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Charleston

It’s no wonder why some of the most popular romance novels – Dear JohnThe NotebookThe Last Song – have been set in or near Charleston. Between the horse-drawn carriages, the colorful gardens, and the constant ocean breezes, Charleston exudes old-world romance and quaint Southern charm.

Many visitors head to Charleston in hopes of exploring the numerous historical attractions. The Citadel, a historic military college, offers full dress parades, and Civil War sites can be seen throughout the city and in surrounding areas. Many of the city’s inns and B&Bs are housed in historic buildings. The Jasmine House Inn, for example, is a beautiful, antique-filled mansion dating back to 1843, that features a pretty courtyard. The Harbour View Inn is a historic landmark, and the only waterfront hotel downtown.

And, of course, visitors also come for the beaches. There are many different beach towns within a short drive from downtown, with Folly Beach perhaps being the most popular. Tides Folly Beach looks right out over the sand, and all rooms have balconies with fabulous views.

- Oyster.com Staff

Ireland’s best-known nickname is the Emerald Isle, and one visit there will make it abundantly clear why: Ireland’s landscape is defined by rolling hills, dramatic green cliffs and lush forests. The country is also deservedly famous for its stunning coastal scenery, and the many famous outlooks include the Causway Coast, the Cliffs of Moher and Ballinskelligs Bay along the Ring of Kerry.

Ireland has a long, rich history, and many visitors are enchanted by its mystical Celtic past: It’s still possible to see beehive huts that once housed pre-Christian settlers; Druid stone circles; Iron Age stone forts; and gorgeous old castles. Visitors can even stay in historic castles during their visit. On a stunning lakefront, Ashford Castle was first built in the 13th century and today hosts plenty of celebrity guests. The Schoolhouse Hotel is more than 500 years younger than Ashford Castle, but it nonetheless has an historic vibe, housed in a building from the 1800s. This Dublin boutique features classic rooms with antiques, floral prints and canopy beds. If you’re looking for value, the Arlington Hotel , within a short walk of Temple Bar, is a popular choice among young travelers, and offers perks such as free Wi-Fi.

- Oyster.com Staff

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

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

 

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

by Oyster.com Staff

Cosa Rica Travel

The country with the world’s happiest people makes for an amazing vacation escape.

Costa Rica can be anything from a peaceful oasis to crowded and touristy depending on the time of the year and the region visited. But it’s still far less developed than most popular beach destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean, and there are so many options for where to go that it’s always possible to find a remote retreat.

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