Top 15 Destinations Worth Exploring in the Land of the Free
Yellowstone National Park, WY, MT and Idaho
A popular vacation spot for both U.S. nationals and foreign tourists, Yellowstone National Park has something for everyone. Old Faithful attracts the most visitors with eruptions every 60 to 110 minutes, but there are many geysers and hot springs inside the park.
Hayden Valley has some of the best wildlife viewing where you can see bison, grizzly bears and many different species of birds up close and personal. Hiking and fishing are popular activities at Yellowstone as are horseback riding and cycling.
If exploring the park by horseback sounds interesting to you, you should consider booking a stay at a nearby dude ranch. Many run programming that’s suitable for the whole family. Plus trying your hand at something new is a great way to encourage family bonding.
There are nine lodges in the park, but backcountry camping has become a popular preference for those wanting a uniquely isolated experience in the wilderness.
No matter how you choose to experience Yellowstone, make sure to book your activities and lodging well in advance as space can fill up pretty quickly.
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Big Sur, CA
Located on one of the most scenic drives in the world, Big Sur has been a popular vacation destination in California since the 1960s. There are many breathtaking views along the road where motorists can stop for photos or just admire the landscape as they drive to one of the isolated beaches or waterfalls in the area.
On Big Sur Beach, you might find harbor seals or sea lions basking in the sun. A number of state parks and nature preserves dot the area, making it a prime location to do a little soul searching.
In fact, many people come here for spiritual retreats among the wilderness at the Esalen Institute or the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center. Only a few restaurants and lodges exist in the area, but many of those that do are worth visiting for their spot on the National Register of Historic Places.
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Key West, FL
With constantly pleasant tropical weather, The Florida Keys attract visitors year-round. Key West has some of the most beautiful coral reefs in the area that are accessible for viewing by snorkeling, diving, or glass-bottom boat tour.
There are also plenty of beaches and oceanfront dining, perfect for enjoying a margarita during the spectacular sunsets. Key West has been home to many notable people including author Ernest Hemingway and former president Harry S. Truman.
Both men left behind houses that are now museums open to the public. Aside from touring interesting buildings and the historic Old Town area, no trip to Key West would be complete without a photo in front of the Southernmost Point buoy that marks its designation as such in the continental U.S.