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18 Adventures to Escape the City This Summer

Adventures close to home.

By: Sara Sheehy + Save to a List

Presented by KOA

When we look back at travel in 2020 and 2021, we'll be calling it the "years the road trip was revived." While most of us have been sticking close to home, that doesn't mean we need to give up our adventure dreams. There are so many great places to explore in your backyard, and we're here to help you find them.

Take these 18 adventures, all within an easy drive of major cities throughout the United States. Hiking, paddling, climbing, and biking... these spots have it all. 

And just because we might not be traveling far, that doesn't mean we need to forsake nights under the stars. KOA's nationwide network of campgrounds makes it easy to reserve a night or more at destinations from coast to coast. New to camping? Don't worry about it. KOA's are great for first-timers and experienced campers alike, offering amenities and comforts that will make your stay a breeze. 

Los Angeles

Photo: Chad DeMartini

Adventure by Bianca Isidro

Roughly 30 minutes north of downtown LA, the Angeles National Forest is sprawling with outdoor recreational areas. Escape the sounds of the city on The Trail Canyon, a nearly 4.5-mile out and back that pays off with a refreshing waterfall as your destination. 

Adventure by Breanne McNitt

After a long day of exploration in Joshua Tree National Park, make your way to Echo Rock to watch the sun dip below the horizon. Scramble up to the flat top of the granite slab for front-row seats to the show. Don't forget to pack a headlamp for the scramble down!

Adventure by Kimberly Weglin

A little further afield from Los Angeles lies the Mohave National Preserve, a rarely visited and therefore perfectly social-distanced park filled with beautiful deserts and dunes. Climb Kelso Dunes for stunning views and a chance to hear the unique "singing sand."

More: KOA campgrounds in California


Adventure by Eric Harris

Dive into the cooling waters of the Elwha River in Olympic National Park along Olympic Hot Springs Road. Pack a picnic, a blanket, and a book to make a day of swimming, cliff jumping, and chilling.

Adventure by Michael Gabbert

Get killer views of the Seattle skyline from Lake Union, where you can rent kayaks right on the shore and finish up the evening with a cocktail at nearby Art Marble 21.

Adventure added by The Outbound Collective

The 5.6-mile roundtrip hike to Wallace Falls is a choose-your-own-adventure type of fun. Beginner hikers can marvel at the lower and middle falls, while experienced hikers can bust their lungs up the 1,300-foot gain to the upper falls.

More: KOA campgrounds in Washington

New York City

Adventure by Michael Martineau

Take a relaxing paddle on the calm, winding waters of the Nissequogue River in central Long Island. Keep your eyes open for birds, wildlife, and, in the heart of summer, blooming wildflowers.

Adventure by Catherine Elena Callari

Feel like you're worlds away from the bustle of the city with a trip to the cranberry bogs at Double Trouble State Park. Hop on the nature trail to hike through the bogs themselves, then grab a picnic lunch to eat on the shore of Barnegat Bay at John C. Bartlett, Jr. County Park. 

 Adventure added by The Outbound Collective

Waterfalls, streams, and caves await inside John Boyd Thatcher State Park, just outside of Albany. The Indian Ladder trail's 3.5-mile loop offers up caves to explore and beautiful views of the Capital Region.

More: KOA campgrounds in New York and New Jersey


Adventure by Rob Giersch

Intermediate and advanced riders will dig the trails and features at Big Creek Freeride, just north of Atlanta. The park is nestled within the pines, so even on a busy day, it'll feel like you have the place to yourself. 

Adventure by Alan Maxcy

This family-friendly hike features beautiful views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, plentiful parking, and a sweet escape from Atlanta's heat.

 Adventure by Christian Murillo

Sweetwater Creek State Park, along the George H. Sparks Reservoir, is a great spot to get the whole family on the water. Bring your own canoe or kayak or rent one on-site. Don't forget your fishing rod and license, if casting a few over the water sounds like your idea of a perfect day outside the city.

More: KOA campgrounds in Georgia


Eric Schuette

The iconic Maroon Bells are a must-see destination for anyone who finds themselves in the Colorado Rockies. Hike to this viewpoint to see the famous mountains, or stay for longer and get up into some elevation.

Adventure by Kyle Frost

Knock out four 14,000-foot-plus mountains in one fell swoop with the 7.5-mile Decalbiron loop. You're legs and lungs will feel the burn on the roughly 3,000-feet of elevation gain, but the views are definitely worth it.

Adventure by Sean O'Brien

Escape the crowds at Loch Lomond and explore four alpine lakes one day. Those with 4WD vehicles can drive right to Loch Lomond and kayak or standup paddleboard on the quiet lake. If you don't have a 4WD vehicle, it's a beautiful hike!

More: KOA campgrounds in Colorado

San Francisco

Adventure by Sothear Nuon

Perch above the clouds on the summit of Mt. Tamalpais for an amazing sunset view over Marin County, just north of San Francisco. Plentiful side trails can turn this 1.2-mile loop into something much longer.

Adventure by Austin Brizgys

Head south from San Francisco to the chill vibes of Santa Cruz, where you can catch waves up and down the coast. Natural Bridges State Peak offers a fantastic break during sizable swells. When you're done, cook up a tasty BBQ right on the beach.

Adventure added by The Outbound Collective

Grab the whole family and explore the Penetecia Creek Trail in Alum Rock State Park east of San Jose. If the kiddos still have some energy after this hike, there are more routes within the park that explore the beauty of the Diablo Range foothills.

More: KOA campgrounds in California

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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