by Andrea Guthmann
Ready to plan your summer escape? Here are some hot destinations where you can cool down, whether mountain resorts, peaceful lakes, or hip college towns.
Live life at a slower pace at an old-school lake resort in Minnesota, land of 10,000-plus lakes. Grand View Lodge, 130 miles north of the Twin Cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul, will take you back to an era before Facebook, when being social meant talking face to face. Almost a century old, the iconic timber lodge with its classic Northwoods vibe is one of Minnesota’s most legendary vacation destinations. Owned by the same family since 1937, a stuffed moose, antler chandeliers, crackling fireplace and vintage photos greet you in the cozy lobby, while wi-fi, cable and high thread count sheets make it easy to relax at the end of the day. Stay in the main lodge, a classic cabin, or the resort’s upscale boutique hotel. A daily events calendar offers something for everyone. Fishing excursions on pontoon boats and inflatable banana boat rides are complimentary, or relax at the Glacial Waters Spa. Or you can just sit back in the Adirondack chairs and enjoy breathtaking views of the lake and stately lawn below.
Rocky Mountain High
Experience new heights at one of Colorado’s top ski resorts. These year-round destinations offer cool mountain air and fabulous outdoor adventures, whether your idea of fun is a zipline or gentle hike, alpine slide or spotting wildlife. Consider The Pines Lodge in Beaver Creek, one of a handful of RockResort properties honoring the legacy of the hotel brand’s founder and conservationist Laurance Rockefeller, whose aim was to build luxury resorts in spectacular natural settings. Bordered by the White River National Forest, it’s a nature lover’s paradise nestled among four acres of aspen and pine trees.
A more budget-friendly option is Y of the Rockies. Nothing like your neighborhood YMCA, Y of the Rockies, outside Rocky Mountain National Park and also in Winter Park, has rustic lodges with cabins that generations of families have enjoyed. Kids will delight in activities like crafting and roller skating.
Back to School
College towns aren’t only for students. With COVID-19 concerns still lingering, many travelers are foregoing the bright lights of big cities like New York and Chicago for places with fewer people where they can both enjoy the outdoors and still have a cultural experience. College towns offer tourists a delightful assortment of budget-friendly, often free, cultural programming, lectures and concerts. College campuses are often sublime settings in charming smaller towns that empty out once students leave for the summer. That means you might score bargain hotel rates in scenic spots from Eugene, Oregon to New Haven, Connecticut. The Graduate boutique hotel chain, found in college towns across the country, gets an A for style that’s soaked in nostalgia. After a day hiking through the Great Smoky Mountains, you could rest your head at Graduate Knoxville then head over to football legend Peyton Manning’s hotel bar, Saloon 16, named after the number he wore as a University of Tennessee Volunteer.
The pandemic has made this a tough year for many of us. Taking time this summer to escape the heat and change your landscape could be good for your body and soul.