New Orleans

The beauty of reading a good book is that it transports you to a whole different world — without ever costing you a penny. Whether James Joyce guides you through Dublin or Hemingway fixes you a drink from his home in Key West, literature opens pathways to other dimensions that never require a passport. But sometimes the imagination needs a dose of reality to fully grasp the whole picture. Other times, an author’s words so imbue a reader’s mind, he or she cannot help but pack up bags to experience the same sights, sounds, and smells that gave birth to a favorite novel. Poets, novelists, and playwrights give us a little bit of their world on every page — and now it’s our chance to take a bit more for ourselves. The best destinations for book lovers are enumerable: Every person has a favorite author, and every author has a different world view. But there are some spots around the globe that possess just a bit more of a literary spark than others. So pack your bags — and your favorite paperback — because we’re going on a trip perfect for any bookworm.

1. Dublin, Ireland 

dublin

The Irish have a reputation for storytelling, and with good reason. A UNESCO City of Literature, Dublin the home of James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, Bram Stoker, W.B. Yeats, Samuel Beckett, George Bernard Shaw, and countless other prominent literary figures — and you can visit several of their homes during your visit. At Trinity College, visitors can take a look at one of the most famous books in the world, The Book of Kells, dating back to 800 A.D. And, once night comes, be sure to take part in the Literary Pub Crawl that takes you to some of the city’s best pubs with an acting troupe in tow portraying some of your favorite scenes from Irish literature. The James Joyce Museum, the Dublin Writers Museum, the Chester Beatty Library, and the Long Room at Trinity College are among other popular literary sites.

Stay: Dunboyne Castle Hotel & Spa

The Dunboyne Castle Hotel & Spa is located about half an hour northwest of Dublin’s city center. The historic property — an 18th-century castle turned Georgian house, turned convent, turned hotel — sits on beautiful green grounds, making it a popular spot for weddings and events. The location allows visitors to see more of the country that inspired Ireland’s great writers, and with a library, restaurant, three bars, and several golf courses nearby, there is plenty to keep guests entertained. Read More »

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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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This weekend, New York City will truly be the “City That Never Sleeps” as throngs of locals and visitors alike rock out at the fourth annual Governor’s Ball. This three day music fest features headliners Outkast, Jack White, and Vampire Weekend, as well as dozens of others from across the musical spectrum. And next weekend, a dusty stretch of Tennessee will see thousands of  people camp out in the name of all that is rock ‘n roll at Bonaroo, where Mumford & Sons, Passion Pit, Paul McCartney, and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis lead a stellar line-up. It may be too late to book your tickets to either of these extravaganzas (of course, anything’s possible if you’re willing to pay ten times the original price on StubHub), but that doesn’t mean you have to kiss your quest for the perfect summer music fest goodbye. With June’s arrival comes a slew of stages across the United States that are set to get you dancing well into the summer nights ahead. Featuring everything from bluegrass to dupstep, these ten summer music fests are not to be missed. And true to form, we’ll tell you where to stay for each too.

1. Electric Daisy Carnival 

Photo Credit: Keith Hamm, Flickr Photo Credit: Keith Hamm, Flickr

Taking place in Las Vegas from June 20-22, EDC is an electronic music-lover’s (trippy) dream. Essentially one large rave replete with dubstep beats and neon lights, EDC attracts over 300,000 to The Strip for a chance to hear major DJs, such as Above & Beyond, Avicii, Martin Garrix, and Eric Prydz, spin into the wee hours. 

Stay: EDC takes place about a half hour away from The Strip, at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. But unlike at other festivals, revelers are not allowed to park on premises, and the Nevadan heat forces many to find A/C elsewhere. Thankfully, Vegas has plenty of hotel options at hand. The Palms, known for its crazy parties and celebrity stopovers, is an apt choice for festival-goers.  Read More »

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When you’re in the mood for love but only have a few days to spare, a weekend getaway — in a destination that won’t take all weekend to get to — is just what you need. And if you choose a hotel with features like private fireplaces, Italian linens, enormous soaking tubs, and spectacular views, your few days can add up to a perfectly romantic escape. Here are seven romantic hotels in hometowns across the United States that are great for a quick getaway with your better half.

Captain's House Inn

Captain’s House Inn, Cape Cod

There’s something inherently romantic about New England’s historic inns, charming hospitality, and breezy beaches. Cape Cod’s Captain’s House Inn revels in this trifecta, adding cozy ambiance with English country decor, in-room fireplaces, and soaking tubs. An adults-only policy (no children under 10) and a delicious gourmet breakfast (as well as afternoon tea) add to the romantic vibe.

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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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The Big Easy is already well into the throes of Mardi Gras madness: beads are flying and parades are marching in our favorite southern city. But the final crescendo comes next week on Fat Tuesday, with revelers planning to go all out one more time. Some of our favorite hotels in NOLA are conveniently situated for those looking to join the debauchery—so choose your favorite and then, as they say in New Orleans, let the good times roll.

