Some of us, when we envision the perfect vacation, do not dream of sitting slothful poolside, drowsing in the island breezes. Rather, we imagine exploring new territory on land and sea. Here are five great spots for the active traveler.
A long day's drive can take you from Oklahoma's red dirt to the majesty of the mountains in Colorado. Any number of popular Colorado destinations offer everything from hiking and biking to white water rafting. Consider Boulder which boasts the Flatiron rock walls which flank Green Mountain. Climbers can clamber up walls One through Five on any given day, and get a bird's eye view of the valley. Chatauqua Park is a National Historic Landmark which was established in the late 1800s as a retreat. Miles of paths and gardens are open every day, all day for free. Run, walk, amble and picnic here, or use one of the trailheads to wend your way to greater heights. And if you can't go anywhere without getting your run or walk on, then head to Boulder Creek Path, a 5.5 mile long trail which stretches along the river without any automotive traffic. Rollerblades and bikes are also welcome here, and you might spot a kayak or two on the river.
Florida opens its sunny doors all year round for active travelers. Its coasts are known as popular destinations for sunbathers, but consider taking a fitness cruise from the port in Miami. Cruise lines hosts cruises with climbing, yoga, Pilates and a plethora a fitness classes. Landside, boaters can snorkel, kayak, swim and hike. But if boats make you green, visit the Keys for a taste of real Florida chill. Birding, boating, fishing, hiking and swimming are all on tap here. Or consider a day trip to the giant mangrove islands; sail out with a group, then take a kayak for a close up look at these fascinating natural islands.
Travel farther north and east to New York City. A city of four seasons, New York can be a break from the southern heat in the summer, and can give outdoor adventurers more than enough to do. Visit the Astoria Park Pool, which was built in 1936, by designer Robert Moses to give bathers a full-frontal of his most famous work, the Triborough (now RFK) Bridge. A 330 square foot main pool also features an Olympic regulation diving pool and a wading pool for the little ones. Venture to the Bronx Zoo for nearly 300 acres of wildlife, including a baboon reserve, a sea lion pool and the Wild Asia Monorail. On Wednesdays, entrance fee is pay-what-you-like. If that's just too much, or you happen to be in love, stroll over the Brooklyn Bridge, which was opened in 1883. The span is over a mile long, and is a popular spot for lovers to hang locks as a symbol of their love (though this is discouraged due to weight and corrosion). When the bridge opened, it was the longest suspension bridge, and the first to cross the East River. John A. Roebling designed the bridge and invented the steel wire cables of which it is built. From the bridge, visitors get a grand view of Manhattan, the Statue of Liberty and Governor's Island. For the runners and walkers, few can resist a jaunt through Central Park.
Crisscrossing this land and going westward ho, California has it all for the outdoor enthusiast. San Jose, aside from belonging securely to Silicon Valley, is a hot spot of organic gardening. Visit one of 18 community gardens and learn how the city is working to make organics both viable and affordable. San Diego and Anaheim both score high in access to fitness facilities, but what we like is that there is as much to do outside as in. Surfing, hiking and outdoor yoga are popular here. Travel north to cooler San Francisco for outdoor concerts and plays and art shows, if culture and fitness are your bag.
Finally, if you need to get off the continent, visit sun-drenched Kauai, Hawaii. On this island alone, visitors can hike along the Waimea Canyon, a 10-mile long, 1-mile wide gorge, or they can drive it if that seems more prudent. Hiking is $1 per day per person. For more strenuous hiking, visitors hit hte Kalalau Trail which are known colloquially as "The Cliffs." Those with an aversion to heights may want to hit the pool on that day, because the vistas and the climbing are pretty intense. People can visit the coast on catamarans or kayays, but the waters are rough on this side of the island. If you want to shell out some clams, take a helicopter tour of the area. A hiking permit here is $20 for a day. Go where the locals go and visit Kalapaki Beach. Tasty waves make this a hangout for local surfers, and there are fewer kids here. Rentals of all sorts are available. Get your miles in on the Kalalau Trail, an 11 mile route from Ke'e Beach to Kalalau. But be mindful that the steep dropoffs have been known to spook more than a few runners and walkers.
Anywhere you go for a vacation is bound to have outdoor adventures awaiting. You just have to know where to look.