Don't Have the Budget to Travel? Here Are the Top 5 Affordable Things to Do in Each State
America really is the land of the free—free attractions, that is.
If you’ve gone on a trip recently, you don’t need us to tell you that traveling these days isn’t cheap. In fact, the average vacation costs $2,000 per person, according to LendEDU. But if you’re looking to cash in those vacation days and spend them doing something incredible closer to home—but don’t know what to do—fret not, because we’ve got your back. Below, we’ve compiled the top five utterly amazing and (most importantly!) totally inexpensive things you can do in your state. So read on, and happy staycation! And for more great vacation inspiration, check out The Most Affordable Times to Visit the World's Best Cities.
1. Window-shop at the Unclaimed Baggage Center.
Browse through aisle after aisle of orphaned electronics, apparel, and even precious jewels at the Unclaimed Baggage Center in Scottsboro, Alabama.
2. Hit a Gulf Coast beach.
Between Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, visitors have 32 miles of sugar-white sand to choose from.
3. Go for a dip in Little River Canyon National Preserve.
With rugged rock bluffs, rushing waterfalls, and miles of backcountry trails, Little River Canyon is an ideal spot for most outdoor pursuits.
Cost: $15 daily pass
4. Admire architecture at Rosenbaum House.
Frank Lloyd Wright’s Rosenbaum House is one of the country’s most notable examples of Usonian architecture. Check out the L-shaped home and pay special attention to the steel-cantilevered roofs.
Cost: Adults $10; Seniors and students $5
5. Explore the Birmingham Museum of Art.
The Birmingham Museum of Art is home to more than 27,000 pieces by luminaries like Auguste Rodin, Georgia O'Keeffe, and Andy Warhol.
1. Catch the end of the Iditarod Dog Sled Race.
The Iditarod course sees mushers and their 16 dogs race 1,000 miles from Anchorage to Nome. Throw on some layers and head to the finish line to see who claims first.
2. Check out the Kennecott Mines National Historic Landmark.
3. Visit Denali National Park.
Denali takes the cake as North America’s tallest peak at 20,310 feet. Explore just a tiny corner of the six-million-acre park which encompasses alpine tundras, icy lakes, snowy mountain peaks, and a whole lot of wildlife.
Cost: Adults $15; Kids 15 and under are Free. Check the NPS schedule for Free days.
4. See the Mendenhall Glacier before it melts.
Less than 20 minutes from downtown Juneau you’ll find the Mendenhall Glacier, a 13-mile river of ice that’s a remnant of the last ice age. Lately it’s been melting at an alarming rate, so catch it while you can.
Cost: $5 daily pass; Kids 5 and under are Free
5. Drive Seward Highway.
This epic 125-mile route runs from seaside Seward to big city Anchorage along Turnagain Arm. The drive affords sights of ancient glaciers, tiny ski communities, and the dramatic Chugach Mountains.
1. Explore the Grand Canyon.
Words and photos simply can’t describe Grand Canyon National Park's 277 miles of eroded river gorge. It’s definitely a “you had to be there” experience.
Cost: $20 for individuals (15 and under are Free) or $35 for a vehicle permit (access for all passengers). Check the NPS schedule for Free days.
2. Stroll through the Petrified Forest.
This national park is more than just a collection of colorful petrified wood. Lace up your hiking boots to discover hundreds of miles of buttes, mesas, badlands, and ancient petroglyphs.
Cost: $15 per person or $25 for a seven-day auto pass. Check the NPS schedule for Free days.
3. Drive down Route 66.
This 385-mile stretch of Route 66 runs from Seligman to Kingman. Drive the entire length and you’ll pass by kitschy motels, mom and pop diners, national parks, and cities—thriving and abandoned—like Sedona, Flagstaff, and Jerome.
4. Get lost in a Yayoi Kusuama exhibit.
Cost: Adults $8, Kids $5 (on Wednesdays only)
5. Drive through Monument Valley.
Reserve four hours to traverse Valley Drive, a 17-mile stretch along the Arizona-Utah border. If nothing else, you’ll feel like you’re in an episode of Westworld.
1. Mine your own diamonds at Crater of Diamonds State Park .
Dig through this 37-acre volcanic crater and whatever you find is yours. Since the park opened in 1972, more than 33,100 diamonds have been unearthed by visitors.
Cost: Adults $10, Kids $6
2. Enjoy sweeping vistas from Mount Magazine State Park.
At 2,753 feet, Mount Magazine, in scenic Ozark National Forest, is Arkansas’ highest point. Enjoy the view from one of the parks’ hiking trails, which vary in length from half a mile to just shy of three miles.
3. Wander through the woods to Thorncrown Chapel.
With a 48-foot ceiling and 425 windows that fill the space with natural light, Eureka Springs’ Thorncrown Chapel is just the thing Pinterest dreams are made of.
4. Roam around the Walmart Museum.
Walmart may not sound like an exciting excursion, but in Bentonville you can see where everything started at Sam Walton’s original five and dime.
5. Kayak in Bayou Bartholomew.
Bayou Batholomew is the longest bayou in the world, winding its way 359 miles from Pine Bluff, Arkansas to Sterlington, Louisiana. Throw on a life jacket and get to paddling.
Cost: Free if you bring your own kayak
1. Walk or drive across the Golden Gate Bridge.
Whether you’re an SF native or an international visitor, the Golden Gate Bridge is a must-see. Walk or drive the 1.7 miles across the San Francisco Bay (it’s especially magical when the fog rolls in).
Cost: Free to walk; Free to drive if you’re going north; $7.75 toll going south
2. Cruise down Big Sur’s coastline.
Feel like you’re the star of your own movie as you drive down this 90-mile stretch which hugs the rugged Pacific Coast from Carmel to San Simeon.
3. Hike up to the Hollywood Sign.
If you’re more keen on sightseeing than burning calories, take the Mt. Hollywood Trail from Griffith Park. Once you reach the top, you’ll be rewarded with postcard-perfect views downtown LA and the San Gabriel Mountains.
4. Admire Mother Nature in Yosemite National Park.
Waterfalls, wetlands, soaring sequoia groves, and the vast Sierra Nevada Mountains are all at your fingertips in Yosemite National Park.
Cost: $35 per vehicle or $20 for individuals. Check NPS schedule for Free days.
5. Check out Palm Springs’ mid-century modern architecture.
This desert oasis is famed for its mid-century design. See the highlights—including Elvis’ honeymoon hideaway—on a self-guided tour.
And for more gorgeous California views, These Are the Best West Coast Road Trips in America.
1. Learn about Colorado’s nomadic tribes in Mesa Verde National Park.
Roughly 5,000 archeological sites, including 600 cliff dwellings, make up modern day Mesa Verde National Park. The site, which was established in 1906, was home to the Ancestral Pueblo people from 600 to 1300 CE.
Cost: $7 to $15 per individual or $15 to $30 per vehicle.
2. Explore Great Sand Dunes National Park.
Forget leg day at the gym. Hit this Colorado park—which shelters the tallest dunes in the country—and you’ll get a built-in workout.
