You have your traveling chops. You’ve been here and there, so now you’re ready to get adventurous. You’re not exactly the athletic type, and you’re a bit gun shy. No worries, there are places for people just like you—beginners. Here’s where to find yourself in soft adventures.
Shenandoah Valley Fly Fishing, Winchester, Virginia
For those who want to catch fly fishing fever, a good place to start is Shenandoah Valley Fly Fishing, where newbies are embraced. Fishing guide Galen is a special education teacher by profession and is passionate about helping people learn what he loves. In addition to fishing, Winchester has four new craft breweries, great for chilling after a day on the water. You can find good eating too, at popular Sweet NOLA’s, a New Orleans style restaurant with live music, or the Bonnie Blue Southern Market & Bakery, with a locally sourced menu in a funky setting.
Discovery Cove, Orlando, Florida
At Discovery Cove, an all-inclusive park, you can have an animal adventure of the best kind—up close and personal. Take your pick. There are sharks, stingrays, dolphins, marmoset monkeys, tropical fish and more than 250 exotic birds. With a trainer, you and a small group wade into shallow water and have hands-on interactions with the cutest creatures whose eyes sparkle and exude warmth. After you get acquainted, swim to deeper water and get ready for a dorsal fin ride back to shore. This adventure is beginner fun stuff; you can be as young as 6 years old. If you’ve been afraid to snorkel, but dying to explore underwater life, you can do that with an underwater walking tour. You wear dive helmets, and breath as you normally do. Take in the awesome scenery—colorful fish, gentle rays. You only need be 10 years old. If you’re willing to get up early, you can arrange to feed the stingrays during a private tour of the Grand Reef before it opens for the day. For another memorable experience, go for the shark swim. You’re guided by the park’s aquarist team. You’ll snorkel through their habitat. It’s exciting, but fine for those at least 10 years old.
Abalone Camp, Little River, California
California’s Mendocino Coast is the setting for Abalone Camp, held each year at the end of June at the Little River Inn. If you’ve been wanting to dive, this adventure is an opportunity for you. Not only will you learn to dive, but also you’ll cook your catch and turn it into a treat even the most discriminating foodie will enjoy. No worries, you’ll have help cleaning, cutting and pounding your abalone. If you’re an experienced diver you can come, too, but the hotel and guides work overtime to get newbies acclimated. No level of fitness is required. What’s most needed is a love of the water. The resort also has a golf course, tennis courts, spa, restaurant and is across the street from the beach. You can extend your adventure with hiking and kayaking in the area.
Beginner’s Sea Kayaking, Torridon, Scotland
Tour company Wilderness Scotland introduced last year the Beginner’s Sea Kayaking journey just for those who want to be adventurous, but aren’t yet adventure pros. Intro to Sea Kayaking is a short break kayaking course designed for beginners to equip new paddlers with the essential skills to get started and ready for longer sea kayak journeys. The sheltered stretches of water are ideal for learning the basics of sea kayaking. Throughout the trip, travelers stay in a private bunkhouse located on the loch shore, with hot showers, a wood-burning stove and comfy beds.
Tanque Verde Ranch, Tucson, Arizona
Have a fear of horses but you want to learn to ride, or you just haven’t gotten around to giving it a try? Make your way to the Tanque Verde Ranch on 60,000 acres of desert landscape in Saguaro National Park. Those with no experience can saddle up. Begin the day with a breakfast ride to the Old Homestead for those much-talked-about blueberry pancakes and ranch-style eggs. Spend the rest of the day with beginner lessons and horseback riding through trails on the Sonoran Desert. The ranch’s Horsemanship Fundamentals lesson is also available to build upon the basic riding lesson to help riders develop confidence on horseback, expand movement and more. If horses aren’t your thing, there are also guided hiking tours from easy to difficult.
Whitewater Columbus, Columbus, Georgia
Whitewater Columbus is believed to have the world’s longest urban whitewater course. There’s also a 1,200-foot zip line with an in-air obstacle course at the end. It is the only zip line in the country that connects two states. Hike or walk along the 25-mile River Walk that connects attractions and restaurants. Rookies need not fear, there are low rafting trips and lessons to learn to kayak. When you work up a healthy appetite, there are many places to sate you, like Smoke Bourbon and BBQ, Bare Roots Farmacy, My Boulange and others.