Best Outdoor Adventure Destinations

Where can you find outdoor adventure? Sometimes in your own backyard (just search your state’s tourism site). But if you want an adventure you won’t find at home, we’ve got six suggestions – in no particular order.

  • Click the city name to find the best flight deals.

LISTEN: Travel expert Rick Seaney says you don’t have to be a lumberjack to love this list.

Vancouver, Canada

This British Columbia gem offers plenty of adventurous nightlife (dining and shopping, too) but it really shines when it comes to the great outdoors. Take your pick between the mountains and the sea and go for a hike, ski in winter, ride a bike anytime, take a whale-watching excursion (or see exotic creatures at the Vancouver Aquarium) and do not miss Stanley Park with its majestically eerie totem poles. Golfers will love this city, too, and we haven’t scratched the surface. More attraction, dining and shopping info here.

 Four more cities for adventurous travelers

Rapid City, South Dakota

This big little city is the gateway to incredible national treasures like the Devils Tower National Monument, Custer State Park, Badlands National Park, the Crazy Horse Memorial and of course, Mount Rushmore. When it’s time to relax, check out the local brew pubs and wineries. More attraction, dining and shopping info here.

Knoxville, Tennessee

You’re a mere 45 minute drive from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park where you can explore unusual caves, walk the Appalachian Trail, hike to the summit of Chimney Tops for an panoramic view of the surrounding mountains. When it’s break time, Knoxville has summer Shakespeare and winter Christmas festivals but for attractions along the lines of Ripley’s Believe It or Not Odditorium, plan to stop in Gatlinburg. More info about the national park here, Knoxville here and Gatlinburg here.

San Diego, California

This sprawling region of Southern California boasts great weather year-round which pairs perfectly with its 70 miles of beaches. Surfing, kayaking, it’s all here and when you’re done with water sports, try sky-diving or hike the Sunset Cliffs Beach walk or play a round at one of 90 golf courses. We haven’t forgotten you bird watchers either: Keep your eyes out for American peregrine falcons and short-eared owls. A hot club scene, too. More attraction, dining and shopping info here.

Traverse City, Michigan

This town likes to boast that “awe-inspiring natural beauty waits for you around every turn,” so get out there and backpack your way through some beauty. Or kayak or sail your way around vast Lake Michigan. There is also hunting and fishing and skiing and ice climbing and canoeing. Need more? They’ve got dog sledding! More attraction, dining and shopping info here.

Tip: If you don’t mind a fly-and-drive vacation, you may save big by flying into Detroit (255 miles from Traverse City) or Chicago (315 away). It’s a good excuse to see those towns, too.

Burlington, Vermont

We like Vermont for its beautiful mountains in winter, the Lake Champlain Islands in summer and its old-fashioned beauty and charm year-round. Go for a walk, go for a hike, go climb a mountain and of course, the skiing is terrific. So is the fall foliage. So is the maple syrup. So is the antiquing. So is everything. More attraction, dining and shopping info here.

Tip: Although you can find deals to Burlington, if you don’t mind a  drive, Boston may cost a lot less (it’s 215 miles away).

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Published: July 16, 2014