Take the s’mores, stargazing, cookouts and crushes of camp, and add the day drinking, spa treatments, farm-to-table eats and adulthood flings. What you get is the perfect summertime playground. Nikki Ridgway picks 11 of the best US resorts to live out your camp heydays, no parental waiver required.
What: A game changer for this once quiet surf enclave, Ruschmeyer’s sealed the deal on Montauk’s hipster appeal when it unveiled its 19 frill-free cabins, restaurant, bar and communal garden hangout in 2011.
Where: The easternmost tip of Long Island, around two hours (more with the inevitable summer traffic) from New York City.
Who: Straight from a Wes Anderson script, this is camp for big (good looking, well dressed) kids, with a sandpit beer garden, teepees, hammocks, fire pits, ping pong tables and water sports on neighboring Fort Pond Lake. Chefs and brothers Max and Eli Sussman are in the kitchen for the summer 2015 season, dishing up local, seasonal fare with a Middle Eastern spin. Unchanged are the alfresco yoga classes, raucous weekend dance parties in the Electric Eel bar and recovery brunches.
Dunton Hot Springs, Colorado
What: A restored 1800s ghost town with 13 distinct rustic luxe cabins, a saloon, hot spring, spa and raft of seasonal outdoor adventures.
Where: Around an hour from Telluride, in a quiet valley in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains.
Who: For style-seeking cowboys and girls, this is Wild West glamping. Individual cabins have tin roofs and hand-hewn log walls, plus homey comforts like iron frame beds, slate floors, deep soaking tubs and unique objets d’art. The town (no resort map here) is designed with community in mind, from the central bath house with healing hot springs to the communal fireside dining table in the main restaurant. The activities change with the seasons, but always lets the great outdoors take center stage, whether on horseback rides, hikes, mountain bike rides or at the yoga, photography and fine art classes.
Lumeria Maui, Hawaii
What: Wellness-focused retreat with just 24 rooms, an award-winning spa and organic gardens.
Where: On Maui’s north shore, the Lumeria Hawaii is just five minutes from Paia and Makawao, but the six-acre garden setting and Pacific Ocean views make it feel a world away.
Who: Summer camp that took a serious chill pill, Lumeria Maui nails the on-campus activities (yoga, meditation, gardening and more) and rustic digs (no TVs!), but promotes quiet corners for rest and relaxation rather than team building. Don’t miss a treatment in the Lumeria Crystal Spa and seek out a surf pro to point you to the best local breaks.
Travaasa Austin, Texas
What: A destination wellness resort with curated culture, fitness, adventure and spa experiences, plus cozy hacienda digs, and healthy vegetarian and vegan eats.
Where: Around 30 minutes from Austin, Travaasa occupies 210 acres of the Balcones Canyonlands.
Who: Anyone averse to downtime will feel at home here. Activities at Travaasa are scheduled two per hour from dawn until dinner, whether your sights are set on the “heart starter” hike to Lake Travis, a tour of a local farm, an expert-led yoga class, a hatchet throwing workshop or guided meditation. Of course, an itinerary that includes a dip in the infinity pool, a snooze in the poolside cabana or a cocktail on the Mesquite Patio is totally acceptable, too. Meals are all organic and locally grown, and there’s a community dining table to encourage some classic camp bonding.
Lake Placid Lodge, New York
What: Classic Arts and Crafts retreat with 30 guestrooms and a popular farm-to-table restaurant, all surrounded by dense woods.
Where: On the shores of Lake Placid, around 300 miles north of NYC.
Who: Escape artists who loved camp for its great outdoors, but who appreciate flawless service and elegant style today. Water sports are the focus here, from daily kayaking and canoeing to rafting and boating. Unlike camp, guests have the option to upgrade their water experience to a private champagne cruise at sunset.
Sundance Resort, Utah
What: Robert Redford’s mountain resort with a village-style layout of cabins and yurts, plus art classes and the unique Treehouse restaurant.
Where: Around 45 minutes from Park City at the base of 12,000-foot Mount Timpanogos, which is home to the Sundance Film Festival.
