Bon Voyage: Here's to Your Health and Happiness
By AAA Travel Editors | April 19, 2023
Feel like you're too busy to use your vacation time? Consider the health benefits of getting away and relaxing - a fact being confirmed by increasing amounts of scientific research. Give in to temptation and lose your cares in a quiet forest setting or a posh spa resort like those described here.
The Great Outdoors is Great for a Reason
It’s easy to see why getting outside and into the natural world would be good for you. You’re bound to be moving about and getting the exercise you don’t usually get at your job. Sunlight on skin stimulates the production of Vitamin D, and research has shown that spending time in forests improves people’s moods and reduces blood pressure. The Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku or “forest bathing” is simply experiencing a forest with all your senses, and studies have demonstrated doing so may boost your immune system as well as your outlook.
See for yourself. America’s national park system alone offers millions of acres to explore. Consider these three gems to start with.
GLACIER NATIONAL PARK
West Glacier, Montana
Although Glacier is renowned for trails that go above the tree line, visitors have plenty of wooded paths to wander, too. Check out the Avalanche Lake Trail or the Trail of the Cedars near Lake McDonald Lodge for a deep-forest experience that will make you forget your workplace cares.
GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK
The most visited national park, Great Smoky Mountains National Park has hundreds of miles of hiking trails leading up to mountain tops and down into valleys. One of the most popular is Laurel Falls Trail; the trailhead is just a short drive from the Sugarland Visitors Center. What could be more peaceful than a walk to a lovely waterfall along a forest path beneath a canopy of mountain laurel and rhododendron?
SEQUOIA AND KINGS CANYON NATIONAL PARKS
Three Rivers, California
Talk about forest bathing! The massive, ancient trees preserved here are nearly impossible to describe or even capture in a photograph. One of the park’s highlights is the General Grant Tree Trail, which is arguably the prettiest in the park and leads to one of the largest trees in the world.
The Benefits of Doing Nothing
Many people find it impossible to break free of their hectic routines at home, which is why a trip to a spa resort can be just what the doctor ordered. Leave your day-to-day cares behind and finally attend those wellness classes you’ve been meaning to make time for like meditation, Pilates or yoga. Try foods you wouldn’t usually cook for yourself, or let tension melt away with a massage or good soak in a hot tub.
BACK TO TOP
Here are three standouts that may inspire you.
The Lodge at Sea Island
St. Simons Island, Georgia
Set on a sprawling campus of luxury resorts on beautiful St. Simons Island, The Lodge is part grand English country estate, part elegant beachfront refuge and is about the most relaxing destination one can imagine. The full-service spa includes a garden atrium and a hydrotherapy pool where a splashing waterfall enhances the soothing atmosphere.Book Now
Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort and Spa
Paradise Valley, Arizona
If a luxurious desert retreat in the shadow of Camelback Mountain seems like an indulgence, ask yourself, “Why not?” You deserve a Thai massage with a view of a Zen meditation garden. After a day of being spoiled, settle in for the evening by a crackling fire with a glass of wine or snuggle under the stars with your significant other.Book Now
Stoweflake Mountain Resort & Spa
Stowe, VermontIf the endless hustle and bustle of modern life is making you ill, then the AAA Three Diamond Stoweflake has a cure: a peaceful setting near Stowe’s picturesque village center and a dizzying variety of treatments including mineral baths, shiatsu and traditional massages, Ayurvedic therapies and herbal body wraps.Book Now