The Best Weekend Escapes of 2017
Make the most of summer with these 48-hour adventures, from surfing in Texas to tasting your way through Oregon’s wine country
For exclusive access to all of our fitness, gear, adventure, and travel stories, plus discounts on trips, events, and gear, sign up for Outside+ today and save 20 percent.
North Carolina: Shred in Paradise
To fill the void of lift-served bike parks in the southern Appalachians, Bailey Mountain Bike Park shuttles riders for $35 to the top of a private peak outside Asheville. From there you can bomb through roller-coaster berms or try black-diamond trails with sizable gap jumps. The Banshee, a crazy run with rock drops, kickers, and tabletops, is probably our favorite. With 1,000 vertical feet and a daily cap of 65 bikers, traffic is nil. At day’s end, an outrageous density of breweries await you in Asheville, 30 minutes away. Stop by Wicked Weed, which serves superior IPAs and sours.
Texas: Ride the Breakers
After years of hype, the world-class wave park NLand opened in Austin last October. At $60, you can now you can surf to a self-sustaining, 1,000-foot-long, rainwater-fed lagoon that forms a perfectly sculpted wave every two minutes. The break has multiple entry points, and you can up your game in a surprisingly short period of time. Beginners head for the foot-high open-face wave, while the more advanced catch a six-foot interior face with a 35-second barrel ride. It ain’t the beach, but after each surf session you can step out for perfectly smoked brisket—this is Austin, after all—at classic joints like Franklin Barbecue.
Georgia: Stay Afloat
Much of the Peach State’s 100 miles of stunning coastline hasn’t changed since the days of Blackbeard. Why not experience it from a former shrimping boat? The 42-foot Captain Gabby has room to sleep six ($400), with all the kayaks, rods, and paddleboards you need to explore remote channels and 13 barrier islands. Spend your days wandering the creeks of St. Catherines and Blackbeard Island’s boneyard beaches, then return to the boat at sunset for cocktails and a meal of fresh trout or shrimp grits cooked up by the captain and deckhand.
Colorado: Stay High
Following in the style and tradition of Europe’s legendary ski huts, Opus is built for the winter. But the place is just as fantastic in summer, and it’s an ideal base camp for up to 16 mountain bikers and hikers who want deluxe digs and immediate access to the goods in the San Juan Mountains. At 11,700 feet, you can hike directly from the hut on old mule trails to alpine lakes or drop big singletrack descents off Ophir Pass. Dinner will be waiting when you get back to your solar-powered abode, prepared with local ingredients by an in-house chef. Private rooms start from $120; $640 for the full hut.
Utah: Hit the Wall
Climbers and native-rights advocates rejoiced last December when President Obama established Bears Ears National Monument. On the east side of Canyonlands National Park, Bears Ears measures over 1.3 million acres full of cliff dwellings and thousands of pieces of prehistoric art. Head to Indian Creek, at the northern end of the monument, for some of the best crack climbing in the world. Venture into the Valley of the Gods, or take a guided trip or climbing clinic on sandstone towers with Moab Desert Adventures. “There are several lifetimes’ worth of climbing here,” says Josh Ewing, a climber himself and executive director of Friends of Cedar Mesa, a nonprofit that pushed for establishing a monument at Bears Ears. Responsible recreation could be the best way to support the resource-rich area’s federally protected status, which some are trying to have revoked.
Montana: Run a River
Depending on water levels, a three-hour hike—or a bush plane—is required to reach the sweet spot of the Flathead River. Luckily, Glacier Raft Company has you covered either way. On its four- and five-day trips (starting at $750) in June and July, you can fly to a grassy landing strip or hike with pack animals for six miles into the Great Bear Wilderness. Expect big water in June, as the snowmelt fills the river basin, and more technical whitewater in July, when the water is lower and the westslope cutthroat will swim right up to the bank by your campsite, ready to bite. “We’ll spend five days rafting the river and never see another person,” says Jeff Baldelli, co-owner of Glacier Raft. “The pressure on this fishery is nonexistent.”
New Mexico: Pick Your Own
Depending on what’s available for harvest on-site, the menu at Los Ranchos de Albuquerque’s Los Poblanos Historic Inn and Organic Farm rotates constantly, starting at $210. Days begin with local eggs, bacon, and cakes infused with honey from the resident bees. On Saturdays, guests are free to pitch in around the 25-acre grounds, or borrow one of the inn’s bikes and explore the Paseo del Bosque Trail, which follows the Rio Grande. Go in June, when the property’s lavender fields are in bloom. With a glass of champagne before dinner, you’ll feel like you’re in Provence.
