You deserve a vacation. Work has been crazy, maybe you’re frustrated with something in your personal life, or there’s just no time like the present to escape for a bit. Unfortunately, many see vacations as an excuse to let go of everything – including their health. The lack of routine from back home can result in less physical activity and poor food choices. But isn’t the ideal to come back refreshed and feeling better than before you left?
To help out with this, I’ve compiled this list of trainer-approved spots to step out of your usual routine, while also staying healthy and active. So whether you’re looking for an action-packed adventure, something mellow, or a nice balance of both, I’ve got you covered. I’ve either personally visited these places in the past or have them high on my travel bucket list so you know this list is legit. If you’re looking for a list of international spots, check out my other post on Healthy Summer Trips to Take Around the World.
The Best, Healthiest Summer Spots to Visit in the US
For the avid hiker who wants all the views – Portland, Oregon
The Pacific Northwest is always a great idea, especially in the summer. Portland is a trendy, hip city filled with great food, cbd and hemp products galore, and plenty of ways to stay fit. Start your morning with a cold brew coffee or matcha latte at one of their many coffee shops and hit the trails. Tryon Creek State Park offers a great 5.7 mile outer loop hike that showcases is diverse wildlife. If wide-open grasslands and lush forests are more your style, take the Powell Butte Loop Hike to catch stunning mountain views. Forest Park and Washington park are also noteworthy parks to add to your list.
If you’re feeling adventurous and have access to a car, a 45 minute drive out will reward you with gorge hiking and waterfalls at the Oneonta Gorge and Multnomah Falls. Note: many trails between Multnomah Falls and Cascade Locks are still closed due to hazard trees and rockslides from the 2017 Eagle Creek Fire. Check the official Forest Service website for the most recent updates before embarking on any hikes.
Fun Facts About Portland:
Portland was named on a coin toss and has more microbreweries per capita than any other city in the world.
Where to Stay in Portland, Oregon:
Downtown is central, convenient, and offers endless attractions. If you want more of a local feel, staying on Alberta street in the colorful arts district puts you in a colorful and lively neighborhood to walk around and explore. I recommend checking out this list of hotels through Booking.com for the best deals and the most helpful reviews – it actually came out cheaper than an Airbnb!
Helpful Travel Tips for Portland:
If you’re planning on hiking in more natural spots, bring plastic baggies to pack out any trash (including toilet paper) and leave no trace behind. Wet wipes, bug repellent, and sunblock will be your friend!
For the cyclist foodie – Austin, Texas
We all know Austin, Texas is a prime city for delicious barbecue, but did you know there’s also a huge cycling scene? Home to Lance Armstrong, Austin is a cyclist’s city with its rolling green hills and open hills of the Texas Hill country. Whether you’re a casual biker looking for chill group rides to Barton Springs or a spandex-wearing competitive racer, there’s something for everyone. Between the months of March and October, there’s also a weekly Driveway Series
every Thursday where cyclists can race, jam to rock music, and drink beer afterwards.
If that’s too intense, Austin provides an array of options from city riding downtown along Lady Bird Lake, road biking, mountain biking, and a great community for post-ride hangs. Outside of cycling, there are also swimming holes and yoga studios to soothe and stretch tired out muscles.
Healthy Places to Eat in Austin (after you try the amazing barbecue, of course):
Whole Foods – Did you know Whole Foods headquarters is in Austin? I went there at least once a day while staying at the massive health food store, with all the healthy samples in nearly every aisle, two full restaurants, a bar, a juice shop, a coffee shop, and a massive bulk section. Let’s just say if a guy took me on a date here, I would not be upset.
True Food Kitchen
– This is a popular restaurant chain co-created by Dr. Andrew Weil, who promotes eating an anti-inflammatory diet. Tip: their seasonal desserts and cocktails are worth indulging in.
– a health-oriented, bohemian cafe for custom salads and bowls with additive-free proteins.
– No healthy Austin list would be complete without listing this spot! Hippie, fresh, and healthy describe this spot best. Cold pressed juices and smoothies are an ideal way to get your nutrients in on a hot summer day in Austin.
Fun Facts about Austin:
It has the only nude beach in all of Texas and has the largest urban bat colony in North America!
Where to Stay:
When I was last in Austin, I stayed near Zilker Park and enjoyed being nature. Great option if you don’t mind being a little removed from the city, but if I went back, I’d stay closer to downtown. I recommend staying in Downtown Austin
because everything is in walking distance, right at your fingertips without the hassle of finding transportation to your home base.
For the surfer looking for something a little different – Charleston, South Carolina
Most people think of Hawaii or San Diego for prime surfing, but why not shake things up and check out the south? Popularized by the Bravo TV show, Southern Charm, Charleston is growing in tourism and it’s easy to see why. Extremely nice people, beautiful architecture, and charming historic vibes makes this city an easy pick. Charleston is hot hot hot in the summer, so all the more reason to spend your days surfing at the Washout, the most popular surf spot on Folly Beach. Then explore the city in the comfortably warm evenings with the many bars and restaurants to choose from. This city is young, fun, and quite boozy – just ask your bartender to hold the sugar on your cocktails and have fun 😉
Fun Facts about Charleston:
Charleston had the first public college and first museum in America.
Where to Stay in Charleston:
If you would like to stay in the middle of the action of the city, your best bet is in the Historic District. This spot puts you at the center of everything with walking distance to the main attractions, shops, farmer’s market, and the waterfront. Note that Folly Beach is about a 25 minute drive without traffic so I would recommend renting a car to save money on Uber’s. For the committed surfers, I would recommend staying in Folly Beach to avoid the hassle of getting to the beach in the mornings and then uber into the city for the evenings when the city has cooled in temperature.
