A Guide to Staying in Pleasant Virginia Beach

An important occasion such as the turning of a new year calls for many changes, and for some that time specifically calls for a change in scenery. So, if you’re looking for a fantastic location in which you can set your sights on something familiar, new, profound, and simple, then look no further than Virginia Beach, Virginia’s largest coastal city, as outlined in this travel guide from the state’s own travel blog.

As the state of Virginia is one of the original Thirteen Colonies, there lies a lot of history, sentiment, and spectacle in the state, its wilderness, waters, and cities. Specifically, the town of Virginia Beach, which is the most populous city in the state, is located on the Atlantic Ocean right at the mouth of Chesapeake Bay, and it’s known as a resort city with miles of beaches, hotels, oceanfront restaurants, shops, and much more, thus making it the perfect location for your next trip. As collected from Virginia’s Travel Blog’s suggested Weekend Vacation Guide to Virginia Beach, the following suggestions all come well-reviewed and in good faith.

Though, it should be noted that recent COVID-19 surges may have caused new government restrictions, rules, and safety measures to have been set. Because of this, it’s always suggested that those who wish to travel check local guidelines, consult CDC recommendations, and take personal health conditions into account before traveling. This way you’re more prepared to enjoy your trip while remaining as safe and responsible as possible in these unprecedented times.

Where to Stay

Many, many of Virginia Beach’s hotels and rental properties are oceanside or located directly on the beach itself, but one of the most astounding and luxurious places that you can book is the award-winning Hilton Virginia Beach Oceanfront Hotel. The hotel itself offers many deluxe rooms and suites to its patrons who often like to partake in the many amenities offered on behalf of the hotel. One such amenity is the rooftop infinity pool that guests can swim in, making their experience all the more spectacular. Located literally next door to Neptune’s Park, beside the Virginia Beach Boardwalk, ten minutes away from the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center, and less than four miles away from Ocean Breeze Waterpark, this hotel can stand proudly as the perfect epicenter of your vacation.

What to Experience

One of the best experiences you can have in Virginia Beach is to find yourself in nature. Thus, one of the best spots for admiring the foliage, wildlife, and majesty of one of America’s oldest wonders is by visiting First Landing State Park. This park is named for the very first colonial settlers that stepped on the shores of Virginia hundreds of years ago, and after walking its over 20 miles of walking trails (such as the Cape Henry Trail), it’ll be easy to see why they planned to stay in the area. Furthermore, First Landing State Park borders the Chesapeake Bay, so there are over 200 beachfront campsites and fully furnished cabins that are available to be booked, giving you a unique perspective on a scenic destination.

As visiting a State Park is typically an all-day event, set aside some leisure time on your other days to visit the astounding ViBe Creative District to inundate yourself with the cultural and artistic scene of Virginia Beach. There are many art shops, storefronts, and the like in this neighborhood to check out such as Prosperity Kitchen & Pantry, North End Bag Company, Igor’s Custom, and Commune. Each of these shops located in the ViBe Creative District will give you specific insight into the sustainable arts scene of Virginia Beach and (of course) will serve as a nice change of pace to those recovering from a day of hiking.

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Fall Travel Destinations to Consider

The weather gets brisker, the leaves change color, and the crowds get thinner; that’s right, there’s generally no better time to travel than the autumnal months of October and November and with this expertly researched and curated article from Travel + Leisure, you can take the guesswork out of your next end-of-the-year trip. Keep reading for some great fall travel ideas.

Boston, Massachusetts

For some, New England is the end-all-be-all of the fall season, so what better place to travel than Boston. If visiting this pinnacle of American history in October or November, you luckily miss the cold, biting winter winds that are just around the corner, leaving you with more time to spend in the vibrant and rich community of Massachusetts’ finest.

Take some time for yourself and truly enrich yourself with America’s legacy, the Founding Fathers, and notable locations you’ve otherwise only heard tales of in History class textbooks and encyclopedia volumes by embarking on the notorious Freedom Trail. Though, October is famously a very busy month for the city of Boston, as the Boston Marathon, the annual Fall Pumpkin Float in the Boston Common Frog Pond, and the world’s largest two-day rowing event, the Head of the Charles Regatta all take place within weeks of each other.

If you’re looking for somewhere to stay that’s equal parts quaint, luxurious, and nearby to the more popular spectacles, then you could do much worse than booking your stay at Back Bay’s Mandarin Oriental. Alternatively, you can get an excellent, once-in-a-lifetime view of both the skyline and harbor if you’re staying at The Envoy and looking off its rooftop. However, if you’re more in the mood for a boutique, then you should look into staying at Beacon Hill’s Whitney Hotel, North End’s The Boxer, Seaport’s YOTEL Boston, or Hastings Park’s The Inn. Though, no matter where you stay, there’s always planned excitement around every city block so be sure to book quickly and often this autumn season.

