Shermanstravel Blog

Romance

Napa Valley - James Daisa - 620

Napa and Sonoma both offer great wines, great food, and incredible experiences, but because there’s so much to do in each county that visitors usually focus on one or the other. Which is the best option for you? Here’s a guide for how to choose.

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dessert - christine wei - 2

The last thing you want to think about on vacation is how to eat well. But overindulging while away can mean extra work to get back in shape when you return home.

The good news? There are lots of little things you can do to minimize the damage and take advantage of your destination’s local fare at the same time. Registered dietician Cheryl Forberg — who’s the nutritionist for NBC’s “The Biggest Loser” and a brand nutritionist for Omni Hotels and Resorts — offers specific tips for different types of escapes.

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NorthForkProduce

The Hamptons may steal the vacation spotlight during the summer season, but once autumn arrives, it’s all about the North Fork of Long Island — where farm stands and wineries offer peak-season products. If you crave fresh produce and local wines, this area is the perfect destination for a quick getaway. Weekends in October draw extra traffic, so consider a weekday stay to relax and enjoy the area like a local.

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Home to just over 108,000 residents the small, multi-cultural island of Aruba draws visitors with its white-sand beaches and crystal clear waters. Its convenient location just outside of the hurricane belt also means there’s no bad time for an escape to this tropical paradise. Check out our slideshow of the island’s highlights here.

Holiday Inn Resort Aruba

Fresh off a large-scale renovation earlier this year, the Holiday Inn Resort Aruba is not what you’ve come to expect from the global mega-chain. The brand’s standards are still there — its signature green sprinkled throughout the property and commitment to family-friendliness — but the resort’s spectacular oceanfront views and longest stretch of beach on the island are just as inviting to those looking for a romantic escape or group getaway. No matter which three of these categories your vacation falls into, you’ll return home dreaming of the soft white-sand beaches. Read more

Vineyard

Sure, Napa and Sonoma are stunning, but the United States is chock-full of smaller wine regions worth a visit — in particular, the North Georgia Mountains. This hamlet of America offers hiking, river rafting, and dozens of vineyards and wineries that makes for an ideal romantic weekend or girlfriend getaway from Atlanta. Pack your bags for a tasting and be sure to save room to bring back a bottle (or three).

Wineries to Visit

Crane Creek, pictured above, is a stunning 1886 farmhouse-turned-winery and event venue. You’ll feel like home when sipping a glass of  Sweet Sally, the fruity dessert blend named for the winery’s pup.

Hightower Creek is a family-run winery that fully celebrates the area’s heritage, particularly with their Deliverance red blend.  Soak up inspiring views of the Blue Ridge Mountains as you sip a robust red.

Cavender Creek in Dahlonega hosts wine tastings and live music every weekend — it’s the perfect time to sample their Farmhouse Peach, a blend that incorporates local peaches and muscadines for a tart and sweet dessert wine.

Where to Stay

If you’re staying for longer than a day, base yourself in Helen, Dahlonega, or Young Harris, as these picturesque stowns have the most options in terms of accommodations. We recommend the range of choices at Unicoi State Park and Lodge, which boast camping and hotel rooms, as well as the luxurious suites at Brasstown Valley Resort.

Driving the area is your best bet if you can manage it, as most of the towns and wineries are 20-30 minutes apart. But if you prefer the ease of a tour with the benefits of a designated driver, you can visit with VIP Southern Tours, which visit many of the wineries in full- or half-day tours.

JekyllIslandHotelClubFacebook
Autumn in the Southeast is a glorious time to visit as summer’s humidity dies down to make way for cooler days. And there is nowhere more posh than Jekyll Island Club Hotel, a former private retreat turned tony hotel on its namesake barrier island off the coast of Brunswick, Georgia, midway between Jacksonville, Florida, and Savannah, Georgia.

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Exterior

Captain’s Manor Inn isn’t a full-fledged hotel, but the label “bed and breakfast” hardly seems to do it justice. Don’t get us wrong — we’re huge fans of B&Bs, so we don’t mean it derisively by any means. The intimacy and character of an independent inn, after all, is something that big hotel chains are actually trying to emulate. But when’s the last time you stayed at a bed and breakfast with a dedicated housekeeping staff, with a regular afternoon tea hour in its “bistro” and rain showers in guest bathrooms?

