Hot summer weather calls for a cooling respite. Rather than retreat to the beach or hole up indoors, opt for a fresh mountain adventure in a temperate climate such as the foothills of California’s Sierra Nevada range or Maine’s Longfellow Mountains. Our Forbes Travel Guide editors have handpicked five idyllic, high-altitude getaways where you can relax outdoors without melting in the heat.
Blair Hill Inn, Greenville, Maine
The air doesn’t get much crisper than that in Maine—or on the state’s largest lake for that matter. Blair Hill Inn is perched atop a hill, offering fantastic views of Moosehead Lake and the surrounding Longfellow Mountains. While cross-country skiers may want to head here when the snow falls, summer is best (and that’s the only time the hotel is open). If you’re craving cool temperatures even in the heat of the summer, Greenville is where you want to be; highs in July and August hover around the mid-70s, while evenings can bring temps down to the low 50s. With just eight rooms, Blair Hill Inn is a quiet getaway; but there’s plenty to do besides cozy up by the fire with a book. You can hike Little Moose Mountain, set out on a whitewater rafting trip or even embark on a moose and wildlife safari (May through July is prime moose spotting season). One thing we love is the summer concerts that are held in the Blair Hill Carriage Barn—contemporary-gone-country artist Don Campbell is performing on Aug. 4. Whether you’re adventurous or more of a leisure traveler, don’t miss the epic sunsets over Moosehead Lake.
St Julien Hotel & Spa, Boulder, Colo.
You may not be at the foot of a world-famous ski resort, but Boulder sits at the base of the Flatiron Mountains that are perfect for summer adventures. And this Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star hotel is at the center of the quirky town, allowing for easy access to the Pearl Street pedestrian mall and Boulder Creek for a bit of leisurely floating (the main entry point is down the street from St Julien Hotel & Spa). July and August are toasty, but the low humidity and the chilly evenings make up for it. After a day of hiking in Chautauqua Park, take a break while listening to live music on T-Zero Lounge’s outdoor terrace. If your idea of exploring the great outdoors means lounging by the pool, this 201-room hotel has that, too—an infinity pool at that. When dinner rolls around, be sure to take advantage of the patio at Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Jill’s Restaurant at St Julien Hotel & Spa; it’s only open when the weather is nice (read: summertime). For those who prefer a quieter town, book your stay before the end of August when University of Colorado Boulder coeds move in.
The Wort Hotel, Jackson, Wyo.
Jackson Hole is a getaway for the rich and famous year-round—and rightly so—but there’s something about the summer months that reels us in. Perhaps it’s the warm weather and low humidity, or maybe the endless outdoor activities; either way, a stay at The Wort Hotel between June and early September is a must. The luxury hotel offers summer-focused vacation packages such as Summer Fun, which includes two nights at The Wort, tickets to Jackson Hole Playhouse and a whitewater rafting or scenic float trip nearby. But for those yearning for that adrenaline rush, book the three-night Jackson Hole Adventure package and you’ll indulge in activities such as horseback riding, whitewater rafting (or a leisurely float trip if that’s more your speed) and a chuck wagon dinner complete with a country western show. Even if you don’t plan your stay around one of these packages, you can still explore everything this resort community has to offer. The 59-room hotel is located in the center of town at the base of Snow King Mountain Resort, where you’ll find fantastic hiking during the warmer months.
Vail Mountain Lodge, Vail, Colo.
Conveniently located in Vail Village alongside Gore Creek, Vail Mountain Lodge boasts a combination of hotel rooms and luxury condominiums, just in case you plan on an extended stay. While days can heat up to the high 70s in July and August, evenings are still chilly with that dry mountain air, so those in-room fireplaces will certainly come in handy upon nightfall. Hiking and mountain biking are never far away—Vail Mountain’s main gondola is less than a half-mile away from the hotel. Once you’ve gotten your fill of Mother Nature, head to the Vail Vitality Center that’s connected to the hotel to hit the weights, practice yoga or unwind with a spa treatment (we suggest the Moor Remedy to soothe your aches and pains). Vail Mountain Lodge’s Terra Bistro is a popular dinner spot thanks to its all-natural approach to cuisine (try the cornmeal-crusted Rocky Mountain trout with lemon-herb butter, sweet potato and asparagus hash, and chipotle aioli) and lodge-like décor (think 25-foot ceilings, massive windows and wood beams).
Château du Sureau, Oakhurst, Calif.
This romantic escape lies just 16 miles south of Yosemite National Park’s southern entrance in the tree-laden foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Château du Sureau is a fabulous choice for travelers in search of a little downtime as well as those always on the go, but save this one for an adults-only trip. With just 10 rooms, the Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star hideaway caters to each guest as if you’re the only one there. Excursions off the estate’s rolling grounds can certainly be arranged by the concierge—activities range from fishing in Bass Lake to hiking, biking and rock climbing in Yosemite. As far as the weather goes, it’s rather toasty in Oakhurst (though the humidity is low); but once you get up in the mountains, the temperatures drop. If you soak up the California sun by the pool, rest assured that you’ll be treated to cool breezes. Lest the low humidity and luxurious accommodations aren’t enough to lure you, the gourmet cuisine at Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Erna’s Elderberry House and the fact that summertime is the best time to view Yosemite’s famous waterfalls will seal the deal.
Photos Courtesy of St. Julien Hotel And Spa, Chateau Du Sureau, Vail Mountain Lodge, Blair Hill Inn and The Wort Hotel