Austin

The number of local craft breweries is at an all-time high in the United States. From coast to coast (and everywhere in-between), privately-owned breweries are producing delicious brews for every palate. Hoppy IPAs, robust ales, and refreshing pilsners are just some of the offerings on parade, and lucky for beer aficionados, many of these breweries (micro, or otherwise) welcome visitors for tours and tastings. Some even have full-fledged restaurants on-site that pair their pints with delicious plates. So pack the kegerator and find a willing d.d. because it’s time for a brew-cation. We’ve tried beers all over the country and, after plenty of boozy research, have picked out the seven best cities in the U.S. for beer. Plus, we’ve got great hotel recs in each city where beer lovers will feel right at home.

1. Portland, Oregon 

portland

Boasting the highest concentration of breweries of any city in the world — over fifty in the metropolitan area, if you’re curious — Portland tops our list. Large-scale operations have rubbed shoulders with small craft breweries in the Rose City since the 1980s, and micro-breweries and nano-breweries (breweries that generally produce four barrels or fewer) are popular destinations for locals and tourists alike. Deschutes Brewery, Hopworks Urban Brewery, and Upright Brewings are perennial favorites, but there are endless offerings in this quirky beer-loving-hipster-friendly city.

Where to Stay: Ace Hotel – Portland

This funky boutique emphasizes style above all else, and features cool decor touches such as reclaimed school chairs, nightstands made out of books or suitcases, turntables, and stacks of vinyl records. Hotel highlights include a local, organic breakfast in the breakfast room, a great happy hour scene at the Clyde Common lobby bar, and aromatic coffee at the beloved Stumptown Cafe. Read More »

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It’s hard to resist the complex flavors and rich history that comes with drinking a glass of vino. And heck, it’s hard to resist sipping on wine even without all that history…but it is noteworthy — and fascinating: In a process dating back to 6000 BC (well before the Romans epitomized the drink across the Mediterranean), the transformation from crushed grapes to delectable alcoholic beverage has been an important part of the human tradition — whether it be celebratory, religious, you name it.

From the Greek Isles to Australia’s Yarra Valley, from Chardonnay to Shiraz, some variation of the grape stuff can be found the world over. And for the discerning traveler looking to explore a region’s gustatory offerings, many wineries await with open arms (and free-flowing wine) to offer tours of their operation and — most importantly — samples of their best vintages. Picturesque backdrops set the scene across the globe for a truly delicious (and perhaps tipsy) experience. So whether you’re a wine aficionado or an eager wino student, pack your bags and make sure to bring a corkscrew, because these far flung locales have just the bottle of wine for you.

1. Napa Valley, California

napa

Napa Valley — home to some of the most charming cities in the U.S. — is also one of the world’s best wine-growing regions, with hundreds of wineries sprawling across the rolling hills. Wineries can occasionally feel a little touristy (it’s not uncommon to see a tour bus parked outside), but perhaps that’s inevitable in one of the world’s top wine-tasting destinations. The valley is actually divided into fourteen sub-regions, each suited to a particular grape, so you can map your tour based on your wine preferences.

Where to Stay: If you’re daydreaming of a luxury stay in the heart of wine country — complete with impressive views, rustic-luxe charm, and lavish  amenities — you can’t do much better than the Harvest Inn. Each guest receives a bottle of wine upon arrival, and many rooms overlook the neighboring vineyards of St. Helena.  Read More »

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A waterfront vacation doesn’t have to mean a trip to the beach. River locales, such as charming San Antonio or rugged Snoqualmie, offer plenty of the same draws as oceans and lakes. Flowing past some of America’s best cities, around mountain ranges, and through desserts, these rivers are the optimal alternative vacation spots for boating, fishing, hiking, and more while on vacation. So get ready to dive into our favorite river destinations.

1. May River in Bluffton, South Carolina 

The May River is just one corner of gorgeous Carolina Lowcountry.

