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Vermilion Cliffs National Monument on the Colorado Plateau

The 36 Best Places to Visit in the U.S. for Adventure

We’re celebrating the grandeur of America, from beautiful rivers, beaches, and mountains to incredible glamping outposts and wild places. Our travel experts are constantly on the road finding new adventures, and their ideas will jump-start your next unforgettable journey.

Heading out the door? Read this article on the Outside app available now on iOS devices for members! >","name":"in-content-cta","type":"link"}}'>Download the app .

Creating our annual Travel Awards package takes months of work by a large team. This time out, our travel editors unanimously decided to celebrate trips in the United States, because the pandemic reinforced what we’ve long known: there is a bounty of spectacular American destinations to share.

Next we tapped our vast network of expert travel writers, many of whom have been working with Outside for 20-plus years. Our writers are constantly out there chasing adventure and collecting information on exciting lodging, trails, rivers, beaches, road trips, and other things to do. What they came back with was impressive—the research memo for this package was 117 pages long.

Then the really hard part began: whittling down an overwhelming number of choices into one winner and one runner-up in each category. This is when the heated debates arose, as we pored over research and advocated for favorites. The final decisions were based on many factors, including new travel options, improved-upon classics, accessibility, and sustainability, and we always strive to offer a variety of geographic locales, activities, and price points.

Our overriding goal? To inspire readers to get outside and explore the world, and provide them with great ideas for years to come. —Mary Turner, deputy editor and travel director

Loggerhead Key beach and lighthouse

Beach Winner: Loggerhead Key, Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida

Dry Tortugas is one of the most remote parks in the national park system, located approximately 70 miles beyond Key West. It’s also one of the smallest. Depending on the tide, only 143 acres of sand, coral rubble, and rock make up the archipelago’s seven islands. But those islands are blessed with great beaches, including South Beach on Garden Key, home to the park’s main tourist facilities. The best, however, is on the northwest side of Loggerhead Key, accessible only via private boat or by undertaking a three-mile paddle from Garden Key. The islet is encircled by gorgeous white sand, and just offshore is a stunning coral formation called Little Africa, because it looks like a map of the continent from above. That’s one of the best places to snorkel. Paddling between the islands can be challenging, though shoals break up larger waves. For tourists coming from Key West, the Yankee Freedom catamaran offers day trips to Garden Key at 7:30 A.M. and returns at roughly 5:15 P.M. (Round-trip tickets start at $200 and include a snack, box lunch, and snorkeling equipment.) Plan to bring your own safety gear and kayak—and be sure to reserve a spot for it on the catamaran in advance—or rent what you require in Key West. You’ll also need to stop at the Garden Key dock house to pick up a free boating permit. There’s first-come, first-served camping on Garden Key ($15 per night). Come prepared to be entirely self-sufficient. —Ryan Krogh

Runner-Up: York Beach Surf Club, York, Maine

This historic cottage colony has been reimagined as a hip year-round hotel that pays homage to the 1960s surf club started by local legend L. F. “Sonny” Perkins. He and his son updated the oceanfront property starting in 2020 with Scandi-style bungalows, a restaurant serving lobster breakfast sammies, and a collection of vintage surf photos. Summer camps and lessons are held on the gentle waves and sandy shores of York Beach. Experienced surfers pack five-millimeter wetsuits and come for the area’s storied winter swell. From $350 —Jen Murphy

A dome at Oculis Lodge

Lodging Winner: Oculis Lodge, Glacier, Washington

Travelers will soon have a new way to admire the Cascade Range’s pines and peaks: the Oculis Lodge , 12 igloo-shaped domes tentatively scheduled to open before summer. The project set a record as Indiegogo’s most funded lodging campaign to date, with over $1.2 million raised. The domes, designed with a bedroom, kitchen, and sunken living room, are next-level glamping. Each sleeps up to six guests and features a private jacuzzi, sauna, and heated deck for yoga or other exercise. What’s more, all have a 15-foot-wide skylight and an en suite telescope, to give the glittery cosmos a starring role. Sustainability is a staple here; the domes consist of reclaimed and recycled materials, and they require up to 50 percent less energy to heat and cool than conventional cabin structures. With their minimal profile, the structures blend into the surrounding forest. The seven-acre property is located within 30 minutes of Mount Baker Ski Area and Mount Baker Scenic Byway, and two hours from North Cascades National Park—one of the lower 48’s least visited. But travelers staying at Oculis don’t have to go far for adventure; hiking, mountain biking, and paddling trails abound in the area. From $300 —Stephanie Vermillion

Surfing off Oahu; Sunset Bar at Turtle Bay Resort

Runner-Up: Turtle Bay Resort, Oahu

Few adventure resorts can compare to Turtle Bay, a 1,300-acre North Shore property set on land previously owned by the Hawaiian royal family. To celebrate its 50th anniversary last year, it underwent a $250 million renovation and now offers a paniolo luau dinner series, an on-site farm that supplies its restaurants and spa treatments, a surf school led by native Banzai Pipeline champ Jamie O’Brien, 12 miles of biking and hiking trails, five miles of beaches, four swimming pools, a free daily fitness class, cruiser bikes, and sunset horseback rides through the banyan trees. When you finally find yourself indoors, you’ll have a room with a view of the sea. From $680 —Tasha Zemke

Paddling Devils River

River Winner: Devils River, Texas

The rough-and-tumble landscape of southwest Texas doesn’t seem like the most fitting location for one of America’s best float trips. Yet here it is, the Devils’ pristine spring water flowing through a magical limestone canyon that’s home to black bears and mountain lions, cactus and yucca. Paddlers embarking on the 47-mile float from Baker’s Crossing to Amistad Reservoir are rewarded with the finest of the state’s overlooked outdoors: fly-fishing for native Guadalupe bass, swimming holes so clear they may as well be rock bathtubs, and nonstop Chihuahuan Desert scenery. The river alternates between long, deep pools; stretches of flat, braided water; and Class II–III rapids. Not long ago this trip, which takes most paddlers four days, was nearly unmanageable because of private land rights along the shore that made overnighting difficult. But the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, which regulates access via a permitting system, opened a series of campsites to make the multiday adventure possible. A handful of outfitters offer shuttles, canoe rentals, and fully guided trips, including Amistad Expeditions , based in nearby Del Rio. In 2019, Devils River State Natural Area was designated the first International Dark Sky Sanctuary in Texas, and camping beneath oak and wild pecan trees with the Milky Way in view is transcendent. —R.K.

To learn more about the Devil’s River float, check out this map  from Gaia GPS.

Runner-Up: Great Falls Whitewater Project, South Carolina

Vitality is rushing through Great Falls, and its source is the Catawba River, one of the nation’s newest whitewater escapes, located an hour from Charlotte, North Carolina. Duke Energy, which spearheaded the project , modified two century-old dams to restore natural river patterns, creating recreational opportunities and encouraging ecotourism. Rafters and paddlers can run Class II–III rapids in one section and Class IV in another. The restoration is expected to foster biodiversity and provide an economic boost to Great Falls, a town struggling from the loss of a once booming textile industry. —S.V

Camping with a view of the Sierra in Owens Valley

Road Trip Winner: Highway 395, Eastern Sierra, California

While U.S. 395 goes through four states between the Mojave Desert and the Canadian border, it’s the roughly 200 miles that pass by the granite giants of California’s eastern Sierra that warrant top billing. Start in the town of Inyokern and point your wheels north toward Fossil Falls, where you can hike above a volcanic canyon carved by glacial melt. Forty-six miles away, in Lone Pine, the Eastern Sierra Visitor Center’s parking lot boasts epic views of 14,494-foot Mount Whitney, the tallest peak in the contiguous United States. Get cultured at the nearby Museum of Western Film History, packed with memorabilia from some of the hundreds of movies shot in the area. Afterward, meander (or rack up to climb in) the arch-studded Alabama Hills, mesmerizing at sunset when alpenglow drapes the bulbous formations. Refuel in Bishop at Great Basin Bakery, then venture north to view the burbling wonders of Hot Creek Geologic Site, which should inspire a soak at nearby Hilltop or Wild Willy’s hot springs. Pull yourself away and head to Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve to admire the whimsical shoreline spires, then sit down to brews and bites at Whoa Nellie Deli in Lee Vining, quite possibly the best restaurant located inside a gas station in North America. Lone Pine, Bishop, and the Oh Ridge Campground at June Lake are good places to overnight, making this a perfect two- or three-day trip. —Shawnté Salabert

Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Runner-Up: Sunshine Route, Puerto Rico

A climatologist at the University of Puerto Rico calculated the average color of the sunbeams that shine across this popular Caribbean destination, and the result was a lovely red-orange hue, dubbed Puerto Rico Sunshine. This year that color inspired the creation of the new Puerto Rico Sunshine Route, which circumnavigates the island and links numerous sun-kissed spots. Start in San Juan, snorkel at places like La Parguera Natural Reserve, soak in Coamo Hot Springs, and surf in Rincón. —Tim Neville

Vermilion Cliffs National Monument on the Colorado Plateau

Public Land Winner: The Colorado Plateau

Boasting 30 national parks, monuments, and recreation areas, the Colorado Plateau is arguably America’s greatest natural playground. Shaped by the Colorado River over millions of years, the landscape’s dramatic canyons, monoliths, and mesas form a 150,580-square-mile expanse of high desert straddling the region’s Four Corners and include the spectacular spires of Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park and the cliff dwellings of Mesa Verde National Park . Now is the time to appreciate such magnificence: the river is one of the country’s most hotly contested water resources, and it’s threatened by drought. New weeklong, Navajo-led trips from the Grand Canyon Conservancy’s Field Institute provide the ultimate deep dive into the greater national-park area and its Indigenous connections (from $2,800). To explore on your own, base out of Grand Junction; this western Colorado adventure hub is a 30-minute drive from Colorado National Monument and surrounded by top-notch hiking and mountain-biking trails, campsites, and wineries. Riverfront accommodations ranging from RV sites and tiny homes to Airstreams can be found at Camp Eddy (from $50), just half a mile from Las Colonias Park, a 140-acre space along the river that’s popular with paddleboarders and kayakers. Stargazing nearly anywhere on the plateau is epic, but the Star Tower at Canyon of the Ancients Guest Ranch ( from $475 ), scheduled to open this summer, is our choice for the annular eclipse, which this year falls on October 14. Located minutes from the namesake national monument in southwest Colorado—a designated International Dark Sky Park—the two-story building resembles Anasazi ruins, and its rock-exposed bedroom features a deck where you can watch the interstellar action. —J.M.

An airboat tour of Everglades National Park; an aerial view

Runner-Up: Everglades National Park, Florida

This wild national treasure celebrated its 75th anniversary in December—all the more reason to plan a trip. Head down in the dry season, November through April, and book a room at the Ivey House Everglades Adventure Hotel in Everglades City ( from $179 ). The hotel has kayaks for rent, and staff provide expert area intel. Or sign up for an airboat tour with the guides at Gator Park to see the array of grassland wildlife. If you’d rather pitch a tent, Flamingo Adventures’ Long Pine Key Campground (from $30) is a convenient option near the Homestead park entrance. —Mary Turner

For more ideas on beautiful public lands to visit, read our story on the 18 Best State Parks in the U.S.

An aerial walkway

Wellness Winner: Castle Hot Springs, Arizona

The world starts to fade away on the dirt road to this resort an hour north of Phoenix. As you make your way down it, you’ll pass wild burros and saguaros and catch views of the jagged Bradshaw Mountains. Once you arrive at the 1,100-acre property , you’ve headed back in time. Native tribes sought out these springs for centuries. Since Castle’s inception in 1896, notable guests have included Theodore Roosevelt and JFK, who convalesced here with other veterans after World War II. The draws? Warm weather, a remote retreat from daily life, and three natural hot-spring pools of varying temperatures, whose mineral contents—magnesium, lithium, and bicarbonate, among others—are still popular with those eager to soak up health benefits. Parts of the original resort burned down in 1976, but Cindy and Mike Watts bought it in 2014 and began the process of restoring it. Today the main lodge, housing the Harvest restaurant and a small bar, is reminiscent of the past, while 30 new stand-alone bungalows and cabins, all of them with mountain views, welcome the future. There are activities by the hour, such as guided canyon hikes, e-bike rides, a via ferrata, and yoga. Or do what most guests do: chill out. (The Wi-Fi password, fittingly, is RUsureUwant2?.) A perfect day looks like this: Wake up and soak in the springs. Head to breakfast, and follow that with a hike up Salvation Peak. Return in time for lunch on the restaurant’s patio, then retreat to your room to nap or read on the porch. Late afternoon, soak in the springs again before a massage treatment. Soon enough it’s time for dinner. The food is delicious and healthy—as many of the ingredients as possible are grown on-site—but you can also get a bison burger and fries. You will leave nourished and refreshed. Recent additions include Sleep Retreats, with an expert to coach you on getting better rest. Castle is a splurge, but the price includes meals, gratuities, and many activities. From $1,575 for two people —M.T.

Fly-fishing on the Deschutes River near the Kah-Nee-Ta Resort

Runner-Up: Kah-Nee-Ta Resort, Warm Springs Reservation, Oregon

After an unexpected shutdown in 2018, Kah-Nee-Ta —a wellness-centered resort and spa 60 miles south of Mount Hood—is planning to welcome travelers back into its calming mineral waters before the end of the year. For 10,000 years, Indigenous communities have relied on the springs for healing. Now the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs have partnered with Mount Hood Skibowl to open Kah-Nee-Ta’s doors to visitors who want to learn about Native traditions. —S.V.

Chatwal Lodge

Mountain Winner: Catskill Mountains, New York

The Catskills and their namesake park—comprising about 700,000 acres of forested peaks, narrow valleys, and countless streams just 100 miles from Manhattan—are steeped in history. They’re also undergoing a renaissance, thanks to a handful of new lodges, hotels, and restaurants. Those catching our eye include the 11-room Chatwal Lodge, a log-cabin-inspired chalet overlooking the 833-acre Toronto Reservoir, and the Eastwind Oliverea Valley, with 27 cabins and rooms, A-frame saunas that nail the Scandinavian hygge vibe, and a restaurant called Dandelion that uses seasonal vegetables in its cuisine. The DeBruce, a onetime hunting lodge that’s been transformed into a 12-room inn, has a dining room with tasting menus sourced from the 600-acre property; think venison in a wild-berry reduction. The husband-and-wife duo behind the inn were semifinalists this year for a James Beard Award. As for recreational opportunities in the Catskills, not much has changed since the Gilded Age, which is a good thing. There are thousands of miles of well-maintained hiking trails, excellent mountain-biking opportunities (check out 60 miles of lift-accessed tracks at Plattekill Mountain), and dozens of lakes and ponds to explore with a paddle in hand. The Catskills are also the birthplace of American dry-fly fishing. —R.K.

Frog Lake Backcountry Hut

Runner-Up: Frog Lake Backcountry Huts, Truckee, California

In 2020, the Truckee Donner Land Trust bought property on the back side of 9,103-foot Castle Peak as part of a conservation deal, and 3,000 acres became available for recreation. Four stunning huts overlooking their eponymous lake followed in December 2021, with bunk beds, gas stoves, morning coffee brewed by a hutmaster, and down slippers in a range of sizes. The huts are accessible to backcountry skiers from December through April, or can be reached via a five-mile hiking path—a spur off the Pacific Crest Trail—July through October. They are easily the nicest huts in the Lake Tahoe area, so when the semiannual booking windows open in fall and spring, hop on it. From $65 per person —Megan Michelson

For more information on trails near Frog Lake Huts, check out this map from Gaia GPS.

Riding in Hobbs State Park on Arkansas’s Monument Trails

Biking Winner: Monument Trails, Arkansas

Arkansas has pumped a lot of energy and money into its mountain-biking trails. As a result, the state transformed into a world-class destination almost overnight. One of its most robust initiatives is a public-private partnership that created Monument Trails , an array of singletrack in Arkansas’s state parks. Many routes were designed and built by Rogue Trails, a firm based in the town of Rogers made up of former racers who take land management and sustainability seriously. The first were unveiled in 2019, another 17 were introduced in the past year and a half, and today some 75 miles span Hobbs, Mount Nebo, Pinnacle Mountain, and Devil’s Den State Parks. The shared-use trails traverse iconic landscapes, including the Ozark Mountains, pristine hardwood forests on rugged plateaus, and limestone domes, and you’ll find yourself wheeling across flowy cross-country terrain and bombing technical downhills. Bentonville, with its dynamic craft breweries, and Eureka Springs, boasting a vibrant art scene, are top choices for places to stay while you play. Funding for the expanding trail system is supported by the Arkansas Parks and Recreation Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to developing local outdoor offerings, with patronage from the Walton Family Foundation. This year marks the centennial for Arkansas State Parks, so go celebrate. —R.K.

To learn more about Arkansas’s bounty of rides, check out these Trailforks maps for Hobbs , Mount Nebo , Pinnacle Mountain , and Devil’s Den  state parks.

Mulberry Gap meetup

Runner-Up: Mulberry Gap, Ellijay, Georgia

Welcome to the mountain-biking capital of Georgia: a humble adventure base camp 90 miles north of Atlanta within Chattahoochee National Forest. This 15-acre property , formerly a private family retreat, was converted into a campground with cabins. Ride out the door to explore over 50 miles of the nearby Pinhoti Trail system. Breakfast and dinner are served family-style, and lunch is provided to stash in your daypack. On-site guides give clinics, host group rides, and organize shuttles, and a fleet of Specialized rigs are available to rent. Camping from $13; cabins from $55 —M.M.

Huttopia tent

Glamping Winner: Huttopia, New Hampshire

At this outpost in the White Mountains, fully furnished canvas tents are scattered throughout a 50-acre forest, complete with its own 68-acre lake and heated saltwater pool. Huttopia also offers a gathering area with fire pits, tables, chairs, and flatbread pizza served from a retro Airstream. Each tent has its own kitchen, bathroom, deck, fire pit, and electricity, or you can upgrade to a tiny home or chalet. Either way you’ll be able to swim, paddle, or fish Huttopia’s Iona Lake during the day and enjoy live performances by magicians and acoustic artists at night. The resort goes out of its way to welcome kids, with organized activities like treasure hunts and craft time. Venture off-site to hike 6,288-foot Mount Washington, tube the lazy Saco River, or pedal the 35-mile Kancamagus Scenic Byway, which curves through the heart of White Mountain National Forest. And it’s all just two and a half hours from Boston. From $88 —Graham Averill

Ulum in Moab, Utah; gourmet eats at New Mexico’s Kitfox

Runners-Up: Glamping News Is Ridiculously Good This Year. Here Are Six More Places on Our Radar.

*You’ll forget that you’re camping at Open Sky , just west of Zion National Park, Utah, where spacious safari-style tents are tucked into the rocky surroundings, offering primo stargazing and quick access to park trails. From $599

* Ulum , outside Moab, Utah, is the latest venture from Under Canvas. Each tent has its own private deck and a rain shower, and is steps from hot and cool dipping pools. From $549. Under Canvas Yellowstone , located in Paradise Valley, Montana, opened in December along the Yellowstone River. From $329

*At Summit Big Bend , placed on 1,000 picturesque acres outside Big Bend National Park in West Texas, you can bed down inside a renovated mining cave tucked into a cliff. Caves $549, glamping from $198

*Book a tent at Kitfox , on 160 acres of conservation land outside Santa Fe, New Mexico, for one of the resort’s Dine in the Wild weekends, when a local chef prepares homegrown fare. Hiking and biking in Galisteo Basin Preserve are right outside your door. From $200

* Dunes Experiences’ Desert Camp is scheduled to launch in June next to Colorado’s Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, featuring safari-style tents and guided excursions in the surrounding San Luis Valley. $250 —G.A.

The clubhouse at AutoCamp in Joshua Tree

Desert Winner: Joshua Tree, California

This dramatic desert landscape is having a moment, with plenty of new projects. The recently opened nine-mile Long Canyon Trail, for example, links Desert Hot Springs with Joshua Tree National Park, and a new stewardship agreement between the Park Service and the Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians will involve the tribe in park management, interpretive services, cultural and historical training, and rescue and wildfire operations. Meanwhile, lodging options keep getting better. AutoCamp opened a property with decked-out Airstream trailers surrounding a modern clubhouse and a heated pool. You’ll find The Bungalows—newly refurbished mid-century modern cottages—at the 152-acre, wellness-focused Joshua Tree Retreat Center. While you’re in the area, knock out a through-hike of the California Hiking and Riding Trail, a 37-mile point-to-point path that forms a U through the northern section of the park and heads deep into the backcountry, with views of the Little San Bernardino Mountains to the west and Lost Horse and Hidden Valley to the north. The terrain ranges from rolling scrubland and valley floors thick with iconic Joshua trees to Jumbo Rocks, a field of massive boulders. Hit this trail in the early spring, when the terrain bursts with wildflowers. Hungry? The new Spaghetti Western Saloon in Morongo Valley is the brainchild of two Italian-born musicians; it offers live performances, locally and organically sourced ingredients, and Wild West–inspired cocktails. —G.A.

Hiking the Great Kobuk Sand Dunes

Runner-Up: Great Kobuk Sand Dunes, Alaska

Thirty-five miles north of the Arctic Circle in Kobuk Valley National Park , a curious sight rises 100 feet out of the forest—the Great Kobuk Sand Dunes. Spend two days hiking and camping in what seems like the Sahara, where summer temperatures can reach 100 degrees. The best way in and out is by bush plane via the town of Kotzebue or Bettles. The pilot will land right on the sand. —T.N.

Double arch bridge on Natchez Trace Parkway, Franklin, Tennessee surrounded by fall colors.

Electric Travel Winner: Natchez Trace Parkway, Tennessee and Mississippi

The West Coast doesn’t have a monopoly on EV-charger density. The Natchez Trace Parkway, a 444-mile highway through rural Tennessee and Mississippi that’s managed by the National Park Service, has more than 300 charging stations in surrounding communities. Most are free, and more than half are level three—the fastest available. The road itself is packed with cultural touchstones, tracing a route once used by Native Americans, European settlers, and, lately, roadsters looking for a slice of Americana. With no stoplights, no billboards, and little development outside of the occasional restored barn or farmhouse, the Natchez Trace rolls through hills blanketed with hardwood and pine forests. Start in Nashville and end at the Mississippi River in the town of Natchez, checking out highlights as varied as Elvis’s birthplace in Tupelo (milepost 260) and the dome-shaped mounds built by Indigenous people 2,000 years ago (milepost 286.7). It’s a bike-friendly route, with campsites for bikepackers; form a rolling 22-mile loop by combining Highway 553 with the Trace between mileposts 10 and 20. If you’re driving, stop at the Chickasaw Village Site (milepost 261.8), a 90-acre prairie with the preserved homes of a Native village, and explore the Yockanookany section of the Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail (milepost 122) through the cypress swamp left behind when the Pearl River changed course thousands of years ago. —G.A.

Town and Harbor of Bar Harbor in Acadia National Park,maine,USA

Runner-Up: E-Biking in Maine

Cycling coastal Maine is beautiful, but add sailing, secluded beaches, and numerous chances to eat lobster, and you’ve got a winning combo. Ride with Summer Feet Cycling from Port Clyde to Acadia National Park—a six-day adventure—sleeping at inns along the way ($3,695). Your e-bike makes the climb up Cadillac Mountain all the more memorable. —T.N.

Arrigetch Peaks

Hiking Winner: Arrigetch Peaks, Alaska

Think Mordor, but transported to Alaska. Set in the middle of Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve , an area that welcomed fewer than 9,500 visitors last year, these 7,000-foot granite peaks are so remote that most trekkers opt for a guided tour in July or August, when the weather is best and wildlife abounds. Between the peaks are six incredibly clear aquamarine lakes in the Aquarius Valley, and the journey to get there is just as stunning. Alaska Alpine Adventures, which has led group tours around the state for 25 years, offers a rigorous ten-day backpacking expedition starting and ending in Fairbanks that takes in the Alatna River, glacial valleys, and burbling waterfalls over the course of some 40 miles (from $6,000). For a less time-intensive way to check out the Arrigetch, Brooks Range Aviation and Coyote Air, based in Bettles and Coldfoot, respectively, offer flightseeing trips (from $785) that put the scope of the area into better perspective, plus glimpses of herds of roaming wildlife. While you’re in the Land of the Midnight Sun, take advantage of your proximity to the Alaska Railroad, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. From May through early September, the line’s scenic 12-day Centennial Special runs from Anchorage to Fairbanks via Seward—a 470-mile historic route that lets you gawk at Denali, the Kenai Fjords, and several glaciers through your panoramic window (from $5,155). —Emily Pennington

To plan your route in the Arrigetch Peaks, check out this map from Gaia GPS. For more hiking inspiration, read Outside’s trail expert’s guide to the 10 best hikes in the world .

Boston’s Back Bay

Runner-Up: Urban Hiking in Boston

The pandemic may have put city trails in the spotlight, but urban treks have long been a staple in Boston, one of the country’s most walkable burgs. There’s the lauded Freedom Trail, Boston’s signature colonial-history jaunt to churches, cemeteries, and other sites from the American Revolution. And last year, a Bostonian created the 27-mile Walking City Trail, linking green spaces in 17 neighborhoods. —S.V.

