6 Warm-Weather Adventures | Midwest Living

6 Warm-Weather Adventures

Trade in winter's chill for these expeditions to a sunny dude ranch, a mystical subterranean river, breezy adventures along the Rio Grande and more.

Conquer Cajun Country

Zydeco music fills the sultry winter nights west of the Mississippi River. The Atchafalaya Basin offers plenty of scenery, entertainment—and alligators. Warm your taste buds at Avery Island with a tour of the Tabasco plant, before meandering through the lush and vibrant 170-acre Jungle Gardens and Bird City. Located on one of five salt dome islands on the Louisiana Gulf Coast, this is the kind of adventure you just can't find back home (800/40GUMBO or 800/404-8626; atchafalaya.org).

Atchafalaya National Heritage Area

Conquer Cajun Country

Zydeco music fills the sultry winter nights west of the Mississippi River. The Atchafalaya Basin offers plenty of scenery, entertainment—and alligators. Warm your taste buds at Avery Island with a tour of the Tabasco plant, before meandering through the lush and vibrant 170-acre Jungle Gardens and Bird City. Located on one of five salt dome islands on the Louisiana Gulf Coast, this is the kind of adventure you just can't find back home (800/40GUMBO or 800/404-8626; atchafalaya.org).

Atchafalaya National Heritage Area

Run Like a River

The West is still wild in southwest Texas. Experience just how wild at Big Bend National Park, which got its name from the curve in the Rio Grande that proves everything really is bigger in Texas. Surrounded by more than 1 million acres of public land, you'll have no problem filling your time with hiking, river rafting, horseback riding and backcountry vehicle tours (visitbigbend.com).

Brewster County Tourism Council

Vegas, Baby

There's more to Vegas than slot machines and buffets. Sprawling red mountains greet hikers, rock climbers and cyclists at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation area, just 20 miles west of the Strip. Out at Lake Mead, visitors eschew video poker machines for houseboat rentals and stargazing. And if the quiet is too much, seven different Cirque du Soleil shows are minutes away (877/847-4858; visitlasvegas.com).

Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority

Welcome to the Jungle

Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula isn't all about white-sand beaches and seaside resorts. Much of the region is undeveloped, making for a truly authentic adventure. The 81-mile area known as the Riviera Maya boasts jungle, subterranean rivers, the world's second largest off-shore coral reef, Mayan ruins and more. With charming Mexican inns, open-air cafes, endless shoreline and average daily temperature highs in the 80s, you'll feel worlds away from the chills of home (rivieramaya.com).

Riviera Maya

Tunnel Vision

Arkansas' Ozarks brim with caves, caverns, sinkholes and underground rivers ripe for exploration. Visitors at Blanchard Springs Caverns in Mountain View tunnel through subterranean tubes into areas rarely seen on the Wild Caves Tour. Those who prefer to remain upright wander 200 feet into the earth to view stalactites, stalagmites and flowstones. Awaken your inner spelunker and come on down! The caves even stay warm (50s-60s) in winter (800/264-0316; ozarkgetaways.com).

Mountain View Chamber of Commerce

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