Walden Pond, Massachusetts

Henry David Thoreau had a tendency to make his life in the woods sound a lot tougher than it actually was. The pond he made famous sits a short walk away from bustling Concord center (where his mother lived and did his laundry during his experiments in conscious living) and attracts Sox fans by the dozen on hot days. Visitors can swim out from the beach beneath the reconstruction of Thoreau's shack or walk around to the other side and take a dip in peace. Swimming across the glacial kettle-hole is a rite of passage for locals and a profoundly relaxing literary journey.