Make Your Next Trip Extraordinary

Extraordinary Getaways in the U.S. and Canada

by Wendy Perrin | March 2, 2020

When you can’t plan far in advance and don’t want to travel too far from home, here are options for a wide variety of extraordinary trips in the United States and Canada. If you’re not sure which Trusted Travel Expert is the best fit for your particular trip goals, feel free to Ask Wendy.

“Our teenagers are still talking about our Southern California trip…”

The Gill family WOW Moment.

The Gill family’s WOW Moment.

“Our teenagers are still talking about our Southern California trip, especially the paragliding adventure over the beaches and golf course at Torrey Pines and our beach barbeque at Crystal Cove State Park while watching the sunset with our toes in the sand.  Sheri was very helpful in recommending and organizing hotel stays at both the new hipster Pendry Hotel in San Diego and the luxurious Pelican Hill Resort outside of Newport Beach.  We initially had a little misunderstanding with the resort regarding our room location, but after a short conversation with Sheri, we were quickly upgraded to a room with a much better view (thanks, Sheri). This type of personalized service is the reason we plan most of our trips using Wendy Perrin’s trusted travel experts.  Since this was our third qualifying trip, Wendy surprised us with a WOW Moment—a day of adventure on charming Coronado Island. Our guide for the day picked us up at our hotel for a short ferry ride over to the historic island, where we spent the day riding electric bikes around the quaint residential areas, and then we kayaked out into the Bay. Thanks, Wendy and Sheri, for a very memorable day for all of us! ” —Janette Gill

Utah: “The sunset at the rim of Bryce Canyon displaying blazing shades of yellow, orange, and pink…”

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah.

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah. Photo: Mark Campbell

“Our trip to the national parks and monuments of Utah was a breathtaking adventure, thanks to Wendy’s Trusted Travel Expert.  We experienced moments in time that were transformative: The Navajo guide who sang to us in his native language while we were sitting within a grotto at Monument Valley; the slot canyon tour that resulted in absolutely amazing photos, thanks to another native Navajo guide who helped us with our Nikon camera settings, thus maximizing the camera’s capacity to capture vivid colors within the stunningly colorful canyons; the sunset at the rim of Bryce Canyon displaying blazing shades of yellow, orange, and pink; the drive at the base of the canyons at Capitol Reef that could have so easily been missed, had she not pointed this out to us; lastly, the hot-air balloon ride at the Amangiri.  I still cannot believe we experienced all that we did.” —Linda Johnsey

Atlantic Canada: “There were breathtaking panoramic views, rugged coastlines, fascinating history, photogenic lighthouses…”

Gros Morne Western Brook Pond fjord, Newfoundland

Gros Morne Western Brook Pond fjord, Newfoundland. Photo: Maxxim Vacations

Jill arranged a wonderful itinerary for our four-week road trip through Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland. There were breathtaking panoramic views, rugged coastlines, fascinating history, colorful houses, photogenic lighthouses, quaint ports, interesting art, gourmet food offerings, a lot of friendly people, and outstanding activities such as a private tour of Green Gables where you would have believed that Anne herself was taking us through Marilla’s home, a lighthouse picnic in Ferryland with million-dollar views whichever way you looked, a private boat tour exploring the rugged Atlantic coastline between the sea stacks, a sailing boat on the inland sea at Baddeck, and a guided hike to two amazing areas of Gros Morne National Park. It certainly is an advantage to get a local person to arrange an itinerary such as we have enjoyed and organize special accommodations and activities that you would not find if you did not have that local knowledge. It was also a real treat to meet Jill while we were there; it added an extra-special personalized moment for us.” —Paul and Karen Fehlberg

New Orleans: “We got a corner room with an incredible view…”

St. Louis Cathedral and Jackson Square in New Orleans, Louisiana, United States at sunset

St. Louis Cathedral and Jackson Square in New Orleans, Louisiana. Photo: Shutterstock

“We wanted a long weekend trip to New Orleans and contacted Lindsey to see if she could make some quick arrangements. She recommended the Roosevelt Hotel, which is one of the grand dames of NOLA hotels, super convenient to the French Quarter, and we got a corner room with an incredible view. When we arrived, we were greeted with a bottle of champagne and fresh fruit in our room. Lindsey had contacted the concierge too, who reached out to us and helped plan our visit to the WWII museum and restaurants, giving us great insights to ensure we maximized our time. Wendy’s WOW List of travel advisors has never disappointed and always makes our trips special.” —John Arndt