Rafting the New River in West Virginia

Family Trip Winner: New River Gorge, West Virginia

West Virginia has been getting the word out about all its spectacular nature of late—notably the churning whitewater, forested trails, and sandstone cliffs of America’s 63rd national park, New River Gorge . With so many recreational opportunities for every age and expertise level, this is our pick for families. Base out of Adventures on the Gorge, a 350-acre resort in Lansing, for all things outdoorsy. There are hiking trails, a disc-golf course, a zip line, and a swimming pool, plus multi-bedroom home rentals. Staff organize half-, full-, or multiday outings for your river crew. (Children from 6 to 11 raft free with an accompanying adult Sundays through Thursdays.) Plan your trip to coincide with Gauley Season, a six-week whitewater extravaganza—beginning this year on September 8—that draws thousands of people to test their skills on the Class III–V rapids let loose by scheduled releases of the Summersville Dam. Plenty of dryland activities beckon, too, including treks to historic mining communities, rock climbing for all skill grades, and horseback riding to the rim of the gorge. It’s easy to see why West Virginia’s slogan is Wild and Wonderful. —E.P.

Flight of beer at Philipsburg Brewing Company

Runner-Up: Philipsburg, Montana

In winter, families head to Philipsburg’s Discovery Ski Area—known as Disco to locals—for its easy frontside groomers. In town you’ll find a community ice rink, old-fashioned candy at the Sweet Palace, and cold craft beer at Philipsburg Brewing Company. Come summer, Philipsburg (population 847) is a quaint base camp for mellow hikes in the Anaconda Pintler Wilderness, fishing for brook trout in Georgetown Lake, and downhill mountain biking at Discovery Bike Park. At nearby Gem Mountain, you can even pan for sapphires—the treasure that put this former mining town on the map. —Jacob Baynham

Getaway House cabin

Cabins Winner: Getaway House

Jon Staff was a burned-out East Coaster when he and a partner at Harvard Business School came up with a plan that focused on doing what he needed most: getting into nature to reset his mood, with zero distractions. Getaway House was born from that impetus. What started as one small house in a New Hampshire forest has grown into more than 780 tiny homes, set in clusters called outposts, in at least 15 states, all of them within a couple of hours of a major city. The idea behind each stay is for guests to fully disconnect from day-to-day life so they can reconnect in a healthier way upon reentry. Each white pine home is no bigger than 200 square feet and designed with a small kitchen, a large window for taking in the trees, and a lockbox for your phone. TV? Wi-Fi? Don’t ask. Instead, you’ll find an outdoor fire pit, a mini library, and a landline for emergencies. More than two dozen popular outposts now dot the country. One of the newest, near Asheboro, North Carolina, has trails and fishing, and sits within day-tripping distance of Birkhead Mountain Wilderness; there’s also a 12-mile round-trip hike up 938-foot Coolers Knob Mountain in the Uwharries. From $109 —T.N.

Jet Hospitality interior

Runner-Up: Jet Hospitality

Looking to hook a gorgeous Montana rainbow trout, dig razor clams in Washington, or pick wild huckleberries on a stroll in Idaho? Jet Hospitality has you covered throughout the western U.S., with cabins, bungalows, and inns, along with glamping, tent, and RV sites, in Fort Smith, Montana; Pacific Dunes, Washington; and Teton Peaks Resort, Idaho, where you can hike or ride along the 30-mile Ashton-Tetonia Rail Trail or enjoy a wolf-watching adventure in Yellowstone National Park. —T.N.

The view from Burntside Lodge

Lake Winner: Burntside Lodge, Minnesota

In January, the Department of the Interior announced withdrawal of more than 225,000 acres of public land from federal mine-leasing programs near Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. The 20-year hiatus allows campers to finally relax and reserve one of the 248 coveted permits allowed per day to enjoy paddling season, which starts May 1 and ends September 30. Not everyone who wants to explore the pristine north woods must sleep in a tent. Burntside Lodge on Burntside Lake—one of dozens of Boundary Waters entry points—has been owned by the LaMontagne family for more than 80 years. Its third-generation head chef, Nicole LaMontagne, serves up walleye as fresh and flaky as you could catch and fry yourself. With kayaks, canoes, and SUPs for rent, guests can paddle across the water to the Crab Lake Portage, then hike a mile overland for a taste of the wilderness. But most are happy to stay put. Reserve cabin 26. This one-bedroom shorefront log structure was built in the 1920s by Finnish craftsmen. The floors slope a bit, but with a cozy bed, a hot shower, a fireplace, and sunset views, who cares? —Stephanie Pearson

Runner-Up: Keweenaw Peninsula, Michigan

The Keweenaw Peninsula, off Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, juts into Lake Superior like a thumb ringed by thick forests, craggy shores, and a white-sand beach. You can see it all while paddling a sea kayak on the 100-mile-long Keweenaw Water Trail as it hops between wilderness campsites. If you’d prefer to be guided, go with the Keweenaw Adventure Company . —T.N.

St. Croix positioning system

Island Winner: St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands

St. Croix is the largest of the U.S. Virgin Islands, which offer five National Park Service sites and require no passport for American citizens. Sitting 40 miles south of the more popular Caribbean counterparts St. Thomas and St. John, St. Croix is often overlooked by island-hopping visitors. It’s newly in the spotlight, however, after Congress designated the entire island a national heritage area in December. This step helps protect its mix of history and culture. A stroll through the colonial structures of Christiansted National Historic Site transports you back to Alexander Hamilton’s day, when the downtown district was a Danish port. Wander the shores of Salt River Bay, a somber reminder of the centuries when migrants, colonizers, and enslaved people passed through the territory. The island is also covered with trails that deliver incredible sea views, and snorkelers of any skill level will relish a day trip to Buck Island to marvel at massive reef systems where elkhorn coral may reach 30 feet high. For accommodations, consider the recently renovated King Christian Hotel, right on the waterfront. From $229 —Theresa McKinney

Cottage charm on Dauphin Island

Runner-Up: Dauphin Island, Alabama

Visiting Dauphin, a 35-mile drive from Mobile on the Gulf Coast, will be a revelation once you glimpse the six miles of sugar-soft white dunes at West End Beach. The island is also home to a 137-acre Audubon bird sanctuary, with a three-mile-long National Recreational Trail, as well as excellent kayaking and paddling. This sliver of land has just 1,800 residents, the restaurants tend toward the bar-and-grill variety, and most vacation rentals are on stilts to protect against hurricanes—all of which contributes to its relaxed charm. —R.K.

Taos Ski Valley

Ski Winner: Taos Ski Valley, New Mexico

Operating a ski resort is an inherently resource-intensive business. Taos Ski Valley , however, has long taken a more conscientious approach, proving itself a maverick in the industry by committing to clean-energy initiatives. Taos was the first major ski resort to become a certified B Corp, which means that its operations meet the highest social and environmental standards. Late last year, it became carbon-neutral certified after reducing its footprint. It now uses renewable energy to power snowcats, snowmaking machines, and chairlifts; it has undergone green-building upgrades; and it invests in offset projects like reforestation and biofuels. Aside from its reputation for driving change, the main reason skiers flock to this resort in northern New Mexico is for the uncrowded, low-key vibe. That and the quick hike to steep chutes off the West Basin, bird’s-eye views of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains from atop 12,481-foot Kachina Peak, and the green-chile-stuffed breakfast burritos from Bumps Market in the village. Stay at the 80-room Blake Hotel (from $300) and you’re steps from Lift 1. (The historic Hotel St. Bernard, another favorite, is undergoing a renovation and is slated to reopen in 2025.) Start this off with Al’s Run for a leg-crushing warm-up, and at day’s end join those in the know for beer and soft pretzels on the deck of the Bavarian at the bottom of Lift 4. —M.M.

Bluebird Backcountry cabin

Runner-Up: Bluebird Backcountry, Kremmling, Colorado

When Bluebird Backcountry opened three years ago, it offered a unique way to get into ski touring—with trail maps, guides, and gear rentals. You won’t find chairlifts at this 1,200-acre ski-patrolled area 45 minutes southeast of Steamboat Springs; it’s all human-powered. Over the winter, Bluebird added lodging options, including van-camping sites, a hostel, rustic cabins, and ski-to domes (from $25 for camping, $59 for hostel rooms, and $109 for cabins and domes). There’s no fancy slopeside hotel, but that’s partly why Bluebird’s so awesome: it’s an affordable escape from crowded resorts. —M.M.

Badlands, South Dakota

The Wildest Place Winner: Black Hills and Badlands, South Dakota

The nation’s 17th largest state has a population of just under one million, about a fifth of whom live in Sioux Falls. The entire western third of the state is prairie grasslands, dense pine forests, geologically fascinating rock formations, and national parks filled with sacred caves and fossilized creatures from another era. See it all along the 111-mile Centennial Trail. Accessible to hikers, horseback riders, and, in some places, mountain bikers, the trail traverses state parks, federal wilderness, national forests, and a national park. It begins eight miles northeast of Sturgis in Bear Butte State Park, named for a plug of black igneous rock sacred to both the Lakota and Cheyenne. It then climbs into the wild geology of the Black Hills, home to pronghorn, bighorn sheep, elk, and turkey, winding around seven trout-filled lakes, crossing streams, and eventually topping out at 7,242-foot Black Elk Peak, before ending in Wind Cave National Park . Camping options vary from primitive tent sites to full campgrounds. Two-thirds in, the trail passes within a mile of Mount Rushmore, where hikers can peel off and sleep in a comfortable glamping tent at Under Canvas Mount Rushmore. To ensure no wrong turns, pick up the definitive guide, Hiking Centennial Trail, by Cheryl Whetham and Jukka Huhtiniemi. —S.P.

A petroglyph and wild terrain in Basin and Range National Monument

Runner-Up: Basin and Range National Monument, Nevada

Even in a state known for vast, empty landscapes, this 704,000-acre national monument two hours north of Las Vegas takes the prize. With no paved roads or designated hiking trails and unreliable cell service, you’re on your own to climb, roam, and suss out primitive camps in this desert terrain, where peaks rise to almost 9,000 feet. A lucky six people per day can visit City, a monumental sculpture of dirt, rock, and concrete mounds and depressions created over 50 years by artist Michael Heizer. Submissions to visit in 2023 are closed. Try again for 2024 at the Triple Aught Foundation’s website. —S.P.

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El Capitan in Yosemite

The best adventure vacations in the USA for sights and thrills

Calling all adrenaline junkies: you need to try these thrilling, extreme adventure vacations in the USA

Photograph: Courtesy Yosemite National Park

Scott Snowden

To some people, vacation is all about rest and relaxation. But others would rather experience pulse-pounding thrills than chill out on a beach. This crop of extreme adventure travelers will go out of their way to feel a rush of adrenaline. If this sounds like you, we have a perfect list of adventure vacation ideas you won’t want to miss.  

You have countless chances to get your heart racing across the country, from ziplining across the   Catskills  to heli-sking in Alaska  to skydiving in Idaho . We have rounded up the absolute best extreme adventures in the U.S. you can take. Want stunning scenery? Bike down a rugged mountain in Lake Tahoe or climb El Capitan in Yosemite National Park . Want to feel a rush? Paraglide in Maui or bungee jump off the Stratosphere in Vegas. There are many more ideas where those come from—read on to find your next adventure.   

RECOMMENDED:  The best outdoor adventure in every state

Been there, done that? Think again, my friend.

Best extreme vacation adventures in the USA

1.  fly an aerobatic plane | las vegas, nv.

Fly an aerobatic plane | Las Vegas, NV

Getting an eagle's-eye view of Vegas is thrilling in itself, but pulling Gs in an aerobatic plane takes a sightseeing flight to heart-racing new heights. For the full Top Gun experience, Sky Combat Ace lets you take over the controls. Your pilot demonstrates each maneuver, such as a barrel roll, loop, and hammerhead, before letting you test your own skills. 

2.  Ziplining | Catskills, New York

Ziplining | Catskills, New York

Whizz 60 feet above a verdant Catskills valley just under the highway speed limit along a 3,200-foot cable. The Skyrider tour is the most daring of three options at Hunter Mountain’s Zipline Adventure Tours . The 650-foot-long midmountain tour, which also traverses rope bridges and a rappel, is a tamer option for beginners (and you can also tackle it at night). Accommodations abound , but none beat the  Hunter Mountain Sanctuary , with views of the very same slopes you were flying over only a short time ago. 

3.  Heli-skiing | Anchorage, AK

Heli-skiing | Anchorage, AK

Taking the off-piste concept to the limit, heli-skiing transports you to slopes only accessible by chopper. The deep, ungroomed powder makes it the preserve of experienced skiers. Set within one of the largest state parks in America, just north of Anchorage, the Chugach Mountains offer thousands of miles of terrain, powder bowls and steep vertical descents, all of which means you’ll never ski the same line twice.  Chugach Powder Guides  is one of the best operators in the area.

4.  Whitewater rafting | Grand Canyon, AZ

Whitewater rafting | Grand Canyon, AZ

Want to see America’s natural crown jewel, the Grand Canyon, from a different vantage point? Try from the Colorado River. As one of the most iconic whitewater rafting destinations in the world, travelers can choose from rafting trips with guides such as Wilderness River Adventures and Arizona Raft Adventures, which range from a few days to up to two weeks. Rapids can range from calm to intense, but no matter what, the scenery will be breathtaking.  

5.  BASE jumping | Twin Falls, ID

BASE jumping | Twin Falls, ID

Part skydiving and part cliff jumping, BASE jumping is one of the most extreme thrills you can pursue, largely because the relatively low-altitude launch points mean less time to deploy your parachute. Perched nearly 500 feet above the Snake River, Perrine Bridge is known worldwide for its adrenaline-charged activity and, unlike many other destinations for the sport, doesn’t require a permit. The only prerequisite is courage, but TandemBASE guides newbies through the experience. 

6.  Canyoneering | Moab, UT

Canyoneering | Moab, UT

Known for its world-class mountain biking , Moab offers great canyoneering routes that take you from carved sandstone slot canyons to ancient ruins and water-filled pools. Red River Adventures offers several guided canyoneering routes, including the relatively easy-to-moderate Ephedra’s Grotto and Chamisa Canyon. Both of these routes include hiking, scrambling, and a couple of rappels. The company also boasts day trips that combine canyoneering with rafting down the Colorado River.

7.  Waterfall rappelling | White Mountains, NH

Waterfall rappelling | White Mountains, NH

Few things are more exhilarating than lowering yourself down a rock face amid a deluge of foamy spray. While waterfall rappelling is often associated with exotic destinations like Costa Rica, you need only travel to the Northeast to experience it. Climbing outfitter Northeast Mountaineering welcomes adventurers of all skill levels. Take a short hike to the top of a 100 feet fall before rappelling down it with the help of a guide. Just be prepared to get wet.

8.  Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride | Lake Tahoe, CA

Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride | Lake Tahoe, CA

No, we’re not talking about the Disneyland attraction. This single-track mountain bike route heads primarily downhill from the Tahoe Rim Trail—the total descent is more than 2,000ft. With multiple steep drops, sections traversing nothing but rocks, as well as epic views of the lake, it sure lives up to its name. If you’re not bringing your own wheels, Wanna Ride Tahoe can provide bikes, helmets and shuttles to Mr. Toad’s and other local trails.

9.  Bungee jump off the Stratosphere | Las Vegas, AZ

Bungee jump off the Stratosphere | Las Vegas, AZ

If it's an adrenaline rush you're after, look no further than this iconic Vegas attraction: bungee jumping off of the Stratosphere, the tallest observation tower in the US. In fact,  the Strat SkyJump  is the highest commercial decelerator descent facility out there—you'll leap from 829 feet up in the air with views of the Vegas Strip, descending at speeds over 40mph. Not for the faint of heart!

10.  Climbing El Capitan | Yosemite, CA

Climbing El Capitan | Yosemite, CA

Yosemite National Park is one of the best rock-climbing destinations in the world, but you don’t have to be Tommy Caldwell or Kevin Jorgeson, the duo that made history by free-climbing the daunting 3,000-foot Dawn Wall of El Capitan, to tackle its peaks. In addition to the popular 8,839-foot-tall Half Dome, easier summits include Washington Column, which has a 1,000-foot route. Need a guided trip, climbing lessons, or equipment rental?  Yosemite Mountaineering School has you covered. 

11.  Dive with sharks | Jupiter, FL

Dive with sharks | Jupiter, FL

If you're not one to be particularly afraid of "Jaws," head to Florida for a once-in-lifetime experience diving with sharks. The state has the highest concentration of large sharks on the East Coast, and shark diving trips with operators like Florida Shark Diving  let experienced divers and novices alike get in the water with a variety of kinds of sharks, including tiger, great hammerhead, and reef sharks. Depending on your risk tolerance, choose to dive in a cage—or freedive. 

12.  Paragliding | Maui, HI

Paragliding | Maui, HI

What better way to experience the world’s largest dormant volcano than by paragliding off its slopes? Daily flights with Proflyght Paragliding take off from the slopes of Haleakala, the highest peak on Maui at 10,000 feet. Beginners can test their mettle with the shorter 1,000-foot descent, but for the true adventurer, the 3,000-foot option features up to 15 minutes of airtime over the island’s lush tropical landscape and lavender farms. 

13.  Hiking a 14er | Colorado

Hiking a 14er | Colorado

What’s a 14er , you ask? As the name suggests, it’s a mountain at least 14,000 feet tall, and there are more than 50 to choose from in Colorado—from the 14,007 feet Sunshine Peak in the San Juan Mountains to the 14,440 feet Mount Elbert, the highest summit in the Rocky Mountains. One of the most popular in the state is Pikes Peak, near Colorado Springs, which is a lofty 14,115 feet tall. A number of trails ascend to the top, including the most popular, the 13-mile Barr Trail. 

14.  Overnight caving | McMinnville, TN

Overnight caving | McMinnville, TN

Want to get in touch with your inner caveperson? Not only can you explore Cumberland Caverns , which has more than 32 miles of underground passageways complete with cool rock formations, waterfalls and pools, but you can sleep over, too. Guided excursions include the All Around the Mountain tour, featuring ladder climbs, cave crawling and camping out in an underground cave, followed by breakfast in the cavernous Volcano Room.

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"What an amazing experience this was; from the greeting and pick up by our guide/driver, to the phenomenal sights and the historical references that accompanied them!" Sharmen, traveled in September 2023

Niagara Falls, Washington DC, Philadelphia & Amish Country 4D/3N (from New York) Tour

Niagara Falls, Washington DC, Philadelphia & Amish Country 4D/3N (from New York)

"I was blown away by the culture and nature of this part of the world. The whole trip was great." Iris, traveled in April 2019
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Active Mountain Hikes Wildlife Explorer Hiking & Trekking +3

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"We feel like we saw everything there was to see and then some. We highly recommend touring with Southwest Adventure Tours." Daniel, traveled in May 2021

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"This was an excellent experience." Lee, traveled in May 2022
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Vagrants Of The World Travel

10 Incredible Outdoor Adventure Vacations in the US (2024)

By: Author Kate O'Malley

Posted on Last updated: April 26, 2024

Home >> Destinations >> 10 Incredible Outdoor Adventure Vacations in the US (2024)

The US has some of the best outdoor vacations in the world and jasa treasure trove of diverse landscapes and striking environments, presenting outdoor lovers with a seemingly endless array of  adventure destinations . Whether it’s the craggy summits of Colorado or the distinctive ecosystems of the Florida Keys, every corner of the country offers unique and exhilarating settings for exploration and adventure.

We understand that choosing the perfect adventure vacation spot can be overwhelming given the abundance of  national parks , pristine coastal areas, ancient forests, desert terrains, and  geological wonders  available across the nation. To ease the decision-making process, we’ve carefully selected some of the finest locales that exemplify the great American spirit of adventure, ideal for crafting that quintessential road trip or just a memorable escape into the wild.

People standing on a cliff edge admiring the view in Moab Utah.

We’ve rounded up some of the best American outdoor adventures to help you plan your next adventure vacation or great American road trip .

Table of Contents

Key Takeaways

  • The U.S. offers a variety of outdoor adventures across different terrains, from mountains to coastal areas.
  • Planning an adventure vacation can be simplified by considering top destinations known for diverse natural beauty and activities.
  • Americans and visitors alike have numerous options for adventure travel, ensuring experiences that cater to various preferences and interests.

Top US Adventure Havens for Nature Lovers

1) zion national park utah.

Situated a short drive from the renowned Grand Canyon, Zion National Park emerges as a premier draw for visitors keen on exploring its outstanding rock formations and sweeping landscapes. The park boasts a range of trails suitable for different skill levels, including the iconic trek through the Zion Narrows.

Two hikers walking through shallow water in a gorge in Zion National park.

For a panoramic view of the canyons, embark on either Zion Scenic Canyon Drive or Zion-Mount Carmel Highway. Those with a penchant for thrill-seeking can also indulge in horseback riding, slot canyon canyoneering, and off-road vehicle tours.

panoramic view of Angel's Landing hike in Zion National Park, Utah

Visiting Zion National Park

Search for the best deals on multi-day Zion National Park tours departing various cities .

Find the best prices on tours and activities within Zion National Park

2) Mammoth Cave National Park Kentucky

As a UNESCO-recognized site, Mammoth Cave boasts the globe’s most expansive known cave system, with explorers having charted over 400 miles thus far. Visitors can immerse themselves in a variety of tours that cater to an array of interests and abilities; from family-friendly explorations to adventurous spelunking excursions. Above ground, the park delights with its forested trails perfect for hiking, as well as opportunities for fishing, kayaking, and equestrian pursuits.

The interior of a massive cave in Mammoth Cave national Park

While visitors cannot explore the entire 400 miles, there are plenty of enormous caves to discover, some several stories high.

Stalagtites in a large cave in Mammoth Cave National Park, KY

While the impressive cave system is the park’s main attraction, there are also lots of adventure activities above ground. The forested landscape above the caverns is an excellent place for camping. There are miles of hiking trails covering diverse habitats, fishing, kayaking, canoeing, and horseback riding.

3) Yosemite National Park California

This sprawling 1,200-square-mile park is a sanctuary of natural wonders including towering waterfalls, ancient sequoias, and awe-inspiring peaks. Outdoor enthusiasts are met with a bounty of activities like rock climbing, hiking, rafting, and swimming. The area surrounding Yosemite is equally engaging with destinations such as the haunting Bodie State Historic Park and the relaxing  hot springs of Mammoth Lakes .

Fire Fall horse tail falls in Yosemite NP.

Yosemite is 1,200 square miles of vast wilderness ripe for adventure and truly is one of the best outdoor vacations in the US. From majestic waterfalls over 1000ft high, ancient sequoia forests, magnificent rivers, unique rock formations, and majestic mountain peaks. There are many opportunities for rock climbing, hiking, fishing and boating, rafting, and swimming. Yosemite has something to offer outdoor enthusiasts all year round.

serene lake and mountains in Yosemite National Park

Visiting Yosemite

Find the best multi-day adventure tours to Yosemite departing various cities .

Search for the best deals on adventure activities and tours within Yosemite National Park .

4) Olympic National Park

Covering nearly a million acres in Washington state, Olympic National Park is a mosaic of ecosystems from temperate rainforests to alpine ranges. The park is a paradise for adventurers, offering over 600 miles of trails that cater to hikers of all levels.

Man standing in front of waterfall.

You can also enjoy water sports on Lake Crescent, and wildlife-rich forest explorations. The windswept beaches, like Rialto and First Beach, or the secluded Shi Shi Beach are favored among surfers for their challenging waves.

upsidedown kayaks at Lake Crescent, Washington

Enjoy kayaking, canoeing, or paddleboarding on the picturesque Lake Cresent, or explore old-growth forests to find magnificent waterfalls such as Sol Duc Falls and Marymere Falls for some of the best outdoor vacations in the US. Olympic Coast is also home to some impressive whitewater. Rivers pour from the mountains, which creates ideal whitewater rafting conditions when the water is high.

Find the best deals on adventure tours within Olympic National Park .

5) Lake Tahoe California and Nevada

Straddling both California and Nevada,  Lake Tahoe , the largest alpine lake in North America, is a year-round destination for adventure seekers.

The blue lake with central islet in Emerald Bay State Park Lake Tahoe.

The crystalline blue waters invite you to dive into an array of water-based activities while the surrounding parks—like Sand Harbor and D.L. Bliss State Park —showcase trails and natural wonders, including imposing granite boulders and secluded coves. In the winter months, the surrounding ski resorts buzz with winter sports enthusiasts.

Lake Tahoe is not short on impressive hikes such as the Lighthouse Trail and the Balancing Rock Nature Trail , featuring the 130-ton granite “Balancing Rock,” resting precariously on a narrow stone base. The Rubicon Trail a 4.5-mile trail that leads to Emerald Bay State Park, offers sensational views of Lake Tahoe. You can take the two-mile extension trail past Vikingsholm Castle.

blue lake with green trees surrounding in Lake Tahoe

Discover the latest deals on the best adventure tours in Lake Tahoe

6) Kauai Island Hawaii

Kauai, or “the Garden Isle,” is Hawaii’s fourth-largest island. It is an idyllic getaway with its golden beaches and verdant rainforests. Kauai shines with sunny adventure opportunities, such as ziplining, surfing, and snorkeling. The island’s rivers, like the Wailua, are perfect for kayaking, while treks in Kokee State Park offer breathtaking landscapes.

