Natural State

Ah, the weekend. The lodestar we look to during the workweek, a bit of shiny sanctuary. Even better: the weekend getaway. And better still: the out-of-the-ordinary weekend getaway that takes you into a different milieu and tunes in to another frequency. As author and sage John Steinbeck wrote, “...we do not take a trip; a trip takes us.” In that spirit, these offbeat places outside the big city will take you to that weekend state of mind.

photo by Clay Banks

photo by Filip Zrnzević

"As author and Sage John Steinbeck wrote, ‘...we do not take a trip; a trip takes us."
~2.5 hours from Portland

Forest bathing in Sisters, Oregon

Shinrin-yoku (“forest bathing” in Japanese) is the therapeutic practice of mingling with trees, and there’s no better place to do it than the nearly-two-million-acre Deschutes National Forest. Here, near the town of Sisters, sits the Suttle Lake Lodge & Boathouse with a log-cabin-luxe vibe (think Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom); historic but refurbed with roaring fireplace, chef-led long-table dinners, cool cocktails, and record-player tunes. Outside, there’s a dockside jukebox and, of course, that forest to bathe in.

photo by Chris Hornbecker / Suttle Lake Lodge

~2 hours from L.A.

Desert tripping in Joshua Tree, California

An arid and stark landscape, punctuated by the surreal shapes of Joshua trees, is the backdrop of this meditative and mythical place in the Mojave Desert. Camp within the iconic national park, retreat to a revamped ’50s-era motel, or glamp in a trailer “palace”. Once settled, tap into the out-there arts scene with a live-music performance at Pappy and Harriet’s—the former biker bar has seen surprise gigs that range from Paul McCartney to the Arctic Monkeys.

photo by Skylar Sahakian

"Camp within the iconic national park, retreat to a revamped ’50s-era motel, or glamp in a trailer ‘palace’."
~2.5 hours from New York City

Foodie foray in Phoenicia, New York

Escape the city but not its fab fare in the Catskills, which is part Dirty Dancing throwback, part on-the-cusp Brooklyn. Creative types are setting up in the town of Phoenicia, reopening old spots with a modern take, like The Graham and Co. hotel that hosts nightly bonfires and movie screenings on its lawn. And there’s Route 28’s Phoenicia Diner, now remodeled. Continue sampling through the region, from an eatery inside a 100-year-old bowling alley to a local-cider taproom. Forget the Hamptons and go back to the Catskills.

photo by Trageser / Phoenicia Diner

"Forget the Hamptons and go back to the Catskills."

photo by Trageser / Phoenicia Diner

~3.25 hours from San Francisco

Into the hills in Truckee, California

On the north shore of Lake Tahoe, former railroad town Truckee is a mashup of cowboy cool, hippie mellow, and ski-bum fun. Rustic yet happening, the colorful town with frontier façades has everything from an Old West-era hotel to locavore tasting menus. But first, there’s a network of uncrowded ski runs and vast backcountry to explore. Enjoy the workout and take a break mid-mountain at the slopeside Ritz-Carlton for fireside fortification (if you must).

photo The Graham and Co.

photo by Marc Venema / Shutterstock Inc.

~6 hours from Toronto

Deep within on Pelee Island, Ontario

Pelee Island is a trek (with a ferry ride), but it’s worth it. The sleepy little isle in Lake Erie is Canada’s southernmost point and a quiet setting for introspection and inner work. Channel resident renowned author, Margaret Atwood, who’s written most of her books here, and get a start on your opus at a Pelee Island Book House Writers’ Retreat. The only distractions: birding and beachcombing, as well as one of the country’s oldest and largest estate wineries.

photo by Luca Bravo

photo by The Graham and Co.

"The sleepy little isle in Lake Erie is Canada’s southernmost point and a quiet setting for introspection and inner work."

photo by Eli DeFaria

~5 hours from Vancouver

Beach it in Port Renfrew, British Columbia

Cross the Georgia Strait to Vancouver Island and continue west to the end of the road, where it feels like the edge of the world. Port Renfrew is a pilgrimage for hikers embarking on the West Coast Trail; surfers seeking out breaks at Sombrio Beach; and nature lovers looking for rainforest treasures (the world’s largest 1,000-year-old Douglas fir), wildlife, and wild weather. Hole up seaside at the aptly named Wild Renfrew resort, where you’re encouraged to bring your own catch to the pub.

Traveling for weeks or months at a time has its perks, but a quick weekend getaway can be equally rewarding. A visit to one of these off-the-beaten-path locales offers a unique opportunity to escape; to break free from our normal routines. Trips take us away, as Steinbeck mused, giving us the time and space to reconnect with ourselves and each other upon our return home.

"Cross the Georgia Strait to Vancouver Island and continue west to the end of the road, where it feels like the edge of the world."

photo by Jeremy Bishop

For more weekend getaway inspiration, check out our Local Time series, where we offer recommendations on how to best spend 48 hours in some of the world’s most exciting cities.

Written by Barb Sligl