Alabama’s Gulf Coast isn’t all about the beaches: the 6,000-acre Gulf State Park between Orange Beach and Gulf Shores, for example, has six different ecosystems, including wet pine flatwoods, live oak maritime forests, coastal dunes and swales, longleaf sand ridges, freshwater marshes, and coastal hardwood swamps. You can explore them all by foot or bike on the paved, 15-mile Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail, keeping a sharp eye out for white-tailed deer, foxes, and alligators. After a day of pedaling, geocaching, and birding, settle down for the night at one of the park’s new outpost campsites, built on platforms and equipped with bunk beds, grills, and canvas tenting. Not into roughing it? Segway tours of the trail are available, too. 
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Carmel-by-the-Sea simply sounds like a romantic getaway destination, and this longtime artists’ haven on California’s Monterey Peninsula (chronicled by Jack London, among others) lives up to its name with surfing and snorkeling beaches as well as a downtown chock-a-block with museums, galleries, restaurants, boutique hotels and inns. Among the latter is the new Hotel Carmel, where the 27 guest rooms exude beach-cottage charm with private balconies and en suite fireplaces. Couples can hide out in the private courtyard or step out onto Ocean Avenue, Carmel’s main dining and entertainment boulevard. Day trip options include motoring along 17 Mile Drive to Pebble Beach, sampling the bounty of the Carmel Valley wine country, or soaking up the beauty of the California coast at Point Lobos State Nature Reserve. Book it here: Hotel Carmel. 
If you’ve always dreamed of carving up the surf like a pro, Surf City’s family-friendly beach—where the summertime waves are small and gentle—is the ideal spot to take a lesson or two. Pack up your beach gear before sunset to catch the vivid clouds from stroller-friendly Surf City Pier. And don’t forget to pop into the souvenir shop for some hand-dipped ice cream.
If you're looking for a beach vacation destination that offers active summer sports as well as easy access to a city famous for its history and quirky charm, check out Hilton Head Island. Located 45 minutes from Savannah, Georgia, it has carved a niche with its focus on golf, tennis, biking and nature walks, along with a plentiful supply of hotel rooms (major resorts include Marriott, Sonesta, Omni and Disney) and condo and house rentals in all price ranges. Day trips to Savannah add antiquing, historic home tours and lowcountry cuisine (shrimp and grits, anyone?) to the mix.

Latin America’s new it destination is Panama, and its mascot is the starchitect-designed, sail-like Trump Ocean Club. Everything is over the top, from the slick service (customized mini-bars, personalized stationery) to the soon-to-open private island beach accessible by sailboat. You’ll spend most of your time on the 13th-floor deck, where cabanas surround five infinity pools with views of the water and the tony Punta Pacifica neighborhood.
In most beach towns, oceanfront digs will set you back hundreds—but not in Pismo Beach, a sandy playground on the Pacific Coast of central California. Stay at Cottage by the Sea, a newly-renovated hotel set against a backdrop of shimmering surf and golden bluffs, and you can fall asleep to the sounds of lapping waves for under $200 a night. The scenic property also offers complimentary continental breakfast, an oceanfront pool, and bucolic gardens abloom with poppies, sage, and evening primrose. Wine country is nearby should you want to sip the region's best cab sauv’s, as is the sprawling Hearst Castle, where the publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst lived from the 1920s into the ‘40s. Prefer to stay closer to home? We’d recommend a guided kayak tour of the coastline through Central Coast Kayaks.
Campgrounds let you plan a cheap stay, without breaking the bank and often give you the flexibility to bring your family dog or pet. Once you pay for your camping spot, you can cook your own food and have a family BBQ. Cabins are another great way to go. Take a look at these affordable wilderness cabins on the East Coast where you will have access to lake beaches, complete with kayaking, boating and swimming.

Latin America’s new it destination is Panama, and its mascot is the starchitect-designed, sail-like Trump Ocean Club. Everything is over the top, from the slick service (customized mini-bars, personalized stationery) to the soon-to-open private island beach accessible by sailboat. You’ll spend most of your time on the 13th-floor deck, where cabanas surround five infinity pools with views of the water and the tony Punta Pacifica neighborhood.
Get the peaceful retreat you deserve by booking your own vacation rental from TripAdvisor—the option that gives you an entire home for the duration of your stay, stocked with all the amenities you could wish for. And once you decide on a destination, you can book all your tours, activities, and attractions right on TripAdvisor, too. Plus, our new 24-hour cancellation policy means you can pre-book before arriving, but still have the flexibility to cancel if your itinerary changes.
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