People are keen to vacation this time of year—many in an effort to escape seasonal depression; it’s a real thing.
While jetting somewhere (warm) can keep morale up over the winter months, exercise has proven to boost spirits, too. So why not do both?
1. Cyclists: Travelers Rest, a small town in upstate South Carolina, sits amid the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains. In 2013, retired 17-time Tour de France competitor George Hincapie opened Hotel Domestique there atop a winding hillside of vineyards, replete with a fitness studio, Olympic-sized pool and a gourmet restaurant catered to cyclists as a coveted base camp.
2. Snowboarders and Skiers: Alaska’s Chugach Range is one of the most-coveted heli-skiing spots in the world, with 750,000 acres of unspoiled terrain, an average annual snowfall of 700 inches and iconic lines as steep as they are deep. For best results, sign up for a trip with Chugach Powder Guides; the season kicks off with snowcat skiing in mid-December and heli-skiing typically begins in late January, lasting through April.
3. Mountain Bikers: If you’ve got three or four hours to kill, Moab, Utah features one of the most famous mountain biking trails in the world. Slickrock, a 10.5-mile loop of Navajo Sandstone, boasts steep inclines and descents, plus some of the best views in Utah—of a red rock panorama stretching from the Colorado River to the 13,000-foot La Sal Mountains.
4. Rock Climbers: Centrally located in Kentucky and spread out through a wide expanse of national forest land and privately owned acreage, the Red River Gorge has a huge volume of routes for rock climbers. It is one of the most popular climbing meccas east of the Mississippi, and a haven for both noobs and experts alike. The sandstone cliffs offer opportunities for all levels of climbers.
5. Surfers: Oahu, Hawaii’s seven-mile North Shore is renowned for its near-perfect waves. The legendary surf spot hosts the world’s premier competitions during the peak winter months, like the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing. While winter attracts the world’s best surfers, who ride tubes topping 30 feet, the far gentler summer swells make the North Shore an awesome spot for beginners during that season.
6. Yogis: The Shambhala Mountain Center in the Colorado Rockies covers 600 acres of mountain valleys with eight miles of trails for hiking and meditation. The Shambhala Mountain Center offers week-long or weekend getaways, either self-created or as part of a scheduled slate. Retreaters can choose from over 100 programs, including wisdom, contemplative arts, body awareness and mindful living, and are offered three healthy meals a day in their tents, seasonal dorms or lodges.
7. Hikers: Look no further than Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, which offers more than 1,000 miles of trails across two million acres of untouched nature. Popular routes include those in the Canyon and Norris areas. While hikers traverse the park’s breathtaking mountains, canyons, geysers and waterfalls, they’ll likely come across some buffalo, elk or even grizzlies.