The lush green valleys with waterfalls on Mt Waialeale Hawaii.

Postcard beaches with rugged cliffs frame lush tropical rainforests. Mountain peaks rising from emerald valleys, forking rivers, and majestic waterfalls are just some of the natural landscapes that await you. Throw in constant sunshine and have the perfect combination for a fun-filled adventure vacation.

ocean and mountain view in Kauai, HI

Visiting Kauai

Find the best multi-day, multi-island inclusive tour deals for Kauai

Discover the best deals on ways to explore Kauai on offer here .

7) Acadia National Park Maine

Along Maine’s rugged Atlantic coast lies Acadia National Park, a 47,000-acre treasure trove featuring rocky beaches, enchanting woodland, and serene ponds.

Hikers on a boardwalk trail in Acadia National Park.

The park offers a rich tapestry of activities, from sunrise views atop Cadillac Mountain to picturesque carriage rides through the heart of the park. The park’s vast trail network ensures that every visit is filled with a new adventure, and the seascape yields opportunities for kayaking alongside seals and other marine life.

adventure trips in the us

The gateway town of Bar Harbor, a popular stop on any Maine road trip itinerary , is a charming town with impressive 19th-century architecture, great restaurants, and a chill local fishing town vibe.

Discover the best deals on Acadia National Park activities and tours .

8) Yellowstone National Park

The oldest national park in America, Yellowstone National Park is a wilderness paradise for outdoor enthusiasts and those looking for an adventure vacation.

The Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park with thermal steam and brightly coloured water.

Yellowstone , America’s first national park, invites travelers to marvel at its geothermal wonders, diverse wildlife habitats, and expansive wilderness.

Old Faithful Geyser spouting steam in Yellowstone National Park

Here, you can witness the spectacle of Old Faithfuul trek to thunderous waterfalls, or camp under a canopy of stars. The park’s vast and varied landscape provides an awe-inspiring backdrop for all who seek its natural splendor.

Visiting Yellowstone National Park

Find the best deals on multi-day Yellowstone tours, including Grand Teton

Discover the best adventure tours and activities within Yellowstone

9) Bend Oregon

Bend’s unique geography at the nexus of desert and forest ecosystems makes it a beacon for outdoor recreation. Its high desert climate and the nearby Cascades mountains create the perfect environment for year-round activities, ranging from mountain biking on dusty trails to snow sports on Mt. Bachelor’s slopes. The region’s rivers are a hub for fishing and whitewater rafting, while myriad local breweries offer the perfect end to an active day.

Man kayaking in a clear lake with snow capped mountains in the distance in Bend Oregon.

The region’s rivers are a hub for fishing and whitewater rafting, while myriad local breweries offer the perfect end to an active day, including our favorite – Cascade Lakes Brewing Co.

smiling woman kayaking along a lake in Bend, Oregon

Bend is an outdoor adventure paradise.

Search for the best adventure and outdoor activities in Bend Oregon

10) Anchorage

As Alaska’s largest city, Anchorage serves as the gateway to the state’s wild frontiers. With proximity to pristine wilderness, visitors can embark on day trips for glacier trekking, wildlife viewing, or fishing.

Brown bear catching salmon in Alaska.

The city is the gateway to nearby wilderness areas and mountains, including the Chugach, Kenai, and Talkeetna.

The surrounding Chugach State Park and Chugach National Forest offer ample trails for hiking and biking, all within reach of the city’s modern amenities for the best outdoor vacations in the US.

You can take a flight from Anchorage for an up close encounter on a glacier (some tours even include dog sledding) or take a full day Matanuska Glacier guided hike to explore the glacier’s picturesque terrain. There are ample opportunities for whale watching during the season, both from Anchorage or in the Kenai fjords.

panoramic view of Anchorage, Alaska with mountains and cityscape

You can take a cruise or a kayak trip down Kenai Fjords or take a short flight to a salmon-filled stream for bear viewing. If winter adventure tickles your fancy, Anchorage is a hot spot for winter adventure sports such as heli-skiing, ice climbing, kite skiing, snowcat skiing, and more

These American adventure destinations are perfect for road trips, a quick weekend away or a weeklong adventure vacation. No matter your adventure style, there’s an outdoor vacation for everyone.

Visiting Anchorage

Find the latest deals on multi-day, inclusive Anchorage and Alaska Tours .

Search the best adventure and outdoor activities in Alaska from Anchorage .

Note for Readers:  While outdoor activities can be exhilarating, we recommend checking local conditions and park regulations. Booking tours or permits in advance, if necessary, can help ensure a smooth adventure. Always remember to observe Leave No Trace principles to protect these natural wonders for future generations.

She Saves She Travels

20 BIG Adventure Vacations in the US Not to Miss

Posted on Published: June 3, 2022  - Last updated: November 18, 2023

Are you ready for some adventure? Of course you are!

From coast to coast, national parks, epic road trips and unexpected destinations in between, these are the best adventure vacations in the US.

adventure vacations in the US view of mountain scene with purple wildlfowers

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This list is full of awe-inspiring activities and vacation spots is full of jaw-dropping adventures! From thrilling adrenaline rushes to epic hiking trails, you won’t believe your eyes.

The US has incredible vacation destinations that are just begging to be explored!

Whether you love hiking for amazing views, ziplining over stunning landscapes or snorkeling next to massive manta rays, there’s a little bit of everything here. So no matter what your style, this list of adventurous vacations in the US will give you ideas for your next getaway!

Oh, and when you’re finished with this list, go abroad and check out these adventurous bucket list ideas throughout the globe!

Map of adventure vacations in the US

From sea to shining sea – and even the islands beyond, here are the locations of the best adventure vacations USA.

Adventures in the US

Eeek! I’m so excited for you to see this list! Some of the very best adventures are first. But honestly, they’re all fantastic (or they wouldn’t be on the list 😉).

Real quick – since I haven’t been everywhere (yet), I’ve asked my fellow travel writers with a variety of experiences to help with this epic list.

Let’s dive in!

1. Road trip down the California Coast

adventure vacations in us view of california coast with teal water rocky shore and white waves

Region: Western USA Closest major airport: San Francisco International Airport

One of the coolest adventure vacations in the US is driving the Pacific Coast Highway in California . A San Francisco to San Diego road trip is quite the adventure!

Start off in San Francisco eating delicious food, touring Alcatraz and walking or biking across the Golden Gate Bridge. As you head south on US Highway 101, you’ll want to stop for a kayaking and whale watching excursion at Monterey Bay.

Plan to spend a day exploring Big Sur, California. Hike and watch the Harbor Seal pups at Point Lobos State Reserve. Adventure across the Bixby Creek Bridge, find the purple sand on Pfeiffer Beach and hike to the famous McWay Falls.

Further down the Pacific Coast Highway, you can do wine tasting in Lompoc or Malibu, visit the Santa Monica Pier or take surfing lessons in Huntington Beach .

When you get to the end of this epic road trip, be sure to spend a weekend in San Diego by kayaking in La Jolla Cove , hanging out on Condado Beach or seeing the famous San Diego Zoo.

You’ll want at least 5 days to do this road trip , but if you can have more time you’ll be able to see more along the way. I’d recommend flying into San Francisco, renting a car and returning it in San Diego. I love using Discover Cars for the best car rental deals, as I typically save 10-30%.

Recommended by me – Nikki of She Saves She Travels

2. Climb the Telluride Via Ferrata

adventures in the US view of Telluride via Ferrata woman rock climbing with cliff in distance

Region: Western USA Closest major airport: Denver International Airport

Are you an active person looking for adventures in the US? If so then head over to Telluride in Colorado and try the mega epic  Telluride Via Ferrata . 

You’ll find it in Box Canyon, right near Ajax Peak, at the far eastern end of town. It’s a fun, seasonal activity that originated in Italy since the term translates to “iron way” 

When you embark on this incredible experience, you’ll uncover an intense hiking trail that is totally exposed and that takes you along a series of iron rungs along narrow cliffs. 

Therefore, you will need special gear for this activity and should definitely hire a guide if you don’t have a ton of hiking experience. You can find fantastic tours of this technical climb at a reasonable price. 

This intense experience will take you anywhere between 4 and 5 hours to complete.

You should plan this adventure any time between June and September since this is when all the snow in the area has completely melted. 

Also, be on the lookout for any afternoon storms that sometimes hit the area since the metal rungs and iron footholds you’ll traverse from 500 feet in the air do a good job of attracting lightning. 

Then, just enjoy the climb and the stunning panoramic views you’ll encounter along the way! You’ll also get to see Bridal Veil Falls, Colorado’s tallest free-falling waterfall while on this journey.

You can spend a day or long weekend enjoying Telluride and the Telluride Via Ferrata. While you’re in the area, be sure to drive the Million Dollar Highway, one of the most scenic drives in Colorado !

Recommend by Meg of Fox in the Forest

3. Soar over the NaPali Coast in Kauai (one of my favorite adventure vacations in the US)

adventurous places to visit view of napali coast jagged peaks beaches and vibrant blue water

Region: Hawaii Closest major airport: Lihue Airport

One of the most spectacular bucket list travel adventures in the world is taking a  doors off helicopter tour in Kauai ! 

To get to Kauai, fly into Lihue Airport. There are direct flights from many US West Coast cities, as well as flights that connect in Honolulu. The helicopter tours all depart from Lihue airport, so it couldn’t be more convenient!

Taking a doors off helicopter tour anywhere would be incredible, but it’s extra special in Kauai. Kauai’s nickname is the Garden Isle, and you’ll see so many varying landscapes during a short helicopter tour of the island that you’ll be shocked all these different places exist on one small island!

On a helicopter tour, you’ll see some of Kauai’s most stunning waterfalls which are only visible from the air , including Manawaiopuna Falls (aka Jurassic Falls) as you fly over the Hanapepe Valley. That gives way to Waimea Canyon , which is also called ‘the Grand Canyon of the Pacific’ for both its scale and Southwestern-looking landscape.

But the best views occur when you arrive at the coast and see the emerald green spires of the sea cliffs of the Na Pali coast contrasting beautifully with the turquoise ocean waters off the coast of Kauai. This land is completely inaccessible by car, and with limited access by trail, so it’s completely untouched and pristine! 

You’ll also get to the see the Weeping Wall on Waialeale Mountain, one of the wettest places on Earth, with more waterfalls than you could possibly count. It’s truly one of the most remarkable adventures in the US!

Pro tip: wear long pants (it gets cold!), take any motion sickness medication you might need beforehand (the helicopter shakes quite a bit in the wind), and wear either contacts or have a lanyard for your glasses so you don’t worry about your goggles slipping.

You’ll only need about 2 hours for the tour, but I suggest spending somewhere between 3 to 5 days on Kauai.

Recommended by Allison of Eternal Arrival

4. Go sea kayaking in Acadia National Park

adventurous places to visit view of rocky cliff and ocean with trees in distance

Region: Northeast USA Closest major airport: Hancock County-Bar Harbor Airport or Portland International Jetport

Acadia National Park in Maine is an unbelievably beautiful destination full of adventure!

One of the best adventures in the US is sea kayaking off the coast of Maine. The Porcupine Islands are a chain of islands right off Bar Harbor, and are part of Acadia National Park .

Renting kayaks or taking a kayaking tour is an awesome way to see marine life in the wild! You’ll likely see seals while kayaking, and may catch the occasional harbor porpoise (similar to a dolphin). Of course, don’t forget to look up! Home to eagles, osprey, blue herons and a 250+ more avian species.

In just 6 miles, this is a paddler’s paradise! The unique features of the islands are incredibly picturesque. Steep granite cliffs dive into the bold ocean below. Sea caves, rocky beaches and the dramatic coastline of Maine provide such an amazing adventure!

Kayaking tours in Acadia National Park are seasonal, running from mid-May through mid-October each year. Book them in advance as they do sell out!

While you’re exploring Acadia National Park, be sure to hike the Jordan Cliffs Loop trail (5.0 miles) or the Beehive Trail (1.5 miles). Catch incredible scenic views at the Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse and be sure to drive the 27-mile Park Loop Road.

You’ll want 3-5 days minimum at Acadia National Park. Between paddling, hiking and seeing all the best spots in the park, your time will go fast! Plus Bar Harbor is the picture-perfect coastal town, offering plenty to see and do.

5. Snorkeling in Dry Tortugas National Park

ocean view bright blue water through stone tunnel

Region: Eastern USA Closest major airport: Key West International Airport

One of the best adventure vacations in the US is in the sunshine state!

Dry Tortugas National Park is located in the Gulf of Mexico about 70 miles off the coast of Key West. Visiting is an amazing part of any Florida Keys trip, and is one of the best winter road trips in the US!

Even though 99% of the park is underwater, these islands were named “dry” because there is no fresh water source around, and “tortugas” by Ponce de Leon due to all of the huge sea turtles in the area.

The park itself covers 100 square miles and has 7 small islands to explore, the main one being Garden Key. The most popular and best way to explore the park is by snorkeling !

Because of the shallow clear waters (between 5 to 15 feet deep) and the secluded location, Dry Tortugas offers some of the best snorkeling in North America. And less visitors means the coral and surrounding sea life remains healthy and vibrant!

Pro tip: be sure to wear reef-safe sunscreen while snorkeling or enjoying the ocean water to protect reefs and marine life.

There are several different locations to snorkel around Garden Key, the most popular area is around the historic Fort Jefferson. You can enter the crystal clear water right off of the white sand beach. Just snorkeling along the moat wall you will see different kinds of coral, tropical fish, conchs and crabs. 

The only ways to get to the Dry Tortugas are by air or by sea. Because of the remote location it is one of the least visited national parks, which makes a visit here that much more inviting!

There is a  ferry service that operates tours to the Dry Tortugas  every day of the year. The ferry has a limited number of seats and they book to capacity daily so book your tickets as far in advance as you can!

The ferry is a high-speed catamaran, offering inside air-conditioned seating as well as covered open-air spaces above deck. Just a 2.5 hour boat ride takes you to a secluded location where you feel like you are alone in a tropical paradise!

Recommended by Erin of Super Simple Salty Life

6. Hike the Pacific Crest Trail (one of the most difficult adventures in the US)

view of the pacific crest trail and Mt Hood with flowers in foreground hiking trail and mountain peak in distance while on adventure vacations in the us

Region: Western USA Closest major airport: Portland International Airport, San Diego International Airport or

If you’re looking for an epic adventure in the western United States, you can’t miss the rugged Pacific Crest Trail (PCT).

This renowned long-distance footpath stretches for over 2650 miles through some of the country’s most beautiful scenery. The trail begins at the border with Mexico and travels through the Sierra and Cascade mountain ranges before eventually crossing into Canada at Manning Park.

Designated as a National Scenic Trail by the US Park Service, the PCT is one of the longest trails in the country.

The footpath travels through 3 different states and showcases varied landscapes and ecosystems along the way. Highlights include Yosemite National Park and the Sierra Mountains in California, the Three Sisters Wilderness in Oregon and the remote town of Stehekin in Washington State.

While some hikers explore small sections at a time, other folks attempt the entire trail all at once.

These intrepid adventurers are known as “thru-hikers”. This is a challenging undertaking which typically takes 5-6 months to complete. Much planning and preparation is also required to secure the proper permits and to assemble a workable  PCT gear list .

Thru-hikers in the northbound direction typically start in April or May at the Southern Terminus near San Diego. These hikers must average 20 miles per day in order to finish before the snow starts falling in September or October. There is a narrow window of time each year when the trail is not covered in snow, so thru-hikers must pay careful attention to the seasons and weather when attempting this feat.

Recommended by Katy of A Rambling Unicorn

Adventurous vacations in the US

Only 1/3 of the way through this list of amazing adventurous vacations in the US! One of my favorites is up next…

7. Drive the Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park (a must-do on this list of adventures in the US)

glacier national park picture of mountainside with peaks, snow green lush hills and blue sky

Region: Northwest USA Closest major airport: Glacier Park International Airport

One of the most incredible drives in the USA, the Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park is indescribable!

At just 49 miles, this scenic road really packs a punch. Nestled in the mountains of northern Montana, the rugged peaks, alpine lakes, roadside waterfalls and amazing overlooks will leave you speechless.

Because of it’s popularity, the Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park now requires reservations during the summer months. But it’s 100% worth it!

See the famous Lake McDonald, with rocks so vibrant they’re like nature’s skittles! Hike the incredible Avalanche Lake Trail where you’ll see massive trees and a lake so beautiful you won’t believe your eyes.

Perhaps one of the most picturesque spots along the Going-to-the-Sun Road is the hike to Hidden Lake Trail. It’s one of the best things to do in Glacier National Park , and one you must do if you’re in decent athletic shape.

You’ll be surrounded by the majestic peaks on all sides of you, while looking down at a gorgeous alpine lake. So stunning!

Further along the Going-to-the-Sun Road, you’ll have a chance at more lake views and waterfalls in Glacier National Park , like Saint Mary Falls and my personal favorite, Virginia Falls. You’ll also drive by the famous Wild Goose Island Viewpoint and see the Jackson Glacier from a distance.

A reservation to drive the road covers 3 days in Glacier National Park, which is adequate for this area. Be sure to save more time to explore the Two Medicine and Many Glacier areas of the park, too.

Exploring Glacier National Park in Montana is sure to be one of your favorite adventure trips in the US!

8. Explore Antelope Canyon

best adventure vacations in the US view of antelope canyon deep red and orange sandstone canyon walkway

Region: Southwestern USA Closest major airport: Page Municipal Airport, Harry Reid International Airport or Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport

Antelope Canyon is the most photographed slot canyon in all of Arizona. The colors, shapes, and light beams within make it one of the coolest adventure trips in the US. 

Because it’s on Navajo Nation land, all visitors must join with a guided tour from a Navajo-owned company. Tours can visit Lower Antelope Canyon, Upper Antelope Canyon, or Antelope Canyon X. Each tour lasts approximately 90 minutes from leaving to returning to the visitor center.

Hikes in Antelope Canyon are exciting because they showcase beautiful rock formations, beams of light in the summertime, and even changes in color in the rocks due to temperatures in the wintertime.

Visitors to Antelope Canyon should note that neither hiking backpacks nor water bladder packs are permitted inside the Canyon any longer. Even small purses and small water bottle satchels are prohibited.

This policy changed in 2021 when the Canyon reopened after a temporary closure at the beginning of the pandemic. Water bottles must be hand-carried or put in a clothing pocket.

There is an airport in Page, Arizona that Antelope Canyon tourists can fly into. However, most people tend to drive to Antelope Canyon as part of a day trip from Las Vegas or Phoenix so they can visit other sites in the area.

There are a variety of activities in Page, Arizona near Antelope Canyon. These include Horseshoe Canyon and Glen Canyon Recreation Area as well as further adventures like the Grand Canyon South Rim . You’ll love that this is an area home to the most adventurous vacations in the US!

Recommended by Brodi of Our Offbeat Life

9. Hit the trails in a UTV in Michigan’s UP (a super fun experience on this list of adventure vacations in the US!)

adventure vacations usa view of four wheeler sitting by lake at sunset

Region: Upper Midwest Fly into: Sawyer International Airport or Cherry Capital Airport

One of the best adventurous vacations in the US is going off-roading in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula!

With thousands of miles of trails, you absolutely won’t get bored! There’s a variety of off-road vehicles to suit your needs. Rent a dirt bike, 4×4, side-by-side UTV or Jeep and hit the trails. In the winter, many of the trails double for snowmobiles, so this is a year-round activity.

You can opt for daily rentals and explore different parts of the Upper Peninsula, or a multi-day rental so you have the ORV (off-road vehicle) longer.

Choose trails with scenic views of Lake Superior, waterfalls, forests and more! You’ll need a license to drive an ORV and trail permit to drive on any public trail. These are easy and affordable to acquire online before you go or there’s plenty of local retailers to get them – including convenience stores.

An awesome spot to go off-roading is the Ottawa National Forest. It has over 1 million acres of land and over 2300 miles of roads to explore! Rent your UTV at Headwaters Polaris in Watersmeet then hit the dirt!

If you’re looking for trails with picturesque lake views, you’ll love the Pine Ridge Trail on Lake Superior! Rent your ORV at Grand Marais Powersports and enjoy the day (or multiple) exploring the trails with killer views.

I recommend at least a long weekend enjoying the scenic routes while on a ORV in the Upper Peninsula. However, you could stay longer exploring the nearby towns, such as Marquette, Grand Marais Copper Harbor and the popular Mackinac Island.

10. Road trip through Alaska

road trip Alaska sights purple flowers lake at mountain scene

Region: Alaska Closest major airport: Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport

Going on an Alaska road trip needs to be on your list of adventure vacations in US! With breathtaking landscapes, stunning hiking trails and ample wildlife-watching opportunities, Alaska offers something for everyone. 

To make the most out of this stunning U.S state and to explore at your own pace,  renting an RV is by far the best option.  You can create your own  Alaska itinerary  this way, and you won’t have to worry about finding accommodations or extra costs. 

The most popular place to start a road trip through Alaska is Anchorage, as this is where you’ll find Anchorage International Airport. If you’re renting a car or an RV, it is recommended to book in advance. 

You could easily spend weeks or months road-tripping this epic west coast road trip through Alaska , but of course, not everyone has that kind of time. To see the best of this state, allow yourself at least a week so you can take your time, and add on any extra sites you want to visit. 

There are endless attractions within Alaska , so you’ll have to narrow your itinerary down based on what you’re there for. If you’re in Anchorage area and want to explore the wildlife, then some of the top places to visit include the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center and the Beluga Point to see whales from the shore. 

Or if you’re dying to see some glaciers or just enjoy the scenery then take your trip further from Anchorage.  Explore the amazing Kenai Fjords National Park in Seward area, where you can also take a boat tour to see the marine wildlife, and go on amazing hiking such as the Exit Glacier Trail and the incredible Harding Icefield hike.

Road tripping through Alaska is by far one of the most adventurous places to visit!

Depending on which season you’re visiting Alaska, you can find some great discounts on car rentals . However, if you’re traveling through the shoulder season be prepared for many restaurants and lodges to be closed. 

Some of the tour operators and hiking trails also shut after peak season, so keep this in mind for your visit. Renting an RV may be your best choice for a road trip in Alaska, as you can cook your own meals.

Recommended by Paula of Paula Pins the Planet

11. Go ziplining in Puerto Rico (another favorite on this list of adventure vacations USA)

adventure trips in usa view of road with lush rainforest and mountain peak in distance

Region: US Caribbean Islands Closest major airport: Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport

If you’re looking for adventure trips in the US, look no further than Puerto Rico! Full of history, beaches and culture, this island really packs a punch!

One of the most adventurous activities is ziplining and it’s also one of the best things to do in El Yunque. The only protected tropical rainforest in the US, El Yunque National Forest is home to lush waterfalls and a diverse ecosystem just waiting to be explored.

You have several options for ziplining in El Yunque. Most of them depart from San Juan with transportation, or meet at the ziplining site. You can opt for a full day tour including ziplining and hiking to waterfalls in El Yunque.

Or you can do a half day ziplining tour , as you fly above the trees, seeing epic views of the rainforest and all the way out to the coast! It’s incredible to see the diverse landscape below you as you’re flying through the rainforest – so thrilling!

While you’re in Puerto Rico, there’s a ton of things to do in Old San Juan , in a city that’s over 500 years old! Visit the San Juan Fort, see old churches or the Insta-worthy umbrella street and visit the home to the first Pina Colada at it’s birthplace, Barrachina restaurant.

You’ll want at least 5 days in Puerto Rico. Ziplining will only take 1/2 to 1 full day, but there’s so much more to see and do on this island!

12. Hike the The John Muir Trail in California

adventures in the US view of mountains with large rocks hiking trail trees and mountains in distance

Region: Western USA Closest major airport: Reno-Tahoe International Airport or Mammoth Yosemite Airport

For an awesome bucket list adventure in the US, take a few weeks and hike the John Muir Trail.

This epic trail takes you through the Sierra Nevadas from Mount Whitney to Yosemite Valley. Thru-hiking the JMT does require some serious logistical planning, but it’s totally worth it to experience the stunning alpine scenery. You can also section hike the John Muir Trail if you don’t have time to tackle the whole 211 miles of trail all at once.

Hiking the John Muir Trail is absolutely one of the best adventures in the US because it’s a perfect way to see all the best that the Sierra Nevadas have to offer.

From the soaring granite walls of Half Dome and El Capitan in Yosemite to the summit of Mount Whitney (the highest point in the lower 48 states at 14,505 feet), the JMT is full of once-in-a-lifetime experiences. The John Muir Trail also runs through the beautiful landscapes of the Ansel Adams Wilderness, the John Muir Wilderness and Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks .

You can hike the John Muir Trail either Southbound (SOBO) starting from Happy Isles in Yosemite National Park, or Northbound (NOBO) starting from Whitney Portal or Horseshoe Meadow near Lone Pine. Whichever direction you go, you will need a permit, but Southbound permits are much more competitive to get. 

