Four Adventure Vacations to Help You Recharge

These adrenaline-fueled getaways can help clear your mind of everyday worries, leaving you exhilarated and ready to take on the world.

by Nell McShane Wulfhart - May 13, 2019

For your next vacation, why not try something that really gets the blood flowing? Adrenaline-filled activities can help relieve stress, which means the adventure vacations here could help clear your mind of everyday worries and leave you feeling energized. Here are four life-affirming adventure vacation ideas to consider this summer.

1. Hike, Raft, and Soar in the Great Smoky Mountains

Enjoy a breathtaking point of view at one of the country’s most popular national parks. REI’s Great Smoky Mountains Adventure is a four-day hiking and climbing trip through the glorious mountain range that straddles the border between North Carolina and Tennessee. Hike your way through mountains and past waterfalls, along the Appalachian Trail and onto Civil War-era roads. Then amp up your heart rate by rafting through Class II and III rapids on the Nantahala River. Take in exhilarating views high above the forest floor on a two-mile-long zip line course (fall foliage can make the views especially stunning). Cap each day off around the campfire, staring at the stars instead of your phone.

What else you should know: You may want to do some training in advance, as the longest day of hiking covers 11 miles.

Details: Prices start at $1,649 for members and $1,825 for nonmembers.

2. Take a Speedboat for a Spin

When you’re rocketing across the waves in a speedboat at nearly 100 mph, you’re completely focused on the task at hand, not thinking about work or parenting or other obligations. At Florida’s Incredible Adventures, you’ll start with a safety briefing followed by one-on-one instruction in the Intracoastal Waterway to learn about speed zones and racing rules. Then the real fun begins in the Atlantic, where you’ll practice planing (getting a boat up to speed so that the hull rises and glides on top of the water), maneuvering through zones, throttling, and wave jumping.

What else you should know: Although Incredible Adventures says the ride across the water should be smooth, the company does not recommend this if you have serious back problems.

Details: Prices start at $4,200 for two hours and up to four people.

Enjoy a speedboat on Florida’s Intracoastal Waterway as part of Florida’s Incredible Adventures.

Enjoy a speedboat ride on Florida’s Intracoastal Waterway as part of Florida’s Incredible Adventures.

Photo credit: Source: Incredible Adventures

3. Skydive over a national park

 Jumping out of a perfectly good airplane and hurtling toward the ground at 120 mph? If that doesn’t get your blood pumping, nothing will. At Skydive Zion, novices are harnessed to instructors and flown to an altitude of 14,000 feet, where spectacular views of pink sandstone cliffs and the deep canyons of Zion National Park are spread out below. When you jump, you’ll spend 45 seconds in freefall before the parachute is deployed—a heart-pounding, mind-clearing experience unlike any other adventure vacation. Want even more thrills? The instructor will help you roll and turn in the air before opening the parachute for the 5- to 10-minute glide to the ground. The landing will be soft, the company says. The experience? Unforgettable.

What else you should know: The weight limit for men is less than 210 pounds and for women it’s 195 pounds.

Details: Tandem skydives are $215 for about three hours. Relive the thrills on high-definition video for $40.

4. Pretend You’re a NASCAR Driver

 Head to an official NASCAR speedway—there are more than a dozen locations around the country—for an electrifying afternoon zooming around in a real race car. NASCAR Racing Experience’s “King’s Experience” package includes a meeting with a crew chief and in-car communication with your spotter. You’ll take the car solo onto the oval-shaped racetrack for an eight-minute racing session before pulling in for a pit stop, followed by a second eight-minute session where you can aim to beat your previous time.

What else you should know: You should be less than 6′ 7″ and weigh no more than 300 pounds to climb through the open window frame (the cars don’t have openable doors).

Details: The King’s Experience is $1,099.99 for three hours.

Photo of a race car at NASCAR speedway.

Head to the official NASCAR speedway and enjoy a thrilling afternoon riding in a real race car.

Photo credit: Source: NASCAR

Nell McShane Wulfhart is a freelance writer based in Montevideo, Uruguay.

Additional Resources

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