Maine

Don’t get us wrong, we love a good mega-resort just as much as the next person. But sometimes the large crowds, all-you-can-eat buffets, and 24-hour casinos make for an overwhelming stay. When we seek quieter, more intimate getaways, we head to these cottages, inns, and bed-and-breakfasts for some R&R.

Hidden Pond, Maine

Hidden Pond

If you’ve ever dreamt of living in the wilderness, but cringe at the bare bones nature of Thoreau’s stay in Walden, then consider Hidden Pond; it’s got all the seclusion and beauty you crave, with the upscale amenities you can’t live without. Spread over 60 acres in Kennebunkport, the individually decorated bungalows and cottages are cozy, with bright pops of color and some cabin-esque touches (think Ralph Lauren meets woods). The tree house-like spa is a nice perk, as is the organic vegetable farm, and the outdoor bar and restaurant with awesome seating around a fire pit.

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Staying in a New England inn during foliage season is the quintessential fall vacation. If you’re conjuring up images of historic mansions, elegant antiques, thick oriental rugs, and cozy fireplaces for those crisp fall nights – well, you’re right on the money. These ten inns all have charm to spare.

Ale House Inn, New Hampshire

Ale House Inn

The cozy 10-room Ale House Inn — more suited to adults than families — is housed in a historic 130-year-old former brewery warehouse a block from downtown Portsmouth. Room decor is minimalist, hip, and chic, but there isn’t much to this boutique hotel other than a small lobby and common area with free snacks. There is no on-site restaurant or bar, but the Market Square District location means shops and dining are nearby. The hotel gives free tickets to the Seacoast Rep Theater, which is located on the ground floor, and a free local beer upon arrival. Each room is equipped with a pre-loaded iPad that includes a ton of information about Portsmouth.

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A crackling fireplace, hot apple cider, vibrant leaves…these are just a few of the (amazing) things we associate with fall. And taking a cue from the dropping temperatures, at this time of year, hotels begin to entice travelers not with their refreshing pools or sandy beaches, but with cozy autumn amenities. From bed-and-breakfasts perfect for prime foliage viewing to city hotels that successfully capture a country vibe with fun activities like pumpkin carving contests, these seven picks are sure to make the transition from summer to fall a pleasant one. Just save some pumpkin pie for us!

In-Room Fireplaces: Fifteen Beacon, Boston

Fifteen Beacon

A 63-room upscale hotel with exquisite service and sleek decor in residential Beacon Hill, Fifteen Beacon (or XV Beacon) offers a luxury boutique experience. The building, constructed in 1903, blends historic New England elegance with modern, minimalist design and high-tech amenities. Expert concierges, free chauffeur service in a Lexus, and a location at the top of Boston Common make this hotel a great fit for discerning business or leisure travelers. Rooms are spacious, with stylishly masculine decor, and our favorite feature for fall are the working gas fireplaces. There are switches conveniently by the bed to turn on both the fireplace and stereo, so you can stay cuddled under the covers.

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Today is the first official day of fall, and while saying goodbye to the summertime is no easy feat…well, we don’t really have a choice. But to be honest, we’re looking forward to the days of football and beer, leaves crunching under our boots, and crackling fireplaces. And nowhere in the country does the fall season better than New England. So whether you’re planning a getaway to Massachusetts or Rhode Island, Vermont or New Hampshire, or Connecticut or Maine, we have a fun fall activity to get you in the seasonal spirit!

Go: Pumpkin Picking in Vermont

VT pumpkin picking

New England is replete with pumpkin-picking patches and Vermont has some of the best. While Stowe is often associated with winter skiing, it’s also prime for fall picking. With tons of open space and rolling hills, it is home to numerous farms where visitors can pick apples, pumpkins, and other produce.

