5 Outdoor Day Trips to Take
This Weekend

There’s nothing like an outdoor getaway to refresh your body, mind and spirit. Connecting with nature can make you feel calm and centered, and if you also love health and wellness, there are plenty of activities to enjoy outdoors. And while a weeklong yoga retreat or that surf camp in Costa Rica might not be on the table just yet, you can find plenty of worthwhile outdoor adventures just a short drive or train ride away from most major cities. Since there’s a long weekend coming up, we thought we’d share five of our favorite day trips. Take one to shake off the post-Thanksgiving turkey coma (or avoid Black Friday crowds).

AN OASIS AWAITS

Day Trip From: Los Angeles

Destination: Palm Springs

A two-hour drive from Los Angeles, Palm Springs is a bona fide oasis in the desert. Natural cold springs feed the 75-foot indigenous palm trees, and natural hot springs have made greater Palm Springs a spa destination for almost a hundred years. Just outside the Palm Springs city limits, Desert Hot Springs is home to many independent inns and spas where you can soak in healing hot mineral waters. Unwind with a day pass at a spa that fits your taste and budget—options range from luxe and lavish to rustic and crunchy. Outdoorsy types will enjoy the area’s spectacular natural attractions, like Joshua Tree National Park and Mount San Jacinto, while food-oriented day trippers will love the fine dining in Palm Springs. No matter what you do, the great weather, stunning views and healing waters will leave you feeling rejuvenated.

ART AL FRESCO

Day Trip From: New York City

Destination: Storm King Sculpture Park

No car? No problem. A quick train trip gets you from Grand Central Station to Storm King, a 500-acre outdoor art center dedicated to large-scale sculpture and site-specific installations. Viewing great artwork is always a mind-expanding experience. Doing it under the open sky in the beautiful Hudson Valley—surrounded by rolling fields, forests and foothills—definitely takes things up a notch. Storm King’s permanent collection features iconic artist like Alexander Calder and Richard Serra, plus many others from around the world, while changing exhibitions make Storm King worth a repeat visit. The nearby town of Beacon also offers restaurants, shopping and rustic charm galore—perfect for day trips.

A CATHEDRAL OF TREES

Day Trip From: San Francisco

Destination: Muir Woods

Just a half-hour drive from San Francisco, you can wander among some of the earth’s most spectacular creations: the giant, ancient redwood trees of Muir Woods. Fog from the nearby Pacific Ocean keeps the area moist and helps to super-charge plant growth, so in addition to the majestic old-growth trees towering over a hundred feet in the air, you’ll see lush ferns and a dense understory of other trees amid the dappled shade. There are three short hiking trails in Muir Woods (up to an hour and a half), plus longer trails extending into Mount Tamalpais State Park. Between the majestic setting and the incredible plant life, this is easily one of our favorite day trips. Sadly, visitors are currently advised to minimize outdoor recreation due to unhealthy air quality, so this trip might be best saved until more of the smoke has cleared. Our thoughts and hearts are with the individuals and communities affected by the devastating fires throughout California.

SOAK UP SOME HISTORY

Day Trip From: Chicago

Destination: Lake Geneva

Located just 75 miles southwest of Chicago, Lake Geneva serves up charm by the scoopful. For over a century, the resort town has served as an escape for wealthy Chicago families. (It once earned the nickname “Newport of the West”.) The lake itself is surrounded by nature perseveration areas boasting miles of hiking trails, but you can also bundle up and walk part of the Lake Geneva Shore Path for unbeatable glimpses of some of the area’s opulent historic homes. Finish up the day with a stop at one of the many local wineries, breweries or distilleries.

SURF’S UP

Day Trip From: New York City

Destination: The Rockaways

Thought casual surfing was a hobby reserved exclusively for SoCal dwellers? Think again. Just an hour-long train or ferry ride away from Manhattan, Rockaway Beach is home to some pretty impressive waves—and a small but vibrant local surf culture to go along with them. Get started with a group surf lesson (we love Locals Surf School). Encouraging instructors and large, buoyant surfboards all but guarantee that you’ll catch at least a few waves on your first go. Lessons run year-round (yup!), and wetsuit rentals are included in the cost of cold weather lessons. Finish the day with a trip to Tacoway Beach at the Rockaway Beach Surf Club for some of the best plantain tacos around.