Cost: $25 per vehicle
3. Relax in a geothermal pool at Glenwood Hot Springs.
Glenwood Hot Springs is home to the world’s largest hot springs pool. Drop by September through May (off-peak season) or after 9 p.m. for a deeply discounted day pass.
Cost: Regular admission—Adults $21.75, Kids $14.75. After 9pm—Adults $10.25, Kids $9.25
4. Walk Breckenridge’s Main Street.
Hitting the slopes will cost you a pretty penny but perusing Main Street’s clothing boutiques, sweet shops, and local galleries is totally Free.
5. Climb to the top of Bishop Castle
This roadside attraction is more than just a photo opportunity—it’s the largest self-built castle in the U.S. When he started building, Jim Bishop envisioned a one-room stone cottage, but over the years it’s soared to 16 stories.
1. Spend an afternoon at Mystic Seaport.
Mystic is a quaint seaport town that was settled in 1654. Today, it’s still very much the picture of 19th-century New England, just with a few modern touches, like Mystic Pizza.
2. Explore Gilbert Boro’s Sculpture Grounds.
More than 100 large scale pieces punctuate Sculpture Grounds’ 4.5 en plein air acres in Old Lyme.
3. Walk the grounds of Yale University.
You don’t have to be a prospective student to get a tour of Yale. Current undergrads are on hand to give daily public tours for anyone interested.
4. Stop and smell the roses at Elizabeth Park Conservancy.
Elizabeth Park is open year-round and offers Free access to more than 100 acres of roses, tulips, and daffodils.
Cost: Free (donations are accepted)
5. Look out over the Connecticut River from Gillette Castle.
This stone estate, which was dreamt up by Sherlock Holmes stage actor William Gillete, draws visitors with its quirky design features (think secret rooms and built-in couches).
Cost: Adults $6, Kids $2
1. Stroll around Nemours Mansion and Gardens.
Nemours Mansion and Gardens is a 300-acre Wilmington estate that looks like it’s straight out of France. The chateau’s garden has been compared to Versaille if that gives you any indication of how grandiose it is.
Cost: Adults $18; Kids $8; or Family Pass $40 (includes 2 adults and up to 4 kids)
2. Take a ride on the Cape May-Lewes Ferry.
Sometimes ferries aren’t just about getting from point A to point B. Yes, the 85-minute Cape May-Lewes Ferry ushers riders from Lewes, Delaware, to Cape May, New Jersey, but it also affords views of resort towns, historic lighthouses, and, if you’re lucky, whales and dolphins.
Cost: Adults $8-14 (one-way vs. roundtrip); Kids ride Free
3. Hit the trails in Bellevue State Park.
Bellevue State Park is a 328-acre expanse located just outside of Wilmington. The park includes a nature preserve, fitness track, tennis center, and Bellevue Hall, the Gothic Revival castle for which the park is named.
Cost: In-state $4; Out-of-state $8
4. Grab an IPA at Dogfish Head HQ.
5. Walk Rehoboth Beach’s boardwalk.
Rehoboth Beach’s scenic boardwalk is just a mile long so even the littlest beachcombers can enjoy the trek. Time your visit right and you may be able to catch a Free concert at the bandstand, too.
1. Wander through St. Augustine’s Historic District.
St. Augustine was founded in 1565 by Spanish admiral Pedro Menéndez de Avilés and the city has held tight to its European influence. Check out the colonial architecture and stop by the waterfront Castillo de San Marcos.
2. Soak up the sun on Siesta Key Beach.
3. Go for a swim at the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
Grab your snorkel and go for a dip in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, which stretches from Miami to the Tortugas. The sanctuary is home to more than 6,000 species of marine life including dolphins, manatees, and leatherback turtles.
4. Look out for wildlife in Everglades National Park.
Hunt for turtles, herons, alligators, crocodiles, manatees, and dolphins as you kayak through Everglades National Park. For a bird’s eye view of the glades, climb to the top of Shark Valley’s observation tower.
Cost: Pedestrians/Cyclists/Paddle-crafts $15; Private vehicles or vessels $30 (all passes are good for seven consecutive days). Check the NPS schedule for Free days.
5. Take a drive through Miami Beach’s Art Deco District.
The South Beach neighborhood of Miami is famous for its historic Art Deco properties—960 of them, to be exact. Hop in your car and devise a route that takes you past the area’s most famous hotels and mansions.
1. Take a guided tour of Savannah’s Historic District.
While you can go on a self-guided tour of Savannah’s Historic District, Free Savannah Tours will pair you with a knowledgeable guide for just $2. The 90-minute tours include all the usual spots, too, like Chippewa Square and Forsyth Park Fountain.
Cost: $2 booking fee plus a tip for your tour guide
2. Kick back in Centennial Olympic Park.
Back in 1996, this 22-acre park hosted the Summer Olympic Games. Drop by today and you’ll find fountains, gardens, great lawns, and regular live music events.
3. Spend a day on Tybee Island.
This barrier island, which is located just 20 minutes from Savannah, has five public beaches to choose from so make sure you pack your trunks and a towel.
Cost: Admission is Free, parking is $2
4. Go for a hike, swim, or picnic in Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest.
With more than 850 miles of recreational trails spread out across 26 counties, you’re sure to find an area that fits your idea of outdoor fun.
5. Ride the ferry to Cumberland Island.
Depart from St. Mary’s and ride 45 minutes to Cumberland Island, Georgia's largest and southernmost barrier island. You’ll have to pay a park entrance fee to hang around, but it’s worth the $10 extra bucks.
Cost: One-way tickets: Adults $15; Seniors $14; Kids $10
1. Stargaze from Haleakalā’s summit.
With an elevation of 10,023 feet and very little light and environmental pollution, Haleakalā’s summit is a hard-to-beat stargazing destination.
Cost: $15 per individual or $30 per vehicle for a three-day pass
2. Hike in Kauai’s Nāpali Coast State Wilderness Park.
If you’ve never been to Kauai but the Nāpali Coast’s soaring emerald cliffs look familiar, you’ve likely seen Jurassic Park. Kalalau, the park’s only trail, is recommended for expert hikers only, but if you can hack it, the 22-mile trek will be a big check off your bucket list.
Cost: Free for Hawaii residents; $1 for non residents
3. Drive the Road to Hana.
The Road to Hana is a Maui must. The 52-mile route is packed with waterfalls, tropical flora and fauna, top-rated beaches, windswept hills, and, well, more hairpin curves than the faint of heart can handle.
Cost: Free (if you have a willing driver)
4. Watch the sunset from Waikiki Beach.
Grab your towel and hit Waikiki Beach for one of the best sunset views on Oahu. If you have a few extra dollars on hand, you can also grab a cocktail from one of the beach’s many oceanfront resorts.
5. Bike through Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park.
Cycle past lava fields, volcanic craters, old-growth forest, and sulphuric steam vents in this ecologically diverse park on Hawaii's Big Island.
Cost: $15 per pedestrian or bicycle or $30 per vehicle. Both passes are good for seven consecutive days of entry. Check the NPS schedule for Free days.
If you’re looking to get out in nature, Here's When You Should Visit America's 15 Most Popular National Parks.
1. Swim or paddle around Lake Coeur d'Alene.
A gem of northern Idaho, Lake Coeur d’Alene offers more than 135 miles of shoreline punctuated by public boat launches, beaches, and natural preserves.
