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9 Vacations that Will Keep You Moving


By Rachel Jacoby Zoldan, Men's Journal

Forget dragging yourself to workouts in dingy hotel basement gyms. These oft overlooked destinations for the adventure-minded are a blank canvas waiting for you to trample over them with your hiking boots, favorite dirt bike, or new running shoes. While in town, don’t expect flavorless “spa cuisine” either (cue the bland poached salmon and endless heaps of brown rice). Instead, we’ll map out an itinerary that will get you sampling a variety of remarkable meals, and if you feel like leaving virtue behind with your sweaty socks, go ahead and toast that long run with a local brew.


Knoxville, Tennessee

The Must-Do Adventure: It's eastern Tennessee. So you've really got a plethora of adrenaline-filled, hill-studded options. But Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the clear winner, and it's less than an hour’s drive from city center. The park includes more than 520,000 acres, 735 miles of streams, and 800 miles of some of the most scenic hiking and biking trails in the world. The peaks reach over 6,000 feet, providing unforgettable scenic vistas, and there are several visitor centers scattered throughout the park should you need guidance. Activities include fishing, horseback riding, camping, ranger-led programs, and wildlife viewing. Know what to do when you cross paths with bears, white-tailed deer, and elk, because you'll probably see them.

Where to Stay: The Inn at Blackberry Farm overlooks the Smoky Mountains, with adventure and fitness a stone's throw away. Sweet little cottages are premium real estate when it comes to lodging: Think an outdoor screened porch, floor-to-ceiling windows, and even a bathroom that’s hooked up to the rest of the home’s killer sound system. After a day in the mountains (the property boasts an impressive outdoorsman and adventure menu, including a Smoky Mountain Wilderness Ride on horseback), head to the Well House for their Muscle Melt Massage or try a private Foam Rolling Release session to get rid of every last knot.

The Local Eatery: Head out into the city of Knoxville and check out local institution The Tomato Head, which has been down with clean vegetarian cuisine before you even had heard of kale. The menu’s unique: There’s blue cheese-topped chili and black bean hummus with blue corn chips (meat-eaters, there's stuff for you, too), but the friendly service is the real standout. Play nice and they might just tell you about the secret bike trail they dig or how to get extra bounty for free at the Market Square Farmer's Market.


The Crystal Coast, North Carolina

The Must-Do Adventure: You could spend your days basking in the Southern charm in nearby Beaufort. But indulge your inner child instead and check out Hot Wax Surf Camp, to work on your technique in private or group settings. Shower off and head to Taylor's Creek, where you can catch exotic wild horses running freely across the glassy waters, before packing up and drive to Cape Lookout, where you can climb 207 steps (about 12 stories) to the top of the famed Diamond Lady lighthouse.

Where to Stay: With 85 miles of gleaming Atlantic beaches, North Carolina’s Crystal Coast is one of the Carolinas' best spots for vacationing. Bring your dog and post up at the Atlantis Lodge — a pet-friendly inn that offers suites complete with efficiency kitchens, dining, living, and sleeping areas. And Pine Knolls, the community in which it’s located, has been lauded as one of the the most ecologically sensitive towns, since the area was designed with minimal disturbance to the native maritime forest. Nearby adventurous rendezvous include kayaking through the Croatan National Forest, deep-diving the “graveyard of the Atlantic,” and angling-in record setting marlin.

The Local Eatery: Pine Knolls' Blue Moon Bistro is everything an eco-lover could want, showing care to its environment by carefully handling waste disposal and using local, sustainable ingredients whenever possible. The fresh, farm-to-table cuisine has a rotating menu that both carnivores and vegetarians can get excited about.


Tucson, Arizona

The Must-Do Adventure: Mountain bike or hike at sunrise in the rolling hills of the Sonoran Desert. It’s gorgeous but will leave you breathless if you’re not used to high altitudes — and you’ll have to watch out for the occasional rattlesnake, too. Make a day trip to Mt. Lemmon, a top-notch climbing destination where you can work on your belaying and rappelling skills, regardless of your mountaineer level.

Where to Stay: Miraval Resort is the all-inclusive spot where you'll want to book your room. Tucked away in the Sonoran Desert in Southern Arizona, the epic views are second-to-none. If you manage to snag one of the Casitas, make sure to indulge in an outdoor shower prior to heading to the spa for a cup of tea (sneak in your bourbon), a cozy robe, and the perfect fireplace, before a Tranquil Night’s treatment before you head off to sleep with the sound of coyotes howling in the background. Also take in the more “traditional” fitness offerings Miraval has to offer, including the Zen Bootcamp, TRX training class, or even a post-hike yoga class, which is offered many times a day in a variety of disciplines.

