With temperatures rising and workout clothes de-layering, there’s no better time to get your heart pumping with slush pile-free activities in the great outdoors. Spring is one of the best times of the year to swing a bat, throw a ball, climb a mountain or go for a run—even paunchy black bears famously come out of hibernation to frolic in the fields, so take it from us with our 10 best fitness-friendly destinations for spring 2021.
While the entire country is basically your gym, some cities take fitness to a whole other level, garnering attention for an active lifestyle under the sun. These 10 fitness US destinations have been counting down to the equinox as far back as December, and they are truly the best, outdoor places to burn both calories and fat this spring.
Here are the 10 best fitness destinations for spring 2021.
The big draw in Sedona—a laid-back, bohemian-centric desert town two-hours drive from Phoenix—are the vortexes. Vortexes are strong energy points around the world and, according to experts, many exist here.
Whether you’re a believer or not, the hiking is as real as it gets. There are more than 150 hiking trails that snake through the canyons, many that challenge fitness warriors, like Cathedral Rock, a famous hike with rising spires and towering monoliths. The ascent has you “scrambling” on all fours to steep climbs among trailheads and saddles to a mind-blowing, panoramic view of the enormous landscape.
Popular West Fork Trail is a combination of land and water where visitors cross Oak Creek up to twelve times, zigzagging the trial from bank to bank. Spring is the best time to visit when the weather is comfortable before summer heat oppresses. Stay at Mii Amo, a luxury destination and wellness spa resort with commanding views of the golden valley.
2. Norfolk, Virginia
— Beachcombing Photography (@beachcombphoto) July 1, 2018
Considering the largest naval base in the world is stationed in Norfolk, you can bet the city’s infrastructure caters to the fit and fearless. A magnet to young, active men is Elizabeth River Trail—a 10.5-mile urban trail—which pumps with cardio life after winter gloom.
Biking has become more popular, thanks to the recent addition of dedicated bike lanes, including four miles of roads in historic Ghent, and everyone is heading to Chesapeake Bay for the rising spearfishing scene (great arm and shoulder workout). Boxing has also drawn attention with 13,000-square-foot boxing facility, Norfolk Boxing Center, which opened next to Harbor Park Stadium (US Olympic boxing coach and resident Gloria Peek, the first woman boxing coach to train males at the Olympic Games, famously coaches here).
Diners will always find healthy, vegetarian and vegan items at restaurant menus considering PETA is also located here. Shack up at The Main Norfolk, a new hotel with rooftop yoga and sweeping, motivational views of the Elizabeth River Trail.
3. Las Vegas, Nevada
Vegas may pander to your vices, but should you step off the strip, you’ll find Sin City is not all that evil. Las Vegas is surprisingly the perfect launching point to excellent outdoor fitness activities that are no more than an hour from Las Vegas Boulevard.
Outside this famed hub sprawls valleys, canyons, lakes and rivers that provide commanding landscapes for rigorous activities, especially when the chill desert air begins to evaporate. Valley of Fire State Park has become a magnet for hikers (thanks to ancient Native American petroglyphs to awe at); the Colorado River gives kayakers a reason to visit the Hoover Dam; and Red Rock Canyon is a cyclist’s paradise.
Book a room at Red Rock Resort (just a short drive from The Strip), which offers convenient access to all outdoor activities and landmarks, and plenty to do on property. Among fitness-themed activities, The Spa at Red Rock by Well & Being offers vertical wall yoga, body fat composition testing in BodPods (used by NFL teams), fitness classes and outdoor pool.
4. Austin, Texas
— The Retail Strategy (@TRStrategy) November 18, 2019
Known for it’s laid-back attitude, indie culture and great bar crawls, Austin is also a magnet to outdoor enthusiasts. Surrounded by hill country, the city sees as many fitness junkies as it does hipsters thanks to mountain summits you can hike, lakes you can paddle board and wealth of hiking trails around Lady Bird Lake.
Taking advantage of the scenery and highs reaching the 70s starting in March, a handful of wellness resorts in the hills or along the lake reach a peak in spring, like Lake Austin Spa Resort, a 19-acre sanctuary where guests can take fitness classes like SUPstance Board Balance, dine on organic cuisine and chill at three pools (one indoor pool). If you want to see the sights, Austin has a great bike share program, where you can take to the bike-friendly streets.
5. West Hollywood, California
Fitness is taken seriously in West Hollywood, and most locals make looking good, feeling good and eating right the utmost priority (there is seemingly a juice bar on every other corner). All the fitness giants are here (Equinox, Crunch, 24-Hour Fitness), as well CrossFit, fitness studios like Barry’s Bootcamp and Soul Cycle and independent private gyms where it’s required to work with a personal trainer to be a member (like Mansion Fitness).
