Going on an active, outdoorsy vacation doesn’t mean you can’t have a cultural and educational trip! Our favorite vacation destinations offer the best of both worlds – which is great, especially if you have kids. Check out our favorite cities for mixing indoor and outdoor fun.
Wellington, New Zealand
Photo courtesy of Simeon W
Wellington has got a great vibe. It’s trendy yet down to earth. It’s got great restaurants, shopping, and some incredible scenery to boot. The Te Papa Museum, New Zealand’s national museum and art gallery has incredible exhibits and offers visitors a unique insight into New Zealand’s history and culture. Wellington itself has great walking on the the greenbelts that run throughout the city. It’s easy to forgot you’re in the middle of New Zealand’s capital city!
In addition to Edinburgh’s wealth of museums and galleries, Scotland’s capital city has a fantastic mix of medieval and ultra-modern architecture. It’s a great city for walking – albeit very hilly. Take a stroll down the Royal Mile or walk up the extinct volcano Arthur’s Seat. You can also rent sea kayaks and paddle about the gorgeous Firth of Forth.
Denver has a vibrant art scene with numerous new galleries opening up and lots of museums like the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, Clyfford Still Museum, and a massive aquarium. It’s also one of the most active cities in America. Ride a bike or go for a run along Cherry Creek, explore the large city parks, or go climbing on the cliffs above the Coors Brewery!
We love Vancouver. It’s currently attempting to be the greenest city in the world by 2020 and has fantastic greenbelts throughout the city – like Stanley Park. From whale watching to sea kayaking to hiking the 47-mile West Coast Trail on Vancouver Island, there’s no shortage of outdoorsy things to do in this beautiful city. On top of that, it’s super modern and trendy with plenty of great restaurants and galleries and museums.
Ever come back from a vacation and feel like you’ve fallen off the bandwagon? Perhaps you’ve enjoyed too many chocolate crepes in Paris, extra servings of handmade pasta in Rome, or big dishes of Indian food in London’s Brick Lane. Why not make your next vacation – even if it’s a tour of European capitals – an active, even outdoorsy, trip? Try out these tried and true tips for travelling light, staying fit, and getting outside on your next vacation.
Pack a Chic, Adaptable Wardrobe
An active vacation doesn’t mean you have to look like you’re going on safari in khaki pants and a floppy shirt. Pack clothing that’s simple – dress it up, or dress it down – and that’s made of odor-resistant, quick drying materials, so you can get multiple wears out of one shirt or dress. Ibex makes fantastic shirts that are appropriate for either a day-hike in the Cotswolds or a trip to the museum. As the outdoor “lifestyle” becomes more mainstream, it’s easy to find functional, yet fashionable pants at shops like REI or your local outdoor retailer.
Find Cute, Comfortable Shoes with a Good Tread
Presidio Shoes by KEEN
Nothing makes you stand out as a tourist like a pair of sneakers. If you’re looking to blend in and get outside, find a pair of good walking shoes in a neutral color like black or brown. Merrell, Born, and even Clarks offer a good selection of casual walking shoes that’ll see you from dirt trails to city streets. We should also mention retro styled sneakers from New Balance and the like are back in fashion, so you’re likely to see even locals rocking these! The most important thing is to bring as few shoes as possible! They take up a ton of space in your luggage and more likely than not, you end up wearing the same pair 90% of the time anyway! (And don't forget to pack your eNZees to prevent blisters on long walks through the Louvre!)
Fly with a Carry-on Only!
European travel guru Rick Steves is a true proponent of traveling light! He says “you can’t travel heavy, happy, and cheap. Pick two.” In this fantastic guide, Rick Steves offers some tremendous advice for packing light. He advises that you should “pack for the best case scenario” rather than the worst, and think in terms of what you can do without. Lots of luggage not only takes up lots of money, but it also consumes a ton of time. Waiting at baggage claim. Finding luggage storage at train stations. Trying to fit it onto public transportation. Save yourself a headache (and a backache) and travel light! Read Rick Steve’s full article here.
Learn the Lingo
English-speaking countries across the world use different terms for the same activities and sometimes that can affect your ability to find things to do. If you search for ‘backpacking’ in Europe, you’ll get entirely different search results than you would in the USA! Google ‘wild camping’ in Scotland and you’ll find results typically associated with ‘backpacking’ in the USA. In England, people more typically use the term ‘walking’ rather than ‘hiking.’ Find a good local blogger for outdoorsy activities, they might even be able to point you in the direction of a good source of advice and safety tips.