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100 Magical Places You Won't Believe Are in America

Fairytale escapes well within reach

The world is full of destinations that look like they're straight out of a storybook. Whether it's the enchanted town in Holland where the streets are made of water, or the Ice Hotel in Finland modeled after Game of Thrones, there's so much splendor that seems too beautiful to be real.

But did you know that many of the most otherworldly attractions on earth are right in your backyard? The frozen, rust-colored waves of Antelope Canyon, the towering sequoias in California, and the sculpturesque ice formations in Utah are just some of the many surreal wonders this country has to offer. Plus: you can enjoy all of them at your leisure on the freedom of the open road.

So read on to discover the most magical destinations in the United States.

Anza-Borrego Desert Wildflowers; Borrego Springs, California

wildflower field in california

Where to fly: Palm Springs International Airport

About two hours inland of San Diego and 90 minutes south of Palm Springs, the desert surrounding the town of Borrego Springs is dotted with vivid bursts of yellow, magenta, and orange when local wildflowers bloom. The desert is home to 92 different plant families, 346 genera, and hundreds of flowering species. While it's possible to see beautiful blossoms every spring, the state park is especially spectacular following a wet winter, when the landscape explodes with color.

Pro tip: Although camping in the park is gorgeous, those who prefer a luxe vacation should book a stay at Borrego Valley Inn. The hipster southwestern place boasts cozy, well-decorated rooms as well as a pool, hot tub, game room, bar, and a restaurant with fantastic burgers and shakes. For recorded wildflower updates, call 760-767-4684.

Nā Pali coast; Kauai, Hawaii

Na Pali Coast Hawaii Magical Destinations

Where to fly: Li Hu'e Airport

The rugged Nā Pali Coast State Park is located along the northwest side of Kaua'i, the oldest inhabited Hawaiian island. The crystal clear water lined with the jutting, green mountains of the Nā Pali coast makes it a must-see on your island-hopping adventures.

Pro tip: Located right against the shore is Na Pali's chicest stay, at the St. Regis Princeville Resort. Lounge around in the spa while snapping photographs of the sweeping coastline just beyond your back door. For more incredible coastlines, read the 30 Most Magical Islands on the Planet.

Delicate Arch; Moab, Utah

Delicate Arch Arches National Park Utah

Where to fly: Canyonlands Field Airport

Travelers come from all over the world to admire the grandeur of Arches National Park. The red rock paradise has more than 2,000 stone arches behind its entrance, but none is more iconic than Delicate Arch. Standing 46 feet high and 32 feet wide, it's the largest free-standing arch in the park. Visitors can see it from a mile away at Lower Delicate Arch Viewpoint and Upper Viewpoint, both of which require a short walk. To get a picture underneath its span requires a respectable three-mile hike.

Pro tip: Grab a bite or stock up on snacks at Moonflower Community Cooperative. The natural foods store offers high-quality groceries, killer fresh baked goods, and affordable prepared foods.

Tunnel View; Yosemite National Park, California

green valley with granite peaks and a blue sky landscape

Where to fly: Merced Airport

Made famous by landscape photographer Ansel Adams, Tunnel View offers one of the best panoramas in the country. Step out of your car and walk to the edge of the parking lot for a jaw-dropping view of the park's most iconic sites: El Capitan, Half Dome, and Bridalveil Fall.

Pro tip: Reserve a room at The Ahwahnee, the gorgeous parkitecture-style hotel that's hosted famous figures ranging from Queen Elizabeth and President John F. Kennedy to Judy Garland and Lucille Ball. If you can't afford to stay, order a slice of the homemade boysenberry pie in the dining room. Beyond Bridalveil Falls, there are many jaw-dropping cascades to explore; check them out in the 15 Waterfalls So Magical You Won't Believe They're in the U.S.

Seven Magic Mountains; Las Vegas, Nevada

colorful rock formations

Where to fly: McCarran International Airport

Unlike the Ivanpah Valley's surrounding natural peaks, these colorful 35-foot towers were installed in the Nevada desert by renowned Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone. It's selfie sorcery.

Pro tip: Grab a bite to eat at Las Vegas stripmall spot, Lotus of Siam, an acclaimed Thai restaurant.

Luray Caverns; Luray, Virginia

luray caverns virginia

Where to fly: Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport

Located in the Shenandoah Valley, 60 miles north of Charlottesville, Luray Caverns is the largest cavern in the eastern United States. The preternatural cave is full of outstanding columns, mud flows, stalactites, stalagmites, and mirrored pools, which are all highlighted to make it feel as though you've magically been cast in some sort of Sci-Fi flick.

Pro tip: Book a table at the Shack in nearby Staunton. The tiny New American restaurant has been lauded by national publications including Esquire and The Washington Post. And for more incredible caverns, check out the 23 Most Magical Caves in the United States.

Morro Rock; Morro Bay, California

rock with a sea in front of it

Where to fly: San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport

Morro Rock is a 576-foot volcanic plug that formed about 23 million years ago, the last peak in the chain of Nine Sisters that starts in San Luis Obispo. The rock is now a designated bird sanctuary for the peregrine falcon and other species as part of the Morro Rock State Preserve.

Pro tip: Book a kayak tour with Central Coast Outdoors to visit harbor seal haul out areas, a heron rookery, or an oyster farm—and expect to see plenty of birds and otters along the way.

Badlands National Park; Interior, South Dakota

Badlands National Park South Dakota Surreal Places in the U.S.

Where to fly: Rapid City Regional Airport

Badlands National Park is another one of those dramatic landscapes that looks like it should be on another planet. Steep canyons, towering spires, and imposing rock formations are layered with multi-hued geological bands and one of the richest fossil beds in the world. The 244,000-acre park is also home to a mixed-grass prairie with resident bison, bighorn sheep, black-footed ferrets, and an adorable prairie dog town.

Pro tip: The only accommodation in the park, other than campsites, is Cedar Pass Lodge, which offers new eco-friendly cabins that look just like the original ones built in 1928, but with indoor plumbing, mini-fridges, and everything else you expect in the 21st century.

The Wave; Coyote Buttes, Utah-Arizona

wave colorful canyon in arizona

Where to fly: McCarran International Airport

This undulating sandstone rock formation, located just 40-minutes west of Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon, is one of the most coveted hiking permits in the American Southwest. Hundreds of visitors from across the globe apply for the 20 permits issued per day. Why? Its flowing layers of red rock are utterly spectacular.