Depending on where you begin, you can fly into Reno-Tahoe Airport (better for NOBO) or Mammoth Yosemite Airport (better for SOBO). You can also fly into larger California airports like San Francisco, Oakland, or Los Angeles Airport for more (and usually cheaper) flight options, but you will just have a longer drive to the trailhead.

Recommended by Allison of She Dreams of Alpine

13. Get drenched by Niagara Falls

view of Niagara Falls from the air huge waterfall from river tiny boat below one of the best adventure vacations in the US

Region: Northeastern USA Closest major airport: Niagara Falls International Airport or Buffalo Niagara International Airport

Taking a boat up close and personal to the massive Niagara Falls is one of the best adventure vacations in US!

The Niagara Falls area is split by the Canadian side and US side. Niagara Falls, Canada is a larger city with a lot to do. But don’t sleep on Niagara Falls, New York!

One of the most popular ways to see the triple waterfalls that make up Niagara Falls is via boat. But prepare to get drenched! Since 1946 passengers and waterfall enthusiasts started crossing the Niagara River below the falls.

Thousands of people take the Maid of the Mist tours every year from May through October. You’ll see the falls in all their glory from a double-decker boat. Ponchos are given because you’ll be really close to the falls!

To experience the full roar of the waterfall, be sure to climb the Cave of the Winds and Hurricane Deck. It’s located at the Niagara Falls State Park on Goat Island on the New York side. The mist from the waterfall is so powerful they actually have to rebuild it every winter!

For alternative views, you can Walk the Shoreline Trail. And be sure to catch the falls at night when they’re lit up with colorful lights.

Note: don’t visit the falls in the winter, like my first time! 🤣Go in the spring, summer or fall for the best experience. A weekend in Niagara Falls is sufficient, or you could combine this with a longer New England road trip.

More adventures in the US

Can you believe all the sights and things to do across these adventure trips in the US?

Let’s keep going!

14. Hike Angel’s Landing in Zion

view of Zion from Angels Landing steep red canyon walls with river and trees below

Region: Southwestern USA Closest major airport: Harry Reid International Airport

For an epic hike in the U.S. southwest, a climb of Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park is one of the best adventure vacations in the US! 

Considered one of the most dangerous hikes in the world, Angel’s Landing is not for the faint of heart. If you have a fear of heights, the exposure on the hike will be daunting. Part of the trail follows a knife edge ridge with steep drop-offs to the floor of Zion Canyon on either side.

The hike is a 5 mile out-and-back hike with little shade. Make sure to bring lots of water and sunscreen . The total trek takes about 4-5 hours. The trailhead is at the Grotto, a stop of the park shuttle bus just past Zion Lodge.

The first part of the hike is easy as it winds through Refrigerator Canyon on the West Rim Trail. At the head of the canyon, you will start up Walter’s Wiggles, a section of 21 steep switchbacks leading to Scout Lookout. Here you can take a break and admire the huge rock formation of Angel’s Landing. 

The climb gets steep as you ascend 500 feet of slickrock holding on to chains for protection. The cliffs on either side of you are soberingly precipitous. However, the views across all of Zion Canyon are stupendous. Spend time at the top enjoying the vast scenery before you descend the same way.

You will not be alone when you climb up Angel’s Landing. Hundreds of people line up to get on the chained section each day. To avoid the crowds, go very early in the day or in the offseason. 

A hike up Angel’s Landing is a great part of a road trip through the  canyons of the southwest  such as Zion, Bryce Canyon, Grand Canyon and Canyonlands.

So you can see why Angel’s Landing is one of the most adventurous places to visit!

Related: Zion with Kids: 12 Fun Things to Do You’ll Love (Plus Tips, Pics & Video)

Recommended by Karen of Outdoor Adventure Sampler

15. Go sea cave kayaking in Channel Islands National Park (an unforgettable experience on this list of adventure vacations in the US)

adventurous vacations in the us view of narrow islands flowing into ocean with flowers in foreground

Region: Western USA Closest major airport: Santa Barbara Airport

One of the most adventurous places to visit is located off the Coast of California. Sea cave kayaking in Channel Islands National Park is an activity you’ll never forget!

This national park offers a variety of activities including camping, hiking, whale watching and of course, sea cave kayaking. If you’re a thrill-seeker who wants a more intense kayaking adventure, then this is the perfect bucket list item for you.

Sea cave kayaking is like normal sea kayaking, except that you’re going in and out of ocean caves. What makes this adventure so unique is that every single cave has its own set of challenges that become increasingly dangerous as the waves roll in.

The inside of the caves can be sharp, rock walls that will slice you up if you can’t properly navigate the cave. Some caves require you to squeeze through small spaces while others shoot you through s-shaped canyons that you have to navigate without flipping your boat or crashing into the rocks.

You don’t have to complete this excursion on your own though. There are guided tours that will take your sea cave kayaking and each guide is highly trained and knows the caves well.

The guide will go into the cave beforehand to check that it is still safe to kayak into the cave with the current situation of the tide, and then they will instruct you on how best to safely navigate any challenges the cave may possess. 

To get to the Channel Islands, you’ll want to park at the Channel Islands Marina near Ventura, California, and take the ferry over to the island. From there you can join your tour and start your amazing bucket list adventure.

Recommended by Shannon of Adventuring With Shannon

16. Cruise through the air above Lake Erie

view of amusement park from the air colorful roller coasters and sandy beach

Region: Upper Midwest Closest major airport: Cleveland Hopkins International Airport

One of the most fun adventure trips in the US is in Sandusky, Ohio! Located on Lake Erie, Sandusky is home to a mix of water activities, amusement parks, restaurants, history and so much more.

One of the best things to do in Sandusky is ride the epic roller coasters at Cedar Point Amusement Park. It’s the 2nd oldest amusement park in operation in the country, at over 150 years old. But don’t worry, it’s modern-day thrilling rides don’t disappoint!

If you’re looking for the most adrenaline-pumping rides at Cedar Point, you’ve gotta try the Wicked Twister. It goes up to 215 feet in the air and clocks in at 72 mph, this twisty ride will flip your stomach with a high thrill factor.

If nostalgia is what you’re after, ride the Corkscrew. At 48 mph and with an 85-foot drop, this rickety ride is a classic! Next, check out the Gatekeeper for the best screams. This suspension ride leaves your feet dangling and your heart pumping!

There’s so many rides in Cedar Point! This park offers plenty to do for younger kids and those who aren’t looking for a twisted stomach, like a snake river and awesome on-site restaurants.

After you’re finished at the amusement park, hit the lake in style. Go parasailing over Lake Erie , with epic views of the park while you’re there.

Floating in the air with up to 800 feet of tow line is exhilarating! Kids as young as age 5 can enjoy this experience, and can go tandem with an adult (within weight limit guidelines).

For a proper trip to Sandusky, you’ll want at least a long weekend to explore the parks and rides. If you extend your time further, you can also check out the nearby islands of Put-in-Bay Ohio , which gives a tropical, beachy vibe. Or hang out and explore the nature opportunities on Kelleys Island, Ohio .

You can see why this area is considered one of the best adventure vacations USA!

17. Night snorkeling with manta rays in Hawaii

group of manta rays in ocean with low light

Region: Hawaii Closest major airport: Kona International Airport

One of the best adventures in the US is night snorkeling with manta rays in Hawaii! Located in Kona on the Big Island, this is an activity you’ll never forget.

Manta rays are diamond-shaped, plankton-eating fish with wing-like fins that can reach up to 12 feet in length. Unlike stingrays, manta rays are harmless without a deadly stinger.

A manta ray night snorkel tour will be about an hour long, with approximately 30 minutes in the water. Tours start at sunset and can go as late as 11pm. This easy activity is good for most ages and skill levels but can be one of the most adventurous and memorable Hawaiian experiences.

Your tour company will supply you with a wetsuit, snorkel set and ankle floaties before taking a short boat ride to the designated snorkel area, wasting no time getting into the ocean water. If you’re prone to seasickness, you might want to take motion sickness preventatives prior to departure.

Once you’re in the water, hold onto a boogie board with blue lights shining down into the dark abyss. The light attracts the plankton which in turn attract the manta rays for feeding. 

You usually don’t have to wait long for the show to begin! These gentle giants will come up from the deep and with their enormous mouths wide open, swim upwards towards the surface – towards your face! Just as you think you might get swallowed up, the manta ray will take a sharp turn, belly up, and somersault back down towards the ocean floor.

The “dance” will continue until the lights get turned off, they get distracted by neighboring lights, or decide it’s time for bed.

To see the manta rays without getting in the water, some tours offer a boatride-only option. Or you can visit the Outrigger Kona Resort’s viewing deck as they shine lights into the ocean to attract them nearer to shore.

Recommended by Tabitha of Travel Compositions

18. Chase waterfalls in the Smoky Mountains (one of the best adventure vacations in the US for hikers)

adventure vacations in the US: view of waterfall with green trees behind and white flowing water

Region: Eastern USA Closest major airport: McGhee Tyson Airport

One of the best adventure vacations in the US has got to be hiking to waterfalls in the Smoky Mountains! The Great Smoky Mountains National Park spans the Tennessee and North Carolina border, and is full of adventure.

At over 500,000 acres, this national park is huge! It’s also the most popular national park in the US for visitors, with over 14 million annually ! So while the summer months provide the best weather for hiking and exploring the park, that’s also when the most crowds are on the hiking trails and roads.

A trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in spring is recommended if you’re going there for the waterfalls. The lush, flowing falls are breathtaking!

For the easiest hike, try the Laurel Falls Trail . Coming in at 2.4 miles, this trail is rated as easy and doable for most skill levels. It’s also one of the most popular hiking trails in the park so it gets quite busy.

Grotto Falls Smoky Mountains is perhaps one of the most fun, interactive trails for chasing waterfalls. At 2.6 miles, this is a moderate trail but still possible for most skill levels.

If you’re up for more of a challenge, Abrams Falls Trail in the Smoky Mountains is a 5.5 mile, moderate hike. You’ll want to wear good hiking shoes and bring trekking poles for this one. And you’ll be rewarded with a beautiful waterfall for your hard work!

For the best experience while chasing waterfalls in the Smoky Mountains, arrive at the park and trailhead early. You’ll beat the crowds and be able to park in the lot instead of 1/2 mile further up the road.

While in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, be sure to hike to Clingman’s Dome, which offers 360 degree views of the mountains! And if you’re looking for the best sunset locations, Morton Overlook is the perfect spot to watch! Just be sure to pack layers as it gets cold up in the mountains once the sun goes down.

You’ll want 3-5 days in the Smoky Mountains. There are plenty of hiking trails and overlooks. Plus the fun city of Gatlinburg, Tennessee has a vibrant restaurant scene and tons of things to do.

19. Take a helicopter tour over the Grand Canyon

view of Grand Canyon large peaks in canyon with rocky stripes and shadows at sunset

Region: Southwestern USA Closest major airport: Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport or Harry Reid International Airport

Taking a helicopter tour over the Grand Canyon is one of the best adventure vacations in US! A helicopter tour is one of the best things to do during a one-day visit to Grand Canyon National Park .

What better way to see the beauty of the canyon than from the sky? 

You can book helicopter tours over the Grand Canyon from multiple nearby places including Las Vegas, Nevada, Page, Arizona, Sedona, Arizona and Grand Canyon Village, Arizona. Be sure to arrive at least 30 minutes early to fill out paperwork and watch your safety briefing. 

The most common helicopter tours last around 30 minutes or less and can accommodate up to 6 passengers. Be advised that weight is important to the safety of your flight and you will be required to provide your weight when booking a tour. 

Flying in a helicopter over the Grand Canyon is something that you will remember for the rest of your life! If you ever get the opportunity, make sure to take it. 

The Grand Canyon has so much to offer visitors. You can ride a mule into the canyon, go camping or rafting, check out the Grand Canyon Skywalk and of course, hiking. Check out the Shoshone Point Trail in the South Rim or Transcept Trail in the North Rim. You could go to Grand Canyon for just a day or spend a week hiking the epic trails here!

Recommended by Janae of Adventures With TuckNae

20. Go kayaking in a cave in Missouri

adventure vacations in the US: view of inside of cave from kayak dark water grey and orange cave and spotlight on kayaker ahead

Region: Midwest Closest major airport: St. Louis Lambert International Airport

The heartland is an often overlooked region of the US but it has hidden gems of its own.

Crystal City Underground Cave in Missouri provides a bucket list opportunity right in the Midwest and it might just be one of Missouri’s best kept secrets!

If you’ve ever wanted to kayak underground this is your chance. Glide along as a knowledgeable guide leads you deep underground through an expansive network of underground cave systems.

You must take the guided tour to access the cave and kayaks, lifejackets, headlamps etc. are provided.

Current cost per person is $45 (subject to change) and the tour runs year round. The tour lasts approximately 2 hours. Prior kayaking experience is helpful but it is not required.

Crystal City Underground Cave is located less than an hour south of St. Louis in Crystal City Missouri by car. The closest airport is St. Louis International Airport (45 miles). 

Looking for other activities for nature lovers in Missouri? There are 2 popular sites within driving distance. Pickle Springs Natural Area hiking trail is one of the most scenic in the state and Elephant Rocks State Park is named for its collection of giant  boulders that resembles a train of circus elephants.

Recommended by Angie of We’re Not in Kansas Anymore

Adventures in the US (a recap)

adventures in the US hawaii napali coast jagged mountain peaks green lush forest ocean below

Can you believe this list?! What an incredibly diverse landscape with endless adventure activities! Whether you’re into hiking or road trips, water activities or helicopter rides, there’s so many great active vacations in the US!

Let’s recap this list again, in a quicker fashion…

  • Road trip down the California Coast
  • Climb the Telluride Via Ferrata
  • Soar over the NaPali Coast in Kauai
  • Go sea kayaking in Acadia National Park
  • Snorkeling in Dry Tortugas National Park
  • Hike the Pacific Crest Trail
  • Drive the Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park
  • Explore Antelope Canyon
  • Hit the trails in a UTV in Michigan’s UP
  • Road trip through Alaska
  • Go ziplining in Puerto Rico
  • Hike the The John Muir Trail in California
  • Get drenched by Niagara Falls
  • Hike Angel’s Landing in Zion
  • Go sea cave kayaking in Channel Islands National Park
  • Cruise through the air above Lake Erie
  • Night snorkeling with manta rays in Hawaii
  • Chase waterfalls in the Smoky Mountains
  • Take a helicopter tour over the Grand Canyon
  • Go kayaking in a cave in Missouri

Related content you might like: 28 Underrated Travel Destinations in the US You Need to See 28 Absolutely Best National Parks to Visit in Summer 30 Hiking Trails for Beginners in the USA 101 Travel Bucket List Ideas + How to Create Your Own List 35 Cheapest Beach Vacations: Swoon-worthy Destinations You Need to See

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best of the USA 20 epic bucket list adventures mountain scene with flowers road through jungle and coast with teal water

Saturday 4th of June 2022

These adventures all sound so amazing! We almost went sea kayaking in Acadia National Park last fall, but we opted to stay in Portland an extra day, instead. I have road-tripped through Alaska though, and agree - that's a great adventure!

Monday 6th of June 2022

Oh cool Britany! I bet Portland was a great day too! Fun to hear you loved your Alaska road trip. There's just so many things to do in this country and not enough time 🤣

Wow! These are some great adventure ideas! I've been lucky enough to have done some of these, but might add another one or two to the list!

Oh awesome, Amy! I hope you get to try a few more soon 💛

Great list!

Thanks Kristin!

Epic is no understatement 👏🏻 What a great list to get to see this country! I think I’ll start with kayaking!

Love it! Kayaking is one of my faves too, and this list provides a few great options for that :)

United States Tours & Vacations

A traveller jumps for a photo in Monument Valley in Arizona

With coastlines, forests, deserts and mountains, the United States is an explorer's paradise.

Magical moments are waiting around every corner in The States. From the rugged wilderness and glacial fjords in Alaska to the winding coastal highways in California , the wide array of national parks to the musical streets of New Orleans , this country is simply sprawling. So whether you're hiking, biking, toe-tapping or road-tripping, you can't go wrong exploring the USA the Intrepid way.

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Hiking in Sedona and the Grand Canyon

Hiking in Yosemite National Park

Vegas to San Fran

Hiking Utah's National Parks

Articles of United States

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Browse usa trips by region, browse usa trips by state, browse usa national park tours, united states at a glance, capital city.

Washington DC (population, 712,816)

331.9 million

English, Spanish (although the US has no official languages)

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Best time to visit united states.

Being such a large country, the weather in the US is different depending on which area you are in. Summer (June to August) is the peak travel season due to school holidays, but it can be uncomfortably hot in the desert areas and the south.

The shoulder seasons of spring and autumn are generally considered to be the best times to visit, but the weather is still highly variable and these may be the wettest times in some parts of the country (such as the Pacific Northwest ). Winter can be cold in the northern states, but quiet in other areas, which can make it a pleasant time to visit.

Read more about the best time to visit the United States

Culture and customs

With immigration playing a major part in the development of America, today the country is made up of many different cultures. It’s no wonder modern America is rich with a variety of cultural traditions, cuisines, religions and festivals. Because of this, a large diversity of holidays are celebrated in America. Annual holidays like  Independence Day  and Thanksgiving are usually celebrated by all regardless of religion or political persuasion, and give people a chance to reconnect with family and friends around the dinner table or grill.

From sports to soul music, popular culture to philosophy, and fine art to folk art, the tastes and desires of Americans vary around the country. A love of sport unifies the nation - it doesn’t matter if you live in a city loft or out in the country, sports like ice hockey, basketball, baseball and football all attract a strong following.

Many Native Americans live on reservations and fight to retain their traditions and preserve their heritage, although when visiting reservations don’t be surprised to see Native Americans wearing modern clothing. With much of the language and many of the customs lost over the years, Native Americans strive to live a life of deep spirituality and in connection with the earth, as their ancestors did for centuries.

Check out our range of  experiences in the United States that amplify BIPOC cultures .

Eating and drinking

Intrepid believes that one of the best ways to experience a country is by eating! Whether you're sampling street food, savouring cheap eats or indulging in a banquet, there are endless options to choose from wherever you are in the world. 

With a variety of international influences, try Creole cuisine in New Orleans, traditional Jewish fare like bagels and pastrami sandwiches in New York, and barbecue in Texas. America’s got everything, from burger joints to taco shacks, organic cafes to refined Michelin-starred restaurants.

Learn more about food in the USA

Geography and environment

From the lush everglades of Florida, through the red-hot deserts of Nevada and on to the urban jungles of New York and Philadelphia, the United States has many different environments and ecosystems within its boundaries. Sharing borders with Canada in the north and Mexico in the south, the United States has deserts, glaciers, freshwater lakes, rapid-filled rivers, mountain ranges, sprawling plains, forested national parks , beaches and bays.

The major national parks of America – Yellowstone, Zion, Yosemite, Bryce Canyon, Denali and Joshua Tree offer a glimpse into what much of America looked like before development. Lush vegetation, majestic mountains and sparkling lakes give deer, moose, bears, bison and many other species of wildlife a fertile home to live in. 

When traveling, you’re likely to see modern cities filled with traffic, skyscrapers and high-density housing, as well as sleepy towns, trailer parks and Native American reservations. A complex network of highways connect the major cities, making overland travel a popular choice with visitors and locals alike. The great American road trip is still alive and well.

History and government

As one of the world’s most influential nations, major moments and events in American history ripple throughout the rest of the world. The American people are known for their resilience and irrepressible nature, and it is this spirit that allows them to continue to contribute to the world economically, scientifically and creatively.

In recent history, America has enjoyed the historic highs of the moon landings and the devastating lows of Hurricane Katrina. The world has seen American companies like Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and Starbucks change the face of the world. And people like Steven Spielberg, Lance Armstrong, Maya Angelou and Sidney Poitier create masterpieces, break records and win countless awards.

Top 10 must-see cities in the US

1. new york.

You can be anyone you want to be in NYC. Indulge your artistic side at MoMA, mingle with the Gordon Geckos on Wall Street, cheer like a pro at a Yankees game or kick back at a bar with a Manhattan and a new pair of Jimmy Choos.

2. San Francisco

San Francisco is made of sunshine, seafood and a whole lot of hills. This is the place to embrace your inner (or outer) bohemian. But it's not all 'flowers in your hair' and free thinking, be sure to take a ferry to Alcatraz and scoff down a clam chowder at Fisherman's Wharf.

3. New Orleans

The Caribbean meets France and Africa in New Orleans. Music is everywhere, and so are the friendly faces. The city comes to life after dark so have an afternoon nap, get some comfortable shoes on and get ready to bar hop the night away.

4. Las Vegas

Hello Lady Luck! Days somehow disappear in the hedonistic blitz of color, light, showgirls, casinos and offers too good to refuse. Try to escape the endless buffets to catch a real Las Vegas show; there's everything from death-defying acrobats to Elvis on offer.

The financial and political powerhouse of Chicago has been the home of two of the most influential people in the world - President Obama and Oprah. Famed for its distinctive architecture, booming performing arts scene and sports-mad locals, the 'Windy City' shouldn't be missed.

The air is warmer, the clothes smaller and the colors are somehow brighter in Miami. Jewish, Latin and Caribbean cultures blend to make a heady mix of great food, even better music and a nightlife filled with the spirit of fiesta. Hang out on perfect beaches, spot classic cars and gaze at the beautiful people as they strut their stuff.

7. Los Angeles

Search beyond the stardust of Hollywood and the excessive price tags of Rodeo Drive, to find the true essence of Los Angeles. Home to a melting pot of cultures, uber-cool restaurants, a hip art scene and the eclectic vibe of Venice Beach, LA is so hot right now!

The birthplace of grunge music and iconic super-companies like Microsoft, Boeing and Starbucks, Seattle offers so much more than great coffee. Markets packed with fresh produce, a harbor perfect for boating, vibrant public art and a thriving live music scene combine to make Seattle a must-see city.

History comes alive in the heritage-filled streets of Memphis. Whether it's at Elvis Presley's Graceland, the lively blues clubs and restaurants of Beale Street or the moving Civil Rights Movement Museum, it could be said that the soul of America lives in Memphis.

One of America's oldest cities, Boston is evolving. Working class neighborhoods are being gentrified, the industry is giving way to tech start-ups and modern architectural treasures sit alongside brown-stone buildings. Despite the change, get chatting to locals about the Red Sox and you'll soon find you're definitely in Boston.

It’s no wonder many people choose to do their clothes shopping in the United States. With iconic department stores offering a wide range of labels, and vintage/charity stores stocking American fashion classics like distressed denim jeans and leather cowboy boots, shopping in America is fun. Known for having great sales and even better customer service, it’s well worth leaving room in your backpack for a few extras. Please note that unlike in many other countries, tax isn’t included in the ticketed price.

It's a good idea to check with your local customs officials to ensure that you are able to bring certain items back into your home country. Australia and New Zealand generally have strict quarantine laws.

Festivals and events

Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, marks the end of the Carnival season in New Orleans. Witness a chaotic collision of lively music, colorful costumes, masquerade masks, soul food and joyful 'krewes' at the parades, parties and masquerade balls in late February every year.

Public holidays that may impact travel include:

Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday

Presidents' Day

Memorial Day

Independence Day

Indigenous Peoples' Day

Veterans' Day

Thanksgiving Day

Please note dates of  United States public holidays  may vary.

Similar destinations

We have a variety of similar destinations, trips, and routes that you could consider! Tie another trip into your holiday, or, see how we can help you get from A to B. We have tours departing from all major cities in the United States. The options below may be of interest:

Tours from Los Angeles to San Francisco  

Tours from New York to New Orleans

New Orleans to Atlanta Tours

Tours from Los Angeles

Tours from Las Vegas

Thinking about traveling to California or Florida but need help deciding?

California or Florida?

Top USA travel highlights

1. venture to the wilds of alaska.

Alaska  may be part of the USA, but it feels like another world. With stunning mountain ranges, eclectic wildlife, immense glaciers and an interesting history, this off-track destination is well worth the journey north. Whether you want to go hiking in  Denali , snowshoe across Matanuska Glacier, kayak in  Kenai Fjords  or see the northern lights, adventure awaits.

Explore the Last Frontier on our  10 day Best of Alaska tour.

2. See San Francisco through local eyes

With vibrant, multi-cultural neighbourhoods and iconic landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco is a city you could spend weeks exploring. But to really get a feel for the place, you need to explore with a local. Sample the freshest seafood in Fisherman's Wharf, discover the North Beach and Little Italy districts, and dine at some of the locals' favourite spots for dinner.

Roam around Northern California and beyond on our  9 day San Francisco to Seattle trip.

3. Explore phenomenal national parks

From larger-than-life Yosemite to the great gaping chasms of the Grand Canyon , national parks in the States are big, bold and beautiful. Escape the hustle of everyday life and uncover the natural beauty, diverse wildlife and Native American history in the likes of Bryce Canyon, Zion and Yellowstone. Whether you want to hike or cycle, stay in comfy lodges or camp in the wilderness , US national parks offer something for all kinds of adventurers.

