Most people think of Mexico as a beach getaway—but that would mean missing out on the country’s bustling, buzzy, easy-to-reach metropolis. A weekend here can be as busy or laid-back as you choose. Those who want to see the sights will have no shortage of options, including Bosque de Chapultepec—where you can rent a paddleboat in the lake and tour an 18th-century castle—and exploring the frenetic Centro Histórico, which is home to the Zócalo (or main square), National Palace, and Palacio de Bellas Artes.Couples staying at the stylish, five-room Ignacia Guest House can linger over a traditional breakfast in the orange tree-dotted courtyard before aimlessly wandering hand-in-hand along the neighborhood’s cafe-and boutique-lined streets. As for where to eat, it’s all about a low-high approach; for example, al pastor tacos from Taquería los Parados for lunch, followed by a candle-lit dinner of über-seasonal, French-inflected dishes at Máximo Bistrot (make reservations in advance). Post-meal, cozy up for drinks at the recently renovated Four Seasons Hotel Mexico City, whose Fifty Mils bar has one of the best cocktail programs in town. Looking to splurge? Book a sunrise hot-air balloon ride over the nearby pyramids of Teotihuacan through Journey Mexico—complete with a sparkling wine toast upon landing.
The Windy City has been upping its cool quotient for the last few years, thanks in part to design-forward hotel openings like The Robey in Wicker Park, the Ace Hotel in the West Loop, and—most recently—the 365-room St. Jane, set in an Art Deco building on Michigan Avenue. (Hyde Park’s art-focused Sophy Hotel is still to come.)The city’s skyline shows off some amazing architectural feats, best seen through the Chicago Architecture Foundation, which offers walking tours and cruises around the river. If you’re a first-time visitor, it’s worth facing the crowds for a kissing photo op at the iconic Cloud Gate, just steps from the very-worthwhile Art Institute of Chicago. To see the bean-shaped sculpture—and the entire waterfront—from above, stop in for a bite or drinks at Cindy’s, the rooftop bar at the Chicago Athletic Association hotel. For a dream tasting-menu dinner date, reserve a table at Elske, which means “love” in Danish. The minimalist spot is run by a husband-and-wife team that works wonders on dishes like poached halibut with bok choy, glazed mussels, and chamomile. And don’t miss Kumiko, a soon-to-open bar from mixologist Julia Momose that will offer an omakase-like cocktail experience.
Charleston, South Carolina
Southern charm is real, y’all, and it’s front and center in Charleston, whether you’re slurping oysters at The Ordinary, sipping some vino at the new Graft Wine Shop & Bar, or checking into the impeccably designed Zero George boutique hotel. A good way to get acquainted with the city is on a horse-drawn carriage tour with Palmetto Carriage Works around downtown. A stroll to the White Point Garden on the waterfront—where you can spot Fort Sumter in the distance—will take you down cobblestone streets lined with envy-inducing houses decorated with flower-filled window boxes. You can get a glimpse inside at a number of historic homes; our favorite is the quirky Calhoun Mansion, where every surface is covered in the owner’s collection of art and antiques.Fans of The Notebook should subtly make a case for visiting Boone Hall Plantation and Gardens in nearby Mount Pleasant, which was the setting of Allie’s summer home. You’ll feel the magic driving onto the antebellum grounds, thanks to its nearly mile-long driveway lined with towering Live Oak trees, planted back in 1743.
East Coasters can take advantage of overnight (and affordable!) flights to this fairytale of an island, courtesy of WOW Air and Icelandair. (Both airlines also offer free layovers, should you want to stop there on the way to Europe.) You’ll land in Reykjavik in time to have the whole day to explore one of the most delightful cities in the world. Don’t miss going to the top of the Hallgrímskirkja church (from above, the Crayola-colored houses look like Legos).The best part about staying at the Kvosin Downtown Hotel—besides its amazing location and apartment-style rooms—is that breakfast at the café Bergsson Mathus is included. A weekend is just long enough to fit in the Golden Circle, a popular route that takes you to three major sights: Þingvellir National Park, Geysir (a, you guessed it, geyser), and Gullfoss waterfall. Along the way, you’ll drive by otherworldly landscapes and have to resist the urge to pull over every 10 minutes. The Blue Lagoon geothermal bath is another tourist spot that’s on every “must-do” list—and thanks to the opening of the luxe Retreat hotel, we highly endorse an overnight visit. (It’s located on the way back to the airport, making for an ideal final night.) The dreamy rooms look out onto moss-covered lava fields, and the on-site subterranean spa offers in-water treatments.
