With the average American adult working 47 hours per week, it’s no wonder hard-working people are on the hunt for the most rejuvenating vacation spots. It’s exactly for those people that we went on the search for the very best places to go when in need of a little R&R.
To begin, we searched dozens of travel sites, asked well-traveled friends for recommendations, and drew from our own travel experiences to come up with an initial list of more than 60 destinations. Because everyone’s idea of what is relaxing and rejuvenating is different, we included a variety of places offering everything from peaceful ocean views, to Mother Nature’s most beautiful scenery, to the charm of a laid-back city.
To narrow down our list to only the 30 very best rejuvenating vacation spots in North America, we ranked our long list by the following:
Affordability: Each destination on our list offers visitors plenty of options when it comes to affordable accommodation. Whatever your budget, you’ll find a range of hotels, resorts, or even campsites that will make you — and your wallet — quite happy.
Accessibility: Each rejuvenating destination on our list can be reached via road trip, budget flight, or a relaxing hike through beautiful settings.
That Little Something Extra: Whether a unique local activity, cool historical site, or just 360 degrees of incredible nature, each of our rejuvenating destinations has something worth going the extra mile for.
The result was an exciting list of the 30 most rejuvenating vacation destinations in North America.
Avalanche Lake, Montana
It may take a trek of a two-hour hike to get there, but Montana’s Avalanche Lake is a perfect destination for those in need of some inspiration and rejuvenation. This amazingly clear lake is remote, and has therefore been preserved and protected from the effects of commercial tourism. Take a book and read in the shadows of the cascading waterfalls and picture-perfect mountaintops, or go for a refreshing swim in the lake itself. However you choose to enjoy Avalanche Lake, your hike back is bound to include a little more bounce in your step.
Banff National Park, Canada
There is a very simple reason why Banff National Park is Alberta, Canada’s most visited destination: the place is gorgeous! Located at the heart of the Canadian Rockies, Banff caters to just about any taste and budget level, as both campsites and resort hotels are plentiful. Rejuvenation and inspiration can be found in such activities as skiing down Mount Norquay, hiking the limestone Hoodoos, mountain biking or horseback riding the many trails, and enjoying the lakes.
Bar Harbor, Maine
Whether you’re traveling with a partner or your family, you’re sure to find just the kind of relaxation and rejuvenation you’ll need in Bar Harbor, Maine. Both large resorts and intimate Bed & Breakfasts line the waterfront, while locally owned restaurants, cafes, and of course, lobster shacks, provide plenty of options for tasty lunches and dinners. The beautiful Acadia National Park is located just minutes from the main hub, and is the perfect outlet for all kinds of rejuvenating activity, whether a leisurely stroll or a heart-pumping bike ride through the beautiful scenery.
Canon de la Angostura, Mexico
There are few places on earth as wondrous and inspiring as Mexico’s Canon de la Angostura. The canyon is located within walking distance of a small, charming mining town called Mina Grande, but once you’re there, civilization — and reality — are likely to feel an entire world away. Walk through the canyon on suspended boardwalks to get up close and personal with giant waterfalls, or take one of the offered ladders to disappear into the “hidden” caves. Before heading back to town, complete your rejuvenation with a dip into the crystal-blue water.
Carova Beach, North Carolina
While most people may flock to North Carolina’s Outer Banks, those looking for a rejuvenating vacation spot should head to the much more serene Carova Beach. Besides a few vacation homes, beach, beach, and more beach are all that’s out here. You’ll have to pick up food before you reach Carova, as there are no stores here, and the “roads” in (they’re mostly sand) are best suited for a Jeep or SUV. But once you reach your destination, you’re in for 11 miles of quiet paradise. The temperate waters are perfect for swimming, paddle boarding, or surfing — just keep your eyes out for Carova’s wild mustang population that often finds its way to the beach.
Historic Charlottesville, Virginia is the perfect place to relax and rejuvenate over a long weekend. The surrounding valley is one of the oldest wine regions in the nation, famous for chardonnays and cabernet francs. Downtown Charlottesville is a stroller’s paradise, complete with upscale boutiques and great restaurants. Finally, don’t leave Charlottesville without a trip to Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s stunning and fascinating home.
Crater Lake, Oregon
One of the most recognizable sites in the United States, Oregon’s Crater Lake also happens to be an inspiring and rejuvenating vacation destination. A number of rustic retreats are available in the area, many of which offer guests stunning views of the lake and a great location from which to really enjoy the scenery. A great day can be spent hiking or cycling the rim of this former volcano, while a more relaxing time can be had on a volcano boat cruise or on a fishing trip.
Crowsnest Pass, Alberta, Canada
You have your pick of beautiful stops along Canada’s Continental Divide, but if it’s a rejuvenating vacation destination you’re after, we’d argue there’s no place along the Divide as perfect as Crowsnest Pass. Myriad lakes and rivers add to the area’s picturesque serenity, while dozens of trails are perfect for hikes both leisurely and serious. Those with a less adventurous spirit can visit the historic mines, enjoy the restaurants and cafes of town, or simply meander the gorgeous surroundings. But regardless of your interests, you can’t leave Crowsnest Pass without glimpsing the Northern Lights.