The Local Eatery: At Miraval, you’re stuck on the grounds — but their granola is *world famous* to the point where not only can you purchase it, but you can also purchase several of Miraval’s hardbound coffee table books, all which contain the elusive, exclusive recipe. The secret? Unusual swaps like pumpkin seeds for sunflower seeds and goji berries for raisins. A sprinkling of Himalayan sea salt acts as the coup de grĂ¢ce.


The Catskill Mountains, New York

The Must-Do Adventure: Channel your inner spiritual side by checking out one of the adventures planned by Brooklyn’s Maha Rose Northern outpost, which features a variety of hippie-type offerings including acupuncture, crystal healing, reiki, sound baths, and meditation. We're not sure we're ready to get down with the Dharma punks for a weekly tie-dye workshop, but breath work class accompanied by live gong playing? Definitely worth checking out.

Where to Stay: Within a 15-minute drive of Maha Rose North, Twin Lakes Lodge is a throwback gem in the woods of the Hudson Valley. Spend your downtime catching a fresh fish for dinner or mountain biking under the shadows of oak and pine trees. For those seeking a slicker trip, check out the just-opened Hasbrouck House in the Hudson Valley, where a vintage vibe will remind you of your high school camping adventures by Woodstock — though this time around you'll have working showers and electricity. Relax post-hike with a board game or beer (or both).

The Local Eatery:  Seal your beatnik escape with a trip to the The Lucky Dog Organic Cafe. It's worth the hour and change in your car: They've got their own 160-acre organic farm that produces a wide variety of crops, including lettuce, kale, Swiss chard, broccoli, potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, onions, blueberries, asparagus and small grains — all, of course, featured throughout the menus. It’s closed on Sundays and Mondays, so make sure to plan accordingly (there's your excuse for making it a four-day weekend).


Door County, Wisconsin

The Must-Do Adventure: There’s kayaking, sure, but then there’s glass-bottom boat kayaking. Lakeshore Adventures offers these crystal clear boats for rental to use for a trip to Horseshoe Island. About a mile each way, you’ll get just enough of a sweat to make you wanna jump in the water — and since tours aren’t typically guided, spend as much time as you want splashing around. Post-kayaking, bike your way through Peninsula State Park on the Sunset Bike route, that clocks in at just under 10 miles, or pummel over rugged terrain with a stretch of 12 miles of off-road biking inside the park.

Where to Stay: If you're not from the Midwest, Door County is the best place you’ve never been, home to a whopping five state parks (that can boast having 10 lighthouses). Post up at the Eagle Harbor Inn, a bed and breakfast in Ephraim with killer whirlpool suites ready to heal your legs after a long run. Best for a Memorial Day to Labor Day vacation, you don't need to worry about the beaches of Door County being too packed even during peak season.

The Local Eatery: You’ve gotta check out Good Eggs, the breakfast-only joint with egg wraps that will keep you fueled for hours. It's also in Ephraim, so it's pretty close to Eagle Harbor Inn. And if a wrap isn't the Hungryman Special your well-deserving muscles crave, go for a fruit smoothie.


Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

The Must-Do Adventure: Since there’s so much to do in Cabo by sheer virtue of it being a swimmable, friendly beach town, you might forget that the Gulf of California's terrain is also ripe for mountain biking. Venture into the dessert with Cabo Adventures on a blissfully tourist-free route where you'll catch sight of wildlife like ospreys, red tail hawks, and caracaras. After an intense ride, your excursion winds down with a visit to a beach — none of that elbow-to-elbow madness — on a secluded strip of sand, before feasting on a traditional Mexican meal (with hits like cactus salad, coriander dressing, mole chicken, and celebratory tequila). Or, trade the bike for a horse and set off with Los Cabos Horses for an adventurous trail ride through the hills and canyons of Cabo.

Where to Stay: Make your home at the Hilton Los Cabos Resort, where the newly renovated hotel has first-class restaurants as well as Mio, a poolside haunt specializing in fresh juice and healthy bites to revive you from a night of too much tequila. While a great way to spend an afternoon, lazing away in the infinity pool isn't going to get your heart racing, so carve away some time for the new Movement Studio, which includes state-of-the-art equipment and spin bikes (take an a.m. class for great sunrise views), and has the ability to be transformed for aerial yoga, spinning, TRX, transformational breathing class, and more. Beachside classes are available year round for guests, and beach yoga classes are offered on Tuesdays and Saturdays. If you'd like, peel yourself out of that pool one more time and hit up the quiet beachfront for paddle boarding, or hit up one of the property's tennis courts for a quick match.

