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5 Perfect Destinations for Getting Outdoors

Know before you go: Want to visit the places recommended in this article? With local regulations changing frequently, it’s a good idea to check the web site of any attraction or business to make sure it’s open before you go. 

Where better to end a day of hiking and biking than a HI USA hostel, where the beds are comfortable and there’s always a great conversation to be had? All you have to do is bring your gear and explorer’s spirit to enjoy a few of our favorite spots for adventure vacations in the USA!

Marin Headlands, California 

two people hiking

With the city of San Francisco and the iconic Golden Gate Bridge for a backdrop, the Marin Headlands in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area is a wonderland of stunning trails that lead to mountain tops and secret beaches and mystical forests. Mount Tamalpais State Park is a favorite of locals and travelers alike, especially because it offers a little bit of the best of Northern California, including redwoods, waterfalls and panoramic views of the whole Bay Area. Stay at HI Marin Headlands hostel and you’ll have easy access to it all.

San Diego, California

woman looking over the ocean at sunset cliffs San Diego

This sunny SoCal city offers tons of outdoor good times, whether you’re into being active or just chilling out in nature. Go hiking along Sunset Cliffs or through Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, try your hand at surfing at one of the city’s many beaches, or take a leisurely stroll through 1200 acres of manicured landscapes and historic architecture in Balboa Park. Base yourself at HI San Diego Downtown hostel for easy access to public transportation that will get you wherever you need to go, or check out HI San Diego Point Loma hostel, where you can score free surf and paddle board rentals to take to nearby Ocean Beach.

Richmond, Virginia

James River in Richmond VA

Along with its collection of museums and historical monuments, Richmond also has wonderful outdoor areas for cyclists and hikers. This area is definitely a must for water lovers since the James River, which runs right through the city of Richmond, is known as one of the best places in the country for urban white water rafting, canoeing, kayaking and swimming. In some places, history and nature intersect, like Belle Isle on the river where you can see a Civil War-era prison camp and do some rock climbing all in one outing. Be sure to ask the staff at HI Richmond hostel for it their favorite outdoor recs.

Sacramento, California

the American River in Sacramento

California’s capital has more than just government buildings and gold rush nostalgia if you venture a little out of town. Bicycle riders from all over enjoy the extensive trails like the 23-mile, tree-lined American River Parkway, which makes for an excellent day out in Sacramento’s perpetual good weather. There’s also the option of getting into a river – either the Sacramento or the American – for some kayaking and white water rafting, or, if you just want to be outside with minimal effort, you can do a lazy afternoon float in a tube. The staff at HI Sacramento hostel are big fans of floating the local rivers, so be sure to ask them for their insider tips.

Portland, Oregon

Portland Rose Garden

When the folks in Portland aren’t eating the best donuts or biking to breweries, they are most certainly enjoying the great outdoors to be explored in and around the city. Forest Park is one of the country’s largest urban forest reserves and has excellent hiking trails for miles and miles. Otherwise, venture a little out of town for epic adventures like skiing on Mount Hood, day-long treks at the Columbia River Gorge, and rafting (or the more chill version, tubing) down a river. The point is, Oregon is an outdoor haven. Base yourself at HI Portland Hawthorne hostel for a convenient jumping-off point for all your adventures.