Not many other countries have so much natural beauty crossing mountain ranges, Prairies, deserts, canyons, glaciers, everglades and rain-forests. From the big apple in the east to Los Angeles in the west, the USA's cities are unrivaled with variety in culture, food, music and attractions.
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The West Coast of the United States includes California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska and Hawaii offer a wide variety of outdoor experiences. All five states boast vast stretches of Pacific coastline, though each state offers features uniquely its own. Alaska has glaciers, Hawaii has active volcanoes, Oregon has sand dunes, Washington has mountains and California has deserts.
You can enjoy the Pacific’s natural beauty all year-round. And there’s no shortage of impressive National Parks in the region, including Yosemite National Park in California, Crater Lake National Park in Oregon, Haleakala National Park in Hawaii, Olympic National Park in Washington and Denali National Park in Alaska. Visit Alaska Here
The perfect blend of big cities, beautiful beaches and gorgeous parks
From its iconic beaches to its celebrated National Parks, California is a wonderland of adventures for just about anyone. And the state’s incredible range of climates makes it a great place to visit, no matter the season.
California is truly a gem on the Pacific, with hundreds of parks and gorgeous outdoor spaces, including the stunning Yosemite and Death Valley national parks. The state offers nearly every kind of terrain, including sandy beaches, redwood forests and majestic mountain ranges. You won’t lack for fresh air and excitement in the Golden State, from skiing at Lake Tahoe to surfing in Santa Monica to hiking the rugged cliffs of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. And for a more restful time, spend a few days touring the Sonoma and Napa valleys, which produce some of the world’s best wine.
Where you can see Mother Nature in all her glory
Hawaii is made up of eight islands — only six of which are populated and open to the public. Each island has attractions and personality uniquely its own. Kauai, nicknamed the Garden Isle for its lush setting, boasts the most beaches per kilometer of coast and Waimea Canyon, known as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific.” Oahu has iconic beaches like Waikiki Beach, world-famous surfing on the North Shore, and great hikes like Diamond Head, as well as historic sites such as I’olani Palace and Pearl Harbor. Hawaii Island, also known as the Big Island, is home to the incredible Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and famous Kona coffee. Maui offers incredible views from Haleakala National Park and some of the best whale watching in the world. Molokai has the tallest sea cliffs in the world and Kalaupapa National Historical Park, one of the most remote settlements in Hawaii. Lanai has a unique geography, from dramatic views of Hulopoe Bay from Sweetheart Rock to the lunar-like topography of Garden of the Gods.
Where adventurers feel right at home
It’s almost as if Oregon was tailor-made for outdoors lovers. Hugging the Pacific Coast — with California to the south and Washington to the north — Oregon provides beach lovers with plenty of shoreline to explore. Meanwhile, the central and eastern portions of the state boast snow-capped mountains and hectares upon hectares of lush forests to discover.
Oregon offers numerous ways to enjoy the outdoors all year-round. When the weather’s warm, you can admire the striking rock formations along the coast or go white water rafting down the Rogue River. Wintertime brings opportunities to ski, snowshoe and snowboard in Mount Hood National Forest, located just east of the state’s biggest city, Portland. Make time to stop at Crater Lake National Park, where a volcanic eruption nearly 8,000 years ago made room for one of the most picturesque and deepest lakes you’ve ever seen.
A mountainous jewel in the Pacific Northwest
Winter snow, spring wildflowers, fall foliage and summer sun keep this stunning state ever changing throughout the year. And with so many beautiful outdoors spaces just a hop, skip and a jump from Seattle, there’s nothing to keep you from enjoying it all.
Washington is located in the northwest corner of the continental United States, with British Columbia, Canada, to the north, Oregon to the south, and the Pacific Ocean to its west. All along the western edge of Washington, you’ll discover scenic shorelines like the ones lining Olympic National Park and Puget Sound. Spend a day strolling the coastline and you may spot a whale breaching. Turn your sights back east and you’ll find your view
interrupted by towering mountains. Come spring, the slopes of Mount Rainier — a prominent feature of the Seattle skyline — and the North Cascades shed their snow and ice to make way for wildflowers, making both National Parks popular places to hike.
Home to rugged mountains, steep canyons, rocky buttes, vast prairies, deserts and big skies, the Mountain West is one of the USA’s most geographically diverse regions. The West reaches from Colorado up through Montana and Idaho and Nevada serving as its western border.
Known globally for its cowboy culture, abundance of untouched nature and incredible vistas and views, the West is a prime vacation destination. The states vary in climate but the summers can be hotter than blazes in the desert states of Nevada and Utah. During the winter, the peaks of Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah and Colorado see plenty of snowfall, making them great destinations for skiing and snowboarding. In the fall, the lush forests surrounding the Rocky Mountains turn bold shades of yellow, red and orange. The flowers and plant life that bloom in the spring create a stunning backdrop against the mammoth red rocks of Idaho and Utah.
Towering mountains, ancient wonders and a fun-loving culture
Home of the world-famous Rocky Mountains, Colorado has an endless array of things to do and see in every season. The incredible Rockies, which run north to south through the center of the state, are a big draw for skiing, snowboarding, hiking and biking. The springtime melt from the snowy peaks feed many rivers, which provide a watery playground for rafting, fishing and swimming, and a beautiful array of wildflowers in the spring.
