Warm Weather Escapes


From snorkeling and golfing to canyon hiking, the laid-back spots featured here offer plenty of ways to explore the local environs, burn calories and get away.

Bike The Beaches


This small archipelago's pink-sand beaches and turquoise waters are just a two-hour plane ride from the East Coast, the perfect distance for a long weekend for many people. Because Bermuda is in the Atlantic (not the Caribbean), temps can get a bit cooler in winter, but they rarely dip below 70 degrees.

Get out there

You can rent "pedal bikes" (the term Bermudans use to distinguish bicycles from mopeds) from dozens of cycle shops and hotels, with prices typically starting at $20 per day. The roads are narrow and winding in spots, so beginners may want to stick to bike paths, such as the Bermuda Railway Trail, a 22-mile former railroad bed that runs almost the entire length of the island. Since it's not one continuous paved path, though, we recommend tackling the smooth section between Watford Bridge in Somerset and Hamilton Harbor.

Off the bike, let the gorgeous hues of the island be your activity guide. Green: Bermuda is home to eight golf courses, seven of which are championship-level. Blue: With 600 square miles of reefs, you'll never get bored snorkeling. The public beach at Church Bay, near Southampton, has a reef that's sheltered from the waves. Pink: Plop yourself under an umbrella on the famous blushing sands and just chill out.

Where to stay

The Reefs hotel-set on a limestone cliff overlooking a private beach-is a Bermuda classic (rooms from $395, including breakfast, tea, and dinner; thereefs.com). The 84 tentlike cabana rooms at the hotel 9 Beaches have five-star ocean views (rooms from $185; 9beaches.com).

Dive Teeming Water

Florida Keys

The Florida Keys are close enough to the mainland for an ideal quick getaway and far enough away to make you feel as if you're in another country. There are almost 1,700 islands in the Keys, but Key Largo, Islamorada, and Key West-linked by the Overseas Highway- offer the most amenities.

Get out there

Thanks to warm waters, coral reefs, and shipwrecks, the Keys are one of the best destinations in the world for snorkeling and diving, especially since the waters are federally protected as a National Marine Sanctuary. You can snorkel off any beach, but to get a front-row seat for the underwater show, you need to head a few miles offshore to the reefs. Dive Key West runs daily snorkeling and diving trips, and its one-day introductory resort course will have you donning scuba gear after just a few hours ($199; divekeywest.com).

We'd understand if you wanted to stay submerged for days, but there is plenty to check out above water as well: From the west side of Key Largo you can kayak near the southern boundary of the Everglades. As you paddle under a canopy of mangroves, you just might spot a manatee (from $35 for four hours; kayakfloridakeys.com).

Where to stay

For a tropical-hideaway feel, stay at the Cheeca Lodge on Islamorada. The 27- acre grounds house saltwater and freshwater pools as well as a spa (doubles from $269; cheeca.com). If you prefer to be closer to the nightlife, Merlin Guesthouse is just two blocks from busy Duval Street in Key West (rooms from $135; merlinguesthouse.com).

Explore The Canyons

Palm Springs, California

When the thermostat plummets in the rest of the country, the desert is the place to be. Evenings can get nippy in Palm Springs, but November, when average daytime temps hover in the 70s, is the ideal time to visit.

Get out there

Indian Canyons (which comprises Palm, Andreas, and Murray canyons), just six miles from Palm Springs, is one of the best places to explore in the fall when the weather is more inviting. At 15 miles long, Palm Canyon is the largest, and hiking options range from moderate to strenuous. For a two-hour moderate trek, take Palm Canyon Trail down into one of the world's largest palm oases, then follow Victor Trail back out ($8 per person; indian-canyons.com). Closer to town, the Tahquitz Canyon Trail, a two-mile loop, leads to the 60-foot Tahquitz Falls. The path is sunny, rocky, and steep, but once you reach the top, you can rest in the shade of sycamore trees or soak your tired feet in the water before it tumbles into the canyon ($13; tahquitzcanyon.com).

