National Parks

Life's a beach.

 

When we leave home, we always have a hard time parting with our pup (or cat, or bird, whatever). A week can feel like a really long time without with man’s best friend — which is precisely why hotels around the country are bolstering their pet-friendly programs to make furry family feel special during vacation, too. Check out five prime vacation spots for you and Fido to bark about after the jump!

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Even though Hawaii is known for its breathtaking beaches, the 50th state actually offers much more than just a swim in crystalline waters and great waves to surf. Discover the archipelago’s wonders — away from its sandy stretches — with this selection of activities we’ve come up with for you. From the soaring cliffs of the Waimea Canyon in Kauai to the Pearl Harbor Memorial in Oahu, Hawaii will win the hearts even of those who are allergic to relaxing on lounge chairs under the sun. Check out the best sun-safe activities to do while visiting any of the islands — just make sure to slather on some SPF first.

Road to Hana, Maui

Road to Hana, Maui; Maui, HI

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One of the perks of the upcoming long weekend (besides immortalizing the great Martin Luther King Jr, natch) would be that all of the 397 U.S. National Parks will offer free admission from Saturday through Monday. Sweet deal, right? We scoped out some of our favorite parks — and some amazing hotels to go along with them, of course.

NATIONAL PARK PICK: LINCOLN MEMORIAL; WASHINGTON, DC

Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C.

Lincoln Memorial; Washington, D.C.

Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech — a speech which ultimately became the defining moment of the American Civil Rights Movement — on the Memorial’s steps. There are dozens of activities planned for the weekend, including a children’s recitation of the speech, an event remembering the Korean War Veterans and even a family-oriented “quest,” designed for children to learn more about Dr. King — and to have some fun, of course!

Splurge Stay: The Hay-Adams

The Hay-Adams

The Hay-Adams; Washington, D.C.

This is quite possibly the most famous hotel in the capital, and deservedly so. The Obamas here in 2009, two weeks prior to the President’s inauguration, and long before that friends John Hay (Abraham Lincoln’s private secretary) and Henry Adams (the author and descendant of John Quincy) built their homes on the plot of land where the hotel now sits. The Hay-Adams draws powerbrokers from around the world with its impeccable service, a great bar and restaurant, and elegant rooms, some of which overlook Lafayette Park and the White House.

Steal Stay: River Inn

River Inn

River Inn; Washington, D.C.

The 125-room River Inn offers great value. Its 450-square-foot suites have full kitchens and pullout couches; add in free perks like Wi-Fi, bike rentals and Bally Total Fitness gym passes, and you’ve got yourself a sweet deal.

CHECK OUT MORE NATIONAL PARKS AND HOTELS WE HEART >>

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OK, so even though Oyster.com is a travel website and our main goal is to deliver the truth about hotels, we also secretly moonlight as a life coach. That’s right, we can dole out advice on waaaay more than just hotels; don’t forget — we helped you get over your ex, offered Lindsay Lohan some sound legal advice, and dissected the key moments in Kris and Kim’s “marriage” (if you can call it that) that lead to the split. So yeah, we’re basically the new-and-improved Dr. Phil with a ton of travel tips to boot. To help transform your lifestyle, we scoured the globe and found the destinations best suited for changing your life for the better. (We guess some people can handle the total transformation at home but a vacation is always nice, right?) So grab a friend who’s also in need of a little improvement and head to Oyster’s top five picks for transforming your life! Check ‘em out below or on Shape.com.

Sunday Farmers' Market in Washington, D.C.

Sunday Farmers' Market; Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C.

Ranked by PETA as one of the most veg (and vegan)-friendly cities in the country, Washington, D.C. is the perfect spot to transform your diet. Going vegetarian is all the rage (Meatless Monday, anyone?) — it’s been proven to be good for your heart, your skin, and your immune system – and D.C. has tons of vegetarian and vegan-friendly restaurants. But even if you’re just looking to increase your veggie intake without completely swearing off meat (I mean, have vegetarians never had a hamburger before? Hard to give up, don’t you think?), D.C. is a good place to be. With the First Lady’s “Let’s Move” nutrition initiative, the capital is all about you getting your three to four servings of fruits and veggies (each!) every day. Read More »

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Some people are so focused during their workout that they hardly notice where they are, let alone which famous faces may be passing by them. And we applaud those people who dedicate the utmost concentration to their fitness regimen. But some of us may have a wandering eye while working on our fitness (hey, it doesn’t hurt to see the toned bods of fellow exercisers). For that extra bit of motivation, we’ve come up with a list of the best workout spots for star sightings – and which hotels to stay in to be close to the fitness hotspots. Check ‘em out below or head over to Shape.com.

Credit: Mark Savage/startraksphoto.com

Credit: Mark Savage/startraksphoto.com

Runyon Canyon Park

It seems like tabloids feature photos of celebs running, hiking or walking their dogs in Runyon Canyon Park every week. At 160 acres, this park offers hiking trails of various difficulties, so it’s no surprise that stars of every age and fitness level are spotted here (and the no-leash policy means it’s also a popular spot for bringing pooches on a stroll). The three main trails are Runyon Canyon Road, Star Trail, and Hero Trail. Named for the celebrities who grace it, Star Trail is a moderate hike while Hero Trail is the most challenging thanks to its super steep inclines. Josh Duhamel and his wife, Fergie, are often spotted jogging together, and Khloe Kardashian Odom was recently spotted alongside her hubby Lamar Odom and her brother, Rob. When Scarlett Johansson was getting hot and heavy with Sean Penn (remember those five minutes?), she and her then-boyfriend got hot and sweaty on a jog with pal Owen Wilson.

WHERE TO STAY: Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, L.A., Calif.

The 300-room Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, an L.A. landmark, is a luxe, hip hotel that’s  just a 10-minute walk from one of the park’s entrances. The hotel combines the shimmer of silver-screen history with a cutting-edge party scene, centered around a massive pool (perfect for a post-workout dip) and a bar, plus a casual restaurant open 24 hours. Service is surprisingly good (lacking the snobbery of some upscale L.A. hotels) but the rooms, though well designed, are smaller than average.

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Flower in the Limahuli Gardens

Hibiscus Flower in the Limahuli Gardens, Kauai

Limahuli Gardens, a National Tropical Botanical Garden, offers a rare glimpse into an authentic Hawaiian cultural site amidst beautiful rare plants and flowers. The gardens are on the lower portion of the Limahuli Valley on the ma’uka (mountain side) of the road, a short drive from the Hanalei Colony Resort and only a 20 minute drive from the Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas. Read More »

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