Which island nation has a median temperature of 77 degrees Fahrenheit, is the birthplace of world-famous fashion designer Oscar de la Renta, and is home to the oldest city in the “new” world? No place but the Dominican Republic. Although it shares an island with Haiti, the D.R. stands out as the larger and more populous nation, and is known to be the friendlier tourist destination, with over 1,000 miles of beach and a laid-back yet colorful culture.

The high tourist season for Americans and Canadians traveling to the Dominican Republic is during the winter, between mid-December and the week after Easter. The D.R. is also a European favorite, with travelers crossing the “big pond” in the winter season, as well as the summer, to lounge in the sunshine and sparkling Caribbean waters.

Santo Domingo is set on the southern Caribbean coast of the Dominican Republic, at the mouth of the Ozama River. Founded in 1496, Santo Domingo is the oldest European settlement in the Americas and was the first seat of Spanish colonial rule in the New World. Steeped in rich history, culture and transcendent art, Santo Domingo is not only the center of the D.R.’s national government, but is also home to the country’s busiest port. Its Zona Colonial district has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1990. Santo Domingo’s main draw is its collection of 16th century colonial buildings and its numerous museums, including the Museum of Alcazar and Museum of the Casas Reales.

On the eastern tip of the Dominican Republic, you’ll find Punta Cana. This region is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Caribbean. With white sand beaches, and so many things to see and do, it’s no wonder why this place is considered the “Cancun” of the D.R. One of its most popular places to explore is Playa Bavaro, which is loaded with resorts, shopping, dining and local nightlife venues. Punta Cana is also known for its renowned golf courses, including Punta Espada and the Faldo Legacy Course.

The D.R. also has an Atlantic coast, home to the gorgeous resort destination of Puerto Plata, so named for the silver shine of its coast at sunset. Characterized by Victorian architecture and houses with gingerbread fretwork in a thousand pastel hues, Puerto Plata is the largest city on the North coast of the Dominican Republic.  Step into the past when you visit the Fortaleza de San Felipe, which protected the city from pirate attacks, or spend some time on Cofresi Beach working on that tan.

The best reason to head to the D.R. this season? The destination is about to celebrate the grand opening of the brand new, 5-star Breathless Punta Cana Unlimited Luxury, Adults-Only Resort. Opening this November 15, Breathless Punta Cana is a modern resort with all meals, drinks, tips and taxes included, plus a free honeymoon package for newlyweds. The resort also specializes in wedding packages, and has easy access to several nearby golf courses, where they’ll assist in making your reservation and setting up your tee times.

So whether you’re in the market for a vacation to some far-away tropical paradise, you want to immerse yourself in a rich and exotic culture, or you just want to slip away for a weekend hitting the green and lounging on the beach, the Dominican Republic has the best of it all!

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