SAN DIEGO ( TheStreet) -- If you have the summer doldrums or just need a break from the grind, a luxury biking tour may be just the pace-slowing antidote. VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations, founded in 1971 and billed as America's oldest bicycling vacation company, specializes in deluxe bike vacations.
The company, ranked the No. 2 tour operator in the world in Travel + Leisure's World's Best Awards for 2014, has put together some unique offerings.
You can ride through a forested landscape of gently rolling hills in Mississippi, where battles were raged and peace was won, along the Natchez Trace Parkway, carved through wilderness by Native Americans and pioneer settlers. Or through Vermont's verdant rolling hills and lush valleys, stopping to discover villages that seem frozen in time, cruising through covered bridges and learning about maple syrup production and sampling locally made artisanal cheeses.
But the tours aren't cheap, costing anywhere from $1,745 to more than $2,000 for a five- or six-night trip. For that price you get all accommodations, gear, bicycles, many meals, two expert local trip leaders and unique sightseeing.
"This is how I see it. It's not about money. I want our people going home thinking 'My life is a little different having just returned from a VBT vacation,'" says Gregg Marston, president of VBT. "It's about stimulating your senses, it's about you tasting something you don't forget, smelling something you don't forget. It's about listening to the Pacific Ocean and putting your feet in the Pacific Ocean. On bike tours you taste, feel, smell and touch, stimulating your senses and creating a memory that lasts a lifetime."
"You're slowing the pace down and really experiencing the essence of the region you are visiting, whether you are there all by yourself on this tranquil Vermont pasture or on a battleground of the civil war," Marston says.
Here's a few of the company's deluxe tours you may want consider to spice up your summer or fall:
Mississippi: The Natchez Trace
This trip, which costs $1,745, features five nights in historic, antebellum inns and includes meeting a local historian at Vicksburg National Military Park, a tour of the historic town of Natchez via horse-drawn carriage and taking in Emerald Mound, one of the largest Native American ceremonial mounds in North America.
"On this trip we discover culture and meet the people in the region," Marston says. "This is the Civil War and tremendous, tremendous history. We touch on a lot of history with Grant and the south."
There will also be much Southern cuisine sampled, but you will be working off all that eating each day. The average daily mileage biked on this trip ranges from 15 to 49 miles -- so it's not for the faint of heart.
Biking Southern Vermont: A New England Idyll
If you prefer tasting fresh artisanal cheeses and learning about dairy production -- in a factory owned by the family of President Calvin Coolidge, no less -- VBT's Vermont trip is hard to beat.
"This is quintessential Vermont," Marston says. "It touches on Woodstock, which is fabulous, and Grafton, which is also fabulous. They're traditional quaint villages of New England with small town New England charm. They are reminders of the simplicity of the past."
Also on the trip: "Riding along quiet roads and pastures along the wooded back roads of Vermont, past rolling and peaceful, unspoiled farms, and classic white houses with green shutters."
The cost for this idyll, which includes five nights at historic inns and between 10 to 37 miles of biking each day, starts at $1,995.
California Wine Country & the Pacific Coast
Italy of the United States, anyone? That's how Marston describes the setting for this luxurious trip, which includes tastings at prestigious vineyards, sampling olive oil at an olive mill and cruising along the stunning Pacific coast in a six-day tour costing $1,895.
Participants, who will bike between 18 to 44 miles each day, also get to stand at the foot of some of America's largest trees at Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve and explore the world-famous wine regions of Carneros, Russian River Valley and Dry Creek Valley.
"It's all about the wine," Marston says of this trip. "Just experiencing the wine country of California at its best."