Once we got that hint of sunny weather earlier this week, it became official: we’ve got the beach bug. Nothing ushers in warmer temperatures (at least in our minds) like frolicking in the sand, and a trip to the shore can be the perfect way to get the family together. We’ve told you about the best beaches for diving, surfing, and even going topless, so this time around we’re giving you the low-down on the best beaches for families; if you have babies in tow or water-winged toddlers, these seven U.S. beaches are our top picks for a family-friendly visit.

La Jolla Cove, San Diego

La Jolla

An upscale seaside sanctuary, La Jolla attracts families with its pristine downtown area, quiet neighborhoods, and stunning natural surroundings. While the town boasts plenty of surfer-friendly beaches, La Jolla Cove is ideal for tourists traveling with little ones; this small cove of clear water is part of the La Jolla Underwater Park Ecological Reserve, and swimmers and divers have free range (surfing is not allowed). Lifeguards patrol the calm surf year-round, and the beach boasts clean public restrooms and showers, as well as designated picnic spots.

Where to Stay: Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa

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March is the unofficial month of spring break, which — at least to hundreds of thousands of college students across the nation — means it’s a 30-day stretch of time dedicated to partying, preferably in exotic locales around the world. We’ve already given you the inside scoop on where to spend an awesome alternative spring break, but if you’re looking to get the classic (read: raucous) spring break fix, here are the top ten spring break destinations for partying.

Where to go: Cancun

cancun

Cancun — with its beautiful sandy beaches and turquoise waters – is one of the world’s top beach destinations, and it also one of the most-visited spring break destinations on the planet. The Hotel Zone is where to go if you’re looking for all the college spring break staples; dozens of megaresorts line miles and miles of postcard-perfect beaches where guests lounge in the sun margarita in hand. Hotels here cater to spring breakers, hard partiers, young couples and rowdy groups with night-long parties, loud entertainment, cheap booze and all-inclusive plans.

Where to stay: Hotel Riu Cancun

In the heart of the Hotel Zone, Hotel Riu Cancun sits on a sprawling piece of beachfront that’s close to bars, nightclubs, restaurants, and shops. The all-inclusive 569-room resort offers three swimming pools, a buffet-style restaurant, as well as three themed restaurants, and a range of on-site activities that includes nightly live shows, tennis, windsurfing, and a nightclub. Rooms are a bit outdated, but most consider it a small tradeoff for the affordable prices.

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Hawaii attracts about seven million visitors annually and it’s no wonder; with a beautiful natural landscape, rich culture, and vast range of activities, it is one of the most diverse destinations in the U.S.  No two islands of the six-island chain are the same, and even different areas and coasts of a single island can vary drastically. This can make it difficult to choose an island for your vacation, but it also means that all kinds of travelers can find what they’re looking for — and fortunately, travel among the islands is relatively easy and stress-free. So whether you plan on island-hopping throughout your trip, or prefer to pick one island that’s best suited to your needs, our handy island guide will make planning your Hawaiian getaway a breeze.

If you want…

A little bit of everything: The Big Island big island

It makes sense that the largest island (larger, in fact, than all the other islands combined) would be the most diverse, and those who seek a well-rounded experience will love the Big Island. Between fiery volcanoes, cascading waterfalls, white-sand, black-sand, and even green-sand beaches, blossoming meadows and snow-capped mountains, the options are seemingly endless. Visitors can sunbathe and snorkel by day and stargaze from frigid mountaintops by night.

This clean, affordable condo property in Waikoloa Village on the Kohala Coast offers an uncommon level of privacy: It’s located inside a gated community and surrounded by a golf course. Ranch-inspired buildings house multi-room units, complete with full kitchens and washer/dryers, and property features include an attractive (if small) infinity pool and an open-air fitness room.

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The perks of the megaresort experience are obvious: free-flowing drinks, lots of chances to socialize with your fellow guests, and a sweeping breadth of amenities. But with these advantages comes an obvious lack of peace and quiet. When all you want to do is escape the crowds, the best bet is to seek out the small, hidden properties dotting the Caribbean shores. From eco-centric boutiques to romantic enclaves, these laid-back properties promise the glorious sound of silence. So sit back, relax, and enjoy these crowdless Caribbean locales.

Anacaona Boutique Hotel, Anguilla 

anguilla

Anguilla, a small British territory in the Caribbean, spans fewer than 40 square miles. Less built up than other isles, it manages to exude both an upscale and happy-go-lucky vibe with its gorgeous white-sand beaches and turquoise waters. There are few attractions, so days will mostly be spent sipping on drinks beach-side and dining at one the island’s exclusive hotels. The 27-room Anacaona, for example, offers access to a stunning stretch of sand, rounds of golf at the nearby Greg Norman-designed course, dinner at a great restaurant serving Caribbean fare with a twist, and a massage hut on the beach. The hotel is a great choice for rest and relaxation–and it’s an excellent value to boot. Read More »

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If you’re like us, you’re ready for this freezing weather — courtesy of the polar vortex — to be over. In fact, you’ve been ready for weeks now. And though the groundhog may not have predicted a quick return to warm weather, that hasn’t stopped cities across the U.S. from making plans to usher in the spring, which makes its official entrance March 20. From Atlanta to Los Angeles, from Vermont to Savannah, popular vacation destinations are already prepping for the season’s welcome with spring-themed festivals, parades, and parties. Here are seven destinations where you can celebrate spring.