2. Check out Shoshone Falls.
Shoshone Falls may be nicknamed "The Niagara of the West," but the natural Snake River waterfall is actually larger than its uber-popular companion.
Cost: $5 vehicle fee
3. Camp in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area.
Enjoy some fresh air in Sawtooth National Recreation Area—a 756,000-acre slice of central Idaho where glacial lakes meet snowy peaks.
Cost: $10 reservation fee plus variable nightly rate (starts at $10)
4. Explore the lava caves at Craters of the Moon National Monument.
Midway between Boise and Yellowstone you’ll find Craters of the Moon. The national monument encompasses three major lava fields which began forming, if you can even fathom it, some 15,000 years ago.
Cost: $20 per vehicle or $10 per individual on foot or bike. Check the NPS schedule for Free days.
5. Get a taste of the past in Wallace.
As far as adorable, old-timey mining towns go, Wallace is a winner. Back in 2004, former mayor Ron Garitone put Wallace on the map proclaiming it was the "Center of the Universe". Try to challenge locals about their town’s status, and they’ll simply rebut with a “Prove it isn't.”
1. Have a picnic in Millennium Park.
2. Slow it down in small-town Galena.
Galena, or "The City that Time Forgot," rests just a few miles south of the Wisconsin border. With lovingly kept heritage buildings, mom and pop storefronts, and historic sites like president Ulysses S. Grant’s home, visitors come for the 19th-century aesthetic.
3. Fit in a history lesson at the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum.
Learn more about the American Civil War and the life of our 16th president at one of the country’s most visited presidential libraries.
Cost: Adults $15; Seniors $12; Kids $6
4. Take a photo with the world’s largest catsup bottle.
Off of Route 159 in Collinsville lies one of Illinois’ most prized attractions: a 170-foot tall catsup water tower. If that’s not worth pulling over for, we don’t know what is.
5. Fish, boat, or hike in Starved Rock State Park.
On the south side of the Illinois River, Starved Rock State Park is known for its 18 glacially carved canyons which, when the snow melts away each spring, turn into spectacular waterfalls.
1. Browse Antique Alley.
Listen up, American Pickers fans. More than 1,200 antique shops convene on Antique Alley—Indiana’s stretch of U.S. Route 40 which links Richmond to Knightstown.
2. Drive through Parke County’s covered bridges.
Roughly 60 miles west of Indianapolis, Parke County bills itself as the “Covered Bridge Capital of the World.” The county, which is crisscrossed by streams and creeks, is home to 31 in total.
3. Hike, bike, or hit the beach at Indiana Dunes National Park.
Indiana Dunes National Park clings to the southern shore of Lake Michigan for 15 straight miles. Grab your suit and head to West Beach for a dip or take to one of the many trails which cut through forest, wetland, and prairie.
Cost: $6 per vehicle for West Beach access
4. Take a self-guided architecture tour of Columbus.
Believe it or not, Columbus has earned its stripes as a modernist mecca. Take yourself on a self-guided tour to see buildings dreamt up by I.M. Pei, Eliel Saarinen, and Kevin Roche.
5. Tour the catacombs under Indianapolis’ City Market.
If the term ‘catacombs’ gives you the heebie jeebies, don’t worry—Indy’s version doesn’t contain any bones (that they know of, anyway). Instead, the area under City Market’s Whistler Plaza holds the ruins of a previous public property, the 19th-century Tomlinson Hall.
Cost: Adults $12; Kids $6
1. Hit the fairgrounds at the Iowa State Fair.
With livestock shows, twin competitions, Free live music, and more food than even a stomach of steel can handle, the Iowa State Fair attracts more than one million visitors each year.
Cost: Advance tickets: Adults $9; Kids $5. Regular tickets: Adults $14; Kids $8
2. Drive the bridges of Madison County.
While you may know The Bridges of Madison County as a best-selling novel and blockbuster film, the location in question is actually home to a collection of covered bridges.
3. Recreate American Gothic at the house that inspired it.
Little old Eldon, Iowa—population 915—has painter Grant Wood to thank for its one claim to fame. Stop by today to snap your own portrait in front of the American Gothic house.
Cost: Free though donations are accepted
4. Drive Iowa’s portion of the Great River Road National Scenic Byway.
The Great River Road National Scenic Byway is a 3,000-mile route that follows the Mississippi River through 10 states. In Iowa, roadtrippers can complete 328 of the miles which pass through charming waterfront towns like Bellevue and Dubuque.
5. Spend a day visiting the Amana Colonies.
Roughly 100 miles east of Des Moines you’ll find Iowa’s Amana Colonies. The 19th-century German villages—which are still home to descendants of the original colonists—welcome visitors with communal kitchens, handicraft shops, and general stores.
1. Get a taste of Wichita’s early days at the Old Cowtown Museum.
Wichita’s Old Cowtown Museum is a 23-acre open-air site that sits just off the original Chisholm Trail. Here, 54 historic structures (think blacksmiths, grain elevators, and one-room schoolhouses) show what frontier life was like.
Cost: Adults $9; Seniors $8; Kids $7
2. ‘Become Swedish’ at Svensk Hyllningsfest.
Every October during an odd numbered year, the town of Lindsborg hosts Svensk Hyllningsfest. The celebration, which is synonymous with folk dance, music, and costume, commemorates the Swedish immigrants who settled the land in 1868.
3. Take a self-guided tour of Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve.
North America was once home to more than 170 million acres of tallgrass prairie. Over time, that number has dwindled drastically, though. Stroll down the 1.75-mile Southwind Nature Trail for a taste of the preserve’s flora and fauna.
4. Take a drive by Monument Rocks.
As one of the ‘Eight Wonders of Kansas,’ we’d be remiss not to mention Monument Rocks. The chalk formations, which are estimated to be 80 million years old, soar some 70 feet in the sky and can be seen right from US-83.
5. Look out over Topeka from the Kansas State Capitol’s dome.
Who needs a stair machine when you can walk 296 steps to the top of Kansas’ statehouse? This Free tour lets visitors get an inside look (literally) at the Topeka landmark’s copper dome.
1. Hike through Mammoth Cave National Park.
With more than 400 miles of explored chambers and labyrinths, Mammoth Cave National Park is part of the world’s longest cave system.
2. Take a tour of the Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill.
The Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill was home to the country’s third largest Shaker community for more than a century. Today, naturalists, historians, and farmers maintain the village’s 3,000 acres for visitors from around the globe.
3. Go on a self-guided tour of Old Louisville.
Old Louisville is a real treat for architecture lovers. Explore 45-block area’s Beaux Arts, Italianate, Renaissance Revival, and Venetian Gothic buildings by downloading the GPSmyCity app on your smartphone.
4. Drive U.S. 23 AKA Country Music Highway.
This 144-mile route passes by the homes of country legends like Loretta Lynn, Wynonna Judd, Billy Ray Cyrus, and Patty Loveless. Take a drive, and you’ll see some of the sights that inspired their greatest hits.
5. Geek out at the National Corvette Museum.
Check out classic models, one-of-a-kind prototypes, and the latest and greatest sports cars at the National Corvette Museum, which is located just across from the Bowling Green Assembly Plant.