Dry Tortugas, Florida
It’s hard to feel overwhelmed in a place you can only reach by boat or seaplane. Located 70 miles from Key West, Dry Tortugas (named for the large turtle population that Ponce de Leon found here when he named it) is a great place to find some R&R. History lovers will find the islands’ historical sites fascinating, while those looking to get close to nature will love the crystal clear and fish-filled waters that are perfect for snorkeling.
Finger Lakes, New York
Escape the hustle and bustle of New York City with a long weekend away in the Finger Lakes region. Despite its name, the biggest reasons to visit the Finger Lakes are the wineries. Four different wine trails meander through gorgeous natural scenery and pass more than 100 wineries. The region is most famous for its rieslings, though there is also a healthy presence of distilleries and local breweries.
Flathead Lake, Montana
For those who can’t quite decide what a rejuvenating vacation looks like, Flathead Lake, Montana may prove to be the perfect option. For those whose idea of rest and relaxation includes becoming one with nature, Flathead Lake boasts fantastic opportunities for boating, fishing, hiking, and horseback riding. Those who find personal rejuvenation in culture and spirituality will find the local Flathead Indian Reservation fascinating, while those just looking to relax in a pretty setting will love places like Flathead Lake Lodge, an all-inclusive dude ranch that overlooks the water.
Isla Mujeres, Mexico
Mexico’s Isla Mujeres is the perfect Caribbean-based rejuvenating vacation spot, as it is often less crowded and less expensive than nearby Cancun. Large luxurious resorts line the crushed-coral beaches, and give visitors easy access to the stunning turquoise waters. Isla Mujeres offers world-class swimming, snorkeling, and scuba diving, though sunbathing and an active nightlife are also great pastime options.
Nestled beneath the picturesque Grand Tetons, Jackson is located in a stunning valley that is well-known for its natural beauty and adventurer’s delights. In summer, grab your car and explore nearby Yellowstone National Park, or hike or cycle through the nearby valleys and foothills. In winter, enjoy one of Jackson Hole’s many ski resorts and spas. And at any time of year, meander Jackson’s homey and charming downtown, where shops, galleries, and restaurants do a wonderful job of welcoming those in need of some relaxation and inspiration.
Lake Tahoe, California
There aren’t many places on earth as beautiful as Lake Tahoe, making it an easy choice for our list of the most rejuvenating vacation spots in North America. Charming little ski towns (such as Tahoe City on the North Shore) and one big ski town (CalNeva on the South Shore) dot the more than 200 miles surrounding the titular lake. In winter, rent a cozy cabin for skiing, snowshoeing, or just sitting by the fire and watching the snow fall. In summer, enjoy the many surrounding hiking trails, go for a swim in the lake, or socialize at a lakeside restaurant.
Located within 10 driving hours of more than half of the country’s population, Lexington, Kentucky is a great — and totally underrated — option for a rejuvenating vacation. To make sure you’re close to everything, stay in an historic B&B in either downtown Lexington or one of the charming small towns nearby (we like Midway, Versailles, or Paris). You can’t leave Lexington without experiencing the Thoroughbreds — the area’s main industry. Spend a day betting on the horses at Keeneland, visit the fantastic Kentucky Horse Park, or take a horse farm tour to get up-close-and-personal to some actual racehorses. Lexington is also a great push-off point for Kentucky’s famous Bourbon Trail.
The Marietas Islands, Nayarit, Mexico
Located a few miles off the coast of Nayarit, Mexico, the uninhabited Islas Marietas are most famous as the home of the famous “love beach” or “hidden beach.” Known as the Galapagos of Mexico, the Marietas are a popular destination for snorkeling and diving. Sea turtles, stingrays, dolphins, octopus, and even humpbacked whales are all popular sights around this stunning region. Most visitors set aside time to relax on Hidden Beach, seemingly located within a tunnel formed by volcanic action. A word of caution: Hidden Beach is a must-see, but check ahead to make sure this awesome location is open, as the Mexican government does occasionally close it to visitors.
Prince Edward Island, Canada
Canada’s smallest province, Prince Edward Island, is 120 miles of storybook-worthy scenery and charm. Famous as the setting for Anne of Green Gables, Prince Edward Island still manages to feel like a piece of living history; everything from traffic to time moves more slowly here, while the favored pastime for both locals and visitors seems to be relaxation. Rejuvenate via activities like cycling the Confederation Trail, fishing in Covehead Bay, golfing, sea kayaking, or visiting the cottages and scenery made famous in L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables.
Santa Barbara, California
Escape the traffic and smog of Los Angeles for a weekend rejuvenating in Santa Barbara. The surrounding area is dotted with beautiful wineries, olive orchards, and horse farms, while a short drive away is the Pacific Ocean. The small towns of Solvang and Ojai are close enough to enjoy a lunch or dinner, while downtown Santa Barbara is a luxurious place to take a stroll or do a little shopping.
