Maine

Although the ski slopes are a draw, New England’s cold winters sometimes scare visitors away– but come the warmer months, the region turns into a bustling destination with beachgoers, outdoors enthusiasts, foodies, and even visitors whose only plans are to watch the world go by from a chair on the front porch of a quaint B&B. From Maine to Rhode Island, New England offers endless options for those looking to relax — be it with friends, family, or their better half. We picked out five activities so no matter with whom you’re traveling, you’ll have a great time.

For families: Seal-watching on Chatham Lighthouse Beach, Cape Cod

Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket are mostly known for their miles of sandy beaches and famous visitors (we missed you last year, Mr. President). It’s a favorite among couples in need of some R&R, but there is tons for families to do as well. One of the most fun activities when traveling with kids is seal-watching in Chatham, probably the most charming New England beachside community. While seals can be spied from several spots, one of the best places to catch a peek is from the shores of Chatham Lighthouse Beach, which Harbor and Grey seals call home every year when the warm weather sets in. Just remember to stay at a safe distance!

Stay: Chatham Bars Inn, Chatham

Rooms and suites are large enough to fit in a rollaway.

Rooms and suites are large enough to fit in a rollaway.

Nestled near the heart of Chatham on 25 scenic acres overlooking Pleasant Bay, Chatham Bars Inn has been a local staple since 1914. The true Cape-Cod style architecture is complemented by lovely interiors to match — upholstered wingback chairs, antique-style turned-leg furnishings, and seafaring decor. But don’t let the term “inn” fool you, this property is big and amenities-packed, with a beautiful spa, modern fitness center, scenic beach, fine dining, private chartered boats, and classic clay tennis courts. Thanks to the large pools (including a kiddie pool) and an extensive kids’ club, the Inn is a popular choice for families.

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Most hotels remain open throughout the year, even when off-peak season means low occupancy and less-than-ideal weather. But some hotels choose to shutter their doors and windows during this time, triumphantly reopening in the warmer months — and often boasting some upgrades, to boot! These hotels sure know how to build our anticipation; we can’t wait to get back to them! So without further adieu, here are our five favorite hotels that are reopening for the spring and summer.

Hidden Pond; Kennebunkport, ME

Reopening Date: May 2nd

Some of the cottages at Hidden Pond feature outdoor porches and screened-in patios.

Spread over 60 acres, Hidden Pond features 36 suite-like bungalows and two-bedroom cottages. While each have their own personality, they are all bright, homey, and sophisticated, characterized by pops of color and lodge-like touches (such as stone fireplaces adorned with antlers, and a lamp made from a tree branch). The spa is set up to resemble a tree house, and free yoga classes are held at the organic farm (where guests may also pick fresh flowers and veggies). Another outstanding feature is the outdoor bar and grill that sits on a “sand bar,” with chairs circled around fire pits. This upscale boutique hotel attracts couples with its tranquil environment and top-notch restaurants, as well as families with its cottages that include full kitchens and washer/dryers. The hotel also provides a free shuttle to the beach, which is just a five-minute drive away.

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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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In our Oyster Stats series, we’re sharing surprising tidbits on a range of topics using data we’ve accumulated from our hotel coverage and site traffic. Our goal is not to provide scientific data but to provide interesting directional insights about travel trends.

If you think you’re a smart shopper, you may have to think again. Because according to our research, some states are getting a lot more bang for their buck when it comes to hotels — and the results are pretty surprising.

Essentially, people from certain states are doing a better job of finding the lowest price possible for the highest pearl rating possible, guaranteeing a more luxurious stay at a smaller cost. Others, however, are not so savvy. Shelling out more money for a hotel with a lower pearl rating, these shoppers get a lot less pearl per dollar than their compatriots across state lines. Just check out how the numbers break down:

Here we show how the price per pearl differs among our best and worst shoppers. Our best shoppers in Nevada can, theoretically, book a five-pearl hotel for $290 per night, whereas New Yorkers, our worst shoppers, would pay $445 per night for a five-pearl property.

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The property overlooks a pretty lake.

The property overlooks a pretty lake.

The Dockside Guest Quarters hotel is a quaint option in York Harbor, which attracts numerous visitors in the summer with activities such as surfing, hiking, and golfing. But there’s something to be said for cozying up at this 25-room inn during the colder months. Large, bright rooms feature simple seaside-cottage style. Though the decor in each room varies slightly, most rooms feature shades of blues and yellows, stripes and flower prints, and balconies overlooking the sail boat-dotted water. Some even include fireplaces. The hotel lacks amenities like a fitness center and a pool, but the Dockside hotel is still a great value, as guests enjoy perks such as free bicycle rentals, free Wi-Fi, and free breakfast in the often-crowded breakfast area. Overall, it’s a tranquil option for couples and families looking for rustic charm. See more incredible photos after the jump or read our full review now»

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America has spoken! The faces of our government may not have changed too much in recent days, but some of the laws that make it up sure have. After all, the 2012 elections brought about a lot of firsts on the national and state level, including (but not limited to) famous victories in Colorado and Maine. In honor of some new state laws (that have surprised — and delighted — and outraged — quite a few people), we’re hitting the road to take full advantage of our rights as U.S. citizens. Come along for the ride!

The Vote For: Legal Highs

You can get Rocky Mountain High at the Hotel Monaco in Denver

While federal laws may keep a tighter leash on the whole situation, several states this election passed marijuana laws that allow pot possession. Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize the recreational use of marijuana for adults 21 and older, and we some people we know are ready to break out the Cheetos and spark up a fat one (and, yes, the law allows non-resident protection under new legislation).

