THE UPPER CENTRAL SNOW-BELT STATES
The place: Sully Creek State Recreational Area, minutes away from Medora, North Dakota
The personality: For the entrepreneur who really wants to rough it
Why go here: Sully Creek is just a hop, skip and a jump away from Theodore Roosevelt National Park, if that gives you any idea of what to expect on your weekend adventure. Our 26th president was known for his love of the great outdoors, and Sully Creek is as outdoorsy as it gets. It's also cheap: five bucks to get into Sully Creek and five more to camp. Then experience nature at its finest by taking the hiking trails across canyons, meandering up mountainous, shrub-filled earth, where, except for scattered tourists, you'll find solitude for miles and miles and miles. You can camp, kayak, fish, birdwatch--186 species have been counted here, and 20 more are suspected to live in the region--and you can definitely get a workout. Nearby, outside the park, is the Maah Daah Hey Trail, a 120-mile trail for biking, hiking and horseback riding. These are the badlands, but if you travel here, we suspect you'll feel very, very good.
If you want to go somewhere else in the region:Bemidji, Minnesota, is for the entrepreneur who wants a laid-back weekend, and also for the entrepreneur whose idea of a good time is getting up at 4 a.m. with a tackle box in hand. Bemidji is best known as the first city founded along the Mississippi River. It's a popular destination in Minnesota for many reasons: It has a charming small-town feel, because it is a charming small town
(population: approximately 12,000). In the middle of the community are statues of Paul Bunyan and his pet ox, Babe. In fact, there are a lot of statues here: Bemidji has its famous (at least in these parts) Bemidji Sculpture Walk, and the ornate courthouse, built in 1902, will make you wonder why we build so many bland buildings today. The 1912 train depot is also worth a look, as is the entire historical section of the town. And then start whistling "The Andy Griffith Show" theme song and visit one of the 400 fishing lakes that are within 25 miles of the town. Looking for something different? Try a ranch vacation in Montana (think City Slickers). There are many to choose from in the state, so check out this website to help you decide (http://visitmt.com/tripplanner/campandlodge/ranch.htm). There are ranches for families, places that feature cattle drives and dude ranches for entrepreneurs hoping to find their inner dude.
THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST
The place: Hells Canyon National Recreational Area, which straddles the Snake River in Oregon and Idaho
The personality: For the entrepreneur who loves rugged adventures
Why go here: If you're a member of the grammar police, you might wince at the area's apparent disdain for apostrophes, and if you have young children, your vacation destination might elicit a lot of conversations about whether "hell" is a swear word. But otherwise, what's not to love? After all, it's 652,488 freakin' acres of scenic mountains and forest with the deepest river gorge in North America. You can white water raft, rock climb and hike, and if you trek out far enough, you may be able to spot some bighorn sheep, deer, osprey, eagles, elk, river otter and black bears--though you'll want to keep your distance. You can camp here, of course, or stay in a hotel at a nearby town like Lewiston, Idaho, or Clarkston, Washington.
If you want to go somewhere else in the region:Whidbey Island (www.southwhidbey.com) was designed for the shopaholic entrepreneur. It's not the Mall of America, but there are numerous antique shops, craft and clothing stores, and thrift shops on this little island off the coast of Washington state in Puget Sound. Plus there are B&Bs and quaint hotels as well as plenty of opportunities to fish, boat, camp or scuba dive. For the entrepreneur who likes to walk, try hiking the 40-mile Timberline Trail that encircles Oregon's Mount Hood (www.mthood.org). You can stay at a nearby campground, hotel or B&B, then spend the rest of your time hoofing it along the trail and taking in the scenery: a volcano formed by glaciers and a vast forest of old-growth aspen and cedar trees. It's a trail that'll take you up an 11,245-foot summit--and then back down again--where you'll tramp through bridgeless streams and past Ramona Falls. If this trail's too much for you, there are other, easier paths to take to get to the waterfalls, which you'll definitely want to try, because the view's stunning. The water falls over the remnants of what once was flowing basalt lava, and the lava cooled into this stair-step-like cliff. Now the water sprays and cascades off a seemingly endless array of jagged rocks.
The place: Lake Powell, which straddles Utah and Arizona
The personality: For the entrepreneur who enjoys being captain of their own ship--even on vacation
Why go here: C'mon, who hasn't dreamed of living on a houseboat? Lake Powell Resorts & Marinas offers a fleet of luxury houseboats equipped with hot tubs, fireplaces, home theater systems and other amenities--if money's no object, they have a houseboat you can rent for a week for just a little over $10,000. But they also have more standard houseboats--which are still a pleasant way to travel--that have all the necessities, like a bathroom, shower, air-conditioning and a refrigerator. If you stayed for three nights in the off-season, you could get away with renting one that sleeps 12 for around $800. Regardless of how you relax on Lake Powell, the lake, bathed in shades of blue and green, offers nearly 2,000 miles of incredible shoreline with towering red rock sandstone cliffs, pristine beaches and more than 90 canyons. It's a manmade lake, the second largest in the United States, created when the Glen Canyon Dam went up in the Colorado River in the 1950s.
