Photos (clockwise from top left): Visit Catalina Island, Bourbon Country Burn, Coastal Expeditions, The Spa at Red Rock by Well Being
After a long, dreary winter, it’s no wonder getting outside becomes the hot new thing to do. The vitamin D-packed sunshine does wonders for your mood. Then, mix in a sweat session — heavy on the endorphins — and you’ll basically feel like you’re walkin’ on that sunshine.
But just like indoor workouts, it’s easy to get stuck in the same monotonous routine — run around your neighborhood, do some tricep dips on a bench, sprint the bleachers. To break up those feelings of boredom, we suggest heading somewhere different this season. After all, it’ll infuse a fresh batch of fun into your workout.
Whether you’re staying in your hometown or a new city — active vacations are the best kind of getaway. And these activities are definitely worthy of exploring in the warmer temps.
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Photo courtesy of South Dakota Department of Tourism
1. Saddle Up in South Dakota
City: Black Hills, SD
Whether you’re in search of open prairies or rugged trails, South Dakota has the horseback riding terrain you’re after. Plus, it’s an exciting, alternate way of seeing some of the state’s most iconic parks, including nearby Custer State Park, Badlands National Park and Bear Butte State Park. Lessons and trained horses are available for total beginners. Meanwhile, dedicated riders also have horse accommodations (barns, feed, water, trailer parking, etc.) available at more than a dozen bed and breakfasts, horse camps and lodges. (Ghost Canyon Ranch is a solid option for those interested in bringing their horses, and it’s right next to Custer State Park.)
Photo courtesy of Visit Catalina Island
2. Scuba Dive in Southern California
City: Catalina Island, CA
Voted the world’s healthiest marine environment by Scuba Diving Magazine, you’ll want to plunge feet first into the clear, clean water and take advantage of the high visibility. (Which, BTW, lasts for 40 to 100 feet.) With the island located just an hour off the coast of Southern California, you can easily veer off onto hiking trails — with jaw-dropping ocean views — or kayak to one of the many secluded coves and caves accessible only by watercraft. You may even spot a pelican or sneak up on seals sunning themselves.
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Photo courtesy of Coastal Expeditions
3. Kayak Saltwater Estuaries
City: Charleston, SC
For diehard water babies, dipping a paddle into Charleston’s waterways is an opportunity you don’t want to miss. With full moon, sunset and sunrise options for tours, there are plenty of opportunities to soak up the city’s Southern charm. And no matter the time, you’ll see lots of barrier islands, plantations and lighthouses. Of course the sights probably won’t be the only thing that takes your breath away: Kayaking offers a solid core workout with every stroke.
Sign up with Coastal Expeditions for a half-day (2-3 hours) or full-day kayaking tour (6 hours). Or if you’re into the multi-sport option, combine kayaking with guided hiking in the Cape Romain National Wildlife refuge.
Photo courtesy of Kent Mountain Adventure Center
4. Cliff Camp in Colorado
City: Estes Park, CO
Thrill seekers, this one’s for you. First step: Book a cliff camping experience with Kent Mountain Adventure Center, anytime from May to September. Next, learn the basics of climbing from the pros. Last, choose just how adventurous you are. You’ll have the option of eating lunch or spending the entire night (or both) on the face of sheer rock located hundreds of feet off the ground. Set in Roosevelt National Forest, you’ll be overlooking Rocky Mountain National Park, complete with Wi-Fi for those who want to share their views throughout the night.
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Photo courtesy of New York/New Jersey Trail Conference
5. Hike Breakneck Ridge
City: Fishkill, NY
Escaping the summer heat is often a top priority for NYC dwellers, but the beach doesn’t have to be your go-to. Head less than two hours upstate by car or train, and you’ll find this popular — but super challenging — hiking trail. What it lacks in distance (you’ll only cover about 3.7 miles) it makes up for in elevation, as you ascend about 1,442 feet. It also has multiple cliff overlooks as you climb (and even rock scramble). You can’t beat the ever-expanding views of the Hudson River.
If you want to escape the city for a less challenging hike, try Bull Hill. The trailhead is just down the road from Breakneck Ridge and the views are just as stunning. But you’ll only ascend about 1,350 feet in elevation on the 3.6-mile loop trail.
Photo courtesy of Samantha Lefave
6. Hike the Grand Canyon
Where: Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
Head to the South Rim of the Canyon for epic day hikes that include both awe-inspiring views and a steep descent into the mouth of the canyon. If you’ve only got a day to spare, go for the South Kaibab Trail. There are free shuttles that drop you off right at the trailhead (private vehicles must park at the Grand Canyon Visitor Center). Plus, the six-mile round-trip trail offers two turnaround points (Ooh Aah and Cedar Ridge) for those who don’t want to trek all the way to Skeleton Point. (Day hikers are not allowed to go past this point.) Just be sure to allot plenty of time for the climb back out — and pack plenty of water, especially in summer! — as it can take nearly twice as long to hike up 7,260-feet, compared to going down.
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Photo courtesy of Hawaii Tourism Authority
7. Surf in Hawaii
City: Honolulu, HI
Not only is Hawaii the top destination that Americans want to visit, but it’s also home to one of the best beaches for learning how to surf. When you stay at Hilton Hawaiian Village, you’ll be right on the beach (seriously, you’re only a few steps from the waves). Local vendor Waikiki Beach Activities is also nearby, so you can easily rent boards and sign up for lessons. Warm and sunny temps aside, the consistent, long-lapping waves are available year-round. That means there’s basically no chance of you leaving the island without riding at least one wave into the shore (though they’re arguably best in summer). And while its a tourist-heavy spot, you’ll gain strength in numbers. If you see the girl two-waves-over popping up, you’ll get the confidence boost you need to stand on your own two feet, too.
