Leave Every Child Behind
Even parents of perfect angels could use a break once in a while. Here are six ideas for easy getaways where kids are refreshingly scarce, listed from west to east.
Try a getaway with a steady buzz
The Concept: Stay at a coffee plantation on the Big Island.
Where: Kona, Hawaii.
Chances You'll See a Child: Slim. The five-room Ka'awa Loa Plantation discourages parents from bringing kids; most visitors are couples or single travelers. In the rare cases when this B&B accepts a family with children, it places them in a separated cottage or in the upper suite, which has no guest rooms above or below it. As for the coffee plantation tour, few parents are likely to drag their kids there.
Cost: Doubles from $125 a night, with a minimum two-night stay. Breakfast is included.
The Trip: The 20 miles of rolling hills along Kona's western coast are known as the Big Island's coffee belt. Rich volcanic soil and a continuous cloud cover make the region especially friendly to coffee beans, and about 600 local farms use that to their advantage. To get a taste, spend a few nights at the Ka'awa Loa Plantation. Located 1,200 feet above Kealakekua Bay, this B&B sits on a lush, five-acre plantation that produces coffee as well as a mouth-watering variety of tropical fruits. You'll breakfast on freshly picked dragon fruit, avocado, guava, passion fruit, and white pineapple. Sweat away your cares in a traditional outdoor Hawaiian cedar steam room. Then relax on the wraparound veranda (called a lanai) and watch the sun set over the bay.
Hot Tip: For a two-hour coffee plantation tour, drive a few miles south to Pele Plantations' BrocksenGate Estate. Tours are free with the purchase of freshly roasted coffee beans, with prices starting at $25 a pound (800/366-0487, peleplantations.com).
Contact: Ka'awa Loa Plantation, 808/323-2686, kaawaloaplantation.com.
Become a wine explorer
The Concept: Walk among wine estates for four days.
Where: Sonoma County, Calif.
Chances You'll See a Child: Infinitesimally small. Because children (a) won't hike for miles a day and (b) are generally unwelcome at wineries.
Cost: From $950 per person, including breakfasts, lunches, accommodations, wine tastings, luggage transfers, and trail notes.
The Trip: Face it: You're never hiking the 2,175-mile Appalachian Trail, even if it's one of the ultimate child-free vacations. But a wine-tasting hike you can do. Luxury outfitter Wine Country Trekking sends clients on self-guided walks through wooded trails, country lanes, and hilly vineyards about 30 miles northwest of San Francisco. On one of its best-priced trips, Sonoma Valley Wine Tasting, you cover between six and eight miles a day. Because the tour is self-guided (maps and meal vouchers are provided), you can pick up gourmet picnic lunches from cafés and bakeries at your own pace. The itinerary of private tastings, which reads like a wine estate greatest-hits list, includes the large producer Ravenswood as well as the boutique operation of Robert Hunter. The outfitter reserves your stays at tony inns, such as the Zen-like Gaige House Inn, in Glen Ellen, Calif., and also transports your luggage.
Hot Tip: Avoid getting lost by renting a GPS unit ($60 per trip).
Contact: Wine Country Trekking, 888/287-8735, winecountrytrekking.com.
Discover your inner Monet
The Concept: Take a workshop in basic art instruction.
Where: Petit Jean Mountain, Ark., about 90 minutes from Little Rock.
Chances You'll See a Child: Low. While Art Escapes has no set age policy and might accept a mature high school student, the program is not for young kids, and no high school or college student has attended so far.
Cost: Prices have not yet been announced but will likely be around $490 per person for the three-day workshop, including accommodations, meals, and instruction. Materials are not included.
The Trip: The Winthrop Rockefeller Institute is perched atop Petit Jean Mountain in Arkansas's Petit Jean State Park. Overlooking the scenic Arkansas River valley, this former homestead of the late governor Winthrop Rockefeller has gardens, wooded trails, and buildings dating to the property's days as a cattle farm. The institute offers occasional three-day Art Escapes in the fall and spring. Visiting artists hold classes in such media as oil paint and watercolors. The classes, limited to a dozen people and open to all skill levels, guarantee plenty of personal attention and are often held plein air to take advantage of the pastoral setting. Evening activities allow you to mingle with the artists and your fellow students. One night may, for example, feature art-themed games. The conference center accommodations are sufficiently cosmopolitan, with flat-screen TVs and Wi-Fi.
Hot Tip: Plan ahead. Art Escapes is offered twice a year (and in 2009 will most likely be in April and November). Registration opens approximately three months in advance of each session.
Contact: Winthrop Rockefeller Institute's Art Escapes, 501/727-6220, uawri.org.