5 vacation spots we’re drooling over

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Photos via VRBO

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Did you know? Simply planning a vacation can boost your happiness for up to eight weeks. We’ve narrowed in on five incredible destinations, recommended by our very own editors. Read on for eye-catching places to stay, top activities to do, and the one essential item you’ll need to bring. Your happiness boost starts in three… two… one…

🐚 Topsail Island, NC

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Based on US travel searches, Topsail is the No.1 trending summer travel destination for 2023. Photos via VRBO

Make your coastal vacation dreams a reality with a trip to this sleepy coastal town that boasts lush maritime forests, white sandy beaches, opportunities for water sports and family-friendly activities, a sea turtle rescue and rehabilitation center, and oysters aplenty.

Best places to stay:

Your Topsail must-have: A sand-resistant beach towel. Because there’s nothing worse than sand finding its way into your beach bag.

Your Topsail must-do: A sunset sail tour. Take a day trip to the historic Wrightsville Beach (less than one hour by car) and enjoy spotting marine life while sailing on a yacht.

🌊 Nova Scotia

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The Halifax Mural Festival will take place in Nova Scotia from Monday, July 3 to Sunday, July 9. Photos via VRBO

One of the four Atlantic provinces of Canada, Nova Scotia is known for its rugged coastline, high tides, historic lighthouses, scenic hiking trails, and Tidal Bay wines.

Best places to stay:

Your Nova Scotia must-have: Binoculars. Whale watching is a top experience here, with 12 species of whale visiting the area yearly.

Your Nova Scotia must-do: A sunset sailing experience. Enjoy four local wine and cheese pairings while cruising around the Halifax Harbor on this small group tour.

🏖️ Bermuda

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Bermuda’s average high during the summer months is 84°. | Photos via VRBO

This British territory is the tropical escape you didn’t know you needed. It boasts high-end golf courses, picturesque pink sand beaches, unique outdoor activities like cave exploration and cliff-jumping, a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, and ample cultural activities.

Best places to stay:

Your Bermuda must-have: A wide brim sun hat. UV rays are no joke on these sun-kissed beaches. Psst — this one is stylish and keeps its shape even after being squished in your suitcase.

Your Bermuda must-do: The Bermuda Hidden Gems Tour. You’ll snorkel, explore cave pools at the Walsingham Nature Reserve, and enjoy ice cream from a family-owned shop on this comprehensive tour.

🌴 St. Augustine, FL

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This coastal town is located along the northeast coast of Florida. | Photos via VRBO

This vibrant coastal town is the oldest city in the US, giving it the nickname “The Ancient City.” It boasts a rich history as well as Spanish colonial architecture, tranquil sandy beaches, and family-friendly activities.

Best places to stay:

Your St. Augustine must-have: A Waterproof Bluetooth speaker. You’ll most certainly be hitting the beach, so play your favorite tunes while soaking up some rays.

Your St. Augustine must-do: Corks & Forks Culinary Tour. Experience some of St. Augustine’s best flavors while strolling through the city’s Historic District.

⛰️ Highlands, NC

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Highlands sits at ~4,000 feet above sea level. | Photos via VRBO

There’s something about a getaway to a quaint mountain town that’s appealing no matter the season. Visit Highlands for its stunning scenery, impeccable hiking trails, a Hallmark movie-worthy downtown, renowned restaurants, beautiful golf courses, and upscale shops.

Best places to stay:

Your Highlands must-have: A set of trekking poles. Explore Western North Carolina’s beautiful hiking trails and waterfalls like a pro.

Your Highlands must-do: A private waterfall tour. This guided adventure will explore WNC’s scenic overlooks, quaint towns, and most spectacular waterfalls.

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