San Francisco
Class V rapids on Cherry Creek (Sierra Mac River Trips)

City Slicker

Escape from New York (and nine other big cities) with these 40 fast adventures

San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO

Run

TRAVEL: 15 MILES

Hit the Dipsea Trail (dipsea.org), a seven-mile, 2,000-vertical-foot thigh-burner, from Mill Valley to Stinson Beach. Then ease sore muscles with a deep-tissue massage at Sausalito’s Casa Madrona Hotel & Spa (bay-view doubles from $309; casamadrona.com).

Surf

TRAVEL: 114 MILES

Grab your board and head for Asilomar State Beach (parks.ca.gov), in Pacific Grove, for a consistent overhead break. Later, spend the night in the beautifully renovated Tradewinds Carmel (doubles from $325; tradewindscarmel.com), an Asian-inspired luxury hotel in ultra-quaint Carmel-by-the-Sea.

Rock-Climb

TRAVEL: 123 MILES

Ascend a volcanic vent at Pinnacles National Monument (nps.gov/pinn). Surreal spires and 80-foot walls with hundreds of routes (from beginner to 5.14a) make this one of the best sport-climbing areas west of the Sierra, especially during the cooler days of fall. Afterwards, pitch a tent at Arroyo Seco Campground (from $20; rockymountainrec.com), the most remote spot in the Salinas Valley.

Paddle

TRAVEL: 147 MILES

Raft Class V+ rapids on Cherry Creek. The one-day run on the Upper Tuolumne is the hairiest commercially guided whitewater trip in America, dropping an average of 110 feet per mile through slick Sierra bedrock, with 16 Class V rapids packed into just nine miles. The river is so unrelenting (the longest flatwater is a mere 400 yards), clients of Sierra Mac River Trips (one day, $290; sierramac.com) must undergo a fitness test that includes swimming 140 yards midcurrent and running 70 yards uphill on one breath. Don’t fret: In 25 years of commercial trips, no one has died on Cherry Creek. When the excitement ends, stay just outside Yosemite National Park at the 17-room, Gold Rush-era Groveland Hotel (doubles from $145, including breakfast; groveland.com).

New York City

Skytop Cliff
Skytop Cliff in the Shawangunk Mountians (courtesy, Annie O'Neill/Friends of the Shawangunks)

Mountain-Bike

TRAVEL: 9 MILES FROM DOWNTOWN

Ride gnarly trails without leaving Manhattan. Last May, the Fort George Trails, in Highbridge Park, became the city’s first sanctioned MTB trail system. Working with the city’s mountain-bike association and the IMBA, the parks department transformed undeveloped land into three miles of trails, including two knotty, experts-only singletracks. The new area boasts enough obstacles and variety to satisfy even the most jaded city dweller. Best of all, unlike everything else in Manhattan, it won’t cost you a dime (open daily until dusk; nycgovparks.org).

Eat

TRAVEL: 50 MILES

Treat yourself at star chef Michel Nischan’s Dressing Room (dressingroomhomegrown.com), a timber-and-fieldstone-fireplace- enhanced, all-sustainable-all-the-time eatery on the grounds of the historic Westport (Connecticut) Country Playhouse. Then make it a weekend at the nearby Inn at National Hall, a 134-year-old former bank overlooking the calm waters of the Saugatuck River (doubles from $325; innatnationalhall.com).

Hike

TRAVEL: 88 MILES

Explore the Shawangunks (also known as the Gunks), where two new ridgeline trails add seven miles to what was already world-class hiking and climbing. The Lenape Ridge and Minisink trails pass crags and cliffs east of the Neversink River, taking in distant south-facing views of the Delaware River Valley below (nynjtc.org). Your crash pad is 15 minutes away at the Inn at Cliff Park. Built in the 1820s, it has large rooms and 500 acres of trail-lined grounds (doubles from $129; cliffparkinn.com).

Surf

TRAVEL: 118 MILES

Ride the waves of Long Island’s break-blessed Montauk with Izzy Paskowitz. The California-based surfing champ will lead an all-day clinic on September 15 ($300; paskowitz.com). Or simply rent a board from downtown’s Air and Speed Surf Shop (rentals from $35; 631-668-0356) and tackle the waves any weekend you like, using the funky East Deck Motel (from $110; eastdeckmotel.com), in Ditch Plains, as base camp.

