Lake cabin
Lake cabin via Shutterstock (Photo: Mikulich Alexander Andreevich)

Where Are the Best Cabin Getaways?

I want to escape to a cabin in the woods. I'm looking for someplace that's really isolated, but close to lots of recreation and a small town where I can grab a decent bite to eat. What do you recommend?

Lake cabin
Greg Melville

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That’s a long list of requirements. Essentially, you want a cabin where you can escape from the trappings of civilization without being completely cut off from them. A small handful of places come to mind. As for finding a cabin, I use Vacation Rental by Owner. When using this site, do your homework to make sure you get what’s advertised. Ask the owner for the contact info of other people who have rented it before, and request a rental agreement or contract. If you can’t get either, then choose another cabin.

The Best Cabin Getaways: Saranac Lake, New York

Lake Saranac
Lake Saranac via Shutterstock (Maxim Kazitov)

A lot of travelers overlook Adirondack State Park, which is great for the city-dwellers who come every summer to unwind in New York’s northern hinterlands. The preserve, which is larger than the state of Vermont, brings together epic glacial lakes, legendary fly-fishing streams, and some of the tallest peaks in the East. You’ll find plenty of cabins in the woods and on the lakeshores around the town of Saranac Lake, nearby Lake Placid’s homier cousin.

Taste of civilization: Get the Sara burger, made from local beef, at the Blue Moon Café on Main Street.

The Best Cabin Getaways: Livingston, Montana

Yellowstone River

Judging by a map, you would think Livingston’s proximity to Yellowstone National Park (about 50 miles away) is its greatest asset. But there’s plenty of other things to do outdoors around this town, which sits in a bend in the Yellowstone River. Livingston is prime fly-fishing country, and more than 2,000 miles of hiking trails wind through the nearby Gallatin National Forest. Try for a riverfront cabin—a large selection is usually available.

Taste of civilization: Wash down the Bistro steak and fries with a Moose Drool brown ale at the 2nd Street Bistro downtown.

The Best Cabin Getaways: Mammoth Lakes, California

Lake Mary
Lake Mary, near Mammoth via Shutterstock (Sebastian Burel)

In the High Sierra around Mammoth Lakes, you can find everything from millionaire ski chalets to (if you look north toward June Lake and the entrance to Yosemite National Park) tree-shaded shacks surrounded by empty wilderness. The town itself is somewhat quieter in the summer, when the skiers are replaced by hikers and bikers, but still offers finer amenities than you’ll find at home—like world-class spa treatments, helicopter tours, and restaurants run by renowned chefs.

Taste of civilization: The chopped beef brisket sandwich at Angel’s BBQ is the tastiest in the West.

The Best Cabin Getaways: Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Smoky Mountains
Smoky Mountains via Shutterstock (Michael Hare)

Yes, Gatlinburg is the cheesiest town in the South—home to fudge sellers galore, a Ripley’s Believe It or Not museum, and an oddly out-of-place 400-foot Space Needle replica. But the reason so many camera toters descend upon this notch in the Appalachians beneath the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the breathtaking natural beauty of the surrounding forests. Drive a few minutes from Gatlinburg, and you’re in the middle of nowhere. Cabins in the area are as inexpensive as they are plentiful.

Taste of civilization: Try the cornmeal pancakes at the Log Cabin Pancake House.

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