Photo courtesy of North Tahoe Adventures
8. Conquer Obstacles in Lake Tahoe
City: Lake Tahoe, CA
Taking on a ropes course is a popular team-building activity for a reason. It’s fun, and it requires teamwork to reach the finish. It’s also why you should grab your bestie and head to North Tahoe Adventures. Their newly remodeled ropes course includes beginner and intermediate aerial treks, along with nine bridges, seven short ziplines, and traditional climbing challenges that help you face your height-induced fears — or simply climb to new heights. But the best part: the sweet views. Built into the hillside facing Shirley Canyon and the world-famous peaks of Squaw Valley, you’ll wow your Insta followers as you #humblebrag about how badass you are.
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Photo courtesy of the Spa at Red Rock by Well Being
9. Rock Climb Red Rock Canyon
City: Las Vegas, NV
Casinos and clubs aren’t the only ways to spend your time in Vegas. There’s also a boisterous fitness scene, featuring hiking and rock climbing. Red Rock Canyon is a top choice for either, but it’s ranked as the fifth most popular climbing destination in the country, so getting vertical is a must. If you’re new to climbing, don’t freak. Whether you’re a beginner at bouldering or trying your novice hand at multi-pitch climbs, a guide can take you through each step when you book through the Red Rock Adventure programs at The Spa at Red Rock by Well Being. Trips are available year-round.
Photo courtesy of Bourbon Country Burn
10. Bike the Kentucky Bourbon Trail
City: Lexington, KY
Celebrate the 200th anniversary of the bike and head to the birthplace of bourbon for a day of mixing fitness and fun. With three routes to choose from, you’ll get to explore the rich tradition of “America’s Official Native Spirit” within Lexington’s Bluegrass Region. You can make pit-stops at famous distilleries like Maker’s Mark, Wild Turkey and Woodford Reserve along the way. When you’re not doing tastings at distilleries dating back to the mid-1800s, pedal across miles of idyllic Southern backcountry. Just make sure to remember your helmet — and your limits.
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Photo courtesy of Tia Troy
11. Bike the Beartooth Highway
On the highest paved highway in the northern Rocky Mountains, you’ll discover miles upon miles on two wheels. The late CBS news correspondent Charles Kuralt called it “the most beautiful drive in America,” but it’s available to cyclists as well. In fact, many have deemed it one of the most scenic climbs in the world. That’s thanks to a start in Cooke City, Montana, an end in Red Lodge, Montana, and a 68-mile middle stretch that takes you across Wyoming. Bonus: At no point is it OMG-steep. The 4,000-foot elevation gain you’ll conquer is a gradual adjustment. It’s not for the faint of heart, but talk about a serious adventure-seeking goal.
Photo courtesy of Conrad New York
12. Sail by the Statue of Liberty
City: New York, NY
Hang out with Lady Liberty as you learn to sail the waters. Conrad New York, one of lower Manhattan’s top luxury hotels, offers a popular sailing package to all of its guests. Regardless of your experience level, you’ll learn all the tips and tricks to sailing under the tutelage of certified instructors from North Cove Marina. Soon enough you’ll be able to give the lady in the harbor a wave as you skim past like a pro.
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Photo courtesy of Adrift Adventures
13. Raft the Rapids Near Salt Lake City
City: Snowbird, UT
Waiting for you just 29 miles away from the Salt Lake City airport is Snowbird, Utah. That’s where you’ll want to book a one-day, four-day or five-day rafting expedition with Adrift Adventures. The experts there will take you through the waters of Dinosaur National Monument, and you’ll float the Green River or Yampa River while paddling through splashy whitewater rapids and breathtaking canyon scenery. Just be prepared to feel a bit sore once you’re done — you’ll surely earn your rest day.
Photo courtesy of Von Trapp Family Lodge
14. Mountain Bike by the Von Trapp Family Lodge
City: Stowe, VT
Get off the paved roads and onto the dirt with prime mountain biking at the famous Von Trapp Family Lodge. (Yes, that Von Trapp family from The Sound of Music.) It’s the central hub for mountain biking in the Green Mountain State, with a one-mile intermediate single-track trail, five miles of expert single tracks, and 20 miles of beginner to advanced double-track trails that spread all over the breathtaking property. Not a skilled mountain biker? The Lodge offers lessons, guided trips on and off property, and you can even rent from their fleet of Giant bicycles if you don’t want to pack your own. It doesn’t get more convenient than that.
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Photo courtesy of Tallahassee Museum
15. Zipline Under a Full Moon
City: Tallahassee, FL
Ziplining is on nearly everyone’s adventures bucket list, and there are plenty of places that offer up the opportunity to cross it off. But flying under the stars? Now that’s an entirely new way to zip around — and the Tallahassee Museum is where you can do it. Located just a few hours from Jacksonville, the Tree to Tree Adventures Night Flight is a thrilling way to experience the Soaring Cypress zipline. You’ll wear headlamps as you race through tree-tops and over the cypress swamp, then conquer aerial obstacles in between flights. Don’t forget to look up. The adventure happens on the full moon of each month for extra-awesome star-gazing views.
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