Sure, getting things is great. But shopping for the adventurous spirit can be a special challenge because most of the time more things is the last thing she wants.
What she always wants is to travel, so, give her what she wants. The following are the top five trips we would want to receive, and we tried to collect a range of geographies, price tags, durations, and passions. Remember, we’re dreaming big here.
Biking in Marin County
West Coast, $, active, 2-3 days
What you will need: bike with some sort of storage (panniers, milk crate, basket, or you could wear a backpack) and lights, small tent, sleeping bag, active clothing to layer, change of socks, camp food (cheap or gourmet), a bottle of local wine (heavy, but worth it).
Here’s the plan: reserve a campsite at Sky Campground in Point Reyes National Seashore (you might need to do this a few months ahead of time, depending on the season). The ride to the campground is about 32 miles, so you will have plenty of time to stop and see the sights along the way, but there are hills. Boy, are there hills, and they come at the end, so save some energy. Make sure your bike will be able to handle those steep inclines, so try out some neighborhood hills with all your gear strapped onto your bike before you go. To start, take your bikes on the early ferry from San Francisco to Tiburon. Ride from Tiburon to Point Reyes National Seashore and your campsite, sticking to small roads and greenways. You can ride there in one day, stay the night, then ride back, or keep heading north and stay as long as you want. The views are unbelievable, and the way back is all downhill. We love that.
Sailing the Coast of Maine
Northeast, $$, active, 2-7 days
What you will need: a sailboat, which you can charter from several places on the Somes Sound (which is surround by Acadia National Park), food and supplies for the journey (nothing will be on the boat), active clothing to layer (including foulweather gear), sailing credentials, the confidence to take a skipper test, or the money to hire a skipper to come along with you.
Here’s the plan: drive to Mount Desert, rent a boat at one of the several charter companies according to your ability, party number, budget, and availability. Do it in August or September when there is less fog. Sail south to get out of Somes Sound, then turn west to stay near the coast. Make sure you stop at Ile au Haut to climb Duck Mountain. The sail from there to Deer Island is chock-full of tiny islands to weave around and explore. There will be seals, dramatic, rocky views, old, decrepit houses, seafood — all that good new-england stuff. When you want to get back on terra firma, hike in Acadia. You won’t regret it.
Mediterranean, $$$, active/relaxed, 5-14 days
What you will need: passport, flight (one-way or roundtrip; your choice…), comfortable walking shoes, something to swim in.
Here’s the plan: flights are most expensive between May and September, so try the “shoulder seasons,” which is April and October, or the low season, November to March. Depending on your timeline you can decide if you want to explore one place or travel around. Here are some places we suggest putting on your list: the walls of Dubrovnik, Plitvice Lakes National Park, Rovinj, The Elaphite Islands, sea kayaking off the Dalmatian Coast, Hvar, Skradinski Buk, Peljesac Peninsula, museums of all sorts.
Hiking and Surfing in New Zealand
Oceania, $$$, active/relaxed, 5-14 days
What you will need: passport, flight, hiking boots, swimsuit, active clothing to layer, a small tent.
Here’s the plan: get a flight into Auckland, and pick up the Te Araroa Trail where it passes through town. This trail traverses the whole of New Zealand and takes about four months to do in its entirety. It is incredibly varied and just wild. We understand that you probably don’t have four months to spare, so perhaps try some of these shorter stretches: Bream Tail Mangawhai Walkway, North Shore Coastal Walk, and the Wakatipu Trail. For some surfing on the North Island, check out the legendary Raglan, Piha, Muriwai, Waipu, and Gisborne. If you venture to the South Island, check out Kaikoura and Dunedin. You might even come back home.
Tubing Down a River, Any
A nearby river that flows and you can stand in, $, relaxed, 1 day
What you will need: a good quality tube (I recommend a ‘river rat’), swimsuit, sunscreen, a cooler that floats, cold beverages, and, depending on the river, a passport
Here’s the plan: either research local tubing companies’ locations to find good put-ins, or check a map for a part of your river that has a nice, big bend in it. If there’s a bend, you end up nearer to where you started, which is excellent if you have to walk back to your car. If you’ve found a tubing mecca, there might even be a shuttle service to take you back to where you parked so that finding bends is not necessary. Slather on the sunscreen, make your flotilla, and let the current take you away. Watch out for rocks and rapids (butts up, people).