Colorado also has a rich history to explore, as evidenced by Mesa Verde National Park, where the landscape is punctuated by ancient cliff dwellings. The state’s landscape is also marked by incredible deserts, vast prairies, lakes and trendy urban enclaves like Denver and Boulder. You’ll also find a wide variety of beautiful wildlife such as eagles, hawks and bears.
A treasure trove of outdoor adventure Idaho is one of the best-kept secrets in America’s West. Flanked by Washington and Oregon to the east and Montana and Wyoming to the west, Idaho has 31 scenic drives that pass through picturesque and historic landscapes such as the Oregon Trail and Lewis and Clark Back Country Byway. For boating and lake adventures, visit Sandpoint and Coeur d’Alene, also home to the world’s only floating golf green. Idaho offers even more opportunities for water play, with its more than 4,800 kilometers of white-water rivers — the most in the contiguous United States. Eastern Idaho boasts beautiful views of the Grand Teton Mountains and an entrance to Yellowstone National Park. All four seasons offer spectacular sights and activities, but winter is a favorite with over 8,000 hectares of ski-able powder.
Tailor-made for outdoor adventure Montana, a western state that borders Canada, is a great destination for outdoors-lovers. Towering mountain peaks, replace skyscrapers and help create its distinct skyline, and alpine lakes act as mirrors, reflecting the mountains as the reach for the heavens above. Residents cherish their protected wilderness, including Yellowstone National Park and the state’s crown jewel, Glacier National Park.
Nick named Big Sky Country, Montana is sparsely populated throughout it's incredible landscapes and remains virtually unspoiled making it ideal for romantic getaways. Family adventures are also ideal with gold panning expeditions and historical sights like that of Custer's last stand at the Little Big Horn.
Beyond the neon lights, natural splendor awaits. Nevada is home to so much more than casinos. Sandwiched between California and Utah in the western United States, Nevada has more mountain ranges than any other state, and its landscape of fiery-hued sandstone canyons and endless desert is a huge draw for outdoors enthusiasts.
Within an hour of Las Vegas, the Valley of Fire State Park and Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area are playgrounds for hikers, rock climbers and mountain bikers. Also within an hour of Sin City lie Lake Mead and the Hoover Dam, which offer the seemingly impossible: the largest reservoir in the U.S. in the middle of the desert. Further north, the flat landscape gives way to the towering mountains and pine tree forests of spectacular areas like Great Basin National Park and Lake Tahoe.
A stunning combination of natural wonders and rustic culture the Cowboy State, Wyoming promises Western adventure set in wide-open spaces. Don’t be surprised if you spot a brimmed hat-wearing rancher wrangling cattle as you explore the rolling valleys. But there’s much more to Wyoming than cowboy lore.
Wyoming encompasses the majority of Yellowstone National Park, the oldest National Park in the United States and home to some of the Earth’s most fascinating geological phenomena. Just south of Yellowstone lies Grand Teton National Park, where jagged granite peaks scratch the sky and elk meander along the forest trails. And sandwiched in between the parks, the small mountain city of Jackson Hole — which earned its name from the cavernous valley where it sits — provides a welcoming home base for hikers and skiers. Head east and Wyoming’s peaks give way to vast grasslands where buffalo roam and cowboys ride. You can experience the state’s Wild West roots at one of the many dude ranches scattered around towns like Cheyenne and Casper.
A landscape so magical it inspired five National Park you’ve probably seen pictures of Utah’s stunning landscape before: This western state, flanked by Colorado to the east and Nevada to the west, begs to be photographed. What’s more, Utah encompasses five National Parks that showcase its breathtaking rust-hued landscape.
Millions of years of wind and rain have carved Utah’s red rocks into hectares of natural artwork. Follow the winding roads through Arches and Canyon lands National Parks in the southeast part of the state before heading west to view the spiky stone needles of Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks. And Capitol Reef National Park offers opportunities to hike along an actual wrinkle on the earth’s surface. To the north, Utah’s red rocks give way to towering mountains that draw more than a half million of skiers and snowboarders and other tourists the small, stylish town of Park City each year. Warmer summer temperatures draw travelers to Salt Lake City and to the shores of the Great Salt Lake, the largest saltwater lake in the Western Hemisphere and home to a wide variety of wildlife such as bison, American white pelicans and brine shrimp.
The spirit of the Midwest is greatly shaped by lakes and rivers, rich farmlands, bustling cities and friendly locals. Stretching from Ohio west to Nebraska and bordering Canada to the north and reaching as far south as Kansas and Missouri, these states offer a wide variety of fun and unique activities and sights.
The Midwest is marked by many important waterways, including the headwaters of the mighty Mississippi River and the Great Lakes, the largest body of fresh water in the world. It is home to rolling prairies, crops, forests and the Ozark Mountains. The Upper Midwest, including Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota, experience colder winters and more snowfall, giving rise to sports such as ice fishing and snowshoeing. The region also has a number of well-known landmarks such as Mount Rushmore in South Dakota and the Gateway Arch in Missouri.