Los Angeles

Los Angeles
San Gabriel River in the Angeles National Forest (courtesy, wikimedia)

Canyoneer

TRAVEL: 20 MILES

Hook up with Alpine Training Services ($120; alpinets.com) to rappel down 70 feet of cascading waterfalls in the San Gabriel Mountains’ Little Santa Anita, a bolted canyon located in the Angeles National Forest (fs.fed.us/r5/angeles). Or, for a bigger challenge, try tackling nearby Fox Canyon (natural anchors only), where the highest of more than eight waterfalls drops 100 feet.

Surf

TRAVEL: 66 MILES

Score some uncrowded waves on the back side of Channel Islands National Park (nps.gov/chis). Island Packers ($85; islandpackers.com) runs ferries from Ventura Harbor to Bechers Bay, on Santa Rosa Island. From there it’s a seven-mile hike past marshland and through Island Chumash archaeological sites to East Point, where a strong south swell can produce six-to-ten-foot waves. After a day in the surf, camp in the backcountry, less than half a mile from the action (reservations required; call 805-658-5730 for availability).

Mountain-Bike

TRAVEL: 156 MILES

Test your skills on Pine Valley’s Tour de Noble (mountainbikebill.com/tourdenoble), just east of San Diego. The three-trail network covers more than 30 miles of singletrack, including ten miles of Southern California’s classic Noble Canyon Trail. After conquering the grueling climb known to locals as “L’ Alpe d’Wheeze,” recover with beer, local wine, and homemade ratatouille (all complimentary) at the nearby Orchard Hill Country Inn (doubles from $195, including breakfast; orchardhill.com).

Eat

TRAVEL: 161 MILES

Nourish your soul (and kitchen acumen) at La Cocina Que Canta, the new farm-to-table culinary school at Baja California adventure spa Rancho La Puerta. The 4,500-square-foot school sits on a six-acre organic farm a two-mile hike from the resort—the perfect setting for learning how to prepare seafood skewers in a curry corn sauce (classes from $125; doubles from $411, seven-night minimum; rancholapuerta.com).

Philadelphia

Rock-Climb

TRAVEL: 49 MILES

Trek through Tohickon Valley Park toward the 200-foot shale cliff known as High Rocks. The wall is craggy enough to give both experienced and newer climbers a workout and, once summited, offers expansive views of the Tohickon Creek valley. When the sun starts to dip, camp near the banks of the creek (campsites from $15; buckscounty.org).

Road-Bike

TRAVEL: 85 MILES

Spin through the sleepy countryside of Lancaster County. This 84-mile road ride (lancasterbikeclub.org) through the Susquehanna Valley features 6,000 feet of climbing and the chance to break at Susquehannock State Park (padutch.com/z/susquehannocksp.htm). Afterwards, roll into the Harvest Moon Bed and Breakfast, in nearby New Holland, where the innkeepers are also your personal chefs (doubles from $99; harvestmoonbandb.com).

Eat

TRAVEL: 130 MILES

Go green at Natural Acres, an organic farm in Millersburg that recently opened a five-room bed-and-breakfast serving raw-milk cheeses, farm-raised organic eggs, and homemade white spelt bread (doubles from $65, including breakfast; naturalacres.com).

Paddle

TRAVEL: 309 MILES

Canoe down the placid Clarion River in Cook Forest State Park, a sprawling 8,500 acres of woodsy goodness that features some of the tallest and oldest trees in the country—including white pine and hemlock. Then step ashore to explore the park’s more than 30 hiking trails, or cast a line in the Clarion, chock-full of trout, bass, and catfish, before sleeping in one of 22 cabins or at one of hundreds of campsites (campsites from $15; cookforest.com).

Seattle

Seattle

Seattle Mount Rainier

Relax

TRAVEL: zero

Escape reality without leaving the city at Hotel 1000, Seattle’s newest and plushest urban resort. Packed with high-tech amenities like ambient-heat sensors that warn maids not to knock when you’re in your room and golf simulators that allow you to “play” St. Andrews and Pebble Beach, the hotel is within easy walking distance of Pike Place Market and the newly expanded Seattle Art Museum. It’s also the perfect base camp for kayaking on Lake Union or cycling the Burke Gilman Trail. Plus the resort is home to Spaahh (the name says it all) and BOKA, a hip oasis of blown glass, bamboo sculptures, and modern American cuisine (doubles from $225; hotel1000seattle.com).

Mountaineer

TRAVEL: 81 MILES

Climb 14,410-foot Mount Rainier with the help of the experienced mountain guides at Rainier Mountaineering Inc., an outfitter with 38 years’ experience leading clients up America’s tallest volcano. Over a three-day summit bid along the Disappointment Cleaver Route, clients will bunk in huts at Camp Muir and learn skills like traversing glaciers, route-finding, cramponing, and self-arresting (from $805; rmiguides.com).