Cost: Adult $12; Seniors $10; Kids $7
1. Grab a drink on Bourbon Street and walk the French Quarter.
We know Bourbon Street is an obvious suggestion, but it’s a classic NOLA experience for a reason. If you don’t want to go at night, swing by during the day and grab a Frozen Irish Coffee at Erin Rose before walking around the French Quarter.
2. Spend a few hours roaming Natchitoches.
If you’re looking for a magnolia- and moss-covered city that epitomizes the Antebellum South, Natchitoches is it. You’ll also find several architectural styles including French Creole, Queen Anne, Italianate, Spanish Revival, Federal, Art Deco, and Victorian.
3. Try some of Louisiana's culinary delicacies at the Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival.
Trying Cajun and Creole dishes like étouffée, boudin, and jambalaya for the first time? We can think of few places better than the Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival, which takes place in the “Crawfish Capital of the World.”
Cost: $5 to $10
4. Take a tour of Louisiana's Old State Capitol.
Cost: Regular tour is Free; Ghost tour is $3
5. Visit Avery Island, the birthplace of Tabasco sauce.
Outdoor enthusiasts and Tabasco lovers will love Avery Island equally. Read up on the island’s history at the visitor’s center, and then go on a self-guided tour of the 170-acre semi-tropical garden which hugs Bayou Petite Anse.
Cost: Adults $8; Kids $5
1. Tube down the Saco River.
Forget lazy river rides—this is the real thing. Grab your trusty tube (or rent one, if you have to) and float down the 136-mile Saco River. There are various public entry/exit points between central New Hampshire and western Maine.
2. Take a photo with the giant Bean Boot at L.L. Bean’s flagship store.
Picking up a new head-to-toe L.L. Bean outfit isn’t cheap, but if you head to the retailer’s flagship store in Freeport, Maine, you can take a selfie with a 16.5-foot Bean Boot.
3. Take a ferry ride through Casco Bay.
Maine’s Casco Bay islands enjoy a slower pace of life than most New England towns. Take off from Portland via the Casco Bay Island Ferry and explore the tiny communities’ 19th-century inns, modest summer homes, and historic forts.
Cost: Adults $7.70 to $11.55; Kids $3.85 to 5.75
4. Drive Acadia’s Park Loop Road.
Explore Maine’s one and only national park via Park Loop Road, a 27-mile route that affords views of Mount Desert Island’s rugged mountains, verdant forests, and rocky shores.
5. Window-shop in downtown Portland.
Seaside Portland may be historic, but it’s hip, too. Browse tchotchkes, vintage vinyl, local art, and hand-printed t-shirts on a walk around town.
Cost: Free on foot or a few dollars for metered parking
Interested in exploring more of the East Coast? These Are the Best Road Trips in New England.
1. See the wild horses at Assateague Island National Seashore.
This 37-mile long barrier island is known for one thing in particular: its more than 300 wild horses. Watch the ponies frolic along the shore while you sunbathe or swim.
Cost: $25 for a seven-day car pass. Check the NPS schedule for Free days.
2. Explore the Antietam National Battlefield by car or foot.
More than 23,000 soldiers died during the 1862 Battle of Antietam. Learn more about the bloody conflict that prompted Abraham Lincoln to issue the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation with a visit to Sharpsburg.
Cost: $10 per individual or $20 per car for a three-day pass (access to battlefield, museum, movie, and ranger programs)
3. Check out works by Henri Matisse at the Baltimore Museum of Art.
The BMA is home to more than 95,000 objets d'art from ancient Antioch mosaics to more than 1,000 pieces by Henri Matisse. Don’t miss the landscaped garden while you’re there, either.
4. Browse the boutiques in Historic Annapolis.
In Historic Annapolis, row houses—which extend down to the harbor—have been converted into hip boutiques, restaurants, and galleries.
5. Hit Ocean City’s iconic wooden boardwalk.
Amusement rides, arcades, and seaside resorts line Ocean City’s award-winning wooden boardwalk. Walking it is Free, but keep $10 in your pocket for salt water taffy or a crab cake.
1. Walk the Freedom Trail.
Whether you’re a history buff or not, Boston’s 2.5-mile Freedom Trail is worth the walk. The iconic route will take you past 16 famous sites including the Boston Common and Faneuil Hall.
2. Explore Bash Bish Falls.
Hiking, fishing, and hunting are all fair game in Bish Bash Falls State Park. Just make sure you also trek to the base of the actual falls as it’s the highest single-drop waterfall in Massachusetts.
3. Spend an afternoon on Cape Cod’s National Seashore.
Cost: $10 pedestrians and cyclists; $20 daily vehicle pass
4. Take a self-guided tour of Salem via the city’s Heritage Trail.
Much like Boston, historic Salem has its own heritage trail. Start at the visitor’s center and then follow the red line on a route that includes the Witch House, First Church, Salem Witch Trials Memorial, and more.
5. Make a pilgrimage to Yankee Candle Village.
In what feels like the middle of nowhere (AKA an18th-century colonial village in northwest Massachusetts), visitors will find the “Scenter of the Universe”—Yankee Candle’s Flagship store. which houses more than 200,000 candles, a candle-making museum, and a Christmas shop where it snows every day.
1. Bike around Mackinac Island.
Step back in time with a leisurely bike ride around Mackinac Island. The 3.8-mile isle, which floats in Michigan’s Lake Huron, has hardly changed since it was founded in 1780. There are less than 500 year-round residents and you won’t see a single car—just horse and buggies.
Cost: Round-trip ferry tickets: Adults $25; Kids $14
2. Stargaze at Headlands International Dark Sky Park.
You don’t have to go to Norway, Finland, or even Alaska to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights; Michigan’s Headlands International Dark Sky Park will give you just as good of a show.
3. Watch the sunset from Belle Isle Park.
Detroit’s 982-acre Belle Isle Park is the perfect place to relax with friends and catch the sun set over the river. If you’re around earlier in the day, you can also enjoy the conservatory, aquarium, zoo, or giant slide, which only charges $1 per ride.
4. Visit Holland for the Tulip Time Festival.
If Amsterdam is out of the question, Holland, Michigan is a great alternative. The Tulip Time Festival draws more than 500,000 visitors each year with five million blooms and traditional dutch markets, performances, and parades.
Cost: Depends on the event, but many are Free
5. Kayak to Turnip Rock.
Outside of Michigan, Turnip Rock isn’t too talked about, but that’s precisely why we’re all about it. Rent a kayak to get up close and personal with the geological oddity—a tiny stacked island off Port Austin’s Lake Huron shore.
Cost: $15 for one-hour single kayak rental; $20 for tandem
1. Get in your 10,000 steps at the Mall of America.
The heydey of malls has seemingly come and gone, but Bloomington’s Mall of America is still going strong with more than 520 stores, an indoor theme park, and a 1.3 million-gallon aquarium that attracts 40 million visitors each year.
2. Cruise down Minnesota’s North Shore Scenic Drive.
3. Check out meat-inspired exhibits at the SPAM Museum.
If art and history museums just can’t hold your attention, maybe the SPAM Museum, which is “stuffed with interactive exhibits,” will.
