13 Trips To Cross Off Your Bucket List

We’re having a serious case of wanderlust. Our usual trips to the nearest beach, a friend's cabin, or some cozy inn just aren’t offering the kind of adventure we’re after. This summer, we're jonesin' for a culture fix in a totally new city, somewhere so far flung we won’t run into anyone we know. We even want to learn to cook like a local — in Hanoi! We just need to go off the grid in unchartered territory.
In that spirit, we’ve assembled 13 off-the-beaten-path summer destinations worthy of your hard-earned vacation days. From a $100-a-night island vacation to stargazing in Chile, your summer escape awaits.
For more travel advice, check out this author's blog, Hotel Chic.
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Spend A Week Barefoot

Dedon Island — Siargao, Philippines
Sure it takes over 24 hours to get to from the East Coast, but we’ve heard the new Dedon Island resort is more than worth the journey. Owned by Bobby Dekeyser, who runs contemporary furniture company Dedon, the nine eco-friendly villas feature a fresh, modern take on tropical design. Being barefoot is encouraged at this remote, four-acre hotel on Siargao, an island with small fishing villages, unspoiled beaches, and serious surfing.

Photo: Courtesy of Paul Barbera
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Stay In A Hotel That Also Happens To Be A Museum

21c Museum Hotel — Bentonville, Arkansas 
We think the 21c brand’s concept of pairing a museum and hotel is pure genius, and its latest hotel in Bentonville, Arkansas is no exception. You’ll find contemporary art in every space, from the lobby to the guest rooms to the elevator banks. The connected 12,000-square-foot museum is open 24/7, perfect for those who love to get their art fix at unexpected hours. In addition to exhibitions, the museum hosts poetry readings, film screenings, artist lectures, and live performances.

Photo: Rett Peek/ 21c Museum Hotel
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Head To An Island Where No One Can Find You

Barefoot at Havelock — Andaman Islands, India
Lately, we’ve been dreaming of being totally unplugged. With no cell service, no Internet, no phone, and no TV, we might actually be able to truly relax and cure our Twitter addiction, to boot. Our no-Wi-Fi dream is a reality at the Barefoot Resort located on Havelock, one of the ultra-remote Andaman Islands. Located in the Bay of Bengal, only 36 of these idyllic 200-plus islands are inhabited and most don’t get cell service. The resort is located on Havelock’s Beach No. 7, considered one of the most stunning stretches of sand in the world. Even better, rates at the eco-friendly 19-cottage hotel start at less than $100 a night.

Photo: Courtesy of Barefoot
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Get Your Art Fix In Oslo

Thief Island — Oslo, Norway
Culture mavens should head to Oslo this summer where an urban renewal project has turned Thief Island, a former prison islet, into a thriving car-free destination for contemporary art and architecture. The Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art relocated this year to a showstopping new building designed by celebrated architect Renzo Piano. The permanent collection boasts works by Richard Prince, Jeff Koons, and Tom Sachs. Through September, catch its Cindy Sherman exhibit, Untitled Horrors. Bonus: The new Thief hotel right next door to the museum features its own art collection, locavore restaurant, and bikes for exploring the island and the city.

Photo: Courtesy of Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art 
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Experience France On The Cheap

Mama Shelter — Paris, Lyon, & Marseille, France
Completely redefining the idea of a budget-friendly hotel, the young Mama Shelter brand boasts all the cheeky cool you would expect from a Philippe Starck-designed hotel, at an unbelievable price point — rooms start at $100 a night. With Mama Shelter hotels making a splash in Paris and Lyon, the newest outpost is in Marseille. The working-class town in the Mediterranean is in the midst of a revitalization and has just been designated a European Capital of Culture for 2013. Hit all three Mama Shelter outposts this summer for your own wallet-friendly tour of France. 

Photo: Courtesy of Francis Armiand
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Learn To Kitesurf In The Indian Ocean

Club Mistral Skyriders Surf School — Mauritius
This gorgeous resort island in the Indian Ocean has become a kitesurfing mecca thanks to strong winds over 300 days a year and a coral reef that protects much of the island. One-Eye, located in the Southwest by the Le Morne Peninsula, is considered not only one of the best kitesurfing spots in Mauritius, but in the world. It is also where you will find the excellent Club Mistral Skyriders surf school, which handles all levels of Kitesurfers. The luxe new St. Regis next door has paired up with Club Mistral to hook guests up with kitesurfing lessons and adventures, thanks to a designated Kite Concierge.

