Active Travel

Even if you never took an astronomy class in college, you can still appreciate looking up at the night sky and seeing an infinite number of twinkling stars. Stargazing is often associated with camping or the viewing of once-every-few-months meteor showers, but — with so many stars in the sky — it can really be done whenever…the where is more important. Secluded areas away from the bright lights of the city are best for admiring the flickering sky and searching for constellations, and some hotels in these secluded spots are best suited for stargazing as well. Whether they have their own telescopes on hand or offer stargazing sessions with an astronomer, these 12 hotels provide perfect settings for an evening enjoying the view above.

Westward Look Resort, Tucson

Westward Look Resort

This renovated guest ranch is Tucson’s oldest resort and one of its most popular. Outdoor activities abound at the upscale property, which offers three saline pools, horseback riding and hiking trails, volleyball, basketball, and eight tennis courts. Big rooms and two highly regarded restaurants at Westward Look Resort overlook the serene mountains and city lights. Nature is everywhere at this property with the various gardens, including a butterfly and hummingbird garden. Another highlight is the telescope on hand, perfect for guests to view the desert night sky. If that’s not enough, travelers can drive about an hour and a half to the Kitt Peak National Observatory; it’s home to the world’s largest collection of optical telescopes and hosts nightly observing programs.

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Sweden and Norway typically conjure images a la Frozen: Stunning icescapes punctuated by the rogue reindeer or a flash of brilliance from the Northern Lights. But there is more to these Northern European countries than meets the eye — and it’s not all winter and chill. When hockey season ends and the sun comes out to play, Scandinavians flock to the coastline for summering on the shore. Whether boating along their country’s rugged oceanfront or exploring its lakes, Scandinavians embrace the warm weather with gusto. There’s also phenomenal hiking, golfing, and other athletic activities to enjoy, as well as island hopping and shopping, so Norway and Sweden are both wonderful, not to mention atypical, holiday vacations to squeeze in before the summer’s over. Check out our favorite stays and activities in Scandinavia.

1. Hotel J; Nacka, Sweden 

hotel j

This nautical-themed, boutique hotel has a secluded, out-in-the-country feel perfect for summering in Sweden – but in reality, it’s only a 10-minute drive from central Stockholm, making it convenient as well as picturesque. Though the suburban area of Nacka, one of the city’s business hubs, can be relatively quiet at night, the Hotel J has an excellent waterfront restaurant that’s often bustling. Nacka is well-regarded among sailing enthusiasts and spa-goers, making it an apt choice for a holiday. Read More »

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Who doesn’t love a good theme? We’re suckers for a little kitsch every now and then, and there’s something about the wild, wild West – cowboy hats and boots and all – that’s particularly endearing and fun. A western theme conjures up good ole days of yore, and it can make a property feel especially homey. That’s why we love these seven ranch-style hotels; from upscale estates spread across sprawling grounds to cheesy cowboy-themed properties, this list has the best of the best of the wild, wild West.

Tanque Verde Ranch, Tucson

 Tanque Verde

This rustic, all-inclusive resort is a quintessential Western dude ranch surrounded by miles of gorgeous mountains and desert. The property borders Saguaro National Park East, where guests can enjoy guided horseback rides, hiking, and mountain biking. There’s also swimming, communal ranch meals, and kids’ activities, and sweeping wood-beam ceilings, stone fireplaces, and local artwork add to the ranch-like vibe.

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An old fable tells the tale of the city mouse and the country mouse (or the city oyster and the country oyster in our case — we know, it’s a bit of a stretch). The story ends with a precautionary warning: cities are crowded, dangerous, and unsavory. But, here at Oyster, we’ve never met a city we didn’t like! Though they may be a bit busier than the countryside, cities are hubs of history, culture, and entertainment. So we suggest you leave the quiet country behind and give the city a whirl. Here are eight megacities (cities with populations of over 10 million people) we can’t get enough of.