Alaska: “We caught ten 15-pound salmon in Talkeetna (and we had never fished before)…”

A Kodiak brown bear, Alaska

A Kodiak brown bear, in Alaska. Photo: Entree Destinations

“This was our third trip to Alaska—and it was a ‘WOW’ trip for us, thanks to Judith. We flew to the remote village of Anaktuvuk in Gates of the Arctic National Park, caught ten 15-pound salmon in Talkeetna (and we had never fished before), saw bears at Brooks Falls, saw sandhill cranes at Creamers Field, hiked around Byers Lake, got a private tour of the Morris Thompson native heritage center, reached ‘The End of the Road’ in Denali National Park…. Everything was just a delight!  And without Judith’s knowledge as to where to stay, what flying companies to work with, what fishing licenses were needed, and the many details and connections that were necessary for this trip, I could not have put it together without being frazzled and worried about making sure things worked as intended. This was a delightful, stress-free trip.  Judith and her team even arranged the weather for us to get a ‘clear’ view of Denali.” —Marsha Friedli

Wyoming: “She found us the perfect cabin in the Tetons…”

kayaking in jackson lake grand teton national park

Grand Teton National Park is full of outdoor activities in the summer, including kayaking on Jackson Lake. Photo: Billie Cohen

“We—my wife and I and our six-year-old twins—were searching for a memorable 10-day Thanksgiving trip in the mountains anywhere in the West that had the best chance of snow. After advising us as to the pros and cons of every mountain area from Colorado to British Columbia, Wendy’s Trusted Travel Expert steered us toward Jackson Hole, Wyoming. She found us the perfect cabin in the Tetons for half of the time and then obtained a truly phenomenal suite for us at the Four Seasons. We booked excursions in the refuge to see bison, hundreds of elk, and bighorn sheep, and we were directed to great hills to sled on and wonderful hiking areas. It was a five-star experience.” —Garrett Bandy

Great Bear Rainforest, British Columbia: ” The looks on our daughters’ faces were priceless…”

fisherman in a river with a helicopter parked nearby in the mountains of British Columbia Canada

Heli-fishing in British Columbia, Canada. Photo: Entree Destinations

Marc arranged a private heli-fishing tour in the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest. We were first a little hesitant due to the cost, but now we can honestly say that this was by far the highlight of our trip to BC!  Our heli-adventure began with a very scenic ride out to an isolated stream where we fished for pink salmon under the watchful eyes of bald eagles that were nesting in the trees above. The looks on our daughters’ faces were priceless as a mama black bear and her cub ventured to the other side of the stream for a drink. Next we flew past majestic waterfalls to a glacier where we ate a delicious, gourmet picnic lunch followed by a short hike around the fields of flowers and streams. Our adventure continued as the helicopter landed on a very small sandbar on the side of a rushing river to fish for coho salmon followed by another scenic ride back to our resort. It’s these little touches from Marc and his relationships with his service providers that made our vacation to Canada go from good to GREAT…hotel room upgrades, restaurant recommendations and reservations, a personalized foodie tour of Granville Island Market with a personal chef, a candy bar and birthday celebrations for our girls, and a delicious cheese/fruit tray for my husband and I.” —Janette Gill

California Road Trip: “A wonderful road trip on the Pacific Coast Highway from Mendocino down to San Diego…”

Bixby Bridge on the Big Sur coast of California

Bixby Bridge, on the Big Sur coast of California. Photo: Visit California/Myles McGuinness

“Wendy recommended a Trusted Travel Expert who helped us plan a wonderful road trip on the Pacific Coast Highway from Mendocino down to San Diego. He suggested a number of curated visits that were amazing. We especially liked a fabulous canoe trip down the Big River in Mendocino, a bike and wine tour through Sonoma, and a guided tour through Point Lobos (one of the most beautiful spots on earth). He knew the best rooms to stay in—we had some unbelievable views of the ocean from our hotels. It was one of our best trips ever—a definite WOW!” —Cathe and Bob Spear

Maui and Lanai: “We were unsure which Hawaiian islands we wanted to visit…”

