We asked some of our well-traveled friends where they go to escape summer’s heat, and the response was nearly unanimous. Oregon. While Texans love Colorado and New Mexico for their proximity and familiarity, the Oregon coast is an outdoor lover’s dream. Portland is a fine place to visit, too, but we’d rather leave city life behind, at least for a few days. Like all destinations that resemble paradise, Oregon’s popular spots get crowded. But we’re OK to share a hiking trail with others when we’re reveling in 65-degree weather in August, especially on the northern Oregon coast, where it’s often the chilliest. There’s something about experiencing light snow and sleet when you know it’s 105 degrees in Texas. That’s a goosebump-filled memory we stash away for when we return. We also can’t get enough of Haystack Rock, the Oregon icon at Cannon Beach, or the sea stars and other creatures visible at low tide. Remember, it’s look and don’t touch, as the area is a state-protected wildlife refuge. (Check out cannonbeach.org for lots of helpful info.) We suggest sleuthing out an Airbnb as a way to meet the friendly locals. They are a great source of information on what to see and do. Hold that thought for planning your next visit.
San Miguel de Allende
There’s magic in the air, laughter everywhere, jacarandas in blue. Fort Worth-born singer-songwriter Delbert McClinton captures San Miguel de Allende perfectly in that single line from his slow and sexy song bearing the name of the Spanish Colonial city in Mexico. McClinton spent a lot of time there with fellow musicians, not because it was a party place, but because it was quiet. Today, there’s a good chance you’ll run into someone you know, as the Mexican city is quite popular with Texans and is full of expats, most of whom will lament how much better things used to be. But it’s the locals — and the food, the gorgeous flowers that bloom year-round and the hamstring-stretching cobblestone streets — that still make it magical. Most residents are friendly, helpful and gracious. Is there crime? Of course. Having your wits about you is the best prevention. But we digress. We’re thinking ahead to summer’s bliss when everything is lush and green. It is the rainy season and the nights are a bit warm but still much cooler than in Texas. And an afternoon or evening shower is the perfect time to sip coffee in a local cafe. When it tapers off, opt for a glass of wine on the patio of that amazing house you rented or head to the Rosewood hotel’s Luna Rooftop Tapas Bar for a margarita. And remember what else Delbert said about San Miguel. It’s easy to fall in love. Check with your favorite travel agent for places to stay in San Miguel. There are many homes for rent, and they typically include a cook and cleaning staff. — Meda Kessler
Salishan Resort This historic property, located two hours outside of Portland, offers 201 guest rooms on 250 acres. It’s family-friendly, and there are 40 pet-permissible rooms. Learn more at salishan.com. Go outside Enjoy strolls along Salishan’s own beach, nature trails, pool, sauna, various lawn games including bocce and croquet, and a glass of Oregon wine before embarking on a 45-minute art walk. Take part in meditative forest bathing, various nature retreats and general meditation. There are also an Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary-certified golf course, eco-kayaking, and mountain biking.
We could head for the beach come summer’s blast, be it our own, sugary Florida strands or pebbly New England shores. Truth is, we like our sand with a bit more grit. For us, the West Texas high desert is one big spa, a monument to breathing deep, with exfoliation a gusty day’s bonus. The slow climb into
big sky country promises days in the 90s, a dry sauna that soothes and cools down with altitude. Stargazing temps top out in the 70s. But it’s not just about those stars at night; the antelope still roam and, oh, the vistas. Go west.
Rocks, rivers, mountains
It has been called the Great Spirit’s post-creation waste heap. But what champion-of-all-things-Lone Star Amon G. Carter Sr. saw in West Texas was a magnificent amalgam of mountain, forest, desert, rock and river. One of the Star-Telegram publisher’s fondest dreams was realized in 1944, when Big Bend National Park was officially established. The New Deal’s Civilian Conservation Corps built roads, stone-and-adobe cottages, culverts, picnic areas and hiking trails still enjoyed today. Celebrating the 75th anniversary of this remote Texas treasure can be as simple as walking two-minutes to The Window, a magical feature in the Chisos Mountains Basin with a view of Amon Carter Peak; or backpacking for days in the outback. Short and happy half-day hikes include one to Hot Springs, where you’ll find an abandoned hotel, post office and, open to soaking, geothermally heated water bubbling up among more ghost town ruins right on the Rio Grande. Picnics up in the basin promise temps 10 to 15 degrees cooler than the desert expanses. Not to miss: the five-minute rowboat trip across the river to the Mexican village of Boquillas for good tacos, cold beer and craft souvenirs (the port of entry like no other is open Wednesday through Sunday for those with a valid passport). New lodgings just outside the park entrance at Terlingua include Fossil Knob Ridge, two stylishly outfitted shipping-container guesthouses designed and owned by Chase Kincannon, a native of Morgan Mill (from $114 per night at fossilknobridge.com). Another choice is Agave Terlingua, a duo of luxe stucco casitas from former Fort Worth brewmaster Tony Drewry. Expect every possible comfort plus outdoor showers with a view of the stunning night sky (from $179 at agaveterlingua.com).