Who: A haven for art lovers, the resort has its own art studio with workshops for jewelry making, wheel-thrown pottery, printmaking, photography, drawing and more. Guestrooms are comfy but frill-free, preferring to leave the ornamentation to nature whether that’s with mountain, river or village views.
Equinox Resort & Spa, Vermont
What: Classic New England resort dating from 1796 on 1,300 in-town acres, with 195 rooms and suites spread over four buildings.
Where: Manchester, VT between the Green Mountains and Taconic Mountains, around a four-hour drive from Boston or NYC.
Who: This is camp for luxury-loving city folk who fill their days with every imaginable outdoor pursuit, from fly fishing and shooting to hiking and rounds on the Rees Jones/Walter Travis–designed 18-hole championship golf course. For adrenalin junkies, there’s the chance to go off-road with Land Rover driving school, while sybarites can hit up the 13,000-square-foot spa and heated outdoor pool. The five dining options are a serious upgrade on traditional camp fare — don’t miss a steak dinner at Chop House — but nightlife is just as you left it: stargazing and storytelling around the campfire.
Carmel Valley Ranch, CA
What: Once a go-to for golfers alone, today Carmel Valley Ranch is a destination resort for fitness, learning and lounging in the Cali sunshine.
Where: In the foothills of the Santa Lucia Mountains, the 500-acre ranch is less than 10 minutes from Carmel-by-Sea.
Who: Young-at-heart Angelenos after some easy access R&R, and even easier access to the region’s wineries, art galleries and boutiques. Activities run the gamut from tennis and cookery to farming (lite) and beekeeping, but guests here are quick to pick up on the slow pace and laid-back vibe that makes sleeping in late, lounging by the infinity pool, and dinner at Tim Wood’s hyperlocal Lodge restaurant a busy day at the ranch.
Brasada Ranch, Oregon
What: A playground for spa- and equestrian-lovers, with just 32 guestrooms on 1,800 wild acres.
Where: Twenty miles north of Bend, where the desert meets the Cascade Mountains.
Who: The pick for anyone who loved equestrian camp as a kid but calls for a few extra creature comforts today, Brasada Ranch has its own stables with Mustang, Draft Cross and Western Pleasure horses, expert wranglers, and over 900 acres of high desert and mountain trails. Beyond the saddle, there’s the year-round Brasada Canyons golf course, Spa Brasada for pampering treatments, farm-to-table fare at Range restaurant and a purpose-built stone fire pit area with just 20 Adirondacks chairs and views across the Cascade Mountains.
Camp Wandawega, WI
What: As a former Prohibition-era speakeasy, organized crime hub, jolly 1950s family resort, Catholic Church retreat, and, finally today, a throwback camp experience for grown-ups, only Camp Wandawega 90-year history is more captivating than its 25-acre setting and hipster good looks.
Where: Around ninety miles from Chicago in Elkhorn, Wisconsin, this sprawling camp relieves city folk of their tech habits (no WiFi, TV or even AC here) and delivers them to the great outdoors in just under two hours.
Who: Outdoor-loving Peter Pans of all ages and anyone looking to get off the grid in rustic style. A handful of cabins are available on Airbnb, but most get booked up during private retreats or the camp’s creative weekend programs, which may include band and art camp, sportsman get togethers (think hatchet throwing, trout fishing, bonfire making and bourbon sipping) and crafts workshop.
Glamping in New York’s Catskills
What: A weekend under canvas for an intimate group of 18 in nine safari-style tents, all of which have posh hotel perks like memory foam mattresses and Frette linens.
Where: Just 100 miles north of NYC in Woodstock. Catch a bus up to Woodstock station, or hop a train from Grand Central Station for a 90-minute ride up the Hudson River to Rhinecliff, where camp staff will pick you up.
Who: With just nine tents, a seriously memorable setting and all meals and drinks included, this is a package made for groups of friends or sociable city trippers. The weekend includes guided bike rides up to the Opus 40 sculpture park and Saugerties Lighthouse, a tubing adventure down Esopus Creek, a sunrise yoga session and, on the final morning, a gentle hike to a classic Catskills overlook.