Welcome to AvantStay! We believe you deserve so much more than an ordinary short-term vacation rental experience. But what makes AvantStay different? We’re all about what you can dream. Every travel experience should be one-of-a-kind, filled with hospitality and free of worry. We shine with our attention to detail, commitment to customer service, hotel-quality amenities, and services like a dedicated concierge team to ensure every stay with us is more unique than the last. In choosing us, you’re not just choosing another short-term rental company—you’re choosing an elevated experience.
Homes Catered To Groups
We have homes of all types, but most of our homes are best experienced with friends and family. Large dining areas, state-of-the-art kitchens, and yards great for gatherings make getting together with all your loved ones a breeze. Plus, plenty of bedrooms (many with their own bathrooms) means no one’s sleeping on the couch this time.
A Dedicated Concierge
With our extraordinary concierge team at your disposal, you can let your imagination run wild when it comes to trip activities. To start, we offer services like you would expect at a five-star hotel — in-room massages, mid-stay cleanings, and private transportation. But, when you’re staying with us, the sky’s the limit! From booking a private chef to prepare dinner for the family, to pre-stocking your fridge with groceries before you arrive, to even arranging for hot air balloon rides or local excursions, our concierge team can make any vacation dream you have a reality.
As travelers ourselves, we know how crucial the interior design of a home can be when planning the vacation of your dreams. We’ve actually built an in-house interior design team. And it’s not just any interior design team—they’ve actually won awards for it, including best design from Marriott Homes & Villas in 2021. We make sure our homes match the vibe of your trip, whether it be on the coast or in the woods, so you’re fully immersed in the magic of your vacation.
Our homes are also decked out with amenities, so you’ll never be sitting around wondering what to do next. From cornhole to board games, from billiards to the hot tub, we believe fun comes in all shapes and sizes and is best experienced with your loved ones. The amenities for each home are different (our estates collection has some truly awe-inspiring ones), but we can promise that you will never be bored.
Customer Service By Humans, For Humans
Our dedicated area managers are here to make sure your experience is delightful. We also have team members available 24/7, so even if you need something in the middle of the night, we’re there to help. That way, you aren’t at the whim of the homeowner’s availability and you won’t get a computer trying to help you in a crisis. We want every aspect of your experience to be as relaxing as possible, because that’s why you go on vacation in the first place.
On top of the personal relationship we keep with our guests, we also take deep care and thoughtful steps to ensure our homeowners feel proud and reassured when their property is in our hands.
We pride ourselves on:
Best-in-class in-field operations
Smart-home technology to keep our homes and guests safe
Complimentary updated interior design
A proprietary software platform that manages it all and keeps homeowners informed
We care for these homes as though they were our own (some are even employee-owned), and we continue to build and grow sustainably to build value for our homeowners. If you’re interested in partnering with us, you can learn more about our Vacation Rental Management.
While most of our properties are homes designed for group travel as mentioned above, we also have cozier rentals and even boutique hotels, because sometimes you just want to get away without the crowd. Most importantly, we’re ever-growing to fit the needs of the modern-day traveler, meaning we’re adding new properties in new destinations all the time.
Seasonal depression back and worse than ever? We feel that. But this winter doesn’t have to be all bad. We’ve compiled our favorite destinations for you to escape the cold and spend your days soaking up the sun – because you deserve it!
1. Coachella Valley, CA
Come to Casa Palmera in Coachella Valley for an escape from your average winter. Spend days in bikinis sipping margaritas by the pool and hot tub, or chef it up in the outdoor kitchen. Get the group chat ready – this stay can fit up to 14 guests and it’s here to provide you all you need for the perfect winter getaway.
2. Destin, FL
Beach day anyone? It’s always sunny and 75 here at Seas To Tango in Destin. This Tuscan style home is a 2 minute walk to Destin’s Miramar Beach and comes with a lovely landscaped backyard with a pool, gas grill, and BBQ grill. If you’re craving a shopping spree, head to Silver Sands Premium Outlets where you can shop til you drop.
3. Joshua Tree, CA
Winter doesn’t exist here at Desert Bloom. Located in the desertscape that is Joshua Tree, this vacation home is all you need for a mid-February escape. Enjoy al fresco dining, days spent grilling, ping pong, a charming brick fireplace, and plenty of lounge areas.
A winter wonderland, minus all that pesky snow and ice. Hono Hideaway is a 3 bedroom condo in the Ka’anapali Shores Resort in Maui. With gorgeous views of the beach from your bedroom, fully remodeled spaces and a spiral staircase, this Hawaii stay is straight out of your dreams.
5. Palm Springs, CA
Warmest of welcomes to Palm Springs! The Llama House is aptly named as it is filled with colorful llama-themed decor. This vacation home was featured on HGTV and has two cabanas, a pool, sun loungers, and a fire pit for maximum sun-soaking.
6. Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Entering your snowbird era? Try a trip toSea Breeze in Fort Lauderdale. Enjoy yard games like cornhole and bocce ball. Decompress with sounds of the ocean mixed with sounds of the pool’s waterfall. Spend sunsets by the fire pit and cheers to a winter done right
Spoil your group with a trip to Sol House in Scottsdale. This lovely vacation home is one of our favorites for escaping the cold days. With its backyard pool, cornhole, fire pit, and modern interior design, it’s sure to be a winner to you, too.
8. Austin, TX
Looking to cross Austin off your bucket list? The winter months are ideal for a trip to ATX. If you’re one of those who wants to move to a city as soon as you visit, proceed cautiously to Dawson. With its lagoon-style pool, views of Lake Travis, and expansive decks, you might be convinced to migrate down south after a stay here, too.
Is there an Isle of Palms getaway in your future? We have your guide to the top things to do for your Isle of Palms itinerary! From enjoying time on the beach, kayaking, and other outdoor activities to sightseeing and exploring the history of the area, there are plenty of fun things to keep your group entertained. Check out our list of the best Isle of Palms attractions and things to do during your next beach vacation.
Spend the Day at Isle of Palms Beach
The beach is a must during any Isle of Palms vacation. The Isle of Palms County Park features a public beach park with all of the amenities needed for relaxation and family fun. Head to this centrally located beach park on the island to stroll the boardwalks, take a swim in the warm Atlantic Ocean, and even join a game of sand volleyball! For those looking to sit back and relax with their beach read, umbrella and chair rentals are available to ensure a perfect setup for you and your family. You can even stay beachfront at an AvantStay vacation home like High Tide or Derby.
Hit a Hole-in-One at the Wild Dunes Links Golf Course
Whether you are an expert on the greens or a novice looking to practice your swing, you’ll enjoy a round of golf on the Wild Dunes Links Golf Course. The oceanfront, 18-hole golf course is one of the best in all of South Carolina and was designed by renowned architect, Tom Fazio. Book a tee time or lesson at this oceanfront golf course for a morning of outdoor fun during your Isle of Palms vacation!
Reel in a Catch on a Fishing Charter
Get out on the water with an Isle of Palms fishing charter. Trust a local captain to be your guide to navigate either inshore waterways or offshore waters and assist you in casting fishing lines to reel in prized catches of redfish, tarpon, spotter trout, flounder, and even the occasional shark! Experienced anglers or first-time fishermen will enjoy an expedition led by a knowledgeable local angler.
See the Island by Kayak, Paddleboard, or Boat
And if you want to get out on the water without casting a fishing line, jump in a kayak or on a paddleboard. Watersports enthusiasts can find plenty of ways to explore Isle of Palms whether they are out on a kayaking expedition, paddleboarding, or experiencing a wildlife tour with Barrier Island Eco-Tours.
Admire the Sullivan’s Island Lighthouse
Known locally as the “Charleston Light,” Sullivan’s Island Lighthouse has been a staple of the South Carolina shoreline since 1962. Today, the lighthouse continues to shine nightly to guide passing ships while during the day the lighthouse is a popular sightseeing destination. The lighthouse is not open to the public, but the nearby beach access is a popular spot to pose for photos and to view the iconic structure. The nearby Sullivan’s Island Life Saving Station is a historic site that provides further architectural interest and charming grounds to explore.
Explore Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie National Historical Park
Experience the history of Charleston Harbor at Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie National Historic Park. The park consists of a series of fortifications along Charleston Harbor and Sullivan’s Island. Fort Moultrie has a history stretching back to before the Revolutionary War when the forts were utilized as a quarantine station checking every passenger coming into the harbor including Africans who were enslaved. In 1776 the fort was attacked by the Royal Navy. Fort Sumter marks the location of the first shots of the Civil War on April 12th, 1861 and became a significant factor in the Siege of Charleston. Today, guests are able to visit these historical sites and learn the history from rangers of the park.
Enjoy Oceanfront Cuisine
IOP is a hub for delicious coastal and low country cuisine. Enjoy an ocean breeze and delicious seafood dishes at a local beachfront eatery. Coconut Joe’s Beach Grill which offers ocean views, casual beachside eats, and a rooftop bar. During peak season, live music can often be enjoyed at this popular beach grill. For a romantic setting with a menu filled with southern specialties, head to The Boathouse! Sit down to enjoy dishes such as raw oysters, surf & turf, and pan roasted scallops that can be paired with a seasonal cocktail or a glass of wine. Delight your taste buds during a stay in an Island of Palms vacation home like Crawdad or Orchard.
Stroll Through Charleston
Known for its cuisine, history, nightlife, shopping, and more, Charleston sits a ~40-minute drive away from IOP, making it an ideal day trip during your vacation. Plan a day to head inland to explore Charleston’s landmarks like Rainbow Row, The Battery, Charleston City Market, King Street and so much more. Downtown Charleston is a hub for foodies, shopping, and stunning parks filled with oak trees. Take a walking tour to get the most out of your day in Charleston and really learn the history of this unique coastal city!
Dance the Night Away at The Windjammer
After the sun goes down, dance the night away at The Windjammer. A live music venue located on IOP’s Front Beach, The Windjammer invites visitors to enjoy performances from local bands, tribute bands, and more. The Windjammer also offers a menu of casual beach cuisine, so you can combine dancing with snacking on shrimp baskets. Check the event schedule to see what live performance you want to jam along with during your next beach vacation.
Experience the Best of Isle of Palms
Ready to experience the beauty, history, and fun that awaits on Isle of Palms? Make your own itinerary of Isle of Palms must-dos to prepare for your beach vacation.
Looking for a top-tier Hilton Head retreat but you’re overwhelmed by the options on Airbnb or Vrbo? We’ve got you covered!
AvantStay offers a large selection of upscale escapes, complete with concierge services and inspiring design. With consistent experiences, group-friendly amenities, and incredible interiors, there’s no guesswork needed here.
Hilton Head offers 12 miles of gorgeous shoreline, tons of outdoor areas and preserves, and a luxe culinary and golf scene. There are plenty of beaches, nature, entertainment, and shopping to explore on the island, while the mainland remains easily accessible just over the bridge. Something as simple as a scenic drive is enough to take your breath away as you pass East-coast woods and babbling rivers. If you’re looking for something more exciting, there’s plenty of fresh seafood, live music, and rich history to explore.
With homes near the beach, surrounded by golf courses, and with incredible ocean views, AvantStay’s options are endless. No matter what’s on your “must-haves” wishlist, these seven vacation rentals have you covered.
1. Lido – I want the beach in my backyard.
A quick stroll down your private boardwalk puts you on the shores of Singleton Beach. At Lido, sandy shores are literally in your backyard. When you’re done lounging near the waves, a beach-facing pool and hot tub, unique indoor putting green, and a game room with billiards and shuffleboard are all waiting back at home.
2. Beachwalk – I need lots of space.
With three stories and seven bedrooms, Beachwalk has enough style and space for your entire group. The beach is minutes away, and you’ll even have a private pool and pier overlooking open space right outside. Bonus! This stunning home has a deck and/or balcony on each level, so everyone has room to take in the fresh air and Hilton Head sunsets.
3. Dory –Put me near the eats!
If you’re looking to experience the best of Hilton Head’s food scene, Dory lands you near some of our favorites. From fine seafood to casual bites, there’s something here for any palate. At home, you’ll find a private pool and hot tub, game room and yoga studio, and rustic yet contemporary beachy decor.
4. Hilton Lagoon –I’m ready to hit the green.
Surrounded by lush courses, Hilton Lagoon puts the best of the area’s golfing at your fingertips. Choose from multiple championship and luxury golf courses, all nearby. Back at home, your backyard features a private pool surrounded by greenery, giving you a luxe sense of privacy after a day of perfecting your swing.
5. Sandpiper –I want to fall asleep to the sound of waves.
Modern design with crashing waves right outside. At Sandpiper, chic details like a spiral staircase, wide hammock, and interior fireplace combine with unbeatable backyard beach access to give you a Hilton Head experience like never before. Throw open the windows. There’s no shortage of fresh, salty air here.
6. Osprey – Give me chic neutrals and coastal-inspired design.
Osprey boasts a contemporary aesthetic like no other. From al fresco meals at the gorgeous outdoor dining table to music sessions near the guitar and record player, every corner of this home feels like a photo op. Chill out among the bright neutrals in the front living room and sunny dining area, or get moody with the darker decor in the second family area.
After lounging by your private pool, head out to explore Harbour Town, where you can enjoy restaurants, shopping, watersports, live music, and the famed cane-striped lighthouse.
7. Sea Pine – I love tons of outdoor space.
With three massive deck areas, Sea Pine gives you space to spread out. Gather around the fire pit, dine under open skies at the outdoor table, or grab a lounger under an umbrella. Huge sliding glass doors and floor-to-ceiling windows in the living room bring the outside in, where you’ll find stone finishes, modern decor, and four bright bedrooms. Late-night hangouts are a breeze in the airy game room featuring billiards, a wet bar, and a double-sided fireplace.
The short-term rental market continues to grow exponentially with both supply and demand at an all-time high. Domestic travel, especially in drive-to markets, remains steady even in the current economic climate. To get a better understanding of what guests look for when booking a vacation, we dove into the numbers.
Using 6 months of proprietary data (January 1, 2022 – June 30, 2022) from AvantStay.com and over 25,000 vacation rental bookings, we learned more about where guests want to travel, how they’re traveling, and what matters to them most during their stays.
These destinations reigned supreme as travelers planned their getaways in the first half of 2022. Country music fans flocked to Nashville and snowbirds headed south and out west to escape the cold. Here are the top 10 most searched-for destinations on the AvantStay platform:
Oregon Coast, OR
San Diego, CA
Big Bear, CA
Lake Tahoe, CA
Coachella Valley, CA
Get to know our guests
We combine the amenities of a hotel with the comfort and privacy of a home, creating the premier vacation rental platform for group travel. We’ve hosted over 750,000 guests in groups of all sizes, but here’s a snapshot of an average AvantStay reservation:
4.5 days – average length of stay
6 – average number of guests per booking
Wednesday – most popular day to book a trip
More short-term rental trends and guest preferences
Interested in more vacation rental trends and what AvantStay guests consider “must haves” when booking a stay? Check out our complete 2022 Vacation Rental Trends report for the top amenities filtered for and more!
Here at AvantStay, we don’t think the good views should stop after your hike. We’re firm believers in staying at a vacation home that makes you feel on top of the world, day and night. In this roundup, you’ll get to see 10 of our favorite vacation homes with mountain views. Whether you’re looking for a getaway in wine country, Tahoe, or the Smokies, we’ve got you covered.
1. Sugarland – Smoky Mountains, TN
A stay in The Smokies is always a good idea. Bring the whole crew to Sugarland where the views are plentiful and the activities are too. Enjoy swims in the indoor pool and movie nights in the home theater. With room for up to 28 guests, there’s room for everyone (even your in-laws).
2. Camila – Temecula, CA
It’s wine country wonderful here at Camila. This Temecula oasis has plenty of outdoor seating so you and your group get max mountain views while you enjoy your new fav local wine. Inside, you’ll enjoy a koi pond, foosball, billiards, and lovely architecture. Cheers with a hot tub sesh as the sun sets and you’re reminded you just booked your best vacation rental yet.
3. The Purcell House – Oregon Coast
Welcome to your dream Oregon Coast escape. Soak in the panoramic views on this home’s wraparound deck. Cozy up with your book of the moment in the yard. Take a turn on the tire swing. Walk five minutes down to Manzanita Beach. Where the mountains meet the ocean is where you, too, will experience the perfect harmony that is The Purcell House.
4. Belleza – Sonoma, CA
ISO your next WFH destination? Meet Belleza – a Sonoma stay with gorgeous architecture, design, and even better balcony views (ideal for making coworkers jealous of your Zoom background). Spend days lounging by the infinity pool or prove who’s grill master under the shaded grill and chill area. In the spirit of showing off, take your shot at pouring shots and making delicious cocktails at the chic wet bar.
5. Juniper – Lake Tahoe, CA
Not to be dramatic, but picking a favorite mountain view from our homes in Lake Tahoe was probably the hardest thing we did today. After some intense meetings, we agreed on Juniper. This stay comes with a wonderful swing, hot tub, al fresco dining, and the type of view you wish you could bottle up and save forever. Inside, you’ll enjoy warm cabin vibes and space for you and up to 9 guests.
If you feel like leaving the views and exploring Tahoe, check out our top things to do on your trip.
6. Cherry Ridge – Breckenridge, CO
Can you believe we made it this far into the list without mentioning our Colorado stays? Neither can we. While we have many gems in the Rockies, Cherry Ridge has to be our dream stay in Breckenridge. This vacation home has massive windows and a spacious deck – ideal for taking in the views around. Enjoy a hot tub soak after a day of skiing or head inside to cozy up by the fireplace for some après-ski drinks.
7. Canopy – Park City, UT
Looking to cross Park City off your bucket list? Make your way to Canopy, a luxurious cabin in The Unitas. Spend days on the slopes and evenings posted up in the spa and sauna. When you’re craving a chill night, play a game of pool or watch movies in the home theater.
8. Snowdrift Cabin – Telluride, CO
First, we want to thank the photographer that ventured out in what appears to be a snowstorm to get these pics. If you had any doubt in your mind, this should confirm that it does in fact snow here. Aptly named, Snowdrift Cabin is a Telluride vacation home with grade A prime ski access on Lift 10’s Galloping Goose trail, an extra large deck, hot tub with views and a toasty fireplace inside – basically, this house is all you need when you’re looking to have a ski trip.
9. Views at Wolf Lodge – Big Bear, CA
The most properly named stay? Right here. Views at Wolf Lodge is a Big Bear vacation rental featuring a hot tub and fire pit on the deck, a sauna, and a ping pong table for those who enjoy a little friendly competition. While there is plenty to do on your trip to Big Bear, we don’t blame you if you stick around at home all day to really take in the views around you.
10. Juliet – Asheville, NC
Real mountain lovers know all aboutAsheville and its wonders. Tucked away in the Blue Ridge Mountains, you’ll find the cozy cabin we call Juliet. This stay comes with two decks (so double the views), large windows, a movie room, and a covered hot tub. Vacation like a true Southerner with happy hours spent on the porch sittin’ on your rocking chair, deciding which trail of the mountains you’ll conquer tomorrow.
We’ve made our list—and checked it twice—of the best 2022 Black Friday / Cyber Monday deals for the traveler in your life. Whether you’re searching for the perfect gift or looking to score an awesome deal for yourself (no judgment), we’ve compiled the top deals out there for any type of traveler.
1. Apple Airtags
You’ve made it to your destination.. but did your luggage make it too? There’s nothing like that sinking feeling of finding out your suitcase was left behind, or even worse, lost by your airline. Pop an Apple Airtag in your luggage on your next trip and have the peace of mind of tracking your bag every step of the way.
Stop scrolling your social media and pick up a book—or an eReader if that’s more your style. The 7” Kindle Oasis is on sale this Black Friday and comes with a massive price cut. Read your favorite book while 40,000 feet in the air or beachside with a margarita in hand. Either way, you’ll feel great knowing you saved nearly $95 during the Black Friday sale.
What will be the soundtrack of your next getaway? If it’s absolute silence, we don’t blame you. The perfect item to drown out the crying babies and snoring seatmates on a long flight, the Apple Airpod Pro earbuds offer active noise cancellation to ensure the smoothest of flights.
You don’t need to compromise style for safety. With the S-Zone Antitheft Bag, you can have both. This leather backpack comes in a variety of colors and features a zipper compartment that lays flat against your back—ruining any pickpocketer’s day. This bag is perfect for the traveler who often finds themselves in large crowds or in busy cities while on their adventures.
The S-Zone Antitheft Bag is marked down from $85.99 to $79.99 on Amazon. Plus, you can check off the 15% coupon for an additional $12 in savings.
5. Away Luggage
If you’ve been eyeing a new piece of luggage, now’s your chance to save big. Away Luggage is offering $50 off when you purchase two suitcases, and $100 off when you purchase three. It’s the perfect excuse to buy one as a gift and to treat yourself, too. All colors, styles, and sizes are included in the offer, available now through November 28th.
6. Trtl Travel Pillow
Forget what you know about travel pillows. The Trtl Travel Pillow is made to completely support your head for maximum comfort. The pillow is designed to prevent neck pain, strains, or aches so you can feel refreshed after a long flight.
If you planned on taking advantage of some tech deals this Back Friday, you may want to invest in a portable charger. This Ankur charger allows you to charge up to 3 devices at once, with either a USB A or USB C output.
Purchase this Ankur USB charger for $44, down from $59.99—plus apply a $3 coupon for additional savings.
8. Sand Cloud Towels
Save your sanity while also saving marine life. There’s nothing worse than laying on the beach with a towel covered in sand. These stylish Sand Cloud Towels are sand-resistant and ultra-absorbent to keep you comfortable while sunbathing at the beach. Not only that, the company donates 10% of all profits toward marine conservation so you’re bound to feel good inside and out.
Get 30% off sitewide during this year’s deal at Sand Cloud!
9. AvantStay Vacation Rentals
We may be biased, but this is our favorite travel deal of all. Now through Cyber Monday, you can save between $250-$1,500 on AvantStay vacation rentals. The more you spend, the more you save—so it’s the perfect excuse to extend that vacation you’ve been planning to take.
With over 1,500 homes in 100+ destinations, AvantStay vacation rentals offer group-friendly spaces that could fit the whole family. When you stay at an AvantStay, you can expect an elevated vacation rental experience, with homes packed with fun amenities, 24/7 guest support, concierge services, and beautiful design to create the perfect backdrop for your Instagram selfies.
10. AvantStay Swag
Hats, T-Shirts, and more! So you took advantage of AvantStay’s Black Friday Deal and booked yourself a vacation. Now, you may want some new swag to pack along in your suitcase. Take advantage of 15% off in the AvantStay swag store where you can find some of our most favorited items, like our “Out of Office” hat.. or even travel gear for your jetsetting pup!
Use code “BFCM15.” Offer valid on any order $25 or more, limit one per customer, expires 11/28/22 at midnight.
AvantStay Unlocked: Powerful Vacation Rental Marketing and Distribution
Promoting your vacation rental home on online travel agencies (OTAs) like Airbnb or Vrbo is one of the easiest ways to reach more travelers and drive more bookings. However, many short-term rental owners don’t realize that these platforms, along with Booking.com and Tripadvisor, are just the tip of the distribution iceberg (there are over 400 OTAs!).
AvantStay’s marketing and distribution capabilities go far beyond OTA promotion—we also leverage the power of social media and top influencers, leading brand and corporate partnerships, and a guest network that we’ve built over time. With our industry-leading reach, powerful social presence, and renowned partnerships you’ll connect with more guests, land more bookings, receive higher ratings, and increase your revenue.
Professional listings and distribution
When you partner with AvantStay for vacation rental management, we handle every step of your listing creation and promotion to get your home maximum exposure. Our in-house photographers and stylists collaborate to capture every aspect of your home, amenities, and key revenue drivers during a complimentary professional photo shoot.
Next, we create an aspirational, bespoke listing built to show off your home to the world. Our Listings & Distribution team has cultivated strong relationships with leading online travel agencies, which allows us to enhance your property’s listing performance against market competitors. Your listing is optimized for visibility and conversion across more than 65 distribution channels, including:
Exclusive access to premium OTAs
Homes & Villas by Marriott International
Luxury Villas & Homes
Besides these top-performing distribution channels, over 40% of AvantStay guest bookings come through our website, which has seen a 172% increase in booking volume year over year. Our strong brand equity, creative marketing strategies, and high repeat-guest rates are key drivers of our direct bookings.
National hospitality brand
Our elevated brand with a focus on experiential group stays resonates with travelers everywhere. Further, our responsive and guest-centric customer service delivers a consistent, premium experience that makes guests want to book again and again.
Elevated brand standards
Delivering a consistent, first-class vacation experience for every guest is the standard at which we operate every day. We ensure that each home is stocked with anything guests might need during their stay, including an array of high-quality consumables and thoughtful localized welcome packages.
In addition, guests can take advantage of our exclusive concierge services to request fridge stocking, schedule mid-stay cleans, book a private chef or in-home massage, and more. This level of service leads to more five-star reviews, repeat guests, and ultimately more bookings.
Powerful social presence
Besides distribution across popular booking sites, we tap into the power of social media to promote our homes to travelers who are eager to plan their next vacation. With over 300,000 combined followers, your home will be featured across popular social platforms (Instagram, TikTok, etc.) to our highly engaged audiences. We also work with leading influencers to further extend this reach and drive more bookings.
Partnered with the best
Our in-house Partnerships team unlocks new opportunities that help source group bookings year-round. Partnerships drive brand engagement, increase the number of value-added services we provide to guests, and improve distribution and reach.
Value-added services & in-home brand partnerships
We enhance the guest experience by offering exclusive in-home products and experiences that allow us to charge higher ADRs and earn higher ratings. Some of the top brands we work with include Gopuff, Jacuzzi, Daily Harvest, Allianz, and more.
Corporate partnerships, events, and retreats
We partner with national and local brands to drive guest demand as one of their preferred accommodation brands. We plan and execute corporate retreats and exclusive events (like Coachella brand parties) for companies big and small across the nation. Our corporate offsite and event offerings are a unique service that allows us to expand your home’s distribution to more guests beyond leisurely travelers.
Amplify your reach with AvantStay
There’s a lot that goes into managing a successful vacation rental. Running your listings across multiple OTAs and activating a vacation rental marketing strategy is the best way to be sure you maximize earnings, but it can be tedious and complicated. Why not work with an expert who will take charge and give you instant access to all of the top OTAs, national partnerships, and over 300,000 social media users?
When you partner with AvantStay and leverage our industry-leading reach, you’ll connect with more guests, land more bookings, receive better reviews, and earn more revenue. It also extends beyond the listing and marketing—we pair that with our proprietary dynamic pricing models and in-house Revenue Management team, full-service permitting and compliance support, a software suite that gives you full visibility into your home, and so much more.
Why did the golfer wear two pairs of pants? In case he got a hole in one!
Okay, we promise to not be that cheesy, but with a topic like golf, it’s kind of hard to steer clear of the dad jokes. Whether you’re living your cart girl fantasy (no judgment), or genuinely like to play golf, these vacation rentals on golf courses are here to set the par for your next getaway.
1. Greg Norman Estate – La Quinta, CA
Night swims are a must at this Coachella Valley home. Hop into the hot tub and cheers to views, brews, and a good day on the course. Located on the 2nd fairway of the prestigious Greg Norman Course in PGA West, this vacation home is the perfect retreat for the golfer in your life (and if you’re in this article, it’s safe to say you have one). Enjoy poolside days with a nice breeze provided by the misters and a huge built-in bar for your crew’s wannabe bartender. With views of the mountains, desert, and course, the Greg Norman Estate is a sight for sore eyes.
2. Fairway Ski and Golf Retreat – Park City, UT
Fairway Ski and Golf Retreatis a 4-bed stay with room for up to 10 guests. Conveniently positioned in between the golf course and ski lift, this retreat brings all you need for an active getaway. After a day filled with all Park City has to offer, enjoy a nice soak in the hot tub. Retreat indoors for a fireside sesh where you and the crew can get the game plan for whatever tomorrow brings – and if you check out our Park City guide, there’s a lot on that list.
3. Quinta Green – La Quinta, CA
This one’s a true winner. From its sleek interiors, to its hot tub and hammock, to an oh-so inviting pool, Quinta Green in Coachella Valleyis looking a lot like your next vacation home. This stay is stacked with 7 rooms, 11 beds, and room for up to 16 guests! Here you’ll be surrounded by golf courses, day spas, and dreamy mountain ranges. Looking for more to do during your stay? Check out our 25 Best Things to Do in Coachella Valley for an itinerary-style guide.
4. Clint at Brasada Ranch – Powell Butte, OR
Clint is located within the Brasada Ranch community in Central Oregon. Enjoy the community’s elevated golf range, indoor gym, day spa, basketball court, indoor pool, beach volleyball court, putting green, and TBH so much more but we really need to tell you about this house! This stay has a beautiful deck with a BBQ and fire pit overlooking the mountains. The interiors are warm, welcoming, and you’ve got room for you and up to 12 guests. When you’re done re-reading the list of amenities, maybe you’ll even have time to check out Mt. Bachelor for some skiing.
5. Moonshine – La Quinta, CA
Come to Moonshine for an unforgettable Coachella Valley vacation, with a pool that flows seamlessly into the PGA Golf Course so you can either watch the birds above or aim for birdies on the course. Filled with modern interiors, a cozy fireplace, and an outdoor kitchen, it’s no wonder Tyra Banks used to live in this decadent home. We’re assuming she was an entertainer, too, because this stay comes with all you need to host the gathering of your dreams with tons of indoor seating, a wet bar, foosball, and a lavish outdoor seating area.
About AvantStay: If you find yourself looking for a travel experience that values your privacy, safety, and cleanliness, AvantStay is the perfect fit. Apart from their top-of-the-line technology and innovation, AvantStay homes are in primo locations—places you’ve been dying to check out, with experiences you’re ready to check off your bucket list—like staying on a golf course.
Vacation rental amenities can turn a great guest experience into an unforgettable one. Happy guests leave positive reviews which drive more bookings, repeat guests, and ultimately more revenue.
If you know someone with a short-term vacation rental, or maybe you want to treat yourself, consider gifting them one of these vacation rental amenities to elevate the guest experience and maximize their home’s value. From birthdays to Mother’s or Father’s Day, check out our top 12 gift ideas for vacation rental homeowners.
The Mega Four in a Row set is perfect for poolside lounging or cozy family game nights by the fire. This stylish take on a popular classic comes with a hand-painted pine playing board and 42 wooden chips. Standing at 18.75 inches tall and 23.5 inches wide, the Mega Four in a Row set is larger than the original but can easily be moved around your short-term vacation rental for impromptu game sessions.
The Mega Jumbling Tower is another great addition for vacation rental backyard hangs. Fun for all ages, this natural timber stacker includes 45 gold and white hand-painted blocks. At the start of gameplay, the tower stands at two feet tall, so be sure to give your guests plenty of space for stacking and the inevitable tumbling.
Add some friendly competition to any backyard barbecue with these mahogany cornhole boards. This two-by-four-foot regulation cornhole board set features a premium-grade plywood deck with a solid mahogany frame. These boards are lightweight and portable with built-in carrying handles, so guests can easily set up or move the game throughout the space.
Raise the stakes of game nights at your short-term rental with a poker table. Guests will appreciate the rustic yet modern design of this mahogany table, doubling as a statement piece post-game. With built-in beverage holders and the option to complete the set with matching chairs, the only things missing are your deck of cards and poker chips.
Bring the arcade to your short-term vacation rental with a sleek, modern foosball table. At nearly five feet in length, this fast-paced game can easily fit in a dedicated game room, covered patio, or main living space. The table is made from burl wood and stainless steel and can accommodate two to four players at one time.
Shuffleboard is an old-time favorite and a great addition to your vacation rental amenities. At nine feet in length, this table is on the smaller end of shuffleboard tables so you don’t have to worry about it taking up too much space. There’s also a handy storage cabinet built into one of the pedestal legs to keep extra pucks and sand out of sight.
Maximize your short-term rental living space with a multi-use ping pong table. Guests can go from ping pong tournaments to dining al fresco in seconds with this convertible indoor/outdoor table by simply removing the steel net. When ping pong isn’t in play, this table can be used as a dining or conference table, comfortably seating 10 to 12 people.
A pool table is an essential piece for any short-term rental game room. This pool table from West Elm is built-to-last and withstand guest use, crafted from solid wood, leather drop pockets, and spill-resistant felt. Complete with a rack and accessories kit, this table comes ready for pool sharks and rookie players alike.
Give guests the option to move the fun from the pool to the ping pong table (and everywhere in between) with a rolling patio cooler. This stylish, steel cooler can hold 80 quarts, equivalent to 100 12-ounce cans plus ice. Your vacation rental guests won’t have to pause the party with this convenient cart, equipped with a bottle opener, cap catcher, and insulated basin that keeps drinks cold for up to 36 hours.
Bikes are a great vacation rental amenity that gives guests the freedom to explore nearby attractions. The Around the Block bike by Sixthreezero is a low-maintenance bike built for comfort—perfect to have ready for guests who want to cruise to the beach, check out the local farmers’ market, and more. These bikes are available in multiple speeds and are ideal for casual to up-tempo rides.
From deserts to mountains to beaches, a fire pit is a must-have for any short-term vacation rental outdoor space. This luxurious centerpiece is perfect for outdoor lounging, wine nights by the fire, and family s’more sessions. The fiber-reinforced concrete frame is covered in a weather-resistant sealant to withstand all elements. Powered by propane, the fire pit will instantly warm up your space with a simple push-button spark ignition.
If you’re looking for that wow factor for your short-term rental, look no further than this revamped arcade-classic basketball game. Featuring black genuine leather, brass backboard, and black nylon chording, this deluxe basketball game is so luxurious you won’t want to miss a shot—baskets or photo ops.
Unwrap a first-class guest experience
Furnishing a short-term rental and selecting the best vacation rental amenities for your guests can be hard work. Luckily, when you partner with AvantStay, you get access to our award-winning interior design and procurement services. Our designers review every home added to the portfolio and create memorable and inspiring designs that transform spaces and maximize value.
We help procure and install furniture and arrange bedrooms and common spaces to maximize occupancy. Our designers also curate experiential elements like those listed above so guests get the most out of their stay, driving positive reviews, more bookings, and increased revenue.
If you’re interested in learning more about our vacation rental management and design services, our team is ready to help. Get started today!
Breathe in, breathe out… Ski-in, ski-out! Nothing’s better than waking up, putting your gear on and heading directly outside to hit the slopes. After you spend the day getting your (ski) on, kick back at a vacation home where you can have apres ski moments you’ll never forget.
All vacation homes included here are within walking distance to the slopes of their respective towns. Other than being in the perfect location for powder days, these group friendly ski-town stays come with modern interior design, guest support at your fingertips (via our app), and add-on services like fridge stocking, private chefs, and at-home massages—all perfect for full relaxation after the slopes.
Bronson – Lake Tahoe, CA
Starting this round-up strong with one of our personal faves. Meet Bronson, a Lake Tahoe, CA stay located right on Olympic Valley. Less worrying, more skiing—this home comes with snowshoeing equipment for your stay. We provide two sets of snowshoes with two adult poles and one set of child poles. With room for up to 12 guests, everyone can come and enjoy this vacation home’s expansive deck with a fire pit, hot tub, and views of the ski lift above!
Snowdrift Cabin – Telluride, CO
Snowdrift Cabinis a secluded Telluride, CO vacation spot. Filled with traditional wood beams, this cabin vacation rental has prime ski access on Lift 10’s Galloping Goose trail, gorgeous sunset views of the San Sophia ridgeline, multiple expansive decks, a hot tub, and loft area. Downstairs, you’ll find a dedicated rec room with a gas fireplace and games for the whole crew. Be sure to take advantage of Mountain Village’s Dial-a-Ride service where you can enjoy a free ride to the Village Core and the Gondola connecting to the Town of Telluride.
Tell the crew you’re ready for a trip to Telluride, CO. This Cimarron Lodge unit is located right on the slopes. Enjoy days not spent waiting in line to ski with this ski-in/ski-out condo situated along the San Miguel River. Bring up to 8 guests and enjoy your apres ski with a hot tub happy hour. Looking for more to do on your trip? Check out our Top Things to Do in Telluride.
Twin Chutes – Breckenridge, CO
Breckenridge, CO is calling! Twin Chutesis a 4 bed stay with room for up to 12 guests. Conveniently located next to the ski lifts, this stay provides great ski access and even better Colorado mountain views. This condo comes with great amenities like a hot tub, billiards table, gym, and fireplace! We even give you a guitar—so for those who like songs around the campfire, you’re in luck.
Slopeside at Sundance – Telluride, CO
Looking for a traditional woodsy cabin? Slopeside at Sundance(not to be confused with Slopeside in Park City mentioned above) is a Telluride, CO vacation home located adjacent to the slopes and true ski access directly onto the popular Sundance ski run. Wake up to window views of the pine trees, and sip your morning coffee on the picturesque patio. After a long day of skiing, decompress in the sauna to let the heat melt away any and all soreness.
