The West's best reasons to play hooky ― from mountain hideaways and desert opulence to outdoor adventures and romantic restaurants
10 midweek escapes for two
 Rachel Weill


1. Sample sushi and cycle on the bay
Make like a tourist and enjoy the views: Rent a bicycle built for two at Blazing Saddles (from $7 per hour; 2715 Hyde St.; 415/202-8888) near San Francisco’s Aquatic Park. Cross the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito, with the water in sight the whole route. Stroll the Riviera-like waterfront (you’ll want to hold hands for this). Warm up with hot sake and a chef-dictated meal at Sushi Ran ($$$; 107 Caledonia St.; 415/332-3620). Time to go home? Hop a ferry ($7.10; 415/455-2000). Why should visitors have all the fun? -Ken McAlpine


2. Mt. Hood Bed & Breakfast
East of rainy Portland, winter awaits ― with fresh powder and blue skies common on this side of the Cascades. Snuggle into a cottage at this family-run farmhouse on 42 glorious acres. Snowshoes are yours for stomps through the meadow, but bring some cross-country skis if you want to glide out your door. Hit Elliot Glacier Public House ( $; 541/352-1022) down the road before falling asleep fireside. Morning’s homemade German pancakes ease the pain of real-world reentry. INFO: From $145, including breakfast; 800/557-8885. -Rachel Levin


3. Solage Calistoga Resort
Experience the wine-country-spa-infused-foodie-heaven thing at the new Solage. Book the 120-minute Mudslide experience for two ($210), a sophisticated take on the century-old tradition of the Calistoga mud bath that includes a bake in a spacious sauna with a specially blended cocktail of mud and essential oils, a soak in the area’s famous thermal waters, and a swaddled rest in a “sound chair,” which pulses to the New Age music on your headphones. To prolong the good life, lounge by the mineral pool and sip a sparkling sake cocktail. INFO: 866/942-7442. -Samantha Schoech


4. Salish Lodge & Spa
You could be lying in front of a fireplace with hot rocks between your toes, the highlight of the Duet Heated River Rock Massage ($118 per person). Loll about post-treatment under a hot waterfall in the hydrotherapy room. For views of a decidedly colder waterfall, look out (from most of the guest rooms) at the Snoqualmie River tumbling 268 feet down a canyon. If lying around isn’t your thing, you can sandwich the 5-mile round-trip hike to the falls between your massage and the tasting menu ($$$$). INFO: From $225; 800/272-5474. -Jenny CunninghamTAOS SKI VALLEY, NM

5. Head for a mountain hideaway
There’s no better excuse for playing hooky than the Bavarian Lodge and Restaurant, a European-style chalet secluded in the spruces. The four airy suites ooze Old World alpine elegance, with hand-painted murals, four-poster beds, and great views. Downstairs, the restaurant ($$$) serves gourmet Wienerschnitzel. Fresh powder outside your door pretty much guarantees you won’t make that morning meeting. INFO: From $300, including breakfast; 505/776-8020. -Katie Arnold


6. Decompress in the desert
Sprawled across 30-plus cactus- and palm-studded acres at the edge of Joshua Tree National Park, the 29 Palms Inn is what chilling in the desert is all about. You’re as likely to encounter jack-rabbits as other guests, though the restaurant ($$) serves as a gathering spot with live jazz and organic meals fashioned from the inn’s large garden. When you’re ready to explore, pack a picnic and head to the Ryan Mountain Trail, where you may get first peek at the cream-colored blooms of the Joshua trees. INFO: From $90; 760/367-3505. -Laura Randall


7. Cold Spring Tavern
At this historic tavern in the oak-strewn mountains behind Santa Barbara, it’s easy to feel as if you’ve stepped back into an older, slower, and considerably less slick California. The former 1860s stagecoach stop offers rustic comfort food – the tavern claims to have been the first to serve ranch dressing ― and exotic meats like boar and venison. With animal heads adorning the wood-paneled walls and lanterns lighting your table, the place packs unbeatable charm. It’s no wonder little has changed in more than 60 years. INFO: $$$; 805/967-0066. -Matt Kettmann


8. Mill Creek Canyon
Pick any trail up Mill Creek Canyon in the Wasatch-Cache National Forest and you’re guaranteed a day of quiet, beautiful skiing (or snowshoeing). But the best comes afterward at the Log Haven Restaurant, a sanctuary of warmth in the snow. Sip soup by the light of an oil lamp from a perch next to wraparound windows. For a heartier meal, indulge in mountain-inspired comfort food like antelope with mushroom bread pudding or maple flan. INFO: $2.25 per vehicle; 801/466-6411. Log Haven: $$$; 801/272-8255. -Jenie Skoy


9. The Colorado Chautauqua
This park has so much to offer, you may never want to leave. Snowshoe or cross-country ski through the surrounding forests. Lunch in the Dining Hall ($), where the menu of mostly local fare includes stick-to-your-ribs dishes like shepherd’s pie with Colorado lamb. Explore the grounds and many historic buildings. Canoodle over cocktails on the restaurant’s porch (be sure to check the schedule of events – you may be able to catch a concert, movie, or inspiring public talk). If the idea of heading home leaves you cold, stay in one of the cozy cottages (from $113). INFO: 303/442-3282. -Lori Midson


10. Cozy up creekside
With red-rock views and dazzling canyons, a drive through Sedona is a surefire way to get hearts aflutter. To really get things going, stop for lunch at L’Auberge de Sedona on the banks of Oak Creek, a place so romantic that a grass-stained knee doesn’t signal an accident but a proposal. Share wine, a grilled chicken-and-brie crisp, and the warmth of the stone fireplace at the inn’s creekside restaurant. Get even cozier by spending the night either in one of the 31 cottages along the creek or up the hill in a lodge room. INFO: L’Auberge Restaurant on Oak Creek: lunch $$$. Rooms from $195. 800/905-5778. -Nora Burba Trulsson

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