Best Weekend Escape

Vancouver, British Columbia

Kayaking off Vancouver Island, British Columbia     Photo: Michael Hansen/Corbis

Vancouver has 250 miles of bike lanes and paths, at least 100 North Shore mountain-bike trails spread across three mountains, 11 miles of beach, the best oysters you’ll ever slurp (at the Bluewater Café), and, within two hours inland, some of the best skiing, mountain biking, fly-fishing, whitewater rafting, hiking, and climbing on the planet. Not to mention the protected coves and bays for sea-kayaking Vancouver Island, just a 1.5-hour ferry hop away. Book a room downtown at the 47-room Victorian Hotel (doubles, US$89–$179) and rent one of its Pashley Cruisers (US$40 per day) to tour the city. Want big mountains? Hop the Rocky Mountaineer train downtown for a 3.5-hour ride winding through canyons and up steep mountain grades to Whistler (round-trip from US$264). The lift-accessed Whistler Mountain Bike Park has more than 4,946 vertical feet. Want watery fun? Fly-fishermen catch and release steelhead on one of the myriad Sea to Sky rivers, like the nearby Upper Cheakamus. For more water, raft the Elaho Squamish, a thrilling Class III–IV ride (from US$165 per person for a day trip). Stay at the Nita Lake Lodge, a classic log building on the shore of Nita Lake, less than five minutes from the Whistler train station and trailheads to world-class hiking, biking, and skiing (doubles from US$229). 

RUNNER-UP
Tucson, Arizona
World-class athletes know that Tucson is an excellent place to train in winter. For one thing, it’s warm: the dry Sonoran Desert sees 84-degree highs in October and November, and temps range from 68 to 99 February through June. Base out of the Arizona Inn (doubles, $299), then start exploring. There are more than 500 miles of premier road biking nearby, and desert singletrack radiates in every direction, including the 16-mile Molino Milagrosa Loop east of the city, which climbs up the side of Mount Lemmon. Hikers can choose from more than 165 miles of trails in nearby Saguaro National Park. 

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