If you prefer breezy rides to trekking, you should know that Palm Springs has excellent bike trails, too. Rent equipment at Big Wheel Tours (from $30 a day; bwbtours.com), then follow the well-marked trail system. The 10-mile citywide loop will take you through downtown Palm Springs, out toward Indian Canyons, and back.

Where to stay

For a taste of the city's retro-chic vibe, check into the Orbit In, a refurbished mid-century motel turned boutique hotel, complete with a saltwater pool and its poolside Boomerang Bar (rooms from $209; orbitin.com). The Viceroy Palm Springs served as a low-key yet glam retreat for Hollywood types when it opened in the 1930s- and it still does today, albeit with a distinctly hipper, sleeker style. The hotel's 68 guest rooms are set around three courtyards, each with its own swimming pool (rooms from $199; viceroypalmsprings.com).

Go Reef Watching

Riviera Nayarit, Mexico

Starting just north of Puerto Vallarta and extending 100 miles up the Pacific coast, the Riviera Nayarit is one of Mexico's hottest new destinations. The area has always had pristine beaches and rugged mountains, and now it's also home to high-end resorts.

Get out there

The Marietas Islands in Banderas Bay, a national ecological sanctuary, are known for their vibrant reefs, rocky coastline, and endangered species like the blue-footed booby. Because of preservation efforts, the three islands are off-limits to people, but Vallarta Adventures' seven-hour boat tour (from $68 per person; vallarta-adventures.com) can get you close: After a 90-minute ride from the town of Nuevo Vallarta, you're free to snorkel or explore the caverns and archways along the coastline by kayak. In December migrating humpback whales start passing through the area.

Back on land, readjust your sea legs with a run along one of the region's beaches. A good four- to six-mile route starts in Nueva Vallarta (around the Mayan Resort) and ends in Bucerías, the longest and widest portion of beach on Banderas Bay.

Where to stay

The Four Seasons in Punta Mita is the area's most luxurious property, with 173 guest rooms on a 1,500-acre peninsula and the world-class Apuane Spa (rooms from $495; fourseasons.com). There's also Villa del Palmar Flamingos Beach Resort and Spa, a sprawling property in Nuevo Vallarta that overlooks Banderas Bay (rooms from $150; villadelpalmarflamingos.com).

Tee Off Oceanside

Puerto Rico

If you're looking for a quick getaway to the Caribbean, Puerto Rico beckons- flights from the U.S. are frequent and usually direct. With its cobalt-blue seas and lush rain forests, this U.S. territory has plenty to keep you active.

Get out there

Known as the golf capital of the Caribbean, the island boasts 23 courses; 17 of them are championship- level. The hardest choice is deciding where to tee off first. The Ocean and River courses at the Wyndham Rio Mar Beach Resort & Spa are favorites due to the resort's setting between El Yunque National Forest and the Atlantic. On the demanding 6,782-yard Ocean Course you'll be challenged by wind, water hazards, bunkers, and at hole four, hundreds of sunbathing iguanas (don't worry, they won't bother you!). The 18-hole River Course, suitable for all skill levels, winds around the Mameyes River, with terrain inspired by the native foliage (18 holes start at $130 for guests, $160 for nonguests; wyndhamriomar.com/golf).

In between rounds, make it a point to check out Puerto Rico's beaches-from the white dunes of Isabela on the northeast coast to the black sands near Punta Santiago on the western side. The sandy swaths of Isla Verde in San Juan can serve as a tranquil setting for lounging or as a base for body surfing, parasailing, and Jet Skiing.

Where to stay

After a multimilliondollar refurbishment, Wyndham Rio Mar is newly sparkling: Enjoy 11 restaurants and lounges, two pools, and a mile-long secluded beach (doubles from $179; wyndhamriomar.com). Located between Old San Juan and Isla Verde Beach, Condado Plaza Hotel & Casino has access to both the Atlantic and Condado Lagoon-plus tennis courts, saltwater and freshwater pools, as well as Puerto Rico's largest casino (doubles from $199; condadoplaza.com).

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