Ask T+L: Female Outfitter, Mediterranean Cruise, Florida Keys
My college roommates and I want to take an all-women adventure trip (hiking, rafting, skiing, snowboarding). Can you recommend a good tour outfitter? —M.G., Lake Forest, Ill.
Equinox Wilderness Expeditions (877/615-9087 or 907/274-9087; www.equinoxexpeditions.com/womenstrips.htm; from $850) specializes in personalized outdoor itineraries in Alaska and the Southwestern desert. Their all-female treks are limited to eight people, and include backpacking and canoeing in the caribou country of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Exotic destination-seekers—think Turkey, India, and Panama—should consider Journeys International's women's cultural adventures (800/255-8735 or 734/665-4407; www.journeysintl.com; from $1,850). For those who still yearn for snow in April, Roxy Women's Only Snowboard Camps visits two ski resorts in British Columbia every year: Whistler-Blackcomb (800/766-0449 or 604/932-3434; $125 for a two-day program, $180 with lift tickets; rentals $22 per day) and Big White (800/663-2772 or 250/765-3101; $125 for a two-day program, $193 with lift tickets; rentals $24 per day). Sessions at both resorts include guided instruction and video analysis from pro snowboarders.
We're planning a Mediterranean cruise, but don't want to merely bake in the sun on the Lido deck. Can you suggest some trips that have an educational component—art, history, architecture? —D.F., Vancouver, B.C.
If your idea of a vacation involves studying art history and exploring Aegean ruins rather than sunbathing, enroll in Smithsonian Study Tours (877/338-8687; www.smithsonianstudytours.org). This offshoot of the renowned Washington, D.C., museum offers a full range of educational cruises, such as Hidden Treasures of Northern Italy's Po River, a 12-day crash course in Renaissance art aboard the 80-passenger River Cloud II. You start in Florence, visiting the Duomo and the Uffizi Gallery (with its masterworks by Titian, Raphael, and Caravaggio), then sail up the Po River to the medieval town of Mantua, then on to Ravenna and Padua, finally arriving in Venice. More-studious travelers can book a cruise along Turkey's "classical coast," a scholarly trip with college professors as tour guides. You'll stop at Istanbul, Canakkali, Troy, and the Greek island of Rhodes while you discuss archaeology, Greek mythology and architecture, and Turkish history.
Is there a place in the Florida Keys where we can get away from the crowds? —S.T., Franklin Lakes, N.J.
Shut out the world on Money Key, a 51/2-acre hideaway just off Summerland Key (between Marathon Key and Key West). For $4,800 a week, double, plus $250 per additional guest, you can rent Emerald Isle (305/745-3084, fax 305/745-8843; www.privateisland.net; minimum four nights, maximum six guests), a three-story house whose octagonal floors are linked by screened porches. The 5,000-square-foot structure is solar-powered, with three bedrooms and a professional kitchen. You can survey your domain from a crow's-nest perch that provides a 360-degree view of the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. But you're not totally isolated: a 17-foot outboard lets you scoot back to the mainland as well as the fishing and boating community of Summerland Key.