Lake Tahoe

The summertime beach vacation is a much-awaited annual tradition for many. As soon as the weather turns warm, families, couples, and singles alike, flock to shorelines near and far.  Don’t get us wrong — the beach will always hold a special place in our hearts. But when sandy toes and sunburn get to be too much, here are ten great alternatives to the typical beach getaway.

1. Bluffton, South Carolina 

Situated along the May River and bursting with Southern charm, Bluffton might make you feel as though you’ve been transported into a Nicholas Sparks novel. It’s part of a peaceful, beautiful region along the South Carolina coast known as Carolina Lowcountry, where salty marshes meet mossy forests. The Palmetto Bluff real estate development features a small, picturesque village, private homes, an 18-hole golf course, numerous recreation facilities, and a beautiful hotel.

Where to Stay: The Inn at Palmetto Bluff

Stay at the beautiful hotel, of course! The Inn at Palmetto Bluff provides the ultimate Coastal Carolina retreat with all the trimmings…think wrap around porches, rocking chairs, and tons of Spanish moss.  After your first leisurely stroll along historic River Road, you’ll think a quiet winding river really may be better than a packed sandy beach.

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Summer is a time for celebration, family bonding, and — most importantly, in our book — travel. But when vacation extravaganzas to far-flung islands and ancient cities don’t fit into the budget, the answer is not to skip vacation: it’s to nearcation! (Yes, we just made a new word. And we think it’s kinda awesome.) Avoid the cost of flights, currency exchange, and pricey destinations for some spectacular cities that are just a short drive from major U.S. cities — we know where you live… So without further adieu, check out five nearcation destinations that won’t break the bank, but will be just the amazing vacation break that you need!

Atlantic City 

Driving Time from New York City: 2 hours, 25 minutes

Atlantic City

When most people think of Atlantic City, they think gambling, and casinos galore. While that’s certainly a major part of the destination, Atlantic City is also an excellent choice for a wallet-friendly summer vacation that doesn’t have to include time spent at the tables. In fact, this sparkling seaside city offers one of the East Coast’s most impressive lineups of comedy shows, concerts, festivals ,and events, and then piles on plenty of outdoor attractions: sandy beaches, a festive boardwalk (don’t miss the saltwater taffy!), New Jersey’s tallest lighthouse, an aquarium, ballet, sport fishing, golf, museums, trolley tours, surfing and a lot, lot more. (Bonus: Check out our non-gamer’s guide to Atlantic City.)

Where to Stay: It’s easy to score a great deal at one of Atlantic City’s casino hotels, but our value pick goes to the Resorts Casino Hotel Atlantic City. Decked out in Roaring Twenties-themed decor and just steps from the boardwalk, this hotel in an extremely affordable option.

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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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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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The opening ceremony for Winter Olympic Games in Sochi will be broadcast on Friday, February 7th, which means that Olympics fever is nearly here. Those of us who love the Winter Olympics may be looking for a taste of our own Olympics glory – without going to Russia. Luckily, many hotels are allowing guests the chance to partake in the Olympics fun through Olympics-inspired packages. Whether you want to relive Winter Olympics past or simply show off your own winter sports prowess at some of the world’s top winter destinations, these hotels have got you covered.

Resort at Squaw Creek, Lake Tahoe

Resort at Squaw Creek, Lake TahoeThe Resort at Squaw Creek is one of the largest hotels in Squaw Valley, where the 1960 Winter Olympics were held. It’s making the most of its Olympics past with the 1960 Winter Games Penthouse Package, which includes penthouse accommodations for two nights as well as two lift tickets and two adult ski rentals per day, among other offerings. The hotel has a ski-in, ski-out location with lift to Squaw Valley, making it easy for guests to ski the same slopes of long-ago Olympic greats. Read More »

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The weather outside may be frightful, but in these snug hotel bars, things are – well – quite delightful. Our top picks exude warmth and coziness, with features such as leather banquets, wood paneling, strong drinks, and hot fireplaces. Let it snow!