Four Seasons Maui balcony

Four Seasons Maui. Photo: Four Seasons

“We were unsure which Hawaiian islands we wanted to visit, but Dani asked our family (four adults) so many questions about what we expected and how we wanted to spend our time, and was so well-informed, that we ended up with a fantastic vacation. We decided on the Four Seasons resorts on the islands of Maui and Lanai, which turned out to be perfect choices. Dani arranged all of our activities: surf lessons, paddleboard lessons, skeet shooting, archery. We had dinner reservations ready and were able to just enjoy our days. A highlight was our WOW Moment, biking down Haleakala through sun and clouds. Just a pleasure! Dani also maximized our time by advising us to take the ferry to Lanai, but to fly from Lanai to Maui instead of using the ferry again. Great advice!” —Nancy Stone

Prince Edward Island: “We had an unbelievable meal that lasted the entire evening…”

chef cooking over fire at Inn at Bay Fortune Prince Edward Island Canada

Inn at Bay Fortune, Prince Edward Island.

Jill planned a fabulous trip for us in the Canadian Maritimes that included an evening of Nova Scotia wines and local specialties at Le Caveau (you haven’t lived until you’ve eaten Brant Lake Wagyu beef), staying at Glenora Distillery on Cape Breton Island, and dinner overlooking the Atlantic Ocean at Panorama at the Cabot Links golf course. The pièce de résistance was our WOW Moment at The Inn at Bay Fortune on Prince Edward Island, where we had an unbelievable meal that lasted the entire evening. A farmer regaled us with stories about his farm and some of what we would be eating, we had a feast of oysters, and everything was cooked over an open flame! Little did we know there would be another WOW Moment the next morning, when we met the chef carving up a 322-pound tuna in the kitchen. ” —Sonja & Brian Haggert

The Olympic Peninsula to Vancouver and Victoria: “Scenic drives, hikes inside national parks, ferry rides…”

A beautiful sunset on the ocean among the rocks, Cape flattery trail , Olympic Peninsula, Washington state

Cape flattery trail, Olympic Peninsula, Washington state. Photo: Shutterstock

“For our trip from the Olympic Peninsula to Vancouver and Victoria, Sheri planned all the logistics, telling us which ferries to take, what time to visit a national park, what to do only on a sunny day rather than a cloudy one, which hikes to take in light of the ages of our kids, restaurants that we would enjoy, traffic advice, museums to visit, and more. She helped us find a great vacation home in the Olympic Peninsula that we would never have found on our own. We were initially reluctant to hire a travel agent who charged for her time, but we are so glad we did because she was worth every penny. Much of the detailed itinerary planning she does wouldn’t yield a commission for her—for example, planning scenic drives, hikes inside national parks, ferry rides—so I understand why she bills for her time the way she does and would highly recommend her.” —Sally Vaugh

Oahu and Maui: “There are many beaches to stop at, and you can see which is the right one for you…”

Hawaii - Kaneohe Bay, Oahu

Aerial view of Kualoa Point at Kaneohe Bay, Oahu, Hawaii. Photo: Shutterstock

Dani did a five-star job planning our Hawaii trip; her recommendations were awesome. If you go to Oahu, head to the North Shore to catch the real vibe of Hawaii. Take the Kamehameha Highway; there are many beaches to stop at, and you can see which is the right one for you. At Pearl Harbor, don’t miss the USS Bowfin Submarine tour and the USS Battleship Missouri. Maui is so much more than the west side of the island. Be sure to explore upcountry, and take the Road to Hana. Make dinner reservations at Merriman’s—in the Kapalua area of the North Shore—for 30 minutes before sunset. But get there earlier so you can sit outside and watch the day end while overlooking Kapalua Bay! As for Lanai, it’s very laid back and a restful place to chill, but be sure to take the 4 x 4 drive to The Garden of the Gods and beyond to Polihua Beach. The journey is the destination! Shipwreck Beach is interesting too: Where else can you walk out to a WW2 ship run aground on the shoals?”  —Joe Linnehan

Disney World: “…carefully planning the order of parks we would visit to make best use of open hours and Disney Magic Hours…”

Fireworks at Disney World, Orlando, Florida.

