Sometimes during the warm summer months I start to think about the arrival of cooler days and how much I enjoy being outside without sweltering heat and humidity. Then, I calmly remember that anytime of the year is perfect for a trip to the mountains. No matter whether its winter for snow sports, fall for foliage, spring for blooming trees and wildflowers, or summer for camping, hiking, cycling and other outdoor adventures, I know there will always be a cool breeze and calm peaceful evening watching the sun go down. Don’t get me wrong, the beach is great, but the mountains have a way of making me feel like I’m home.
Here are 5 marvelous mountain escapes for your next family vacation:
Once a rustic and rough mining town, Telluride has matured into a unique and inviting resort area that attracts adventurers of all ages. Located in the shadow of the San Juan Mountains, Telluride is known for great hiking, fishing and live music. You’ll want to stay at the Peaks Resort which has an indoor/outdoor pool and waterslide and is very family friendly. To see the panoramic beauty of the area, you can go up to 9,500 feet on the Mountain Village gondola. Save time for a visit to Bridal Veil Falls, Colorado’s longest free falling waterfall. For the music, check out the Telluride Bluegrass Festival with its diverse line-up and wide appeal.
Asheville, North Carolina
Is there one place on this list that seems to have it all? If so, it would be Asheville, one of the coolest and hippest places in the South. Asheville’s many assets include microbreweries, live music venues, coffeehouses, The Biltmore Estate and surrounding Appalachian and Blue Ridge Mountains. Treat yourself to a stay at the gorgeous Inn on Biltmore Estate and tour the enormous mansion and grounds. Then head off to the nearby Blue Ridge Parkway for an unforgettable scenic drive. Wrap it all up with a canopy tour and soar through the air on 11 different ziplines at heights of around 70 feet with extraordinary views of the surrounding mountains.
Adirondacks, New York
If you haven’t spent at least one day at Adirondack Park, you need to work on your planning and get going. Taking up almost a third of the entire land area of New York State, you’ll find forests, rolling hills, farmland, charming towns, valleys, lakes and rivers galore. If you like to camp, then this might turn out to be your favorite place. There are 500 campsites spread over the 48 islands on Lake George, Indian Lake and Saranac Lake. If you’re not the camping type, check out Mirror Lake Inn Resort & Spa for an unforgettable Adirondack experience. Be sure to hike the summit and loop around Mount Jo one of the most popular spots to see some terrific mountain views.
If you love the outdoors and playing in the sunshine without all the fuss, then head to Stowe, Vermont. If you’re the active types, you’ll love the amazing 5.3 mile trail that runs through the town and crosses the river 11 times. If you go during the July 4th holiday, you’ll be treated to an old-fashioned parade and village festival. Summer activities include biking, canoeing, zip line and of course shopping!! Depending on your tastes and budget, either stay at the Trapp Family Lodge or Topnotch Resort.
Smoky Mountains, Tennessee
If you got kids to entertain, then the Smoky Mountains and Pigeon Forge make a lot of sense for many reasons. We all know the key to keeping kids happy is to get them tired! One of the best things about Pigeon Forge is the dozens of things to do, specifically designed to keep you and your kids busy for days. For a special treat, setup your brood at The Inn at Christmas Place, not only is it fun and Christmas themed, kids of all ages and adults love it for its unique experience like movies by the pool and the Singing Santa. While you’re enjoying your stay in Pigeon Forge, check out the Soul of Motown, Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster, and Dollywood. Be sure to head over to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and hike up to Laurel Falls, an 80-foot high waterfall that is one of the most popular spots in the area.
More from Samantha Brown: