The OC of the East Coast is Ocean City, Maryland, a popular year-round vacation destination for families or anyone who needs a break but doesn't have time to deal with long flights.

A Home on The Boardwalk

If you crave being in the heart of the action, look no further than Harrison Hall Hotel. Located right on the boardwalk, this hotel more resembles a classical style home than a hotel — not just in looks but also in feeling. From the minute you step inside, that homey sense of comfort and relaxation sets in. A quiet front porch with rocking chairs makes it perfect for relaxing the day away or gazing out upon the action of the boardwalk. Or step out the back for direct access to a private section of the OC beach. Anything else you could need, from shopping to dining or drinking, is located just a few minutes' walk away.

Go with a Classic

Known for its wide front porch and wooden rocking chairs, Plim Plaza is one of the most well-known of the boardwalk hotels. It is also one of the most affordable, making it perfect for the budget-conscious traveler. Rooms come standard with a refrigerator, cable television, and free HBO. A pool, three jacuzzis, and four different restaurants are all located on site. Of course, there is also the beach as well, not to mention a multitude of shopping and dining options just footsteps away. All this and an affordable price is exactly why Plim Plaza is a favorite of Ocean City visitors.

Go Big or Go Home

One of the largest boardwalk hotels is the massive Tidelands Caribbean Hotel. With multiple buildings and even a large rooftop pool, this relatively new hotel has quickly become quite popular. A variety of room layouts and suite options — all of which have kitchenettes, cable television, and Wi-Fi — make Tidelands a great choice for both families and groups of friends.

Scenes from the Ocean City Boardwalk
Photo by Lee Cannon via Flickr

From the Boardwalk to the Bay

The boardwalk is great by day, but if you don't want to be sleeping there at night too, check out the Sea Bay Hotel. Located right off the Coastal Highway near the Ocean City Expressway, this hotel has a slightly more laid back feel than those surrounded by the hustle and bustle of the boardwalk. Two pools are on site, tennis courts are across the street, and the beach is just a one minute away. What more do you need?

Explore the North

Located farther up the island just a couple of miles from the Maryland-Delaware border is the massive Princess Royale Hotel & Conference Center. It occupies an entire beachfront block between 91st and 92nd streets and is the ideal destination for those who want it all. Beach access. Indoor heated pool. Video game arcade. Oceanfront restaurant and lounge. Spacious condominiums. Guests of the Princess Royale often find themselves spending all their time at the resort instead of out around town.

  Photo by small_realm via Flickr

Think one Southern city is like all the others? Think again. As these six towns demonstrate, stereotypes and generalizations can’t possibly account for all the distinct, quirky, and amazing towns that blanket the American South!

Asheville, North Carolina has some seriously quirky, offbeat charm

1. Home of the Locavore Aesthetic: Asheville, NC

Nestled between the Great Smoky Mountains and the Blue Ridge Mountains lies the town of Asheville, which has earned a reputation for itself as a hub of artsiness, outdoor adventure, and a strong local aesthetic. The city’s downtown is comprised almost exclusively of independent shops and eateries, and the town is filled with artists and musicians from all walks of life (which explains the city’s vibrant busking scene). The city is also a self-described “Foodtopia,” a rich food scene with a farm-fresh bent. And if spiritual exploration is your thing, you’ll be right at home in Asheville, which attracts many a mystical seeker. In short? If you want to expose yourself to unique sights, tastes, sounds, and people, get thee to Asheville.

2. Home of Eclectic Attractions: Birmingham, AL

An odd assortment of attractions has made Alabama’s largest city a popular destination for travelers of all backgrounds. The largest cast iron statue in the world—dubbed “Vulcan”—stands guard over the city, broadcasting to all who enter that Birmingham is just a little bit different. Whether you spend your time at the Birmingham Museum of Art, the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame, the McWane Science Center (which features exhibits on topics ranging from dinosaurs to space exploration), the Splash Adventure Water Park, the Barber Motorsports Museum (home to more than 1,200 motorcycles), or the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, Birmingham offers something unique for every kind of traveler.

