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Where should an outdoorsy couple go on vacation?

My husband and I would like to plan a vacation for 1-2 weeks in August or September. We are in our mid-20s and enjoy hiking, kayaking/canoeing, easy cycling and good food. We would prefer to go somewhere that is not too crowded/touristy. Some of the places we have considered are Costa Rica, Peru, Croatia, Alaska, and Greece. Does anyone have any other recommendations for us or advice about these locations? Bonus points for places that are easier to reach from Denver. Thanks!

13 Answers

top answer by
Justin from Phoenix

New Zealand has everything you'd like. The hiking is world class (Tongariro National Park will blow you away), and there's some great mountain biking for all levels (I'd start in Rotorua. And the Waitomo Glowworm Caves will astound you. Just too much fun.

There are enough lakes across both islands that you can get in some kayak and canoe action. The food influences are pretty diverse there, especially combined with the locally grown produce. You have Asian influences, plus a growing craft beer scene.

If you want more solitude, Iceland. Landmannalaugar, Lake Myvatn, Kirkjubaejarklaustur and Skaftafell National Park are just a few places where you'll find great hiking. There are plenty of unpaved backroads for cycling.

The food is very tasty, especially the seafood. There is a newly formed rawness about Iceland that makes it my top pick for active travelers. It seems like it's stuck in a time before humanity developed, and you can sometimes hike for hours without seeing other people. A word or warning: You can drive to many places in a rental car, but do not take the backroads lightly. Plan for drastic shifts of weather.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Tongariro National Park (attraction)
  2. Rotorua (attraction)
  3. Waitomo Glowworm Caves (attraction)
  4. Landmannalaugar (attraction)
  5. Lake Myvatn (attraction)
  6. Kirkjubaejarklaustur (city)
  7. Skaftafell National Park (attraction)
4 thanks

answered by
Todd from Cincinnati

If you have not yet been to Glacier National Park August & September are a great time to go.  Here are a few photos from our trip there in mid-August of 2012...

Given the size of the park it is not too difficult to hike away from the crowds.  Though you may want to have others around just to help keep the bears away.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Glacier National Park (park)
4 thanks

answered by
Kjersti from Lutsen, Minnesota

I live in Northern Minnesota (Grand MaraisGunflint Trail) which is at the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness one of the largest protected areas in the lower 48. The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is great for canoeing, camping and not seeing a soul for days. Also, Lake Superior - the largest freshwater lake in the world -has awesome sea kayaking and sailing. Isle Royale National Park which is technically part of Michigan is more easily accessible from Grand Portage. Isle Royale is one of the least visited national parks and is an extreme destination with awesome boating around it. Also, running from Duluth (Minnesota) to the Canadian Border in Grand Portage is the Superior Hiking Trail - a 200+mile hiking trail that many use as a training ground for the Appalachian Trail. 

I know people don't think of MN as very exotic, and our food isn't but landscape wise - it is pretty wild and full of extremes.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Grand Marais (city)
  2. Gunflint Trail (attraction)
  3. Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (attraction)
  4. Lake Superior (water)
  5. Isle Royale National Park (park)
  6. Grand Portage (attraction)
  7. Duluth (Minnesota) (city)
  8. Superior Hiking Trail (attraction)
4 thanks

answered by
Erik from Nyc

Quebec, especially the Charlevoix and Saguenay regions, northeast of Quebec City.  Great scenery, food, culture, friendly people, it's in North America - plus you can adjust the intensity of outdoor activities to suit yourselves.  A favorite is whale watching off Tadoussac, which you can do on commercial tours or by kayak.  August-September is the perfect time of year here, as well.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Quebec (attraction)
  2. Quebec City (city)
  3. Tadoussac (city)
3 thanks

answered by

You need to come to Portland!! We are seriously known for the best hikes, the most bike-friendly city, and we have more restaurants per capita than any other city in America (although the food carts are where it's at). We are also known for our countless local breweries and coffee shops, if you're in to either. We have a beautiful city that is far from crowded or touristy. 

You can take day trips to the mountains (year round snow), the high dessert, the most amazing coast line (Haystack Rock, anyone?), the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area (the most breathtaking hikes I've ever been on), or even Seattle, which is well worth a visit! Also, the time of year you are looking at is the best time to come. 

I'm not just saying Portland because I live here, I really think it would be the best for what you are looking for. There's a reason I live here :)

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Portland (city)
  2. Haystack Rock (attraction)
  3. Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area (attraction)
  4. Seattle (city)
3 thanks

answered by
Frances from North Carolina

I would go to Alaska!!!  We flew into Anchorage and then drove down to Seward hitting many spots along the way.  We hooked up with Liquid Adventures and did a 1 day SUP trip into Bear Glacier, check out their website. This is the only place that does this.  Then we went with them on a 4 night kayaking trip where we didn't see another human for 5 days.  Awesome awesome trip!  People are great food was great and Alaska is amazing!!!  

