Twenty-twenty was nothing if not challenging, and while 2021 might have gotten off to a rocky start, we’re still feeling inspired to turn over a new leaf in the New Year. As we patiently await vaccine distribution and continue to socially distance and wear our masks, activities in the great outdoors are still the safest way to experience a new destination. Communing with the splendor of nature is also healing and the best detox we can think of from the chaos of the news cycle. With that in mind, we’ve picked the perfect outdoor activity in each of these Virgin Hotels cities to get your New Year started on the right foot!
A lakefront stroll in Chicago
Nestled on the shores of Lake Michigan, the beauty of Chicago is that one need not travel far to experience the splendor of the Great Lakes. And while most people don’t think of Chicago as a beach town, especially not during a chilly Windy City winter, why not take a New Year’s stroll in your warmest park along the city’s shoreline and gaze out at the endless awesome horizon in reflection? From the Lakefront Trail at North Avenue Beach to the southern shores of Rainbow Beach, pick a piece of shoreline to enjoy an invigorating waterfront stroll and set your intentions (or take your mind off things) for a great New Year!
A wildlife refuge north of Dallas
A two-hour drive north of Dallas, you’ll cross the Oklahoma state line to reach the Tishomingo National Wildlife Refuge where the shallow, 4,000-acre Cumberland Pool is a teeming habitat for both fish and migratory waterfowl, from catfish to sand bass and sandpipers to bald eagles, making it especially popular for fishermen and birders. Named for a famous Chickasaw chief and great warrior, Chief Tishomingo, start your exploration with the mile-long Craven Nature Trail where you’ll experience grasslands, plum thickets and woodlands alongside the pool. You might even spot otters, herons and ducks along the way.
Stunning waterfalls outside Nashville
Fall Creek Falls State Park is home to the highest free-fall waterfall east of the Mississippi at over 250-feet for a dramatic view along the rugged Cumberland Plateau. At just two hours west of Nashville, it makes for an epic daytrip exploring acres of cascades, gorges, waterfalls and streams. There are more than 56 miles of hiking trails to discover here, including the trail that leads to an overlook of the namesake Fall Creek Falls. While the park’s lake makes for a popular summertime destination for boating and swimming, there’s plenty of quiet beauty to absorb during a bundled-up wintertime exploration.
Red rocks & desert flowers in Las Vegas
A mere 20 minutes from the flashing neon lights of the Vegas strip, Red Rocks Canyon’s vast natural geography spans nearly 200,000 acres of the Mojave Desert with dramatic overlooks, desert flora and those stunning namesake red rocks. Get your bearings on the 13-mile scenic drive and then take your pick from hiking, biking and rock climbing with 26 different trails to choose from boasting scenic vistas. The area is home to wild (yet docile) burros and mule deer, Joshua trees and prickly pear cactus, as well as Native American cave drawings and fossils that date back to the Triassic period.
Virgin Hotels Las Vegas is slated to open in 2021.
Written by Shayne Benowitz