The Adventure Adviser
Vacation Tips from Outside Online's Travel Expert
My 14-year-old son wants to learn to rock climb, and I thought taking a course together and turning it into a vacation would be fun. Can you suggest a good program?
We recommend the Joshua Tree Rock Climbing School and Guides, located within the national park of the same name, just outside Palm Springs in southern California. With more than 4,000 climbs in a stellar setting of twisted rocks and desert foliage, it's an inspiring place to learn. Director Mark Bowling's veteran guides will teach you all about knots, anchors, and belays before you rappel on the park's famed monzogranite outcrops. A full-day basic course costs $80; weekend clinics are $155. All classes are limited to six participants, and prices include equipment. A private guide for a day would cost you and your son $115 each. (Note: While 13 is the minimum age for organized classes, private guides will instruct all ages.) Call 800-890-4745 for more information, or visit www.joshuatreerockclimbing.com.
We'd like to take our two teenage daughters to Norway this summer to enjoy the midnight sun. Ideally, we're looking for a spot with hiking, biking, and very few tourists.
Head north of the arctic circle to the Lofoten Islands, with their deep fjords, grassy outcrops, and half-moon coves. Smooth seaside roads and relatively little traffic make the area ideal for cycling (available at Lofoten Sykkelutleie Rent-A-Bike at 011-47-76-07-24-80; www.lofoten-info.no/rentbike.htm; $20 per day). Tiny Reine, a fishing village that juts out into Reinefjord, is my personal favorite spot in the 60-mile Lofoten chain. There are several great hikes nearby, including Reinebringen peak, and you can also catch a mail boat to the Lake Tennesvann trailhead. Accommodations in the Lofotens include authentic rorbu, matte-red fisherman's cabins with blooming sod roofs and loft beds, perfect for families. Reine Rorbuer (Norlandia Hotels, 011-47-22-98-97-00) is one of the best; a cabin that sleeps up to four costs $100 per night.
My sons and I are avid in-line skaters, and I thought it would be neat to take them on an outfitted trip, either domestic or overseas. What options are out there?
Top on the list is Minneapolis-based Zephyr Tours (888-758-8687; www.skatetour.com). For an overseas trip, Zephyr's newest offering is a tour through Switzerland's Upper Valais and Rhone River Valley. The route takes you through the Alps--along flat bike paths and country roads--and allows time for hiking, mountain biking, and visiting castles. The seven-day trip costs $1,765 (not including airfare), with departure dates set for June 22, August 18, and September 24. Stateside, try Zephyr's five-day Minnesota Camping trip ($745 per person; departs July 22).
We're planning a family trip to Nova Scotia next summer and are looking for an oceanside resort with lots of outdoor activities. My husband likes to golf, so that would be a plus.
An obvious choice is Cape Breton's upscale 104-room Keltic Lodge (800-565-0444), with pool, beach, and stunning ocean views. It's adjacent to an 18-hole golf course and numerous hiking trails in Highlands National Park. For a family of four, a two-bedroom cottage goes for U.S. $400 per night, including breakfast and dinner. More casual is White Point Beach Resort (800-565-5068; www.whitepoint.com) on Nova Scotia's south shore. There's a wide swath of beach, indoor and outdoor pools, tennis courts, sea kayaking, and a daily roster of events for the younger set on site, plus horseback riding and a nine-hole golf course nearby. A two-bedroom cottage with ocean view costs U.S. $160 per night.
Have some vacation questions of your own? Find Outside's Adventure Adviser at www.outsidemag.com/destinations/advisor/.