5 of the Best Vacation Spots for Athletes and Fitness Buffs

Taking a vacation is one of the best ways to expand your horizons and recharge. While taking time off might offer a nice escape from the same old routine, it doesn’t have to be an escape from your regular workout routine. And many Americans like to keep their exercise consistent while traveling anyway. A 2012 TripAdvisor report found that 53% of those surveyed always, or very frequently, exercise while traveling. While it’s great that people are trying to stay fit while hitting the road, the same survey revealed that over half of those workout fanatics rely on hotel gyms. That seems a shame when there are so many great opportunities to work up a sweat while taking in the sights of a new locale.

Instead of trying to figure out how to squish some exercise into a vacation, consider picking your destination based on your favorite activity. Bikers will love a rolling English landscape and swimmers will flip for the crystal clear waters of Tulum, Mexico. Visit one of these 5 spots, and you’ll look forward to your workout every day. You might never step into a hotel gym again.

Glacier National Park, Montana

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1. Hiking: Glacier National Park, Montana

You won’t have to travel far to find some of the best hiking in the world. Glacier National Park covers over 1 million acres and features more than 700 miles of trails. Filled with lakes, mountains, and forests, the park offers an abundance of sights and varied wildlife for hikers to soak in. It’s no wonder Travel Channel picked this park as one of its top hiking vacations.  While seasoned trail hitters will want to tackle the challenges of Cracker Lake or Mount Brown Lookout, there are also plenty of options for those with less-traveled legs. Even those traveling with kids who might be less enthusiastic about going for an all-day walk should consider this destination, as there are plenty of opportunities to bike, boat, and fish.

First time hikers will want to keep some important safety tips in mind to make sure their scenic walk doesn’t turn into a risky situation. Hiking Beginner recommended traveling in a group, sticking to market paths, and packing some essential gear. Items like matches, a first-aid kid, a flashlight, and toilet paper are all basics to keep on hand. Don’t go overboard though, you don’t want to be hauling a 50-pound pack through the woods.

As for accommodations, choices vary depends on what type of adventure you’re looking for. Camping is an option for those who like to sleep under the open sky, but there are a number of hotels and motels for those who prefer a good night’s sleep indoors. While a few restaurants crop up here and there, you’ll definitely want to plan your meals ahead of time.

Dolomites, Italy

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2. Running: Dolomites, Italy

If road races are starting to seem a little bland, it might be time to hit the trails. While options for places to run abound stateside, most that are long enough to enjoy for more than a couple of days require a decent drive or flight. You may as well go for it with a trip to these gorgeous Italian mountains, Outside’s top choice for a trail-running trip. You’ll get unparalleled views of the landscape and enjoy some phenomenal food in each of the nightly huts where you’ll lodge. It’s the ideal trip for those hoping to cover as much ground as possible, but DolomiteSport explained there are also plenty of options for less experienced runners who can’t cover as much distance.

If the idea sounds a little crazy, try to keep an open mind. Plenty of runners have had a blast traveling the trails with little more than a hydration pack. Dan Patitucci did a great job of capturing the experience through photographs. It might be the ultimate destination trip for pasta lovers, too.

Self-guided tours are a possibility, but first timers might want to consider purchasing a package tour. Both Holomites.com and Run The World Adventures offer options for those looking to hit the trails.

Isle of Wight, England

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3. Biking: Isle of Wight, England

France gets all of the attention in the world of cycling thanks to its annual race, but it isn’t the only bike-friendly European destination. Lonely Planet rated Isle of Wight, England as one of the best trips for those who can’t get enough time on their bike. The island contains over 500 miles of trails ranging from short rides perfect for children to an intensive 50-mile route. There’s even a cycling festival in the fall.

Single folks, couples, and those with older kids will definitely want to consider the Taste Round the Island Tour. It’s a 66-mile loop that stops at plenty of restaurants, farms, and even a vineyard. Services like the island-wide bike repair and bag moving options mean you can enjoy your ride without worrying about hauling tons of extra gear.

When you’re not pushing the pedals, go for a stroll on some of the trails, take a ride on a horse, or play a round of golf. As far as accommodations, you can choose from hotels, bed and breakfasts, or cottages. And don’t miss out on shopping at the great local stores while you’re in town.

Lake Arenal, Costa Rica

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4. Kayaking: Lake Arenal, Costa Rica

There are few better ways to enjoy the views of Costa Rica’s Arenal Volcano than by water. Discovery News chose this destination as one of their favorite areas to kayak in the western hemisphere thanks to the gorgeous setting and water-centric lifestyle. Costa Rica Vacations offers a $53 per person flat-rate fee that covers transportation, gear, and a guide service for kayakers.

For family members less interested in hitting the lake, activities include ziplining, horseback riding, and rappelling. Those with a sweet tooth will definitely want to check out a chocolate tour to learn all about the process before getting to taste some delicious samples. Costa Rica is also one of the top locations in the world for bird watching, so check out some of the species at Cano Negro. For more information on planning your vacation, visit Frommer’s for hotel suggestions.

Tulum, Mexico

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5. Swimming: Tulum, Mexico

Spring breakers may go crazy for the beaches of Cancun, but they’re missing out on one of the best destinations in Mexico. If you prefer to get your heart pumping by going for a dip, Tulum might be one of the best vacations for you. The Huffington Post listed this locale as one of its top choices for swimmers thanks to the stunning ocean and proximity to the Mayan ruins. And unlike many hot spots in Mexico, Tulum hasn’t been completely overrun by resorts. Travel Channel reported that this destination has managed to escape the development that’s taken over so many other beaches.

Go for a solo swim, or choose from options to see some dolphins or kick alongside a whale shark. The ocean isn’t the only watery retreat, either. Swimming holes called cenotes crop up all around this area, and they’re great for snorkeling and letting kids splash around. You might even spot a celebrity or two while soaking up the sun. U.S. News and World Report offered some suggestions for other things to do while on your trip. Just be sure to pack your camera.

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