“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).
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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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
The professional dive shop on-site at the romantic and secluded Portofino Beach Resort is a major draw for adventure seekers. Read More »
If you’re a water sports junkie or think you could become one, these nine hotels are the perfect place to start your vacation planning. It doesn’t matter if you prefer to surf or snorkel — whatever your pleasure, we’ve chosen an awesome hotel for a variety of different activities. So prepare to leave the winter cold behind (and don’t forget your sunscreen).
Where to Stay If You Love…
The Bitter end Yacht Club is a top-notch choice for just about any type of water sports enthusiast, but it stands out for its sailing. The resort’s sailing school, established in 1985, offers a number of classes, including Sailing 101 for newbies (included as part of a seven-night stay). The resort also has its own fleet of 100 vessels, including sailboats and catamarans. This relaxed, family-friendly resort has tech-free rooms featuring stunning views from the balconies and the sliding doors allows breezes to sweep through. Read More »
Traveling with the kids is hardly a picnic, and all too often parents don’t get to do a lot of vacationing on their vacations. If you’re hoping to tantrum-proof your family beach getaway this winter, we have some solutions for you: resorts so ridiculously awesome for kids that your little imps will likely be too busy (and too delighted) to cause you grief. No boredom, no tears — just lots and lots of good family fun.
Brimming with activities for kids and teens, Atlantis is a veritable Caribbean Disneyland. In addition to all the basics (babysitting, cribs, rollaway beds, kids club) the resort has 11 spectacular pools (including several kids’ pools), a 141-acre water park, a speedway for racing remote control cars, and a marine habitat with sharks, stingrays, and dolphins to swim alongside — and that’s just a sample of the attractions. In addition, for teens, Atlantis has an elaborate shopping center, a rock-climbing wall, a movie theater, and, on occasion, a pop-star concert (think Taylor Swift, Katy Perry). Read More »
York Harbor on Maine's coast is a wonderful place to explore
America’s Eastern region is a diverse area filled with just about every type of terrain an active traveler could want: Mountains, marshes, lakes, cliffs, forests, and so much more. We took a trip down the coast, and then headed inland, to some top spots in the East for getting active — from the tip of Maine, to the Florida Keys. Take a look at what we found along the way!
Watersports -- and plenty of other fun! -- await you in the Florida Keys!
The Keys have a little something for everyone — and fortunately, everything can be done under the Florida sun! Whether you want to hit the beach, set sail on the waters, or make some non-human friends, you can find fun in the Keys, from Key Largo to Key West. Take a look at just a few of our favorite Florida activities!
The One-Bedroom Suite at the Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado; Santa Fe, NM
1. FACT OR FAKEOUT? The Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado in Santa Fe offers a couples spa package that costs $300 more than a weeknight stay in the hotel’s most basic room (which, by the way, is pretty luxurious).
2. FACT OR FAKEOUT? The Hyatt Key West Resort & Spa is celebrating its 25th anniversary with a Facebook giveaway contest for a free wedding ceremony and stay at the hotel.
3. FACT OR FAKEOUT? The Fullerton Hotel Singapore has been taken over by the City of Singapore and will be turned into the largest post office in the city.
4. FACT OR FAKEOUT? The Rolling Stones will make a stop at the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas during the band’s 50 and Counting tour.
5. FACT OR FAKEOUT? A hotel employee recently found Amanda Bynes pant-less and smoking, curled up in a corner of the W New York Times Square’s gym.
Check out the answers after the jump!
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Owning a private island is overrated and it’s actually a lot of work — or so we’ve heard from our many island-owning friends. You have to deal with the astronomical taxes, the development, the upkeep — it’s a full-time job (that island owners simply pay other people to do, of course). But visiting a private island? It’s as great as everyone says — and we know from experience. We’ve stayed on some gorgeous private islands in our travels, in equally gorgeous hotels and resorts. Here are six of our favorites:
The pool at Cayo Levantado features a swim-up bar as well as poolside drink service.
The details: The D.R.’s only luxury resort set on its own island, the Gran Bahia Cayo Levantado offers a relaxing atmosphere for couples and families. There are scenic beaches and beautiful pools, and we love the details in the rooms: Four-poster beds, private Jacuzzi tubs, and island-inspired artwork give them a romantic vibe.
How to get there: From the Samana airport, it’s a 45-minute cab ride to the Bahia ferry station. From there, it’s a 10- to 15-minute ferry ride to Cayo Levantado. In lieu of the ferry, you can also hire a private panga boat to take you from Samana. We never said getting to a private island is easy, but it’s certainly worth the flight (…and drive and boat ride)!
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From the cryptic mythology throughout the Mississippi Delta, to the spirits of wartime past down the Atlantic coast, the South has no shortage of spooky adventures. Whether you’re looking for a friendly encounter from the other side, or trying to find a true adrenaline rush by meeting with a tortured (undead) soul, these Southern haunts have plenty of history and unexplained mysteries for thrill-seeking travelers.
Be on the look-out for any "half-headed" cadets at this Charleston hotel
The ghostlore: Charleston prides itself on its chilling past, and it’s no wonder that the town where the Civil War started has its share of lingering souls. One of the city’s most haunted sites is the Embassy Suites hotel in the downtown Historic District. Known as the Old Citadel, the building formerly housed the State Arsenal and military college, which is located just a short drive away nowadays. Legend has it that The Lost Cadet, or “Half Head,” roams the hotel’s halls to this day. The spirit is said to be a young solider missing the top half of his head after losing it to a cannonball. But despite his misfortune, he apparently has a joyful demeanor. Read More »
It seems like everyone has a case of Olympic fever lately, and marine mammals are no exception. They didn’t make it to London for this year’s summer games, but our best dolphin friends down at the Hawks Cay Resort in the Florida Keys may just qualify for the 2016 games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil — look at their form! Even if they’re not quite as popular as those other aquatic Olympians (we’d argue that they’re almost as cute as Ryan Lochte), they still make quite a splash.
Dolphin Connection at the Hawks Cay Resort
Read our caption after the jump, then enter your own in the comments section below!
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