Crafting a summer getaway? These five adventure destinations, featuring fresh air and stunning scenery, may fit the bill.
1. Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
Visit this Idaho resort town where active pursuits beckon from every direction. With the 25-mile-long lake as the centerpiece, your family can choose to spend the day on the beach, enjoy a range of water sports, take a scenic boat ride, go fishing or hike on an assortment of nearby trails. Stay at the Coeur d’Alene Resort for easy access to amenities that include boat and jet ski rentals, spa time, outdoor dining, and a lakeside infinity pool. Play a round on the resort’s course that is home to the world’s only floating green. Families traveling with young children will appreciate easy access to multiple play areas and parks within walking distance.
2. Jackson Hole, Wyo.
As a gateway to two of our most stunning national parks — Grand Teton and Yellowstone — this Wyoming paradise has long been a favorite stop for active travelers. Lace up your hiking shoes and explore amid the jagged peaks of the magnificent Teton Range, following scenic trails that hug the shores of String, Leigh and Trapper lakes. Spend a sunny afternoon picnicking, wading, floating, fishing or kayaking on the Snake River.
Spend the night in one of 25 small but luxuriously appointed and cleverly designed (by Wheelhaus) rustic cottages where you can opt for contact free check-in, cook dinner on your own grill, and savor s’mores around a campfire while planning your next day’s adventure.
3. Vail, Colo.
Your family will declare the 11-mile journey up the bumpy road “worth it!” when you arrive at this breathtaking, high-altitude location. With the pristine Piney Lake as foreground, the craggy Gore Range serves as your backdrop for an out-and-back hike to a waterfall. You’ll journey along a smooth path through low shrubs before reaching a set of switchbacks that wind through an evergreen forest and over bubbling creeks. Most families turn around at the cascades where water rushes through narrowing canyon walls. Spend the night or just the day at Piney River Ranch where you can rent canoes, enjoy an ice cream cone or go horseback riding.
4. Ely, Minn.
This small Northwoods town is the launch point for fishing, paddling and other outdoor pursuits. Those who want to pair a hiking adventure with their lake outings might consider the Kekekabic Trail, or the Kek as it is known to local hikers. The full length of the trek winds almost 40 miles from Snowbank Road, east of Ely, through the heart of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, to the famed Gunflint Trail, west of Grand Marais. Take on a family-sized slice of this wild trail to experience rocky outcroppings, pristine lakes, scenic bluffs and eagles soaring overhead. Listen for the rich yodeling of resident loons in the distance.
5. Priest Lake, Idaho
Explore the nooks and crannies of this stunning 25-mile long lake tucked within the Selkirk Mountain Range, from the comfort of an historic resort. Check in to one of Elkins Resort’s 30 cedar log cabins, tucked within the tree-lined shores of the pristine lake, and choose from the sports of the season or claim your Adirondacks on the grassy lawn. Hike through old-growth forests, discover local waterfalls, paddle a canoe, go kayaking or test your balance on a paddleboard. Check out the Priest Lake golf course, scout the mountain biking trails or play beach volleyball.
(Lynn O’Rourke Hayes (www.LOHayes.com) is an author, family travel expert and enthusiastic explorer. Gather more travel intel on Twitter @lohayes, Facebook, or via FamilyTravel.com)