which we especially enjoy in the remote hills of the Blancaneaux Lodge in Belize. It may be a secluded spot, but that’s why the resort has tons of on-site offerings, including horse tours, natural swimming holes, and creekside spa service. The rustic sanctuary already has everything we need to feel rejuvenated, but body wraps by the water sure don’t hurt.

Spa Treatment Area at the Blancaneaux Lodge

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