As far as quintessential New England destinations go, Portland is high on the list—especially during the summer, when days can be spent taking sailboat rides with Portland Schooner Co. and eating lobster rolls at classic waterfront restaurants like Portland Lobster Company.Make your base the new Francis hotel, which has the intimate feel of a B&B—only a luxurious one whose 15 clean-lined rooms have hardwood floors, touches of blue and grey, and mini-bars that feature local items like Liquid Riot whiskey and canned cocktails from Maine Craft Distilling. Through October 31, you can sign up for a bike tour through Summer Feet Cycling for a ride that will take you to five lighthouses, including Portland Head Light.For a romantic stroll, head to the Eastern Promenade, which has views of boat-filled Casco Bay, surrounding islands, and Fort Gorges. And Kittery favorite Bob’s Clam Hut opened a Portland location last week in an area brimming with restaurants, including the Drifters Wife, a gastropub known for its natural wine list. If you want to be in-the-know about the city’s food and drink scene, sign up for the newsletter from Eat Drink Lucky before you depart.
Palm Springs, California
A spate of new and renovated hotels over the last year has put this classic desert oasis in Southern California back in the traveler’s spotlight. There’s the 28-room Holiday House, a 1950’s motel turned Instagram-ready property, as well as the Kimpton Rowan Palm Springs, which has the only rooftop pool in town.If you can tear yourself away, head to Truss & Twine for some wine and small plates made with local ingredients. (The spot has the Samira Wiley stamp of approval—The Handmaid’s Tale and Orange is the New Black actress got married there last year, and visits often.) Don’t miss a visit to Sunnylands, home to an historic estate owned by the late philanthropic couple Walter and Leonore Annenberg. You can see the inside on a private tour, or take a bird-watching walk through the beautiful grounds. Architecture buffs will love seeking out the mid-century modern homes designed by the likes of Richard Neutra and Albert Frey.
Big Sur, California
A year after a devastating mudslide, the last closed section of California’s Highway 1 just reopened—and that means road trips up the coast to Big Sur can resume.Ventana Big Sur took advantage of the forced downtime and revamped and rebranded as an Alila Resort, now with super-romantic glamping tents (think plush mattresses and a bath house with heated floors and marble vanities) set right among the redwood trees. There’s also a new spa that offers a two-hour “herbal bliss” treatment just for couples. The best days begin with any of the baked goods from Big Sur Bakery—the perfect fuel for a hike at Point Lobos State Natural Preserve or Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. (We recommend going back for one of their wood-fired pizzas.)
Catskills, New York
For another camping getaway without the roughing it, head to New York’s Catskills Mountains, about 140 miles from Manhattan—specifically the town of Windham, where you’ll find the new Scandi-inspired East Wind Hotel & Bar. Of its 19 rooms, three are A-frame cabins, which include comforts like Frette linens, Faribault wool blankets, WiFi, and private bathrooms. After days spent hiking, visiting the Saugerties Lighthouse, and exploring the surrounding area, you can come back to relax at the bar (open Friday to Sunday), in front the fire pit, or in the extra-large hot tub. If you’re up for a drive, you could make the 40-minute trip to Germantown for dinner at local favorite Gaskins.
Anguilla & St. Martin
You could spend a long weekend on either of these postcard-perfect Caribbean islands or—thanks to a short ferry ride between them and two newly renovated Belmond properties—experience them both.Come November, Belmond Cap Juluca—the only hotel on Maundays Bay’s beach—will reopen after a top-to-bottom redo that added a beachfront infinity pool, a spa, and a right-in-the-sand food truck. Need more convincing? Every room comes with a private terrace. And in St. Martin, the revamped Belmond La Samanna will begin welcoming guests in December, complete with pastel-hued guestrooms and a waterfront bar for sipping Champagne as the sun goes down. And to make it easy, Belmond will be offering a five-night package that includes two nights on Anguilla and three on St. Martin, including transfers.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Couples looking for a stress-free escape will feel their blood pressure slow upon arriving at Amangani, located above Jackson Hole at the foot of the Teton Mountains. Reveling in the outdoors is the No. 1 priority here, what with Grand Teton National Park at its doorstep and Yellowstone National Park just an hour away (and on-site naturalists leading private tours). And things don’t slow down in the winter, when activities include dogsledding, showshoeing, and skiing. In addition to a heated outdoor pool and whirlpool, there are 40 suites with private decks or balconies and deep soaking tubs, from which you can gaze at the mountains just outside your window.