Feeling motivated to get your ski on? We don’t blame you! If you’re looking for even more places to ski-in/ski-out, check out our collection of Ski-in/Ski-out Vacation Homes. Plus, if you also need gear to use while on the slopes, our expert concierge team can also help with that!
About AvantStay: If you find yourself looking for a travel experience that values your privacy, safety, and cleanliness, AvantStay is the perfect fit. Apart from their top-of-the-line technology and innovation, AvantStay homes are in primo locations—places you’ve been dying to check out, with experiences you’re ready to check off your bucket list—like staying at a ski-in/ski-out home!
Holiday season is coming in hot! You’ve got a lot of planning ahead – from successfully getting your whole family in one location, to picking out meaningful gifts, mentally preparing to cook a banquet of food, and worst of all, decorating. Wouldn’t it be nice to have one less thing to worry about?
At AvantStay, our concierge team is proud to offer holiday decor packages in select locations, so that as soon as you arrive at your vacation home, it really feels like a home. No need to BYO tinsel or wreaths, we cover everything from that to Christmas trees. Best of all, we set everything up before you arrive and handle disposal once you’ve gone. We’re truly taking the stress out of the holidays.
Like every good holiday host, we understand that design styles vary. Below, we’ve included a few of our favorite styles that we just know will get you in the holiday spirit.
Dreaming of a white Christmas?
Dreams do come true. Gather round and unwrap gifts in this beauty of a living room at High Meadow. Located in Park City, UT, a trip here guarantees fun both in and out of the house. Once all gifts are opened, thanks are given, and hot toddies are sipped, head out tobobsled atUtah Olympic Park– the official Salt Lake 2002 Olympic Winter Games Sliding Track. Our concierge can set up snowmobile tours and help with ski rentals for a day on the slopes – so make sure to reach out to the concierge team for a helping hand.
Elegance meets sultry with this simple yet modern design. Add on fridge stocking so groceries are one less thing to think about. Toast to a holiday with loved ones, and a vacation home you love (just a little bit) more.
For the traditional holiday enthusiast.
Ask for a holiday design theme that feels very classic. Celebrate like Jolly Old Saint Nick with stockings hung, cranberry wreaths, winter-scented candles, and colorful figurines. Bring your favorite childhood story books for storytime by the fireplace.
Note: be sure to email our concierge team if you’re curious if decoration services like these are offered in the city you’re staying in!
Complete the feeling with a decorative table setting (in select markets). Sometimes it’s best to stick with what you know. Offering extra warmth on a chilly day, this black and red plaid theme will bring you back to the good old days of flannels and Carhartt beanies. This design theme brings comfort to warmer holiday destinations like San DiegoorTemecula.
Whether you’re celebrating Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, New Years’, Kwanzaa, or any other holiday, we’re here to ensure it’s free of stress so you can vacation in peace. Find your dream holiday vacation destination, and let the crew know it’s booked.
By the way, did we mention we cook? On top of having your home fully decorated, try adding on fridge stocking or a private chef through our app once you’ve booked.
Cheers to a healthy and happy holiday season! We’ll see you soon.
Please note: all holiday decor must be requested 3-4 weeks prior to check-in!
Challenge: Help short-term rental stand out in a saturated market to drive more bookings and maximize owner revenue
Dave is a short-term rental investor with several homes in the Pigeon Forge area. He reached out to AvantStay in 2021 for our vacation rental management services when he learned about our dedicated local support teams and elevated guest offerings.
Solution & Results
Vacation rentals in the Smoky Mountains tend to be similar, so Dave wanted to work with a company whose offerings would set his home apart from the competition. Leveraging our award-winning design and procurement teams, industry-leading distribution, and exclusive guest services like our dedicated concierge team, Dave’s home consistently outperforms his market cohorts.
After 15 months with AvantStay, Dave’s home has generated over $390,000 in gross revenue, drives steady bookings at high ADRs, and receives praise from guests on cleanliness, communication, and value.
“Josh, the area manager, went above and beyond to make sure every detail was perfect,” said AvantStay guest Theresa C. “We were welcomed with beautiful flowers in every room, new family board games, a s’mores kit, and wine. We requested to have a cooler brought over and one was delivered within hours, including ice! The level of service AvantStay provides is amazing!”
Interested in learning more about vacation rental management with AvantStay? Our experts are ready to help! Unlock your vacation rental’s full value and get started with our team today.
Austin, Texas is known for its bustling nightlife, tasty tacos, and plenty to do outside. Whether you’re ISO a trip here for warmer days, a girls’ getaway, or simply to see what all the fuss is about, we’ve come up with the best AvantStay Airbnbs in Austin – all with unique vacation rental experiences you can’t get anywhere else, guaranteeing a top-of-the-line vacay.
AvantStay is a gem in the short-term vacation rental world. We display our signature style via hundreds of homes with award-winning interior design, seamless group travel experiences, concierge services at the touch of a button, and a unique pay-per-person feature on the app. While all AvantStay properties can be booked through Airbnb, they can also be booked directly through our website.
Apart from its top-of-the-line technology and innovation, AvantStay homes are in primo locations – places you’ve been dying to check out, and places you’re ready to check off your bucket list – like ATX! Let’s dive in.
1. Barton – For the Outdoorsy Type
Trust us when we say pics don’t do Barton justice. This Lake Travis stay is located just a short drive from Austin proper. With an infinity pool overlooking the water, a living room patio with views for days, and a hot tub ready for happy hour, this 8-guest home is here to impress. Spend mornings soaking in the lounge chairs and evenings roasting s’mores over the firepit. Take a deep breath in, and enjoy Austin without all the hustle and bustle.
Ramsey is an East Austin vacation rental located in the sweet spot of everything you need to experience in ATX. Take a short ride to the lovely Lady Bird Lake or bring a picnic basket to chill out at Zilker Park where they host the annual SXSW Conference and Festival. Other than being near all things Austin, this home also comes with the cutest casita poolhouse in the back, and TBH we can’t stop thinking about it.
3. Hudson – For the Explorer
Hello, Hill Country! Come to Hudson for a slice of Texas paradise. Located just a 20-minute drive from downtown Austin, this vacation rental comes bearing gifts of lake views, a private pool, and gorgeous interiors. With inspo from European design, you’ll find yourself perfectly blissed out within the home’s three levels featuring a pool table, clawfoot tub, and wet bar. Invite the whole crew, Hudson’s got room for up to 12 guests!
4. Melody – For the Architect
Make your way to Melody. You’re only a short drive from East Austin, and therefore close to the water wonderland that is Barton Springs, when you stay at this Austin Airbnb alternative. This home shows its personality via unique architecture, brand new outdoor deck and sparkling drum set. Enjoy cozy sunsets on the private balcony with a fire pit, drinks in the spacious kitchen, and maybe even a sesh on the Peloton bike in the living room.
5. Dawson – For the Water Bug
Down for a trip to Dawson? We thought so. Take a trip here for pool and hot tub hangs, a dreamy view of Lake Travis, and plenty of space for up to 10 guests. Unlike most vacation rentals, you don’t have to race to get to the primary bedroom first. With the AvantStay app, you and your friends can reserve bedrooms before you arrive! This is something we highly recommend while staying here, because the views from this clawfoot tub in the primary are one in a million.
6. Paramount Place – For the Movie Star
Saving the best for last? Guilty as charged. Text the group chat and let them know you’re ready to make your Austin debut at Paramount Place. Conveniently located next to the Paramount Theatre on South Congress, this downtown ATX home comes with five floors, room for 10 guests, a movie theater, dedicated game room, a gourmet kitchen, and best of all: a rooftop hot tub. Once you stay at Paramount Place, your vacation standards will never be the same.
The party doesn’t stop here. While these Airbnbs in Austin are here to impress, we understand that your travel itinerary is, too. If you’re looking for more activities for the whole crew, check out our perfectly curated list of 31 Best Things to Do in Austin!
With over 4 million hosts on Airbnb and 6 million active listings worldwide, how do you make your short-term rental stand out in such a saturated space? As an Airbnb Superhost, you’ll receive improved visibility, higher referral bonuses, increased bookings, and ultimately more revenue. If you’re interested in learning how to become a Superhost on Airbnb, and how AvantStay can simplify that process, we’ve got you covered. In this article we’ll answer:
What is an Airbnb Superhost?
What are the benefits of being a Superhost?
What are the Airbnb Superhost requirements?
How can a vacation rental management company help you become a Superhost?
What is an Airbnb Superhost?
The Airbnb Superhost program was created to reward and promote top-performing hosts. Hosts that go above and beyond to create an exceptional guest experience are given a Superhost badge and additional promotions to reach more guests. If you meet Airbnb’s requirements, you are awarded Superhost status after each evaluation period (no application needed!).
What are the benefits of being an Airbnb Superhost?
There are many benefits that come with being an Airbnb Superhost, including increased visibility, more earning potential, and exclusive rewards. According to AirDNA, these hosts also see a greater performance with several key performance indicators compared to non-Superhosts:
81% higher occupancy rate
60% more revenue per available day
5% improvement in listing traffic
As a Superhost, you’ll receive a badge that will help you stand out from other hosts and listings in your area, all while building trust with potential guests. Superhosts are also more likely to be featured in Airbnb’s promotional emails. In addition, Airbnb users have the ability to filter searches to only see Superhost rentals–that means more eyes on your listing and more bookings.
More earning potential
Superhosts earn more simply from improved listing visibility along with the trust and expectations that come with the status. Guests know that Superhosts are the best of the best, and will likely book your home over those from other non-Superhosts.
Exclusive rewards from Airbnb
Superhosts receive a $100 Airbnb coupon every year that they keep their status. If Superhosts refer new hosts to join Airbnb, they get an additional 20% bonus on top of the usual referral bonus.
What are the Airbnb Superhost requirements?
Every three months, Airbnb checks if you’ve met their requirements for the past year so you can earn or keep your Superhost status. To qualify for an Airbnb Superhost badge, you must:
Host at least 10 trips, or have 3 reservations that total at least 100 nights
Maintain a 90% response rate or higher
Maintain a 1% cancellation rate (1 cancellation per 100 reservations) or lower
Maintain a 4.8 overall rating
3 Tips for becoming an Airbnb Superhost
While responsiveness and limiting cancellations are important, providing a top-notch guest experience is crucial to boost your ratings and maximizing your short-term rental income. Here’s how you can improve the guest experience to drive more five-star reviews and become a Superhost.
Use high-quality photos in your listing
Take high-resolution photos of your vacation rental that accurately reflect the space, amenities, and what guests can expect when they walk into your home. Make sure you update these photos after you make any changes to your property so guests don’t leave negative reviews about an inaccurate listing.
With AvantStay, our Design and Photography teams develop a marketing and listing plan that best highlights the experiences and amenities to our guests. We stage, style, and photograph your home to showcase the property’s best characteristics across listings.
Prioritize cleanliness and upkeep
Allow guests to completely unwind and enjoy their stay by keeping your vacation rental clean and ready to use. AvantStay has teams dedicated to field operations that manage utilities, services, maintenance, and housekeeping on our owners’ behalf.
We pride ourselves on a rigorous 100-point vacation rental cleaning checklist that ensures our housekeepers perform deep cleans using products and standards that comply with (and exceed) CDC guidelines before every stay. In addition, we provide a bi-annual deep clean to ensure homes stay in great shape all year round.
Take care of your guests
Go above and beyond to make sure guests have the best experience at your home. From communication and easy check-in, to welcome gifts and a well-stocked home, taking the time to show guests that you care can earn you a five-star rating.
At AvantStay, guests have access to 24/7 live support via SMS, email, or phone, and we troubleshoot every issue to ensure they are well-cared for. That way, our homeowner partners can sit back and relax without any interruptions. By resolving 90% of guest issues on the first call, we receive higher ratings and better guest satisfaction, driving more five-star reviews.
We also take care of stocking the home with guest-ready supplies and provide personalized, thoughtful welcome packages ahead of every stay.
Become an Airbnb Superhost with AvantStay
Managing a short-term rental and reaching Superhost status on Airbnb can be expensive, tedious, and time-consuming. AvantStay has been a top-rated Superhost for 22 consecutive quarters, so we know what it takes to take your home to the next level and maximize your revenue. We offer the first hands-off approach for vacation rental owners, using our proprietary tech suite to power bookings, operationalize in-field management, and activate an elevated guest experience.
In addition, guests can use our concierge services to request mid-stay cleans, fridge stocking, arrange private chef-catered dinners, wine tastings, in-home spa treatments, transportation, and more. A pristine home paired with our personalized guest services drives higher satisfaction, more five-star reviews, and repeat visitors.
If you’re interested in learning more about AvantStay’s best-in-class care and how we can maximize your revenue, our team is ready to help. Get started with our vacation rental management experts today!
Vacationers to Isle of Palms (IOP) are sure to work up quite an appetite after a day of sun and sand at the beach. The area has plenty of delightful bistros, cafes, and restaurants specializing in sustainable seafood and fresh fare guaranteed to satisfy the cravings of your entire party. Even your foodie friend is sure to find local cuisine to indulge in on a trip to Isle of Palms.
A short 40-minutes away from Isle of Palms is Charleston, which happens to be one of the top 20 best foodie cities in America, so it’s no surprise that Isle of Palms also has some exceptional food options. To help you make the most of your time in the area, we’ve taken the guesswork out of deciding where to relax and enjoy a fresh, local meal in Isle of Palms.
Acme Lowcountry Kitchen
For sustainable seafood and fresh, coastal cuisine visit Acme Lowcountry Kitchen. They specialize in one of the most iconic dishes in Isle of Palms—Shrimp & Grits. They offer this classic in a few different homemade variations, and with the laid-back, beachy atmosphere, this restaurant is hard to top.
For al fresco dining with a seasonal menu visit Wild Dunes Resort’s Coastal Provisions. Their seafood dishes are driven by local, sustainable offerings, while the ingredients for meat and veggie-forward dishes are sourced from vendors around IOP and Charleston, SC.
Coconut Joe’s Beach Grill
For great food, appetizers, and a happy hour with live music visit Coconut Joe’s Beach Grill. The outdoor seating space boasts excellent ocean views from the rooftop bar and deck, as well as live entertainment for you to enjoy while you dine on delicious island eats.
Coda Del Pesce
For a romantic atmosphere with oceanfront dining, head to Coda Del Pesce. They serve sustainably caught seafood prepared with fresh, local ingredients. Here you can enjoy some of the most delicious homemade pasta and specials Isle of Palms has to offer!
Long Island Cafe
If you enjoy classic seafood dishes in an elegant, coastal atmosphere you need to reserve a table at Long Island Cafe. There’s a reason why Long Island Cafe is one of the best Isle of Palms restaurants. They’ve been cooking up delicious seafood, chicken, and handmade pasta dishes for more than 30 years.
For the perfect after-beach taco visit Papi’s Taqueria. This small, laidback beachfront taqueria offers a creative selection of shrimp, meat, and veggie tacos made with locally sourced ingredients that are sure to satisfy your group’s taco craving. They even have a spectacular view from their rooftop bar, which is a great place to sip a refreshing margarita!
Sea Biscuit Cafe
For one of the best breakfast restaurants in Isle of Palms, head to Sea Biscuit Cafe. This cafe is cute and cozy with quaint nautical decor. They offer a simple menu of delicious homestyle options such as french toast, grits, omelets, biscuits, and pancakes.
The Boathouse at breach inlet
For true Southern cooking—from family recipes to modernized dishes—visit The Boathouse at 101 Palm Blvd. This Southern eatery is a classic foodie destination serving plates with fresh seafood from local fishermen and produce from local farms. The Boathouse is decorated with boats and its ceilings are adorned with 100-year-old vintage rowboats collected by the restaurant’s owner. It’s the perfect place to enjoy a Southern meal.
The Obstinate Daughter
One of the best restaurants on Sullivan’s Island (a short drive from Isle of Palms) for a delightful brunch, delicious seafood, or homemade pasta is The Obstinate Daughter. This is a great restaurant to impress friends or celebrate a birthday. Their food is influenced by French, Italian, and Spanish fare and they offer craft beers in a chic and eclectic environment. The Obstinate Daughter is also the sister restaurant to Wild Olive, another popular option in the area.
For live music on the beach, a bar menu with South Carolina favorites, and an overall good time, visit The Windjammer. This fun music venue, located at Front Beach on the Isle of Palms, is a great place to enjoy good food and live entertainment with friends or family.
Plan the perfect foodie vacation to Charleston & Isle of Palms
IOP and Charleston are known for having some of the best restaurants in the South. So if you’re looking for a memorable, foodie-worthy experience, save this list for your next vacation to the area.
If you’re looking for other recommendations in the area, be sure to check out our other resources for the area:
It’s time for your company’s annual retreat, which means it’s time to maximize your teams’ in-person conversations and connections. But what’s work with no play? Re-energize your team with memorable experiences at our full-service vacation homes in the most sought-after destinations. From our selection of private communities, hotel takeovers, and multi-acre estates, our offsites team provides work-optimized spaces and manages the entire experience so your team can focus on productivity.
As more and more teams have gone remote, where you decide to recharge has become even more important. Here are 7 corporate retreat venues curated specifically for large groups eager to collaborate.
1. The Polo Villas by AvantStay – Coachella Valley, California
The ultimate desert oasis awaits at The Polo Villas. This gated community features 11 villas with five-and six-bedrooms each, all equipped with expansive pools, spa areas, and outdoor firepits. With plenty of indoor and outdoor seating, your team will have ample room to spread out and come together, respectively. Each villa’s open concept and fully-equipped living space makes it the perfect setting for constructive gatherings. With expansive and inviting yard spaces paired with La Quinta’s temperate weather, The Polo Villas are the perfect venue for your out-of-office vacation.
2. Shakespeare on the Hudson – Hudson Valley, New York
*Note this is a buyout consisting of two homes located 1 mile apart. Each home has 11 bedrooms.
The historic Shakespeare on the Hudson, made up of River House and River Lodge homes, are architectural wonders of the 19th century. In one home, enjoy a game room and river-side pool. Plus, a great lawn and separated deck give you and your team plenty of opportunities to spend your days inside or outside. The other invites you to river views from every room, a two-story rustic library, and an additional pool and hot tub.
These homes allow your team to spread out amongst two corporate retreat venues with plenty of space to convene in the common areas and yard spaces. Approximately a two-hour drive from New York City, this northeastern space is the perfect getaway for teams looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city for some R&R time.
3.The Chapel Compound – Charleston, South Carolina
If you’re looking for an east coast escape that still has the charm of a southern city, look no further than The Chapel Compound. This is a three-home property with 13 bedrooms in the heart of downtown Charleston that’s also a renovated wedding chapel. With the additional two carriage house suites, The Chapel Compound boasts a total of 3 kitchens, 13 beds, and 12.5 bathrooms, making the conversion of these historic buildings the perfect corporate retreat venue.
Make yourself at home with the beautiful indoor-outdoor living spaces including an enclosed patio, hot tub, upstairs balconies, firepits, and more. With just a few short blocks from the lively King Street, your team night out is just a walk away.
4. Marlin – Emerald Coast 30A, Florida
Within the 20-mile stretch of beaches along Florida’s famous Emerald Coast, lies AvantStay’s Marlin. This coastal home features 10 comfortable bedrooms and 11 bathrooms, allowing for the perfect ambiance for your team to hop between the beach and the home amenities. Enjoy the entertainment room equipped with a bar, shuffleboard, and ping pong table, as well as having a billiards table, pool, and open-air dining room at your disposal.
Not enough room for your team? Spread out amongst our many homes in the Emerald Coast, many of which are walking distance from each other and the beach.
If your company is looking for a custom Appalachian retreat, look no further than Wanderer, a massive, custom cabin located in Tennessee’s Smoky Mountains. This home is designed with your team in mind, with an ensuite bathroom for every bedroom, dual dining tables to ensure plenty of seating for everyone, and entertainment at every turn. Wanderer features a unique indoor pool, spacious decks, a luxurious hot tub, multiple grills, and even a home theater. If you’re looking to experience your corporate retreat in the Smoky Mountains in comfort and style, there’s nowhere that offers more space, amenities, and entertainment than Wanderer.
6. 121 Hotel Buyout – Nashville, Tennessee
For those who prefer a more classic hotel experience for your corporate retreat, checkout The 121 Hotel by AvantStay in Nashville, Tennessee. With the residential-style design, each room’s contemporary look makes you feel like your own Nashville luxury pied-á-terre. Offering the ultimate flexibility, the 121 Hotel allows your team to reserve individual rooms, suites, floors, or the entire building for an extraordinary experience.
A total of 16 bedrooms, including the Penthouse Suites, presidential-style rooms, and bunk rooms where each floor contains a living area and a full kitchen. Additionally, with several breakout spaces, lounges, a banquet/ meeting room, and a dedicated catering kitchen, this corporate retreat venue has endless possibilities for you and your team.
7. Starlight Estate – Coachella Valley, California
If you’re looking for a way to accommodate and impress your company in Coachella Valley, California, Starlight Estate is calling your name. This sprawling ranch-style mansion with an unbeatable array of amenities is ready to host your team of up to 26. This exclusive home is one of the few unique venues that feature a private, indoor tennis court with air conditioning, so your team can get their game on no matter the weather.
Spread out on the loungers across the luxurious pool with waterfalls or whip up a beverage at the outdoor bar and grilling area. The superior design details include warm tiled flooring, a large dining table, and marble island for plenty of space that allows everyone to enjoy each other’s company. Between the open common spaces, entertainment-ready outdoor area, and game room, there are endless ways for your team to relax and reconnect at Starlight Estate.
If you’re looking for a healthy dose of fresh air, exercise, and rejuvenation, look no further than AvantStay Airbnbs in Big Bear, California. While Airbnb has long been the standard for booking vacation homes online, as alternative vacation rental options grow, comparison shopping has become more of the norm for travelers.
Enter AvantStay: where guests can enjoy all the advantages of Airbnb and combine them with the elevated experience of staying in a luxury hotel. From award-winning interior designs and a 24/7 dedicated concierge team to sprawling estates stocked with all the amenities and in-home entertainment you could ever dream of, our professionally managed properties are one-of-a-kind.
To further curate our collection of upscale vacation rentals, we’ve compiled a list of 7 beautiful homes in Big Bear to inspire your next Southern California getaway in the jewel of San Bernardino County. But why take our word for it? We’ll let our properties speak for themselves.
1. Direct Lakefront Access
Wake up to a placid, reflective lake, the sounds of nature, and enjoy a cup of coffee on the private decks or curled up next to the fireplace at Shoreline Lakehouse. This five-bedroom cabin is the perfect getaway for your friends or family.
2. Custom Docks
Water’s Edge Estate is a luxury 6-bedroom, pet-friendly cabin that sits directly on Big Bear Lake with a large, custom dock for two boats and three jet skis. Its inviting floor plan and ideal location make this home a nature lover’s paradise for endless year-round activities.
3. Modern Designs
“Wow” is the only word that can describe not only the updated interior design of Wolf’s Den, but also the breathtaking views from this 3,000 square foot cabin. Sweeping windows, a large private deck, and just two minutes from Bear Mountain Ski Resort, this 14-person home is waiting for you.
4. Natural Beauty
Nestled among fragrant pine trees and oozing with charm and character, lies Bernard. Paired with cozy furnishings, a hot tub, and an outdoor grill, this cabin’s allure is matched only by its scenic surroundings.
5. Comfortable and Chic
This isn’t your ordinary cabin in the woods. Koda’s touches of light wood, contemporary decor, and the inviting appeal of a stone fireplace give you the glamping feel with even better views.
6. Luxury Amenities
The summer retreat of Heavenly Valley is the perfect spot for a private AvantStay getaway. Located only two miles from the lake, just over half a mile from Snow Summit Ski Resort, and stocked with a game room, wet bar, and heated swimming pool, this home offers the perfect space for indoor and outdoor living with your friends and family.
7. Unobstructed Views
One of the many reasons guests come to us when shopping around for the best vacation rental options includes our selection of unparalleled homes and chalets like Lagunita Shores. Enjoy over 100 feet of prime shoreline in this custom cabin with boundless views of Big Bear Lake. Your mountain dream home is only a reservation away.
How would you describe your job & responsibilities to someone who doesn’t work in your field?
As a Task Force Manager, I travel to different AvantStay destinations and support our teams in the field. This support spreads over a range of things including training new employees, completing any ongoing product management projects in the markets, onboarding installations, disaster relief—the list goes on. Basically, if there’s a major need in any of our markets, the Task Force team is here to help!
How do you like to start your work day?
I wake up around 5:30 a.m., listen to the Breakfast Club (or something on YouTube), then go to the gym or run. From there I grab some coffee, check Slack and my emails, and have a stand-up with the team to go over our plan of action for the day. Outside of that, my days are varied and range from visiting current or onboarding properties in the market to assess their conditions or completing ongoing PM projects in our markets.
What teams do you collaborate the most with at work?
It would have to be field operations, onboarding, and owner experience.
What is your favorite thing about working at AvantStay?
My favorite thing about working at AvantStay is having the opportunity to collaborate with a variety of amazing teams across the nation! I get to meet a lot of great people who truly care about the success of AvantStay.
What advice would you give to someone looking to join your team?
Have a service-minded approach on what both a guest and owner would expect in our homes while on vacation, and be open to travel across the nation at any time of the year!
What is something that you’re proud of that you’ve accomplished in your role?
First, it would have to be successfully getting Austin started. Right before this role, I was the Area Manager for Austin, and the market at the time had 0 (count ’em ZERO) homes when I started. Starting with the first property in the market, Dawson, it took the collaboration of both Jackson (Austin, Assistant Area Manager) and me to locally onboard each home, get them stocked and up to our brand standards, and ensure that they were fully guest ready!
Another thing is training the team in Key West. Key West is one of our new markets, and it is also unique in that we acquired the homes from another vacation rental company. It was great to work directly with the team to get them ‘up to speed’ on our systems, processes, and the AvantStay’s overall mission.
What is something that most people don’t know about you?
I studied abroad in Mexico for two months in college!
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Cooking! I can stay in a zen state of mind while cooking. There is something about having the opportunity to create something beautiful with only a few (or a multitude) of ingredients at your disposal.
Which AvantStay home is your favorite?
It would have to be Black Rock in Scottsdale. Lowkey, it has some of the best views of the city amongst our inventory in that market! Add on the size of the home and amenities, and you’ll have the perfect spot for any group or family vacation! Plus, it’s always good getting the chance to hang with the amazing in-market team there!
Before working at AvantStay, what was the most unusual or interesting job you’ve ever had?
It’s not really unusual, but I used to work at the Hobby Center in Houston. A lot of people don’t know this, but I’m a huge musical fan, so that was a convenient way to work and watch ‘free’ Broadway musicals!
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
“Just take a deep breath!” It’s simple but has a major effect. We’re in a field that can be extremely stressful at times, and you never know what challenge you’ll face each day. Regardless of the situation, relax, take a deep breath, and try to recenter yourself to take on the issue. You may not be able to control the issue, but you can always control your actions.
What’s your favorite AvantStay employee perk?
Did someone say Unlimited PTO, Perks at Work, and Gym reimbursements? Sign Me Up!
Where is your favorite vacation spot and why?
Anywhere in the Caribbean! The views, food, and relaxing ambiance is amazing—plus you can’t beat the activities. Zipline anyone?
Corporate retreats and company “offsites” have never been as important as they are today in the post-COVID era of remote teams who frequently work from home. In-person corporate retreats promote better collaboration among team members, clearer communication, sharper brainstorming, and faster problem-solving, while also reinforcing company culture and positive morale. They also allow co-workers and executives to create personal connections, which is ultimately better for your business.
But company offsites and retreat activities these days don’t have to be—nor should they be—the awkward, overly programmed, Vegas hotel conference room style events that many people envision when they think about traditional corporate events.
Today’s offsites and retreats—especially for start-ups and companies with Millennial, Gen Y, and Z employees—need to combine creative brainstorming and focused goals along with meaningful leisure and shared experiences in unique locations in order to make them worth the time and expense. Plus, all of these elements help team members to return to work reinvigorated.
For corporate executives and HR professionals doing the retreat planning, this means defining your objectives upfront, blending free-flowing games and activities with purposeful meetings and strategy sessions, and most importantly ensuring adequate free time for team bonding and relationship building.
It also means that in addition to where you’re going, it’s essential to think about how you’re staying. While mega hotels with sprawling meeting rooms can still be efficient and economical, private vacation rentals that offer more personalized accommodations, like open living and gathering spaces, full kitchens and bathrooms, and interconnected outdoor areas, can create a much more conducive retreat environment for a creative mix of corporate work and experiential play.
So, if you’re responsible for the planning process and looking for creative corporate retreat ideas for your next company getaway, here are 12 that will be sure to create a one-of-a-kind experience at any time of year that your employees will never forget—and will improve the performance of your entire team in the long term.
1. Take to the Water
Getting out on the water is soulfully exhilarating, mentally challenging, and physically stimulating. And doing certain activities on the water requires teams to work and perform tasks together, so it’s an ideal way to reinforce the relationships and responsibilities that team members need to be comfortable with in their everyday work.
Guided aquatic activities like a sailing charter, canoeing, kayaking, or standup paddle boarding with a professional tour company will also give you and your co-workers the opportunity to get out on the water and work together. That means great views, the wind freely blowing through your hair, experiencing unique ecosystems and wildlife, and unobstructed sunsets which will put your teams at ease and in a relaxed state of mind in addition to promoting camaraderie and a healthy company culture.
2. Play An Easy Team Sport
Team sports that are fun and easy to play, but also focus everyone on a shared goal—literally and metaphorically—are ideal to incorporate into your next company retreat or offsite.
Team sports encourage in-person physical activity, form stronger interpersonal relationships, and are also a great icebreaker for new employees or executives to get to know one another.
Pickleball, volleyball, kickball, capture the flag, scavenger hunts, and ultimate frisbee are all great corporate retreat team sports, particularly for large groups, since they’re low impact, don’t require a lot of expensive equipment or complicated facilities, and simple to pick up if someone hasn’t played them before. Plus, they’re fun—especially when you win!
3. Get Some Fresh Air
No matter where or when you’re planning your next retreat, sometimes nothing is easier or more rewarding for employees than the simple act of getting outside. Hiking, biking, spending time by the pool, relaxing by a fire pit, or having an al fresco dinner around an outdoor dining table can do miracles for team morale and emotional health. It can also promote better, more free-flowing communication between team members.
If your team is on the more adventurous side, activities like zip lining, rock climbing, or the challenge of a ropes course can also be great to add to your itinerary.
4. Plan a Late-Night Game Night
On the back of a long day of brainstorming about company strategy and participating in organized team-building activities, game night can be an amazing way to end the night. After a happy hour or dinner, gather around a large table for a little late-night competition and laughs. Some classic favorites include casino night, trivia, charades, and bingo.
If you have a larger group of people, breaking up into smaller teams for board games like Pictionary or Monopoly is also a great way to combine a little brain-stimulating fun and healthy competition with team building and creative collaboration.
5. Sing Together
Few things are able to unite an entire team better and faster than being in a situation that makes people feel vulnerable. So, unless co-workers have the voice of Mick Jagger or Taylor Swift nothing is more certain to produce heartier laughs and fun memories at a company retreat than an evening of open mic karaoke.
If you’re hosting your offsite at a vacation rental, karaoke is also an ideal activity to get everyone together in a private, central location without needing to rent separate meeting rooms or another venue altogether.
6. Explore a New Place
Discovering a new place or learning something new together stimulates curiosity and communication in addition to promoting interpersonal bonding and creativity. It’s also a simple and inexpensive way for co-workers and team members to discover their own common interests, especially if your company retreat is hosted in a town or new city that’s not where your business is based.
The act of “going local” together can be free-form and spontaneous, like taking a neighborhood tour of local artists’ murals and installation art. Or it can be more planned and structured, like doing a farm-to-table restaurant crawl.
Either way, getting familiar with a new town is one of the best—and simplest—in-person team bonding activities to schedule for your next retreat. Some companies even offer dedicated on-the-ground concierge services and specialize in booking local outings, which can help from the planning point of view.
7. Allow For Zen Moments
Work can be stressful—no matter how well your team problem-solves together. Add in the realities of raising a family and commuting to and from work (for those who still don’t work remotely), and it’s likely your employees haven’t had a minute to really “have a moment of zen” for months.
So, if you’re responsible for retreat planning, schedule time for wellness on your next offsite to allow team members to slow down and decompress with one another. Morning yoga, an afternoon meditation, or a bonfire and stargazing night are all great options that are sure to get everyone in a better zen-like frame of mind to be their best back at work.
8. Turn Up The Heat
In a cooking class, that is. Countless Hollywood romance movies have inspired and reminded us about the power of food and how it can bring people together. In this case what applies to love also works in business.
Breaking bread (and making it) with co-workers in a test kitchen or taking a cooking class with a professional chef is a great way to break down boundaries, learn to work better as a team, promote unexpected creativity, and most importantly, make sure everyone is well fed.
An all-hands-on-deck potluck or dinner party for your team at a vacation rental in a culinary destination like Napa Valley with a chef’s kitchen can also accomplish the same objectives without the formality and expense of a professional cooking class.
9. Give Back
Being able to help your co-workers or staff when they need it—whether that’s in the pursuit of a company objective, closing a sale, or solving a problem—is one of the most important parts of being a successful team member.
So, as part of your next company retreat or offsite, set aside some time for team members to volunteer together. If your company is in the real estate business, volunteer for Habitat for Humanity for a day. If you own a restaurant, have your team help plant vegetables at a local farmer’s market for underserved communities.
Few things strengthen the bonds between people faster and will make your corporate retreat experience more meaningful than sharing the pride that comes with helping out and supporting a worthy cause.
10. Get The Adrenaline Up
Of all the fun activities that you’re planning as part of your next company offsite, don’t forget to give your teams and co-workers the opportunity to get their adrenaline up before or after a day of meetings and brainstorming sessions.
Hitting the dopamine button with activities like go-cart racing, going to an amusement park, trying trapeze, flying high in a waterfront ferris wheel, or watching an experiential IMAX theater movie are proven to create better team building energy, develop deeper trust, and promote longer-term loyalty.
No, unfortunately, we’re not talking about a spontaneous vacation to a private Caribbean island here (though that would probably be high on most people’s company retreat wish lists).
We’re talking escape rooms a.k.a. “exit games” where teams are challenged to work together to get themselves out of a theme-based room in an immersive adventure game using clues to accomplish incrementally harder tasks and tests while the clock is ticking.
Escape room themes run the gamut: nuclear reactor meltdowns, zombie apocalypses, prison breaks, and murder mysteries. Whichever you choose for your team, escape rooms literally and figuratively will have them problem-solving, communicating under pressure, and most of all, laughing all the way to safety.
12. Do Absolutely Nothing
While planned activities are great to keep everyone entertained, giving your team free time—and space—to do their own thing on a retreat is just as important. Whether that’s running, reading, napping, or a quick Netflix binge, downtime will help them feel “off the clock” even while onsite at a retreat.
All-in-all, small moments like a fire pit at sunset, a cold beer by the pool, and some good music can frequently do far more to help your team open clearer lines of communication, find common ground, and elevate corporate culture than a hundred overpriced corporate consultants.
Fort Lauderdale, Florida is known for its beaches, culture, and events. Whether you’re ISO a trip here for sunny days, a girls’ getaway, or simply to be in close proximity to Miami, we’ve come up with the best AvantStay Airbnbs in Fort Lauderdale – all complete with private pools so you get a top-of-the-line vacay.
If you find yourself looking for a travel experience that values your privacy, safety, and cleanliness, maybe it’s time to try that site everyone’s been talking about. Maybe it’s time to try AvantStay.
AvantStay is a gem in the short-term vacation rental world. We display our signature style via hundreds of homes with award-winning interior design, seamless group travel experiences, concierge services at the touch of a button, and a unique pay-per-person feature on the app. While all AvantStay properties can be booked through Airbnb, they can also be booked directly through our website.
Apart from its top-of-the-line technology and innovation, AvantStay homes are in primo locations – places you’ve been dying to check out, and places you’re ready to check off your bucket list – like Fort Lauderdale! Let’s dive in.
1. Tidal – For the Outdoorsy Type
We’re starting this roundup strong. Tidal is a Ft. Lauderdale vacation home with an oasis of a backyard. Walk out back to find yourself immersed in a tropical jungle, complete with a private pool with a volleyball net, cozy seating and plenty of opportunities for that al fresco dining moment you’ve been yearning for. Enjoy short drives to the sand – this stay is only a 10-minute drive to Las Olas Beach!
2. Capri – For the Water Sign
No, it’s not Italy, but it’s pretty close. Capri is a lovely vacation home located right on the canal in Pompano Beach. While it doesn’t come with a fresh Italian wood-fired pizza, it does have a pool, hot tub, and a private dock on the water – and honestly, that’s just as good in our book.