3. Home of Southern Outdoorsiness: Charlotte, NC

Charlotte’s culture is distinct in that it combines refined, southern hospitality with rugged outdoorsiness. That’s thanks in no small part to the city’s location: The lively downtown sits near the stunning Blue Ridge Mountains. Locals and tourists alike take advantage of this prime location at popular outdoor destinations that range from the refined Anne Springs Close Greenway, Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens, and Biltmore Estate to the more adventurous U.S. National Whitewater Center, which offers rafting tours of the area’s Catawba River. Combined, Charlotte’s zest for life and welcoming attitude have earned it a reputation as one of the friendliest cities in the South.

Columbia, South Carolina has some seriously quirky and offbeat charm
Photo: Wikimedia Commons via Akhenaton06

4. Home of Epic Festivals: Columbia, SC

Columbia’s tagline is “famously hot,” and it’s easy to see why. The weather is warm (the temperature rarely drops below 50 degrees in winter), the attractions are popular, and the college sports scene is hoppin’. The city serves as the capital of South Carolina and is home to the University of South Carolina, which makes for an interesting mix of college-town culture and commercial prowess. But what really sets the city apart is its exciting annual calendar of events, including January’s World Beer Festival, February’s Lake Carolina Oyster Roast, June’s Ribs & Renaissance extravaganza, July’s Lexington County Peach Festival, October’s South Carolina State Fair, and December’s Famously Hot New Year.

5. Home of Stately Art and History: Savannah, GA

Art and history collide in gorgeous Savannah, where the weather is fine, the architecture is Antebellum, and the trees are shrouded in Spanish moss. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time while strolling the streets of Savannah’s pre-Civil War district, and you’re likely to feel out of place virtually anywhere in the city if you aren’t wearing your Sunday best. Class and elegance infuse every aspect of Savannah—including its most popular tourist activities, such as the Savannah Arts Festival, the Savannah Tour of Homes, and the Savannah Film Festival. But don’t let all the stateliness fool you; in Savannah, Southern hospitality is alive and well.

Tulsa, Oklahoma has some seriously quirky offbeat charm

6. Home of All Things Retro: Tulsa, OK

Tulsa has been a cult favorite since the heyday of Route 66, which passes right through the city. Today, the town draws tourists who are interested in both what the city used to be and all that it now has to offer. From its iconic oilman statue to its neon signposts, old-fashioned pump stations, and art deco buildings, Tulsa has retro funk on lock. The city is also home to a thriving festival scene—most notably, Tulsa hosts one of the country’s largest Oktoberfest celebrations each fall.

From giant statues, to exciting festivals, to dynamic arts, music, and food scenes, these cities provide a whole new take on the meaning of Southern charm.

  This article was posted on Hipmunk's Tailwind blog by The Hipmunk on January 18th.

The winter months of December through February — and sometimes through March — are notorious for flight delays due to bad weather. People risk delays during the holidays because they have long periods of mandated time-off and want to spend it with their families. But no one wants to request time off in February only to spend half of the vacation managing flight delays and bad weather.

But while February isn’t the best travel month for every destination, airlines offer some pretty sweet deals on flights during the year’s shortest month. With some trips discounted as much as 79%, travelers should take airlines up on their offers. We analyzed a year’s worth of Hipmunk flight and hotel pricing data, and the following February destinations are worth the bargain.

New York, NY

Whether covered in snow or sunshine, New York is New York — a magical amusement park for both kids and adults. There will never be a shortage of indoor and outdoor winter activities. With flights and a three-night hotel stay averaging $962 in February, the Big Apple offers a steal. Take a horse carriage ride through Central Park as you admire the snow-covered terrain and monuments that make the city so enchanting. Ice skating is available through March at parks including the Wollman Rink in Central Park and Rockefeller Center. If it gets too nippy, be entertained at a Broadway show as you stay warm.

Philadelphia, PA

With 67 National Historic Landmarks, Philly ranks third in the country for most landmarks, including the famous cracked Liberty Bell and the house of poet Edgar Allen Poe. But the city is also a modern metropolis with a striking skyline, impressive street art murals, and rich pop culture. Run up the long steps to the main entrance of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and recreate the famous opening of the cult classic film “Rocky.” Philly has one of the oldest outdoor markets in the U.S. — Italian Market — and also boasts Terminal Market, a great indoor destination. Both sell everything needed to make delicious meals. An average flight and three-night hotel stay in February averaged $819, a savings of up to $80 compared with spring months.

