26 of the Best Trips to Take Right Now
Make this your best travel year yet
Whether you’re looking to push your physical limits with freediving in British Columbia or just lean back and cast on Montana's greatest river, these trips are guaranteed to help you make the most of summer.
26. North Central Minnesota
Once scarred by a series of open-pit taconite mines, this region is experiencing the best kind of renaissance in the form of Department of Natural Resources–managed Cuyuna, a 2,000-acre mountain- and fat-biking haven with a surprisingly diverse 30-mile trail network. With 15 more miles debuting this spring, the rides here are so good that the International Mountain Bicycling Association pronounced it a silver-level ride center—a notch above Aspen-Snowmass’s bronze distinction. Now there’s even a comfortable place to sleep, at True North Base Camp’s six new lakeside cabins, designed to replicate 19th-century mining shacks. The modern versions come with room to sleep five and an immaculate outdoor shower with heated floors and hot water. Your dining options include a fire pit out front, a cozy cooking nook (BYO camp stove), or an excursion to the nearby town of Crosby to biker-friendly joints like the Red Raven Bike Café. From $69; truenorthbasecamp.com —S.P.
25. Ladakh, India
Poaching, shrinking habitat, and climate change are making life hard for the snow leopard. But there are still an estimated 4,500 to 7,500 left in Central Asia, and the isolated valleys of Ladakh are among the best places to see them. Amit Sankhala, whose grandfather Kailash Sankhala was known as the Tiger Man of India because of his conservation work, helps plan 11-to-14-day trips, along with a team of trackers who spend their lives searching for the elusive cat. The journey includes five nights of camping in the high-altitude beauty of 1,700-square-mile Hemis National Park and a stay in the six-room Snow Leopard Lodge in the Ulley Valley. Be prepared for a fluid experience: a snow leopard may be out any time of day or night, which means temperatures of 5 to 40 degrees at altitudes as high as 15,000 feet. From $5,000; mtsobek.com —S.P.
24. Asbury Park, New Jersey
Before falling on hard times, Asbury Park was one of the greatest resort cities on the East Coast. At Elks Club dances, you could catch local bands like the Castiles, whose lead guitarist—a guy named Bruce—later found a bit of success as a soloist. Now, a multimillion-dollar revival is taking place along a mile-long stretch of beachfront, anchored at the new Asbury Hotel. Surfers should head to the northern end, where a new winter surf competition, the Cold War, is held March 5–31 in front of the historic Casino building. At night, grab a beer at Festhalle and Biergarten, a new pub with a rooftop bar and ocean views. —G.A.
23. Austin, Texas
Whatever comes out of Emmer and Rye’s kitchen—where owner and chef Kevin Fink butchers his own pork, bakes the daily bread, and grows exotic mushrooms in raised beds—is going to be extraordinary. Fink, who trained at Noma and French Laundry, is partial to his cacio e pepe pasta: handmade spaghetti, fermented tomato water, challerhocker cheese, black pepper, dandelion greens, and fresh chicory. The cocktails are damn good, too. We recommend the Poisoned Apple Blossom, with grain alcohol, fresh apple cider, Chartreuse, lime juice, shiso tincture, and sparkling wine. emmerandrye.com —S.P.
For Canada’s 150th birthday, long-distance riders are renewing their love of the country by cycling across it. This year, TDA Global Cycling offers spots on its all-inclusive, 98-day coast-to-coast ride, using parts of the newly renovated Trans-Canada Trail, beginning at the Pacific archipelago of Haida Gwaii and ending at the Newfoundland city of St. John. The route, which is broken into five segments (so if you don’t have 98 days to spare, you can sign up for just one), will give you the chance to catch the Rocky Mountain breeze in Banff, sail through the Alberta Badlands, visit shipwrecks in Fathom Five National Marine Park, and snack on poutine in Quebec. Until Drake invites everyone over to watch a hockey game, there’s no better way to celebrate Canada. From $2,000; tdaglobalcycling.com —J.R.