4. Track wolves in Yellowstone National Park

The world’s first national park positively brims with more hot springs, mud pots and geysers than you can possibly see in one trip. But one of the most memorable things you can do is rise before dawn to join a  wolf-tracking excursion  with a local guide. As well as learning about one of nature's most intriguing animals, if you're lucky, you may see multiple wolves playing together, eating, or looking after young cubs.

Try your hand at wolf tracking on our  6 day Yellowstone and Grand Teton Adventure  or our  Yellowstone and Grand Teton Family Holiday .

5. Visit the legendary Sun Studio in Memphis

Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins… what legend hasn’t recorded here? Sun Studio in Memphis is one of the pinnacles for music lovers traveling in the States. It’s where rock and roll was born, and where soul music hit the big time via Stax Records. After checking out the studio, head to Beale Street to grab a drink and have a boogie in traditional blues clubs.

Scoot your boots on our  6 day Tennessee Music Trail to New Orleans tour.

6. Take a Navajo jeep tour of Monument Valley

Learn about the cultural heritage and sacredness of Monument Valley from those who know it best. After a jeep adventure with a local Navajo guide, join the locals for an authentic Navajo dinner around a campfire and listen to traditional songs and stories passed down through the generations.

Discover the American West's most iconic landscapes on our  5 day Western USA National Parks Loop tour.

Further reading

United states travel faqs, do i need a covid-19 vaccine to join an intrepid trip.

Trips from 1 January 2023 onwards

From 1 January 2023, Intrepid will no longer require travelers to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 (excluding all Polar trips and select adventure cruises).

However, we continue to strongly recommend that all Intrepid travelers and leaders get vaccinated to protect themselves and others.

Specific proof of testing or vaccination may still be required by your destination or airline. Please ensure you check travel and entry requirements carefully.

Do I need a visa to travel to United States?

It depends on where you’re from. Many countries now operate under the United States Visa Waiver Program, meaning a visa isn’t required for stays of up to 90 days for travel purposes. There are 40 participating countries, including the United Kingdom , Australia , New Zealand, Germany and Spain.

If you're eligible for the Visa Waiver Program, you must obtain a letter of authorization before you travel to the States. This can be obtained by submitting an application through the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation ( ESTA ).

If you’re a national from a non-participating country of the Visa Waiver Program, you must apply for a non-immigrant visa. Please see the Department of State website for more information.

If you have traveled to Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen or the Democratic People's Republic of Korea on or after 1 March 2011, you are ineligible and must apply for a non-immigrant visa instead.

People from a participating country who are also citizens of Cuba, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Iran, Iraq, Syria or Sudan must also apply for a non-immigrant visa.

Last updated: 6 March 2024 

Is tipping customary in the US?

Tipping is very much a part of the culture in the United States. Tips are expected at restaurants, cafes and diners, as well as by taxi drivers, valet attendants, porters and hotel maids.

People working in the service industry generally receive low wages and therefore rely upon tips as a major source of income.

In general, leave 15 to 20% of the bill at places serving food and a few dollars to bartenders and hotel staff who provide a personal service like carrying bags or cleaning your room.

What is the internet access like in the US?

Internet access is excellent in the US, and internet cafes and Wi-Fi hot spots are easily found in most cities and major towns.

Can I use my cell phone while in the US?

Cell phone coverage is excellent in most parts of the US although coverage may be patchy in remote, mountainous areas like national parks and canyons. Ensure global roaming is activated before you arrive.

What are the toilets like in the US?

Western-style flushable toilets are the norm in the US.

Can I drink the water in the US?

Drinking water from taps in the US is considered safe unless otherwise marked. For environmental reasons, try to use a refillable water bottle rather than buying bottled water.

Are credit cards accepted widely in the US?

Major credit cards are widely accepted by stores in the US. Smaller cafes and shops may not accept credit cards, so ensure you carry enough cash to cover small purchases.

What is ATM access like in the US?

ATMs are common in the US, so finding one won't be a problem in most towns and cities.

What kind of transport will I use in the United States?

Intrepid believes half the fun of experiencing a new country is getting there, and getting around once there! Where possible, Intrepid uses local transport options and traditional modes of transport - which usually carry less of an environmental impact, support small local operators and are heaps more fun. 

Depending on which trip you're on while in the US, you may find yourself traveling by:

Be amazed by enormous glaciers and stunning, icy landscapes while traveling on a ferry in Alaska.

Use pedal power to see the best of Venice Beach and Santa Monica. Cycling is a great way to see the sights and be active at the same time.

Take in the sights while enjoying a ride on one of San Francisco’s icons – the streetcar.

What sort of accommodation will I stay in while traveling in the United States?

Traveling with Intrepid is a little bit different. We endeavor to provide travelers with an authentic experience to remember, so we try to keep accommodation as unique and traditional as possible. 

When traveling with us in the US you may find yourself staying in a:

Spend a night sleeping in a hogan – a traditional Navajo structure made of logs, mud and stone and built with an open roof to view the sparkling night sky.

Reconnect with nature and enjoy staying in quaint log cabins throughout the country's beautiful national parks. Fall asleep to the rustling of trees and wake up to the sounds of birds.

Do I need to purchase travel insurance before traveling?

Absolutely. All passengers traveling with Intrepid are required to purchase travel insurance before the start of their trip. Your travel insurance details will be recorded by your leader on the first day of the trip. Due to the varying nature, availability and cost of health care around the world, travel insurance is very much an essential and necessary part of every journey.

For more information on insurance, please go to: Travel Insurance

Does my trip to the United States support The Intrepid Foundation?

Yes, all Intrepid trips support the Intrepid Foundation. In fact, we make a donation on behalf of every traveler. Trips to the United States directly support our foundation partners, Cultural Heritage Economic Alliance (CHEA) and the Grand Canyon Conservancy.

Cultural Heritage Economic Alliance (CHEA)

Cultural Heritage Economic Alliance (CHEA) create inclusive, equitable opportunities for small Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) tourism businesses in the USA. Donations help CHEA provide access to industry-specific technical assistance, capacity building, and industry networks for small BIPOC travel and tourism businesses through their Diversity Tourism Academy (DTA). Intrepid will double the impact by dollar-matching all post-trip donations made to The Intrepid Foundation.

Find out more or make a donation

The Grand Canyon Conservancy

The Grand Canyon Conservancy is on a mission to protect the Grand Canyon National Park for future generations. With almost 6 million visitors to the park annually, the Grand Canyon Conservancy runs educational programs and immersive experiences that teach people about the park's cultural and environmental significance. Donations support trail restoration and maintenance, conservation and preservation of native vegetation and wildlife, and educational programs. Intrepid will double the impact by dollar-matching all post-trip donations made to The Intrepid Foundation.

How do I stay safe and healthy while traveling?

From Australia?

Go to: Smart Traveller

From Canada?

Go to:  Canada Travel Information

From the UK?

Go to:  UK Foreign Travel Advice

From New Zealand?

Go to:  Safe Travel

From the US?

Go to:  US Department of State

The World Health Organisation also provides useful health information.

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Maybe you like to bike, but want to get in a little hiking too. Or perhaps you want to experience the full nature of a place: by hiking and biking, with some kayaking or rafting added to the mix. The Multi-Adventure trip of your dreams awaits in the USA. Enjoy the ideal blend of activities in Wyoming, Utah & Arizona, Alaska, South Carolina & Georgia and more!

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Bucket Lists , Travel , USA Travel

The Ultimate US Bucket List: 25 Epic Adventures to Experience in the USA

The Ultimate US Bucket List: 25 Epic Adventures to Experience in the USA featured by top US travel blog, More Than Main Street: Albuquerque Hot Air Balloon Festival

The Ultimate US Bucket List

I love a bucket list.

So, it shouldn’t be much of a surprise to y’all that I’ve created the ultimate US bucket list full of epic adventures around the country!! Bucket lists are just so much fun and always fill me with hope and inspiration. I hope this list inspires you and your USA adventures too!

25 Epic Adventures to Experience in the USA

The United States has some of the best vacation destinations in the world! I feel like we sometimes get a little FOMO of traveling far and wide and forget about all the amazing places to visit right in our own backyards. From exciting cities to jaw dropping national parks to gorgeous beaches, the USA offers some amazing bucket list travel destinations.

I feel so fortunate to have checked off so many epic adventures in the United States, but I still have more to see and do!

Looking to create your own USA bucket list? Get inspired with my family bucket list : ideas for all ages and stages from adventures at home to big adventure vacations in the USA.

The Ultimate US Bucket List: 25 Epic Adventures to Experience in the USA featured by top US travel blog, More Than Main Street.


This post contains affiliate links which means I could earn a small commission, if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. For more information, read my full Disclosure  HERE .

Here are my top 25 adventures in the US for you to put on your bucket list ASAP!

1. opt outside at utah’s mighty five.

One of the best states for adventures in the US has got to be Utah. I honestly had no idea that Utah was so incredible. Seriously, no clue. But now I know better and after road tripping through Utah this past summer, I recommend it to pretty much everyone I know! Including you!

What is the Utah Mighty 5? The Utah Mighty 5 is the five major National Parks throughout southern Utah: Arches National Park , Canyonlands National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park , Capitol Reef National Park, and Zion National Park . While each park is unique and amazing in it’s own way, my personal two favorites are Zion and Arches. So completely different and awe inspiring at the same time, you must add these two national parks, if not all five to your US bucket list!

Insider Tip : For a once in a lifetime experience, try hiking The Narrows or Angel’s Landing at Zion National park. I promise you these are bucket list adventures in the US you won’t want to miss!

2. Get an Adrenaline Rush in Jackson Hole, Wyoming

We actually stayed in Jackson Hole Wyoming because of its proximity to Yellowstone National Park. But in my opinion, it deserves its very own spot on this US bucket list! There are so many incredible opportunities to get outside and experience an epic adrenaline rush! From white water rafting the Snake River to hiking in Grand Tetons National Park to getting in all your winter sports action, Jackson Hole is an outdoor lover’s playground!

Insider Tip : You don’t have to be an expert to participate in any of these activities. There are options for every ability level. True story: I was scared to death to try white water rafting…but they assured me the tour was appropriate for beginners and children. And it was. Or entire family loved it and we would go again tomorrow if we could!

If you are looking for adventure vacations in the USA, then you should definitely consider booking a trip to Jackson Hole!

Are you a thrill seeker looking for more adventures in the US? Get inspired to try something new with these exciting adrenaline pumping activities !

Family at Boone Hall Plantation in Charleston South Carolina featured by top USA family travel blog, More than Main Street.

3. Experience True Southern Charm in Charleston, South Carolina

Be forewarned: Charleston will charm you! I’ve never met a soul who didn’t love Charleston, South Carolina. The cobblestone streets, being immersed in US history, and the food. OMG the food. Not only is it a dream foodie destination but really a great family friendly vacation too! From Patriot’s Point to Fort Sumter to the plantations, Charleston is the perfect vacation for any history aficionado.

You won’t want to miss Rainbow Row, the Pineapple Fountain, the sweetgrass baskets, and the moss covered trees. And don’t forget the amazing area beaches too!!

Charleston is super Insta-worthy! You’re probably going to come home with a ton of photos! Share your favorites with these fun Charleston Instagram captions .

All bucket list adventures require some planning. Grab our FREE travel planning worksheet (plus some other cool goodies) in our “Experience Collector Kit” below!

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adventure trips in the us

4. USA Adventures: Visit Page, Arizona

Have you ever even heard of Page, Arizona? Well, now you have, and it belongs on your bucket list! One of the most memorable things we did this past summer was visit Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon in Page, Arizona. While admittedly I found these destinations on Instagram , I don’t regret going for one single second. Are they super popular? Yes. Are there crowds? Yes. But I promise you the natural beauty you’ll discover in Page, Arizona is totally worth it!

Oh, and if you’re looking for a unique place to stay…consider renting a houseboat on Lake Powell . It’s what all the cool kids do!

Planning a visit? Everything you need to know before you visit Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon.

5. Get a Little Country in Nashville, Tennessee

There’s so much more to Nashville than country music! Enjoy the electric energy of the downtown area which is bursting with music of all genres, explore the incredible street art scene, and give into your foodie desires in Nashville! And… since this is the epicenter of country music, you definitely should try to see a show at the Grand Ole Opry or the Ryman Theatre and visit the Country Music Hall of Fame. Even if you’re not a huge country music fan, you can still appreciate greatness!

Insider Tip : Add the 12 South neighborhood to your Nashville itinerary, it’s worth the visit!

The USA is practically made for road tripping!! And if you’ve been here awhile, you know I think a good road trip is one of the most fun adventures in the US! And Nashville is the perfect city to add onto any Southeast USA road trip !

One of the best adventure vacations in the USA has to be a trip to the Grand Canyon! Stock photo courtesy of Canva.

6. Bucket list adventures at Grand Canyon National Park

The Grand Canyon is certainly an iconic destination in the USA. And for good reason. It’s simply breath taking. Whether you decided to just take in the phenomenal views or hike down into the Canyon, everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime. To get the most out of your visit, consider doing a guided tour, hike into the canyon, taking a helicopter tour over the canyon, or a boat tour through the canyon. Just taking photos from around the Visitor’s Center will likely leave you a bit underwhelmed.

Insider Tip : Grab up one of the hardest hiking/ camping permits in the world and visit Havasu Falls . The Havasupai Tribe puts permits on sale each year in February and they sell out for the season that same day! Without a doubt this is one of the most adventurous vacations in the USA!

Want even more bucket list inspo? Grab our collection of 125+ best bucket list quotes !

7. Explore Every Nook & Cranny of Colorado

If I had to pick just one bucket list item from Colorado, it would hands down be to see a concert at Red Rocks Amphitheater in Morrison, Colorado. But we are huge music lovers! There are so many more bucket list adventures in Colorado all worth mentioning:

  • Spend a few days exploring Denver .
  • Ski and or sip hot chocolate by the fire in Aspen and or Vail!
  • Hike through the majestic Rocky Mountain National Park .
  • Capture your own photo of Maroon Bells.
  • Take in the epic views at Garden of the Gods .
  • Opt outside at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.

Love a road trip too? Here are some more ideas for an epic USA road trip …and don’t forget these road trip packing essentials !

The Ultimate US Bucket List: 25 Epic Adventures to Experience in the USA featured by top US travel blog, More Than Main Street.: Washington DC

8. Appreciate our Country’s History in Washington, DC

Growing up in the DC area, I never really appreciated all that Washington DC has to offer. However, now as an adult, showing my children around our nation’s capitol has new meaning. Washington DC is full of bucket list adventures:

  • Visit the National Zoo
  • See all the National Monuments & Memorials
  • Visit the White House
  • Visit our nation’s Capitol
  • Celebrate at the Cherry Blossom Festival each spring (There are fun things to do year round, but this is the best time to visit Washington DC in my opinion!)
  • All the National Museums (many of them are free and they’re just incredible!)
  • Arlington National Cemetery (Make sure to catch the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier- a moving experience for anyone!)
  • The Library of Congress
  • Enjoy the diverse foodie scene (although our personal fave is Founding Farmers !)

If you’ve been around awhile, you know I believe adventure is a mindset! Adventures don’t have to be crazy adrenaline pumping experiences; they can simply be a NEW experience . That being said, I feel confident you will find tons of bucket list adventures in Washington DC! But if you need that adrenaline hit, there are tons of opportunities for that here too.

Share your epic adventures on social media with these fun wanderlust captions or my favorite vacation captions for Instagram!

Radio City Music Hall in New York City at Christmas is a unique USA bucket list experience!!

9. Experience the Big Apple: New York City, New York

It’s hard not to fall in love with New York City! It’s a city like no other.

Start our your trip with a visit to Central Park, Times Square, the Statue of Liberty, and the 9/11 Museum and World Trade Center Memorial. Experience a more local vibe of NYC and visit neighborhoods like SoHo, Tribeca, or the West Village. See a Broadway show and try not to spend too much money shopping on 5th Avenue! Eat your way through the city by trying New York style pizza, cheesecake, bagels, and visit a real NYC deli. Round out your trip by catching a Yankee’s game or one of their other 25 professional sports teams!

Insider Tip : Visit New York City during the holidays. It’s truly a special experience! See the world famous rockets at Radio City Music Hall, go ice skating at Rockefeller Plaza, and take in all the stunning holiday light displays all over the city!

Real Talk : New York City can be very overwhelming. If you’ve never been to a big city, my best advice is to prepare for huge crowds and plan as much as possible. Talk to friends who have been before or read as much as you can before you go. Learn about getting around NYC and decide if you’re going to tackle the subway, take taxis, Ubers, or mostly walk. (FYI: You don’t need to be scared in NYC but always be smart. During my girls getaway to NYC, our taxi driver tried taking us in circles to charge us more. I had turned on my Google maps and realized what he was doing and confronted him. Needless to say, he took us right to our destination and ended up giving us the ride for free.)

Love it or hate it, New York City belongs on every USA bucket list!

10. Road Trip from Miami to Key West, Florida

Rent a convertible and put the top down. There is no better place to have some fun in the sun that south Florida. There are a ton of fun stops on a Miami to Key West road trip . Start out your road trip soaking up the excitement of Miami and South Beach. Fit in a tour of Everglades National Park before heading south to Key West. Must do’s along the way include hand feeding wild tarpon off Islamorada, snorkeling in Key Largo, and a visit to the sea turtle hospital in Marathon. Once you arrive in Key West, make sure to try some famous key lime pie, check out Hemingway’s House, and visit the southern most point of the continental US for a fun photo opp!

Insider Tip : One of my all time favorite memories from this trip was renting scooters in Key West and exploring the area and beaches.

Florida has some of the best beaches on the east coast – and don’t forget a thing with our ultimate beach packing guide !

Our family loved exploring China Town in San Francisco!

11. Adventures in the US: Explore San Francisco, California

San Francisco is just one of those cities we keep going back to time and time again…which is why it’s an absolute USA bucket list travel destination! Some of our favorite recommendations include:

  • Lombard Street
  • The Mission District
  • The Golden Gate Bridge
  • China Town – make sure to visit the Fortune Cookie Factory!
  • Ride on a cable car
  • Union Square
  • Golden Gate Park
  • A day trip to see the giant redwoods

12. Embrace the Excitement of Las Vegas, Nevada

Spoiler Alert : You don’t have to gamble to enjoy Las Vegas. Vegas is one of the most exciting cities we’ve ever been to. Prepare yourself for stimulation overload. Of course you can bet big in the famous casinos, but you can also enjoy world class shows and concerts, lavish shopping, incredible food, and the best people watching ever!

Bonus! There are a ton of fun things to do in Las Vegas with kids too!

Insider Tip : Vegas is also the perfect home base for some of the best adventures in the US- it’s true! Fly into Las Vegas, play a few days, then rent a car and head out to Zion, the Grand Canyon, Lake Powell and more!

Half way through the list!! How many of these adventurous vacations in the USA have you been on? Where would you choose to go first?

13. road trip down california’s highway 1.

One of the most romantic things my husband and I have ever done together was a road trip down California’s Pacific Coast Highway. We traveled slowly enjoying each other’s company, the adorable little towns, and the epic views. Starting your road trip in San Francisco, some of our favorite stops are Big Basin Redwoods State Park , Monterey, Carmel-by-the-Sea, Big Sur, the Hearst Castle, Santa Barbara, and Pismo Beach before ending your trip in Los Angeles.

Insider Tip : Try to fit in a meal at Nepenthe , a gorgeous restaurant overlooking the Pacific Ocean. They may have a wait but the views are worth it!

Looking for a little more excitement? This road trip is also perfect if you’re looking for an adventure vacation in the USA! There are tons of opportunities for hiking, kayaking, surfing, biking, fishing, and more!

The Ultimate US Bucket List: 25 Epic Adventures to Experience in the USA featured by top US travel blog, More Than Main Street: Niagara Falls

14. USA Adventures: Stand in Awe of Niagara Falls

You can visit Niagara Falls from both the United States and Canada.

My advice: do both!

The views are incredible and worthwhile from both sides and my kids loved standing on the bridge with one foot in each country. I literally could not stop taking photos from every view point.

Insider Tip : You will need a passport if you plan on visiting Canada!

The three things I’d recommend are absolute must do’s are: the Maid of the Mist boat cruise, taking in the views from the observation tower , and getting wet at Cave of the Winds . My kids said Cave of the Winds is the coolest thing they’ve ever done. That’s pretty high praise if I don’t say so myself. Just prepare to get soaking wet!

Insider Tip : Is a falls view room worth it? In my opinion: YES 100%. We absolutely loved our stay at the Niagara Falls Marriott (on the Canadian side). I normally don’t go for spending the extra money on views. After all we spend most of our time outside of the hotel and actually doing things. But, this time it’s definitely worth it since you can watch fireworks and light show on the falls throughout the summer months. Not to mention watching the sunrise or sunset over the falls is pretty dang cool too.

Short on vacation days? In our opinion, Niagara Falls is one of the best adventures in the US that can be done in just a long weekend! We felt like two days was plenty to see and do everything!

Love chasing waterfalls? Add more waterfalls to your bucket list with our guide to the best waterfalls in the USA !

15. Do a Fall Foliage Tour

I know, I know…that sounds vague. But seriously, there are several options of amazing fall foliage tours all along the east coast of the United States. I personally think a road trip through North Carolina or Virginia are amazing although it’s hard to rival a New England road trip .

Insider Tip : Fall foliage can be finicky. Weather influences peak season so timing is everything! Do your research ahead of time depending on your destination. There are plenty of peak foliage websites with maps and predictions but rooms book up fast for prime locations. For something a little different, consider renting a RV and road trip!

Meeting Mickey Mouse at Disney World in Florida belongs on every USA bucket list!

16. Do Disney!

I’m of the opinion that everyone should go to Disney at least once in their lives ! Whether it’s just for one day or for an entire week, Disney is the gold standard when it comes to amusement parks. They do it head and shoulders above the rest. Say “Hello” to Mickey Mouse, ride all the rides, and see shows that blow your mind during your visit to a Disney theme park! While I personally think Magic Kingdom in Disney World (Florida) is the best place to start your Disney trip, all the parks deliver a fun filled vacation for all ages!

If you’re planning a trip, read all my recommendations, Disney tips for first-timers, and other fun things to do in Orlando too!

17. Get Wild at Yellowstone National Park

Awe-inspiring. If you asked me to describe Yellowstone National Park in one word, I’d have to say awe-inspiring! Is that one word or two? LOL.

Seriously though, a trip to Yellowstone National Park is a must ! Prior to our visit, I really didn’t have high expectations of Yellowstone National Park, but I was honestly blown away by it. I’d go back tomorrow if I had the chance. Grand Prismatic Springs, Old Faithful, visiting the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, and Hayden Valley are just a few of the highlights. But getting up close and personal with wildlife like bison, elk, and bears will blow your mind!

Have a long list of bucket list adventures you want to experience? This is the destination for you! Hiking, whitewater rafting, stand up paddle boarding, kayaking, fishing, zip lining, horseback riding, rock climbing and more at Yellowstone!

My advice: Just book the trip. You won’t regret it.

The Ultimate US Bucket List: 25 Epic Adventures to Experience in the USA featured by top US travel blog, More Than Main Street: Nobska Lighthouse in Woods Holes, Massachusetts

18. Go Lighthouse Hunting in Massachusetts

With over 150 miles of coastline, Massachusetts has dozens of lighthouses. If you like a road trip and “go at your own pace” type of travel, then this is the adventure for you! Not all lighthouses offer tours, so make sure to check their websites before you go. Our top recommendations are Nobska Lighthouse , Gay Head Lighthouse , Race Point Lighthouse , or Nauset Light . In between visiting lighthouses, make sure to grab some fresh seafood, experience world class whale watching, and visit their beautiful beaches.

Insider Tip : We stayed in Falmouth during our trip to the Cape which provided the perfect home-base for our tour of the area. Our favorite activity during our trip to the Cape was renting bicycles on Martha’s Vineyard. Exploring the island via bike was a unique way to see the sites and be active together as a family!

Want more details? Read all about our day trip to Martha’s Vineyard and our Massachusetts to Niagara Falls road trip .

19. Take in the Stunning City of Chicago

Chicago has big city excitement to keep you busy for days! There are so many fun things to do in Chicago . Step out onto The Skydeck Ledge at Willis Tower , take a selfie in The Bean (AKA Cloudgate), or catch a Cubs game at Wrigley Field. I personally never thought I’d love the famous architectural river cruise, but it was so interesting! Lesson learned: try something new! Indulge in their incredible foodie scene but don’t forget to try a classic Chicago style hot dog and deep dish pizza! Finally you can’t forget a stroll down the Magnificent Mile, a visit to the Art Institute, and some good old fashioned fun at the Navy Pier.

Insider Tip : If you have time for a road trip, rent a car and drive up to Wisconsin. Cheer on the Green Bay Packers, eat cheese curds, and visit the exciting college town of Madison!

Planning a visit to Chicago? Make sure to read my Chicago guide before you go!

20. Yosemite National Park : Adventures in the US that cannot be skipped!

If you’re looking for an outdoor adventure vacation in the USA…then you should consider a road trip to Yosemite National Park . You’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a postcard with the amazing scenery around you. Between the epic rock climbing, hiking, camping, and wandering you won’t want to go home!

