Head to the Baseball Hall of Fame, get involved with the Tour de France (seriously), and more.
Cristina Goyanes 1 / 8
So you didn't plan your summer vacation like your Type-A buddies months ago, but that doesn't mean you're SOL. There's still time to get your adventure on this July and August. Last-minute booking may cost more (not always though!), but that won't cheapen the memories. Rather than join the one in two Americans who regretted not taking an impromptu getaway last year, according to a 2014 Priceline survey, do something about it. Here are seven right-now adventures to consider actually booking—or to inspire you to plan an adventure this fall.
Record rainfall this May and fast-melting snow from mountaintops spell raging Colorado rivers, which is a dream for adrenaline junkies. Just 30 miles north of Aspen you'll find Carbondale, which is perfectly positioned at the confluence of the Crystal and Roaring Fork Rivers. Newbies and vets alike can navigate stunning stretches of frothy whitewater (class II to IV rapids) with names like “Hell's Half Mile” (from $73 per person for half day, blazingadventures.com).
Post-soak soreness? Get a soothing sports message from Meagan Pelletier at True Nature Healing Arts. Afterward take a tour of the town's first craft distillery, and then spend the night in luxe accommodations: Marble Distillery Inn, which opened in June, may be the country's only distillery inn ($179 per night). Though the boutique craft distiller is only making vodka and liqueurs at the moment, it plans to add artisanal spirits, including whiskeys and gin, to the libation lineup soon. In the meantime, pull up a stool at the marble-cut counter in the chic tasting room for cocktails before walking down the street for an exquisite farm-to-fork dinner at Allegria, a European bistro from Chef Andrea Fischbacher who is known for his foraging and local sourcing from places like Sustainable Settings, a working ranch that also operates as a learning center.
Get Your Fill of Baseball, Beer, and Brands in New York
When baseball reporters say “He's going to Cooperstown” it's shorthand for the National Baseball Hall of Fame, which opened its doors in upstate New York's Cooperstown in 1939. Among the inductees this July 24 to 27 during Hall of Fame Weekend are Craig Biggio, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz. If seeing those four superstars—along with the 50+ Hall of Famers—in-person isn't enough of a draw, you could also check out the new 37-mile Beverage Trail featuring one distillery, one cider mill, two wineries and three breweries, including Ommegang (exclusive maker of the “Game of Thrones” brews).
The weekend of August 7, Ommegang will host a two-day Belgium Comes to Cooperstown festival on its 135-acre property, featuring Belgian-style ales from more than 100 breweries, live music, food, fireworks and on-site camping ($125 per person includes camping, ommegang.com). Forgo the sleeping bag for a cozy bed at Cooperstown's historic 106-year-old Otesaga Resort Hotel, adjacent to the beautiful nine-mile-long Lake Otsego (canoers race it every May, marathoners run its perimeter every June) and Leatherstocking Golf Course (ranked no. 4 in the state by Golf Week).
Next year marks the 100th anniversary of the U.S. national park system, which means even more crowds than usual will be out cramping your camping style, starting as early as this summer. A sure way to beat droves of tourists is to go the slightly more dangerous and super technical route with REI Adventures. Their four-day, three-night Grand Canyon North Rim backpacking trip, designed for only the very fit and experienced backpacker, is one of their hardest trips ever (available from May to Oct, $775 per person, rei.com).
On this expedition from the North Rim to the Colorado River, you'll encounter dramatic canyon walls, steep rock trails, ancient fossils, treacherous switchbacks, lush waterfalls, and the magical Thunder River. While the daily mileage isn't absurd (between 6 to 11 miles per day), the elevation loss and gain are. A clean bill of health from a doctor is required of all participants. Heed this wise advice from one adventurer who experienced this trip in May: “Just when you think you're in good enough shape for this trip, train more. Add more weight to the pack, focus on hiking duration instead of distance (there were days when we didn't hike very far but because of the terrain it took all day), be very thoughtful about what you pack (the guides will help with this), have a positive attitude even when it gets tough.”
With the 30-year-old Rios Tropical tour operator as your personal trainer, you can easily turn this exotic paradise into the ultimate outdoor gym. Give your upper body a helluva workout paddling (think seated cable row) through two of the country's most challenging and stunning rainforest rivers on this three-day, two-night kayaking trip ($500 per person, riostropicales.com).
If you're new to this sport, no worries; there's a good reason National Geographic Adventure consistently calls Rios Tropical one of the best adventure companies in Costa Rica. Your bilingual guide will naturally ease you into it with a gentle float and stroke on Lake Arenal, complete with breathtaking views of the Northern Volcano Mountain Range as the backdrop (take out your binoculars to eye the spewing lava!). From there, you'll work your way up to Upper Tenorio (8 miles of intense, challenging rapids) and the Cucaracho River (12 miles of over 70 Class III-IV rapids plus two Class Vs!), which guarantee an unforgettable, wild ride!
This July, Tour d' Afrique will roll out the world's longest supported cycling tour, the South American Epic, a legend-making five-and-a-half month journey from Cartagena, Colombia all the way to the shores of Drake Passage overlooking Antarctica. You don't have to sign up for all 8,500 miles and 131 days of riding (plus 33 rest days) and shell out almost $20K to join; that is, unless you have the time, cash and calories to burn (lucky bastard).
If you can spare two weeks, you can hop in the saddle for any portion of the amazing cross-continental ride, which will pass through 10 UNESCO World Heritage sites, including Machu Picchu and Lake Titicaca, and a dozen national parks (from $2100 per person, tourdafrique.com). It runs through December, so you still have plenty of time to secure time off of work. The best part: The tour takes care of all the little details—from transporting your luggage to setting up campsites to providing nutritious meals from their experienced chef—along the way so all you have to do is focus on pedaling and absorbing the adventure of a lifetime.
There are ultra-marathons and then there's Turkey's Runfire Cappadocia. The six-day, 160-mile race runs from July 25 to August 2 through ancient subterranean cities, under the looming shadows of Mount Erciyes to the stark white receding saline shorelines of Lake Tuz. Come test your grit in the 20K race ($28 per person to register, runfirecappadocia.com) that invites 100 one-day participants to step up to the starting line with the other 80 full-course competitors. On July 25, check in at the camp site called “Love Valley” at Uçhisar Village, where you can enjoy a barbecue and trade running secrets at the campfire before retiring under a traditional Turkish tent for the next day's race.
Reward yourself afterwards with a stay in Argos in Cappadocia, the former monastery-turned-boutique-cave-hotel carved out of the region’s magical rock formations. Or head straight to Istanbul and stay at the neo-Renaissance Vault Karaköy, part of The House Hotel collection, in the hip 'hood of Karaköy. Sit down for Ciya's renowned Turkish kebabs followed by chocolate baklava at Güllüoğlu and delicious cocktails at the two-floored Gaspar, a neoclassical building featuring a lounge area to rest your tired dogs.
Nothing will build your street cred more than riding a stage of the pinnacle of all bike races mere hours before the pros, who will be literally chasing you to the finish. Sign up with Trek Travel to get exclusive access—including having dinner with the Trek Factory Racing Team—unlike any other cycling vacations operator on the course (dates range between July 18 – 27, from $4999 per person, trektravel.com).
If you're not quite ready to commit to tackling the famous route, you can take a seat at the Paris Finish as part of Trek Travel's up-close-and-personal one-day viewing package ($500 per person). From the Automobile Club de France, right on the Place de la Concorde, you can clink champagne glasses and enjoy a decadent buffet while watching the final ceremonial laps along the Champs-Élysées.