Carolina Lowcountry is a truly other-worldly corner of the United States. Here, salty marshes and mossy forests are connected by scenic waterways. The May, Cooper, and New Rivers wind through the region’s haunting landscapes, providing visitors with unique ways to soak in the beauty of the region. Boating and kayaking are popular, especially since bottlenose dolphins are common in this area. You can also go fishing, crabbing, or shrimping.

STAY:  The Inn at Palmetto Bluff

This “inn” in Carolina Lowcountry is really more akin to a sprawling estate, offering a range of recreational facilities, including golf, bicycling, tennis, croquet, kayaking, and swimming; plus, the luxury spa is highly acclaimed. Read More »

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For many people across the country, fall means two things: Back to school, and football season. And for many college alumni, it can mean both of those things at once – fall is the time to visit the ol’ alma mater for Homecoming and watch your college team (hopefully!) beat the pants off its biggest rival. Because nothing says fall like tailgating and face paint. To help you plan your trip, we’ve found great hotels near a number of universities across the country; it’s hard to be comprehensive with so many great Homecoming celebrations out there, but this should help bring some of you closer to Homecoming glory.

Stanford University, Palo Alto

Garden Court Hotel, Palo Alto

Garden Court Hotel, Palo Alto

In town to watch the Cardinals play? The Garden Court Hotel is a standout boutique hotel in Downtown Palo Alto, located on a quaint tree-lined street just off of University Avenue and a short drive from Stanford’s campus.  The hotel’s beautiful rooms are the highlight; they have elegant white-and-blue decor, upscale amenities, marble bathrooms, and in many, balconies overlooking the quaint courtyard. Read More »

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The term “hipster” has a lot of connotations these days, but we think we have a pretty good idea of what it means when it comes to travel. If you’re a hipster, you’re probably the type who won’t want to stay somewhere mainstream — and certainly not a major chain. You’re the type who appreciates what’s cool, yes, but in a way that is interesting and different. You love anything eco-friendly and organic.

Sound at all familiar? Fess up. We at Oyster have a special spot in our heart for hipster travelers. After all, they, like us, have high standards when it comes to choosing a hotel. They’ll often gravitate toward spots that are uber-trendy, quirky, or extremely green, and with that in mind, we unearthed some of the best hotel options in the world for the hipster set.

Wythe Hotel, New York City

Wythe Hotel, New York City

Wythe Hotel, New York City

The Wythe Hotel is a hub for hipster travelers and locals alike. With a hopping rooftop bar boasting jaw-dropping views of Manhattan, a wonderful restaurant, and cutting-edge industrial design, the Wythe is a destination unto itself. It’s located near the subway as well as dozens of restaurants, bars, and shops in the heart of trendy Williamsburg, Brooklyn, a neighborhood boasting one of the highest concentrations of hipsters in the country. Rooms are spacious and have high pine ceilings, reclaimed wood furnishings, and great amenities, including flat-screen TVs; local, hand-made toiletries; free Wi-Fi, and radiant floor heating. Read More »

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Hotel Ella, Austin, Texas

Hotel Ella, Austin, Texas

If there’s one word that can describe the ethereal beauty and warm ambiance of the South, it’s charming. And what better way to celebrate this corner of the United States than by reveling in a little bit of history during your visit? These mansions — most of them dating back to the 1800s — represent the epitome of Southern charm. So pack your bags and head for the Mason-Dixon Line: It’s time for some proper front porch sittin’.

 

 

 

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Sedona provides the perfect hiking grounds for your next trek.

The Southwest is one of our favorite places to get physical thanks to its crisp, high-altitude air; gorgeous terrain; and earthy, holistic vibes. And though there may be tons of incredible national parks throughout the region — including Arches, Zion, and the Grand Canyon — other lesser-known areas prove to be just as majestic. Take a look at just a few of our favorite places in the Southwest to get fit and reconnect with Mother Nature!