Where the big city and the great outdoors go hand in hand Illinois may be best known for the city of Chicago, but it is also home to some amazing outdoor landscapes. Located east of Indiana, Illinois is right in the center of the Midwest, providing a taste of all four seasons and amazing hospitality.
Outside Chicago, Illinois boasts a smattering of gorgeous public spaces. In the central part of the state, Starved Rock State Park draws nature-lovers with its waterfalls, sandstone canyons, scenic hikes and beautiful views. Also, there’s really no better way to relive the early days of America’s love for road trips than to hop on legendary Route 66, which kicks off right outside of Chicago and ends in Los Angeles, California. This iconic stretch is decorated with beautiful rolling prairies, farmland, retro diners and lots of quirky outdoor attractions (like the world’s “largest” covered wagon outside of Lincoln). The area includes charming towns, sprawling vineyards and the Shawnee National Forest, which is where Lewis and Clark kicked off their grand exploration.
Lush farmland punctuated by beautiful parks you’ll find quintessential Midwestern charm in Indiana. This beautiful state bordered by Illinois, Michigan and Ohio is known for its farmland vistas and wild spaces.
The state has a rather temperate climate so you can enjoy its attractions — including quiet rolling hills, covered bridges, skyscrapers, rugged sand dunes, a beautiful shoreline and an incredible country landscape — during all four seasons. Indiana is home to a multitude of parks, forests and wildlife refuges. One of the most popular may be Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, which encompasses 24 kilometers of incredible sandy beaches, rugged dunes and amazing views of Lake Michigan. Take in Indiana’s outdoors by foot, kayak, canoe, tube or boat in the state’s many lakes, rivers, forests and ponds. Parke County, which borders Illinois, has 31 historical covered bridges that are especially charming against a backdrop of autumn leaves.
The only state bordered by two massive rivers and two national and scenic byways, Iowa has plenty to offer. This quiet Midwestern state east of Nebraska and south of Minnesota boasts everything from river excursions to quirky destinations and landmarks.
In addition to being home to eccentric landmarks (like the world’s largest statue of a bull in Audubon), Iowa is a cyclist’s dream offering thousands of kilometers of trails. Climb the 32-meter Cordova Park Observation Tower southeast of Des Moines to get unparalleled views of the Des Moines River Valley and Lake Red Rock, For a taste of Hollywood in the prairie, visit the six covered bridges that were used in the filming of the 1995 movie The Bridges of Madison County, starring Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood.
You don’t get much more American than Kansas, with its rugged cowboy culture, sweeping prairies and welcoming Midwestern spirit. Located west of Missouri, south of Nebraska and north of Oklahoma, Kansas is a great place to experience the beauty of all four seasons.
Kansas is also deeply rooted in Native American heritage, and you can learn about its many tribes in the state’s many museums, like the Mid-America All-Indian Center in Wichita. Meanwhile, the stunning prairies of the Flint Hills are one of the state’s crown jewels. The Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve lets you tour one of the last places to have this unique ecosystem that once covered nearly 69 million hectares of North America. For a look at prehistory, walk through the Niobrara Chalk, which features the incredible Castle Rock and Monument Rocks formations, which have been around for about 80 million years.
Michigan’s dynamic landscape is home to a stunning collection of sugar sand beaches, friendly small towns, rushing waterfalls, stunning state parks and other natural attractions. This glove-shaped state touches four of the five Great Lakes and offers outdoor activities for all four seasons.
With over 5,000 kilometers of Great Lakes shoreline — more than any other American state — Michigan is a perfect place to get in the water. Grab a kayak and paddle around Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on Lake Superior or take a swim in the crystal clear blue waters of Lake Michigan. For a taste of a simpler time, visit historic Mackinac Island, which does not allow cars and has 225 kilometers of trails, as well as stunning rocky beaches. Michigan also has 79 state and national forests perfect for hiking, including Hiawatha and Ottawa national forests. Diving and snorkeling are also popular, especially near the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, in which nearly 100 historic shipwrecks have been found.
Known for its impressive scenery made up of vast prairies, sparkling blue lakes and lush forests, Minnesota is truly blessed with unspoiled wilderness. Bordering Canada and flanked by Wisconsin and the Dakotas, this Midwestern state is known for harsh winters, but beautiful springs, warm summers and vibrant autumns.
Dubbed the “Land of 10,000 Lakes,” Minnesota doesn’t lack in outdoor excitement. The northernmost part of the state is home to national parks and preserves, like Voyageurs National Park and Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in the Superior National Forest. Voyageurs is best seen by houseboat and the Boundary Waters, which is home to over 1,000 lakes and streams, by kayak or canoe. For stunning photo opportunities, visit the restored 1910 Split Rock Lighthouse on Lake Superior in Two Harbors. Minnesota also has 67 state parks, 58 state forests and two national forests. In addition to lakes, this state is home to the Mississippi River headwaters at Itasca State Park. Downriver, near the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, you can cruise the second longest river in the United States on a riverboat.
Smack dab in the center of the nation, Missouri offers a moderate climate and warm hospitality year-round. You can enjoy it all while in the big cities: Visit the stunning Gateway Arch in St. Louis or go to a NASCAR race at the Kansas City Speedway. But plan on also spending some time outside the cities, where you can walk in the footsteps of U.S. historical figures like explorers Lewis and Clark, explore a growing wine region and some of the nation’s best trails.
