Yosemite National Park

For those who crave that electrifying rush of adrenaline, a week of lying on the sand is not an ideal vacation. Beachside rest and relaxation can do wonders for some, but others find their R&R with a solid jolt to the nervous system; cue the adventure-vacation combination! Whether you’re surfing waves, chasing storms, or heli-skiing mountaintops, these eleven destinations all hold the promise of a heart-pounding getaway. Ready? Set? GO!

1. Surfing Pipeline, Oahu

Sunset-Surfing-in-Waikiki-Oahu-Hawaii

Adventure seekers have been visiting the Hawaiian islands for centuries. The state’s rugged, lava-formed terrain offers challenging — and stunningly beautiful — hikes and climbs, and the volcanoes themselves present unique thrills. But, of course, the main pulse-racing draw is surfing the menacing waves and rip curls that crash against the islands’ shores. The biggest and baddest waves roll in off of a reef break on the North Shore of Oahu at Banzai Pipeline. Many surfers have made a name for themselves at this spot, which is also home to some of the most intense surfing competitions in the world, including Pipe Masters. Adrenaline seekers who know their way around a wave — and are serious swimmers — can’t miss a trip here.

Stay: Turtle Bay Resort

This 448-unit resort on the scenic, isolated North Shore — just minutes from Banzai Pipeline — features an unbeatable array of amenities. There are two 18-hole golf courses, a stable, helicopter rides, and five miles of shoreline.  Read More »

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We have seen some beautiful sites during our travels around the world. But don’t take our word for it (although you should; we are experts) — many of our favorite places are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, which means they are “places on Earth that are of outstanding universal value to humanity and as such, have been inscribed on the World Heritage List to be protected for future generations to appreciate and enjoy.” And there you have it — spots that make this list are absolutely stunning. To date, there are 911 sites on the list and we have seen a ton of them. But to make things a tad more manageable, we’ve parred it down to 9 sites that you’ve just got to see. And if you can make it to all 911, then by all means go for it!

1. Statue of Liberty, New York City

statue of liberty

We’re starting local — for us, at least. A beacon of hope for travelers to New York City since it was dedicated in 1886, the Statue of the Liberty is one of the most-recognized and beloved National Monuments in the United States. Visitors can walk to the top for sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline from the statue’s crown, and many visit Ellis Island at the same time to round out their historical and cultural trip.

Where to Stay: The Ritz-Carlton New York Battery Park

As expected of the luxury brand, this Ritz property boasts gorgeous rooms, top-notch service, and a long list of amenities. Some rooms feature views of the Statue of Liberty.

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Some people can handle the sleeping bag and zippered tent, but not all. So what to do if you love the great outdoors but want to rough it without, well, really roughing it? The answer: glamping, or glam camping. Not all glamping is created equal, and there’s a range, from a simple tented cabin in the woods to a luxury safari tent. We’ve selected five of our favorite glamping spots where you can get up close with nature — but you know, not too close.

andBeyond Nxabega Okavango Delta Camp, Botswana

&Beyond Nxabega Okavango Tented Camp

&Beyond Nxabega Okavango Tented Camp

This luxurious safari lodge in Botswana delivers everything you’d expect from the excellent &Beyond chain: amazing tents with plush beds, phenomenal service, tasty food, and safari excursions with first-rate guides. It’s located in the Okavango Delta region, but on land, so you won’t need to take a boat to and from the camp. Its peaceful location, beautiful delta views, lovely communal pool, and rustic-luxe design inspired by traditional African hut construction (complete with rich woods and thatched roofs) help make it a truly special place. But its 17,300-acre wildlife concession is smaller than you’ll find at the nearby Xaranna, and the tents lack Xaranna’s soaking tubs and private plunge pools. Read More »

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Forget the beach—nature lovers know that the best way to experience the great outdoors in the summer is to spend some quality time in the mountains. If your idea of summer bliss involves hiking, biking, and swimming, these gorgeous resorts should be just the ticket. And if exotic scenery is a must, you’ll be happy to know that great mountain escapes can be found in tropical locales, too.

