Thanks to The Jetsons, we once imagined that the future of vacation travel might involve flying cars. Yet even though our vehicles have largely remained earthbound, there are plenty of exciting new adventures and offerings for you to get out there and enjoy.
You can get a lift up the ski slopes in spaceship-like “bubble” chairs, catch a breath of fresh air while jogging along Alaskan mountaintops, or sleep beneath the stars in a hotel with a retractable roof.
And what would any vacation be without some cool new gear? Pocket-size water filters make sipping from streams safe, solar-powered chargers can juice up your GPS, and maps that fit in the palm of your hand can replace that crumpled atlas.
So pack your bags and your imagination. Our travel guide will help make your next getaway unforgettable.
The Sky’s the Limit
What: A fresh take on trail running, skyrunning involves jogging or hiking along Alaskan mountaintops.
For: Runners with legs, lungs, and a limitless appetite for adventure.
Why: Everything’s more fun at altitude. “Our guides talked about being in a state of ‘optimal flow,’ and as a lifelong triathlete, I get that concept,” says Margy Weisman, who went on a skyrunning tour in the Tongass National Forest to celebrate her father’s 80th birthday. “But to have this adventure with my family was magical — it’s hard to describe how unique it is when you see the glacier, and what a sense of pride and accomplishment it is to have gotten there by running and hiking.”
Where: Run through the rainforest of Southeast Alaska for five to six miles, taking up to five hours to complete the journey to glacial vistas and breathtaking trails.
More Information: www.adventureflow.us/adventure/running-excursion
Harvest Your Own Dinner
What: A retreat that nurtures you as you nurture the land.
For: Travelers who want a hands-on, relaxing, educational vacation option.
Why: These days, almost everyone’s a foodie, but not everyone has a green thumb. That makes this new take on farm-to-table cuisine a winner for anyone curious about where his or her dinner comes from.
The Woodstock Inn & Resort in Woodstock, Vt., sources hundreds of ingredients from nearby Kelly Way, a 2.5-acre garden that grows everything imaginable, including baby ginger and Malabar spinach. Chefs, gardeners, and florists offer collaborative educational classes that explore the rows of herbs, veggies, and flowers.
At the Stanford Inn by the Sea in Mendocino, Calif., a chef and nutritionist offer weekend classes on plant-based cooking techniques, sharing their favorite recipes along with tools for enjoying a healthier life — including a mountain-bike rental.
Where: Vermont’s Woodstock Inn and California’s Stanford Inn by the Sea.
Cost: $15 per person for Kelly Way Gardens Educational Classes at the Woodstock Inn; $450 per person for the Transition to Health Experience at the Stanford Inn.
Hang Ten Outside Hawaii
What: Surfing trips with a twist — in Texas, Montreal, New York’s Rockaway Beach, and other places that are even more fun than a barrel of Oahu waves.
For: Wahines and surfer dudes stoked about finding new spots to be at one with the water.
Why: Surfing is all about the zone: the breaking waves known as the surf zone and the mental state of being “in the zone.” But when you zero in on places outside of most surfers’ comfort zones, the sport becomes an even richer experience. And you can reach that zone in some surprising locales.
“We have lots of great characters and score epic days,” says Morgan Faulkner, the director of Texas Surf Camps, which holds classes throughout the Lone Star State. Faulkner has ridden sick waves behind tankers, a wild experience that allows surfers to stay on the swell for as long as five miles, thanks to the motion of the ocean behind the big ships. “Less than 1 percent of Texas surfers have tried it,” says Faulkner. “It takes a lot of resources and some insider information, but it’s worth it for a 10-minute wave!”
Where: Surf the beaches of Port Aransas and Galveston with Texas Surf Camps; the St. Lawrence River in Montreal with Kayak Sans Frontières; Rockaway Beach in New York with Skudin Surf; the Pacific Northwest with Oregon Surf Adventures; or Florida’s Cocoa Beach with Ron Jon Surf School.
Cost: $45 for a one-hour lesson with Texas Surf Camps; $175 per person for a charter group of four with Tanker Surf Charters; $70 for a three-hour beginner surf session in Quebec; adult surf camps for $105 per day in New York; $99 per person for a beginner, three-hour surf lesson in Oregon; $65 for a one-hour lesson in Florida.
Oh, the Fastest You Can Go!
What: Adrenaline-fix trips with a high-speed focus.
For: Men and women who poo-poo meditation and would rather clear their cluttered minds and find enlightenment by satisfying their innate need for speed.
Why: That rush you feel when you push your body to go as fast as it can — well, it can actually do your body good. One study, published in Yale Scientific Magazine, found that getting your adrenaline fix makes you more resilient and more prepared for life’s real crises.
Then there’s the pure fun factor. Take it from Olympic alpine skier Daron Rahlves, who won the fabled Hahnenkamm downhill race on the Streif course at Kitzbühel, Austria, where skiers hit speeds of 80 miles per hour. “Racing the Hahnenkamm and holding nothing back was a very satisfying feeling and a huge rush,” he says. “It’s risk versus reward, and facing your fears to get in the gate, pump yourself up, and lay it all on the line. I knew the consequences and was willing to face them for the ultimate feeling of believing in myself and skiing to own it.”
Where: Ski the world famous Streif at Kitzbühel, Austria; or tackle McConkey’s at California’s Squaw Valley, famous for its 68-degree pitch in the final section of the double black diamond.
Cost: From about $50 for a one-day lift ticket at Kitzbühel; $139 for a one-day lift ticket at Squaw Valley, Calif.
More Information: www.kitzbuehel.com; www.squawalpine.com