A popular hiking destination, Missouri is home to 230 diverse state park trails like Katy Trail State Park, which features over 380 kilometers of railway converted for running, walking, biking and hiking. For something a little wetter, visit Table Rock Lake or Lake of the Ozarks state parks for boating and swimming. Thanks to the temperate climate in Missouri, it’s become a popular and successful wine-growing region, with more than 120 local wineries and 10 wine trails.
Vast prairies as far as the eye can see sitting smack dab in the middle of the United States, Nebraska offers a sampling of the country’s different landscapes.
In eastern Nebraska near Omaha, the state capital, the prairies seem endless, with the rustling grasslands interrupted only by the occasional farmhouse. Dramatic buttes and fossil beds where remnants of ancient creatures lie frozen in time punctuate the flat landscape on the western side of the state. And in between, a smattering of communities offers a taste of the small-town life that has blossomed along the trails blazed by the pioneers of westward expansion.
Marking the northwest corner of the Midwest, North Dakota is a treat for the eyes. In fact, former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt was so wowed by the landscape that he was inspired to create the U.S. Forest Service in the early 1900s to help protect the country’s wildlife and wilderness areas.
It seems only fitting that North Dakota’s pride and joy, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, is named for the man who so revered the land. And the park’s striated buttes and roaming buffalo still impress the hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. Outside the park, history lives on in North Dakota’s other equally stunning wilderness areas. You can hike or cross-country ski along the route taken by renowned explorers Lewis and Clark, or canoe down the Missouri River past preserved Native American settlements.
The easternmost state in the Midwest, Ohio encompasses a nice mix of big city excitement and rural charm. The state’s major cities Cleveland, Cincinnati and Columbus feature eclectic eateries, exciting attractions and plenty of entertainment precincts including the US rock n roll hall of fame. Not far from the big smoke you’ll an abundance of green space, with residents and visitors alike enjoying the state’s beaches, forests and hills.
Ohio borders Lake Erie, one of the five Great Lakes. Come summertime, you’ll see many locals flock north to the shores of Lake Erie to boat or swim. Cuyahoga Valley National Park near Cleveland is another big draw. It features plenty of hiking trails and picnic areas and hosts outdoor events like yoga classes during the summer and fall months, while wintry weather leads to opportunities to ski, snowshoe and even ice fish. For an adrenaline rush, sign up for a zip line tour in wilderness areas in the southeastern part of the state.
In South Dakota, cowboys still wrangle herds of buffalo, and only the occasional small town interrupts the expansive views of grasslands, forests and rivers. All the while, former U.S. presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt keep watch over the landscape from Mount Rushmore National Monument.
South Dakota lies south of North Dakota on the westernmost edge of the Midwest region. The Missouri River divides the state in half from north to south and offers plenty of opportunities to boat and fish. The number of towns begins to drop and the wild landscape takes over the farther west you go. South Dakota’s crown jewel is Badlands National Park, where remarkable striated rocks interrupt the otherwise flat plains. You can explore the park on foot or by bike (but be prepared for hot midday temperatures in summer and freezing weather in winter)
Not even icy winters can hinder outdoor adventure in Wisconsin where you’ll find plenty of ways to explore Wisconsin’s numerous lakes, valleys and rivers.
Wisconsin is home to the largest number of Native American tribes east of the Mississippi River. The reservations of these eleven sovereign nations occupy more than one half million acres of Wisconsin’s most beautiful and unique landscapes: pristine lakes, rivers and streams, towering forests and ancient wild rice beds, each teaming with an abundance of wildlife. Tribal art, traditions and culture are significant parts of both Indian and non-Indian communities in the State, making Wisconsin a remarkable place to explore the history of Native American people.
The Northeast region of the United States extends from Maine at the northeast tip of the country down the Atlantic coast to Maryland, and as far west as Pennsylvania and West Virginia. This part of the USA boasts rolling mountains, lush forests and vast stretches of coastline.
Experience all four seasons in the Northeast. Summers are comfortably warm — ideal for a beach vacation in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, or along the New Jersey Shore — while winter brings plenty of snow to the ski resorts in Vermont and New York. Spring and fall bring with them a kaleidoscope of colors. Visit Pennsylvania in the spring when the Pocono Mountains bloom with wildflowers, or New Hampshire in the fall for the beautiful autumn foliage.
Nestled in the Northeast, Connecticut is full of small-town charm and outdoor beauty. And its proximity to Boston, Massachusetts, and New York City, New York, makes Connecticut’s natural attractions easy to reach.
Connecticut offers charming New England style, incredible coastal vistas and quaint towns with distinctive architecture. Get a feel for its rich marine history at Mystic Seaport and Stonington, both of which feature scenic harbors and historic lighthouses. Further inland Connecticut’s numerous state parks provide plenty of opportunities to get outside all year round. Spend a morning fishing at Burr Pond State Park or Hammonasset Beach State Park, or an afternoon hiking in Hopemead State Park or Lamentation Mountain State Park. Though it experiences all four seasons, Connecticut may be at its best in autumn, when its leaves changes to vibrant reds, yellows and oranges.
