Ten quick, affordable U.S. vacations for women

Attending a two-day weekend clinic with Surf Diva is a good way for beginners to get started. "The conditions in La Jolla are perfect for beginner to intermediate surfers," says Tihanyi. After a discussion about equipment and safety, you'll practice basic techniques on the beach with instructors before moving out to the water. "Once everyone is completely comfortable and confident, the large group is divided into smaller groups and an instructor is assigned to each group, for closer attention," says Tihanyi. You'll try catching waves on your own and one-on-one with an instructor over the next day and a half, gradually working up to more challenging waves and techniques as your confidence grows.

After taking a class with a co-ed surf school that left her "feeling like a drag," Patricia Blake, a doctor from Florida, found that a weekend clinic with Surf Diva was just what she needed to feel self-assured in the water. "I think women feel empowered and emboldened when learning around women," says Blake, who was up and riding waves on her first day with Surf Diva and has since returned to the company with friends for more lessons and week-long surf vacations.

Trip planning

Two-day clinics run almost every Saturday and Sunday as long as there are at least three participants. Prices include a rental surfboard and wetsuit and instruction. Accommodations and transportation are extra. Prices for stays at the nearby Hotel La Jolla start around $129 per night. La Jolla is a 25-minute drive from the San Diego airport.

Mount Rushmore and the Badlands

Provider:Women Traveling Together

Length:Five days

Price:$1,620

For more than 10 years, Women Traveling Together has worked to create a travel business that feels more like a wide circle of friends who vacation together than a corporation. The tour company has hundreds of members (although membership is not required to go on a trip) and runs dozens of trips each year, ranging from dog-sledding adventures in Minnesota to European Christmas Market tours. While the focus of each trip varies greatly, all share small group size, attentive group leaders, use of carefully selected accommodations, and a good balance of activities.

This summer, Women Traveling Together is planning a new trip to a beautiful but often overlooked part of the country: South Dakota. "This trip is a slice of Americana that many of us have never seen nor experienced," says company Founder Debra Asberry, who got the idea to plan a trip centered around Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills region of South Dakota.

"We've designed a tour that includes Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse Monument (also a mountain carving still in the making), Wind Cave National Park, Badlands National Park, a stay at a resort in Custer State Park, and a visit to a woolly mammoth fossil excavation site," says Asberry. You'll tour each site as a group and have some free time for hiking, horse-back riding, and other activities.

Trip planning

This trip departs August 11. The full tour price is $1,695, but if you pay the $45 Women Traveling Together annual member fee, the price comes down to $1,620. Even if you're not interested in other member benefits, you'll save $30 by joining. The trip cost covers accommodations, airport transfers from the Rapid City airport and ground transportation, admission fees and sightseeing, some meals, and a tour leader.

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