Feeling so tired and burnt out that not even a long massage or any of those Instagram-fed supplements you’ve been stocking up on won’t help? Stressed because your to-do list seems to be a bottomless pit or the approaching presidential election is giving you heart palpitations?

Whether the answer is yes to some or all of the above, or you’re simply ready to skip town for a few days and do absolutely nothing in style, you’ve earned the right to a relaxing vacation. We’re talking someplace where no one cares what the hot new restaurant is (spoiler alert: there isn’t one) and where you won’t have to scramble through crowds on a guided tour through town. The kind of vacation destination where your main itinerary items are taking a tranquil yoga class, soaking in the hot springs, or lounging on the beach. And the best part is that you don’t even need to wait for summer to arrive to make your great escape.

Whether you’re venturing out solo or rolling deep with friends and family, desire a cozy cottage tucked away in the mountains or something on the sand facing the sea, we’ve selected some of the most relaxing vacations in the US where you can safely check your baggage—literal and metaphorical—at the door.

person standing on doc in the finger lakes surrounded by fall foliage
Take your pick from more than 100 wineries—plus all the epic scenery you can handle. | Bob Pool/Shutterstock

Finger Lakes, New York

Yes, it’s true that the Finger Lakes have grown exponentially in popularity over the last decade or so—and we’re not complaining about having a quality wine country closer to the East Coast. But considering the sheer size of this Upstate New York getaway, which includes the 11 major lakes that give this region its name, its increasingly large fan club will still find themselves spread out, with plenty of cozy cabins and luxe lakeside stays to go around. That’s not to mention the Finger Lakes’s real claim to fame: the four distinct trails that’ll take you through bucolic scenery as you hit up the area’s 100-plus wineries, where the pours are generous, the staff accessible and knowledgeable, and the vibes pristinely laid-back. Be sure to hit the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail, the country’s very first, which is lined with dog-friendly booze producers alongside excellent waterfall views.

Crater Lake, Oregon

Honestly, you won’t believe what you’re seeing if you come here. The striking blue of Oregon’s Crater Lake—the deepest in the US—is so mesmerizing, and the cliffs surrounding it so overwhelming, that you could spend an entire vacation simply drinking it all in. Walk or bike the rim, take a volcano boat cruise, fish for rainbow trout, and, simply, give yourself up to a greater force. Sure, the seasonal, century-old Crater Lake Lodge might draw comparisons to The Shining, but it’s actually just one of those rustic, throwback retreats that forces you to really, truly unplug. There are no phones or TVs in the rooms, so it’s all about slowing down and appreciating your surroundings. Oh, and hitting up the dining room at night to finally try that bison meatloaf you’ve been curious about since arriving.

Joshua Tree National Park, California

That Joshua Tree is a choice getaway is no secret. You’ve seen photos of yurts and sunsets at those infamous arches flooding your Instagram feed. Woo-woo-types, A-list celebrities, and outdoorsy people alike all find themselves in this expanse of the Mojave Desert at some point or another, some coming directly from bustling Los Angeles, others from artsy Palm Springs, and the rest from around the country or even the world. But what’s sometimes lost in translation—meaning, what Instagram photos can’t quite convey—is how restorative this park is. The sparse cell service, miles of open desert, rare plant life, and superb, star-filled night skies—not to mention the unique, intimate Airbnbs and quirky locals—all make for a dreamlike setting to disconnect from reality.

Philipsburg, Montana

If you think a beachside all-inclusive resort is relaxing, try dropping that care-free concept smack-dab in the middle of Big Sky Country, throw in a heaping dose of crackling fires and whiskey cocktails, and stick it all under one of the most captivating night skies you can imagine, and you’ll have the Ranch at Rock Creek. Located just outside of picture-perfect Philipsburg, this sprawling 6,600-acre expanse introduces guests to the cushier side of ranching life with a slate of activities if you’re feeling restless, from horseback riding, fly and ice fishing, snowshoeing, and downhill and cross-country skiing to sporting clays, archery, golf, UTV tours, and so much more. The food is impeccable, the barkeeps spot-on, and if all you feel like doing is curling up with a good book (or a good episode of Yellowstone) between decadent spa treatments, you’d be in excellent company.

Pathway Leading To From Beach Sanibel Florida
Seaside bliss awaits, no Florida Men included. | Wicki58/iStock/Getty Images

Sanibel Island, Florida

So much of Florida looks relaxing (white-sand beaches, crystal-clear blue waves, swaying palms) without actually being relaxing (overrun shorelines, high-rise condos, Florida Men). But that’s not the vibe on Sanibel Island, as this Gulf Coast outcropping is Florida’s ultimate leave-your-worries-at-home destination. The southern part is awash in secluded beaches and low-key seaside stays at spots like the Sanibel Beach Resort (which even has its own tiki bar). The northern half of the island, meanwhile, is protected by the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, where you can spot 250 species of birds, gators, and eagles along marshy trails. From here, it’s also an easy cruise to other islands like nearby Captiva and Cayo Costa, where you’ll find a wealth of sandbars to snorkel through and even more idyllic, peaceful beaches to lounge on.