The Local Eatery: Forgo your overpriced coconut water obsession for a week. Get tropical, icy fruits at their peak freshness and head to Gabby’s Cocos, where Gabby herself will prepare your order in — you guessed it — a coconut to go. You get to choose which one is yours, so choose wisely to maximize hydration.


Park City, Utah

The Must-Do Adventure: Everyone knows of Park City for its SUP’ing in a thermal cave, right? No, but besides it being one of the greatest winter towns for shredding fresh powder, it’s also got plenty of options when the weather warms up, too. The Homestead Crater is famous for the sparkling blue, mineral-rich, and naturally heated hot spring that hides inside of its 55-foot walls. Enjoy the 90-degree water of the 10,000 year old crater and take an hour of yoga while floating atop of a paddle board (even moves that are easy on land will rock your core here). If this doesn’t loosen up sore and tight muscles from all that hiking, nothing will.

Where to Stay: Splurge at Utah’s only five-star resort, the Stein Eriksen Lodge Deer Valley. Yes, you could beeline straight for the spa (complimentary wellness classes include Sunrise Yoga and Ski Conditioning in the winter months), but we advise spending some time chatting with the concierge first, who can hook you up with a nearby fly fishing or whitewater rafting.

The Local Eatery: A Park City tradition, Park Silly Sunday Market is a downtown staple in June through September. Build a superior Bloody Mary with bell peppers, cauliflower, pickled asparagus, and a wagonload of other toppers, or if you prefer to gulp down your booze sans antioxidants, sip on a beer from Moab Brewery or rum from Dented Brick Distillery. Also on tap is live music, town artisans (pick up some handmade soap or trays made from old wine bottles) and activities to keep the kids busy.


The British Virgin Islands

The Must-Do Adventure: The British Virgin Islands, located a touch north of the Caribbean, are just as beautiful and far quieter than other islands typically reserved and revered by spring breaker types. Challenge yourself with a hike at Peter Island’s Sunset Loop, a three-mile-long trail that ends with sinking into Adirondack chairs while taking in the breathtaking views of the sea and surrounding islands (and yes, the sunset, if you go between 5 and 6 p.m.). Peter Island staff will even drop off a fruit-and-cheese platter for you at the top, so don't fret if you ran out of your vacation protein bar stash.

Where to Stay: The beauty of the BVI is staying at one of the smaller, individually owned and operated private islands, like Peter Island. The resort offers a ton of activities, ranging from Ayurvedic spa treatments to water sports like diving, parasailing, and more.

The Local Eatery: Stay local — like 200 feet away local — by booking Peter Island’s Private Beach dinner. The calming flicker of tiki torches set the mood with top service and wine pairings to accompany grub like BVI's signature Anegada Lobster (there's even an entire festival celebrate this delicacy) or the day's fresh catch. Bonus points for remembering to pack some extra bug spray.


The Berkshires, Massachusetts

The Must-Do Adventure: Despite being known for its foliage, we recommend looking to the Berkshires for its rather under-appreciated feature: its bevy of calm, still lakes, ideal for water sports. Grab some oars and get sculling with a guided canoe or kayak tour with Berkshire Canoe Tours in Lenox. You'll never know exactly what kind of wildlife you might lock eyes with, but cast members making regular appearances include red-tail hawks, beavers, and painted turtles.

Where to Stay: Like Tucson’s Miraval, Canyon Ranch Spa, located in the heart of the Berkshires, in Lenox, is an all-inclusive Zion for wellness. Pony up for packages before your arrival to help enhance your trip, like the Brain Fitness program (which comes with cognitive assessments, private tai chi, and more) or the Therapeutic Detox (you’ll have consults with a naturopath, nutritionist, and two detoxifying spa treatments). Even if you skip the special offerings, you’ll feel restored from the easy scenery and variety of complimentary classes like yoga for athletes, meditation, or forest bathing, which is basically a meditative walk in the woods that'll make you all but forget about your overflowing inbox.

The Local Eatery: When the weather gets warm, Canyon Ranch reopens its seasonal, outdoor Cafe Jardin — a quiet respite from the bustle of the Dining Room or the formality of the Demonstration Kitchen. Consider your meals spent there a kind gesture to yourself for all those days you swore you'd eat lunch away from your desk but somehow found yourself mindlessly forking away monitor-side. (FYI: There’s no booze on property, but the resort doesn’t disapprove of it, rather, they request you drink in the confines of your own room.)
National Day of Adventure

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