Every year we take a look at our travel bucket list and decide where we should go this year. But how many of those places are actually in the USA.
A few years ago we decided to work our way through all 50 US States and while we are about halfway through the list, it is has been an amazing adventure. With so many places to visit in the US I don’t think we will ever be done even when we hit all 50 states.
With the help of a few of my favorite travel bloggers, we have put together a list of bucket list destinations in every US State. You will be surprised at how much there is to see and do right in the USA.
And don’t be surprised if you find yourself thinking “There is no way that is in the United States”. I felt the same way about some of these places. And while I haven’t seen them all I’ve seen quite a few and I promise. They really do exist.
Are you ready to top off your list of places to visit in the US? Let’s get started.
Places to visit in each US State
Alabama- Orange Beach
Photo Credit: Alli’s Grade Escape
The quaint beach town of Orange Beach is located on the gulf coast of Alabama, and boasts over 30 miles of pristine white beaches! Despite a large number of hotels and condos available for rent along the coast, Perdido Beach still remains somewhat empty, rather than packed with vacationers vying for sandy space. The beachfront hotels and condos offer pools and walk-out beach access – prime areas for swimming, relaxing, building sandcastles, flying kites, hunting for seashells and sand dollars, and more!
Area restaurants range from fast food to fresh seafood and fine dining! One of the most famous spots in the area is FloraBama, aptly named for its location near the Florida and Alabama border. This beach bar is THE place to be, and offers typical pub grub, seafood, and is the home of the “bushwacker” – a variation on a boozy chocolate milkshake!
For travelers who enjoy walking, hiking, or swimming, other attractions in Orange Beach include Gulf State Park and Park Pier, the Orange Beach Waterfront Park, and the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail and Rosemary Dunes! Each offers a variety of boardwalks, trails, and accessible waterfront areas for any type of outdoor or water activity. Alternate points of interest are the Wharf, for shopping and dining, and Adventure Island, an amusement park for kids of all ages! These are all fantastic vacation opportunities for those who are less keen on the “beach-life.” On the whole, Orange Beach, Alabama is a fantastic destination for a weekend getaway or beach vacation!
Recommended By Alli from Alli’s Grade Escape
Photo Credit: The Awkward Traveller
Usually in the shadow of the state’s biggest city, Anchorage, Fairbanks flies under the radar as a quaint hidden gem of the north.
In the summer, you can visit nearby National Parks like Denali and Gates of the Arctic, packed with hiking and camping adventures. But Fairbanks REALLY comes alive during the winter and is one of the only places in the United States where you can regularly spot the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights).
Fairbanks is also home to the World Ice Sculpting Championship, and you can witness giant creations sculpted from the best ice artists around the world. Exploring the small city of Fairbanks, blanketed in snow, is like finding peace on Earth. Surprisingly, Fairbanks is also equipped with some great international cuisine. There is a plethora of delicious Thai and Vietnamese restaurants, and even the best Cuban restaurant outside of Miami!
After you’ve stuffed yourself, you can read up on the local Indigenous culture at the Morris Thompson Cultural & Visitors Center. You can educate yourself on Alaska Native stories, art, music and listen to local experts on the people and places of Interior and Arctic Alaska. You can even learn about the history of the MASSIVE Trans-Alaska Pipeline just outside of the city. You can walk right up to it! AND – depending on winter conditions of the year, the Iditarod MAY start in Fairbanks instead of its traditional starting point, Willow.
Plus, it’s right next to the North Pole!! Well…okay, it’s next to the CITY named North Pole. But it has a Santa’s workshop, so close enough!
Recommended by Kay from The Awkward Traveller
Photo Credit: One Trip at a Time
Page in Arizona may not have the same cachet as the Grand Canyon or the big cities, but it’s hard to beat for unique experiences, beautiful scenery and man-made wonders.
If you enter Page from the north, you will cross the bridge in front of the impressive Glen Canyon Dam. Rather than just driving across, pull over at one end and take a walk to the center of the bridge to admire the majesty of the dam itself and the huge drop down to the Colorado River below as it heads towards the Grand Canyon.
Southwest of Page is one of the most famous views of the Colorado River – Horseshoe Bend. It’s well worth the hike out here to see the beautiful site of the river arcing through the ravine.
For a unique experience, take a helicopter from Page Airport to the top to Tower Butte. Inaccessible except by helicopter you truly feel as though you are on top of the world when the helicopter lands on the butte and you can get out and explore. With barely a sign of civilization in any direction, it’s a truly remarkable experience and you can include aerial views of the Glen Canyon Dam and Horseshoe Bend to your itinerary.
Finally, a visit to Antelope Slot Canyon is a must if you are in the area. This narrow canyon was cut by wind and water which left behind stunning shapes and swirls on the canyon walls. If you are able to get there in the summer around midday, you can get to witness the shafts of light that pierce the roof of the canyon.
Recommended By Lee and Stacey of One Trip at a Time
Arizona is also one of the best places in the US to go camping.
Photo Credit: Family Road Trip Guru
If you had to visit just one place in the State of Arkansas it has to be the town of Hot Springs, home to Hot Springs National Park. This Park is not like any other National Park in the United States. It does not offer wilderness trails or wildlife encounters. It actually encompasses a portion of the downtown area of the town where several spas (or bathhouses) were built in the 19th century. These bathhouses are fed by natural hot mineral springs that come to the surface in the area.
So a trip to Hot Springs National Park means not hiking but relaxing.
You can choose as simple or as elaborate experience as you want from just soaking in a communal mineral pool to a full-blown package with soaking in a private bath, massage, facial and any other add on treatments that you want.
But the aforesaid National Park is not the only attraction in town. There may other great things to do in Hot Springs Arkansas, such as visiting a beautiful botanical garden, hiking in Oachita National Forest and even minerals hunting. In addition to that Hot Springs is home to Oaklawn racing track if you are into such thing or if you just enjoy the excitement of the race.
The best time to visit Hot Springs Arkansas is in spring when everything is in bloom and it is not too hot and humid yet.
Recommended By Tatiana from Family Road Trip Guru
Photo Credit: My Open Passport
Everyone knows the famous Napa Valley in California, which is near San Francisco. But do you know there there are actually wineries in the south, near San Diego?
Sure, San Diego is also known for its beautiful beaches and delicious Mexican food, but for any wine lovers- this is a spot to see!
The majority of wineries in San Diego are in and around Temecula Valley, an area of San Diego, more in land from the beaches. Unlike other wineries that are surrounded by greenery, Temecula is surrounded by desert beauty. However, there are a few wineries in other parts of this big city such as the Rancho Bernardo Winery.
Since San Diego isn’t as famous for wine as its neighbor in the north, tours of the winery are very personal and some are run by the owners themselves! Visitors will also get to see a different side to San Diego rather than the stereotypical postcard view as well as interact with San Diego locals, some might even be native to the area for generations, which is rare!
There are a few ways to get to Temecula Valley, one being the historic highway 67. This was one of the first highways in San Diego and as visitors travel to the wineries, they get to experience more of San Diego.
From reds to whites and all in between, San Diego wineries have a treat for you!
Recommended By Mara from My Open Passport
Colorado-Rocky Mountain National Park
One of the must-see places when visiting Colorado is Rocky Mountain National Park. The majestic mountains, the wildlife, the lakes, and the beautiful scenery make it one of the most beautiful areas in Colorado and one of the most beautiful national parks in the United States.
Rocky Mountain National Park is located about 1½ hours from Denver International Airport and adjacent to the cute town of Estes Park. Estes Park is a great place to grab a sandwich and head to the park for a hike. My favorite place to grab a sandwich is the Country Market.
It will cost you $25/vehicle for a day pass to get into the park. Unless you plan to camp in the park, one day is sufficient to see some of the Park and get in a good hike. It is open from Memorial Day until October 8th, depending on the weather.
There are more than 300 miles of trails in the park so hiking is a great way to spend your time in the park. One of the most popular hikes for people of all ages is the 2-mile hike to Dream, Nymph and Emerald lakes. I have seen young and old on this hike but it is a bit strenuous in spots. A very simple hike if you have a family is the 0.6-mile hike around Bear Lake.
