11 Epic Vacation Destinations for Adrenaline Junkies
Craving a heart-pumping, hair-raising adventurous getaway that takes epic vacation to the next level? Look no further than these unique spots across the U.S. and beyond.
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Courtesy Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado
Tucked into the Sangre de Cristo foothills just minutes from Santa Fe is an immersive resort that offers a wide array of energy-rushing activity and a climate that is beautiful year-round. At the Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado, you can fulfill all of your outdoor-adventure desires, including whitewater rafting, hot air ballooning, horseback riding, and even snowshoeing (the Santa Fe Ski Basin is just 35 miles from the resort). The resort’s Adventure Architect, Izzy Uzicanin, and his team of expert guides (including an archaeologist, art historian and veteran National Park Ranger) are ready to introduce adventure seekers to the rich culture, history, and magical landscape of northern New Mexico with personally curated itineraries. After a long day of activity, you can take advantage of the resort’s relaxing spa or meditate or practice yoga on the outdoor vortex with views of the surrounding greenery. Here are some easy, 10-minute yoga poses to get a quick workout in.
Courtesy Dunton Hot Springs
Nestled deep in the rugged San Juan Mountains of the Colorado Rockies is this remote, but charming restored ghost town. There you’ll find Dunton Hot Springs, a small and exclusive resort set in an Alpine Valley on 1,600 acres of land and just across the mountain from famed ski mountain, Telluride. If skiing isn’t your fancy—or you’re looking for more of a rush, you can fill your days with ice climbing up frozen waterfalls, dog sledding, heli skiing, and even horseback riding in the high Rockies summiting 14,000-foot peaks. In the summertime, the resort also coordinates rock climbing, mountain biking, whitewater rafting, and more. After a long day of adventure, relax in one of their luxurious log cabins or tent suites. If you’re into tents luxury-style, check out these glamping vacations.
Waikiki Beach, Hawaii
Courtesy Hyatt Centric Waikiki Beach
One of the most famously admired beaches in the world, Waikiki Beach on the Hawaiian island of Honolulu exudes everything thrill-seekers hope to find in Hawaii—miles-long sandy beaches and lots of surfing, stand up paddleboarding (SUP), scuba diving along coral reefs, and more. There are some things you should know before booking your Hawaii vacation, but Waikiki offers adventure on land and at sea. Adventure lovers can take advantage of hiking tours, ATV and off-roading tours, zip lining and horseback riding. Stay centrally located, at the new Hyatt Centric Waikiki Beach, which features its own organic kalo garden and pool deck (for your off hours!).
Courtesy Mt. Bachelor
Though Central Oregon might not be at the top of most people’s vacation wish list, if you’re a thrill-seeker and a terrain-tackler, it should be. In the winter, nearby Mount Bachelor offers over 4,300 acres of lift-accessible ground made for skiing, snowboarding, big-mountain heli tours, dog-sled rides, snowshoe tours, tubing, and more. In warmer months, look for the whitewater rafting, hiking, fly-fishing, and mountain biking. For vacationers looking to balance their activity with a little R&R, there are over 20 breweries in Bend alone, along with spas galore—Sage Springs Club & Spa at Sunriver Resort, Jinsei Spa and Spa W to name a few.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Courtesy MGM Resorts International
Not a gambler? You’re in luck. There are plenty of must-see Las Vegas attractions that have nothing to do with gambling. For one, there’s ZERO-G, a program that allows you to experience a weightless flight that replicates the same levels of weightlessness on the moon and Mars. There’s also the roller coaster at New York-New York, which delivers heart-stopping action at 67 miles per hour and features the first 180-degree “heartline” twist and dive maneuver. If you’re an animal lover, you can head to Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat at The Mirage where you can become a trainer for a day, working closely with dolphin care specialists to learn about the health, behavior, and proper care-taking of The Mirage’s family of dolphins—in and out of the water. When you’re done training, take a breather with some Dolphin Yoga, which is just as amazing as it sounds. Other excursions offered on The Strip include ATV adventures, helicopter tours, and a speed track for car-racing enthusiasts. Bonus: In late 2018, the LINQ Hotel & Casino will offer zip lining, making it the first zip-lining experience on the Las Vegas Strip.
