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18 More Adventures to Escape the City This Summer

Summer is heating up! Here's where to adventure close to the city.

By: Sara Sheehy + Save to a List


Calling all city dwellers! With the temperatures heating up and the dog days of summer on their way, are you ready to escape to the outdoors? We know that we sure are, and we're here to help you find the best spots from coast to coast.

If you want to make a weekend of it, check out KOA's nationwide network of campgrounds to find a home base for your next road trip. KOA campgrounds are family-friendly, pet-friendly, and welcome RVers and tent campers alike.

So what are you waiting for? Escape the city with one of these 18 adventures that are close to home, yet a world away.

More: Adventures near Los Angeles, Seattle, New York City, Atlanta, Denver, and San Francisco!

Washington, DC

Hike the Red Trail, Calvert Cliffs SP // Photo: Kristen May

Sandy shores and lush forests beckon at Calvert Cliffs State Park on the Chesapeake Bay. This 3.6-mile hike is dog friendly, great for families, and a perfect place to unwind.

Kayak the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge // Photo: Daniel Stricklin

You'll need to cross the bay to get to the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, so why not stay for the weekend? Located outside of Cambridge, Maryland, the refuge has three water trails for paddling, a driving route for wildlife viewing, and trails for hiking. There are also several bike routes to explore on two wheels.

Hike from Colvin Run Mill to the Potomac // Photo: Tori Shepard

The Gerry Connolly Cross Country Trail runs the entire length of Fairfax County, Virginia. Hop on a portion of the 40-mile trail starting at historic Colvin Run Mill and hike about four miles through woods and along streams to the Potomac River. This route also makes for an excellent trail run.

More: KOA campgrounds in the District of Columbia, Virginia, and Maryland

Boston

Explore the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge // Photo: Shannon Kalahan

Just an hour north of Boston lies the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, created as a refuge for migratory birds. This home for the birds is your gain, with plenty of outdoor exploration possible in the 4,600-acre park. Bike or run the road through the refuge, hike on the boardwalk trails or climb the observation towers to get an eagle eye's view.

Hike the Skyline Trail at Blue Hills // Photo: Tyler Drake

The steep and rocky terrain in the Blue Hills Reservation in Milton is a favorite training ground for Massachusetts-based backpackers, but anyone can enjoy a hike on one of the Reservation's 125 miles of trails. Mountain bikers are welcome, too!

Kayak Lake Rico // Photo: Kyle Pierce

Head to East Taunton to enjoy some water sports on Lake Rico, a fishing and kayaking destination with convenient lakeside parking. No gas-powered boats are allowed, so this is a great spot for beginner paddlers.

More: KOA campgrounds in Massachusetts

Miami

Watch the Sunrise at the Deering Estate People's Dock // Photo: Christian Murillo

There's no shortage of glittering city experiences in Miami, but those who want a wilder time don't have to look too far. Take an early morning jaunt to the Deering Estate for a sunrise over the Biscayne Bay. This "People's Dock" is free to enjoy, while the Deering Estate itself requires an entrance fee.

Mountain Bike at Markham Park // Photo: Jess Curren

On the edge of where urban life meets the Everglades is Markham Park in Sunrise. A favorite spot of locals, this park has mountain bike trails for beginner, intermediate, and expert riders, a shooting range, and playground. There's a family-friendly pump track, too!

Paddle the 9 Mile Pond Canoe Trail // Photo: Jess Curren

South of Miami lies Everglades National Park, a wild landscape that is half water, half land. Explore a bit of both with a paddle on the 9 Mile Pond Canoe Trail, which winds through the mangroves and open glades.

More: KOA campgrounds in Florida

Salt Lake City

Hike Mount Olympus // Photo: Eric Harris

Salt Lake City is a metropolis that thrives on adventure. Hemmed in by the towering mountains of the Wasatch Front and the expansive beauty of the Great Salt Lake, there is outdoor fun in every direction. Take, for example, this hike up Mount Olympus, which features a beautiful view down into the city.

Kayaking on the Great Salt Lake // Photo: Lindsay Daniels

No motorboats are allowed on the Great Salt Lake, but paddleboards, canoes, kayaks, and sailboats are welcome to ply the saline water. Pack a lunch and paddle to either Black Rock or Pyrite Point for a picnic. Keep an eye on the weather—when it's storming, this lake gets wild!

Cycle Big Mountain // Photo: Jordan Smith

Ready for a bit of a climb? Big Mountain offers mountain biking along the ridgeline that separates Morgan and Salt Lake counties. Get ready for big views, abundant wildlife, and some leg-burning elevation gain.

More: KOA campgrounds in Utah

Houston

Explore Galveston Island State Park // Photo: Sarah Vaughn

Escape the heat of Houston with a trip to Galveston Island State Park on the Gulf of Mexico. You can hike, paddle, or bike inside the park, which is a little over an hour from downtown Houston. There is over a mile of shoreline to explore, too!

Hike the Cypress Creek Trail // Added by The Outbound Collective

Not far from the heart of Houston, you'll find the Cypress Creek Trail, a single-track path that is open to hiking and mountain biking. There isn't much elevation gain, which makes it perfect for families, or those looking for a casual but scenic adventure near the city.

Swim in the Blue Lagoon // Photo: Sophie Waller

Need to cool off? Head to the Blue Lagoon, just north of Huntsville, and jump into its refreshing depths. The woods around the lagoon are perfect for some quiet relaxation in between swims. Pack a picnic lunch and make a day of it!

More: KOA campgrounds in Texas

San Diego

Hike to Pyles Peak // Photo: Robb Keele

Popular Cowles Mountain may be the star of Mission Trails Regional Park outside of San Diego, but lesser-known Pyles Peak will take you away from the crowds and deeper into nature. 

Hiking to the 3-Sisters Falls // Photo: Grant

Between San Diego and Anza-Borrego Desert State Park lies Three Sisters Falls Trail, a challenging hike that features a fantastic waterfall and epic views. Cool off your legs with a jump into the pool at the waterfall. Be sure to bring plenty of water!

Night Shoot at Mt. Laguna USAF Station // Photo: Dmitry Word

Low light pollution and endless skies await at the Mt. Laguna USAF Station. It's a short walk from the parking area to this elevated spot that's great for watching and photographing, the night sky.

More: KOA campgrounds in California

Cover photo by Eric Harris

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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