Rose Bar at the Gramercy Park Hotel, New York City

Rose Bar at the Gramercy Park Hotel, New York CityThere’s a reason the Rose Bar is a celebrity favorite. Despite its soaring wood-beamed ceilings, the space feels intimate and exclusive, with a billiards table, big limestone fireplace, and walnut bar. It’s the perfect hideaway on a chill winter’s night. Read More »

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If the upcoming holiday season is already stressing you out, a) we’re glad we’re not the only ones and b) we’ve got just the thing to make that anxiety melt away: A spa weekend with no relatives allowed. Before you stuff the turkey or fill the stockings, book a little you-time with a Swedish massage and maybe even an herbal facial add-on. After all, your entire Christmas bonus doesn’t have to go towards the kids — you’ve been good this year, too! Check out a few of our favorite stateside spas for holiday de-stressing — and then buckle-up for your in-laws’ visit!

Spa: Viceroy Miami

Viceroy Miami The stunning design of the Viceroy Miami will make you forget all about holiday stress.

Phillipe Starck was the design mastermind behind the stunning Viceroy Miami spa, a 28,000-square-foot space featuring 10 treatment rooms, redwood saunas, eucalyptus steam rooms, and a media screening room. The spa also boasts a beautiful water lounge with white marble floors, three whirlpools, a shallow foot-deep reflecting pool, white furniture (some of it in the pool), and floor-to-ceiling bookcases.

Oyster’s Treatment Pick: The Red Island Body Ritual, inspired by the island of Madagascar (we love anything exotic and travel-related!), which promises to “treat your entire body to a holiday of relaxation and hydration.” Now that’s the kind of holiday we had in mind. Read More »

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Hurricane season is upon us, and weather experts are predicting that 2013 is going to be a doozy. But even if you can’t stop extreme weather from happening, at least you can protect yourself on your vacation — provided you pick a vacation destination that is reliably hurricane-free. Here are some top-notch options, as well as great places to stay while you’re there.

Lake Tahoe, California

Though Lake Tahoe may sometimes get serious snowstorms, the cold waters along the California coast mean that hurricanes almost never make landfall in the state (only two have hit in the last 100 years). When they do hit, it’s typically Southern California that is most affected instead. Lake Tahoe safely sits in northern California, where it has 300 days of sun a year and plenty of great year-round vacation activities — swimming, boating, and hiking in the summer, and skiing in the winter.

Lake Tahoe gets 300 days of sunshine a year.

Oyster.com Hotel Pick: Franciscan Lakeside Lodge

This cluster of cabins right on the lake makes a great value pick. While some rooms are tucked across the street from the lake in a darker, tree-covered area, the lakefront cottages have excellent views and open to the sandy beach and a private pier where guests can swim and play in privacy. Kitchenettes make dining in (and saving money) easy. And the heated outdoor pool (open seasonally) is said to be the largest in North Lake Tahoe.

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Forget the beach—nature lovers know that the best way to experience the great outdoors in the summer is to spend some quality time in the mountains. If your idea of summer bliss involves hiking, biking, and swimming, these gorgeous resorts should be just the ticket. And if exotic scenery is a must, you’ll be happy to know that great mountain escapes can be found in tropical locales, too.

The Ahwahnee, Yosemite National Park, California

The Ahwahnee, Yosemite National Park, California

The Ahwahnee, Yosemite National Park, California

Nestled deep amongst the pine trees, cliffs, and canyons of Yosemite is the 123-room Ahwahnee Hotel. The impressive stone and wood structure, built in 1927, is considered a National Historic Landmark. Rooms with views of the Half Dome and El Captain summits are filled with wood and rich tapestries of Native American design. Highlights here include the Great Lounge with 24-foot-high ceilings and a large stone fireplace along with the light-flooded dining room. This hotel is on the expensive side — and parking is limited — but the prime location and views are worth the price tag. Read More »

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