Elk, deer, moose, mountain goat and longhorn sheep can all be spotted in the park. One of my favorite days was hearing two mule elk bugling and almost fighting over several female elks.
A popular activity in the park is taking a drive on the 48-mile Trail Ridge Road. It is 12,000 miles above sea level with winding roads and drop-offs so it isn’t for the faint of heart.
After the Trail Ridge Road, head back to Estes Park and wander through the cute shops, grab some dinner, and some ice cream. Your day in the outdoors of Rocky National Park will be one you will long remember!
Recommended By Pam Iorg of Travel Hacking Mom
Follow for more adventures, Travel Hacking Mom
Located between Boston and New York City Mystic, Connecticut is a true gem for anyone looking for a nautical-inspired getaway. What was once a seaport village is now in the center of one of the best beer and wine regions in Connecticut.
You can choose to spend a day or the weekend in town exploring all the cute shops and amazing restaurants. Or jump in the care and in a few minutes you will find your way to any of the many world-class breweries and wineries in the area.
While Mystic is starting to gain popularity it still makes for a great destination for those trying to avoid the crowds (and priciness) of places like Cape Cod or the Hamptons.
Early morning strolls as the sun rises or late-night bonfires on the beach. Welcome to Dewey Beach.
In the summer people head down to Dewey Beach for a day of fun in the sun. With miles of shoreline, you will be sure to find your perfect spot. But what really draws the crowds here is the nightlife. With tons of bars and clubs, there is plenty to keep you occupied well into the night. And if you are not a club person grab a few of your friends for a bonfire on the beach.
Finally, for those that prefer a more active beach day, you will not be disappointed. Boating, parasailing, wakeboarding, water skiing, and windsurfing are just a handful of some of the activities you can find in Dewey Beach.
Miles of beach, Disney and Sunshine make Florida one of the top places to visit in the USA. While most people will head to St. Petersburg or Clearwater on the East Coast. Or gravitate to the colors, sounds, and cultures of Miami, why not take a step back into history (and across the pond) and visit St. Augustine Florida.
If you want the beach you got it. Or spend the day exploring the Fort. Others will love to check out the winery and distillery. Both of which offer free tours and tastings.
Or just take a walk down St. George Street where you can do some shopping, pop into a museum or two and stop for a bite to eat or a drink at one of the many restaurants.
Photo Credit: Popcuria
Savannah is a historically and culturally charming city; a real Southern gem. Known for its beautifully preserved historic squares and antebellum architecture, Savannah is a must-visit destination for any trip to the region.
Savannah is the oldest city in Georgia and served as the colonial capital of Georgia. Savannah continued to play an important role as a key port in both the Revolutionary and Civil War. And unlike many other southern cities, much of the history from its earliest days remains intact. In fact, Savannah was saved from Sherman’s March to the Sea because of its beauty. It’s told that General Sherman was so impressed with the city’s beauty, he offered the city to President Lincoln as a Christmas gift. As a result, the town’s stately homes, cobblestone squares, and historic cemeteries are still largely intact.
Start your tour of this charming city by meandering through Forsyth Park’s Spanish moss-covered trees. Continue your tour through the numerous squares located throughout historic downtown. Keep your eye out for where they filmed Forest Gump sharing his life story, while waiting for a bus on a bench. Stroll past the Girl Scout’s headquarters and home of its founder, Juliette Gordon Low. Or better yet, take a carriage ride through historic downtown to learn more about the town’s history and identity.
Consider touring one of Savannah’s historic homes. The Owens-Thomas House and Slave Quarters is highly recommended for its accurate and full account of all the home’s residents, including the enslaved people.
Finish your tour of historic Savannah by enjoying dinner on East River Street and enjoy views of the Savannah river at sunset.
If you have additional time in Savannah check out Tybee island and the surrounding low country for views of the beautiful salt marshes. Take a tour of the Pinpoint Heritage Museum to learn about the unique culture Gullah Geechee people who traditionally lived in the coastal areas of Georgia and South Carolina.
Savannah is worth staying for a few days to enjoy its local history, food, and natural scenery. It’s absolutely a bucket list destination. Enjoy your time in beautiful Savannah!
Recommended By Rosie from Popcuria
Photo Credit: Free to Travel Mama
Hawaii is filled with beautiful and adventurous things to do, but if you are looking for just one bucket list destination in this beautiful state, visiting Kualoa Ranch & Private Nature Reserve, otherwise known as the real Jurassic Valley, is the perfect choice.
Located on the windward side of the island of Oahu and bordered by the majestic and vibrantly green Ko’olau Mountains, Kualoa Ranch is home to 4000 acres of natural beauty, cattle ranches, secret beaches, and many movie filming locations, including Jurassic Park, Jurassic World and Kong Skull Island. Movie buffs can see scenes from their favorite films, take photographs with movie set props, and visit a bunker filled with historic film memorabilia from over 60 movies filmed here. Whether you would like to see Godzilla’s footprint, a close-up of Indominus Rex, or the location of scenes from Hawaii Five-0, LOST, or Fifty First Dates, you will not be disappointed. Ranch staff members are happy to take photos for you and capture your amazing time visiting places that you had previously only experienced on a screen.
The ranch is open to visitors almost every day of the year, but tours are required to see beyond the Visitor’s Center. Adventurous visitors might want to choose from driving an ATV, an off-roading jeep ride, or even zip-lining for a bird’s eye view. Those that want to see as many of the movie sites as possible will likely decide on the Premium Tour in an air-conditioned van complete with snacks. Those that care more about the views than the movie locations may prefer an electric bike, ocean voyage catamaran sail, or a beach day at Secret Island (these tours do visit some movie spots too!). No matter what style you prefer, you’ll likely leave Jurassic Valley on Oahu with a firm commitment to return to soak up more of its beauty and Hollywood experience!
Recommended By Sierra from Free to Travel Mama
Idaho-Craters of the Moon
Photo Credit: The Awkward Traveller
Idaho is a hidden gem to most of America, but if you happen to make it over to one of the most beautiful states in the US, a must-see destination would be Craters of the Moon National Monument.
In general, National Monuments are a lot smaller and a WHOLE lot less busy than National Parks, but still offer amazing natural scenery.
Craters of the Moon looks…exactly what it sounds like. It is the geographic ruins of ancient lava flows, with pockets of sagebrush and jutting islands of cinder cones scattered in-between.
Similar to most National Parks, Craters of the Moon offers extremely clean campsites both within and near the National Monument.
But if you are just staying during the day, there are plenty of activities. You could easily drive through the park in under 2 hours, but where is the fun in that? The Visitor’s Center is equipped with a short film explaining the geography of the area and some of the wildlife. YES – even ancient lava fields have wildlife!
There are dozens of trails throughout Craters of the Moon, ranging from an even stroll to challenging climbs. Recently (2019), they have begun improving accessibility to more trails, so that they would be wheelchair friendly!
The biggest highlight to Craters of the Moon, however, is exploring all of the ancient lava caves! You can rent a headlamp (free of charge!) from the Visitor’s Center, just make sure to bring boots that HAVE NOT been in any other caves. The bats at Craters of the Moon are highly susceptible to outside infections.
Recommended By Kay from The Awkward Traveller
There’s no way you can pass through Illinois and not go to Chicago. Or, as we locals call it, “Chi-cAH-go”. This great international city has something for everyone, in every season. Named The Windy City (though interestingly enough, not for the wind!), this city will blow you away with its art, urban landscaping, sports and of course, the endless amount of food options.
Starting with the stunning skyline that Chicago offers. Being situated right next to great Lake Michigan, you can walk or bike all the way down Lake Shore Drive (have you taken this LSD?) from the Lincoln Park Zoo all the way down south until you reach the famous Navy Pier. This lakefront walk offers views to some of the best architecture the city has to offer.
And then there’s the food. You can’t leave the city without trying the classics:
- Deep Dish Pizza from either Lou Malnati’s or Giordano’s
- A classic Chicago-style hotdog from Portillo’s OR Wrigley Field (going to a game is a must as well!)
