Penang's most spectacular Buddhist temple and lush ancient rainforests are an easy day trip from George Town. It's generally about 5°C cooler at the top of Penang Hill (821m); it's one of the reasons why pukka British colonials from Francis Light onwards favoured this location as a retreat. There are still some 50 bungalows scattered around the top of the hill, though few of them are lived in full time, if at all, and a handful are in ruins.
The funicular from Air Itam makes getting up the hill easy. From there, you'll have to look hard for pockets of nature between the souvenir-selling scrum and hawker stalls, but they exist in the form of treetop walks and nature trails.