New York: Paddle the Adirondacks
Adirondack Park is the largest publicly protected area in the contiguous U.S. Its 330,000 acres are predominantly wet and home to more than 3,000 lakes and ponds and 30,000 miles of rivers. With St. Regis Canoe Outfitters, you can knock out a pristine section of the park northwest of St. Regis Canoe Area on its three-day Floodwood Pond Loop. Along the way, you’ll have your choice of fishing holes, including the sandy bottom at Clear Pond. Pick a new campsite each night, and spend a day on Long Mountain—accessible only by boat—for views of the forest from the summit. Two-day guided trips start at $299, with canoe rentals from $210.
Philadelphia: Find Philly’s Wild Side
From a burgeoning trail system to the city’s first ax-throwing bar, Philadelphia is happening. Hop on a bike and ride the Schuylkill River Trail, a 26-mile path that connects to the 300-mile Circuit Trail. For a bigger challenge, try the 12-mile course used by the Philadephia International Cycling Classic, which includes the 17-percent-grade Manayunk Wall. Recharge at one of the food trucks around the Oval, an eight-acre park near the Museum of Art, then head to Urban Axes, a hatchet-throwing club that offers walk-in lessons (from $20; urbanaxes.com). Stay at the new AKA University City Hotel for around $225, where you can play 3-D golf in the fitness center.
Nova Scotia: Go Coastal
With a compact 10,000 acres, Nova Scotia’s Cape Chignecto Provincial Park runs from the rugged tip of Cape Chignecto to the wild Bay of Fundy. Take three days to hike through old-growth forest and rocky beaches via the 32-mile Cape Chignecto Coastal Trail. You’ll yo-yo from sea level to the top of 600-foot lookouts, wandering across beaches hemmed by rocky coves. Be sure to time your hike with the tide—certain beaches expand when it’s low, and some river crossings are impossible when it’s high. On the plus side, you’ll be able to pack light: a series of primitive cabins along the trail allow you to ditch the tent.
Nebraska: Party on the Prairie
On August 21, a total eclipse will be visible in the lower 48 for the first time since 1979. It won’t happen again until 2024. For the best view, we like the Sandhills, a vast grassland in western Nebraska with low light pollution and typically clear skies. Small towns and private ranches will host viewing parties throughout the area, but find your own spot along the two-lane Sandhill Journey Scenic Byway. Since the eclipse lasts only two minutes and 40 seconds in Nebraska, you’ll have time to kill. This is your chance to try “tanking,” a state pastime that involves floating down the Middle Loop River in a 1,500-gallon steel livestock-feed container. (It’s way better than a tube. Seriously.) Glidden Canoe Rental, at the Sandhills Motel offers tank rentals, with shuttle included for $20.
Michigan: Ride the Upper Peninsula
The 16,000-square-mile Upper Peninsula might as well be its own state, if not its own country. Cell coverage is spotty, roads are minimal, and the landscape is surprisingly wild. The best way to explore it is on a mountain bike, and the tiny town of Copper Harbor has more than 35 miles of singletrack famous for its intermediate flow trails and freeride-inspired downhills. (For more on Copper Harbor, see “Superiority Complex” page 64.) Twenty minutes south, Mount Bohemia has 15 miles of trails and a new log-cabin-style hostel that comes complete with, according to its owners, the largest hot tub in the Upper Peninsula. Respect. Breakfast and dinner are included for $45.
Oregon: Explore New Terroir
Napa shmapa. Forty years after transplants from California began settling into Oregon’s lush Willamette Valley, the region is widely recognized for producing some of the world’s best pinot noirs. There are more than 500 wineries between Mount Hood and Willamette National Forests and the coast south of Portland. Start at the southern end, at King Estate Vineyards, and splurge on dinner at King Estate’s farm-to-table restaurant. Then drive north to Sokol Blosser, a B Corp–certified winery, for a hike through the 120-acre estate and lunch ($75; sokolblosser.com). Finish by kayaking six miles down the Willam-ette River and riding back up the Trolley Trail with the Bike Concierge on its new half-day trip, starting at $75.
California: Camp Like a VIP
Even if you hate the word glamping, you can’t deny the appeal of four-star comfort in a wilderness setting. Mendocino Grove, a collection of plush safari-style tents (starting at $115) and refurbished Airstream trailers, is tucked into 32 wooded acres in Mendocino County. Wi-Fi, hot showers, and a gas barbecue are available—this is the perfect hideout to return to after hiking in Jackson State Park or cruising the cliff line of Highway 1. Set aside time to explore the tidal estuary of the Big River in a hand-carved outrigger canoe from Catch a Canoe and Bicycles, Too (from $28). At sunset, bioluminescent plankton cast a light green glow just below the surface of the water.