If you find yourself still wanting that pizza, try adding on a private chef in our app when you book. They’ll make you (almost) whatever you want…
3. Sea Breeze – For the Salty One
If you want the best of both worlds, stay at Sea Breeze. This stay is located just steps away from the Fort Lauderdale Beach and comes with a private pool with a waterfall. Enjoy long morning walks on the beach then come back to this spacious pad for lunch around the large dining table. At night when the temps drop, cozy up around the electric firepit and cheers to finding the perfect vacation spot. If you’re the type to get chilly, request a heated pool for your stay. You’ll thank us later.
4. Summerfin – For the Photographer
Looking to spruce up your IG feed or TikTok? Head to this Pompano Beach stay. Summerfin is one for those who enjoy the colorful things in life. With a palm tree printed wallpaper seating area, sunny al fresco dining, teal colored pool table, and bright art throughout, this Ft. Lauderdale Airbnb shines bright on our list.
5. Turtle Nest – For the Socialite
Came for the prime location, stayed for the hot tub. Meet Turtle Nest, a vacation home conveniently located near both the beach and downtown. We love this Florida stay for its chic interiors and gorgeous pool/hot tub combo. Add on the fact that there’s room for up to 10 guests, and you just found the ideal place for detoxing before you retox in Fort Lauderdale’s nightlife.
The town of Telluride is a scenic historic landmark, and it has come a long way since being founded in 1878. Once a Victorian mining town, modern Telluride is more than 8,000 feet above sea level, set in a box canyon amidst the world-famous Rocky Mountains. Its historic architecture and wonderful landscapes make it a top destination in Colorado. During the winter, it’s also one of the go-to spots to practice skiing.
Telluride neighbors the town of Mountain Village to the west. This world-class getaway is a little over an hour from the mountainside towns of Ouray and Silverton, and about four hours away from iconic Aspen and the state capital of Denver.
From spectacular views to outdoor activities that adventure enthusiasts will never forget, there is no shortage of fun things to do in Telluride year-round. Read on to discover the top things to do in Telluride so you can start planning your dream vacation with unmatched confidence.
Experience picturesque downtown Telluride
Telluride may have started as an old mining camp, but today it is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the USA.
The beating heart of Telluride runs through the town east to west: Main Street or Colorado Avenue.
Mainstreet represents the epicenter of downtown Telluride. Here, you can find a variety of shops, bars, cafes, boutiques, bakeries, and more. There are dozens of dining options available to visitors, like the fabulous Cosmopolitan Telluride or the cozy Baked in Telluride bakery.
You can enjoy all sorts of mouth-watering cuisine downtown, like French pastries, Italian food, bison, African fusion, and even some unusual delicacies like rattlesnakes. After you eat, pay a visit to the Telluride Gallery of Fine Art to take in the paintings, sculptures, photography, and local artwork. Then, relax in a comfy stay like AvantStay’s Spruce and recharge your batteries for your next adventure.
Conquer the San Juan Mountains
Millions of years ago, two massive continental tectonic plates crashed into each other to create a fault – a rupture between rock blocks. That fateful crash is how the San Juan Mountains were born.
Ancient glaciers carved steep mountainsides into the rock and created distinct U-shaped canyons like the box canyon surrounding Telluride.Here you can explore the tallest, most spectacular peaks in North America. There are more than 20 peaks that soar above 9,000 feet in the San Juan mountains.
The San Juan mountains were home to native Ute tribes for centuries before the arrival of European settlers in search of a fortune during the Goldrush. In recent years the mountain range has become a go-to destination for millions of tourists and outdoor adventure enthusiasts. With so many beautiful mountains and slopes available to enjoy, it is no wonder that Telluride is considered a paradise for skiers from near and far.The Telluride Ski Resort is home to some of the steepest, most challenging mountainous terrain. You could also try snowboarding or snow skiing down the scenic mountain slopes instead.
Traverse breathtaking hiking trails
There is much more to the San Juan mountains than just winter activities.
You will find some of the most legendary Colorado hiking trails in the mountains surrounding Telluride, ranging from single-day hikes to epic adventures spent scaling 14,000-foot summits. Hikers from everywhere come to experience the tranquil mountain views of the beautiful Telluride mountains. In the fall, the trails burst into bright explosions of yellow and gold that brighten up the mid to late-October landscape.
Bridal Veil Falls
The San Juan mountains are home to the tallest free-falling waterfall in Colorado, Bridal Veil Falls. The falls are 365 feet high, and every year millions of visitors flock to Telluride to explore the beautiful wilderness surrounding them.
Whether you bike, hike, swim, or ice climb, you will never be bored at Bridal Veil Falls. The trailhead also leads to Lewis Lake, Blue Lake, and other points of interest in the gorgeous Bridal Veil basin.
This hike follows a jeep road that grants gorgeous views of Bridal Veil Falls, as well as the historic power plant at the top of the falls and the entire Telluride valley. The road will also take you to Lewis Lake, Blue Lake, and other locations in the Bridal Veil basin.
If you want a good view of the falls from further away, you can try your hand at the Telluride Via Ferrata. This hybrid hiking and climbing experience is not for the faint of heart. At some points, the trail gives way to sheer cliffs, where you climb across steel rungs anchored into the rock. To take on the Via Ferrata, you will need the services of a trained guide.
Bear Creek Falls
About 6 hours up Bear Creek Canyon, you will find Bear Creek Falls. Bear Creek Trail leads you through a lovely route full of rugged cliffs that end with a stunning waterfall view.
The San Miguel Conservation Foundation works with Telluride to preserve more than 320 acres of land in Bear Creek Canyon as public open space. Here you will find an easy hike that the whole family will love.
Jud Wiebe Trail
When springtime comes to Telluride, the Jud Wiebe Trail is one of the first hiking trails to thaw out, though some avid hikers still traverse Jud Wiebe in the wintertime. The popular trail stretches for more than 3 miles and can take about 2 hours to complete. Dogs are welcome to join you on this trail as long as they have leashes on.
From May to October, this trail is also great for mountain biking and horseback riding.
Sneffels Highline Trail
If you want a more challenging hiking route, then give the Sneffels Highline Trail a shot. Explore every inch of this 13-mile loop named after the massive Mount Sneffels to the north.
The trail doesn’t take you up the mountain, but you can experience the dramatic cliffs between Mount Dallas and Mount Gilpin. On average, this trail takes just over 9 hours to complete.
Don’t be surprised if you run into fellow hikers, campers, and backpackers up there, but this is certainly an experience where you can find some peace on the trail.
The San Juan Mountains aren’t just for hiking. You can also enjoy plenty of off-road adventures and scenic driving routes along the way.
The Imogene pass is a very popular spot for high-adrenaline driving thrills, and it’s no surprise. The high mountain pass is more than 13 thousand feet tall and crosses a ridge that connects Telluride with Ouray. It is the highest pass in the San Juan Mountains and the second-tallest drivable mountain crossing in the state.
Explore the Imogen pass at your own risk, as there are lots of extremely steep areas that can be very dangerous. The risk is well worth the reward for experienced drivers who are rewarded with magnificent, panoramic views of San Miguel county.
Another famous drivable mountain pass is Black Bear Pass. Found on Black Bear Road, the pass extends more than 12 thousand feet upwards to provide an epic view of Telluride below.
Explore the San Miguel River
Located in the pastoral sprawl of the famous Telluride valley floor, the San Miguel River is just east of the Telluride canyon.
The river runs through acres of wildflowers and noble evergreens in the winter. Wildlife is abundant here, and you will often see coyotes, elk, birds, rabbits, and even prairie dogs.
You can find some of the best cold-water trout fly fishing on the San Miguel River just about 45 miles northwest of Telluride. You can also cut through twisting canyons and churning rapids if you enjoy whitewater rafting. The rafting season is rather short, mostly spanning the summer months. The San Miguel rapids are not an overly technical course. They are mostly Class II, with a few Class III along the way.
Feel awestruck at Alta Lakes
Just south of Telluride you’ll find a series of enchanting alpine lakes.
The Alta Lakes are over 11 thousand feet up, and they are named after the nearby ghost town of Alta. Alta was once a tiny, prosperous mining town, but it has been abandoned since the 1940s.
When you visit Alta Lakes, you’ll find priceless views of the Telluride Ski Resort, Silver Mountain, and Bald Mountain.
Go back in time at the Telluride Historical Museum
The Telluride Historical Museum has an impressive permanent collection of artifacts to peruse, as well as annual historical exhibitions that provide a glimpse back in time to old Telluride.
You can dive right into the region’s Ute Native heritage or brush up on its legendary mining history. Walk through ten themed rooms, each showcasing a different aspect of the town’s dramatic history.
There are a lot of interactive displays to engage with, and visitors of all ages can find something to fascinate them or tickle their fancy.
No matter how much Telluride grows and changes, this museum ensures no one will forget the legacy that created the town and shaped its present iteration.
Fall in love with Telluride Town Park
If Telluride had a beating heart, chances are you would find it at Telluride Town Park.
No matter the season, you can find locals and tourists enjoying the lovely scenery of the town park.
During the summer the park hosts music festivals, camping trips, softball games, swimming lessons, tennis matches, kid’s fishing, and so much more. In the winter, you must visit Hanley Ice Rink, Telluride’s winter ice skatingpavilion.
There is also a natural outdoor rink that is open from the middle of December until the middle of February. There are also outdoor warming huts for when you come off the ice.
Take a dip at Uncompahgre National Park
There are more than 1 million acres of Colorado land inside the Uncompahgre National Forest, including parts of the San Juan Mountains around Telluride. This remote national park is home to some of the most beautiful scenery in all of Colorado, and the land is protected by the United State National Forest Service.
Unlike some of the trails and vistas in the San Juan range, Uncompahgre National Forest is usually much less crowded and has plenty of campgrounds, hiking trails, and backcountry terrain.
There are popular fishing spots here, notably Priest Lake and Trout Lake that you can enjoy for free. Both lakes offer lots of birdwatching and plenty of wildlife activity. You can also find them surrounded by colorful wildflowers in warmer months, a view that will surely bring a smile to your face.
Brace yourself for off-road mountain biking
You can travel between Telluride and nearby Mountain Village on a 13-minute free gondola ride.
This biking gondola is the first and only public transport system of its kind in the continental US and allows bikers to access some of Colorado’s best biking trails.
You can access the gondola from either town, and there is a midway point between them located at San Sophia Overlook. The ride takes you more than 10 thousand feet in the air.
The gondola runs every day from 6:30 am to midnight, and during certain events and holidays, you may find the gondola offers extended hours. Please note that every spring and fall the gondolas are closed down for regular maintenance.
Find all the best festivals
When you think of Telluride you might think of snow and winter sports, but it’s a great summer vacation destination as well. During the warmer months, the town is host to some of the best entertainment festivals in the world.
There’s the famous Telluride Film Festival, which is one of the most celebrated film festivals in the world. Every Labor Day weekend, Telluride is full to the brim with film buffs, superstars, and everyone in between.
You can also experience the legendary Blues & Brews music festival. Every fall Telluride enjoys this multi-stage festival celebrating blues, indie, funk, gospel, and soul music. Then they wash all that good music down with some of the best craft beer in the western hemisphere.
Relax and unwind in luxurious hot springs
You can find a lot of adrenaline-fueled thrills in Telluride, but sometimes you just want a tranquil place to relax and let go of all your worries. If you need a luxurious rest day, where better to find it than one of the region’s many hot springs?
These natural mineral hot springs provide relaxation and relief all year long, and many are equipped with spa services like facials, body scrubs, and massages. You’ll find Orvis Hot springs about 45 minutes away from Telluride. Locals love to frequent this hot spring. Or you could try Ouray Hot Springs, which is just over an hour’s drive away.
Telluride looks like a magical land from a childhood fairytale. Surrounded by tall mountains and bursting with wildlife and natural beauty, it’s no wonder the town has become one of the country’s most legendary vacation destinations.
Founded during America’s rugged wild west era, Telluride has never lost its unpretentious charm and never adopted the ritzier reputation of neighboring ski resort towns in the Rockies.
The town has something for everyone to enjoy – no matter your age or what you want out of your trip. Though it is only eight blocks wide and 12 blocks long, Telluride is far from being a mundane mountain town.
You can ease into the small-town mountain lifestyle for sure, but you can also experience larger-than-life thrills on the slopes or trails. It’s all up to you. There’s no shortage of amazing things to do in Telluride. Whatever you decide, you’ll never forget the time spent here, and you’ll want to start planning your return to a Telluride cabin as soon as possible.
One of the simplest ways to optimize your vacation rental for more bookings and positive reviews is through interior design. Entice potential guests to click that “book now” button with a beautifully designed space that’s captured in stunning professional photos. Your vacation rental aesthetic should also be inspired by your surroundings. We put together these six tips to help you curate a rustic yet modern, cozy cabin interior design plan for more five-star ratings.
1. Use modern furnishings
Cabins are known for their rustic charm, but that doesn’t mean they have to be old and outdated. Give your cabin a modern edge by purchasing new furnishings and appliances. Choose furniture with clean lines and organic shapes and fabric; rely on accent pieces to sprinkle in some rustic flare (more on that next). To further elevate your cabin, install new appliances so your space is functional and comfortable for guests.
2. Keep it cozy
Give guests a cozy retreat to relax and unwind after a day of outdoor adventures. Layer on the textures to make your log cabin more inviting—think faux hide rugs, plush pillows, chunky knit blankets, and plaid or buffalo check prints. For a moodier feel, incorporate leather, dark woods, and rod iron elements in your cabin interior design plan.
3. Embrace your surroundings
Use natural elements and local flare in your cabin interior design to give your guests a taste of the great outdoors. Incorporate modern wood furniture, stone floors or walls, and rich greens and browns to mimic your surroundings tastefully. Or, create a statement with a fun wallpaper or gallery wall inspired by nature.
4. Let the view shine
Embrace the natural landscapes surrounding your cabin for the ultimate complement to your vacation rental’s interior design. Make the view the star of the show by decluttering your space, using neutral tones, and avoiding heavy window treatments. Also, create seating areas by windows or on the balcony or patio—the perfect backdrop for enjoying a warm beverage.
5. Add experiential elements
Create an inviting space for guests to make their own memories by adding experiential elements and areas to gather. Who wouldn’t want to play board games by the fireplace after a long day outdoors? Large kitchen tables and living rooms with plenty of seating encourage guests to spend time together. Also, provide popular amenities like a foosball or pool table, outdoor fire pit, and hot tub for guests to enjoy.
6. Provide storage for outdoor gear
Bring the outdoors inside through your interior design, not muddy boots. Designate a mudroom space in your vacation rental where guests can keep their outdoor gear and wash up. Provide plenty of hooks, a shoe rack, and baskets for miscellaneous items. Also, be sure to have a runner by the door to limit dirt getting tracked in. Is your cabin in a ski market? Consider adding ski/snowboard racks or lockers so guests can store their bulky gear and equipment.
Elevate your cabin interior design with AvantStay
Investing in your vacation rental’s interior design can help you attract more guests, earn higher ratings, and increase your revenue. Why not partner with a design expert who can elevate your vacation rental and save you time and money?
When you partner with AvantStay, you get full access to our award-winning vacation rental interior design and procurement services that instantly add value to your home. Our talented interior designers build a free, custom design strategy for your home that inspires both you and your guests to feel their most comfortable—creating lasting memories while saving you thousands. We help you procure high-quality, durable furniture and upscale amenities. We also take care of the professional photoshoot—for free!
Oahu is one of eight islands in the Hawaiian archipelago. It is home to some of the world’s finest beaches, Hawaii’s largest city Honolulu, and the majority of Hawaiian residents.
Oahu translates to “the gathering place,” and the number of people on the island, combined with its breathtaking natural beauty, means there are near limitless activities for people of any age.
Before you head to Oahu, be sure to brush up on the local rules and regulations regarding tourists. Hawaii embraces sustainable tourism to maintain and protect the natural beauty, so they ask guests to leave no trace and support local nonprofit organizations that promote these initiatives.
Whether you’re traveling with your family, partner, or a group of friends, we’ve put together a list of the 51 best things to do in Oahu to make your vacation planning as easy as possible.
1. Diamond Head State Monument
If you want the perfect Instagram photo from Oahu, Diamond Head State Monument is your best bet. It has some of the most scenic hiking and stunning overlooks on the island. When you get to the top of your hike, you’ll have panoramic views of the lush green on Oahu, the Honolulu skyline, and the Pacific Ocean.
If you aren’t a Hawaii resident, you will need to make a reservation and pay a $10 vehicle entry fee, along with a $5 fee per visitor over three years old.
2. Pearl Harbor National Memorial
No matter whom you’re traveling with, Pearl Harbor is worth a stop if you stay in Oahu. The memorial is steeped in devastating but powerful history, and includes the USS Arizona Memorial, The USS Utah Memorial, and the USS Oklahoma Memorial.
The best way to make the most of Pearl Harbor is to book a Ford Island Bus Tour, where you can see the Oklahoma and Utah memorials. The memorial for the USS Arizona is separate from this tour.
3. Kualoa Ranch
Kualoa Ranch is located on the North Shore of Oahu Island. Kualoa Ranch has hosted many incredible TV shows and movies, including Lost and Hawaii Five-0. It is also called the Jurassic Valley because part of the Jurassic Park movie franchise was filmed there.
You can book horseback riding, e-bike tours, Jurassic ATV tours, Hollywood Tours, visits to secluded beaches, and an incredible zipline experience.
4. Polynesian Cultural Center
The Polynesian Cultural Center is the best way to experience the rich heritage of Hawaiian culture on any of the Hawaiian Islands. At the evening shows, you will be able to experience a traditional luau that includes hula dancing and incredible fire displays.
The Polynesia Cultural Center also offers an authentic Hawaiian dining experience and gorgeous handmade souvenirs.
5. Lanikai Beach
Lanikai Beach is one of the best beaches in Oahu. Located in the town of Kailua, Lanikai is on the island’s windward side and offers stunning views of the bluest ocean you’ll ever see.
Getting to Lanikai can be difficult as there is no public access except for boardwalks between people’s homes. Parking can be difficult, especially on the weekend, so it’s best to visit during the week if you can. There are also no lifeguards on duty for this beach.
While Lanikai may be difficult to reach, it makes this beach one of a few hidden gems less crowded than other parts of the island. Our home Hale Oahu Cottage is only a couple of miles away from this beach.
6. Sunset Beach Park
Sunset Beach along Oahu’s north shore is one of the most incredible beaches in the world. In the winter, the giant waves make it a famous beach for surfers. If you’re unfamiliar with beaches and surfing, staying out of the water on good surfing days is a good idea.
Sunset Beach is the perfect place to go snorkeling during the summer when the winds and surfing waves have calmed. Of course, the beach also lives up to its reputation—it’s the perfect place to catch a sunset no matter the time of year.
7. Dole Plantation
Visiting the Dole Plantation isn’t like seeing any other farm. It has many unique experiences that are perfect for the whole family. Since 1898, the Dole Plantation has been the place for tourists to explore a Pineapple Express Train Tour, a pineapple garden maze, and an incredible guided tour of the gardens.
While the plantation can be a fun place to visit with your family, it is also rich in history. The plantation has been used for centuries, and the foods grown there are a mainstay of Hawaiian culture.
The Dole Plantation is also known for its incredible treats, such as Dole Soft Serve, freshly picked pineapples, and estate-grown Waialua chocolate.
8. Byodo-In Temple
Nestled in the foothills of the Ko-olau Mountains, the Byodo-In Temple is a temple built to honor Japanese immigrants in Hawaii. Dappled with luscious flora, quiet waterfalls, and iconic Japanese Koi, it’s no wonder that the temple is a popular wedding destination for couples from Japan and the US alike.
9. Iolani Palace
The Iolani Palace is one of Hawaii’s finest historic sites. For years it was home to Hawaii’s King Kalakaua and then his successor and sister, Queen Liliuokalani. When the monarchy was overthrown, the palace served as the capital for more than 70 years.
In the 70s, the palace was restored to look like its original royal home. They offer tours where you can learn about Hawaii’s connections with Japan, the traditional attire of Hawaiian royalty, and more.
10. Ala Moana
Ala Moana is a shopping district in Honolulu jam-packed with local cuisine, incredible stores, hula dancers, ukulele players, and activities for children. With hundreds of stores, Ala Moana is easily a full-day activity all on its own.
11. Kailua Beach Park
Kailua Beach is the best beach for active travelers. Located on the windward half of Oahu, you can canoe, kayak, snorkel, or try your hand on a stand-up paddleboard.
There are plenty of amenities available as well, including BBQ pits, picnic shelters, bathrooms with showers, and lifeguards. If you’re staying in a vacation rental on Lanikai or Kailua Beach, you can even get free gear delivered to this picturesque beach.
12. Hanauma Bay Tours
Hanauma Bay Tours offers an incredible experience for the whole family with their Turtle Canyon tours. You and your family will be able to see wonderful marine life up close and its native habitat, including green sea turtles and Hawaii’s state fish, the humuhumunukunukuapua’a.
If you’re visiting from December to April, you may even get lucky and see a humpback whale.
13. Ho’omaluhia Botanical Gardens
This iconic garden includes 400 acres of peaceful land for you to explore. You will be able to see native Hawaiian plant life, of course, but you will also be able to explore botanical collections from the Philippines, Malaysia, Africa, and more.
The Ho’omaluhia Botanical Gardens are a great place to learn about nature, wildlife, and the fragile ecosystems of the Hawaiian islands while enjoying gorgeous scenery unlike anywhere else.
14. Ko Olina lagoons
Ko Olina includes four lagoons that spread across 642 acres of land. This beach is one of the more accessible beaches in Oahu, as daily public parking is available.
Ko Olina beaches are best for those that want a quiet beach where they can sit in the sun. Because it is privately owned, Ko Olina has banned alcohol, cigarettes, pets, loud music, and most active beach activities.
If you’re an adult looking for the best place to sunbathe in peace and enjoy the sounds of the waves off of one of Oahu’s finest beaches—Ko Olina is your best bet.
15. Oahu shark diving tour
If you want to ditch the relaxing beaches for a day and have a thrill instead, you can go diving with sharks with North Shore Shark Adventures. They guarantee you will see sharks on their tour, so your time and money are insured with this adventure.
You and your family will be able to observe the true majesty of sharks up close and personal in a cage dive. If you’re planning on visiting Oahu and you can find the time, a shark diving tour is not something you want to miss.
The United States military had to endure intense onslaughts during WWII in Oahu. They built concrete structures called pillboxes around the island to serve as lookouts for the enemy.
Because they were important lookouts, these pillboxes often come with astonishingly beautiful views. Though soldiers built many around Oahu, two of the most popular pillboxes are in Diamond Head Lookout and along the Lanikai Pillbox Trial.
17. Matsumoto Shave Ice
Shave ice is one of Oahu’s most iconic treats, and Matsumoto Shave Ice is one of the most iconic places to get it. Located in Waialua on the island’s north side, Matsumoto has been open since 1951.
This little shop has regular flavors like watermelon, strawberry, and lemon, as well as unique flavors like guava, lychee, and ume. If you want to try something really different, you can even add adzuki beans for a little extra protein.
18. Makapu’u Lighthouse
As a chain of islands, it’s no surprise that Hawaii is home to many different lighthouses. No lighthouse in Hawaii is more iconic than Makapu’u Lighthouse.
To see this lighthouse on the eastern point of Oahu Island, you’ll have to hike 2 miles round trip on Kaiwi State Scenic Shoreline. The trail difficulty is moderate, so it’s suitable for most families.
If you decide to make the trek out, bring binoculars to see as much wildlife as possible- whales, seabirds, dolphins, and much more are all often visible from the lighthouse.
19. Halona Blowhole Lookout
The Halona Blowhole Lookout is located near Hanauma Bay off Kalanianaole Highway and is worth a stop. Waters from the Pacific Ocean violently crash against the shore, and an old volcanic tube throws the sea waves high into the air.
Aside from the blowhole itself, the lookout offers spectacular views of the water and a great place to pull over and stretch your legs.
20. Tantalus Lookout
There is perhaps no better way to see the skyline of Honolulu than from Tantalus Lookout. Originally named Pu’u Ualaka’a, Tantalus Lookout is perched atop an extinct cinder cone volcano.
The lookout also offers a fantastic view of the island’s craters—- including Diamond Head Crater—- which formed after large volcanic explosions thousands of years ago. While on the lookout, be sure to explore the Ualaka’a Trail, a short 1-mile loop that offers a unique view of the Hawaiian jungle.
21. Nu’uanu Pali Lookout
The Nu’uanu Pali Lookout is a beautiful and historically significant site in Oahu. This lookout is a must-see just five miles from Honolulu if you’re staying in or near the city.
This lookout is the location where the battle of Nu’uanu took place in 1795. During the fighting, hundreds of soldiers died, many by being pushed off the rocky cliff. It was during this battle that King Kamehameha I united Oahu for the first time.
22. Oahu helicopter tours
There are a few different helicopter tours in Oahu that launch from different locations. Wherever you’re staying, planning to experience Oahu via a helicopter tour couldn’t be more worth it. From the sky, you’ll be able to see Hawaii as the birds do.
From incredible waterfalls and lush green forests to the Honolulu skyline and the cerulean ocean, there is no better way of experiencing the breathtaking beauty of Oahu than from the sky.
23. Waikiki Beach
Located near Honolulu, Waikiki Beach is one of the most iconic beaches that Hawaii has to offer. This world-renowned beach is lined with a half-dozen surfing schools for those looking to learn. The smaller waves on this side of the island are perfect for those getting onto a surfboard for the first time.
If only part of your group is interested in getting on a board, the rest can spend their day shopping or enjoying entertainment just steps away from the beach.
Skydiving isn’t for everyone, but if you’re ready for the freefall, this activity is one of the best things to do in Oahu. A few different businesses offer skydiving along the island’s North Shore.
Starting from as high as 14,000 feet, most tours offer freefalls that last as long as 20 seconds. If you’re ready for the thrill of a lifetime, you can check out Pacific Skydiving or Skydive Hawaii to make a reservation.
25. Waimea Bay
The waves at Waimea Bay are not for the faint of heart. This bay is on the windward side of Oahu, and it shows. In winter (roughly November to April), the waves on this beach can be more than 20 feet tall.
The water at this beach is best traversed only by expert surfers and lifeguards. Waimea Bay is the place to be if you want to see expert surfers in action, not if you’re looking to ride your first wave.
In the summer, the waters of the bay calm, and this area becomes a popular spot to relax, snorkel, and dive.
26. Ka’ena Point Trail
The Ka’ena Point Trail is located in Ka’ena Point State Park on the northwestern point of Oahu Island.
On hotter days, hikers should keep in mind that Ka’ena Point Trail is a longer hike that doesn’t offer much shade and has no drinking water available along the trail. Still, if you’re willing to make the 2.7-mile one-way trek, it’s worth it for what you will see along the way.
This trail offers views of the Kaneana, a sea cave that is said to be the home of the Nanaue Shark Man of ancient Hawaiian mythology. If you hit this trail early, you might also be lucky enough to see dolphins swimming in the nearby waters.
27. The ‘Aiea Loop Trail
Located in Keaiwa Heiau State Recreation Area, the ‘Aiea Loop Trail stretches 4.8 miles of easy and moderate terrain. On average, this trail takes 2 to 3 hours to complete.
The ‘Aiea Loop Trail offers some of the most memorable beauty in Oahu. Lined with lemon eucalyptus trees that leave a lingering citrus smell in the air, this trail offers spectacular views of the southern Oahu coast. You will likely see incredible wildlife along with your views, making this trail a must-see for anyone in the area.
28. Camping in Keaiwa Heiau State Recreation Area
Campsites in Oahu aren’t easy to come by, but if you get a chance to camp in Keaiwa Heiau State Recreation Area, take it. With just ten campsites open only from Friday through Wednesday, the State Recreation Area offers the finest way to spend a night outdoors.
The campsites in the recreation area have showers, water fountains, and bathrooms available, though alcohol is not permitted anywhere in the park. You should come prepared for bugs—especially mosquitos. However, it’s well worth it as camping in Hawaii is a truly memorable experience.
29. Wahiawa Freshwater State Recreation Area
Freshwater fishing may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Hawaii, but Wahiawa Freshwater State Recreation Area offers an area to do that. You can fish right off the shore of the Wahiawa Reservoir, or you can fish off a boat.
This recreation area has water fountains, bathrooms, picnic tables, and a boat ramp for your convenience.
30. Kayak to the Mokes
Looking out from Lanikai Beach, you can see two small islands in the distance—the Mokes. Kailua Beach Adventures offers kayaking tours to these secluded islands, from the beach to these islands, where you’ll experience some of the best beaches in Hawaii and spectacular views from the water.
Once you kayak the 30 minutes to the islands, you can hop out of your kayak, swim in the shallow waters, and explore the land. Whether renting a kayak and visiting the islands alone or following a guided tour, The Mokes are a must for anyone visiting Oahu.
31. Koko Crater Trail
The Koko Crater Trail—more commonly called the Koko Head Stairs–is one of the most iconic hikes in Oahu. As Oahu’s most difficult hike with more than 1,000 stairs, this trail is best left to more experienced hikers and groups without small children.
Remember that you will have to descend any stairs you climb up on your way back down. As with all hikes, it’s best to turn around if you feel you’re becoming depleted of your energy or have used half of your water supply.
To do this hike, you can park in the Koko Head District Park parking lot and follow trail signs. The higher you go, the better the views get until you reach the top. There may be no better view of Oahu than from the top of the Koko Crater Trail.
32. Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum
The Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum is home to many legendary Pearl Harbor and WWII planes. Located on Ford Island in the middle of Pearl Harbor, this museum is the perfect stop for any group with a history buff.
In this museum, you can walk around an old plane hangar packed with dive bombers, flight simulators, and tons of history.
33. The Manoa Falls Trail
The Manoa Falls Trail is a good choice for those with less experience to get some hiking in on Oahu. The trail has only a gentle slope and is a short 1.6 miles long. It’s also just a 15-minute drive from Honolulu—perfect for families with restless children.
The size of the waterfall at the end of this trail may vary depending on the season and weather. Water from this waterfall depends on rainwater, so if you visit in the dry season, don’t be surprised when the water is a smaller trickle.
Regardless of Manoa Falls waterfall, the trail will take you through a luscious green jungle under a gorgeous canopy of trees. This hike is absolutely worth the effort for the views along the way.
34. Hawaii State Art Museum
The Hawaii State Art Museum is the perfect activity for anyone that wants to learn more about the local culture while getting some time out of the sun. There’s always something new to see with an ever-changing array of exhibits that feature local artists.
The sculpture garden is a permanent exhibit at the art museum. Designed to evoke the image of an urban oasis, the sculpture garden has free admission.
35. Waikiki Submarine Tour
Atlantis Adventures offers a submarine tour of the clear waters of Waikiki. A submarine tour is not for those with claustrophobia, as you’ll dive 100 feet underwater in a tight space to see the marine life below the water.
This tour is one of the best ways to observe fish in their natural habitats. The trip lasts over an hour, during which you will see coral, a sunken shipwreck, and even a crashed airplane.
If you have children on the trip, it should be noted that there is a minimum of 36-inch (3-foot) height for safety reasons.
36. Kaniakapupu Ruins
The Kaniakapupu Ruins are an important historic site on the island of Oahu. Just a short hike off Old Pali Road, nestled in a bamboo forest, is the broken-down walls of the Kaniakapupu Ruins.
These broken walls represent what was once King Kamehameha III’s summer home, originally built in 1847. It was in this summer home that King Kamehameha III would consult with his people and his chiefs, away from the prying eyes of Westerners.
37. Waikiki Aquarium
The Waikiki Aquarium is part of the University of Hawaii. Originally built in 1904, the Waikiki Aquarium is the second oldest in the United States and sees more than 300,000 visitors annually.
While visiting, you’ll see incredible marine life up close and personal—from sea horses to jellyfish, the aquarium has more than 3,000 animals in its care.
If you add the Waikiki Aquarium to your itinerary, do not miss the aquarium’s two most popular attractions, the Hawaiian Monk Seal Exhibit and the Living Reef Exhibit.
38. The Honolulu Zoo
The Honolulu Zoo is home to many unique animals you won’t have the chance to see elsewhere. From mammals and birds to reptiles and amphibians, the zoo is the perfect way to get close to wildlife without endangering it or yourself.
Pythons, tortoises, giraffes, and flamingos can all be found in the zoo. You’ll want to dedicate a full day to the zoo and its activities with dozens of exhibits.
If you’re looking for an extra memorable experience, you can stay in the park after the gates close on Saturday nights for Twilight Tours.
These tours are two hours long and will take you throughout the zoo to observe the animals at a unique time of day. Animals’ behavior changes as the sun sets, and you’ll get extra time to ask questions on the guided tour.
39. Queen Emma Summer Palace
The Queen Emma Summer Palace is another important historical site that will take your breath away. In Hawaiian, it’s called Hanaiakamalama.
This palace was home to Queen Emma of Hawaii and her husband, King Kamehameha, for nearly forty years. They raised their son, Prince Albert, in the Nu’uanu Valley.
The palace spans more than 22 thousand square feet and was saved from demolition in 1915. The Daughters of Hawaii stopped this historical site from being destroyed, and they still run it to this day.
40. The Bishop Museum
The Bishop Museum is one of the best ways to learn about Polynesian culture and the history of the Hawaiian islands. The museum hosts information about native wildlife, local culture, and the history of the building itself.
The Bishop Museum has more than 25 million treasures from Hawaii and Polynesia. These items paint a picture of the Pacific islands’ history, making the museum the perfect stop for history buffs.
The Bishop Museum is also home to a planetarium, where you can see a show to learn more about the night sky overhead.
You can walk the same halls as Queen Emma alone or follow a guided tour. Whatever you decide, if you’re going to the Nu’uanu Valley, this palace is worth a stop.
41. Washington Palace
Washington Palace, completed in 1847, is an important historical landmark in Oahu history. It originally housed Mary Dominis, who named it after George Washington with permission from King Kamehameha III.
While the house was originally Mary’s, it is most known for being the home of Queen Liliuokalani, who married Mary’s son John Dominis. Queen Liliuokalani lived in the home from the time she was married until she ascended to the throne in 1891.
At Washington Palace, you can walk amongst this history and learn about the life, career, and death of Queen Liliuokalani—the last monarch of the Hawaiian islands.
42. Honolulu’s Chinatown
The Hawaiian Islands’ proximity to Asia has meant that China and Japan have significantly impacted Hawaiian culture. Honolulu is even home to its own iconic Chinatown.
Chinatown in Honolulu stretches from North Beretania to Honolulu Harbor. You’ll find a bustling and vibrant art scene within Chinatown, restaurants that blend Hawaiian and Chinese cuisine, and incredible nightlife.
43. Sea Life Park
The Sea Life Park is a perfect experience for families staying in Oahu. It is a great place to see a luau, watch marine life play and swim, and eat unique local cuisine. Sea Life Park is one of the few places where you can interact up close with dolphins and monk seals.
You’ll also get up close and personal with whitetip reef sharks, small sharks native to the waters of the Pacific and Indian Oceans.
Whether you go to the Sea Life Park for a dolphin encounter, a seal encounter, or just to get a closer look at the penguin habitat, make sure to pre-book your tickets and passes online, as they tend to sell out during peak seasons.
44. Segway tours
One of the best ways to get a full view of Honolulu (without being in a car) is to take a Segway tour. Many companies offer Segway tours around the city, and you can bring your entire family along.
In recent years, some places have even begun to offer tours riding hoverboards- the cool older sibling of the Segway. Segways are all-terrain vehicles, and with the right tires, you can smoothly transition from the city streets to the beach and back again.
There are 40 golf courses on the Island of Oahu, and each offers a unique experience you won’t find anywhere else. There are options for every budget, from those who want a luxury PGA-golfing experience to those just looking to hit the course while they travel.
The Ko Olina Golf Club course offers a quintessential Hawaiian golf experience. Boasting roughly 35,000 square feet of land, waterfalls, and breathtaking views, it’s not a surprise that Ko Olina was chosen for Golf Digest’s ‘Top 75 Resort Courses in The United States.’
Kitesurfing, also called windsurfing, is a sport where you use a board and a small sail to glide across the water at high speeds. The best kitesurfing on Oahu is in Kailua Bay.
If you have never done this kind of surfing before, it’s best to start with an instructor who can help you learn how to navigate safely. Fortunately, Honolulu is home to plenty of kitesurfing schools that can help you get started.
Once you get going, kitesurfing can offer you the experience of a lifetime. From breathtaking views of the island from the water to the thrill of feeling like a low-flying, there is nothing like zipping across the water with only the wind to pull you along.
There are tons of bike trails around the island of Oahu. Whether you’re looking to experience some unique island mountain biking or you want to navigate the city’s streets, bike rental companies can get you started so you don’t have to bring your bike from home.
48. Distillery tours
Whatever your alcohol preference, you will likely find an Oahu distillery to match it. Around the island, you’ll find distilleries that produce rum, whiskey, scotch, and more. Because of the Japanese influence on the island, you can even visit a shochu (Japanese rice alcohol) or sake distillery.
49. Leonard’s Bakery
Leonard’s Bakery has been a staple of Oahu since 1952. It was opened by Leonard and Margaret DoRego, descendants of Portuguese immigrants. When they first opened the bakery, they stuck to traditional American desserts but quickly decided to include traditional Portuguese baked goods as well.
