In Latvian Jūrmala literally means "the seaside," and for two centuries, this playground on Riga' s doorstep has attracted counts and commissars and humble vacationers from near and far. The human fruit salad is reflected in eclectic architecture, from dainty timber cottages to concrete Soviet behemoths and super McMansions thrown up by oligarchs since the 1990's, producing a weirdly charming cacophony. And of course there are miles of pine-fringed, sandy beaches where there's something for everyone, from beach football to solitary corners where only the gulls squawk. OK, the water may be chilly, but Jūrmala will warm you up in all sorts of other ways.
Food & Drink: Linger over lip-smacking pastries and excellent coffee and tea for bargain prices at homey Kafija cafe (Jomas iela 85), right near historic Dzintari Concert Hall. Splurge on classy cuisine by the beach at 36. Line Restaurant (36 līnija 1202), combined with a visit to the lovely Jūrmala Open-Air Museum.
Sleep: Mingle with Russian pop divas right by the water at Baltic Beach Hotel. Give your marriage a boost in the honeymoon suite in the tower of Pegasa Pils, a boutique hotel in a gorgeous Art Nouveau timber house. Watch the sunset from the 11th floor bar in Hotel Jūrmala Spa (Jomas iela 47/49), and splash around in their pools and jacuzzis.
Fun: Miss a visit to Līvu Aquatic Park and your kids will disown you.
Transport: Rattling old trains get you from Riga Central to station "Majori" in the heart of Jūrmala in about 30 minutes. If you're driving, from April to September there's a 2 euro toll to enter Jūrmala, but parking in the resort is free.