The scent of pine trees strengthens your immune system.

The mellifluous sound of birdsong increases the alpha waves in your brain, making you feel more calm.

The frontal cortex, which conducts the busy executive, organizing function of our brain, takes a break in nature, which helps us reboot and feel focused.

Do you need any more reason to head Up North, to be among all those healthful birds, trees and lakes?

I learned about those studies only recently, as I read reviews of “The Nature Fix,” a book by journalist Florence Williams ($27; W.W. Norton). The book — as yet unread, but on the top of my summer reading list — explores the growing body of scientific studies that link exposure to nature with our well-being.

“A few days in nature yields a 50 percent improvement in creativity, increases attention span, and lessens hyperactivity and aggression,” according to the Atlantic Monthly article that introduced me to Williams’ work.

I may not have known about the science, but I knew intuitively that the world of nature does me a world of good.

Hiking into the woods, away from the city, brings on a distinctive bliss. I feel more awake. The scent of the woods makes me happy. I used to frequent the Adirondacks in New York with a friend. As we approached her family’s home in the mountains, we would roll down the car windows to take deep whiffs, like dogs whose snouts stretch out from a passenger seat.

I expect the book to read like a compelling argument to vacation in Minnesota. Our state is blessed with a wide range of landscapes — all united, apparently, in their ability to boost our health.

Likewise, I hope this Travel section encourages you to seek nature in our state, from one of our top-notch towns (pages G5 and G7) to one of our lakeside resorts (G6).


Send your questions or tips to Travel Editor Kerri Westenberg at, and follow her on Twitter: @kerriwestenberg.