Summer is around the corner. Which means it’s time to shake off hibernation and get outdoors to explore a new area through a little adventure. Here’s a guide to the best outdoor adventures in each of our destinations in Florida, New York, and Maine.
Florida East Coast & Keys
Can’t decide if you want to spend the day snorkeling, kayaking, or cruising on the open water? You don’t have to with Java Cat’s half-day Eco Tour. Combing Key West’s favorite on-the-water activities into one eco trip, you and five others indulge in sailing through the Key West National Wildlife Refuge on a 31-foot catamaran, followed by a paddle through a mangrove forest in the calm waters of an area known as “The Lakes,” then snorkeling in the refuge’s crystal-clear coral and sponge gardens. No kayaking or snorkeling experience is necessary.
Barefoot waterskiing might sound too extreme, but Walkin on Water ski school will teach you how to naturally progress to standing sans skis or board, regardless of prior on-water experience. Owner and National Barefoot Waterskiing Champion Mike Frankenbush focuses on getting you in the proper stance to minimize arch ache and maximize photo ops.
First, there was sea kayaking; then stand-up paddling became the watersport du jour. Perhaps surfskiing is next. For those looking to take their paddling to the next level, a surfski is like a longer, narrower, lighter-weight sit-on-top sea kayak with foot-pedal-controlled rudder for cutting through surf and flat water at greater speeds. Jupiter Outdoor Center offers individual coaching, as well as rentals, of the 17-foot boards for exploring in and around the Jupiter Inlet.
Where to Stay Jupiter Beach Resort & Spa
Florida Gulf Coast
Tampa Bay/Clearwater Beach
For those not content with simply observing wildlife, five zip lines, a sweeping 200-foot suspension bridge, and other aerial activities get you into the action at Empower Adventures. Think spotting alligators, boars, and plenty of feathered friends as you whiz above them amid the canopy of Southern Slash Pines. This 396-acre “bit” of bayou on the northern tip of Tampa Bay 16 miles east of Clearwater Beach is well off the beaten path and gives you a fun experience seemingly worlds away from downtown Clearwater.
When you’ve got this many holes to play within such a small radius, the adventure comes in cramming an epic golf weekend with as many holes as you can muster. Get the most bang for your birdie buck by hitting as many as you can: 45 holes over two courses at The Resort at Longboat Key Club, then the set of 18 holes at both public golf courses, The Palms Golf Club at Forest Lakes and Village Green Golf Club, all within a 10-mile drive of each other.
Treasure Island is often reserved for lazy beach days, but part of an adventure is bragging rights, and saying you walked an entire island in an hour is right up there. A series of connecting paved boardwalks takes you by shops and restaurants and along the beach with largely unobstructed views of the water the whole way. Take the two-mile-long Treasure Island Beach Trail with turtle-friendly LED lights for walking at night.
Where to Stay Treasure Island Beach Resort
For budding nature photographers, there’s perhaps no better spot to train your lens than the crawling swamps of the Everglades. These Everglades photo tours give you three hours of up-close-and-personal flora and fauna encounters, accessed via pole boats that won’t disturb the natives when you’re quietly moving from location to location.
Where to Stay Edgewater Beach Hotel
Sea kayaking out to the Porcupine Islands is a two-for-one adventure: Not only do you get to explore the waters off Acadia National Park, but you also stretch your legs on this uninhabited necklace of islands in Frenchman Bay. A two-and-a-half-hour Harbor Tour with Coastal Kayaking Tours takes you on the scenic route with harbor seal, bald eagle, and guillemot sightings on the way to the cobblestone beaches and sheer ledges.
There are plenty of ways to relax and unwind at Samoset Resort (zero-entry pool, anyone?), but the Ultimate Backyard offers not-your-average-resort activities without ever having to leave the property, like a nine-hole disc golf course, pickleball, shuffleboard, badminton, croquet, and horseshoes.
Where to Stay Samoset Resort
New York Adirondacks
The seven-mile hike up Black Mountain may be strenuous, but the rewards are plentiful: views of the entire northern portion of Lake George, access to one of the few remaining fire towers in the Adirondacks, and crystal-clear waters of Lapland Pond for cooling off.
Where to Stay The Sagamore Resort
With six million acres ripe for exploring, Adirondack Park can best be viewed vertically. Even the easiest rock climb, like McKenzie Pond in Ray Brook (located north of route 86 between Lake Placid and Saranac Lake), can still get your heart racing when traversing the slabs, roofs, and highballs of massive granite boulders.
Where to Stay Lake Placid Lodge