Adventure travel continues to grow, with travellers choosing to invest their holiday budget and time in immersive experiences that can be physically and mentally challenging. These experiences create the opportunity to switch off from everyday worries, venture out of comfort zones, conquer a challenge and create lasting memories. Our prediction is that post Covid-19 adventure travel and exploration of the natural world will continue to grow. Below is a roundup of some of the new, most challenging and sometimes quirky adventure escapes to plan in 2021 in the destinations we look after.
For thrills for the whole family to enjoy, visit the Anakeesta outdoor family theme park in Gatlinburg. A new addition to the park for 2020 sees the opening of AnaVista Tower, downtown Gatlinburg’s highest point with 360-degree mountain views, giving a great backdrop for some stunning photography. This structure stands at 60 ft. tall, providing a bird’s eye view to the entire park. Later in the year, the park will expand with a family water play area, including a Tennessee themed waterfall, a new Smokehouse Restaurant, and more fire pits for those cooler autumnal evenings.
Another adventure spot in Gatlinburg is the CLIMB Works Smoky Mountains. Nestled right across the street from the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, they offer three different activities: two world-class zipline tours – the breathtaking Mountaintop Zipline and the top-rated Treetop Zipline – as well as Gatlinburg’s only true mountain biking. Also new for 2020 is the Soaky Mountain Waterpark in Sevierville. Opened in June, this massive 50-acre space provides plenty of thrills for those more at home in the water than in the treetops.
Hiking opens doors to nature accessible by no other route. The Alum Cave Trail tops out at Mount LeConte, which, at about 6,400 feet, is near the pinnacle of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Some hikes have monikers as colourful as the scenery they traverse, like the challenging Fiery Gizzard Trail at South Cumberland State Park in Monteagle. Don’t miss The Wandering Llamas near Greeneville, where hikers are accompanied by these curious and gentle pack animals on the Evergreen and Hobbit Creek trails.
Louisiana Travel and New Orleans & Company
Don’t miss the opportunity to take a swamp tour or, in Lake Charles’ case, a marsh tour. It’s easy to spend hours travelling through the Bayous whether on a boat or kayak simply navigating the swamps and embracing the ecosystem. Situated along the Creole Nature Trail, Grosse Savanne Eco Tours offers an up close view at the birds and other wildlife that traverse more than 50,000 acres of protected land home. Their expert guides will navigate the waters both literally and figuratively as they explain the migration routes of the wildlife, identify flora and fauna, and give an overview of the marshland as a whole.
New Orleans offers its own brand of thrills and visitors can check out Visit New Orleans Adventure Itinerary for inspiration. The Crescent City may be a laid-back place most of the time but there is no shortage of ways to get the adrenaline pumping. You can get behind the wheel of a super-fast Ferrari and do some laps around the track at NOLA Motorsports Park with Xtreme Xperience or try your hand at rock climbing at New Orleans Boulder Lounge.
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North Carolina is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the east and the Appalachian Mountains to the west and offers some truly varied terrain and geographic regions. As a result, North Carolina has endless opportunities for outdoor adventure including kayaking, diving, hiking, horseback riding and mountain climbing.
Kitty Hawk is the historical site where the Wright brothers invented the first ever successful airplane and took mankind’s first ever flight. Visitors can hang-glide in a replica of the Wright Brother’s first plane for an inimitable mix of thrills and nostalgia.
The open coastline and natural environment are the perfect setting for skimboarding, windsurfing, kiteboarding, parasailing, Jet ski and Wave runner rentals, water skiing, sailing and more.
Experienced rock climbers will have a blast at Chimney Rock State Park. It contains Rumbling Bald Climbing Access, a world class spot for bouldering and climbing that’s easy to access and within the non-fee section of the park.
Furthermore, as International Rollercoaster Day is approaching fast (August 16th) it is only fair to give an honourable mention to Carowinds Theme Park. Thrilling rides and daring adventure await on the North and South Carolina state line. Guests can take their visit to new heights on rides that stretch into the sky, like Windseeker or Drop Tower.
West Virginia Tourism
West Virginia is home to some of the best whitewater rafting in North America. The New River is one of the oldest rivers in the world and has been popular with white water rafters for 50 years now. There are plenty of options for lodging and rafting in the area – with different packages available between places like ACE Adventure Resort, Adventures on the Gorge, and River Expeditions. Rafters can choose between several sections of the New River, and for those visiting during Gauley Season, there is the option to raft the Gauley River, referred to by some as “The Beast of the East”. Towering above the New River is the New River Gorge Bridge, which stands at 876 feet high. Those with a head for heights can take a stroll along the 2-foot-wide service catwalk directly under the road of the bridge. There, you can get unparalleled views of the New River and the gorge below. If that is not daring enough, once a year there is “Bridge Day”, where those qualified can choose to BASE jump from the bridge into the gorge, or even be catapulted over the edge!
The state is home to over 700 miles of ATV and off-roading trails, which is the second largest span of trails in North America. The Hatfield-McCoy Trail System gets its name from the region in southern West Virginia where much of the world famous Hatfield-McCoy Feuding took place and where several of the Hatfield-McCoy Trails are now located. The Buffalo Mountain, Bearwallow, Devil Anse, and Rockhouse Trail Systems are located on or near historical sites such as Blair Mountain and Matewan.
Discover New England
The Essex Steam Train & Riverboat in Connecticut is one great attraction offering several outdoor adventures. Try the Rail Bike for 2 or 4 people. Pedal on the rails along the Connecticut River for 9.5 miles. There are also sunset cruises and steam train trips including the Hand on the Throttle where visitors can learn about and operate a full-sized locomotive.
Kayaking is the ideal way to explore Maine’s ocean bays, harbors and tidal rivers, including the 375-mile Maine Island Trail, America’s oldest recreational water trail reaching from Kittery to Eastport and the Canadian Maritimes. All along Maine’s 3,500-mile coast, kayaking outfitters offer half-day, full-day and overnight adventures. Guided trips and instruction are always available.
Try a six day Maritime Bike and Beer Tour. Departing in June 2021, the tour explores Massachusetts’ North Shore, Cape Ann and Essex National Heritage Area which is home to fascinating maritime history, natural beauty and several excellent craft beer breweries. These produce award-winning brews, some made solely from local ingredients, and many named for the maritime heritage that inspired them. On this bike and beer tour, meet brewmasters who will share their brews’ history and sample the varieties. There is nothing like a cold local beer to cap off a day of superb biking.
Explore New Hampshire on two wheels with these new developments that will be ready for summer 2021. Cranmore Mountain Resort in New Hampshire offers mountain biking thrills throughout the Summer and has broken ground on a new family-friendly, lift serviced downhill mountain bike park with trails suitable for beginners and intermediate riders. Loon Mountain Resort has announced 10,000 feet of new trails for beginners to seasoned riders.
Rhode Island has a long and proud love affair with sailing. From the America’s Cup races to the International Yacht Restoration School. It is easy for visitors to explore protected harbors, majestic bridges and quiet coves on vessels of all sizes. The Ocean State is a renowned destination for sailors of every skill level to challenge their skills. Newport is home to the largest fleet of America’s Cup 12 Meters in the world, most of which are available for charter.
Adventure-seekers will feel right at home in Massachusetts. There’s Skydive Pepperell in Greater Merrimack Valley; hiking with llamas at Pinetum Farm Llama Hikes; hot-air ballooning across the Massachusetts countryside at the Balloon School of Massachusetts; dog-mush through the woods of Central Massachusetts; or try ice climbing in the Berkshires.
Since 1989, Zoar Outdoor has offered white water rafting trips, kayaking clinics, zip line canopy tours, canoeing instruction, rock climbing classes and kayak rentals for adventurers of all abilities, from beginners to experts. Located right on the Deerfield River at the end of their most popular trip. Onsite camping, dining and lodging, hot showers, the first zip line canopy tour in southern New England and a fully stocked outfitters shop.
When it comes to thrills, there is little more thrilling than taking to the skies and soaring in a Helicopter with incredible views and experiences of Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon.
Maverick Helicopters operate a number of tours and experiences from Las Vegas. The most popular are the Wind Dancer tours which fly over the Grand Canyon and even land at a private landing site inside the canyon for a spot of champagne and a chance to take in the view scenery from the ground as well as the sky! Try an exhilarating night-flight over Las Vegas, enjoying unparalleled views of the “Entertainment Capital of the World” from the sky. Soar high above the world-famous strip as you witness iconic landmarks such as Bellagio, Caesars Palace, the Eiffel Tower.
Maverick Helicopters have been offering high-class tours for 25 years to guests and have picked up a record nine consecutive FAA Diamond Safety Awards in the process for their tireless work to aircraft safety and mechanical training.
Located in north-west Saudi Arabia, AlUla is a place of extraordinary natural and human heritage. The region will be welcoming year-round guests from October 2020.
The vast area, includes a lush oasis valley, towering sandstone mountains and ancient cultural heritage sites dating back thousands of years to when the Lihyan and Nabataean kingdoms reigned.
The most well-known and recognised site in AlUla is Hegra, Saudi Arabia’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site, comprising of more than 100 well preserved tombs with elaborate facades cut out of the sandstone outcrops surrounding the walled urban settlement.
Offering exciting excursions off the beaten path, AlUla Trails presents thousands of years of history against a spectacular, almost supernatural desert backdrop.
On six unique trails, visitors should pre-book local guides who provide in-depth insight into the area’s expansive history, distinct flora and fauna as well as curious rock-art inscriptions. Explore epic heritage sites, archaeological treasures and ancient inscriptions carved into towering boulders and soaring cliffs.
Whether by foot, bike, horse or adrenaline-pumping 4×4, AlUla is a destination that must be seen to be believed.
The Arabian Peninsula is known for its rock-art heritage, tracing back thousands of years. An ideal afternoon adventure, the Lost Knight Trail is a three-hour discovery experience in the beautifully untamed wilds of AlUla. Visitors have the choice of riding a 4×4 or simply hiking on foot as a guide leads the way to messages carved in the ancient stone.
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