the outside The editors have ambitious travel to-do lists and are always on the move. When our colleagues were asked what trips they’d most like to receive as gifts this year, they knew exactly what to say.
I can’t think of a more festive gift than a trip to Svalbard, the globe’s northernmost settlement, just 650 miles from the North Pole. Although I’ve seen headlines about this arctic archipelago for years, so when the outside Author Emily Pennington wrote to me about her recent trip there this fall, and I immediately added it to my bucket list. (Of course, I had postponed my trip until summer when temperatures approached 40 degrees.)
I’d spend at least 2 nights in a tent at Longyearbyen Camping (from $17) – you can rent camping gear right on site! – Antarctic diving in the Advent Fjord and exploring glaciers by hiking Sarkofagen Mountain. A trip to Svalbard wouldn’t be complete without a dog sledding adventure; Green Dog offers sleigh and wheel rides, along the snow and sea, depending on when you visit (from $95). After a few days of raving, I booked a stay at the Funken Lodge (from $200), complete with sauna, champagne tasting, and an old mining restaurant-turned-restaurant.
gear switch: I wouldn’t make this trek without the Women’s Intraknit Merino Fleece Hoodie ($240), a cozy zip-up fleece with ample airflow that makes for long walks, but is cool enough to blend around town. – Abigail Wise, Managing Director, Digital
I recently got married, and in lieu of the traditional gift registry, we asked guests to contribute to our dream once-in-a-lifetime honeymoon trip to Japan this February. We’ll start in Tokyo, where we plan to visit several vintage clothing stores and cookware stores. (I hope to get a nice Japanese-made chef’s knife in the end.) After that, it’s a quick train to Kyoto to visit some of the temples and shrines and enjoy the (relative) calm of the city after bustling Tokyo. Finally, we’ll travel to Niseko, where we hope to catch one of the country’s famous snow festivals, and of course ski the famous Japanese gunpowder at Niseko United.
We’ll eat and drink our way across the country, making sure to take plenty of time to sample the sake, regional dishes, and konbini snacks in each city.
You don’t need a new marriage license to enjoy this trip, though: Treat yourself to it by buying two tickets to Tokyo (about $1,200 from Denver), four nights at the Hoshino Resorts OMO5 Tokyo Otsuka hotel (about $130 per night), four nights at Ace Hotel Kyoto (about $170 per night), three nights at The Green Leaf Niseko Village (about $130 per night) and two, $105 two days at Niseko United (or you can use your Ikon Card, as we plan on The performance). — Kelsey Lindsay, Senior Editor
3. Salmon River, Idaho
I want to go kayaking on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River in Idaho with Oars (from $3,399) and their expert guides so I don’t have to worry about a thing. I longed to get out in an amazing wilderness on the water, to take a break from the constant grind of Slack, social media, and bad news.
The Middle Fork is a classic ride. I’ve seen pictures of friends’ outings on her over the years and I can’t believe how serene and adorable she looks. You need to go to Stanley, Idaho, and from there you can take a bush ride with oars to a place on the river. There are Class III-IV rapids, gorgeous sandy riverside beaches to camp at, hike, hot springs, and historic stops along the way.
gear switch: I will definitely put on a pair of sunglasses that will protect my eyes from the sun and water glare, like Costa Caletas. Mary Turner, deputy editor
4. Coastal Maine
The trip I want to take in 2023 is the one back home. I spent my formative years on the coast of Maine, and developed a love of the outdoors in the woods and waterways of the Pine Tree State. I haven’t spent time on those trails and rivers and bays in over twenty years. I miss the waves crashing on the shore, the smell of fresh salty air, and the rugged beauty of rocky shores.
I would cover the ticket to Portland, and the rented car to drive up the coast, if someone had offered me my rents of lodging and equipment. I love two nights at the Grand Harbor Inn in Camden (from $200 a night), running the trails of Camden Hills State Park and renting a kayak ($60 an hour from Maine Sport Outfitters) to explore the harbor and islands in the afternoon. Then it was on to my hometown of Backsport, running the rolling, tree-filled 10-mile loop on Verona Island where I first learned my longtime love of travel, before driving to Mount Desert Island.
I’d need three to four nights at the Bar Harbor Inn (from $240 per night for an ocean view) to get all the action: biking in Acadia National Park’s ring road over granite cliffs ($35 per day from Bar Harbor Bicycle Shop), kayaking at Great Long Pond ($38/3-hour National Park Canoe Rental), climb Cadillac Mountain, and run miles of groomed carriage routes around the park’s lakes and hills.
gear switch: Since the running surfaces on the trip will range from paved roads to gravel trails, with a few rocky trails, I’ll need to pack a versatile pair of shoes like the Reebok Floatride Energy 4 Adventure. — Jonathan Beverly, senior running gear editor
5. Marin County, California
There are SoCal beach pioneers and then there are NorCal pioneers; My family falls into the latter group, fortunately. Which is why we’re giving ourselves a trip to Marin County for a long weekend this coming fall, when the weather is great. We’ll split our time between residential Stinson Beach, where my husband can surf while my teenage daughter and I relax and paddle the 3.5-mile wide beach or spend an afternoon hiking the lush Dipsea Trail, and Marshall’s, another scenic outpost just a few miles away. Only 30 minutes from Bodega Bay’s oyster selection grounds ($17.50 daily permit required to fish or oysters).
