Five Fantasy Adventures
Ordinary vacations become memorable adventures at these locales
Canyonlands National Park, Utah
Located near the world mountain-biking mecca of Moab, Canyonlands Park is a more thrilling (and less well-known) option, covering 500 square miles of spectacular stone pillars and arches, steep river-carved canyons, and jagged mesas.
MF Fantasy: Sign up for a guided bike tour. With so much possible scenery to cover, you'll never get it all in on your own. Companies like Austin-Lehman Adventures offer trips that take you through up to 40 miles of vibrant red, yellow, and orange landscape daily on both bike and the occasional hike—perfect for working up a sweat and scoping out the numerous ancient Native American rock carvings.
Bonus Tip: Experience Canyonlands from ridge to rapids with Tag-A-Long's Jump and Raft skydiving and whitewater rafting tour. Embark on this $225 adventure July - October for prime air and water temperatures.
Four million people visit Yosemite each year, but your experience doesn't have to leave you drowning in crowds. The park, located within the Sierra Nevada mountain range covers a remarkable 1,170 square miles of rugged, breathtaking scenery. So there are plenty of lesser-traveled trails ripe for exploration.
MF Fantasy: Hike the Half Dome. The rigorous 16-mile round-trip hike up this incredible granite cliff takes you to the peak. There, you'll stand nearly 4,800 feet above the floor of Yosemite Valley and marvel at the wonder.
Bonus Tip: Explore some of Yosemite's most breathtaking landmarks—including its waterfalls, canyons and stunning rock domes—on Timberline's six-day hiking adventure. This expedition departs in September and $2,095 gets you all lodging, meals, park entrance fees, guides, maps and shuttles.
This small fishing village lies 35 minutes by car from Puerto Vallarta, on the Pacific Coast. Its warm, sandy beaches, lush foliage, and vibrant, restaurant-lined cobblestone streets offer an incredibly authentic taste of rural Mexico. Soar over the jungle on a zip line tour, cliff dive at Playa Los Muertos, or explore some of Sayulita's secret beaches and winding wooded trails. Then, recharge at the nearby St. Regis Punta Mita Resort.
MF Fantasy: Catch a wave. Thanks to its consistent year-round right and left breaks, Sayulita is a surfer's dream.
Bonus Tip: Learn to catch some gnarly waves at Wildmex-Sayulita Adventures. For just $50 you'll get private surf lessons, transportation and all surfing equipment included, or try one of several other activities including mountain biking, kayaking, horseback riding or snorkeling.
The Forks, Maine
Hundreds of miles of extensive hiking trails, 6,000 miles of rugged ATV routes, three untamed white-water rivers, incredible fishing, geocaching, kayaking, canoeing, camping—even a bit of volleyball, golf, and swimming. Clearly, this outpost in Somerset County, Maine, has something for everyone.
MF Fantasy: Tackle the white water. Head to Northern Outdoors campground, a sort of holy ground for the sport thanks to its backyard access to the Kennebec, Dead, and Penobscot Rivers. Rafting/camping packages start at $99 a night.
Bonus Tip: Want the ultimate guys' getaway with your buddies? Set out for Northern Outdoors' ManCamp for an adrenaline filled day of rafting and a two-night stay in a Club Cabin. "Mancations" are available May through October for $246-$345 per person.
Shawangunk Ridge, New York
Just 90 minutes from New York City, The Gunks (as they are often called) are home to some of the best rock climbing in North America. The Sky Top, a prominent stone face with more than 300 different routes to the top, has cliffs up to 350 feet. Check out one or two of The Gunks' ice caves, where the deep rock fissures stay icy cool throughout the summer months.
MF Fantasy: Sleep in a castle. Yes, a castle Mohonk Mountain House is a 267-room Victorian resort that is centrally located to offer easy access to all the fun.
Bonus Tip: Ascend one of National Geographic's top-rated rock climbing cliffs, the 'Gunks, with HighXposure Adventures Inc. Whether you're a novice climber or you've already learned the ropes, HighXposure has a wide range of classes starting at $240 per person. Book your climbing excursion in the fall to witness the ravishing colors of the foliage from above.