Why give stuff when you can give a travel experience instead?
We’ve spent the past year compiling the best trips, outfitters, lodges, and destinations across the globe. Now, as the year comes to an end, we decided to take a look back at some of our favorite spots that we discovered in 2018. The best part? It’s easy to give these trips as gifts this holiday season. So if you have someone on your list who already has everything, here’s how to give them an experience they won’t soon forget.
Various Locations Across the United States
Back in July, we called Getaway one of the dreamiest cabins of the year. The locations of these tiny (under 200 square feet), smartly designed bungalows are kept secret until after you’ve booked to create a sense of surprise and impromptu adventure. Now you can find these perfect weekend escapes outside Boston, New York, Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. Each is stocked with firewood, board games, and basic food supplies. You can gift a Getaway starting at $50.
Pacific Northwest, Colorado
Named one of our best trips in 2018, Loge (pronounced “lodge”) is more than just a hotel for outdoorsy types. Launched in 2017, this hospitality startup offers revamped motel rooms, hostel-style bunks, and campsites in surf, ski, and cycling meccas. Current locations include Bend, Oregon, and Leavenworth, Westport, and Snoqualmie Pass, Washington. Starting in 2019, Loge adds locations at Mount Shasta and Big Bear, California, as well as Breckenridge and Estes Park, Colorado. While you’re there, you can demo high performance outdoor gear, listen to live music, sip beer in the café, and mingle with like-minded travelers. Use the offer code GiftOutside15 by July 1, 2019, for 15 percent off.
Amigo Motor Lodge
Less than three hours from Denver, this off-the-radar adventure town on the shores of the Arkansas River—which we named a brilliant spot for fall foliage in October—has world-class kayaking, a rowdy summertime whitewater festival, mountain biking along the Continental Divide, and uncrowded skiing at Monarch Mountain. Plus, it has the Amigo Motor Lodge, a supremely cool hotel with tons of tips for making the most out of your stay. And, yes, it offers gift cards.
We named this hip, eight-room hotel on Highway 101 near the beach in Encinitas a perfect California road-trip destination. Rooms come with beach cruisers, access to an outdoor shower, and special rates at a local co-working space. Its sister company, Surfhouse Adventures, offers surf lessons for all abilities, guided outings to some of the best local breaks, yoga classes on the beach, and even photography of your surf sessions. It doesn’t offer gift cards, but buy an Airbnb gift card and the surfer (or aspiring one) on your holiday list can use that to book a room.
The Outbound Pursuit Series
North Carolina, Utah, California
We love the Outbound Pursuit Series because they’re basically grown up sleepaway camps. Guided mountain biking, paddleboarding, trail running, yoga sessions, and photography workshops are taught by some of the top experts in those fields. The series travels to Snowbasin, Utah, next June; Bear Valley, California, in August; and a new location in Green River Preserve, North Carolina, in September. To make a gift of it, book tickets for the location of your choosing in someone else’s name.
Main and Mountain
Main and Mountain, a new bar and motel in Ludlow, Vermont, got the nod from us back in August for its invisible service—you check yourself into your room with a personalized access code sent straight to your inbox. Even if you don’t stay the night, you’ll want to order a cocktail at the bar after a day of skiing nearby Okemo Mountain Resort. Treat your friends and family in New England to a gift card, which can be used for lodging and at the bar.
Teton Backcountry Rentals
If you’re heading to Grand Teton or Yellowstone National Park or skiing Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, chances are you will need to rent some gear. Teton Backcountry Rentals loans out essentials like avalanche safety gear, camping equipment, and four-wheel-drive trucks equipped with fully outfitted camper shells or rooftop tents. The shop also rents pack rafts and offers guided trips down the Snake and Hoback rivers, which is one of our favorite guided packrafting trips of the year. Contact TBR directly to arrange for a gift certificate.
Maine Huts and Trails
Carrabassett Valley, Maine
There’s a reason we think these four deluxe solar- and hydropowered lodges are some of the country’s best huts for mountain bikers: They can be linked up for a European-style traverse where home-cooked meals await when you walk through the door. Or post up in one of your choosing, and ride or hike 80 miles of singletrack in summer or cross-country ski or showshoe some 50 miles of groomed trails in winter. You can buy gift certificates in any value you choose.