Pro tip: Start applying for the online lottery four months in advance of your trip. Or post up in the Kanab Visitor Center the day you hope to hike for a chance to win the walk-in lottery.

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone; Canyon Village, Wyoming

waterfall in a forested canyon

Where to fly: Jackson Hole Airport

Yellowstone was the first national park in the United States due to its breadth of natural wonders, including its own Grand Canyon. The chasm, forged by the Yellowstone River, highlights the park's intricate geological history with a dramatic flourish. Puffs of steam burst from the hydrothermal rainbow-hued walls and the Upper and Lower Falls make for an even more dramatic visual.

Pro tip: Book a room at Canyon Lodge & Cabins, a redeveloped LEED-certified property just eight minutes from the canyon.

Chaco Culture National Historic Park; Nageezi, New Mexico

chaco national historic park

Where to fly: Four Corners Regional Airport

Chaco Canyon might be the most impressive archaeological site in the entire United States (and that's not an exaggeration). Between 850 and 1250 A.D., Ancestral Puebloans constructed a complex of Great Houses that formed the largest single-structure dwelling in North America—that is until a large apartment building was erected in New York City in 1882. The engineering marvel was so well built, visitors can still make their way through the centuries-old rooms and trails.

Pro tip: Chaco Canyon is an hour and a half away from any lodging, so you'll either have to pack a tent or book a glamping experience with Heritage Inspirations.

Cliff Walk; Newport, Rhode Island

breakers mansion newport rhode island

Where to fly: T.F. Green Airport

Combining opulent Gilded Age summer "cottages" with some of the most gorgeous coastlines in all of New England—yes, including plenty of boats sailing in the distance—this 3.5-mile cliffside trail has everything visitors want from a trip to Newport.

Pro tip: Take the exit off Ledge Road if you're not prepared to scramble over rocks.

Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve; Arco, Idaho

craters of the moon lava fields

Where to fly: Friedman Memorial Airport

Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve looks almost extraterrestrial thanks to the islands of cinder cones and scraggly sagebrush that dot the park's ancient lava flows. The otherworldly landscape has erupted and adapted for more than 30 million years.

Pro tip: There aren't many hotels nearby, so it's best to pitch a tent at one of the 42 first come-first-served sites at Lava Flow Campground inside the preserve.

Rio Gorge Bridge; El Prado, New Mexico

bridge over a gorge with a river

Where to fly: Santa Fe Municipal Airport

There's a reason this arch across the Rio Grande Gorge was awarded the Most Beautiful Steel Bridge. Towering at 650 feet, it is the fifth-highest in the United States, offering unparalleled bird's eye views of the chasm and the sliver of a river down below.

Pro tip: El Monte Sagrado features well-designed suites as well as a serene spa and relaxing indoor pool and hot tub.

Sun Valley, Idaho

Sun Valley, Idaho White Christmas in America

Where to fly: Friedman Memorial Airport

Ernest Hemingway was obsessed with Sun Valley, an enchanting mountain town in Idaho. Whether Bald Mountain's slopes are covered with snow in the winter months or the meadows are bursting with wildflowers in the spring, the gorgeous valley and its surrounding peaks are a picture-perfect alpine scene.

Pro tip: Book a room at Sun Valley Lodge, where Hemingway penned For Whom the Bell Tolls.

Snoqualmie Falls; Snoqualmie, Washington

waterfall spilling into a pool

Where to fly: Seattle-Tacoma International Airport

More than 1.5 million people visit this 270-foot waterfall in Washington state every year. When the cascade is at its peak, it forms a "curtain waterfall," a dramatic stream that is taller than it is wide.

Pro tip: Visit on a weekday if you'd like to avoid the crowds—the majestic falls can get packed on weekends.

Mammoth Cave National Park; Mammoth Cave, Kentucky

mammoth cave stalagmites

Where to fly: Louisville International Airport

Early Mammoth Cave guide Stephen Bishop once called it a "grand, gloomy, and peculiar place." Its labyrinth of passages and vast chambers, the longest known cave system on the globe, feel like you've entered the underworld—technically, you have—a supernatural and extraordinary thing to see.

Pro tip: Bring a jacket no matter how hot it may be outside. The caves are consistently at a chilly 54 degrees.

Crystal River; Crystal River, Florida

divers swimming with manatee

Where to fly: Tampa International Airport

Located on Central Florida's "Nature Coast," Crystal River looks like a fairytale. Lush trees line the banks of glass-like springs, and it's one of the few places on the planet where you can swim with manatees.

Pro tip: Manatees hang around throughout the year, but the best time to see them is November through April when hordes of them soak in the warm water springs.

Blue Mesa; Petrified Forest, Arizona

blue mesa arizona

Where to fly: Phoenix Sky Harbor International or Albuquerque International Sunport

Ages ago, the Petrified Forest National Park was an ancient conifer forest—although you wouldn't know it today, looking at the stark desert. If you go further into the Blue Mesa, you'll discover colorful deposits in the Painted Desert section. This scenic area features geologic bands of blue, green, lavender, white, and brown that are thought to be at least 220 million years old.

Pro tip: Walk the one-mile trail that heads down to the base of these vibrant geologic landmasses. Make sure to wear shoes with a decent grip, especially during the winter months, as the trail can get a bit slippery.

Martha's Vineyard Gingerbread Houses; Oak Bluff, Massachusetts

colorful gingerbread houses

Where to fly: Martha's Vineyard Airport

This Easter Egg-colored fairytale village was originally built in the 19th century by a group of Methodists who held annual retreats on the island. Today, 300 of the Carpenter's Gothic cottages remain out of the original 500. The pedestrian-only camp is a top tourist destination on this summer atoll.

Pro tip: Consider a stay at Summercamp. The 1789 hotel has a bright, punchy palette of colors as well as complimentary iPads and a game room for families.

Badwater Basin; Death Valley, California

badwater basin salt flats

Where to fly: McCarran International Airport

It looks like Mars: Death Valley's Badwater Basin is the lowest point in North America. Sitting 282 feet below sea level, the vast salt flat is a mysterious place that was dropped to such a great depth by movement in the earth's crust.

Pro tip: The Oasis at Death Valley is the nicest hotel in the park.

Mackinac Island, Michigan

bikes and horse carriages on mackinac island

Where to fly: Mackinac Island Airport

This isolated haven in the middle of Lake Huron is like a time-warp back to the early 1900s. Horse buggies trot down a Main Street that's home to old-school general stores, charming inns, and artist markets. In the summer, the town of 500 residents swells with tourists looking to cash in on its Americana vibe and Midwestern sailors who float over from the mainland to kick back and relax.