- Italian Beef Sandwich from Al’s Italian Beef
- Garret Mix Popcorn from Garret’s Popcorn
- Any tacos from Big Star
- Brunch at Hampton Social
While of course, Chicago is absolutely a city for the best foodies, you’ll be sad if you miss these quintessential activities:
- Walk around Navy Pier
- The Famous Chicago Architecture Tour held on the river
- Visit Millenium Park to see the Bean and other architecture wonders
- Stand 1,353 feet above ground in the Willis Tower glass Skydeck
- Visit some of Chicago’s famous museums like The Art Institute or the Field Museum
To end your day, grab drinks for the spectacular views from Cindy’s or London House.
Recommended By Caitlin from Burbs and Beyond
Indiana-Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Start your engines and head to the most famous spot in Indiana – The Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Known as the Racing Capital of the World, its track and museum are must-stop spots to visit even if you don’t go during May (race month).
The Indy 500 is known as the world’s largest spectator event with crowds of more than 400,000 people from all corners of the world.
The 2.5-mile track is used to seeing speeds of 220+ miles per hour by professional drivers, but there are opportunities for visitors to get a sense of what it’s like to compete in the 500-mile race. You can take a ride in a two-seat Indy Car through the Indy Racing Experience Driving Program. The ride allows the passenger to go up to 180 mph, depending on their comfort level, but hopefully you’ll go fast enough to feel the speeds and g-forces that the race car drivers feel tearing down the track.
For a more subdued experience, there are tours of the track that include a bus ride around the oval with a stop at the Yard of Bricks (finish line). It’s tradition to kiss the bricks just like dozens of race winners have done over the years. This tour also includes the infamous Pagoda and Gasoline Alley where the garages are located..
A great way to wrap your trip to IMS is a visit to the museum. It’s on-site and a great way to learn more about the history of the race and get a closer look at some of the winning cars.
Recommended By Maps, Memories, and Motherhood
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think Iowa?
If you said cornfields you’re not alone.
Sorry to break it to you. There is more to Iowa than just cornfields. And that is why it is making it on the list of places to visit in the US for a lot of people.
While you can choose some of the amazing cities in Iowa to explore it is highly recommended that you visit in the summer for the National Balloon Classic. For 9 days every summer the skies fill with colorful hot air balloons flying over the state.
The jump-off point for this amazing even is Indianola, Iowa which is located approximately 18 miles from Des Moines. No need to go to Cappadocia, Turkey to see hot air balloons. Head on over to Iowa instead.
Photo Credit: Two Worlds Treasures
When people asked why Wichita is a must visit destination in Kansas, the answer is easy. The city is home to many exciting attractions for all ages, and some of them are free! First, no visit to Wichita without making a stop at Keeper of the Plains, a 44-foot-tall stylized sculpture of an Indian Chief overlooking the city. Visit slightly before sunset for an amazing view, and.stay until 7 or 9, depending on the seasons, to see Ring of Fire at the bottom of the statue lit up for 15 minutes. It looks dramatic!
Hunting for bronze sculptures and colorful murals around downtown is another free and fun things to do. Just jump on board the Wichita Q-Line trolley, a free and convenient way to maneuver around the downtown area. If you drive further north, you will find outdoor sculpture collection at Wichita State University. Also located in the university is the Pizza Hut Museum. Yes! Pizza Hut was born in this city.
If you like nature, a visit to Great Plains Nature Center is a must. A wonderful place to learn about wildlife and plant species of the Great Plains Region in Kansas while hiking on its 2-½ miles trails. Less than 20 minutes from downtown. If arts and entertainment are your thing, Wichita is also home to live music and concerts to art museums and galleries. Not to mention row of restaurants and stores to spice up your visit to the city. So, visit Wichita in Kansas on your next trip to the midwest region.
Recommended By Umiko from Two Worlds Treasures
Photo Credit: Wes Meets World
Keeneland Racetrack located in Lexington is a must-visit destination in Kentucky for horse lovers and bourbon drinkers alike. Lexington is known as “The Horse Capital of the World” and for good reason, holding some of the most prestigious horseracing events in the world. When most people think of horseracing in Kentucky, they automatically have visions of the Kentucky Derby which takes place every May in Louisville. However, just one-hour east is the “locals’ racetrack” at Keeneland, surrounded by million-dollar horse farms and lush, green landscapes.
If you’re looking for an action-packed day betting on the ponies, head to Keeneland every April and October when the races take place and the track is filled with on-lookers hoping to catch a win (place, or show!). Founded in 1936, Keeneland is steeped in history and has a mission to continually invest in the horseracing industry in order to preserve the horseracing tradition.
Keeneland is part of the National Register of Historic Places, designated a National Historical Landmark, and was ranked as #1 of the top ten racetracks in the country by Horseplayers Association of North America. In 2015, it was also home to the Breeders’ Cup World Championships and will host the championships again in 2020 with thousands of visitors descending on Lexington for the prestigious event.
If you’re a movie buff, you’ll be interested to know that Keeneland has been the backdrop to several major films, including Dreamer in 2005 and Secretariat in 2010, which brought in over 4000 extras from around Central Kentucky to fill the stands.
Recommended By Wes from Wes Meets World
Louisiana-The French Quarter
Photo Credit: 9 to 5 Voyager
Everybody’s heard about it, but the French Quarter is a place you have to see to believe.
Also known as the Vieux Carré (“Old Quarter”), The French Quarter is the oldest neighborhood in New Orleans, dating back to the city’s founding in 1718. Scattered throughout the narrow cobblestone streets and wrought-iron balconies are incredible examples of the city’s storied history. You have Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar, one of the oldest bars still operating in the United States, and frequented by local pirates in its past. You have the haunted LaLaurie Mansion, the Historic Voodoo Museum, and the atmospheric St. Louis Cemeteries. Criss-crossing the district are the St. Charles Avenue Streetcars, the oldest continuously operating system in the country.
Have coffee and beignets at the world-famous Café du Monde on Jackson Square while taking in the view of St. Louis Cathedral and the gorgeous city around you. If you don’t want to wait in a long line, try one of the Café Beignet locations. Gumbo, etoufee and po’boys make for a filling lunch and dinner.
While The French Quarter offers unparalleled history, it is also the epicenter of nightlife. You have Club Bourbon Heat, as well as Tropical Isle, the home of the infamous Hand Grenade cocktail. For a more low-key lounge experience with excellent mixed drinks, stop by the Roosevelt Hotel.
And of course, every February, you have Mardi Gras.
If the French Quarter is a place you have to see to believe, then Mardi Gras is an event you have to attend to comprehend. “Fat Tuesday” in the French Quarter is a notoriously laissez-faire celebration in which you may roam the district with drink in hand. If you want to really get into the spirit of Mardi Gras, purchase a unique mask at Crescent City Mask Company.
Whether you come for the drunken revelry of Mardi Gras or for the depth of history that it offers, the New Orleans French Quarter is a must-visit bucket list destination!
Recommended By Alek from 9 to 5 Voyager
Maine-Acadia National Park
Photo Credit: Travel Collecting
Acadia National Park is an absolute must-see when you visit Maine. Much of the national park is on and surrounded by islands and covered in woods. It is a hiker’s dream, and there are several great hikes in Acadia National Park with varying levels of difficulty. Trails like the Beehive and Precipice are famous for being technically challenging, with scrambling, narrow ledges and climbing iron rungs up cliff faces. However, there are easier versions like the Bowl and Beachcroft Trails that get you to the same point. The reward is incredible views over the surrounding mountains, islands and ocean.
There are also places to swim in summer, in the (admittedly cold) ocean at Sand Beach and (warmer) Echo Lake. The park is laced with wide paths that crisscross the mountains and make great routes for cycling. You can easily rent bikes in nearby the main town, Bar Harbor, and put them on any of the free shuttle buses that travel from Bar Harbor along several routes into and around the national park.
A specialty in the area is popovers (slightly eggy, super light, oversized muffins), and sitting in the sunshine at Jordan Pond House eating popovers with butter and jam and enjoying the nearby lake and hillside views is the perfect way to while away an afternoon (or two). The blueberry ice cream in Bar Harbor was also a personal favorite!
Water is all around you in Acadia, and taking a ferry to the nearby Cranberry Islands for super cheap and super fresh lobster at a waterside lobster shack is another highlight. You can also take sailing trips and rent kayaks to see more of the area from the water. There is so much to do in Acadia!
