10 Greatest Escapes in America

Get away without going far away. These amazing destinations are fun, beautiful, and just a few hours from home.

By Charles Runnette


Ready for a little time off? We searched the country to find fabulous vacation spots. Whether you're looking for a weeklong family trip, a romantic escape, or an adventurous back-to-nature holiday, we've got the perfect place for you. So head out and experience some of the astonishingly beautiful corners of the nation.

Coastal Splendor
Big Sur, California

Dramatic cliffs covered in redwoods soar above the Pacific Ocean. The climate is temperate, the sunsets breathtaking. If you're looking for utopia, Big Sur should be on your short list. About three hours south of San Francisco on Coastal Route 1, this 90-mile stretch between Carmel and San Simeon is one of those rare sanctuaries—an unspoiled wonderland of fragrant old-growth forests and delicate monarch butterflies that attracts artists and dreamers from around the world.

The Growing Edge retreat is perched on the cliffs overlooking the Pacific. This airy modern guesthouse is not only a relaxing place to rest and realign your priorities, but it also offers holistic treatments—such as personalized sessions in yoga, meditation, and ayurvedic mind-body therapies—for those so inclined.

Whatever you do, make time to visit the area's best-kept secret: Pfeiffer Beach. Take the first paved road south of the post office for two miles to the shore.

Rooms, $140 to $225 per night, double occupancy; growingedge.org. For information about the area, log on to bigsurcalifornia.org.