AshevilleWhile Asheville’s fast become a foodie paradise what with its booming dining, wine, and brewery scenes, it’s easy to forget that this mountainside town is also home to some serious adventure including zip lining, mountain biking, hiking, and much more.
Stay Here Just last year Hotel Indigo unveiled its 16 luxurious penthouse suites boasting panoramic views of Asheville and the Appalachians and they’ve fast become the hot spot to stay. So chic are these rooftop condos that Oscar-winner Jennifer Lawrence and her Hunger Games peers stayed here while filming the series’ first installment. Also downtown is aloft, a swanky, modern hotel in the heart of the foodie scene. Enjoy a cocktail at its open-air restaurant and bar re:mix before heading out to one of the nearby breweries or restaurants.
Play Here Adventure seekers come to Treetops Adventure Park ($49 per adult for two-hour session) for the thrill—and challenge—this aerial obstacle course’s fifty unique challenges. Though there is a basic beginner option, choose the more challenging yellow courses (try the red if you’re exceptionally daring) where you’ll swing, zip line, and hold on for dear life while tethered (albeit safely) to cables strung tree to tree fifty feet in the air.
Plan On This Asheville’s breweries rival its now popular and growing dining scene. The newest addition is Wicked Weed Brewing in the Arts District. With massive windows lined with a long, concrete bar that opens to the outdoor patio, this hip craft brewery is the perfect spot to enjoy one of its big-flavored, hop-forward beers. Plan a visit to Lexington Avenue Brewery (aka LAB), a staple in Asheville’s brewery scene. The alfresco patio makes for exquisite people watching while enjoying a flight of six of the brewery’s top-notch brews while the inside boasts a great atmosphere for enjoying music and a hoppy IPA or light lager. For a stellar dining experience, make a reservation at Strada Italiano. Open just over a year, everything is house made including the out-of-this-world Cannoli Chips dessert: crispy fried cannoli shell chips served with sweetened chocolate chip ricotta.
Kiawah IslandFrom the soft ocean air wafting over the peaceful marshes to the quiet bike paths leading to wide beaches, relaxing at Kiawah is easy. But the natural setting lends itself to adventure including paddling, sunset cycling, crabbing, and more.
Stay Here More than 100 live oaks dripping in Spanish moss line the entrance to the oceanfront Sanctuary at Kiawah Island (rooms start at $440). Spacious rooms—many with ocean views and balconies—feature an opulent antique style that makes them feel more like the guest rooms in a lowcountry mansion than a large resort. And while the ten-mile-long beach beckons, there are also five award-winning golf courses and one of the country’s top rated spas drawing many travelers.
Play Here Kiawah’s acres of coastal lands offer the chance to experience adventure in a setting surrounded by diverse island wildlife. A kayak ride may offer a glimpse of an alligator, while deer may hurry across the path as you bike along the wooded trails. For a fun challenge, try the Stand-up Paddleboarding class. The class, which is offered for either one or two hours, offers the chance for instruction on the popular flat water sport. Looking for a really daring time on the water? Sign up for the resort’s Shark Fishing. A captain will accompany you into the channels along the Kiawah and Stono rivers where you’ll use live bait to try to catch the notorious species.
Plan On This One of the many things that draws crowds to Kiawah is the island’s close proximity to Charleston. Just 30 minutes from the famed Southern city, a stay at Kiawah means the chance to venture into town for an afternoon of shopping on the always-bustling King Street or an evening dining in some of the country’s best restaurants. Make reservations at the newly-opened, James-Beard-award-nominated The Ordinary for a fresh take on shellfish or plan at trip to the award-winning Husk for modern dishes evoking lowcountry nostalgia.
Lake OconeeTucked into Georgia’s countryside, just off I-20 just 75 miles west of Atlanta, this serene lake is a welcome respite from busy, city life. But from wakeboarding to kayaking, exciting watersports draw adventurers to this scenic setting.
Stay Here The lake’s seclusion doesn’t mean sacrificing on luxury. The Ritz-Carlton Lodge, Reynolds Plantation, offers 10,000 lush acres along the lake’s shores. Here you’ll find world-renowned golf courses (you are, after all, not far from Augusta), as well a 250-plus-room lodge-style resort featuring stately accents of wood beam ceilings, antique furniture, and stonework. Large, fire-place filled sitting rooms, rocking chair dotted porches, and even a luxe stone fire pit feature plenty of places to soak in the pastoral beauty of the property. And while all of the rooms are well-appointed, request a lakeside option where balcony views offer glimpses of the shimmering lake through the property’s towering pines.
Play Here Sure, this is the type of place where you can settle in for hours with a good book and a lake view. But Reynolds Plantation is designed for those seeking a thrill alongside their rest and relaxation. The hotel offers waterskiing, kayaking, canoeing, horseback riding, Segway rides, bicycling, skeet shooting, and even ice-skating in cold weather. For a fun way to explore the 19,000-acre lake, rent a Honda AquaTrax jet ski from Young Harris WaterSports ($110 per hour) and take off on a high speed day in the sun.
Plan On This After a day on the lake, you’ll want to make a stop in the resort’s spa, which includes an indoor lap pool, steam room, and sauna, as well as water-themed therapies like “Oconee Rain” featuring a warm Vichy shower and lavender-infused stones. While there are a variety of restaurants on the property including the casual, lake front Gaby’s and the family-friendly Georgia’s Bistro, you’ll want to indulge in at least one meal at the Linger Longer Steakhouse where classic dishes like lobster bisque and shrimp cocktail precede Black Angus Steaks in an elegant steakhouse setting.