More Healthy Spots in Charleston:
It can be pretty hard to find healthy food spots and workout classes in a city with a more leisurely, boozy culture. Definitely a different pace than the big cities with juice bars and gyms that I’m used to in SF, NYC, and LA. But count on me to find the hidden, healthy gems:
Charleston Power Yoga
– I fell in love with this studio so much I came back everyday! This place is open to all levels and offers classes early morning, mid-day, and early/late evenings to suit anyone’s schedule. What I love about the South is the genuine, welcoming vibe of the people – I befriended one of the instructors (shoutout to Susan!) and she was nice enough to invite me to a live music event nearby! Highly recommend this spot if you’re looking for a good sweat in a fun community.
– This health-conscious cafe serves locally source foods, offering vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options in a hip, airy atmosphere. I would come here for cold pressed juices, mid-day snacks, or just anytime I needed something fresh and healthy. Would highly recommend coming here first thing after a flight or right before you leave to bookend your trip with nutrients to keep you feeling great.
Caviar & Bananas
– If Whole Foods had a cute, younger sister from the South, it would be this spot. Caviar & Bananas is part cafe serving hip lattes, beer, wine, and kombucha (!!) , part grocery store selling healthy packaged goods (great spot to hit up before the airport), and part market serving quick and healthy salads and deli foods to go. Plus, they have amazing desserts so if you’re going to indulge, do it here.
For the indecisive adventure junkie who wants a little bit of everything – Minnesota
Minnesota might not be the first place you think of for “healthy travel” but if you prefer to get your physical activity outside with beautiful nature, look no further. I have to give a special shout out to my good friend and fellow fitness trainer, Nikki, who helped introduce me to the amazing offerings that the Midwest has to offer. Thanks girl! If you’re interested in swimming, standup paddle boarding, kayaking, canoeing, sailing, waterskiing, wakeboarding, wake surfing, jet skiing, tubing, fishing, golf, mountain/road biking, hiking/running, (the list goes on), northern Minnesota is the place to go. Located just a couple hours from the airport, lake resorts up there are the perfect destination for someone who wants all the adventure and variety they could imagine.
Fun Facts About Minnesota:
Minnesota is known for its polite residents, cold winters, and thousands of sparkling lakes. It is also home to Prince and Bob Dylan.
Where to Stay:
Again, thanks to Nikki on helping me out with this. Here are the top 3 recommendations from a Minnesota native herself!
For the snow fanatic who won’t let summer stop them – Tahoe, California
Thanks to record breaking snowfall from Northern California’s recent storms, Squaw Valley Ski Resort is extending their ski season to July 7th. Snow chasers can take advantage of this by continuing to ski into July! With warmer temperatures, it’s not uncommon to see skiers and snowboarders strip down to tank tops while taking on the slopes. Plus, there’s plenty of great spots to enjoy once the snow melts such as swimming in naturally formed granite swimming holes near Silver Lake (known as the Pots), hiking Maggie’s Peaks to catch stunning views of Emerald Bay, or chase waterfalls at Waterfall Camp in Desolation Wilderness.
Fun Fact About Tahoe:
Like yoga? Squaw Valley hosts an epic 4-day yoga festival in mid-July called Wanderlust
. Try many different forms of yoga from renowned teachers, hike, do water activities, and connect with like-minded folks who love nature and the yoga lifestyle.
Where to Stay in Tahoe:
Squaw Valley is located on the north side of Lake Tahoe, so best to find lodging nearby. Depending on your budget and how many people you’re traveling with, it’s best to book accommodations as early as possible – especially if you’re planning on having a white 4th of July weekend.
For the yogi who loves history and holistic wellness – Berkshires and Boston, Massachusetts
While most visit New England in the summer to experience Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket, just two hours west of Boston is one of the best-known yoga centers in the country. Located in the beautiful Berkshires of Massachusetts, Kripalu
offers multiple programs throughout the summer to suit your preference. Choose between their signature yoga retreats emphasizing meditation and breath work or customize your own R&R retreat!
Rest & Retreat (R&R) Program:
The Summer Schedule can be found here
, organized month by month. Kripalu’s R&R program at Kripalu allows you to choose your own adventure, whether its outdoor activities, gentle yoga classes, introspective workshops, hiking, or trying qigong. You get access to all of these offerings to enjoy at your own pace, along with wonderful amenities such as a sauna, fitness room, private lakefront beach, and nutritious meals. Accommodations range from dormitory bunk beds to premier bedrooms (larger and with a view), depending on your budget and preferences.
You will probably be flying into Boston, Massachusetts to get to Kripalu. Arrange a couple days before or after your retreat to explore the venture out for a night or two to visit Boston. Heads up, it’s hot during the summer so make sure you’re staying hydrated and pack cool clothes for the city heat. Quick highlights should include the historic Paul Revere walking tour, a quinoa taco salad at by Chloe
, and cooling off with a vegan ice cream from FoMu
Fun Facts About Boston:
“Happy hours” are illegal here. Sad because I love discounted food.
Where to Stay in Boston:
Anywhere central or easily accessible to public transit would be most optimal. I would recommend staying at trendy neighborhoods downtown such as South End and Back Bay
make a great home base for exploration.
Let me know if you have any questions about healthier travel in the comments below or have any suggestions that you’d like to share for any other health-conscious travelers!