There’s so much to love about Delaware, from the sandy shorelines to the many state parks and historic mansions. A popular getaway for many neighboring residents of Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia, this state features incredible beaches, with the beach towns of Rehoboth, Dewey and Bethany drawing crowds to their pristine coastlines.
For those looking for an outdoor adventure, grab a kayak and paddle through the pond and freshwater wetlands of Trap Pond State Park or swing through trees at Go Ape zip line adventures in Lums Pond State Park. Delaware also offers stunning coastal vistas, rolling hills and pristine parks and preserves such as the Ashland Nature Center or the Mount Cuba Center botanical gardens. The dunes at Cape Henlopen State Park, on the eastern coast of the state, make for an incredible place to watch the sunset.
Famous for its rocky coast, star-studded skies, forested National Parks and traditional lighthouses, Maine is truly a New England gem. Bordering Canada and New Hampshire, Maine experiences a cooler climate with heavy snowfall in the winter, warm summers and incredible foliage in the autumn.
Maine is an oasis of outdoor beauty and has a vast range of activities. Make sure you visit the rocky coast along the Atlantic Ocean to see the area’s small fishing villages and iconic lighthouses. Or hop on a whale watching cruise to see humpback and finback whales. For something more exhilarating, go white-water rafting down the Dead, Kennebec or Penobscot rivers. Don’t miss the incredible Acadia National Park and Cadillac Mountain, which is home to some of the best stargazing spots in the nation. In addition, the park is great for hiking, biking and birding. If gardens are more your thing, visit the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay, the largest botanical garden in New England.
With an exquisite coastline, historical cities and abundant parkland, Massachusetts has an incredible variety of places to explore. Thanks to its location, with New York to the west and the Atlantic Ocean to the east, the state experiences coastal breezes during the summers, heavy snows in the winter and stunning colors in spring and fall.
Massachusetts, like many other states in New England, is steeped in American history. Tour the waterfront where the momentous Boston Tea Party took place and visit Harvard, the oldest university in the United States. Just north of Boston lies Cape Cod National Seashore, home to quaint fishing towns and plenty of beautiful shoreline. The islands of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard offer fresh seafood, beautiful lighthouses, rugged cliffs, rich whaling history, Native American culture and quiet beaches. The Cape Cod National Seashore offers sprawling beaches and rugged bluffs, bike paths, surfing spots and campsites. The state is also home to over 180,000 hectares of state parks and forests including the Berkshires, Wendell State Forest, Fall River Heritage State Park and more.
New Hampshire, a small state in the Northeast USA, provides plenty of opportunities to get outside. Nestled between Vermont and Maine, New Hampshire draws visitors all year-round with its ample hiking trails, powdery ski areas and breathtaking fall foliage.
New Hampshire is home to the highest mountain in the northeast, Mount Washington, which can be found among the tree-laden peaks of White Mountain National Forest in the northern part of the state. Come here to see the trees dazzle in colorful autumn hues or to take advantage of the ski slopes. Come summertime, locals shed their heavy winter coats and head to the White Mountains to swim in its ponds — that is, when they’re not flocking to the beaches that line the southeast corner of the state.
New Jersey is a convenient home base for travelers, as it’s within easy reach of both New York City, New York, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. But this Northeast state has plenty of attractions of its own.
During the summer, locals flock to the southeast coast to soak up the rays along New Jersey’s expansive beaches. Each stretch of shoreline has its own personality, from the lively Atlantic City boardwalk to the tranquil beaches of Cape May. Meanwhile, the state’s wildlife sanctuaries are home to more than 200 different species of birds, and Gateway National Recreation Area (shared with New York) offers plenty of opportunities to hike, bike and boat.
New York is multifaceted. On the one hand, there’s New York City, with its bustling streets and buzzing atmosphere, and on the other hand, there are rolling mountains, scenic river valleys and plenty of charming small towns. And, thanks to the state’s location on the northeast coast, you can see a different side of it with each change of season.
You don’t have to leave New York City for a breath of fresh air — you can stroll around Central Park or visit the Statue of Liberty. And in the summer, take a cue from the locals and head to one of Long Island’s many beaches. Upstate, which is what New Yorkers call every place north of New York City, the Hudson Valley wows with scenic driving routes, and the Finger Lakes region invites visitors to spend their days canoeing and wine tasting. To the west, Niagara Falls shows off its power, misting visitors with spray from the cascading Niagara River, and the Adirondack Mountains draw skiers in droves come winter.
Pennsylvania, a large northeast state bordering New York, West Virginia and Maryland, boasts a mix of history and adventure. To the east, Philadelphia wows with charming neighborhoods and some of the country’s most significant national historic sites, including Independence Hall and the original Liberty Bell.
Head west from Philadelphia and you’ll uncover a state filled with natural beauty, adventure and culture. During the winter months, follow the locals up into the scenic Pocono Mountains for a ski retreat. Come summer, devote a day to touring Gettysburg National Military Park — one of the most important sites from the U.S. Civil War — on horseback. Nearby, Lancaster County tempts hungry travelers with plenty of fresh produce and pie, sold at roadside stands by the area’s Amish families. And the mighty Susquehanna River, which runs west to east through the heart of the state, is a great place to go fishing and boating.