Sebago Lake, Maine

Sebago Lake is a sneaky wonder, a massive body of water in the middle of Maine that moonlights as a hidden ocean. It’s deep, cold, and dotted with tiny islands and small beaches, and in the summer, it’s nothing short of a boating haven. All of this serves as proof that you don’t have to hit the coast to get your waterfront fill. Set up camp at Migis Lodge, a swank cabin retreat with private access to canoeing, paddle boarding, clay-court tennis, motorboating, water skiing, and sauna sessions in the tiny outdoor shack. It’s the kind of place where they ring a lunch bell, and where the lunch turns out to be lobster rolls, and where you then go to dinner after cocktail hour and find a pile of steamed lobsters in the middle of the buffet table. Which is to say, it’s pretty perfect.

Snowmass, Colorado

Snowmass is irrefutable proof that while ski resorts obviously shine in winter, they often get even better as the weather warms up. Wait until spring, when tourism tends to take a dip, and watch as the powder melts to reveal beguiling mountain vistas. The outdoor activity lineup might just cause you to cancel that overpriced Grand Canyon jaunt, as mountain biking, fly fishing, whitewater rafting, golfing, rock climbing, and horseback riding (plus gondola rides into the hills for the non-sporty bunch) are all up for grabs. And if you’re looking for a little excitement, pop into the Snowmass Rodeo (held every Wednesday night from June through August), a tradition that starts with barbecue and cocktails and ends with roasted marshmallows around a communal campfire, plus all the expected trappings—i.e. bull riding, barrel racing, roping demos—in between.

Olympic Coast, Washington

Odds are, your first adult Goonies re-viewing probably got you all excited about the Pacific Northwest’s storied beaches. And while Oregon’s shores understandably receive a lot of the hype thanks to the region’s moody seaside vibes, the 73 miles of protected Olympic coastline are an equally beautiful—and less crowded—entry point. Camping is the main type of lodging in these parts, and coastal hiking, kayaking, and birdwatching are some of the preferred time-passers (as well as swimming, of course, as long as you respect the tides). Upgrade your trip with a stay at the Kalaloch Lodge, a rustic cliffside retreat with cabins and a restaurant that sources so local even its wine list is 100% Washington State born and raised.

two people sitting in front of the maryland shoreline with a charcuterie board
Nothing but views, snacks, and good company. | Wylder Hotel Tilghman Island

Tilghman Island, Maryland

If all you know of Maryland is Baltimore—and especially if all you know if Baltimore is The Wire—the state’s iconic, windswept Eastern Shore is here to absolutely blow your mind. No disrespect to McNutty’s domain, but the Chesapeake Bay and, more specifically, tiny Tilghman Island, represents an entirely different side of Mid-Atlantic, one that’s rife with mom-and-pop diners, age-old fisherman haunts, crisp craft brews, breezy nights around the bonfire, and remarkably little in terms of troubles. Book a stay at the Wylder Tilghman Island for a taste of the good life complete with endless Old Bay-dusted Maryland crabs, a wood-fired sauna, and private beach access for all your paddle boarding and kayaking needs.

Berkeley Springs, West Virginia

What could be more relaxing than an entire town centered around a spa? That’s the case in this age-old northeast West Virginia wellness haven, nestled within a few hours’ drive of Washington DC. Laze away the day splashing in the tranquil, mineral-rich 74.3-degree waters that flow through the eponymous state park, up the ante with a private soak inside the historic Roman bath house, or tack on a signature treatment like a soothing massage or facial. When you’re not luxuriating, indulge in local eats at a variety of laid-back cafes, grab a beer at a friendly craft brewery, peruse handicrafts and antiques around artsy downtown, then kick back at a polished hotel or rustic lodge. There’s even a manmade salt cave stashed nearby if you care for a little halotherapy. A favorite relaxation destination for the likes of George Washington, this is the physical embodiment of the phrase “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Stowe, Vermont

Stowe is quintessential Vermont. You have mountains, you have rivers, you have covered bridges, you have mountain biking and horseback riding, you have ski resorts that double as spa getaways, you have ski runs that turn into summertime hikes. You have farm-to-table restaurants, local breweries, the friendliest folks New England has to offer, and even a Ben & Jerry’s nearby. Boutique gem Field Guide Lodge has everything from video games in the lounge to a pool with fire pit and lounge chairs, while the Stowe Farmers’ Market goes well beyond whatever your neighborhood roadside stand provides. Come here for locally made cured meats, cheeses, sodas, spirits, and all kinds of takeaway snacks you’ll be glad you stockpiled when you’re adventuring in the mountains all day.

man in a robe standing in a doorway overlooking california vineyards in carmel
Kick back and relax in Carmel. | Bernardus Lodge & Spa

