11 Off-the-Beaten-Path Destinations Where You Can Truly Unplug
If you've come home from a trip and immediately needed another vacation to recover from your vacation, maybe you just didn't head to the right place. Here are 11 off-the-beaten-path destinations — including an eco-pod in a quiet New Zealand valley, a charming Italian lake retreat, and a chill beachside palapa — that will help you truly unplug. Relaxation awaits ahead.
Relais Mirabella, Iseo, Italy: Just an hour outside of Milan lies Franciacorta, Italy's hidden gem of a wine region, known for producing its namesake sparkling wine in a similar style to French Champagne. The Relais Mirabella is located on a hill and has unobstructed views of idyllic Lake Iseo (similar to Lake Como, but without the throngs of tourists). Nearby, you can have your pick of amazing wineries to visit, from the technology-forward Ca' del Bosco (which has its own helipad) to the impossibly chic Corte Bianca, which focuses on organic, small batch production. The hotel has a pool and a tennis court on site, but really, the best thing to do is to sit on the peaceful patio with a glass of wine and enjoy la dolce vita. (Photo via Relais Mirabella)
Greystone PurePods, Waipara, New Zealand: Take in sweeping views of New Zealand's Waipara Valley in an environmentally-friendly PurePod above Greystone Winery. The private and remote structures let you get up close and personal with nature — they have solar electricity for the lighting, fridge, and water system; biofuel capable heaters, and are made of glass (including the floors). There are no power plugs (there is a USB charger), but there are binoculars or telescope for birdwatching and stargazing. (Photo via Paul Wilson Images)
Angama Mara, Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya: This luxurious safari lodge is situated on the Great Rift Valley, overlooking the Maasai Mara game reserve. Enjoy next-level glamping with the spacious tented suites, which have floor-to-ceiling windows, wooden decks with rocking chairs, and breathtaking views. The lodge is an amazing place to spot the Big Five and witness the Great Migration, where, between July and October, hundreds of thousands of wildebeest and zebra cross Tanzania’s Serengeti to the Maasai Mara. (Photo via Angama Mara)
Post Ranch Inn, Big Sur, CA: Post Ranch Inn is a true getaway on the dramatic California coast, high on the cliffs of Big Sur. Freestanding houses are covered with wildflowers and grass, decks are suspended to provide unparalleled ocean or mountain views, and treehouses are perched in the forest for a unique experience under the stars. There's no better (or more gorgeous) way to soak up some nature. (Photo via Kodiak Greenwood)
Malibu Popoyo, Popoyo, Nicaragua: Even if you're not a surfer, you can live that laidback beach lifestyle at Malibu Popoyo, an all-inclusive eco-friendly boutique that caters to surfers and yogis alike. There are over 10 award-winning surf breaks nearby, and on-site there is a yoga palapa, lush gardens, a 16-meter pool, and a neighboring organic farm. There are just six guest suites; each one has a rain shower, artisan tiles, and plenty of greenery. (Photo via Malibu Popoyo)
San Clemente Palace Kempinski, Venice, Italy: To get to this former monastery turned luxury Italian resort, you have to take one of the hotel boats (or drive your own) to the 17-acre private island of San Clemente, a mere 10 minutes away from bustling Piazza San Marco. Once there, you'll be welcomed by the grandness of the palace and its seven courtyards, outdoor heated swimming pool, tennis court, and views of the Venice lagoon. Best of all: You'll have all the charms of Venice without the crowds. (Photo via San Clemente Palace Kempinski)
Thompson Zihuatanejo, Zihuatanejo, Mexico: Along the Pacific coast is the town of Zihuatanejo, once a fishing village, home to a number of inviting white sand beaches. The Thompson Zihuatanejo is located on one of the most well-known, Playa La Ropa, and combines modern comfort with beachfront vibes. The one-, two-, and three-story villas are nestled among palm and coconut trees, decorated with Mexican artwork, and just steps away from the ocean. (Photo via Thompson Zihuatanejo)
Inns of Aurora, Aurora, NY: If you venture a few hours north of Manhattan, you'll find New York's quiet Finger Lakes region, known for lakes and vineyards. The five inns of Aurora are all carefully restored buildings (one was a former prep school for girls, another was the private residence of the New York Times co-founder) that still retain their historic charm. Many have views of Cayuga Lake and all provide a relaxing escape from busy city living. (Photo via Inns of Aurora)
Heckfield Place, Hampshire, England: Relax in the English Countryside at this restored Georgian manor an hour outside of London. Explore the 18-century woodlands, manicured gardens, nearby lakes, or the biodynamic Home Farm, which provides seasonal produce for the hotel. (Photo via Heckfield Place)
Rollezz Villas & Beach Resort, Cat Island, Bahamas: Cat Island, part of Bahama's Out Islands (also known as the Family Islands), is only a short flight from bustling Nassau, but with its unspoiled natural beauty, quietness, and friendly vibe, it feels like a genuine escape — you'll run into very few, if any, other tourists on the entire island. Rollez Villas & Beach Resort is a set of bungalows located steps away from a long white sand beach and the vibrant turquoise waters the Bahamas are famous for. The resort can plan various private excursions depending on your interests, so your hardest decision of the day will be how much sunbathing you want to indulge in. (Photo via Lesley Chen)
Casa Violeta, Tulum, Mexico: This eco-friendly boutique hotel is on a peaceful white sand beach in Tulum (beach chairs and hammocks provided). The 13 palapas sit within jungle greenery just steps from the beach, and each has its own personality and handmade artwork. The hotel also has a number of wellness offerings including yoga and Temazcal, a "medicinal house" that uses hot volcanic rocks infused with healing waters to create a healing sweat lodge. (Photo via Casa Violeta)
Lesley Chen is a California native who writes about travel, health/fitness, and other lifestyle topics. She has a serious case of RBF and exercises mainly to balance out an aggressive candy addiction.