Next summer I want to take my wife and daughters to the Colorado Rockies. We want to hike but not overnight in a tent, and want to go white-water rafting and mountain climbing without the danger. Any advice?
At Colorado's mountain resorts, you can raft, hike, bike and climb until your muscles scream for mercy, then soak in a hot tub and tuck into a cozy bed. Dean Barta, general manager of The World Outdoors (800-488-8483, www.theworldoutdoors.com), an adventure travel company in Boulder, says Colorado's outdoor lifestyle "will challenge any active family, but it's not going to destroy them." Just remember, though, that the state's high elevation can sap your energy, so take it slow the first three days, drink plenty of liquids and eat lots of carbs.
When planning your trip, Barta suggests two approaches: staying at a base "camp" (i.e., mountain resort area) or moving from lodge to lodge, activity to activity, with a tour. If you prefer to unpack only once, consider Vail/Summit County, Winter Park or Durango -- where outdoor endeavors are only an hour-and-a-half or less by car. For example, Winter Park offers rafting on the Colorado River for tamer paddlers (Class II and III), world-class mountain biking in Grand County and hiking on the Ute Trail, which you can trek in its entirety or zip up via the Zephyr Express. In addition, because the resort caters to families, if your kids (or you) want a day off from the wild outdoors, they can instead opt for disc golf, the alpine slide, a climbing wall or the human maze. For Winter Park Resort: 800-979-0332, www.skiwinterpark.com.
The other option is to book a multi-sport trip in which you overnight at a number of properties and experience a different activity or two per day. Gorptravel.com, an online adventure travel site, lists three trips that fit this mold, including one involving hiking, biking, rafting/kayaking and rock climbing in the Colorado Rockies and Rocky Mountain National Park. Cost is from $1,795 per person double.
For general info on Colorado: Colorado Travel and Tourism, 800-COLORADO, www.colorado.com.
I'm interested in options for Christmas travel this year. Are there cities in Canada that have Christmas markets and a Euro feel?
Canada is the Europe of North America, but without the bad conversion rate. And while the legendary Christmas markets are unique to the Old World, Elizabeth Gormley, administration director of the Canadian Crafts Federation, says, "There are definitely Christmas markets across the country, from traditional markets to high-end, contemporary crafts."
Quebec City, for example, offers a Noel fete Dec. 1 to Jan. 1, with chorals and carols, a Tour of Lights and a Christmas market featuring local food and artisans. Info: 418-692-6635, www.quebecfetenoel.com. Kitchener, in southwestern Ontario, harkens back to the 1800s and the Christkindl markets of Munich. Its Festival of German Christmas (Nov. 30-Dec. 4) offers holiday entertainment ranging from the Trapp Family Bellringers to the Transylvania Hofbrau Band, as well as a sprawling marketplace selling glass-blown ornaments, dirndls, nutcrackers and even objects from Germany's Erzgebirge and Bavaria. Info: 519-741-2387, www.christkindlcanada.com.
Toronto has a more eclectic array of Christmas markets (oddly held a month before the holiday), such as the Swedish Christmas Fair (Nov. 19-20) and the Mennonite Christmas Festival (Nov. 25-27). The Signatures Christmas Crafts Show makes the round of provinces selling ceramics, raku, dolls and other items made by Canadians. The show comes to Toronto Nov. 19-27 and to Ottawa on Dec. 8-18. Info: Tourism Toronto, 800-499-2514, www.tourism toronto.com.
For Christmas markets in other provinces: Canadian Crafts Federation, 905-891-5928, www.canadiancraftsfederation.ca.
Do Paris shows such as the Lido need to be booked in advance?
To guarantee a seat at one of Paris's ribald revues, the theaters recommend booking in advance -- but it's not required. The Lido, for example, offers matinees and two evening performances, including one with dinner, so you have options if one time slot is sold out. However, booking is a snap; simply reserve online at www.lido.fr. Other popular venues like the Moulin Rouge (www.moulinrouge.fr) and Au Lapin Agile (www.au-lapin-agile.com), a smaller cabaret theater in Montmartre, also have online reservations. If, however, you decide to see a show on the spur, you can buy tickets last minute at the theater, though you might get stuck in the hinterlands.
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