Montreal

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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A city with a vibrant artistic community can mean lots of fun with great live music, terrific street fairs, and a laid-back vibe.  After all, the art scene of a city can define its very culture – and can make for a great getaway. You can stock up on one-of-a-kind artisanal goods by day and take in a different show every night. Or crawl through pubs and rock out to local bands after dark, while gallery-hopping during the day. We picked out our five favorite artsy cities, home to creative communities that deliver a unique flavor. And of course, we tell you where to stay in each!

1. New Orleans

Photo Credit: Katie Harbath, Flickr Photo Credit: Katie Harbath, Flickr

 

New Orleans has always been a cultural mish-mash with Latin, French, African, and Caribbean influences. The bright colors of Mardi Gras only scratch the surface of what this city has to offer. There’s plenty of experimental theater, live music (jazz!!!), and great artistry, as well. Visitors would be remiss if they didn’t check out the art galleries of St. Claude Avenue, especially on Second Saturdays when many galleries showcase their newest and boldest exhibits. If you’re looking to shop or take in some live music, start at the Frenchmen Art Market to pick up some one-of-a-kind jewelry or spectacular wall art and then drift over to Frenchmen Street for a show.

Where to Stay: Royal Sonesta Hotel

After a long day of artistic revelry, relax in some of Bourbon Street’s swankiest hotel digs.  This hotel is home to a hopping pool scene complete with a cabana bar, and live jazz is performed on the premises. You can also do plenty of people watching from a balcony room.

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luxe manorHotels often incorporate themes into their rooms, but these so-called themes are usually “classic elegance,” “boho chic,” or “understated luxury.” In the case of the rooms in this slideshow, however, the themes are a bit more specific — and over-the-top. From a suite that Barbie would approve of, to a room dedicated to David Beckham (and, in particular, his abs), we’ve found some amazing themed rooms and suites that are worth a visit (or at least a look).

Check our these wildly-themed hotel rooms and suites >>

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It's a pink explosion in the Barbie Suite at the Palms!

Hotels often incorporate themes into their rooms, but these so-called themes are usually “classic elegance,” “boho chic,” or “understated luxury.” In the case of the rooms in this slideshow, however, the themes are a bit more specific — and over-the-top. From a suite that Barbie would approve of, to a room dedicated to David Beckham (and, in particular, his abs), we’ve found some amazing themed rooms and suites that are worth a visit (or at least a look).

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Spring is the season for bachelor and bachelorette parties, when engaged couples celebrate their final days of freedom before their summertime nuptials. Of course, bachelor/ette parties head everywhere around the globe to embrace their fleeting singledom, but some destinations are always at the top of everyone’s list. Here, we bring you six of the most popular destinations for bachelor and bachelorette parties. But instead of limiting you to the traditional activities, we also offer alternative options for those looking for something a little different. Either way, these spots are sure to make your party memorable.

1. Las Vegas

Soon-to-be married men partying it up at Tryst at the Wynn.

This one comes as no surprise: Tons and tons and tons of bachelor and bachelorette parties head to Sin City to let loose. Chock-a-block with nightclubs, casinos, pool parties, and strip clubs, Vegas is a massive playground and even the nicest hotels offer relatively inexpensive rates. But that’s all because they know you’ll be spending your life savings on gambling, fine dining, and, often, strippers. Though it used to be just a spot where soon-to-be married men got away, now plenty of bachelorette parties choose Vegas as their destination as well; Kim Kardashian partied at Tao at the Venetian before her ill-fated marriage to Kris Humphries.

Alternative Pick: If stripper shows and packed clubs aren’t your thing, Vegas can still be a great spot for a bachelor/ette party, especially for those on the West Coast who can easily get to the area. About a 30-minute drive from the Strip, Henderson features numerous luxe hotels that are nonetheless relatively reasonably priced and feel miles and miles away. The Westin doesn’t even have a casino; instead, visitors visit the gorgeous spa, enjoy water activities at the beach, relax by the large pool, rent bicycles to explore the property, and take outdoor yoga classes.

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For those with disabilities, the challenges of traveling go beyond just getting to the airport on time and figuring out the TV in their hotel rooms. But fortunately, numerous destinations in the U.S. and abroad continue to work towards making travel for the handicapped as smooth as possible. We’ve visited quite a few spots during our travels and have come up with a list of the most handicap-friendly destinations around the world. First up, Seattle!

Even the Space Needle is a wheelchair-friendly attraction in Seattle.

Seattle, WA

Seattle is continuously ranked as one of the most disabled-friendly cities in the U.S., thanks in large part to its condensed downtown area and public transportation system. Since the city did not begin operating its first rail system until 2009, it is entirely built to comply with ADA standards, unlike older major railway transits in cities such as New York and Boston. The Emerald City also has tons of entirely accessible attractions such as the Seattle Museum, Pike Place Market, and even the Space Needle.

