1 Backwoods Hiking in the Adirondacks
Pack your compass, binoculars, and Timberlands to roam Adirondack State Park, a 6 million—acre landscape of isolated lakes, granite peaks, and hardwood forests in upstate New York. If you somehow exhaust the 2,000 miles of trails, you can stop to watch eagles and red-tailed hawks from the fire tower atop Blue Mountain, cast for brown trout in icy streams outside Lake Placid, or canoe past beaver dams on the Oswegatchie River. For a real workout, tackle 2,874-foot St. Regis Mountain, a vertical climb that rewards you with panoramic views of the High Peaks. Or sign up for a group bushwhack with the Adirondack Mountain Club (518/523-3441; www.adk.org).
where to stay Make your base camp in one of the down-to-earth log cabins at the Wawbeek (800/953-2656; www.wawbeek.com; doubles from $145), a rustic Adirondack lodge on the shores of Upper Saranac Lake. how to get there Drive the six hours from New York City to Lake Placid on Interstate 87. Or fly: Continental has daily connections to Saranac Lake and Burlington, Vermont. don't miss The stellar collection of Great Camp furniture, paintings, and guide boats at the Adirondack Museum on Blue Mountain Lake (518/352-7311; www.adirondackmuseum.org).
2 Baja California: Return to Nature
Baja has all the beauty and promise of the West, on Mexican time. Be as active as you want: the sapphire Sea of Cortés is perfect for kayaking, deep-sea fishing, and diving. From January through March, keep your eyes peeled for gray whales along the Pacific Coast. Or just have a nice long siesta. Baja Expeditions (800/843-6967; www.bajaex.com) offers a variety of eco-adventures ideal for a long weekend.
where to stay Danzante Baja Eco-Resort (408/354-0042; www.danzante.com; doubles from $220, including meals and some activities) is so remote it doesn't even have an address. The solar-powered resort, 20 miles from Loreto, has nine hilltop suites with private terraces, hammocks, and stunning views of the sea. Mexican-tile bathrooms and hand-stitched quilts add to the sense of laid-back luxury. But time is the real indulgence here: Have a margarita poolside while you contemplate the sunset; dinner is ready when you are. how to get there Aero California flies the 110-minute nonstop from Los Angeles to Loreto. AeroMexico has a stopover but originates in more U.S. cities. don't miss An overnight tent experience—with candlelit dinner for two—on the resort's private white-sand beach, accessible only by boat. Gilligan never had it so good.
3 Heli-Fishing in British Columbia
Less than 100 miles from Vancouver, the glacier-cloaked Coast Mountains shelter serpentine rivers teeming with char, salmon, and trout. To plumb these remote valleys, you need either (a) backwoods savvy, strong boots, and an iron will, or (b) a helicopter. We recommend (b). Flying in from your lodge on the Strait of Georgia, you'll navigate sheer rock walls thousands of feet high before landing on a forest-girded gravel bank, where master guides will show you where to cast and which flies to use. If you're truly hopeless, they'll even set the hook for you.
where to stay After a day hip-deep in 36-degree water, you'll relish the outdoor hot tub at the Rendezvous Adventure Resort (866/833-4323; www.50N125W.com; three-day heli-fishing package $2,695 per person). Nothing beats sinking into the bubbling warmth and looking out over the mountainous hinterland you've just angled. how to get there From Seattle, it's a two-hour hop on Northwest Seaplanes (800/690-0086; $380 per person round-trip for up to six people) to the lodge's dock. don't miss The front-seat view as your chopper crosses over the Homathko Ice Field en route to the Southgate River. Surrounded by the glass of the bubble nose as you skim over the luminous blue ice, you'll feel as if you're floating over a distant planet.
4 Dominican Republic: Get Wet
The Amber Coast, on the north side of the island, is named for the rich mineral deposits in the nearby hills. But water and air are the essential elements in the town of Cabarete, which calls itself the windsurfing capital of the world. If you're a beginner, head for the flat sand and freshwater of Islabon Lagoon, where Happy Surfpool (809/571-0784; www.happycabarete.com) can teach you windsurfing, surfing, or wakeboarding. You can also learn kiteboarding; dive and snorkel in the calmer waters at Sosua Beach up the road; or head to the hills for mountain biking and rafting.
where to stay Natura Cabañas (809/571-1507; www.naturacabana.com; doubles from $100, including breakfast), run by a Chilean couple, Lole Sumar and Pablo Garimani, is on a private beach away from Cabarete's main drag. Its six thatched-roof bungalows are tucked away in the trees with porches, hammocks, and rockers. The beachfront café serves fresh seafood; Lole teaches yoga and handles the spa treatments. how to get there Continental flies direct from Newark to Puerto Plata (a 20-minute drive away); American, from Miami. don't miss A guided horseback ride through the lush mountains, waterfalls, and caves of the Cordillera Septentrional (Rancho Alcantara; 809/571-0816; www.hispaniola.com/alcantara).