These days, it seems that everything your great-grandparents took for granted—think homegrown herbs or being “unplugged“—is now a trend, a conscious choice adopted en masse in order to restore balance to busy lifestyles.
Not only is it free, an anomaly as far as modern wellness services are concerned, but it also offers myriad health benefits: Studies show that spending time in a forest can boost your immune system, lower your blood pressure, reduce stress, improve your mood, increase your energy level, improve your sleep, and heighten your ability to focus. In other words, help you live your best life. What’s more, these plants emit chemicals called phytoncides, which some studies have shown to boost anti-cancer proteins by 40 percent. Anyone else feel like doing a little tree hugging?
Below are 9 of the most-epic forests in the world to visit for an all-natural wellness “spa” experience.
1. Arashiyama Bamboo Grove—Kyoto, Japan
You might not experience solitude at Arashiyama, as it’s Kyoto’s most Instagram-famous site, but a walk through these otherworldly trees will be one to remember, regardless.
2. Humboldt Redwoods State Park—Humboldt County, California
Coastal redwoods can grow to be over 300-feet tall, and some of the tallest ever recorded reside in this park, which offers over 100 miles of hiking trails.
3. Krzywy Las (AKA Crooked Forest)—Gryfino, Poland
These crazy pines were planted in 1930, and each bends sharply to the north just above ground before curving back upright. Nobody knows why or how they grew this way—it’s an enchanting mystery!
4. Green Mountain National Forest—Vermont
This 400-acre park includes three nationally designated trails, including part of the Appalachian Trail, plus plenty of places to take in all the gorgeous fall foliage.
5. Great Bear Rainforest—British Colombia, Canada
This coastal, temperate rainforest, located near both the mountains and the ocean, is one of the largest unspoiled tracks of rainforest in the world.
6. Great Smoky Mountains National Park—North Carolina and Tennessee
This park’s mountain range—AKA “the Smokies”—is one of America’s most famous. The area’s even been declared an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
7. Avenue of the Baobabs—Madagascar
Though the sparse surroundings of these “upside down” trees are part of what makes them so stunning, they actually signify something sad—deforestation. The 800-year old baobabs didn’t, originally, stand alone. And the preciousness of the remaining perennials makes them all the more enchanting to see IRL.
8. The Amazon Rainforest—Brazil
The Amazon covers nearly three million square miles of land and represents over half of the world’s remaining rainforests. But 60% of this tropical canopy is located in Brazil, making the South American country a must-add to your forest bathing travel bucket list.
9. Tongass National Forest—Alaska
Tongass is the largest natural forest in the United States—Alaska’s capital, Juneau, lies within its borders, FYI. But the remote wooded wonder offers more to explore than trees. Make time to hike its glaciers or take a dog sled ride, too.
And if you’re looking for more outside-of-the-box ways to de-stress naturally, try this silent sound bath or this totally free (and majorly fun) old-school relaxation method.