ALL POSTS IN [Special Features]

With all the attention New Orleans has been getting lately, how could Bourbon Street not be the most popular pin on our Pinterest boards last week? Despite its raucous reputation – or perhaps because of it – Bourbon Street is a New Orleans must-see, even if you’re just going to “admire the architecture.”

Take a photo tour of the Big Easy or follow in Tony’s footsteps with his travel guide from the New Orleans episode of The Layover.

Whether you love it or love to hate it, Valentine’s Day is on everyone’s minds – even travel bloggers. This week, we rounded up our favorite love-themed posts from across the travel blogosphere.

Valentine’s Day may be more popular than you think. In fact, it is the second most celebrated holiday in the world. And just like there are so many ways to say “I love you” around the world, each country has its own traditions when it comes to celebrating V-Day. Check out Hopper’s post for a look at how some countries choose to express their love.

Hoping to really sweep your loved one off their feet? Select Renaissance hotels are offering a romance package that includes coating your hotel suite in flowers: 27,000 blossoms will cover everything from the bed to the walls. Read more about this over-the-top Valentine’s travel experience on Gadling.

For fun-lovers, Rio’s Carnival is the ultimate party. But if you’re looking for something a little less touristy and crowded, you don’t have to travel to Rio to be a part of the Carnival celebration. 2Backpackers offers their list of other great Carnival celebrations where you can still experience the constant parties, parades and performances.

When you’re a kid, Valentine’s is all about the heart-shaped lollipops, conversation hearts and, of course, chocolate. Now that we’re older….well, let’s face it, we still want candy. Check out some of the world’s largest candy stores to find the perfect sweet for your sweetie.

Stay up-to-date on events around the world with This Week in Photos!

Los Angeles

Los Angeles has a reputation for being a company town, a place where everything revolves around the entertainment industry. Show business is indeed a huge part of the city, and it’s there for visitors to enjoy, from tours of movie studio back lots to celebrity sightings. But LA has so much more to offer. Scratch beneath the celluloid surface and you’ll also find rich cultural and culinary diversity, a thriving visual arts scene, and natural beauty, from beaches and mountains to great parks and un-Botoxed faces.

Hollywood and West Hollywood are great for both families and party people. Many of the city’s best known nightclubs, bars, and music venues are in the area, some within trendy hotels like the Hollywood Roosevelt. For families, proximity to major attractions like the Walk of Fame and Universal Studios Theme Park, coupled with some affordable, unpretentious hotels, like the Magic Castle, make Hollywood a great base camp.

Not surprisingly, true luxury can be had in Beverly Hills at large, iconic, amenity-filled properties like the Beverly Hills Hotel and Four Seasons Beverly Wilshire. There are also small, affordable boutique properties, like the Luxe Rodeo Drive, for those who want to spend less on their hotel and more on haute couture.

- Oyster.com Staff

Host city of the 1980 Winter Olympics, Lake Placid is a winter sports lover’s paradise. Although summer is its busiest season, there are plenty of outdoor adventures for visitors at any time of year. And even though it’s in the middle of the Adirondack Mountains, the compact downtown center has a surprisingly diverse offering of restaurants.

Don’t let the name “Lake Placid” fool you; the actual lake is a couple miles away. Instead, the village of Lake Placid lies on the shores of Mirror Lake. Some of the state’s best mountains are found here, making it a popular winter ski spot, while summer brings travelers who want to swim or boat. Impressive fall foliage also makes it a destination for leaf peepers.

Overlooking Mirror Lake, High Peaks Resort is one of the most luxe and extensive resorts in the area. Mere moments from all of Main Street’s offerings, this 133-room resort manages to feel both central and secluded at the same time. There’s plenty to keep guests occupied on-site, including the Aveda Concept Salon and Spa, 4 pools, a lakefront area with free use of kayaks and a modern fitness center. It lacks the private beach access and the 45 holes of golf that the Crowne Plaza offers, however. If you’re looking for value, the Best Western is a great bet. Though some areas are in need of renovations, this family-owned spot features a cozy lobby, free breakfast, and amenities such as an indoor pool, a fitness center and a game room.

- Oyster.com Staff

In This Week in Travel, it’s all about lists. Check out top sights to see, reasons to travel, or packing favorites from these travel blogging experts. READ MORE

Maldives

Last week, it appears that our Pinterest fans were wanderlusting after the glassy, cool water of a private pool at one of the 130 secluded villas at the One&Only Reethi Rah in the Maldives. Looking at the photo, it’s hard not to imagine yourself standing there, at the edge of the pool, set against the backdrop of powdery white sand, lush green palm trees and the clear water of the Indian Ocean.

