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Five trips to give as gifts

  • Story Highlights
  • Call hotels before you book to check for special holiday rates
  • As temperatures rise, ski resort room rates fall
  • Gourmet cooking stores will have information on cooking classes
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By Tanner C. Latham and Ryan Wallace
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Southern Living

(Southern Living) -- Dad doesn't want a tie. He wants a place to wear a tie. So think bigger. Check out these ideas, and give a present that's going to create a memory.

1. A Night in a Fancy Hotel
Whether you travel across the state or just across town, spend a night in splendor and feel like you're a million miles from home. In the Mid-Atlantic region, consider an escape to the Willard InterContinental Washington, known as "The Crown Jewel of Pennsylvania Avenue." It's located just two blocks from the Washington Metro and within walking distance of the National Mall. Rooms start at $299. www.washington.intercontinental.com or [202]628-9100.

Editor's tip: No matter which Southern city and hotel you choose, call before you book to check for special rates around the holiday season.

Don't Miss

2. A Ski Trip
A resort getaway is a great way to pay back mom and dad for all those years of parental (and financial) support. Send them to the Westgate Park City Resort & Spa in Park City, Utah, to enjoy all that comes with a fantastic vacation without leaving the property. Die-hard ski fans should try the Silver Passport, which grants access to the slopes of Park City's three resorts. Advance purchase required through a participating lodging partner. For more information visit www.parkcityinfo.com. www.wgparkcity.com or [435] 940-9444. Rates change on a seasonal basis.

When they want to venture into the charming downtown area just a few miles away, let them bundle up and then cuddle up on a horse-drawn sleigh. The Snowed Inn Sleigh Company offers rides for $20 per person. An expanded experience includes a stop for a gourmet meal at the company's mountain lodge ($79 adults, $49 ages 3-12). www.snowedinnsleigh.com or 1-866-647-3310.

Editor's tip: While Park City is known for being a winter wonderland, it can be a warm-weather playground too. Best of all, as the temperature rises, the room rates at mountain resorts drastically fall.

3. A Cooking Class
The gift of food is even better when your recipient learns to create it hands-on. At High Cotton in downtown Natchez, Mississippi, husband-and-wife owners Doug and Karry Hosford whisk through dicing frenzies, lecture on the art of reduction, and demystify rémoulades. For $60, students get experience with every step, and once they finish the multicourse meal, they're full and smiling. [601] 304-9706.

Editor's tip: Looking for a class nearby? Start by contacting a gourmet cooking store in your town.

4. A Snorkel Trip
It's hard to wrap a dolphin, but it's great fun trying to spot one on a snorkeling cruise. Capt. "Tortuga" Tom Stroh always keeps an eye out for wild dolphins that often approach his catamaran Echo 2 off Key West, Florida, en route to snorkel sites. Sponge gardens and coral-encrusted shipwrecks in the calmest, clearest water Captain Tom can find add to the enjoyment. Cost: $79; www.dolphinecho.com or [305] 292-5044.

Editor's tip: Never been snorkeling? "Just lay down, float, and do nothing," says Tom. It takes about four minutes for your body to adjust.

5. A Driving School Class
Send a friend or relative to slide behind the wheel (and across the pavement) at the BMW Performance Driving School in the Greenville/Spartanburg area of South Carolina. Slalom the cones. Spin out on the skid pad. All under the watch of a driving instructor, who's showing you what you do and don't know about driving a car. Simulate, schmimulate. Bottom line: You're handling a cool car (read: a BMW Twin Turbo 335 or the Z4 Coupe). Cost: $650 for one day; www.bmwusa.com or 1-888-345-4269.

A NOTE TO OUR READERS: "5 Trips To Give as Gifts" is from the Home for the Holidays 2007 issue of Southern Living. Because prices, dates, and other specifics are subject to change, please check all information to make sure it's still current before making your travel plans. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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