Kauai

Forget a staycation, and banish the word – you need a VACATION – complete with long, leisurely mornings, easygoing evenings and plenty of time to do… whatever. Life is short and awesome travel experiences are one of the greatest gifts that you can give yourself, and you’ll return to your normal life re-energized and with newfound inspiration.

While some vacations are meant to create wild adventures (trekking through the jungles of Borneo) or family memories (taking the gang to Walt Disney World), some destinations have rest and relaxation written all over the map. Head to one of these fantastic vacation spots and de-stress.

1. Camden, Maine – Imagine a picturesque New England harbor filled by wooden schooners with white sails, next to a quaint maritime village with cozy restaurants, cute boutiques and plenty of lobster: Welcome to Camden, Maine. Located on the state’s central coast on the edge of Penobscot Bay, Camden is a laid-back town that glows in the summer and boasts a brilliant red and orange backdrop of foliage in the fall. Spend your days cruising the bay on one of the many sailing tours, take an easy hike up Mount Battie for a gorgeous panoramic view of the Atlantic, or visit Camden in winter and experience the calm peacefulness that six feet of snow affords.

2. Crescent Lake, Washington – Located west of Seattle, the Olympic Peninsula is a magical land with unique fauna and flora, moss-laden rainforests, impenetrable glacier-covered mountains AND an amazing coastline. On the northern part of the loop road, you’ll come across Crescent Lake – and you might not ever leave. With a neon blue-turquoise color on sunny days, the serene slice of water is set amidst a dense, dark forest that is dotted with waterfalls and secret trails. Base yourself at one of the lakeside lodges and soak up the peaceful atmosphere that has lured visitors there on vacation for decades.

3. Kauai, Hawaii – Only a hop, skip and a jump away from the West Coast, Hawaii is the official holiday headquarters of many American families. You want to make sure to avoid them on your vacation to de-stress, so head to Kauai – Hawaii’s Garden Isle. With none of the nightlife of Maui or the crowds of Waikiki, on Kauai the focus is on the beautiful natural setting, from pristine beaches and thick jungle land to the breathtaking glory of the Na Pali coast. Find an incredible beach – it won’t be hard – and bring your favorite sand accessories, whether that includes a fruity Mai Tai, a steamy novel, silly magazine or sunglasses for subtly ogling the surfers.

4. Cayucos, California – The central coast of California is filled with expensive beach resorts, fancy wine tasting events and chichi boutiques selling overpriced wares to people trying to buy an escape. You won’t find any of this in Cayucos, a classic beachside surfer town that somehow got skipped by the wave of tourism and affluence. You’ll find the cheapest hotels on the coast here, along with a low-key attitude, casual dining and one of the best beaches around. Head out for a stroll on the pier, sink your toes in the soft sand or just sit and enjoy the silence.

Image: H Dragon