Gravel grind tours take off
Explore northern New England’s vast network of dirt and gravel roads on a new tour offered by Vermont-based Great Freedom Adventures. The five-day Rivers and Ridgelines Gravel Grinder Bike Tour takes riders through serene landscapes in Vermont and New Hampshire, passing by farmsteads and covered bridges, along ridges with sweeping views, and by streams and hidden sugarbushes. The tours, which depart July 14 and Oct. 9 (and on other dates, by request), suit anyone from recreational riders looking to explore new terrain to athletes wanting to enhance their handling skills, speed, and endurance. Daily miles based on individual preference and route. Rates start at $1,895 per person, double occupancy, and include lodging, most meals, guides, and vehicle support. 877-545-1864, www.greatfreedomadventures.com.
A ship to shore oyster tour
Learn how to shuck and savor oysters, and about Martha’s Vineyard’s thriving oyster industry during summer-only tours that begin June 20. Farm.Field.Sea.’s two-hour Oyster Farm Tour runs Thursday nights and includes a boat ride to one of the island’s 30 oyster farms. You’ll learn how locals grow their own oysters and about the environmental benefits of oyster farming. Board the Sea Gypsy X, a 42-passenger vessel, at Oak Bluffs Harbor and meet biologist Rick Karney, who discusses aquaculture and the local oyster industry. After a stop at Cottage City Oyster, where you’ll see a shucking demo and sample oysters, the ship heads back to Oak Bluffs around sunset. Open to all ages, but best suited to passengers 10 and older. $135 adults, $40 12 and under. 508-687-9012, www.farmfieldsea.com.
Sleep in a water tower
Enjoy bird’s-eye views and rooftop sunsets with a stay in an unusual structure: a repurposed water tower. Mendocino County in northern California once had about 100 of these structures in the 1800s and has recently transformed 10 vintage water towers into unique accommodations. Stay at the JD House (bluedoorgroup.com), an 1870s tower that now resembles a ship captain’s home and has an oversized bath, a wood-burning fireplace, and whitewashed wood throughout; the three-story Redwood Tower (www.sweetwaterspa.com), which is built with local redwood and has a rooftop deck and a master suite with vaulted open-beam ceilings; and the Bever-Roberts Tower (www.mendocinotower.com ), which has a fully equipped kitchen and a widow’s walk that’s reached by ladder and offers stunning ocean views. Nightly rates start at $159 (JD House), $195 (Bever-Roberts), and $260 (Redwood). www.visitmendocino.com.
Discover the history and cuisine of Fort Collins
Take a new food and history tour of Old Town in Fort Collins and learn about some of the city’s oldest and newest culinary shops and eateries and the rich history of this area, about an hour north of Denver. The three-hour guided walking tour includes a sampling of local cuisine and stops at a spice shop, the first flour building, an old mill, and the Coppermuse distillery. Along the way, you’ll learn about the area’s farming and ranching heritage, the historic architecture, local green building practices, and the city’s resurgence of old-fashioned cocktail culture. Tours run Saturdays 1-4 p.m. $69 per person. 303-909-5747, www.localtabletours.com.
A new gear attic for your car
Take all your favorite gear on your summer adventures with Thule’s new Force XT roof box. One of the top features of this rooftop carrier is the new PowerClick mounting system with its built-in torque indicator: Once you have the box’s clamps situated around your roof bars, twist each corresponding knob inside the box until you hear a clicking sound, indicating that the clamp is securely tightened. The Force XT sits forward on your roof bars, meaning you can open your trunk or hatch without it banging into the rooftop carrier. It also opens on both sides for easy access to gear. The Force XT comes in a sport version (holding 11 cubic feet) to XXL (up to 22 cubic feet), all of which can carry a hefty 165 pounds. $499.95-$649.95. www.thule.com.
A practical light source for travelers
Light up your tent, your running route, or even your book in the hotel room or hostel (your fellow travelers will thank you) with BioLite’s new headlamp. This 330-lumen light has multiple modes, including red flood light, white flood light, white spot light, dimming mode, strobe, and lockout mode so you can’t accidentally turn it on in your bag or pocket. What sets this headlamp apart is its design: The thin light sits relatively flat on your forehead while the battery pack is situated against the back of your head, helping balance the weight and minimize bulkiness. The battery lasts for up to 3.5 hours on high and 40 hours on low, and can be recharged by micro USB. The BioLite HeadLamp 330 weighs just 2.44 ounces and is weather resistant. $49.95. www.bioliteenergy.com.