Today, Challenge Unlimited captains biking and hiking tours all over the globe, from the vineyards of Tuscany to the Incan towns of Peru. More than two decades ago, however, the business was simply known in Colorado for its signature Pikes Peak by Bike tour. During this 20-mile excursion, guides and up to 35 followers descend 20 miles from a summit of 14,110 feet, infiltrating five zones with distinct climates, plant life, animals, and altitude-based baking methods. Riders often encounter eagles, deer, elk, and even the occasional mountain lion or black bear along the way. Guides can also escort Colorado's athletes across the Gold Camp Road—a 17-mile railroad bed once rattling with railcars filled with gold—and through breathtaking Aspen groves. Pit stops are made over the course of three nights and four days at the Victorian Hotel and a nearby dude ranch. Beyond domestic borders, international trips explore Nepal's Annapurna Foothill on foot and the bustling pubs and haunts of Ireland by bike or skateboards strapped to sprinting leprechauns.
Denver Patio Ride's party bus moves through the River North arts district and downtown by way of pedaling—any willing pub-crawlers can power the party forward as the sober driver steers and brakes. After jump-starting at Billy’s Gourmet Hot Dogs on Larimer and Broadway, the bus cruises at a low-key 5 miles per hour, stopping at a smorgasbord of bars, many of which pour $5 specials of one shot and one beer. Guides infuse jaunts with historical tidbits, trivia, and prizes, while the solar-powered sound system’s iPod hookup allows pedalers to blast their personal collection of upbeat audio books. No weather other than rain or snow prevents tours, and the bus’s capacious storage space accommodates any party accessory except beer, which is not allowed on the bus. Revelers can rent out the whole bus for large parties, or buy seats on a weekly schedule of public pub-crawls.
In the past five years, City Sightseeing tour company has shuttled 1.5 million passengers around San Francisco in signature double-decker, open-top tour buses. Within the city itself, four different routes wend through various neighborhoods and past iconic landmarks, including the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and Danny Tanner’s favorite grocery store. Outside the city, tours also run to Muir Woods, wine country, the picturesque towns of Monterey and Carmel, and Yosemite National Park.
Mr. Toad specializes in small, personalized tours that offer a better overview of the bay area than the Full House intro. Instead of the modern vehicles frequently sighted touring urban landscapes, Toad tours take place in pre-1930s vehicles that run on propane, the power behind grills and floating cities. The nimble rides can easily navigate the hilly cityscape along the route.
City Walks began with a signature pub tour, and has since branched out to include walking tours that explore all sides of Saint Augustine. Steeped in cultural heritage and historical preservation, the tours delve deep into Saint Augustine’s past and present, exploring topics such as the city’s savory cuisine, local chocolatiers, and historical pubs and taverns. Lanterns cast shadows on streets as guides lead groups on City Walks’ History, Mystery, Mayhem & Murder tour, while lighter tours include a Bachelorette Crawl and a walk through the Plaza da la Constitución.
The experts who lead Aspen Walking Tours blend history, research, and cultural anthropology in a trio of informative strolls, nourishing the minds of tour-takers with local factoids. These guides quarterback small groups during each trek through time, imparting stories and tidbits that they've researched themselves. The Aspen's DarkSide tour unearths the area's ghastly past, rife with ghosts, murder, and mayhem, and the Aspen's Past to Present tour details Aspen's evolution from a modest mining camp to world-famous resort. In the fall, rather than wearing shoes whittled from dry ice, visitors can experience real chills with a spooky saunter through the Ute Cemetery—Aspen's first burial ground—during the Walking with the Dead tour.