Seasonal Travel

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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Nothing manmade can rival Mother Nature at her finest, and this summer is a fabulous time to visit the country’s most gorgeous natural wonders. Whether you’re planning a cross-country road trip or a quick weekend getaway, our home states are themselves home to some pretty breathtaking sights that are worth a visit. From Yosemite National Park in California to Hawaii’s vast natural glory, these nine spots are the most beautiful natural wonders in the U.S. — and arguably, in the world. Oh, and of course, we give you great hotel recommendations nearby for each (and many actually boast views of our top Mother Nature picks).

Haleakala National Park

1. Haleakala National Park, Maui

Considered a sacred spot by many locals, Haleakala National Park is Maui’s most-visited attraction, bringing in 1.3 million visitors annually. Haleakala, the world’s largest dormant volcano, literally means “House of the Sun,” a fitting name considering the spectacular sunrises that can be viewed from the summit.

Where to Stay: The Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort Villas

Not your typical time-share, this multifaceted Kaanapali resort features amenities that rival the area’s mid- to high-end hotel chains — fitness center, kids’ club – along with massive, stylish units and an atmosphere heavily geared to families.

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Finally, the temperatures across the states — and around the world — have begun to rise and it’s got us itching to get out in the great outdoors. While exploring completely unchartered territory can be quite the adventure (sometimes in a good way, sometimes in a not-so-good way), we’re the types who prefer resort camping grounds; the tent is already assembled, the amenities are plentiful, and staff is on hand should you need some assistance — way better than having to ask the creepy guy in the neighboring tent, in our opinion. Here are our five favorite resorts for camping this spring and summer.

El Capitan

1. El Capitan Canyon, Santa Barbara

Twenty miles north of Santa Barbara, situated on 300 acres of canyon wilderness, El Capitan Canyon offers a camping, or “glamping,” experience with enough modern conveniences to satisfy travelers who would rather just semi-rough it. Guests stay in cabins, tents, or yurts; only cabins have en-suite bathrooms. All accommodations have electricity and wooden floors. El Capitan Canyon provides the fun and adventure of camping but with many of the comforts of a hotel.

 

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It’s officially slugger season and the Oyster gang can’t wait to check out a game. Although we may be divided between the Yanks and the Mets here in NYC, one thing we all can agree on is that there’s nothing quite like a spring day at the ballpark. And we’re sure that from coast to coast, other ball fans are donning their jerseys and prepping their gloves for some fly ball action at their own home stadiums. But which cities are the best for ballplayers and fans alike? Where are the fans most loyal, and the stadium just right? Now granted, this is a question that could illicit more fights than the upcoming Dodgers versus Giants showdown in October. But we’re brave enough to give it a go… Here are Oyster’s eight favorite cities for baseball, as well as the MVP hotels nearby. Batter up!

1. St. Louis 

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If there ever was an ideal baseball city, St. Louis would be it. It’s not just that the Cardinals’ fans are fantastic, or that they consistently sell out their stadium to cheer on the home team. It’s not just that the team itself — 2013′s World Series runner-up — is consistently one of the best in the league. And it’s not just that Busch Stadium III is one of the most gorgeous around, or that management in St. Louis is superb. It’s all those things rolled into one big baseball diamond.

Stay: Hilton St. Louis at the Ballpark

Not just any hotel in St. Louis can get away with using the word “Ballpark” in the name, but the Hilton — with its unmatched view of Busch Stadium — rightfully claims the moniker. Plus, the trendy rooftop bar boasts 360-degree views, ideal for game nights.

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As the song goes, “I love Paris in the springtime.” Of course, Fitzgerald goes on to claim that she loves Paris in every season, and the romantic City of Light is certainly lovely all year long. But it can be argued that the French capital never shines quite so brightly as it does in the spring. When the city is in full bloom, its iconic cafes, parks, and bustling avenues come to life after a winter indoors. To be fair, living “la vie en rose” comes with a steep price tag at this time of year. but for a once in a lifetime getaway, you can’t miss this iconic springtime experience. We’ve collected some of our favorite things to do in Paris in the spring, and have added some brand new hotels to the site that are perfect for your seasonal stay.

1. Explore a city in bloom. 

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Springtime is synonymous with blossoming flowers, and there are few cities that capture such vibrancy of color as Paris does after months of cold, grey winter days. The city’s famed gardens — Tuileries and Luxembourg being among the most popular — burst to life with daffodils, lavender, and paulownia plants and trees. The gorgeous colors and delicious fragrances are entrancing, and they make for gorgeous photos ops.

