Checking off new bucket-list destinations is no doubt an exciting feeling, but there are some places so special that they’re worth experiencing more than once (or twice). So, what is it about a destination that lures us back time and time again? Is it finding comfort in the familiar? Is it the joy of uncovering something new in the same old place? From domestic locales close to home to international destinations that require a plane ride, these are the places we come back to ever year.
1. Mexico City and Oaxaca
“I go to Mexico City and Oaxaca every year in February. As a New Yorker, it’s nice to be reminded that there are warm, dry places on the planet at that time of year. Weather aside, Mexico City’s cultural scene is so deep that it’s impossible to get bored. This includes more major museums than any city in the world, incredible queer and alternative nightlife scenes, independent galleries, and ancient history, as well as the pace and vibe of the city’s street life. February happens to coincide with Mexico City’s major art fairs as well. I usually tack on a trip to coastal Oaxaca, too — it’s far less developed and touristy than Mexico’s other major beach regions, and gives me a chance to completely unplug.” — Kyle Valenta, Executive Editor at Oyster.com
2. Hudson, New York
“Every year, I do a weekend jaunt up to Hudson, New York to escape the car alarms and crushing subway commutes that are my day-to-day life in NYC. Hudson is a little New England dream, chock-full of antique shops and surrounded with rich foliage that grows even more dazzling in the fall. But there’s no bad time to visit Hudson — I’ve been in the middle of winter, and its charm is still in full effect, with crackling fireplaces in the local bars and B&Bs. The food scene is also outstanding, powered by Hudson Valley farms, with restaurants that would rival any in the city. And there’s a flourishing art scene, too. Be sure to save an afternoon for a day trip to Hyde Park or Dia:Beacon.” — Maria Teresa Hart, Executive Editor, What to Pack
“With so many places on my bucket list, I try not to revisit destinations. However, the one exception is my hometown of San Antonio, Texas, where much of my family and friends live. Fortunately, there’s plenty to see in San Antonio and the surrounding area. The River Walk, when its trees are lit up for Christmas, is magical; the Pearl District hosts a farmers’ market on Saturday, with live music, fresh produce, and one of my favorite coffee shops, Local Coffee; and the outdoor La Cantera mall is ideal for window-shopping. For me, no trip is complete without filling up on some of the best Mexican and Tex-Mex food around. Often when I’m home, my family and I will also take day trips to the German town of Fredericksburg — also popular for its wineries — and Boerne, which is packed with charming boutiques and antique stores. If you’re visiting San Antonio, Mokara Hotel and Spa along the River Walk is one of the top places to stay. Sophisticated rooms, a stellar restaurant, free access to the top-notch spa, and a small heated rooftop pool make it a fantastic value.” — Lara Grant, Editor at Oyster.com
“It’s no exaggeration to say that the highlight of my fall is an annual trip to the North Carolina State Fair. I pack up my two little Brooklyn nieces, and down south we go for a fun-filled whirlwind weekend every October. We load in all the State Fair highlights — the pig races, the Zipper (so scary!), and games on the Midway. We’re there for all of 10 minutes before the girls are toting around fluffy rainbow-colored prizes. For sustenance, we’re all about the ham and fried chicken biscuits, with airy funnel cakes and Howling Cow cones (NCSU’s homegrown ice cream, so worth the insane lines) for good measure.
All the major hotel chains have Raleigh outposts, and the boutique hotel scene there is really booming (and Raleigh/Durham’s amazing food and drink scene is a whole other conversation). My family loves the Guest House Raleigh in historic Oakwood for its chic, simple design and cute cottage out back that’s perfect for parents with kids. The Mayton Inn in revitalized Cary has an elegant vibe and live music, and singer/songwriter Tift Merritt is in the process of transforming a vintage motor lodge in downtown Raleigh into a hip boutique inn. Over in Durham, there’s a branch of the 21C Museum Hotel, and the wonderfully retro Durham Hotel. (I highly recommend a fancy cocktail with Durham Distillery gin.)” — Anne Olivia Bauso, Editor at What to Pack
5. Bristol, Rhode Island
“Since college, I’ve spent nearly every Fourth of July celebrating in Bristol, Rhode Island. My friend’s aunts live in the quaint seaside town, and it is home to the oldest Fourth of July celebration in the country. A group of us drive up every year from New York and join in the festivities, which include watching fireworks from their sailboat, waking up at the crack of dawn to reserve our spot on the parade route, and drinking alcoholic slushies (a secret family recipe) way too early in the morning. After five years straight, I really can’t imagine celebrating the Fourth in any other way.” — Elizabeth Allocca, Senior Photo Editor at What to Pack
“Every summer, I look forward to taking the short ferry ride from Manhattan or Brooklyn to Governors Island. It’s hands-down my favorite place in New York City. It’s car-free, peaceful, and has an amazing view of the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline. There are free ferry times on weekends, and when I arrive, I grab a Citi Bike for a pleasant spin around the island. I usually conclude with a picnic and reading my book in the grass.” — Laura Hinely, Senior Photo Editor at Oyster.com
“My yearly vacation is very close to home. I take the A train from Manhattan out to the Rockaways in Queens, New York. For the unvitiated, Rockaway is one of the cleanest and most accessible stretches of public beach in the five boroughs. After Hurricane Sandy, the area was revitalized and now includes a bikeable boardwalk, surf school, and swimmable shores manned by lifeguards. Eating and drinking is easily done at casual beachfront spots like Rippers, but it’s worth venturing inland to Rockaway Beach Boulevard to enjoy craft pizzas at Whit’s End and Central Asian plates at Uma’s. A few boutique shops and an ice cream parlor with an artificial beach backyard are other worthy stops. Rockaway has a local feel — this isn’t the Hamptons — and that’s the whole point. Don’t even think about getting back on the A train until you’ve had a frozen pina colada at Connolly’s Bar.” — Megan Wood, Editor at What to Pack
8. Washington, D.C.
“No matter your political views, Washington, D.C., makes for a great long weekend getaway in the summer, spring, winter, or fall. It’s easy to reach from NYC, whether driving or taking the bus or train, and the metro makes it navigable once on the ground. Yes, America’s capital is teeming with historic memorials, monuments, and museums (don’t miss the Hirshhorn Museum, Lincoln Memorial, and Capitol Building), but you’ll get more than a history lesson, too. I enjoy visiting the different breweries (DC Brau and Atlas Brew Works are two favorites), fueling up on food from Union Market, exploring charming areas like Adams Morgan, and catching a show at one of the cool music venues such as The Anthem. Every year, I visit my brother, who has lived there for nearly a decade, and we still discover new things each time.” — Alisha Prakash, Senior Editor at Oyster.com
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