To celebrate these state’s historic firsts, visitors and locals can book a room at the super-chill (and somewhat trippy) Hotel Monaco in Denver. The boutique hotel boasts a great downtown location for convenient munchies options, quirky and stylish rooms to get creative in, and free evening wine receptions so you can share all of your very important ideas (or at least they’ll seem so at the time) with strangers.    Read More »

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Halloween looms in the near future (though we must confess, we’ve been planning our costumes for months) and we’re doing just about everything we can to get into the spooky spirit. Carving pumpkins? Check. Watching a scary movie? Check. Visiting a spooky spot? Check. In fact, some of our favorite hotels are not only home to quaint rooms, delicious restaurants, and friendly staff — they also host resident ghosts. Fortunately, most of these shady figures are reportedly nice enough, but it certainly gives us a little chill when checking-in. Especially when we’re visiting the chilly Northeast. Continue reading — if you dare — to learn more about the spooky specters that haunt the Northeast’s hotels.

The Hotel: Jailhouse Inn, Rhode Island

Enter the Jailhouse Inn...if you dare...

Enter the Jailhouse Inn...at your own risk...

The ghostlore: Originally built in 1772, the Jailhouse Inn occupies what used to be the old Newport County Jail. In keeping with the jail theme, the inn features interesting little artifacts and details throughout, such as iron bars over the lobby front desk, framed articles about famous criminals, and signs directing guests to “solitary” and various “cell blocks.” Stories abound of ghosts visiting the Jailhouse, so if you keep your eyes open perhaps you’ll see one too — especially if you stay on the third floor. Guests have felt cool gusts of wind when it’s hot outside and no windows are open, and others have heard whispering voices that can’t be explained — all evidence of paranormal activity.

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Fall into autumn at Freeport's James Place Inn.

As the locals would say, Maine is a “wicked pretty” place to live — and it’s a great spot for a visit, too. Beachgoers, skiers, and snowboarders find as much to do as gourmands, nature explorers, and history seekers in the Pine Tree State. But across the board there is one constant: B&Bs reign supreme. From seven-room inns to luxurious spa stays, the bed and breakfast is alive and well in this northernmost New England spot. Here, we’ve compiled some of our favorite spots to bed up and mug down in Maine, just in time for some leaf peeping.

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Gone are the barbeques and beaches of summer, and in are the crisp air, pumpkin spices, and crunching leaves of fall. (Not that we’re complaining — our hair looks way better now.) Now that autumn is on the verge of its commencement, we’re ready to drive up to New England to wander around and soak in the vibrant folliage. But to take the trouble out of where to go, we’ve found the best locales  in the region for “leaf peepers,” as they are known, to explore the lush outdoors and curl up with some apple cider after with a loved one.

Visit: Providence, Rhode Island

The Christopher Dodge House has plenty of seasonal treats for Providence's fall guests

Stay: Christopher Dodge House

As one of New England’s most populated cities, Providence still has small town charm with its big city draws. Though the Rhode Island capital boasts its share of fine dining and high-end boutiques, Providence is the quintessential getaway for leaf peepers, filled with rolling, tree-lined walkways and lush park gardens. For the best view of the changing leaves, the Christopher Doge House sits in a residential neighborhood on the outskirts of town, and is still just a short walk from neighboring green spaces like Roger Williams Park. After exploring the golden outdoors, guests can head back to the B&B and relax with a cup of hot tea and cookies around their in-room fireplaces, all before the early sun starts to set. Read More »

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When planning a destination wedding, the first locations that come to mind are likely postcard-perfect beaches in the Caribbean or some other exotic sandy setting. However, if you’re not quite ready to spend a fortune — or you don’t want to put that burden on your guests — there are tons of gorgeous, inexpensive (or shall we say, less expensive) destinations in the U.S. that make for memorable weddings. And it’s always nice a change of scenery! Just because you’re not Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner doesn’t mean you can’t have your own beautiful destination wedding, so we’ve put together a list of our favorite spots for a more affordable event to help you decide.

Destination #1: Vermont

Vermont, with its quaint villages and scenic landscapes, is probably your best bet for a back-to-nature inspired wedding. If you can totally see yourself posing for the pre- or post-wedding photos along tumbling streams, thick woodlands and gorgeous views, search no more. Its small, cozy inns and B&B’s are perfect for intimate weddings and small receptions, and the green meadows and steep mountains make for great backgrounds when saying your “I Do’s.” You will probably need a car or a shuttle to move your guests around, as Burlington’s is the only major airport serving the entire state, but the scenery and the vibe will prove to be well worth it.

Oyster’s Fave Value Wedding Spot: Swift House Inn

The Swift Room at the Swift House Inn; Mid Vermont, VT

Vermont's kitschy B&Bs are perfect venues for intimate weddings and family affairs.

The historic Swift House Inn is located within walking distance of downtown Middlebury, a picturesque New England town, with traffic-free streets lined by locally owned shops, art galleries, and restaurants. The hotel’s 20 rooms are spread throughout the Main House (formerly a Governor’s Mansion), the Carriage House, and the Gate House. Room decor varies, allowing guests to choose a room depending on personal style. Some rooms offer a classic New England B&B vibe with floral wallpaper, fireplaces, and four-poster beds, while others are more understated, with soft-toned walls and tasteful furniture. One of the inn’s highlights is its delicious and free breakfast, and an on-site restaurant, Jessica’s, is a popular destination for both guests and locals.

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