This tiny northeastern state — home to rolling mountains, peaceful forests and shimmering lakes — sets the scene for a fantastic outdoorsy getaway. Warm summer temperatures draw hikers and bikers, while winter brings out skiers to the state’s coveted slopes.
With New York to the west and New Hampshire to the east, Vermont is home to verdant maple forests and horizons interrupted by the ebb and flow of the Green Mountains, which run north to south through the center of the state. The mountains beckon, no matter the season. As temperatures drop, the ski slopes in the tiny town of Stowe heat up. And in the summer, the hiking trails in Green Mountain National Forest at the southern end of the state see plenty of action, while Lake Champlain on the northwest border is peppered with boats. Visit Vermont in spring to witness the tapping of the trees by maple syrup producers, or in fall to witness the trees donning their fiery autumnal hues.
The Southeast region of the United States has a unique and exciting culture influenced by its history, Southern hospitality and incredibly vast and dynamic landscapes. The region extends from Virginia down the Atlantic coast to the tip of Florida with Louisiana and Arkansas serving as the western border.
This fascinating part of the USA is home to lush forests, rugged mountains and endless stretches of pristine beaches and coastlines. Some parts of the Southeast (like Virginia, the District of Columbia, Kentucky and North Carolina) experience all four seasons, while others (like Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi) remain warm throughout the year. The summers can be hot in the South, so many choose to seek refuge on the white sandy beaches of Key West, Florida, or the Outer Banks in North Carolina. During autumn, the trees of the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee turn beautiful shades of yellow, red and orange.
This southeastern state, bordered by the Gulf of Mexico, Mississippi and Georgia, has the Southern charm you’d expect, plus a dash of urban excitement and rich history. The larger cities of Montgomery, Mobile, Huntsville and Birmingham are decorated with monuments, parks and museums dedicated to the state’s historic leaders.
Alabama is also known for its world-class golf, including the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, which boasts 26 courses in 11 sites around the state. For beach lovers, the state boasts a stunning coastline along the Gulf of Mexico, which has nearly 100 kilometers of beautiful white sandy beaches, scenic boardwalks and fishing piers. For a slice of natural beauty, visit the scenic mountains and waterfalls found near Mentone, Fort Payne and Gadsden, or go whitewater rafting down the Chattahoochee River in Phoenix City.
Arkansas is known as “the Natural State” for a reason. Situated to the west of Mississippi and the east of Texas, Arkansas features more than 240,000 hectares of stunning lakes, over 15,500 kilometers of streams and rivers, and about 1.2 million hectares of National Park sites, state parks and recreational areas. The Ozark and Ouachita mountains located in the western portion of the state, offer stunning views, hikes and climbs for adventure seekers.
Arkansas is one of the only states in the U.S. that blends the hospitality and history of the Old South with the culture and iconic sights of the Old West. There’s no better place to experience that unique blend than Fort Smith, with its ties to the Civil War and outlaws of the American West. For a one-of-a-kind family getaway, head less than three hours from Fort Smith to Crater of Diamonds State Park to dig for diamonds.
It’s hard not to recognize the majestic monuments and fantastic structures that make up the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C., which is bordered by Maryland and Virginia.
What makes D.C.’s skyline so incredible is the fabulous mix of modern, historic and even Gothic revival architecture. The iconic National Monuments, like the Lincoln Memorial, the World War II Memorial and the Washington Monument, celebrate and educate the world about the USA’s rich and storied past. All of these and more can be found on the National Mall, a large green space at the heart of the city. Another highlight is Rock Creek Park, a 1,100-plus hectare oasis in the center of the city where locals often bike, hike and picnic. The District shines in all four seasons, but spring is arguably one of the prettiest, with thousands of cherry blossoms blooming around the West Potomac Park’s Tidal Basin.
Flanked by the Atlantic Ocean to the east and the Gulf of Mexico to the west, the peninsular state of Florida has the charm and mentality of a laid-back island. The Sunshine State beckons to travelers with beautiful parks, incredible beaches and warm weather year-round.
There’s nearly 1,100 kilometers of beaches surrounding Florida, making it a popular vacation destination. At the heart of the state you’ll find plenty of golf courses, as well as the Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando theme parks. The southern part of Florida boasts one-of-a-kind National Parks, including Biscayne National Park near the Florida Keys and Everglades National Park, just west of Miami. The Florida Keys, an archipelago extending off Florida’s southern coast, is another great place to go for water sports, wildlife watching and relaxation.
A beautiful coastline, stunning mountain scenery, historical towns and sparkling cities make Georgia truly one of a kind. Bordering South Carolina, Alabama and Florida, this state offers plenty of opportunities to get outside and enjoy the year-round moderate weather.
From the beautiful skyline of Atlanta to the cobblestone streets of Savannah to the stunning beaches of Tybee Island, there’s so much to explore in Georgia. History lovers should walk along the cobblestone streets of Savannah, which are steeped in U.S. history and lined by oak trees draped in Spanish moss. For outdoors junkies, head to the North Georgia Mountains to hike or bike. Georgia’s also home to 47 state parks, including Providence Canyon State Park, which is known as the “little grand canyon.” Georgia’s coastline stretches over 160 kilometers and offer tranquil marshes, beautiful beaches and plenty of outdoor adventure.