During your trip to Yosemite National Park, do not miss:

  • Yosemite Falls
  • Bridalveil Falls
  • Tuolumne Meadows
  • The Yosemite Museum and Indian Village
  • Mariposa Grove

If you’re looking for USA adventures where you can immerse yourself in the outdoors, then you simply must visit Yosemite National Park!

Adventurous Vacations in the USA

So what do you think so far? Are you overwhelmed or inspired? I just get so excited talking about these destinations, I can’t help myself!

So which USA adventure trip sounds the most exciting to you? Any destinations that have surprised you? Any you want to know more about? You can always drop me a comment or connect with me on social media as I am always happy to help out!

The Ultimate US Bucket List: 25 Epic Adventures to Experience in the USA featured by top US travel blog, More Than Main Street.: manatee photo courtesy of unsplash

While I personally haven’t been to these last five destinations, no US bucket list would be complete without them. So, I’ve included a few adventures in the US I’m dying to check off my bucket list too!

21. Swim with the Manatees in Crystal River, Florida

I think swimming with the manatees in Crystal River, Florida would pretty much be the coolest thing ever!! I don’t know many places where interacting with animals in the wild is this easy! And ethical! This would be a major bucket list check for me and I imagine a lot of people!

Seriously, could they be any cuter??

22. Attend the Albuquerque International Balloon Festival

Ever since I attended a small local balloon festival I’ve been dreaming of attending the famous Albuquerque International Balloon Festiva l. Each year in October, massive amounts of people flock to Albuquerque, New Mexico for balloon competitions, music concerts, and the highly anticipated mass ascension of balloons. I can just image the goosebumps as the balloons lift into the air to the Star Spangled Banner…I mean seriously, how could this not belong on a USA travel bucket list?

Update !! Although I still have not made it to New Mexico, I did ride in a hot air balloon right here in good old North Carolina!! Read all about my exciting trip to Statesville, NC and one of my most favorite adventures in the US last year!

Once you check hot air ballooning off your list, share your experience with these fun hot air balloon captions and quotes !

23. USA Adventures: Explore Alaska

Alaska is a total dream destination full of bucket list experiences!

  • Take in all the scenic landscapes of the Alaskan National Parks: Denali National Park, Glacier Bay National Park, Kenai Fjords National Park, Katmai National Park
  • Mendenhall Glacier
  • Hang out in Anchorage, Fairbanks, or Juneau.
  • Ride the famous White Pass and Yukon Train.
  • Check a major bucket list item by seeing the Northern Lights.
  • From bears to whales…check out the wildlife!
  • Take a dog sledding tour.

24. Live it Up in New Orleans

I’ve not yet made it to New Orleans, but a trip to the Big Easy is definitely on the agenda! I know there are so many fun things to do in New Orleans but here are a few things that are definitely on my list:

  • Explore the French Quarter, Bourbon Street, and eat beignets at Cafe Du Monde in New Orleans.
  • Attend Jazz Fest!
  • Cheer on the Saints at the Superdome!
  • Get wild and crazy at Mardi Gras.

25. Experience True Paradise in Hawaii

Seriously, isn’t Hawaii on everyone’s US bucket list? Well, it’s pretty much at the top of mine! While my husband has already been to Hawaii, I cannot wait to check these items off one by one!

  • Explore the famous Road to Hana in Maui.
  • Watch the surfers hang ten at Waikiki Beach or the North Shore of Oahu. (This is number 1 on my son’s bucket list!)
  • Take a helicopter tour over the volcano on the Big Island!
  • Devour all the fresh pineapple I can find!
  • Pay our respects at the Pearl Harbor National Memorial.
  • Catch the sunrise at Haleakala .
  • Swim with the sea turtles.
  • Discover the Na Pali Coast and go hiking in Kauai .

The Bodie Island Lighthouse in the Outer Banks of North Carolina belongs on every USA bucket list!

Runner Up US Bucket List Destinations

It’s so hard to choose only 25 US bucket list destinations. The USA truly has so many incredible cities and experiences !! Maybe I’m just being indecisive. LOL. Anyhow, here are some of our runner up choices for bucket list experiences and destinations in the United States:

  • Napa Valley
  • Explore the Pacific Northwest
  • Austin, Texas
  • Outer Banks of North Carolina
  • Chattanooga, Tennessee
  • Sedona, Arizona
  • San Antonio, Texas
  • Asheville, North Carolina
  • Acadia National Park
  • Road tripping the Olympic Peninsula
  • Makinac Island, Michigan

Where Should I Travel to Next?

So many epic USA adventures, so little time! So how exactly do you choose where to start?

Consider your WHY.

One of the major shifts in the way our family travels now is by choosing our destinations intentionally. I truly believe that you will create epic memories and have more meaningful experiences when you choose intentional travel.

How does one travel intentionally?

Consider your why and your values when you are choosing your destination. What do you enjoy doing most on vacation? In the limited amount of time you have each year for vacation, how do you want to spend your time off?

What are your travel goals?

  • relaxation?
  • being in nature?
  • experiencing new cultures?

Try taking your values into account when choosing your next adventure! When traveling as a family, I try very hard to find a vacation that meets everyone’s goals at some point during the trip. If I plan one day specifically for the kids, then next day might be for the adults.

USA Bucket List Travel Adventures

Wherever you choose to go first, the USA truly does offer some of the most epic things to do before you die.

Too Dramatic?

Maybe…but don’t wait! Start checking off these bucket list places to visit while you still can- life is short friends. Begin building those epic experiences and meaningful memories NOW!

Thinking of creating your own bucket list? Read on for even more inspo and grab a free bucket list template too!

Which US bucket list experience will you check off first?

Julie Thorne- author of travel and lifestyle blog, More than Main Street

About The Author

Julie is the founder and author of the lifestyle and travel blog, More than Main Street. Always exploring, she and her family have traveled to 38 US states, over 20 countries, and feels fortunate to call North Carolina home. Julie’s all about gratitude, mindset, self love, seeking out new experiences, and living life to the fullest. Read more  about Julie HERE .

Pin these images for when you need some ideas or inspiration for your next adventurous vacation in the USA!

The Ultimate USA Bucket list Adventures!

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Julie, this is such a great round-up! I loved that you focused on the ‘experience’ of each destination, rather than just the ‘place’. Thanks for sharing these great ideas!

Thank you!! I loved putting this together as I truly believe the US has so many awesome adventures!

Lovely list, Julie! Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon have been in my bucket list for a long time. Now I have even more! 😀

They are amazing!! So many incredible places to visit in the USA!

Such an interesting post. I need to visit the USA soon. It has so much to offer

This is such an amazing round up, I want to try each and every one! Alaska is so high on our bucket list and now I have loads more to add!

So many amazing destinations in the USA!! Hope this was helpful!

Fabulous list – and smiling at the inclusion of my hometown of Nashville!

Thank you!! And I adore Nashville! Such a fun city!

These are some great tips – and a lot I haven’t done yet!

We’ve been to several of these so far and 11, 17, 20, and 25 are my favorites! So many great places in our country to explore!

Those are pretty awesome! Jealous you’ve been to Hawaii!!! Bucket list!

There’s sooo much to do in the US! Definitely have to go back soon and visit the Grand Canyon. A road trip in Florida would be amazing too!

So many amazing choices!!! The Grand Canyon (in fact a lot of Arizona) is awesome!

I love these recommendations! I’ve been to a lot, but there’s still so much more to see and do across the US!

So many epic adventures in the USA!!

This is a great list! I’ve done a few of these but still have a loong way to go! Thanks for sharing!

Thank you!! The USA has so many incredible destinations!!

Absolutely love this list! I hope to be able to visit some of these places one day! Chicago is a must for me, but also swimming with Manatees in Florida! But they are all great!

So many choices…not enough time??? Am I right?? And thank you!! I hope you make it to them all!

This is a fantastic list of U.S experiences! I am proud to say I have done most of this list.. and crossing off Alaska and Hawaii this year. I’ve never been swimming with Manatees in Florida either but that sounds like something that needs to happen! There is so much to do in the U.S, we have a beautiful country. 🙂

I couldn’t agree more!!! Sometimes I feel like the USA is overlooked but there are so many incredible things to do and beautiful things to see all around!! Have the best time in Hawaii and Alaska!! Low key jealous ??

This is such an inspiring list. Since the US is such a huge country, it’s difficult to narrow down destinations. Other worthy mentions are the Outer Banks of North Carolina (and also a great place to go lighthouse hunting). Though you do have a few of my personal bucket list items: Alaka, Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and Mackinac Island (I’ve actually been to the Island, but it has been around 35 years now). Oh, now I’m getting itchy feet 🙂

Just re-read this article knowing that you always have such good ideas for classic, memory-worthy family vacation ideas! I cannot wait to get back to traveling soon!

Awe!! Thanks Jen! Can’t wait until we can get back to traveling!

This is such a great US bucket list! You’ve reminded me of several places I want to visit!!

So many amazing destinations, so little time!!

I love how you have lots that are “off the beaten path”!! Those are the ones I have yet to experience. Nice! Thanks!

Love this. Can’t wait to get started checking these off my list.

I’ve done a lot of road trippin’ around the U.S. driving from petsit to petsit and I truly think the best kept secret is New Mexico. I did a “brown signs tour,” which is to stop at every landmark marked by an official state sign (which are always brown). It was uniquely entertaining! Thanks for an excellent US itinerary!

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Adventure Trips United States: Your Guide to Unforgettable Experiences

Get ready for an epic adventure as we embark on a journey through the breathtaking landscapes and thrilling experiences that await in Adventure Trips United States. From the rugged peaks of the Rockies to the pristine beaches of Hawaii, this guide will ignite your wanderlust and inspire you to create memories that will last a lifetime.

Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie seeking heart-pounding thrills or a nature lover yearning for tranquility, Adventure Trips United States has something for everyone. Dive into the diverse range of destinations, activities, and tips to plan the perfect adventure that aligns with your passions and aspirations.


The United States is a land of adventure, with endless opportunities for those seeking excitement and exploration. From the towering mountains of the West to the sun-kissed beaches of the East, there’s something for every thrill-seeker in this vast and diverse country.

Whether you’re looking for a challenging hike, a white-water rafting adventure, or a scenic bike ride, you’ll find it all in the United States. With its stunning natural beauty and abundance of outdoor activities, it’s no wonder that adventure trips are so popular in this country.

Range of Experiences

The range of adventure experiences available in the United States is truly staggering. You can go rock climbing in Yosemite National Park, kayak through the Everglades, or snowboard down the slopes of Vail. There are opportunities for every skill level, from beginners to experienced adventurers.

  • Hiking: The United States is home to some of the most beautiful hiking trails in the world, from the Appalachian Trail to the Pacific Crest Trail. Whether you’re looking for a day hike or a multi-day backpacking trip, you’ll find plenty of options to choose from.
  • White-water rafting: The United States has some of the best white-water rafting rivers in the world, including the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon and the Salmon River in Idaho. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced rafter, you’ll find a trip that’s perfect for you.
  • Mountain biking: The United States has a vast network of mountain biking trails, from easy beginner trails to challenging expert trails. Whether you’re looking for a leisurely ride through the woods or a technical challenge, you’ll find plenty of options to choose from.

Top Adventure Trip Destinations

From the rugged peaks of the Rocky Mountains to the sun-kissed beaches of California, the United States offers an incredible array of adventure trip destinations. Whether you’re seeking adrenaline-pumping activities or simply want to explore some of the most beautiful places on Earth, there’s something for everyone in this vast and diverse country.

Here are just a few of the most popular adventure trip destinations in the US:

Yosemite National Park, California

Yosemite National Park is a true American icon, renowned for its towering granite cliffs, giant sequoia trees, and cascading waterfalls. Visitors can hike to the top of Half Dome, climb El Capitan, or simply take in the breathtaking views from the valley floor.

Activities: Hiking, climbing, camping, fishing, photography

Highlights: Half Dome, El Capitan, Yosemite Falls, Giant Sequoia trees

Pros: Stunning scenery, world-class hiking and climbing, abundant wildlife

Cons: Crowded during peak season, limited camping availability

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

The Grand Canyon is one of the most awe-inspiring natural wonders on Earth. This massive gorge was carved by the Colorado River over millions of years, and its sheer size and beauty are simply breathtaking. Visitors can hike down into the canyon, raft down the river, or simply take in the views from the rim.

Activities: Hiking, rafting, camping, mule rides, helicopter tours

Highlights: South Rim, North Rim, Bright Angel Trail, Colorado River

Pros: Unforgettable scenery, world-class hiking and rafting, abundant wildlife

Zion National Park, Utah

Zion National Park is a hiker’s paradise, with towering sandstone cliffs, narrow canyons, and lush vegetation. Visitors can hike to the top of Angels Landing, explore The Narrows, or simply take in the views from the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive.

Activities: Hiking, canyoneering, camping, rock climbing, photography

Highlights: Angels Landing, The Narrows, Zion Canyon Scenic Drive, Emerald Pools

Pros: Stunning scenery, world-class hiking and canyoneering, abundant wildlife

Types of Adventure Trips

Whitewater rafting idaho lewiston canyon adventuring matadornetwork

Adventure trips encompass a vast spectrum of activities, each offering unique thrills and challenges. From traversing rugged trails to navigating turbulent waters, the options are as diverse as the landscapes they explore.

Hiking, a timeless pursuit, allows you to immerse yourself in the beauty of nature at your own pace. Trails range from leisurely strolls through meadows to strenuous ascents up towering peaks. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a novice seeking a new adventure, there’s a trail out there to suit your abilities.

For those seeking an adrenaline rush, rafting offers an exhilarating way to conquer whitewater rivers. From Class I rapids suitable for beginners to Class V rapids that test the limits of experienced rafters, there’s a river for every skill level. As you navigate through swirling currents and cascading waterfalls, you’ll experience the raw power of nature firsthand.

Rock Climbing

Rock climbing is a vertical adventure that challenges both your physical and mental limits. Whether you’re scaling indoor walls or tackling natural rock formations, you’ll need strength, agility, and a healthy dose of determination. From beginner-friendly climbs to routes that push the boundaries of human ability, there’s a challenge waiting for every climber.

– Provide specific examples of adventure trip destinations.: Adventure Trips United States

Adventure trips can be taken to all corners of the United States, from the mountains to the deserts to the coasts. Some of the most popular adventure trip destinations in the US include:

  • Yosemite National Park, California: Yosemite is home to some of the most iconic natural landmarks in the US, including Half Dome and El Capitan. There are endless opportunities for hiking, camping, rock climbing, and more.
  • Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona: The Grand Canyon is one of the most awe-inspiring natural wonders in the world. Visitors can hike, raft, or take a helicopter tour to experience the canyon’s beauty.
  • Denali National Park, Alaska: Denali is home to Mount McKinley, the highest mountain in North America. Visitors can hike, camp, or take a flightseeing tour to see the mountain and the surrounding wilderness.
  • Acadia National Park, Maine: Acadia is a beautiful coastal park with hiking trails, carriage roads, and boat tours. Visitors can also enjoy swimming, kayaking, and fishing.
  • Everglades National Park, Florida: The Everglades is a vast subtropical wilderness with a diverse array of plant and animal life. Visitors can take airboat tours, hike, or kayak through the park.

Packing for an Adventure Trip

An adventure trip is an exciting and unforgettable experience, but it’s important to be prepared with the right gear. Here’s a comprehensive packing list to ensure you have everything you need for a successful and safe adventure.

Organize your gear into categories to make packing and unpacking easier. Essential items include clothing, gear, first aid, and personal toiletries.

  • Moisture-wicking base layers: 2-3 pairs, to keep you dry and comfortable.
  • Insulating mid-layers: 1-2 fleece or wool layers, for warmth.
  • Waterproof and breathable outer layer: 1 jacket and 1 pair of pants, to protect you from the elements.
  • Comfortable hiking boots: 1 pair, broken in and waterproof.
  • Hiking socks: 3-4 pairs, moisture-wicking and cushioned.
  • Comfortable and breathable underwear: 5-7 pairs.
  • Hat and gloves: 1 each, for sun protection and warmth.
  • Swimsuit: 1, if swimming is part of your adventure.
  • Backpack: 1, sized appropriately for your trip duration and gear.
  • Sleeping bag: 1, rated for the expected temperatures.
  • Sleeping pad: 1, for insulation and comfort.
  • Trekking poles: 1 pair, for stability and support.
  • Headlamp: 1, for nighttime activities.
  • Water bottle or hydration pack: 1, to stay hydrated.
  • Multi-tool: 1, for repairs and other tasks.
  • First aid kit: 1, with basic medical supplies.
  • Whistle: 1, for emergencies.
  • Antiseptic wipes: 10-20, for cleaning wounds.
  • Bandages: Assorted sizes, for covering wounds.
  • Pain relievers: Ibuprofen or acetaminophen, for headaches and aches.
  • Antihistamines: For allergies or insect bites.
  • Sunscreen: 1, with SPF 30 or higher.
  • Insect repellent: 1, with DEET or picaridin.

Packing Tips

  • Roll your clothes instead of folding them to save space.
  • Use compression sacks to reduce the volume of your gear.
  • Distribute weight evenly throughout your backpack for comfort.
  • Keep essential items like your first aid kit and headlamp easily accessible.
  • Pack extra clothing and gear for unexpected weather conditions.

Note: Additional items may be necessary depending on the specific destination and activities, such as climbing gear, fishing equipment, or snorkeling gear.

Safety Considerations

Embarking on adventure trips is an exhilarating experience, but safety should always be the top priority. Potential hazards lurk in every corner, making it crucial to be aware of the risks and take necessary precautions.

According to the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), “Safety is not just about avoiding accidents; it’s about creating a culture where everyone feels responsible for their own safety and the safety of others.” To foster such a culture, consider the following safety measures:

Hazard Identification

  • Assess potential hazards before embarking on any activity, including weather conditions, terrain, wildlife, and other participants.
  • Be aware of your physical limitations and seek guidance from experienced professionals when necessary.

Risk Management

  • Plan your trip meticulously, considering all aspects of the itinerary, including transportation, accommodation, and communication.
  • Pack appropriate gear and supplies, including first-aid kits, emergency shelters, and communication devices.

Emergency Preparedness

  • Inform someone of your itinerary and expected return time.
  • Carry a whistle or other signaling device in case of an emergency.
  • Know basic first-aid techniques and how to use any specialized equipment you may have.

Remember, safety is not a destination but an ongoing journey. By adhering to these precautions and maintaining a vigilant mindset, you can minimize risks and maximize the enjoyment of your adventure trip.

Environmental Responsibility

Adventure Trips United States

When embarking on adventure trips, it’s crucial to prioritize environmental responsibility to preserve the natural beauty we seek to explore. Minimizing our impact and protecting ecosystems ensures future generations can enjoy these wonders.

Here are some key principles to follow:

Respect the Environment

  • Stay on designated trails to prevent erosion and protect wildlife habitats.
  • Pack out what you pack in. Avoid leaving any trash or waste behind.
  • Use reusable items, such as water bottles and utensils, to reduce single-use plastic.
  • Respect wildlife by observing them from a distance and not disturbing their natural behaviors.

Support Sustainable Practices

  • Choose tour operators committed to environmental sustainability.
  • Look for accommodations that prioritize eco-friendly practices, such as water conservation and energy efficiency.
  • Purchase souvenirs made from sustainable materials and support local artisans.

Educate Yourself

Before your trip, research the local environment and learn about the potential impact of your activities. This knowledge will help you make informed decisions and minimize your footprint.

Adventure Trip Operators

Adventure Trips United States

Embark on unforgettable escapades with reputable adventure trip operators in the United States. These seasoned professionals provide exceptional services, ensuring your safety and maximizing your thrill-seeking experiences.

Each operator boasts a wealth of experience, specializing in diverse adventure domains, from adrenaline-pumping treks to tranquil kayaking excursions. Their safety standards are paramount, adhering to strict protocols and employing certified guides to safeguard your well-being.

Top Adventure Trip Operators

  • Backroads: Renowned for guided cycling and hiking tours, Backroads offers immersive experiences in iconic national parks and scenic landscapes.
  • AdventureSmith Explorations: Specializing in adventure cruises, trekking, and wildlife safaris, AdventureSmith Explorations caters to discerning travelers seeking off-the-beaten-path expeditions.
  • ROW Adventures: With a focus on kayaking, rafting, and hiking, ROW Adventures leads small-group expeditions in remote wilderness areas, fostering a sense of camaraderie and connection with nature.
  • National Geographic Expeditions: Leveraging the expertise of National Geographic experts, these expeditions blend adventure with education, providing unique insights into the world’s natural and cultural wonders.
  • Intrepid Travel: Known for its responsible and sustainable approach, Intrepid Travel offers a wide range of adventure tours that emphasize cultural immersion and local interactions.

Reviews and User-Generated Content

Reviews and user-generated content play a vital role in enhancing the credibility and value of adventure trip information on the platform. By incorporating user reviews, we empower our users to share their firsthand experiences, providing valuable insights and perspectives to fellow adventurers.

To ensure the quality and usefulness of user-generated content, we have implemented the following guidelines:

Provide Clear Guidelines on Writing Helpful and Informative Reviews

  • Encourage users to provide detailed information about their trip itinerary, including the specific activities they participated in and the destinations they visited.
  • Emphasize the importance of sharing insights about accommodations, such as comfort, cleanliness, and amenities.
  • Guide users to offer feedback on the quality of guides, including their knowledge, professionalism, and enthusiasm.
  • Prompt users to describe their overall experience, including highlights, challenges, and areas for improvement.

Implement a Rating System

  • Establish a rating system that allows users to evaluate their trips based on various aspects, such as difficulty, scenery, and value for money.
  • Provide clear criteria for each rating category, ensuring consistency and transparency in user assessments.
  • Display the average rating for each trip prominently, enabling users to quickly gauge the overall sentiment.

Include a Section for Photos and Videos

  • Create a dedicated section where users can share photos and videos of their adventure trips.
  • Encourage users to submit high-quality images and videos that showcase the beauty and excitement of their experiences.

Moderate Reviews

  • Implement a moderation process to review all user-generated content before it is published.
  • Ensure that reviews are constructive and respectful, avoiding personal attacks or defamatory language.
  • Address any inappropriate or harmful content promptly, removing it from the platform.

Display Reviews in a Clear and Organized Manner

  • Organize reviews chronologically, with the most recent reviews appearing first.
  • Allow users to filter reviews based on specific criteria, such as rating, destination, or activity type.
  • Provide clear navigation and search functionality, enabling users to easily find the information they are seeking.

Trip Reports and Itineraries


Adventure trips in the United States offer an unparalleled opportunity to explore the country’s stunning landscapes, engage in thrilling activities, and create unforgettable memories. To help you plan your own adventure, we’ve compiled detailed trip reports and itineraries from experienced travelers who have ventured into the wilderness and beyond.

These reports provide valuable insights into destinations, activities, expenses, and practical tips for planning and budgeting. By sharing their experiences, our contributors aim to inspire and equip you with the knowledge and confidence to embark on your own unforgettable adventure.

Sample Itinerary

Here’s an example of a 7-day adventure trip itinerary through the iconic national parks of the Southwest:

Key Takeaways and Lessons Learned

  • Plan your trip in advance, especially during peak season.
  • Book accommodations and activities early to secure availability and avoid last-minute price increases.
  • Be prepared for all types of weather conditions.
  • Pack light and leave plenty of room for souvenirs.
  • Respect the environment and follow Leave No Trace principles.
  • Be open to new experiences and unexpected adventures.

Recommended Gear and Equipment

  • Hiking boots
  • Water bottle
  • Insect repellent
  • First-aid kit

Making the Most of Your Experience

  • Take time to appreciate the beauty of your surroundings.
  • Engage with locals and learn about the area’s history and culture.
  • Challenge yourself and try something new.
  • Unplug and reconnect with nature.
  • Capture the moments and share your experiences with others.

Overall Impact and Takeaways

Adventure trips in the United States are an enriching and transformative experience. They offer an opportunity to connect with nature, push your limits, and create memories that will last a lifetime. By sharing our trip reports and itineraries, we hope to inspire you to embark on your own adventure and discover the beauty and diversity of this incredible country.

Adventure Trip Planning Tools

The internet is a treasure trove of resources for planning your next adventure trip. From online maps and route planners to packing lists and gear reviews, there are tools available to help you with every aspect of your trip.

One of the most useful tools for planning an adventure trip is an online map service. Google Maps and Apple Maps both offer detailed maps of the world, with features like satellite imagery, terrain views, and turn-by-turn directions. You can use these maps to plan your route, find campsites and other points of interest, and get an idea of the terrain you’ll be traveling through.

Another helpful tool is a route planner. These tools allow you to create a custom route for your trip, taking into account factors like distance, elevation gain, and road conditions. Some popular route planners include HikingProject, BikeRouteToaster, and MapMyRide.

Packing Lists

Once you’ve planned your route, it’s time to start packing. Packing for an adventure trip can be a challenge, but there are a few resources that can help you make sure you have everything you need.

One option is to use a packing list. There are many different packing lists available online, tailored to different types of trips and destinations. You can also create your own packing list, based on your own needs and preferences.

