Surfing, falconry and other summer vacation pursuits


— Catch a wave off the California coast, pedal a mountain bike in Utah’s red rock canyons or try your gloved hand at falconry in Vermont.

The kids may be out of school, but the summer season presents a range of adult vacations so fun they won’t feel like learning. Plenty of fresh air, luminous light and Instagram-worthy scenery are part of these hands-on holidays.

If you’re looking to recharge your mind, body and spirit, the following 10 vacations may remind you just how enjoyable exploring a new skill can be.

Surf’s up in San Diego

For those who dream of hanging 10, this five-day Southern California coastal plunge is straight out of a Beach Boys song.

Endless Summer Surf Camp instructors guide beginners through surf basics and help seasoned surfers take it to the next level. Choose one of three adults-only summer sessions or consider joining an all-ages group, popular with teenagers and families.

The owner’s Brazilian mother-in-law prepares bountiful meals with a dash of Latin flavor, so hearty appetites are welcomed.

When the sun sets, sleep deep in glamping-style tents at San Onofre Bluffs State Campground. Relax with your surf buddies under the stars and dream about spending another day looking for the perfect break.

Foraging in Asheville, North Carolina

While Asheville is a hotbed of locally sourced food, guests can take it one step further and go foraging in uncultivated fields and forests, searching for wild edibles.

Book an experience with No Taste Like Home and join a small group in search of mushrooms, greens, shoots, fruit, nuts, seeds and roots. The region is the richest temperate ecosystem in the Western Hemisphere.

When the three-hour guided walk is finished, guests bring the gathered goods to one of six local restaurants who partner with the class. Order lunch or dinner off the menu and the chef will create a free forage-to-table appetizer from the found ingredients.

No Taste Like Home also works with several Asheville hotels, including the Omni Grove Park Inn. The Omni offers a 90-minute abbreviated version of the foraging experience right on its sprawling grounds.

Forest bathing in Sedona

Listen to the wind rustle through the trees and water flow through Oak Creek. Soak in the red rock formations and green vegetation as you walk slowly and mindfully, taking the time to experience the elements of the natural world.

This is forest bathing at L’Auberge de Sedona hotel in Arizona. The practice is rooted in the idea that slowing down, quieting the mind and appreciating Mother Earth in a calm manner benefits physical and emotional wellness.

A certified forest therapy guide — yes, that’s a thing — leads guests through the practice of deeper awareness through sensory observation. The aim is to restore and refresh. With no cell phones, accessories or gadgets, it’s a brief disconnect from the modern world.

After the hour is over, guests may extend the experience by remaining outdoors on the tranquil grounds. Or they may retreat to their room, where the neutral color palette and uncluttered décor extends the experience.

Mountain biking in Utah

Soak in Southern Utah’s powdery-fine, rust-colored dust and red rock cliffs without barriers from the seat of a bike.

These epic vistas, an extensive trail network and diverse terrain make the area a mecca for mountain bikers.

For those who would like to learn to trail ride, Red Mountain Resort offers two different classes. For complete novices, nail down the fundamentals during its road biking 101 class, a two-hour introduction.

To get the adrenaline pumping, the basic mountain biking class is a four-hour lesson on Bearclaw Poppy Trail — an off-road, single-track trail in the desert dust with options for riders of all levels.

Even the easiest route is invigorating, with enough dips and drops to give everyone an adrenaline rush. (See if you can spot the namesake ivory-colored Bearclaw Poppy flower along the way.)

The resort is tailor-made for active visitors, with a full schedule of guided hikes, rappelling and kayaking, tempting cycling enthusiasts to try alternative fresh-air adventures.

Falconry in Vermont’s Green Mountains

Feel the majestic sensation of a bird of prey perched on a gloved fist. These trained but still wild creatures possess incredible strength yet are deceptively lightweight.

Falconry is a complex and nuanced art that can take a lifetime of dedication to perfect, but at Green Mountain Falconry School, participants are likely to handle a regal Harris hawk within 15 minutes.

Book the 45-minute introductory lesson with master falconer Rob Waite for the fundamentals of hawk handling and continue with the 45-minute hawk walk. The stroll echoes an episode of “Game of Thrones,” with two accompanying hawks weaving from tree to tree, awaiting the signal to return to the human hand.