Los Angeles, CA: Holi Festival of Colors, March 8

Traditionally a religious Hindu festival marking the beginning of spring, Holi has become a holiday celebrated around the globe by Hindu followers and non-followers alike, and few places stateside do the day justice like Los Angeles. This year, the festival takes place in L.A. on March 8 and includes group yoga sessions, musical performances, food vendors, and even “color throwings” ever hour. Dubbed by many as “the world’s happiest event,” Holi is all about reveling in the vibrant colors of spring.

Where to Stay: The Georgian Hotel

A picturesque Art Deco boutique hotel with a commanding view of the sea (from the sunny front porch, but not all rooms), the Georgian is a classy retreat with lovely rooms and a prime location on Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica. On-site amenities, however, are few. You’ll have to  drive to the festival, but when the festival is over, we recommend staying near the beach in Santa Monica to catch some rays.

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Spring break is right around the corner and, those on a budget shouldn’t rule out a trip to the sun-soaked beaches of the Caribbean. Budget-friendly all-inclusives dot the shores of some of our favorite destinations, including the Dominican Republic, Cancun, and Jamaica, among others. It’s time to pack your bags and hitch a flight to warmer weather.

Waves Barbados

barbados 
With competitive pricing, lovely rooms, and great on-site amenities, this 70-room boutique hotel will attract people who never thought they’d choose an all-inclusive package. With three restaurants and cabanas on the terrace, Waves has a contemporary appeal especially for couples. The quiet beach along Prospect Bay feels private, and the calm waves are perfect for swimming and kayaking. A spa and adults-only pool, located across the street, are extra perks.

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Mountain Lodge at Telluride, Colorado
Mountain Lodge at Telluride, ColoradoLocated in Mountain Village, Mountain Lodge at Telluride is a classic Colorado mountain getaway. This log-cabin style lodge offers spacious condo and cabin rentals for groups from two to 14 people. Most rooms have kitchens, gas fireplaces, and private balconies in addition to small touches like humidifiers to battle the dry Colorado air. One highlight of this hotel is the year-round outdoor pool and hot tub with sweeping mountain views. A cozy restaurant, called the View, has a huge fireplace and plenty of space to lounge over a local beer. Read More »

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Spring break is right around the corner — finally! After a long winter of snow and slush, it’s time to escape the homestead and let loose. But a quick trip to an island all-inclusive isn’t for everyone. Maybe desert vistas are more your thing? Or you’d rather climb a mountain than windsurf in the Caribbean? No matter what your vacation style, we have a spring break plan for you that promises to be everything but run-of-the-mill.

If the desert sun is calling your name, head to Albuquerque, New Mexico: 

albuquerque

Albuquerque, located about an hour from Santa Fe, is often overlooked. Like Santa Fe, Albuquerque is dotted by adobe historic buildings, and has boiling summers. Albuquerque is known as the “hot air balloon capital” of the U.S. and if you like the city in the spring, you should be sure to revisit in the fall when the world’s largest hot air balloon festival takes place here. Albuquerque also boasts gorgeous terrain, a chance to cross the Rio Grande, and an amazing fine arts community. Not to mention, as the setting for AMC’s Breaking Bad, the city attracts more than one Walter White fan.

Stay: The gorgeous and hip Hotel Andaluz is housed in a historic building with a luxe vibe and eco-friendly focus. Featuring a rooftop bar and a stunning lobby, the Andaluz evokes the feel of a Spanish resort, yet also honors its own history as a New Mexico landmark with extensive Southwestern art throughout. Read More »

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The Big Easy is already well into the throes of Mardi Gras madness: beads are flying and parades are marching in our favorite southern city. But the final crescendo comes next week on Fat Tuesday, with revelers planning to go all out one more time. Some of our favorite hotels in NOLA are conveniently situated for those looking to join the debauchery—so choose your favorite and then, as they say in New Orleans, let the good times roll.

1. Royal Sonesta Hotel New Orleans 

royal sonesta

 

The Royal Sonesta is party-centric Bourbon Street’s swankiest hotel. Revelers can request a balcony room and watch the eclectic parades of people go by at all hours–be sure to have beads ready to toss out to the masses below! Live jazz and a hopping pool scene make for an even better Mardi Gras experience.  Read More »

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Fun, sun, and…scuba? For many, a trip to the beach just isn’t complete without the possibility of a deep sea dive. Whether you want to explore ship wrecks, meet creatures of the deep, or wonder at gorgeous coral formations, scuba diving can be a fun and athletic opportunity while you’re on vacation. Getting certified is crucial before attempting a dive, and if you choose to give it a go, we’ve compiled some of the best dive sites in North America for you to visit. Some may not realize just how many dive sites await in our own backyard!

1. Dive: Half Moon Caye, Belize

Half Moon Caye in Belize offers divers the chance to go on a wall dive–a dive in which the vertical facades of the earth’s landmasses are explored. The depths at Half Moon Caye (and really at any wall dive) are tremendous, giving you the very correct feeling that you are staring into an abyss. The waters at Half Moon Caye are particularly clear, despite the depth, so you will be able to see all manner of wildlife, including loggerhead turtles, rays, barracuda, and eels.

Stay: Portofino Beach Resort 

portofino

The professional dive shop on-site at the romantic and secluded Portofino Beach Resort is a major draw for adventure seekers. Read More »

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