1. Royal Sonesta Hotel New Orleans 

royal sonesta

 

The Royal Sonesta is party-centric Bourbon Street’s swankiest hotel. Revelers can request a balcony room and watch the eclectic parades of people go by at all hours–be sure to have beads ready to toss out to the masses below! Live jazz and a hopping pool scene make for an even better Mardi Gras experience.  Read More »

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It’s a tradition to wine and dine your significant other on Valentine’s Day for a reason; after all, the way to a man’s heart (and many women’s as well) is through his stomach, and a candlelit meal with plenty of tasty treats and booze can be just the thing to kick off a romantic evening. With the amorous holiday falling on a Friday this year, there’s even more reason to celebrate in style, as plenty of delicious hotel restaurants are featuring special menus for the occasion. Here are the seven most romantic hotel restaurants across the U.S. for this Valentine’s Day.

Cleo at The Redbury at Hollywood and Vine, Los Angeles

redbury Aptly located at Hollywood and Vine, the Redbury is an eclectic boutique hotel that attracts a young, and sometimes famous, clientele. Along with the spacious, apartment-style rooms, the on-site Mediterranean restaurant, Cleo, is a major draw; the warm, cozy space serves tasty small plates and signature cocktails. For Valentine’s Day the restaurant is offering a prix fixe menu at $65 per person which includes mezze for the table followed by a choice of second course and entree. Dessert is a sexy flourless chocolate cake with roasted banana, chocolate parfait, and chili doughnuts.

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Forget the haunted house. Those looking for a ghostly encounter this Halloween can get up close and personal with departed spirits in the luxury of a hotel room. Because who says you shouldn’t have room service while you’re feeling spooked? These hotels across the country allegedly have some very active poltergeist activity – so prepare for some chills and thrills on your next overnight stay.

The Biltmore Coral Gables, Miami

Biltmore Coral Gables, Miami Biltmore Coral Gables, Miami

Originally opened as a playground for the rich in 1926, the Biltmore Coral Gables is not only luxurious and elegant, but is also believed to be quite haunted. The (unlucky) 13th floor served as a speakeasy during Prohibition, when the hotel saw its first premature death: Gangster Thomas “Fatty” Walsh was shot and killed at a crowded party. Years later, the U.S. government bought the hotel and converted it into a hospital for World War II soldiers, where it saw countless more untimely passings. After being abandoned for several decades, the Biltmore re-opened in the 1980′s as a hotel, and ever since then guests have experienced unexplained noises and visions. The most chilling reports, however, come from those who get dropped off by the elevator on the 13th floor, even when that button is never pushed. Read More »

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A waterfront vacation doesn’t have to mean a trip to the beach. River locales, such as charming San Antonio or rugged Snoqualmie, offer plenty of the same draws as oceans and lakes. Flowing past some of America’s best cities, around mountain ranges, and through desserts, these rivers are the optimal alternative vacation spots for boating, fishing, hiking, and more while on vacation. So get ready to dive into our favorite river destinations.

1. May River in Bluffton, South Carolina 

The May River is just one corner of gorgeous Carolina Lowcountry.

Carolina Lowcountry is a truly other-worldly corner of the United States. Here, salty marshes and mossy forests are connected by scenic waterways. The May, Cooper, and New Rivers wind through the region’s haunting landscapes, providing visitors with unique ways to soak in the beauty of the region. Boating and kayaking are popular, especially since bottlenose dolphins are common in this area. You can also go fishing, crabbing, or shrimping.

STAY:  The Inn at Palmetto Bluff

This “inn” in Carolina Lowcountry is really more akin to a sprawling estate, offering a range of recreational facilities, including golf, bicycling, tennis, croquet, kayaking, and swimming; plus, the luxury spa is highly acclaimed. Read More »

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Whether they’re on business or leisure, with the family or solo, almost all travelers consider a book (or a Kindle, whatever) a must-have while on a trip. Personally, we love curling up with a good read while we’re jaunting from city to city. But — taking it one step further — we really love enjoying a novel in the exact same place where the author once roamed There’s just something in the air — and p.s. these wordsmiths usually stayed in some pretty nice digs. So we rounded up the literary hotels where famous authors have partied, waited arrest, you name it. Hey, some even wrote while they were shacked up in their hotel rooms. Check out nine spots where famous writers have spent some time.

Cadogan Hotel, London

The Entrance to the Cadogan Hotel

Built in 1887, the Cadogan Hotel has seen its fair share of history within the walls of the stately Edwardian townhouse. In the realm of literary history, Oscar Wilde was a frequent guest, and he caused quite a scandal when he was arrested at the hotel in 1895 (though friends encouraged him to flee the country, Wilde refused).  Poet laureate John Betjeman commemorated the arrest in his poem The Arrest of Oscar Wilde at the Cadogan Hotel, and the hotel has renamed the room where the handcuffing went down as the Oscar Wilde Room. At the time of the arrest, it was simply room no. 118.
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