The United States is quite amazing – each state offers a unique landscape, climate, culture, and attitude that is worth exploring beyond a fifth grade textbook. While I believe that traveling the world is worthwhile and I have the goal to visit as many countries as I can afford before finally kicking the bucket, I also strongly believe in traveling within the United States. Our enormous country offers a variety of landscapes that are as beautiful as they’re unique. Fun big cities, charming small towns, and people from all walks of life. As much fun as international travel can be, it’s important not to discount adventures within the United States. So for those looking for places to travel this summer within the United States beyond Myrtle Beach, the Grand Canyon, and Disney World – this list is for you.
Leelanau Peninsula, Michigan
The are very few places in the world that I find more beautiful than the Leelanau Peninsula in northwest Michigan. The vast sandy beaches, crystal blue/turquoise water, and incredible scenery rival any beach in the United States. If you’re like me and love cherries, northern Michigan is a little slice of heaven – or at least a slice of cherry pie. Stay in Glen Arbor, run down the Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes, make your way across the Leelanau County Wine Trail, and kayak along the Crystal River.
Continually voted one of the best US beaches, Ogunquit has three and half miles of white sand beaches along with rocky cliffs overlooking the ocean. Walk along The Marginal Way, take a lobster charter boat from Perkins Cove, eat at the Lobster Shack, and spend the afternoons on the beach. This is New England. This is Maine. This is heaven.
Kansas City, Missouri
Sigh. Who knew that Kansas City would hold such a special place in my heart? Not only is it a great place to live – it is a fantastic place to visit. Go treasure hunting in West Bottoms with a beer in hand, eat BBQ at KC Joes, catch a show at Kansas City Live! in the Power & Light District, and wander around Union Station. If you have time – catch one the major league sporting events. And don’t leave town without visiting the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.
Nestled in the North Georgia mountains, Dahlonega was the site of the first major gold rush in the United States in 1828. Also known as the heart of North Georgia wine country, the surrounding area has multiple vineyards and wineries that welcome visitors. Historic downtown Dahlonega has fantastic restaurants (you can’t go wrong with Bourbon Street Grille), wine tasting rooms, art galleries, antique shops, and bars. As far as where to stay, there are multiple cozy bed & breakfasts in town (check out Yellow Daisy and Mountain Laurel Creek), rent a cabin in the woods (like Cavender Creek), or even sleep in a yurt.
Crater Lake National Park, Oregon
Located in Cascade Mountains in southern Oregon, Crater Lake National Park offers hiking trails, ranger programs, scene drives, and some of the darkest skies in America on moonless nights. Stay in the park at Crater Lake Lodge or the Cabins at Mazama Village and see for yourself what John Wesley Hillman called the “Deep Blue Lake.”
Obviously this list is nowhere exhaustive and only serves to spark some ideas of places in the United States that one may not immediately think of when brainstorming summer travel destinations. Whether you visit the Pacific Northwest, the West, the Great Plains, the Midwest, the South, New England, or the mid-Atlantic, there is beauty and adventure to be found. Happy and safe travels.