Adrenaline-Charged Winter Destinations
If lingering holiday malaise and winter’s cold, short days are knocking you off your game, look no further. Hit the snow in Wyoming, follow the sun to a Hawaiian yoga retreat, or reboot with a DIY adventure. One of these trips is sure to recharge you.
Cycling Vacation: Where to Go
With its empty, rolling roads and temperate weather, the wine region northwest of Santa Barbara has been the site of winter training camps for pro cycling teams for decades. Those looking to move up a category or lay a foundation for an upcoming Ironman can get in on the action, too: touring outfitter Cycling House hosts an annual six-day riding camp here each March for cyclists that need to shake off winter cobwebs.
Guests put in 50 to 80 miles a day with a staff of elite riders, notching anywhere from 1,500 to 7,000 feet of elevation before returning to the small town of Solvang to lounge, stretch, and replenish calories at the Ballard Inn. The camp’s chef provides healthy, high-energy meals like quinoa bowls with bison meatballs and grilled chicken skewers with Meyer lemon salsa, brown rice, and roasted cauliflower. “A lot of learning happens at the dinner table,” says Cycling House cofounder Owen Gue, whose staff conduct post-ride clinics on topics like bike handling and maintenance.
Cycling Vacation: Plan a Detour
The Channel Islands are a short hop from Santa Barbara by boat and a premiere destination for sea kayakers. Santa Cruz Island’s sea caves—deep openings in towering rock bluffs hammered for centuries by waves—are just big enough to admit a pod of kayakers. Santa Barbara Adventure Company leads day trips to the caves as well as two-day camping expeditions. No paddling experience required. $177.
De-Stress: Yoga Retreat
If this is what a yoga retreat is all about, we’re in. The Lumeria Maui, a century-old plantation house converted into a craftsman-style boutique facility, has 24 guest rooms on eight acres of gardens in the upland area of Maui’s lush North Shore.
Offering weeklong retreats—or, for those with less time, daily drop-in classes—the teachers primarily lead anusara-style yoga, a blend of strength building and flexibility suitable for all levels. You can take up to four hours of yoga a day in the studio or on the outdoor yoga lawn—perfect for soaking up some restorative midwinter rays. There are also a handful of gardens and rooms set aside for meditation.
Guests can get a little rowdier at the saltwater pool, with views of the ocean and the cloud-shrouded West Maui Mountains, or at the outdoor fire pits in the evening. Rooms all share the same simple decor and absence of televisions—you’re here to center yourself, after all—and the on-site restaurant embraces the farm-to-table approach that Maui’s upland is known for.
If you get tired of downward dog, Lumeria can arrange excursions to hike Haleakala National Park or take in the verdant waterfalls along the road to Hana. From $354.
De-Stress: Plan a Detour
Winter brings big swells to the North Shore, but surf spots on the more sheltered west and south sides of the island are no more than an hour’s drive. Zack Howard Surf picks guests up at Lumeria, supplies boards, and tailors lessons for all ability levels. Depending on conditions, a full-day tour might include a morning at the classic longboard break 1,000 Peaks and an afternoon at the North Shore’s Hookipa, with a stop for grilled mahi-mahi at the famous Paia Fish Market. From $200.
Turpin Meadow Ranch, Moran, Wyoming
It’s a lot easier to play hard outside on a chilly day when there’s a massage, gourmet food, and a plush room awaiting you at the end of it. That’s exactly what you’ll find at Turpin Meadow Ranch, 45 miles north of Jackson Hole at the edge of Grand Teton National Park. Turpin just reopened after a two-year overhaul; it’s now owned by former Olympic nordic skiers Hans and Nancy Johnstone, who operated Jackson’s iconic Alpine House for 20 years.
The ranch was built in 1932 and has a storied history—Bob Dylan played a wedding here in the early eighties with local troubadour and ski-mountaineering pioneer Bill Briggs—and it now features eight renovated cabins spread along the Buffalo Fork River in addition to its historic lodge, the heart of which is a soaring, two-way fireplace separating the dining room from the bar.
Detour: Ski the backcountry in Grand Teton National Park
Book a day of backcountry skiing in the Tetons with the guides at Exum. You’ll pick up expertise in avalanche strategy and snow stability while shredding Wyoming’s legendary peaks. Depending on conditions and your experience level, objectives range from cruisy powder slopes to more technical pursuits like the Apocalypse Couloir, which can require two rappels over icefalls to complete. From $250.
Tele-Ski: Where to Go
Buck the alpine-touring trend and go old-school. Bonus: you’ll get an intense workout along the way. Telemark skiing engages the core, not to mention your quads, in a way other setups can’t. Learn how at Vermont’s Mad River Glen, where there’s no corporate ownership, no snowboarding, and lots of telemark devotees.
The hill has a rough-and-ready reputation—Ski It If You Can, reads the bumper sticker on seemingly every New England Subaru—but the Birdland lift services ample green terrain, and Mad River offers two-hour beginner tele lessons for $50, including lift ticket and equipment rental.
Intermediates can brave tougher terrain under the hill’s iconic Single Chair with a $70 ticket-and-lesson combo on Free Heel Fridays. All-day, women-only Breakthrough clinics happen on February 14 and March 14.
Bunk at newly refurbished Mad River Barn two miles down the road, an 18-room compound with a pub and game room, the latter complete with restored shuffleboard table ($150). Be warned: you may have to challenge the locals to get in a game.
Tele-Ski: Plan a Detour
Mad River Glen’s clapboard General Stark’s Pub is the soul of the ski hill and a fine place to knock back a Magic Hat Single Chair ale. But don’t stop there, because you’re within easy distance of some of the best beer drinking in the world. Local watering holes Mad Taco, Prohibition Pig, and the Reservoir keep the most sought-after New England brews on tap, including Hill Farmstead, Lawson’s, and Zero Gravity. Looking for the Alchemist’s world-famous Heady Topper? Beer mecca Village Grocery usually has a stash.