Fireworks at Disney World, Orlando, Florida. Photo: Disney

“My husband, two grandsons, and I just returned from Disney World, where we had a fabulous trip, largely due to Michelle. She worked with me on a detailed itinerary, carefully planning the order of parks we would visit to make best use of open hours and Disney Magic Hours (which we took full advantage of). She suggested that we stay at Disney’s Beach Club Resort because she said it had the best pool for our grandsons. With its pirate ship, slides and other water-park features, she was absolutely right. Michelle got reservations for a fun sit-down dinner each day, giving us a chance to take a breather and eat some interesting and healthy food. Each restaurant was convenient to where we were spending the day; I could see the wisdom of all her choices as we went through the week. One dinner even included VIP seating at Hollywood Studios’ excellent light show. On the day we qualified to sign up for our Fast Pass choices, Michelle selected the attractions that were most popular and geared to our grandsons’ ages and interests. She also ordered our Disney wrist bands that were linked to our hotel room, parks, Photo Pass, and credit card. I didn’t even have to carry a purse when we went out for the day. She made it possible for us to focus on memories instead of logistics. That’s a big reason why our grandsons announced to their parents when we returned that it was the most fun trip they had ever been on.” —Christine Stoll

Southern California: “Watching the sun sparkle off the ocean, dotted with sailboats and with Catalina Island in the distance…”

Pelican Hill resort in California, an aerial photo of the resort with the ocean in the distance

The Resort at Pelican Hill Newport Beach, California. Courtesy: Pelican Hill

“For our 40th anniversary celebration, Lindsey found us just the right place. She recommended The Resort at Pelican Hill, in southern California, and arranged for an oceanview room with a wonderful outdoor seating area that we enjoyed in the early mornings and most afternoons, watching the sun sparkle off the ocean, dotted with sailboats and with Catalina Island in the distance. For our WOW Moment, Lindsey’s team arranged for us to enjoy a Duffy Electric Boat in Newport Beach Harbor. The boat was stocked with an incredible antipasto tray and bottles of vodka, gin, and our favorite martini ingredients, with all the compliments. For two hours we cruised around the harbor. It was so much fun. The antipasto tray was so generous that we took it back to our room and enjoyed it with martinis for dinner that evening on our patio while watching the sunset. It was so perfect.” —John Arndt

Whistler and the Discovery Islands, British Columbia: “So remote, with beautiful scenery and gourmet food…”

aerial view of Sonora Resort in the Discovery Islands, British Columbia

Sonora Resort in the Discovery Islands, British Columbia. Photo: Tim Baker

“My husband and I and our two teenage daughters wanted to go to British Columbia, but to avoid any really crowded areas. Marc suggested we spend a few days in Whistler, then a few days on Sonora Island, and end in Vancouver. He set us up for fun activities in Whistler—RZR cars, white-water rafting, zip lining—and we were treated to a WOW Moment: A photographer gave us a personal tour of several waterfalls, giving us photography tips along the way and taking family photos; although I am the photography buff in the family, he was able to engage the whole family and everyone really enjoyed the experience (thank you, Wendy!). We then took a seaplane to Sonora Resort, which the entire family agreed was heavenly. So remote, with beautiful scenery and gourmet food. On our eco-adventure tour we were lucky enough to be in the middle of a pod of about 100 dolphins. The food at Sonora Resort was so delicious that on the first night at dinner our daughter said, ‘Thank you for bringing me here.’ Finally, in Vancouver, Marc suggested the Fairmont Pacific Rim for us, which also was in a fabulous location. Since we are foodies, he planned a food tour at Granville Island, where there are so many booths that it was helpful to have an expert direct us; the tour allowed us to sample more items in small quantities than we could have done on our own. Although I was very involved with the details of our trip, I didn’t have to figure out where to go or how to get there or worry about logistics during my vacation. That made it a true vacation for me.” —Nancy Wolf

Oregon: “She got us into the cellar of a family-owned winery…”

View of Cannon Beach and Indian beach in Ecola State park Oregon

View of Cannon Beach and Indian beach in Ecola State park Oregon. Photo: Shutterstock

“Wow, do not hesitate to hire Sheri when planning your trip to Oregon. Highlights: She snagged a 7 pm dinner reservation with a view at a restaurant that was booked solid three months out; she got us into the cellar of a family-owned winery in the Willamette Valley where the owner popped off the cork of the barrel and asked us to listen to the crackling sound of wine fermenting; she arranged for tide pooling at Haystack Rock on Cannon Beach. All of the resorts were spot-on, and her restaurant suggestions for dinner were culinary delights—especially the chef’s tasting menu with wine at Castagna in Portland. Her detailed planning service is worth every penny.” —Linda Johnsey

Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland: “Excursions which we never could have arranged by ourselves and about which my three grandchildren never stop talking…”

Newfoundland scenery

Newfoundland scenery. Photo: Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism

“For our three-generation family trip to Atlantic Canada—Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland—Jill arranged excursions which we never could have arranged by ourselves and about which my three grandchildren never stop talking. These included a boat trip where we dug for clams, pulled up lobster traps, gathered fresh mussels and oysters, and had a wonderful lobster boil on a secluded beach. Another boat excursion was to islands dark with puffins, murres, razor bills, cormorants and other birds, and a boat tour of coastal resettled communities during which we saw whales.  We also had a songfest in a private home with guitar and accordion. And we (and some say this was the best) hiked along the shore with Lori, a chef, who pointed out plants which were edible and then used them to make a sumptuous lunch. The vistas of inland lakes, pine forests, and ocean fronts were magnificent. This was a visit of a lifetime.” —Richard Goldin

Washington, D.C.: “We were able to get special access to the Supreme Court…”

The Supreme Court building exterior in Washington, D.C

The Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. Photo: Shutterstock

Emily’s team did a great job helping us with our Washington, D.C., trip. I was completely befuddled by the plethora of options—and even though I booked just one tour with them, they gave me very solid advice in plotting my itinerary. As it turns out, we were able to get special access to the Supreme Court that day. They were also nice enough to switch our tour to the British Museum for an upcoming London trip. That guide did a fantastic job: He made our high-school daughter look shockingly knowledgeable when she was able to answer questions about ancient Mesopotamia a few months later.” —Susan Hughes

Alaska: “The only backcountry lodge permitted to conduct guided hikes within the Park…”

Denali National Park, Alaska

Denali National Park, Alaska. Photo: Michael DeYoung/Alaska Tourism

“There are travel agents, and then there are travel experts. When going to Alaska, you can buy a nice package deal off of a travel agent, get a cruise, take some side tours and perhaps an extension to Anchorage, Katmai, Talkeetna, Denali or Fairbanks. You will see great places, but you will be part of a crowd. We wanted to see how an Alaska travel expert could customize a trip to meet our desires. Our main objective was to see one of the wildest areas of North America—the backcountry of Denali National Park and Preserve. There are very few travel-agent packages that take you this deep. So Wendy put us in contact with Judith. A travel expert like Judith will book you in a place that is off the grid, 92 miles inside Denali, in the only backcountry lodge permitted to conduct guided hikes within the Park and Preserve. Despite the location, this lodge is a first-class operation. She will also connect you with a behind-the-scenes tour with a native Alaskan and a first-rate guide for birding in Talkeetna. We usually do our own driving, but Judith convinced us to try the Alaska Railroad GoldStar Service between Fairbanks, Denali Park, Talkeetna and Anchorage. Good move, with wonderful travel on each leg of the trip. The views from the train were spectacular, and meeting other train travelers was a fascinating experience. Warning: Alaska is expensive. But Judith will provide a first-class experience of a lifetime. Only about 30% of the people visiting Denali get to see ‘The Great One.’ Judith gave us an excellent shot of seeing the highest mountain in North America. We succeeded and now are part of the lucky 30%.” —Henry Sosinski

Maui and The Big Island, Hawaii: “She even managed to snag us an upgrade to a suite…”

Four Seasons Hualalai pool Hawaii

Four Seasons Hualalai, Hawaii. Photo: Four Seasons

“We used Danis help to put together our trip to Maui and the Big Island of Hawaii.  It was a great trip packed with hiking, a sunrise visit to the top of Mt. Haleakalā and a subsequent bike ride down, surfing lessons in Lahaina, and a helicopter tour of the Big Island, including the active volcano.  Dani was in constant contact with us throughout, which was greatly appreciated, as we had questions about various things while we were there.  We had mentioned this trip was a celebration of our wedding anniversary, and at both of our hotels there was chilled champagne and sweet treats, courtesy of Dani.  She even managed to snag us an upgrade to a suite at the Four Seasons Hualalai, which was a pleasant surprise.” —Joseph McBrine

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