The Good Life

If you can't stand the heat or the crowds of Greece, Italy or Spain, consider heading "up north" to the beach this year. Tourism to Canada, northern Europe and America's "northern woods" states has been steadily on the rise. "We have stunning outdoor beauty coupled with cool places to stay and eat," says George Zimmermann, vice president of Travel Michigan. Hotel occupancy in the state is up 3 percent over last year.

Surrounded by the inland seas of the Great Lakes, northern Michigan is a paradise for boaters, swimmers and fishermen--a golden arc of dunes and resort towns stretching north along the Lake Michigan shore. There's even a burgeoning wine region around Leelenau, where Madonna's dad owns Ciccone Vineyards ( ) in Suttons Bay. Gourmands should check out nearby Tapawingo in the tiny hamlet of Ellsworth ( ) for sumptuous dining with a Midwestern twist. The luxurious resort of Bay Harbor ($175; ) has a golf course built along 8 kilometers of Lake Michigan and even houses an equestrian center.

On majestic Prince Edward Island, visitors can bike from tip to tip, while kayakers can paddle along the coast, stopping at a new inn each evening. The Stanhope Beach Resort reopened this year, and guest rooms have gorgeous views of Covehead Bay ($219 Canadian; ).

To really get away from it all, head to the Baltic Sea's western Estonian archipelago, where charming fishing villages and old lighthouses dot the hundreds of islands. Stay on Muhu Island--full of wild orchids, juniper forests and old Russian forts. Padaste Manor is a boutique hotel with a spa offering seawater Jacuzzi soaks and pumpkin-seed body wraps (€75; ). Its Seahouse Restaurant serves choice dishes like ostrich salad and smoked-eel tortellini with a wild-fennel broth.

With a focus on both Buenos Aires's Belle Epoque past and its sleek, high-tech future, this new hotel has upped the ante for elegance in the Argentine capital.

Ambience: The hotel sits on the city's most sophisticated avenue in the tony Recoleta neighborhood, surrounded by A-list shopping (Armani, Escada, Vuitton). Its two buildings, a renovated 1930s-era mansion and a new 17-story tower, are connected by an underground art gallery and a leafy garden.

Accommodations : The 126 rooms and 39 suites, decorated in rich hues of wood, marble and Argentine leather, blend antique furnishings with modern touches like flat-screen TVs and Wi-Fi Internet. The high-end suites also have fireplaces, crystal chandeliers and bulletproof windows.

Food and drink: In addition to two restaurants serving French cuisine with an Argentine flair, the Wine Library has 3,500 bottles, including Argentina's finest Malbecs. Seventeenth-century oak carvings from a Normandy castle line the walls of the Oak Bar, where cigars and the city's largest whisky selection await you.

Spa: The Ahin Spa (named after a Mapuche Indian welcoming ritual) has five suites that offer holistic and beauty treatments, a topnotch fitness center and the largest indoor pool in the city.

When a leading sports magazine asked 248 NBA players their favorite city to visit, Miami came in first. Perhaps because there's so much to do, even in a short time.

SIP the best martini in town at Fox's Sherron Inn in south Miami amid '60s-era décor and red neon (6030 South Dixie Highway).

FEAST on Cuban delicacies like shredded beef and roast pork at Versailles Restaurant in the heart of Miami's Little Havana district (3555 Southwest Eighth Street).

VISIT the Barnacle, the city's oldest house, still standing in its original location. Built on the shores of Biscayne Bay in 1891 by Ralph Munroe, one of Miami's most influential pioneers, the charming wood-frame house has survived a number of devastating hurricanes (3485 Main Highway).

BASK in the rays of Florida sunshine on the sands of South Beach and grab a snack at the News Cafe (800 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach).

Whether you're packing your last-gasp-of-summer holiday suit or your early-for-autumn business suit, you won't have to worry about what to pack it in. Suit carriers are more stylish and practical than ever. Tumi makes models with a unique built-in tracing mechanism to help you recover them if they get lost. For a hip, over-the-shoulder look, try the T3 design in silver (€423; ). For a longer trip, get one that has enough room for five suits (€1,040). Pickett, a London luxury-goods store, makes a classic garment bag in heavy-weave canvas with soft leather trim (€815; ). And there's always Louis Vuitton, whose timeless LV logo decorates the sturdy yet fine leather of its five-hanger suit carrier (€1,633; ).

There's no hipper shopping spot on the Mediterranean than St-Tropez. At the St-Tropez Market (in the Place des Lices Tuesday and Saturday mornings), shoppers can find prêt-a-porter bargains--lingerie-style tops, distressed-leather belts and seashell jewelry--alongside the crusty baguettes and soft blue cheese. The high-end store Lily (Place des Lices) draws together sought-after pieces like Prada ballet pumps and Marni's see-through tops. At the raunchy Tahiti (Pampelonne Beach), buy crocheted hot pants, glam minis and plunging sequined tops for a night at Les Caves du Roy, St-Tropez's favorite dance club. Othello (24, rue Allard) is the best one-stop shop for men, with a wall of pigeonholes stuffed with shirts in big flower prints, psychedelic stripes and loud paisleys. A Mediterranean marvel, Gas (Place de la Garonne), is run by a father-daughter team from Marseilles who sell unisex leather and silver bracelet strands and gorgeous feminine threads, from broderie anglaise dresses to tie-dye cotton tops.