One year ago, any plans you had for a spring getaway were likely canceled. Mine were. I was slated to go camping in Joshua Tree National Park in mid-April, and I remember the email from the National Park Service like it was yesterday: “We wanted you to be aware, this location is closed. Your reservation has been canceled and refunds have been issued.” It was the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, and so much was unknown. Now, one year and a whole lot of chaos later, spring travel doesn’t exactly look like it did way back in 2019, but with the proper precautions, a break from the grind can happen in some shape or form. Here’s some inspiration for a much deserved budget-friendly spring trip to celebrate the fact that you made it through a year none of us could have anticipated.
Find Healing in the Desert
If there’s a restorative vortex anywhere on this planet, it’s in Sedona, thanks to its plethora of wellness and meditation retreats, energy healers, and an actual vortex map showing sites thought to be restorative epicenters. Whether or not you believe in that sort of thing, there’s just something calming about exploring a red-rock desert, especially when temperatures are in the 70s (and not the 100s, which the area averages in summer). There’s climbing, mountain biking, hiking through canyons, and practicing yoga with epic views. The 300-square-foot tiny homes at TinyCamp Sedona (from $ 276) have names like Flow, Breathe, and Renew and come with a stargazing deck and yoga mats.
Hit the Open Road
Pick up a fully outfitted Moterra Campervan (from $ 339) from any of the company’s five hubs: Jackson, Wyoming; Las Vegas, Nevada; San Francisco, California; Whitefish, Montana; or Salt Lake City, Utah. These luxury Sprinter vans come with perks like a French press for making coffee, camp chairs, and marshmallow-roasting skewers, and offer a variety of sleeping quarters. Not sure where to go? Moterra will also plan your road trip, with custom itineraries, prebooked campsites, and scenic routes all mapped out.
Ride the Trails
Brevard, North Carolina
Pisgah National Forest is a haven for mountain bikers. You’ll find dozens of trails, a beer-serving bike shop called the Hub and Pisgah Tavern, and guided mountain biking and skills workshops for every level at the Bike Farm. Pitch a tent at Davidson River Campground (from $ 34), where you’ll get trail access from camp, or book one of 15 architect-designed cabins (from $ 150) at Pilot Cove, a 124-acre property bordering the forest with its own flow trail and future campsites currently in development.
Cap Off Your Ski Season
Yes, it’s still winter in some places. Snowbasin Resort, less than an hour north of Salt Lake City, will stay open through April 11. If you buy next season’s pass now (from $ 899), you can ski free this spring. Otherwise, day tickets start at $ 139 (buy online ahead of time). Enjoy zero lift lines, late-season powder, and, new this year, ski-up windows where you can order a slice of pizza or a breakfast burrito on the go. Stay at the Compass Rose Lodge (from $ 199) and you’re just minutes from skiing at Snowbasin and nearby Powder Mountain.
Learn Something New
Floras Lake, Oregon
Kitesurfing season opens on the southern Oregon coast in the spring, and there’s no better place to get in on the action than Floras Lake Kite and Windsurf, a family-owned kitesurf school in one of the windiest spots in the country. The school is open from April through September on a freshwater lake outside of the town of Bandon, a 4.5-hour drive from Portland and seven hours from Seattle. Camp at the neighboring Boice Cope Park (from $ 20), or book this four-bedroom house (from $ 425) on the property. You can rent windsurfing or kiteboarding gear, sign up for a lesson, and borrow paddleboards and kayaks.
Jump in a Pool
Palm Springs, California
Sure, there’s plenty to do in Palm Springs—trails and desert vistas in Joshua Tree National Park or Mount San Jacinto State Park are about an hour away—but we won’t judge if you just feel like posting up in a lounge chair by the pool. The Wesley Hotel (from $ 147) has ten midcentury modern poolside suites—you can get $ 100 off your first stay by signing up for their newsletter. Enjoy breakfast in a private garden, then grab a loaner cruiser bike to roll into town.
Relax on the Beach
On Maui’s west side, a former sugar plantation is now Camp Olowalu (from $ 24), which has 35 beachfront tent sites, as well as van camping spots, tented bungalows with private outdoor showers, and A-frame cabins with kitchenettes. Located ten minutes from Lahaina, this spot has mellow surf breaks, some of the world’s largest banyan trees, and guided sea kayaking outings through a protected reef. Be sure to read up on Hawaii’s current travel restrictions and guidelines.