With many Americans reporting that they feel safest visiting outdoor-centric destinations, and the CDC encouraging time outside as much as possible, the great outdoors is on almost everyone’s travel list this year. But not everyone is an adventurous outdoorsman or woman. Luckily, being in nature doesn’t have to mean pushing your boundaries (although that’s certainly an option!), and there are plenty of luxury options offering a posh—and relaxing—version of nature. Throughout the country, luxury hotels, tour operators, and even wineries are offering deluxe outdoor experiences, focusing on getting Americans outside for everything from picnics to dog sledding to hot air balloon rides. These are our top luxury outdoor adventures in the U.S. to book for your next vacation.
Ride a Horse by Moonlight Through Death Valley
The Oasis at Death Valley partnered with Furnace Creek Stables so their guests can go on an enchanting, moonlight horseback ride through the majestic Death Valley National Park. Ideally done before the full moon, the riders leave at dusk and will see their purple silhouettes against the mountains. Once it is fully dark, they will see their moon shadows stretching across the salt flats and through the mesquite groves. Upon their return, a moonlit dip in the hotel's hot spring pool is a must.
Discover Falconry on a Napa Vineyard
See falcons swoop through the air above Bouchaine Vineyards, the oldest continuously operating winery in Carneros in California's Napa Valley. In collaboration with West Coast Falconry, the experience takes place in the vineyard's gardens and teaches guests about the history of falconry and the role of raptors in vineyard management and the wild. The birds will land on the gloved arm of any willing guests, and like all good vineyard experiences, it concludes with a wine tasting.
Go Fish—in Warm or Cold Weather—in Wyoming
Fishing is one of the most peaceful outdoor activities available, and the U.S. is full of prime spots in all seasons. Wyoming offers the best of fly fishing in summer and ice fishing in winter, making it an ideal destination for first-timers or aficionados. The functioning-yet-luxurious Brush Creek Ranch in rural Saratoga sends guests out with an expert to show them the ropes, and they offer wade fishing, float fishing, ice fishing, and still fishing in rivers, creeks, and ponds stocked with various kinds of trout all year long.
Float in the Sky in a Hot Air Balloon Ride in Montana
The 37,000-acre ranch Resort at Paws Up along the Blackfoot River in Greenough, Montana, offers plenty of outdoor activities like hiking, mountain biking, river rafting, fly fishing, and horseback riding. A luxurious favorite is taking a private hot air balloon or a helicopter ride over the incredible Glacier National Park’s snow-topped peaks, complete with Champagne toasts and cozy blankets.
Learn Survival Skills in the Finger Lakes
Upstate New York's Finger Lakes isn't all about drinking wine and being on a boat (although those are both great activities, and you can even combine the two with Water to Wine tours). The beloved Inns of Aurora, in the quaint village of Aurora, recently unveiled a newly-built 5-mile outdoor trail system, where resident outdoorsman Matt Stevenson leads private archery, survival skills, flora and fauna identification treks, and fishing lessons. Guests can also sign up for a Garlic Farm Visit, where they can learn from an area garlic farmer and even plant their own crop, which will be mailed to them when it's harvested the following year.
Set Sail in Santa Barbara
Explore private islands with the Santa Barbara Sailing Center on a private charter (captain included) for an overnight (or multi-day) adventure in California's Channel Islands and Marine Sanctuary, just across from Santa Barbara. The captain will sail you around the islands' hidden coves and anchorages, with plenty of time for snorkeling, sea cave kayaking, sunbathing, and wildlife viewing. For a shorter excursion, guests of Belmond El Encanto can partake in the Gourmet Sail experience, where they enjoy a private tour of Santa Barbara Harbor's Saturday morning fish market and select fresh catch for a five-course lunch or dinner on one of Santa Barbara Sailing Center's private boats.
Snowmobile to a Hot Spring in Idaho
Lakefront resort Shore Lodge in McCall, Idaho, about 2.5 hours from Boise, offers an all-day snowmobiling adventure, with a stop Burgdorf Hot Springs along the way. The Real McCall Snowmobiling & Hot Springs Adventure Tour takes guests over miles of open terrain surrounded by some of the area’s most breathtaking natural scenery. At the hot springs, guests will relax in one of three all-natural, mineral-rich pools and then have a picnic lunch complete with hot toddy before returning to the hotel’s spa to indulge in a one-hour facial or massage.
Rock Climb in Arizona
Guests staying at the luxury Boulders Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, Arizona, can experience the thrill of rock climbing—without leaving the property. The resort’s extraordinary natural setting within the high Sonoran Desert is framed by spectacular mountains and surrounded by ancient granite boulder formations estimated to be 12 million years old. The resort’s expert guides will teach guests how to do a classic crack climb and face climb, helping them push their boundaries safely. The resort also offers water rappelling, mountain biking, desert hiking, and more.