21. Big Summit Prairie, Oregon
To celebrate the August 21 solar eclipse—the first to touch the continental U.S. in nearly four decades—nine of the world’s top music festivals have joined forces to produce an epic gathering in the Ochoco National Forest. Laid across a 55,000-acre private ranch with a lake and campgrounds, Oregon Eclipse 2017 will feature more than 250 bands on seven stages—including Beats Antique, STS9, and Shpongle—with 37 additional areas dedicated to eclipse gazing, yoga, and dance. Seven-day passes from $289; oregoneclipse2017.com —J.M.
Fifteen years ago, four Swedish friends made a bet to see who could swim and run the fastest across the Stockholm Archipelago while stopping at three bars on three islands along the way. Today there are more than 250 Swimrun events around the world, the pinnacle of which is Sweden’s annual Ötillö Swimrun World Championship, on September 4. Teams of two will start on the island of Sandhamn, running 40.3 miles and swimming 6.2 miles in 50-degree water between 26 islands in the Baltic Sea, ending on the island of Utö. Stay in Stockholm at the Hotel Skeppsholmen, a beautifully renovated 300-year-old mansion near the ferry to Sandhamn (from $230; hotelskeppsholmen.se). otilloswimrun.com —S.P.
19. Rocky Mountains, Colorado
Itching for the freedom of a Rocky Mountain road trip? Rent a tricked-out Toyota Sienna minivan from Wild Road Campers, based in Lafayette, and the days of dirtbag living are over. Each van comes with a custom kitchen—which includes a refrigerator and a complimentary s’mores kit—a removable table, and a three-inch foam mattress with bedding. The Great Outdoors package gets you two camp chairs, two hammocks, and a deck of cards. But for the ultimate in car camping, go for the Apex package, with a roof tent for two. From $135; wildroadcampers.com —S.P.
18. Smith River, Montana
Don’t be fooled by the beige name. This river blends soul-stirring vistas, roadless isolation, and prime trout fishing for 60 nearly inaccessible miles, winding through a 1,000-foot-deep limestone canyon where heavy, unsophisticated browns rise for dry flies and black bears wander the banks. Not surprisingly, you have to win the lottery to float it; Montana Fish, Wild-life, and Parks holds a permit drawing each February ($10; fwp.mt.gov), though you can also book a pampered float with Pro Outfitters ($4,150 for five days; prooutfitters.com). However you do it, do it soon: environmentalists are worried that a proposed copper mine near the headwaters could ruin the fishery. And that would be a travesty, as you’ll know by the end of your float, when you’ll be praying to win the lottery again. —J. B.
17. Paradise, Utah
Down days don’t exist at Whisper Ridge, Utah’s largest cat- and heli-skiing operation, deep in the Wasatch Range. On its 110-square-mile private property outside the small town of Paradise, skiers have access to eight snowcats and two helicopters, so that even during a lake-effect storm, you’ll still have passage to 120 miles of road and a wide variety of powder-blanketed terrain. After a pickup in town, guests are whisked to one of six plush backcountry yurts, spread across a mountaintop village, with comfy queen beds and family-style dinners that are snowmobiled from a chef who was twice voted Utah’s best. From $1,370; whisperridgeutah.com —M.M.
There’s a lot to love about adventure in Norway. Last spring, the government announced that it will invest $1 billion to build a network of bike tracks near the country’s nine largest cities to help reach the national goal of zero growth in car use by 2030. Meanwhile, the UCI Road World Championships will be held in Bergen in September. If that weren’t enough, H&I Adventures’ new eight-day mountain-biking trip takes inspiration from ski mountaineering. Riders live on a converted minesweeper that explores the steep-walled fjords near the towns of Molde, Alesund, and Romsdal, then hike-a-bike up 3,000-foot peaks to ride the long, flowy trails back to the sea. On the boat, guests can throw a line for salmon that the ship’s chef will prepare for dinner. This is a tough trip with technical riding, so come fit ($5,100; mountainbikeworldwide.com). Then there’s polar explorer Borge Ousland’s oasis on Manshausen Island, a rehabilitated 1800s lodge surrounded by four glass-walled sea cabins cantilevered over the Grotoya Strait, north of the Arctic Circle (from $80; manshausen.no/en). Hiking, fishing, climbing, caving, skiing, sailing, and mountaineering are on the year-round menu. Ousland himself may even be there, if he’s not off pursuing his quest to cross the world’s 20 largest glaciers. —S.P.
