10 Trips Close to Home
Published: May 2009
Slow down, you move too fast. Here, 10 trips close to home that are guaranteed to help you unwind
Need a cure for spring fever?T+L has the perfect prescription: Pack your bags and hit the road. Whether you're looking to be worked on at a spa, get worked up on a hike, or do as little work as possible, America has no shortage of great escapes. So, put away your passport: we've found some of the most relaxing destinations in the country, from Puerto Rico's sandy shores to the wide-open plains of Texas.
BEACH: Horned Dorset Primavera, PUERTO RICO
Unlike many Caribbean resorts, the Horned Dorset, on Puerto Rico's unspoiled west coast, prides itself on its lack of activities. Here you won't have to make any decisions other than whether to lounge by the enormous pool or on the hotel's smallish, but no less enchanting, beach. Do both—swim in the pool in the morning, and then spend the rest of the day at the beach, reading or napping under an umbrella. Or take long walks along vast golden stretches. The resort recently expanded, taking over an adjacent hillside and adding a cluster of whitewashed Mediterranean town houses with 22 new suites and tiny private pools. We recommend a room by the seawall, so close to the ocean that you'll feel as if you're aboard a ship. At night, with the French doors open, the sound of the sea is a constant companion.
Rincón; 800/633-1857 or 787/823-4030; www.horneddorset.com; doubles from $440, including breakfast and dinner.
INN: Beat Hotel, CALIFORNIA
Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and William S. Burroughs shared a secret: nothing unleashes the creative spirit like a hotel room. With that in mind, the Beat Hotel opens this month in the California desert. All eight guest rooms of the restored 1957 motel are decorated with paintings and photographs by Burroughs himself. In case inspiration strikes, each room is equipped with a vintage manual typewriter. Unlike the original beatniks, however, you don't have to suffer for your art. Instead of urban grit, you have sweeping views of the Coachella Valley, a surreal mix of palm trees, desert sand, wind farms, and mountains. And after you're done writing, head to Palm Springs, the epicenter of Mid-Century Modern, a 10-minute drive away. Or just recharge in the swimming pool and the silky waters of the mineral spa.
67840 Hacienda Dr., Desert Hot Springs; 760/251-6470; www.dhsbeathotel.com; doubles from $150, including breakfast.
ACTIVE: Appalachian Trail, MAINE
Hiking the length of the Appalachian Trail—from Georgia to Maine (all 2,173 miles)—has been a rite of passage for some 7,000 hikers over the past 70 years. Now, with the addition of the 700-mile International Appalachian Trail, there is more than ever to explore. To be among the first to experience this new pathway, make your home base the rustic Lodge at Moosehead Lake in Greenville, Maine. Tables are built of twigs; curtain rods are fashioned from birch branches; and moose antlers adorn the mantel above an old stone fireplace. The new trail, which starts at the summit of Mount Katahdin, weaves through some of the most remote stretches of the great North Woods. Don't miss the first rays of sunshine at the top of the mile-high mountain—on a clear day, you can see Canada.
Lily Bay Rd., Greenville; 800/825-6977 or 207/695-4400; www.lodgeatmooseheadlake.com; doubles from $185.
INN: Ram's Head Inn, NEW YORK
Shelter Island, as the name suggests, is a particular kind of haven. Just south of Long Island's North Fork, it's the sort of place where the 2,500 year-round residents really do know one another's names, and where classic summer houses coexist happily with swaths of wild grasses, dunes, and horse farms. The Ram's Head Inn embodies everything that is best about the island. The cedar-shingled house sits on a hill overlooking a spit of land with water on either side. From the back porch, you can look across Coecles Harbor and spot ospreys and their nests, large and saucer-shaped high atop telephone poles. Or you can rent bicycles and head into town for sandwiches at Island Food Center, or ride to Dering Harbor, with its grand houses and yachts. The inn's 17 rooms are spacious and quaint; you can imagine them having housed generations of New Englanders. The restaurant serves everything from omelettes to lobster to pistachio pie. If you want to head to the beach, it's just steps away, and your footprints may well be the only ones on it.
108 Ram Island Dr., Big Ram Island; 631/749-0811; www.shelterislandinns.com; doubles from $250.
SPA: Wilderness Adventure Spa, WYOMING
You can find a place that doles out manicures and massages anywhere, but the Wilderness Adventure Spa at Spring Creek Ranch in Jackson Hole—home of adrenaline-inducing skiing, climbing, and biking—works adventure into the treatment menu. Start with a session of reiki on horseback, an advanced-level form of horse whispering in which equine energy is harnessed to help free your energy flow. Once your qi is charged, head to the woods to learn how to build a Native American sweat lodge. And since spring in the Tetons can be a bit chilly, try some meditation or yoga postures around the open fire pit. Indoors, there are more-traditional spa offerings—hot-stone massage, mud wraps, paraffin pedicures. After "relaxing" Jackson Hole-style, you've earned them.
1800 Spirit Dance Rd., Jackson; 800/443-6139; www.springcreekranch.com; doubles from $150, including breakfast; treatments from $58.
