California

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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Stunning views of Big Sur's cliffs can be seen throughout the property.

This week we’re taking a behind-the-scenes look at the Ventana Inn & Spa in Big Sur, which hosted billionaire Sean Parker’s nuptials this past weekend. Parker, of Napster and Facebook fame, wed singer-songwriter (and baby momma) Alexandra Lenas in a ceremony at the resort on June 1. Situated on more than 200 acres of picturesque oceanfront land, the property looks like a rustic cabin nestled in the woods — making it a gorgeous setting for a wedding. And Parker isn’t the first big-wig to notice that fact either: Natalie Portman and Benjamin Millepied tied the knot here last year (albeit in a much more low-key ceremony). Find out what makes Ventana so swoon-worthy — and get details on Parker’s $10 million wedding — after the jump »  Read More »

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Couples take note:  It’s not necessary to leave the country to experience some of the world’s most romantic hotels. We love exotic locales, but those looking for something closer to home can find some truly decadent escapes right in our own backyard. Our five favorite picks all have lovely waterfront settings on oceans, waterfalls, or lagoons, as well as pampering service and ultra-luxurious accommodations. Check ‘em out!

The Inn at Palmetto Bluff, South Carolina

The Cottage Suite - River View, Inn at Palmetto Bluff

The Cottage Suite - River View, Inn at Palmetto Bluff

This “inn” in Carolina Lowcountry, really more akin to a sprawling estate, provides a one-of-a-kind experience that uniquely blends southern history and almost otherworldly natural beauty: rivers, misty marshes, old oaks draped with wispy Spanish moss, and salty breezes. The main hotel building looks like a classic southern mansion, and the 50 Cottages and Cottage Suites are simultaneously homey and utterly luxurious, with working fireplaces, screen porches, and gorgeous bathrooms. The multi-bedroom Village Homes are also luxurious, but lack some of the nuances of the cottages. Guests can enjoy a range of recreational facilities, including golf, bicycling, tennis, croquet, kayaking, and swimming (in the two pools), and the luxury spa is highly acclaimed. It’s not an overstatement to say that the Inn at Palmetto Bluff is one of the most special properties in the entire country.
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Romantic Eco-Friendly Stays

by Devon on May 16, 2013

The Brentwood Bay Resort & Spa is just one of our favorite eco stays!

For eco-minded couples, choosing the right getaway means finding a spot that pleases both your partner and Mother Earth. Some couples opt for an au natural vibe on their trips, while others just want to practice a clean-conscience approach to travel. For those who love tree-hugging just as much as they snuggling up with that special someone, we’ve found the best hotels for environmentally-friendly duos who don’t want to skimp on the romance.

 

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Summertime is fast-approaching and we can’t wait till the days of top-down convertibles, cover-ups and flip-flops dress codes, and mini weekend getaways. After all, a share can be great but there’s something about a spontaneous trip to the beach to really make it feel like summer. So whether your home base is New York or Los Angeles, D.C. or San Francisco, or even Boston, we have a beach destination that can easily be reached via a quick road trip. So grab a map, your sunglasses, and some road trippin’ munchies, and make your escape!

Weekend Getaway from New York City: Montauk

Travel time: 2 hours, 30 minutes via car

Visit Montauk before the "too cool" Hamptons vibe has rubbed off on it.

It may seem cliche, but there’s a reason why Manhattanites flock to the Hamptons come summer. Home to upscale restaurants, trendy workout clubs, quirky shops, and of course, beautiful beaches, it offers a nice reprieve from the congestion and smog of the city — while maintaining that cool (and sometimes snobbish) city vibe. Montauk, located at the furthest tip, however, has a more laid-back feel; residents fear that a recent influx of visitors will taint its unpretentious reputation, but for now it’s a nice alternative to the ultra-exclusive vibe of other Hamptons.

Where to Stay: A cool party spot, Sole East attracts a young, beautiful crowd. With a tasty on-site restaurant, a small pool with loungers, and beach cruisers available for rent, it’s a great pick.

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The heated pool at the Blancaneaux Lodge in Belize is just on surprisingly luxe green amenity

We don’t mind sacrificing a little comfort during our travels if that means reducing our carbon footprint. But then again, not all eco-conscious hotels call for lights out and cold showers. The 10 hotels that make our list of those with the best eco-friendly perks aren’t all LEED-certified, but they still know that going green makes guests and Mother Earth happy. So here’s our salute to some great stays that are doing their part to reduce, reuse, and conserve with these awesome green amenities.

