Destinations: Alaska, Vail, Branson, Seattle

Themes: Mountain Vacations, Outdoor Adventures

Canoes were invented thousands of years ago by indigenous peoples, who carved their crafts out of huge trees or painstakingly pieced them together with bark and resin. Fortunately for modern would-be explorers, obtaining a canoe now requires much less work—the paddling is the hard part.

Although occasionally canoes are powered by sails or small motors, they’re most often paddled. Although family bonding, relaxation and fishing are the usual goals for a canoe trip, the more adventurous may enjoy rapid-running and racing.

Canada and the northern U.S. are canoeing favorites, due to the abundance of lakes, rivers and fish in these regions. The Boundary Waters (between Minnesota and Ontario) is one of the best places in the world to canoe, with thousands of miles of wilderness water routes and a prohibition on motorized vehicles. Top exotic destinations include the Amazon River (hop on in Ecuador or Peru) or Africa’s Zambezi.

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