Sunset over the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California

San Francisco, CA

Much like San Francisco’s weather stays constant, so do flight and hotel prices, averaging more than a $1,000 most of the year for a flight and a three-night hotel stay. But in late spring, the average was $953, making it the ideal time to head west. SF offers a multitude of varied activities sure to entertain all personalities. Pier 39 alone offers shopping, restaurants, Aquarium of the Bay, and a two-story carousel. But the most endearing attraction is simply observing the quirky sea lions lounge by the pier. In 2015 Walkscore.com gave San Francisco a score of 83.9, making it the second most walkable city in the U.S., Canada, and Australia. Walk or ride the cable cars to get around.

Dublin, Ireland

Flying to Europe from the U.S. in the summer will typically cost around $1,000 or more. But flights to certain European destinations are quite affordable in the coming months. Dublin is small and easy to walk around, ensuring travelers can see and do most of what the city has to offer in a single weekend. Admire the beautiful architecture of the famous St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Walk east for nine minutes to reach St. Stephen’s Green and appreciate the park’s original Victorian layout. Trinity College Dublin, one of Dublin’s most prestigious universities, is only a six minute walk north of the park. The college’s Long Room is eye candy for book nerds.

For the beer and whiskey enthusiasts visit to the Guinness Storehouse brewery or the Jameson whiskey distillery.

Sunset over the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France

Paris, France

Visiting Paris in the springtime is recommended, but it’s so much more affordable in February and March, with some flights ranging between $500 and $600 dollars. Much like New York, there is always plenty to see and do in Paris. Must do outdoor activities include riding to the top of the Eiffel Tower, admiring Notre Dame Cathedral, visiting at least one historical Parisian cemetery. Keep out of the elements at one of Paris’ many museums, the Louvre Museum being one of the most famous for housing Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and the Louvre Pyramid. For modern art lovers, visit the Pompidou Center or the Jeu de Paume.

  This article was posted on Hipmunk's Tailwind blog by The Hipmunk on February 2nd.

Although Tennessee is decidedly in the South, it's far from the first destination you imagine when you think of late winter travel. Still, Tennessee is an incredible state to visit during January, February, and March—and not just because of lower rates on hotels. Whether you belt out "Jolene" as you fly along the tracks of a Dollywood rollercoaster, warm up with BBQ in Memphis, or look out onto the Appalachians from charming Chattanooga, Tennessee is calling your name this winter.

Dollywood Theme Park

Perhaps you'll fly along the tracks of a rollercoaster, perhaps you won't: In winter, many of Dollywood's rides are open only when the weather cooperates. With this being said, Dollywood is absolutely delightful in the winter, if only due to lighter crowds. Alternatively, relax at your hotel or resort in Pigeon Force, and enjoy spectacular views of the Smoky Mountains, which surround you.

Gatlingburg and the Smoky Mountains

Speaking of the Smoky Mountains, the city of Gatlinburg might be even more well-positioned to enjoy them than Pigeon Forge. When you stay in Gatlinburg, you not only lack the distraction of Dollywood (however delightful it may be), but you're also closer to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which occupies more than half a million of unadulterated mountain scenery, which looks particularly beautiful covered in snow.

Chattanooga and the Appalachian Foothills

With attractions like the Tennessee Aquarium, Creative Discovery Museum, a world-class zoo, the city of Chattanooga would be exciting, even if it didn't sit amid the foothills of the Appalachian mountains. It does, of course, which simply adds nature to the mix of amazing things to do in Chattanooga, in winter and summer alike. Enjoy the view from Lookout Mountain, walk the trail at Rock City, or cozy up to the waterfall inside a cave at Ruby Falls.

Knoxville

That Knoxville is quirky and even kitschy won't come as a surprise to you if you know anything about the city's history, namely that it hosted the World's Fair in 1982. Knoxville, however, is much more than the Sun Sphere, the ubiquitous symbol of this less-than-classic event—and even than its winter highs, which average in the upper 40s and low 50s Fahrenheit. Explore the Knoxville Museum of Art, walk along Gay Street, or get creeped out in the Old Gray Cemetery.

Memphis

Memphis is much more than blues and BBQ, but both of these happen to be at their best during the winter: Blues clubs like B.B. King's Blues Club insulate you from the wind; and barbecue joints such as Central BBQ add a little padding to your body for when you're out in the elements. Plus, rates on even the finest Memphis hotels are much lower than normal, which thereby saves more money for music and meat.

