Photograph by Yadid Levy, Anzenberger/Redux

Photograph by Yadid Levy, Anzenberger/Redux

Best Tours in North America 2014

From Traveler Magazine's 2014 Tours of a Lifetime

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Vermont: Locavore Trail

Eating local is arguably the Green Mountain State religion, and this Vermont-based outfitter has scouted the best bounty in its backyard for a unique itinerary that has you touring the country’s only independent organic seed company and making mozzarella at Shelburne Farms. Cultural Crossroads: “Dig Into Vermont’s Edible Landscape,” 7 days; $3,368;

Greenland, Canada, Alaska: Amundsen’s Way

The legendary Northwest Passage is navigable for only a few weeks a year, allowing the French-flagged, Clean Ship-rated L’Austral to sail among its ice floes from the west coast of Greenland to Anadyr, Russia, with a cadre of polar expedition guides and naturalists to fill in the blanks. Compagnie du Ponant: “Northwest Passage Cruise From Greenland to Russia,” 22 days; $16,525;

Montana: Buckaroo Country

A family-focused agenda that packs in plenty of Big Sky scenery, wolf-watching, backcountry hiking, and horseback riding, with a tour of Little Bighorn Battlefield and a barbecue welcome at the company founder’s ranch. Austin Adventures: “Montana Family: Great Western Adventure,” 6 days; $2,298; kids $1,838;

Mexico: Surf and Turf

This dual adventure takes you biking up and down historic trails in the Sierra Madre and to surf lessons in the fishing village of Sayulita, home to breaks for the novice, pros, and everyone in between. Access Trips: “Mexico Bike & Surf Adventure,” 7 days; $1,990;

Canada: Gallic Fun

Attention, thrill-seeking Francophiles: Get your adrenaline rush—cave swimming, kitesurfing, snorkeling with seals—and Paris-worthy croissants all in one vacation, on a French-Canadian archipelago off Nova Scotia. Freewheeling Adventures: “Quebec: Magdalen Islands Multisport,” 7 days; $2,895;

Dominica: Caribbean Trek

Opened last year, the Waitukubuli trail is the sole long-distance trail in the Caribbean. Join one of the first commercial expeditions to hike its 114 mountainous miles, from Scotts Head to Cabrits, past waterfalls, gorges, and sulfur springs. World Expeditions: “Trek the Waitukubuli National Trail,” 12 days; $3,390;

Washington, Idaho, Montana: Race the Train

Up for a challenge? Bike 600 miles from Seattle to eastern Glacier National Park, through the Cascade, Selkirk, and Rocky Mountain ranges, and then climb into your private sleeping room aboard Amtrak’s westbound train to retrace your route. Bicycle Adventures: “Empire Builder Epic,” 10 days; $3,695;

Washington: Backcountry Lessons

Plunge deep into Olympic National Park to experience all its majesty—jagged peaks, alpine lakes, rain forests, and rugged coastline—while mastering backcountry skills and learning about the ecology of the Pacific Northwest. EverGreen Escapes: “Olympic Adventure,” 6 days; $3,450;

Hawaii: Kauai Campout

From base camp on the Waipa Foundation’s secluded ahupua‘a overlooking Hanalei Bay, experience the splendor of Hawaii’s Garden Isle on foot, surfboard, and kayak, and lend a hand for a day to weed a taro patch or clean trails. The highlight: a guided paddle along the 16-mile Na Pali Coast. Sierra Club Outings: “A Sunny Multisport Sampler, Kauai,” 8 days; $1,795;

Tennessee: Cycle and Dine

The foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains have inspired the menu at the plush locavore temple Blackberry Farm—think haute cuisine meets country cooking—and a myriad of breathtaking bike rides. Enjoy both on this cycling trip based at the inn. Trek Travel: “Great Smoky Mountains and Blackberry Farm,” 6 days; $5,499;

Alaska: Birder’s Heaven

The state is the ultimate North American frontier for birders. From the far-flung Pribilofs, with its 2.8 million seabirds—including one of the world’s rarest gulls, the red-legged kittiwake—to Denali, Nome, and Barrow, this wide-ranging expedition appeals to avid birders and rookies alike. The trip can be broken up into two parts. Field Guides: “Alaska,” 18 days; $10,050 including internal flights;

Cuba: People to People

A horse whisperer and the "Picasso of Cuba" are just some of the locals you'll connect with on this culture-focused itinerary. National Geographic Expeditions: "Cuba: Discovering Its People and Culture," 9 days; $5,995;

Contributing editor Margaret Loftus has reported and written “Tours of a Lifetime” for the past eight years.