When the owners of Leonard’s included malasadas on the menu for the first time, they were reluctant. They weren’t sure if the food would take off with white Americans or natives of the island, but it was a hit with both. To this day, Leonard’s Bakery represents the blend of cultures that makes Oahu and the surrounding islands unique.
Today, the bakery serves traditional Hawaiian baked goods like Pao Doce, Portuguese foods like malasadas, and traditional American desserts like pies and cupcakes.
50. Koko Crater Botanical Garden
The Koko Crater Botanical Garden is located on the eastern side of Oahu near Honolulu. It includes sixty acres of gorgeous gardens in the basin of the 200-acre Koko Crater.
The botanical garden includes plants from Hawaii, Africa, and Madagascar. There are tropical plants as well as plants native to arid climates.
Due to the garden’s size, it is recommended that you wear good shoes and come prepared to walk. Guided tours are available, but you can also stroll through the garden alone or with your group. Most people spend about an hour and a half walking around the park.
51. Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art, Culture, and Design
While exhibits are always changing, the museum is home to more than 4,000 permanent objects of cultural importance from Spain, Morocco, Egypt, Syria, Iran, and more. The collection was put together over sixty years by Doris Duke.
While there are many things to do on all of the Hawaiian islands, including Maui, Kauai, and Hawaii itself, Oahu offers the most diverse array of activities in the archipelago. These 51 things to do in Oahu will keep you busy whether you’re staying just for a weekend or a week.
However long you’re on the island and whomever you’re traveling with, you can maximize your time by planning ahead and pre-booking the activities you know you don’t want to miss.
Vacations are perfect for relaxing, enjoying happy hours, reading a good thriller, and catching up with old friends… until you’ve gotta bring the kids. While they can be harder to entertain, the kids will absolutely love these vacation homes with arcade rooms so you can just do you. Whether you’re looking for a vacation rental with a hot tub, pool, sauna, or just a good TV, these homes are sure to check all the boxes on your dream vacation checklist (because who doesn’t have one of those).
1. Fin – Inlet Beach, FL
Nostalgia is in, boring vacations are out. Bring the game to your vacay at Fin in Inlet Beach – the ideal stay for bringing out the friendly competition in your group. This home comes with an arcade, foosball, air hockey, and ping pong table to keep the kiddos entertained – and a pool and hot tub for your delightful decompression.
2. Enchanted Forest – Lake Arrowhead, CA
Tucked away in the woods you’ll find Enchanted Forest. With a pool table, ping pong table, foosball, poker table, and six vintage arcade game systems, this game room came to impress. When you’re craving a moment with Mother Nature, head outside where you’ll find plenty of outdoor seating options and a front-row seat to the beauty that is Lake Arrowhead.
3. Lost Horse – Joshua Tree, CA
Lost Horse is a Joshua Tree home with its very own game casita, complete with a TV, foosball, snack bar, and arcade games. Inside the main home, you’ll find a Pac-Man-themed bathroom, desert interiors, and space for up to 10 guests. Make your way back outside for a lovely shaded patio and a stock tank pool perfect for cooling off from the heat.
4. Sugarland – Smoky Mountains, TN
Sugarland is a Smoky Mountain stay with an entertainer’s dream of a deck. Keep the fun going inside with a car racing arcade game, pool table, home theater, and foosball. Chill out at night with a nice soak in the indoor pool. Make sure to get a good night’s rest, then head out on a hike through the Smokies in the AM.
5. Rivendell – Sonoma, CA
Welcome to Rivendell. This Sonoma stay allows for seamless indoor/outdoor living via an expansive wraparound deck that flows throughout the entertainment area, dining room, and primary bedroom. Chic interiors fill the space and continue into the game room with vintage arcade games like Pac-Man, Galaga, and Marvel Super Heroes.
6. Monarch – Destin, FL
Next stop, Destin. Monarch is a resort-level vacation home just a short walk from Henderson Park State Beach. Its bottom floor has a game room with a pool table, foosball, and a vintage Pac-Man arcade game. After some games well done, head outside to the outdoor kitchen and enjoy a swim in the luxury pool with its swim-up bar.
7. Mermaid – Paso Robles, CA
For a good time, just add water. Make your way to Mermaid in Paso Robles for a game-filled vacay with activities ranging from air hockey, to Dance, Dance Revolution, to vintage arcade games. But the fun’s just begun – head outside and choose your pick from bocce ball, shuffleboard, the sand volleyball court, or you can just hide out under the pool’s waterfall.
8. Cliffridge – Malibu, CA
Come to Cliffridge for the views. This hillside Malibu stay features a pool table conveniently placed so you get panoramic views of the ocean while you show off your skills. Enjoy luxury amenities like the in-ground spa, fireplace, and for the gamers in your group: a Pac-Man arcade game.
9. Edgewater – Destin, FL
We solemnly swear we saved the best for last. Edgewater is a Destin vacation home featuring an extra special Harry Potter-themed game room with foosball, Pac-Man, and plenty of board games. Outside you’ll find a hot tub, a private dock, a fire pit, and large sliding doors for incredible indoor/outdoor living.
If arcade games aren’t your thing, hundreds of our vacation rentals come equipped with classic games like billiards, shuffleboard, ping pong, and more. Start exploring our destinations to find your perfect stay…
Joshua Tree National Park is a famous destination for tourists across the country as well as California locals. This national park hosts a combination of activities for both an adventurous spirit and a relaxed soul alike.
Sightseers and nature lovers can rejoice, as the park has many hiking and nature trails to explore. This scenic park boasts numerous outdoor attractions, such as rock formations, palm springs, rock-climbing mountains, and various campgrounds.
If you plan to visit Joshua Tree National Park during a group getaway, you have come to the right place.
Here is a list of the best and most exciting activities you can partake in at Joshua Tree. While not every activity is for everyone, there is a wide variety of things to do in Joshua Tree, so you should be able to find something to satisfy every type of traveler in your group.
Cottonwood Visitor Center
The Cottonwood Visitor Center is one of several visitor centers found inside Joshua Tree National Park. Open during the day from 8:30 am until 4 pm, this visitor center is located south of highway 62 and north of the 10 freeway, at the southern end of the park.
This visitor center is a small park store located inside Joshua Tree. While it is mostly just a gift shop, it acts as a logical first stop on your day of outdoor activity. The Cottonwood Visitor Center is a gateway to many different hiking trails located around the Cottonwood Springs area.
This visitor center is a hub for information on the park and serves as a means to purchase a parking pass. If you plan a trip to the south side of Joshua Tree National Park, consider stopping here first or giving the center a call.
Cottonwood Spring Oasis
The Cottonwood Spring Oasis is one of the best local wonders inside the Joshua Tree National Park.
This spring has quite an interesting backstory, as it was created due to natural earthquake activities. This strategic location has also been a hub for several wars fought by the Cahuilla Indians.
On top of its geographical advantage, this spring is a piece of gold rush history, as it served as an essential stop for prospectors heading west. In fact, Cotton Spring Oasis was a central hub for several mines during the gold rush since it offered access to water. If you are a history buff or enjoy learning about interesting land formations, this oasis is undoubtedly a spot for you.
Hidden Valley Nature Trail
Hiking on nature trails is easily one of the most popular activities to partake in at Joshua Tree, and the Hidden Valley nature trail is no exception to this rule.
This nature trail allows tourists to explore many of the unusually shaped but naturally-formed giant rock formations in Joshua Tree.
The Hidden Valley nature trail is especially popular because it is one of the shorter trails in this National Park. Many hiking trails take several hours, while a typical hike through this nature trail will only take 1 or 2 hours.
Rock nature trails are a popular attraction found at Jumbo Rocks. Joshua Tree National Park is full of unique rock formations that many visitors come from around the world to see.
Climbing routes such as the Arch Rock Trail and Skull Rock provide fascinating views of unique landscapes. Fortunately, these easy nature trails will only take a mile loop to walk through so it’s possible to hike several at a time if the weather allows.
Rock nature trails are also popular for those interested in rock climbing or photography. Camera lovers truly enjoy how easy it is to get a good shot here, and you’ll often see climbers bouldering along the way.
Barker Dam Nature Trail
The Barker Dam Nature Trail is another mile loop around a lovely landscape. This nature trail takes tourists past many of the titular Joshua Trees found in the Joshua Tree National Park.
The swaths of ancient petroglyphs found here have been left behind by earlier civilizations who lived in this park. These natural wonders are quite the mystery, estimated to be 2,000 years old or more, and attributed to prehistoric Native Americans.
On top of some of the history found here, the trail features some beautiful desert landscapes and local wildflowers. Make sure to look out for the park’s famous bighorn sheep while you are out here.
This nature trail suits those looking for an easy hike. The track is incredibly flat, and so many signs are posted that it would be difficult to get lost.
Fortynine Palms Oasis Trail
The Fortynine Palms Oasis trail stands out as one of the more lush experiences found at the national park. Many of the nature trails found in this park are filled with rocks or desert life, but Fortynine Palms stands out because its oasis gives life to some of the only non-succulent plant life in this desert.
Gaze upon the local greenery and geometric rock formations on this 3-mile trail. This path is just outside the park gates and has an easily accessible parking lot.
Like many other attractions at this national park, this nature trail is free to explore once you are inside the park.
Note that this trail is more challenging than a casual walk. If you are bringing small children with you, this may not be the best nature walk for your party.
Cholla Cactus Garden
One of the perks of being in California is that the weather is consistently sunny and warm in the desert climate.
Cholla cacti are a product of this warmer climate. While Joshua Tree consists of many different kinds of plant life, cholla cacti are one of those that stand out due to their beauty.
The Cholla Cactus Garden has the shortest official trail found in the Joshua Tree National Park. This trail comes in at only a quarter of a mile, so it is perfect for those who may have limited mobility or endurance. Be careful to stay on the marked trail and don’t get too close to the “jumping” cholla cactus as the stems will detach when brushed to attach themselves to you or your clothes.
Contact Mine Trail
This abandoned gold and silver mine is found just a few miles past the north entrance to Joshua Tree National Park. Hikers ready to take a walk through somewhere with a little less elevation gain will do well to visit this abandoned mine trail.
This pathway provides interesting sights of rustic remains of the mine. Visitors will get to see mine carts and railways as part of the abandoned mine.
Those looking for an entry-level hike before heading deeper inside the national park would do well to stop at this abandoned mine.
Lost Horse Mine Trail
Like the Contact Mine Trail mentioned before, the Lost Horse Mine Trail shares many of the same appeals. This enormous mine is a top destination inside the park.
History buffs will thoroughly enjoy this seven-mile hike that will lead you through a historic mine and mill. This mine is well preserved, and you can easily immerse yourself in the miner’s shoes as you’re walking this trail.
Keys View is a lookout point found over the Coachella Valley. This scenic hotspot is a fantastic viewpoint of the mountains, the Salton Sea, and even Mexico. Keys Point is the perfect lookout spot because it is high atop a paved road and rests on a stable cliff in the best location in the park.
This locale is especially suitable for those looking to catch the sunset. Many visitors have claimed that watching the sunset at Keys View is one of their favorite experiences.
Keys View is undoubtedly a romantic location, so consider bringing your loved one to experience something one of a kind. Just make sure you check the weather and go on a clear day to avoid getting rained out.
If you enter from the park’s west entrance, make sure to stop at Keys Ranch. While not the most extensive attraction found in the park, Keys Ranch acts as a historical landmark to the early ranching culture found here.
Visitors can come to check out the small settlement and see all of the amenities earlier humans had used. This ranch served as a hub for the miners west during the gold rush over a hundred years ago.
Hidden Valley Campground
If you are staying in or around Los Angeles, you are only one road trip away from the Hidden Valley campground.
Those who love sleeping under the stars should look into this hotspot campground. Enjoy the Milky Way night sky free of light pollution in the typical Los Angeles area.
This campground is generous enough to provide restrooms and fire rings for its visitors. Other necessities like water will have to be packed in for the night.
White Tank Campground
White Tank Campground is an easy and enjoyable campground near Pinto Basin Road. This popular campground is surrounded by many granite formations, including Arch Rock. Popular activities at this campground include hiking and summer campfires.
Enjoy the pleasant, slow hike from your campground filled to the brim with geological history. You’ll find that the trek through the Arch Rock trail has a ton of plaques indicating interesting events found here.
If you want to check out some of the crazy geology found at Joshua Tree, this might be the campground for you.
Jumbo Rocks Campground
Of the many different campsites found inside the national park, Jumbo Rocks Campground manages to stand out amongst them with its scenery.
This campsite surrounds itself with a natural plant border, making it an attractive location for those who want to be surrounded by beautiful rocks and some greenery.
It is crucial to know, however, that this campsite does not allow for hammocks or other forms of horizontal ropes. These utilities are prohibited from being tied to Joshua trees or other local wildlife.
Black Rock Campground
Black Rock Campground is another locale in the backcountry of Joshua Tree. This campground offers many utilities that make it a perfect camping location.
The amenities included at this campground are cell phone reception, internet connection, a year-round dumping station, trash collection, portable water, and even some staff assistance on site.
The only downside to the campground is the risk of wildfires. Like most national parks, Black Rock Campground is incredibly dry and prone to wildfires. While campfires are permitted, campers must be cautious and keep their fire inside designated fire pits and on grills.
Ryan Mountain Trail is a well-known hiking spot used by visitors. Those who frequent the park will surely be familiar with its elevation jumps and vertical landscapes.
While there are a variety of mountains to quench your thirst for climbing, this particular structure is well-paved and friendlier to a casual audience.
The rock-piled spot towards the middle of the mountain serves as a great resting point. Many visitors choose to pack a lunch and go to this picnic area as a break during their hike.
Horseback riding in Knob Hill Ranch
While technically just west of Joshua Tree National Park, Knob Hill Ranch provides guided tours open to the public. These tours feature horseback riding through Yucca Valley, where you will see plenty of local scenery.
First-time horseback riders and trailheads alike are welcome on these tours. The ranch offers lessons to those interested but unfamiliar with the art of horseback travel.
The tour gives ample time for you to get settled in on your horse before beginning your trek through the valley for some scenic views.
Bird-watching at the park
Bird-watching is an inspiring and accessible activity at Joshua Tree National Park. This park is in the perfect geographical location to attract avian wildlife. Birds love the permanent waterholes found throughout this crossroads between the Colorado and Mojave Deserts.
Popular birds to look out for are cedar waxwings, juncos, and even white-crowned sparrows. These birds are a hot commodity throughout bird-watching communities, as their rare presence to city-dwellers helps them stand out.
Many of the best spots for bird-watching offer other activities as well. These locations include Cottonwood Spring, the Barker Dam, and the Oasis of Mara. Each of these has natural water sources that attract bird life to it.
Joshua Tree Music Festival
If you are less of a nature lover and more of a music festival fanatic, the Joshua Tree Music Festival is the spot for you. This live music festival offers much different music than just bands performing on a stage.
On top of the typical musical performances, this music festival stands out because it offers other activities such as a yoga class, a sound bath, a songwriting class, and even a workshop about mindfulness.
This inspiring get-together is one of the unique things you can do at the national park. This one-of-a-kind music festival attracts music lovers to the scene.
San Andreas Fault
Joshua Tree is in the middle of a cross-section with hundreds of different earthquake faults. Resting on top of one of the Earth’s tectonic plates, this giant rift stands out by maintaining its status as one of the most significant faults in the world.
The San Andreas Fault runs more than 800 miles across California, stretching from the Salton Sea to Cape Mendocino. This fault is so significant that it practically splits California in two.
Those familiar with the Grand Canyon will see many of the same rock structures at this fault.
Travelers interested in natural phenomena and fascinating geological structures should stop at the San Andreas Fault for a quick look.
The town of Joshua Tree
The town of Joshua Tree is nestled in a very small sideline of the Twentynine Palms Highway. While you might miss this town if you blink too fast, its small size is deceptive. The town is one of the most interesting locales you will see on your travels. It is filled with one-of-a-kind art and other eye-catching installations.
Joshua Tree has become a tourist attraction because of its name and sixties-themed aesthetics. This retro sixties town hosts many local businesses, such as the Grateful Desert Herb Shoppe & EcoMarket.
Make sure to pay this quirky town a visit sometime during your trip to the Joshua Tree National Park.
Travel back in time and get a taste of what it was like to be in the Old West.
This old town was created in 1946 and was used as a movie set for various cowboy films. While the town’s origins are artificial, its fully functioning businesses are not. Pioneertown is filled with small shops and restaurants to entertain you on your visit.
On top of the authentic western aesthetic, animal lovers should rejoice. One of the highlights of this small town is its Soap & Goats store. This little business sells locally crafted goods and allows customers to visit the friendly goats.
Slab City, also known as just the Slabs, is a community of desert dwellers near the Salton Sea and Twentynine Palms. Slab City is full of various artists and misfits looking to make their mark on the world in a way they know how.
Like the town of Joshua Tree, his area is filled with interpretative sculptures. Some of the more inspired pieces are made from old televisions, decorated cars, and various tires.
The obvious crown jewel, of course, is Salvation Mountain. Salvation Mountain is a relatively small man-made hill found right beside Slab City, which was made by Leonard Knight. With the message, “God Is Love,” Leonard made this as a tribute to God and the love he has for everyone. This mountain is full of colorful patterns and textures made from spray paint and other decorative materials.
The Slabs and its many artistic attractions are a popular spot for those looking to snap a photograph and spend some time enriching themselves.
Mecca Hills Wilderness
The following location calls out to climbers of southern California. The Mecca Hills Wilderness is found just south of Joshua Tree. This enormous canyon stands out among nature lovers because of its unique surface and textured pattern.
Gazing upon the Mecca Hills Wilderness, you might see walls that resemble surfaces that would exist only on otherworldly planets. The walls of the Colorful Painted Canyon will surround you and stimulate your senses with eye candy.
Be warned that the Mecca Hills Wilderness is not the most accessible hike. This canyon is vast, and many slot canyons need ladders to climb to get through.
Seasoned climbers, however, will be rewarded with one of the best hikes available in the United States.
Joshua Tree Rock Shop
It only makes sense that a park famous for its many geological formations would feature a rock store. Wander around this immense store of stones to look at the many exciting crystals one might find in the national park.
While the energy of these minerals might not resonate with everyone, you will undoubtedly find phenomenal shapes and colors while browsing the wares.
Joshua Tree Saloon
Come and enjoy a refreshing drink at the Joshua Tree Saloon. Take yourself back to a simpler time when there were fewer forms of entertainment and a saloon acted as the local hub for fun.
The Joshua Tree Saloon is only a few minutes from the park’s west side entrance. It is the perfect location to come for a bite to eat during your day out and about. This well-preserved eatery has indoor and outdoor seating to serve everyone in different forms of weather.
When choosing traditional bar food such as burgers and fries, it’s hard to go wrong. These simple dishes pair well with the many delicious drinks on the cocktail menu.
Algoberto’s Taco Shop
If you’re heading to Joshua Tree National Park and are not from the area, you will have to make it a point to try some authentic Mexican food. While the most authentic food from this culture would naturally be found in Mexico, restaurants in southern states such as California and Texas are your next best bet.
Feast upon the many tasty options, such as the titular tacos or meaty enchiladas. These delicacies are even made especially tastier with the knowledge that they are also incredibly cheap.
For some of the tastiest Mexican food you can find in the United States, you will want to stop at Algoberto’s Taco Shop. This taco shop is only a ten-minute drive from the park entrance.
Natural Sisters Cafe
If you are looking for something more natural and healthy, consider visiting the Natural Sisters Cafe. Alternative diets of many kinds will be satiated through these healthy plant-based food options offered at this cafe.
Classic cafe items such as a veggie wrap, smoothie, or salad are offered here.
This cafe also features the famous “Welcome to Joshua Tree” mural. This painting on the side of the building is perfect for an Instagrammable photograph and is a landmark in its own right.
After their day of history and travel, those looking for a more modern-style restaurant would do well to top their night off here.
Oasis of Mara
The Oasis of Mara is another rare commodity, as it is one of the few places in the park with natural surface water.
This oasis was quickly settled in by the Serrano. These earlier settlers named the oasis directly after its grass and spring water. The Serrano planted 29 notable palm trees when first settling, each representing a successful birth of a baby boy from their tribe. These palm trees are so important because they provided settlers with clothing, food, cooking ware, and housing.
After the early settlers, later people who lived in this area, such as cowboys and miners, continued to utilize the oasis’s water. This natural wonder has served as a lifeline to those who have lived nearby over the centuries.
Today, this oasis is mainly filled with tortoises and other wildlife.
Hall of Horrors
The Hall of Horrors found in Joshua Tree National Park is a set of close quarters between large rock walls. These hallway-like structures are naturally formed and make for some of the most exciting perspectives one can look through. It’s a spine-tingling experience.
Although this location is unique and fun to look at, beware of claustrophobia, these halls are incredibly tight-fitting.
While Park Boulevard is not necessarily a location, this road can be a great way to check out what the park offers.
While it is great to be able to explore each inch of the park, not everyone has that kind of time. Driving down Park Boulevard can serve as a terrific compromise to see a lot of different locales at once.
This road traverses many of the most interesting structures in the national park. Those seeking just a few glances before moving on to the next stop will do well to drive down Park Boulevard for some sightseeing.
Annual Night Sky Festival
Last but not least, we have the annual Night Sky Festival. This annual get-together is for those looking for a more relaxed experience.
This festival focuses more on relaxation than the extensive hikes and learning activities offered around most of the park. Sit back and take in the panoramic views as you look out at the clear, flat landscape and admire the horizon. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that will leave you feeling refreshed.
The Joshua Tree National Park is certified as an International Dark Sky Park. Light pollution or the abundance of light makes it difficult to stargaze effectively, particularly around big cities. Areas such as national parks that are further away from large metropolitan areas allow for the luxury of top-notch stargazing.
Stargazing is accessible anywhere in the park during any time of year, but the annual Night Sky Festival provides a more communal experience under a unified theme.
In the end, there are so many things to do in Joshua Tree National Park. This treasure of a park contains hundreds of scenic views and tourist attractions to appeal to all sorts of interests and hobbies.
People who enjoy warmer climates such as the Mojave Desert, Death Valley, or the Colorado Desert will be particularly at home in this warm and hospitable climate.
The NPS, or the National Park Service, considers Joshua Tree National Park one of the fascinating clashes in a distinct desert ecosystem. Plants and animals make their home here in a land sculpted by dry heat and the occasional sight of rain.
Next time you want to get away to a warm location such as San Diego or Las Vegas, consider heading out to Joshua Tree National Park instead for a desert getaway.
The winter months have officially arrived, and quickly transitioning your home from trick-or-treat friendly to family feast ready can be stressful. Given that this is the time of year when you should be winding down, opening up your doors to host an event can be overwhelming. So why not open up ours?
Elevate your holidays by hosting your plans in an AvantStay vacation home – where you can leave the prep and cleanup to us, so you can focus on the personal touches that make entertaining your guests worth it! Whether you’re hosting Friendsgiving, Christmas dinner, or ringing in the New Year with your loved ones, we’ve got you covered with 15 tips that are sure to crown you the hostess with the mostest.
1. Co-host with a friend or close family member
You don’t have to do it all! Take a breather knowing that you have help from a trusted co-host who can help split and delegate tasks with you. Is one of you a better baker than the other? One has a better eye for design and decoration? There are no hard rules here, but simply knowing that someone has your back can relieve the pressure of tackling a holiday party on your own.
2. Lean on our concierge team
Our concierge team is here to cater to you. Think of a dedicated specialist there to ensure that your plans run as smoothly as possible. With options from stocking your fridge before your arrival, mid-stay cleans, itinerary planning, and even coordinating a private bartender or private chef for you, we’ve got you covered.
3. Stay organized and plan ahead
This one may seem obvious, but being proactive and maintaining a checklist minimizes surprises and helps to ensure that nothing gets forgotten. If you’re hosting a potluck, keep a running list of what everyone is bringing to avoid duplicates and/or missing pieces. Be sure to confirm your guests, reinforce dates and times, and keep a cooking schedule on hand. This is particularly true for Friendsgiving since there’s no official date for this “holiday.”
4. Designate rooms for each guest
When planning for an overnight stay, bypass the last-minute scrambling by assigning everyone rooms before check-in. Fortunately, we have a “choose your room” feature in our app where you and your added guests can effortlessly see all rooms and beds and reserve your pick. From the bookings tab, simply locate your reservation, select “choose rooms” under the Guests and Rooms section, and then swipe through each room while adding a name to each room.
5. Curate your music just right
Once you’ve happily arrived, it’s time to personalize your vacation home to your ideal vibe. One of the most important ways to set the mood is with the perfect album or playlist. Select AvantStay homes, like Chicory, are vinyl-ready with record players waiting for you. If you prefer more of a mix, create a collaborative playlist on your favorite streaming platform. And if you’re feeling especially adventurous, there are plenty of premade playlists out there eager to be set on shuffle.
6. Ambience is everything
Musical stimulation is only one piece of the puzzle which is ambience. Think of a cozily lit fireplace, perfectly dimmed mood lighting, or diversifying each and every space for a different activity. You can make your guests feel welcome by ensuring that they feel right at home. This is extremely easy to do at all of our vacation homes because they are designed by professional (award-winning!) interior designers rather than just anyone.
7. Have a game plan
As we previously mentioned, itineraries are your best friend, and we can help you build one. Our concierge team creates excellent, personalized itineraries that can have minute-to-minute schedules or loose plans to keep everything flowing if that’s more your style. They can also build unique local experiences to ensure you’re making the most of your getaway.
8. Entertainment for all
What’s your preference? Playing a game, watching a movie in a home theater, or cozying up by an outdoor firepit? No need to choose just one! Our homes are set up with all the amenities to ensure that there will never be a moment of boredom between the feast and festivities.
9. Have a signature something
Think signature party favor, activity, centerpieces, or even themes! Having an on-brand something that your guests associate with your events (and therefore get excited for) is always a win. Not sure what to do? Lean on our concierge team to help you brainstorm.
10. All the libations for a memorable celebration
What celebration is complete without a cocktail or mocktail station? Our homes allow you to easily create your own self-serve bar with features like wine coolers, beverage stations, and wet bars like Chateau Syrah’s. Take it a step further by providing a menu of go-to recipes for your guests! Put a spin on classic cocktails by creating a naming convention around the holiday theme such as ‘Cold Turkey’ or ‘Bloody Merry.’ We’ve even compiled some of our favorite tequila recipes for you.
11. Snacks, Snacks, Snacks!
As everyone gathers and mingles, it’s always a great idea to have finger foods ready to go. From a charcuterie board to the all-time favorite chip bowl, we’ve got gourmet kitchens (that can be fully stocked upon request) ready to handle whatever gets your guests’ mouths watering.
12. Clean as you cook
One of the best pieces of advice any host or home cook has passed down is “clean as you cook.” In a home like Castle Rock, with not one, but two dishwashers at your disposal, we make it easy to tackle the cleanup after a feast of any kind.
13. Create new traditions
Here’s your chance to get really creative. Is there an activity that brings you overwhelming joy? Maybe it’s taking an annual road trip, doing a white elephant gift exchange, or baking a holiday treat together. Choose something that not only sounds fun to you but will keep your guests looking forward to your hosted events in the future – the power is in your hands. Your tradition could even become experiencing the holidays in a different AvantStay home every year!
14. Document all the moments
It’s easy to get so caught up in the holiday hustle and bustle that you don’t take a minute to be present and capture the moments. Whether you provide disposable cameras to your guests, set up a photo station, or take advantage of the photo booth we already have at The Monkey Tree Hotel, don’t be afraid to pause and pose. Let the memories serve as a reminder of what an amazing time you had on your group trip.
15. Treat yourself to some self-care
Once it’s all said and done, take a pause. Don’t get so caught up in catering to your guests that you end up neglecting yourself. Our concierge team can book you an in-home massage, or you can take a moment to de-stress in an in-home sauna like Nightstar’s. Some other ways to relax in our homes include sleeping in extra late, taking a bubble bath, or curling up on the couch to binge-watch your favorite holiday sitcom episodes. Tend to your needs, because at the end of the day, it’s meant to be a vacation for you as well.
Are you looking for things to do in the Smoky Mountains? We’ve put together a round-up of the top activities in the area.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park is on the border of Tennessee and North Carolina, not far from Knoxville and Asheville. There are fun activities both in the national park and nearby towns.
Whether you’re an outdoorsy person who loves hiking or you would rather cozy up in a mountain cabin with a cup of hot chocolate, there is something for everyone. Get adventurous on a rollercoaster ride, see historic structures, or have fun at a casino.
We’ll discuss the top things to do in the Smoky Mountains for every season. No matter what time of year you visit, you can have an unforgettable experience. Read on to discover the best things to do in the Smoky Mountains today!
Hit the trails in the spring
There’s nothing like springtime in the Smoky Mountains. Rhododendrons, mountain laurels, and wildflowers are in full bloom, and the temperatures rise to the mid-60s and higher.
If you visit the mountains in early spring, you might be able to hit the ski slopes. However, for the most part, the snowy weather will be gone by March.
Spring is a perfect time for outdoor activities like hiking, and we’ll discuss the best trails to check out. Also, consider visiting open-air historic sites.
Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail
Take a drive on Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, a winding road that snakes through the Smoky Mountains. It’s a one-way loop road that extends for five miles, and you can enjoy some of the most scenic drives in the mountains.
It takes about an hour to drive through Roaring Fork, but there are many things to do along the way. Stop at the Visitor’s Center at the head of the motor trail to pick up a guidebook.
You can park and hike along sunny trails or check out waterfalls and historic buildings. Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is one of the top-recommended activities in the area, and it’s an experience you won’t want to miss.
Chimney Tops Trail
Hike Chimney Tops Trail in the spring to see rushing streams and beautiful mountain views. It’s just a few miles south of the Sugarlands Visitor Center on the northern side of the mountain range.
Chimney Tops Trail is just a short drive from many of our top rental properties. Check out the four-bedroom Fontana or the Pine Needle house with a hot tub.
Abrams Falls is a hiking trail area near Mill Creek. Take a five-mile hike to see the 20-foot waterfall named for a famous Cherokee chief.
The stunning pine tree forest is full of blooming rhododendrons in the spring, and you can take a leisurely walk through the nature preserve. It’s a moderately challenging hike, and you might need prior experience before embarking on this trail.
Tricorner Loop Trail
Consider the Tricorner Loop Trail if you’re a fan of backpacking. It stretches over 31 miles and offers spectacular views of the Smoky Mountain Range.
Head to the Big Creek campground to find the Tricorner Loop trailhead. While you can hike it during any season, we recommend visiting in the spring when temperatures are mild.
You can go horseback riding in the Smoky Mountains starting in mid-March. There are four stables in different park areas, and you can take a short ride or go out for the afternoon.
Check the schedule to see if a ranger-led tour is coming up or ride with a local guide. You can also book carriage and wagon rides through the park.
Laurel Falls is one of the longest paved trails in the Smoky Mountains National Park. It’s ideal for adventurous hikers, and you can trek the entire trail in about two hours.
Some steeper sections can get slippery, so avoid the trail during spring showers. The waterfall at the end of the hike features a wooden bridge perfect for an Instagram photo opportunity.
Mt. Leconte is the third-highest point in Tennessee and one of the best places for spring hiking. It’s in the Blue Ridge Mountain range of Smoky Mountains National Park, and you can enjoy waterfalls, overlooks, and local wildlife. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a llama!
Head to Grotto Falls for a peaceful spring hike. The waterfall is over 25 feet high, and the environment is home to an abundance of wildlife, including salamanders.
You can access the waterfall through the Trillium trail system, which takes you on a three-mile scenic journey past rushing mountain streams. The hiking trails wind through rocky pathways and a beautiful hemlock forest.
Oconaluftee Indian Village
Oconaluftee Indian Village is a living museum in Cherokee, North Carolina. It’s on the southeast border of the Smoky Mountains, and the outdoor museum is ideal for a warm spring day.
The location is a historical replica of a Cherokee community dating back to the 18th century. The Cherokee Historical Association runs the museum, and you can learn about the daily life and customs of the Cherokee people.
Guided tours start every 15 minutes, so grab a spot and explore the facilities. Check the schedule to see if a dance or other event is happening soon.
Don’t miss Andrews Bald, a scenic grassy clearing named after a cattle herder in the 19th century. You can access it via Forney Ridge Trail, a short hike near the Clingmans Dome parking lot. It’s a year-round trail, but we recommend visiting in the spring to see the Innocence wildflowers bloom.
Near the end of spring, watch for blackberries and raspberries along the trail. There’s an elevation change of 1,200 feet to get to Andrews Bald, so bring plenty of water to hydrate yourself.
Get adventurous in the summer
Are you looking for a summer getaway? The summer is the height of the tourist season in the Smoky Mountains. There’s a massive number of things to do, from theme parks to water sports, and you might feel overwhelmed.
Fortunately, we are here to help. We’ll go over the best summer activities in the Smoky Mountains, including outdoorsy excursions in the park, exciting roller coasters, and local sightseeing.
There’s something fun to do no matter where in the mountain range your accommodation is. Get in touch with local wildlife at the petting zoo, hit the rapids in an inner tube, or take a cave tour if it’s hot outside.
A trip to the Smoky Mountains wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Dollywood, a theme park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Owned by the legendary country music artist Dolly Parton, Dollywood is an Appalachian-themed attraction with rides, water slides, and gift shops.
Dollywood is an essential trip for any Dolly Parton fan, and you can learn about her life and legacy at the Chasing Rainbows Museum. Listen to live country music at night or walk through Dolly’s Country Home attraction.
Even if you aren’t familiar with Parton’s music, you can enjoy the roller coasters and the Wild Eagle, a 135-foot drop. End your day with American cuisine from Red’s Drive-In.
The park is ideal for summer fun. Hike, ride a bike, fish in the river, or look out for protected wildlife like barn owls, waterfowl, and hawks. Seven Islands borders the French Broad River, where you can kayak or canoe in the summertime.
Ober Gatlinburg is an amusement park next to the Smoky Mountain range’s north border. It’s full of adventurous rides and attractions, but there are quieter activities like mini golf if that’s more up your alley.
Ride the roller coaster and try your hand at the rock climbing wall. You can beat the summer heat at the waterslide or grab a bite to eat at the Ober Loft Lounge.
Dollywood’s Splash Country
Dolly Parton owns multiple theme parks in the Smoky Mountains area, but Dollywood’s Splash Country is one of our top picks for local summer activities. It’s a great way to cool down on a hot Tennessee day, and the water rides are fun for families or groups of friends.
Head to Pigeon Forge to visit this 35-acre splash park and ride the Mountain Scream Slide and Raging River Rapids inner tubing. The attraction is open from May to September, and you can book tickets in advance.
Clingman’s Dome is a mountain peak in the North Carolina area of the Smoky Mountains. It’s the highest point in the Smoky Mountains range, and the 360° views of the park are spectacular.
The paved trail system is only open in the summer and fall, so schedule a hike before the season ends. There’s also an observation tower perfect for watching summer meteor showers.
Go whitewater rafting on the Pigeon River for a fun summer activity. You can rent a raft from March to October, and the nearly seven-mile path includes 70 rapids.
A certified guide will take you upstream, and you’ll have a thrilling experience on the rapids. We recommend booking a reservation and scheduling around two hours for a raft trip.
Rainbow Falls Trail
The Rainbow Falls Trail is a winding forest trail that leads you to an astounding 80-foot waterfall. It’s in the Roaring Fork area, about five miles from Gatlinburg. If you’re interested in Gatlinburg rentals, consider our Ashberry property which sleeps ten people, or our Sugar Cove log cabin.
We recommend visiting during the summer to catch a glimpse of a rainbow. The light streams through the waterfall on sunny days, creating a shimmering rainbow effect.
The farm and zoo encompass over 140 acres of natural beauty, and the institution has been around for nearly four decades.
This spot is good summer fun for the whole family. Kids even receive discount tickets!
Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster
Bring some adrenaline to your trip and ride the Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster. With one mile of track, it claims the title of the longest downhill ride in the United States.
This one-of-a-kind ride allows you to control the speed, making the roller coaster thrilling to experience. The attraction is in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, north of the Smoky Mountains.
Although it varies by area, summer in the Smoky Mountains can be hot. Skip the heat and cool off at a below-ground cave tour at Forbidden Caverns.
Forbidden Caverns is in the Sevierville area, just off Blowing Cave Rd. Descend into the cave and tour the tunnels, with handrails and lighting, for an incredible experience.
You can book a guided tour and check out the underground river and ancient cave formations. It closes during the cold season, so catch this attraction in the warmer months.
Kayaking on a clear day in the Smoky Mountains is an unbeatable experience. There are dozens of lake and river spots great for kayaking, but we recommend the Little Tennessee River in Maryville.
You can book a kayak from one of the local rental agencies and spend the afternoon paddling peacefully through the river. Stop by the Citico Recreation Area to enjoy lunch by the waterfront.
Find spooky fall attractions.