After a four-year effort by Jordan’s Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature, the length of the country is now connected by a 404-mile network of footpaths known as the Jordan Trail. Over 36 days, through-hikers can travel from the Mediterranean villages of Um Qais in the north, past rugged cliffs overlooking the Rift Valley, and onto Aqaba Beach, on the Red Sea. If you don’t have 36 days, the trail’s eight regional sections make it easy to tackle in shorter chunks. Intrepid types can try the weeklong, high-elevation desert route that runs for 69 miles between the legendary ruins of Petra and Wadi Rum. Another favorite is the 29-mile trek from Dana to Petra, lined with accommodations ranging from homestays to the award-winning Feynan Ecolodge. Outfitter Experience Jordan offers fully guided trips or support (from $4,700; experiencejordan.com). jordantrail.org —J.M.
14. South Africa and Mozambique
Outside GO put the best of Africa’s bush and beach into this 11-day safari. Starting in South Africa’s Greater Kruger National Park, you’ll spend three days tracking lions and rare wild dogs with guides who seem like they taught Indiana Jones everything he knows, then sip gin and tonics on the porch of your canvas tent at camp Tanda Tula. The next three days, guests explore the Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve on daytime game drives with a tracker and ranger and have a chance to spot a leopard. Don’t feel guilty skipping the sunrise drive; you’ll be staying at the Lion Sands River Lodge, with luxe suites that are hard to leave, and your private wooden deck doubles as a viewing platform to spy grazing kudu and the occasional elephant. At Lion Sands, consider staying in an open-air treehouse, which has an even better view. After six days in the bush, you’ll fly to the white sands of Benguerra Island, in Mozambique’s Bazaruto Archipelago. You’ll base at Azura, a 20-villa retreat, from which you can sail on a traditional dhow, ride horseback over the island’s Nile-like interiors, and snorkel through the huge marine reserve. Evenings are often spent lounging on the beach with sundowners at a seafood barbecue. $10,695; outsidego.com —J.M.
13. Brevard, North Carolina
Visit Brevard’s Hub and Pisgah Tavern and you can pick up spare tubes in the bike shop, then grab a pint of local ale at the adjoining bar. Step outside and year-round mountain biking at Pisgah National Forest and Dupont State Recreational Forest are minutes away. “When we opened in 1990, we weren’t sure how the bar would be received,” says Jordan Salman, who owns the Hub with her husband, Sam. “But man, people who love the outdoors are not offended by beer.” —M.M.
12. Los Cabos, Mexico
Last year, pro surfer Tim Curran, a founder of Mansa Vida, a company that takes clients on surf retreats around the world, spent most of his time in Los Cabos, Mexico, teaching guests how to surf and photograph like the pros do. He’s now launching an event to give something back to the region. “This is the perfect location for a waterman competition,” says Curran, whose three-day Ultimate Waterman’s Challenge will debut July 14 near the Cape, a boutique hotel in Cabo San Lucas. While surfers CJ and Damien Hobgood get the crowd pumped with exhibition events, entrants will take part in surf, stand-up-paddle, prone-paddle, open-water-swim, and spearfishing competitions for a purse of up to $40,000. Sales will benefit local charities. Other items on the agenda include a barbecue helmed by superstar Mexican chefs, followed by a jam session featuring Curran and cofounder Rob Machado on guitar. Tickets from $20; uwchallenge.com —J.M.
11. Congaree National Park, South Carolina
Synchronous fireflies, which light up in perfect unison with their neighbors during mating season, are rare outside Southeast Asia. But in Congaree National Park, the annual light show is an essential part of the scenery—and the namesake of a local baseball team. For two weeks in late May and early June, visitors can see this mesmerizing event at the edge of the Boardwalk Loop, a short walk from the park’s Harry Hampton Visitor Center. nps.gov/cong —J.R.
