Many of us are planning to spend our 2021 vacations in the U.S. rather than overseas. Here we celebrate some less explored gems our bounteous country has to offer.
Lassen Volcanic National Park, California
Northeast California’s untamed volcanic wilderness is dominated by Lassen Peak volcano, which last erupted in 1914. The dramatic terrain hisses with sulphur vents, lava flows, steaming mud pools and bubbling hot springs. Enjoy stunning viewpoints and miles of bike and hike trails through verdant forests, wildflower pastures, and jagged peaks over 10,000 feet. Swim, fish or rent a boat on Manzanita Lake, then enjoy a sunset picnic by the waterside. The park houses eight campsites and a guest ranch.
St Augustine, Florida
Purportedly the oldest city in the States, St Augustine brims with Spanish colonial architecture and culture. St George Street is a car-free zone full of ancient buildings, art galleries, restaurants and chic boutiques. History buffs head for the 17th century Castillo de San Marcos, the oldest military site in the U.S.. For fabulous views and potential ghostly encounters climb the 219 steps of the city’s (allegedly haunted) lighthouse.
Devils Tower National Monument, Wyoming
This astonishing natural landmark looms 876 feet over the surrounding plains in Wyoming’s Black Hill country, and is revered as a sacred site by local indigenous communities. Named the U.S.’ first national monument by President Roosevelt in 1906, Devils Tower was immortalised in Spielberg’s 1977 ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’. The cracked igneous rock surface makes it a popular and challenging climbing destination. There is a visitor’s centre and camp ground onsite.
Hill Country, Texas
The Lone Star State’s Hill Country is a sweeping landscape of rolling wildflower meadows, meandering rivers, and picturesque communities such as historic Fredericksburg, which dates back to 1846. Boasting over 50 vineyards and biergartens, the town cherishes its German heritage. Enjoy a wine tasting tour, and browse artisan shops, galleries, and elegant restaurants. Later, head to nearby Luckenbach for an evening of traditional Hill Country live music and dancing.
Apostle Islands, Wisconsin
A network of 21 islands on Lake Superior, the Apostles are known for their dramatic rock formations, unspoilt beaches, sea caves and no fewer than six historic lighthouses. Take the ferry from Bayfield to Madeline Island, the largest in the archipelago. At Big Bay State Park you’ll discover four miles of shoreline, a swimming beach and campsite. Visit the 17th century town of La Pointe, home to Madeline’s atmospheric museum. Here you can learn about the island’s history and early settlers.
International Car Forest, Nevada
When you’re next in Nevada, check out this unique alfresco art installation. One mile from the historic boom town of Goldfield lies an intriguing ‘car graveyard’. This collection of over 40 vehicles, each strategically positioned and painted for maximum effect, is the creation of two Nevada artists. Cars protrude from the earth at angles resembling oversized gravestones, others are precariously piled atop of each other like a misshapen game of Jenga. Bizarre and not to be missed.
Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado
This geological phenomenon boasts 30 square miles of stunning sand dunes, including the tallest in North America, which stands at a mighty 750 feet high. At various stores outside the park’s entrance you can hire sleds and sand boards for whizzing down the dunes. Enjoy scenic drives, horse riding, paddling in seasonal Medano Creek, and guided sundown hikes. The park has several campsites, and after nightfall the surrounding clear skies provide glorious opportunities for star gazing.
Vermont’s largest city is famed for its relaxed atmosphere, wonderful lake and mountain setting, and vibrant food and drink scene. For a slice of local history visit the Ethan Allen Homestead, the museum and former home of the Revolutionary War hero. Relish the views during a sunset cruise on beautiful Lake Champlain. Enjoy gourmet farm to table dining at Penny Cluse Café or Honey Road, and try the local beer – Burlington has more craft breweries per capita than any U.S. city.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories