Napa Valley

It’s hard to resist the complex flavors and rich history that comes with drinking a glass of vino. And heck, it’s hard to resist sipping on wine even without all that history…but it is noteworthy — and fascinating: In a process dating back to 6000 BC (well before the Romans epitomized the drink across the Mediterranean), the transformation from crushed grapes to delectable alcoholic beverage has been an important part of the human tradition — whether it be celebratory, religious, you name it.

From the Greek Isles to Australia’s Yarra Valley, from Chardonnay to Shiraz, some variation of the grape stuff can be found the world over. And for the discerning traveler looking to explore a region’s gustatory offerings, many wineries await with open arms (and free-flowing wine) to offer tours of their operation and — most importantly — samples of their best vintages. Picturesque backdrops set the scene across the globe for a truly delicious (and perhaps tipsy) experience. So whether you’re a wine aficionado or an eager wino student, pack your bags and make sure to bring a corkscrew, because these far flung locales have just the bottle of wine for you.

1. Napa Valley, California

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Napa Valley — home to some of the most charming cities in the U.S. — is also one of the world’s best wine-growing regions, with hundreds of wineries sprawling across the rolling hills. Wineries can occasionally feel a little touristy (it’s not uncommon to see a tour bus parked outside), but perhaps that’s inevitable in one of the world’s top wine-tasting destinations. The valley is actually divided into fourteen sub-regions, each suited to a particular grape, so you can map your tour based on your wine preferences.

Where to Stay: If you’re daydreaming of a luxury stay in the heart of wine country — complete with impressive views, rustic-luxe charm, and lavish  amenities — you can’t do much better than the Harvest Inn. Each guest receives a bottle of wine upon arrival, and many rooms overlook the neighboring vineyards of St. Helena.  Read More »

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Rain usually isn’t an element vacationers seek; in fact, it is often purposely avoided, whether that means picking a rain-free destination or visiting a spot during its dry season. Yet some of the rainiest destinations around the globe are also the most beautiful, and they are all the more enticing during their wet seasons when the crowds are few and the natural surroundings are lush. Here are eight spots where we’ve found the silver lining; these rainy destinations are gorgeous, and definitely deserve a visit this spring.

Costa Rica

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Costa Rica is one of the wettest destinations in Central America, but it’s thanks to the constant rain that it is also one of the most beautiful. The country is home to lush rainforests, dozens of national parks with a rich diversity of flora and fauna, and long white-sand beaches. If you visit towards the end of the spring, you’ll be traveling during Costa Rica’s rainiest season which means crowds are fewer (in fact, Costa Rica is still relatively undeveloped and uncrowded year-round compared to its Caribbean counterparts), the surroundings are uber-lush, and, also like spots in the Caribbean, rain often lets up for sunny mornings.

Where to Stay: Lapa Rios Ecolodge & Wildlife Reserve

Lapa Rios, located in the remote coastal rainforests of the Osa Peninsula, is Costa Rica’s original luxury eco lodge. This is the opposite of a Cancun-style beach resort — guests come to the upscale Lapa Rios to enjoy the spectacular surroundings, learn about sustainable tourism, and re-connect with nature.

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A romantic date is a requirement on Valentine’s Day if you’re in a relationship, but if you really want to impress your significant other, a lovely weekend getaway is just the ticket. And with February 14th falling on the Friday of President’s Day weekend this year, its the perfect time to escape with your honey. So if you need a little inspiration for where to go and stay, check out the five most romantic hotel rooms we’ve ever seen. These will be sure to fire up some love (and lust!) for the holiday!

Junior Suite at Eden Roc, Cap Cana; Dominican Republic

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For true foodies, a vacation that doesn’t involve mouth-watering cuisine is hardly worthy of the title. In fact, food can often be a major focus of a trip; it’s hardly uncommon for the taste connoisseurs among us to plan a foodcation. And in our opinion, it should all start with your hotel. If you stay somewhere with a truly phenomenal restaurant right on the premises, your foodcation will be off to a wonderful start. Whether you’re heading to New York City for its famous fine dining, California wine country for its earthy farm-to-table fare, or Mexico for an elaborate upscale meal on the beach, we’ve got a first-rate foodie hotel for you. Take a look at the top hotel restaurants we’d travel for in the U.S., Mexico, and Caribbean.

Dry Creek Kitchen at the Hotel Healdsburg, California

Dry Creek Kitchen at the Hotel HealdsburgCharlie Palmer’s Dry Creek Kitchen is one of the best – and best-known – restaurants in the Sonoma area, and for good reason. The farm-to-table, seasonal menu features items such as California Sea Bass with sweet corn fondue and Sonoma County Liberty Duck with crispy sunchokes. The restaurant’s outdoor terrace is situated under a shady arbor. Read More »

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Pool at the Auberge Du SoleilThis 50-room luxury inn is one of the most exclusive (and expensive) destinations in California wine country. Despite its intimate size, it has all the amenities of a larger resort: a 7,000-square-foot luxury spa, a lovely pool, and a Michelin-star restaurant. Views of the surrounding countryside are phenomenal, the grounds are lush and peaceful, and the homey rooms all come with huge terraces (and, in most, fireplaces and soaking tubs). It’s a truly special, romantic retreat, and it’s location in Rutherford is convenient for exploring Napa Valley — but note that there’s nothing within walking distance. Read More »

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California’s sandy beaches, towering redwoods, rolling hills, world-renowned wineries and rugged coastal cliffs make it one of the most scenic –and romantic — destinations anywhere. And many of its hotels and resorts were designed with couples in mind, capitalizing on lovely views and tranquil atmospheres. Our top picks are truly special, intimate retreats with one-of-a-kind settings.

Bernardus Lodge, Carmel Valley

Vineyard Romance Spa Treatment at Bernardus Lodge, Carmel Valley Vineyard Romance Spa Treatment at Bernardus Lodge, Carmel Valley

This 57-room rustic-luxe retreat in Carmel Valley sits in a lovely setting among rolling hills and vineyards. Details such as vaulted beamed ceilings, wood-burning fireplaces, and country-inspired decor help create an atmosphere that is homey and cozy. Rooms are large and comfortable with stone fireplaces, feather beds, and plush white bedding, and big bathrooms feature walk-in showers and two-person soaking tubs. Appealing amenities include an outdoor pool, pool bar, and inviting spa where wine-based treatments are available. It’s a sophisticated, romantic spot in Carmel Valley. Read More »

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For outdoorsy types, a tiny basement fitness center at the hotel just isn’t going to cut it. For them, a great vacation is all about getting outdoors — and being in a stunning natural setting to boot. Luckily, there are plenty of fantastic resorts around the world offering a range of activities right on-site, from horseback riding to water sports to fishing to stargazing. Check out our faves.

Calistoga Ranch, Napa Valley

Calistoga Ranch, An Auberge Resort, Napa Valley

Calistoga Ranch, An Auberge Resort, Napa Valley

Calistoga Ranch was designed with Mother Nature in mind: All the modules for the property’s 48 exquisite private lodges were flown in by helicopter to minimize impact on surrounding trees and to maximize privacy. The 157-acre property offers abundant outdoor activities, including hiking (there are a number of trails on-site), outdoor yoga, a beautiful heated outdoor pool, a bocce court, and a fabulous fitness center. After all that exercise, there’s no need to feel guilty about indulging at one of the wine tasting seminars (this is Napa, after all). 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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Gorgeous Napa Vineyards

by Devon on May 14, 2013

California’s Napa Valley attracts plenty of visitors each year with its gorgeous scenery, gourmet eats, and, of course, some of the best wineries in the world. While Napa has other great draws, its wineries are an undeniable source of inspiration for most visitors to the region. So drink in the best that Wine Country has to offer with a look at a few of our favorite Napa stays with impressive vineyards right outside their doors.

Auberge Du Soleil, Rutherford

The view of Auberge du Soleil and the surrounding vineyards

With only 50 rooms, this countryside resort is one of the most exclusive in the entire Wine Country region. With a stunning location between the Rutherford Hill winery next door and hundreds of other nearby vineyards, the Auberge du Soleil boasts one of the most dramatic landscapes in the area. Added bonuses are its Michelin-stared restaurant and lovely sculpture garden.
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Getting Outdoors in Napa Valley

by Devon on April 11, 2013

Even the non-connoisseur has a reason to visit Napa!

Northern California’s gorgeous Napa Valley region has tons of wino-centric activities to offer throughout its lush, rolling hills and endless vineyards. But there’s also plenty to do here even if you’re not a wine connoisseur, from biking, to hiking, to hitting the Napa River. Take a look at our favorite outdoor activities in stunning Napa Valley.

 

 

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