If you and your bestie look for adventure around every corner, there’s no better way to celebrate your kinship than with an epic vacation. In a recent Hilton survey about “friendtrips,” 74 percent of those polled said they are excited to try new things on a vacation. Whether you’ve always wanted to explore one of the country’s vast national parks or get up close and personal with an active volcano, these three trips will satisfy daring duos.
Lace Up Your Hiking Boots in Zion National Park, UT
If you and your bestie are looking for a true nature escape, Utah’s Zion National Park offers almost 150,000 acres of scenic red cliffs and lush forest trails. On day one, get a lay of the land by embarking on a hike or two to help you decide how you want to explore the park during your trip. There is a trail for everyone, whether you prefer a short, paved hike or a strenuous five-mile climb. Seasoned climbers can enjoy Zion’s 2,000-foot sandstone cliffs, which date back to the lower to mid-Jurassic period and feature stunning striped and crosshatched patterns. If you’re still an outdoor sports novice, Zion offers canyoneering trips — which combine rappelling, swimming, and hiking — that range from beginner to advanced. Animal lovers will enjoy a guided horseback ride or catching a glimpse of Zion’s 291 bird species. And you simply can’t leave the area without watching a sunset or stargazing the night sky.
If you’re looking for a magnificent place to relax and unwind after a day of exploration, you’d be hard-pressed to find better views than from your room at Cliffrose Springdale, Curio Collection by Hilton. This historic lodge is located a half-mile from Zion National Park and provides a free guest shuttle to the visitor center. You two can enjoy views of Zion Canyon from your private balcony and cook a meal with local ingredients if you spring for a suite with a full kitchen. If you find yourself weary from all the action-packed activities, treat yourselves to a post-hike pampering session at Five Petals Spa.
Credit: Jenn Wood
Enjoy Fishing, Hiking & Whitewater Rafting in Gatlinburg, TN
Nestled on the border of the Great Smoky Mountains, Gatlinburg is full of adventures and is a perfect place to visit during any season. There are so many outdoor activities for you and your best friend to try. Whitewater rafting is a big deal here, and you can tailor your experience to be as calm as a scenic river float to a thrilling ride on Class III and IV rapids. If you love the water but prefer to stand on your own two feet, throw on a pair of waders and learn how to fly fish. Those who get a thrill from heights can view the scenery from a zipline tour or hot air balloon ride. Hikers can enjoy the many trails and scenic waterfalls in Great Smoky Mountain National Park, which you can also explore on horseback with a guided ride. Come winter, the area is alive with activities like skiing, snowboarding, tubing and ice skating.
Hampton Inn Gatlinburg Historic Nature Trail is at the center of all the action and within walking distance to downtown Gatlinburg. The hotel’s complimentary hot breakfast will prep you for a day of exploring the surrounding nature, and the heated indoor pool and patio firepit are perfect places for you and your bestie to relax and catch up in your downtime.
Surround Yourself with Wildlife or Hike a Volcano on the Big Island, HI
Hawaii is known for its gorgeous beaches, spectacular sunsets and surfing culture, but this archipelago is also an adventure-lovers wonderland. If you and your bestie are ready to chase waterfalls and hike volcanoes, Big Island is the “friendtrip” for you. Strap on your riding boots and head to Ponoholo Ranch on Kohala Mountain to explore the island on horseback and ride among ancient ruins and enjoy incredible ocean views. Big Island is home to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park where you can get up close and personal with active volcanoes. Take a boat tour to see Kilauea erupting into the ocean, or hike through a cloud forest where you’ll stand on the edge of volcanic caters and climb through a lava tube. Big Island has no shortage of water activities, whether you want to get active or become acquainted with exotic wildlife. Take a kayak to explore the waterfalls of Hilo, or rent a snorkel and swim among the manta rays, tropical fish and sea turtles.
Make Hilton Waikoloa Village your home base for an epic Big Island best friend trip, where you can sip tropical drinks next to glittering pools and enjoy the property’s four-acre, ocean-fed lagoon. Attend a luau or alleviate sore muscles at the luxurious Kohala Spa. The resort also offers cultural classes where you can learn to play the ukulele or dance the hula.