a. Connecticut River Byway, New Hampshire and Vermont
Set your watch to Norman Rockwell time on back roads along the Connecticut River that were designated a 500-mile national scenic byway last September. Starting in Brattleboro, Vermont, two hours from Boston, trace the river north along the VermontNew Hampshire state line while hiking in numerous state parks, fishing, and exploring historic towns. Stopping points are the Lauren, a Woodstock, Vermont, inn that opened in May, and, farther north, the 14-room Inn at Mountain View Farm, in East Burke, Vermont. GREAT ESCAPE: Paddle a section of the placid Connecticut near Lancaster, New Hampshire, that's part of the 740-mile Northern Forest Canoe Trail, inaugurated in June. DETAILS: Connecticut River Scenic Byway Council, 603-826-4800, www.ctrivertravel.net. The Lauren, doubles from $210; 802-457-1925, www.thelaureninn.com. Mountain View Farm, doubles from $155; 800-572-4509, www.innmtnview.com.
b. Red Rock Country, Utah
Ditch the Vegas neon as fast as you can jump into a rental car: It's only two and a half hours from the Strip to the iconic red-rock cliffs and canyons of Zion National Park. Make yourself at home at the stylish Desert Pearl Inn, in Springdale, and spend a day hiking the park's 120 miles of trails. Then head 90 minutes southeast to explore Vermillion Cliffs National Monument, a little-visited gem in northern Arizona, before looping back to St. George to climb Sticky Revelations, a classic three-pitch 5.10, at Prophesy Wall. GREAT ESCAPE: The Red Mountain Revitalizera full-body treatmentat Sagestone, Red Mountain Spa's new facility, which opened in January. DETAILS: Desert Pearl Inn, doubles from $133; 888-828-0898, www.desertpearl.com. Red Mountain Spa, doubles from $478, all-inclusive; 800-407-3002, www.redmountainspa.com.
c. The Wild Coast, Oregon
For a quick dose of rugged Pacific shoreline, drive northwest from Portland to Astoria, on the mouth of the Columbia River, and stay at the new 46-room Cannery Pier Hotel, set on 100-year-old pilings. Then round Oregon's northwest corner and hug the coast for about 200 miles on U.S. 101 to Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. En route, stop for surfing near the Columbia River and deep-sea fishing off Newport. Just south of the dunes, head east to I-5 to return to Portland. GREAT ESCAPE: Watch storms roll in from the six-room Heceta Head Lighthouse Bed & Breakfast, near Yachats, 172 miles south of Astoria. DETAILS: Cannery Pier Hotel, doubles, $269; 888-325-4996, www.cannerypierhotel.com. Heceta Head Lighthouse, doubles, $251, including breakfast; 866-547-3696, www.hecetalighthouse.com.