Courtesy Old Town Trolley Tours
Sometimes the best way to explore a new city is to get out of the car, but that doesn’t mean you have to get off wheels. In destinations throughout the South, groups can see both town and country from bicycles, trolleys, carriages, Segways and other interesting tour vehicles.
Old Town Trolley Tours of St. Augustine
St. Augustine, Florida
As the nation’s oldest permanently occupied European settlement, St. Augustine, Florida, “has a very European feel to it,” said Dave Chatterton, general manager of Old Town Trolley Tours of St. Augustine.
“With the brick streets, the outdoor tables at the restaurants, the sailboats on the water, the lighthouse and the fort; it’s just absolutely gorgeous,” he said.
The trolley company’s hottest ticket is the hop-on, hop-off sightseeing option that provides 22 stops at places like the Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine, the Oldest Wooden School House, Flagler College, Tolomato Cemetery and Ripley’s Believe It or Not! museum.
But Chatterton said the two most popular stops are the Fountain of Youth, a 15-acre historic park that is the site of the first Spanish settlement in 1565, and the 340-year-old Spanish fort, Castillo de San Marcos.
Each open-air trolley can hold 70 people, and trolleys arrive at each stop every 15 minutes. One ticket is good for three days, which allows visitors to tour the city at their leisure. Tour guides on each trolley narrate the history of the city and its sites and share personal stories about the area.
The trolley company also operates two attractions: the Old Jail, where visitors experience life as a prisoner in the 1890s, and the Oldest Store Museum, where clerks, butchers and snake oil salesmen hawk early-20th-century goods. Admission to the St. Augustine History Museum is also included with the purchase of a trolley ticket.
Ace Adventure Resort
Minden, West Virginia
West Virginia is a mountain biking mecca, and the New River Gorge and Gauley River Canyon in the southern part of the state are veritable dirt-riding El Dorados.
Ace Adventure Resort in Minden, West Virginia, offers several guided mountain bike tours, from two-hour family friendly rides to all-day treks aimed at more experienced enthusiasts.
The half-day Scenic New River tour is by far Ace’s most popular ride, said Beth Gill, marketing director for the resort. The tour leaves from Ace and is mostly downhill, “which a lot of riders appreciate,” she said.
The casual cruise follows the “Rails to Trails” route that hugs the rim of the New River Gorge. Bicyclists cross a former railroad bridge covered in a metal grating that allows riders to see the river below.
“It’s really cool to bike over the New River and be able to see it beneath you,” Gill said.
The trip ends with a ride through the old — and now nearly abandoned — town of Thurmond, which sits on the banks of the river. A shuttle picks up riders at Ace’s riverfront beach and transports them back to the resort.
Ace has a fleet of about 50 bikes and can provide enough guides to break up large groups into smaller sets for the ride. Each mountain bike tour includes a bike, a helmet and water.