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Located in the high desert of the American Southwest, Santa Fe is a rejuvenating vacation spot known for its crisp air, unique style, and mouth-watering cuisine. Check into the centrally located and historic Inn of the Governors, then spend your days wandering Santa Fe’s maze-like downtown of museums, galleries, and historical hot spots. Don’t miss the legendary stairs of the Loretto Chapel, the 3,000 piece-strong Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, or Santa Fe Plaza for a picnic and people watching.
Sebago Lake, Maine
Maine’s Sebago Lake is full of surprises — starting with the fact that it’s a gigantic body of water “hidden” in the middle of the state. This deep cold-water lake is surrounded by little beaches and picturesque villages which, during the warmer summer months, becomes a popular destination for boaters. Hiking and swimming are other options for the active, while accommodation options ranging from campsites to luxury cabins make for the perfect place to relax and enjoy the stunning local views.
With its red rocks and towering natural landscape, Sedona, Arizona feels like a whole other world. Most people head to Sedona to find rejuvenation on a hike through the iconic red rocks, but there are plenty of other options to relax here as well. Grab a spa treatment at any one of Sedona’s many upscale resorts, spend a day hanging out by the pool, or explore the downtown and shop for unique locally made art pieces.
Like so many other places near the Colorado Rockies, Snowmass can get quite busy during the winter months. Summer, however, is an entirely different story. Warm-weather months in Snowmass are mostly peaceful, characterized by stunning views, few crowds, and a great selection of outdoor activity options. Spend the day mountain biking, fly fishing, whitewater rafting, golfing, rock climbing, horseback riding, or just sitting with a good book and a great view. Then, head to a Wednesday-night rodeo to enjoy the BBQ and bull riding.
Napa may get the big press, but we think that when it comes to wine-induced relaxation, Sonoma just can’t be beat. Rent a car to enjoy the region and tailor your wine-tasting itinerary to your own interests. You’ll find that most of Sonoma’s wineries charge far less for a full tasting than Napa, so take the money you save and spend a relaxing evening in Sonoma’s main square, where Mission San Francisco Solano overlooks dozens of one-of-a-kind boutiques and top-notch restaurants.
St. Simons Island, Georgia
There are quite a few fantastic islands off the coast of Georgia, but when it comes to rest and relaxation, we like St. Simons Island. St. Simons enjoys a laid-back vibe, with rustic retreats, a conservation-minded local economy, and lots of fun activities. On the days you’re not relaxing on the beach, spend some time birdwatching, boating, or biking along the coast, then spend the evening at a traditional oyster roast or one of the island’s many seed-to-table restaurants.
Like Snowmass, Colorado, Stowe is a busy winter destination that mellows out in the warmer months. Those looking for a rejuvenating getaway will love the fact that many of the ski resorts turn into spa destinations once the snow melts, complete with fancy restaurants, a laid-back vibe, and stunning scenery. Get inspired by nature through hiking, mountain biking, or horseback riding, or just eat your way back to rejuvenation by visiting any of the local farm-to-table restaurants, breweries, or the top-notch Stowe Farmers’ Market.
Located only a day’s drive from Texas, the small town of Tanchachin is best known for its spectacular Tamul Falls. This waterfall, easily one of the most beautiful in the world, is characterized by its turquoise waters and unique rock formations. Hikers and day trippers can easily find the perfect views of the falls, plus visit the inspiring ancient ruins of Tamtoc. To get up close to the falls, consider taking a raft up the canyon.
In only a few years, Tulum has gone from underrated vacation spot to one of the Mexican Riviera’s most popular getaway destinations. Celebrities and budget travelers alike come here to rejuvenate among the crystal clear waters, top-notch restaurants, and luxurious all-inclusive resorts. History buffs will enjoy the fact that Tulum is home to some of the best-preserved Mayan ruins in the entire Western Hemisphere, while adventurers and nature junkies will love such unique activities as hiking through bioreserves and diving the many underwater caverns.
The beautiful Yucatan is chock-full of amazing and inspiring getaways, most of which are located along the coast. Valladolid, however, is unique because it is a rejuvenating getaway located further inland. This small authentic town, with its cute shops and local restaurants, is perfect for exploring, while adventurers will love the natural cenote (sinkhole) located just outside of the main town.
Victoria & Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada
Quaint and charming Victoria & Vancouver Island feels a world away from the city of Vancouver, despite being a mere 90-minute ferry ride away. Here, traditions run deep and life moves more slowly. Spend your days whale watching, fishing, wine tasting, or walking the beach, or explore one of the Island’s many excellent museums. Enjoy tea time at the beautiful Fairmont Empress, or take a late afternoon walk to photograph the Island’s stunning natural beauty. However you choose to spend your time, you’re sure to feel rejuvenated after a trip to Victoria & Vancouver Island.
Watkins Glen State Park, New York
For a rejuvenating trip back to nature, East Coasters need only go to upstate New York. Here, they’ll find Watkins Glen State Park, a beautiful destination that rivals even the most famous of the parks out West. There are a number of ways to enjoy Watkins Glen, but hikers shouldn’t miss the Gorge Trail, which includes fascinating rock formations, small pools and streams, and nearly 20 waterfalls.