Maui, Hawaii

It’s not a typo; Hawaii is honestly a no-brainer in the non summer months, as the temperature is more pleasant than the rest of the United States and the crowds are less touristy as well, which is always a plus. Maui sees an influx of tourism during the summer months and holiday season, so many miss out on the warm and dry October-November season, leaving it ripe for the picking so to speak.

Check out the nightlife scene and world-class restaurants found in the historic whaling town of Lahaina if you’re staying in West Maui. Speaking of West Maui accommodations, the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua is a much sought-after venue for the out-of-towner as it houses six restaurants, a luxurious spa, and two complete golf courses on its campus. Additionally, along 40 acres of Kaanapali Beach is the notorious Hyatt Regency Maui and further down the coast is the Kaanapali Beach, which is receiving guests once again, having just undergone a striking renovation.

In South Maui, many guests reportedly enjoy staying at the beachfront luxury suites from the Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea or the Grand Wailea for its variety of pools, available water-based, ocean activities, and on-site waterslide. Though, if you’re seeking privacy, then look no further than the popular and new Hana-Maui Resort with oceanfront bungalows, sandy beaches, and private lanais for you and your traveling companions. Again, no matter the location, once you’re in Maui and not squeezing between families making the most out of their summer vacation, you’ll find the true meaning of happiness in the blissful, autumnal months.

Travel + Leisure’s fall travel list goes on to suggest a visit to New Orleans, Louisiana; Providence, Rhode Island; Greater Palm Springs, California; Charlottesville, Virginia; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Cooperstown, New York;  the island of Aruba; and the country of France,

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Best Colorado Small Towns to Visit

There is one state in the United States of America that is beautiful year-round, so while many make sure to visit in the winter for its ski slopes or the summer for its hiking trails, the “Centennial State” is still worth the trip in Autumn and Spring, especially if you’re visiting a small town. These lesser-known towns of Colorado are becoming more popular (by word of mouth) due to the lack of crowds at the hot springs, top-of-the-line ski lodges, and hiking trails that are off the beaten path. So check out Travel + Leisure’s article detailing the “10 Best Small Towns in Colorado” for the next time you’re looking to reconnect with peace, quiet, and quaint experiences.

Before diving into the article, it should be advised that due to local regulations, travel restrictions, and COVID-19 surges, it is suggested that travelers properly research all local guidelines and CDC recommendations in order to keep themselves and those they care about as safe and responsible as possible in these unprecedented times.

Silverton, Colorado

Located along a rather remote portion of Colorado’s western San Juan Mountains lies the statutory town of Silverton. The town originated from mining claims made during the final years of Colorado’s Pike’s Peak Gold Rush, and ever since then, Silverton has attracted its fair share of animals, citizens, and adventures. One of the stand-out experiences to take advantage of in Silverton can be enjoyed year-round, as it’s the reason the town is a National Historic Landmark. Silverton is home to the scenic byway US 550, which has also been known as the “Million Dollar Highway” for over a century due to its breath-taking views of the San Juan Mountains that can only be seen from its roads. The Highway is a part of the larger San Juan Skyway, which is a 236-mile road that winds through the San Juan portion of the Rocky Mountains allowing visitors to connect with diverse mountain towns and major landmark attractions along the way.

Outside of the gorgeous views that can be seen from the road, Silverton offers those in the town to participate in canoeing, wildlife watching, paragliding, river rafting, touring gold mines, stargazing, mushroom hunting, and an unforgettable adventure called the Durango Silverton Narrow Gauge Train, and those are just the summer events! In the winter months, the town can be the perfect place to engage in snowmobiling, snowkiting, hockey, snowshoeing, ice skating, and all sorts of sledding. Consider staying in Silverton the next time you’re feeling adventurous because there are few other places in the United States where you can visit an actual 19th-century ghost town.

Steamboat Springs, Colorado

With a name as charmingly warm as Steamboat Springs, you’ll feel comforted and right-at-home in the authentic mountain town that’s brimming with western hospitality. This town offers its residents and visitors authentic experiences such as relaxing in hot springs, fishing for flies or trout along the Yampa River or at Steamboat Lake, and seeing gorgeous nature sights by way of the town’s famous hiking, biking, and walking trails. There’s plenty of engaging activities to take advantage of whether you find yourself visiting in the summer or winter, but don’t rule out the fall visit, as the changing colors of the fall foliage are quite beautiful in this town, and you can view them from the best perspective of all by booking an ariel “foliage flight” from the Zephyr Helicopter Company or a hot-air-balloon ride from Wild West Balloon Adventures.