New York

new york

Some call it the Big Apple, others the “City That Never Sleeps,” but no matter its name, New York is truly one of the greatest cities in the world. With a population of nearly 24 million people, New York’s magnitude may at first seem daunting, but this city’s crowds are part of its splendor. The large population is incredibly diverse, which means visitors have access to every type of restaurant, bar, and entertainment venue imaginable. Amongst innumerable, unique neighborhoods, visitors will discover iconic skyscrapers, world class museums, fantastic shopping, and all around vibrancy.

Where to Stay: Mandarin Oriental, New York

The Mandarin Oriental is located just across the street from the lively Columbus Circle. With decadent, yet sleek ,decor and sweeping views of Central Park, the Mandarin Oriental is a wise choice for guests seeking a more modern twist on classic upscale choices like The Plaza or The Pierre.

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Whether you’re a total pro or a complete amateur, there’s nothing quite like the rush of surfing. And for us here at Oyster, there’s nothing quite like the rush of finding the perfect hotel either. So we’ve combined these two awesome feelings to come up with nine amazing surf destinations…and some pretty great hotels to go with ‘em.

Honolulu

Sunset-Surfing-in-Waikiki-Oahu-Hawaii

World famous Waikiki Beach is the perfect place to catch a wave. You won’t be alone, however, as this sandy stretch receives more than four millions visitors every year. Waikiki abounds with surf shops and instructors, making it easy for pros to brush up on their skills and first timers to learn the tricks of the trade.

Where to Stay: Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort & Spa

When it opened its doors in 1901, the Moana Surfrider was Waikiki’s first hotel. Now that it shares the spotlight with a multitude of others, guests will appreciate Moana’s old-world ambiance. Though the hotel is often packed with people, it sits on one of the nicest stretches of Waikiki Beach, perfect for surfers and non-surfers alike.

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It may be particularly fun during the summer months, but thanks to a variety of species and waters around the world, fishing is a sport that can be enjoyed year-round. Peak seasons vary from fish to fish, but as long as you’re on a river, by a lake, or bobbing atop the ocean, you’ll likely get a bite. And no matter if you’re an experienced angler or a novice on all things baiting and hooking, fishing can be a great activity for your vacation itinerary – particularly for families since the little ones can participate as well. We’ve picked 10 hotels that are perfect properties for grabbing a rod and heading out to the water. Now go reel ‘em in!

Cheeca Lodge and Spa, Florida Keys

Cheeca Lodge

The 114-room Cheeca Lodge was one of the original luxury properties on Islamorada, dating to 1946 and earning plenty of celebrity cachet over the years (high-profile guests have included George W. Bush). The property was rebuilt after a fire gutted its main building in 2009, and it now has bright, spacious rooms with tropical-luxe decor and massive bathrooms. The lush grounds are especially pretty at night, with Tiki-torch-lit paths. But the hotel’s beach is manmade — there’s even a rock ledge on the water’s edge. There’s a private fishing pier on the property and guests can rent fishing rods for free. You’re bound to have a fun time since Islamorada advertises itself as the “sport fishing capital of the world.”

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Summertime always gets us nostalgic, particularly when we think back to our busy days and peaceful nights spent at summer camp. Everything was just simpler then, right? Counselors chose the activities, the kitchen staff provided all the grub, and at night the soft sounds of nature — plus the fact that you were dead-tired from the day’s adventures — put you right to sleep. Well, you may be all grown up now, but you can still relive those days — and bonus: no need for matching uniforms. When summer was just beginning to hint its arrival, we told you about the best hotels stateside for pitching a tent (and we threw in a Botswana property just for good measure). So this time, we’re focusing solely on international destinations where you can experience a new kind of summer camp-like getaway that’s adults-friendly (and most are kid-friendly, too). Check out our top picks for outdoorsy, campy properties outside the U.S.

