Ten quick, affordable U.S. vacations for women

With its massive live oak trees draped in Spanish moss, antebellum mansions, hidden gardens, and atmospheric cemeteries, Savannah, Ga., poses countless opportunities for photographers to capture great shots. It's also a comfortable place for novice female shutterbugs to hone their skills: The old city is easy to get around, the locals are generally friendly and never in a big hurry, and, this April, teachers from Radiant Vista will be running a women-only photography workshop there.

An online "creative community" founded by professional photographers to help educate others about photography, Radiant Vista leads multi-day courses in locations around the U.S. This Savannah class will be their first women-only workshop. "In past workshops we've seen women 'holding back' because of what is perceived as the sometimes competitive nature of men in [the classes]," says instructor Marti Jeffers. "We hope to provide an environment where competition is temporarily shelved in the spirit of community, cooperation, and inspiration for such women who are aspiring to improve their photographic skills, make new friends, and have fun with their photography."

The class is intended to provide a solid foundation for women advancing to digital SLR photography from automatic digital or film cameras. Through lectures, class critiques, and one-on-one attention, you'll learn the technical aspects of using your camera in manual mode and learn techniques for creating quality compositions.

Trip planning

This workshop is scheduled for April 23 to 27. Costs cover course instruction. You must bring your own digital SLR camera. Accommodations, meals, and transportation are extra. The workshop is held at the Promenade Hotel, where workshop students will be offered discount rates. Regular rates in late April are about $199 per night. The Savannah/Hilton Head airport is about a 15-minute drive from downtown.

Learn to surf in La Jolla, California

Provider:Surf Diva

Length:Two days

Price:$150 (hotel extra)

Eleven years ago, avid surfer Izzy Tihanyi and her twin sister Coco opened the first women's surf school, Surf Diva in La Jolla, Calif., after being inundated by requests for lessons from female friends and acquaintances. "Taking a lesson [at a co-ed surf school] back then was very intimidating for women, who often found themselves being the only woman in a group of mainly teenage boys," says Izzy Tihanyi. "I think guys just want to get in the water and give it a try. Women want to know the safety basics so that they feel more comfortable in the water, too. They also don't want to be judged or feel too competitive."

Surf Diva has since been joined by numerous other women's surf schools around the world, but remains at the forefront, running private, weekend, and week-long clinics year-round in La Jolla, as well as Costa Rica surf vacations. The company also has its own line of women's surf gear and apparel.

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