30 September, 2022, 03:03

Wellness Wanderers

The last two years have been stressful.

You’ve read it in newspapers, magazines, and on television chyrons. You’ve talked about it with friends and family, and maybe even while navigating the first log-ins of an office Zoom call. You’ve lived it all—and you’re probably ready for a reset.

A 2019 study by the European Centre for Environment & Human Health found that participants who spent just two hours a week outside reported substantially higher health and psychological wellbeing than those who remained indoors. In fact, a growing body of research on the subject shows that time spent in nature lowers anxiety and cortisol levels—the hormone linked to stressful feelings.

Grab your bags, book your trip—and unpack it all. From finding treelined trails to epic waterways, here are ideas on where to set-off:

Northeast

With its reputation as an all-seasons getaway, the Northeast has something for everyone. Two of the five Great Lakes—lakes Ontario and Erie—spread their combined coastline of just over 1,500 miles across New York and northern Pennsylvania. Follow the shoreline north to the Adirondacks: more than six million acres of mountains with ski trails, campsites, golf courses, and waterfalls. The Adirondack Tug Hill Region offers farmers’ markets and guided wilderness walks, and just to the east the former Olympic village of Lake Placid boasts several renowned spa and wellness centers.

If you’re looking to head even farther north, you’ll find Vermont’s 326 hiking trails at your feet. Wanting crisp air and colorful views? Visit during autumn: the state’s maple trees turn into blazing reds, oranges, and yellows from September to November. And if you’re hoping for something even more restful, check out the spas in downtown Burlington or the ski community of Stowe.

The South

There’s a reason Southern hospitality is famed: it’s not just a trope. In fact, the South is home to a slate of holistic health and wellness offerings, and they deliver them with the promise of personalization. The hot springs, salt caves and mineral baths that stretch from Virginia to Arkansas offer treatments tailored to your needs—easing everything from eczema to inflammation.

If you’re ready for a rockier adventure, check out Roanoke, Virginia, part of the state’s Blue Ridge Mountain region. Known as America’s East Coast Mountain Biking Capital, the Blue Ridge has a network of trails spanning just over 1,000 miles. Carvins Cove, set deep in the Roanoke foothills, advertises its trails as a wish list item for mountain biking enthusiasts. And don’t leave the state when you’re done: Virginia is home to two national forests, part of the famed Appalachian Trail, and a swath of the eastern seaboard. Travel the coastline from Virginia’s quaint Eastern Shore to North Carolina’s Outer Banks and spend an afternoon horseback riding on Hatteras Island, birdwatching in the national wildlife refuge, or visiting one of the city’s yoga and massage studios.

The West

Beyond the quintessential western U.S. landmarks—Yosemite and Yellowstone National Parks, the Grand Canyon, and the California redwoods—lies a stretch of the West Coast’s lesser-known destinations. California dreaming? You’ll catch winter out west if you visit during snow season: Lake Tahoe is famed for its ski resorts. If summer is more your speed, try whitewater rafting, paddle boarding, or a leisurely swim in Lake Tahoe’s iconic blue waters. And boutique spas clustered at the lake’s southern end promise cutting-edge treatments.

If your eyes are on the northwest, skip the lines and the traffic in Seattle for the city of Woodinville, Washington. Tucked between the Puget Sound and Mount Rainier, Woodinville is known for its parks, wineries, and medspas—all set against the foothills. Walking trails lead to the city’s 270-foot Snoqualmie Falls waterfall and an observation deck for the best views.

Travel west from Washington State to Colorado and you’ll find the adventure hub of Colorado Springs. The Royal Gorge Bridge and Park offers adventure at every level: raft the Arkansas River or stroll along the banks, or aim a little higher and zip line across the gorge. Wanting something a little lower impact? Stroll the red rock Garden of the Gods park and take in the region’s fresh air and natural beauty.

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