Vacation means lying by the pool, hitting up the buffet and chilling out on the beach, right? Well, maybe for some people. But if that’s not your idea of a good time, you’re not alone. If you want more activity and adventure when you travel, you have lots of options.
What’s more, an adventurous vacation doesn’t always mean an expensive one. “Adventure travel at its core is incredibly economical,” he says. Here are some of the top destinations for active travelers seeking active and adventurous vacations.
1. South Walton, Florida
Located in the northwest side of Florida on the Gulf of Mexico, the town of South Walton provides access to all kinds of outdoor activities and adventures from hiking, canoeing, kayaking and camping. You can stroll the Seaside Farmer’s Market every Tuesday and Saturday, and then take a bike ride up the coast to Grayton Beach State Park.
From there, you can set up at one of the 59 campsites or venture out on a hike — either an easy one-mile loop or a more adventurous 9-mile trek. South Walton boasts 26 miles of beautiful coastline to enjoy, so take advantage with stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking or a fishing tour.
2. Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
For an adventure vacation like no other, visit Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands. Walk in the footsteps of naturalist Charles Darwin as you learn how the geological history of this chain of islands allowed unique animal species to flourish. You can see endangered giant tortoises, sea lions, flamingos, Galapagos penguins, sleeping sharks, marine iguanas and birds such as the finches that first inspired Darwin’s theory of evolution.
There are also plenty of opportunities for diving, snorkeling, surfing, boating and hiking. If you have time, don’t miss the Ecuadorian mainland, which has some of the most beautiful canopy walks — raised walkways above the forest floor — in the world, says Chesak.
3. Harpers Ferry, West Virginia
The Appalachian Trail passes through Harpers Ferry, a small town only 60-odd miles from Washington, D.C. You can look down from high bluffs to the dramatic meeting point of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers, where the borders of West Virginia, Virginia and Maryland come together. It’s also where white abolitionist John Brown led a failed slave revolt in 1859 after raiding a U.S. armory.
Many active travelers arrive by bike on the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal trail and stay at the town’s cozy bed-and-breakfast accommodations. “It’s a fantastic multi-day bike trail from D.C. to Harpers Ferry and beyond,” says Chesak. Go for a day hike or stay longer to raft, fish and canoe. You can also go zip lining and rock climbing