Myrtle Beach

For those looking to ditch the typical 300-square-foot hotel room in favor of a more spacious pad, you are in luck. These days, more and more hotels are catering to the ever-growing crowd that seeks a home-away-from-home vibe by offering guests super-sized suites with tricked-out amenities. Whether its granite kitchen countertops, extra wiggle room, stunning views, added bathrooms, or a bevy of French doors — these hotels all give that spacious apartment vibe any claustrophobic would approve of. And to be clear, these feel less like our tiny studio apartments in NYC and more like the sprawling penthouse pads we can only dream about. So dream on >>

Aqua Soleil Hotel & Mineral Water Spa, Greater Palm Springs

Aqua Soleil

The larger rooms at Aqua Soleil look straight out of a Pottery Barn or West Elm catalogue. Each suite comes with a king bed, kitchenette, and large balcony with a view of the San Jacinto Mountains, as well as two flat-screen TVs with DVD players and a nice bathroom with a walk-in shower. (Some rooms even have their own personal pool!) This mid-range, 95-room hotel has limited curb appeal, but once on the property’s grounds, guests will find it is attractively landscaped and includes desert flora, a pool and spa filled with mineral water, and seating areas gathered around fire pits.

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Summertime will soon be upon us — this week has already seen highs of 82 degrees in NYC! — and we can’t wait for long days spent strolling along the boardwalk. From Atlantic City to Santa Cruz, beach bums will strut their stuff down those sandy pathways, either taking in the views or letting loose on beachside coasters (or both!). Foodies will delight in summer treats such as saltwater taffy and Nathan’s hot dogs, and visitors can also play games, have their fortunes told, hit up unique shopping grounds, or just people-watch as the summer heat brings out some truly interesting characters. So bust out your flip-flops, spread on the SPF, and head to one of these boardwalks near you for some spring and summer fun in the sun.

1. Atlantic City Boardwalk, New Jersey

The Atlantic City Boardwalk is the oldest in the United States and the longest in the world.

First opened in 1870 and now spanning 5.5 miles, the Atlantic City Boardwalk is both the oldest in America and the longest in the world, garnering plenty of attention from East Coast visitors. Travelers fantasize about the Art Deco glamour and glitzy shows of Nucky Thompson‘s heyday while munching on saltwater taffy from the James Candy Company (in business since the early 1900s) or indulging in an order of deep-fried oreos. Others may try their luck in one of the many casinos that dot the boardwalk. Though Atlantic City was hit hard by Hurricane Sandy, loyalists are helping this shore spot bounce back with a vengeance.

Where to Stay: Mainstays such as Caesars bring back loyal guests, while boardwalk newbie Revel has been a hot topic in the tabloids (Beyonce performed her first post-baby show here, and Kanye announced that baby momma Kim Kardashian was expecting during his performance at the resort).

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Float along a lazy river in Myrtle Beach -- a sure wya to feel like you're on vacation!

Float along a lazy river in Myrtle Beach -- a sure way to feel like you're on vacation!

Continually ranked as one of America’s best family beach destinations, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina offers visitors plenty to do. For families, there are activities such as mini-golf, an aquarium, and funky novelty shops and museums, while couples and young adults can indulge in the lively (if a bit cheesy) nightlife and plethora of inexpensive restaurants and bars. And of course, its 60 miles of sandy shoreline adds to the city’s appeal. We’ve come up with a guide to the must-do activities in Myrtle Beach, and where to stay when you’re there. Get inspired and soak up these last few weeks of summer in this beachy town.


Nothing says summer in America quite like barbecue. From one corner of the country to the other, rival pitmasters start off the season with a fresh bag of charcoal, some genuine Southern hospitality, and a hankering to cure the nation’s hunger. And the swine — you can’t forget about the swine.

Last weekend, New York City welcomed over a dozen of the nation’s greatest barbecuers for a good ol’ fashioned block party at the tenth anniversary of the Big Apple Barbecue. And as New Yorkers gorged themselves on tender meats, refreshing slaws, baked beans, and (fried) pies, the definition of good barbecue reached a whole other dimension.

But don’t worry — it’s not only New Yorkers who get to enjoy the stuff. We sought out four of our favorite chefs from the fest and found out just exactly where each of their restaurants call home. And what’s the best thing to do after some serious chowing down? Resting your head for a nap, course. Check out some of the greatest BBQ joints across the country — and the perfect hotel to compliment your pork-laden journey.

City to Visit: Las Vegas

Mike Mills houses the whole hog.

The Pitmaster: When you’re the only barbecuer with top security clearance to board Air Force One, you best know your way around a hog. Mike Mills certainly does. Presiding over six restaurants—including four 17th Street Bar & Grill restaurants in Southern Illinois and two Memphis Championship Barbecues in Las Vegas—Mills is a barbecue institution. His title-winning baby back ribs were falling-off-the-bone delicious, as were his baked beans that started off sweet but ended with a kick of heat.

The Pitstop: If Southern Illinois isn’t in your destination wheelhouse, consider going to one of Mills establishments in Las Vegas. Just a twenty minute ride from The Strip, both Memphis Championship Barbecues offer you plenty of places to stay nearby. Oyster recommends The Mirage, where you can compare “The Legend” to the on-site BB King’s Blues Club, which serves up Southern cuisine to the back beat of some the greatest musical legends.

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Few people know how to take it easy better than South Carolinians. After all, some of the most popular activities in the Palmetto State are iced tea sippin’ and front porch sittin’ — and who can blame them? Especially with the intense heat that Southern summers bring, locals and visitors need plenty of spots to just be lazy. And fortunately for them, we found five incredible ones. So put your feet up and check out these prime spots for lounging; it’s time to sloooow doooown.

Lazy Spot #1: The Chrysanthemum Room’s Porch at The Jasmine Inn — Charleston

Porch in the Chrysanthemum Room at The Jasmine House Inn -- Charleston

Porch in the Chrysanthemum Room at The Jasmine House Inn -- Charleston

Housed in a beautifully renovated mansion built in 1843, the Jasmine House Inn has all the charm of a B&B and the comfort of an upscale hotel with an ideal location in downtown Charleston. The 12 large rooms emulate that good ‘ole Southern vibe, particularly ones like the Chrysanthemum Room, which features a large second-story porch overlooking a tree-lined street. Escape the heat on one of its shaded wicker sofas.

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Although we’re a day late on the Monday morning goodness (sorry, we were relaxing on our very own staycation), we figured we had to share a beach shot to keep us in the summer mindset — not that we need any help — it’s almost 90 degrees at 10 AM here at Oyster HQ in NYC. This morning we’re dreaming of the white sands at the Myrtle Beach Marriott Resort & Spa at Grand Dunes — more specifically, kicking our sandals off and walking down that wooden bridge to sink our feet into that white sand. But alas, we’re here to work people! So as we say every week, sit back, relax and soak in the goodness that is the Myrtle Beach Marriott Resort & Spa at Grand Dunes.

Myrtle Beach Marriott Resort and Spa at Grand Dunes

I can see for miles and miles and miles...