Camping Village Rochette, Tuscany

Camping Village Rochette

Billed as a high-end camping village, this property has some fun amenities — a striking pool, a Turkish bath, and tennis courts — with bungalows of various sizes spread out over a large wooded area about 500 meters from the beach. Some of the newer, larger bungalows are on the luxurious side; ones at lower price points are a little on the shabby end (although they may be more reminiscent of a summer camp stay than the others). The property offers numerous play areas for kids, as well as daytime and nighttime activities, and it has an on-site market so guests can make use of the in-room kitchens. The hotel also provides a shuttle to the nearby seaside town of Castiglione della Pescaia.

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Who doesn’t love a girls’ trip? A fun getaway with a group of your girlfriends is the perfect way to get together and reconnect, whether you all live in cities across the country or in the same neighborhood. Hey, even guys love a girls’ trip! For those who are left at home, it means more time in control of the remote; for those in the visited destinations, it simply means more odds of meeting someone special (at least temporarily so). After visiting countless hotels and resorts all over the world, we’ve seen quite a few that are suited for that precious — and always entertaining — time spent with girlfriends. No matter if your gang likes to shop till you drop or roast marshmallows while camping, we’ve rounded up nine hotels that will suit your style.

For Relaxing at the Spa: Travaasa Austin

Spa Austin

Travaasa Austin is set on its own nature preserve on a hilltop amid forested canyons, 20 miles west of downtown Austin. Its 72 rooms are housed in seven buildings built on three different levels, with correspondingly different views from their balconies. Hiking trails, an infinity-edge pool enclosed by a wooden deck, a luxurious spa, and a restaurant with panoramic views are just some of the amenities providing inspiration and relaxation for visitors. The tranquil spa has a sauna and hot tub and uses only organic, bioenergetic products for personal treatments. The farm-to-face pumpkin facial and lavender vanilla hand treatment are just a few unique options they offer. You and your girlfriends will easily relax and decompress in this setting — and if you’re combining a little relaxation with a bachelorette party, Austin has quickly become one of the most popular spots in the U.S. for pre-nuptial soirees.

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This post originally appeared on Yahoo! Travel

Considering the climbing prices of airfare, travelers these days are all the more focused on finding inexpensive hotels when they plan their summer getaways. Often, this can mean staying in a desolate, removed location or – perhaps worse – along a congested, crowded highway. But we’ve been lucky enough to find some hidden gems among our budget stays that boast not only low rates, but also absolutely jaw-dropping views. Sure, the rooms may lack high-tech amenities or feature some dated decor, but these 12 budget hotels prove that the best hotel amenity can be just out your window.

Hotel Tagoo, Mykonos

 Hotel Tagoo

Run by a Canadian expat, the Hotel Tagoo is located within walking distance to the center of town, but far enough away to give guests spectacular views and a quiet atmosphere. It’s one of the older hotels in the area, and rooms are spacious and clean, but basic with minimal decor. Nonetheless, many feature balconies with sweeping vistas of the hilltops and sea.

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What’s the secret to a great family vacation? Finding a location that allows everyone to explore and have fun – at their own pace. A spot where the kids (most likely bursting with energy) can have a blast while you enjoy a relaxing massage and a margarita…or several margaritas. (Go ahead – it’s vacation.) And generally a beach destination can deliver on all these fronts. So we’ve rounded up the best kid-friendly, tropical vacation spots that feature safe and fun places to play, kid-friendly restaurants, and all sorts of activities, even if the sun goes into hiding for a day or two. And Mom and Dad will be just as happy at these spots as well.

Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort & Spa

Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort and Spa With ten pools, a sprawling (45,000-square-foot) water park, a shopping center, a spa complex, and more restaurants than you can shake a breadstick at, the family-friendly Beaches is one of the most features-heavy resorts in Turks and Caicos. With a pirate-themed Sesame Street Treasure Caravan; 12 miles of white sand beach; pools staffed by lifeguards; Pirate’s Island Waterpark featuring two waterslides; AND Crayola Art Camps (whew!), your little ones can be entertained while you head for a rum punch. For the tweens and teens, there’s a Martha Stewart Crafts Studio, a (teen-appropriate) nightclub and lounge, an Xbox games garage, and even a DJ academy.

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