16 Places to Play Next Weekend

EAST

Ontario, Paddle Like a Canadian
Like cross-checking and the ability to travel anywhere on Earth with impunity, paddling whitewater in a canoe may seem embedded in Canadian genes. But it's actually a learned skill that's expertly taught at Madawaska Kanu Centre on the Madawaska River, 125 miles east of Ottawa. Owners Claudia and Dirk Van Wijk are both former national whitewater champions and host their charges in a chalet-style lodge--right on the river--that serves up big buffets befitting stoked strokers. The dam-controlled Madawaska flows dependably and warm from Class I to IV, making it ideal for aspiring paddlers or experts looking to hone their skills for a summer of solo or tandem canoeing. Weekend courses run May through August ($390, including meals; owl-mkc.ca/mkc).

Massachusetts, Be a VIP in the Vineyard
It's easy to forget you're in Martha's Vineyard in May, before the 100,000 or so city folk descend on the island. That is, until you realize you're hiking on the five-mile Carly Simon Trail. The dune-skirting path runs right up to Winnetu Oceanside Resort ($225; winnetu.com), which overlooks South Beach, the island's most tranquil strand--think stone fireplace, views of breaching whales, a three-mile bike path ride to Edgartown for breakfast at Espresso Love. Say the word and the inn will have a road bike delivered to your stoop ($50). Or stick close to your nest and paddle Poucha Pond while oystercatchers and kingfishers streak by ($46 for a half-day kayak tour). Pretty dang peaceful. For now.

North Carolina, Surf Sitting Down
"No wave is ever the same while surf kayaking," says Lindsay Usher, who has placed as high as fifth in the world in the sport. "It's an awesome feeling to drop into a wave and figure out where to get the most speed." Usher is partial to the Outer Banks, where the wind dictates the best spots--e.g., First Street in Kill Devil Hills, around milepost 10--13 in Nags Head. Best plan is to bed down at the Ramada ($102; ramada.com) and stop in at Kitty Hawk Kayak and Surf School, where Usher teaches her craft ($65; khkss.com). Or rent a sit-on-top from Kitty Hawk Sports in Nags Head ($29; kittyhawksports.com). With small surf and a couple of hours in the saddle, you'll be cutting in the curl of a once-in-a-lifetime wave.

Virginia, Cruise the Creeper
The mountainous southwest corner of Virginia is home to perhaps the easiest mountain bike trail in the world. It's called the Virginia Creeper, a 33-mile limestone rail-trail, which descends gently for 17 miles from Whitetop (3,500 feet) to Damascus (1,910 feet) and then flattens out for a 16-mile run to Abingdon. Make two days of it by base-camping at Creeper Trail Cottages in Damascus ($125; creepercottage.com) and shuttling to Whitetop with Adventure Damascus ($23 for bike and shuttle; adventuredamascus.com). Ride through lush forests and over pristine trout streams, and stop at the Creeper Trail Caf? for lunch (somebody'll be pickin' and singin'). The next day, shuttle down to Abingdon and ride back to Damascus.

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