Panama City Beach, Florida
courtesy Visit Panama City Beach
Home to 27 miles of white, sandy beaches and emerald-green waters is an accessible escape for adrenaline-seekers of all kinds. Whether you’re looking for exploration and discovery in or out of the water, this heavenly vacation spot has it all—which is why it’s one of the top travel destinations in the U.S. Become scuba-certified and explore the hidden treasures deep below the ocean’s surface—sunken ships, limestone reefs, marine life, and more. Experience the “roller coaster of the future, the Max Flight Simulator at Cobra Adventure Park, as well as other rides, such as the Indy Speedway and Slingshot, which goes up to 100 miles per hour. Hiking and bicycle trails are also plentiful with stunning views that will truly relax you and give you that breath of fresh air you’ve been craving.
Tambopata Region, Peru
Courtesy Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica
For a once-in-a-lifetime experience in South America’s Amazon rainforest, visit the Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica, an eco-luxury lodge in front of the Madre de Dios River. The property offers a varied selection of à-la-carte excursions for adventure enthusiasts, including kayaking on the Madre de Dios, hikes throughout the rainforest during which guests can expect to see exotic animals such as anacondas, tarantulas and jaguars, tour along the Inkaterra Canopy Walkway, a bridge system suspended 98 feet above the ground (not for those afraid of heights), and more! The most adventurous of visitors can even stay in the Inkaterra Canopy Tree House, which is built on a private platform adjoining the famous Inkaterra Canopy Walkway (73 feet above the lush floor below). Bonus: Peru is one of the top foodie destinations in the world.
Queenstown, New Zealand
The Queenstown region of New Zealand has always been a magnet for adventurers and entrepreneurs. World-first innovations such as commercial jet boating and bungee jumping have forged Queenstown’s reputation as the ‘Adventure Capital of the World.’ On the long list of activities you can prepare to experience on a trip to the shores of the South Island include jet boating, bungee jumping, tandem paragliding (an activity pioneered in Queenstown), river rafting, parasailing, canyoning kite skiing, and so much more. To feel fully centered amidst it all, with beautiful scenery to boot, settle down at Matakauri Lodge, one of the premier resorts in the city situated in a picturesque alpine lakefront setting.
courtesy Jean Michel Cousteau Resort
Those seeking a bucket-list type of an experience that also provides an adrenaline-rushing escape from the cold, look no farther than this tiny island in the South Pacific. It might not be the easiest destination to get to, but once you’ve sunken your toes in the sandy, white beaches, you’ll be glad you traveled all that way. Stay at Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort, which offers just about every activity aside from skydiving that you can do on the island: scuba diving, rainforest and waterfall hiking, paddle boarding, kayaking, snorkeling, sailing as well as tour guide-led excursions to private islands. For adult thrill-seekers looking to leave the kids for certain activities, the resort offers a Bula Club that will keep them busy and entertained all day long.
Palm Beach, Aruba
courtesy Aruba Marriott Resort Stellaris Casino
This family-friendly destination, loving known as “one happy island,” offers more than just exotic beaches and tropical cocktails. It’s even a top destination pick for off-season travel. There are thrilling adventures all around—both on water and on land. Thanks to Aruba’s constant trade winds, the island is ideal for windsurfing and kitesurfing. Those looking to reach new heights will get an adrenaline rush while parasailing, jet packing, or trampolining among views of the Aruban coastline. Stay at the Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino, which helps coordinate all of these activities for you and more, such as underwater helmet walking (seriously!). This involves being submersed on the ocean floor while exploring amazing underwater sites. Though not for the claustrophobic folks, exploring historical Guadirikiri Caves that native Arawak Indians once lived in is another must!
Vermejo Park Ranch, New Mexico
Courtesy Ted Turner Expeditions
In northeastern New Mexico’s Colfax County, just below the Colorado border, sits an adventurous traveler’s dream: Vermejo Park Ranch, part of the Ted Turner Expeditions portfolio, which offers eco-conscious journeys in the American southwest. The media mogul and environmentalist purchased the area, which consists of 585,000 acres of stunning wilderness. Travelers staying at the Vermejo Park Ranch can experience just about every active adventure: hiking, biking, horseback riding, fishing, wildlife viewing, fitness trails, photography tours, back country skiing, skeet shooting, sporting clays, 5-stand and 3D archery and more. A major attraction for adrenaline-seekers is the ranch’s annual “Four Peaks in Five Days” event, where participants ascend four signature peaks over the course of five days.