Authentic travel experiences across North America range from going on a cattle drive in Montana and Colorado to experiencing local cuisine in Hawaii.
“People are looking for more intimate experiences,” says travel advisor David Fishman, whose agency is part of the Travel Leaders Network. “They are looking for a more immersive opportunity, where they can meet the local people and experience the local cuisine and bar/clubs. They want more intimate cultural opportunities. Travelers are always looking to create lasting memories and find unique experiences along the way, by land, train or car.”
“Our clients are looking to avoid crowds and find experiences that are unique to the destination,” notes travel advisor Ted Blank, also part of the Travel Leaders Network. “Client interests are diverse, ranging from sampling craft beer in Alaska to staying in
one of the historic [national] park lodges. Clients really appreciate authentic touches, such as more locally inspired cuisine and even the opportunity to dine with locals at their homes.”
Here are seven not-to miss experiences that will give travelers a true experience of the local cultures in their own backyard.
1. Art Enthusiasts
A perfect spot for art lovers, the Art Ovation Hotel in Sarasota, Florida, offers a 360-degree experience into the city’s art scene—from the local theater to opera, music, and art. The 162-guestroom property, an Autograph Collection Hotel, features selected artwork, floor-to-ceiling windows, in-room ukuleles, and leather-bound sketchbooks for guests to get creative during their stay. The property’s local partnerships offer guests an array of experiences including group music lessons, jewelry-making workshops, origami lessons, life performances, IMPROV comedy lessons, surprise pop-up acts, tours of the curated art installations around the property, and more. There are also daily wine and art tours offered in the evening. artovationhotel.com
2. Out on the Ranch
The adults-only, luxury Triple Creek Ranch in Darby, Montana, is filled with outdoor Western adventures such as horseback riding, fly fishing, cattle drives, team penning, sapphire panning, archery, and more. New activities for 2019 at this Relais & Chateaux property include hatchet throwing, which is a local Montana experience, and curling, which can be enjoyed during snowy conditions. There is also plenty of native wildlife around the property, plus the culinary experiences are unique as chef Jacob Leatherman introduces a new menu each evening. triplecreekranch.com
3. A National Park Escape
Country Walkers offers an excursion in Maine’s Acadia National Park that starts with a private lobster boat tour to Little Cranberry Island, where travelers discover how locals have carved out a life away from the mainland. They’ll have ample time to converse with a local lobsterwoman aboard her boat, and gain a deeper understanding of the area’s flora, fauna, and glacial history with veteran wilderness guides. Guests will also take a morning walk with lunch served at the Jordan Pond House, a historic treehouse-style restaurant in the park. Another highlight is a trip to the top of Cadillac Mountain, the highest point in the park and the North American Atlantic coastline, for views over Bar Harbor, Frenchman Bay, and the ocean. countrywalkers.com/travel-agent
4. Traditional Hawaiian Getaway
Known as “Hawaii’s Most Hawaiian Hotel,” Ka’anapali Beach Hotel, located in Maui, offers a variety of authentic cultural experiences, ranging from kukui nut bracelet-making and ukulele lessons to Hawaiian language sessions and lauhala weaving classes. In addition to these immersive experiences, guests can also enjoy water activities such as surfing, stand-up paddleboarding, and snorkeling, as well as a tour aboard the property’s new wa’a, a traditional Hawaiian outrigger canoe, which includes a cultural lesson, sightseeing and snorkeling. Guests can also eat like a local at the onsite Tiki Terrace Restaurant, which features regional cuisine, as well as a healthier alternative—the Hawaiian diet. Other not-to-miss experiences include the Legends of Ka’anapali Luau, held on Monday nights, and a roasted pig dinner prepped by island-born chefs followed by a fire walk.
5. Authentic Alaska
For a true Alaskan experience, recommend your guests book the Authentic Alaska Experience, available May 15 to Sept. 15, 2019, at Pearson’s Pond Luxury Inn and Adventure Spa in Juneau. This 7-night itinerary includes a flightseeing trip over the Juneau Ice Field with a landing at a remote lodge for a salmon meal, plus possible bear sightings; a glacier cruise; a walking tour of the city’s Old Town sampling its food and drinks along the way; a helicopter flight to the snow-covered part of a glacier for dog sledding; a kayak trip in a marine preserve to spot humpback whales, seals, and orcas; and a tour and tasting at the Alaskan Brewing Company. pearsonspond.com
6. The West Beckons
Colorado’s The Broadmoor resort delivers for those who want to dive into a true Western experience. Here, guests can go on a day-long cattle drive, playing “hide and seek” to find the cattle as they move freely on the open range, and driving them onto their pastures near the slopes of Pikes Peak. This five-diamond resort, dating back to 1918, also offers ziplining, horseback riding, and fly fishing. broadmoor.com
7. Exploring by Rail
Guests can explore Canada on new rail itineraries being offered by Rocky Mountaineer. There are a choice of self-drive experiences, including The First Passage to the West Canmore itinerary, which allows travelers to discover the mountain town of Canmore, located near Banff, as they hike and explore caves; and the First Passage to the West Kananaskis journey where guests can hike, mountain bike, go horseback riding, play golf, or relax in the Nordic Spa. The self-drive itineraries features four days with a rental car to explore on one’s own, and two days aboard the Rocky Mountaineer.
Another option is the 10-day Journey through the Clouds Mountain Adventures, which takes guests on a flight to the rarely visited high-country terrain of the Cariboo Mountains, where they’ll enjoy guided group treks with glacier views, heli-hiking, and a helicopter tour. Guests will spend two days aboard Rocky Mountaineer. rockymountaineer.com