Gear Reviews

If you’re not sure what gear to bring on your trip, there are a number of websites that offer gear reviews. These reviews can help you make informed decisions about what gear to buy, based on factors like price, performance, and durability.

Adventure Trip Blogs and Vlogs

In the vast digital landscape, adventure trip blogs and vlogs serve as indispensable resources for aspiring adventurers. These platforms offer a wealth of information, inspiration, and insider tips, catering to a diverse audience of outdoor enthusiasts.

Adventure trip blogs, like “The Adventure Junkies” and “Uncommon Path”, provide in-depth destination guides, gear reviews, and personal accounts of thrilling expeditions. Their content often focuses on specific regions or activities, such as backpacking in Patagonia or rock climbing in Yosemite.

Adventure trip vlogs, like “Vagabrothers” and “Hey Nadine”, take viewers on immersive journeys through breathtaking landscapes and adrenaline-pumping experiences. These vlogs offer a firsthand perspective on the challenges and rewards of adventure travel, capturing the raw emotions and breathtaking visuals that words alone cannot convey.

Adventure Trip Photography

Adventure trip photography captures the beauty and excitement of these experiences. It’s a way to preserve memories and share the incredible moments you’ve had. Here are some tips for taking great adventure photos:

  • Use a high-quality camera. The better the camera, the better the photos. If you don’t have a high-quality camera, you can rent one for your trip.
  • Learn the basics of photography. This will help you take better photos in all situations.
  • Get close to the action. The closer you are to the action, the more exciting your photos will be.
  • Use natural light. Natural light is always best for taking photos.
  • Be patient. The best photos often take time to get.


Composition is an important part of photography. It’s how you arrange the elements in your photo to create a visually appealing image. Here are some tips for composing great adventure photos:

  • Use the rule of thirds. The rule of thirds is a compositional guideline that can help you create more balanced and interesting photos.
  • Use leading lines. Leading lines can draw the viewer’s eye into your photo and create a sense of depth.
  • Use negative space. Negative space is the empty space in your photo. It can be used to create a sense of balance and drama.
  • Experiment with different perspectives. Getting down low or shooting from a high angle can create more interesting photos.

Editing is an important part of photography. It allows you to improve the look and feel of your photos. Here are some tips for editing adventure photos:

  • Crop your photos. Cropping can help you remove unwanted elements from your photos and improve the composition.
  • Adjust the exposure. Exposure is the amount of light in your photo. You can adjust the exposure to make your photos lighter or darker.
  • Adjust the contrast. Contrast is the difference between the light and dark areas in your photo. You can adjust the contrast to make your photos more dramatic.
  • Add filters. Filters can be used to add special effects to your photos.

Adventure Trip Videos

Witness the exhilarating moments and challenges of adventure trips through our curated gallery of videos. Experience the breathtaking landscapes, conquer physical and mental boundaries, and share in the camaraderie of these extraordinary journeys.

Destination Showcase, Adventure Trips United States

Embark on virtual adventures to diverse destinations around the world. From towering mountains to pristine coastlines, our videos capture the unique beauty and challenges of each location.

  • Patagonia Trek: Witness the awe-inspiring grandeur of the Patagonian Andes as hikers navigate rugged trails and encounter wildlife.
  • Amazon River Expedition: Explore the vibrant biodiversity of the Amazon rainforest, paddling through its mighty waterways and encountering its diverse inhabitants.
  • Mount Everest Base Camp Trek: Experience the physical and mental challenges of reaching the base of the world’s highest mountain.

Activity Highlights

Discover the wide range of adventure activities available. Our videos showcase the thrill of rock climbing, the adrenaline rush of white-water rafting, and the serenity of kayaking.

  • Rock Climbing in Yosemite: Watch climbers ascend iconic granite walls, demonstrating skill and determination.
  • White-Water Rafting on the Colorado River: Experience the excitement of navigating rapids through the Grand Canyon.
  • Sea Kayaking in Alaska: Explore the pristine waters of Alaska’s Inside Passage, encountering glaciers and marine wildlife.

Camaraderie and Teamwork

Adventure trips foster a sense of camaraderie and teamwork. Our videos capture the shared experiences, challenges, and triumphs of participants.

  • Group Hiking in the Swiss Alps: Witness the bonds formed between hikers as they navigate alpine terrain together.
  • Volunteer Expedition in Africa: Experience the transformative power of teamwork as participants engage in conservation efforts.
  • Backpacking Trip with Friends: Capture the laughter, support, and memories shared on a wilderness adventure.

As you return from your adventure, you’ll carry with you not only breathtaking memories but also a renewed appreciation for the beauty and diversity of our nation. Adventure Trips United States has ignited a spark within you, inspiring you to embrace new challenges and seek out the extraordinary in every corner of life. Let this guide be your compass as you continue to explore the endless possibilities that await.

Expert Answers

What are the most popular adventure destinations in the United States?

Yosemite National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, Zion National Park, Acadia National Park, and Glacier National Park are among the most sought-after adventure destinations in the US, offering a wide range of activities and stunning scenery.

How do I choose the right adventure trip for me?

Consider your interests, fitness level, and budget when selecting an adventure trip. Research different destinations and activities to find one that aligns with your preferences and abilities.

What are the essential items to pack for an adventure trip?

Pack comfortable clothing, sturdy footwear, a first-aid kit, sunscreen, insect repellent, a flashlight, and any necessary gear for your chosen activities (e.g., hiking poles, climbing harness).

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The 7 Best Kayaking Trips in the U.S. for Adventure Seekers

Some of the most beautiful places in the U.S. are best seen from the water.

Evie Carrick is a writer and editor who’s lived in five countries and visited well over 50. She now splits her time between Colorado and Paris, ensuring she doesn't have to live without skiing or L'As du Fallafel.

adventure trips in the us

There's something extra special about spending a day out on the water , letting it pull you where it wants. And it doesn't matter whether you're paddling around a calm coastal bay in Alaska or flying down a Class III rapid in Georgia — with the cool water below you, warm sun all around you, and an ever-changing landscape that might include red-rock canyon walls, lush overhangs, or even a pod of passing orca whales, the experience is bound to be wonderful.

There are hundreds of amazing kayaking trips across the U.S., but to help you narrow it down, we curated a list that offers a little something for everyone, from newbies looking for perfectly flat waters to advanced kayakers interested in careening down a Class IV rapid. Just make sure to secure the proper permit and practice good stewardship on whatever trip you choose. And don't forget the proper apparel.

Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska

Taylor McIntyre/Travel + Leisure

When it comes to pure, natural beauty, Alaska is hard to top. And that beauty is only enhanced from the water. While you won't find any rapids or whitewater off the shores of Glacier Bay National Park, you will spot glaciers, puffins, sea lions, and even orca or humpback whales.

If you're interested in booking an overnight trip during the summer (a must), make sure to register for a free permit .

Colorado River, Arizona

The great Colorado River traverses several states — Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and California — and while you could technically float the entire way, you'd need some serious paddling skills and a surefire plan to do so. To get a taste of the Colorado , head to Arizona and run the relatively mild 15-mile section of the river from Glen Canyon to Lees Ferry. And don't forget to look up, so you get the full effect of the red-rock canyon walls and near-constant bluebird skies.

You don't need a permit to float to Lees Ferry, but if you want to continue on, you'll need to secure one.

Klamath River, California

For a beginner-friendly river trip, check out Klamath River . The water may flow out of Oregon with gusto (Class IV water), but it mellows out in California. For a great family experience, put in at Happy Camp and enjoy the views on the 20-mile journey to Dillon Creek. Along the way, you'll come across natural swimming holes, cliff-jumping spots, waterfalls, and some Class II and III rapids. Enjoy great waterfront camping and keep an eye on the skies above — bald eagles roam these parts.

A whitewater rafting permit is not required, but a fire permit is necessary.

Allagash Wilderness Waterway, Maine

If you have your heart set on an East Coast expedition, head to northern Maine. The Allagash Wilderness Waterway flows through an expansive, underdeveloped part of the state and boasts moose, bears, and blueberries along the way. For a full, multiday trip, put in at Churchill Dam and float till you reach Allagash Village, a section that has Class II rapids, lakes, and a short but mandatory portage around the Allagash Falls (well worth the effort).

You'll need to register before you put in and be prepared to pay camping fees.

San Juan Islands, Washington

If sea life is what you seek, head to the San Juan Islands in Washington. Located near the U.S.-Canada border, this string of islands is home to orca whale pods all year round. Plus, it's known for regular sightings of sea lions, seals, dolphins, and otters.

You can book anything from a half-day to multiday kayaking trip around the islands, but we suggest giving yourself plenty of time to explore the smaller islands off Lopez Island, paddle through the protected waters around Orcas Island, and try your luck at spotting a resident orca pod off San Juan Island.

Chattooga River, Georgia

Georgia's Chattooga River has some Class V rapids, but most people plan out a more family-friendly trip that traverses Section 2 and 3 of the river. During Section 2 , you'll float over and around Class I and II rapids, as well as enjoy calmer sections of the deep, crystal-clear water. After seven miles on Section 2, you can take out or continue on to the more difficult (and more remote) Section 3 — home to rapids that reach up to Class IV.

You can self-register for a permit to run the Chattooga River when you put in.

Middle Fork of the Salmon, Idaho

If you're up for more of a challenge, plan a kayaking trip down the Middle Fork of the Salmon — a journey found on almost every river lover's bucket list . The river has some serious Class III and IV rapids, but it's also known for its superior fly fishing, so make sure to cast a line when the water calms.

A permit is required to float the Middle Fork of the Salmon and a lottery takes place during the busy summer months.

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60 Bucket List USA Trip Ideas: Best Places to Visit in the US (2024)

Here are 60 awesome USA trip ideas and the best places to visit in the US that will get you really excited about exploring America.

From USA road trips , to the best city getaways, We have traveled to all 50 states and can wholeheartedly tell you there are some incredible destinations in the United States that absolutely deserve a spot on your USA bucket list .

If you are taking a trip to the USA, you’ll find that America is filled with majestic natural landscapes.

The most beautiful states in the US have incredible waterfalls, beaches, mountains, slot canyons, and more. There are terrific cities to explore too. So let’s get started with the best places to visit in the USA.

USA Road Trips

Table of Contents

Our Favorite Resources to Plan a Trip to the USA

This post contains affiliate links. If you book or buy something through one of these links, we may earn a commission. There is no extra cost to you. You can read our full disclosure  here .

  • A USA road trip is even more fun when you rent an RV or Sprinter Van. We booked a trip with Outdoorsy to try out Van Life and loved that we could choose from so many amazing options. Use code Jen50 to get $50 off your first Outdoorsy rental
  • I think we’ll all seen that trip insurance can come in really handy for things you would never expect to happen. We use SafetyWing to protect ourselves..
  • For more in depth trip inspiration, check out these USA Destinations or our YouTube Channel that has tons of USA Trip videos.

15 Top USA Road Trip Ideas Worthy of Your Bucket List

Whether they are close to home or far away, road trips are awesome. It lets you get up close and personal with a destination without being stuck in one place.

Road trips are great for traveling with your significant other, a family vacation, spending time with a parent, or a girlfriend’s getaway.

West Coast Road Trip Big Sur

1. Pacific Coast Highway is the Ultimate Bucket List USA Road Trip (600 miles)

A Pacific Coast Highway road trip from San Diego to San Francisco (600 miles) will take you past the Prettiest Beaches in Southern California and the cutest California beach towns .

Be sure to stop in the entertainment capital of Los Angeles , the beachy community of Santa Barbara , and nearby Ojai .

The road turns inland for stops in Solvang , Los Olivos , and Paso Robles for a wine tasting before you head back to the coast. See the famed Hearst Castle and continue on to the redwoods of Big Sur .

The quaint communities of Carmel-by-the-Sea , Monterey , and Santa Cruz are worth stops before arriving at the iconic Golden Gate Bridge . You’ll have plenty of exploring in San Francisco before you head home.


California Wine Country USA Road Trip

2. Northern California Wine Country (225 miles)

California wines are renowned worldwide. To get a proper taste of them, the California Wine Country road trip is the best option.

First, make your way through Napa Valley , its vineyards, historic landmarks, and the thriving luxury hotel scene. Spend a few days wine tasting and trying some of the best restaurants in the USA.

Catch a glimpse of Old Faithful Geyser in Calistoga before heading to Sonoma County and staying at a boutique hotel in the charming town of Healdsburg .

One of the best things to do in Healdsburg is shop in Healdsburg Plaza and stay overnight at the new Montage Healdsburg with gorgeous vineyard views.

Continue towards Mendocino and stop at one of many tasting rooms like Navarro Vineyards & Winery before arriving at the windswept coast.

Redwood forests and beaches abound. Head back to San Francisco driving along the stunning Northern California coast route.

Secret Cove Lake Tahoe

3. California Highway 395 and the Eastern Sierra (300+ miles)

This scenic road trip along US Route 395 will take you east of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Start your adventure in Lake Tahoe. Lake Tahoe has so many fun things to do. Bring an inflatable kayak to use in Secret Cove and other lakes.

Head to the Mammoth Lakes area making sure to stop at otherworldly Mono Lake along the way. If you have enough time, you can visit

Yosemite National Park through the east entrance in summer. Mammoth has summer activities like hiking, mountain biking, fishing, and kayaking.

Visit the Hot Creek Geologic Site and take a soak in a natural hot spring. Alabama Hills is next up and the perfect place to stay overnight with a sprinter van or RV.

This much-loved film location has hiking and beautiful vistas. Last but not least, drive another hour to reach Death Valley National Park .


Bombay Beach California Desert Road Trip

4. Southern California Deserts (285 miles)

Fly into Palm Spring Airport and start the road trip exploring the eclectic area of downtown Palm Springs and Palm Desert. Don’t miss the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway for birdseye views and a day trip to Joshua Tree National Park .

A 2-hour drive will get you to the vineyards and historic downtown of Temecula . It’s a great place for a hot air balloon ride if you plan ahead.

Continue to the beautiful Anza Borrego Desert State Park known for its natural wonders and cactus-studded hills.

Finally visit the Salton Sea , the biggest lake in California that was accidentally created. Stop by the almost ghost town of artistic Bombay Beach and Salvation Mountain , a religious structure featured in the movie Into the Wild .

The Pacific Northwest Has Stunning USA Road Trips

Oregon Most Beautiful US State

5. Oregon Coast (340 miles)

Head straight up the Oregon coast for 350 miles of extraordinary amazing Oregon beaches . See the Natural Bridges at Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor .

Catch sunset at Face Rock State Park and stay overnight in Coos Bay to explore the area. Devil’s Punchbowl State Park has an incredible sea cave that you can see from above.

Go hiking at Cape Lookout State Park and take in the impossibly turquoise water nearby in Netarts Bay . Tour the Tillamook Factory for a fun outing.

Don’t miss the forest walk to Short Sand Beach where all the surfers hit the waves. Iconic Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach is a must-see. End your journey in Astoria on the Columbia River or continue on to the Washington coast.

Tamolitch Blue Pool Hike

6. Oregon Scenic Byways

Venture inland on one of the Oregon Scenic Byways and you’ll be completely blown away. Oregon is best in summer but fall is absolutely gorgeous.

See incredible foliage in Silver Falls State Park and fun harvest festivals in the Willamette Valley and Mt Hood/Columbia River Gorge Area. Winter skiing at Mt. Hood and Mt. Bachelor in Oregon is also amazing.

Travel through the McKenzie Pass to the gorgeous Tamolitch Blue Pool and Proxy Falls. From there, it’s a quick drive to Smith Rock State Park, a premier destination for rock climbers and hikers alike.

It’s right near the active and fun city of Bend, Oregon . In addition to Mt Bachelor, you’ll find multiple lakes, the Deschutes River, Tumalo Falls, and tons of breweries.


Olympic National Park

7. Olympic Peninsula in Washington (around 330 miles)

To enjoy nature and its beauty, take the Olympic Peninsula loop road trip. Start your adventure in the beautiful emerald city of Seattle .

Continue your way through the charming town of Port Townsend . Take a stroll through Sequim’s quaint streets – and its many lavender farms. 

Enjoy Olympic National Park and the stunning lakes within it. Drive to Hurricane Ridge for jaw-dropping views of the Olympic Mountains.

A must-see in the area is the Hoh Rainforest , one of Washington State’s natural wonders. Lastly, catch Neah Bay and the gorgeous Pacific Coast beaches before you end your trip.

Alaska Bear Glacier Kayak Bucket List USA Trip

8. Make Sure Alaska is on Your USA Bucket List – It’s Amazing!

A lot of people think of Alaska as a cruise destination but a 7 to 10 Day Alaskan Road Trip and spending time in Denali National Park is so much more exciting.

Kayak through iceberg lagoons, zipline through forests, see massive glaciers calve into the ocean, watch bears fishing for salmon, or fly around Denali, one of the tallest peaks in the world.

You may not think of Alaska as a year-round destination. While Alaska is at its prime in summer, don’t overlook the fall colors mid-September that coincide with the later end of the salmon run for those who want to fish.

Alaska is also a top spot for Northern Lights viewing between September and March.

Bucket List USA Arizona Wave

9. A Southwest USA Road Trip Never Disappoints

There are many variations of a Southwest road trip and most involve really cool USA National Parks like Zion, Bryce, Arches, Grand Canyon, or White Sands.

Visit interesting Native American sites like Antelope Canyon, Monument Valley, and Havasupai.

See slot canyons, waterfalls, and more in Sedona, Arizona , Utah, Nevada, and New Mexico. The Southwest is visually stunning and full of fun activities.

Don’t miss the chance to Hike the Wave or White Pocket in Arizona. These are a few of the amazing things to do in Kanab on the Utah – Arizona border.

Spring and Fall are ideal for a Southwest road trip because it’s the best weather. In Spring, the waterfalls and wildflowers peak and you can catch some fall foliage around Taos, New Mexico, and many parts of Utah .


10. Route 66 is a Quintessential USA Road Trip

The full Route 66 road trip is 2,137 miles, filled with natural wonders and offbeat sightseeing, between Chicago, the Grand Canyon, and Los Angeles. Do the whole route (2 weeks) or just a portion like California and Arizona.

You can also take this route on a cross-country trip and veer off course to Durango, Colorado as we did. Route 66 starts at the Santa Monica Pier in Los Angeles and works its way through 7 states to Lake Michigan.

Florida Keys Sunset

11. Florida Keys Road Trip From Miami to Key West is A Unique USA Experience (160 miles)

This road trip traverses the overseas highway, where 43 of 1,700 islands are connected by bridges, to the southernmost tip of Florida. You can drive from Fort Lauderdale or Miami to Key West in 4 hours.

Make the trip over a few days and stop at the 16 best stops from Miami to Key West .

The north end of the Florida Keys has Biscayne National Park with crystal clear blue water and the world’s 3rd largest coral reef system with lots of outdoor activities.

The peak time to visit the Florida Keys is from November through February when the weather is perfect in the 70s-80s, but it’s also the busiest and most expensive.

Spring travel from March through May still has nice weather without the crowds Fall weather is lovely but it’s also hurricane season, so make sure you have trip insurance in case you need to cancel.

Acadia National Park

12. The East Coast is Full of Great USA Trip Ideas for Summer or Fall

A favorite East Coast road trip is from Rhode Island up to Maine. It can be a romantic fall foliage trip or a great summer trip with kids.

Hit the beaches on Block Island , mansions in Newport, charming towns of Cape Cod, the Freedom Trail in Boston, lobstering in Maine, or hiking in Acadia National Park. Check it all out on a New England Road Trip with Teens .

A Southern East Coast road trip will take you from the beaches of Florida to the historic towns of Savannah and Charleston with many historic sites and countless antique shops or markets.

Myrtle Beach is a draw for so many recreational things to do. There are so many places to explore on the Eastern seaboard.


Biltmore Asheville in December

13. Mid-South Road Trips

We did a short version of this trip through Tennessee where you can see the sights and sounds of Nashville, and whiskey tasting in Lynchburg and Chattanooga.

Add on the Blue Ridge Parkway through the Great Smoky Mountains for fall foliage and a trip to the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina.

Incorporate coastal cities like Charleston and beautiful beach areas like the Outer Banks.

Most Beautiful US States Michigan

14. Lake Michigan Circle Tour is Amazing for Road Trippin’ the USA

This trip will take you through Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, and a bit of Indiana. It’s the prettiest summer trip that’s perfect for families and you can combine it with a Midwest college tour.

Chicago is such a cool city, especially in summer. If you’ve never been to Wisconsin, get it on your list ASAP for a summer or fall trip with foliage and Badger football at Camp Randall.

Don’t miss Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and Sleeping Bear Dunes at the top of Michigan for beautiful beaches and stunning landscapes.

November Travel to Hawaii

15. The Road to Hana is Definitely a Bucket List USA Trip

The famed Road to Hana in Maui is more of a long, scenic drive than a road trip. In 59 miles, you will want to stop at every waterfall, black sand beach , or viewpoint.

Another great Hawaiian drive on the big island of Hawaii from Hilo to Honokaa is Hamakua Coast Drive. Big wave season is from the end of October through March on the North Shore of Oahu.

We’ve been dying to see the 30-50 foot waves in person. Hawaii has year-round amazing weather.

15 Best National Parks to Visit in the USA

If you plan to visit more than one National Park, save money with an America the Beautiful National Park Pass . There is nothing better than getting out in nature, and there are so many great national parks to visit in the US.

Grand Canyon National Park

16. Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona

There’s no place like the Grand Canyon. Whether you’re an experienced hiker or a first-time visitor, there’s no wrong way to experience this natural wonder.

For the truly adventurous, a hike to the bottom of the canyon is a must. The trailhead for the Bright Angel Trail is located near the visitor center, and hikers can choose between a day hike and an overnight camping trip.

There’s no better way to appreciate the scale of the canyon than by spending some time at its bottom.

For those who want to stay closer to the top, there are plenty of vantage points from which to take in the incredible views. Yavapai Point and Mather Point are two of the most popular viewpoints.

The Grand Canyon Skywalk is a see-through cantilever bridge that takes you out over the edge of Grand Canyon West.

Combine the Grand Canyon with the best places to visit in Arizona like Sedona, Page, and Monument Valley,

Arches National Park Best Place to Visit in April

17. Arches National Park in Moab, Utah

Arches National Park is full of, well, arches! The most famous of these is Delicate Arch, which has been featured on everything from postcards to Utah license plates.

But there are plenty of other arches to explore in the park, including Double Arch (shown above) and Sand Dune Arch, among others.

Of course, you can also enjoy the stunning natural scenery or stargaze in one of the darkest skies in the country.

For those who want to get closer to nature, there are plenty of hikes to explore, ranging from easy nature trails to challenging multi-day treks.

Arches National Park definitely deserves a spot on your Utah Bucket List .

Canyonlands National Park

18. Canyonlands National Parks in Moab, Utah

A visit to Canyonlands National Park can be a series of scenic drives and mind-blowing views or filled with incredible hiking and off road adventures.

With over 400 miles of hiking trails, there is sure to be a route that appeals to everyone, from casual walkers to hardcore adventurers.

No visit to Canyonlands would be complete without a trip to one of its three major attractions: Mesa Arch, The Needles, or Dead Horse Point State Park.

You can stay in Moab to visit both Canyonlands and Arches National Parks. Without having an airport nearby, you will probably want to see other parks on your way there like Zion.

We put together a video of our Utah top 10 and a 20 Must See Places in Utah blog post with even more.

Bryce Canyon Things to do Near Kanab

19. Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park is one of the most beautiful places on earth. With its red rock formations, hoodoos, and stunning views.

From above, the Bryce Amphitheater is a USA bucket list sight. There are multiple viewpoints to watch the sunset or enjoy a picnic lunch.

But the real treat is spending one Day in Bryce Canyon National Park and hiking down into the towering hoodoos.

The Navajo Loop Trail is one of the most popular trails, winding through some of the most beautiful parts of the canyon, including Wall Street. You will be surrounded by high walls of red rock and if you’re lucky, you might even see some wildlife.

USA Bucket List Trip Ideas Zion National Park

20. Zion National Park

With over four million visitors each year, Zion National Park has some of the best sights in America. The park features sandstone cliffs, canyons, rivers, and iconic views that you’ve probably seen in tons of photos.

With one day in Zion National Park , you can take a short hike on the Canyon Overlook trail and then take a scenic drive that will blow you away with its beauty.

With more time, you can take advantage of the many bucket list USA adventures in Zion. Wade through the river on the Narrows hike with 1,500-foot canyon walls towering above you.

Or get your adrenaline fill on the Angels Landing hike that takes you to the top of a 1,488-foot tall rock formation along precarious paths and steep drop-offs.

Visiting Zion is only one of the completely awesome things to do in Kanab and Southwest Utah .

Rocky Mountain National Park

21. Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado

Rocky Mountain National Park is home to an incredible amount of natural beauty, including soaring mountains, pristine lakes, and lush forests.

And while there are countless ways to enjoy the park, one of the most popular activities is hiking. With more than 350 miles of trails, there’s a perfect hike for everyone.

Dream Lake and Emerald Lake are the best hiking spots for beginners. With shorter trails and lakes with beautiful reflections, these are highly popular.

A must-do hike for those that want a great workout is Sky Pond. Serious hikers head for Long’s Peak, the biggest challenge at 14,259 feet.