The Ahwahnee, Yosemite National Park, California

The Ahwahnee, Yosemite National Park, California

The Ahwahnee, Yosemite National Park, California

Nestled deep amongst the pine trees, cliffs, and canyons of Yosemite is the 123-room Ahwahnee Hotel. The impressive stone and wood structure, built in 1927, is considered a National Historic Landmark. Rooms with views of the Half Dome and El Captain summits are filled with wood and rich tapestries of Native American design. Highlights here include the Great Lounge with 24-foot-high ceilings and a large stone fireplace along with the light-flooded dining room. This hotel is on the expensive side — and parking is limited — but the prime location and views are worth the price tag. Read More »

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Summer is the time to get outdoors and get active. And even though it can get your blood pumpin’, there is nothing more relaxing than some quality time with Mother Nature, whether you’re hiking, fishing, or whitewater rafting — or simply kicking back and taking in the views after a day filled with activity. Our seven favorite spots in the U.S. for an outdoorsy getaway this summer were chosen for their combination of natural beauty and breadth of outdoor activities. To make planning easier, we’ve also recommended a cabin, lodge, or ranch in each place that brings you closer to the outdoors with great views or settings.

Sedona, Arizona

Sedona, Arizona

Sedona, Arizona

Sedona is most famous for its stunning red rocks, which are particularly beautiful in the glow of sunrise and sunset, and have formed the backdrop for many a western film. The temperatures here are cooler than other Arizona destinations, thanks to the higher elevation, and Ponderosa Pines surround the city. It’s a hub for outdoor enthusiasts, with excellent biking, horseback riding, and a particular focus on hiking. Some of the most popular hiking spots include Cathedral Rock, Bear Mountain, Bell Rock, and Courthouse Rock.

Where to Stay: L’Auberge de Sedona, with 87 luxurious and woodsy cottages spread across 11 acres
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The heated pool at the Blancaneaux Lodge in Belize is just on surprisingly luxe green amenity

We don’t mind sacrificing a little comfort during our travels if that means reducing our carbon footprint. But then again, not all eco-conscious hotels call for lights out and cold showers. The 10 hotels that make our list of those with the best eco-friendly perks aren’t all LEED-certified, but they still know that going green makes guests and Mother Earth happy. So here’s our salute to some great stays that are doing their part to reduce, reuse, and conserve with these awesome green amenities.

 

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Hiking through the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California is one of our favorite summer jaunts. We love staying at the Evergreen Lodge at Yosemite National Park, where we hit the trails ready to take in the fresh mountain air and see the abundant wildlife. Though the lodge boasts amazing views from every angle, the scene at dusk simply can’t be beat.

The Evergreen Lodge at Yosemite

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The Best Road Trips is a weekly summer series highlighting our favorite getaways from major cities all over the United States.

If you’re lucky enough to live in San Francisco or its outer-lying suburbs, you know one thing for sure: There are plenty of vacations that are just a short car ride away. And while SF has plenty to offer on its own — hello, Union Square shopping — sometimes it’s a bit more fun to take a drive. Especially in a convertible. With the top down. So get your bags packed, slather on some sunscreen and hop in the whip — we’ve got some miles to cover.

Road Trip #1: San Francisco to Napa Valley

  • Total Driving Time: 1 hour, 2 minutes
  • Distance Covered: 49 miles
  • Take This Trip If: You’ve had a long week, and desperately need a glass of wine.

A private outdoor living room at Calistoga Ranch.

The pool at EuroSpa & Inn.

Wine is steeped in Napa County’s history, with vineyards popping up in the area by the mid-19th century. Known to produce some of the top American vintages, Napa also has more to offer than delicious drinks, including romantic scenery, top-notch spas, and incredible dining — including arguably the country’s top restaurant, French Laundry by famed chef Thomas Keller. If you’re aiming for a luxurious experience, look no further than the 5-pearl Calistoga Ranch, an Auberge Resort. The romantic property has killer rooms complete with working fireplaces, private Jacuzzis, and outdoor rain showers. For a more budget-conscious option, check out the EuroSpa & Inn, which has free Wi-Fi, amazing views from the pool and hot tub, as well as spacious units furnished with wet bars and microwaves. Plus, breakfast is on the house.

  • Top Driving Tip: When leaving from San Francisco, you have two options when heading north to Napa — the Bay Bridge or the Golden Gate. Go with the latter; it’s a far more scenic drive and will get you to Calistoga in approximately the same amount of time.

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