Travel's Best All-American Vacations 2015
This summer, put away your passport and explore the good old USA! Get a true taste of Americana and marvel at the nation’s natural wonders with our picks for Travel’s Best All-American Vacations 2015. Each winner was chosen by our expert panel of advisors, which includes US Marine and the Dining Traveler Jessica van Dop DeJesus and the couple behind Tiny House Giant Journey, Jenna Spesard and Guillaume Dutilh. Here are 10 trips that prove America is bigger and more beautiful than you could ever imagine.
Florida Keys Overseas Highway
Ernest Hemingway and Jimmy Buffett — 2 American icons, with their own devoted fan bases, who’ve called Key West home. Discover why they fell in love with the Keys by driving the 127-mile Florida Keys Overseas Highway, which includes a network of bridges that stretch from mainland Florida all the way to the southernmost point in the US. Make sure to pull over for the occasional conch fritter and snorkeling break, of course.
Redwood National and State Parks, California
This enchanted forest of giant trees is located next to miles of empty beach, combining history, culture, wonder and nature in 1 beautiful location. As sunbeams break through the towering canopy, you'll feel as though you've been transported into a real-life fairy tale. Redwood National Park is truly an awe-inspiring escape for wildlife and nature enthusiasts.
A mix of historical and cultural influences has created the unique Cajun/French Creole food, music and language found only in this small part of the country. Enjoy a delicious (and messy) crawfish boil, dance to zydeco music and take a thrilling airboat ride! Plus, in Lafayette, you'll get all the Mardi Gras celebration without the New Orleans tourism.
White Sands National Monument, New Mexico
Craving Zen and beauty? White Sands offers perhaps the most serene experience in the country. Walking the dunes is like wading through an ocean of diamonds surrounded by purple mountains. Make sure to arrive when the gates open to witness the morning light dancing across the desert.
Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, Washington/Oregon
Located on the state line between Washington and Oregon, this locale is an excellent nature-filled family retreat, with waterfalls, wildflowers and sweeping views of the Columbia River. If you're willing to get wet, take a short hike through the majestic Oneonta Gorge, a lush chasm leading to a hidden waterfall.
USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park, Mobile, AL
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the park created to honor the ship’s stellar service during World War II. Tour the battleship, the aircraft collection and the USS Drum submarine, or even book an overnight adventure to get a taste of how the sailors lived. Beyond beautiful Mobile Bay, streets lined with historic homes and giant oaks give way to a vibrant downtown once dubbed “the Paris of the South.”
Peak to Peak Highway, Estes Park, CO
As one of the rangers at Rocky Mountain National Park described it, “You can take many photos, but you can never completely capture the beauty of this place.” True story. A 3-hour stretch of green pine trees, snowcapped mountains and log cabins makes this scenic byway (Colorado's oldest) the perfect setting for a short-but-sweet road trip.
With its historic homes, wooden sailboats and midshipmen strolling the streets in their whites, Annapolis is the epitome of classic Americana. It’s the perfect place to explore military history and get a peek at its future at the United States Naval Academy Museum. Stay for the food: No trip to Annapolis is complete without enjoying some Maryland crab with Old Bay, of course.
St. Louis is the “Gateway to the West” for more reasons than one. Yes, its iconic Gateway Arch is a sight to behold, but the city’s friendly Midwest sensibility, steamboats, vibrant riverfront along the Mississippi, and free attractions such as the St. Louis Zoo make it truly appealing for a family getaway. Plus, it’s a (Cardinals) baseball and beer town — could you get more American than that?
In the town of Williams, AZ, expect an eclectic mix of the rich history of Route 66 and the Wild West. Williams is the perfect place for a pit stop to find a kitschy souvenir and let the kids get up close and personal with wildlife at the Bearizona drive-through wildlife park. Then, hop aboard the 100-year-old Grand Canyon Railway for a scenic, 65-mile ride to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.