 

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Having a pool in your hotel is always a great perk when traveling in the summer, but there are many other seasonal hotel amenities that can make a trip special. Part of our job here at Oyster is to experience the property in full, and we never miss a chance to make the most of our visit. We’ve done everything you can imagine, from zip-lining in a snowstorm to bird-watching binoculars in hand — all for the sake of a complete review. These are our favorite summer amenities and where to find them.

Loaner bikes: Paradise Point, San Diego

The best way to explore this private island is on a bike.

The best way to explore this private island is on a bike.

Plenty of hotels offer loaner bikes for guests to use during their stay, but few are located on a 44-acre private island where the best way to explore is on two wheels. Sea World San Diego and Pacific Beach’s shopping and dining are just a short bike ride away – so leave the car in the hotel’s parking lot and enjoy the sea breeze in your hair.

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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 that 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.

Calling all patriots: Washington, DC wants to celebrate with you.

If you want to go hardcore patriotic, there really isn’t any place better to be this Memorial Day than Washington, D.C. (Especially since NYC had to go and cancel Fleet Week due to the sequestration.) 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?!). The National Memorial Day Concert, hosted at the Capitol Building, is always a special event, and this year’s affair features appearances by General Colin Powell and actor Gary Sinise, in addition to several military bands and the National Symphony Orchestra. 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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Since its birth, rock and roll and hotels have gone hand in hand. Whether it involves bands hitting the road on tour, infamously trashing a suite, or taking up temporary residence while working on an album, there’s an unmistakably inspirational quality to booking a room and letting loose. Luckily, a few hotels understand this relationship and offer their guests the ability to live like a rock star with some over-the-top music amenities. We strapped on our Stratocaster and hit the road to show you the hotel rooms bound to make music fans weak in the knees.

“You Spin Me Right Round (Like A Record)”: Hotel Saint Cecilia

Front Desk at the Hotel Saint Cecilia

Austin is a city that’s known for its hip music scene and hip crowds. It’s not surprising, then, that the Hotel Saint Cecilia has done away with a traditional front desk in favor of a cool collection of vinyl records and a turntable that guests are free to use. (The hotel is named after the patron saint of music and poetry, after all.) In-room record players and iPod docks make it easy to take the party back to your room, where decor reflects the artistic lifestyle Austin loves to support.

“Two Turntables And A Microphone”: Ace Hotel NY

Medium Room at the Ace Hotel NY

Like the Hotel Saint Cecilia, the Ace Hotel NY harkens back to a time when vinyl was king. Rooms have curated touches like Music Hall turntables with a vinyl library that allows guests to put their own spin (ha!) on their in-room entertainment.

“While My Guitar Gently Weeps”: Hard Rock Hotel Chicago

Hard Rock Hotel Chicago

By now, most people are familiar with the Hard Rock chain’s style of decorating their properties with rock memorabilia and photographs, and this hotel is no different. What sets it apart is the “picks.” program, which allows guests to test-drive Strats, Telecasters and other “surprise” models in the comfort of their rooms. Staff will deliver the ax (or bass) of your choice to your room, along with an amp and headphones so you can rock out without damaging your neighbors’ eardrums. You can find further inspiration in the décor: each floor is themed after a different artist, from Madonna to John Lennon. Just make sure you don’t pull a full rock star moment and trash your room.

“It Needs More Cowbell!!!”: Geejam

Recording Studio at the Geejam

Just because you’re on vacation doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be able to lay down tracks. Luckily, the Geejam agrees: There’s a fully functional recording studio on-site. Producer-turned-hotelier Jon Baker built the studio back when the resort was a secluded, private artists’ retreat. Some serious notables have laid down tracks here, including Bjork, Common, the Gorillaz, and India.Arie. The focus on music carries throughout the property — eclectic reggae music plays in public areas — all the way back to the rooms themselves. All rooms are musically themed suites and villas with names like the Ska Suite or the Drum and Bass Suite, featuring plenty of rock-inspired artwork. All suites come stocked with high-tech entertainment systems including iPod docks and AppleTVs that are preloaded with an impressive selection of reggae and soul music.

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