Most people think of beaches, the ocean, waterparks, and getting tan when the word “vacation” comes up during the summer, but there are quite a few beautiful places in the US that offer amazing sights and even a little culture information.
These cities include, but are definitely limited to the following:
If you are more interested in nature and exploring, rather than laying out and swimming, look into
- Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota: This Park is covered in grassy, rocky terrain houses bison and rainbow-colored rocks to explore in its 110 square miles. While North Dakota can be pretty chilly the rest of the year, the summer brings warm temperatures with cool breezes that make taking a hike very pleasant and enjoyable. There are trails to walk, campgrounds to stay at, and even tours that can be given at an additional cost. The cost to enter the park is only $10.00 and admittance lasts for 7 days, which is an ample amount of time to explore quite a bit of its attractions. There are also several locations available for lodging near the park, most of which are very reasonably priced.
- Assateague Island, Maryland/Virginia: In this little-known beach just outside of Ocean City there are a world of discoveries to be made, whether it is the free-roaming ponies, salt marshes, or the forests. This secluded gem offers little in the way of crowding from the locals or tourists looking to lay out and tan, but offers a lot in the areas of nature and wildlife. Since this park occupies two different states, there are slightly different fees and hours for the different locations, and the Maryland location seems to offer better hours, but both states offer equally beautiful amenities. Camping is offered on the Maryland side of the park and fees range from $16 to $30 depending on the time of year and the amount of people.
- Lake Chelan, Washington: Visiting this beautiful lake is free of charge, although the amenities that are offered nearby are not. There is a variety of shops, wineries, restaurants, water parks, and so much more down the road from the lake itself. Even in the winter, the lake offers exciting events like sledding down the mountainous terrain.
- Monhegan Island, Maine: This secluded rocky island is ten miles from mainland and is accessible by boat only, offering a serene and beautiful escape from the hustle and bustle of the city life. This out-of-the-way haven offers prime fishing spots and great places to take a breath-taking hike to explore nature, as well as Swim Beach: the only safe place on the island to swim, although the cold waters and rough currents may not appeal to everyone. It is important to understand that the terrain is not easy to hike, the resources of the island are limited, and that it is essential to book boat fare and hotel stays ahead of time. Many people enjoy a short-term visit here in the middle of the summer, but the optimum time to hike the island is either late fall or early spring when there is less of a chance for the mosquitoes, ticks, and poison ivy that threaten every hiker to appear.
- Barringer Crater, Arizona: If you like a scientific vacation, it is a great opportunity to go see the Crater, even if you are just passing through. During the summer, the visitor center is open 7am to 7pm and offers a great presentation and tour of the crater for $16 dollars (adults), $15 (seniors), or $8 (children 6-17) with children under 5 having free admission. If you would like to take a longer stay, then there is an RV campground that is offered for various prices depending on the length of stay and amount of people.
If you do love the beach and swimming aspects of going on vacation, look into these hidden gems
- Orange Beach, Alabama: Orange Beach is a city in Alabama that is a location included in Gulf Shores, but offers four different vacation locations that are covered in sand and ocean water. Three of the beaches offer free parking and one beach (Gulf State Park) has a $6 day-long fee for parking. Two of the beaches have access to restrooms and showers, and all of them offer sights of sea oats, surfing, or relaxing in the sun. Gulf State Park is a natural beach that has many sand dunes and air-conditioned restrooms, as well as private showers, a snack bar, and even a fireplace for the cooler nights. The city’s website even has a live stream video of a Wolfbay Osprey Nest that is being kept warm and ready to hatch, with the parents taking turns sitting!
- Tybee Island, Georgia: This little area lies at the edge of the Georgia Coast offers various attractions besides the beach and ocean water, including the boardwalk Pier that leads to a beautiful Pavilion, two lighthouses, the Marine Science Center, and several historical sites. There are also activities, and although they do cost money, offer tons of fun and entertainment! These include renting jet skis, bikes, mopeds, going deep-sea fishing, seeing dolphins, and island tours. There are campgrounds and RV parks located on the beach, as well as several nearby housing options for your stay. Also, as one of the top 10 city beaches in America, Tybee also offers wedding services on the pier and on the beach itself.
- Virginia Beach, Virginia: Virginia Beach is actually very similar to Tybee in that it is filled with exciting and fun activities, loads of nearby hotels and resorts, and that there is a long line of stores along the beach for fun-filled days of shopping and being a tourist. Since Virginia Beach is a little more crowded than the other hideaways listed here there is also a larger variety of activities, whether you want to hit up the nearby amusement and water parks or spend time on the water parasailing, surfing, fishing, or lounging on a boat. There are also many options if you are looking for a more reserved vacation or you enjoy learning about culture you can take a stop into one of the local spots that offer a band playing music, visit one of the the many theaters to see a play, get your laugh on at a comedy club, or check out a museum. There are also many festivals during the year, whether it’s the art scene, strawberries, beer, kites, or music there is sure to be something going on that will interest you! And for all of you sporty people, there are sand tournaments in soccer and volleyball, as well as a few locations to go golfing. This is a great spot to go if you want a vacation filled with variety, people, and excitement!
- Carolina Beach, North Carolina:
- Perdido Key, Florida: Since “perdido” means lost, you might be able to understand where this getaway got its name a while back. When Florida was occupied by the Spanish, this little strip of sand was hidden for quite a long time from by the Native Americans who originally lived in the area. The average temperature is 75 degrees, is almost always sunny, and can be accessed by a short drive from both Florida and Alabama. With abundant parks and wildlife areas, it is nothing short of simple to get lost in the wonder of the nature, and there’s always the typical dining, shopping, and water activities offered. Places like this seem to offer a quieter and more peaceful vacation than those that have a higher rate of tourism, and it lets you uniquely explore the wildlife of the area.
Overall, I hope that these are some good ideas if you are looking for a place to travel to this summer, or other times during the year! With the variety in the types of locations, it is my goal that there is at least one that is tailored to your personal interests and that you find a locations that fits for you.
Have a great summer!