11 Trendy Travel Experiences You Don't Want to Miss


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Woman snorkeling with a school of fish
Photo credit: Bicho_raro/istockphoto

Adventurous travelers are always looking for the next exciting trip, and these days that includes immersive experiences that go beyond the ordinary. While relaxing on a beautiful beach is still a popular choice, increasingly travelers are looking for something more, such as a behind-the-scenes tour or private excursion. Here are the fastest-growing travel experiences to try, based on booking data from TripAdvisor.
Civil War monument site
Photo credit: Alex Potemkin/istockphoto

Reading about history on a plaque in a museum is all well and good, but the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of historical figures and see firsthand what they saw takes learning to a whole new level. According to TripAdvisor, some of the most popular historical tours include a behind-the-scenes look at Fenway Park, the beloved baseball stadium in Boston, and a harbor history tour in Charleston.
Woman viewing the sunset on a cruise ship
Photo credit: kieferpix/istockphoto

Catching a stunning sunset when you're traveling always adds to the experience, and there's nothing like the magic of seeing the sun dip below the horizon while out at sea. Some of the highest rated sunset cruises on TripAdvisor include trips in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico; Key West, Florida; the Aegean Islands of Greece; and Kauai, Hawaii.
Man hiking with a tour group
Photo credit: Todor Tsvetkov/istockphoto

When traveling to a new destination, it's easy to get caught up exploring places in close proximity to your hotel. Yet seasoned travelers know that just venturing out on day trips can bring once-in-a-lifetime experiences. And private tours can offer access to places where you may not otherwise gain entry. These exclusive adventures might include touring a volcano, ziplining through the trees, visiting a remote village to learn about traditional customs, touring nearby wineries, or getting a priority look at the highlights of a city on a walking tour. Private tours can get a bit pricey, so keep an eye out for off-season discounts or split the cost if you're traveling with a group.
Woman snorkeling with a school of fish
Photo credit: Bicho_raro/istockphoto

While some adventurous travelers go all out with scuba diving trips, snorkeling excursions offer the advantage of seeing marine life up close without going through rigorous training or using elaborate gear. And while you could just pop on a snorkel and take a look underwater yourself, many travelers opt for guided excursions, so that they're more likely to see an abundance of colorful marine life, coral reefs, shipwrecks, and more. In Cancún, you can even snorkel in an underwater museum of submerged sculptures placed there to help preserve the nearby coral reef from too many visitors.
View from a sailboat on the ocean
Photo credit: nikitje/istockphoto

Taking a trip on a cruise ship certainly has its perks and conveniences, but many travelers are instead opting to sail on smaller vessels. Sailing trips range from exclusive outings with just you and the crew to more elaborate outings with larger groups. Be sure to find out what's included in the trip, such as food, stopovers where you can hop off and explore, and the type of seating. Avid sailing fans may opt for trips where they can help sail the ship. Some of the most popular spots for sailing trips include Greece, Thailand, and the Caribbean.
Catamaran boats on a Caribbean reef
Photo credit: cdwheatley/istockphoto

For the uninitiated, a catamaran is a boat with two parallel hulls and an adjoining structure designed to offer increased stability and, in some cases, speed -- not to mention it looks really cool. In recent years, catamaran cruises have become increasingly popular, offering a smooth trip with plenty of room to move about on the deck. Catamarans also don't typically need as much water beneath them, so they can more easily approach shallower areas where vacationers might want to explore. Some of the world's most popular catamaran tours depart from Hawaii, the Dominican Republic, and Costa Rica, but you can find them all over.
People taking a cooking class with a chef
Photo credit: NoSystem images/istockphoto

Tasting the local specialties is such an important part of traveling. By taking cooking classes, you can take those flavors home with you and appreciate them on a deeper level. In many of the best cooking classes, participants tour a local farmers market to shop for ingredients before heading to a kitchen to learn new techniques. Best of all, you get to feast on the fruits of your labor at the end. Great cooking classes can be found all over the world and throughout the U.S.; sometimes they just require a bit of searching. Some of the most popular destinations for classes include Thailand, Italy, France, and New Orleans.
Woman in a kayak on a lake near forest and mountains
Photo credit: NickJKelly/istockphoto

Kayaks and canoes offer a great way to explore areas that might be otherwise inaccessible by foot, car, or even a larger boat. Plus, you can enjoy plenty of sunshine and exercise. Kayaking and canoeing adventures are found all over the world and include a wide variety of out-of-the-ordinary excursions such as cave exploration, whale watching, waterfall tours, and river cruises in national parks.
Closeup of gourmet ice cream cone with unfocused European buildings in the background
Photo credit: maroznc/istockphoto

Eating your way through a new city with a local expert to guide you can make for an unforgettable experience. Most food tours offer behind-the-scenes access to places that otherwise might be difficult to get into, and they can introduce you to places known only to locals. Popular options include Foods of New York Tours, the Hanoi Street Food Tour in Vietnam, Eating Italy Food Tours, and Savor Seattle Food Tours. Don't forget to look for local food festivals; immersive experiences that combine art and food, like ArtCubed in Los Angeles; and drinking tours for the adults.
Ancient Ruins in the Mediterranean
Photo credit: Starcevic/istockphoto

For travelers who crave a close look at history, archaeology tours are offered around the globe, including sites in the U.S. These tours typically are led by knowledgeable lecturers and archaeologists and offer an unparalleled glimpse of everything from ancient ruins to prehistoric excavation sites. While some tours take only a day or two, others, like the ones led by the Archaeological Institute of America, last as long as a week or two.
Couple touring the Colosseum in Rome with a guide
Photo credit: piola666/istockphoto

The way travelers experience popular museums and monuments is changing thanks to skip-the-line passes and private guides. According to TripAdvisor, the fastest-growing experiences of this kind include a skip-the-line pass to tour Rome's ancient monuments, priority access to the summit of the Eiffel Tower with a host, and a skip-the-line ticket to Gaudí's Casa Batlló in Barcelona. Here in the U.S., a combo ticket to the Space Needle and Chihuly museum in Seattle and the Live Nashville Walking Tour rank highly. Although these passes and tours often cost a bit more, you can save lots of time, avoid the crowds, and often gain valuable insight from tour leaders.

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