Photo: Courtesy of Club Minstral
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Stay In A Tent That’s More Glamorous Than Your Apartment

Singita Mara River Tented Camp —Tanzania
We have mixed feeling about the term "glamping," but the six tents at Singita Mara, River Tented Camp are some of the most glamorous we’ve ever seen. Located in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park, the chic tents are decorated with local furniture, crafts, and contemporary art by East African artists. The off-the-grid camp is located in the northern banks of the Mara River, an area known for big cats, elephants, crocodiles, hippos, and the annual wildebeest migration. 

Photo: Courtesy of Singita
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Stay In A Luxe House That’s Really A Hotel

Ett Hem — Stockholm, Sweden
Our favorite boutique hotels are the ones that make you feel like you are staying at the home of a very cool friend rather than a hotel, but Ett Helm takes it to another level. This circa-1910, 12-room townhouse with a kitchen, dining room, library, and gardens, completely blurs the lines between home and hotel. Guests can grab a snack from the fridge, take the dog for a walk, share dinner with friends in the dining room, or play piano when the mood strikes. The design, courtesy of Ilse Crawford, enhances the real-house feel with gorgeous rooms filled with unique vintage furniture and art.

small>Photo: Courtesy of Ett Hem
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Learn To Cook Like A Local — In Vietnam

Hanoi Cooking Centre — Hanoi, Vietnam
We’ve always wanted to take an immersion cooking class, and the Hanoi Cooking Centre, run by chef and cookbook author Tracey Lister and partner Linh Dinh Phung, sounds like the perfect mix of exotic and cool. (It also doesn’t cost the fortune that many immersion programs do). Whether you want to learn how to master the Vietnamese spring roll, vegan tofu dishes, or Vietnamese barbecue, there is a class for you. You can also take its street-food tour that lets you explore Hanoi’s local food scene. Half-day courses start at $55.

Photo: Courtesy of Hanoi Cooking Centre
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Explore Australia’s Version Of The Galapagos

Kangaroo Island — Australia
Nature-lovers and architecture junkies alike will want to trek to Australia’s aptly named Kangaroo Island this summer. One of the best places in the world to spot wildlife, including fur seals, koalas, kangaroos, and sea lions, one third of this 90-mile island is conservation land. It’s exactly the type of place where you would expect to find eco-friendly hotels, just not ones that look like the showstopping Southern Ocean Lodge. Twenty-one spectacular glass-enclosed suites are perched cliffside and boast sleek furniture and expansive ocean views. The green hotel is fueled partly by solar panels and harvests rain water. When guests aren’t in their glamorous hotel rooms taking in the view, they can explore the island by mountain bike or electric car.

Photo: Courtesy of Southern Ocean Lodge
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See The Star, Without The City Lights

Alto Atacama Desert Lodge & Spa — Chile
The Alto Atacama Desert Lodge & Spa doesn’t look like anything we’ve ever seen. The terrain at the base of the salt mountains looks a bit Mars like, and the architecture designed to blend in with the landscape is out of this world, as well. An adventure junkie's dream destination, the hotel offers 35 adventures with local guides from mountain biking through the salt-encrusted ridges of Death Valley, climbing volcanos, or exploring ancient Incan ruins. At one of the world's premier stargazing destinations with a powerful new observatory, you just might be able to see the Southern Cross for the first time.

Photo: Courtesy of Alto Atacama Desert Lodge & Spa
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Learn To Surf In Costa Rica

Safari Surf — Nosara, Costa Rica
If you want to learn to ride the waves, Costa Rica is arguably one of the best spots in the world. Nosara, on the country’s scenic Pacific coast, is a laid-back beach community that’s become a surfing mecca thanks to a four-mile stretch of beach with great waves. The town is also home to a handful of great surf schools including Safari Surf, which offers Women’s Surf Adventures, Kid’s Surf School, and a slew of packages. The Tortuga package starts at $2380 for the week and includes breakfast and dinner, hotel stay, two surfing classes a day, five yoga classes, a one-hour massage, horseback riding, and kayaking. Sounds pretty rad to us.

Photo: Courtesy of Safari Surf
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Make Your Self At Home, In Cartagena

Casa San Agustin — Cartagena, Colombia
In a trio of restored and whitewashed Colonial-era buildings within Old Town, the historic walled city, you will find some of the chicest guest rooms, ever. Casa San Agustin has been designed with a classic and chic mix of Colombian textiles, vintage furniture, colorful tiles, and Renaissance art to feel like the apartment you always wished you had.

Photo: Courtesy of Casa San Agustin