The other towns can be further explored via Travel + Leisure’s full list, which includes the following stand-outs:

  • Pagosa Springs, Colorado
  • Carbondale, Colorado
  • Estes Park, Colorado
  • Snowmass Village, Colorado
  • Manitou Springs, Colorado
  • Crested Butte, Colorado
  • Paonia, Colorado
  • Salida, Colorado

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The Best Islands Located Within the United States

The secret’s out! Your next island getaway doesn’t require you to search through desk drawers for your passport, and it’s all thanks to Travel + Leisure and their 2021 World’s Best Awards. This year, the travel publication has curated a list of the Top 15 Islands in the Continental United States.

Each year, Travel + Leisure issues their acclaimed World’s Best Awards where the T+L readership is surveyed about the best travel experiences around the globe. What results is a hefty list of 64 total categories announcing the top U.S. national parks, airlines, airports, car-rental agencies, cities, cruise ships, destination spas, hotels, hotel brands, islands, tour operators, and more from around the globe.

For this year’s Best Islands in the Continental U.S. Ranking, the East Coast had quite the spotlighted feature with a majority of the top 15 spots going to the eastern seaboard. Most notably is the obvious standout that is Florida, as “the Sunshine State” claimed five of the top island spots. Though ultimately, South Carolina’s Hilton Head Island topped the list with overwhelming support for the much-celebrated weather, scenery, and atmosphere in which to enjoy days on the beach, town, or golf course. If you’re looking for inspiration for your next vacation outing, check out the full list here and the rankings below.

  1. Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts
  2. Outer Banks, North Carolina
  3. Sanibel Island, Florida
  4. Block Island, Rhode Island
  5. Captiva Island, Florida
  6. Florida Keys, Florida
  7. Mackinac Island, Michigan
  8. Mount Desert Island, Maine
  9. Golden Isles, Georgia
  10. Nantucket, Massachusetts
  11. Longboat Key, Florida
  12. San Juan Islands, Washington
  13. Amelia Island, Florida
  14. Kiawah Island, South Carolina
  15. Hilton Head, South Carolina

As you can see above, there are plenty of island experiences for United States citizens to find and enjoy without ever stepping foot in an airport’s international terminal, and while many of those islands listed are generally located in a similar area of the country, they each offer a specific ambiance and experience that cannot be found elsewhere.

Furthermore, it is clear to see that the Travel + Leisure readership didn’t discriminate against groups of islands making their way onto the list as Washington State’s archipelago, the San Juan Islands made a high-ranking placement as the only representative of the Pacific Northwest. Additionally, Georgia’s Golden Isles, which consists of Little St. Simons Island, Jekyll Island, Sea Island, and St. Simons Island, was also featured as #7 on the list, and the notorious Florida Keys rounded off the top ten.

This year’s survey, which was developed by the editors of Travel + Leisure in association with the M&RR research firm, was administered to the publication’s readership from January 11 through May 10, 2021. The editors note that for the Islands list in particular, that while the survey was administered at a time in which many destinations worldwide were lifting COVID-19 restrictions to travel, accommodations, etc, they still believe their data to be a true reflection of the date measured. This is because the survey traditionally allows readers to reflect on the past three years of travel experiences when responding.

For those living in the land-locked states around the country, the thought of vacationing on a serene, sun-warmed beach often is set on an international isle, but it turns out that the United States is home to several much-sought-after islands. These top 15 destinations are all located within the continental United States, meaning that the chart-topping Hawaiian Islands don’t cast an overbearing shadow on this year’s most popular U.S. islands and all of their amenities.

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2021 Fall Hikes For Your Next Trip

One of the best times to experience a hike is in a season where the weather conditions are not overbearingly hot, humid, or otherwise terrible, making fall the perfect time to lace up your backpack, grab your water bottle, and lace up your hiking boots. And now, it’s never been easier to take advantage of the season and the beautiful landscapes across the continent with Travel + Leisure’s curated list of the best 2021 North American fall hikes to be experienced.

Port Townsend, Washington

One of the greatest ways to discover all that the waterfront town of Port Townsend, which is located on the Olympic Peninsula, has to offer is to trek on foot across its hikes of varying views, lengths, and difficulties. What makes this location perfect for an outdoor excursion is that in the background of your hike are the distant white-capped mountains, and gasp-worthy fall foliage is in the foreground. Prepare to be inundated with history and Port Townsend’s “true” residents, including deer, eagles,  hawks, seals, and sometimes whales as you traverse the Fort Worden Trail. Though, making it up to the summit of Mt. Walker is an absolutely stunning experience that you must consider, as it’s difficult to put into words due to the immense amount of plant life and sheer natural beauty that is to be observed at its great height.