FOOD: Sonoma Farm Tour, CALIFORNIA
With menus around the country dropping names like Laura Chenel goat cheese and Liberty duck, can celebrity farmers be far behind?Farm field-trips to Sonoma Valley's artisanal producers are becoming the new wine tours. Food & Wine Trails (www.foodandwinetrails.com; 800/367-5348) arranges chef-led, hands-on learning experiences: making cheese at Bellwether Farms, baking tarts with a former chef from Chez Panisse, mixing your own Bordeaux at Chateau St. Jean, and shucking oysters at Hog Island Oyster Farm. Book a room at nearby Beltane Ranch, a 1,600-acre, family-owned working ranch and B&B. Lounge in a hammock or have breakfast overlooking the vineyards from the wraparound porches of the charming 1892 house. Without any phone, TV, or Internet, there's nothing to interrupt the serenity. Ancient oaks and gardens surround the five guest rooms and the cottage, all decorated with family antiques.
11775 Sonoma Hwy., Glen Ellen; 707/996-6501; www.beltaneranch.com; doubles from $130, including breakfast.
ACTIVE: Cataract Canyon, UTAH
After a few days spent floating past the sandstone cliffs of Canyonlands' Cataract Canyon, you'll think you've been gone for weeks. Meet up with laid-back river guides in Moab; then head down the glassy flats of the Colorado for a three-day trip back in time. You will pass rock strata 300 million years old and petr0glyphs carved on canyon walls by the Anasazi. (Nothing like pre-history to put life into perspective.) Nights are spent on broad sandy beaches where towering red rocks are the only walls. The river's current both lulls kayakers to sleep and serves as a morning wake-up call. There's enough time for the energetic to hike to Indian ruins, isolated buttes, and otherworldly rock formations—and for everyone else to read by the river or just loll around. Worried you've grown too relaxed?Halfway through the trip you hit "the Confluence," where the Green and Colorado rivers meet. In high-water season (May and June), this white water is some of the most challenging in North America. But by late summer, the water becomes ideal for even novice river riders.
O.A.R.S.; 800/346-6277; www.oars.com; three- to six-day trips from $791 per person.
BEACH: Turtle Bay Resort, HAWAII
Jutting out on the northernmost point of Oahu, Turtle Bay Resort is as far from the ukulele-strumming hustle of Waikiki as you can get. All but surrounded by the blue Pacific, the resort's two pools, two golf courses, and 10 tennis courts are a world apart—and nicely spruced up by a $50 million renovation slated to be finished in June. Turtle Bay's best feature didn't need a face-lift, however. Its five miles of beachfront are home to some of the most famous waves in the world, big swells that roll in from the Gulf of Alaska in winter. And you don't have to be a kahuna to ride a wave. Just sign up with the surf school on the property run by Hans Hedemann, where even beginners are guaranteed to be surfing by the end of the first lesson.
57-091 Kamehameha Hwy., Kahuku; 800/203-3650 or 808/293-8811; www.turtlebayresort.com; doubles from $295; private surfing lessons $50 per hour.
SPA: Spa Palazzo, FLORIDA
The Boca Raton Resort & Club's new sunset-pink Spa Palazzo is a fountain-of-youth fantasia; its manicured gardens, waterfall whirlpools, and Moorish baths set a regal scene for rejuvenating soaks and other water-based treatments. (To complete the aquatic theme, stay at the resort's just-opened Yacht Club—all 112 guest rooms have views of the Atlantic or the Intracoastal Waterway.) At the spa, allow a therapist to re-invigorate you with icy hand towels after you've soaked away tension in an aromatic mineral bath scented with heady essential oils of ylang-ylang and lavender. Inhale the pure green fragrance of coastal Florida sweet grass before a cleansing steam-and-sauna detox session. Restore tranquillity with a trilogy of sequenced healing therapies (body wrap, bath, deep tissue massage) that employ such classic curative elements as Moor mud, eucalyptus and pine, or sea salt and spirulina algae. Ponce de León would be jealous.
501 E. Camino Real, Boca Raton; 888/491-2622 or 561/447-3000; www.bocaresort.com; doubles from $575; treatments from $115.
ACTIVE: Tongue River Ranch, TEXAS
Don't expect to discover your inner cowpoke after checking into one of the nine working ranches in Texas, New Mexico, or Oklahoma run by Big Ranch Productions. There are no campy, Hickockian staged events or cattle drives for bankers. At Tongue River Ranch, history buff Millard Morris welcomes guests to his 89,000-acre, four-county-wide spread on the Panhandle Plains for a firsthand look at life on a modern ranch. The farm is not in Dumont, Texas—Dumont, Texas, is surrounded by Tongue River Ranch. So forget saddle sores as a mark of authenticity; rather, look forward to cattle round-ups, front-row seats at the Western Heritage Classic Ranch Rodeo in Abilene, photo safaris, and in nearby Fort Worth, a visit to the National Cowgirl Museum & Hall of Fame and a shopping trip to the famous Maverick Fine Western Wear. There are also cowboy cooking classes—to teach city slickers how to dine under the stars.
Dumont, Tex.; www.bigranchcountry.com; doubles from $125.
Reported by Richard Alleman, Christopher Collier, Manny Howard, Shane Mitchell, Kimberly Brown Seely, Mark van de Walle, Sally Wadyka, Sharon Wick, and Jeff Wise.