Recommended By James Ian at Travel Collecting
Photo Credit: The Solo Life
When visiting the state of Maryland, an underrated city to explore is Baltimore, with its history and harbor town feel. Although there are many great things to do in Baltimore, including the National Aquarium and the Walters Art Museum, one attraction, in particular, is a must-see, the original Washington Monument.
Built 20 years before the more famous monument in nearby Washington, D.C., the Baltimore version is located in the Mt. Vernon neighborhood of the city. There are interactive displays on the history of the monument on the floor level, but the main reason to visit is the climb to the top, which gives you the best views of the city. There are 227 stairs in a tight spiral, so be aware that claustrophobia may occur.
But it is definitely worth it to make it to the top of the monument. There are 4 viewing sides, one in each direction, which allows for beautiful skyline views from the heart of the city. Only a handful of people are allowed up at a time, which makes the experience even better. It’s only $6 for adults and $4 for children to climb, and it is recommended to buy tickets in advance online.
If you’re looking for spectacular views while visiting Baltimore, Maryland, make sure to add a climb to the top of the original Washington Monument to your itinerary.
Recommended By Jordan from The Solo Life
Photo Credit: My Open Passport
People go to Boston all the time- for work, studies, or regular traveling, but many don’t know this little gem not too far away.
Even some literary lovers might not realize it is so close to Boston. Henry David Thoreau use to call this lake in Concord, Massachusetts home for two years when he was writing. He often refers to it in some of his literary works.
Walden Pond is actually a lake that was created by glaciers thousands of years ago, but it is referred to as a pond due to Thoreau’s literary works where he referenced the area. In the summer, visitors can find locals walking around and lounging. In the fall, visitors can find locals taking photos of the changing of the leaves and the leaves’ reflections in the lake. Winter holds quiet snowfall along the water bank while spring brings in flowers throughout the area surrounding the lake.
The lake is currently protected by Walden Pond State Reservation and it was designated a National Historic Landmark due to its relation to the author.
If visitors also love historic places in terms of the American Revolution, Concord and the nearby town of Lexington hold the phrase “the shot that was heard around the world” as it was here that the American Revolution kicked off. However, enjoying the beauty of this lake is a day trip in itself and it truly is one of the reasons to love New England!
Recommended By Mara from My Open Passport
Photo Credit: Adventures of Panda Bear
Once known as “Furniture City,” Grand Rapids was home to furniture makers and factories, today the Michigan city is famous for its Blue Bridge, museums, and vibrant coffee scene.
The Blue Bridge of Grand Rapids is an icon of the city. The bridge spans the Grand River for which the city is named and its bright blue stands out beautifully alongside the riverwalk. It is also a popular place for couples to take engagement and wedding photos.
Since Gerald R. Ford was originally from Grand Rapids, MI the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum was created in his honor. The museum houses exhibits on Ford’s life and career and even included a full scale replica of his Oval Office.
The Grand Rapids Public Museum is one of the best museums in Grand Rapids, telling the history of the city and its role in the furniture industry. They also hold special exhibits that bring other corners of the world into Grand Rapids, they’ve even had a limited exhibition on Egyptian mummies!
The Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park is a great place to visit in the area. Its beautiful Japanese gardens are a sight to be seen and they have a wide range of sculptural art from famous artists such as Ai Wei Wei and Auguste Rodin.
The coffee scene in the city is amazing! The best places to have coffee in Grand Rapids, include Madcap Coffee, The Rowster, and Sparrows. These hip cafes have gorgeous latte art and unique drinks worthy of a taste!
Grand Rapids is one of the best cities to visit in Michigan, don’t miss out on it!
Recommended By Constance from Adventures of Panda Bear
The first time we went to Minnesota was to see the Minnesota Vikings play the New York Giants. I am pretty sure it was 0 degrees Fahrenheit at kick-off. While there is plenty to do in Minneapolis between football, amazing restaurants and bars. And let’s not forget Mall of Americas. I mean it’s a shoppers paradise.
What you have to see on your next visit to Minneapolis is Minnehaha Falls. Extra points if you get to see it in the winter when the falls are frozen.
Overlooking the Mississippi River Minnehaha Falls is an amazing site to do. Especially since you have to remind yourself that this beautiful wonder is located right in Minneapolis.
The park itself has a number of trails that people take full advantage of during the warmer months. It truly is a gem in the city of Minneapolis.
Photo Credit: My Flying Leap
Mississippi is one of the last states I have visited on my quest to see all 50 states. I mistakenly thought there wasn’t much to see, but last weekend I learned my lesson in Natchez! It’s a charming small city on the eastern banks of the Mississippi River that beckons you to learn about its storied past. There is a lot to see and do there.
Natchez is a beautiful display of the wealthy “old South” at the height of its majesty in the days when cotton was king. It has more antebellum homes (pre-Civil War) than anywhere else in the United States. These opulent homes were built during a period of prosperity in the South and they are a top draw to visit the area.
It’s not all sparkle and glamour, though. You can also explore the darker history of the area learning about both the Native Americans and the African Americans who lived here.
There are lots of great restaurants in the revitalized downtown area with great southern cooking including all of the classic favorites, tamales, barbeque, and fantastic coffee. You can also visit the historic Under the Hill Saloon or Biscuits and Blues for some great Delta blues.
Walk along the Mississippi River bluffs, tour a rum distillery, visit the many antebellum homes, tour a museum, or learn to make biscuits from the “Biscuit Queen” herself. There is a lot to keep you busy in Natchez.
Recommended By Sam from My Flying Leap
Missouri-Lake of the Ozarks
Photo Credit: Compass and Coastline
Missouri is known for its beautiful hills, lakes and caves, and at Lake of the Ozarks you can experience it all. Located in central Missouri, this popular retreat has over 1,000 miles of shoreline, along with hiking, fishing, local wineries and so much more.
You can’t visit the Lake of the Ozarks without enjoying the water! There are tons of marinas where you can rent boats, jet skis and paddleboards. If boating isn’t your thing, there are two sandy beaches to choose from. Lake of the Ozarks is long and winding in shape, which means you’ll find long open stretches of water as well as quiet coves. If you’re looking for a party, you’ll definitely find it here. People are friendly and it’s not uncommon to find boats linked together.
After a day on the water, relax and unwind at one of the many lakeside restaurants. Try Baxter’s Lakeside Grill for an outdoor patio with fantastic views. The area is also home to the Lake of the Ozarks wine trail, with 7 different wineries to explore and shuttle buses to take you there. For a truly relaxing experience, visit Spa Shiki at the Four Seasons Lodge.
Looking for more adventure? Check out Lake of the Ozarks State Park for over 32 miles of trails. Or visit the nearby castle ruins at Ha Ha Tonka State Park. And for something truly unique to Missouri, head underground to one of the million-year-old caves to see geodes, reflecting pools, and even prehistoric bones.
Recommended By Kelli Hogan from Compass and Coastline
Montana-Glacier National Park
Photo Credit: Jetset Journeys
The most beautiful national park you’ve probably never heard of, Glacier is a wild, rugged place spanning 4,100 square kilometers. Mostly in Montana, it spills over into Canada, and is home to a huge population of bears – around 800 black bears and 300 grizzlies. Climate change means the name is now a misnomer- there are hardly any glaciers left. It’s still snowy in parts almost all year, but only on the tallest peaks from July to September, which is the best time to visit because all the trails are open.
Everyone starts their visit with a scenic drive on the only road that traverses the park – the 80km-long Going To The Sun. As you climb higher up into the Rocky Mountains, the trees thin out to reveal beautiful wildflower meadows – a favorite spot for bears, moose and adorable tiny pikas, which look like large, fluffy mice. Drop your bags at one the handful of hotels in the park – I like St Mary’s Lodge, right by the eastern gate and with views over the bright blue waters of St Mary’s Lake. Then head off into one of the 1,200km of trails.
Set off early for the 17km Iceberg Lake trail, which climbs steeply through forests and wildflower meadows up to a small lake with icebergs floating in it. Keep your eyes peeled for elk, moose, bighorn sheep, marmots and, of course, bears on your way up. Mountain lions, lynx and bobcats live in the park, too, but are rarely seen. Or take the boat across St Mary’s Lake for the easier 6km St Mary’s and Virginia Falls trail, where you’ll see a huge, powerful waterfall just steps from the boat. From there, set off on a woodland trail with lake-view overlooks along the way until you reach the multi-tiered St Mary’s Waterfall at the top – the perfect spot for a peaceful picnic. Just keep your eyes on your picnic basket – you can’t trust those bears!