4. Lace up your boots and hit the Superior Hiking Trail.
Whether you’re looking for a short two-mile trail or you’re committed to completing a 300-mile-plus thru hike, the Superior Hiking Trail, which follows the Lake Superior ridgeline, has options for everyone.
5. Check out the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.
1. Drive Mississippi’s chunk of The Great River Road.
This National Scenic Byway follows the mighty Mississippi from northern Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico. In Mississippi, the route will take you over state-connecting bridges and past antebellum mansions and protected national forests.
2. Spend a few hours (or a few days) at the Mississippi State Fair.
Mississippi’s 12-day state fair has all the markers of an A+ excursion: midway rides, pig races, tractor pulls, FFA shows, and… drumroll, please… a biscuit booth!
Cost: $5 Admission; $5 Parking. Both are Free on Wednesdays.
3. Make a rock n’ roll pilgrimage to Elvis’ birthplace.
Head to Tupelo and you’ll find the humble two-bedroom shotgun home where Elvis Presley was born. If you’re interested in learning more about Elvis’ musical influences, you can also take a trip to Clarksdale’s Delta Blues Museum.
Cost: Adults $9; Kids $3
4. Tour Rowan Oak.
Lit nerds (and their willing friends and family) would do well to visit William Faulkner’s 29-acre Oxford estate. The Nobel Prize-winning author lived in the Greek Revival home for 40 years and completed some of his best work there.
5. Visit Meridian’s Mississippi Industrial Heritage Museum.
This museum, which is tucked into the historic Soulé Steam Feed Works—AKA the last surviving steam engine factory in the U.S.—is the place to go if you want to learn more about turn-of-the-century machines.
1. Ride the Gateway Arch tram.
Buy a tram ticket and you’ll be whisked to the top of the tallest man-made monument in the U.S. From your 63-story vantage point, you’ll be able to see 30 miles east and west.
Cost: Adults $12 to $16; Kids $8 to $12
2. Paddle around Lake of the Ozarks.
Lake of the Ozarks—or "The Magic Dragon,” as it’s also known—is Missouri’s most popular resort destination. The 93-mile reservoir winds its way through four counties, so you’ll have plenty of public access points to choose from.
Cost: Free with your own kayak or canoe
3. Embrace the outdoors at Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park.
Waterparks are fun and all, but what’s in the water is questionable. Ditch the indoors for an afternoon outside at Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park, where shut-ins—smooth, erosion-resistant boulders—create natural waterslides in the East Fork Black River.
4. Peruse the Saint Louis Art Museum.
Van Gogh, Monet, Picasso, Matisse, all the greats are here and accounted for. But with 34,000 pieces from various eras and cultures, there’s more to see than just the European masters.
5. Visit The Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum.
Learn a thing or two about the life and times of Samuel Langhorne Clemens—or, as he’s better known, Mark Twain—by visiting his childhood home in Hannibal. The two-story residence is just one of nine tourable buildings tied to the author.
Cost: Adults $12; Seniors $10; Kids $6
1. Visit the Museum of the Rockies.
Learn about the history and the geography of the Rocky Mountains at the Museum of the Rockies, home to a full-scale Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton.
Cost: Adults $14,50; Seniors $13.50; Kids $9.50
2. View grizzly bears up close.
At the Montana Grizzly Encounter rescue center, visitors can see rescued grizzlies in a safe, naturalistic environment while learning about the facility’s mission to rehabilitate the furry creatures.
Cost: Adults $8; Seniors $7; Kids $6
3. Take a soak in natural hot springs.
Relieve tension and relax in the chemical-Free, geothermally heated pools at the Chico Hot Springs Resort & Day Spa.
Cost: Adults $8.50; Seniors and kids $3.50
4. Smell the roses.
Stroll the flower-lined paths of the Tizer Botanic Gardens & Arboretum, where there’s a vegetable, rose, and herb garden as well as a food stand selling ice-cream.
Cost: Adults $9; Kids $7
5. Go on a hike in Flathead Lake.
Lace up your hiking boots and hit the Flathead Lake Trail for the chance to see bighorn sheep and bald eagles.
1. Go on a tour of the State Capitol.
Learn about the Nebraska State Capitol—constructed in 1920 and boasting a mix of Art Deco, Neo-Byzantine, and Gothic Revival architecture—by going on a public tour of the building.
2. Visit one of the world’s best zoos.
See more than 950 animal species at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo, where there’s also a 50-foot waterfall and some of the largest exhibits in the world.
Cost: Adults $20.95; Seniors $19.95; Kids $13.95
3. See the Great Platte River Road Archway.
Celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Great Platte River Road Archway by touring the historical structure—which stretches 300 feet above the busy Interstate 80—and learning about the role it played in the expansion of the western states.
Cost: Adults $12; Senior $12; Kids $6
4. Tour a Spanish-style church in Omaha.
Wander St. Cecilia’s Cathedral; the church’s distinctive Spanish Renaissance Revival style landed it a spot on the National Register of Historic Places.
5. Travel back in time at the Omaha Old Market.
Stroll the brick-paved streets and century-old warehouses of Omaha’s Old Market district, where it’s not uncommon to see a horse-drawn carriage.
This region is more than just a flyover country. See it for yourself on These Best Road Trips in the Midwest.
1. See art in the middle of the desert.
Glimpse artist Ugo Rondinone’s large-scale Seven Magic Mountains installation—which comprises stacked boulders towering 25-feet high—in the Ivanpah Valley.
2. Catch a Bellagio water show.
See music, water, and light collide in a dazzling fountain show at the Bellagio hotel.
3. Go on a hike.
Walk or run the 5.7-mile Hunter Creek trail outside Nevada. You’ll be rewarded with a refreshing “shower,” courtesy of the trail’s 30-foot waterfall.
4. Visit a cactus garden.
The Ethel M Chocolate Factory is the unlikely home of the largest cactus garden in the Southwest United States. You’ll see more than 300 species of plants, including cacti, succulents, desert trees, and shrubs.
5. Take a day trip to Italy.
Pretend you’ve just teleported to Venice, Italy, by touring the Grand Canal Shoppes at the Venetian Resort.
1. Tour the Anheuser-Busch Brewery.
Learn about the beer-making process from “seed to sip” at the Anheuser-Busch Brewery in Merrimack. Visitors of all ages are welcome.
2. See art outdoors.
See works by artists like David Pratt and Alexandra Lois at the Andres Institute of Art, New England’s largest outdoor sculpture park.
3. Take a scenic drive.
Hit the 34-mile Kancamagus Highway, which connects Lincoln to Conway, for plenty of photo opps. It’s best enjoyed during leaf-peeping season.
4. Go to a farmer’s market.
Peruse stands of farm-grown fruit and vegetables, fresh seafood, and delicious baked goods (think: cider donuts) at the Moulton Farm.
5. Hit the beach.
Swim, picnic, fish, or simply work on your tan at the Hampton Beach State Park, where there’s also a campground if you feel like making an overnight trip out of it.
Cost: $15 Parking at South Beach; Seniors park for Free.
