Aerial view of Tamarindo beach.

Enjoy the waters of Tamarindo beach. (Photo: Getty Images)


Itching for a Weekend Adventure? Here Are the Top Outdoor Getaways for an Adrenaline Fix

A weekend escape to the city doesn’t have to mean waiting to be seated at a crowded restaurant or standing in line to board an even more densely packed train. It can also mean breathing in a year’s worth of much-needed fresh air via a range of outdoor activities.

Whether it’s adrenaline-fueled thrills or blissful solitude in nature from Nashville to Dubai, here are six of the top weekend getaways for the global adventurer.

As always, check for travel restrictions and closures before planning your trip.

Learn Why Costa Rica Is an Outdoor Adventure Epicenter

Sunset at Chirripo National Park
Sunset at Chirripó National Park. (Photo: Getty Images)

It would take half the Internet’s bandwidth to fully document all the outdoor adventures in Costa Rica, one of the world’s most well-known and well-developed ecotourism destinations.

With nearly one-quarter of the country preserved as protected land and the highest density of species diversity in the world, it is impossible to visit Costa Rica without immersing yourself in nature.

From surfing Tamarindo Beach and scuba diving Isla del Caño to hiking Chirripó National Park and sport fishing the Gulf of Papagayo, let’s just say you won’t be bored.

Be sure to build in some time to kick back on some of the country’s world-famous beaches, such as Dominical, Jaco and Montezuma.

Soak in Panoramic Scenery in Edinburgh

Holyrod Park
Seek out green spaces in Edinburgh. (Photo: Getty Images)

While many travelers visit Scotland’s capital city to explore legendary medieval sights like Edinburgh Castle, nature also earns its way into many itineraries thanks in no small part to the presence of Holyrood Park just outside town.

Climb to Arthur’s Seat to take in a stunning view of the city from the top of an extinct volcano before embarking on a leisurely stroll through Edinburgh’s leafy Royal Botanic Garden.

Additional lush gardens are waiting to be explored at Princes Street Gardens, while those who can’t get enough of scenic views will want to hightail it to the top of Calton Hill for a panoramic glimpse of town.

A stroll along the Water of Leith Walkway is another great way to experience this unique city from the outdoors, as is a trip to the Edinburgh Zoo to see the world-famous penguin parade.

Find an Outdoor Urban Escape in Nashville

With more than 10,000 acres worth of open space spread out across an area nearly the size of Manhattan, there’s no shortage of outdoor opportunities in and around Nashville. So spend some time chillin’ now. There will be plenty of time for rowdy honky-tonks later.

Commune with nature at the serene Radnor Lake State Park, located less than 10 miles south of downtown, or wander over to the equally accessible Percy Warner Park for two of the finest examples of outdoor urban escapism in America.

The historic and art-filled Cheekwood Estate & Gardens is also not to be missed, nor is a trip to the popular Percy Priest Lake or Nashville’s iconic Centennial Park.

Find Your Zen in Tokyo

Mt Kakao ChairLift
Head to the top of Mt. Takao. (Photo: Getty Images)

The world’s most populous city isn’t exactly the first place that springs to mind when contemplating a weekend outdoor getaway, but there are plenty of gems to be found within the city’s mind-boggling 6,000 parks and gardens.

Yoyogi Park and Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden are two of the most popular choices, while those seeking a bit more of a retreat may prefer more remote options, such as Inokashira Park and Chichibu-Tama-Kai National Park (one of four national parks within city limits).

Be sure to hike to the top of one of the Tokyo area’s iconic peaks, such as Mount Takao, or spend a day at the lake at the stunning Lake Okutama. Kicked back and refreshed, you’ll be looking at this manic metropolis in a whole new light.

Fall Hard for Dune-Bashing and Lakes in Dubai

dubai dune buggies
Kick up dust in Dubai. (Photo: Getty Images)

Fast-growing Dubai may be best known for its human-made glitz and glamour, but it’s certainly no slouch in the outdoors department. One of the most jaw-dropping natural sights in the area is easily Hatta Lake, whose mesmerizing green waters glimmer beneath jagged peaks along a classic road trip route about an hour outside the city.

Another must-do in the area (for those who can handle a strenuous climb) is hiking the rugged Wadi Ghalilah Trail. This famed “Stairway to Heaven” trail will leave you speechless.

More low-risk activities include spending the day lazing about in Al Qudra Lakes or kicking up dust playing some sand golf at a local course like Al Ghazal.

Don’t leave without renting an ATV and doing some “dune bashing” on a desert safari around Dubai’s legendary sand dune, Big Red. Then kick back and relax on one of Dubai’s world-famous white sand beaches like Sunset Beach. You deserve it.

Explore a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Ottawa

Canada’s capital city isn’t all about business and politics. It’s also blessed with a welcome abundance of nature. With offerings ranging from beaches and hiking trails to scenic lookouts and zip lines, Gatineau Park, just north of the city, is one of the most popular locales for outdoor pursuits.

The Rideau Canal is another local gem with paved pathways on each side. This UNESCO World Heritage Site in the heart of the city also doubles as the world’s largest outdoor ice rink in winter.

A bit farther afield in Quebec, Éco-Odyssée and Parc Omega should also be high on any traveler’s outdoors hit list — in addition to rafting the world-class whitewater rapids along the Ottawa River.