Then again, if there's one big truth about Tennessee, it's that it's much more diverse a destination than it gets credit for, no matter the time of year—these give destinations merely scratch the surface! Can you think of any other Tennessee destinations worth visiting in winter?

  Main image credit

  This article was posted on Leave Your Daily Hell by Robert Schrader.

There are few things more quintessentially American than the landscapes of the West and the emotions they evoke. Whether you come for the pink sunsets, the forlorn-looking cacti or the abandoned ghost towns, traveling in the western part of the U.S. will leaves its mark on you. No matter where in this picturesque region you travel, choose a hotel that matches the rusticness of the surrounding scenery.

Spanish Colonial Santa Fe

Santa Fe has a population of under 70,000, but it's so full of amazing attractions that there are almost as many reasons to visit as there are people from living there! Tour historical structures like Loretto Chapel or the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis, or marvel at something more modern as you walk in the footsteps of Georgia O'Keefe. Many Santa Fe hotels are as scenic and picturesque as the city itself, from the El Rey Inn to the Eldorado Hotel & Spa.

Laughlin's Colorado River Chill

Laughlin is no Las Vegas, but there's still plenty of excitement to be had in this Nevada town—and yes, a couple casinos as well! The Davis Dam, for example, is a smaller answer to the Hoover Dam farther down the Colorado River, while theGrapevine Canyon Petroglyphs document a time long before modern gambling. Hotels in Laughlin tend to be as simple as the desert scenery that envelopes them, but because of this they're cheap, with rooms at Edgewater Hotel & Casino, for example, costing as little as $18 per night.

Bend: Oregon Starts Here

The Oregon town of Bend hasn't achieved the ubiquity of Portland or even Eugene, but there are few better spots in the state to start your trip. Discover the nearby Deschutes National Forest, hike to the top of the Newberry National Volcanic Monument, or immerse yourself in the history of the High Desert Museum. Sleep in a spot as stunning as your surroundings, like the Sonoma Lounge or Pronghorn Resort.

Skiing is Just the Beginning in Aspen

Aspen has gained infamy as a ski hub for the celebrities, but in reality, you don't need to be savvy on the slopes in order to enjoy this Colorado town—you don't even need to be into the outdoors! Aspen has its fair share of culture, for example, such as the Wheeler Opera House and the Aspen Art Museum. Season shouldn't be a deciding factor for you either, as year-round hiking spots like Independence Pass and Maroon Bells prove. Hotels in Aspen aren't cheap, but the views they offer are priceless.

Central California Starts in Fresno

In spite of great attractions like Forestiere Underground Gardens and Chaffee Zoo, the city of Fresno pales in comparison to many of the sights around it, namely Yosemite National Park. The city makes a great hub for exploring that region, however, whether you head inland toward the Sierra Nevada or outward toward the coastal Highway 1 Discovery Route. Fresno is also a low-cost destination, with prices on hotels like Days Inn Fresno as low as $50 per night.

Then again, the American west is as limitless in destinations as the horizon line you see driving through it. Can you think of any other can't-miss places to visit in the Western U.S.?

  Article posted on Leave Your Daily Hell by Robert on February 10th.

The Carolinas are a fantastic destination to enjoy a historic hotel. Well known for their Southern hospitality and charm, historic hotels here exude luxury, and are fine examples of culture, architecture and art. They are always fabulously located near their city's main attractions, and in fact, some even qualify as the main attraction themselves.

Depending on the season and the time of year, you can often even finding a cheap hotel deal. The following are the most standout historic hotels in the Carolinas.

Inn on Biltmore Estate, Asheville

Hotels in Asheville offer travelers the chance to stay just off the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway, and if looking for an accommodation experience which combines luxury with a historic hotel, the Inn on Biltmore Estate is where you want to stay.

This 4 star upscale hotel sits on the historic estate and puts you within a 15 minute drive of the area's main attraction; Biltmore House. This is the largest privately owned home in America; a 250 room French Renaissance château built by George Vanderbilt in 1895. Guests of the hotel can enjoy an outdoor pool with views of the Mountains, enjoy a bite to eat in the Library Lounge, and enjoy the same level of personalized service the Vanderbilts would extend to their friends.

The Dunhill Hotel, Charlotte

The Dunhill hotel is a fantastic choice of accommodation in Charlotte; a boutique hotel with sophisticated accommodations steeped in history and surrounded by modern significance.