Many participants stay at the nearby Equinox Golf Resort and Spa, a historic property across the street from Manchester’s quintessential New England village green.

Art in the Rockies

Anderson Ranch Arts Center is deep in the high peaks of the Colorado Rockies. The center’s instructors embrace visitors of all abilities, inviting them to participate in hands-on workshops as they breathe the sweet mountain air and commune with nature.

The ranch enjoys the privilege of having a forest service permit, allowing groups to work amid the twin peaks of Maroon Bells and other mountains.

Combine observation with imagination during a landscape-based watercolor class or get into the clay with a ceramics workshop. Even classes that are traditionally held indoors frequently venture outdoors for artistic inspiration.

Most classes run Monday-Friday, but there are a few that last longer. There are separate workshops for children age 4 and older as well as for teens, so families are welcome. Diversity is a core principle and the center has a scholarship program.

Students may live in the comfortable dorm or the school will help find off-campus housing. The kitchen staff serves healthy food that is sourced locally.

Photography in Santa Fe

The Sangre de Cristo Mountains’ striking visuals and distinct light create a photographer’s paradise. That’s why participants flock to the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops every summer to improve their photography skills.

Taught by professionals, the mostly one-week workshops take advantage of the beauty of the American West, as students explore the dramatic landscape with their cameras. The campus itself, with adobe walls, shady courtyards and flower gardens, can also inspire its participants.

Most students live in comfortable rooms on campus, and tuition includes lunch. Students are on their own for dinner, which affords an opportunity to explore Santa Fe’s world-class culinary scene.

Golf on Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains

At Primland, the resort’s 18-hole Highland Course uses the natural landscape as a template, winding across ridge tops and valleys, immersing golfers in pastoral scenery.

The exclusive 12,000-acre property is a tableau of field flowers, songbirds and wild turkeys.

For vacationers who crave a back-to-the-land experience but don’t want to sacrifice creature comfort, this resort is both ritzy and rugged. (Culinary Director Fabien Beaufour has a Michelin star.)

The onsite golf school offers clinics, private lessons and a customizable two-day golf school just for couples. It includes two hours of expert instruction each morning, leaving plenty of downtime to enjoy the resort’s other outdoorsy offerings.

Build a boat in Downeast Maine

Each summer, nautical enthusiasts from around the world journey to the WoodenBoat School’s 64-acre seaside campus. Students saw, drill and hammer their way to building a bona fide seaworthy vessel.

The boat building takes place in a workshop steps from the water, so the song of the seagulls and the smell of salt air accompanies the sounds of construction.

Students may choose from a variety of one, two and three-week hands-on classes. For those who prefer their boats already built, classes in kayaking, sailing and marine photography are also offered.

Stay in down-to-earth student houses on campus. Those with their own boat may moor at the campus dock and live houseboat-style. For the budget-minded, there’s a campsite on the property.

Evening activities include the anticipated Friday night lobster bake, a traditional way to get acquainted with Maine’s favorite crustacean and celebrate the week’s accomplishments.

Heli-fishing on Vancouver Island, Canada

Watch eagles soar, dolphins leap and grizzly bears play in the not-too-far distance.

From a helicopter high above the Great Bear Rainforest, guests of Nimmo Bay Wilderness Resort are treated to a bird’s-eye view of 50,000 square miles of untamed wilderness, defined by old-growth forest, dramatic fjords and sparkling rivers and streams teaming with wild Pacific salmon.

Guests who book the heli-fishing package are helicoptered to this untouched terrain. Heli-fishing is fit for seasoned anglers as well as those who have never cast a line. With pure waters brimming with aquatic life and a savvy guide, an abundant catch is almost guaranteed.

This exclusive eco-lodge is in harmony with nature, with half of it floating in the peaceful bay. A waterfall runs through it, supplying drinking water and green energy. Access is via floatplane and helicopter, so getting here is an adventure in itself.

This high-end wilderness immersion doesn’t come cheap. Rates start at $1,895 CAN per person, per night. Helicopter-based activities incur an additional cost.

Allison Tibaldi is a New York-based travel and food writer who has written for USA TODAY-Go Escape, Time Out New York, am New York, off Metro and other travel publications. Her work can be found at