1. Visit a historic lighthouse
The Sea Girt Lighthouse was constructed in 1896 and is one of the 11 original lighthouses in New Jersey still open to the public. Learn about its history by touring the buildings and studying its photo and artifact-filled displays.
2. Play out your farmhand fantasies
At the Howell Living History Farm, which dates back to the 1730s, you can learn the ABCs of farming by helping harvest the seasonal crops.
3. Go to a museum dedicated to seashells
Learn everything you’ve ever wanted to know about seashells at the Discovery Seashell Museum, which features a whopping 10,000 shells collected from all over the world.
4. Help support animal rehabilitation
The Marine Mammal Stranding Center has helped save thousands of whales, dolphins, seals, and sea turtles that have washed ashore in New Jersey. Visit the center to see some of these animals and make a donation.
5. Eat one of the best burgers in the U.S.
Order a burger, fries, and a milkshake at the White Manna Hamburgers, a diner-style joint that’s been featured on The Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives and Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations.
Cost: $1.70-$8.99 entrance fee
1. Get the best view of Taos
Drive across the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, the second highest bridge on the U.S. Highway System, and pull over for the best view of Taos and the depths of the long, narrow canyon.
2. Gallery-hop in Santa Fe
In Santa Fe, head to Canyon Road, downtown, or the trendy Railyard District to pop in and out of contemporary art galleries.
3. Go on a guided nature walk
Glimpse more than 190 species of birds on a guided nature walk of the Randall Davey Audubon Center and Sanctuary, a 135-acre property in Santa Fe. The tours are offered every Friday afternoon at 2 p.m.
4. Hit the flea market
Shop everything from cowboy boots and handmade turquoise jewelry to fresh fruits and veggies at the Expo New Mexico Flea Market, New Mexico’s largest!
5. Get a geography lesson
Explore the 119 limestone caves that comprise Carlsbad Caverns National Park. The cave formation was created by an inland sea about 265 million years ago.
Cost: Adults $15; Kids Free
1. Get back to nature in the heart of New York City.
Stroll the 1.45-mile long High Line, a former railroad turned urban park on Manhattan’s West Side.
2. See art in the bucolic Hudson Valley.
Discover site-specific installations by artists like Alexander Calder and Louise Bourgeois at Storm King Art Center.
Cost: Adults $18; Seniors $15; Kids $8
3. Go surfing.
Cost: $10 for a one-hour surfboard rental
4. Try the best pizza slice.
Try one of the best slices in New York City, according to New York Times restaurant critic Pete Wells, at Joe’s Pizza in Greenwich Village, Manhattan.
Cost: $2.75 for a slice of cheese pizza
5. Take the ferry.
For the best views of Manhattan’s skyscraper-crowded skyline, take the Staten Island Ferry through the New York Harbor. The whole trip takes approximately 25 minutes.
1. Go frolicking in the gardens.
Explore the 55 acres of landscape gardens at the Sarah P. Duke Gardens, which are located on the grounds of Duke University.
2. Mine for real gemstones.
At Elijah Mountain Gem Mine, visitors can mine for real rubies, sapphires, garnets, and other precious and semi-precious stones. Other on-site attractions: a baby goat petting zoo, a rock shop, and the world’s largest gem mine bucket.
Cost: Free admission
3. Go down a natural water slide.
Slip into your swim trunks—or better yet, a rash guard—and slide down Sliding Rock, the 60-foot natural water rock slide in the Pisgah National Forest.
4. See blown glass being made.
At Lexington Glassworks, you can watch a demonstration of the glassblowing process in the working studio, then pursue handcrafted pieces in the gallery.
5. Sample spirits.
Throughout the year, Walton’s Distillery hosts an open house event, during which visitors are treated to a Free catered lunch, a live musical performance, and samples of flavored spirits in the distillery.
1. See where Fargo was filmed.
Explore the small town that inspired the 1996 Coen brothers film by visiting Fargo, North Dakota, where the thick Midwestern accents and desolate landscapes will make you feel like you’ve been transported on set.
2. Take a trip to Scandinavia.
The Scandinavian Heritage Park features buildings, statues, and monuments that pay tribute to the heritage of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden, among other nations. A few of the highlights: a log house built in Norway in the 1770s, a fully functional Finnish sauna, and a full-scale replica of the Gol Stave Church.
3. Discover roadside attractions.
You’ll see large-scale sculptures of deer, grasshoppers, pheasants, and geese in flight on a drive down the 32-mile Enchanted Highway, which connects Gladstone to Regent.
4. Explore a real trading post.
At the Gringras Trading Post State Historic Site, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, you’ll be able to tour the home and trading post of Métis legislator Antoine Blanc Gingras, a prominent fur trader.
5. See the Badlands.
Drive to the Painted Canyon Overlook to take in panoramic views of the rugged, multicolored formations that make up the North Dakota Badlands.
1. Explore the state parks.
The state’s 74 parks offer varied landscapes and myriad adventures, from hiking and biking to swimming. Start with Conkle’s Hollow State Preserve, which has waterfalls and 200-foot cliffs.
2. See masterworks at the Columbus Museum of Art.
Discover paintings by Pablo Picasso, Paul Cezanne, and Claude Monet, among many other 20th-century heavyweights at the Columbus Museum of Art.
Cost: Adults $18; Seniors $9; Kids Free
3. Go camping.
Immerse yourself in nature by pitching a tent at the Findley State Park campground, where you’ll wake up to the sight of towering trees and the sound of trickling water.
Cost: Daily rates from $22
4. Tour an airstream factory.
At the Airstream factory in Jackson Center, you’ll learn about the history of the iconic 60-year-old American brand and watch how the trailers are crafted, riveted, and built by hand on a two-hour tour.
5. Get schooled in rock music history.
Why is Cleveland home to the world’s largest collection of rock and roll memorabilia? You’ll learn why on a tour of the Rock and Roll Hall and Fame, where there are exhibits dedicated to bands like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.
Cost: Adults $28; Kids $18
1. Drive Route 66.
Buckle up and motor down Route 66, whose longest drivable stretch is located in Oklahoma.
2. See an Oklahoma-shaped pool.
The 12-room Oklahoma’s Governor Mansion features antiques, original walnut paneling and moldings, verdant gardens, as well as an Oklahoma-shaped pool (yes, really!). See it all on a guided tour.
3. Photograph nature at the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge.
Snap photos of buffalo, longhorn cattle, and more as you wander the 59,000+ acres that comprise the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge.
4. Watch a gunfight.
The city of Guthrie has the largest Historic Preservation District in the nation—and every Saturday, actors put on an old-fashioned (and safe) Guthrie gunfight, complete with costumes and plenty of Wild West-style bravado.
5. See a performance at the Armstrong Auditorium.
The eight-story Armstrong Auditorium is a visual feast: all Swarovski crystal chandeliers, royal purple carpet, and American cherry paneling. Take in the splendor of the space by seeing a classical music concert or a ballet.
Cost: Performances from $31
1. Eat street food in Portland.
Downtown Portland is crowded with street food vendors, many of which serve delicious morsels—everything from reindeer sausages to jalapeno-inflected cornbread waffles—for under $10. We’d recommend starting with Potato Champion, where you can order Canadian poutine topped with pulled pork shoulder and bourbon honey mustard.