Guests are conveniently located close to museums, art galleries, nightlife, shopping and the CBD. The hotel opened in 1929 and is among the few National Trust Historic Hotels of America in North Carolina. It has been fully restored and is now a landmark in Charlotte's cultural district and arts community.

Marriott's Heritage Club, Hilton Head

In the historic district of Hilton Head Island, Marriott's Heritage Club is close to Baynard Plantation Ruins, Harbour Town Lighthouse and Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge.

This property has an outdoor pool, a fitness center and spa tub, as well as complimentary internet access in public areas. Spacious two-bedroom villas are fully self-contained, and rooms open out onto beautiful patios. This accommodation is a perfect base for those looking to spend a relaxing vacation in Hilton Head.

Kings Courtyard Inn, Charleston

An enchanting blend of history and southern hospitality, culture and cuisine, architecture and art, Kings Courtyard Inn in Charleston embodies all the qualities of a truly remarkable historic hotel.

Decorated with original hardwood floors, antique furniture, oriental rugs, four-poster canopy bed, a fire and modern technology, guests enjoy modern creature comforts balanced with the quaint coziness of a historic inn.

Hampton Inn by Hilton Columbia Downtown Historic District

In the center of downtown Columbia, Hampton Inn by Hilton is a traditional hotel in a fabulous location, a mere 15-minute stroll from Bicentennial Park, and 1 miles drive from the University of South Carolina.

Classic rooms offer free WiFi and flat-screen TVs as well as desks and coffee makers. Suite upgrades offer extra living space, as well as pull-out sofas, microwaves and whirlpool tubs.

  This article was posted on Mapping Megan by Megan.

South Carolina's long summers, unique Southern flavors, and geographic beauty make it a picture-perfect travel destination. To get the most out of your trip, get out your checklist and make sure you have all your unforgettables. As you pack, keep these five travel essentials at the fore of your mind.

Weather-Appropriate Clothing

South Carolina is in a subtropical zone so its summers are hot and humid. Winters are mild at about 60 degrees average but temperatures can certainly drop to the 30s in the early mornings and nights. Factor in the storm season, which runs from summer to fall, and sporadic rain throughout the year.

You’ll need light, breathable, cotton clothes for the humid months as well as sunglasses and wide-brimmed hats. Carry layers for the winter season so you can adjust to changing temperatures. Bring rain gear such as a collapsible travel umbrella and a thin poncho you can fold up and tuck out of sight in the corner of your handbag.

Your Best Beachwear

Most of the things you'll need will really depend on your itinerary and how you plan to spend your time. If you have your sights set on the beach, pack a bathing suit. A destination like Isle of Palms, a barrier island in the Charleston area, has miles and miles of raw shore for great strolls and phenomenal sunsets. Don’t forget your cover-up and several beach towels, plus your hat, shades, and healthy sun protection for your skin. Pack a stylish tote that can hold everything you’ll need for your beach outing.

No-Nonsense Fitness Gear

Sometimes getting away is the perfect time to assess your fitness level and amp up your goals for physical health, so pack your fitness gear. A resort town like Hilton Head Island gives you a lot to tackle at once. It has 12 miles of beach, yoga studios, gyms, world-class tennis facilities, and over 60 miles of biking trails. Pack sneakers with great foot support, comfortable athletic clothes, a visor, sports shades, and extra cash for renting any equipment you might need.

Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Hilton Head Island

Must-Haves for Outdoor Expeditions

South Carolina's seductive landscapes and coastal proximity offer great opportunities for adventure-lovers. Whether you're sailing in ocean waters among bottlenose dolphins, horse-back riding across golden fields, or canoeing among old bald cypresses in the Congaree National Park in Columbia, there are plenty of options that will get you closer to Mother Nature. Among the items you might need are: binoculars, waterproof footwear, a backpack, sketchbooks and journals, camera film and memory cards, insect repellant, hats, and long-sleeve shirts and pants for bug protection.

Essentials for Walking Tours

The South's urban vibrance combined with its significant heritage offers up unique experiences, from extravagant shopping tours to the stunning architecture that defines Charleston, and phenomenal learning experiences like those you'll find at the Boone Hall Plantation in Mount Pleasant. You’ll probably do a lot of walking, so you’ll need dependable walking shoes, a daypack, and a good plan for water and refreshments.