Spend your fall vacation in the beautiful Smoky Mountains enjoying the fall foliage and fresh mountain air. The leaves change into brilliant fall colors, the temperature drops, and the peak tourist season levels off, making it an ideal time for a weekend getaway.
You can check out one of the campsites at the national park or go sightseeing in a nearby town and enjoy the crisp fall weather. Keep an eye out for black bears, as they’ll be venturing out to stuff themselves to prepare for winter!
Fall can be a spooky time of year, and nowhere more so than in the Smoky Mountains, legendary for its eerie natural fog. We’ve selected some creepy-themed activities and other ways to enjoy fall in the Smoky Mountains.
Elkmont Ghost Town
Fall is the perfect time to visit Elkmont Ghost Town. The cooler temperatures are ideal for a long walk around the once-inhabited buildings.
In the early 20th century, Elkmont, formally known as Little River, was a weekend getaway destination for wealthy Tennessean families. When the National Park Service annexed the area, the buildings were left to deteriorate. Today, there’s now an eerie ghost town of both abandoned and restored historic houses.
October and November are the best months for visiting Cades Cove. The fall foliage will be in full swing, and you can see some of the best wildlife sightings in the area.
Cades Cove Loop Road, an 11-mile stretch of paved road, encircles the cove. You can take a beautiful self-guided tour and enjoy the orange and red trees by driving the route or exploring it on foot on certain days. Take a hayride on a chilly fall afternoon and experience guided commentary from the NPS.
Newfound Gap Road
Newfound Gap Road runs right through Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and it’s one of the easiest ways to experience the park. The trees are brilliant red and orange colors during the fall, making this drive one of the prettiest in the region.
Want to see the location of a real horror movie? Morristown was the filming spot for the iconic 1981 film Evil Dead, and it’s a perfect place to visit in the fall months.
The cabin used in the film sits right in the woods near the Smoky Mountains, and you can venture into the forest to see its remains. Consider staying at one of our nearby properties, like Bluestem.
Mingus Mill is a historic grist mill built in Cherokee, Tennessee, in 1886. Parts of the machinery are still functional, and you can see the water turbine at work on a guided tour. It’s open to visitors until the end of the fall season.
The mill is just a half-mile from the Oconaluftee Visitor Center, so stop by for cultural exhibits, ranger programs, and a bookstore. The mill and visitor center is in the southern part of the Smoky Mountains National Park, near Newfoundland Gap Road and Cherokee, North Carolina.
The Appalachian Trail is undoubtedly among the most famous attractions in the area, with over three million yearly visitors. It’s one of our top picks for fall because the weather is temperate, and there are fewer tourists than in the summer.
The trail cuts through the Smoky and Blue Ridge mountains, following the Tennessee-North Carolina border. Consider taking a weekend getaway to section-hike the Appalachian Trail or drive up to the trail entrance for a photo op.
Nantahala National Forest
Don’t miss Nantahala National Forest in Bryson City, North Carolina, a pristine natural reserve with waterfalls, campsites, whitewater rafting, and horseback riding. Hike over 60 miles of trails and enjoy the fall colors of the National Forest!
Blue Ridge Parkway
Driving the Blue Ridge Parkway is a great fall activity. It’s a National Parkway with scenic views, and the road boasts attractions like Mount Mitchell, Linville Gorge, and New River, the oldest river in North America. The parkway ends in Cherokee, North Carolina, near the Smoky Mountains.
See the snowy mountains in the winter
Winter is the offseason in the Smoky Mountains, but there’s still plenty to do. Curl up with a cup of hot chocolate at a hotel, learn about local culture at a heritage center, or check out a museum.
The Smoky Mountains have plenty to offer if you’re a winter sports lover. It’s just a few minutes round trip between the park and the ski areas, and you’ll be acing the slopes in no time.
The National Park is beautiful in the winter, from the snow-capped mountains to the slow flurries gracing the spruce firs. Spend your winter break in the Smoky Mountains, and you won’t be disappointed!
Harrah’s Cherokee Hotel and Casino
Harrah’s Cherokee Hotel and Casino is an upscale resort in Cherokee, North Carolina, off US Route 19. It’s just a 20-minute round trip from the Smoky Mountains, so you can retreat to the casino and play a round if it gets cold. Enjoy top restaurants, live music performances, and designer shopping while the snow falls outside.
Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center
The Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center is a fantastic way to learn about the local area without venturing outside. It’s in Townsend, Tennessee, right next to the entrance to the Smoky Mountains.
The galleries and exhibits range from Cherokee history to regional cooking practices. Visit for a concert or festival, see ancient pottery on display, and learn about the traditions of Townsend and Cades Cove.
The Mountain Farm Museum
The Mountain Farm Museum is near the southern border of the Rocky Mountains, not far from the town of Cherokee, North Carolina. It’s a collection of historic farm buildings dating back to the 19th century.
The Davis House is a log cabin made entirely from now-extinct American chestnut wood, and you can also see a working blacksmith shop with authentic tools. Learn about daily life in the 1800s and visit an apple house, barn, and log farmhouse. You can take a self-guided tour or see a demonstration of historic gardening or livestock practices.
Cataloochee Ski Area
Cataloochee Ski Area sits at 5,400 feet near the Maggie Valley area in North Carolina. The ski season peaks from mid-December to the end of February, so schedule your ski trip to coincide with the heavy snow. Cataloochee Ski Area also has snow-making machines to ensure your vacation is perfect if the winter is mild.
Sugarlands Visitor Center
Sugarlands Visitor Center is on the north side of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It’s a few minutes from Gatlinburg, on the Tennessee side of the mountain range.
The center is the perfect place to introduce yourself to the national park. Stop by for information about the area, and find out what local plants and wildlife you can see in the winter.
There are natural history exhibits to explore and programs led by the NPS park rangers. They offer special winter hours, so check the schedule before going.
Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies
Don’t miss Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, the perfect activity for a snowy winter day. It’s on River Road in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, on the north border of the Smoky Mountains.
The massive aquarium contains more than 10,000 sea creatures in ten different galleries. Book your tickets and step into the fascinating world of sea life!
Each gallery has a theme, like the Penguin Playhouse, the Shark Lagoon, and Stingray Bay. Stop by for a live show like the daily penguin feedings or a lecture on coral life.
The Smoky Mountains comprise some of the most beautiful territories in the southern United States. From sprawling pine forests to snow-capped mountains, the natural beauty of the mountain range is unparalleled.
Explore wildflower-covered hiking trails in the spring, and feel your heart race as you fly down rollercoasters and waterslides in the summer. The Smoky Mountains turn red and gold colors in the fall, perfect for a hayride or drive, and the winter is ideal for skiing or touring museums.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park has attracted visitors for nearly a century. The picturesque scenery, historical structures, theme park attractions, and outdoor activities make it the ideal place for a vacation.
Delivering a consistent, first-class vacation experience for every guest is the standard at which we operate. We give guests all the amenities of a hotel, paired with the comfort of a private home to create a top-notch guest experience. By going above and beyond for our guests, we receive more five-star ratings than the competition, drive more bookings, and increase our homeowners’ revenue.
A fantastic guest stay starts with a well-stocked home. We ensure that each home is stocked with anything guests might need during their stay, including an array of high-quality consumables and thoughtful localized welcome packages. If guests need additional supplies or want to begin their stay with a fully-stocked fridge, they can easily get in touch with our concierge team through our proprietary app, Butler.
Dedicated concierge team
In addition to fridge stocking, guests can request mid-stay cleans, book a private chef or in-home massage, and arrange at-home or local outdoor activities through our dedicated concierge team. In addition, our local partnerships offer guests an opportunity to experience any destination like a true local with personalized recommendations and exclusive discounts.
Some fan-favorite activities we’ve planned for our guests include:
Deep sea fishing
Yoga and sound baths
Interactive spaces designed for the way people travel
We believe the best accommodations are designed to enhance every aspect of a guest’s travels, which is why we transform beautiful homes into incredible experiences that foster unforgettable memories. We style and equip homes with high-quality features to attract top-tier guests who trust our brand and treat your property with respect.
All AvantStay homeowners have access to our design and procurement services. Our interior designers create custom, locally inspired spaces that guests love. We also help procure high-quality, durable furniture and upscale amenities, and coordinate delivery and installation on your behalf so you don’t have to lift a finger. Our thoughtfully designed spaces encourage gathering and allow guests to make the most of their time at your home—leaving them recharged and ready to write a glowing review!
Around-the-clock guest support
AvantStay guests have access to 24/7 live support via SMS, email, or phone, and we troubleshoot every issue to ensure they are well cared for so you can sit back and relax. By resolving 90% of guest issues on the first call, we receive higher ratings and better guest satisfaction scores than any other manager in the space.
Earn more with an optimized home and top-notch guest experience
A high-quality guest experience is the backbone of a successful vacation rental business. Why not partner with the leading hospitality platform to bring that to your vacation rental?
AvantStay offers end-to-end, flexible management programs to give you peace of mind. From financials to design to maintenance, we take care of your home as if it were our own. Our proprietary tech suite powers bookings, operationalizes in-field management and provides premium guest care. We take care of all the work to maximize your home’s income so you can sit back and relax—it’s that simple.
One thing about us: we’re firm believers that you should never have to leave your hobbies at home. That’s why we created this MVP roundup of vacation homes with private basketball courts – perfect for players that like to consider themselves sharpshooters, fanatics, and everything in between.
1. Burgundy – Temecula
Burgundy is guaranteed to get your head in the game – vacation and all. Sprawl out in this Temecula, CA oasis filled with all the vacation activities you could ever need: a private basketball court, gazebo, pool, hot tub, and plenty of outdoor lounge areas for an al fresco dining moment. When you’re ready for a change of scenery, try out a wine-tasting experience at one of the local vineyards, like Wilson Creek Winery.
2. Preston – Scottsdale
Swish you were here! Located in Scottsdale, AZ, Preston is this retreat-ready estate with its own basketball court, wet bar, casita, and sleek interiors. The game doesn’t stop once you step off the court – thanks to this pool’s basketball net, you can have a slam-dunk swim sesh. At night, relax under the palm trees decked out with LED lights and enjoy a dreamy glow during your night swim.
3. Villa Verdot – Temecula
Game on. Villa Verdot is a Temecula, CA stay complete with a basketball court, spacious lawn, patio, putting green, pool, hot tub, and tennis court. Relax in the hammock after a game or two then make your way to the outdoor kitchen where you can show everyone who the grill master is around here. Enjoy a meal al fresco or head inside to the expansive dining table and cheers to a vacay well done.
4. Primrose – Scottsdale
Welcome to Primrose in sunny Scottsdale, AZ! Today’s forecast: courtside hangs with a 100% chance of winning. Take your shot in a game of basketball, ping pong, pool, or mini-golf. Detox before you retox in the sauna. Let the kids take their own shot at giving you a makeover in this stay’s salon (at your own risk). Finish the night off with a cozy movie night in the home theater.
5. The Riesling Retreat – Temecula
Odds are, if you’re taking a trip to Temecula, CA, you’ve got a thing for wine. Next time you find yourself in wine country, stay at The Riesling Retreat – a vacation home just as sweet as its name. This expansive estate has room for up to 14 guests and has a pickleball/basketball court, volleyball court, and a putting green. Grill it up on the BBQ and enjoy dinner al fresco or head to the local favorite Bluewater Grill.
6. La Barrique – Temecula
We hope you’re a team player – this home’sgot room for the whole crew, up to 25 guests. Nestled between Temecula, CA’s famous vineyards and mountain views, La Barrique comes with a ping pong table, basketball hoop, pool, beach volleyball court, and firepit made for enjoying sips of local wine.
Fort Lauderdale is a year-round oceanfront getaway in South Florida with endless activities for couples, families, and friends to enjoy year-round. In fact, whether you’re a local or just visiting for spring break or a weekend, there are so many cool things to experience in and around this beachside city that it can be hard to decide what to do first.
Twenty-five miles north of Miami, Fort Lauderdale is just a short drive from Miami’s lively nightlife, award-winning restaurant scene, and unparalleled shopping districts, but it has the benefit of fewer crowds.
That makes Fort Lauderdale an idyllic place to spend some time lounging in the Sunshine State’s perfect weather, exploring the many nearby attractions, or taking in its picturesque canals, while never feeling too far removed from Miami’s buzzing and diverse international energy.
So, if you’re planning a trip to South Florida or Fort Lauderdale, we’ve got you covered —from kayak adventures and airboat tours to the best shopping, entertainment, and outdoor experiences. With this list of the 30 best things to do in Fort Lauderdale, you’ll be perfectly prepared to experience all of the fun in the sun that you can handle in the “Venice of America.”
Let’s jump in!
1. Swim at Fort Lauderdale Beach
Fort Lauderdale Beach is a must-visit if you’re passing through South Florida. This seven-mile stretch of white sand and crystal blue ocean—famous for its reputation as a Spring Break Mecca—is within walking distance of Las Olas Boulevard (#3 on this list) and close to many of Fort Lauderdale’s top-rated restaurants like Gianni’s Table.
You can enjoy swimming, jet skiing, snorkeling, stand-up paddle boarding, sunbathing, and more at Fort Lauderdale Beach without ever running out of things to do.
The Fort Lauderdale Beachfront promenade also has scenic walking and biking paths lined with palm trees and benches along the ocean, making it the perfect spot to stop for a little sightseeing or indulge in some ice cream.
2. Explore the Everglades
The Everglades are not technically in Fort Lauderdale. But this iconic National Park is located just west of the city and is absolutely worth visiting especially if you’re a nature lover or looking for adventure.
The Everglades wilderness comprises the largest area of contiguous wetlands in America and is the perfect place to get face-to-face with South Florida’s spectacular beauty, birdlife, and wildlife, or maybe even spot an alligator or a Florida Panther, among other fun things.
Everglades National Park protects 1.5-million hectares of wetlands from environmental harm and there are multiple interpretive centers and exhibits throughout the Park that explain to visitors the importance and rarity of this vital, tropical ecosystem. Families, couples, and friends looking for a little more of an adrenaline-boosting experience also can enjoy airboat tours, kayak rides, or an alligator safari through the Everglades.
3. Shop on Las Olas Boulevard
You can’t go to downtown Fort Lauderdale without taking a stroll down Las Olas Boulevard. Shopping along Las Olas—frequently referred to as the Rodeo Drive of South Florida—is one of the best things to do in Fort Lauderdale because it has everything you need to shop until you drop.
Swanky stores, boutique shops, and iconic brands line this manicured street near the ocean. And when hunger or thirst strikes, there are dozens of nearby restaurants and bars to satiate your cravings and fuel your second wind. You also might just spot a celebrity or two.
4. Suntan at Hollywood Beach
Hollywood Beach is one of the popular Fort Lauderdale beaches. The soft sand makes Hollywood Beach an ideal spot to unfurl a blanket or towel and enjoy a picnic or tanning session. Be sure also to bring your bathing suit since the clear blue Atlantic Ocean will beckon you in especially if you visit in the middle of the day.
Hollywood Beach boasts a beautiful 2.5-mile boardwalk in addition to the beach itself which is a hub of activity, restaurants, and bars attracting both locals and visitors year-round.
5. Enjoy a Show at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts
The Broward Center for the Performing Arts is one of Fort Lauderdale’s cultural icons. This playhouse is one of the most visited in the world and hosts over 700 performances each year, making it an ideal place to spend an afternoon or evening if you ever want to get out of the sun.
The Broward Center for the Performing Arts is located on the scenic banks of the New River, so you can admire the spectacular view before and after you enjoy one of the shows. If the Broward Center is fully booked, check out the nearby Parker Playhouse, which is another Fort Lauderdale cultural hotspot where you and your travel companions can experience South Florida’s emerging arts scene and enjoy a show.
6. Visit the Hugh Taylor Birch State Park
One of the best things to do in Fort Lauderdale if you love the outdoors is a day trip to Hugh Taylor Birch State Park. This state park spans 180 acres of preserved land where visitors and residents can picnic on the beach or grass, camp under the stars, hike along nature trails, witness spectacular wildlife, or go on a guided tour.
Hugh Taylor Birch State Park is open year-round from 8:00 a.m. until sunset, and the entrance fee to the park is under $10 per vehicle. Just be sure to book your tour tickets in advance to ensure you get the time slot of your preference, especially if you want to stay out of the sun in the middle of the day.
7. Dine at S3 (Sun Surf Sand)
S3 (Sun Surf Sand) is one of the top-rated restaurants in Fort Lauderdale that serves up award-winning seafood, steak, and sushi. The restaurant opened its doors in Fort Lauderdale in 2013 and has been a favorite spot for locals and visitors ever since.
S3 has gorgeous views of Fort Lauderdale Beach and the Atlantic Ocean while offering artfully crafted food that’s designed to be shared for a culinary experience that everyone at the table can be a part of.
Each plate served up at S3 includes delicious cuts of premium meat, freshly caught fish, and locally sourced ingredients so you’re guaranteed to never go home from here hungry.
8. See Animals at Flamingo Gardens
Flamingo Gardens in Fort Lauderdale is a family-friendly, exotic, and exciting thing to do. Why? Because there are few animals more photogenic or statuesque than the bright pink flamingo.
Flamingo Gardens is technically a botanical garden, but it’s also an aviary (a.k.a. bird) zoo that provides a peaceful escape and unique opportunity to experience South Florida’s wild nature without ever having to leave Fort Lauderdale.
Flamingo Gardens is home to dozens of native “Champion” trees (state record holders in size, width, and age) as well as hummingbird species and countless rare plants. Be sure to have your camera handy as you wander through the scenic pathways and mangrove forests.
9. Go Shopping at Sawgrass Mills
Sawgrass Mills in Fort Lauderdale is the largest single-story outlet mall in America, so remember to charge your Fitbit or Apple Watch before you go to get credit for all the steps you’ll take while shopping at the hundreds of stores.
Sawgrass Mills features dozens of famous retail brands like Balenciaga, Armani, Burberry, and many more, while also offering a vast selection of excellent food options throughout the mall. If you prefer to pay full price for luxury brands, you can also head to The Galleria at Fort Lauderdale for one of South Florida’s most famous, premium shopping experiences.
10. Explore Butterfly World
Butterfly World is exactly what it sounds like: a butterfly sanctuary with over 20,000 colorful butterflies and birds. Butterfly World is the perfect attraction to visit when you’re exploring Fort Lauderdale if you want to do more than just shop or lay on the beach.
Whether you’re traveling with friends, a partner, or family, Butterfly World offers guided educational tours or you can also wander around and explore at your own pace. The South Florida Adventure Pass includes entry to Butterfly World as well as three other top outdoor destinations to visit in Fort Lauderdale, including Flamingo Gardens, Sawgrass Recreation Park, and the Museum of Discovery and Science.
11. Learn To Surf
Make vacation memories and get your adrenaline pumping by taking a surfing lesson in Fort Lauderdale. Pompano Beach is one of the best spots to try this watersport because the waves are consistent and not too forceful. However, you can enjoy surfing along nearly any Fort Lauderdale beach.
If you’re not quite ready to ride the waves on a surfboard yet, try taking a paddleboarding lesson instead to get your feet wet. Paddleboarding lets you get out onto the water, but the large board is easier to stay upright on than a surfboard and there typically aren’t any waves involved.
12. Embark on a Seaplane Tour
If sightseeing is on your travel bucket list, then a seaplane tour is a must-do when visiting Fort Lauderdale. You can fly over Fort Lauderdale for 30 minutes and soak in the views as you soar through the sky, getting a unique vantage point of the crystal clear the Atlantic Ocean, white sand beaches, and towering palm trees of South Florida.
A seaplane tour of Fort Lauderdale is more expensive than your standard boat sightseeing tour, but it will be a memory that your entire travel group will remember for years to come.
13. Enjoy a Boat Cruise
Fort Lauderdale has endless boat cruise options that allow you to experience South Florida’s coastline, beaches, bays, and canals from the water. A sightseeing cruise is one of the best things to do in Fort Lauderdale because it shows off this beach city from a new vantage point and allows you to get out on the water without actually getting in it.
Las Olas Gondola operates romantic boat tours in a fleet of Venetian-style gondolas, while the Jungle Queen Riverboat is a multi-deck ferry for large sightseeing tours along Fort Lauderdale’s waterfront.
Fort Lauderdale is also known as the yachting capital of the U.S. So, don’t miss the chance to hop onto one of the city’s luxury yachts if you’re looking for a fast-paced on-the-water experience.
14. Kayak Along the Venetian Isles
There’s no better way to explore the “Venice of America” and Fort Lauderdale’s intricate system of canals than in a single or tandem kayak.
You can rent a kayak or book a group kayaking tour depending on your comfort level. Whatever you choose, experiencing Fort Lauderdale by kayak lets you go at your own pace as you meander through the crystal-clear waterways and allows you to see some of South Florida’s most expensive waterfront mansions in a unique way.
15. Visit the Bonnet House Museum and Gardens
The Bonnet House Museum and Gardens is a historic home museum in the heart of Fort Lauderdale. The house was built in 1920 and was formerly the home of two famous American artists, Frederic and Evelyn Bartlett.
The Bonnet House Museum shows off the artists’ furnished home and also includes many of their original works of art still decorating the walls.
The gardens are a space of tranquility amidst the city. The brightly colored flowers beg to be photographed, while the manicured gardens offer a calming place to relax and rejuvenate after a busy day at the beach canoeing, in a kayak, or on a seaplane tour.
16. Learn about South Florida History at the Historic Stranahan House Museum
The Historic Stranahan House Museum is the oldest standing house in Broward County, which includes Fort Lauderdale. This historic home was built in 1901 and was the residence of two of Fort Lauderdale’s first residents, Frank and Ivy Stranahan.
Enjoy a guided tour through the museum and Stranahan house, while hearing stories about one of Fort Lauderdale’s founding families and learning more about the history of this bustling, up-and-coming city.
17. Go Sightseeing on the Community Shuttle
Formerly known as the Sun Trolley, the Community Shuttle is an easy and effortless way to get around Fort Lauderdale. It’s free to ride and has links and stops throughout the city, so it’s perfect for visitors who want to self-guide themselves on a tour of Fort Lauderdale’s top sights and attractions.
Whether you use the Community Shuttle for sightseeing or as cheap transportation, it’s a convenient way to check off multiple items on this list of the best things to do in Fort Lauderdale. Especially if you aren’t driving into town or don’t want to rent a car.
18. Try a Meal at Casa D’Angelo
Casa D’Angelo is one of Fort Lauderdale’s best restaurants where you can indulge in delicious Northern Italian cuisine and a large wine selection in an elegant, upscale atmosphere.
Casa D’Angelo’s food is award-winning, its service impeccable, and it’s the original location of the now famous brand started by chef Angelo Elia, which currently has other locations throughout the U.S. If you’re a foodie—or just spent all day working up an appetite being out and about around town—Casa D’Angelo is a can’t-miss Fort Lauderdale culinary icon.
19. Have Fun on a Floating Tiki Bar
Fort Lauderdale Cruisin’ Tikis proves that boat tours in the Venice of America come in all shapes and sizes. On this tiki bar boat cruise, you and your friends can enjoy drinks, live entertainment, and experience Fort Lauderdale’s scenic waterways all at the same time.
Cruisin’ Tikis has boat tours with jazz music under the stars as well as cruises that depart morning, afternoon, and at sunset. You can also custom charter a tiki bar boat for a private party which will make for a waterfront event that you and your traveling companions will remember for the rest of your lives.
20. Try Something Delicious at The Katherine
One of the best things to do in Fort Lauderdale is to experience its world-class, up-and-coming culinary scene. The Katherine is a new restaurant in Fort Lauderdale that opened its doors in 2021 and has quickly established itself as one of the city’s most coveted reservations.
This Argentinian Steakhouse serves up premium cuts of meat in artfully plated dishes. The skilled chefs can also accommodate allergies and food intolerances as well as whip up something special for the kids. Don’t pass up the decadent dessert menu when you’ve finished dinner either.
21. See Art at the NSU Art Museum
The NSU Art Museum in Fort Lauderdale is one of the places to visit in the city if it rains or you need a few hours out of the sun. The exhibitions and art installations are inspiring and educational, and they are sure to keep everyone in your travel group entertained.
The art gallery has permanent and rotating exhibitions so that visitors who have explored the NSU before can always find something new.
After browsing the paintings, sculptures, and digital art, head to the onsite cafe and gift shop to pick up treats and souvenirs.
22. Win Big at the Gulfstream Park Racing and Casino
If you’re feeling lucky during your getaway to Fort Lauderdale, head to the Gulfstream Park Racing and Casino in nearby Hallandale Beach to experience the energy of a real-life horse race, a pulse-pounding casino night, or to catch some live entertainment or a show.
The Gulfstream Park Racing and Casino are also home to several excellent restaurants so you can easily spend an entire afternoon or evening here (or both) without running out of things to do.
23. Open Your Mind at the Museum of Discovery and Science
The Museum of Discovery and Science in Fort Lauderdale is an excellent activity for the entire family to enjoy. This interactive museum and science center has hands-on exhibits for kids and kids-at-heart to learn from.
The Museum of Discovery and Science includes an onsite IMAX 3D theater, a prehistoric Florida section, and interactive exhibits about Florida’s rare flora, fauna, and ecosystems. For outdoor lovers, the Museum of Discovery and Science is an excellent activity to pair with a visit to Flamingo Gardens or the Everglades.
24. Pretend to be a Pirate on a Bluefoot Pirate Adventure
Bluefoot Pirate Adventures is one of the best things to do in Fort Lauderdale, especially if you are visiting with children. This exciting boat tour takes the whole family out to sea on a replica pirate ship, where you’ll take orders from your captain, learn pirate lingo, and even battle another pirate ship with water cannons.
This interactive tour gets you and your travel group out onto Fort Lauderdale’s beautiful crystal clear waters while making endless vacation and Instagram-worthy memories that your kids will love.
25. Have a Blast at Flippo’s Family Center
Flippos Family Center is an indoor playground that spans 9,000 square feet of interactive fun and offers families the perfect place to visit in Fort Lauderdale if it’s raining, too hot outside, or you’re just looking for something unique to do. At Flippo’s Family Center, you and your kids can slide down mega slides, play in the laser maze, cannonball into ball pits, climb, jump, and play.
Children ages one to 14 are welcome to run around and blow off some steam while parents can enjoy drinks and snacks in the comfortable seating areas.
26. See alligators at Sawgrass Recreation Park
Sawgrass Recreation Park is a beautiful destination near Fort Lauderdale that your entire family will enjoy. The Sawgrass Recreation Park is in the Florida Everglades and offers unique tours through miles of jaw-dropping scenery and wetland wilderness.
An airboat ride at Sawgrass Recreation Park is also one of the best ways to see an alligator because these flat-bottomed boats with a giant fan on the back instead of an engine are designed to explore shallow waters like the Everglades.
27. Have a Beer at Invasive Species Brewing
After a long day of exploring, head to Invasive Species Brewing and try one—or a few—of this craft brewery’s delicious beers.
You never know what to expect at Invasive Species Brewing because their beer selection constantly rotates based on the experiments they conduct in their taproom, and their menu adjusts weekly based on which seasonal ingredients are available.
The brewery and bar are also decorated with taxidermied native animals on nearly every free wall space for a unique and laid-back atmosphere that perfectly captures the South Florida outdoor vibe.
28. Play a round of golf
Fort Lauderdale is home to some of South Florida’s best golf courses, so you have unending options to choose from if you like to hit the greens on vacation. Enjoy a scenic spot to practice your shots as well as clubhouses with epic views.
The private Grand Oaks Golf Club is one of Fort Lauderdale’s most renowned courses, but golfers must have a membership or know someone who’s a member to play here. Other respected golf courses in Fort Lauderdale include:
The Jacaranda Golf Club
The City of Lauderhill Golf Course
The Coral Ridge Country Club
The Club at Emerald Hills
The Fort Lauderdale Country Club
The Bonaventure Golf Club
The Davie Golf Club
The Country Club of Coral Springs
29. Have a Drink at the Blue Martini
The Blue Martini is a sophisticated bar and nightclub in Fort Lauderdale on Sunrise Boulevard at the Galleria Mall. For anyone visiting Fort Lauderdale over the age of 21, this bar and nightclub is a must-visit spot.
The Blue Martini is open Wednesday to Sunday nights with Happy Hour between 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. They also have live music almost around the clock, which will get you and your travel companions onto the dance floor. If you’re traveling in a large group, you can also host private events here.
30. Rent an epic vacation home
One of the best things to do in Fort Lauderdale is to rent a vacation home with a pool, comfortable amenities, water views, and a space for your furry friends to run around. There are so many options of amazing rentals for families, friends, and couples that give you more privacy than a hotel room as well as the comfort of feeling like you’re at home.
Whether you’re looking for a vacation rental near your favorite beach or you want to rent a home that’s closer to one of your must-see attractions while you’re in town, Fort Lauderdale has rental options suited to any type of traveler.
Fort Lauderdale is chock-full of fun activities and things to do for couples, groups, and families. Travelers searching for history and culture will adore the Historic Stranahan House Museum and the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. Meanwhile, adventure lovers will get a thrill out of jet skiing, an airboat tour, or exploring Fort Lauderdale’s canals by kayak or paddleboard.
If you prefer a slower pace, enjoy lounging on the many amazing Fort Lauderdale beaches or shopping at outlet malls and boutique shops. Whatever you choose, you’re in for a great time in the “Venice of America.”
Thanksgiving, and therefore, Friendsgiving is right around the corner. Time to spend time with your chosen family! But don’t settle for your run-of-the-mill potluck this year. You’ve got a great friend group and you all deserve a pre-holiday celebration just as special as you are. Listed below are our 9 favorite ways to elevate your Friendsgiving at an AvantStay vacation rental.
1. Room for the whole crew
Delmont – Smoky Mountains, TN Starting at $47/pp/night
Easily turn one meal into one weekend with plenty of space for your group to spread out and let the food coma settle in. Nestled in the Smoky Mountains, Delmont is a 20-guest stay with four floors, a hot tub, pool, game room, yard space, two spacious living rooms, and two dining tables – perfect for a proper feasting sesh.
2. Pump up the vibe with pre-feast activities
Clove – Hudson Valley, NY Starting at $81/pp/night
Get everyone excited with festive pre-feast activities at one of our homes in Hudson Valley! Clove is just a short drive away from all the great fall activities like visiting pumpkin patches, leaf peeping, and roasting marshmallows. Hot tip: get ready to make cider or apple pie from fresh apples – this home is close to multiple local apple orchards.
3. You don’t have to cook
Pyramid – Sedona, AZ Starting at $85/pp/night
Not interested in cooking? No problem. Have us coordinate a private chef for you and yours directly from our app! We recommend a stay at Pyramid in Sedona where you can soak up the views while you soak in the hot tub. With ample seating for everyone, you can easily watch a culinary artist in their element without ever having to worry about being in the way.
4. Enjoy plenty of activities for the group
Bay Breeze – Newport Beach Starting at $46/pp/night
It doesn’t have to be all about the food. Our homes have tons to do for those in your group that just can’t sit still. For a fun-filled stay, try Friendsgiving weekend at Bay Breeze in Newport Beach, CA. This 10-guest bayside home has multiple dining areas, a fully-stocked kitchen, a basketball court, paddleboards, a fire pit, and a stocked game area.
5. Say “au revoir” to post-meal cleaning
Homewood – Lake Tahoe, CA Starting at $85/pp/night
Take the pressure out of hosting (and cleaning) with a stay at Homewood in Lake Tahoe – the ideal stay for a nature lover who just can’t get enough of that fresh mountain air. We’ve got you covered pre- and mid-stay – with fully-stocked kitchens and the option to book a mid-stay cleaning, we’re here to make your Friendsgiving as worry-free as can be.
6. Experience a change in scenery
Belmont – San Diego, CA Starting at $102/pp/night
Soak in new views surrounded by your favorite company. Located right on the water, Belmont is a San Diego stay with all the ocean views you can handle. Experience the perfect blend of indoor/outdoor living with an extra spacious dining and living room, a grill on the balcony, and a chance to show off your mixologist skills with a cocktail and “cheers” to this extra-dreamy view.
7. Cook like a proper chef in our gourmet kitchens
Mirabella – Coachella Valley, CA Starting at $185/pp/night
Take advantage of an array of spacious, gourmet kitchens like Mirabella in Coachella Valley. This sprawling estate comes complete with an outdoor kitchen, pool, hot tub, ping pong table, equestrian barn, wet bar, paddle boards, kayaks, paddle boat, and a private lake surrounding the property.
8. Try Friendsgiving al fresco
Burgundy – Temecula, CA Starting at $46/pp/night
Why not try an outdoor kitchen this year? Come to Burgundy where you can blend an indoor chef’s kitchen with the outdoor kitchen and a tasteful, locally sourced Temecula wine. After your meal, enjoy sunset cocktails under the gazebo or around the fireplace and toast to special moments shared with your favorite people. With this undeniably winning combo, you’ve just landed the Friendsgiving dream of the century.
9. Get an excuse to escape the city
Fiano – Sonoma, CA Starting at $59/pp/night
We’re all looking for a reason, right? Try a stay at Fiano in Sonoma where you’ll enjoy large outdoor dining areas and a proper escape from the city hustle and bustle. Gather inside or out around these spacious dining areas with vineyard-esque decor. Keep the journey going with a short trip out into wine country for a new type of Friendsgiving adventure that your friends will talk about for years.
AvantStay homeowners stay in the know with our owner portal and operational apps that provide property insights, work order management visibility, activate an elevated guest experience, and more. Keep reading to discover how our vertically integrated software platform takes vacation rental management to the next level!
With Lighthouse, our digital owner portal, you can easily access reservations, work orders, statement details, and view your home’s performance dashboard. You can even book a stay for yourself or friends and family!
Points of contact information
Property and performance level statistics
Owner/friends and family stays
Work order details/status
Stay, our booking platform, focuses on discoverability while providing a seamless guest booking experience. Potential guests can browse property pages featuring a gallery view of your home’s interior and exterior, highlighting its experiential aspects and unique qualities.
Home info and room details
Amenities and experiential features
Local area info
Guest wallets for redeeming travel credits
“Book now, pay later” options
The Butler app makes it simple to manage guest bookings. Guests can view entry instructions, book concierge services, read house manuals, find local recommendations, or contact our 24/7 support team all from their phones. You’ll never have to deal with another late-night guest request again!
Value-added service requests
Voyage provides our internal team with insights and details for each home, enabling us to provide an excellent level of service to both owners and guests. Voyage allows us to manage listings and reservations, monitor revenue in real-time, and gives visibility into the unique characteristics of each home.
Market and property level statistics
Booking channel statistics and ratings
Revenue and performance projections
We’re able to keep a pulse on quality control with our dedicated vendor management app, Fresh. This app is integrated into our operational processes and systems and serves as a hub for all field operations ticketing, scheduling, and dispatching—the enhanced level of quality and service for your home that AvantStay is known for.
Cleaning and inspection checklists
Forward-thinking vacation rental management
Choosing a vacation rental management company that can evolve with changing guest preferences and travel booking trends is key to your success as a homeowner. Why not partner with the fastest-growing and top-rated hospitality brand in the industry?
Technology underpins our entire business, from the customer journey to internal operations, allowing us to scale seamlessly and provide a superior experience for homeowners and guests. Our proprietary tech suite powers bookings, operationalizes in-field management and activates an elevated atmosphere for guests. We take care of all the work to maximize your home’s income so you can sit back and reap the rewards—it’s that simple.
Whether you’re on vacation and cooking for everyone, hosting a potluck, or hiring a private chef, we have a gourmet kitchen equipped with all the tools you’ll need for a great meal. From baking enthusiasts to full-time foodies – we promise to bring a culinary experience so good you’ll never have to worry about leaving your hobbies at home again.
The Rejuvenator, Temecula
Get your R&R on by the pool while your private chef prepares the perfect meal inside this luxurious kitchen. With room for up to 13 guests, Pinot Point’s farmhouse kitchen comes with a Butler’s Pantry, two dishwashers, warming drawers, a pot filler, and an open layout perfect for cooks. Store your leftovers in the built-in fridge and freezer, and cheers to a meal well done by the firepit at this Temecula, CAoasis.
The Photographer, Coachella
Phone eats first at Villa Verbena – a Coachella Valley paradise. This stay comes complete with all the photogenic places to snap your food in multiple dining areas. Snap a pic of your paella on the island cooktop with thecanopy hood in the background, for extra drama. Head outside for a nature-filled shot with views of the San Jacinto mountains around you. Finish it off with a group shot – this home can fit up to 26 guests, so everyone’s invited!
The Jetsetter, Park City
Want to feel like you’re in Europe without the cross-Atlantic flight? Yes, chef! Feel like you’re cooking in Italy in this Mediterranean-style kitchen with a Viking stove, Viking refrigerator/ freezer, granite countertops, and all high-end appliances. Once you’re nice and stuffed, head to downtownPark City Mountain and get your ski on. Come back to Telemark Luxury Retreat and hit the hot tub after a day on the slopes.
