Dream Day Itineraries
for 2021
Many of you already have first-hand knowledge of an ActiveTravels' Dream Day Itinerary. From a weekend away in the Berkshires to a 4-month sabbatical in South America, these detailed day-to-day itineraries include every aspect of your vacation, from hotels to guided tours to reserved restaurants to best places to stop along your drive. At first, many of these recommended activities stemmed from my own research based on years of being a travel writer. But as more and more clients took similar routes, we were able to get feedback directly from you, refining these routes so they’re as close to perfection as can be. We’ve also aligned ourselves with the AXUS itinerary app, so all your trip information from flight times, hotel confirmations, maps and meeting places and times for scheduled tours are now within easy reach on your smart phone.

As we write this, one of our clients is traveling cross-country on a Dream Day Itinerary with stops in DC, Charleston, Atlanta, New Orleans, Houston, Austin, Santa Fe, Taos, Grand Canyon, Sedona, Scottsdale, and finally La Jolla. We’ve created itineraries around the world, from a month in Peru to a month in Australia. But as we slowly get back to traveling again in 2021, these tried-and-true 7 to 10-day North American routes are well suited for getting you back on the road again.
New England
By far our most popular Dream Day Itinerary, we’ve designed over 100 New England itineraries for both summer and fall. Depending on the time of year, we can guide you along the coast from Mystic, Connecticut, to Bar Harbor, Maine, with possible stops in Newport, Rhode Island;, Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, Massachusetts; Portsmouth, New Hampshire; and Portland and Camden, Maine. Or we head inland to the White Mountains of New Hampshire, the Green Mountains of Vermont, and the Berkshires in Massachusetts to see the foliage. Some of our favorite activities we've organized over the years are hot air ballooning over Lake Champlain, finding moose with a guide in Greenville, Maine, having a clambake on a quiet Nantucket beach, and going lobstering with a genuine lobsterman off Boothbay Harbor, Maine. Want more? How about visiting the Museum of Fine Arts with a curator, biking to 5 lighthouses outside Portland, or sailing on an original America’s Cup sailboat in Newport. Best of all, having written about this region for half my life, I know the most scenic backcountry routes to find exquisite fall foliage and that apple cider mill without the crowds.
Atlantic Maritimes, Canada
Another part of the world I know exceptionally well are the Canadian provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island, where I try to return at least once a year. Drive Cape Breton and you feel like you’re in the Scottish Highlands, cruising atop scenic bluffs, taking hikes with moose, visiting whiskey distilleries, and listening to fantastic foot-stomping live Celtic music. But there’s so much more! In New Brunswick, visit the charming seaside village of St. Andrews and then go whale watching, stroll the stunning Hopewell Rocks formation, sea kayak on the greatest tidal shift in the world at Fundy National Park, and search for chanterelle mushrooms with a French chef on the Acadian route and create a memorable seafood meal that evening. PEI offers incredible biking on the 449-kilometer Confederate Trail that runs from one end of the island to the other, a chance to visit the town of Cavendish, best known as the home of Anne of Green Gables, and also highly regarded for its gluttonous seafood feasts called lobster suppers.
Candian Rockies
Canadian Rockies
This is one of the most scenic routes in North America. Start in Calgary and drive 2 hours to Banff. You’ll soon be hiking, rock climbing, white water rafting, and golfing amidst stunning snow-capped peaks. But the best is yet to come. Continue north to the bluest lake you’ll ever see, Moraine Lake, and then follow the Icefields Parkway along with the grizzlies to Jasper National Park. Bike and hike with elk or fly-fish in streams straight out of National Geographic. All of these locales offer 5-star lodging from the classic Fairmont Jasper Lodge property to the Relais & Chateaux Post Hotel in Lake Louise. From Jasper, you can drive 4 hours to Edmonton and fly home. Or do what we did, take the overnight glass-topped luxury train journey on the Rocky Mountaineer to Vancouver and see a magnificent slice of British Columbia. 
National Parks of Utah & Arizona
Outside of New England, this is probably our second most popular Dream Day Itinerary. Start in Las Vegas and 2 ½ hours later, you’ll be staring up in awe at the rock formations at Zion National Park. We work with fantastic guides to get you up high on the trails or inside a slot canyon on the Virgin River. Another 90-minute drive, you’ll be staring down at the hoodoos at Bryce National Park. From Bryce, you can continue east to Canyonlands and Arches National Parks and Moab, or head 2 1/2 hours south to Lake Powell on the Arizona border, a fantastic spot to rent a houseboat and relax. From Lake Powell, it’s only a 30-minute drive to the otherworldly walls of Antelope Canyon. Another 2 ½ hours south and you’ll reach the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Continue on to the red rocks of Sedona (we adore the Enchantment Resort) and you’ll soon be in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area for some more hiking and golfing.
Northern California
San Francisco is the gateway to so many spectacular locales, it’s often hard to choose which direction to head. Most of our clients first journey to the vineyards and fine dining of Napa and Sonoma. The dilemma is what to do next because all the choices are amazing. You can head east for 5 hours and reach arguably the most scenic locale in America, Yosemite National Park. Just as remarkable is the drive down Big Sur, which starts outside of Carmel, about a 3-hour drive south of Napa. But don’t overlook the seaside village of Mendocino and then a memorable drive through the redwoods at Avenue of the Giants, about a 4-hour drive north of Napa. You can continue on to Eureka and the Lost Coast of California, where the beaches are populated with far more seals than humans. You really can’t go wrong with any choice you make!
I once met a trucker who criss-crossed America for a living. He told me that his favorite state to cruise is Oregon. Having ventured to the state a number of times now, it’s hard to disagree. Within easy proximity to Portland is the striking coastline at Cannon Beach, snowcapped Mount Hood, Multnomah Falls, and the Columbia River Gorge, and, of course, the best pinot noir north of Napa at the far less touristy Willamette Valley vineyards. Then add arguably the most majestic lake in America, Crater Lake, the mountainside outdoor hub of Bend, the hipster college town of Eugene, and one of the most unique golf courses at Bandon Dunes, and you have a lot to play with on a weeklong itinerary. Best yet, this is one of the most affordable spots on the West Coast and the artisanal craft food, wine, and brews will impress. Oregon should not be overlooked!
We usually recommend spending at least 10 days in Hawaii, with stops at two of the islands. It’s really hard to go wrong with any of the islands. Oahu offers the honky-tonk Waikiki Beach, the history of Pearl Harbor, a wonderful Honolulu Chinatown, and the surfers at the Banzai Pipeline. Big Island has it all, from the Wyoming-like horse ranches of Waimea to the black sand beaches of Kona to a very active volcano at Volcano National Park. Maui offers the best golfing and scuba options, and who can resist waking up at sunrise to bike down Haleakala. Then there’s the serenity of Kauai and the chance to take a helicopter ride or private boat charter near the striking Na Pali cliffs. We work with wonderful scuba and deep-sea fishing charters, horseback riding and hiking guides, chefs who offer cooking classes, historians, and even a vulcanologist on the Big Island. Let us know your dates and we’ll create an enticing itinerary.
Designing detailed custom-made itineraries catered to your interests is time-consuming, so we do have to charge an itinerary fee. But we guarantee it will be money well spent once you look down on your phone and realize every day is designed to a T. You can roll out of bed and know you have a wonderful day ahead of you designed by travel experts. Let us know which North American destination interests you in 2021 and we’ll be happy to dive in!
An Update on Backroads Trips
For those of you who have credit or interest in booking a trip with one of our favorite biking and hiking outfitters, Backroads, please note that many of their late summer and fall trips in 2021 are already selling out. This is especially true for North American destinations. We recently checked on trips to both the Grand Tetons and Newfoundland and were surprised to find that they were sold out.