Most importantly, plan your itinerary for your entire trip. The more prepared you are when you get there, the more you can focus on creating amazing memories to bring back home.

This article is part of Hipmunk’s Destination Unknown travel series.

  This post was published on Heart & Soul by Kemba Banton.
AUTHOR: Kemba Banton is a writer, artist, and mother, passionate about life, social change, and personal empowerment. She has a B.A. in Anthropology and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing. She’s teamed up with Heart & Soul and Hipmunk to bring intriguing tidbits about travel destinations across the world.

Oregon and Washington are two of the most beautiful states in America. The extensive rainfall of the Pacific Northwest provides the flora and fauna with ideal conditions to thrive, making the landscape and wildlife of the region some of the best in the USA. The varied terrain and geography offers something for all types of nature enthusiasts, from plentiful coastlines to breathtaking mountains, with everything in between. Consider these destinations for your next trip to the Pacific Northwest.

Salem, Oregon

The beauty of Salem is that even though it is the capital of Oregon, it doesn't feel that way. It has the subdued appearance and vibe of a quiet little town nestled among the trees. During the warm summer months the city comes alive with weekly farmers markets and other social events. While the city might not be as hip as Portland, there are still plenty of amazing sights and activities both in and around town. Definitely visit one of many vineyards scattered outside of town, and be sure to catch the Oregon State Fair if you are visiting at the end of August or early September.

Old railway bridge in Salem, Oregon
Old railway bridge in Salem. Photo by Max Rae via Flickr.

Bend, Oregon

The mountain town of Bend, Oregon is arguably the most beautiful part of the state. Multiple rivers snake through town and snow-capped mountain peaks dot the horizon. Several nearby lakes lay just a short drive outside of town and are great for a day-trip or camping trip. The pristine beauty of Bend makes it a favorite among both amateur and professional photographers.

Mirror Pond in Bend, Oregon
Mirror Pond in Bend. Photo by Gordon via Flickr.

Spokane, Washington

Spokane is another one of these American cities that has undergone a revitalization this last decade or two and become a hotbed of live music, craft beer and hip events. Add to that the natural beauty of the surrounding area and all the amazing outdoor activities year-round and it's evident why Spokane is so well-loved by adventure travelers. It is an incredible winter wonderland for those craving snow but also a fantastic summer destination as well.

Historic Howard Street truss bridge over the Spokane River Middle Channel in Spokane, Washington
Howard Street Middle Channel Bridge in Spokane. Photo by cmh2315fl via Flickr.

SeaTac, Washington

Planning to fly to Seattle or Tacoma, Washington? Then you'll be landing at the small city of SeaTac, home of the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. While tourism is not too big here, business is, especially given the city's strategic location between an airport and a seaport. As such there is no shortage of hotels, with most stretching along Pacific Highway 5 or located within a minute or two of it. If looking for a luxury stay, it doesn't get much better than Cedarbrook Lodge. Or if budget is the name of the game, there are several options below $50/night from the discount chains.

Blue skies over the SeaTac/Airport station in Washington
Blue skies over the SeaTac/Airport station. Photo by atomictaco via Flickr.

Kent, Washington

Next door to SeaTac is the city of Kent, also part of the Seattle Metropolitan Area but a world of difference. The small city has nearly 75 parks, some of them over 100 acres in size. Much like its neighbor city, Kent is also home of some prominent businesses including REI and Boeing. However the peaceful surroundings and how easy it is to enjoy the countryside beyond make this an ideal choice for anyone seeking relaxation.

Green crops-a-growin' in Kent, Washington
Green crops-a-growin' in Kent. Photo by nicenecktie via Flickr.

  Featured photo by Sheila Sund via Flickr

Summer is coming, and the beaches are calling. Whether it be on the east coast, the west coast, or the Gulf, get ready to feel the sand between your toes. These five destinations are family friendly but also offer plenty of activities that will appeal to adults of all ages--but especially those still young at heart. Get ready for a fun summer!

Gulf Shores, Alabama

When it comes to overlooked family destinations, Gulf Shores should be at the top of everyone's vacation list, with 32 miles of pristine white sands. It's the home of both the Gulf State Park and the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge, as well as more than half a dozen different golf courses--even a mini golf center for the kids. There's Waterville USA and the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo, not to mention a seemingly never-ending number of water-based activities in the warm Gulf waters. What are you waiting for? Get packing and come on!