Stay: Stowe Mountain Lodge

Stowe Mountain Lodge is one of the top luxury properties in Vermont, and offers rustic elegance throughout — from the impressive lobby with floor-to-ceiling windows to the bright, contemporary rooms. This property has a lot in the way of amenities, particularly for the area: an inviting spa, big outdoor pool with mountain views, acclaimed restaurant, state-of-the-art fitness center, 18-hole golf course, and great children’s program. 

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Here at Oyster, we love a good book anytime of year – but there’s something about the fall that encourages us to curl up with a new read. Maybe it’s the shorter days and roaring fireplaces… And since travel and reading often go hand-in-hand (how many times have you gotten through an insanely long layover with a good book?!), we put together a list of worthy titles for your next trip — and paired them with a perfectly suited hotel, of course.  Let us know which books you’re loving this fall in the comments section below. Happy reading!

Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned” by Lena Dunham

Wythe

Ms. Dunham’s hotly anticipated collection of personal essays has been tauted by some of the best in the business, including David Sedaris and Judy Blume.  Fans of HBO’s Girls are sure to love, and laugh at, Lena’s written take on everything from traveling in Israel to her childhood therapy sessions to dating at a liberal arts college in Ohio. The book is aimed to give Millennials life advice, but readers of all ages will recognize parts of themselves in this occasionally cringeworthy tell-all. The book hits stores on September 30th.

Read it here: Wythe Hotel, New York City

We suggest reading Not That Kind of Girl at the Wythe Hotel in cool-kid mecca Williamsburg for a taste of Girls favorite borough.

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For many of us, long days at the office, stress, and errands can get in the way of a healthy lifestyle. So we often look at our vacations not as a chance for a calorie binge (well, not always), but as a chance to hit the reset button and get back to our exercise and fitness regimens. And those who do manage to stay fit year-round may not want to part with their healthy lifestyle choices when they go away for a week or two. After all, there’s a lot to be said for the mind-body connection — and considering that September is Yoga Month, it feels like there’s no better time for a calming, healthy getaway. From a rustic yoga retreat to a luxe private island escape, these are the 14 best spots for a health and wellness vacation.

Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat, Bahamas

Yoga Retreat

Those looking for a relaxed vacation with some yoga thrown in should look elsewhere. This is a serious ashram by an established group (there are nine Sivananda Yoga Ashrams throughout the world) and the 5:30 a.m. wake-up bell proves it. Guests focus on postures, breathing, positive thinking, and meditation, and have some free time to take advantage of the beautiful beach setting. Seemingly a world away from neighboring mega-resort Atlantis, this five-and-a-half acre oasis has a range of accommodations from tents to Beachfront Suites (most rooms have shared bathrooms, though). Two vegetarian meals are prepared daily right after each two-hour yoga class , while morning and evening satsangs (a mix of meditation, chanting, lectures, singing and dancing) help create a sense of community. Extra workshops and lectures are built into the daily schedule, and there’s a wellbeing center for massage treatments and Ayurvedic body treatments.

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With everything that’s going on in the world today, it’s nice to occasionally be reminded that simple things do exist — and they’re what counts, right? So sometimes a holiday in the big city surrounded by tall buildings, swarms of people, and a constant cacophony — while invigorating — doesn’t quite match the mold in mind for your relaxing getaway. Cue: a visit to America’s Main Streets — the cute and quaint places that remind us of our roots and that it’s perfectly okay to spend the day sipping lemonade from a rocking chair (after all, you are rocking). Luckily, for every hundred or so shiny glass hotel towers crammed onto big city blocks, there are a handful of adorable hotels in quaint towns with classic character and cozy features. So head towards Main Street — because there’s nothing more comforting than nibbling on a warm slice of Americana and admiring the view from a friendly wraparound porch. Here are our top ten picks.