Kentucky, also known as the Bluegrass State, is synonymous with horse racing, bourbon and blue skies. Kentucky is also home to an incredible array of other outdoor experiences such as Mammoth Cave National Park, which encompasses about 643 kilometers of underground caves, the longest known cave system in the world.
Kentucky may best be known for the Kentucky Derby, which is held the first Saturday of May in Louisville. If you’re a first-time visitor, don’t miss meeting the horses that race the derby in Churchill Downs. Another way to explore the park is by canoeing the Green River. Get some more fresh air with a hike up the Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, which offers sweeping views of the lush green landscape of what was known as the gateway to the USA's West. This state — bordered by Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, West Virginia and Tennessee — enjoys mild winters, a distinct fall and spring and hot, humid summers.
Home to Mardi Gras, the Bayou and some of the South’s most beautiful plantations, Louisiana is full of passion, charm and plenty of excitement. The state, which is bordered by Mississippi, Texas, Arkansas and the Gulf of Mexico, enjoys mostly warm weather year-round.
The rich sights and sounds of New Orleans makes this city on the southeastern coast of Louisiana one of the most popular in the United States. Its unique Cajun and Creole influences can especially be enjoyed during the popular festival of Mardi Gras. If late-night parties aren’t your thing, head a little west to Louisiana’s infamous swamps of bayou country. Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge is studded with cypress and tupelo trees, as well as unique wildlife like alligators, wood ducks, water snakes and tree frogs. For some relaxation, head to Grand Isle or Holly Beach for stunning beaches along the Gulf of Mexico that offer great opportunities for fishing, camping and birding, as well as just kicking back on what is known as “the Cajun Riviera.”
Maryland is often called “America in miniature” because of its varied topography, but the description is just as fitting for its historical and cultural features. From Civil War trails and battlefields to the NASA Goddard Visitor Center, the state has a rich and storied history.
Bordered by Washington, D.C., Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Delaware, this state is centrally located to many important East Coast cities. The Atlantic state was a strategic border state during the Civil War. Many of its war sites are open for touring such as the Antietam National Battlefield and Civil War Trails. Maryland is also a famed beach and coast destination, from the family-friendly Ocean City beaches to the more upscale Chesapeake Bay. For a chance to see wild horses up close, visit Assateague Island National Seashore, which has nearly 19,500 hectares of sandy beaches, pine forests, grasslands, dunes and salt marshes.
In the heart of the South, Mississippi is known for its legendary musical heritage, historic plantations and incredible outdoor landscapes. Located west of Alabama and east of Louisiana, this state sits on the beautiful Gulf of Mexico and its coastline can be enjoyed year-round, thanks to its warm weather.
Considered the birthplace of the Blues, Mississippi is also considered an important influence for Rock ’n’ Roll and Country music. It seems fitting that a state that derives its name from one of the most important waterways in the United States that forms its western border is a beacon of outdoor beauty, from nature trails to water sports to beaches, rivers and state parks. To see nature and learn some of the South’s rich history, visit the Natchez Trace Parkway, which is a great byway for biking and running that commemorates a former buffalo trail used by many Native American tribes. For fishers, boaters, kayakers and swimmers, Mississippi has 119 public lakes and nearly 198,000 kilometers of stream miles.
Lying midway on the United States’ Atlantic coast, North Carolina offers a vast array of ways to enjoy the outdoors. And it’s always a great time to visit, thanks to relatively moderate weather year-round.
Come summer, visitors from all over the world flock to the Outer Banks to relax on the state’s expansive beaches, explore the historic lighthouses and visit the Wright Brothers National Memorial, where the first successful airplane flights took place. The western portion of North Carolina draws hikers and climbers, with the Great Smoky Mountains boasting numerous scenic trails just a stone’s throw from Asheville, where you can easily access the beautiful scenic Blue Ridge Parkway.
Whether you’re seeking an adventure or relaxation, you’ll find it in South Carolina, no matter the season. Bordered by North Carolina, Georgia and the Atlantic Ocean, South Carolina and its visitors benefit from mild weather all year-round.
South Carolina is home to one of the USA’s lesser-known National Parks. Congaree National Park has a vast expanse of old growth bottom-land forest. A great way to experience the park is by kayaking or strolling down one of the wooden boardwalks. Along the coast, you can spend your days lounging on the beach or swinging a golf club on the verdant fairways that surround Myrtle Beach and Hilton Head Island. Just be sure to visit the state’s beautiful plantations in and around Charleston. These historic homes provide great insights into the nation’s past, as well as great places to picnic. Charleston’s Battery Park also offers a taste of the city’s Southern roots, with historic statues and beautiful views.
Tennessee — one of the USA’s music havens — woos visitors with saucy barbecue, a thriving live music scene and plenty of Southern charm. And this state has plenty to offer adventure seekers, too. The southeastern state’s eastern border is made up of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which draws visitors from all over the world with its challenging rock climbing routes, beautiful hiking and ski trails, and spectacular fall foliage.