If you’re a wildlife lover, check out Jill’s guide to How to do a safari on a budget https://www.jetsetjourneys.
Recommended By Jill from Jetset Journeys
You have probably heard of Stonehenge. It actually may be on your bucket list.
But..have you heard of Carhenge.
Yes. Carhenge. You read that right.
Located in Alliance, Nebraska, Carhenge is a replica of the Stonehenge you may be familiar with. Except is it made out of cars. It is one of those things that you have to see to believe. And I have to say it is kinda cool.
Admission is free but donations are recommended. It’s the perfect unique stop in the beautiful state of Nebraska.
Photo Credit: The Solo Life
The most famous city in the state of Nevada is of course, Las Vegas. Everyone knows that Las Vegas is the place to visit if you enjoy gambling, but there are a wide variety of other things the city has to offer for non-gamblers too. From concerts and shows, to watching the Bellagio Water Show, to shopping and even a roller coaster on top of a hotel, Las Vegas is a must-visit.
For a fun and unique activity while visiting, book a tour at the Neon Museum, which collects and restores neon signs in order to tell the history of Las Vegas. The museum’s main attraction is the Neon Boneyard, where visitors can walk amongst numerous signs from over the years while learning more about each one from a dedicated guide. The boneyard houses over 200 unrestored signs which are lit up at night, as well as numerous restored signs which are always on. The museum also offers a light and sound show in the North Gallery which is a memorable way to learn more about the history of Vegas.
Tickets vary depending on if there are special exhibits occurring but usually total around $30. There are daytime and nighttime tours, and while both are great, the full effect of the restored neon signs can be seen better at night, which is only appropriate for the city that never sleeps.
Recommended By Jordan from The Solo Life
New Hampshire-Lake Winnipesaukee
Photo Credit: Keri Baugh, Bon Voyage With Kids
If you have ever watched an old-fashioned summer camp movie, chances are you have seen a gorgeous, swimmable lake dotted by traditional sleep away summer camps. Lake Winnepesake is one of those places. It’s a renowned crystal-clear lake that makes you want to jump right in its refreshing water.
It’s surrounded by a lush tree-line and several small picturesque New England towns, with the feel of Americana, especially during the July 4th holiday. With developed shorelines and docks for jumping in, it is what lake living is supposed to be. Our family loves visiting it at least once a year.
Friendly fun for the whole family, there are plenty of boating and boat rental options and docking areas that lead to restaurants. You could easily make a full day of boating on the lake and stopping off at one of the docks for a bite to eat at any of the relaxed, outdoor restaurants. The lake water is clear and fresh, so swimming, fishing, paddle boarding, water skiing, and water tubing are great activities to enjoy on the lake. There are several places to rent boats for the day.
You can spend afternoons at the beach, or if you are looking for more activity, Wiers Beach is a very active area with game rooms, shopping, and a boardwalk feel. Plenty of hotels from budget to luxury and campsites surround the lake, as well as lake houses that can be rented as Air B n B’s. Many of those homes come with their own docks and even equipment like canoes or paddleboards. The lake has views of the White Mountains of New Hampshire, making it a glorious getaway in nature.
Motorcycle enthusiasts will be interested in Laconia, which is home to the annual Bike Week. The town of Meredith is a lovely tourist area with famous Inn at Mills Falls. Wolfboro, which is home to many of the lake’s quintessential summer camps and a resort area, calls itself “the Oldest Summer Resort in America.”
Popular with families from Boston and New York, Lake Winnipesaukee is a must-visit destination in New Hampshire for outdoor lovers and anyone looking for a relaxing get away.
Recommended By Keri Baugh, Bon Voyage With Kids
New Jersey-Atlantic City
Photo Credit: Living Out Lau
Atlantic City, a resort city located in Atlantic County, is one of the top tourist destinations in New Jersey.
As the only city in New Jersey that has legalized casino gambling, Atlantic city attracts visitors from all around the Tri-State area. Try your luck in one of the nine casinos in Atlantic City. Many of these casinos also feature a hotel, perfect for those who want to spend all night gambling.
If you don’t want to gamble at night, there are plenty of nightclubs attached to these casino establishments. Come enjoy some of the best artists and DJs at one of my personal favorite club, The Pool After Dark. Partygoers will surely find the stage and the dancefloor surrounding the pool some of the best places in Atlantic City to spend the night.
If you don’t want to gamble during the day, why not check out the boardwalk and the beach. Destroyed by the devastating Hurricane Sandy in 2012, Atlantic City has been repaired and the boardwalk is beautiful and full of attractions.
Come visit the Steel Pier AC and enjoy some of the best amusement park rides in New Jersey. Don’t forget to hop on the newly constructed Ferris Wheel on the pier. Built in 2017, the 227-feet giant is as tall as some of the skyscrapers in Atlantic City. Get on one of their gondolas for some of the best views of the Atlantic Ocean.
With many various activities, no wonder why Atlantic city is one of the best places to visit in New Jersey!
Recommended By Sean from Living Out Lau
New Mexico-White Sands National Park
Photo Credit: Ruhls of the Road
White Sands National Park is America’s youngest National Park, and is without a doubt a must-visit destination for adventure seekers. The incredible visual beauty and the sand-sledding you can do at White Sands make White Sands such an incredible site worthy of its recent National Park designation.
White Sands is just that, white. It is EXTREMELY white. It is tough to convey how incredible it is to stand in front of the enormous dunes in front of you and drink in the awesome view. Speaking of drinks, make sure to pack enough water, as White Sands can get HOT in the New Mexico sun. In fact, pack a whole picnic along and have lunch looking over the incredibly bright white view of White Sands National Park.
Another awesome adventure you can have in White Sands is sand-sledding. Rent a sled from the visitor center for a few dollars, and you’ll be able to sled down the huge sand dunes in the park! You’ll have an absolute blast sledding in one of the most unique and beautiful places in the entire United States.
Once you arrive in White Sands National Park, head to the visitor center to get your bearings. Speak with a ranger to understand if any areas of the park are closed, and make sure to pick up a sand sled or too. On top of that, there is a free video you can watch to learn about the history of the park and how it got to where it is today. From there, you can have the time of your life sledding down the dunes and enjoying the natural beauty of one of the most unique places you’ll ever see!
Recommended By Julie and Zach from Ruhls of the Road
New York-Watkins Glen State Park
Photo Credit: While We Were Wandering
During our New York road trip, we added Watkins Glen State Park to the itinerary for a break to stop and stretch our legs. Little did we know that this “pit stop” would soon be one of our all-time favorite destinations! Walking through Watkins Glen State Park is unlike anything else we have ever experienced. It is honestly like walking through a fairytale. Full of waterfalls, caverns, and gorges, this beautiful two-mile stretch is nothing short of awe-inspiring.
Watkins Glen can be found within the finger lakes region of upstate New York. Its formation was created nearly two million years ago when a glacier covered the area in a large sheet of ice. As the glacier receded, it left behind the stunning views we see today.
Nearly a million visitors come to Watkins Glen annually, so it can be quite crowded. In order to avoid these crowds, we suggest visiting during the spring or fall and coming early in the morning. The park opens at eight in the morning and is free to visit. However, make sure to check the parking lots. Some will charge you, but others, a little further away, are completely free.
There are three main entrances to the park, but the Main Entrance will lead you to Gorge Trail. We highly recommend using this entrance because you can not make a visit to Watkins Glen without walking through Gorge Trail. This trail takes you through the heart of the park and brings you to the best views.
Don’t make the same mistake we did and underestimate Watkins Glen. It is a beautiful park full of beautiful sights!
Recommended By Ann from While We Were Wandering
Take a drive down the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Spanning 469 miles from Virginia to North Carolina, The Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the most scenic drives in the United States. While there are many amazing places to stop for a hike and to take in the views one of the places you should consider is Asheville, North Carolina.
If you are an outdoor enthusiast then check out some of the many activities nearby such as hiking, biking, and white water rafting.
After a day on the trails treat yourself to a nice dinner at one of the many amazing restaurants in downtown Asheville. And don’t forget to quench your thirst at a brewery.