In Stinson, we’ll stay at the century-old Sandpiper Lodge (from $280 for three); It is steps away from the beach, boardwalk, and adjoining coffee shop that serves delicious hot breakfasts. In Marshall, up the coast on Tomales Bay, I’ve been eyeing the recently renovated Nick’s Cove, with its 12 cabins overlooking the water (from $375 per night) and a sweet little restaurant at the end of a pier offering a seasonal menu that will have your mouth watering if you’re in the area for a bite to eat. Seafood (and who isn’t?). Four days of sandy beaches, salty air, shells, mist and seaweed never seems enough – but they are all solid reasons for many returns.
gear switch: Mud shoes, for both surf casting and bowling, are a must. My family loves Bogs – my husband for their simple stripes and my daughter for the colorful patterns. — Tasha Zemky, Associate Editorial Director
6. The Ozarks, Arkansas
Covered in hardwood forests and bisected by sandstone rapids and serene valleys, the Ozarks in Arkansas are a world away from the Appalachians or the Sierras, yet just as compelling. I’ve dreamed of hiking the Ozark Highlands Trail since the first time I set foot in that forest. Portions of the trail are still road or bush trails, but if you have 10 to 14 days free, you can sample the best the trail has to offer in the 164-mile Boston Mountains sector, which covers the trail’s most rugged peaks.
Start at the trail’s western terminus at Lake Fort Smith (nearest airport: Fort Smith, which has daily flights from Dallas-Fort Worth; $380-450 at time of writing). From there, it meanders east through deep gorges and forested peaks, pointing to 2,382-foot Hare Mountain, the trail’s highest point, all the way. End your trip with a bang by traversing the Richland Creek Wilderness, home to more than 30 waterfalls, including the 78-foot Terry Keefe Falls.
Tip: Camping is easy— pitch a tent (I’d like to bring an ultra-light model like the Zpacks Duplex, starting at $699, along with a quilt like the REI Co-op Magma Trail Quilt 30, $329, and an old Therm-a-Rest Z-Lite Sol, $55) along most of the trail, as long as you’re within 200 feet of a footpath or any water source—but resupply isn’t. With few or no grocery stores within walking distance, your best bet is to mail food to post offices along the way.
gear switch: Ask a friend or family member to send you resupply boxes. My gourmet wish list includes a few nice Stowaway Gourmet bites, $16 each, and vegan jerky from Beyond Meat, $4 for a 3-ounce bag. —Adam Roy, executive editor of Backpacker
7. Tuscany, Italy
Every spring, just as winter loosens its grip, something magical happens in central Italy. Cycling’s professional peloton is emerging from hibernation through Tuscany’s 1,000-year-old olive groves and vineyards in a spectacular one-day race known as Strade Bianche. Up and down Bel Paese’s “white roads,” the mountain trail is a romantic’s dream – a throwback to the days when all races ran on cobblestones and finished with a heaped bowl of pasta, a hunk of crusty bread, and a bottle of Montepulciano or Chianti.
In my version of a dream, I joined a 7-day guided tour with InGamba, a boutique operator founded and staffed by ex-pros who love good food and conversation as much as they love two-wheeled adventures. I rode behind Tour de France legend (and lead guide) Eros Poli as our small group of 8-10 riders set out from Florence, making our way day by day through small villages and ancient ruins on cypress-lined avenues.
Supported by the team of mechanics who tune and wash InGamba’s best-of-breed fleet of Pinarello Grevils each morning, I feasted on local delicacies every night, giggling with riders from all over the world around rustic tables in bunk beds. – Restaurants are working. And of course I’ll show off the fine white dust paint that is the perfect souvenir of the Strade Bianche experience.
InGamba excursions aren’t cheap – $6,950 for this trip – but they’re worth every penny for the team’s local knowledge, impeccable attention to detail, and top-notch food, drink, and lodging. Each rider receives a custom kit (which is washed and returned to you every night), but since a bike is provided, you don’t have to worry.
gear switch: A broken-in pair of quality gravel shoes like the Specialized S-Works Recon Vent Evo. Oh, and a bottle of ibuprofen for the morning after all Chianti. John Dorn, Vice President of Strategy for Outside, Inc.