Paddle

TRAVEL: 166 MILES

Sea-kayak among seals, sea lions, and even the occasional orca with Cathlamet-based Columbia River Kayaking ($125; columbiariverkayaking.com), in southwestern Washington’s Willapa Bay (visit.willapabay.org). Then go ashore to walk or run 24-mile Long Beach before turning in at the 111-year old Shelburne Inn (doubles from $139; theshelburneinn.com), with its antique furnishings and Shoalwater Restaurant.

Mountain-Bike

TRAVEL: 221 MILES

Rip along Whistler Mountain Bike Park’s125 miles of trails, 6,000 feet up WhistlerBlackcomb, Canada’s premier ski resort (whistlerbike.com). Or try West Coast Freeride Guides’ Floatplane Biking Adventure ($280; freerideguides.com), which airlifts clients to Warner Lake, feeds them lunch, and leads them along 24 miles of advanced singletrack through the Southern Chilcotin Mountains. When the riding ends, downshift at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler, with its new Wine Room restaurant ($159; fairmont.com/whistler).

Denver

Denver
Thunder Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park (courtesy, NPS)

Drink

TRAVEL: 30 MILES

Sample local wines at some of the Front Range’s 20 wineries (coloradowine.com), including award-winning Viogniers at Boulder’s Bookcliff Vineyard tasting room (bookcliffvineyards.com), on Pearl Street, dry, rich merlots at the Boulder Creek Winery (bouldercreekwine.com), and honey wine at Redstone Meadery (redstonemeadery.com). Then pass out at Boulder’s Briar Rose Bed and Breakfast, where the next day you can relax in the meditation room or enjoy an organic breakfast before heading home (doubles from $149; briarrosebb.com).

Fish

TRAVEL: 70 MILES

Cast a line for the kind of fish that keep fly-fishermen up at night. Nursed back from the brink of extinction, greenback cutthroat trout are vibrant Front Range natives now fishable in Rocky Mountain National Park (nps.gov/romo). Hike or ride a horse in with Wild Basin Outfitters (from $250 per day; wildbasinoutfitters.com) to Odessa Lake, where cuts salivate over Parachute Adams. Later, spend the night at the 90-year-old Baldpate Inn (doubles from $100, including breakfast; baldpateinn.com).

Relax

TRAVEL: 164 MILES

Soak in the buff at Valley View Hot Springs, the San Luis Valley’s secluded wilderness resort. The natural pools have seen heavy traffic since at least 1873, when local iron miners came here to bathe. These days, visitors come to experience the tranquillity of one of the state’s unofficial spiritual centers. Call in advance to reserve a tent site, historic cabin, or room in the communal lodge (from $52, including use of hot springs; olt.org).

Paddle

TRAVEL: 228 MILES

Boat the narrow channels of the 22-mile-long Blue Mesa Reservoir, Colorado’s largest body of water, with Alan Bernholtz, Crested Butte mayor and owner of Crested Butte Mountain Guides. CBMG leads overnight sea-kayaking trips (camping gear provided) on the reservoir, taking you past eerie volcanic formations in the high desert ($240; crestedbutteguides.com).

Boston

Martha's Vineyard
Menemsha Harbor in Martha's Vineyard (courtesy, MOTT)

Paddle

TRAVEL: 40 MILES

Rent a boat from North Shore KayakOutdoor Center ($20; northshorekayak.com), in Rockport, paddle almost three miles to Thacher Island (thacherisland.org), and climb to the top of one of the twin lighthouses where, on a good day, you can see all the way to Provincetown. Back on the mainland, enjoy the view of Rockport Harbor from an oceanfront deck at the Peg Leg Inn (doubles from $145; thepegleginn.com).

Relax

TRAVEL: 75 MILES

Land a suite for the weekend at the Winnetu Oceanside Resort (doubles from $260; winnetu.com), on Martha’s Vineyard, then hit the beach with your rod and reel. Try your luck with stripers in the surf at South Beach—only 250 yards from your door—or bike over to Menemsha and fly-fish for albacore.

Mountain-Bike

TRAVEL: 89 MILES

Roll over 15 miles of new and refurbished singletrack inside central Massachusetts’s Wendell State Forest. The three-mile Hannah Swarton Trail skirts past rock ledges and laurel thickets and down switchbacks (mass.gov/dcr/parks/central/wndl.htm). At the end of the day, quench your thirst with a Red-Headed Stepchild at the Northampton Brewery Bar and Grille before heading to the nearby Hotel Northampton (doubles from $175; hotelnorthampton.com). 