Pro tip: Rent a bike to circle around the island, which doesn't allow cars.

Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness, New Mexico

sunset over the wilderness

Where to fly: San Luis Valley Regional Airport

This 45,000-acre wilderness area has some of the strangest scenery in the Four Corners. Its weathered sandstone is covered with eerie hoodoos (eroded rock naturally sculpted into pinnacles), spires, cap rocks, and other alienesque shapes.

Pro tip: Set on a bluff overlooking Farmington, Casa Blanca Inn & Suites has Spanish-style rooms, courtyards, and fountains.

Hearst Castle; San Simeon, California

hearst castle with palm trees

Where to fly: San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport

Cary Grant, Charlie Chaplin, and Winston Churchill, among other A-list guests, have graced the halls of this lavish 127-acre estate, built by publishing tycoon William Randolph Hearst. The mansion is home to the 104-foot-long Neptune Pool—which was reopened in 2019 after a $10 million renovation on its Italian sculptures, marble colonnades, and Greco-Roman design—as well as the world's largest private zoo. To this day, you can still see free-ranging zebras grazing about the manicured grounds.

Pro tip: Book one of the oceanside rooms at nearby Cavalier Resort. You can curl up at one of the cozy outdoor fire pits and watch the whales frolic from atop the bluff.

Guadalupe Mountains National Park; Salt Flat, Texas

Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas

Where to fly: El Paso International Airport

Guadalupe Mountains National Park encompasses the world's largest Permian fossil reef, the four highest peaks in the Lonestar State and some impressively diverse plants and animals. It's home to mountain lions, badgers, and 16 different species of bats, along with 1,000 varieties of plants, such as the show-stopping Claret Cup cactus with vibrant blossoms that attract flora-lovers from around the world.

Pro tip: For the best wildflower blooms, aim to visit in late spring.

Pope Farm Conservancy; Middletown, Wisconsin

sunflower field

Where to fly: Dane County Regional Airport

Snap the happiest Insta anyone has ever seen during Pope Farm Conservancy's Sunflower Days. The annual event takes place at the height of sunflower season when its cheerful blooms are at their summery peak.

Pro tip: Stay at the Midwestern modern Graduate Madison hotel, the perfect homebase to explore all the beer, brats, and cheese curds the college town has to offer.

Glory Hole Falls; Ozone, Arkansas

frozen waterfall comes through a hole in the rock

Where to fly: Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport

Glory Hole is one of the most unique waterfalls in the United States. A creek running through Ozarks National Forest forged a hole in an overhanging rocky bluff, creating what has essentially become a mystical underground waterfall.

Pro tip: Visit in winter when the fall freezes into an eerie yet gorgeous column of solid ice.

Mesa Verde National Park; Mesa Verde, Colorado

Mesa Verde Cliff Palace

Where to fly: Durango La Plata County Airport

Mesa Verde National Park was established in 1906 to preserve and understand the heritage of the Ancestral Puebloans who once inhabited the 600 cliff dwellings. Today, it is one of the best-preserved archaeological sites in the United States.

Pro tip: Schedule your trip between late May and late October, when the park offers ranger-guided tours of the three biggest cliff dwellings.

Turnip Rock; Port Austin, Michigan

rock with sparse trees on it

Where to fly: Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport

Grab a boat—or some ice skates—to glide on over to this popular tourist destination. Separated from the mainland in prehistoric times and worn away by waves into the shape of a turnip, this small island is home to just a few trees.

Pro tip: Work on your upper body strength before you go: in summer, the only way to reach the island is via a 3.5-mile kayak trail.

Redwood Regional Park; Oakland, California

Redwood National Park

Where to fly: Oakland International Airport

Just a few miles over the ridge from downtown Oakland, miles of trails wind through an ethereal, fog-covered forest of dense ferns and ancient Coast Redwoods. The rarely visited park is like stumbling upon your own private Ferngully without the long drive required to get to similar Redwood-filled scenes.

Pro tip: Pop by Fentons Creamery, a landmark ice cream shop founded in 1894, for a scoop in nearby Piedmont after your hike.

Discovery Park; Seattle, Washington

lighthouse against the water with mountains in the background

Where to fly: Seattle-Tacoma International Airport

Set on Magnolia Bluff, just a few miles from the Space Needle, this 534-acre park overlooking the Puget Sound offers fantastic views of both the Cascade and Olympic Mountain ranges. The secluded spot has two miles of protected tidal beaches as well as gentle meadows, forest groves, sand dunes, and some dramatic seaside cliffs.

Pro tip: Pick up a sandwich from Fisherman's Green Market & Deli for a delicious picnic.

Chimney Rock; Scotts Bluff, Nebraska

chimney rock nebraska

Where to fly: Western Nebraska Regional Airport

One pioneer described the Oregon Trail's Chimney Rock as "towering to the heavens." Capped with a long, thin spire, the volcanic ash and brule clay formation soars 480 feet above the gentle Nother Platte River Valley.

Pro tip: For a real western experience, spend the night at Cheyenne Ridge Outfitters lodge. With room for 15, the sprawling place is ideal for entertaining with a sauna, game tables, and massage and culinary services.

Coastal Dune Lakes; Walton County, Florida

lakes stream into the ocean in florida
Flickr/Visit Florida

Where to fly: Palm Beach International Airport

Coastal Dune Lakes (shallow pockets of freshwater separated from the salty sea) only exist in a handful of places in the world: New Zealand, Madagascar, Australia, the Pacific Northwest, and this tiny corner of Florida. South Walton has 15 right next to the crystalline Gulf of Mexico. These visually stunning, biologically diverse areas are covered with lush vegetation and a wide array of endangered species, creating an ideal environment for bird-watching, kayaking, and stand-up paddling.

Pro tip: Stay at Watercolor Inn right next door to Grayton Beach State Park, which is home to three of the area's coastal dune lakes.

Grand Teton; Moose, Wyoming

Grand Teton National Park Surreal Places in the U.S.

Where to fly: Jackson Hole Airport

John D. Rockefeller, Jr. bought the valley surrounding Grand Teton because he fell in love with the beautiful scenery and wanted to protect it for future generations by turning it into a national park. Fortunately, his land deal worked. This magical place looks exactly like it did back in the 1920s.

Pro tip: Sleep minutes away from Jackson Hole Square at the hip Anvil Hotel.

