Guided tours don't always involve a crowded bus accompanied by a recitation of well-worn anecdotes. A savvy traveler in search of diversity can find a plethora of unusual outings.
Alcatraz Evening Tour San Francisco. A nighttime trip to the former federal penitentiary is highlighted by a visit to the old cell house where Al Capone and other notorious figures did time on the island. Views of the twinkling city lights are a bonus. (415) 705-5555, www.blueandgoldfleet.com .
Atlantis Adventures Hawaii. Dive into the sparkling waters off Oahu, Maui, or the Big Island aboard a passenger submarine to eye sea turtles and tropical fish near coral. Captain Nemo never had it so easy. (800) 548-6262, atlantisadventures.net .
Earth in Motion Eco-Adventure Tour Palm Desert, Calif. Learn how seismic forces help shape the Golden State during a three-hour excursion along the San Andreas Fault. (760) 862-5540, (888) 528-8133, www.jurassicexpeditions.com .
Experimental Breeder Reactor #1 Arco, Idaho. Learn how this decommissioned relic at the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory helped Arco become the first town in the world to be powered by atomic energy back in 1955. (208) 526-0050, (800) 708-2680, www.inel.gov .
Full Moon Canoe Tours Bend, Ore. Head to high mountain lakes in the Cascade Range for a summer sojourn by lunar light. Paddlers can soak up the solitude while gliding along beniath starry skies. (541) 389-8359, (800) 962-2862, www.wanderlusttours.com .
Grand Canyon Hummer Tour Las Vegas. This all-day road trip takes in Hoover Dam and Joshua Tree National Park before heading off-road to the Grand Canyon for lunch. (702) 243-0181, (800) 817-6789, www.rebeladventuretours.com .
Pacific Running Guides Vancouver, B.C. Quick-footed guides set the pace for both hard-core and recreational runners on calorie-burning routes through Stanley Park, Granville Island, and lesser-known parts of the city. (604) 684-6464, (877) 728-6786, www.pacificrunningguides.com .
Private Eye Tours Seattle. Discover the Emerald City's tarnished side on a visit to such crime-related sights as serial murderer Ted Bundy's old apartment and the house where Nirvana front man Kurt Cobain took his own life. (206) 365-3739, www.privateeyetours.com .
Splash Tours of San Francisco Travel above and below the Golden Gate Bridge on an amphibious tour bus. Perfect for landlubbers and sea hawks. (415) 401-8310, (877) 775-2741, www.splashtours.com .
Vampire Tour of San Francisco Take a bite out of the Nob Hill neighborhood with vampiress Mina Harker and her terrifying tales of the city's past on this evening romp. (650) 279-1840, www.sfvampiretour.com .
Photography by Anne Hamersky
This article was first published in May 2003. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.