Finally, take a break and visit a spa for the day. Enjoy a subterranean spa experience at the Omni Grove Park Inn, or spend the day in soaking in a hot tub at Shoji Spa.
Driving through North Dakota from the east toward Montana can seem like endless miles of farmland and flat terrain — until you get to the western end of the state and enter the badlands.
The Badlands is an area characterized by red-tinged rocks that are strewn across the land in an array of stacked ridges and impressive peaks. The Badlands actually sprawls across both South Dakota and North Dakota, but its location in the latter is convenient to get to via I-94 and is part of Theodore Roosevelt State Park.
A great way to experience the views of North Dakota’s Badlands is with a drive along the Theodore Roosevelt North Unit Scenic Byway. This impressive drive goes through the park over the course of 14 miles and along the way, you’ll see the terrain of the Badlands close up and also have a chance to see some of the animals that call the Badlands home. Wildlife often spotted along this drive include bison, prairie dogs, elk, and even wild horses.
The Badlands Overlook located near Medora, ND, is also a great spot to get a quick view of the scenery and some memorable photos of the Badlands. The overlook is located along another great drive to do in the area: the Scenic Loop Drive, which is accessible right off of I-94 and is 35 miles long. Medora itself is also enticing to explore since it has roots as an old west town and parts of the historical area of town still reflect that.
Recommended By Gina from Travel Montana Now
Photo Credit: The Adventures of Panda Bear
Spend 2 days in Cleveland, Ohio and you’ll be treated to the best of America’s “Rust Belt.” Located off of Lake Erie, Cleveland is home to famous sights such as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Cleveland Museum of Art, as well as some lesser-known but unique areas including the Cleveland Mall and Willard Park.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is one of the most famous sights in Cleveland. Here you’ll find music and memorabilia from famous artists such as The Beatles, Aretha Franklin, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, the Grateful Dead, the Rolling Stones, and many more. The museum goes through the various styles of music and the evolution of the beats throughout the decades. For music fans, this is THE place to visit in Cleveland.
Cleveland Museum of Arts is housed in a beautiful historic Beaux-Arts building. The museum is the 4th wealthiest art museum in the United States and is amongst one of the most visited museums in the world. It definitely shows in the variety of pieces on view! The permanent collection is made up of over 61,000 pieces from all over the world with Egyptian, Asian, Greek, and Roman art as well as medieval art, contemporary art, Pre-Columbian and Native North American art and sculptures. Cleveland Museum of Art is also home to works by famous artists such as Claude Monet, Auguste Rodin, Caravaggio, and Pablo Picasso.
The Cleveland Mall and Willard Park are public green spaces located near downtown Cleveland. They are great places for a stroll and have unique sculpture art like “The Eternal Fountain of Life” and the “Free Stamp.”
Cleveland is one of the best places to visit in Ohio.
Recommended By Constance from The Adventures of Panda Bear
Oklahoma where the wind comes sweeping down the plain….
If you love the musical Oklahoma but have never been to this great state you are missing out.
If you love the outdoors Chickasaw National Recreation Area is a beautiful place with waterfalls and biking trails. In Tulsa, there is a gigantic playground called the Gathering Place. It is amazing. Also, there are many lakes for recreating all over the state.
We tend to spend most of our time in Oklahoma City which has a lot to offer. The Science Museum and Zoo are amazing attractions to visit. The Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum is a great tribute to those who lost their lives in the 1995 bombing of the Federal Building.
We love to head to downtown Oklahoma City where there are plenty of restaurants and even a river walk where you can ride boats down the canal. The restaurants are amazing in Oklahoma! There are lots of fun activities in downtown for your family to enjoy!
Our favorite place to visit is Pops. It is a cool eatery in Arcadia, OK. They have glass bottle soda pop’s from all around the world. This is a highlight for my kids. They love picking out unusual flavors. Pops even has a 66 ft pop bottle outside to take pictures with!
Recommended By Lisa from Planning Away
Follow Lisa on Insta at Planning Away
Photo Credit: The Awkward Traveller
Want to know a little secret about the state of Oregon? The magic is on the coast. The Oregon coast is hands down the most breathtaking part of the state. It’s a photographer’s dream, and nature lovers will find themselves in paradise.The best seasons to visit depend on your personality. It’s never really warm or super sunny on the coast, but if you want the least amount of rain, drive during the summer. However, for the perfect moody adventure, winter offers dramatically stormy skies and thunderous cabin vibes.
If you want to see multiple terrains all along the famed Highway 1, a road trip is the best way. Starting from the bottom, out of California you will first come across the town of Brookings, Oregon. The most notable site here is Gold Beach, with its dramatic coastal arches among tall forests. Moving up into Florence, the landscape shifts to a sandy desert. ATV tours and sand boarding are popular activities in Florence, and for good reasons!
One of the best cities for a pitstop, however, would be Yachats, Oregon. It is home to the largest sea lion cave in the United States, and the restaurants have a high standard for fresh and ethically sourced produce! Newport, Oregon marks the rough middle of the coastline, with a fun aquarium for kids and a marine science center for those wanting a deeper insight! Though, the Northern coast is the place to go for dairy lovers. You will NEED to stop in Tillamook, Oregon, and visit the newly renovated Tillamook Cheese Factory. It’s not world-renowned for nothing! Take a quick stop in Seaside, Oregon, where Lewis, Clark, and Sacajawea reached the Pacific Ocean. Then wrap up your incredible roadtrip in Astoria.
Recommended By Kay from the Awkward Traveller
If you love wine Oregon is home to the Willamette Valley where you can find some of the best Pinot Noir in North America.
I grew up in Erie, Pennsylvania and though I don’t miss the mountains of snow we had to manage in the winter ( hence why we now live in Florida), summer was special because of Presque Isle.
Presque Isle State Park is a gem in Northwestern Pennsylvania. With 13 beaches and 21 miles of trails, Presque Isle is an outdoor lover’s paradise on Lake Erie. Whether it’s swimming, bird-watching or kayaking, there is no shortage of activities by day, but you’ll want to hang out to enjoy one of Presque Isle’s world-renowned sunsets.
Nearby, grab lunch at Sara’s Restaurant. It’s a classic American fare 50’s style diner that has been an Erie icon for almost 40 years.
If you’re feeling adventurous, head across the street to take in some amusement rides at Waldameer Park and Water World, the 10th oldest amusement park in the nation. With free admission to walk around and the option to buy individual tickets or day passes, the entire family can spend as little or as long as they like enjoying the midway or nearly 100 amusement rides.
If you’re planning a weekend and have a rental car, head about 45 minutes north of Presque Isle to NorthEast, Pennsylvania and hit a few of the 23 wineries that make up part of the 53 mile Lake Erie Wine region. The wines tend to be on the sweet side, but the family-owned wineries are peaceful, unique spots to relax and take in the best that Northwestern Pennsylvania has to offer.
Recommended By Keri from Flip Flop Weekend
Rhode Island-Newport Mansions
Photo Credit: Wanderlust on a Budget
While Rhode Island may be the smallest state in the US, it still has lots of great things to do! The highlight? The Newport mansions of course!
The mansions in Newport, Rhode Island are some of the most famous in the country. Even better, you can go inside several of them. Many of the mansions were built in the late 1800s by some of the wealthiest people at the time, including the Vanderbilts. They’ve been preserved so well that walking through the hallways feels like stepping back in time. It’s amazing to see how elaborately they lived – even crazier when you realize that some of them were just summer homes!
There are several mansions open for tours and visits in the summer, but only four in winter – Marble House, The Breakers, Rosecliff, and The Elms. I highly suggest that you visit around Christmas to see them all decorated for the holidays. It’s magical! No matter when you go, pick up an audio tour at the entrance of each house to learn more about its history and the people who lived there.
If you have the time and a little extra money, check out some of the guided tours. The guides will take you to places not typically seen on your visit, plus give you more stories about the mansions’ history.
To get another unique view of the mansions, take a stroll along the Newport Cliff Walk. You’ll see mansions on one side and gorgeous ocean views on the other. You can also head into town and check out the great shops and restaurants.
