Secluded Vacation Ideas for When You Just Can't with People Anymore
Picture a supremely calming Zen spot. Maybe it's a tropical beach, a cabin in the woods, or the top of a mountain. There's a good chance the oasis you're imagining lacks one thing: other people.
Taking trips to remote or private destinations is the latest vacation craze, says Gabe Saglie, an expert on travel trends at Travelzoo. "The main reason most people go on a trip is relaxation," he says. And there's no better way to unwind and decompress than to really get away — from everyone. "A trip to a far-off or secluded destination gives you an opportunity to completely pull back from your regular routine and reconnect with yourself, and that's intensely relaxing and rejuvenating," he says. (Related: How to Use Your Vacation to *Actually* Relax)
It doesn't take long for the benefits to start kicking in. "Within a day or two you'll start to feel recharged and refreshed. Even stepping away for a few hours on a 'normal' vacation to go for a hike or kayak into quiet terrain can be transformative," says Saglie. (P.S. there are countless other benefits of hiking that'll make you want to hit the trails.)
Convinced? Relish in the beauty of nature, and recharge and rejuvenate with these secluded vacation spots and ideas that offer fun, excitement, and adventure — and no crowds.
Book a Cabin In the Woods
Getaway rents small cabins nestled into densely wooded spots an hour or two outside major cities, such as Boston, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., New York, and more. They secluded vacation spots are stocked with the basics (toiletries, cooking essentials, and some snacks for purchase) and are outfitted with huge windows, so you can stare at the foliage while reading and sipping wine. Each area contains a handful of cabins, situated to deliver a real middle-of-nowhere experience.
The Edisto River Tree Houses in Canadys, South Carolina, offer an even more private experience. The three tree houses are built on a 50-acre property, and they're out of sight from one another and accessible only by canoe. Swim, paddle, and hike during the day, then relax on the riverfront porch at night. (Want to bring your won equipment? Stock up on these best kayaks, canoes, paddleboards, and more.)
Try an Ultraluxe Private Campsite
The term glamping doesn't do justice to the Dunton River Camp in Dolores, Colorado. The campsite is set on 500 acres of fields, meadows, and forest and is home to eight 640-square-foot tents, each with luxury-hotel-level amenities, like soaker tubs, showers, and towel warmers, plus two private mountain bikes. The local, organic meals are cooked by a chef and served with wine pairings. (Related: Gorgeous Places to Go Glamping If Sleeping Bags Aren't Your Thing)
Under Canvas is another glamping resort with locations around the U.S., including at national parks like the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Zion, and the Great Smoky Mountains. Each offers unbelievable views and easy access to trails, as well as comfy king-size beds and a wood-burning stove, and a few even have en suite bathrooms. Some tents are more secluded, while others are closer together, but each location hosts only a handful of them, and you're just a few steps from total wilderness.
Visit a Campground In the Middle of Nowhere
Locations free of man-made sound are rare, but there is at least one in the U.S.: the Hoh Rain Forest in Olympic National Park in Washington. Head for the Hoh River Trail, which is accessible via a three-mile hike from the Hoh Visitor Center. Once you're at the secluded vacation spot, tune in. You may not realize how accustomed you are to hearing noise from airplanes and cars until it's gone. If you really want to soak in the silence of the great outdoors, pitch a tent in a densely wooded spot in the Hoh campground near the visitor center.
Take a Silent Retreat
Another way to tap into the serene power of quiet is on a silent retreat. If total silence seems intimidating, consider the Art of Living Retreat Center in Boone, North Carolina. Periods of silent contemplation are punctuated by guided meditations, lessons on breathing techniques, and even talking exercises meant to deepen your appreciation for your inner quiet. (Related: Wellness Retreats That Are Worth Every Penny)
Go for a Luxe Lakeside Experience
For Southern charm plus fun activities and some pampering, head to Greensboro, Georgia. Located on Lake Oconee, this secluded vacation spot is filled with antebellum homes and churches, as well as charming antiques stores. Stay at the newly renovated Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee, a luxurious resort on 30 acres of shoreline nestled in the Georgia pines. You can play tennis and golf and go swimming, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, hiking, and biking. Relax with a restorative spa treatment that uses locally cultivated herbs, or get adventurous and take a dip in the spa's cold-plunge pool. At night, sit down with a cocktail to watch the sun set over the lake before eating a farm-to-table dinner at one of the resort's restaurants.
Explore a Volcano Destination
The Shasta Casade Region is a spectacular area in the northern tip of California that's filled with mountains, volcanoes, forests, lakes, and waterfalls — a nature lover's paradise. At this secluded vacation spot, you'll find Mount Shasta, a volcano (it last erupted in 1786) that's over 14,000 feet high. To fully experience its magnificence, follow winding paths through alpine forests and meadows with wildflowers, then head to McCloud Falls, a stunning trio of waterfalls.
In town, stay at the recently renovated Inn at Mount Shasta, which is just minutes from the base of the mountain. Next up: Visit the area's several wildlife refuges, go to Lava Beds National Monument to hike through lava tubes and caves that formed over the last half million years, and spend at least a day at Lassen Volcanic National Park with its remarkable volcanoes, geothermal mud pots, boiling pools of water, and crystal clear lakes. (Once you check this destination off your bucket list, book one of these adventure vacations.)
Immerse Yourself In a Wellness Wonderland
A small city on the shores of Lake Superior, Bayfield, Wisconsin is a little-known gem. It's the gateway to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore — wild, wooded islands with sea caves, sandstone cliffs, and pristine sand beaches to hike, kayak, and explore. After your island adventure, head back to Bayfield. Shop and dine downtown, scout out the art galleries, stop by a winery for a tasting, and stroll through a lakeside park. End your trip to the secluded vacation spot with a stay at Wild Rice Retreat, a new state-of-the-art wellness center that offers integrative, holistic, and artistic programs to nurture your body and soul. There, you can do yoga and meditation; take gardening, photography, painting, and cooking classes; and learn about nutrition and essential oils.
Stay at a Coastal Charmer
Leave Cape Cod to the crowds and travel instead to Cape Ann, an idyllic seaside retreat in northeastern Massachusetts, with its sandy beaches, rocky cliffs, and fishing villages. The nation's oldest working fishing port and one of the oldest art colonies are located here, and the cultural scene and maritime history make for a vibrant mix. Visit art galleries and museums, go whale watching and lobstering, take a sightseeing cruise, and climb to the top of a lighthouse. There's also plenty of hiking, biking, swimming, and kayaking. Stay at the Emerson Inn, a relaxing oceanfront boutique hotel in Rockport. You can even bring your dog with you to the secluded vacation spot — the hotel is pet-friendly.
Traverse Texas' Hill Country
Located on the western edge of Texas Hill Country, the town of Sonora has something for everyone: shops and restaurants, a sprawling nature preserve, miles of hiking trails, and the Caverns of Sonora, where you can tour the active (that is, still growing) formations, sluice for gems, and repel into the cavern known as the Devil's Pit. But one of the best reasons to visit the secluded vacation spot: a stay at the elegantly rustic JL Bar Ranch, Resort & Spa, situated on 13,000 sprawling acres, where you'll experience a deep connection to nature. Go horseback riding through the peaceful countryside, embark on an ATV adventure, take archery lessons (even Brie Larson is a fan of the sport), or go hiking or biking. In the afternoon, sign up for a cooking class and wine pairing, indulge in some well-deserved pampering at the five-star spa, or go swimming in the infinity pool.
Shape Magazine, September 2019 and September 2021 issues