Holiday Travel

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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Some may turn up their noses at America’s “unrefined” grub, and others may stare in horrified shock at our portion sizes (which is understandable) and our tendency to fry everything (also understandable). But our great U.S. of A is home to some pretty great eats — many of which you’ll likely chow down on this holiday weekend. So here we bring you eight quintessentially American dishes in seven amazing American cities (because, after all, New York does both bagels and pizza better than any other destination we know).

Lobster Roll, Nantucket

lobster roll

Lobster rolls are about as “New England summertime” as you can get, and though destinations like Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and the Hamptons all claim to do them better than the rest, we crown Nantucket the winner. Almost every restaurant on the island offers their signature variation of a lobster roll, but Millie’s — with a restaurant and a food truck — is known to serve up one of the best.

Where to Stay: Jared Coffin House

One of the oldest inns on the island, Jared Coffin House gives travelers a taste of Nantucket history and classic New England style. Some of the rooms and bathrooms are small, but all combine antique-style furnishings with modern features, such as flat-screen TVs and free Wi-Fi. The inn, open year-round and centrally located near the downtown area, also features the elegant and popular Nantucket Prime restaurant; the menu not only features a lobster roll (either hot with butter, or cold with mayo), but also a delicious half lobster from its raw bar.

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The 4th of July falls on a Friday this year, so it’s the perfect excuse to turn the holiday into an extended weekend vacay! We’ve honed in on some cities that are fun to visit at just about any time of year, but if your trip falls over the long weekend, it’ll be amped up by fireworks, festivals, and fabulous food as these destinations get in gear to celebrate the red, white, and blue. These six cities pull out all the stops and bring you great entertainment, including free concerts by artists that would normally cost a pretty penny to see in your local arena — but in the spirit of patriotism and community, they’re free! Round up your crew because it’s time for a road trip.

Atlanta Lights Up in the Laser Show Spectacular

stone mountain

Photo Credit: Stone Mountain Park

There are 4th of July celebrations going on all over Atlanta next weekend, including festivities at Lenox Square Mall and a fireworks display at Centennial Olympic Park. However, Stone Mountain Park offers the ultimate display with a combination laser and fireworks show. Make sure you get to the park super early and enjoy a day with attractions such as Sky Hike and the 3-D/4-D show “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island.”

Where to Stay: Loews Atlanta Hotel

The 414-room Loews Atlanta brings style and luxury to Midtown. Rooms are bright with floor-to-ceiling windows, and spacious bathrooms have soaking tubs and TVs. Upscale amenities include a modern spa and fitness center, along with a swanky cocktail bar in the lobby. Convenient dining options range from an innovative restaurant to a gourmet snack bar, but many restaurants and bars are in walking distance as well. Wi-Fi is available for a fee and parking is pricey, although free transportation is on offer within a three-mile radius in a stylish Mercedes GL450.

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Patriotic fever is in full swing; and luckily, at hotels across the country, guests don’t have to miss out on the action. In fact, the red-white-and-blue festivities can come right to them! The six hotels we’ve selected as the most patriotic of them all have a special love for Old Glory — and want to celebrate just as much as you do. From decking out their digs in American Flags galore, to elaborate 4th of July annual BBQs, to offering up a front row seat for viewing the best fireworks in the country — these hotels get our vote as some of the nation’s top spots to celebrate.

The Jefferson, Washington DC

This Washington D.C. hotel scores bragging rights when it comes to its patriotic roots. The hotel is named after Declaration-drafter Thomas Jefferson and offers holiday packages that even John Hancock would sign off on. Guests can jumpstart their morning with coffee – and a chat with the in-house historian — before perusing the hotel’s collection of Jefferson autographed documents. Guests can then enjoy a self-guided tour of Jeffersonian statues around the city. The hotel “We Salute You” package also offers great military discounts.

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Every year, millions of Americans celebrate Memorial Day weekend as the official kickoff of summer. Hotdogs, hamburgers, potato salad, and, of course, travel — these traditions endure throughout the ages. Another thing that never changes? The most popular Memorial Day destinations. Year after year, Americans ring in the summer season in the same places that are, not surprisingly, the nation’s most accessible, beautiful and celebratory destinations, that boast awesome hotels to boot. The following five cities were some of the most popular of 2013, and are sure to be just as hustlin’ and bustlin’ this upcoming weekend. Read on to find out why they’re just so great for Memorial Day weekend — and where you can stay in each.

The Plaza

1. New York City

New York City is always a great choice for Memorial Day: if free concerts, hundreds of landmarks, patriotic parades and free summer movies aren’t enough, this year the city’s famed Fleet Week also coincides with Memorial Day celebrations. Events include ship tours, air shows, a music festival, parades, and a marching band — all great choices, especially for revelers with kids in tow.

Where to Stay: It’s hard to find a deal in New York on a holiday weekend, so why not go all-out and stay at the city’s landmark hotel, The Plaza? Ladies and gentlemen, we’re talking gold-plated bathroom fixtures and Central Park views!

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Memorial Day weekend is just around the corner, and with it comes the official kick-off of the summer season. When next Friday hits, thousands of beach-bound celebrators will clog the highways on their way to sun and surf. But while we love a good beach day just as much as the next patriot, this Memorial Day we’re excited to try something inland. Join us in avoiding the crowds, uncovering new corners of America, and – of course – honoring our soldiers, with parades, festivals, and much more at these ten locales not on the beach.

1. Washington, D.C.

If you want to go hardcore patriotic, there really isn’t any place better to be this Memorial Day than Washington, D.C. In addition to a variety of military ceremonies taking place around town, visitors can also attend the National Parade or the Rolling Thunder Motorcycle Rally (nothing like the wind in your hair, right?!). Or visitors can also opt to simply stroll through Washington’s many amazing monuments — during the day or at night — and sample some of D.C.’s delicious culinary offerings.