There is a possibility that more trips will open up due to demand, but it would be wise to book sooner rather than later. Realistically, this is how it’s going to be for many scheduled trips with outfitters and tour operators in 2021, selling out early due to pent-up demand and rescheduled trips from 2020 that never happened. Like almost every travel company, Backroads is providing new, more flexible booking policies. Deposits are fully refundable for new reservations on 2021 trips if canceled before April 1st, 2021, or when final payment is due (whichever comes first).
Quick Escape:
Gotta Get Away Somewhere Warm?
Your Caribbean Options
If you truly need to get some warmth and Florida just doesn't float your boat, we have the intel on where to go south to get thawed out from the cold and incessant snowfall this winter.

Most of you now know that all travelers, even US citizens, need to provide a negative Covid test within 72 hours prior to boarding your flight home. This new CDC requirement, which began on January 26th, can be an obstacle and a nuisance that you may not want to deal with. Please note that since this rule was announced, many of the major hotel suppliers (Marriott, Hyatt, Melia, Velas, Aman, Belmond, Nayara, Iberostar and many, many more) in the Caribbean region have stepped up to offer their guests pre-travel testing. See the list of hotels participating HERE. If you are curious about all the rules and requirements for the various Caribbean countries, this article offers up-to-date information and is a daily tool I use to help our members plan their travel.

One warm-weather destination we highly recommend is Puerto Rico. Since Puerto Rico is part of the US, not only don't you need to bring your passport, but the CDC rule of testing within 72 hours of your arrival back home does not apply. This makes for one less hassle on your warm-weather getaway.

There's a lot to love about Puerto Rico from the fantastic lodgings available to their glorious beaches, opportunities for relaxation, adventure and exploration in their El Yunque Rainforest and their Bioluminescent Bays. We know the best food tours, surfing locales, wellness hotels and spots for your romantic rendezvous.

Let ActiveTravels know your available dates and we’ll check availability any of these island destinations! We can help you every step of the way.
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