The central part of the state is equally beautiful, with deep gorges zigzagging across the landscape. If you’re visiting during the summer, you can experience the power of the rivers that carved these gorges on a white water rafting trip. Hiking or biking to one of the many waterfalls is a less adrenaline-inducing way to enjoy the natural beauty. After a day filled with outdoor excitement, you’ll be ready to kick back and enjoy the music and barbecue that have made Tennessee famous.
Singer-songwriter John Denver described West Virginia as “almost heaven” in his hit song, “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” and it’s easy to see why. This rural northeastern state encompasses some incredible scenery. Sloping mountains, powerful rivers, leafy forest canopies and scenic lakes all help make this state an outdoor paradise.
West Virginia may be a landlocked state — surrounded by Pennsylvania, Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio — but you’ll find plenty of ways to get out on the water here. You can white-water raft through the stunning New River Gorge and cast a line in one of 121 public fishing lakes. During the winter, West Virginia’s portion of the Appalachian Mountains offers spectacular skiing conditions. Summertime brings with it excellent golf weather, not to mention plenty of sunny days perfect for exploring historic towns like Harper's Ferry and Charleston.
Many of the most pivotal moments in U.S. history took place in Virginia, but nature-lovers will also profit from a visit to this beautiful Southeast state. Bordering Maryland, Washington, D.C., North Carolina the Atlantic Ocean, Virginia strikes an excellent balance of adventure and relaxation, big city excitement and outdoor pursuits.
During the summer, bask on the warm sands of Virginia’s shoreline. Bustling communities like Virginia Beach boast exciting boardwalks and plenty of family fun. Meanwhile, Assateague Island National Seashore and other wilderness areas are home to numerous species of birds and roaming wild horses. The northwestern side of the state is dominated by Shenandoah National Park. Enjoy the bucolic mountain scenery from one of the park’s many hiking trails or while cruising Skyline Drive. Just be sure to save some time for central Virginia wine country, home to more than 200 wineries.
Four very large states — Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona — comprise the Southwest region of the United States. This part of the country has landscapes unlike anywhere else, complete with snow-capped peaks, rust-colored sandstone cliffs, rolling prairies, sandy beaches and prickly cacti.
This part of the country is known for its Wild West heritage, but it’s also an outdoor lover’s dream. Several notable U.S. National Parks can be found here, including Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona and Big Bend National Park in Texas. Meanwhile, New Mexico and Oklahoma are home to a number of Native American historic sites. And all four states feature plenty of opportunities to hike, swim, ride horses and even ski.
Home to one of the USA’s most famous natural wonders, the Grand Canyon, Arizona impresses with stunning landscapes and incredible warm, dry weather. With California to the west and New Mexico to the east, this Southwestern state is easy to get to and fun to visit.
It’s not hard to figure out why people love visiting Arizona, which has the coveted distinction of being the nation’s sunniest state. While here, you’ll discover scenic golf courses, Native American heritage and one-of-a-kind landscapes such as the Grand Canyon National Park. Although much of Arizona is made up of desert scenery, the center of the state is home to the Tonto National Forest, which covers 11,627 square kilometers and has lush forest, rivers and lakes. And farther north, the snow-capped peaks in Flagstaff draw skiers each winter.
New Mexico offers a unique mélange of culture and adventure unlike anywhere else. Hugged by Arizona, Texas and Colorado, this incredible Southwestern state allows visitors to explore ancient civilizations and incredible landscapes.
The state’s desert scenery evolves throughout the year, with colorful wildflowers come spring and summer, snow come winter and golden leaves come autumn. The rusty-hued cliffs at Bandelier and Gila Cliff Dwellings national monuments hold secrets to life thousands of years ago. Just as memorable are New Mexico’s wilderness areas, from the crystalline dunes of White Sands National Monument to the towering peaks of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, which lure adventure seekers from Santa Fe, Albuquerque and Taos with the promise of fresh snow in the winter and scenic hikes in the warmer months.
To visit the USA where the buffalo roam and the cowboys call home, plan a trip to Oklahoma. Sitting atop Texas, Oklahoma remains a land devoted to memories of the Wild West, with rolling grasslands interrupted only by herds of cattle and legendary Route 66.
While here, don your hat and boots and explore the state’s expansive wilderness areas like the locals do: on horseback. Several of Oklahoma’s state parks — including Devils Den State Park and Beavers Bend State Resort Park — feature horse trails. The state also features plenty of places to rock climb, including Robbers Cave State Park and Red Rock Canyon State Park. Summer and fall are great times to try out the state’s varied outdoor activities, whereas spring rains and chilly winter temperatures can make it unpleasant to stay outside for long.
They say everything’s bigger in Texas, which at nearly 700,000 square kilometers is the second largest state in the USA. That outsized reputation certainly applies to adventure. You’ll find plenty of ways to get outside in Texas’ big cities, too, from golf courses in Dallas to kayaking on Lady Bird Lake in Austin to historic sites in San Antonio.
Flanked by Louisiana, the Gulf of Mexico and New Mexico, Texas encompasses beaches, mountains, deserts and forests, meaning you won’t have to look hard to find an activity that suits you. You can horseback ride across the scenic meadows of Hill Country, admire the night sky in Big Bend National Park or sprawl out along the sands of Padre Island National Seashore (just be careful not to disturb any sea turtles).