A Wealth of Winter Wellness Options Help Visitors ‘Unplug’ and Refresh

Digital detox trips help travelers find peace; reconnect with nature, family and friends

Ohio’s Hocking Hills offers an unmatched opportunity to refresh and rejuvenate this winter. From therapeutic spa treatments to a salt cave and nature therapy, travelers can revive in a place where wellbeing is fostered at every step. Whether planning a solo trip or reconnecting with family and friends, the region’s stunning, natural setting offers a wealth of options for nurturing body and mind. Research has long shown that immersing oneself in nature, which abounds in the Hocking Hills, offers a multitude of health and well-being benefits.

Hocking Hills offers several yoga studios, retreats and individual custom yoga classes, whether you practice in your cozy cabin or experience the healing of yoga beside a whispering waterfall. For those who enjoy a solo practice, the backdrop of Hocking Hills State Park or any of the region’s spectacular natural settings is particularly restorative.

Those seeking detox and improved breathing and lung function will find the restful experience of halotherapy is the cure. Hocking Hills Serenity Salt Cave is described as a sacred space where visitors can relax, unplug, unwind and find peace from hectic days and daily stressors of life. Inside the handcrafted salt cave, walls are lined with massive Himalayan salt boulders and a bed of Himalayan granulated salt covers the floor. Millions of years old and sourced directly from the Himalayas, it contains 84 trace minerals absorbable by the human body. Guests are encouraged to close their eyes, relax and just breathe for 45 restful minutes as pure salt is diffused into the air and negative ions are released to promote calmness. Lights are dimmed as guests recline in zero-gravity chairs. The salt’s antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties help heal a variety of respiratory, skin and emotional conditions. All-natural and chemical-free, halotherapy is proven to reduce inflammation, widen airways and improve immune function.

Hocking Hills Sauna Pods offer the unusual experience of enjoying a warming sauna treatment surrounded by lush woodlands. Offered by the hour – or available for longer periods – these unique sauna pods are a wonderful way to unwind after a hike on any of the area’s many gorgeous trails. According to the Mayo Clinic, sauna bathing’s benefits go beyond pleasure and relaxation. Emerging evidence suggests several health benefits, including reduced vascular diseases such as high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.

Visitors can truly unwind as aches and pains are soothed with a rejuvenating massage on the private deck of their own cabin in the woods with any of the area’s traveling massage therapists. Several spas dot the Hills (with more coming online in 2022), offering every imaginable treatment, from hot stone therapy and salt scrubs to facials, hand and foot treatments and side-by-side massage. A few of the area spas and traveling therapists include Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls, Ash Cave Day Spa, Inner Wisdom Wellness, Blue Valley Massage and Natural Remedies.

Most cabins and lodges in the Hocking Hills offer a private hot tub. Soaking in a bubbling hot spa under a sea of stars at the end of the day has benefits well beyond simply providing a magical experience. The swirling hot water helps with arthritis and fibromyalgia pain, inflammation and stiffness, lowers blood sugar, increases blood flow, reduces stress and anxiety, improves sleep and treats athletic injury or soreness.

High Rock Adventures recently launched Nature Therapy, a three-hour guided experience for groups of six or fewer. While availability is dependent on weather, trained guides help guests use all of their senses to connect more deeply with the forest. Based on the Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing, Nature Therapy is based on the belief that humans are part of the web of life and their psyches are not independent of their environment. Building a relationship with nature has been shown to have both mental and physical benefits, including helping with anxiety, depression, burnout and stress. As it quiets the mind, Nature Therapy is proven to restore attention capacity, lower blood pressure, calm pulse rates and lower production of cortisol, the stress hormone. Not bathing in the traditional sense, forest bathing immerses practitioners in nature and is well documented to create lasting benefits for the mind, body and spirit. Travelers who are unable to book guided Nature Therapy can take a self-guided hike through any of the Hocking Hills’ miles and miles of trails and natural areas marked by soaring cliffs, craggy caves and gorgeous waterfalls, all of which are at their most spectacular with the frozen sparkle of winter.

For complete travel planning assistance, talk to your AAA Travel agent or visit AAA.com/Travel. Additional activities and lodging opportunities are outlined.

Amy Weirick runs her own travel-focused public relations agency, Weirick Communications, in Columbus, Ohio.

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