10 Awesome Destinations for Active Summer Vacations

10 Awesome Destinations for Active Summer Vacations

Summer has begun, which means it’s time to take physical activity outside for the season.

Thanks to an amazing system of state and national parks and wilderness areas, every corner of the U.S. offers opportunities for outdoor fitness. (Even Manhattan has Central Park, after all.)

To help highlight all the ways to you can get active (beyond your daily walking), we rounded up 10 amazing destinations primed for outdoor fitness.

If you’re not convinced to breakaway from the treadmill or air conditioned mall just yet, know that outdoor fitness has health benefits beyond a better step count on your wearable.

Green space — even just in your own backyard — is thought to ease stress and anxiety while promoting feelings of calm and creativity, numerous studies have found. There’s even evidence that people who walk or run outside stick with the activity longer — and work harder — than those who stay indoors, The New York Times reported in 2013.

Plus, the rays of the sun can promote a healthier circadian rhythm (seriously), and also prompt your body to make necessary vitamin D. Just don’t forget your SPF!

Where to Go for an Active Summer Vacation

Arizona: Hike the Red Rocks.

Take in stunning Sedona (and up your step count) with a trip through Red Rock State Park and the Coconino National Forest. The one-of-a-kind scenery will leave you breathless while the local wine offers the perfect post-hike recovery.

Arkansas: Float the Buffalo National River.

Whether you prefer to swim, canoe, tube or kayak, there are plenty of water activities along Arkansas’ Buffalo National River, the first federally protected river. There’s also ample space for hiking, bird watching and camping. Nearby cave tours are a draw, too.

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Florida: Dive the Keys.

Take a break from the Southeast’s summer heat, and hit the water. With the help of professional tour guides, you can explore one of the largest reefs in the world, and  and even view underwater shipwreck sites. There’s also always a visit to the famous Christ of the Abyss statue; one of the most-famous underwater sites in the world, it was intentionally placed in the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in 1961.

christ of the abyss

Georgia: Relax on Tybee Island.

Near historic Savannah, this destination is great for outdoor enthusiasts; you can fish, kayak, jet ski, parasail or just walk or run along the sand. The area is particularly known for biking and nature trails — bird-watching paradise.

Iowa: Bike RAGBRAI.

This annual event — the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa — pedals across the Hawkeye State in a one-week stretch every July. Some riders camp along the way (and party it up while doing so), while others bunk up with locals. A seven-day bike ride not your thing? You can jump off and on the route for day rides, too.

Indiana: Surf the Sand Dunes.

Just an hour outside of Chicago along the shore of Lake Michigan lies the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Hike or run the dunes (there’s a well-known six-mile loop for those who want a challenge), or stroll along the sand while you relax beachside. Adventure seekers can also sand surf.

indiana dunes

Maine: Kayak the Maine Island Trail.

This water trail begins in Portland, Maine, and then tracks more than 375 miles along the state’s stunning Atlantic coast. More than 200 islands dot the route along the way, creating plentiful opportunities for paddle breaks. If you do choose to kayak a portion of the route, you will be tracing the first designated recreational water trail in the country.

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Minnesota: Canoe the Boundary Waters.

This pristine National Wilderness Area within the Superior National Forest offers a gorgeous getaway away from it all. Work with an outfitter in nearby Ely, Minnesota, to gear up, and create a route based on how long (and hard) you would like to go. You’ll also have a chance to see Lake Superior, the world’s largest freshwater lake.

minnesota boundary waters

South Dakota: Crag the Black Hills.

There’s more to South Dakota than Mt. Rushmore. Crag (a term for rock climbing) in the Black Hills or Badlands national parks. You can hike and backpack as well, or lake kayak and standup paddleboard. Snowshoeing tours and ice climbing are popular wintertime activities in the area.

Washington: Bike the San Juan Islands.

Fly from Seattle to the San Juan Islands in just 45 minutes. Once you’re there, you can walk, hike and kayak the days away. There are tours to take via all three forms of transportation. Then, look for whales off the coast, deep-sea fish or hit one of the many local spas.


Have you ever checked out any of these cool destinations? We’d love to hear about it! If you haven’t these are a must to put on your summer schedule.

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