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tourism fiji

As the days continue to get colder, you may find yourself fantasizing about your next tropical getaway. While the Caribbean islands are a popular choice, it’s worth the extra hours on the plane to head to the South Pacific instead.

Of the thousands of postcard-perfect islands in this vast region of the Pacific Ocean, it quickly became clear to me on a recent trip why Fiji is one of the most popular tourist spots here. You’ll discover the white sand beaches, turquoise waters, top rate scuba diving and snorkeling among vibrant coral reefs — and so much more. With 333 islands, only a third of which are inhabited, Fiji is diverse not only in its environment, but also in its culture.

Here are some reasons to consider Fiji the next time you’re craving a real escape.

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falmouth - cape cod - the knob - christine wei

Just a 90-minute drive from Boston, Falmouth and its neighbor Wood’s Hole are two of the most accessible destinations on Cape Cod. While Wood’s Hole is largely characterized by its ferry to Martha’s Vineyard and the academic presence of the Marine Biological Laboratory, Falmouth boasts a historic downtown area that’s laid-back but not boring. Between these towns, and the endless stretches of beach and ocean — plus the possibility of day trips — you’ll have plenty to do, whether you’re staying for a day, or a week.

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You know you can ask the concierge to arrange a jeep tour or recommend a local restaurant. But did you know they’ll also hunt down the perfect souvenir or replace those dress slacks you forgot to pack while you lounge by the pool?

Most concierges want to do whatever it takes to make your stay comfortable and enjoyable. The best part is that the concierge’s time and expertise is usually complimentary, though you’ll of course be charged for items and services purchased on your behalf. Gratuities aren’t mandatory but are always appreciated (a simple thank you in person or a sincere email when you return home go a long way, too).

Here, some surprising requests that you can ask of your concierge:

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If there’s one responsible thing you do over Labor Day weekend, let it be solidifying your Thanksgiving plans. We know it’s difficult to think ahead to the next big holiday while you’re still working on taking advantage of the current one, but we hear from our friends at Hipmunk that airfare is expected to rise significantly after the holiday. If you don’t already have a destination in mind, consider some of our favorites for Thanksgiving.

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dr franks vinifera wine cellars - christine wei - 620In upstate New York, there’s a 2.6 million-acre region characterized by rolling green valleys and sprawling open space, and it’s just four hours from Manhattan. Yet, Finger Lakes wine country doesn’t receive nearly the attention it deserves as a breezy summer escape or a fall foliage getaway — or an excellent anytime jaunt for wine lovers.

While varietals like fruity Rieslings and peppery Cabernet Francs are the hallmarks of the region — the climate is nearly identical to that of Germany’s Mosel region — more refined reds are also starting to take hold. This quirky destination draws a savvy crowd of visitors with an appreciation for natural beauty and laid-back hospitality. Those who prefer a more personal experience, and a slower pace, will find few highly commercialized experiences in its 11,000 acres of vineyards. Instead, small estates, run by multi-generational families, each boast their own flair and character. A wealth of independent museums, state parks, and other attractions round out any trip.

Wine country is divided into three distinct trails, along Keuka, Seneca, and Cayuga Lakes. Like the individual wineries, each of these lakes have a vibe and history of their own. Here’s a guide to finding your ideal trail, plus some of our favorite spots along each lake.

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sunset on cruise deck - Samantha Beddoes - 620

Cruise lines lure couples onto their ships with promises of romance for all ages. After all, what could be more lovely than watching the evening sky turn pink across a calm sea with your loved one?

Indeed, cruisers typically travel in pairs, says Cruise Lines International Association, with married couples representing 80 percent of the passengers. We can think of a few ways to kindle the fire on any itinerary — like cozying up with a room service dinner or making a reservation at an intimate specialty restaurant. You can always spring for a side-by-side massage at the spa and try the hot tub after dark (when kids who run around during the day will be all tucked in). Or, during a port of call, why not take a horseback ride on the beach or sign up for a two-person parasailing excursion?

But for those who want to take romance to the next level yet, cruise lines also offer many romance and special event packages that feature amenities designed to create just the right mood:

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Captiva Island, Phil BramwellWhen it comes to island vacations, the fun begins before you even get to your hotel, or to the island itself: first, you have to cross the water that surrounds it. The hour-long drive to South Seas Island Resort over the Sanibel Causeway is a picturesque introduction to what’s to come: exotic birds, other-worldly plant life, and dramatic sky.

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