Portland

“America the Beautiful” was originally a poem written in 1893 by Katharine Lee Bates, who was inspired to pen the historic words after taking a memorable — and clearly, scenic — cross-country train trip from Massachusetts to Colorado. In the late 1800s, such a trip might have been grueling, but it was nonetheless considered exotic — whereas nowadays, it sometimes seems travelers aren’t impressed unless they’re crossing vast oceans and getting multiple stamps on their passports. But America is still the fair beauty of Bates’s poem, and tons of gorgeous sites and settings can be found right in our backyards. Even better, local travel is often relatively cheap and easy: There’s no currency exchange, language barrier, or passport required, and even if you do fly, flights are certainly less expensive than those to far-flung international locales. Here are six amazing sites in the U.S. that you’ve got to see. (And don’t worry. If you really must cross an ocean to feel like you’re on vacation, we have some U.S. destinations where that is a necessity as well).

Bioluminescent Bay, Puerto Rico

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If you’ve ever questioned whether the U.S. could be exotic, the Bioluminscent Bay in Puerto Rico’s Fajardo will have you properly convinced. Just a short drive from Old San Juan, this famed “Bio Bay” puts on nature’s most magnificent light show: At night, when the bay is inky black beneath the light of the moon, microscopic plankton glow turquoise as you paddle or swim through the water.

Where to Stay: El Conquistador Resort, A Waldorf Astoria Resort is just about as close as you can get to the Bio Bay. Even better, this luxe resort offers some of the Caribbean’s most epic views.

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The number of local craft breweries is at an all-time high in the United States. From coast to coast (and everywhere in-between), privately-owned breweries are producing delicious brews for every palate. Hoppy IPAs, robust ales, and refreshing pilsners are just some of the offerings on parade, and lucky for beer aficionados, many of these breweries (micro, or otherwise) welcome visitors for tours and tastings. Some even have full-fledged restaurants on-site that pair their pints with delicious plates. So pack the kegerator and find a willing d.d. because it’s time for a brew-cation. We’ve tried beers all over the country and, after plenty of boozy research, have picked out the seven best cities in the U.S. for beer. Plus, we’ve got great hotel recs in each city where beer lovers will feel right at home.

1. Portland, Oregon 

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Boasting the highest concentration of breweries of any city in the world — over fifty in the metropolitan area, if you’re curious — Portland tops our list. Large-scale operations have rubbed shoulders with small craft breweries in the Rose City since the 1980s, and micro-breweries and nano-breweries (breweries that generally produce four barrels or fewer) are popular destinations for locals and tourists alike. Deschutes Brewery, Hopworks Urban Brewery, and Upright Brewings are perennial favorites, but there are endless offerings in this quirky beer-loving-hipster-friendly city.

Where to Stay: Ace Hotel – Portland

This funky boutique emphasizes style above all else, and features cool decor touches such as reclaimed school chairs, nightstands made out of books or suitcases, turntables, and stacks of vinyl records. Hotel highlights include a local, organic breakfast in the breakfast room, a great happy hour scene at the Clyde Common lobby bar, and aromatic coffee at the beloved Stumptown Cafe. Read More »

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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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If you’re like us, you’re ready for this freezing weather — courtesy of the polar vortex — to be over. In fact, you’ve been ready for weeks now. And though the groundhog may not have predicted a quick return to warm weather, that hasn’t stopped cities across the U.S. from making plans to usher in the spring, which makes its official entrance March 20. From Atlanta to Los Angeles, from Vermont to Savannah, popular vacation destinations are already prepping for the season’s welcome with spring-themed festivals, parades, and parties. Here are seven destinations where you can celebrate spring.

Los Angeles, CA: Holi Festival of Colors, March 8

Traditionally a religious Hindu festival marking the beginning of spring, Holi has become a holiday celebrated around the globe by Hindu followers and non-followers alike, and few places stateside do the day justice like Los Angeles. This year, the festival takes place in L.A. on March 8 and includes group yoga sessions, musical performances, food vendors, and even “color throwings” ever hour. Dubbed by many as “the world’s happiest event,” Holi is all about reveling in the vibrant colors of spring.

Where to Stay: The Georgian Hotel

A picturesque Art Deco boutique hotel with a commanding view of the sea (from the sunny front porch, but not all rooms), the Georgian is a classy retreat with lovely rooms and a prime location on Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica. On-site amenities, however, are few. You’ll have to  drive to the festival, but when the festival is over, we recommend staying near the beach in Santa Monica to catch some rays.

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Fashion Week has arrived to New York City, and we’re getting the fashion bug — but it’s not haute couture that’s getting us excited. It’s haute hotels, of course! Rather than envisioning ourselves in what’s on the runway, we’re dreaming about how we’d look in these fashion-forward spots, and what personal styles they’d pair best with. Go on — try them on for size. What hotel would you wear?

Tortuga Bay, Dominican Republic 

Tortuga Bay, Dominican Republic

Tortuga Bay, Dominican Republic

What to Wear: Oscar De La Renta Swimwear

Oscar de la Renta may be most famous for his evening wear, but he’s designed some super-chic swimwear as well — and there’s no better place to flaunt it than Tortuga Bay, which the famous fashion icon also designed. The 30-room Tortuga Bay hotel offers amazing service (including preferential treatment at Punta Cana Airport), an on-site nature reserve, several superb restaurants, and three world-class golf courses. Read More »

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The term “hipster” has a lot of connotations these days, but we think we have a pretty good idea of what it means when it comes to travel. If you’re a hipster, you’re probably the type who won’t want to stay somewhere mainstream — and certainly not a major chain. You’re the type who appreciates what’s cool, yes, but in a way that is interesting and different. You love anything eco-friendly and organic.