The Nature Lover, Destin
Taste the rainbow at Monarch. Soak up some Vitamin D while ingesting the rest of your vitamins at this 20-person stay in Destin, FL. When you’re not basking in the glory of the two majestic kitchen islands, or using the outdoor kitchen, try serving up snacks at the swim-up bar.
The Home Body, Oregon Coast
Sugar, spice, and everything nice. Welcome to the oh-so-cozy Neahkahnie Hideaway, nestled along the Oregon Coast. What could be better than cozying up to the fireplace after baking your favorite banana bread and sipping on your favorite perfectly chilled sauvignon blanc? Oh wait, we know. Enjoying all of those things in this home’s secluded barrel hot tub, *chefs kiss.*
The Organizer, Scottsdale
Start your ovens – this home’s got not one, but two. Sonoran is a potluck dream space in Scottsdale, AZ with room for up to 16 guests. Spread out in this large kitchen with granite countertops ideal for creating the ultimate feast after a day of activities. Not sure what to do in SDL? Check out our guide here.
The Adventurer, Paso Robles
Mermaid’s one for those who like to stay active even on vacay. Spend days bouncing around from the themed pool to the volleyball court ‘til it’s time to come inside and play Dance Dance Revolution (where you’ll really work up a feast.) Whether you’re cooking with wine, or just drinking it, this 14-guest vacation home in Paso Robles has a kitchen for the whole crew: with an oversized main dining table, additional food prep sink, and lovely pastel-colored kitchen.
The Techie, Berkshires
Chester comes with a smart fridge because every group has that person who always has to have a screen in front of them. Located in the Berkshires, MA, this stay can fit up to 12 guests and has views so good, you won’t want to miss a second of them for a chef-sesh. Good thing you don’t have to – this kitchen comes with panoramic windows giving you all those mountain views around the clock.
The Thrill Seeker, Smoky Mountains
For two many cooks in the kitchen. This space has two kitchens (one on each floor), double appliances, a dual-level breakfast bar, and dining seating for 18 people. Like trying new things? Come to Pine Rise in the Smokies where you can cook in a different kitchen every day! Experience a little bit of everything on your National Park vacation and a little bit of everything in the kitchen.
The Sight-Seer, Austin
If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen! And we don’t just mean the Texas heat. Not only is this 11,000+ sq ft. home a sight to see on its own, but it’s right in the middle of downtown Austin, where you’ll easily experience all you want to while you’re crossing ATX off your bucket list. Paramount Place comes with a full kitchen, two partial kitchens, and so much more you’ll just have to see for yourself. Everything’s bigger in TX, right?
Still hungry? We don’t blame ya. Check out even more Gourmet Kitchensyou can treat yourself to on your next vacation.
When it comes to beach getaways, there are few places more sought-after and picturesque than the beaches of the Hawaiian Islands. Imagine relaxing on soft white sand surrounded by lush vegetation as you sip a tropical drink and enjoy the ocean breeze. And with over 125 beaches on Oahu, there is a beach for every style, whether you are looking for the perfect sunbathing sand or the best swells for surfing. From relaxing at world-famous Waikiki Beach to snorkeling with tropical fish in Hanauma Bay, we are here to help you find the best beaches in Oahu. Plan your island getaway with AvantStay and find the vacation home of your dreams in Oahu, steps away from the beach.
1. Waikiki Beach
Waikiki Beach is one of the most famous beaches throughout the Hawaiian Islands, with its bright blue water and beautiful white sand. The beach is broken up into eight sections that all offer different experiences. This beach is also surrounded by luxury resorts where you can stop for lunch or explore the local shops nearby. Popular activities at Waikiki Beach include swimming, surfing, snorkeling, kayaking, and paddle boarding.
2. Lanikai Beach
Lanikai means “heavenly ocean,” and we can’t think of a more apt name for this picturesque beach. This is one of the best beaches in Oahu, delivering that classic Hawaiian beach experience with warm, clear, gentle waters perfect for all ages. You can also visit the Mokulua Islands off the coast of Lanikai, which function as important seabird sanctuaries. The best way to access the islands is by kayak or paddle boat.
3. Sunset Beach
It should be no surprise that Sunset Beach offers some of the most beautiful sunsets on the island. This beach is a mecca for surfers during the winter months, but during the summer months, the conditions are calm enough for families with young kids to enjoy. Spend the day swimming and snorkeling before settling to watch a breathtaking sunset together.
4. Hanauma Bay
Hanauma Bay not only offers a wonderful beach, but it also boasts the best snorkeling on the island, with over 400 fish species inhabiting the bay. The bay is the result of a volcanic eruption created 30,000 years ago! You can rent your snorkeling equipment right from the beach to see the fish and green sea turtles that call the bay home.
5. Kailua Beach Park
This beach park is a great option for groups who want access to convenient amenities. Pack a lunch and utilize the picnic shelters, tables, and BBQ pits here. Then head out into the water for swimming, boogie boarding, kayaking, paddle boarding, and kite surfing. And the best part: tours, lessons, and watercraft rentals are available right here at the beach!
Oahu Vacation Homes for Groups
At AvantStay, we represent properties in the Southeastern city of Kailua and Kapolei on the western side of Oahu. Our Kailua vacation homes, like Hale Oahu Villa and Hale Oahu Cottage, are steps away from Kailua Beach and a short distance from Lanikai Beach. And most of our properties in Kapolei are oceanfront with incredible views of the best beaches in Oahu. What are you waiting for? It’s time to escape to the tropical paradise of Oahu with AvantStay!
If you’re looking to get into the Halloween spirit then haunted hayrides, corn mazes, and graveyards are probably already on your agenda for October. But if you’re really looking for the true spooky season experience, why not visit the locations of some horror movie classics that will be sure to send chills down your spine? We gathered up a list of scary movie locations you can actually visit because there’s no better Halloween scare than an authentic one.
Halloween (2018) — Charleston, SC
You can spot many glimpses of Charleston throughout this continuation of a classic franchise. You can even follow the path that Michael Myers took in the most recent installment of the famous slasher saga. While you’re there, be sure to visit local favorite restaurantsBurton’s Grill and Bon Bahn Mi. The local Military Magnet High School also features those infamous checkered floors.
Check out our homes in Charleston that provide the perfect home base while you retrace the steps for Michael Myers.
Evil Dead — Morristown, TN
Evil Dead tells a classic 80s-style horror story of five college students whose remote vacation takes a nasty turn. The eerie charred remains of the 1981 film’s cabin still exist in the woods of the Smoky Mountains, left over from a fire a few years ago.
We have tons of Smoky Mountain homes perfect for a rusticly spooky escape. Some — like Duval and Smoky Cove Lane 2 — even have private indoor pools so you can take a midnight dip no matter the season.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre — Austin, TX
This influential horror film intrigued the minds of many to travel to its Austin-area sites. You can even visit the gas station in the movie—it’s now a barbecue restaurant called Texas Gas Station! If you wonder whether the restaurant has nods to the film, it does! You can buy horror merchandise inside, and the outside has a “We Slaughter Barbecue” sign.
Our Austin retreats are ready to help you celebrate the fall season. For something dramatic and moody to match the Halloween atmosphere, Barton is a top choice.
Scream — Sonoma, CA
Come to Sonoma if you want a glimpse of the town that produced the meta-slasher saga starring Ghostface. Fun fact: The school they wanted to shoot the film in didn’t allow them to do so, so in the final credits of the movie, the production team put a “No Thanks Whatsoever To” category in, thus resulting in the essential blacklisting of Sonoma County for the film industry.
Nothing says “Blockbuster thriller” like a massive house on a hill. Need plenty of rooms, hallways, and open space to explore and sneak through? Belleza or any of our Sonoma homes you covered.
I Know What You Did Last Summer — Sonoma, CA
Although the 1997 film is set in North Carolina, the scenic views of Sonoma County can be seen in the film’s opening scenes. Starring Jennifer Love-Hewitt, Sarah Michelle Gellar, and Freddy Prinze, Jr., it was based on a novel of the same name and is considered to have revitalized the slasher genre for a new generation.
Relive your own last summer at one of our Sonoma retreats. Many of these homes have outdoor pools so you can watch the colors change around you on balmier autumn days!
Cape Fear — Fort Lauderdale, FL
Starring Robert DeNiro and Jessica Lange, Martin Scorcese’s remake of the 1962 film turns Broward College into the film’s “New Essex High School.” Many of the water scenes, too, were shot in Everglades National Park.
Parts of John Krasinski’s screenwriting debut, as well as the sequel, were filmed throughout Hudson Valley.Set in a post-apocalyptic world, the film’s minimal dialogue meant viewers had to pay all the more attention to the natural visuals and scenery. The movie was mostly filmed in Pawling and New Paltz, two towns in Hudson Valley, so it should be no surprise that the film’s primary house is located in Pawling. The film’s first tragic moments even take place on Springtown Truss Bridge!
For a classic spooky atmosphere bolstered by natural beauty, Hudson Valley homes like Clove and River House deliver secluded estate vibes and unbeatable privacy.
Whether you’re West Coast or East Coast, you should be able to get your Halloween on this year at one of many AvantStay vacation homes nationwide. If your interest is particularly piqued, why not have our Concierge team plan a spooky itinerary for you and your own Scooby Gang?
In today’s world of remote and distributed work, corporate retreats have been redefined as a powerful way to support employees and company culture. Retreats can be a fantastic opportunity for your employees to escape work for a bit while strengthening relationships, boosting productivity, and refreshing workplace morale.
These excursions can break up the monotony of the day-to-day grind and can be a respite from the standard cycle of meetings, Zoom calls, productivity reviews, and workplace projects.
It’s crucial to put some time and thought into the planning process to ensure that you curate a positive environment. Follow our 8-step guide to plan the best possible retreat for your company.
How to plan a corporate retreat that your team will love
Let’s talk about some decisions you need to make before you get into the 8-step planning process. These things will help you narrow down what you’re looking for, so you can plan accordingly.
Define your company goals
The first step in the retreat planning process is figuring out why you’re doing it. What’s the purpose of the retreat? Many businesses plan a company retreat primarily as an opportunity to bring team members together on a fun getaway to reflect on the year’s performance, company culture, and the overall work environment.
But it doesn’t have to be all about work. These retreats also offer an incredible opportunity for team bonding and relaxation for everyone on the team. If your office sometimes feels like a collection of individuals rather than a united front working together toward a shared purpose, some carefully chosen activities can help them bond.
Sure, colleagues must be productive and achieve the company’s work-oriented goals. But an enjoyable work environment is a big part of that, and retreats are a great way to help work toward that more personal goal.
One goal of a company retreat is to help employees learn about each other’s personalities and how they work. Everyone is different – some people work better alone, while others are more productive in teams. Some people like to work in silence, while others prefer to listen to music or brainstorm out loud. Some people enjoy sitting at a desk, while others work better while standing or moving.
Retreats provide a unique opportunity for employees to have fun while learning about each other’s personalities and work styles. This insight can help you to curate a more enjoyable (and more productive) workplace when you get home.
Consider the time of year and season
Different locations and styles of retreats can be great at varying times of the year, so you’ll want to consider this when planning your next company retreat.
First, consider the weather. If you want an outdoor-oriented retreat, you’ll need nice weather. You probably don’t want to go to the desert in the summer or the mountains in the winter if you’re hoping to do lots of hiking.
But if you’re planning on skiing or snowball fights, a winter trip to the mountains could be great! For example, you might consider Cherry Ridge in Breckenridge or Canopy in Park City. Or the desert in the summer could be great if you’re hoping to have a lot of pool days or lake days. Try buying out the Monkey Tree in Palm Springs for a pool all to yourself, or book Buena Vista Estate in Coachella Valley for a private pool AND a private lake. Just make sure to provide a detailed list to your employees of what they need to bring to prepare for the weather.
Not only do you want the weather to cooperate with your plans, but you also want to look at how your venue’s pricing fluctuates throughout the year. For example, a mountain resort will likely cost more during winter because everyone wants to go skiing or snowboarding.
But if you’re more interested in hiking and other mild-weather activities, you could consider going during a different time of year. You’d get the weather you’re looking for, and you’d probably get a cheaper rate.
Look into a few different potential retreat locations and see which one works best for what you have planned.
Give your team a save-the-date with sufficient time to plan
While your company retreat can provide an incredible opportunity to get away, you still want to ensure that it doesn’t interfere with too many people’s busy personal schedules. Most people have lives and responsibilities outside the office that can be tricky to work around.
Don’t spring the news on your team at the last minute. Ensure that you let them know you’re planning a retreat with a good amount of advanced notice, and let everyone know of any costs they may need to budget for.
That means you’ll need to start planning even sooner. It’s usually a good idea to begin the planning process for a company retreat anywhere from six months to a year in advance, depending on the group size. That will make it easier for you to find lodging and venues that can accommodate the number of people you’re bringing and will take the stress off of you as the retreat gets closer.
8 steps to follow when planning a corporate retreat
Now that you have a general idea of what you want your retreat to look like, let’s get into the nitty-gritty. Follow these eight steps to plan the company retreat of your dreams:
1. Find and book the venue
Choosing the right venue can make or break your team retreat. These trips are typically designed as something of an escape from the usual workspace, so make sure you’re looking for venues that will provide a fun and unique experience for the entire team.
But the right venue will look different for different teams. With a small group, you could probably book a group home or another short-term rental. If you have a large group, you may want to consider a boutique hotel or resort as accommodation.
Whatever you choose, make sure you’ll be able to plan activities that take place outside of a conference room – remember, you’re trying to avoid the mundane corporate environment!
2. Book lodging for the offsite
Depending on which venue you choose, you may need to provide offsite lodging for your team. If that’s the case, you’ll want to ensure the lodging isn’t too far away. If your employees are driving to the retreat and have their cars, you may have some wiggle room. But if they’re taking a bus or flying to the retreat, make sure it’s going to be easy for them to get from their room to the venue each day.
If you want your team to have a truly seamless experience, AvantStay offers the opportunity to book out an entire hotel, an entire neighborhood of villas, condos & homes within walking distance of each other, or even take over a whole estate together. While it’s not necessary, it can be a nice touch to put together some sort of welcome basket for each person. Leave them on the beds for them to find when they check in. You can include things like planners, copies of the retreat agenda, water bottles, or other company-branded swag (like t-shirts, pins, totes, backpacks, or temporary tattoos), and some self-care items like face masks or snacks.
3. Secure transportation
Your employees must be able to safely get to and from the retreat, and then to and from their rooms once they get there.
If your retreat is close to home, decide if you want employees to drive themselves or if you want to rent a shuttle or a bus to take everyone there and back together. If you’re choosing the shuttle route, ensure your employees won’t need their vehicles while on the retreat. If your employees will be driving there, ensure there are ample parking spots.
If you’re traveling further away for the retreat, make sure you take care of all the flights and subsequent rental cars, Uber rides, or shuttle services. You don’t want your employees to get stressed about transportation during the retreat. The more you plan for a smooth ride, the easier it will be for everyone in the long run.
4. Manage food and catering if needed
One of the best parts of vacation is the food– it should be no different on a corporate retreat. Shared meals can offer a great bonding experience, so plan what food options to offer your team.
Will there be self-serve options? Large catered meals? Maybe you could even consider cooking classes as a team-building experience that ends in a great meal or ask AvantStay’s retreat coordinator to book you a private chef for a delicious feast The options are endless, just make sure you plan ahead.
Some hotels and venues have food and drink options available for large groups – the bigger the group, the cheaper the rates typically are. That can be a great option, but realize that people probably won’t want to have every meal on-site. You may want to consider branching out to offsite restaurants for a meal or two as well. If you need recommendations, AvantStay’s retreat coordinators are ready to help you find and book the best dining in the area for your team.
5. Coordinate and plan team-building activities
These are essential retreat activities, but they can either be really fun or cheesy. Make sure you think long and hard about the team-building activities you plan and think through what sounds like fun.
Some popular options you can incorporate at any venue include icebreakers that allow people to get to know their colleagues better and scavenger hunts that let them have some fun and explore the retreat location. You want your employees to get to know each other’s personalities better and cultivate better working relationships.
Then depending on the venue, there are plenty of other fun team-building exercises you can plan to promote employee engagement. Wherever you are, try to think about ways to get out and enjoy some fresh air – beach days, hiking, skiing, etc.
When planning your retreat, make sure you incorporate a variety of activity styles to accommodate people’s preferences and comfort levels. Some activities can be more active (like hiking and yoga), while others could be more laid-back (like board games or crafts).
Include different options for people with varying physical needs and capabilities. If there’s a strenuous hike option, plan a shorter guided loop for those with different needs.
You could make personal sessions where everyone has the chance to share a bit about their lives outside of the workplace, and even offer people the opportunity to teach their colleagues about something they have a passion for. AvantStay retreat coordinators can help book activities like mixology classes, beach picnics, and more if you want someone else to take care of the planning!
Remember, team-building activities aren’t just about bringing your team closer together in a work environment. It’s about building relationships and helping people get to know their colleagues better. Ideally, your employees will leave the retreat feeling like they’ve developed friendships with their colleagues.
6. Organize work sessions
Retreats can be fun, but you’ll likely need to get some work done at some point. Check that the venue has everything you need, including comfortable work seating, WiFi, and meeting rooms. While working on a retreat doesn’t always sound appealing, it can be a fantastic opportunity for remote-work companies to have in-person brainstorming sessions, which are often more productive than over the phone. It can be hard to achieve a sense of teamwork in a remote team, so factoring in some working hours during the retreat may help.
7. Provide restaurant recommendations and activities in the area
Sure, the retreat is technically a work thing. But you must schedule some downtime for your employees as well. Make sure you not only allow for some free time but also provide some recommendations of things to do.
One way to do this is to create a pamphlet or information card waiting for each employee on their bed when they check-in. The card could list information about restaurants, activities, and other interesting locations in the area. Include some that are walkable, and some that may require a drive, depending on what they’re feeling up for.
8. Create a post-retreat survey
No matter how much thought you put into planning your retreat, you can never really know how well it’ll go. That’s why it’s always good to talk to your employees and get a feel for how much they enjoyed it. You can take their feedback and use it when planning your next corporate retreat.
While you may have good relationships with some employees, not everyone will feel comfortable voicing any questions or concerns they had in one-on-one chats. You’ll want to make sure you get as much honest feedback as you can.
Consider creating an anonymous post-retreat survey. That will allow people to be as honest as they want without fear of retribution.
But if you send out one of these surveys, just make sure the leadership team takes any concerns or suggestions into consideration when planning the next retreat. People will notice (and appreciate!) the change, but they’ll also notice if their concerns get ignored year after year.
A company retreat is going to be as good as you make it. So make sure you put in the necessary work to plan a good one.
That idea can seem overwhelming, but if you follow the steps we outlined above, you can get it done in no time.
Remember that everyone is different, so a one-size-fits-all approach probably isn’t best. Consider who’s going on the retreat and build a flexible schedule with something included for everyone. Not everyone has to love every aspect of the trip, but you want everyone to enjoy at least some parts of it.
Lastly, as the person leading the retreat, remember to have fun. The planning process can be stressful, and by the time you’re going on the retreat, you’ve probably been thinking about it and worrying over the details for months. This trip is about having fun and building relationships– you don’t want to miss out on that.
Have fun and happy planning! Here’s to hoping your next retreat is a huge success!
The Smoky Mountains have plenty to offer – from gorgeous hikes in Gatlinburg to sightseeing in Pigeon Forge, from sampling Tennessee moonshine to, of course, experiencing Dollywood. In this article, we’ll cover the best vacation homes to book for an IG-worthy photoshoot without even leaving the house. We do understand that you’ve got lots to explore while you’re there, too, so we also included cute local spots and hikes to check out when you’re looking for a change of scenery.
Pine Rise is a four-story tall cabin in Sevierville complete with 10 rooms, two kitchens, two hot tubs, and decks on each level. This home also has its own movie theater, but when you’re looking to explore more of the outdoors, we recommend making the short drive to Anakeesta. This outdoor theme park has activities for the whole crew: including a rollercoaster, treetop skywalk, restaurants, ziplining, and plenty of photo ops along the way.
Hello, Sugarland. With 12 beds, 12.5 baths, and room for up to 28 guests, this home is an absolute beast – not only for its ability to fit the entire group chat but also for its photogenicity. Strike a pose on the spacious deck with panoramic views of the Smokies, chill out on the hanging chairs, take a dip in the indoor pool, or cheers to the sunset in the side-by-side hot tubs. For a “phone eats first” moment, head for good ole’ country cooking at Five Oaks Farm Kitchen.
Came for Duval’s outdoor seating, and stayed for the heated indoor pool with beach entry. We recommend posing under the pool’s waterfall – dim the lights to let the pool’s LEDs really shine for an ambiance like no other. For a different angle, check out the Gatlinburg Space Needle located in the downtown strip.
Going nuts for the views at Chestnut. Our favorite photo-op in this house has to be in the living room. Post up on the cozy couch where the panoramic views of the mountains behind you are sure to shine on your IG feed. Reach new heights in your photo game with a trip to the Gatlinburg SkyBridge, where you’ll experience the world’s longest pedestrian bridge (on top of great shots)!
Come to Little Sparrow for a traditional cabin charm with a modern twist. This stay has all you need for a shoot with its pool, hot tub, and elevated views that make for a great backdrop. Fancy a shot in the standing tub? Go off. For a daytime adventure, head to NC to hike the (half-mile) highest point along the Appalachian Trail, Clingman’s Dome.
This Smoky Mountain retreat is a winner with its indoor pool, hot tub overlooking the Smokies, and large deck perfect for finding the ideal lighting. Wilderis a home that not only delivers in amenities but also puts you in a prime location for a trip to Pigeon Forge, where you can visit The Old Mill for pics by the waterfall and grist mill.
Become one with nature at Foxview – a Sevierville stay where the photo-ops are endless. Post up by the deck with stunning views of the forest around you. Put your comfiest clothes on and get a shot sipping hot cocoa by the indoor fireplace. If you’re looking for a new backdrop, head to Crave Golf Cluband pose by their candy-infused mural.
Make sure to grab some Tennessee moonshine from Ole Smoky in order to have a proper cheers at Tennessee Blue. Set your tripod up in front of the picturesque hanging swing on the first floor, or grab the group and pose while you dine al fresco under the open skies. Take in the fresh air and soak away a day well done in the hot tub.
Say hello to your new favorite getaway home. Copperheadis a modern Smoky Mountain stay complete with this incredible pool, hot tub, and great natural light for all the pics you’re about to take. Cozy up by the fireplace, or have an amusement-filled day at Dollywood.
Here’s where to stay in the Smokies if you’ve got a drone. Hickory Ridge is nestled in the trees of Gatlinburg and comes with three large balconies, incomparable views, two hot tubs, and all the porch-sitting you can handle. When you’re ready to put your hiking boots on, head to Porters Creek Trail for beautiful waterfalls, a historic cemetery (if that’s your vibe), and a historic farm site.
You and your crew just might end up leaving Park City, Utah in better shape than you arrived. Aside from being a primo skiing and snowboarding hotspot, the city’s main street is an adventure itself given all the uphill climbs involved in visiting its vast retail shops, art galleries, restaurants, and bars. If walking uphill is a battle, just hop on the city’s free shuttle bus, available year-round, or grab your snowshoes and enjoy the workout.
Another added bonus? There’s no reason to leave your fur babies behind. Lovingly referred to as “Bark City” by puppy parents of all stripes, this skier’s paradise is also a dog-friendly destination. Four-legged family members are welcome at many lodging properties, such as the AvantStay Picasso property, not to mention all the dog parks and dog-friendly trails surrounding the area.
One thing that’s impossible to find in Park City? A bad meal. Despite the town’s small population, this dining mecca boasts over 100 restaurants that attract foodies throughout the year. Locally sourced menus provide restaurant-goers with the full Park City dining experience, highlighting the agricultural and culinary chops the city has to offer. Everyone from vegetarians and meat lovers to sushi fanatics and pasta diehards can find something they like with Park City’s wide variety of options. Aside from the food itself, the views from these restaurants make for the perfect spectator spot. Relax and watch the parade of vacationing families, couples, and locals strolling past. Or just let the Rocky Mountain air kiss your face while you admire the purple mountains’ majesty.
Where to eat in Park City
1. Five5eeds is a breakfast spot owned by Australians who wanted to elevate the city’s breakfast scene. They offer tons of breakfast dishes, but the most recommended are the pulled pork benedict, mushrooms on quinoa toast, or a plate of Moroccan Shakshuka (baked eggs, feta, and a spice dip known as dukkha).
2. The Eating Establishment is a longtime local’s favorite that serves traditional breakfast foods all day. Some menu items include a loaded baked potato omelet, farfalle, and egg scramble, or you can go full-throttle southern and order a plate of biscuits and gravy.
4. On Historic Main Street, 350 Main offers seasonal favorites including a citrus vinaigrette splashed over orange slices, raspberries, and garden-fresh salad, best enjoyed with a glass of crisp rosé. For those looking to get their veggies in without eating leafy greens, they also offer an amazing plate of corn-on-the-cob served on a bed of orange-red Romesco sauce topped with a chartreuse cream of basil aioli.
5. Hearth & Hill is perfect for shareable plates of potato pierogies, or harvestable options such as an ahi poke bowl or winter salad. Cauliflower enchiladas are recommended, but if you’re starving it might be best to opt for short-rib pastrami.
6. Courchevel Bistro’s French chef, Clement Gelas, uses some of his native favorites to inspire his cuisine. A Talisker Club – the only four-club private community in the city, Courchevel Bistro was named for Park City’s sister city in the French Alps and is situated within the historic Coal & Lumber building where Main Street meets Heber Avenue.
7. Twisted Fern sources local, creative culinary ingredients meant to impress. Begin with a trout salad before biting into a black bean lentil burger – and save room for a plant-based dessert of lemon olive oil cake with strawberry-rhubarb compote and candied pistachio.
8. Dine in a private, heated bubble on the roof at the Kimball Terrace while enjoying the view of the mountains and street views from the rooftop.
9. Head to St. Regis Bar to sip its signature 7452 Mary, an enticing blend of the St. Regis Bar’s famous Bloody Mary mix and Five Wives Vodka locally-distilled from Utah mountain spring water, served with a black salt rim and a wasabi-celery foam. Chef Matthew Harris also offers light fare to munch on in this modern mountain lounge.
10. Hearth & Hill is a locals’ gathering spot that offers guests the immersive experience to make-your-own Old Fashioned. You may prefer a Dragonfly Rita concocted with rabbit & grass tequila, alpine preserve, smoked pitaya and dragon fruit jam, lime, agave, and mint. This cocktail was a 2020 fan favorite of the Park City Cocktail Contest. There’s also food offered, whether shareable – potato pierogi, for example, or harvestable options such as an ahi poke bowl or winter salad. Cauliflower enchiladas are considered feast-able, but if you’re truly hungry, it might be best to opt for short-rib pastrami.
11. The Umbrella Bar at Canyon’s Village is a classic outdoor deck spot in the Resort Village, offering 360-degree views from its unique glass enclosure and a massive outdoor deck with a view of the village music stage. Along with a menu that features specialty hot dogs and burgers, there’s an extensive beer selection featuring draft and craft brews.
Best ski resorts in Park City
12. Outdoor activities are in full effect at Deer Valley Resort, a ski-only winter spot. Book your stay at AvantStay’s Scarlet property, a mere five minutes from Deer Valley Resort.
13. Park City Mountain is the largest ski resort in the country and the ideal place for snowboarders to enjoy in the winter months, and hikers, mountain bikers, alpine sliders, or eagle coasters in the summer. With over 400 miles of trails for hiking and biking, there’s plenty of terrain for visitors to enjoy some recreation.
Things to do for non-skiers
Within this ski-obsessed destination, there are several options to hit the slopes. You can book a place adjacent to the lifts, such as AvantStay’s Slopeside. But you don’t have to be a ski enthusiast to enjoy this destination.
14. Park City Wine Festival is a premier gathering event for master winemakers, culinary greats, and distinguished guests to play, wine, and dine. Lots of food, wine, and locally-made products are showcased during this ultimate food and wine experience that takes place annually at the end of September. Satisfy your palate with wine and food tastings and educate your palate during seminars and outdoor adventures with food and wine on the itinerary.
15. Savor the Summit, Park City’s biggest outdoor dinner party will return in 2022 to resume the annual June event that offers diners a unique celebration of fabulous food, drink, and live music right in the middle of Main Street. Park City’s best restaurants showcase their culinary talents in an open-air community celebration that requires no ticket to purchase. You do, however, need to make a reservation directly with a participating restaurant of your choice.
16. Park City Farmer’s Market is a seasonal market held on Wednesdays, from noon to 5 p.m. at Park City Resort from June through the end of October. This space is a great way to meet like-minded organic food enthusiasts on a “no-spray” quest – and to stock up on fresh local goods from Utah farmers and vendors. Arrive hungry to enjoy food truck offerings!
17. Park City Museum is open Wednesday through Sunday and provides the perfect introduction for newbies. Here, you’ll learn about the city’s rich history and culturally significant sites. You’ll realize why it has won numerous awards, accolades, and inclusion in national and international travel guides as a Top Ten attraction.
18. Sundance Film Festival, perhaps the most famous annual event, takes place here for seven days each year, beginning at the end of January. This is a place to rub elbows with celebrities during premieres, events, artist talks, and cutting-edge exhibitions. Adventurous audiences and indie film lovers are welcome to celebrate exciting new talent and creative visionaries.
19. For more than 50 years, the Park City Kimball Arts Festival has been a highly anticipated event. Lasting for three days in early August, more than 50,000 attendees converge on Main Street to browse and purchase art from a festival that ranks among the top art festivals in the country for artist sales and attendee experience.
20. Year-round action sports for all ages and levels are held at Woodward Park City, the ideal stop for beginners trying to learn something new. This state-of-the-art indoor action sports hub also spans more than 60 acres of outdoor action sports and mountain parks. If your interests include skiing, snowboarding, tubing, mountain biking, or skateboarding, this is the place to visit.
21. All Seasons Adventures provides instruction, high-quality gear, beverages, snacks, and a personalized experience focused on customer service. Fly fishing, trap shooting, and horseback riding are some summer activities offered here and wintertime options include snowshoeing winter fly fishing, and dog sledding.
23. Park City Yoga Adventures offers Zen-inducing yoga experiences such as silks yoga in a barn, outdoor yoga, and SUP yoga in a geothermal crater.
24. Escape Room Park City is the place to test your puzzle-solving skills through one of several experiences. Gather your friends to see how well you can work together to escape.
25. Summit Bike Share electric bike stations around town are available for use every day from spring through fall. This mode of transportation is a fun way to tour the area without worrying about the hills. There are annual and monthly memberships for those who want to ride the bikes regularly, or you can pay per ride. There’s an Official Summit Bike Share App where you can access membership information and bikes, and you can find this information at any station kiosk located near the bike docks.
26. Alpine Slide is meant for adrenal-rush seekers. Park City Mountain Village has a 3,000-foot luge-like track deemed one of the longest alpine coasters in the world, with multiple paths to choose from so sliders can experience a different ride each time.
27. Utah Outdoor Adventures is the place to sign up for customized snowshoeing experiences. This company focuses on outdoor experiences for small private groups.
Where to shop
28. Take a stroll along the picturesque Historic Main Street, the perfect place to window shop, peek inside a quirky gallery or two, and enjoy some downtime.
29. If you’re seeking souvenirs or sporting goods, you’ll want to stop for some retail therapy at the Resort Center at Park City Mountain Resort and Silver Lake Village at Deer Valley Resort. If you’re in the market for outdoor and travel clothing that ranges from base layers, lifestyle, and outerwear to help keep you cool and dry in the summer heat, head to Smartwood at the Resort Village at Canyons Resort.
30. For chain stores and more diverse shops, Redstone is the spot to browse through major retailers, fine shops, and food markets such as World Market, Whole Foods, and Bed Bath & Beyond. This is also where you can stop for dinner and a movie.
31. Outlet shopping is a fun sport unto itself, and there’s an outlet mall six miles north of the city on SR 224 with over 65 stores that include Nike, Polo Ralph Lauren, and J Crew.
32. Park Silly Sunday Market is a great way to spend your Sunday if only to people-watch and browse the unique artisan goods for sale. Bread, pies, hot dogs, and more farm-friendly food options are at every turn in this delicious open-air market open from early June through September, with street performers and music to entertain.
33. High West Distillery, founded in 2006, was the first to open in Utah following Prohibition. In fact, it was the first legal distillery since 1870 — even before Prohibition!). In 2016, Whisky Advocate named High West its “Distiller of the Year.” Plan a stop here to take an educational whiskey tour and experience a tasting.
34. Park City was a key location during the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games, where events included aerials, freestyle moguls, and alpine slalom ski events: snowboarding halfpipe; bobsledding; luge; and ski jumping. Today, U.S. Ski & Snowboard calls Park City home, and many of our nation’s Olympians use the city for training at Utah Olympic Park. Summer offerings include extreme tubing, alpine slides, bobsledding, ropes courses, and zip-lining. Two museums, the Alf Engen Ski Museum and the Eccles Salt Lake 2002 Olympic Winter Games Museum are free to visit and open year-round.
Whether you’re looking for a snow-filled getaway, a summertime adventure, or just a happy atmosphere with 19th-century architecture to admire, Park City is the place to be. It’s perfect for novice skiers/snowboarders and pros alike, as well as shopaholics, culinary buffs, museum-goers, and festival junkies. Book a stay at one of AvantStay’s Park City properties to experience the fun yourself.
Temecula Valley is a popular day-trip destination for Southern California wine enthusiasts. The area’s gentle, rolling hills, lush greenery, and rich wine culture are better appreciated during a long weekend or extended getaway. There’s a lot to enjoy in this hidden Inland Empire gem, so round up your closest pals and discover the 22 best things to do in Temucula.
Award-winning, small-batch vintages from over 50 nearby wineries are waiting for you and your crew to sample them. Given SoCal’s year-round perfect weather, there’s no bad time to sip on Malbec or Petite Sirah Rose while watching hot air balloons drift overhead and dot the horizon.
Of course, you don’t need to drink to enjoy Temecula. Quaint antique shops and offbeat boutiques line the streets, waiting for you and your crew to browse inside or just pose for photos for the ‘gram outside the historic, Western-style buildings. Plus, once you’ve done enough exploring, there’s no shortage of soaking tubs in the area’s numerous spas. After a day of touring vineyards and trekking across hiking trails, a massage table or hot tub is the perfect end-of-day destination.
A Smorgasbord of dining options
1. Located on more than 45 acres of rolling hills in the Temecula Valley, Bolero at Europa Village is the first of three distinct stops within Europa Village. Complete with a boutique, a Spanish-inspired restaurant, and a beautiful wine cave and tasting room, it’s the perfect place to engulf yourself in local culture. Bolero Restaurante serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner with menus to celebrate the centuries-old tradition of tapas. Shareable plates include seafood, steak, roasted vegetables, olives, European cheeses, and charcuterie.
2. On the more casual side, The Cantina at Bolero is a rustic bar offering tapas, house wines, private-label beer, and cocktails. Best of all are the options, totaling 13 indoor and outdoor venues within the resort’s 15,315 square feet.
3. Altisima Winery‘s tasting room offers magnificent, must-see views, courtesy of its hillside site. This legacy winery is in partnership with eight local families. Wine isn’t the only thing on the menu, though. Gaspar’s Restaurant, named after Spanish explorer Gaspar de Portola, is part of the winery, featuring a gourmet menu for dining indoors and outdoors.
4. In Old Town Temecula, Small Barn restaurant serves bistro-style menu selections in The Antique Cottage’s former home on Old Town Front Street. The owners hired former Top Chef contestant Angelo Sosa as culinary director to create charcuterie, salads, soups,
5. Bottega Italia offers a touch of Italy without international travel. The Prestifilippo family prides itself on authentic and quality products and five-star service. Using fresh and sustainable ingredients in classic recipes, perhaps the most valued item on the menu is Chef Gimmy Piperku’s pizza.
6. The menu at Oscars Brewing Company (OBC) is designed for foodies who love sharing. Executive Chef Nick Tall takes pride in creating a balance of healthy and decadent menu options. OBC is a scratch kitchen and bakery that supports local farms, non-GMO produce, humane agriculture, and sustainable food sources while reducing the carbon footprint by using biodegradable and compostable materials. This eatery is open for brunch, lunch, and dinner with indoor and outdoor dining.
7. If you love quality charcuterie and nosh time with a cheese board front and center, Grazing Theory is for you. Owner Gina LaMora elevates the experience in presentations meant to wow. Order to-go delivery to picnic at a winery or wherever you’re staying, such as the AvantStay Palazzo Del Sol, where you can enjoy dinner on the upstairs veranda deck while gazing out at the home’s beautiful mountain views. If you’re seeking to entertain a group, you can schedule a Wine & Cheese Pairing Charcuterie Workshop. Several wineries in Temecula offer mini charcuterie boxes and pre-ordered boards for wine tasting, including Doffo Winery, Akash Winery, Danza del Sol Winery, Peltzer Winery, Vitagliano Winery, and Batch Mead.
