September 10, 2010

Q: Can you recommend any eco-friendly tours in Costa Rica this fall? —Nick Sargent, Glendale, Ariz.

A: “The five-day Adventure trip from Mountain Travel Sobek (from $1,300) may include a guided walk to view endangered green sea turtles on the beaches of Tortuguero National Park, plus a stay at the Mountain Paradise Lodge near Arenal volcano. Classic Journeys (from $2,995) offers a seven-day Family Journey that stops at the last major breeding site for scarlet macaws in Carara National Park before exploring a sustainable sugarcane farm. You’ll plant trees on the Nicoya Peninsula and observe up to 270 bird species in the Nosara Bilogical Reserve on the eight-day Action trip from Off the Beaten Path (from $3,295).” —T+L special projects editor Irene Edwards

Q: I’m looking for a stylish, centrally located hotel in Prague. Any ideas? —Emma Miller, Bangor, Maine

A: The recently opened Moods Boutique Hotel (doubles from $160) has 51 colorful rooms, equipped with Mac Mini entertainment systems, that overlook the Moldau River in Old Town. Nearby, glass-and-metal staircases lead to a collection of 109 white rooms punctuated with fire-orange throws and leather armchairs at the Hotel Josef (doubles from $158). Steps from Prague Castle, the 22 streamlined rooms at the design-centric Hotel Sax (doubles from $144) channel the 1960’s with geometric wallpaper, glass tables, and lime-green sofas.

Q: Is there a way to avoid paying fees when cashing in frequent-flier miles? —Leigh Bartley, New York, N.Y.

A: Unfortunately, while your flight may be covered, baggage and security fees or fuel surcharges (which can run you hundreds of dollars on international flights) are not. If you’re considering upgrading, make sure to read the fine print beforehand: American, Continental, and United charge expensive “co-pays” when you use miles to switch to business or first class. Expect $50 to $150 in redeposit fees if you need to cancel a flight and restore your miles. If you want to share your miles, avoid transferring them—airlines usually levy one cent per mile, plus a $7 to $35 fee—and instead buy the ticket in the recipient’s name, which transfers the miles for free.

Q: We’re planning a trip to New England this fall. What are a few great leaf-peeping routes? —Ben Shaw, Woodbury, Minn.

A: The one-hour drive from Portsmouth to Concord, New Hampshire, is ideal for viewing the red maples of the Merrimack Valley. Along the way, stop to sample apples at Emery Farm founded in 1655. Scrub oak trees and harvest-ready cranberry bogs flank the 40-mile drive south from Boston through historic towns—such as North Pembroke and Kingston—of Plymouth County, Massachusetts. On the three-hour loop south from Burlington, Vermont, to Route 125, stop at the 30-foot Moss Glen Falls for a stunning panorama of golden hardwoods.

Mountain Travel Sobek

More than 40 years of experience arranging hiking, trekking, rafting, and kayaking excursions, with group or private itineraries. t+l trip pick Alaska: Rafting the Tatshenshini River. Brave Class Two and Three rapids for more than 130 miles through the world’s largest contiguous wilderness area, passing icebergs and stopping to walk among mountain goats and spot bald eagles.

Off the Beaten Path

The Bozeman, Montana-based company specializes in itineraries to destinations throughout North and South America (as well as New Zealand, where it offers a two-week backcountry hiking trip on a half-dozen dates each year). Looking to go to Canada? Their adventurous itinerary stops in three of the country’s national parks—Banff, Jasper, and Yoho—where you’ll spot elk, moose, and golden eagles, as part of its Crown Jewels journey. Their Alaska itinerary features a visit to the Chilkat Eagle Preserve and Glacier Bay National Park. The outfitter now gives guests the chance to stay in a private camp near the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, set within the world’s largest stand of ponderosa pines. By day, you’ll trek two miles down into the canyon, tour ancestral Puebloan ruins, and bike local trails, all in the hands of expert guides. Come evening, you’ll stay in your own deluxe walk-in tent, outfitted with a memory-foam mattress and mirrored washbasin.

Hotel Josef

Designed by Czech-born, London-based minimalist architect Eva Jircina, the 109-room hotel near the old Jewish Quarter consists of two harmoniously geometric buildings, studded with pierced metal sunshades, that flow around a small courtyard. Bedrooms are cleverly compact and functional, with lots of glass and light.

Classic Journeys

Unbeatable access to experiences around the globe—learning firsthand about a family-run organic coffee plantation in the Galápagos; dining in a private home in Delhi—are woven into every walking-based excursion, from Ireland to Bhutan. Philosophy: That you can get as much of an adrenaline rush from chatting with a shepherd on a remote hillside as from shooting Class Three rapids through the rain forest. T+L Trip pick Costa Rica. Zipline through a forest canopy, hike an active volcano, and learn from locals about their country.

Moods Boutique Hotel

This 2010-opened hotel has 51 colorful rooms, equipped with Mac Mini entertainment systems, that overlook the Moldau River in Old Town.

Hotel Sax

Steps from Prague Castle, the 22 streamlined rooms channel the 1960's with geometric wallpaper, glass tables, and lime-green sofas.

Emery Farm

This farm, founded in 1655, is the perfect autumn stop for apple-picking.

Moss Glen Falls

The 20-foot waterfall offers a stunning panorama of golden hardwoods.

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