The Envoy Hotel
Travelers wanting to avoid tourist traps and overcrowded attractions should visit some of North America’s understated vacation spots for their last hurrah.
Are you looking for a destination where you can enjoy a tranquil “Summer Above Par” sans the heavy crowds that inundate popular vacation spots come late summer? Your guide to avoiding people-packed discotheques, loud restaurants, populated beaches and much-visited parks awaits below as we take a look at seven relatively uncrowded locales with plenty to offer.
The Newbury Boston
BOSTON | Massachusetts
Instead of the typical beach vacation in Cape Cod or Nantucket, consider visiting Boston. This historic New England vacation spot captivates travelers with its wealth of museums, parks and charming neighborhoods. We love walking the Freedom Trail that lays out this country’s early days.
Head to the Seaport neighborhood and stay at the trendy riverfront Envoy Hotel. Spend golden hour moseying around the ponds and greenery of Boston Common, eventually finishing off the day with cocktails at the handsome Street Bar on the bottom floor of luxe hotel, The Newbury Boston.
VALLE DE GUADALUPE | Mexico
Valle de Guadalupe is less than two hours by car from the San Diego/Tijuana border. The Baja California locale is known for its abundance of luxe wineries, ambrosial restaurants and design-forward hotels. Sip varietals at Clos de Tres Cantos—the winery’s architecture is meant to be a mélange of medieval France and the Mayan pyramids. Dine with vineyard views and farm-to-table dishes at Fauna, often called one of Mexico’s best restaurants.
Stay at Encuentro Guadalupe, a 22-room haute boutique hotel built into the area’s bouldering landscape. If you’re not in the mood to spend the night, 12-hour day trips are a great alternative, especially when arranged by local expert Erick Rosales. Simply park your car on the U.S. side of the border, walk across the pedestrian bridge into Mexico, and meet him on the other side for a day of tasting and touring.
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The Inn at Newport Ranch
THE MENDOCINO COAST | California
Take a four-hour road trip north of San Francisco to California’s overlooked Mendocino Coast. Peace and serenity are the atmospheres in this subdued vacation spot, especially at The Inn at Newport Ranch in Fort Bragg. Situated among 2,000 acres of grassy beaches, woodsy forests and tranquil meadows, the hotel looks out at the picturesque Pacific Ocean. Horseback riding, on-site hiking, luxe accommodations and California-inspired ranch cuisine at the property’s restaurant are just a taste of what you can expect during your stay.
When visiting San Diego, travelers often flock to popular beach towns such as Coronado and La Jolla. However, it’s the surfer, boho-chic neighborhood of Encinitas that needs to be on your radar.
Twelve Senses Retreat
ENCINITAS | California
When visiting San Diego, travelers often flock to popular beach towns such as Coronado and La Jolla. However, it’s the surfer, boho-chic neighborhood of Encinitas that needs to be on your radar. Elect to eat breakfast at local haunt, Potato Shack Café, followed by lunch or dinner at signature seafood restaurant, the Encinitas Fish Shop. Spend the night at the holistic-engrained Twelve Senses Retreat—a Design Hotel member bed & breakfast that’s a short drive away from the area’s beaches and main shopping district’s earthy boutiques, retro thrift shops, surfboard vendors and tasty eateries.
MEXICO CITY | Mexico
Consider skipping the crowded beaches of vacation spots Cabo and Tulum for a trip to uber-cool, culturally-rich Mexico City. Choose to stay in the metropolis’ Roma Norte neighborhood, which has a smattering of beaux-arts style buildings that house modish art galleries, independent boutiques, as well as hip restaurants.
Don’t miss a thing and tour with expert guide, Rodrigo Salas. Walk Calle Colima’s tree-lined streets and pop into the trendy 180 Shop. Dine in elegance at aristocratic-mansion-turned-restaurant, Nueve Nueve; and, finally, book a room at Mexico City’s coolest new accommodation, the 17-key Brick Hotel. There are many hotels in Mexico that offer unique and luxurious experiences to travelers.
BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK | Texas
If you like the sun, warm temperatures, hiking and a desert atmosphere, Big Bend National Park, should be on your radar. Activities in largest protected area of the Chihuahua Desert in the U.S. range from dips in the Rio Grande River to mountainous hikes at Chisos Basin. Isolate from the rest of the world and spend the night at Willow House, a minimalist enclave in the nearby town of Terlingua that hosts 12-modernist, cube-angled rooms inspired by American artist Georgia O’Keefe’s passion for nature and southwestern style.
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SANTA CATALINA ISLAND | California
Southern Californians or those simply looking for an island escape should take the ferry from Los Angeles’ or Orange County’s mainland marina towns, such as Long Beach and Dana Point, to Catalina Island. There’s something for everyone at this coastal vacation spot: Ocean lovers can snorkel the fish-abundant sea, architecture enthusiasts can tour the iconic harbor-front casino, adventurists can jeep mountaintop trails and observe bison (yes, there are herds living on the island), and history lovers can explore the main town Avalon’s storied streets.
End your day at Mt. Ada Bed & Breakfast, the former isle escape for chewing gum magnate William Wrigley Jr. and his wife, Ada. Equipped with upscale mansion-style suites, summit-top views of the Pacific Ocean and expansive terraces, this charming former manse, completed in 1921, continues to enchant visitors.
Brandon Berkson is the founder of Hotels Above Par, an expert-curated guide with under-two-minute articles designed for the hip traveler who is short on time.