STAY: The gorgeous, 317-room W Washington D.C. blends the new — fusion cuisine from Jean-Georges Vongerichten; a great spa and gym; Whatever/Whenever service — with the old — the property’s historic Beaux Arts building dates back to 1917. Plus, you can see the Washington Monument from the hotel’s hip rooftop lounge, POV, making celebrating in style easy.
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Despite its Spanish moniker, Cinco de Mayo is an American holiday, originally instituted to commemorate freedom and democracy during the American Civil War. In the 1940s, the holiday rose to it’s current renown – and became inextricably linked to wild parties and plenty of tequila. That said, Cinco de Mayo does double-duty as a day to down some margs and celebrate Mexican heritage and pride. After all, it is a Mexican holiday — just to a lesser degree. No matter how you slice it, the fifth of May is always a great day to let loose, grab a Corona or tequila shot, and get your fiesta on. Here are five of our favorite Mexican hotels perfect for south-of-the-border celebrations.

 

Krystal Puerto Vallarta

1. Krystal Puerto Vallarta

On a wide, sandy beach just outside of Puerto Vallarta, the Krystal Puerto Vallarta is a great budget pick — and the complete review with photos was just recently added to Oyster.com! There are six pools and six whirlpools, plus a poolside bar — perfect for Cinco de Mayo reveling. The wallet-friendly day spa offers inexpensive massages, aromatherapy treatments, and salon services — and best of all, guests on the all-inclusive plan get 30 percent off all treatments.

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Earth Day may roll around just once a year (it’s today, by the way), but the great thing about travel is that you can celebrate your commitment to the planet anytime and anywhere! So whether you’re planning a last-minute bash to celebrate Mother Earth, or just want to go green for your next vacay, these seven hotels have you covered… And if you’re asking what makes a hotel eco-friendly, the answer varies depending on whom you question. Some of our picks have launched awesome recycling programs; another is LEED -certified; and yet another sits on a 1,000-acre private rainforest reserve, home to scarlet macaws. Read on for all the tree-hugging deets, and have a very happy (and green) Earth Day!

Pueblo Bonito Sunset Beach, Los Cabos 

Pueblo Bonito Sunset Beach

Pueblo Bonito Sunset Beach, along with its sister hotels Pueblo Bonito Los Cabos, Pueblo Bonito Pacifica Resort & Spa, and Pueblo Bonito Rose Resort & Spa, is committed to green initiatives and promoting sustainable tourism throughout Mexico. The hotel has taken lots of steps, both big and small, to reduce its environmental impact, from launching an initiative to protect sea turtles in the area to headlining an innovative recycling program. Pueblo Bonito also organizes beach clean-ups, composts much of its organic waste, and works to protect local whales, brown pelicans and other wildlife. Oh, and it’s a gorgeous luxury property with direct access to a private beach.

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Easter is only 11 days away, and while we look forward to beautiful services, parades of hats, and (hopefully) sunny weather, what we really crave is the requisite button-busting Easter brunch. Whether you’ve given up sweets, savory delicacies, and lavish meals out for Lent or not, a delicious Easter brunch is the perfect way to celebrate the holiday. New York City is home to some of the most lavish hotels in the world, which are in turn home to some of tastiest restaurants in the world, which — in turn — host some of the most extravagant Easter brunch buffets, menus, and spreads in the world. Sounds like a win, win, win to us! So without further adieu, here are the five best restaurants for Easter brunch in New York City, all of which are conveniently located in Manhattan’s top luxury hotels.

Norma’s at Le Parker Meridien 

Norma's

Norma’s is one of the most popular — and decadent — brunch spots in the city, and it will be no different (in the best way possible) for Easter. Located in Le Parker Meridien just a few blocks south of Central Park, Norma’s is conveniently within walking distance of the Easter parade, which meanders up Fifth Avenue, so diners can fill up on Chocolate Decadence French Toast, Norma’s Eggs Benedict (which substitutes fluffy pancakes for English muffins), Foie Gras Brioche French Toast, or — for the truly extravagant — the Zillion Dollar Lobster Frittata, which — costing a whopping $1,000 — comes topped with ten ounces of caviar. “Frugal” diners can opt for just one ounce of caviar for a mere $100.

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Easter is fast-approaching, and leading up to the springtime holiday is Holy Week, which, in Roman Catholic tradition, is the last week of Lent, taking place right before Easter (which falls on Sunday, April 20th this year). Parades, processions, traditional celebrations, lively festivities, marching bands, festive foods: These are the sights, sounds, and flavors of Holy Week around the globe, and for travelers who sample a country’s culture as much as its fine cuisine and beautiful scenery, visiting a celebratory country during Holy Week is the holy grail — no pun intended — of cultural travel. Here are our six top picks for the most festive spots in the world to visit during Holy Week.

Guatemala

La Reunion Golf Resort & Residences

Guatemala is one of the world’s most renowned destinations for celebrating Holy Week, thanks to the nation’s vibrant and ornate religious festivities. To kick off the week, Guatemalans decorate their streets and homes with palm fronds on Palm Sunday, and the celebration continues through Good Friday. In Antigua, residents scatter the country’s famed alfombras – dyed sand and sawdust, with pine needles, flowers and plants — on the cobblestone streets to create spectacularly colored “carpets” that lead the way for religious processions.

Where to Stay: Just 30 minutes from colonial Antigua, La Reunion Golf Resort & Residences gets you close to the Holy Week action but not too close: visit during the day and escape at night to avoid the pulsating — and often overwhelming — crowds.

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