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In pursuit of nature, close to home.

A NOTE BEFORE WE GET STARTED: We’re feeling incredible compassion for all those who have recently been thrown back into the overwhelming fray of coronavirus negotiation and situation management. We recognize that it’s a privilege to even be considering leisure activities during this difficult time, and hope everyone is getting the support they need as we continue to collectively navigate the uncertainty of the pandemic.
 
It’s hard to know what to do these days, with regulations and recommendations around the United States continuing to change almost weekly. Fortunately for those of us who are simply facing the dilemma of how to spend our free time, making informed decisions and getting out of the house for some fun this summer are not mutually exclusive. With a little planning and some ingenuity, you can have what feels like a true ‘vacation’ without putting yourself or others at risk. Plans to go to restaurants or museums are still feeling a bit unreliable, and international travel looks like it might be effectively cancelled for most of us this summer, but one thing seems to pretty consistently be open and available for enjoyment: NATURE. 
 
Ah yes, the most potent antidote for an excess of inside-the-house-ing. 
 
A recent study confirms that exploring close to home can actually be just as satisfying (if not more, once you factor in the ease) as adventuring far beyond your typical bubble. It turns out that as long as you’re having experiences that feel new or different, your brain can’t actually tell that you’re only maybe just around the corner from that place you’ve been walking circles in for a few months now. 
 
With this in mind, we’ve come up with some recommendations — at least to get you started — for destinations that could qualify as both ‘nearby’ and ‘novel.’ No flights over an ocean required, emphasis on social distancing and of course, our old friend nature. And by old friend we mean the one you maybe haven’t called in awhile, but are dying to catch up with. Might actually take an entire long weekend, or more, to really feel like you know each other again, right?
 
If you’re in California, check out these up-to-date recommendations for perfect weekend getaways, featuring a couple of the luxe Auberge Resorts properties (of which there are many all over the continental U.S.) and a number of restaurants and semi-private to private experiences that are becoming available again as things are reopening. There’s also this roundup of the best Airbnb’s around The Golden State to suit your isolation and relaxation needs, whether that means stargazing from a geodesic desert dome or deep breaths on the porch of a Malibu cottage on the beach. One destination we love that didn’t make the list is the Joshua Tree House, famed for it’s photogenic decor and the lifestyle brand they’ve built around their guest experience — think curated Spotify playlists and ‘field guide’ recommendations for what to do in the area. And don’t forget about classic Bay Area day trips like Muir Woods, Lake Tahoe, and Point Reyes (though if you stay overnight in the latter you can get cozy at one of the Nick’s Cove cottages, with ridiculous views and completely separate, private outdoor spaces.)
 
Meanwhile, just outside the New York metro area there are so many delightful options, whether you’re dying to get out of the city for a day or even several weeks. In fact, there’s a growing trend suggesting that, in a moment when there maybe isn’t a job or a favorite routine to keep us all at home, many people have settled into the idea that they will be ‘long-term guests’ at their favorite hideaways. A likely location for someone wanting more of an extended stay is a property that includes small cottage-like residences with private entrances and outdoor space, such as The Roundtree in The Hamptons. For a more autonomous approach to a weeks or months long sojourn out of the city, Escape Brooklyn can be a fun and potentially less obvious resource for rentals in more rural or isolated areas, like this 3-bedroom ‘garden oasis’ on a mountain in the Catskills. They also often include sale listings, if you really want to take ‘long-term’ more literally.
 
Game for a slightly more unstructured experience? Getaway House offers rentals of tiny houses nestled in natural environments outside of several major cities, including Austin, New York, Atlanta, Dallas, Portland, Boston and Washington, DC. You’ll detail the parameters for your needs on their website (how many people, how many nights, etc.) but won’t receive the exact location of your rental until you finalize the booking. The whole idea is to relax and not over-plan your visit — they even have cell phone lock boxes at each property to encourage you to unplug. The tiny houses and cabins are near enough to their hub city for a spontaneous vacation, but far enough to feel like a true escape to somewhere new. The epitome of ‘exploring close to home,’ plus every time you book they make a donation to Feeding America. Feeling great on multiple levels! 
 
There are several resorts across the continental U.S. offering bespoke luxury experiences that allow for a healthy dose of fresh air and also the privacy that still feels so important right now. Some of our favorites? Blackberry Mountain in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, C Lazy U Colorado guest ranch, the lodge and spa at Brush Creek Ranch in Saratoga, Wyoming, Calistoga Ranch in Napa Valley and the newly-renovated suites and farmhouse-style cottages at MacArthur Place in Sonoma. Meanwhile, this summer Aman Resorts is combining their two secluded U.S. locations — Amangiri in Utah and Amangani in Wyoming — to create a multi-faceted ‘Mesas to Mountains’ vacation package that gives you a taste of both the desert and the forest, not to mention access to places like Yellowstone National Park and The Grand Canyon.
 
And in case you’re feeling available for a boundary-pushing kind of adventure, there’s always the luxury off-the-grid Earthship Global experience, which offers both nightly and longer-term rentals of fully-equipped yet sustainable ‘Earthship’ residences on their eco-compound just outside Taos, New Mexico. You should at least go look at the photos of these properties, especially this one. Far less isolated but still funky is Rancho Pillow outside of Dallas, Texas, which reminds us of an amusement park / antique mall / carnival all rolled up into a whimsical wonderland relaxation package … somehow.
 
What you’ll notice about most, if not all, of these properties is that they are pretty remote — it’s the whole idea, right? This is where we come in. The recent launch of our private aviation program, UrbanAir, now allows us to offer literal door-to-door transportation services where we have control over every moment of your travel experience, not to mention flexible flight schedules and access to smaller regional airports that avoid major cities. The UrbanBCN Worldwide experience you have (hopefully) come to know and trust, every step of the way. 
 
And if you’re not yet familiar with the level of service we guarantee, what better time to start a conversation? We would love to connect and discuss your travel options for the remainder of 2020, and beyond. The pandemic doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, at least for now, and having a supportive plan in place for continuing to move around in your life is a more vital consideration than ever. Long-term relationships are the heart of our business, and we are currently available to structure individualized partnerships tailored to your specific needs. 
 
We’re always here at info@urbanbcn.com, info@urbanair.com and by calling (415) 494-8122. Immediate reservations on our homepage or by texting (877) 277-0208.

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