Stay: Hotel de l’Abbaye Saint-Germain 

A cozy and luxurious oasis in the center of the Saint Germain quarter — and just a short walk from the Luxembourg Gardens — this boutique hotel is praised for its stylish decor and tranquil garden where guests can enjoy breakfast.

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“America the Beautiful” was originally a poem written in 1893 by Katharine Lee Bates, who was inspired to pen the historic words after taking a memorable — and clearly, scenic — cross-country train trip from Massachusetts to Colorado. In the late 1800s, such a trip might have been grueling, but it was nonetheless considered exotic — whereas nowadays, it sometimes seems travelers aren’t impressed unless they’re crossing vast oceans and getting multiple stamps on their passports. But America is still the fair beauty of Bates’s poem, and tons of gorgeous sites and settings can be found right in our backyards. Even better, local travel is often relatively cheap and easy: There’s no currency exchange, language barrier, or passport required, and even if you do fly, flights are certainly less expensive than those to far-flung international locales. Here are six amazing sites in the U.S. that you’ve got to see. (And don’t worry. If you really must cross an ocean to feel like you’re on vacation, we have some U.S. destinations where that is a necessity as well).

Bioluminescent Bay, Puerto Rico

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If you’ve ever questioned whether the U.S. could be exotic, the Bioluminscent Bay in Puerto Rico’s Fajardo will have you properly convinced. Just a short drive from Old San Juan, this famed “Bio Bay” puts on nature’s most magnificent light show: At night, when the bay is inky black beneath the light of the moon, microscopic plankton glow turquoise as you paddle or swim through the water.

Where to Stay: El Conquistador Resort, A Waldorf Astoria Resort is just about as close as you can get to the Bio Bay. Even better, this luxe resort offers some of the Caribbean’s most epic views.

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Sin City sets the standard for raucous debauchery twelve months a year. But once spring hits, Vegas’s scene gets even hotter with sizzling poolside parties. Some of our favorite “waterfront” hotspots are opening this coming weekend with over-the-top parties, and others have been in full swing for months now. So if you’re ready to dive into booze-fueled and bikini-studded daytime fiestas — or are at least curious enough to dip a toe — here are the seven hottest Las Vegas pool parties happening every weekend for the rest of the spring and summer. (And no, it is not a coincidence that we picked seven sinful spots).

Opening Soon:

TAO Beach at the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino

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This Saturday, the Venetian’s TAO Beach Club reopens with a wild pool party hosted by Jason Derulo. The singer will perform multiple hits at the pool’s modified space, which features a larger stage and more spots for being able to get a good view of the performance. DJ Eric D-Lux will also help keep the beats pumpin’. Entry is $30/person (although, typical for Vegas, women get a $10 discount) but those who really want to live it up can rent one of the pool’s luxe cabanas, which comes complete with massive TVs with DVD libraries, minibars, and butler service that includes personal body misters, sunglass cleaners, and food and drink service.

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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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Rain usually isn’t an element vacationers seek; in fact, it is often purposely avoided, whether that means picking a rain-free destination or visiting a spot during its dry season. Yet some of the rainiest destinations around the globe are also the most beautiful, and they are all the more enticing during their wet seasons when the crowds are few and the natural surroundings are lush. Here are eight spots where we’ve found the silver lining; these rainy destinations are gorgeous, and definitely deserve a visit this spring.

Costa Rica

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Costa Rica is one of the wettest destinations in Central America, but it’s thanks to the constant rain that it is also one of the most beautiful. The country is home to lush rainforests, dozens of national parks with a rich diversity of flora and fauna, and long white-sand beaches. If you visit towards the end of the spring, you’ll be traveling during Costa Rica’s rainiest season which means crowds are fewer (in fact, Costa Rica is still relatively undeveloped and uncrowded year-round compared to its Caribbean counterparts), the surroundings are uber-lush, and, also like spots in the Caribbean, rain often lets up for sunny mornings.

Where to Stay: Lapa Rios Ecolodge & Wildlife Reserve

Lapa Rios, located in the remote coastal rainforests of the Osa Peninsula, is Costa Rica’s original luxury eco lodge. This is the opposite of a Cancun-style beach resort — guests come to the upscale Lapa Rios to enjoy the spectacular surroundings, learn about sustainable tourism, and re-connect with nature.

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