Hawksbill Crag; Kingston, Arkansas

crag juts out among trees in arkansas

Where to fly: Boone County Airport

Overlooking a blanket of green mountains, this rocky outcrop looks like a hawk jutting out from the forest wall. The 45-minute hike that offers prime views of the Buffalo River is a popular proposal spot due to its impressive scenery.

Pro tip: Make the trip out in the morning before hordes of tourists clog up the natural serenity.

Santa Elena Canyon; Big Bend National Park, Texas

canyon in texas

Where to fly: Midland International Air and Space Port

The Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive affords fantastic views of the Chihuahuan Desert, but the most scenic spot in Big Bend National Park is Santa Elena Canyon, which is all the way down at the end of the road. Its cliffs soar up to 1,500 feet from the gorgeous Rio Grande River, creating a dramatic backdrop with the blue sky up above its rim.

Pro tip: Consider hiring a local outfitter to rent kayaks or get a guided tour of the canyon from the water.

Sandhills; Central, Nebraska

sandhills nebraska

Where to fly: Central Nebraska Regional Airport

Essentially untouched by the hands of man, Nebraska's Sandhills looks like a wind-blown sea of surging dunes covered by native grasses and vivid blue lakes.

Pro tip: Plan your trip in March when more than 600,000 sandhill cranes—80 percent of their entire population—converge along the Platte River, the largest gathering of one of the oldest living species on the globe. Start in the southern part of the region near Kearney, Grand Island, or North Platte before heading north to Valentine to gaze at the star-filled night skies.

Whitefish Mountain Resort's Aerial Adventure Park; Whitefish, Montana

snow-covered trees on a mountain top

Where to fly: Glacier Park International Airport

As the gateway to Glacier National Park, Whitefish is regularly hailed as one of the most magnificent places in North America—no matter the time of year. However, come summertime Whitefish Mountain Resort offers visitors a spellbinding way to enjoy the area's natural beauty: from the air. The aerial adventure park offers five courses with multiple ability levels that give participants a birds-eye view of the gorgeous scenery.

Pro tip: Make yourself at home in one of the resort's high-end condos or private homes.

Antelope Canyon; Page, Arizona

Antelope Canyon Arizona Magical Destinations

Where to fly: Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport

Antelope Canyon, just east of Page, Arizona, is a rust-colored slot canyon perfect for photo ops.

Pro tip: Opt for the upper canyon tour (for the best views). The fee is $80, but the view will be worth every penny. After you take in the views, stay at the chic Amangiri retreat in Utah. And for more adventures that don't require hiking gear, check out these 9 Life-Changing Luxury Adventures You'll Never Forget.

Palouse Falls; LaCrosse, Washington

Palouse Falls, Idaho Magical Destinations

Where to fly: Spokane International Airport

The Palouse Falls are a part of the Palouse Falls State Park, located on the Palouse River in southeast Washington. The park offers three different views of the falls—one just as breathtaking as the next—all for only $10.

Pro tip: While you're in the park, try your hand (or paddle) at kayaking through the falls.

Thor's Well; Yachats, Oregon

Thor's Well Oregon Magical Destinations
Shutterstock/Lijuan Guo

Where to fly: Eugene Airport

Sitting on the edge of the Oregon coast, this seemingly-bottomless sinkhole is a natural wonder in itself.

Pro tip: Stay in an amazing Airbnb along the nearby seal sanctuary for panoramic views of the coast.

Bryce Canyon; Bryce, Utah

Bryce Canyon Utah Magical Destinations

Where to fly: Salt Lake International Airport

Bryce Canyon, located in Bryce Canyon National Park, features other-worldly spire-shaped rock formations called hoodoos.

Pro tip: While you're there, don't miss the true desert ambiance by staying at Shooting Star RV Resort—where you'll get to choose from eight Hollywood-themed Airstreams. And for about Earth's natural wonders, check out these 30 Craziest Facts About Planet Earth You Never Knew. 

Carlsbad Caverns; Carlsbad, New Mexico

Carlsbad Caverns New Mexico Magical Destinations

Where to fly: Roswell International Air Center

Carlsbad Caverns National Park is located in the Chihuahuan Desert, in southern New Mexico. The park features more than 100 colorful caves nestled deep underground.

Pro tip: Skip the hotel and rough it in the Carlsbad campground—we promise the view of the stars will be worth it.

Grand Prismatic Spring; Yellowstone, Wyoming

yellowstone geothermal spring wyoming

Where to fly: Jackson Hole Airport

This multicolored spring is located in Yellowstone National Park. This thermal phenomenon is the largest hot spring in the United States—though you aren't permitted to test out the waters.

Pro tip: Make sure to swing by Old Faithful Inn for ice cream and a chance to kick your feet up in front of the towering lobby's massive stone fireplace. The national historic landmark is considered the largest log structure in the world, featuring a hand-crafted clock made of copper, wood, and wrought iron details. And for more travel adventures, check out these 40 Best Bucket-List Experiences for People Over 40.

Rainbow Bridge and Falls; Watkins Glen State Park, New York

Rainbow Bridge and Falls New York Magical Destinations

Where to fly: Hancock International Airport

Watkins Glen State Park is the most popular state park in the Finger Lakes region—and for good reason. The Rainbow Bridge and Falls are not to be missed during any trip to upstate New York.

Pro tip: While you're in the area, don't miss a stay at the Inns of Aurora, located right on the water.

Zion Canyon; Springdale, Utah

Zion Canyon Utah Magical Destinations

Where to fly: McCarren International Airport

While the Zion Canyon is a must-see at the Zion Canyon National Park in southwest Utah, it's just one of many magical detours that include the emerald pools, waterfalls, and a hanging garden.

Pro tip: Only steps away from the park, tucked into the canyons, is Cable Mountain Lodge—luxurious rustic cabins with an unforgettable dining experience.

Dry Tortugas National Park; Monroe County, Florida

Dry Tortugas National Park Magical Destinations

Where to fly: Key West International Airport (then hop on a boat to get to the remote island)

You can only get to Dry Tortugas National Park via boat—but it's well worth the trek. The park is home to Fort Jefferson, one of the biggest 19th-century forts. After you're done reveling in the history, take a swim—or even try your hand at snorkeling and diving.

Pro tip: Don't leave the island! Camping out on this beautiful island will bring closer to history and to the stars.

Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness; White River National Forest, Colorado

Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness Colorado Magical Destinations

Where to fly: Aspen/Pitkin County Airport

The Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness is one of the more popular attractions within the White River National Forest in Colorado. For peak floral appreciation, head to the national park in spring.