Nashville, Indiana

This town is far too special to be left behind in the shadow of its Tennessee counterpart. The tiny town of Nashville, Indiana is considered by many to be a best-kept secret due to the transformative vision that is attained each year between late September and early November when the leaves change color. Explore “Indiana’s Stonehenge” or Browning Mountain when you hike through a deep set of woods to find a baffling circle of sandstone slabs, a quaint pool, and an old gilding foundation on this superb hike. Additionally, one of the area’s best fall hike trails is the 160-mile Knobstone Hiking Trail that shows those who seek it out a rugged, scenic look at one of the more interesting areas of the South Central Midwestern United States.

Lake Placid, New York

Located in the Adirondack Mountains is the lakeside village of Lake Placid, which is home to the largest trail system in the nation. The region’s marked hiking trails cover over 2,000 miles, so it’s no wonder why the locals love the outdoors so much. One of the more notorious trails in this area is the region’s system of trails that lead up to the breathtaking views of the 46 High Peaks, an area of over 4,000 feet that has to be seen to be believed. If you’re in a time crunch, the Lake Placid website separates its trail suggestions by their allotted time, allowing you to plan a 1-2 hour hike or a 2-4 hour hike at your leisure.

Gatlinburg, Tennessee

The city of Gatlinburg has been known by those on the East Coast to provide a plethora of outdoor activities to keep you entertained year-round, but the autumn season truly sets this location apart from the others. Plan your visit to experience amazing fall hikes. Traverse some of the over 800 miles of hiking trails that can be experienced along the Great Smoky Mountains and its valleys can range from a leisurely walk beside wildflowers to a challenging, yet rewarding trek through the backwoods.  Some standout hiking routes to seek out include watching a sunrise or sunset from the 6,600 feet height of the LeConte Lodge that rests atop Mt. LeConte and the five-mile round trip along Abrams Creek to the gorgeously deep Cades Cove Valley.

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California Vacations for Every Traveler

For over a century now travelers have been drawn to the state of California, but with it being the most populated area that is not its own country on the continent of North America, it can be tough to decide where to visit. Thankfully, this curated guide of California vacation ideas, as written by the travel blogger The Points Guy, makes the decision a whole lot easier.

As it’s the third-largest United State by land size alone, California is certainly huge, but it’s also incredibly populated. It’s the 34th most populated state in the world with well over 39 million residents living on its over 163,000 square miles of surface land. This is also not to even mention that on that massive expanse there are internationally-renowned theme parks, metropolises, movie studios, resorts, spas, national parks, and 900 miles of Pacific Ocean-adjacent beach property.

With that being said, booking a trip to the Golden State can be overwhelming even for the more accomplished traveler, so here are a few suggested trip proposals depending on your vacation style.

Looking for Aesthetics?

When you spend a full season of Winter in New England or the frigid Midwest, suddenly the sunny beaches and palm trees of the California Coast are calling your name. If postcard-worthy sites are what you’re after, then look no further than the city of Palm Springs, California. Known as a fashionable location for tourists and Southern California Residents alike, this city has magnificent sights to be seen inside and out. For instance, one needs only to walk through the Moorten Botanical Garden or feed a literal Giraffe at the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens to see both the flora and fauna of this amazing city. If in town, be sure to pack some “athleisure-wear” for your hike up Tahquitz Canyon so that you can partake in a real-life waterfall oasis in the middle of a desert or see the wonderful state of California from above on an aerial gondola ride that takes you over Coachella Valley in an unforgettable canyon-hugging ride of your life.

Looking for Recreation?

Have you truly been to California if you don’t visit an amusement or theme park that the state is famous for? Whether you’re traveling with loved ones, extended family, coworkers, or just friends, there’s plenty of fun to be had by anyone in the city of Anaheim, California. Home to the internationally-famous Disneyland, it’s almost impossible to imagine California without the iconic characters and attractions of the Walt Disney Corporation and their truly magical theme park experiences. Taking a walk through Downtown Disney or the state’s very own sister park, California Adventure,are the obvious choices that are guaranteed to help you regain any lost sense of childlike wonder. If you want to find more mature attractions, so to speak, then look no further than the world-famous Angel Stadium, home to the Los Angeles Angels or make the day trip to Catalina Island or Huntington Beach to soak in the sunny rays that the state is known for.

Looking for Extravagance?

Movie stars, top athletes, and some of the most successful people on the planet reside in California for its catering to a higher class of living. That being said, the city of San Francisco and its surrounding bay area are perfect for those wanting decadence on their vacation. This famed city is home to one of the most expensive properties owned by the Ritz-Carlton brand, and it’s for good reason. The property, known as the Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay, is one of the finest, most luxury-filled resorts on the planet with its decadent accommodations overlooking a cliff-side ocean view and its countless amenities such as its championship golf courses or award-winning yoga studios. While staying in the area, be sure to spend a day at the MoMa and breathe in the arts and culture of some of the most accomplished artists at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

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