Snorkeling isn’t just for the tropics. Last year, the Scottish Wildlife Trust established the North West Highlands Snorkel Trail, opening up 100 miles of coastal habitat for swimmers and divers to explore (scottishwildlifetrust.org.uk). Bring gear from Lomo Watersport in Glasgow—a snorkel, a wetsuit, and open-heel fins might be hard to find once you arrive—then head for the sandy pools around the village of Camusnagaul, where you can swim with minke whales and harmless basking sharks, as well as cuttlefish, sunstars, barrel jellyfish, and velvet crabs. At night, set up shop at the Ceilidh Place, a bunkhouse and café in Ullapool that stays true to its 1970s roots with live local acts in the bar (from $96; theceilidhplace.com). —J.R.
9. Knoxville, Tennessee
Knoxville (population: 183,000) is quickly becoming an adventure outpost. Last year, the local bike club used a $100,000 grant from Bell Helmets to build a new trail in Baker’s Creek, a world-class downhill park on the edge of town. Beginners have two trails full of flowy berms and tabletops to choose from, while huckers can work their way up to the black-diamond Devil’s Racetrack. Expect burly lines with steep boulder gardens, wooden wall rides, and big gap jumps, thanks to input from pro Neko Mulally, who was consulted on the design. Is cross country more your thing? You can link up with Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness directly from the park, accessing a 50-mile network of singletrack that carves along forest and river bluffs. After shredding fresh dirt, take I-75 south 112 miles toward Chattanooga, where the Southeastern Climbers Coalition purchased a mile-long cliff called Denny Cove. The multicolored sandstone wall has 150 routes, from juggy beginner-friendly faces to steep overhanging 5.12 sport lines. Closer to Chattanooga, you’ll find classic crags like Sunset and Tennessee Wall. —G.A.
8. Eaux Claires Music Festival
How does a rock star pay tribute to his Midwest roots? Ask Bon Iver frontman Justin Vernon, who launched a two-day event in his small Wisconsin hometown in 2014. The annual Eaux Claires Music and Arts Festival now draws upwards of 20,000 fans and has been lauded for its talent, hand-picked by Vernon and Aaron Dressner, of rock band the National. Past lineups have included rising stars like Moses Sumney and legends like Bruce Hornsby, in addition to unlikely joint performances on stages scattered across the bucolic 60-acre farm setting, where festivalgoers interact with mixed-media installations along wooded trails. Food trucks and some of the Midwest’s most beloved breweries fuel the party, and camping is available at nearby Whispering Pines Fields (from $24; whisperingpinescampground.net). The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire also has budget-friendly dorm rooms (from $84; available with ticket purchase). Two-day passes from $169; eauxclaires.com —J.M.
7. Ningaloo Reef, Australia
Not all coral reefs are suffering. Western Australia’s Ningaloo Coast earned Unesco World Heritage status in 2011 due to its thriving 162-mile-long reef. Just steps off the beach in the Indian Ocean, it boasts 300 varieties of coral, 500 species of fish, and a healthy breeding ground for hawksbill, loggerhead, and green turtles. Between April and July, 300 to 500 whale sharks congregate. From June to November, humpback whales are present. The best way to see it all is to stay in Cape Range National Park at Sal Salis (from $750; salsalis.com.au), a fully solar-powered luxury resort. Snorkel, kayak out to deeper lagoons, or fish for Northwest snapper by day, then walk the endless sand beaches at sunset. On a budget? In the park, book one of 46 roomy oceanfront campsites at Osprey Bay ($7.50), which is near good snorkeling. —S.P.
6. Wrangell–St. Elias National Park, Alaska
“This is wild, wild country,” says Ellie Gray, third-generation co-owner of Alaska’s Ultima Thule Lodge in the heart of Wrangell–St. Elias National Park. For guests willing to brave the 100-mile journey from the closest road—the lodge is 350 air miles from Anchorage in southeastern Alaska—Ultima Thule offers cabins with king-size feather beds and 13.2 million acres of scree fields, alpine meadows, and ice-cold glacial rivers outside your door. From April to October, the lodge’s bush pilots can fly you to gorgeous hikes along the Chitina River, where visitors typically spot bears, birds, and bison. Post-adventure, you’ll eat wild game and fresh-caught salmon with 11 other guests. Feeling rugged? The lodge also has a fly-in backcountry-camping option, with the opportunity to sleep where almost no one ever has before. “It’s real exploration,” Gray says. “Most guests experience Wrangell–St. Elias from the air, but hiking and camping you really see the scale. It’s a very different perspective.” From $7,900 for four nights, including private cabins, daily bush safaris, guides, and gear; ultimathulelodge.com —J.M.