Pro tip: For complete solitude, camp out in the Conundrum Hot Springs—only a short distance from the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness.

Oneonta Gorge; Ainsworth State Park, Oregon

Oneonta Gorge Oregon Magical Destinations

Where to fly: Portland International Airport

Though the trail leading to the Oneonta Gorge is currently closed due to the Columbia River Gorge fire that swept through the area last year, don't take this destination off your bucket list just yet. Before you trek to the trail, be sure to pack plenty of water and extra socks, as you will have to walk through water for a small portion of the trip.

Pro tip: More adventure is waiting just around the corner at Skamania Lodge, located in Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. Enjoy ziplining, rustic rooms, and world-class dining all in the same stay.

Mendenhall Glacier Caves; Juneau, Alaska

Mendenhall Glacier Caves Magical Destinations

Where to fly: Juneau International Airport

The only way to truly experience the magic of the Mendenhall Glacier Caves is to book a private tour. Though this tour will cost you around $200 per person, the all-day immersive experience will provide you with an unparalleled view of the Mendenhall Glacier Caves—with a scenic paddle across the serene glacial meltwater lake followed by a walk to the glacier cave.

Pro tip: After a long trek, head to Pearson's Pond Luxury Inn and Adventure Spa for a much-needed spa day.

White Sands National Monument; Dona Ana County, New Mexico

White Sands National Monument New Mexico Magical Destinations

Where to fly: El Paso International Airport

Like many other parts of the west, there's an ancient stillness to the White Sands National Monument in New Mexico. These sands extend for 275 square miles—creating the world's largest gypsum dunefield.

Pro tip: Just 13 miles from the park, in Alamogordo, tucked in between sand dunes, is the White Sands Motel. Stay for breathtaking views, leave to hit the road and explore more of the beautiful state of New Mexico.

Porcupine Bay; Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska

Porcupine Bay Kenai Fjords National Park Magical Destinations

Where to fly: Anchorage International Airport

Though every attraction within the Kenai Fjords National Park boasts killer views, none can quite compare to this one. Snag this view with a guided boat tour ($146 for adults and $73 for children) that will take you through the bay, mountains, and tidewater glaciers in the park.

Pro tip: For the best views of the park, book a room at the Kenai Fjords Glacier Lodge.

Multnomah Falls; Columbia River Gorge, Oregon

Multnomah Falls Oregon Magical Destinations

Where to fly: Portland International Airport

As you can deduce from the photograph, the best time to pay a visit to this attraction in the Columbia River Gorge is in the fall. Unlike other attractions on the list, you don't have to invest in hiking shoes to get the best view. In fact, you can actually just drive into the visitor's parking lot and walk a few hundred feet to the base of the waterfall.

Pro tip: Be sure to grab a meal at the Multnomah Falls Lodge that provides spectacular views of the falls.

Sequoia National Park; Tulare County, California

Sequoia National Park California Magical Destinations

Where to fly: Fresno Yosemite International Airport

At Sequoia National Park, you'll feel the ancient quality of the trees—stretching for hundreds of feet towards the sun.

Pro tip: After you've fully reveled in the beauty of the world's largest trees, remain enamored with a stay at Silver City Mountain Resort—where luxury is surrounded by mountains and the towering groves of sequoias.

Haleakalā National Park; Maui, Hawaii

Haleakalā National Park Hawaii Magical Destinations

Where to fly: Kahului Airport

The best time of day to view these volcanic structures is right at sunrise, while the sun stretches over the peaks—so be sure to book your sunrise tour at least 60 days in advance.

Pro tip: Stay late enough to catch the entire milky way light up the night sky.

Angel Oak; Charleston, South Carolina

Angel Oak Tree Charleston Magical Destinations

Where to fly: Charleston International Airport

The Angel Oak Tree in Charleston, South Carolina is estimated to be around 500 years old, with its canopies stretching 28 feet in each direction. Paying a visit to the tree, located in Angel Oak Park, is completely free.

Pro tip: While you're in Charleston, get a taste of the city at Roadside Seafood—and be sure to try the crispy bites of shark.

Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve; Lancaster, California

Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve Magical Destinations

Where to fly: Hollywood Burbank Airport

The wildflower season lasts from mid-February to late May in California, so plan your trip to this hidden gem accordingly. For a small fee of $10, you can enjoy the park all day.

Pro tip: Bring a picnic basket and sit amongst the wild flowers for a truly epic meal.

Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park; Big Island, Hawaii

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Magical Destinations

Where to fly: Hilo International Airport

This once-in-a-lifetime experience allows you to be up close and personal with active volcanoes, located just inside the Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park. Though most of the park is currently closed due to several damaging earthquakes throughout the area, for a small fee of $25, you can take multiple trails leading to active volcano sites.

Pro tip: Just a few miles away, nestled between palm trees, is the Chalet Kilauea, offering majestic views in a safe location.

Fort Williams Park; Cape Elizabeth, Maine

Fort Williams Park Maine Magical Destinations

Where to fly: Portland International Jetport

Since 1791, this stately lighthouse has graced the shores of Cape Elizabeth in Maine—and now you can book a visit to witness the rich history of its coast for yourself. Along with the lighhouse, there are mulitple hikes along the coastline that are not to be missed.

Pro tip: Head over to Portland for a unique dining experience at Portland Lobster Company.

Willow City Bluebonnets; Willow City, Texas

Willow City Bluebonnets Texas Magical Destinations

Where to fly: San Antonio International Airport

For more impressive stretches of wildflowers, head to Willow City, Texas during the late Spring for a glimpse of their famous gathering of Bluebonnets. Take a drive along the Willow City Loop and be sure to stop and take a few pictures of the beautiful blooming season.

Pro tip: After your scenic drive, head over to Fredericksburg Wine Road for a (few) great glasses of wine.

Saguaro National Park; Tucson, Arizona

Saguaro National Park Arizona Magical Destinations

Where to fly: Tucson International Airport

Take a drive along Cactus Forest Drive to get the best view of these towering cactuses—even better, plan for your drive to be right around sunset—when the orange glow of the setting sun illuminates the cactuses and plants.

Pro tip: While you're there, don't miss a chance to visit Signal Hill Picnic Area, which offers visitors a chance to view ancient petroglyphs.

Niagara Falls; Niagara Falls, New York

Niagara Falls New York Magical Destinations

Where to fly: Niagara Falls International Airport

Niagara Falls is a popular destination for a reason: the cascading falls are a breathtaking sight from any vantage point.

