If you haven’t discovered at least a dozen hidden gems in your back yard and hometown since the beginning of the pandemic, you’ve got it all wrong. But don’t worry, there’s still time to make this list. For those of us who live in cities, there are many weekend detours that will make you feel like you have escaped everyday life without having to travel very far.
If you are in Seattle or Portland
(Photo: Courtesy Natalie Puls)
Go to Sisters, Oregon. Suttle Lodge (from $ 125), three hours from Portland or five hours from Seattle, has everything you could want for a summer getaway: a lake with kayaks, canoes and SUPs, a bar serving cocktails on the lakefront are served, mountain bike trails nearby in Deschutes National Forest and musicians playing music around the campfire most evenings. Stay in one of the 11 newly restored lodge rooms or 16 rustic cabins on Suttle Lake.
If you are in San Francisco or Los Angeles
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Go to Mammoth Lakes, California. It’s a six-hour drive from San Francisco or five hours from Los Angeles. Mammoth Mountain will remain open for skiing until Memorial Day. Then the resort offers mountain biking with the lift, hiking trails and scenic gondola rides. Do you need a camping rig? TrekkerVans rents RVs that you can pick up in LA or San Francisco. Or check into the Sierra Nevada Resort (from $ 169), which has independent chalets.
When you are in Boston or New York
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Go to North Adams, Massachusetts. A three-hour drive west of Boston and a 3.5-hour drive from New York City, the Northern Berkshires are a good place to go in the spring: the summer crowds haven’t arrived and hiking a section of the Appalachian Trail is good to go. For bird watchers, there’s plenty of action at the Audubon Society’s Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary in Lenox, which features seven miles of hiking trails. Stay at the Historic Valley Campground, 1.5 miles from downtown North Adams, which has 100 lakes and wooded spots for RVs, RVs, and tents (from $ 25). Get a grill and a craft beer breeder at Bright Ideas Brewing in town.
If you are there Atlanta
(Photo: Courtesy Mulberry Gap)
Go to Ellijay, Georgia. Less than two hours from Atlanta, this is a mountain biker’s dream spot, but there’s plenty to do here – from hiking to fly fishing through the Chattahoochee National Forest – if you’re not biking. Staying in a cabin or parking your van or RV in Mulberry Gap (from $ 70 per person) means you can drive miles of single-track trails and gravel from your door.
If you are there Chicago
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Go to Starved Rock State Park, Illinois. The waterfalls and wildflowers come alive in spring, and the park’s campground and lodge are relatively low-crowded. Hike 13 miles of marked trails into sandstone canyons or scenic cliffs, or fish for white bass and walleye in the Illinois River. Less than a two-hour drive from Chicago, the park has a sprawling campground (from $ 25) and a historic lodge (from $ 120) built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s.