Hike

TRAVEL: 189 MILES

Work your legs in Maine’s Mahoosuc Mountains on the new 13-mile addition to the Grafton Loop Trail (matc.org/glt1). Unveiled this summer, it traverses some of the most rugged and, until now, inaccessible land in the state. Follow the Appalachian Trail from Grafton Notch State Park and climb up 4,180-foot Old Speck, the third-highest mountain in Maine, then connect with the GLT and make your way up to Sunday River Whitecap for one of the best views of the Mahoosucs. With 39 miles of trails and eight campsites in the area, multi-day adventures abound, but after a long day you may crave a little TLC, so make tracks to the spa at Sunday River Resort (doubles from $115; sundayriver.com).

Chicago

Chicago
Chicago skyline (Corbis)

Kiteboard

TRAVEL: 51 MILES

Stick your feet in the sand and feel your city stress fade at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore (nps.gov/indu), a 15,000-acre park on the southern shore of Lake Michigan. Or get your adrenaline fix by signing up for kiteboarding lessons with Chicago Kitesurfing ($150; chicagokitesurfing.com), then pitch a tent at one of the park’s 78 campsites.

Bike

TRAVEL: 99 MILES

Hammer the 30 miles of singletrack that lace the glacial hills of Wisconsin’s Kettle Moraine State Forest (dnr.wi.gov). The John Muir trails are the most popular, so skip them. Instead, ride the 8.4-mile Emma Carlin loop and the ten-mile Connector, which are more technical (steeper, with more mini-boulders and roots) than the Muir but see only a fraction of the riders. And bring your road bike, too: BackyardBikes.com features printable, user-friendly guides to two dozen popular paved routes throughout the state forest. Bed down beneath stands of old-growth hardwoods at one of two walk-in car-camping sites at the Ottawa Lake campground (dnr.wi.gov), or head to Lake Geneva’s Bella Vista Suites for fluffy robes and a private balcony overlooking the lake (doubles from $189; bellavistasuites.com).

Relax

TRAVEL: 145 MILES

Book yourself an Immersion Suite at the Kohler Waters Spa (doubles from $663; destinationkohler.com), in Kohler, Wisconsin. With plasma TVs, whirlpool baths, and a dozen in-room treatments to choose from, you’ll never want to leave your Eastern-influenced pad. Bonus: This December, Kohler will open a satellite spa in Burr Ridge, Illinois, a scant 19 miles from downtown.

Fish

TRAVEL: 210 MILES

Nymph, single-hand fly-fish, or learn to speycast (it’s an artful, two-handed technique) for 20-pound steelhead on Michigan’s wide-open Muskegon River with local expert and Gray Drake Lodge owner Matt Supinski (doubles $500, including guiding and lessons; graydrake.com).

Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C.
Assateague Island (courtesy, wikimedia)

Paddle

TRAVEL: 45 MILES

Kayak Class III rapids on the Mirant Power Plant’s 16-year-old artificial course with Tsangpo veteran Tom McEwan’s outfit, Liquid Adventures ($110; liquidadventures.org). Located in Dickerson, Maryland, the course is a training center for the USA Canoe/Kayak National Whitewater Slalom Team.

Rock-Climb

TRAVEL: 136 MILES

Send the Narrows, a 1,300-yard cliff band of sandstone from 20 to 200 feet high, full of ledges, horizontals, and imposing roofs, just outside Cumberland, Maryland. Nearly unclimbed until 2002, it now has close to 100 established routes ranging from 5.2 to 5.10+, including multipitch and some top-roping. While there, stay at the Stonebow Inn, a bed-and-breakfast in nearby Grantsville, where you can cast for trout on the Casselman River ($135; stonebowinn.com).

Hike

TRAVEL: 147 MILES

Explore Assateague Island National Seashore’s backcountry, a sublime 48,000 acres of wilderness on the Atlantic seaboard. There’s the pounding Atlantic surf on one side, Sinepuxent Bay on the other, and, in between, rolling sand dunes, pine forests, and green salt marshes where wild ponies and sika deer roam. With no potable water available, chances are you’ll be one of the few at any of the waterfront’s six first-come, first-served backcountry campsites (from $5; nps.gov/asis).

Mountain-Bike

TRAVEL: 241 MILES

Tear up the 100 miles and 1,500 vertical feet of doubletrack, singletrack, and fire roads spread over 11,000 acres at WestVirginia’s Snowshoe Mountain. Or tackle the four-year-old bike park, featuring ladders, jumps, and drops ($37; ride.snowshoemtn.com). At night, recover in the hot tub at the Rimfire Lodge (doubles from $154; snowshoemountain.com).

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