Didn’t summer used to come with a break? Now it’s basically just a three-month stretch sewn together by soccer tournaments, play dates and work conferences. Last year, you promised that the weekend at the lake wouldn’t be the season’s biggest highlight again. We’re here to make sure you stand by that pledge by listing perfect places around the map for you and your crew to unwind and forget about everything for a little bit. While carpooling duties are great, we think it’s finally time they take a backseat to a cruising in a yacht in Nantucket.
Our Forbes Travel Guide editors came up with their list of top summer getaways to ensure you get your proper dose of sun and relaxation this season.
For the ultimate summer escape, the Vineyard beckons with its charming shingled cottages, fresh lobster and beautiful beaches. Just as essential is a stay at intimate, one-of-a-kind The Charlotte Inn. The Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star hotel has a treasure trove of antiques (we spied a vintage Louis Vuitton trunk in the Coach House) and wins you over with homey touches (tea or sherry in the cozy Green Room, manicured grounds with English gardens and friendly resident golden retrievers).
Key West, Florida
The Marker Waterfront Resort has a brilliant location — the first new hotel construction in Old Town Key West in 20 years is just minutes from lively Duval Street. But we also love the inviting family pool area. While the kiddies have a blast in the water (you never know what the dive-in cinema has in store), keep an eye on them just a few feet away at Cero Bodega with a grilled mahi-mahi sandwich and an unbelievable mango margarita.
When the weather warms up, the beaches of Long Island’s east end fill up. This season’s hot spot is Montauk. There, Gurney’s Montauk Resort & Seawater Spa boasts its own 2,000-foot stretch of private sand where you can spread out on a cushy daybed. Or head inside for the warm, sand-filtered seawater pool protected by floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the ocean and doors that open onto a deck for more summer sun.
Hush puppies, oysters and grits on a rooftop overlooking charming Charleston? Yes, please. At the newly renovated The Restoration, you can dine on Low Country favorites alfresco after meandering King Street. Head to the Forbes Travel Guide Recommended boutique hotel’s rooftop for an epic Fourth of July party where you can indulge in barbecue and watch the city’s fireworks up close.
Why have your family visit the closest shoreline for summer vacation when you could dig your toes in the sand in exotic Bali? At Sofitel Bali Nusa Dua Beach Resort, take advantage of the Magnifique Family offer and get 50 percent off your second room plus free breakfast for kids under 8 years old. After fueling up, you’ll want to head straight to the stunning beach for volleyball, soccer and water sports like jet skiing and snorkeling.
Given Nantucket’s whaling heritage, which inspired the likes of Moby Dick, it’s almost required to hit the seas this summer. But there’s no need to rough it with The White Elephant’s custom-made Hinckley yacht. Decorated in navy, white and elephant-print fabric, the 36-foot classic lets you explore Nantucket Harbor, the Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge, the remote Tuckernuck Island or Martha’s Vineyard. After your seafaring journey, you get to stay at the luxe Four-Star White Elephant with its lovely harbor views and sleep-inducing beds.
Santa Rosa Beach, Florida
Other parts of Florida might be better known, but there are few places in the Sunshine State more worthy of your vacation time than Santa Rosa Beach. Part of 30A (the stretch of fun road between Panama City Beach and Destin), this town is calm and quaint. Four-Star WaterColor Inn & Resort is a beach-chic getaway tucked in between the cute boutiques and tasty restaurants. Grab its Summer Perks Package to get bikes, beach club access, canoes and kayaks.
Summer in San Diego is about as blissful as it gets — it’s never too hot or too cold, and there’s endless gorgeous scenery. Located 30 minutes inland from the city, Viejas Casino & Resort has all this plus a stellar outdoor event space that hosts DJs and musical acts on Saturday nights and blockbuster movies on Sunday evenings throughout the summer season.
Sure, Florence is a popular destination come summer but the luxurious trappings of Four-Star Hotel Brunelleschi, an ancient boutique property steeped in history, offer respite from the city and the ever-crowded but utterly thrilling Palio Siena, the famous annual horse race on July 2 and August 16. The hotel provides private transfer in a Mercedes complete with Wi-Fi and refreshing amenities to boot.
While some insist that The Bushwacker cocktail was invented in Pensacola, Florida, we believe Bert Belot, a pleasant bartender at Forbes Travel Guide Recommended The Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas’ Essenza, who says that he came up with the drink decades ago in a U.S. Virgin Islands bar. Stop by the polished trattoria for cocktail origin stories in between rides on the 53-foot Lady Lynsey yacht and scavenger hunts for young visitors.
For a quiet getaway, opt for Cambridge Beaches Resort & Spa. The adults-only gem prides itself on making everyone from former NFL stars (the property hosts the annual Bermuda Golf Classic) to newlyweds feel at home. Expect warm staffer smiles and sensational suite views along with new improvements (the delightful Breezes is morphing into an all-season eatery this year). Reserve the Stay More, Save More deal and you’ll be rewarded the longer you linger in the sand.