2. Spend the day at the beach.
Cannon Beach is among Oregon’s most-photographed destinations. Bring a picnic and spend an entire day discovering its spectacular coastal stretch.
3. Try a Voodoo Doughnut.
Tourists go crazy for the yeast, cake, and specialty varieties at the Voodoo Doughnut. Choose from 50+ different kinds, including one smothered in vanilla frosting and topped with flakes of Captain Crunch cereal.
Cost: $0.95 and up.
4. Find your inner zen.
Tour the Portland Japanese Garden to discover what the former Ambassador of Japan to the United States called, “the most beautiful and authentic Japanese garden in the world outside of Japan.”
Cost: Adults $16.95; Seniors $14.50; Student $13.50; Kids $11.50
5. Visit Crater Lake National Park.
Bright blue waters and excellent hiking trails are among the draws of Crater Lake National Park, home to the deepest lake in the U.S.
Cost: Car entry $30 in the summer or $20 in the winter
1. Go on a safari.
See elk, watusi cattle, bison, and other animals on a safari ride at Lake Tobias Wildlife Park, where approximately 500 animals roam Freely.
2. Conquer your fear of heights.
Peer down 225 feet on the glass floor at the Kinzua Bridge Skywalk, a former railroad bridge that was nearly destroyed after the tornado of 2003.
3. Go stargazing.
Bring a blanket, lawn chair, and binoculars (or a telescope, if you have it) and see the Milky Way, planets, and other cosmic phenomena at Cherry Springs State Park’s Night Sky Public Viewing Area.
4. Walk on a Wooden Street.
There are very few places left in the contiguous United States where you can walk on a street paved entirely by wood pricks. Check that off your bucket list at Roslyn Place, a charming cul-de-sac in Pittsburgh.
5. Learn the art of guitar making.
The Martin Guitar Factory offers guided weekday tours during which visitors can follow along as more than 300 steps are taken to transform a piece of rough lumber into the glossy musical instrument.
1. Stroll Newport’s Cliff Walk.
As you stroll along the 3.5-mile coastal Cliff Walk, you’ll be afforded sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean on one side, and a peek into Newport’s most lavish mansions on the other.
2. Have a chicken dinner.
Wright’s Farm is one of Rhode Island’s last all-you-can-eat, family-style restaurants, where fall-off-the-bone roast chicken and crispy French fries are on the menu.
Cost: Adults $12.75; Kids $7.25
3. Take a tour of one of the state’s oldest houses.
Built in 1707, the Stephen Hopkins House & Gardens was the home of Rhode Island’s founding father, Stephen Hopkins, and was visited twice by George Washington. Learn about its history by taking a tour of the house and gardens.
4. Visit the Rhode Island School of Design Museum.
Designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Jose Rafael Moneco, the RISD Museum houses more than 100,000 objects from all over the world, from artists like Paul Revere, Andy Warhol, and Édouard Manet.
Cost: Adults $15; Seniors $12; Kids Free
5. Go to the Tennis Hall of Fame Museum.
At the Tennis Hall of Fame Museum, browse the more than 1,900 artifacts on display, including trophies, photographs, tennis rackets, and more.
Cost: Adults $16; Seniors $12; Kids Free
1. Go biking.
Rent a bike at The Bike Doctor and pedal around Hilton Head Island’s 50-plus miles of multi-use pathway network.
Cost: $28 and up
2. See a 300-year-old landmark.
Dating back to before The Revolutionary War, the Old Sheldon Church Ruins—the remains of the Sheldon Church, which was twice burned to the ground—is said to be the “first conscious attempt in America to imitate a Greek temple.” Learn about the building and its fascinating history by touring the remains, which are embowered with moss-draped live oak trees.
3. Go on a brewing tour.
At New South Brewing, a microbrewery in Myrtle Beach, visitors can taste the brand’s flagship brews—White Ale and Nut Brown Ale—on a tour of their facility.
4. Do neighborhood tours.
See antebellum mansions on a walking tour of The Point, Beaufort, one of the most photogenic neighborhoods in all of Lowcountry.
5. Eat oysters and drink champagne.
At Charleston’s Pier 41 restaurant and raw bar, diners can enjoy East Coast oysters for $1 apiece and a glass of champagne for $1 from 4 to 6 p.m., Mondays through Saturdays.
Cost: $1 and up
1. Explore the third-longest cave in the world.
Choose your own adventure at Jewel Cave National Monument, where there are more than 180 miles of mapped passages to discover.
Cost: Adults $12; Kids $8
2. See Mount Rushmore.
Tick off this must-do attraction, featuring the 60-foot-tall faces of four great American presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln.
3. Visit the ‘celebrity’ graves at Mount Moriah Cemetery.
See where “Wild Bill” Hickock, Calamity Jane, and some other iconic Wild West figures were buried at the Mount Moriah Cemetery.
4. Go to the Air and Space Museum.
Trace the history of aviation at South Dakota’s Air and Space Museum, where there are immersive exhibits, unique artifacts, and 30 vintage military aircrafts on display.
5. Hit the trails at the Black Hills National Forest.
Hike, mountain bike, rock climb, or horseback ride through the 1.2 million acres of dense tree cover and craggy mountains that make up the Black Hills National Forest.
1. Go on a cocktail tour.
During the 30-minute private tour of the Sugarlands Distilling Co’s stillhouse, you’ll learn how the award-winning Sugarlands moonshine is made, plus enjoy two hand-crafted cocktails.
Cost: $12 per person
2. Listen to the blues on Beale Street.
There are over 25 different music clubs to choose from on Beale Street in Memphis. Start at Lew’s Blue Note Bar & Grill, where there’s live blues Wednesday through Sunday nights and no cover charge.
3. See a replica of the Parthenon.
Instead of splurging on flights to Greece, you can visit Nashville and tour a full-scale replica of the famous monument. The structure does double-duty as the city’s art museum.
Cost: Adults $6; Seniors $4; Kids $4
4. Visit the Walk of Fame Park.
See stars honoring the likes of Garth Brooks, Steven Curtis Chapman, and Reba McEntire at Nashville’s Walk of Fame Park.
5. See the Great Smoky Mountains.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited of America’s national parks—see why by hiking its 850-some miles of trails.
1. See art in Marfa.
The Texas town of Marfa is practically synonymous with the work of influential American artist Donald Judd. See 100 of his aluminum sculptures at The Chinati Foundation, a contemporary art museum which he founded.
Cost: Adults $25; Students $10
2. Walk along the San Antonio River.
Stroll the four miles of cobble-and-flagstone paths that run along both sides of the San Antonio River. There are plenty of restaurants, shops, and bars along the way.
3. Visit Texas’ most-visited historic landmark.
Discover an important part of Texas history at The Alamo, a Spanish mission and fortress dating back to the 18th century.
4. Go swimming.
Take a dip in the Hamilton Pool Preserve, a limestone-swimming hole that features a 50-foot waterfall.
5. Make a pit stop at Buc-ee’s.
Stop for homemade fudge bars, beef jerky—really any snack your heart desires—at Buc-ee’s, a chain of convenience stores with a cult following across Texas.