Former pro cyclist Tyler Wren knows what motivates riders up a steep climb: craft beer and the smell of slow-cooked brisket. Looking to lure more people onto bikes while supporting small New England farmers, Wren launched his Farm to Fork Fondo series in 2015. “Farms represent more than just gorgeous scenery,” he says. “Behind every beautiful barn is a family doing work vital to our way of life.” Between rest stops fueled with maple candies in Vermont or blueberry turnovers in Maine, riders cover ten-mile or even century-long rides lined with 5,000-foot King of the Hill climbs. This summer, Farm to Fork will add a Berkshires tour in western Massachusetts to its menu, starting with a Meet the Farmers dinner at Hancock Shaker Village and culminating with live music and a barbecue by Wheelhouse Farm, a local farm-to-table caterer. Rides from $40 to $450; farmforkfondo.com —J.M.
4. Los Angeles, California
It took more than 40 years of building and negotiations, but the 67-mile-long Backbone Trail is finally complete. (Send a thank-you note to former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who helped acquire a crucial 40-acre link last summer.) The completed path now traverses the peaks and canyons of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, stretching along the Pacific Ocean from Los Angeles to the north side of Malibu. Hike the whole trail and you’ll cruise from Will Rogers State Park to Point Mugu, climbing 19,000 feet of elevation and scoring views that stretch to the Channel Islands. nps.gov/samo —Graham Averill
3. Nimmo Bay, British Columbia
Nimmo Bay has long been one of British Columbia’s favorite heli-fishing resorts. But the 50,000-square-mile wilderness surrounding the lodge is also home to some of the best cold-water diving on the planet. This season the family-owned adventure base is taking guests by chopper to swim and fish in the pristine salmon-filled rivers and glacial lakes of the Great Bear Rainforest. A guide from Performance Freediving International will teach you the basics of underwater exploration. From $7,300; nimmobay.com —Jen Murphy
2. Boulder, Colorado
For a twist on garden parties, Mason Jar Event Group plans seasonal cannabis-pairing dinners, combining haute cuisine with carefully selected marijuana strains. Enjoy live music and a festive atmosphere with a congregation of well-heeled lawyers and flip-flop-wearing entrepreneurs before sitting down to a four-course menu with items like slow-cooked pork paired with black-cherry-soda buds. You’ll also be offered a designated driver for the ride home. From $150; masonjareventgroup.com —Avery Stonich
1. Sacred Valley, Peru
There’s no better place to wake up than at the new Explora Lodge in Peru’s Sacred Valley. In the heart of the former Inca Empire, the 50-room hotel sits at 9,186 feet on the edge of corn and alfalfa fields nestled between the sharp, white-capped peaks of the Urubamba and Vilcabamba Mountains. The details here are so considered that it took ten years—and three different site moves, in order to avoid building over an ancient terrace system—to construct the property. Beyond quintessential luxury, Explora is known for access to adventure and its crew of local guides, who have roots going back in the region for centuries. Founder Pedro Ibañez, who is from Santiago, Chile, and his staff custom-designed 27-day trips in the Sacred Valley, from leisurely mountain-bike rides along the Urubamba River to a strenuous 12-mile hike that tops out at a 15,190-foot pass with views of the Sawasiray glacier. Come dinnertime, return for a feast of locally sourced quinoa soup, pork belly with broad beans, foraged mushrooms, and an expertly curated list of South American wines. Then head to the spa for a massage. The lodge can also arrange an outing to Machu Picchu, two and a half hours away by train. From $1,950 for three nights; explora.com —Stephanie Pearson