8. Temecula Brewing Company, located in Vail Headquarters, began in a garage. Today, the brand has grown, and its logo pays homage to Temecula Valley’s ranching history with the traditional cattle skull. The arrows represent the Luiseño people of the Temecula Valley region, and the wheat ends to the arrows speak to the craft of brewing, as does the hop head symbol on the skull.
Outdoor activities in Temecula
9. Temecula Wine Country E-Bike Rentals allows you to pedal at your own pace to enjoy the trails and explore the region. These state-of-the-art electric bikes are designed for a smooth and easy biking experience along paved and dirt roads. Bring a water bottle and your cell phone to place in the bike’s appointed cage storage. You’ll get your own bike lock, helmet, and maps with your rental, and you have the option to rent a picnic bag.
10. Starlight Bazaar at the Vail Headquarters is held the last Friday of every month from 6-10 p.m. This nighttime festival showcases local music, art, food, and culture.
11. Saddle up and channel your inner equestrian at one of these spots to take a horseback ride tour or attend a spectator’s event:
Temecula Carriage Co. is the place to reserve a horse-drawn carriage ride or private dining carriage for dinner.
Galway Downs, a race-horse training facility, is also where you’ll want to take in a dressage show. Be sure to check out the upcoming events.
Wine Country Trails by Horseback offers riding experiences through the beautiful vineyards of the Temecula Wine Country. Take a 90-minute guided tour along with breathtaking views of the Maurice Car’rie Winery vineyards on docile and gentle horses led by seasoned tour guides.
Book your Fine Wine and Horses adventure at Vin Hesten Trail Rides to take a professional horseback riding lesson before an hour-long trail ride with a stop for wine tasting at a partner winery.
12. Feeling lucky? The Pechanga Resort and Casino has the largest casino floor in California and features over 5,000 slot machines, 158 table games, a non-smoking poker room with 38 tables, and an ultra-modern, 700-seat bingo facility. You can also purchase tickets to concerts such as “The Go Go’s,” or grab a seat inside the Comedy Club. Treat your friends to dinner with your big win and enjoy Italian-inspired culinary plates at Paisano’s or slurp a dozen oysters at Umi Sushi & Oyster Bar. Meat eaters will want to book a reservation at The Great Oak Steakhouse before heading back to the roulette table.
13. Step back in time at the Temecula Valley Museum and experience the rich history of Temecula Valley’s old town from its discovery to today.
14. Temecula Creek Golf Club is the place to strut your put. Awarded a Four-Star rating from Golf Digest, these three Temecula golf courses offer challenging play in a one-of-a-kind, scenic setting.
15. Be sure to rise up, up, and away in a hot air balloon ride for a mix of peace and adventure. A gentle sunrise float above the picturesque rolling hills and vineyards is available year-round.
California Dreamin’ offers a post-landing light European breakfast served in a private rose garden, complete with mimosas and local fare.
Magical Adventure balloon rides include a flute of premium champagne, juice, or mimosa to make a toast to the start of a glorious day. Continental breakfast is also part of the package. Nobody leaves without their commemorative flight certificate, complimentary souvenir photo taken by a professional photographer, two-for-one wine-tasting tickets, and more discounts to six local wineries.
A Grape Escape adventure begins at sunrise. You’ll be invited to help inflate your beautiful hot air balloon or simply observe others. Once in-basket and in-air, your pilot, a.k.a. “tour guide,” will point out areas of interest and take questions about the region. Once grounded, toast to a successful flight with a mimosa and light breakfast served picnic style in the gardens at Europa Village Winery and leave with a souvenir certificate of flight.
Best wineries in Temecula
16. Hit the Calle Contento Wine Trail for vino tastings “off the beaten road,” or at least located along a less busy trail off Rancho California Road. Wineries worth the turn off the road include:
The Patel family’s Akash Winery, if only for a taste of Dreamville Brosé.
Briar Rose Winery, a land of enchantment said to be the first cult winery of Temecula,
Turn into Falkner Winery for a taste sure to please your palate, especially considering that 80 percent of the wines on their tasting menu are award-winning.
Lumiere Winery is where you can taste a 2017 white merlot, a rare offering in the wine world.
Peltzer Family Cellars offers more than a winery, but its wine options are worthy of a stop alone. From Prosecco to Malvasia Bianca, Barbera, and more, the wines aren’t all you’ll find here. This property is land to a pumpkin farm, and there are train rides and live music events to enjoy. Oh, and they also have an ice skating rink open during the winter months, featuring 8,400 square feet of skating space, complimentary gliders, picnic benches, hot cocoa, snacks, local food truck eats, and a bar serving Peltzer wines, of course.
Vindemia Vineyard & Estate Winery offers varieties, including a popular “More Cowbell” label with a blend of zinfandel, cabernet, viognier, and syrah. The backdrop to this winery is its 100 olive trees, which they harvest and press for fresh, delicious olive oil, available at certain times of the year.
Shop ‘Til you Drop
17. In the Vail Headquarters historic district, its Downtown Apothecary is the place to purchase small-batch handmade bath and body products. Essential oil blends and sea sponges are among its popular products.
18. Big Horse Feed & Mercantile began with a few horse-related items and feed for sale, but today, it offers much more than feed. You can find unique items for pets, humans, and your home, and come October, there’s a festival that’s complete with a corn maze.
19. At Vail Headquarters, Bucket of Nails is the go-to place for custom-built furniture and home décor. Want to design your dream table? This is a good place to start!
20. Temecula Valley Alpacas is the perfect place to purchase hats, wraps, and more, all handmade from fabric shed by the animals you’ll greet upon entrance.
21. Old Town specialty shops worthy of a visit include:
A visit to Temecula guarantees an authentic, memorable experience, especially if you hit a few items on our list. From locally sourced cuisine and Alpaca-oriented boutiques to vineyard tours and hot air balloon rides overlooking the city, Temecula has it all. Explore Temecula firsthand at one of AvantStay’s Temecula properties.
Revered as country music’s capital, famous for its Broadway bar scene, and notorious for bachelorette bus parties, Nashville has also been growing up fast over the past decade, rapidly redefining itself with a new, more sophisticated identity all while retaining its Broadway honky tonk, Johnny Cash roots.
Nashville is now home to one of the hottest up-and-coming culinary scenes in America, along with recently attracting companies like Amazon and TikTok to a shiny new skyline along the Cumberland River that never seems to stop reaching new heights with another high-rise apartment building coming out of the ground.
Meanwhile, Music City’s arts, culture, and sports scenes are also thriving, breathing new life into old neighborhoods and sparking an exploding real estate market downtown and across the river in places like East Nashville as a constant inflow of new residents and young families move in creating an abundance of fun things to do.
Nashville and central Tennessee are also a land of lakes, rolling hills, protected open space, and parks steeped in American history and ante-Bellum architecture, which offer visitors and residents as many opportunities to get outside and stay active as there are to deep dive into the city’s culture, musical history, music museums, and live music scene.
So, whether you’re coming to Nashville for business or vacation, a new resident or an old local, or just passing through, here are 33 of the top things to do while you’re in town including some venerable “can’t miss” Nashville attractions and events as well as some off the radar secrets that you won’t find on other lists.
1. Grand Ole Opry
If Nashville had a Radio City Music Hall, the Grand Ole Opry would be it. Founded as the home to an old-school music radio broadcast back in 1925—“the show that made country music famous”—seeing a country, folk, bluegrass, or gospel show at the Opry today has the feel of a music industry rite of passage.
Over the years, the Opry stage has carried the voices of virtually every famous country star old and new including Charlie Daniels, George Jones, Lorette Lynn, Dolly Parton, Dierks Bentley, Brad Paisley, Carrie Underwood, and Keith Urban. Opry visitors can also get a tour of the dressing rooms and the famous stage itself.
2. Ryman Auditorium
A National Historic Landmark built in 1892, the Ryman Auditorium is the hallowed “Soul of Nashville” and is considered to be one of the finest and most celebrated live music venues in America.
In addition to playing a key role in popularizing bluegrass and country music, “The Ryman” as it’s known locally is also where Johnny Cash and June Carter met and where some of the most iconic scenes in “Coal Miner’s Daughter” starring Loretta Lynn were filmed. Catching a show here at night feels like you’re living country music history.
A.k.a. “Honky Tonk Highway”, the five-block, late-night, neon stretch of Lower Broadway in downtown Nashville is Music City’s equivalent to Bourbon Street in New Orleans—home to the clubs, bars, and saloons that have made Nashville synonymous with live music, and the honky tonks world-famous for getting a glimpse of country music’s next great artist.
During the day, Broadway is also one of Nashville’s marquee destinations where visitors can shop, grab BBQ or hot chicken, or hop on an old-fashioned trolley tour. So don’t just limit your time here to after-hours mechanical bull riding and singing karaoke in a rhinestone jumpsuit.
4. Music Row
Music Row is the most iconic street in Nashville and to the music industry what Hollywood is to movies. Located in a historic district southwest of downtown, it’s home to the headquarters, offices, and recording studios of virtually every big player in country, gospel, and Christian music including record labels like RCA and Sony, publishing and video production houses, and music licensing firms.
More recently, the historic district in and around Music Row has been actively preserved to protect its sacred place in Nashville’s history as well as the music industry. No trip to Music City is complete without a tour here. You can also eat, drink, and shop at dozens of venues nearby while exposing yourself to the unique Nashville sounds and music.
5. Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum
The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum features one of the largest collections of musical memorabilia in the world and is the ultimate Mecca for fans who want to learn about the past, present, and future of country music.
Showcasing more than 2.5 million artifacts, photographs, instruments, stage costumes, original recordings, and more it would be easy to spend an entire day here immersed in the interactive displays, watching films, and exploring the exhibits. The Museum also features events and live performances by some of country music’s top artists.
6. Johnny Cash Museum and Café
Country music wouldn’t exist today were it not for the “Man In Black”—Johnny Cash—and no visit to Music City would be worth it without a trip to The Johnny Cash Museum.
Featuring the world’s largest collection of Cash’s original costumes, instruments, artwork, handwritten notes and letters, and other memorabilia chronicling his life and legacy, there’s no better way to learn about his impact on music and the evolution of country. Listening stations and a live Johnny Cash cover band ensure this experience covers all five senses as well.
7. Imagine Recordings
Imagine—as the name suggests—sitting right next to a real-life country music star, their session musicians, producers, and sound engineers to see in real-time how #1 hits get made behind the scenes and before anyone else hears them on the radio.
Imagine Recordings offers private groups of up to 100 the rare opportunity to experience a live, carefully curated 90-minute recording session at the historic Soundstage Studios on Music Row where over 600 #1 hits have been recorded by some of country’s most famous stars and emerging artists. If you want to be the first to hear the next big hit, Imagine is your chance.
8. Wildhorse Saloon
The Wildhorse Saloon literally has it all under one roof right in the heart of downtown Nashville on 2nd Street along the Cumberland River—including 66,000 square feet of dance floor, live music stages, bars, and an award-winning Southern smokehouse restaurant spread out over three floors.
It’s Music City’s premier venue for parties and special events, as well as one of the best places in town to learn how to line dance on the largest dance floor in Tennessee or take in a live music show from the likes of Ringo Starr and Darius Rucker.
9. Cumberland Park
A few blocks away from the Wildhorse Saloon across the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge to the other side of the Cumberland River is the 6.5-acre Cumberland Park, one of Nashville’s best open spaces for families and a waterfront stomping ground for kids of all ages.
There are bike paths, a climbing wall, trails through butterfly gardens, playgrounds, water and misting features to cool off in summer, and an outdoor amphitheater for concerts and events. If you’re traveling to Nashville with kids, this park is a must-visit. It also offers stunning views of Music City’s skyline throughout the day but especially at sunset.
10. General Jackson Showboat
No trip to Nashville is complete without getting out onto the water and the General Jackson Showboat is the best way to experience the Cumberland River.
One of the largest showboats with a traditional paddlewheel ever built, General Jackson offers classic Southern cuisine, live music in multiple venues, and the chance to take in dinner and a show all on the same night with some of the best views of downtown Nashville imaginable. Whether you’re coming to Music City for romance, business, live music, or family fun this is one trip you shouldn’t miss.
11. Cheekwood Estate and Gardens
Formerly the family home of Mabel and Leslie Cheek, Cheekwood Estate and Gardens is considered one of the top botanical gardens and one of the finest American Country estates in the country.
Built in the 1930s, visitors can tour the massive Georgian mansion with its collection of over 7,000 historical objects and artwork and 55 acres of perfectly-manicured gardens with stunning views of the surrounding area. There’s also a 1.5-mile-long trail that winds through modern and contemporary outdoor sculpture installations that are perfect for kids and art lovers alike.
12. Lane Motor Museum
A must-visit for car enthusiasts and NASCAR fans, Nashville’s Lane Motor Museum features the largest collection of European automobiles in the U.S., including more than 150 cars and motorcycles dating from the early 1900s all the way up to some of the finest sports cars made today.
All of the one-of-a-kind automobiles, microcars, amphibious and military vehicles, alternative fuel vehicles, and prototypes are maintained in pristine running order and visitors can also learn about the engineering, politics, geography, and economics that shaped the history of driving while they’re marveling at the cars.
13. Frist Art Museum
A short walk up the street from Lower Broadway’s honky tonks and bars, a gorgeous white marble building that initially served as Nashville’s first post office now houses the Frist Art Museum.
Opened in 2001, the Frist Museum is widely regarded as one of the finest art museums in America featuring 12-15 rotating exhibits every year from some of the most prestigious collections in the world. For families and visitors looking to enjoy great art and sculpture while they’re taking a break from eating BBQ and listening to live music, this is a Nashville arts and culture must-do.
14. Adventure Science Center
If science and adventure are more your things than sculpture and contemporary art, Nashville’s Adventure Science Center offers the perfect family-friendly day to keep your kids busy, curious, and entertained.
Focused on a hands-on approach, kids are encouraged to learn about science and the natural world through interactive activities like building stations, painting classes, virtual reality experiences, live science demonstrations, and a 63-foot state-of-the-art dome theater and planetarium. There are also programs and events designed for adults like “Way Late Play Date” where visitors can learn about space through a Star Trek-themed program (all with a drink in hand).
15. Cooters (Dukes of Hazzard museum)
Founded by actor-turned-politician Ben Jones who played Cooter Davenport in the long-running TV series “Dukes Of Hazzard”, Cooters pays homage to the cars, stunts, props, and costumes that made the show one of America’s most beloved.
In addition to all of the original memorabilia, Cooters also features Cooter’s Tow Truck, Daisy’s Jeep, Rosco’s Patrol Car, and the General Lee, the 1969 Dodge Charger that eventually became the symbol of the show for millions. For fans of the show, there are few better places for a photo op or Instagram post in Nashville than here.
16. Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge
In the annals of Music City honky tonk, it doesn’t get any more historic than Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge on Broadway. During the day it’s one of the most photographed spots in downtown Nashville with its bright purple exterior. At night, there’s usually a line stretching around the corner with visitors looking to get in to sip a drink where Willie Nelson started his career, and musicians like Kris Kristofferson, Waylon Jennings, and Patsy Cline were once regular customers.
Despite its rich history, Tootsie’s is still also one of Nashville’s best honky tonks to hear live music so try to get in for a show if you can. You’ll feel like you’re a part of country music history.
17. Printer’s Alley
Originally the epicenter of Nashville’s printing industry stretching back to the late 1800s and home to Music City’s speakeasies during Prohibition, Printer’s Alley is now ground zero for Nashville’s thriving nightclub scene which has been evolving since the 1940s when the first one opened here.
The place has a kind of Broadway-meets-European feel to it since no cars are allowed and there’s always a vibrant foot traffic scene with nightlife gathering outside of the clubs, bars, and burlesque joints. With its bright lights and neon signs, it’s also another one of Nashville’s best spots for selfies and Instagram posts.
18. Hatch Show Print
Hatch Show Print is as historically embedded into Nashville’s country music scene as the Grand Ole Opry and Ryman Theater. It’s one of America’s oldest working letterpress poster shops that’s been in business since 1879, churning out original art and show posters for three generations of Music City stars and entertainers from Elvis Presley in the old days to today’s hottest country music artists.
Visitors can tour the shop, watch the old-school style printing presses in action, and even have an original poster of their own made on-site to commemorate their trip. If music is any part of why you’re coming to town, this is a can’t-miss destination.
19. See A Nashville Predators NHL Game
The Nashville Predators, or the “Preds” as they’re called locally, have been one of the top professional ice hockey teams for the past decade, reaching the NHL Finals in 2017. And once the puck drops in “Smashville” from November to June you’d better hold on to your hats since the Preds are renowned around the league for the fast-paced, hard-hitting game.
The best part about seeing the Preds play live, however, is what happens before and after the game. Unlike most NHL arenas which are located miles from downtown, the Preds home ice at Bridgestone Arena is within walking distance of Lower Broadway. So, the only thing louder than the fans themselves is typically the bands at the honkytonks you can walk to afterward.
20. Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center
Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center is more an adventure than it is a typical resort or hotel. So, if you’re looking for a place to stay in Nashville that you’d never want to leave this is it.
The 9-acre atrium looks like a glassed-in city featuring waterfalls, fountains, and reflecting pools open year-round along with more than a dozen restaurants, a world-class spa, 2,712 luxury rooms, and 176 suites. There’s also a golf course and SoundWaves, Nashville’s premier water park. You could easily spend a week on a family vacation here and never run out of things to do.
21. Nashville Shores
Speaking of waterparks, if aquatic adventure is what gets your family’s play-all-day pulse up no visit to Nashville or Tennessee is complete without an afternoon at Nashville Shores.
Powered by more than a million gallons of water, the wave pools, splash pads, water slides, pools, and rivers comprise one of the largest outdoor waterparks in the country. Nashville Shores also features a treetop adventure course with zip lines, cargo nets, and rope courses spanning the canopies so you’re done underwater you can soar in the sky.
22. Nashville Zoo
America’s 9th largest zoo located six miles south of downtown, the Nashville Zoo is the ideal family-friendly activity for visitors during the day between learning to line dance and honky tonk crawling at night.
The Nashville Zoo houses more than 3,000 animals from 350 different species spread out over 188 acres that were once a historic 1800s homestead (the original home is still there). The zoo also offers camps and classes for kids as well as one-on-one animal interactions for feeding and taking pictures.
23. The Hermitage
Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage is the former home of President Andrew Jackson (1829-1837) and one of the largest and most-visited presidential estates and museums in the country.
Featuring more than 30 historic, plantation-style buildings and 1,120 acres of gardens, walking trails, and three event venues, it’s one of the best places in middle Tennessee for families and kids to get outside while also learning about America’s amazing and complicated past. Hermitage is located minutes from Nashville as well as the Gaylord Opryland Resort so it’s a short jaunt from downtown for an extraordinary historical and architectural experience.
24. Belle Meade Historic Site And Winery
In addition to Hermitage, Belle Meade Historic Site And Winery is the best place in the Nashville area to learn about Tennessee’s history and get outside while also getting a taste of true Southern Hospitality in a historic and architectural sanctuary.
Once one of the largest private estates in Nashville covering over 5400 acres, visitors today can take two historic tours, explore the estate’s remaining 30 acres on trails, visit the winery and restaurant which serves up authentic Southern cuisine and enjoy special events like Food and Wine Pairings, Bourbon Experiences, and Segway Tours.
25. Tennessee Performing Arts Center
The Tennessee Performing Arts Center, or TPAC, is the hub of Nashville’s cultural scene taking up an entire block downtown across the street from the Tennessee State Capitol building, and a can’t-miss venue for arts and performance lovers coming into town.
TPAC regularly hosts some of the most popular Broadway musicals and operas in the country, like Hamilton, Rent, and La Boheme, while also showcasing comedy nights, drama, and onstage cabaret performances. For a classy night out on the town in Music City, it all starts here.
26. Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame and Museum
For anyone who loves sports, the best place to visit in downtown Nashville is the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame and Museum, which celebrates the hundreds of professional, collegiate, Olympic, and other trophy-winning athletes who have come out of Tennessee—like NFL quarterbacks Peyton and Eli Manning.
Located in the Bridgestone Arena complex where the Nashville Predators play, visitors can learn about the Volunteer State’s most famous athletes, dress up in jerseys and pads for some photo ops, and then head over to Broadway for a little honky tonk.
27. Nashville Symphony Schermerhorn Center
The Nashville Symphony has been a fixture of Music City since 1946 and is one of the most prolific recording orchestras in America, though it doesn’t get the same famous billing worldwide as Broadway’s honky tonks.
Built in 2006, the Schermerhorn Symphony Center which is the orchestra’s home is considered one of the world’s finest acoustical venues, and in addition to its classic performances presents a wide variety of pop, jazz, country, and family shows for tastes of all types and crowds of all ages. So, if you’re ever feeling like you’ve had too much honky tonk while you’re in Nashville, this is the place to open your musical senses back up.
28. Pinewood Social
Nashville’s recently become known for its world-class and relentlessly creative culinary scene and no venue represents that fusion with Music City’s reputation for fun than Pinewood Social.
The industrial-chic venue is a part coffee shop and work-from-home space during the day and part trendy restaurant and craft cocktail bar at night Pinewood Social, and since it opened has become one of Nashville’s premier places to see and to be seen. It’s also got six bowling lanes reclaimed from an old Bowl O’ Rama and two 4-deep wading pools next to an Airstream bar so you’ll like to come here and stay all day (and night).
29. The Escape Game
The Escape Game in downtown Nashville has become one of the city’s hottest new things for friends, families, and coworkers to do and it’s just as much of an adventure for visitors coming into town to add a little adrenaline to their trip.
Featuring 11 different escape room themes like Prison Break, Forbidden Treasure, or The Heist, visitors participate in an immersive, 60-minute, real-life adventure game that will force you to solve puzzles, uncover clues, and crack codes to escape the room. If you’re looking for the place where Music City meets the metaverse this is definitely it.
30. Centennial Park
Centennial Park is Nashville’s largest park located next to up-and-coming Midtown and Vanderbilt University. At 132 acres, it’s home to the iconic Parthenon (see below), walking trails, Lake Watauga, historic monuments, an arts and activity center, a band pavilion, a dog park, and sand volleyball courts, while also hosting regular events, exhibits, and festivals.
If you’re looking to get outside, clear your head, and breathe some fresh Southern air during your visit to Nashville just a short Uber ride from downtown, this oasis of calm and green within the sea of live music and honky tonk venues will restore your soul.
31. The Parthenon
Located within Centennial Park, Nashville’s Parthenon is the world’s only full-scale reproduction of the famous Greek temple in Athens and one of the architectural wonders of Music City.
Legend has it that its original builders liked the idea of Nashville being called the “Athens of the South” because of its many institutions of higher learning so they figured they’d pay homage to the place where Western intellectual traditions began. Today, the Parthenon houses Nashville’s city art museum along with the Athena Parthenos, the tallest indoor sculpture in the Western world at 42’. Make sure your phone battery is charged before you head here: you’ll be taking a lot of photos.
32. Tennessee State Prison
If Tennessee State Prison looks like something out of a movie with its Medieval-style architecture and spiked towers, it’s because it is. The Green Mile starring Tom Hanks was filmed here along with several other famous films.
Today, the prison is empty and visitors can’t go inside. But it’s definitely worth a drive-by to take in its imposing presence, think about the stripe-suited prisoners who toiled away for years here doing manual labor and snap a few photos for your travelogue. There’s a good chance you’ll never see another prison like this again—especially one with such a distinguished Hollywood pedigree.
33. Vanderbilt Dyer Observatory
Crowning one of Nashville’s tallest peaks 20 minutes south of downtown, Vanderbilt Dyer Observatory offers park-like grounds, distinctive architecture, and amazing views of the landscape surrounding Radnor Lake State Park, making it one of the best places for nature lovers the chance to experience Middle Tennessee’s outdoors without much of a drive.
Visitors can participate in dozens of different educational, social, and celestial events like Telescope Nights, Meet The Astronomer Evenings, and the Bluebird On The Mountain concert series.
Austin’s legendary live music, bountiful outdoor activities, breakfast tacos, and eclectic arts, culture & food scenes make it one of the best places to visit in Texas year-round.
It’s often said there’s “No Place Like Texas”. There’s also no place in Texas like Austin. The Lone Star State’s capitol is renowned for almost everything that the rest of Texas is not: street art, food trucks, clothing-optional swimming holes, sightseeing, murals, and a funky individualism that’s earned the city the slogan “Keep Austin Weird”.
Lying at the western axis of the state’s big city triangle (the other two being Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth), Austin’s never been fueled by the big oil, cattle ranch stereotypes most people think of when they envision “Texas”. Being an Austinite means embracing contradictions: honky tonks next to skyscrapers, bats under bridges, old-timers drinking with tech CEOs, BBQ and French bistros, and tacos served all day.
At Austin’s heart is its legendary live music and nightlife scene. There are more music venues per capita in Austin than anywhere else in the country, giving it the reputation as the “Live Music Capital of the World”. Austin City Limits is one of the longest-running music TV shows in the U.S., and the annual festival of the same name along with South by Southwest (SXSW) are two of the preeminent multi-day music events in America.
Austin’s also world-famous for its museums, state parks, and endless outdoor activities including the Bullock Texas State History Museum, the Texas Memorial Museum, Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum, Zilker Park, Lady Bird Lake, Mount Bonnell, the LBJ (Lyndon B. Johnson) Presidential Library and Museum, and the Blanton Art Museum at the University of Texas. Austin’s funky vibe and buzzing downtown are also energized by the university’s 51,000 year-round students.
So, whatever brings you to Longhorn country for a weekend or if you already live here full-time, here are 31 top fun things to do in Austin to rock out, eat big, drink deep, savor a little Texas culture and history, and most importantly—stay weird.
1. Texas State Capitol
The Texas State Capitol building is the largest capitol building in the U.S. and visiting it is one of the top fun things to do when you visit Austin. Architecturally, it’s a masterpiece of workmanship, reflecting the attention to detail in its Italian Renaissance dome, tiled rotunda, stone carvings, and red granite facade that was characteristic of the era when it was built back in 1888 before Austin’s skyline bloomed with gleaming glass high rises. Visitors can take a free 30-minute guided tour seven days a week or explore on their own, dive into Texas history at the Visitors Center next door, or discover more than 22 acres of magnificently manicured grounds outside.
2. Cool Off At Barton Springs Pool
Austin’s hot in summer (temperatures hover in the mid-90s). The good news is that there’s no lack of natural and manmade swimming holes to cool off. Barton Springs Pool is one of Austin’s most famous, located just east of downtown across the Colorado River in 358-acre Zilker Park. Barton’s pool spans three acres and is fed by the fourth largest spring in Texas delivering a constant in-flow of 67-70 degree water. The pool is open from 5:00 am to 10:00 pm daily and entrance fees are $2 – $4 for children (resident and non-resident respectively) and $5 – $9 for adults. Note for families: women may swim topless at the pool so be forewarned.
3. Feast On BBQ
Few things scream Texas more than barbeque—and Austin is home to some of the best BBQ joints in America. One of the most famous is The Salt Lick, which has three locations in the city. Their brisket, ribs, sausage, and pulled pork are slow-cooked in pits in Austin’s Hill Country and are award-winning. Austin’s other iconic BBQ joint is Franklin Barbeque, which frequently has lines extending all the way down the street. In the ten years since it opened, Franklin’s has been featured on Anthony Bourdain’s show “No Reservations”, served lunch to Barak Obama, and received a James Beard Foundation Award.
4. Tour A Local Distillery
Texas isn’t quite as famous for its whiskies, bourbons, vodkas, and gins as Kentucky. But over the past decade, Austin has put itself on the map for its up-and-coming, grain-to-glass spirits scene. Between downtown Austin and Hill Country just east of the city, there are more than two dozen distilleries that utilize local grains, botanicals, and other ingredients to stay true to their Texan roots, while also offering tours and tastings that are almost as enjoyable as the old-fashioned cocktails they serve up. Many also feature food trucks and live music. Still, Austin Whiskey Co., Dripping Springs Distillery, and Treaty Oak Distilling are local favorites.
5. Quench Your Thirst At A Craft Brewery
Austin’s legendary music combined with its recent influx of newcomers, hipsters, and Millennials has inspired an upstart craft brewery scene that’s quickly becoming one of America’s most prolific, rivaling places like Boston, Portland, and Philadelphia. Most of Austin’s local breweries are located in some of the city’s coolest buildings and also boast top-notch kitchens since food and beer naturally go hand in hand. A few of Austin’s best-known, can’t-miss breweries include Austin Beer Garden Brewing, Austin Beerworks, Hold Out Brewing, Jester King Brewery, Live Oak Brewing, and Meanwhile Brewing.
6. Sneak Into A Speakeasy
Chic-shady is the phrase many locals use to describe Austin’s infamous hidden bar scene centered downtown and around East Austin. Some speakeasies require memberships and door codes. Some only allow walk-ins when the red light is on over the door. And even if you can get a reservation at the others, most will kick you out after your allotted time (typically 2 hours). What you will find behind all of the speakeasies’ non-descript doors, however, are the best bartenders and cocktails in Austin. Midnight Cowboy, Small Victory, Here Nor There, and the Milonga Room are a few of the local favorites.
7. Watch The Congress Bridge Bats
Bat-watching probably wouldn’t rank on most people’s “best things to do” lists when visiting Austin. But it’s become one of the city’s most popular pastimes. For reasons only a chiropterologist (a person who studies bats) would understand, the Congress Avenue Bridge over Lady Bird Lake is home to the largest urban bat colony (Mexican Free-Tailed bats specifically) in North America. And every night at dusk from spring through early fall up to 1.5 million of them take to the air in swirling swarms against the sky eating up to nine tons of mosquitos, flies, wasps, and moths in a few hours. You can watch the bats from the Butler Hike & Bike Trail, the bridge itself, or from a boat, kayak, or paddleboard on Lady Bird Lake below. Just make sure you arrive early.
8. Stay At The Driskill
Manhattan has The Plaza. North Carolina has The Biltmore. And when it comes to historic hotels in Austin there’s no place more regal and architecturally significant than The Driskill at the corner of Sixth Street and Brazos Street. A Romanesque Revival masterpiece dating back to 1886, it’s the oldest hotel in the city and is steeped in Texas history and lore (LBJ and Lady Bird went on their first date here back in 1934). Today, with its original marble floors, gilded columns, and stained glass, the Driskill is still one of Austin’s best places to stay. The Driskill Bar is not to be missed either.
9. Play Chicken Shit Bingo
A little bit further down the cultural food chain but no less uniquely Austin (and definitively “weird”) is Chicken Shit Bingo, hosted at The Little Longhorn Saloon in North Austin every Sunday afternoon over a cold beer and live music. While its origins are still debated, this iconic Austin pastime draws visitors and locals alike who, for a small donation for entry, can spend a few hours watching chickens’ rear-ends as they do their business on a giant, caged-in bingo board. The cheering crowd can get raucous when the beer and cider start flowing and the chickens get going, so this is definitely one of Austin’s most Instagram-worthy experiences.
10. Visit The Umlauf Sculpture Garden And Museum
To say that Charles Umlauf’s (1911-1994) home and sculpture studio is a paradise in the city would be an understatement for Austin. Just blocks from downtown, Umlauf’s six-acre property on the south bank of Blanton Creek, which he gifted to the city along with more than 60 of his sculptures back in 1984, is today one of Austin’s open space crown jewels. Now known as the Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum Umlauf’s former home is set among landscaped ponds, native plants, fern gardens, and moss-covered live oaks where adults can explore Umlauf’s works in wood, terracotta, bronze, and marble while kids go on guided “safari” tours.
11. Take In Some Street Art At HOPE Outdoor Gallery
Austin’s HOPE Outdoor Gallery is a temple to Austin’s street art (“I Love You So Much” made the city famous). Since 2010, every inch of this abandoned construction site has been spray-painted with everything from cartoon characters to cats in space. Today, visitors and locals gather here to see the new art or add some of their own, while also taking part in the classes, dinner parties, and different events the Gallery puts on. The original HOPE Outdoor Gallery downtown closed in 2019. A new, bigger, better 18-acre HOPE community art park and cultural events center is slated to open later this year which will include a rooftop bar, art supply store, event space, community walls, local vendors, and food trucks.
12. Get Thrifty On Guadalupe Street
The last neighborhood where I lived in Philadelphia was famous for its vintage thrifting and antique shopping for everything from furniture and tuxedos to Homer Simpson statues. I’d often meet people coming from as far away as Brooklyn. Austin’s strip of stores around W. 29th Street and Guadalupe Street is equally legendary and quickly becoming a destination in itself. You can thrift here, bargain hunt, and shop for vintage clothes at the half-dozen shops that carry mostly used threads. When the weather’s nice most of the stores also usually spill over onto the sidewalks so Guadalupe quickly becomes way more social than just the shopping until you drop.
13. Catch A Flick (and an Old-Fashioned) At Alamo Drafthouse
Every city has “institutions”. And if there’s one in Austin that almost everyone would agree on it’s the Alamo Drafthouse. Started by two Rice University grads back in 1997 in the Warehouse District in an old parking garage, this place is part cinema house, part restaurant, and bar and was one of the first places in the country to popularize the watch-eat-drink hybrid model. Renowned for its inventive festivals, and the balance of blockbusters and indy films, while also hosting other events year-round, the Alamo Drafthouse has since expanded in and outside of Austin. But its roots will always be here.
14. Take A Dip At Hamilton Pool
If there’s one thing Austin and its surrounding Hill Country is known for, it’s swimming holes—and Hamilton Pool is one of the finest, most picturesque places in the great State of Texas to cool off and while away an afternoon. Located on a 234-acre nature preserve and the result of the collapse of an underground river a thousand years ago, Hamilton Pool has geography all its own with a waterfall, a massive overhanging roof, deep green jade water, and a beach. Just remember to plan ahead. If you’re visiting between April and September you’ll need to reserve a 4-hour time slot.
15. Stay Cool At Deep Eddy Pool
Deep Eddy Pool was built in 1915 by a man named A.J. Eilers, Sr. who bought the land surrounding the swimming hole and envisioned building a natural, spring-fed swimming pool just minutes from downtown. Eponymously named for a distinct eddy that forms by a large boulder in the pool, Deep Eddy is the oldest swimming pool in Texas and is one of the most popular swimming areas in the city where kids can wade, parents can swim laps, and there are also events like poolside movies in summer. The pool is open from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm daily and adult passes are $5 – $9/day for a resident and non-resident respectively (kids under 12 are $2 and $4).
16. Go On A Taco Crawl
Few activities pay homage to Austin’s illustrious Tex-Mex culinary history better than a city-wide taco tour, whether you’re a long-time local or just in town for the weekend. Somehow, some time ago Austin also got famous for its breakfast tacos—since just feasting on them for lunch and dinner isn’t enough. Veracruz All Natural which has several locations is a longtime Austinites’ favorite, along with Tacodeli and Torchy’s Tacos, which started as a food truck and now has over 50 locations. Bring your patience to your taco crawl as well as your appetite though—the lines at some of these joints are as famous as the tacos.
17. Rock Out At The White Horse
Every great southern city seems to have a legendary honky tonk or live music venue called the White Horse. And Austin doesn’t disappoint on this front (take that Nashville . . .). The White Horse in East Austin is one of the city’s coolest live music venues and hosts live music and bands every day of the week pretty much non-stop. It’s also one of Austin’s top taco spots including an excellent breakfast taco menu for some of the best late-night/early-morning eating in the city. There’s also whiskey on tap and free dance lessons Tuesday through Saturday. Any questions?
18. Get Aquatic On Lady Bird Lake
One of the city’s top destinations for outdoor and watersports activities, Lady Bird Lake is actually a dammed-up section of the Colorado River just east of downtown Austin adjacent to the Roy G. Guerrero Colorado River Metro Park. It’s the ideal place especially in summer to beat the heat, chill with your friends and family, pack up a picnic, go canoeing, paddleboarding, or kayaking, or take a sunset river cruise since the views of Austin’s skyline are second to none. The Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail also runs over 10 miles around the lake so you’ve got picture-perfect urban terrain for a long walk, run, or ride.
19. Visit Hill Country
Unless you’re a hunter, many visitors don’t think of Texas for its nature and the outdoors. The Hill Country west of Austin will very quickly convince you otherwise. Hill Country’s undulating landscape, big skies, stunning sunsets, and technicolor spring flower blooms will take your breath away. There are also many fun things to do on the more culinary and cultural side of things. Dripping Springs, Texas is a picture-perfect Texas frontier throw-back town and Fredericksburg is home to more than 45 wineries and vineyards as well as several state parks, historic sites, bed & breakfasts, and swimming holes.
20. Boat (And Catch A Sunset) On Lake Travis
Lake Travis is to Austin what Lake Mead is to Las Vegas—an original flood-control reservoir on the Colorado River that’s now one of the best places for locals and visitors to boat, fish, waterski, wakeboard, and engage in dozens of other watersports and outdoor activities just 15 miles from downtown. There are several boat rental operations on both sides of the lake that can get you out on the water or take you out on a Texas-sized sunset cruise, and also don’t miss the Oasis with its multi-patio deck overlooking the lake, unparalleled views, a massive restaurant, and multiple bars and breweries. (Note: Lake Austin is pretty great for boating also).