1. Visit a ghost town.
Experience a forgotten piece of history by visiting one of Utah’s dozens of ghost towns like Kelton, Park Valley, and Silver City.
2. Ascend Angel’s Landing.
Attempt one of Zion National Park’s most challenging hiking routes: the 1,488-foot-tall Angels Landing, which offers hair-raising views of the canyon.
3. Go kayaking on Lake Powell.
Rent a kayak and explore the narrow waterways of Lake Powell, a man-made reservoir set against Utah’s lunar-looking desert landscape.
Cost: $30 per day
4. See Salt Lake City’s Temple Square.
Architecture-lovers will want to tour Salt Lake City’s Temple Square, a neo-gothic, six-spire structure that was constructed over the course of 40 years and serves as the spiritual home of the Mormon Church.
5. Go on a day trip to Monument Valley.
Pack your camera and drive out to see the three red rock towers that comprise the majestic Monument Valley.
1. Visit a dairy farm.
At Billings Farm & Museum, a fully operational dairy farm and museum in Woodstock, visitors can get up-close-and-personal with over 70 Jersey cows, five draft horses, and a flock of Southdown sheep. Also on offer: horse-drawn wagon tours or sleigh rides.
Cost: Adults $16; Seniors $14; Kids $8
2. Go shopping.
Indulge in a little retail therapy at Burlington’s Church Street Marketplace, an outdoor mall with more than 80 shops like Burlington Records and Lippa’s Jewelers.
3. Explore Vermont’s only national park.
Spread over 550 acres, Rockefeller National Historical Park has something for everyone: 20 miles of trails, lush gardens, and a Victorian mansion filled with priceless art and antiques.
Cost: Adults $8; Seniors $4; Kids Free
4. Tour the Ben & Jerry’s Factory.
Go on a 30-minute tour of the Ben & Jerry’s factory, in Burlington, during which you’ll learn about the brand’s manufacturing process, plus sample a flavor or two.
Cost: Adults $4; Seniors $3; Kids Free
5. Go to a dog chapel.
A sign reading “Welcome all creeds, all breeds. No dogmas allowed” greets visitors at the Dog Chapel, a church-style building that honors the special relationship between dogs and their humans.
1. Discover America’s longest commercial beach.
Walk, bike, rollerblade, or skateboard along the Virginia Beach Boardwalk, a three-mile path that runs adjacent to a stretch of powdery white sand.
2. Meet local artists.
At the Torpedo At Factory Art Center, an old munitions factory turned arts hub, visitors can pop in and out of 82 working-artist studios and seven galleries.
3. Hang out in a park made entirely of trash.
Mount Trashmore Park—a former landfill—features playgrounds, two man-made mountains, basketball and volleyball courts, and skate parks—all created from the compaction of solid waste and clean soil.
4. Visit a field of presidents’ heads.
5. Go to the Edgar Allan Poe Museum.
Learn about Edgar Allan Poe at a museum that celebrates the American author’s life and houses the largest collection of Poe memorabilia in the world.
Cost: Adults $9; Seniors $7; Kids $7
1. Walk around Pike Place Market.
Spend hours getting lost inside Seattle’s world-famous Pike Place Market, a waterfront public shopping market home to food stands, antiques store, book shops, and more.
2. See awe-inspiring glass forms.
Take in American sculptor Dale Chihuly’s fantastical glass creations—including a 100-foot-long glass sculpture bursting in red, orange, and yellow tones—at the Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum in Seattle Center.
Cost: Adults $32; Seniors $27; Kids $19
3. Tour an automotive museum.
The LeMay-America’s Car Museum is a must for any vintage car-lover; the museum showcases 300+ cars spanning over 100 years.
Cost: Adults $18; Seniors $16; Teens $14; Kids $10
4. Stroll fields of lavender.
During the summer months, the Pelindaba Lavender Farm, on San Juan Island, is a vision of purple. Awaken your senses by walking through the fragrant fields.
5. Go to the Museum of Pop Culture.
Get an education in all things mass media—cinema, video games, literature, music, and more— at Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture, set inside a striking building designed by Frank Gehry.
Cost: Adults $28; Seniors $25; Kids $19
1. Visit a historic hotel.
The Greenbrier Hotel has hosted 26 presidents, foreign dignitaries, and royalty, including the Princess Grace of Monaco. Simply seeing the grand property is worth the trip, but if you’re willing to splurge, a tour of the property’s “secret” bunker—which served as a bomb shelter for congress in the event of nuclear fallout—comes highly recommended.
Cost: Adults $39; Kids $20
2. Tour a coal mine.
At The Exhibition Coal Mine, visitors can take an underground tour of an old coal mine, led by a veteran miner.
Cost: Adults $22; Seniors $16; Kids $12.50
3. Crawl through caves.
Go on a guided, one-hour tour of the Seneca Caverns, an underground system of limestone caves formed 460 million years ago.
Cost: Adults $15; Kids $10
4. Learn about West Virginia’s history.
Do a deep-dive on the state’s fascinating past at the West Virginia State Museum, where you’ll find artifacts like a telescope used by George Washington and an original settler’s cabin.
5. Visit ancient burial grounds.
The Adena people occupied West Virginia and other southern states between 500 BC and 100 AD. See one of the peoples’ largest known burial mounds at the Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex.
1. See an authentic Thai pavilion.
Go to the Olbrich Botanical Gardens to see the only Thai pavilion in the contiguous United States. The resplendent teak and gold leaf structure was built in Thailand and took three weeks to reconstruct once it arrived on site.
2. Get your geology fix.
At the Thomas A. Green Geological Museum, you’ll find 75,000 fossils discovered by the namesake amateur geologist, who lived in Milwaukee in the late 1800s.
3. Go on a tour of a Frank Lloyd Wright home.
See the American architect’s largest-prairie-style house by touring the Wingspread residence.
4. Visit the National Mustard Museum.
Learn everything you’ve ever wanted to know about the “King of Condiments” at the Mustard Museum, which houses the world’s largest collection of mustards (more than 6,090 from 70+ countries) and mustard memorabilia.
5. Watch a water show.
The Aquanuts are an award-winning water ski team, famous for their “Champion Ballet Line and breathtaking four-tier pyramids.” See them perform every Wednesday and Saturday night from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
1. See wild horses.
Hit the gravel road and drive the 1.5-hour Pilot Butte Wild Horse Scenic Loop. Approximately 1,300 wild horses roam these lands, so you’re likely to see at least a team or two.
2. Go swimming.
The Hobo Pool's natural hot springs are believed to possess healing properties. Take a dip to reap the benefits.
3. Go on a sleigh ride.
Take a sleigh ride through the National Elk Refuge, a natural habitat home to 1,000+ animals. The activity operates December through April.
Cost: Adults $25; Kids $15
4. Tick Yellowstone National Park off your bucket list.
See hot springs, mud pots, and erupting geysers at Yellowstone National Park.
5. Explore the Legacy of the Heart Mountain WWII Interpretive Center.
More than 14,000 Japanese Americans were relocated to the Heart Mountain Interpretive Center during World War II. Learn the stories of these internees by visiting the site’s museum and military memorial.
Cost: Adults: $9; Seniors $7; Kids Free