If you want to go somewhere else in the region: If the second-largest manmade lake in the country won't do it for you and you're an avid boater, try the largest manmade lake in the country--Lake Texahoma, which straddles the Texas/Oklahoma state line (www.laketexahoma.com). Or do something completely silly: Check out LegoLand (www.legoland.com/California.htm), the only theme park in America revolving around--you guessed it--Legos. It's really only a day-long excursion, but it's just 30 miles from San Diego, offering an easy way to make a weekend of it by taking your family to the zoo or beach or any of the other sites San Diego (www.sandiego.org) has to offer.
The place: Hidden Meadow Ranch, in the mountains, 15 miles from Greer, Arizona
The personality: For the entrepreneur who wants to stay active, even during their downtime
Why go here: You're unlikely to want to stay in your guest cabin for too long--there's no TV, for starters, and very poor phone service--but that's good. It would interfere with your horseback riding, your fly-fishing, your leatherworking, your archery classes and your arts and crafts workshops, which are all included in your room rate, which is substantial ($595 a night in the summer for two; additional guests are $150 a night; kids 4 to 11, $75 per child). But you can count on never being bored. Even without the structured activities, the ranch is located along 2,000 miles of hiking and riding trails, and you can explore caves and canoe the Little Colorado River.
If you want to go somewhere else in the region: If you're a workaholic who needs to always be doing something productive, you could spend a three-day weekend at the Best Friends Animal Society sanctuary (www.bestfriends.org/atthesanctuary/angelcanyon/visitorfaq.cfm) in Kanab, Utah. Numerous families travel here, spending most of their time helping out with the animals the sanctuary rescues, including dogs, cats, horses, birds and rabbits. In your downtime, or after your animal adventure, go take in the breathtaking scenery of nearby Lake Powell, Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon. If you're an entrepreneur with young kids, consider Santa Fe, New Mexico, which, aside from its attractive craggy mountainous and desert scenery, has some wonderful opportunities for family hiking (try the Aspen Vista lot at Hyde Memorial State Park), a quirky children's museum, (www.santafechildrensmuseum.org) and the Santa Fe Southern Railway, which takes families on a 36-mile round trip at speeds of no more than 10 miles an hour, allowing kids the opportunity to stand on an uncovered flatbed car, letting the wind blow through their hair.
BEYOND THE "LOWER 48"
The place: Kona Village Resort on the island of Hawaii
The personality: For the entrepreneur who's looking for a place that truly fits the term "vacation destination"
Why go here: Almost any spot in this island paradise would be a good choice if you were traveling to Hawaii, but since we've got to choose something, why not try Kona Village Resort? It prides itself on being the perfect place for a busy, harried entrepreneur or executive to get away from it all. It's only 20 minutes from the Kona International Airport and right on the spectacular Kohala Coast. You'll be staying in a thatched roof cottage, dripping in luxury but not technology--there are no radios, phones or televisions. So get a massage or attend a stargazing lecture, since this region's lack of pollution and city lights affords some amazing views of the galaxy. Then snorkle, go fishing, or poke around Kahuwai Bay at the front of the resort, where turtles and manta rays frequently feed. Or maybe you'll want to take a ukulele lesson, learn how to make a lei, go on a shell-hunting expedition or try any one of the many activities the resort staff organizes. And don't forget to save time for walking barefoot along the beautiful sandy beaches.
If you want to go somewhere else: Not interested in a Pacific island getaway? How about visiting the city of Talkeetna (www.alaskan.com/talkeetnadenali), two hours north of Anchorage, Alaska. It's unique because it's basically been untouched by commercialism and offers plenty of nature and family activities. Or if you're anywhere near Puerto Rico (www.puertorico.com), the west side of the island--particularly Boquerón Beach--has a lot to offer. In Boquerón, you'll find everything from bars and beaches to surfing and diving opportunities, and nearby, if you're the nature sort or if you have kids, you can check out the Cabo Rojo National Wildlife Refuge or the Mayagüez Zoo, Puerto Rico's only zoo.
Geoff Williams has written for numerous publications, including Entrepreneur, Consumer Reports, LIFE and Entertainment Weekly. He also is the author of Living Well with Bad Credit.