Five Places to Hide from the Holidays - Page 2

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Kayaking in Sea of Cortez near La Paz, Mexico
Kayaking in Sea of Cortez near La Paz, Mexico  (iStockphoto)

Baja California, Mexico
Beaches and warm weather can't miss as a pick-me-up from the December blues, and Baja hits all the right notes as a mellow holiday oasis. A world away from Alta California—better known as simply California—this 800-mile peninsula knifing south between the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific Ocean culminates in the “end of the earth,” a.k.a. finisterra. The peninsula makes for great road-tripping and RVing, with beachside campsites and sleepy desert towns for pit stops along the way. Prime diversions the length of Baja include snorkeling and scuba diving, deep-sea fishing, golfing, and (of course) drinking margaritas by the pool or beach. Skip Cabo San Lucas and head for one of the sleepier towns, like La Paz, the capital city of Baja California Sur and a mecca for kayakers set on a bay on the Sea of Cortez, or ex-pat favorite Mulegé, a sleepy seaside town with a palm-lined estuary providing one of the few oases on this cactus-speckled peninsula.

Izaak Walton Inn, Essex, Montana
Named after the legendary conservationist, the Izaak Walton Inn opened on the railroad along the southern boundary of Glacier National Park in 1939, and it remains a favorite winter destination for those looking to get away from it all by train. A popular launching pad for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, the inn offers lodge rooms and cabins as well as converted cabooses and luxury locomotives for overnight guests. The inn has 20 miles of groomed cross-country trails and offers guided tours and lessons. If you're looking for even more skiing, the downhill slopes at Whitefish Mountain Resort are about 60 miles away and likewise near an Amtrak station—this one in the picture-perfect ski town of Whitefish.

Padre Island, Texas
At 113 miles long (most of it undeveloped), Padre Island is the world's longest barrier island, offering plenty of room to stretch out far away from the holidays. Between Mustang Island to the north and the party town of South Padre Island on its southern tip, most of the acreage is managed by the National Park Service as Padre Island National Seashore, featuring about 70 miles of coastline and rich habitat for more than 300 bird species and the critically endangered Kemp's Ridley sea turtle. Much of the beach is open for tent and RV camping and navigable by car. Find a sandy stretch a few miles down the beach from road's end on North Beach or South Beach. You'll have as much solitude as you could possibly want, with just the sand, surf, and salty air.

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