21. Hike Up Mount Bonnell
If Lake Travis hasn’t satisfied your thirst for Austin’s outdoors, put on your hiking shoes and hoof it up the roughly 600’ to the top of Mount Bonnell in 5.1-acre Covert Park just northwest of downtown. This limestone escarpment over the Colorado River faces both east and west, offering spectacular sunrise and sunset views as well as one of the best panoramas of downtown Austin’s skyline in the city. If you’re driving park at the north end of Covert Park and a trail will lead you south along the top of the cliff. This is one of Austin’s top spots for a romantic picnic or an outdoor date.
22. Circuit of The Americas
The Circuit of The Americas opened in 2012 to great fanfare and remains one of the top attractions in Austin. Home to the Formula One United States Grand Prix, the Motorcycle Grand Prix of the Americas, and the IndyCar Classic among several other racing events, this 5.5 kilometers, serpentine race track is a marvel of engineering and geometry, specifically built to offer spectators clear lines of sight from almost every viewing angle. It’s also one of the only Formula One tracks that you can drive or see artists like Metallic or Kayne West at the Austin 360 Amphitheater when there’s not a race going on.
23. Attend A Longhorn’s Football Game
With its 51,000+ students and 1,438-acre campus, the University of Texas is a destination in itself when you’re visiting Austin. And its Division I NCAA football team, the Longhorns—who have won four NCAA football championships over the years—is a powerhouse. So, if you’re a sports fan it doesn’t get any better than tailgating and watching a game during football season. U of T’s Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium can house more than 100,000+ crazed hometown fans and is one of the ten largest stadiums in the world in any sport. Just learn how to do the “Hook ’em Horns” hand signal beforehand before you go.
24. Take A Stroll Along South Congress Avenue
If you want to shop, stroll, or saunter while you’re visiting Austin, South Congress Avenue—a.k.a. “SoCo”—is the place to do it. This six-lane boulevard consists of five, funky walkable blocks southwest of downtown that is home to some of Austin’s best locally-grown boutiques, galleries, bars, restaurants, and live music. Allens Boots, one of Austin’s iconic purveyors of Texas western wear and boots is here, where caiman belly boots can go for $2,000, along with famous costume stores like Lucy in Disguise with Diamonds. SoCo since 2010 has also been at the epicenter of Austin’s famed food truck scene so it’s one of the best places in the city for foodies.
25. Rainey Street
On the subject of funky, keep-it-weird neighborhoods, Rainey Street is another one of Austin’s most unique and eccentric. Rooted in historic craftsman architecture from the 1930s and re-invigorated by a thriving bar, live music, and entertainment scene, Rainey Street is a pageantry of food trucks, patio lights, boutique-chic restaurants, speakeasies, and buzzing bars. It gets crowded here and on the weekends it’s definitely more touristy than local. But if you want to get a slice of Austin’s ultra-hip, up-and-coming nightlife scene this is the spot.
26. Jam Out At Austin City Limits
There’s nothing quite as legendary in Austin when it comes to live music than PBS’s Austin City Limits (ACL). The longest-running music television show dating back to 1974, ACL has hosted the likes of Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and Neil Young at the peak of their careers and introduced a new artist to America every week for the past fifty years. The 2,750-person, new venue, ACL Live At Moody Theater built in 2011 as part of a $300 million mixed-use downtown development, is also reputed to have some of the best acoustics of any stage between Austin and Nashville.
27. South By Southwest (SXSW)
Hands down South By Southwest a.k.a. SXSW is one of the grandest and most celebrated live music festivals in the world. It’s also an art, cultural, and culinary celebration of Austin and its off-beat vibe which now attracts hundreds of thousands of people to the city every March. First started in 1987, the event frequently features more than 2,000 musical acts from over 40 countries at venues around the city but also includes panel discussions, talks by venture capitalists, workshops with tech leaders, and exhibits showcasing emerging start-ups and technologies—for which Austin is becoming well known.
28. Bullock Texas State History Museum
If you want to learn about Texas’s history as well as the state’s contributions to America and the world this is the place to start. Located behind a big Texas star a few blocks south of the Texas State Capitol Building, the Bullock Texas State History Museum is one of Austin’s top destinations for families, locals, and visitors featuring exhibits on the area’s pre-history 16,000 years ago all the way up to rodeos, ranching, oil and gas drilling, and space exploration today. Exhibits include a real-life NASA Mission Control console from the 1960s as well as the largest IMAX theatre in the state.
29. Blanton Museum of Art
The University of Texas’s Blanton Museum of Art is the envy of almost every other American city. It’s one of the city’s most renowned cultural attractions, one of the largest university art museums in the U.S., and an architectural icon unto itself. The museum houses more than 18,000 works of European, contemporary American, and Latin American art along with rare pieces by Veronese, Rubens, Parmigianino, Simon Vouet, Yayoi Kusama, Natalie Frank, and Nina Katchadourian. It’s also wrapped in limestone panels from Alicante, Spain, 33 stained glass windows mouth-blown in Germany, and Carrera tiles from around the world. If you’re an art or architectural lover, this is an Austin can’t-miss.
30. Zilker Park
Zilker Park is Austin’s pre-eminent oasis in the city with more than 350 acres of open space, gardens, events (it hosts Austin City Limits), outdoor activities, and fun things to do year-round. Anchored by the confluence of Barton Creek and the Colorado River, the park was given to the city by politician and philanthropist Andrew Jackson Zilker in 1918 and now includes volleyball and disc golf areas, the Hillside Theater for summer plays, the Austin Science and Nature Center, the Zilker Botanical Garden, and the Lady Bird Lake Trail. The views of Austin’s skyline from here are also jaw-dropping.
31. LBJ Presidential Library and Museum
Before George H.W. and George W. Bush, it was Lyndon B. Johnson who made Texas famous for breeding American Presidents. So for American history aficionados or anyone interested in learning more about the pivotal years in the U.S. between 1963 – 1969 when landmark legislation like the Voting Rights and Civil Rights Acts were passed when Johnson was President, there is no more sacred shrine. The museum has exhibits about the JFK assassination and delves into complicated issues like social justice as well as international conflicts like the Vietnam War. The museum also includes the original presidential limousine and a replica of LBJ’s Oval Office.
Tucked deep between the snow-covered peaks of the Cascade Mountains, humbled by scenic views and serene lakes, is Bend, a small city on the Deschutes River in Oregon with views like no other. The city has the best of both worlds – ice-wrapped mountain tops to its north, high desert plateaus to its south, and lots of greenery in between – making it one of the best tourist attractions in the USA.
There are hundreds of best things to do in Bend, Oregon. From observing the pristine beauty of meters of exciting Bend trails and picturesque views to living through history at the national parks and museums.
So, whether its solo adventurers looking to get a kick of their lives hiking, trekking and biking through the dangerous trails of Bend, or it’s a big family looking for an active and healthy weekend getaway with children cozying around the fire pit, there is something for everyone at Bend Oregon. You could say that the city is a mecca for all fun things.
To make it easier for you to find and partake in what you love, we have narrowed down 30 of the best things to do in Bend, Oregon. Not only this, but we have categorized these activities into four groups so that you can make the most out of your trip. Let’s dive in!
Outdoor Activities and Recreation: Where Adventure Awaits!
From hiking and biking to floating down the Deschutes River and waterskiing, Bend is a paradise for those on the lookout for seeking to indulge in some outdoor fun. Before we proceed, it is worth mentioning that booking a stay at the Big Pine will ensure that you remain close to most of these attractions for utmost convenience.
The following are some of the best recreational activities Bend, Oregon has to offer:
1. Stroll to Explore the Drake Park
Set along the Deschutes National Forest, besides the Deschutes River is Drake Park, a lush green outdoor stage stretching 13 acres across the historic area of Bend. It is a delightful space full of walking and running tracks, benches, and picnic tables.
The best part? It has direct public river access known as the Mirror Pond so that you can never fall short of the rich views. You can find a restored old Bend neighborhood just behind the park, making it a great place to start exploring the city.
2. Trek to See the Famous Tumalo Falls
If you’re from the state of Oregon, or quite frankly anywhere in the USA, you’ve probably already heard of the famous 97-foot Tumalo waterfall. The falls are a few miles west of Bend, where they plunge off the rocky wall and into the roaring river beneath.
A short trekking trail takes enthusiasts to the edge of the waterfall, where they can look down at the falls and snap pictures of the fenced area. Don’t worry! It is perfectly safe. However, if trekking too close to the waterfall isn’t your cup of tea, an observation area near the parking lot can easily house you while you get the best views of the falls.
3. Hit the Many Hiking Trails of Bend, Oregon
Known for having hundreds of beautiful hiking trails, offering exuberant views, and challenging bases, Bend never disappoints, especially for hikers. If you’re a hiker on a time crunch and want to visit the best hiking trails, we recommend starting from either the bend ale trail or the Smith Rock State Park trailhead. It is the most accessible trail to master as the level of difficulty slowly builds and increases. Next, you will be trekking beside the Crooked River up the Misery Ridge.
Once you’ve got a kick for hiking, be a good hiker and go for the 11-mile challenging trail leading to South Sister. It starts at the Devil’s Lake Campground and goes up the third tallest mountain in Oregon. The views of the Three Fingered Jack, Broken Top, and Mt. Bachelor make the difficult trailhead worth the experience.
4. Climb Some Rocks at the Smith Rock State Park
If you’ve got a knack for rock climbing, especially for sports climbing, multi-pitch climbing, and bouldering, the Smith Rock State Park is the place to be!
With 650 acres of sheer rock carved naturally yet perfectly for climbing, you’re guaranteed to have a good time finding versatile climbing routes.
5. Grab Your Mountain Bike to Conquer Bend
There are fourteen major biking regions with over 300 miles of mountain biking trails in Bend, Oregon. Each of these biking regions have its own unique offerings; however, it is best to consider the level of difficulty and terrain when choosing between them.
Mt. Bachelor is north of bend and has one of the most famous mountain biking trails in the area. It is known for its sightseeing, especially when tourists find otters and porcupines. In fact, it even houses a gorgeous ski hill, snowboarding, and snowshoeing opportunities during the wintertime. The Cascade National Scenic Byway falls second in popularity for mountain biking trails, especially those at the Cascade Lakes.
6. Surfing Along the Deschutes River
The Deschutes River located at the Deschutes National Forest isn’t just for the views when you want to visit Bend, Oregon. Instead, people take full advantage of the many recreational activities the river has to offer.
Once at the riverside, you’ll find many little stalls and tourism stores that offer tubing, float boats, paddleboarding, Deschutes River trail, surfing, and swimming. If you’re a tourist, you might want to negotiate the pricing a bit before booking!
Many even make their way to the Deschutes brewery post-water activities to cool down even more. After all, the Deschutes brewery is known for keeping everyone cool and calm.
7. Find Your Zen at the Pilot Butte Scenic Viewpoint
Pilot Butte is a popular tourist attraction as it looks down upon the city while absorbing dynamic, lush views from all four sides.
If you’re looking to cool down after your many adventures so far, join a yoga group class at the Pilot Butte Scenic Viewpoint.
8. Drive Around the Cascade Byway
To clear your best things to do in Bend, Oregon list, you must drive around the 60-mile Cascade Range Byway. Throughout your scenic drive up the mountain, from views of pine-covered hills to snow-covered peaks and curved roads around Mt. Bachelor, Sparks Lake, Cascade Lakes, and Todd Lake trail, you’re guaranteed to experience beauty like no other.
In fact, there are plenty of activities to partake in at each of these pitstops, especially at the Todd Lake trail, where tourists mainly go biking, fishing, and kayaking.
9. Bring Your Snow Gear Out at the Mt. Bachelor
During wintertime, Mount Bachelor ski resort houses thousands of adventurers traveling from around the States. The 4,300 acres of skiable terrain built over an extinct volcano is open for skiing, snowshoeing, snowboarding, snow tubing, and dogsledding.
10. Try a Different Kind of Adventure at the Bend Scavenger Hunt
Some of the best things to do in Bend, Oregon, aren’t just limited to adrenaline-pumping sports and outdoor activities; instead, they include super upbeat and unusual things too. The Bend Scavenger Hunt is just that.
The Hunt is an opportunity to make the team with friends and family to explore the city’s historical intricacies, including facts and figures about some of the oldest log cabins, cornerstone buildings, and tribal frontiers.
11. Keep it Simple and Go Golfing
Contrary to popular belief, Bend, Oregon, is also known for its excellent golfing spaces. There are tens of gold clubs built in the heart of Bend to assist golfers from across the states. The city holds national golf tournaments every once in a while as well.
Picture this: You have a match against your best bud in the lush Tetherow golf course in Bend, surrounded by unmatchable views of the Cascade ranges. Does that sound like something you would enjoy? Don’t forget to pre-book the golf course and reserve a teatime early on as well!
12. Unwind at the Soaking Pool
Throughout your hiking, trekking, and biking fun, don’t forget to rest your body! We recommend taking a day off to spend soaking in the heated pool or hot tub in Tetherow, Bend. It is undeniably one of the best places to unwind at.
If you’re not near Tetherow, you can always opt for McMenamins Old St. Francis School. The school offers both indoor and outdoor heated pools and hot tubs and even has a Greek bathhouse for 5 USD per person.
13. Ever Heard of Spelunking? Go for it!
Spelunking defines the hobby of exploring caves. If you feel like you resonate with such an adventure, Bend has some extinct volcanoes you can climb, trek, and even explore from the inside out.
There are some popular lava tubes in the vicinity of Bend, such as Boyd Cave and Skeleton Cave. If you haven’t gone spelunking before, you can go exploring with a guided tour as well. However, you will need specialized equipment, including headlamps, traction-supported ankle-high shoes, and a warm jacket.
14. Spend the Day Indulging in the Lava Rush Off-Road Adventure
If you can’t get enough of the lava tubes and the lava flows, go down to the Newberry National Volcanic Monument to visit the Lava River Cave as well. These 1000-year-old lava tubes can be explored with the Lava Rush Off-Road Adventure sponsored by Wanderlust Tours.
Throughout the tour, you’re going to drive a four-wheel Polaris XP1000 across the lava fields. We recommend this short adventure for families and friends alike.
15. Drive to the Lava Butte
We understand that some adventures can stay limited to exploration from within the haven of your car – a safe comfort many enjoy! For such subtle escapades full of excitement, drive to the top of Lava Butte.
While there is limited parking available at the Lava Butte parking lot, each visiting car gets a 30-minute pass where you can soak up the scenic views of the 500-foot-high lava cinder cone and the lava flows.
There is a visiting center too, so be sure to grab a souvenir or two to remember your spree!
Historical Museums and Monuments: Make Unforgettable Memories
While Bend may be known more for its outdoor pursuits and stunning beauty, your trip is not complete without a visit to some of its best-known museums and national monuments, especially if you are a history lover. They are as follows:
16. Visiting the High Desert Museum
One of the best things to do in Bend, Oregon, is to visit Bend’s High Desert Museum. Unlike many other museums across the USA, High Desert spans 135 acres of forest land. It is full of nature trails and outdoor exhibits, which are informative and engaging to partake in.
There are frequent new limited-time exhibits, animal shows, and workshops offered at the Museum, ensuring that the land is full of innovative things to do.
17. Exploring Newberry National Volcanic Monument
Another historic Bend, Oregon treat is the Newberry National Volcanic Monument. The monument has two main access points, each of which transports you into a new world full of fun things to indulge in.
On top of the monument is the Lava Butte and Lava River Cave, with Lava Lands Visitor Center just off the ascend. The Visitor Center is the hub of information, especially for those interested in getting the geological details of the area.
18. Observing the Paulina Peak Monument
A few miles beyond the Lava Lands Visitor Center are Paulina Lake and East Lake. To access them, you get right off Highway 97 and onto Paulina Lake Road. This alpine area is incredibly lush, offering a sudden change of atmosphere. In fact, once on an incline, you’re going to see breathtaking views of Paulina Peak!
Mouthwatering Food and Endless Shopping!
Bend is home to delectable dining experiences and offers unique shopping experiences. Here are some of our best picks that are a must-visit on your trip:
19. A Visit to the Old Mill Food District
The Old Mill District is built upon the remnants of the Brooks-Scanlon lumber mill. However, do not be mistaken; the rejuvenated area houses some of the best restaurants in the area!
There are tens of restaurants offering a luxe indoor experience and outdoor dining if you’re one to enjoy the view of the Deschutes River. Some of the most popular restaurants include:
Flatbread Neapolitan Pizzeria: a lively pizza restaurant with specialized bread and a wine bar.
Va Piano Vineyards: a premier winery with wine-tasting rooms and snacks.
Rapa Nui Tiki Lounge: a traditional tropical island-themed tiki bar with fresh cocktails and Asian fusion food.
20. Grab Some BBQ for a Memorable Picnic
Amongst some of the best things to do in Bend, Oregon, is to grab some great BBQ from the Old Mill District and drive up to a beautiful picnic spot to make some unforgettable memories.
Not quite sure how to get all this done? We’ve got your back!
Grab sesame-crusted tuna bowls, house-smoked lox, and BBQ roast from Boxwood Kitchen, Old Mill District, and drive up to the Newberry Caldera, which has excellent campgrounds and pleasant lakeside areas to have a memorable picnic.
21. Drink the Best Craft Beer!
There are twenty-two breweries in Bend, all of which are immensely popular and for all the right reasons. Some of the best ones include Crux Fermentation Project, Deschutes Brewery Bend Public House, and Boneyard Beer Pub. You can find the rest in the bend ale trail guide.
Each offers hundreds of specialized beers with upbeat tasting rooms, super-friendly staff, and brilliant events to ensure their guests have a blast. Plus, they all give a free little souvenir to tourists! Something to surely remember Bend in good words, right?
22. Shop at Downtown Bend
Bend, Oregon, has a super cute downtown with a shopping experience like none other on all of Oregon coast and north of bend. The streets are full of unique little boutiques, handmade crafts, and local jewelry stores. Head to some local stores, such as Savory Spice and Avalon Salon & Spa, to support Bend, Oregon’s local community!
Not only this, but the city has some trendy nationwide stores with no taxes, including American Eagle, making them much cheaper than anywhere else in the country.
23. Indulge in the No-Tax Shopping Lifestyle
Have you been saving up for that new MacBook? Perhaps the latest iPhone was slightly out of reach due to the unbearably high taxes? At Central Oregon, you can splurge without any hidden charges and taxes added to your bill.
Yes, you read that right! Everyone in Bend, Oregon, is living the no-tax shopping lifestyle, and you should too. Be sure to take some extra cash with you so that you can update all your electronics and even your wardrobe for much less than anywhere else.
For your comfort, we recommend booking a vacation rental in Central Oregon so that all the tourist hotspots are easy to reach and to experience its vibrancy and multiculturalism to the fullest.
Deschutes in Bend is located about 10 minutes from downtown Oregon, offering exciting amenities like bikes, board games, and a foosball table.
Exploring Town & Local Events: The Very Best of Bend, Oregon
Bend has plenty of exciting activities going on all year long. Spice up your vacation to Bend by attending some of the local events happening around you. Head to a local spa at the end of the day to relax your mind, body, and spirit.
24. Attending Special Events Around the Town
Some of the best things to do in Bend, Oregon include attending their special local events across town. Given that the city is so lively, there is something fun happening at all times. Popular events in Bend, Oregon, around the year include Downtown Bend First Friday Art Walk, Pole Pedal Paddle, and Bend Brewfest.
The Les Schwab Amphitheater in Bend, Oregon, is a great outdoor amphitheater perched at the Deschutes River Bank. Owing to the city’s love for nature, the amphitheater is nothing big and fancy; instead, the seating is relatively low-profile. You can either opt for seating on the grass or bring your own small and foldable chairs and blankets.
The amphitheater houses ticketed and free events, concerts, and theatrics, all of which are extremely fun to participate in and visit.
26. Catch a Show at the Tower Theatre
Much like the Les Schwab Amphitheater, the Tower Theatre is a historical landmark for the locals at Bend, Oregon. It was opened in the 1940s when the theatre was the city’s biggest attraction.
At the current, the Tower Theatre is sponsored by the city’s council to cater to modern audiences as well. Since the theatre features different shows each month, it is best to check their website and pre-book.
27. Enjoy the Bend Summer Festival
Local events in Central Oregon, especially Bend, Oregon, are full of fun and adventure, paired with delicious food and an exuberant display of culture. One such event that blows everyone away is the Bend Summer Festival. This family-friendly event is three days long and full of entertainment like none other.
From art walks, craft makers, and fine-art displays to beer fests, wine-tasting, marathons, and outdoor concerts, there is something for everyone and certainly nothing you would want to miss out on!
If you’re planning to visit this festival, you may have to alter your trip dates around the summer months and pre-book your hotels, as Bend can get pretty stuffy during July.
28. Staying at the Riverhouse Resort
The Riverhouse on the Deschutes is Bend’s largest and most popular resort. It is designed with sophistication to ensure that the visitors have an unparalleled experience, inside and outside the hotel.
Outside, the hotel is nestled between the lush views of the snow-covered peaks, surrounded by green fields and the Deschutes Riverbed. And on the inside, there is heavy use of contemporary design to make the resort extravagant.
Not only are the location and amenities relaxing, but there are also many fun activities offered by the resort for its guests, including indoor and outdoor heated pools, specialized spas, and the Deschutes River Trail.
29. Staying at the Oxford Hotel and Resort
Another great resort to spend your days in Bend, Oregon, is the Oxford Hotel and Resort. The resort reflects all the natural elements of the region blended with a luxurious ambiance that warrants an unforgettable stay.
It is located in the Old Bend, which is in the vicinity of downtown, and is the best place to stay if you’re looking to enjoy spending time in the Old Mill District.
30. Relaxing and Unwinding at the Local Spas
Whether you’re a local or a tourist looking for some of the best things to do in Bend, Oregon, everyone benefits the same from a short visit to the spa. Unlike other places, the spas at Bend, Oregon, not only offer the perfect solution to your beauty needs but come with a gorgeous, jaw-dropping view.
If you want to end your trip to Bend at the spa, we recommend visiting Drift Spa, which has sustainable treatments and an exceptional service superior to all else. Plus, it has breathtaking views of the Deschutes River. If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option, you can book with Radiant Day Spa, a luxurious yet affordable self-care experience in the heart of Old Mills District.
If you have not decided on your next vacation destination yet, Bend, Oregon is the place to be. Whether you are an adventure seeker, a nature lover, a history buff, or perhaps the average tourist simply seeking to escape the hustle and bustle of hectic daily life, there are plenty of fun things to do in Bend, Oregon throughout the year.
If California is the land of milk and honey, you could consider the city Newport Beach the whipped cream. Located along Southern California’s stunning west coast in Orange County, Newport Beach is one of the top tourist destinations for its natural, cultural, and historical bounty.
Located halfway between San Diego and Los Angeles, Newport Beach was once Orange County’s primary port, developed by James McFadden during the post-Civil War era. Once Los Angeles established itself as the main business center of Southern California, Newport Beach developed a successful tourism industry.
The geography of Newport Beach consists of the Balboa Peninsula, a long stretch of land that juts out from the coastline, creating a natural harbor with great water sports and the ultimate city for sightseeing. Over the 19th and 20th centuries, developers have built seven islands along the Peninsula’s coastline.
Newport Beach’s stunning coastline contains gorgeous beaches, state parks, and nature preserves to enjoy year-round perfect weather. Along with a wealth of outdoor activities for nature lovers and extreme sports enthusiasts, Newport Beach is home to:
When planning a vacation to this coastal slice of paradise, you can find a different set of activities and destinations to enjoy each day. Whether you’re looking for a fancy and relaxing reprieve from a fast-paced grind or an action-packed family vacation, Newport Beach has something for all ages and interests.
25 Best Things to Do in Newport Beach
Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve
Also known as The Back Bay, Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve is Southern California’s largest expanse of coastal wetlands, encompassing 1000 acres of unfettered nature. The scenery is gorgeous and serene, and the preserve also features many trails for hiking and biking.
Families can take horseback riding tours of the wetlands, while nature lovers can explore the trails on foot. The Back Bay also lies along a major aviary migration route, making it popular with bird watchers.
As Newport Beach is a coastal town, you can expect amazing seafood at any time. Newport Landing is a beloved, longstanding staple for seafood and oysters fresh off the boat.
The charming restaurant is within walking distance of other popular tourist destinations like the Newport Harbor, Balboa Island Ferry, and meeting points for sports fishing, cruises, and whale watching tours.
Whales are some of the most majestic creatures on earth. The Pacific Ocean is home to a wide variety of whale species that you can observe right off the coast of Newport Beach.
During the winter and spring, you can watch gray whales migrating south to warmer waters. During the summer and fall months, you’ll see blue whales. There’s always a chance to catch a glimpse of other creatures throughout the year, including:
Whale watching is a must when you visit Newport Beach, and there are plenty of companies offering daily tours.
Huntington Beach is a neighboring coastal town that’s a quick 10-minute drive from Newport Beach, offering amazing beaches, boardwalks, and cultural destinations of its own.
You could make a day trip to one of California’s premier surfing beaches to marvel at skilled surfers catching massive waves. If you’re up for some exercise, you can enjoy an easy 25-minute bike ride from Newport to Huntington.
Newport Beach Pier
A stroll along Newport Beach Pier is visually dazzling and a lesson in Newport Beach history. Originally McFadden’s Wharf, Newport Beach Pier stretches nearly one-fifth of a mile along the Balboa Peninsula, acting as the city’s premier shipping dock when it was a port during the late 19th century.
Newport Beach Pier is a beautifully preserved wooden pier that offers tourists stunning views of the coastline and the Pacific Ocean. It also offers various dining and shopping destinations right on the water.
Paddle Board and Kayak Tours
If surfing is too extreme for your taste, paddle boarding is the perfect way to glide along the water while gazing at Newport Beach’s gorgeous coastline. Paddle Boards are giant surfboards that offer a stable platform for standing while you paddle through the tranquil waters. It’s great exercise and doesn’t have a steep learning curve (like surfing does), making it a fun solution for first-timers.
If you want even more stability, kayaking is an equally active and entertaining option. Most outdoor tour companies rent paddle boards and kayaks, offering guided tours around the popular beaches.
Sherman Library and Gardens
Originating in 1955, Sherman Library and Gardens was named for founder Arnold Haskell’s mentor and fellow nature lover, M. H. Sherman. Sherman Library houses hundreds of books about the flora and geography of the California coast.
The Gardens encompass a floral paradise among 2 acres of beautifully manicured grounds where you’ll find:
A fern garden
Tea and herb garden
Make sure you pack your camera to snap the picturesque landscape.
Environmental Nature Center
A visit to the Environmental Nature Center is as fun as it is educational. Built during the 1970s, the Environmental Nature Center is 3.5 acres of interactive biospheres. It represents the various ecological and geographical environments in California.
There’s a circular hiking trail that hits each biosphere, creating a unique experience where you can walk from the desert to the marshes to the redwood forests all in one visit.
International Surfing Museum
Even if you don’t know how to surf, this fascinating museum will educate you on the history and crucial role of surfing on the Orange County coast. You’ll learn about the Olympic swimmer and Hawaiian native Duke Kahanamoku, who introduced surfing as a sport in the 1920s.
Located in Huntington Beach, which is one of the premier surfing spots, you can spend the morning perusing vintage surfboards, films, and other artifacts before heading to the beach to watch modern-day surfers rip through giant waves.
Crystal Cove State Park
Sandwiched between Laguna Beach and Corona del Mar Beach, Crystal Cove State Park is one of the largest state parks in Orange County.
It contains over 3 miles of pristine coastline and 2,400 acres of inland territory with natural attractions such as:
Verdant rolling hills
There are hiking and biking trails along with campsites.
You can easily spend a weekend touring this vast state park and taking advantage of its pristine beaches for swimming and diving.
Corona del Mar State Beach
Meaning “crown of the sea” in Spanish, the Corona del Mar State Beach is the most popular public beach in Newport Beach. It’s got 30 acres of sandy shoreline and a half-mile swath of the Pacific Ocean.
The water is perfect for swimming, kayaking, paddle boarding, or floating, while the sandy beach has volleyball nets for impromptu tournaments. There’s also plenty of space for sandcastle building, family picnics, and sunbathing.
Corona del Mar Beach also has public restrooms and showers, along with fire pits that are perfect for roasting marshmallows or late-night hangouts under the stars.
After spending the day sunbathing and swimming at Corona del Mar State Beach, you can head over the rocky jetty to Newport Harbor, a man-made marina and boardwalk. Newport Harbor is a charming destination with views of yachts, sailboats, and racing boats dotting the blue water.
The marina is home to many clubs and rental agencies that offer sailboat rentals or luxurious day cruises.
Newport Harbor also has a wealth of restaurants that run the culinary gamut to grab a casual or formal dinner. There’s also a fishing dock with picnic tables and volleyball courts.
For extreme sports enthusiasts, The Wedge is the best beach to get your thrills. Encompassing the eastern shoreline of the Balboa Peninsula, The Wedge has waves that can tower up to 30 feet, making it the most popular destination for surfing and bodyboarding.
While it may not be the best swimming beach due to giant waves and a strong undertow, The Wedge has a beautiful sandy shore for sunbathing.
As the name implies, Fashion Island is Newport Beach’s premier shopping mall right on the water. Taking full advantage of the ocean air and perfect climate, Fashion Island is an open-air mall with more than 150 boutique clothing stores and well-known department stores like Macy’s and Nordstrom.
Shopaholics will be in paradise, and any unwilling participants can distract themselves by going to see a movie at the on-site movie theater and dining at one of many high-end restaurants or food stands.
If you’re staying at a rental home, you can grab some groceries at Whole Foods, conveniently located on the premises.
Balboa Fun Zone
Located on the Balboa Peninsula, Balboa Fun Zone is a historic and iconic entertainment destination that lives up to its name. Originating in 1936, Balboa Fun Zone is a year-round carnival with:
A giant Ferris wheel
Kids can play their favorite video games at the arcade, and families can scream together on daring rides before ending the day at their spacious rental property.
Balboa Fun Zone could also be a romantic date night where couples can cozy up in a Ferris Wheel car together as they gaze out at the sun setting over the ocean.
Lido Marina Village
Located on Balboa Peninsula, Lido Marina Village is a high-end beachside commercial zone with every manner of retail represented with chic charm. You can spend all day meandering the flowery, waterfront shopping streets lined with:
Boutique clothing shops
Pet supply stores
Wine and liquor stores
Bar and restaurants
Lido Marina Village has one of the most incredible farmer’s markets, with California’s most colorful bounty of produce, meats, cheeses, and prepared foods on tantalizing displays.
As part of the transition from a business port to a tourist destination, seven man-made islands were built along the Balboa Peninsula. Balboa Island is one of the largest and most visited of those islands. It’s home to a largely residential area with picturesque homes and a lazy beach-town feel.
There are plenty of shopping zones and locally-owned restaurants to explore, including a beloved ice cream parlor that serves decadent candy-coated ice cream bars.
One of the most popular activities on Balboa Island is biking around the coastline. There are plenty of places to rent bikes. There are also kayak and paddleboard rentals to explore the tranquil waters surrounding Balboa Island.
Balboa Island Ferry
One of the area’s first tourist attractions, Balboa Island Ferry was erected in 1919 to connect Newport Beach with Balboa Island. While its services were meant to save commuters the long 6-mile drive up the Balboa Peninsula and across the bridge to Balboa Island, the stunning ocean views have made the Ferry ride a tourist attraction.
The ferry runs seven days a week from 6:30 am through midnight, with space for cars and bikes. If you’re traveling on a budget, you could save the expense of chartering a yacht and hop on the ferry for a memorable sunset cruise for under $2 a head.
Built in 1906 on the Balboa Peninsula, the Balboa Pier is a lovely palm-tree-lined pier with iconic restaurants and the historic Balboa Pavilion. It has a calmer and more romantic atmosphere than the larger Newport Beach Pier, making it a popular destination for sunset strolls along the water.
Balboa Pier also has one of Orange County’s most iconic culinary destinations, a 1940s-style diner called Ruby’s Diner.
Pelican Hill Golf Club
Pelican Hill is a five-star luxury resort and golf club with two 18-hole golf courses designed by renowned architect Tom Fazio. One golf course is located on the south side of Pelican Hill’s massive grounds, and the other occupies the northern end.
Both courses are immaculately green, landscaped with local shrubbery and trees, and designed to accentuate the views of the surrounding ocean. Even if you’re not a golfer, the grounds themselves are a reason to visit, not to mention the delicious outdoor Pelican Grill for post-game meals.
If you didn’t know any better, you could easily confuse Catalina Island with a Greek island. Catalina Island is a large, mountainous resort island and one of California’s most prized destinations.
It has two different towns, Two Harbors to the north and Avalon to the south. Both towns offer luxury resorts, palm tree-lined streets, and immaculate beaches. Whether you enjoy hiking, wildlife, swimming, or relaxing, Catalina Island is a must.
You can catch the hour-long ferry to Catalina Island from Long Beach or Dana Point, both quick drives from Newport Beach.
Orange County Museum of Art
Proudly founded by a group of women in 1962, the Orange County Museum of Art is as sophisticated and impressive as any big city museum. Located in the neighboring town of Santa Ana, the Orange County Museum of Art houses over 4500 pieces of art from local and foreign artists.
There are permanent exhibitions that showcase early 20th-century local artists as well as temporary art exhibits that run the gamut of artistic mediums, from paintings to sculptures.
Sunset Cruises and Romantic Gondola Rides
The best way to experience a sunset is aboard an ocean cruise. Newport Beach has yacht, speed boat, and sailboat cruises to get the best views of the ocean and coastline during golden hour.
If chartering a boat is too expensive, there are sunset gondola rides through the canals. It may not be Venice, but it’s the next best thing! The gondola drivers will even serenade your sunset ride, and you can bring a bottle of wine along for utmost authenticity.
Newport Beach Vineyards and Winery
California is world-famous for its vineyards. Sonoma and Napa Valley are the most popular wine regions, but Newport Beach has vineyards and wineries worth visiting.
The winery offers private tours and two-hour wine tastings for large groups. After two hours of sipping wine, you’ll be glad your tour includes a designated driver!
The Spa at Pelican Hill
As you know, Pelican Hill is one of Newport Beach’s finest luxury resorts, so you can expect its spa services to be the height of indulgence. The Spa at Pelican Hill offers countless ways to pamper yourself, with:
A beauty shop
A fitness center
They offer a slew of spa packages, including services like facials, saltwater baths, physical therapy, personal training, skin peels, and every type of massage technique imaginable.
Newport Beach is a historical beach town that started as a business port, undergoing a glamorous transformation into one of Southern California’s most beloved tourist destinations.
After exploring the above list of the 25 best things to do in Newport Beach, you have all the information and inspiration you need to plan an amazing trip to this enchanting coastal paradise.
When it comes to visiting the American South it doesn’t get any better or more authentic than Charleston, South Carolina. Flanked by barrier islands, beaches, palmetto palms, and ancient live oaks, Charleston is one of the most historic cities in America while also serving up thriving modern art, culture, foodie, music, and festival scene.
For visitors and residents alike there’s a constant and endlessly evolving list of fun things to do year-round. Architecture connoisseurs will marvel at the impeccably-preserved historic homes along King Street and “Rainbow Row”. History buffs can travel back in time at The Charleston Museum and house museums like Boone Hall Plantation to learn about America’s Antebellum era or visit historic sites like Fort Sumter National Monument where America’s Civil War began. Culinary aficionados will relish in the city’s famous Southern cuisine dished out by some of the most acclaimed chefs in the USA feasting on grouper, grits, fried green tomatoes, and hush puppies.
Outside of downtown, the Charleston area is also an oasis of adventure and natural history. Nearby Folly Beach and Sullivan’s Island are two of the best places on America’s East Coast to surf and swim in the Atlantic Ocean, fly a kite, or work on your tan. Watersports enthusiasts can deep-sea fish, jet ski, paddleboard, charter a sailboat, or birdwatch from a kayak. And if golf or tennis are your things, South Carolina’s “Holy City” never runs short on options with 17 championship golf courses within a short drive of downtown, several of which are right on the ocean rivaling Pebble Beach.
There’s no ideal time to visit Charleston SC. It’s a little hot and humid in the summer; a little cool in the winter. But the city’s consistently temperate climate makes it the perfect place to visit year-round. So, whenever you’re planning on passing through here are 32 of the best things to do while you’re in town to make sure that you savor everything that one of America’s most historic and vibrant cities has to offer.
1. The Battery
The Battery is historic Charleston’s southernmost point and one of the city’s most iconic and photographed spots adjacent to White Point Garden near the end of King Street that runs through the center of the city. Originally built as a defensive seawall, it’s now a pedestrian promenade with the ocean on one side and some of the city’s most stunning and historic homes on the other.
Whenever you’re in Charleston, it’s the perfect location to watch the sunrise or sunset, read a book, take an after dinner walking to