Pro tip: Stay at the Sheraton On the Falls for the best view of the falls after dark.

Denali National Park; Alaska

Denali National Park Alaska Magical Destinations

Where to fly: Fairbanks International Airport

Since you don't want to miss any part of the 92-mile Denali Park Road that curves through the park, it's best to book a bus tour for optimal adventuring.

Pro tip: Enjoy the views at this park with a stay at Camp Denali North Face Lodge. These cabins are actually situated within the park, close to several trailheads.

Bonaventure Cemetery; Savannah, Georgia

Bonaventure Cemetery Savannah Magical Destinations

Where to fly: Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport

You don't have to be seeking spirits to enjoy a trip to Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah, Georgia. The cemetery was established in 1846, and still serves as a great meeting place for friends and family looking for a great picnic spot in Savannah. Free guided tours are held at 2 p.m. on Saturday and at 2 p.m., 2:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. on Sunday.

Pro tip: While you're in one of the (allegedly) most haunted cities in the country, be sure to find time for the Zombie Ghost Tour—adults only.

Lake Tahoe; California and Nevada

Lake Tahoe Magical Destinations

Where to fly: Lake Tahoe Airport

Lake Tahoe, stretching across California and Nevada, offers countless adventures like hiking, skiing—and for those just looking to relax, the area also boasts amazing beaches and some of the most beautiful drives in the country.

Pro tip: Stay in the Hotel Azure in South Lake Tahoe, California for the best views of the entire lake.

Zabriskie Point; Death Valley, California

Zabriskie Point Yosemite National Park Magical Destinations

Where to fly: Fresno-Yosemite International Airport

While there are many reasons to pay a visit to Death Valley National Park, Zabriskie Point should definitely top your list. Either drive to Zabriskie Point for an overhead view of the rock formations, or hike through the Golden Canyon to see them up close.

Pro tip: To escape the Death Valley heat, stay at The Oasis for desert-themed opulence.

Apostle Islands National Lakeshore; Lake Superior, Wisconsin

Apostle Islands National Lakeshore Magical Destinations

Where to fly: John F. Kennedy Memorial Airport

The best time to visit Lake Superior's hidden gem is during late winter when the lake has been frozen over for a few months. This way, you'll be able to fully enjoy the Mainland Ice Caves, which are easily accessible by car.

Pro tip: After your trek through the ice, warm your hands (and your appetite) at the Victorian-themed Rittenhouse Inn.

Cannon Beach; Cannon Beach, Oregon

Cannon Beach Oregon Magical Destinations

Where to fly: Portland International Airport

While making the trip to Cannon Beach on Oregon's scenic coastline, be sure to stop at Haystack Rock (pictured above). These rock formations, only a few feet from the beach, provide truly breathtaking views (and Instagram pictures).

Pro tip: don't miss a stay at Arch Cape Inn & Retreat, located right against the shoreline.

Mount Rainier; Mount Rainier National Park, Washington

Mount Rainier National Park Magical Destinations

Where to fly: Seattle-Tacoma International Airport

Mount Rainier is the highest mountain in the state of Washington, and the national park that houses the natural wonder has some of the best views of its peak. Through a various number of trails, day hikers can enjoy the lakes, wildflowers, and glaciers inside the park.

Pro tip: For a truly unique stay at Mount Rainier, look no further than Alexander's Lodge, featuring panoramic views of the park available in every room.

Glacier National Park; Columbia Falls, Montana

Glacier National Park Montana Magical Destinations

Where to fly: Glacier Park International Airport

The Glacier National Park is the perfect option for those travelers looking to steer clear of their fellow tourists. Due to the quiet nature of the park, the hiking trails located throughout the expanse of trees, lakes, and glaciers are great for a peaceful day hike.

Pro tip: Stay at Glacier National Park Lodges and eat at the in-house restaurant to ensure that you don't miss any view promised by the park.

Cades Cove; Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee

Cades Cove Great Smoky Mountains National Park Magical Destinations

Where to fly: Knoxville McGee-Tyson Airport

While venturing through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, grab the best views of the mountains with a quick drive through Cades Cove. This sweeping valley, lined with wildflowers and sloping mountain ranges, is also a great place for a mid-afternoon picnic.

Pro-tip: If kids are inevitably involved in your bucket list escapades, don't miss a quick jaunt to Pigeon Forge, just an hour up the road. While you're there, return to nature with a stay at the Reserve Secret Hideaway Cabins.

Hamilton Pool Preserve; Travis County, Texas

Hamilton Pool Texas Magical Destinations

Where to fly: Austin-Bergstrom International Airport

For just $11, the Hamilton Pool Preserve in Travis County, Texas can be your own private oasis. To reach the rocky pool, you'll need to hike through rough terrain—so bring your hiking boots.

Pro tip: Lakeway Resort and Spa comes equipped with a swim-up bar—need we say more?

White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad; Beginning in Skagway, Alaska

White Pass and Yukon Railroad Magical Destinations

Where to fly: Juneau International Airport

If you're not the hiking type, sit back and relax on a scenic railroad tour of Alaska and Canada. The White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad sets off in Skagway, Alaska, and leisurely journeys through steep mountain passes and wildflower reserves of northern Alaska. Pro tip: For the best views, opt for the White Pass Summit Excursion, where you'll get a glimpse of mountains, glaciers, gorges, waterfalls, tunnels, and trestles.

Bannerman Castle; Fishkill, New York

Bannerman Castle New York Magical Destinations

Where to fly: Stewart International Airport

Since its creation in 1851, the abandoned Bannerman Castle has been the subject of multiple ghost stories and folk legends. To truly get the most of out of your visit, schedule a guided tour and hike to the top of the castle.

Pro tip: While you're in the neighborhood, head over to Il Barilotto for one of the best fine-dining experiences that upstate New York has to offer.

Midway Ice Castles; Midway, Utah

Midway Ice Castles Utah Magical Destinations

Where to fly: Salt Lake City International Airport

Escape your winter blues and head to Utah to experience some of the best ice formations in the country. Even the kids will appreciate the accompanying entertainment at the Midway Ice Castles, featuring fire performances and engaging light displays.

Pro tip: To give dad a break from the ice escapades, book your stay at the Francisco Grande Hotel and Golf Resort—just minutes from the ice castles.

The Water Lantern Festival; Colorado Springs, Colorado

water lanterns

Where to fly: Colorado Springs Airport

Once a year, on the last Saturday of June, Colorado Springs hosts their Water Lantern Festival—and it's an experience not to be missed. Just after sunset, thousands of people set their glowing lanterns on the surface of Prospect Lake and the whole city is set aglow.

