There’s not much better than facing challenging obstacles, knee-high mud, volts of electricity, nerve-wracking heights and everything else Tough Mudders throw at you with your friends by your side—or is there? What if you could throw down at a Tough Mudder, then check out a farm-to-table restaurant in the Hudson Valley or hop on a paddle board at Tahoe? What if recovery looked like an acai bowl in Miami Beach or a slow hike overlooking Arizona’s Grand Canyon? What if the after party was (almost) as fun as the main event (Tough Mudder, that is)? Spoiler alert: there’s something even better than a Tough Mudder, and that’s running a Tough Mudder in one of these epic locations. Your top 5 Tough Mudder designations await.
1. Hudson Valley, New York
Hudson Valley is only 90 minutes outside of the bustle and noise of New York City, but it feels like a world away. A National Geographic Traveler “top 20 must-see destinations in the world,” the Hudson Valley is an oasis of gorgeous vistas, plentiful hiking trails, difficult climbs, organic farm stands, and cozy bed-and-breakfasts. Extending 150 miles between Manhattan and Albany, the Hudson Valley is a 10-county region that offers almost more outdoor activities than there are dining options, which says a lot, since the valley is home to local cuisine. Get on the Appalachian Trail, founded in 1923, for a taste of the 2,200 mile-long route, or try a wetter kind of adventure by kayaking the Hudson with Mountain Tops Kayaking. Want to practice your grip-strength? Head to the Mohonk Preserve to try sport climbing—the preserve gets 80,000 climbing visitors each year. Post-workout, refuel at Miss Lucy’s Kitchen, a farm-to-table restaurant featuring dishes like Northwind Farm Turkey Confit Pot Pie, or get ready for your Tough Mudder with a pre-event meal like Coconut Carrot French Toast at The Love Bites Cafe. Looking to crash at a place that feels like home? Barclay Heights Bed & Breakfast at Smythe House is your home-away-from-home a la Victorian Cottage. Enjoy a chef-prepared breakfast, a comfortable room, and a jacuzzi to relax after giving it your all out on course. Convinced? Sign up HERE.
Miami is one of Florida’s, let alone the world’s, top vacation spots, which makes it the perfect destination for a Tough Mudder, followed up by a true beach vacation. Start your trip with a bang (preferably after you’ve toughed it out on course) by visiting Key West, an island known for margaritas, white sand beaches, and seven-toed cats, thanks to famed author Ernest Hemingway’s home—a great museum visit in its own right. Back on the mainland, explore the Biscayne Maritime Heritage Trail to learn more about the park’s six shipwrecks (and yes, you can snorkel around the base of Fowey Rocks Lighthouse.) Is the beach more your style? Amble down to Haulover Beach Park, this year’s New Times “Best of Miami Beach” winner. Looking to come home with a tan (we know you’re pale under all of that compression gear)? If you park between lifeguard towers 12 and 16, you’re beached at the top-clothing optional spot in the United States. It’s your call what you do with that information. After you’ve worked up an appetite, head to Doa for a mouth-watering taste of just how good ceviche (that’s marinated raw fish) can be. For a cheap and authentic meal, head to El Palacio de los Jugos, an outdoor food market featuring everything from arepas to tamales to yucas fritas. Pair it with juiced guava or pineapple or a coco frio and you’re good to go. Convinced? Sign up HERE.
Tahoe happens to be the largest alpine lake in the United States. Add to that the fact that it has stunning hiking, powder-perfect ski slopes, and even decent night life and Tahoe is pretty much as good as it gets. Throw in a Tough Mudder and you’re really living the dream. Post-Mudder, head to Emerald Bay State Park, one of the prettiest views in Tahoe, and perhaps all of California. Take a dip in the water (you know ice baths are good for your muscles!) or head to Vikingsholm Trail, a one-mile hike that leads to a 38-room Scandinavian mansion. Looking for a longer way to shake out the legs? Check out Five Lakes, a local favorite for its views of five pristine alpine lakes—all to be seen within a day. If you’d rather get out onto the water (not to mention work on that upper body strength), try out SUP Tahoe to paddle board your way around the lake (or part of it, at least.) After a day outside, fuel up at Tahoe’s south shore. Located in Heavenly Village, Base Camp Pizza Co. is the perfect pick for a heartier meal; for veggie enthusiasts, try Driftwood Cafe for a healthy selection of sandwiches, salads, soups, omelettes and waffles. To cap off the night, head to Cold Water Brewery & Grill for a locally made cold one. Convinced? Sign up HERE.
When you think of Arizona, what do you imagine? If your answers are cactus and scorching sun, you’re right, but the Grand Canyon State is incredibly diverse. Crush your Tough Mudder in Phoenix, then head north to the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. Feeling up for a tough hike? Bring plenty of water and nutrition, then hike out on the South Kaibab Trail for views of the Colorado River, almost a mile below. Looking for other options that aren’t so, well, large? You can’t beat Sedona for its red slick rock and countless hiking trails. One great option is the West Fork Oak Creek Canyon Trail. Surrounded by shading pines and following a pleasant creek, this 6-mile round-trip hike is the perfect reprieve. Not looking to stray far from the Mudder course? South Mountain is a nearby park and preserve that Phoenix locals head to when they’re looking to get their workout on. Tired and hungry? You’re never far from good food, not matter where in the state you are. In Flagstaff, head to Diablo Burger for grass-fed burgers unlike any you’ve tired before; in Phoenix, check out Pizzeria Bianco, proclaimed “bucket list pizza.” No matter your taste, you really can’t go wrong with this destination. Convinced? Sign up HERE.
Kentucky is home to more than just horses, farms, and beautiful rolling hills—in fact, you’re missing out if you solely spend your time at the famous Kentucky Derby. Post-Mudder, don your hiking boots and check out Mammoth Cave National Park, which is part of the world’s longest known cave system. Take a cave tour, then head out on any of the 84 miles of trail in the park. Not into caves? The Red River Gorge offers sandstone arches, cliffs, and a myriad of outdoor activities, like kayaking, biking, hiking, and camping. Looking to relax a little more? Take the Kentucky Bourbon Trail to learn everything you never knew (and some) about bourbon, or sip wine as you tour Kentucky’s vineyards—home to the first commercial vineyard in the country. For an upscale meal that is every bit delicious as it is historic, visit Dudley’s on Short. Located in a circa-1889 Northern Bank Building, the restaurant offers dishes like Buttermilk Fried Chicken Skin, Brown Sugar Roasted Pumpkin Bisque, and Wilted Brussel Sprouts Salad. In the mood for something a little more casual (and a lot more social, given the number of new friends you’ve made during your latest Tough Mudder)? Try Smoketown U.S.A., which, as the name implies, is the best place to go for all of your smoked meat needs. What better way to celebrate another Mudder in the bank than with soul food cooking? Convinced? Sign up HERE.