 

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Summertime will soon be upon us — this week has already seen highs of 82 degrees in NYC! — and we can’t wait for long days spent strolling along the boardwalk. From Atlantic City to Santa Cruz, beach bums will strut their stuff down those sandy pathways, either taking in the views or letting loose on beachside coasters (or both!). Foodies will delight in summer treats such as saltwater taffy and Nathan’s hot dogs, and visitors can also play games, have their fortunes told, hit up unique shopping grounds, or just people-watch as the summer heat brings out some truly interesting characters. So bust out your flip-flops, spread on the SPF, and head to one of these boardwalks near you for some spring and summer fun in the sun.

1. Atlantic City Boardwalk, New Jersey

The Atlantic City Boardwalk is the oldest in the United States and the longest in the world.

First opened in 1870 and now spanning 5.5 miles, the Atlantic City Boardwalk is both the oldest in America and the longest in the world, garnering plenty of attention from East Coast visitors. Travelers fantasize about the Art Deco glamour and glitzy shows of Nucky Thompson‘s heyday while munching on saltwater taffy from the James Candy Company (in business since the early 1900s) or indulging in an order of deep-fried oreos. Others may try their luck in one of the many casinos that dot the boardwalk. Though Atlantic City was hit hard by Hurricane Sandy, loyalists are helping this shore spot bounce back with a vengeance.

Where to Stay: Mainstays such as Caesars bring back loyal guests, while boardwalk newbie Revel has been a hot topic in the tabloids (Beyonce performed her first post-baby show here, and Kanye announced that baby momma Kim Kardashian was expecting during his performance at the resort).

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Some destinations always come to mind when people think of beach getaways: Waikiki Beach in Hawaii, Miami’s South Beach, and the crowded sands in Cancun. Some spots, however, are often overlooked and it makes them that much better. Fewer people, untouched nature, you name it; underrated beach destinations are hidden gems that can be just what you’re looking for. Check out our list of nine underrated beach destinations — and make a trip before the secret is out!

Vieques Island, Puerto Rico

Vieques Island is surrounded by gorgeous, clear waters.

This unique little island offers travelers pure, undeveloped land, mainly thanks to the US Navy’s former use of a good portion of the island. The Navy left in 2003, however, and the land it once occupied is now a national wildlife refuge. Tourists to Puerto Rico often don’t leave the mainland as it takes an extra puddle-jumper to get to Vieques and there are few tourist attractions. Instead, attractions are nature-oriented: The island’s stunning, untouched white-sand beaches and famous bioluminescent bay are the highlights, but it also features walking trails, 300-year-old trees, and some of the top snorkeling spots in the country.

Where to Stay: The quaint Inn on the Blue Horizon is a smaller, more affordable option compared to the nearby W Vieques. The inn features phenomenal ocean views, pretty Mediterranean-style architecture, and wild horses roaming the grounds.

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One Bal Harbour Resort bathrooms have some of the best views in the Miami.

Some people prefer to read a magazine in the restroom, but we’d much rather gaze out over a stunning view. There’s nothing we love more than exotic sights, no matter where we’re taking in the view — the shower, tub, or elsewhere. From Hong Kong to Miami, Boston to Barcelona, here are our favorite hotel views from the best seat in the house.

 

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We kind of hate to be sharing our best-kept secrets, but it’s our job, after all. So today we’re opening the vault of our favorite hidden gem hotels in California. From quaint, oft-overlooked boutiques in Los Angeles to tucked-away spots just minutes from the beaches of Carmel, we have nine picks for our favorite unknown (until today) hotels in the Golden State. Just please use some precaution when passing on the details — we don’t want to have to share these spots with just anyone.

1. Tradewinds Carmel

Surrounded by lush foilage, Tradewinds is a quiet sanctuary just a short drive from the beach.

The 28-room Tradewinds Carmel has a Zen vibe throughout the hotel — from the courtyard, complete with Buddha statues, a small waterfall, and a tranquil fire pit, to the rooms, decorated with Asian printsstalks of bamboo, and orchids. The rooms are large and feature well-decorated bathrooms with nice soaking or Jacuzzi tubs, but like many small hotels in Carmel, the Tradewinds lacks a fitness center and a spa (though in-room spa treatments are available). Still, it’s a quaint, cozy pick and is just a short drive from the beach.

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