Stargaze in Jackson Hole and the Grand Canyon
Hotel Jackson in Jackson Hole partnered with Wyoming Stargazing to offer the private A Night Under The Stars experience. At sunset, a private shuttle takes guests to Grand Teton National Park. Once darkness settles, guests can snuggle up in camp chairs with blankets and use personal stargazing equipment to spot the constellations, as an expert astronomer leads them through the magnificence of the night sky. Four Seasons Resorts & Residences Jackson Hole also offers a stargazing experience in Grand Teton National Park, complete with wine, cheese, desserts, and hot beverages. For those who book a Southwest tour with Scott Dunn, they will arrange a stargazing evening in the Grand Canyon at a private, upscale campsite furnished with canvas tents, a personal chef, and telescopes.
Exercise in an Outdoor Gym in the Blue Ridge Mountains
Start by booking one of the coveted treehouse suites at Primland, a high-end rural retreat in Meadows of Dan, Virginia, near the North Carolina border. Then, decide whether you want to discover the vast property on horseback, RTV, or foot. Later, check out the resort’s brand new Bootleggers Outdoor Gym & Fitness Trail, which features eight workout stations built into the landscape. Flex your muscles on the wooden balance beams, pull-up bars, and battle ropes, and lift the wood weights handcrafted by Timber Operations Manager Steve Nester, who carved them using repurposed materials from the property.
Downward Dog While Floating Above Hot Springs in Arizona and Utah
Why swim in hot springs when you can do yoga on top of them? Castle Hot Springs, a luxury wellness resort initially established in 1986 about 50 miles north of Phoenix, boasts its own natural hot springs filled with rich minerals. For those bored with swimming, the resort offers stand-up paddleboard yoga to its guests. Over in Park City, Washington School House partnered with Park City Yoga Adventures to offer stand up paddleboard yoga in the nearby 10,000-year-old Homestead Resort Crater. Add a snowshoe hike to the crater to take the adventure to the next level.
Sip and Paint Outdoors in Boston
Not every outdoor activity has to involve physical activity. For those with an artistic side, a stay at the plush Whitney Hotel in Boston can involve a chance to capture New England’s fall colors on paper with the Sip & Paint package. The Whitney will pack guests’ favorite wine and treats along with a cozy blanket and paint kit for guests to bring to nearby Boston Public Garden or the banks of the Charles River, where they can paint the fall scenery.
Go Dog Sledding in Colorado and Utah
Experiencing the rush of being pulled by an excited team of huskies is a must for any dog and adventure lover. Fortunately, Colorado's luxe Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort & Spa offers tons of outdoor winter weather activities, including 1,800 acres of skiing and snowboarding, private snowmobile rides, and private dog sledding led by a team of huskies through breathtaking trails west of Beaver Creek. If you're in Utah, the Stein Eriksen Residences, a Small Luxury Hotel in Park City, offers skiing, of course, as well as bobsled rides, horse-drawn sleigh rides, snow tubing, and dog sledding.
Go On a Progressive Picnic Around Sonoma County
Farmhouse Inn in Forestville, California, has curated a private, progressive picnic experience in Sonoma wine country. Guests will be privately chauffeured in a Volvo XC90 T6, enjoying curated picnics outdoors and away from the crowds, at three exceptional wineries. The first stop is Gary Farrell Vineyards & Winery for a private wine and cheese tasting experience on their terrace, with sweeping views of the Russian River Valley below. Next, guests will head to Flowers Winery to enjoy the Bottle & Provisions Experience at a private seating in the open-air gardens at House of Flowers. Finally, Lambert Bridge will couple a full tasting of their Bordeaux flight experience with a local cheese plate and macarons from Healdsburg’s Moustache Bakery.
Sporting Clay Shooting in New England
The new Preserve Sporting Club & Residences debuted this summer in Richmond, Rhode Island, just over the eastern Connecticut border and 40 minutes south of Providence. The preserve is an amenity-rich sporting estate complete with an award-winning 18-hole golf course, clay and grass tennis courts, 10 stocked fly-fishing ponds, and more than 100 miles of hiking trails. Shooting enthusiasts will appreciate the multiple sporting clays courses, including one defined by more than 150 elevation changes and 19 shooting stations, a 12-station compact course, and a 10-station year-round clay shooting course that’s covered and heated.
Gather Round a Bonfire on the Beach in Florida
Eliminate the stress of gathering materials and setting up a beach bonfire safely and instead enlist Endless Rentals in Panama City, Florida. They’ll set up one of their custom-built propane fire pits (that means no ash, no smoke), along with cozy hammocks for a beachside bonfire on Panama City Beach’s 27-miles of sugar-white sand beaches. Endless Rentals also offers cornhole, coolers with ice, Bluetooth speakers, a table, and up to 15 chairs—all you need to do is bring the marshmallows! A fire attendee stays nearby the entire time just in case, and the company handles all clean-up as well. Hungry? Guests can opt for fine dining catering from Chef Derek Langford at Hunt & Gather.