Ten quick, affordable U.S. vacations for women

"Peggy is a terrific travel planner and organizer," says past Serendipity Traveler client Leslie Sands, a psychotherapist from Massachusetts. "She cares deeply about the women she is traveling with and will do whatever she needs to, to insure that you have a wonderful travel experience."

There are several shorter outings on the company's 2008 calendar, including a new golf trip to California's Monterey Peninsula and Carmel Valley, home to some of the country's finest courses.

"I have collaborated with the local golf pros in Pebble Beach and Carmel Valley to choose courses that will be exciting for varying levels of play and experience," says Coonley. You'll play a different course on each full day of the trip, including the Robert Muir Graves-designed course at Quail Lodge, the Robert Trent Jones, Jr.-designed course at Poppy Hills, and the newly restored Pete Dye-designed golf course at Carmel Valley Ranch. A variety of other activities are planned so you can experience the surrounding area, such as a wine tasting at a local vineyard, a Big Sur coastal outing, and a gallery stroll in Carmel-by-the-Sea.

Trip planning

This trip runs May 1 to 5. Rates include upscale shared accommodations at Quail Lodge, continental breakfast, lunch at the Lodge at Pebble Beach, and specified additional activities. The trip also includes round-trip transfers from the Monterey Peninsula airport. Airfare and greens fees are extra.

Hiking and kayaking in the Blue Ridge Mountains

Provider:Wildside Adventures for Women

Length:Four days


After falling in love with backpacking during her six-month journey along the Appalachian Trail in 1996, Melody Blaney started leading wilderness trips for both men and women. In 2001, however, she came to the conclusion that many of her female clients had better experiences in women-only groups, so she co-founded Wildside Adventures for Women with fellow outdoorswoman Patti Landovek.

"It was amazing to me the difference between the dynamics on the co-ed trips and the women-only trips," says Blaney. "Women were much more relaxed and would take risks or challenge themselves in ways they wouldn't do if men were present."

The company now annually runs about 30 two- to five-day backpacking, kayaking, and biking trips around the U.S. designed to help women become comfortable in the outdoors without having to spend a lot of money. "My goal when we started this business was to get women (especially those who can't always afford the high-end trips that are out there) outdoors and exposed to something new," says Blaney. "My ultimate goal is to provide them with the skills they need to go solo or share their skills with a friend."

This June, Melody and Patti will be running a new trip in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains that entails hiking to the summit of Grandfather Mountain, the highest peak in the Blue Ridge Mountains, and kayaking the French Broad River. "From Calloway Peak on Grandfather Mountain we will have incredible views of the Blue Ridge Mountain Range. The kayaking portion of this trip will offer us the opportunity to float through the Biltmore estate and to observe wildlife along the way."

Trip planning

This trip starts June 12 in Weaverville, North Carolina. Rates include accommodations, kayaking equipment, two dinners, entrance fees, and guides. Transportation to Weaverville and other meals are extra. The town is a 30-minute drive from the Asheville, N.C., airport.

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