Carmel Valley, California

All throughout Northern California—and particularly around the Bay Area—you’ll find little pockets that curiously resemble European towns. But to really max out on Euro-style relaxation, head straight for the Carmel Valley, where you can expect to find 300 days of sunshine, rolling hills, vineyards, olive groves, lavender fields, and sophisticated cuisine all in one place—not to mention Carmel-by-the-Sea, perhaps the most European-style fairytale town in the entire country. After sampling all of Carmel Valley Village’s wine tasting rooms (there are 20, all within walking distance of one another and interspersed with art galleries and restaurants), check into Bernardus Lodge & Spa, an upscale ranch resort with a fabulous farm-to-table eatery, or opt for the more wallet-friendly Carmel Valley Lodge, where every unit has a fireplace and either a wooden deck, balcony, or private patio with mountain views. If the vistas in this region don’t chill you out, the ample vino definitely will.

Duck Creek Village, Utah

We’d argue that Utah is one of, if not the, most beautiful states in the country. Replete with soaring mountains, steep canyons, desert expanses, towering rock formations, and sunsets that Bob Ross couldn’t dream of capturing in their full majesty, you can toss a stone in any direction and hit a viewpoint guaranteed to soothe the soul. A lot of the action is centered around the famously majestic (and notoriously crowded) Mighty Five National Parks, and this is where Duck Creek Village comes in. Located in the Dixie National Forest, what this tiny town lacks in amenities—there are a handful of bars, restaurants, and rental shops to be found—it makes up for in outdoorsy, crowd-free goodness. Smack dab in between Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Zion, and the Grand Canyon, here you can get a taste of the desert, forest, and mountains at once, all accessible from a smattering of cozy woodland cabins on an expanse of land that remains peaceful all year-round.

Carova Beach, North Carolina

The Outer Banks are an obvious exhale spot for North Carolinians (or any Southerners, really) ready to hit the beach. But Carova, the region’s northernmost outpost, is especially serene, given that it’s about as far out as you can get. There are no hotels or stores, just vacation homes, and you’ll need a 4×4 vehicle just to get there (the “roads” are tracks in the sand). Once you’ve arrived, you’ll find that life revolves entirely around the beach. There are 11 miles of it—all of which stay fairly quiet, even in summer—where you can swim in the temperate waters, surf, paddleboard, or do a whole lotta nothing. While you’re here, look out for those wild horses. Carova’s Spanish mustangs wander all over the island, so you’re likely to spend as much time admiring them as you do the waves. Just keep your distance—the horses are feral, so there won’t be any Black Stallion-style bonding going on.

canyon ranch lenox hotel lit up beneath a dusky sky
Somewhere you can finally master meditation. | Canyon Ranch Lenox

Lenox, Massachusetts

Surrounded by the mountainous, forested beauty of the Berkshires, the Western Massachusetts outpost of Canyon Ranch, a celebrated, New Age-y wellness retreat chain (with locations in Tucson, Woodside, and Las Vegas) is far less likely to draw the see-and-be-seen celebrity crowd—which makes it that much more relaxing. Housed in a remote, century-old Bellefontaine mansion (the original library really has to be seen to be believed) in Lenox, this is one of those twig-to-nut spa experiences you spring for when an unexpected windfall occurs. There’s plenty of solitary activities to pass the time, including hiking, biking, sculling, paddleboarding, and swimming in the indoor lap pool, plus, of course, tons of spa treatments for the requisite splurge.

Little St. Simons Island, Georgia

We’re suckers for private retreats on private islands. But unlike some venture capitalist-owned Caribbean isles, Georgia’s Little St. Simons is rustic and naturalistic in all the best ways. The cottages are quaint and no-frills—it’s about the screened-in front porches, not the amenities. The Lodge on Little St. Simons Island prides itself on its conservation efforts, which include a stunning seed-to-table dining program. And all activities are nature-oriented, from birding to boating to biking along the resort’s private beach (most of the island is undeveloped). To top off your days, the Lodge’s nightly cocktail hour is a must, and the Friday night oyster roast cocktail hour is a must-must.

Santa Barbara Wine Country, California

Santa Barbara isn’t great because of Sideways—it’s in spite of it. Long before Alexander Payne dropped by, SB County was a refuge for any Angeleno in need of more wine and less smog. The drive between wineries is half the fun (those hilly, tree-dotted vistas never get old), but of course you’re really there to taste your cares away at every winery you can find, with the occasional detour to a miniature horse farm. While charming, European-inspired Solvang always grabs the cover shots, adorable Los Olivos deserves equal attention. With all its horse ranchers, it’s like a Western film come to life—except with sneakily sophisticated dining aplenty.

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Meaghan Agnew is a Boston-based writer who pets strange dogs with impunity. Follow her on Twitter: @meaghandeth.

Tiana Attride is a former associate editor at Thrillist. It’s her. She needs a relaxing vacation.

Meredith Heil is the editorial director of Thrillist Travel.


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