Ten quick, affordable U.S. vacations for women

One of Hoffman's favorite vacations was a week-long hiking trip in Utah's national parks. This year, Adventures in Good Company has created a modified four-day version of that popular tour. Using the Zion Lodge in Zion National Park as your base, you'll go on four- to six-hour day hikes in Zion or Bryce National Park each day, logging about 25 total miles of trail.

Some of the hiking is strenuous, but the views make the effort worth it. "The Angels Landing trail [in Zion] is probably one of the most spectacular hikes I have done in a national park," says wilderness guide and Company Founder Marian Marbury. "The high point is this flat area with a gorgeous view that indeed looks like a good place for angels to land. Another highlight is Bryce Canyon National Park. The brightly colored hoodoos (rock spires) provide a unique and colorful landscape that literally took my breath away the first time I saw them."

Trip planning

This tour starts November 14 and is inclusive of accommodations, all meals, ground transportation, entrance fees, and guides. It starts and ends at the Las Vegas airport.

Shop like a local in Manhattan

Provider:Shop Gotham

Length: Half day

Price:$36 to $63

Some people come to New York for theater and the arts; others come to see the sights, to eat at trendy restaurants, or to explore the city's diverse neighborhoods. But for many women, New York's legendary shopping is the main (or even sole) draw.

New York might be a shopper's paradise, but finding good deals on fashionable designs can be a challenge. If you're a Manhattan neophyte, it's easy to wind up wasting your time lost in massive department stores, pondering why anyone would want to spend $50,000 on a dress made of feathers or a diamond-encrusted cellphone.

That's where Shop Gotham comes in. Owned by New Yorker Marla Hander, the company runs two- to three-hour walking tours of some of the city's top shopping districts, including SoHo and the Garment Center. "Insider" guides lead shoppers to hidden boutiques, showrooms, and sample sales where it's possible to nab designer accoutrements discounted by as much as 50%. The tours are co-ed, but the vast majority of people who sign up are women.

"Each tour offers something different," says Hander. "In the Garment Center for instance—be it the showrooms or the sample sales we visit—the discounts are a minimum of 50% off current-season goods. Visits are to a combination of wholesale showrooms, which give us exclusive access. In SoHo, the discounts are from retail stores (12 specially chosen boutiques) and they run from 10 to 20% off. However, we also know and head for the worthwhile sales in the area." Tours include a bit of historical and architectural insight as well.

Trip planning

The two-hour SoHo tour ($36) runs Fridays through Sundays and the three-hour Garment Center tour ($63) runs Wednesdays and Fridays from September through June. Private, custom tours can be arranged with advance notice. Tours include guides and shopping discounts. All other travel expenses including accommodations and transportation are extra. Rates for three-star hotels in Midtown Manhattan in mid-February start around $147 per night. If you're flying to the city, you should check rates at all three New York area airports.

Kayaking with orcas in the San Juan Islands

Provider:Adventure Associates

Length:Three days


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