100 Woodland Pond Drive, Cary, and 8801 Glenwood Avenue, Raleigh
Who would have imagined that an interstate divides the two sides of paradise? If you leave Interstate 40 at exit 287, you'll soon find yourself with two very different but similarly named invitations to escape: the nearly six-thousand-acre oasis of William B. Umstead State Park to one side, and the extravagant Umstead Hotel & Spa to the other. With one, you can beat and bang your body through twisting trail runs and mountain bike passes both hidden and marked. You can wade into creeks, idle beside idyllic ponds, or camp in the woods. And, after any or all of those activities, you can flee to The Umstead for the night. It's a lavish facility of high-end food and drink, and rooms that often harbor visiting celebrities. But our advice, especially after a day rolling over roots in Umstead, is to lurk downstairs in the labyrinthine spa, which will put you in the lap of luxury just a few hundred feet away from the interstate.