Recommended By Danielle from Wanderlust on a Budget
South Carolina- Hilton Head Island
Photo Credit: VeraVise Outdoor Living
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina boasts beautiful beaches, amazing low country food, a rich history, and plenty of fun for the family who loves to explore the outdoors. The southern charm of this low country destination is hard to beat. Here are five things to do to experience the best of Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.
- Rent a Condo on the beach in Palm Royal Plantation- The beautiful wide, white sand beaches in the Palm Royal area of Hilton Head make for a great day at the beach for shelling and sunning.
- Rent bikes and explore the island- With more than 60 miles of trails throughout the island, you won’t need to bother with the car once you arrive. You can explore the beach on bike as well bike to shopping centers, grocery stores, restaurants, or simply enjoy nature along one of the bird watching nature preserve trails.
- Eat Seafood on the water at one of the many dockside restaurants like the famous, Skull Creek Boathouse.
- Spend the day on the golf course- Named the “Golf Island” there are more than 24 championshp golf courses on the island drawing golfers of all skill levels to enjoy the beautiful greens and island breezes.
- Shop til you drop- Whether you love to shop for souvenirs or local art, there is a shopping opportunity for you. The new Shelter Cove shopping area offers boutique stores and souvenir shops along with several dining opportunities or enjoy a high brow nautical shopping experience in the Sea Pines Resort area as you stroll alongside the stunning yachts docked in Harbour Town. Don’t miss your photo-op with the famous Harbour Town lighthouse while you are there.
Recommended By Amanda of VeraVise Outdoor Living
South Dakota-Badlands National Park
Photo Credit: Yonderlust Ramblings
The state of South Dakota is gravely under-appreciated for its wealth of outdoor opportunities! Two National Parks, Custer State Park, Mount Rushmore, the breathtaking highest point in South Dakota at Black Elk Peak; these are all just a sampling of what this Midwest state has to offer. The best out of this impressive handful is the stunning Badlands National Park.
What makes this National Park so iconic is the unique terrain, topography, and colorscapes found here. Badlands is a display found nowhere else in the country: a melding of desert, hills, prairie, buttes, and mesas. A desolate yet vibrant landscape, painted with thriving pinks, purples, oranges, and golds!
One of the best, and easiest ways to experience Badland National Park is by taking a scenic drive through the park on the Badlands Loop State Scenic Byway. There are numerous viewpoints along the approximately thirty mile long scenic byway, each multi-colored panorama more breathtaking than the one before! And it does not ever hurt that you may even spot some local bison residents as you drive through the Badlands!
Another more adventurous way to soak up the Badlands is by hiking some of its trails. Climb a ladder to a stunning overlook over the White River Valley on the Notch Trail. Explore sections of Badlands National Park’s grasslands on the Medicine Root Trail. Get ready to spot local wildlife, such as bighorn sheep, at the watering hole along the Cliff Shelf Nature Trail. Take on the longest trail through the park, at ten miles long, on the Castle Trail.
Recommended By Kristen from Yonderlust Ramblings
Tennessee-Great Smoky Mountains, National Park
Photo Credit: The Wandering Queen
One of the best places to visit in Tennessee is the Great Smoky Mountains, National Park. This place is an absolute gem. The park is filled with so many beautiful waterfalls, rolling mountains that seem to go on forever, and mystical morning fog. No wonder the Great Smoky Mountains is the most visited national park in the United States!
Some of the best things to do is hiking. This national park is filled with outstanding waterfall views. Some of my favorite waterfalls include Laurel Falls, Rainbow Falls, and Abrams Falls.
Another great activity is to visit Cades Cove for sunrise. This is the best thing to do at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. You can see the fog rising in the air. It is a spectacle to behold. Just get there super early to enjoy the beauty of Cades Cove.
For sunset, get ready for some spectacular views! Clingmans Dome is at an elevation of 6,643 feet, and it is the highest mountain in the Smokies and the highest point in the state of Tennessee. People flock here to take pictures of the colorful sunset of the Great Smoky Mountains.
If you are in the mood for an outstanding trail, try out Mount LeConte and the Alum Cave Trail. It is a long and strenuous hike, but the views are glorious, and you can even stay at the LeConte Lodge. LeConte Lodge is the only hotel inside of the national park. But please note, it is recommended for experienced backpackers.
Recommended By Michelle from The Wandering Queen
Texas-Texas Hill Country Wine
Photo Credit: Yolo Solo Travel
A thriving wine region is not something I expected to find in Texas but during a trip through the Hill Country, I was pleasantly surprised to discover an amazing collection of vineyards and cellar doors.
Throughout the Texas Hill Country, there are more than 50 wineries, each with their own personality and style of winemaking. However, it was the reds and in particular, the Merlot that really impressed me. Whether you are a wine enthusiast or not you will find plenty of character and charm in the Hill Country.
If you decide to visit the Hill Country then the best place to base yourself would be in the German-influenced town of Fredricksburg. No more than an hour and a half’s drive from Austin and San Antonio or three hours from Dallas.
With so many wineries to choose from the best option is to book a tour and there are plenty of tours to choose from. Tours are a great way to visit wineries, especially if you are doing tastings and plan to enjoy a drop or two. Tours take the hassle out of planning and tour drivers are wonderful at giving you great local knowledge and advice.
Alternatively, you may choose to head out on your own and in this case, I would recommend taking the 290 Highway East from Fredricksburg. There are several wineries along this highway as well as other interesting stops to make on the way.
The Texas Hill Country and especially Fredricksburg, is such the perfect place for a romantic weekend or a good time with friends. Click here for more information on Texas Hill Country Wineries.
Recommended By Karllie Clifton from YOLO SOLO
Photo Credit: Rachel’s Crafted Life
Little Sahara is a park in Utah that is only an hour and forty four minutes from Salt Lake City and yet it is like Utah’s biggest hidden secret. The park has over 60,000 acres of dunes and flats just for ATV riding while other areas are preserved for wildlife.
ATV riding is the most popular activity here, and it is so fun! However, it is far from the only thing to do! There is also horseback riding, camping, hiking, mountain biking and so much more. When it warms up a little I fully plan on going back to try sand sledding which sounds like such a fun family activity or date night experience. Afterwards stay a little while and you can stargaze. Little Sahara is in a rural area with very little light pollution which makes it the perfect place to watch the stars come up and learn a few new constellations.
Little Sahara is also a popular place for photography. People come for bridals, engagements and family photos. The park is open 24 hours a day which makes it easy to get photos without people in them. And its a photographers best friend because you can go at sunrise, sunset or even midnight if you so desired.
Little Sahara Recreational Area does have an $18 entry fee per vehicle or an annual pass for $60. Be sure to stop here next time you’re in Utah! The address is Sand Mountain Rd, Nephi, UT 84648.
Recommended By Rachel from Rachel’s Crafted Life
Photo Credit: Volumes and Voyages
Though Vermont is filled with so many amazing hikes, a highly underrated one is actually what locals dubbed the “White Rocks” trail on Bald Mountain in the southwestern town of Bennington. There’s an official trailhead start right off North Branch Street. All you have to do is pull right into the small parking lot, lace up your hiking boots, and you’re good to go!
As you begin hiking up the trail, you must stop and sign your name inside the “Free Expression Tunnel”, a graffiti-filled alleyway, before the trek really starts. The 8-mile hike in total will take anywhere from 4 to 7 hours round trip, depending on how fast you walk. Though deemed a moderate trail by most people, the terrain does get pretty rocky and steep right when you hit the White Rocks before the summit. Don’t give up here – the view is worth it at the top! There’s also a campsite located at the summit, where you can pitch a tent and fall asleep under the stars!
Don’t forget to turn around every once and a while on your way up to the top – you’ll be greeted with amazing views at almost every turn. The hike itself is part of the Glastenbury wilderness and had a makeover in 2017 when signage and the trail were both redone.
If you ever find yourself in Vermont, don’t be like everyone else and go to Burlington. Instead, be adventurous and take this amazing hike to the “White Rocks”!
Recommended By Krystianna from Volumes and Voyages
Virginia-Shenandoah National Park
Photo Credit: Georgia Girl Meets World
A must-visit destination when traveling to the state of Virginia, especially for those who enjoy the outdoors, is Shenandoah National Park. Located in the middle of the state, above the Blue Ridge Parkway and only an hour and a half from Washington, D.C., Shenandoah is best known for its Skyline Drive. Extremely popular in the Fall for its gorgeous fall foliage, Skyline Drive is the road that cuts directly through Shenandoah. If visiting in the Fall, be prepared for long lines of other cars all with the same goal.
