For the past four decades, on certain frosty December days, guides have led visitors through the streets of Fredericksburg's historic district. Now in its 43rd year, the Annual Candlelight Tour still illuminates the centuries-old town's stately buildings with re-tellings of historical happenings and the soft glow of candlelight. On certain nights, after glimpsing the town as it was seen long before electricity or the invention of horseback riding, tour groups gather for a cocktail party.
The Annual Candlelight Tour introduces visitors to some of Fredericksburg's historic sites which have born witness to Colonial and Civil War history. At sites such as Kenmore Plantation, Hugh Mercer Apothecary Shop, and the Mary Washington House, exhibits and costumed interpreters help keep the area's rich history alive. Fredericksburg and its surrounding towns also draw visitors with outdoor and artistic attractions ranging from historic trolley tours to theatrical performances.
Whether it's a ride from the chapel to reception hall or a lift to George Washington's childhood home, Old Towne Carriages gets horses Tony and Patricia gussied up for the occasion. For special events or a horse-phobia intervention, they tow up to four guests around town on private rides. Alternatively, larger groups can hop on a group tour—historical, haunted, or holiday-themed—and soak up the knowledge and wit of city-certified tour guides.
United Social Sports brings recreational athletes together to socialize and showcase their hand-eye coordination. Free agents or team-sized groups register for the organization’s casual coed leagues dedicated to traditional sports such as softball and volleyball as well as carnival games such as cornhole and skee-ball. Each league hosts 6–8 weekly matches, which culminate in a final tournament and an end-of-season party—much like youth-sports leagues, but with postgame drink specials.
The Institute for Shipboard Education was born from an idea to create a floating campus that reflected the ideals of the United Nations and the realities of globalization. As Chinese shipping magnate C.Y. Tung put it, “Ships can transport more than cargo—they can carry ideas.” From humble beginnings, the program went on to attract world-famous guest speakers including Mikhail Gorbachev, Mother Teresa, and Nelson Mandela. Today, the cruising university onboard the MV Explorer offers two-week Enrichment Voyages for learners of all ages, with educational programming that digs deep into each port of call's culture and history. This 15-day cruise incorporates both lectures and hands-on exploration as it passes along Mexico’s Baja peninsula toward the Isthmus of Panama and Ecuador. At each port on the itinerary, available excursions range from dive trips to volunteer service projects, such as plastering houses or feeding kindergarteners (additional fees apply for shore trips). Or you can set off on your own, armed with knowledge acquired from the recommended reading list.Days 1–3: After cruising from Ensenada, Mexico, to the southern tip of the Baja peninsula, the ship anchors at Cabo San Lucas. El Arco, the city’s iconic seaside arch, forms a scenic backdrop for a day of kayaking and snorkeling.Day 6: Puerto Quetzal in Guatemala lies within easy range of Antigua, named an UNESCO World Heritage Site for its well-preserved baroque architecture. It's ringed by mountains playing a very slow-moving game of duck-duck-goose. Day 7: Nicaragua’s largest Pacific port, Corinto, borders León, an old-world town dotted with 17th-century Spanish colonial churches such as the Cathedral of the Assumption.Days 9–10: Balboa, Panama, stands at the entrance to the Panama Canal—still an engineering marvel. The nearby overflow reservoir, Gatún Lake, is home to crocodiles, iguanas, and sloths.Days 12–13: Dipping toward South America, the ship docks at Manta, Ecuador, a trade city dating to pre-Columbian times. Pounding waves on Playa Murciélago create attractive surfing conditions.Day 15: The journey concludes at Puntarenas, Costa Rica, leaving you free to explore inland rainforests or head home. During each day at sea, college professors and other experts lead a string of seminars. Subjects are as varied as marine ecology, cultural anthropology, and photojournalism, and they often relate to the next port of call. The ship retains vestiges of its former life as a commercial liner. There are barstools in the 9,000-volume library, for instance, testifying to the space's former role as the ship's tavern. Despite the emphasis on education, there’s still plenty of relaxation aboard. The Wellness Center spa offers massages, manicures, and other pampering services. Nightly live entertainment offerings include an all-male a cappella group, a magician, and staged readings of old Love Boat scripts. During the day, you can even skip class to lounge by the pool, located on deck 7.See the full trip overview for more information.Read the Fine Print for important info on travel dates and other restrictions.
Originally from Greece, the Papadopoulos family has generations of winemaking in its history. You could even say that wine is in their blood, and not just as a figure of speech. On their 50-acre grounds at Molon Lave Vineyards, the family combines a traditional European winemaking style with its estate-grown Virginia grapes. In addition to the usual suspects—cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, riesling—Molon Lave crafts Kokineli, a traditional Greek rosè table wine infused with dry herbal notes. Oenophiles kick back to sample the winery's offerings in two tasting rooms, on a wraparound patio, or on a three-tiered outdoor pavilion dedicated to the Greek god of patio furniture.
The adventure-seeking staff members of ThrillZOWN organize outdoors adventures at more than 100 locations nationwide, letting customers experience the waters, air, and land of America’s diverse regions. Seasoned guides lead adventurers on whitewater-rafting trips on inland rivers, and instructors conduct lessons in surfing and filling out life guards' paperwork at coastal beaches. Other guides help guests plunge to earth safely in tandem-skydiving and tandem-paragliding flights, while aeronauts sweep them through scenic country vistas during hot-air-balloon flights. On dry land, equestrians teach customers to think like a centaur on horseback trail rides, and professional stock-car drivers guide them in laps around a racetrack.