When you daydream about traveling, the odds are you picture a beach in Hawaii or a castle in Britain. These classic tourist destinations are awesome, but they aren’t the only places worth visiting.
Plenty of high-value vacation spots can be found right here in the continental U.S. and you may know about them. Check these out:
- Myrtle Beach, SC
When you think of warm blue water and white sandy beaches, Florida jumps to mind. But it’s not the only state that has incredible beaches.
Just a little north is Myrtle Beach in South Carolina, a beautiful town on the Atlantic. There are hundred of activities for families, couples, and individuals, including dozens of restaurants, theater shows, and public and private beaches.
It also has some incredible hotels and resorts right on the water, which make it one of the most picturesque and peaceful destinations on the East Coast.
- Ludington State Park, MI
The Great Lakes State includes a breathtaking 5,300-acre park between Lake Michigan and Hamlin Lake. It has beaches, historic lighthouses, hiking trails, and lazy rivers for your enjoyment.
This entails more of a camping-style vacation than a place you’d book a hotel, but you should still make reservations early. Cabins and campgrounds are limited in number, and you wouldn’t want to get caught without a place to stay!
- Sedona, AZ
When they hear “Arizona,” many people think of the Grand Canyon for natural beauty, but a little town just a couple of hours south of the rim is known for its abundant natural sandstone rock formations. Apart from the breathtaking scenery, the climate is a huge selling point.
Because it’s in the northern part of the state, it’s cooler. Residents enjoy mild temperatures in the winter and comfortable warmth in the summer. It’s cool enough that you can enjoy hiking, biking, and mountain climbing year round.
- Glacier National Park, MT
If you drive to the northern edge of Montana, you’ll find Glacier National Park. It’s a nearly hidden gem that’s been nicknamed America’s Switzerland for its mountains, meadows, and lakes.
This locale has pleasures for both sightseers and outdoor enthusiasts. There are more than 700 miles of trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding, plus lakes and rivers that are perfect for boating and fishing.
- Valley of Fire State Park, NV
The next time you’re in Las Vegas, try a day trip to the Valley of Fire State Park, which is just an hour northeast of the Strip. Instead of neon lights and glamorous night clubs, you’ll see red-rock sandstone formations dating back 150 million years, and petroglyphs that are 3,000 years old.
If you’ve dreamed of visiting Mars, Valley of Fire State Park is the closest you may get. In fact, this desert valley was used for the landscape of Mars in the 1990 movie “Total Recall.”
- Cache River State Natural Area, IL
If you’re not crazy about the desert formations of Arizona and Nevada, try the opposite extreme: the vast wetlands of a former glacial floodplain at Cache River State Natural Area. This park is unique because it’s located in otherwise dry and windy Illinois, away from the lakes and beaches where swamps usually form.
Nearly 15,000 acres of wetlands, floodplains, forests, and limestone barrens stand near the southern tip of the state. The land is best explored by boat, either in a guided tour or a solo canoe trip.
- Damascus, VA
This country haven in the heart of Virginia is a must-visit for avid hikers and bikers. Seven major trails intersect at this quaint little town.
In itself, Damascus is mostly a stopover for people bent on hitting the trails, as manifested by the local food and lodgings. There are multiple bed and breakfasts, and plenty of restaurants offer a carb-loading breakfast before you head for the trails.
If you’re planning to travel in the summer or fall, make your hotel reservations early. The town is small and has a limited number of quality places to stay. But if you think ahead of time, you can snag a great deal on your hotel and minimize stress levels on your trip.