With 7.4 billion people (and counting) on this tiny blue planet, it can feel like you're constantly fighting for space, especially in major cities where every square foot counts. The truth is there's still plenty of room on this earth where you can escape the crowds (and your stuff) and enjoy mind-clearing solitude. You don't have to go far to find these tranquil territories. Science says any nearby green space will do.
A 2015 study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that spending time in the great outdoors may have positive effects on the brain. Researchers observed 38 healthy, adult urbanites before and after they either took a 90-minute stroll in either a quiet park or along a loud highway. Those who partook in the nature walk showed significant improvements in their mental health--they were calmer and didn't brood as much over negative aspects of their life--compared to their counterparts who endured less soothing surroundings.
If you want to go farther, see more, and reconnect with the vast beauty of nature, we have some amazing destinations for you. While a few locations listed here may already be on your bucket list, we aimed to dig up mostly lesser-known landscapes and under-appreciated parks, plus a few wellness and yoga retreats around the globe where you can take a much-needed time-out from the hustle and bustle and find sweet silence, space, and serenity now.
1. Virginia Coast Reserve, Virginia
Escape to one of 10 uninhabited barrier islands that the Nature Conservancy has made accessible to the public. There is no overnight access (meaning, plan day trips only), but visitors can surf cast (fish from or near the shoreline), watch thousands of beach-nesting shorebirds, or be lulled into an afternoon nap by the crashing Atlantic waves.
2. Big Sur, California
This 90-mile-long sanctuary of Central California Coastline where the Santa Lucia Mountains dramatically plunge into the Pacific is a breathtaking sight. At Esalen Institute, practicing yoga and meditation and eating nourishing organic food have been the daily rhythm for more than half a century.
3. American Prairie Reserve, Montana
Take an American-style safari in this ever-expanding 353,104-acre reserve, where conservation partners are working to restore the Great Plains to pristine Lewis and Clark conditions. Camp in a luxurious yurt, which is plenty close to the elk, mule deer, and bison.
4. Patagonia Park, Chile
This private playground is a 200,000-acre former ranch in northern Patagonia's Valle Chacabuco. It sits between massive General Carrera Lake and a range of unnamed, snow-capped peaks. In the Austral summer, from October 1 to April 30, fly-fish, kayak the turquoise Rio Baker, roam miles of hiking trails that lead to secret alpine lakes, then sink into a leather sofa in the soaring great room of the newly completed stone lodge.
5. Kenauk Nature, Montebello, Quebec, Canada
Fishing is a meditative act. There's no better place to practice it than on this 65,000-acre private estate. Fly cast for rainbow and speckled trout, or fish from a boat for small and largemouth bass or northern pike. Retire to a rustic, post-and-beam chalet and fall asleep in the cool, clean northern air.
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