Throughout the pandemic, we'll keep publishing news to help you navigate the state of travel today (like whether travel insurance covers the coronavirus), as well as stories about places for you to put on your bucket list once it's safe to start going more far-flung.
Airbnb launched Experiences—a variety of activities led by locals—in November 2016. While the thousands of offerings range from full-on guided and catered tours to more folksy and informal encounters, they all provide a local’s unique perspective on wherever you happen to be traveling. But the sheer number of experiences available can be overwhelming, so we curated a list of our five favorites.
Paddle a Light-Up SUP in Austin, Texas
While Austin is known for its rowdy nightlife, give your liver a break and head to Lady Bird Lake at 8 p.m. for a truly unique SUP experience. The three Adamson brothers, proprietors of Paddle SMTX and Glow Paddle Austin, host a 90-minute guided paddle around the lake on boards with special LED systems on the bottom that allow you to create your own surreal light show. The lights also give you a chance to watch largemouth bass swimming below.
Kayak to Sea Caves in La Jolla, California
Host Michael Samer will take you on a 90-minute guided sea kayaking tour of La Jolla’s protected ecological reserve and sea caves. Meet at Samer’s ocean adventure tour shop, Everyday California, and walk three blocks to explore some of the most diverse marine habitat in Southern California. Ultimately, the weather will decide how adventurous the tour can get and how many sea caves you can see, but San Diego County’s 263 days of sunshine certainly put the odds in your favor for a safe and sunny kayaking journey.
Climb Trees at Deception Pass in Oak Harbor, Washington
The best way to see Deception Pass State Park’s old-growth forest? In the trees. Your host will get you climbing coastal fir trees ranging from 150 to 300 feet tall for a mind-blowing perspective that would be impossible without specialized gear and a trained climbing guide. (The host runs local outfitter Adventure Terra.) No experience is necessary—the host sets up ropes and provides harnesses and ascenders to assist your climb.
Take a Private Slot Canyon Tour in Orderville, Utah
Zion is chock-full of beautiful slot canyons, but the park covers 229 square miles and can be overwhelming—not to mention dangerous—to navigate as a beginner. Micah and Jules have been hosting folks in their tiny house in southern Utah for years. They also run a canyoneering company, East Zion Experiences, and will drive you to the canyon and ensure safe travels through dreamlike East Zion.
Run Rapids in Hood River, Oregon
You would be hard-pressed to find a better deal than $75 for a full day of professionally guided rafting that includes a barbecue dinner. This experience takes place on the pristine White Salmon River, just outside the town of Hood River. The ample Class III and IV rapids run through beautiful canyons and end in a climactic, 12-foot drop at Husum Falls. Ride out your adrenaline with food provided by the host after the run.