Hob Knob, Martha’s Vineyard

Hob Knob

Centrally along a quaint stretch of Main Street, the Hob Knob is a welcoming bed-and-breakfast with a well-landscaped yard and wrap-around porch. Of course, in high-tourist season the prices reflect its status as a popular boutique — but in a lot of ways, you do get what you pay for. Rooms are spacious and comfortable with Berber carpeting, luxurious European linens and bathrobes, lovely Classic American-cottage decor (though some rooms feel more tended to than others), and pretty bathrooms with marble sinks. Other highlights include the free organic, full-farm breakfast, and the fact that downtown Edgartown is a short walk away. This place isn’t really geared toward families, though — children under the age of seven aren’t allowed, and teens would likely be bored by the lack of a pool on-site.

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Maybe it’s the summer heat that’s getting to us, but lately we’ve been loving the idea of showering outdoors. We guess we’ve just decided that there’s no better way to cool down and wash away inhibitions than with an outdoor scrub down. Since we think you might be feeling the summer heat, too, here’s a list of 10 of our favorite hotels that have private outdoor showers — some even have outdoor baths!

GoldenEye Hotel & Resort, Jamaica

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GoldenEye’s cottages and villas are hip and stylish without seeming out of place in Jamaica. Jalousie shutters and hardwood floors add an authentic island feel, while luxe details such as clawfoot bathtubs and kitchens featuring designer appliances are a cut above what is found at most other Jamaican resorts. All units have views of either the serene lagoon or the ocean, and come with private porches equipped with lounge chairs, tables and chairs, and even kayaks. But we love the outdoor showers (and bathtubs!) where you can soak and soap in a beautiful, open-air garden setting.

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Hay! How about a visit to the ‘ole barnyard for your next getaway? Hotels on working farms allow you to leave the fast-paced city life behind — at least for the weekend — and hit the country to hone your farming chops. But don’t worry; the farmtastic resorts that make our list offer all the amenities of a swanky hotel. It’s more like they just happen to encourage guests to rise with the roosters as well. With so many animals roaming about and so much open land to explore, you may just want to pull in the reins on your texting habit and take a digital break during your stay, too. (Again, not to worry — you don’t have to.) Just be sure to pack the overalls, buckaroo – your hands may get dirty!

Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort; Solvang, CA

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Set on a 10,000-acre working cattle ranch in California’s Santa Ynez Valley, Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort is the kind of place that breeds cowboys. It’s a step back in time to the Old West, but with all the amenities. Expect charming, western-style rooms, and plenty of ranch activities. At the Barn Yard, guests can help bottle-feed goats, calves, miniature horses, and sheep. Animal lovers can also gather eggs, and groom and exercise the animals in the corral. Cart rides with miniature horses are a favorite among younger guests, while grownups can ride into the sunset on one of the property’s beautiful thoroughbreds.

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Happy National S’mores Day! Yes, today is National S’mores Day and it’s one summer holiday we think everyone should celebrate! The first official s’mores recipe was published by the campfire-savvy Girl Scout Handbook in 1927, and it has remained a sweet favorite thanks to its chocolatey deliciousness that gets people asking for “some more.” Needing only three simple ingredients – graham crackers, toasted marshmallows, and chocolate bars – s’mores are the go-to dessert for fireside dwellers, both young and old. We found 12 hotels that love these sweet concoctions as much as we do and are great spots for roasting marshmallows over a fire pit. Grab your family, friends and neighbors and get cooking!

Carmel Valley Ranch, Monterey County

Carmel Valley Ranch

Carmel Valley Ranch is a 500-acre property offering modern luxury in a rustic, bucolic setting, with tall oak trees, organic gardens, and rolling vineyards. The ranch’s many features include two outdoor pools — the River Ranch Pool, featuring a splash zone for kids, and the Lodge Pool — as well as an 18-hole golf course designed by Pete Dye. Rooms have small private decks and travertine fireplaces, but we recommend heading out to one of the seven fire pits. Every night a (free) s’mores bar is set out at the Lodge Restaurant for guests to enjoy. That’s an amenity we wish every hotel had.

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