Unfortunately, you better break open that piggy bank and book your trip soon — if sea levels continue to rise, the Republic of Maldives will be the first country to disappear into the ocean. In fact, that’s exactly why a luxurious visit to this chain of islands and atolls was my pick for our TravelChannel.com editors’ bucket list.

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 especially hiking. Some of the most popular hiking spots include Cathedral Rock, Bear Mountain, Bell Rock and Courthouse Rock.

The stunning desert-meets-forest scenery has, unsurprisingly, attracted many artists, and Sedona has become known for its numerous art galleries and craft shops. The inspiring setting has also drawn a New Age crowd; in the 1980s, the discovery of Sedona’s “vortexes” — concentrations of spiritual energy — caused alternative medicine peddlers, psychics, and vortex tour companies to make shop here.

L’Auberge de Sedona has one of the most stunning natural settings in not just the Southwest, but the country, with the picturesque Oak Creek running underneath shady trees, and Sedona’s soaring red rocks suspended in the background. Most of the luxe guest rooms and woodsy cottages come with fireplaces and private decks. It’s a popular spot for corporate retreats and romantic getaways. Families may want to check out the Village of Oak Creek — at the southernmost tip of Sedona — which offers restaurants, shops, hiking trails and Sedona’s only 18-hole public golf course. Las Posadas of Sedona is a quaint B&B in the area, with massive suites and freebies such as daily appetizers and cookies.

- Oyster.com Staff

It’s January, which means it’s time to put our New Year’s resolutions into action. Whether you are planning to travel more, hoping for a fresh start, or wanting to get away on your own, we’ve found some travel blogs that will help you achieve your travel goals.

The new year is a time to start off new and refreshed, so Fodor’s lists their top picks for the best places to get some quality R&R. Soak up the sun, relax in a blue lagoon, take in the stunning views, and you’ll be ready to face whatever 2013 throws at you.

READ MORE

It’s a huge weekend in DC, with over 100 different events happening throughout the city and the Metro system preparing for the over 800,000 people estimated to visit. If you’re one of the brave ones visiting DC this weekend – or any other weekend, for that matter — then let us help you get to know the nation’s capital, chockfull of sights, history and amazing food!

1. While you’re touring DC, solve a mystery at The International Spy Museum, which has the largest collection of international spy-related artifacts and immersive activities to enthrall children, as well as adults.

2. Why not stay in style while visiting the city of our country’s power players? Check out our picks for luxury accommodations.

3. Explore the beautifully historic neighborhood of Georgetown, and tour the favorite hangouts of former presidents — such as Bill Clinton, who graduated from Georgetown University in 1968.

4. Go sightseeing at one of the many monuments. Trust us, there are plenty of them – and they’re free!

5. Sip a coffee at Busboys and Poets, near the famous U Street, named for poet Langston Hughes, who worked as a busboy at the nearby Wardman Park Hotel.

6. Since you’ve traveled to DC to support the president, find out a little more about how the president, himself, travels.

7. Of course you need to eat! Find out what makes DC a great town for foodies with these top restaurants.

 

Photography by Oyster.com

Norway is best known for 2 things: Its jaw-dropping prices and its stunning natural beauty. For those who can afford to go, Norway offers a wealth of outdoor riches — dramatic, lush fjords; cascading waterfalls; red farmhouses in rolling valleys; and jagged mountain peaks. It also offers impressive history, and some visitors come primarily to see the wooden medieval stave churches around the country or the Viking ships on display in Oslo.

Understandably, the summer months are the most popular for tourists, and the long days mean it’s possible to pack in a lot of sightseeing. Visitors can partake in activities such as hiking, fishing, kayaking, and beach bumming (yes, there are beaches in Norway; the ones near Stavanger are quite nice). Fjord cruises are by far the most popular summer activity; for many, seeing the fjords is on the do-before-you-die list, and for good reason. But plenty of people (and Norwegians) spend the winter on the slopes.

For many visitors, Oslo is just a stopover city before heading to Norway’s more charming metropolises. But it nonetheless boasts plenty of sights and high-end hotels. The Carlton Oslo Hotel Guldsmeden is a quaint option, with 50 shabby-chic rooms and an eco-friendly philosophy.  Domestic flights are the easiest way to get from city to city, and Bergen is a popular home base for leisure visitors. The Radisson Blu Hotel Norge, Bergen is a family-friendly option, with a large swimming pool on-site, while the Clarion Collection Hotel is a romantic spot, with sexy décor and gorgeous city views.

- Oyster.com Staff

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