Let's say you have a long weekend (cough, Memorial Day is coming up, cough). And, let's say your regular getaway choice just isn't cutting it. You're not inspired. You're not excited. You're ready something new.
Dare we suggest something international? Because, despite what the nay-sayers will say, your passport is absolutely compatible with a long weekend -- if you know where to look. And we here at Oyster.com definitely know where to look. No matter where you live in the U.S., there is an easy international getaway you can successfully fit into a long weekend without feeling overwhelmed or spending all your time en route. Check out our picks.
If you live in the northeast, mid-Atlantic, or southeast, the entire Caribbean is at your beck and call. But if we’re talking long weekends, there are few better places than the Dominican Republic, specifically the all-inclusive (read: don’t-worry-about-a-thing-because-hey-your-time-is-limited) resorts of Punta Cana. We’re talking 70- to 80-degree, year-round temps, white sands, and no buildings taller than a palm tree (seriously – it’s the law). Sweetening the pot, this beachy island locale has its own airport, so as soon as you land, you’re there.
Hotel Pick: The spectacular Sanctuary Cap Cana (pictured) looks like a castle and will treat you like royalty. A weekend getaway doesn’t get much more perfect than beachfront and all-inclusive.
The juxtaposition of mountains and sea, and city and nature is on full display in Vancouver, one of the world’s most “livable cities.” For culture vultures, urbane downtown Vancouver is a weekend Shangri La of museums, theater, shopping, and cuisine, while outdoor enthusiasts are quick to take to the mountains, beaches, parks, and gardens. Spring and summer are the perfect time of year to enjoy the lush gardens that line the stunning beaches of English Bay, or to dine al fresco on posh Robson Street. We especially love the fact that, since Vancouver is western Canada’s financial center, the city calms on the weekends; at times, you almost feel like the city is yours, all yours. Almost.
Hotel Pick: Treat yourself to a glam weekend at the Loden Hotel (pictured), a luxury boutique with a spa, French bistro, and free bikes.
If you’re thinking tropical but don’t want to hit the beach, book a flight to Costa Rica. Pause that double-take for a moment; we did say not the beach. Because, while Costa Rica has beautiful beaches, this eco-paradise adds up to more than its over 800 miles of coastline. Take Arenal/La Fortuna, for example: home to the active Arenal Volcano, the “adventure capitol of Costa Rica” is a gateway to whitewater rafting, zip-lining, waterfall rappelling (you read that correctly), nature hikes, horseback riding, and so much more. And when you’ve worn yourself out with high-adrenaline fun, be sure to set aside some time (or heck, the entire weekend) to soak in the area’s volcano-fed mineral hot springs.
Hotel Pick: The Springs Resort & Spa is a super-luxe retreat with volcano views, five restaurants, and an 18-pool hot springs.
Spring and early summer are perfect times to visit this city by the river, which we feel is best toured on foot or by bike (and perhaps the occasional boat). We love that French-speaking Montreal is just a few hours away by plane, but feels foreign enough to make for an exotic vacation. And it’s not just the language that’ll charm you: Old Montreal’s cobblestone streets, quaint architecture, vintage shops, and fancy wine bars offer up more than a few perfect ways to pass the time (and fill up your camera with awesome snaps). Splash out on an evening at one of the city’s top-rated restaurants.
Hotel Pick: The Hotel Nelligan is a historic boutique hotel in Old Montreal.
If just the thought of Cancun makes you think “tourist trap,” you’d be right — but also wrong. In reality, there are two Cancuns: one, a party-hearty, spring-breaker paradise; and the other, a quieter version of the mega-resort, where couples, families and solo travelers escape for quick getaways to Mexico. Cancun’s Hotel Zone is flexible, so you can enjoy it however you please. And whatever that way is, you’re guaranteed a long weekend of turquoise water, beautiful beaches, top-notch shopping, and delicious cuisine.
Hotel Pick: Located in the quieter area of southern Cancun, the Westin Resort & Spa Cancun is a luxurious weekend getaway — a turquoise-and-white-sands beachfront resort with everything you need. Bonus: it’s close to the airport.