Sound at all familiar? Fess up. We at Oyster have a special spot in our heart for hipster travelers. After all, they, like us, have high standards when it comes to choosing a hotel. They’ll often gravitate toward spots that are uber-trendy, quirky, or extremely green, and with that in mind, we unearthed some of the best hotel options in the world for the hipster set.

Wythe Hotel, New York City

Wythe Hotel, New York City

Wythe Hotel, New York City

The Wythe Hotel is a hub for hipster travelers and locals alike. With a hopping rooftop bar boasting jaw-dropping views of Manhattan, a wonderful restaurant, and cutting-edge industrial design, the Wythe is a destination unto itself. It’s located near the subway as well as dozens of restaurants, bars, and shops in the heart of trendy Williamsburg, Brooklyn, a neighborhood boasting one of the highest concentrations of hipsters in the country. Rooms are spacious and have high pine ceilings, reclaimed wood furnishings, and great amenities, including flat-screen TVs; local, hand-made toiletries; free Wi-Fi, and radiant floor heating. Read More »

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Through our many travels we’ve learned that April showers don’t just bring May flowers – they bring delicious May produce! Everything from zucchini to asparagus, spring peas to corn, and watermelon to strawberries begin sprouting up during the spring and summer. And if you’re not quite ready to put on the overalls and bring in the harvest yourself, the next best thing is to visit a local farmers’ market, where fresh produce abounds. We’ve picked out our 10 favorite farmers’ markets across the states, so no matter where your spring and summer vacations take you, you’ll have plenty of tasty treats to bring home. And we’ve even found a great hotel near each spot so you can be sure to beat the crowds.

1. Pike Place Market, Seattle

Vegetable stand at Pike Place Market

Pike Place is one of Seattle’s main attractions. Featuring numerous produce, meat, and fish stands, the market also has plenty of craft kiosks for buying local artwork and gifts. It is open 7 days a week, and though most stands close around 5 p.m., several fine-dining restaurants on the 9-acre historic district are open late.

Where to Stay: Inn at the Market is aptly named. It is one of Seattle’s best-known, and most popular, hotels, in large part due to its unbeatable location: It’s in the heart of downtown Seattle, just half a block from Pike Place Market.

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Find out the best sights, sounds, and taste in Stumptown.

A big city with plenty of small town touches, Portland has something for everyone. With beautiful, natural surroundings mixed in with its trendy shops and bars, Stumpdown doesn’t disappoint. Take a look at some our of favorite things to do in the gorgeous Oregon city.

 

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Everyone knows that we here at Oyster.com love freebies. After all, we talk about them a lot — and we mean a lot. But when you’re shelling out hard-earned cash for your hotel room, it’s nice when the hotel recognizes that and throws in some perks “just because.” We’ve already gone through the freebies we love, and honestly kind of expect, but we’ve yet to go through all the freebies that really took us by surprise — and sometimes even made us laugh! Some you can bring home with you, some are just on loan, but all of these amenities are funky, looney, and downright fabulous.

Toys for Adults at Hotel Avante, Silicon Valley

Have fond memories of your childhood at Hotel Avante.

Get your mind out of the gutter. Those are not the kind of toys we are talking about — and we would definitely not be okay with them if they were on loan! Instead, Hotel Avante offers adult guests good old-fashioned toys in each room. Called “executive toy boxes,” they include toys such as Slinkys, yo-yos, Etch-a-Sketchs, and Rubik’s cubes, and are meant to be used as inspiration — or even just distractions — for business travelers burning the midnight oil. But if you’re a leisure traveler, we won’t tell — go ahead and have some fun!
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“This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius…”  Yesterday, our favorite astrological free spirits started celebrating their 2013 birthdays, and we couldn’t be happier for them. Possessing a deep social conscience, Aquarians are humanitarian, philanthropic, and dedicated to making the world a better place. And they do so with flair. Known for their wildly inventive and creative ideas, Aquarians can also be temperamental and flighty if you don’t encourage their quirk. Luckily, Oyster has stayed at some of the best off-beat, hippie-chic retreats for fostering the unpredictable and artistic notions of the Water Bearers in your life. So get your sketchpads ready, it’s time to take these rebellious visionaries on a one-of-a-kind vacation.

Korakia Pensione, Palm Springs

Korakia Pensione brings a bit of the Mediterranean to Palm Springs.

Korakia Pensione is a striking hotel in Palm Springs. Modeled after a Mediterranean pensione, it looks like something out of Greece or Morocco, and Aquarians are sure to relish in its exotic, eclectic vibe. Aquarians are also notorious flirts (what with all of that passionate, creative energy roiling around inside them), so they’ll definitely appreciate that Korakia was named one of Forbes’ sexiest hotels in America. The two Korakia Pensione pools and many outdoor spaces – including fire pits, fountains, and stone paths — are all beautiful and unexpected. And the hotel plays old movies every night outside on the terrace. The rooms are named, not numbered, and each is slightly different, but all have an old-world, whimsical feel.
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