Outside the sweatboxes, bike lanes are being added to streets, people are downward dogging in parks and Runyon Canyon is just a hop and skip away from excellent, heart-pumping hiking, all of which gets better with longer days of sunshine. Shack up at Andaz West Hollywood, which is conveniently located on the Sunset Strip.
6. Big Island, Hawaii
With the winter crowds gone, visitors to Big Island, Hawaii, feel like they have the entire island to themselves, and the timing couldn’t be better. Weather-wise, spring is a great time to visit the largest Hawaii island that’s brimming with unique landscapes like high-altitude mountains and active volcanoes.
While you can hike to waterfalls, climb peaks and swim for days in crystal-clear waters, active adventurists make a beeline to Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, where they can hike through unique terrain to flowing lava pools. Four Seasons Hualalai has one of the most robust fitness programs in Big Island, with an outdoor lap pool tucked away under overgrown palm fronts and native flora.
7. Chicago, Illinois
Chicago is considered one of the healthiest cities in America, and the fitness inclined go gangbusters as soon as the snow thaws. North Avenue Beach is crawling with volleyballers, rollerbladers and cyclists via bike paths, and famed jogging routes like Lakefront along Lake Michigan has awesome city views, making it one of the best fitness-friendly destinations for spring.
When it comes to congested cities, Chicago may be the most sought-after location for healthy outdoor activities. In the past few years, Chicago placed more than 500 sensors throughout the streets that work as a Fitbit activity tracker to provide data about urban environment. Array of Things compiles data of various environmental factors like air quality, magnetic field, carbon monoxide, ozone and humidity (among other factors, like heavy foot and vehicle traffic) that will eventually determine what spots are best for optimal air quality and conditions and what areas need improvement, truly dictating the best spots for outdoor cardio.
Book The Peninsula Chicago, a centrally located hotel with an urban wellness program, complimentary city bikes and triple-filtered water to help quench after a work-out.
8. St Petersburg, Florida
Known for its thriving art community, St. Petersburg, Florida, is also one of the healthiest cities in a traditionally unfit state. You’ll be hard pressed to find out-of-shape bodies here as many locals adjust to the outdoor lifestyle, making it one of the best fitness-friendly destinations for spring.
Anchoring the fitness scene is Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail, a 38-mile trail and linear park that extends from St. Petersburg to Tarpon Springs, built atop an abandoned railroad line and providing paths for biking, walking, jogging and skating. The trail (not only unique to St. Pete but rare for a coastal Florida town) also crosses rivers, creeks, pedestrian bridges and various towns where you can hop on kayaks in natural, untainted environments or head to the ocean that’s warmer after April.
Due to the flat nature of the water, paddleboarding is popular here, especially at night, thanks to Mad Beach Paddle Sports who provide boards with LED lights. Stay at Loews Don CeSar Hotel, the perfect pad right on the beach.
Don’t forget to social distance and wear your mask if you’re traveling. Here’s our favorite affordable and effective mask from Amazon.
9. Napa Valley, CA
There are 45,000 acres of vineyards in Napa Valley, which makes it one of the most scenic places to hop on two wheels. Famously bucolic and low key, Napa Valley serves up some stellar, mostly flat terrain with 30-50 miles of uninterrupted rides. Many routes are remote (meaning you may not see another soul for miles), and there are plenty of elevation descents and gains to fire up your momentum, making Napa Valley one of the 10 best fitness-friendly destinations for spring.
Napa Valley Bike Tours offers a great resource for routes to conquer, and they also offer guided and private tours, as well as bike rentals. Las Alcobas, a boutique hotel right on Main Street in St Helena, offers a fitness center and an outdoor pool that’s perfect for a splash post-cycling.
10. New York City, New York
With miles of public parks, tracks along waterfronts, hundreds of fitness centers and even watersports like rowing and kayaking, New York City is a fantasy destination for athletes when the ice melts.
While the fitness obsessed burn calories throughout the city, sweat-drenched shirts don’t come off like they do at the courts. New York City is renowned for its dozens of public basketball courts, from Dyckman Park where pros have played to the spectator-heavy The Cage in Greenwich Village. While many courts require a fee and/or permit, joining in on a game in progress is not uncommon. If you want to take the game indoors, check out Indoor Hoops, which is serious about organized games, as well as the courts at Chelsea Piers.
Shack up at Thompson Lower East Side, which is steps from the ABC Playground Courts on Houston, one of the easier spots to reserve a space.
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