Get Outdoors in the West

There’s never been a better time to embrace a fresh start surrounded by Mother Nature. So let’s get out there! We rounded up some of our favorite outdoor adventures in the Western U.S., Northeastern U.S., and Southern U.S., from lesser-known national parks to otherworldly destinations that are closer than you think — all within driving distance to Independent Collection’s unique hotels and resorts. 

Won’t you join us? Explore our destinations and book your stay today. 


Bright, green mountains. Dense forests and jagged sea cliffs. Towering trees that reach the heavens. If jaw-dropping natural landscapes are what you seek, America’s west coast is an excellent place to start.

El Paso — The Plaza Hotel Pioneer Park

The Plaza Hotel Pioneer Park is an El Paso icon, and it has been since the 1930s. While the landmark hotel may be best known as a glamorous hideaway for Old Hollywood’s starlets, this newly reimagined property is a quick drive from scenic adventures. 

Mountains aren’t exactly what come to mind when you think of Texas. But rock climbers and hikers will be thrilled to find the Franklin Mountains (25 min.) These rugged desert trails are tough, but the views are oh so worth it. Hike El Paso’s most challenging trail, the Ron Coleman, and you’ll be rewarded with a bird’s eye view of America’s south and Mexico’s north.

For a more leisurely stroll, check out El Paso’s Municipal Rose Garden (10 min.), a four-acre hidden gem that’s blooming with 1,500 rose bushes of 430 rose varieties. 

Another hidden gem in El Paso is Ho Baren’s Sculpture Garden, also located 10 minutes away from The Plaza. Great for art lovers of the strange and surreal, this public garden is technically located at the artist’s private residence, though anyone is welcome to wander through. Get up close to 12 life-sized, surreal sculptures or give Ho a call for a private tour. He’ll happily walk you through his home, sharing his creative practices and the meticulous detail behind each work. 

After a day of exploring El Paso’s unique personality, it’s time for a drink. Head back to The Plaza for a mezcal tasting at La Perla, the hotel’s lively rooftop lounge, and savor the views with every sip.

Menlo Park — Hotel Nia

Up in northern California is Hotel Nia, the newest addition to Independent Collection. While Hotel Nia is centrally located between urban cities like San Francisco, San Jose and Palo Alto, quiet, nature-filled havens are also within reach. 

Start off at the Edgewood Park and Natural Preserve (20 min.), where you’ll find magnificent displays of wildflowers each spring. Encompassing 467 acres, Edgewood Park is home to over 550 different plants and a variety of wildlife, including nesting bald eagles and native butterfly species. Take a self-guided tour through the serpentine grasslands, and enjoy views of the San Francisco Bay along the way. 

If a relaxing picnic is more your style, drive to Portolo Redwoods National Park (1 hr.), the more secluded and lesser-known sister of Big Basin. But be prepared — this place is as rural as it is tranquil, and few amenities are available to visitors.

How about a hike with ocean views? Point Reyes National Seashore (1 hr., 45 min.) offers 150 miles of trails, plus a 30-foot waterfall on the beach and excellent vantage points for watching whale migrations and sunbathing elephant seals.

Monterey Bay — The Sanctuary Beach Resort

Located on the Pacific coastline, The Sanctuary Beach Resort is an oceanfront playground for those who like to pair outdoor activities with shopping, fine dining, and wine tastings in between. 

Marina State Beach (5 min.) is a must for thrill-seekers. This place is a global destination for hang gliding thanks to steady winds and unbelievable views from above. 

At the Monterey Recreation Trail (15 min.), rent a surrey (a quadricycle for up to 6 riders) and bike along the sparkling coastline, get active with in-line skating or enjoy a scenic picnic with a bottle of wine from a local winery.

Sky-high heights not your thing? Chill out earthside with a game of golf at the world-famous Pebble Beach (20 min.), one of the top-rated public golf courses in America. 

Or hit the road for a spectacular drive through Big Sur (1 hr.), Southern California’s famous, rugged coastline. This 90-mile stretch is home to otherworldly landscapes shaped by canyons, cliffs, turquoise ocean, waterfalls, beaches, and so much more. Go for a hike, cycle the winding roads, or pop into a local restaurant for lunch with unbelievable views. Whatever you choose, don’t forget your camera!

Santa Barbara — Hotel Milo

Located in southern California, Hotel Milo is within close reach to spectacular, oceanfront wilderness. 

Just a few minutes drive from downtown Santa Barbara, Los Padres is California’s second largest national forest and a playground for mountain biking, hiking, and horseback riding. Keep your eyes peeled, and you may catch a glimpse of black bears, mountain lions, and bald eagles, too! On your drive back to Hotel Milo, cool off with a dip in one of many nearby hot springs, and be sure to stop by the Chumash Painted Cave (20 min.), a historic site that preserves some of the most pristine rock art by native Chumash people. 

Adventurous travelers should venture to Channel Islands (35 min. drive + ferry), a chain of five primitive islands surrounded by the Pacific Ocean. Accessible only by boat or plane, Channel Islands were once home to Chumash tribes over 13,000 years ago. Today, travelers can snorkel ancient sea caves, surf the islands’ fierce waves, and hike steep mountain ranges for incredible ocean views.

Santa Monica — The Ambrose Hotel

Where Hollywood’s glitz and glamour meets California’s coastal coolness. Located in a residential neighborhood of Downtown Los Angeles, The Ambrose Hotel is surrounded by fun, outdoor experiences for every kind of traveler.

In Santa Monica, world-class fishing is at your fingertips. Aboard a private charter from Marina Del Rey (20 min.) and cast your line for Rockfish and Halibut, or venture to Santa Catalina Island to hook trophies like Bluefin, Yellowtail Tuna and enormous Grouper. For a quintessential LA experience, try your luck at the iconic Santa Monica Pier (10 min.), a popular destination for tourists and local fishermen alike.

Along the Santa Monica Mountains (30 min.), take your pick of scenery and sport. How about mountain biking through Malibu Creek State Park (35 min.), or horseback riding through the famous Paramount Ranch (45 min.), a former film set for Western movies? 

If a leisurely afternoon is more your speed, rent a bike and cruise along the longest oceanfront bicycle trail in the world at Will Rogers Beach (15 min.), stopping to explore whatever catches your eye. 

And the fun doesn’t stop when the sun goes down. At dusk, make your way to Santa Monica Beach (5 min.) for a silent disco with The WAVE, or drive to the Sandstone Trailhead (1 hr.) for spectacular stargazing.

Wherever you dare to travel, Independent Collection offers a unique hotel or resort to call your home away from home. Explore our portfolio of one-of-a-kind, independently-minded hotels and resorts here.

View more outdoor adventures in the Northeastern U.S., and Southern U.S.