There are myriad reasons Hatteras is one of the best places in the world to learn to kiteboard. For one, "The wind is almost always kitable," says Captain Ty Luckett of Kite Hatteras. "Plus, you don’t need as much wind as a windsurfer does. If it’s blowing 12, it feels like 30." Above all, kiting Hatteras means 40 miles of waist-deep, September-warm Pamlico Sound water, all protected from daunting ocean swells. Luckett schools his charges from a floating classroom: a custom kite boat rigged with a tower that pulls you out of the water just as the wind would. The system ensures quick progress. After two days of Kite Camp you’ll be able to ride upwind or down, goofy foot or regular, and—before heading home—you just may be good enough for Luckett to take you to "a few secret spots" he happens to know ($795; kitehatteras.net).
Sky Top, a legendary buttress along New York’s Shawangunk Ridge, was one of the first casualties of the insurance hikes that shut down crags from coast to coast in the 1980s. But that was then. Now, the 200-foot cliff is open exclusively to guests of Mohonk Mountain House ($240, including meals; mohonk.com). "It’s crazy. You can get up on a 5.2 with plenty of holds, look down, and think, Where the hell am I?" says Marty Molitoris, director of Alpine Endeavors climbing school and guide service. Guests of the ridgetop lodge can climb or take lessons on Sky Top’s 300 routes with Alpine Endeavors for $169 a half day (less for groups). The climbing is just as good right next door on Trapps, which Alpine Endeavors guides too ($250 a day; alpineendeavors.com). They’ll also steer you to a campsite just down the road—not exactly a castle, but the price is right: free.
For New Hampshire’s inn owners, the old maxim "location, location, location" has a whole new meaning. The place to be these days is along some of the prettiest roads for cycling in the U.S.—or any other country, for that matter. "I’m from Bavaria," says Pecco Beaufays, owner of the Highland Lake Inn, "and I know beauty. But this area, with its lakes and mountains, it’s just completely unspoiled." A group of inn owners has put together a selection of 50 routes near Mount Kearsarge and Lake Sunapee on roads so narrow and placid that local riders call them "goat paths." The inns will transfer your gear, arrange for a guide if you want, and, of course, put you up in their inns for a discount off normal rates. "It’s completely flexible," says Beaufays. "We work with you for as many nights as you want and as far as you want to ride." A typical package is $550 per person for a group of four staying four nights (granitestatevacations.com). Bicycles are available from Outspokin, a local shop, and whether you rent from them or not, they’ll bail you out of any technical tight spots ($35 for bike rentals; outspokin.com).
"First this area ran on anthracite mining," says Whitewater Challengers’ guide manager Marc Brown. "Now we’ve gone green: Rafting is the big industry." Whether it’s an industry, a thrill ride (Class II and III whitewater), or simply a pleasant way to see the steep-walled Lehigh Gorge in the western Poconos, rafting hits its peak in September when dam releases guarantee two great weekends (13-14, 27-28) while the weather’s still warm and the hardwoods are turning gold. You can run two different sections of the river in the course of a weekend, but the hot tip is to raft one day and bike the next. Whitewater Challengers provides bikes and shuttles for the 35-mile rail trail that traces the Lehigh through the gorge ($68, including a campsite; whitewaterchallengers.com). Not that you have to wait for a dam release to ride—it’s $35 for a bike and shuttle even when the river isn’t foaming.