London A group called London Walks runs a repertory of over 300 walking tours 365 days a year. Themes include Beachcombing Along the Thames, Darkest Victorian London, the Blitz--erything but Hangouts of Posh and Becks. The tours cost all of $10.50, $8.50 for students and "Super Adults" (people over 65). 011-44/20-7624-3978, walks.com.
New York City Richard Ruben, who wrote The Farmer's Market Cookbook, leads a tour of the Union Square Greenmarket that continues at the kitchens of the Institute of Culinary Education, where he shows you how to make lunch with the ingredients purchased that morning. You might learn to make (and get to eat) spicy pheasant sausage smothered in an eggplant, mushroom, and red onion ragout. $95, 212/847-0770, iceculinary.com/recreational/walking_tours.shtml.
Oregon For a mix of the spooky and the spiritual, go moonlight canoeing on Hosmer Lake with the folks from Wanderlust Tours. The excursions depart from Bend and Sunriver, take four hours, and only occur on the five nights around each full moon, from June through September. (If you really want to have fun, put on a hockey mask, à la Jason from Friday the 13th.) Includes dessert and hot cider. $60 to $65; 800/962-2862, wanderlusttours.com; no kids 8 and under.
Palm Springs Jurassic Expeditions leads four-hour motor coach tours of the San Andreas Fault, with theatrical interludes and a re-creation of a 6.5-magnitude earthquake. The goal: to better understand the land and what it means. "We've had people cry," says founder Tim Moreland. "It's powerful stuff." $68, 888/528-8133, jurassicexpeditions.com, January to March.
Paris The tours led by Paris Walks cost $13 (kids $6.50) and tend to cover neighborhoods such as the Marais, the Latin Quarter, and Montmartre. Reflecting the book's popularity, the tour based on The Da Vinci Code is $2.60 more and reservations are required. 011-33/1-48-09-21-40, paris-walks.com.
Singapore The City That Never Spits has a straitlaced reputation, but a diverse population. One ethnic group, Peranakans, are a blend of Chinese and Malay cultures. Tour East's 31D2-hour guided tours explore relevant sites in Peranakan neighborhoods. $24, kids $11.50, 011-65/6738-2622, toureast.net.
Sydney Sydney is one of the most laid-back of cities--which is no reason not to tear it up on the back of a Hog. Easyrider Motorbike Tours runs 60-minute Harley-Davidson rides around town, including a photo op on Bondi Beach. $85, 011-61/2-9247-2477,easyrider.com.au.
How to guarantee a stellar lunch
It's no surprise the Michelin Man has a spare tire around his middle. The French tire manufacturer's red Michelin Guide has steered diners to Europe's best restaurants for over a century, and its star ratings are the most coveted award in the business. Initially, three stars meant an establishment merited a special trip, two stars that it deserved a detour, one star that you should stop if it was on your way. They're almost uniformly expensive, but the good news is that many also serve lunch, and for a fraction of what a dinner costs. Menus are typically three courses--limited selection of appetizers, main courses, and desserts--a fixed price. (If you'd like a glass of 1961 Château Lafite Rothschild Grand Cru Classe with your lunch, expect to pay extra.) Here are three notable Michelin-starred restaurants. Reservations are essential.
Belgium Chefs Pierre Wynants and son-in-law Lionel Rigolet are the masters behind Comme chez Soi, a three-star Brussels establishment for 25 years. The $84 prix fixe lunch can include ham mousse from the Ardennes; sliced cod with tomato coulis, black salsify, and marjoram, plus a selection from the cheese or dessert menus, perhaps hot soufflé with Roquefort. 23 Place Rouppe; 011-32/2-512-29-21, commechezsoi.be; closed Sunday and Monday, and Wednesday lunch.
England A 50-minute train ride from London's Paddington Station, The Fat Duck has earned accolades for chef Heston Blumenthal's brilliant but humble approach to modern French cuisine. (It earned a third star in 2004, which it retained this year.) The $70 lunch features velouté of fennel with lemon balm and oyster, braised pork belly with Savoy cabbage and lardo from Colonnata, and carrot toffee with butternut ice cream and pumpkin seed oil. High Street, Bray, Berkshire; 011-44/1628-580-333, fatduck.co.uk; closed Monday.
There should be a special award for mothers who travel with small children. Boarding planes, tears, the constant search for bathrooms, the ever-present possibility (or, rather, likelihood) of things lost, broken, spilled. One traveling mom tells us in no uncertain terms why she'll do it all again. And again and again.