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Alaska (attraction)
  2. Seward (city)
  3. Liquid Adventures (attraction)
  4. Bear Glacier (attraction)
3 thanks

answered by
Erik from London

I would suggest the Swiss Alps in August.  They should be easily reachable with a short connection in Frankfurt or other major European city.  We recently spent a week in Zermatt. It was packed with all types of hiking trails of all levels, our longest was 21km.  The other great thing is no cars are allowed so you really feel as if time stops in this place.  On top of amazing trails there are great little places up in the mountains you can hike to for a drink or some lunch.  Should you wish to have a couple of days in between hikes you have all the mountains that can be explored via ski lift, loads of spas, great restaurants, and you can even ski in August at the top of the glacier if you're interested.  We stayed at Hotel Berghof Zermatt which was perfectly located near the lifts and start of numerous trails.

Hope this helps.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Swiss Alps (metro area)
  2. Zermatt (city)
  3. Hotel Berghof Zermatt (attraction)
3 thanks

answered by
Elliott from San Francisco

I would focus in on Europe. Here are some themes which meet your outdoor and eating expectations:

Loire Valley among the Grand Château

Brittany & Normandy from D-Day Landmarks to the Stunning Emerald Coast

Chablis & Burgundy Legendary Wines, Historic Towns & L'Art de Vivre

Czech Republic & Austria on bike, kayak Bohemia & the Wachau Valley from Prague to Vienna

Sicily Ancient Civilizations & Mediterranean Sensations

Piedmont A Food & Wine Lover's Paradise

Stockholm to Copenhagen hike, bike, and kayakIdyllic Islands, Castles & Countryside from Sweden to Denmark

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Grand Château (attraction)
  2. Normandy (region)
  3. Chablis (city)
  4. Burgundy (attraction)
  5. Czech Republic (country)
  6. Austria (attraction)
  7. Prague (city)
  8. Vienna (city)
  9. Sicily (island)
  10. Stockholm (attraction)
  11. Copenhagen (city)
  12. Sweden (attraction)
  13. Denmark (attraction)
3 thanks

answered by
Ross from Fort Collins

If you have traveled out side the US before, Peru is great! If not i would go with Costa Rica. Alaska is great but it gets expensive as do most vacations in the USA. If you have the cash Europe is really fun and you get amazing food, but nothing is like central and South America! 

I would love to help with an itinerary if you can narrow it down. Also check out some of my previous answers, theres a lot of info on the areas your asking about.  

Cheers Ross

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Peru (attraction)
  2. Costa Rica (attraction)
  3. Alaska (attraction)
3 thanks

answered first by
Jacqui from London


The national parks and outdoors in Croatia and surrounding countries are meant to be amazing. - JezeraNational Park in Croatia.

I have not yet been, but I hear the hiking and water activities at Lake Bled in Slovenia are great. 

Also, check out the Cinque Terre on the west coast of Italy (easy to get to from Florence or Milan). It is an "easy" (for those able-bodied) walk/hike between 5 small Italian villages along the cliffs and beaches. 

Or hiking in the Atlas Mountains (easy to get to from Marrakech). 

Have fun! 


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Jezera (attraction)
  2. Lake Bled (attraction)
  3. Cinque Terre (region)
  4. Atlas Mountains (attraction)
  5. Marrakech (city)
3 thanks

answered by
Molly from Omaha

Kaua'i. Hands down. We are heading there in March. This will be our third trip. Hike the Na'Pali Coast State Park. Amazing. Least touristy of all the Hawaiian Islands. Enjoy!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Kaua'i (attraction)
  2. Na'Pali Coast State Park (attraction)
2 thanks

answered by

I am currently sitting in Lombok in Indonesia and this is a great part of the world for outdoor stuff.

I have been cycling around the island and climbed the Gunung Rinjani volcano two days ago.

Super nice alternative place to spend a vacation for people who like being outdoor and august and september is dry season here.

Looking at your other possible coices you should be ware that Greece is absolutely packed with tourists in august.

I have worked there as a tour leader in the past and august is better avoided if visitng Greece.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Lombok (city)
  2. Indonesia (attraction)
  3. Gunung Rinjani (attraction)
  4. Greece (attraction)
2 thanks

answered by
mona from Fayetteville

Costa Rica has everything you could ever want to enjoy in the outdoors.  The west coast (Jaco and Playa Hermosa) has some of the best surfing and sport fishing in the world.  The east coast is the home of the sea turtles and their nesting areas.  There are 9 active volcanoes some of which can be seen at night (La Fortuna).  Since Costa Rica is about the size of South Carolina, getting around by rental car is not hard.  

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Costa Rica (attraction)
  2. Jaco (city)
  3. Playa Hermosa (attraction)
2 thankscomments (1)

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