No matter what time of year, Shenandoah has a lot more to offer when getting off the main road. There are over 500 miles of hiking trails that include something for everyone, from waterfalls to forest trails to scenic overlooks. For those who’ve always wanted to try it out, the Appalachian Trail also cuts through parts of Shenandoah.
Other attractions to enjoy are the Byrd Visitor Center and adjacent Big Meadows, found half-way through the park. The visitor center has stellar exhibits and amenities, while Big Meadows is a large, open grassland with wildflowers, trees, and a walking trail through it. This is a great spot to relax and watch for wildlife.
While visiting Virginia, or even Washington, D.C., Shenandoah National Park is the perfect bucket list destination. Whether you enjoy the scenery from Skyline Drive or explore nature and wildlife off the beaten path, Shenandoah is a must-visit destination for any outdoor-lover.
Recommended By Jordan from The Solo Life
Washington-Hoh Rain Forest
Photo Credit: One Day In A City
Hoh Rain Forest is located in western Washington’s Olympic National Park, roughly four hours from Seattle depending on traffic.
This region is one of the gems of Olympic National Park and it’s worth fitting Hoh Rain Forest into your itinerary even though it takes a bit longer to get to than other parts of the park, due to its location nestled toward the center of the Olympics.
Hoh Rain Forest a temperate rain forest and is home to towering trees covered in a bright green moss that also blankets the ground in a dazzling glow of emerald and nearly every other shade of green you can imagine.
The Hall of Mosses is an easy loop hiking trail that takes you right through some of the best parts of the rain forest with a nearby parking lot right by the trailhead. Have your camera ready and be prepared to be amazed by the gorgeous foliage that will have you feeling like you’re walking through a fairytale forest. The trail has informational signs that will teach you about the history of the rain forest and the important role it plays in the ecosystem. You’ll also learn about how the forest builds upon itself to constantly be growing new life even on trees that appear at first glance to just be stumps.
If you’d like more hiking time, there are other trails of varying lengths near the trailhead by the Hall of Mosses that you can navigate. There is also an information center near the trailhead if you’re not sure which trail is best for you.
Recommended By Gina from One Day In A City
Washington DC-Dumbarton Oaks
Photo Credit: Seven Day Weekender
The capital of the United States, is on many people’s travel lists, but what isn’t as known are many hidden gems away from the Mall, the monuments, and the (Smithsonian) museums.
In DC’s northwest corner is Georgetown, and although a popular neighborhood to visit during a trip to DC, about nine blocks north of the popular M Street is a 19th-century estate with 16 acres of gorgeous gardens and a historical museum, Dumbarton Oaks.
Easily accessible via the Metro, bus, scooter and/or bike-share Dumbarton Oaks is the perfect residential escape from the hustle and bustle of the tourists.
Thriving in Byzantine and Pre-Columbian art, the museum and music room will transport you back in time to the Renaissance; while the gardens, full of terraces, orchards, kitchen gardens (yes, gardens full of the food we eat), and even a pool offers a true oasis right in the middle of the city.
Some of my favorite spots at Dumbarton include:
- the small greenhouse on site (one of the oldest standing structures on the grounds), called the Orangery, is the cutest little building in which the interior is completely covered in Ficus
- the Pebble Garden, which immediately makes you feel like you’ve been transported to a castle in Europe
- and speaking of being transported, the swimming pool and Loggia area will send you straight to the Mediterranean
Closed on major holidays, admission to the museum is FREE, while the gardens require an admission fee of $10 to enter (discounts are available to seniors, military and students – so don’t forget your student ID).
When it comes to the gardens they are seasonal (March 15–October 31) and open 2.5 hours later than the museum, and close a half-hour before.
Recommended By Lindsey from Seven Day Weekender
Photo Credit: Travel Through Life
Huntington, WV sits along the West Virginia, Ohio, and Kentucky borders- but it is city beaming with local pride.
Centered around the city is Marshall University, home of the Thundering Herd and known for their triumph after a devasting plane crash in 1970 where the entire football team did not survive. Those wanting to learn more about the crash can check out the Hollywood film with Matthew McConaughey, “This is Marshall”. Overcoming this tragedy is what has caused Huntington to bleed green and white all year long.
But besides the love for all things Herd, Huntington, WV has a lot to offer to a visitor!
Located along the Ohio River, downtown is filled with local antique shops and delicious restaurants. Stroll along the river that was once the main transportation for steel and coal throughout the region. Walk laps at Ritter Park and make sure to stop at the Rose Garden for a pic or two.
A visit to the Heritage Farm Museum and Village is also a must for those of all ages for a fun 19th-century experience in Appalachian history and farm life.
Grab a delicious brunch at Black Sheep Burritos and Brews and definitely don’t skip on the “Sausage Party” from Bahnhof WVsthaus. You also cannot leave West Virginia without a stop at Tudor’s Biscuit World for the best fluffy biscuits and a sweet tea. There are plenty of things to do in Huntington, WV for a weekend or more!
Recommended By Christine from Travel Through Life
Photo Credit: David Mark from Pixabay
Milwaukee may not be on the radar of many travelers out there. However, the largest capital of Wisconsin holds plenty of things to do. Not only does Milwaukee boast some of the best restaurants and breweries in the Dairy State, but on top, the town has some of the most interesting museums to visit.
The most famous one is without any doubt the Milwaukee Art Museum. It counts on four floors of over forty galleries of art that are rotated regularly with works from antiquity to the present. There are more than 2,500 pieces of art, including one of the largest collections of work by Georgia O’Keefe. However, the building is probably most famous for its Santiago Calatrava-designed Quadracci Pavilion and its wings.
The next must-visit museum in Milwaukee is without any doubt the Harley Davidson Museum. Designed by James Biber, the museum showcases the history, culture, and engineering of this very American icon. The museum shop is worth a visit alone.
If you are wondering where to stay in Milwaukee in order to be close to the best museums, I recommend staying in Downtown Milwaukee. From an assortment of beers to a full-blown dinner, Milwaukee Downtown has what you need to make your visit unforgettable. You will be close to major restaurants and bars to end your night the right way
Recommended By Paulina from Paulina on the Road
Wyoming-Grand Teton National Park
Photo Credit: The Unending Journey
The Grand Teton, rising from the plains, is a gloriously stunning mountain range located in the north western portion of Wyoming. The beauty of the rugged peaks combined with being a national park make the Grand Teton a must place to visit in Wyoming.
It’s an outdoor paradise. With over 200 miles of hiking trails, you can spend days exploring the Grand Teton. From nature trails to overnight hikes, there’s something for everyone. Popular day hikes include trails to Amphitheater Lake, Hidden Falls, and Death Canyon.
But the Grand Teton are not all about mountains. The area is brimming with lakes, Jenny and Taggart Lakes being the most popular. Not only can you hike around them, but you can go kayaking or swimming in these lakes, too.
And if you’re more of an outdoor appreciator rather than enthusiast, you can still enjoy the Grand Teton National Park as there is an abundance of viewpoints throughout the national park providing grand vistas of these stunning mountains. Each overlook offers a different perspective leaving you arguing which one is the best. Iconic views from Mormon Row, Snake River and Schwabacher Landing cannot be missed.
While discovering the Grand Teton, keep an eye out for wildlife. Moose, bison, elk, pronghorn deer, black bears and grizzlies call the park home.
You can appreciate the magic of the Grand Teton in a day or more slowly over several days. Whichever you choose, it won’t take you long to realize why the Grand Teton is a must visit place in Wyoming.
Recommended By April from The Unending Journey
Which state is the best to visit in the USA?
New York of course. HAHAHA. Just kidding. I have to say that since I live in New York.
If you asked me a year ago I would have said Oregon because wine, hiking and did I say wine. Then we went to Alaska and well.. that has to be a favorite.
It is all relative. The best state is going to depend on what you like to do. Beaches, mountains, hiking or swimming. Depending on the things that you enjoy will help you decide which is the best state to visit.
So did you find a fave in this list?