Stay:  Hyatt at Olive 8

This hotel is not only known for its chic and eco-friendly decor and design, but also for its great downtown location and variety of assistance services. The hotel has just about every feature offered in Braille, along with audio-visual smoke detectors and ADA-approved rooms.

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There’s something — should we say a certain je ne sais quoi — about getting away to a spot that’s completely different. A different culture, different food, different people, a different language — all of these things can make you feel worlds away from home (in a good way, of course). And when we’re choosing a destination, we often can’t help but be drawn to French-speaking locales. After all, French is the language of love, and we feel pretty glam when we’re casually searching through our translator conversing with locals in francais. But Paris is sooo last year. (Okay, so that’s a lie — Paris is always fabulous. But work with us here.) So why not visit a French-speaking spot that has, say, a beach as well? Or skip away to a European lakeside locale where French is the official language. If you want to immerse yourself in the French culture, France is certainly not your only option. Check out some of our favorite French-speaking destinations not in France.

Destination: St. Barts

Nicknamed St. Barts, St. Barthelemy in the French West Indies has been a playground to the rich and famous for several decades. Nestled among the Leeward Islands in the Caribbean Sea, it was a French colony until 2007 when St. Barts officially became a “separate overseas collectivity.” French is spoken by many locals (although almost everyone on the island can speak some English) and much of the cuisine has a French flair. This, paired with the fact that almost all food products are imported from France, means meals can be pricey. Seafood, however, including conch — an island specialty — is caught locally. The well-heeled venture out to St. Barts not only for its gourmet restaurants, but also for its high-end designer shops, secluded beaches, and exclusive location. Celebs such as Jimmy Buffet, David Letterman, and Steve Martin own property on the island and are frequent visitors.

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Most people associate springtime travel with crazy parties like spring break, but these five cities are perfect for visiting this season — and will leave you without the boozy side effects. These our some of our top cities to poke around in while the weather warms up.

NEW ORLEANS

Bienville House in New Orleans, LA

Bienville House; New Orleans, LA

Mark Twain once said “In America, there is New York, San Francisco, and New Orleans. Everywhere else is Cleveland.” In what’s arguably one of the most culturally unique cities in the country, it’s easy to see what he meant. Of course, it’s the birthplace of Jazz and home of epic Mardi Gras celebrations, but the city itself has much more depth than that, including legendary cuisine, historic architecture, and a buzzing nightlife. Spring is one of the best times to make your way to NoLa, not only so you can avoid the sweltering summer temperatures, but also so you can take advantage of the New Orleans Jazz Festival, French Quarter Festival, and Bayou Boogaloo.

Editor’s Pick: Bienville House

Check out our other favorite springtime cities after the jump.

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Ah, Spring Break: Those booze-fueled glory days you spent partying in Cancun, Panama City, and Lake Powell feel like they were just yesterday. Unfortunately, it’s a lot harder to convince yourself (and those around you) that someone beyond the age of 22 should still be hitting the beaches with throngs of college kids. Luckily, there are plenty of places for the mature, modern man to take a spring break of his own without feeling like a seventh-year senior. These party spots offer more than just shooter girls and wet t-shirt contests.

Palm Springs, California

The Swim Club Pool at the Ace Hotel and Swim Club; Palm Springs, CA

Not so long ago, Palm Springs was a sleepy desert town that catered to geriatrics. Then a little festival called Coachella was born and the scene hasn’t been the same since. The cool kids flocking from L.A. on the weekends have supported the rise of an awesome nightlife scene in a town that caters to everyone from dirty hipster to rock god.

Hotels to Check Out: Just like at its sister properties, the parties at the Ace Hotel and Swim Club are the stuff of legends. The two pools host music events each weekend (usually with well-known DJs), and rooms are decked out with amenities like turntables and iPod docks.


Check out more Spring Break spots after the jump.

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Lobby at the Loft Hotel, Montreal

Lobby at the Loft Hotel, Montreal

This all-suites hotel is located in the Latin Quarter, a lively area in Downtown Montreal, in a 1920 Art Deco building that once operated as a parking garage. The 50 huge rooms (starting at 800 square feet) come with full, modern kitchens and sleek, contemporary decor — but the renovated warehouse feel isn’t for everyone, and some guests have complained of lingering quirks. Don’t expect a typical hotel experience, as there are no services whatsoever (no fitness center, no restaurant on-site, no business center), only a rooftop terrace with great downtown views, and three event spaces.

See the full review >>

The Loft Hotel, Montreal

The Loft Hotel, Montreal

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