Pro tip: While you're in Colorado Springs for the festival, make a day trip out to Garden of the Gods for spectacular views that aren't man-made.

Painted Hills; Wheeler County, Oregon

Painted Hills Oregon Magical Destinations

Where to fly: Eastern Oregon Regional Airport

Pegged as one of the "7 wonders of Oregon," the Painted Hills in Wheeler County, Oregon are America's most colorful rock formations. To get there, take the Journey Through Time Scenic Byway to also check out the ghost town of Shaniko and the Kam Wah Chung and Co. Museum, a perfectly preserved drugstore from a century ago.

Pro tip: For the rugged traveler, paradise awaits at the Spoke'n Hostel, featuring vibrant rooms and chic affordability.

Skagit Valley tulip fields; Mount Vernon, Washington

Skagit Valley Tulip Fields Washington Magical Destinations

Where to fly: Bellingham International Airport

While time is limited to visit these majestic tulip fields (April 1-30), this adventure is best the spring anyway, with the bloom of nature cascading all around in Mount Vernon.

Pro tip: Feel the sea salt on your skin with a stay at Anacortes Ship Harbor Inn, located just off the sea in historic downtown Anacortes.

Acadia National Park; Mount Desert Island, Maine

Acadia National Park Magical Destinations

Where to fly: Bangor International Airport

Coined as the "crown jewel of the North Atlantic Coast," Acadia National Park boasts incredible views along a large portion of the Atlantic coast. Whether you're looking to visit the Bass Harbor Head Light (the park's only lighthouse), or if you're looking to hike up Cadillac Mountain, this park has a little bit of something for everyone.

Pro tip: After your trek through the trees, sit back and relax at the Bar Harbor Grand Hotel.

Bixby Canyon Bridge; Big Sur, California

bridge between two cliffs along a coastline

Where to fly: Monterey Airport

For views that don't involve exiting your vehicle, take a drive down the Pacific Coast Highway via Big Sur's Bixby Canyon Bridge.

Pro tip: For more coastal views from a seated position, check out Sierra Mar for one of the best fine-dining experiences in Big Sur.

Horseshoe Bend; Page, Arizona

sunset at horseshoe bend

Where to fly: Flagstaff Airport

Even though it may not appear so, Horseshoe Bend in Arizona is relatively easy to get to—just a 1.25-mile hike through fairly easy terrain.

Pro tip: Keep the ancient red rocks within reach with this stay at the Courtyard Page at Lake Powell. And for more homegrown adventure, check out these 6 American Epic Adventures.

Seven Mile Bridge; Florida Keys, Florida

Seven Mile Bridge Florida Magical Destinations

Where to fly: Miami International Airport

While this spot may not necessarily be a destination, the Seven Mile Bridge takes you where you need to be, and does so in a truly magical fashion. The bridge stretches from Knight's Key in the Middle Keys to Little Duck Key in the Lower Keys.

Pro tip: When you reach your destination in the Little Keys, be sure to take a load off at Parmer's Resort.

Joshua Tree; Joshua Tree, California

sunset shining through the branches of a joshua tree in california desert

Where to fly: Palm Springs International Airport

Come for the other-worldly desert landscapes, stay for a view of the milky way. What makes Joshua Tree National Park so appealing are the various sights to see in the expansive desert landscape—whether by car or on foot.

Pro tip: Sleep under the stars for just $15 a night.

Prada Marfa; Valentine, Texas

prada marfa texas

Where to fly: El Paso International

A fully stocked Prada store in the middle of a desert in West Texas sounds like an oxymoron. But it actually does exist—Prada Marfa is a popular permanent art installation designed by artists Elmgreen & Dragset. The site, which is fully locked and outfitted with actual Prada gear, gets thousands of visitors a year despite the lack of traffic on Route 60, where tumbleweeds tend to outnumber cars.

Pro tip: Book a stay at Hotel Saint George in Marfa. The contemporary hotel is about a 30-minute drive from the "store" right in the middle of all the restaurants, bars, and galleries in the quirky art town.

Piedras Blancas Rookery; San Simeon, California

elephant seals on a beach

Where to fly: San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport

The drive up California's coastal Highway 1 is memorable enough without a stop at Piedras Blancas Rookery; however, there's a reason why its parking lot is always so packed. The elephant seal rookery is the only one in the world that is easily accessible and free, offering a prime spot to view blubbery elephant seals as they bark and wobble across the beach.

Pro tip: Wake up to the sound of the ocean in one of the breezy fireplace-warmed rooms at Moonstone Landing, in Cambria. The family-owned boutique hotel is just across from the Moonstone Beach Boardwalk.

Brandywine Falls; Sagamore Hills, Ohio

waterfalls in lush foliage

Where to fly: Cleveland Hopkins International Airport

This scenic waterfall in the middle of Cuyahoga Valley National Park cascades 65 feet into a staggering gorge. The 1.5-mile boardwalk trail follows the edge of the cliff on its way down to the creek level. The idyllic walk passes by vernal pools, often home to breeding salamanders, under a canopy of deciduous trees that change color with the seasons.

Pro tip: Stay right near the falls at the historic Inn at Brandywine Falls. The six-room Greek Revival bed and breakfast is furnished in Ohio antiques and serves an elegant candlelight breakfast every day at 9 a.m.

Shark Valley; Miami, Florida

bridge over a marsh

Where to fly: Miami International Airport

Just 30 miles west of Miami, Shark Valley offers visitors easy access to Everglades National Park's river of grass. The freshwater marsh is home to a diverse array of plants and animals including river otters, alligators, and birds like Wood Storks, Limpkins, and Anhingas.

Pro tip: Get on the Shark Valley Tram Tour to learn about the area's ecology and history from trained naturalists.

Mesabi Iron Range Scenic Overlooks; Northeast, Minnesota

blue lake in old ore mine

Where to fly: Duluth International Airport

Some of Minnesota's most breathtaking natural wonders are actually man-made. The remnants of its northeastern iron mines have been transformed into brilliant orange mountains and deep blue lakes. Take in the views at Leonidas Overlook, the Hull-Rust-Mahoning Mine, and other impressive viewing spots.

Pro tip: Make a stop in nearby Hibbing to take a peek at Bob Dylan's childhood home.

Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park; Middle Brook, Missouri

river bed and water in missouri
SharonDay / iStock

Where to fly: St. Louis Lambert International Airport

Johnson's Shuts-Ins State Park starts where the East Fork of the Black River hits the pink granite and blue-gray rhyolite rock that formed from ancient volcanoes billions of years back. The rock is so hard, the water has only been able to carve a narrow, steep-sided "shut-in," as opposed to a wider, gentler canyon. Found throughout the Ozarks, these feature an intricate complex of rapids, rivulets, and pools, some of which are ideal for taking a dip. But the ones at Johnson's are some of the most beloved and fun.

Pro tip: Book afternoon tea at Old Caledonian Bed & Breakfast for a pleasant midday break.

Lake Champlain Islands; Northern Vermont

lake champlain vermont

Where to fly: Plattsburgh International Airport

This cluster of islands, just south of the Canadian border, is a cyclist's dream. Bicycle enthusiasts from all around America come to ride across the rocky, tree-covered archipelago dotted with quaint villages, bucolic farm stands, apple orchards, and cute country cottages.

Pro tip: Sleep in one of the affordable rooms at Ruthcliffe Lodge & Restaurant, right on the shores of the lake.

Branch Brook Park; Newark, New Jersey

cherry blossoms in front of a lake with hot air balloons

Where to fly: Newark Liberty International Airport

New Jersey and, especially Newark, gets a lot of guff from folks who haven't spent time off the Turnpike. But the Garden State gets its name from all its natural beauty. This city park, located beside the gorgeous Cathedral Basilica of Sacred Heart, actually has more cherry trees than the mall in Washington D.C. Come spring, its 5,000 trees blossom with so much color, it's hard to believe you're not looking at a painting.

Pro tip: While you're in Newark, make sure to grab a bite to eat at Marcus Samuelsson's Marcus B&P.

Natchez Trace Trail; Canton, Mississippi

bridge over water

Where to fly: Tupelo Regional Airport

The 444-mile Natchez Trace Parkway cuts through Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee, following a historic trail first used by Native Americans. A favorite section of the route is at milepost 122, where there's a half-mile boardwalk trail through some tranquil wetlands filled with water tupelo and bald cypress trees.

Pro tip: Start your trek down the southern section of the parkway in Tupelo, and grab a bite at Clay's House of Pig. Located inside a working bait-and-tackle shop, the "restaurant" serves some of the best southern barbecue.

Lavender by the Bay; East Marion, New York

lavender fields with two chairs

Where to fly: Long Island MacArthur Airport

This 17-acre farm on Long Island's bucolic North Fork is home to over 80,000 lavender plants. Not only is the aroma sure to induce tranquility, but the colorful scene will certainly look like magic on an Instagram feed.

Pro tip: Book your stay at the recently renovated Sound View Greenport. Every room at the modernist inn features a waterfront deck.

Northern Lights; Fairbanks, Alaska

Northern Lights Alaska Magical Destinations

Where to fly: Fairbanks International Airport

Did you know that you could catch a once-in-a-lifetime glimpse of the Northern Lights right here in the United States? Well, now you know. The peak-viewing season runs from mid-September to late April.

Pro tip: While you're in Fairbanks, be sure not to miss a romp through the Pioneer Park.

Andreas Canyon; Palm Springs, California

palm trees in a canyon

Where to fly: Palm Springs International Airport

You'll find more than 150 plant species nestled along the banks of Andreas Creek. This dreamland, just a short drive from downtown Palm Springs, is the second-largest oasis of native California fan palms in the world—and offers a serene reprieve from the searing desert sun. The short trail passes by geometric rock formations as well as bedrock mortars and metates used for preparing food by the centuries-old Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians (who still steward the land to this day).

Pro tip: Enjoy the cool modern desert vibe and rooftop pool at the recently opened Kimpton Rowan Palm Springs Hotel.

Isle Royale National Park; Keweenaw County, Michigan

Isle Royale National Park Michigan Magical Destinations

Where to fly: Thunder Bay International Airport

The other beautiful park located on Lake Superior, Isle Royale National Park, provides some of the best views that the state of Michigan has to offer—complete with transcendental rocky shoreline and lush forests.

Pro tip: Experience the Northwoods at the park with a stay at the Rock Harbor Lodge, situated right on the shore of Lake Superior.

Atchafalaya Basin; Morgan City, Louisiana

Atchafalaya Basin Louisiana Magical Destinations

Where to fly: Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport

Atchafalaya Basin is the country's biggest river swamp, with about one million acres of bayous and wetlands in Louisiana. For unparalleled views of the water and wildlife, book a boat tour with an expert nature guide.

Pro tip: Say in this houseboat, located right on the Atchafalaya Basin for only $69 per night.

Bridge to Nowhere; Azusa, California

bridge between two canyons

Where to fly: Ontario International Airport

This actual bridge to nowhere was erected in 1936 with the goal of connecting the San Gabriel Valley with Wrightwood across the San Gabriel River. The East Fork Road was still being built when it got washed out during the catastrophic Los Angeles Flood of 1938, leaving the beautiful arch bridge stranded in the middle of the wilderness. Now, outdoor-loving Californians trek out to the spot to admire the view or bungee jump off the side via a fun, 10-mile, round-trip hike.

Pro tip: After the hike, head back toward the San Gabriel Valley for world-class regional Chinese specialties as well as fantastic Indian, Indonesian, Vietnamese, and Taiwanese fare. In nearby Arcadia, consider the original Din Tai Fung for soup dumplings, HaiDiLao Hotpot for its eponymous dish, and Sinbala for Taiwanese sausage.

Pando; Richfield, Utah

pando tree

Where to fly: Salt Lake City International Airport

Pando is a giant grove of quaking aspens that share one underground root system. Estimated to be over 80,000 years old, it is the oldest tree on earth and one of the oldest living organisms. In the spring and summer, its verdant leaves glimmer in the wind like beads on a flapper dress and transform into a vivid gold dance party come fall.

Pro tip: If you want to sleep inside this ancient organism, reserve a campground at Doctor Creek Recreation Site in Fishlake National Forest.

Serendipity House; Rodanthe, North Carolina

Serendipity House North Carolina Magical Destinations

Where to fly: Norfolk International Airport

This sprawling, eccentric house on the coast of Rodanthe, North Carolina epitomizes the haphazard nature of architecture in this city. For most of the year, the Serendipity House (also featured in the movie Nights in Rodanthe) is completely surrounded by water on all four sides.

Pro tip: If you so choose, you can actually stay at the Serendipity House—for a healthy sum of money.

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