Five Fitness-Focused Getaways

There's no need to pack on the pounds during your next vacay

Skip the beach and head out for an adventure / Photo from

Most people associate “vacation” with days full of sandy beaches, cool ocean breezes and total relaxation. But while taking a week to lounge around and unwind may be great for your mental health, all that inactivity can hit your waistline hard, especially if you indulge in boardwalk pizza and ice cream or a few too many pinã coladas. This summer, why not use those vacation days to do something a little different? Trade in your flip-flops for a sturdy pair of sneakers and gear up for a multi-day adventure vacation, whether it be kayaking, hiking, biking—or all three. You’ll get a picturesque glimpse at some natural scenery (besides the Jersey Shore) while enjoying a fun physical challenge that you certainly can’t get at the gym. At, you can search by activity, location and vacation duration to find the trip that’s right for you. Here, five great trips currently running in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast.

1. Appalachian Trail Hiking and Yoga
Experienced guides lead guests on half-day and full-day hikes through Green Mountain National Forest, choosing trails and progressing at a pace suitable to hikers’ fitness level. Other fitness options include kayaking and yoga. Or sign up for a few a la carte fitness classes like aerobics or tennis. Starting price: $217. Duration: 2-8 Days. Location: Killington, Vermont. Operator: Appalachian Trail Adventures. Before you go: Check out REI in Norristown for introductory hiking classes or a basic pair of hiking shoes for around $50.

2. Biking New England
Easy Rider Tours offers a five-day New England biking journey through Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. You’ll begin in Newburyport, Massachusetts, and make your way along the New England coast, taking in historical sites—17th-century homes, quaint village streets and the outdoor museum at Strawbery Banke—and gorgeous natural scenery like sand dunes, apple orchards and the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge. All while logging 144-193 miles, depending on the routes you choose. Complimentary use of one of Easy Rider’s 27-speed Trek hybrid or Cannondale road bikes comes included in the package, along with accommodations, baggage transfer, and a t-shirt and water bottle. Starting price: $1,595. Duration: 6 days, 5 nights. Starting point: Newburyport, MA. Operator: Easy Rider Tours. Insider tip: During your two-night stay in Kennebunkport, be sure to visit Hurricane Restaurant. Winner of the 2011 Diners’ Choice Award, this eatery boasts fresh seafood, an award-winning wine list, and a free happy hour buffet Monday through Friday! (Though that’s not a license to stuff yourself to the gills!)

3. Learn to Kayak on the Youghiogheny River
If you only have a weekend to spare, take a road trip out to the Youghiogheny River in Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania and learn to kayak on the rapids. The tour operators at Wilderness Voyageurs provide you with all the necessary equipment including top-quality kayaks, paddles, helmets and wetsuits, then send you out on the water with experienced instructors to train you through each day. The trip also includes two lunches and breakfast on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Not bad for $150. Price: $150. Duration: 1-2 days. Location: Ohiopyle, PA. Operator: Wilderness Voyageurs. Rest from the rapids: When you’ve finished the day’s lesson, take in the many vistas, waterfalls and scenic hiking trails in nearby Ohiopyle State Park.

4. Americana Bike Tour
Philly, Pittsburgh and Harrisburg may be the big cities of interest in Pennsylvania, but between them lie a number of historic American landmarks that deserve equal attention. Hop on the turnpike and make your way out to Bedford, where you can cycle back in time to the days of colonial life on Wilderness Voyageurs’ Americana Bike Tour. Visit the Espy House (George Washington’s headquarters during the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794), Fort Ligonier (an outpost during the French and Indian War), and the Somerset Historical Center. You’ll pass under six covered bridges and visit quaint 18th-century towns along the way, stopping at taverns and smokehouse barns for lunch—where you may get a taste of some homemade apple pie. Don’t feel guilty: Up to 160 miles of pedaling will burn off those calories and then some. The tour also provides the opportunity to pay homage to the Flight 93 Memorial, a fitting feature for this trip departing on September 11th. Price: $1,075. Location: Bedford, PA. Duration: 4 Days. Operator: Wilderness Voyageurs Physical prep: If you commonly experience knee pain when biking, consider purchasing a knee compression brace to help support your joint while you bike. You can find them at Dick’s Sporting Goods for as low as $12.

5. Create Your Own Vacation: Poconos Skytop Lodge
If you’re not up for a long-distance trek or a set itinerary, you can easily create your own active adventure vacay in the Poconos, where you can dabble in challenging wilderness activities but still come home to a luxurious room at the Skytop Lodge. A stay gets you access to 30 miles of hiking trails, canoeing and kayaking on Skytop Lake, use of a fitness center, and the chance to take on the 30-foot rock climbing wall at the Adventure Center. The Lodge also comes equipped with all-weather tennis courts, wilderness skills classes, and a rafting package that includes a 4- to 5-hour rafting excursion on the Lehigh River Gorge. When you’re tuckered out, get your R&R with a massage at the Skyview Spa. Starting price: $480/night. For the romantic: Skytop’s inclusive Romantic Getaway Package features champagne, flowers and fluffy complimentary bath robes. So leave the kids at home.

-Kathryn Siegel