Marina del Rey, California

The beachside Los Angeles suburb of Marina del Rey is small but beautiful. The area gets its name from the marina, which is actually the world's largest small boat marina in the world. Marina del Rey is home to over 5,000 boats and yachts, Burton Chace Park, Mother's Beach, and Fisherman's Village, which has appeared in numerous movies and TV shows over the years, including one of my favorites, Arrested Development. Other must-visit attractions include the famous Venice Beach and refreshing Yvonne B. Burke Park.

Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Known for its many miles of boating canals and iconic riverwalk promenade, Fort Lauderdale has long been a popular year-round destination. Besides all the obvious aquatic activities, there is a sprawling city to explore full of museums, parks, shopping districts, casinos, live music venues, delicious restaurants, and sports arenas. The area is also home to hotels of all budgets, including the immaculate Lago Mar Resort Hotel & Club for discerning travelers, as well as several more affordable chain options.

Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

For those looking for a romantic luxury getaway, look no further than Hilton Head Island. This upscale island paradise is full of beautiful beaches, meandering rivers and streams, relaxing parks, lavish resorts, 24 sprawling golf courses, and over 350 tennis courts. While these are all perfect for couples, those traveling with children might consider checking out Disney's Hilton Head Island Resort. Located on an island within a river, this is arguably Hilton Head's most impressive resort.

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Everyone in America knows the name Myrtle Beach, but the city is popular with international tourists as well. Beyond the 60 miles of soft beaches lies an exciting and fun-filled city to explore. For adventurous travelers, there are adrenaline-packed activities like NASCAR races at the Myrtle Beach Speedway, ziplining, and even skydiving. Water lovers will find that their days are full of parasailing, jet skiing, kayaking, and scuba diving. Are arts and culture more your thing? Myrtle Beach is home to a wide array of museums, historical tours, live music venues, and, of course, the Duplin Winery.

Kailua-Kona is the jewel of West Hawaii. This breathtaking tropical paradise is on the leeward side of the island and as such receives much less wind and rain. As a result, it's a great place for scuba diving or practicing your surfing skills before tackling the tougher waves on the eastern shore. But where to stay in Kailua-Kona? That depends on what you plan on doing while you're there.

Location is Everything

Want to be right in the center of Kailua-Kona and have everything you need mere footsteps away? Look no further than Uncle Billy's Kona Bay Hotel. Situated right in the center of the bay, Uncle Billy's offers both rooms with a view and ground-floor suites with direct access to Hale Halawai Park. The massive Kona Inn Shopping Village is located right across the street and can satisfy almost all your shopping needs. Beyond that, Uncle Billy's is surrounded by water-based sights and activities, ample restaurant and bar options, tons of shopping, and, of course, the best cultural events.

Stay Cliffside

The cliffs of Kona Bay, Big Island, Hawaii
The cliffs of Kona Bay. Photo by Robert Linsdell via Flickr

Perched on the cliff edges 1 mile south of Kona Town lies Aston Royal Sea Cliff, one of the most beautiful properties in the area. With spacious suites that include a full kitchen with all the appliances and utensils, as well as a washer and dryer, this is the perfect choice for guests planning a longer stay, families, or other large groups. Two pools on site enable you to enjoy a salt-free swim while basking in the tropical sun and enjoying the magnificent view.

Bigger & Better

Bigger isn't always better, but in the case of Royal Kona Resort, nothing could be more accurate. This massive resort has been one of the area's premiere accommodation options since 1968 and now consists of three huge oceanfront buildings with nearly 450 rooms, sprawling grounds, multiple pools (including a kids' pool), tennis courts, and a fitness center. Located just a short 10-minute walk from the town center, Royal Kona Resort is close to the action but not too close.

Save a Few Dollars

Don't plan on spending much time in the hotel room? Then don't waste any more money than necessary when paying for lodging. Kona Seaside Hotel is one of the cheapest hotels in the Kailua-Kona area, and you won't have to sacrifice on service or cleanliness just to stay to budget. The hotel has a large pool and even owns the Splashers Grill next door, which means you can have delicious dishes and thirst-quenching drinks delivered poolside.

  Featured photo by Robert Linsdell via Flickr.

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