Yosemite in Winter Valley Floor

22. Yosemite National Park in California

Tucked away in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains, Yosemite National Park is one of the world’s most incredible natural landscapes immortalized in Ansel Adams photographs.

With more than 1,200 square miles to explore, there are plenty of sights worth seeing in this national treasure.

Catch sunrise lighting up soaring granite cliffs of El Capitan and Half Dome from Tunnel View. Then head to the thundering waterfalls of Yosemite Valley and picturesque hiking trails.

In February, catch the bucket list moment when Horsetail Falls lights up from the sunset to create the “firefall.”

Our 2 Days in Yosemite Itinerary will give you all the best things to do in the park along with where to stay and how to get around.

Things to do in Death Valley Zabriskie Point Sunset

23. Death Valley National Park

Death Valley is a place of extremes. It is the hottest, driest, and lowest point in North America. But it is also one of the most beautiful places on earth. Here are some of the best things to do in Death Valley National Park.

One of the most popular things to do in Death Valley is visit the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes. These massive dunes are a great place to hike, sled, or simply take in the majestic views.

For another dose of natural beauty, head to Zabriskie Point for a sunset that you won’t soon forget. Another must-see are the Salt Flats at Badwater Basin.

Whether you’re looking for adventure or simply want to marvel at some of Mother Nature’s finest work, Death Valley National Park should be at the top of your list.

Joshua Tree Weekend USA National Park

24. Joshua Tree National Park in California

Joshua Tree is the most low key, surprisingly wonderful national parks. It is named after the trees native to the region, and it consists of 760,000 acres.

More than 2,500 species live in this area making it one of the most biodiverse regions in North America.

We highly recommend doing a little slow travel here. You can go rock climbing, take hikes, see stars at night like you’ve never seen before or take in the vibe at a cool Airbnb.

Check out the best things to do in Joshua Tree for a weekend getaway or as part of a California road trip.

Grand Prismatic Spring Yellowstone

25. Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming

Yellowstone National Park is home to some of the most stunning scenery in the country, including glaciers, mountains, waterfalls, hot springs and more than 200 species of animals.

On a 3 day Yellowstone itinerary , wildlife watching should be at the top of your list. Lamar Valley, full of bison, is so exciting that it creates a traffic jam in the park every day.

The park’s many geothermal areas are showstoppers including the world-famous Old Faithful geyser that erupts every 90 minutes. See the Grand Prismatic Spring, the largest hot spring in the US, at ground level or from above on a nearby hike.

If you’re looking for an active adventure, you can go whitewater rafting on the Yellowstone River or hike through Yellowstone’s Grand Canyon.

Grand Tetons Fall foliage USA Trip Ideas

26. Grand Teton National Park

At next-door neighbor Grand Teton National National Park, you can boat, float, fish, hike and camp with the Teton mountain range and Snake River as your backdrop.

The 42 mile scenic drive will take you past some of the most stunning scenery in the park. Make sure to stop at Mormon Row, the historic district of well-preserved late 19th century homesteads.

Next, head to Jenny Lake for a peaceful canoe or kayak ride. This is a great way to take in the incredible views of the Tetons while getting some exercise.

If you’re feeling ambitious, hike up to Inspiration Point and Hidden Falls. This trail is moderate to strenuous, but it’s definitely worth it for the stunning views of Jenny Lake and the Tetons beyond.

There’s so much to see and do in Grand Teton National Park, you could easily spend days here and never get bored.

Glacier National Park Montana America the Beautiful Pass

27. Glacier National Park in Montana

Glacier National Park has over 1 million acres of wilderness and some of the most jaw dropping scenery. It’s a hiker’s paradise but you’ll also find other adventures like whitewater rafting, photographing wildlife, kayaking, fishing and more.

Don’t miss the drive up Going-to-the-Sun Road, which bisects the park from east to west.

The road climbs over 6,000 feet (1829 m) in just 52 miles (84 km), providing motorists with spectacular views of the Rocky Mountains and Glacier National Park.

Visit 3 National Parks on One Trip to Glacier National Park, Yellowstone and Grand Tetons. They’re all driving distance from each other and each one offers something unique.

Acadia Maine

28. Acadia National Park

A trip up to Maine is so worth it for a chance to see Acadia National Park. It’s home to some of the best hiking trails in New England with plenty of scenic views and easy hikes.

Or if you’re feeling adventurous, try one of their more challenging trails like South Bubble Trail or Mt. Cadillac North Ridge Trail!

If you’re not up for a hike there is still plenty to do at Acadia National Park with many different activities including camping, biking, canoeing or kayaking on Echo Lake Lake, rock climbing, and bird watching.

Don’t miss the delicious popovers at the restaurant overlooking Jordan Pond!

Things to do in Seward Alaska Kayaking

29. Kenai Fjords National Park in Alaska

Kenai Fjords National Park is one of the most beautiful and underrated places in Alaska.

Some of the best things to do in Seward & Kenai Fjords National Park include a hike to Exit Glacier, iceberg kayaking in Bear Glacier Lagoon and a whale watching trip to see incredible marine life along with massive calving glaciers.

Alaska has 8 National parks and each features magnificent landscapes and activities. No matter which you choose, you’re guaranteed an amazing Alaskan experience!

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park USA Trips

30. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island of Hawaii is home to 2 of the world’s most active volcanoes.

Take the Crater Rim Drive to the Jaggar Museum overlook, hike the Kīlauea Iki Trail and through the rain forest to the Thurston Lava Tube, and have a bucket list dinner overlooking the crater at The Rim at Volcano House.

10 Cities That Deserve a Spot on Your USA Bucket List

New York in September

31. New York City, New York

New York is a city of endless possibilities. It’s the world capital of finance, fashion, media, and culture. Start your New York trip with a walk in Central Park, followed by a visit to the Met.

New York’s museums are world class and the Guggenheim is another of New York’s most iconic attractions.

Don’t miss a Broadway show in Times Square and the Empire State Building, if it’s your first trip to the the Big Apple.

Hit the latest restaurants in Greenwich Village, shop in Soho, get out on the water to visit Lady Liberty and time travel at the TWA hotel . If you visit in September , you can also see all the excitement of New York Fashion Week.

Things to do in Los Angeles Hollywood Hiking

32. Los Angeles, California

Los Angeles is a great city with so much more to do than most visitors realize. In addition to the amazing Southern California beaches , the mountains are filled with incredible hiking trails .

Los Angeles is a great city for foodies with insanely good restaurants to see and be seen. And the scenic drives in LA are like movies in real life.

Spend your days at one of the latest museum exhibits or take your kids to a theme park. Wander around downtown LA checking out all the cool street art.

Shop for a great outfit or home decor that reflects cool California style. Just avoid the 15 biggest mistakes when visiting Los Angeles .

Washington DC Best Places to Travel in April

33. Washington DC

Washington D.C. is a city that offers something for everyone. From the history and culture of the Smithsonian museums (there are 19 of them!) to the nightlife and restaurants of Georgetown, there’s plenty to do and see in this vibrant city.

Take a walk or bike ride through the National Mall to see the monuments and memorials, including the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, and Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.

If you plan ahead and request a tour through your member of Congress, you might get lucky enough to tour the White House. Stay in a DC hotel with a rooftop pool for extra fun.

San Francisco California Destinations in December

34. San Francisco, California

San Francisco is one of the most unique and best places to visit in the USA. Take a walk across the iconic Golden Gate Bridge to get a view of the San Francisco Bay.

We recommend getting a view from water level too. Follow it up with a trip to Alcatraz Island, probably the only time you’ll visit a prison as a tourist attraction.

Chinatown, one of the oldest and biggest in the US, is a great place to try Dim Sum. Of course you have to ride a cable car over one of the steep city streets.

Visit Coit Tower for another great viewpoint. Spend some time in the Marina at the Palace of Fine Arts, Crissy Field and the Presidio.

Chicago Best places to visit in the United States

35. Chicago, Illinois

Chicago is a fantastic city to visit – especially in good weather. Millennium Park is home to the famous Cloud Gate sculpture, as well as a variety of gardens and performance venues.

The Art Institute of Chicago is one of the largest art museums in the world, and a must visit. Even though it’s super touristy, it’s fun to catch a cruise at Navy Pier to tour Chicago’s incredible architecture.

If baseball is in season, you should definitely catch a Cubs game at Wrigley Field. Hit Michigan Avenue lined for the best high-end shops.

Last but not least, while you’ll probably go to the famous long standing restaurants in Chicago, don’t miss one of the cutting edge restaurants in the city.

Best Places to visit in the USA Boston

36. Boston, Massachusettes

Boston is a city of many firsts from the country’s oldest public park, Boston Common to Harvard, America’s oldest University. Many of Boston’s historical buildings can be seen by taking a stroll on the Freedom trail including Paul Revere’s house. 

Faneuil Hall, the site of America’s first town meeting is a bustling marketplace today. Stop in Quincy market for a bite to eat and take in the vibrant energy of Boston.

Art enthusiasts will enjoy Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, the largest in North America. Sports lovers should catch a Red Rox game at Fenway. Finally, don’t forget to get a peek of the Charles River, where you might see some collegiate crews rowing.

Plan an extra day or two when you visit because there are plenty of great day trips from Boston too.

Mardi Gras February Travel

37. New Orleans, Louisiana

With major events like Mardi Gras, the Jazz Festival, and others, New Orleans is one of the best places to vacation in the United States.

Watch street performers at Jackson Square and admire their impressive skills. Hop on a streetcar and discover all the fun and wild parts of New Orleans, including St. Charles Avenue, the Garden District, and Uptown New Orleans. 

Visit the French Quarter, packed with museums, art galleries, restaurants, and of course notorious bars. Since New Orleans is a foodie paradise, you have to try beignets from Cafe du Monde!

Other yummy favorites – the original Muffaletta from Central Grocery Deli, and hot dogs from Dat Dog. Don’t leave the Big Easy without meals at Commander’s Palace and Jacques-Imo’s.

Those who don’t mind venturing outside the city (approximately 1-hour drive) should discover some of the best southern plantation estates in the country, such as Laura Plantation, New Orleans Oak Alley Plantation, and San Francisco Plantation.

An airboat tour in the Bayou is another great day trip and one of the most memorable, super fun things we’ve done in Louisiana.


Maimi Florida

38. Miami, Florida

Dreaming of a beach getaway? Miami’s blend of different cultures creates the ultimate destination for entertainment. Loved for its spectacular beaches and vibrant art scene, the coastal metropolis has something to offer for everyone. 

Stop by South Beach – the most iconic area in Miami. Wander through its beautiful Art Deco District to enjoy a sprinkle of 1930’s nostalgia.

Spend the day soaking up rays and cool beach vibes. Whenever hunger kicks in, stop by Bayside Market has a lively atmosphere while enjoy views of the bay. 

To get your daily dose of culture, plan a visit to one of Miami’s greatest treasures – the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, which offers a little taste of Europe with its elegant furniture. 

Other great Miami beaches include Surfside for postcard-worthy vistas and Sunny Isles Beach to be in the midst of all action. There is no doubt the coastal metropolis is one of the most fun USA places to explore.

Charleston South Carolina

39. Charleston, South Carolina

From charming cobblestone streets and antebellum architecture to world-class restaurants and lively nightlife – Charleston is surely one of the best US destinations.

Take a ghost tour in the oldest and most haunted city in America, with over 100 recognized otherworldly beings.

A trip to the Lowcountry would be incomplete without shopping for antiques and visiting high-end boutiques on King Street, which also has fantastic restaurants and bars. 

Join the locals for seafood at Chubby Fish or rev up your taste buds with a delicious cheddar and jalapeno biscuit from Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit.

Stop by the Charleston Farmers Market, which is considered one of the best in the South. Not only will you get your hands on amazing produce, but you may even catch a live performance.

Sullivan’s Island beach should be on your itinerary too. Although it is the smallest of Charleston’s beaches, it is the most pristine.

Seattle best places to visit in the USA

40. Seattle, Washington

Consistently ranked among the ten best places to live in the United States, Seattle’s coffee culture, grunge music scene, and lush evergreen forests will charm you too.

Visit the top of the Space Needle – an iconic part of Seattle’s skyline with 360 degree views. While in the area, have crispy pancakes at Paju or delicious ramen at Cafe Goldinblack.

Set aside some time to explore one of the country’s most famous public markets – Pike Place Market. Then, take the commuter ferry across Puget Sound to Bainbridge Island and discover the stunning city from a new perspective.

For culture freaks, paying a visit to the Museum of Pop Culture – MoPop – is a must. One of the most beautiful libraries in America can be found at the University of Washington’s Suzzalo Library, which feels exactly like Hogwarts.

With endless opportunities to have fun, there is no doubt Seattle is one of the coolest USA places to visit.

Vanlife, RVs, Camping or Glamping for USA Adventure Trips

The type of accommodations you choose for your trip can actually be part of the adventure all on it’s own. Rent a converted Sprinter van or RV to be your home AND transportation on a USA road trip.

Stay in a luxurious Glamping tent to add extra pizazz to your vacation. Or enjoy nature and pitch a tent. It’s more rustic but super fun with your friends and family.

Ventana Glamping in Big Sur

41. USA Glamping Trips

Accommodations range from luxurious to rustic in permanent tent structures, cabins, teepees, chuck wagons, dome tents, yurts and tree houses. We LOVE glamping!!

Glamping in Big Sur under massive redwood trees in a king bed with an electric blanket and a push button campfire is right up my alley.

It’s one of the coolest glamping destinations in California . There are a ton of options!

We’ve glamped in Sonoma near vineyards, at El Capitan near Solvang , at Autocamp in a airstream trailer and more. Glamping with kids is really fun too!

Tent Camping USA Trip Ideas

42. Tent Camping Trips in the USA

I was so nervous to do our first tent camping trip at Crater Lake National Park in Oregon but it was a blast.

We took the dogs and piled in with an amazing 4″ memory foam mattress that made our inexpensiv e awesome tent so cozy! Obviously you can only have that much gear when you’re not far from your car.

We did it again on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land to watch Speed Week on the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. That was even better because the ground was hard packed salt (basically no dirt).

If you’ve never been to Crater Lake or Bonneville Salt Flats , get them on your USA bucket list. They are both jaw droppingly cool! There are incredible places to tent camp all over the USA.

USA Trip Ideas Havasupai

43. Backpacking Trips in the USA

Backpacking, as the name implies involves a hike to a remote area, where you carry everything you need on your back – like food, water and shelter.

Since you are carrying everything, you have to really conserve on the amount of weight. It’s also important to follow the leave no trace behind principles .

We planned our first backpacking trip to Havasupai and we can’t wait! That amazing blue water at Havasu Falls has been on our USA bucket list for years now.

In addition to Havasupai, the other beginner backpacking trips that are on our USA bucket list are the Lost Coast Trail and John Muir Trail in California, the Point of Arches Trail in Olympic National Park, Washington, and the Golden Cathedral in Escalante, Utah.

Jen and Guy Luxury Sprinter Van Conversion

44. Rent a Converted Sprinter Van

Campervan photos on Instagram make everyone swoon. There’s something about the idea of opening up the door to an incredible view and living life completely free.

A sprinter van allows you to have a mini RV that goes anywhere and off the grid if there’s solar power.

We rented a sprinter van for a Utah road trip on Outdoorsy. Honestly it was so much more fun than we expected.

So…. we bought one and did our own sprinter van conversion that you can see in the photo above. Use JEN50 to get $50 off your first Outdoorsy rental.

If you decide to do a van or RV road trip, we made a list of 30 Campervan Gadgets and Accessories that would have greatly enhanced our experience.

45. RV for a USA Road Trip

I have a friend that goes RV camping and I’ll be honest, I thought it was 100% not for me but I’m starting to rethink my position.

There’s so much space and some of them are seriously luxurious. The obvious benefit to an RV is that it holds more people, so it’s better for a family trip than a campervan.

A good RV Resort has a cool location, full hook ups, activities available and restaurants too.

Twelvemile Beach Campground at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan sits on a gorgeous beach near lots of great things to do. Salmon River Campground in Stanley, Idaho is quite a scenic area too.

Active Trip Ideas in the USA

Having a chance to take an active trip really makes it feel like a true vacation. It can be such a departure from everyday life and a way to disconnect from all of our electronic devices.

Whether you love water sports, Yoga retreats, or exploring backcountry wilderness on foot, the USA has tons of active trips available.

Fun Things to do in Lake Arrowhead

46. Lake Vacations are Very Popular USA Summer Trips

Lake vacations are a great way to relax and get away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Enjoy beautiful scenery, fresh air, and plenty of outdoor activities.

Some of the best lake vacations in the USA can be found in states such as California, Oregon, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Colorado.

Check out the 10 Best Southern California Lakes for a weekend gateway.

These states are home to some of America’s most picturesque lakes, which offer plenty of opportunities for swimming, fishing, boating, hiking and skiing.

Sonoma Kayaking USA Trip Ideas

47. USA Kayak Trips

If you like kayaking, you can find some amazing USA trip ideas in this post with the Best Kayaking and Canoe Trips in the USA .

A few of our favorites include iceberg kayaking in Alaska , lake kayaking and floating down the Deschutes River in Oregon, and kayaking along the bays of the Northern California Coast.

The Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in Wisconsin features beautiful islands and cliffs, and is perfect for kayaking trips of all lengths.

True adventurers should try kayaking down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. This trip will test your skills as a kayaker, but it’s definitely worth the effort!

USA Trips Canoeing

48. Canoe Trips

Canoe and kayak trips have a lot in common but since a canoe can carry more gear, canoe trips make great overnight adventures.

One of the best canoe trips in the US is the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Minnesota. This area is full of pristine lakes and rivers, and campgrounds to stay overnight.

Another great park for canoeing is Grand Teton National Park . The park has several beautiful rivers and lakes, and it’s also home to some of the most impressive mountain ranges in the country. Glacier National Park is another top spot.

OARS Green River Utah USA Trips

49. Whitewater Rafting Trips

There are many great whitewater rafting trips in the USA. With a wide variety of rapids there are trips that will thrill both beginners and experienced rafters.

The Rocky Mountains in Colorado make for some of the most thrilling whitewater rafting in the country. California offers a wealth of options for whitewater rafting trips.

The American River is one of the most popular destinations and offers everything from mild Class II rapids to heart-stopping Class V rapids.

Oars is a great outfitter with so many rafting trip options on the Green river (shown above), the Colorado River , Salmon River , Rogue River , Snake River and more.

Lake Arrowhead Winter

50. Winter Ski and Snowboard Trips

There are a plethora of awesome ski and snowboard destinations in the United States. The best quality snow can be found in Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon and California.

Vail , Colorado is a world-class resort with stunning mountain scenery and plenty of slopes for all levels of skiers and snowboarders.

Another great destination is Aspen , which offers superb skiing on four mountains as well as luxurious accommodations and fine dining.

Utah is also a great place to ski, with five world-class resorts including Park City and Deer Valley .

The Sundance Film Festival in the end of January is one of Hollywood’s favorite USA trips in winter. Idaho’s Sun Valley and Wyoming’s Jackson Hole are also at the top of every skier’s list.

California has skiing up and down the state . Mammoth Mountain is one of the top rated family friendly resorts. Big Bea r is a favorite in Southern California where you can surf and ski in the same day

USA Biking Trips

51. Biking Trips to Add to Your USA Bucket List

Biking is a great way to see the sights while getting some exercise. And there are plenty of scenic biking trails all across the United States.

Whether you do a family biking trip with an outfitter like Backroads, or a longer distance ride, it will definitely be a memorable experience.

The Green Mountains in Vermont offer the Catamount Trail , a 300-mile long trail that traverses the length of the state, making it perfect for a multi-day biking trip.

For a bit of history along your ride, pedal along the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park in Maryland . This 184.5-mile long trail follows an old canal towpath and passes through towns, forests, and along the Potomac River.

Some other must-do, incredible view rides include Pacific Coast Highway in Big Sur, the Going to the Sun Road in Glacier National Park, the Flume Trail in Lake Tahoe, the Swamp Rabbit Trail in Greenville, NC, the McKenzie River Trail in Bend, and Trail 401 in Crested Butte, Colorado.

USA Bucket List Birding

52. USA Bucket List for Birding

If you’re a bird lover, or you’ve seen The Big Year , you know that people definitely plan travel around birding. The USA is home to an incredible diversity of birdlife.

There are plenty of hotspots where you can see some truly spectacular feathered friends like the Alabama Coastal Birding Trail with over 370 species.

The Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival is one of the best birding events in the country, attracting tens of thousands of enthusiasts every year.

Brooklyn’s Prospect Park is another great spot for birdwatching, with over 200 species of birds recorded in the park.

The Biggest Week in American Birding Festival is held each year in Ohio, and it’s one of the biggest birding events in the world. Over 300 species make their way to the Great White North all the way from South America.

Other places that should be on your birding bucket list include Point Reyes National Seashore, Tuscon, Arizona, Everglades National Park, and Cape May, New Jersey,

Bucket List USA Photography Tours

Tourists flock to the USA in droves, eager to snap photos of iconic landmarks like the Statue of Liberty and the Golden Gate Bridge. But there’s so much more to this country than those two things.

From the majestic mountains of Alaska to the red rocks of Arizona, the USA is a photographer’s paradise. Here are four of the best Photo Tours in the USA that should be on your bucket list.

Northern Lights Alaska USA Bucket List Trip

53. Alaska Northern Lights

One of nature’s most spectacular displays, the Northern Lights are a must-see for any photographer. And what better place to see them than in Alaska, where they are at their brightest?

There are few things more breathtaking than watching the skies light up in a shifting display of colors.

Northern Lights tours typically take place during the winter months, when the nights are long and the air is clear. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to get that perfect photo, whether you’re using a DSLR camera or your phone.

Dress for temperatures that can dip below zero. But it will be worth it when you end up with some amazing photos that you’ll treasure for a lifetime.

Alaska Bears Photo Tour

54. Alaskan Bear Photo Tour

Alaska is well-known for its large population of bears, and a bear photo tour is the perfect way to get up close and personal with these majestic creatures.

One of the most unique photo tours you can do in the USA is to Arctic Alaska to get eye to eye with polar bears .

Plan on spending between 3-6 days, where you’ll take boat tour each day to capture the bears in their natural habitat while learning about their behavior and ecology.

During summer join a wildlife photographer for a brown bear photo tour in King Salmon. It’s a trip of a lifetime to be able to see the bears feeding during the salmon run and interacting in the wild.

2 Days in Yosemite Itinerary Taft Point

55. Channel Your Inner Ansel Adams in Yosemite

For those who love to take photos, Yosemite National Park is a veritable paradise. From the grandeur of Half Dome and El Capitan to the majesty of Yosemite Falls, there are endless opportunities for breathtaking shots.

And with a little planning, it’s easy to make the most of your time in the park. The first step is to choose the right tour. There are many different companies that offer photo tours of Yosemite, so it’s important to do your research.

Once you’ve found a tour that suits your needs, it’s time to start planning your itinerary. Depending on the time of year, you’ll want to make sure to include shots of Tunnel View, the Valley floor, Glacier Point, and Tuolumne Meadows.

Joshua Tree Weekend Star Gazing

56. Astrophotography in a Dark Sky Park

If you’re an amateur astronomer looking for the best place to snap some pictures of the night sky, you need a spot with no light pollution and the right atmospheric conditions.

There are a few places that tend to be ideal for astrophotography, such as Death Valley National Park, Joshua Tree National Park, Mauna Kea in Hawaii, Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee and Big Bend National Park in Texas.

Utah has incredible spots like Canyonlands and honestly plenty of spots if you just pull off the road somewhere desolate.

These locations offer dark skies and minimal light pollution, making them ideal for capturing clear images of the stars and planets. So if you’re planning a trip to see the night sky in all its glory, be sure to add these parks to your list!

Equipment to Take Magnificent Photos on Vacation:

  • Splurge on a full format camera and learn how to use it with your professional photo tour guide. Get a super telephoto lens for wildlife photography or a 10 stop filter that costs almost nothing and makes stunning, smooth waterfall shots.
  • Get a drone , learn how to fly it and capture cool photos and videos. It was our best purchase ever!
  • A GoPro offers unlimited fun potential. Strap it onto your kid’s bike helmet, put it on a surfboard, or use it for great wide angle shots. Add an underwater dome and take super cool above and below water photos.

Best Places to Visit in the USA By Season

Grand Tetons Fall foliage

57. Fall US Trips for Autumn Fun, Foliage and Less Crowds

The obvious choice for an Autumn trip is to New England for fall foliage from mid September to the beginning of October. but you can find incredible fall colors and harvest festivals all over the country.

Check the Farmer’s Almanac for peak foliage dates by state. Notable states with vibrant color include Virginia, North Carolina, Michigan, Colorado, and Oregon.

Another great trip idea for fall are places that are way too busy in summer like Yellowstone, Great Smoky Mountains and the Utah Mighty 5.

New York City is perfection in fall from the excitement of Fashion Week to enjoying the delightful weather in Central Park. Albuquerque hosts Balloon Fiesta in October that is a colorful sight to see.

Best Places to Travel in January Park City

58. Winter Trips for Sun and Snow

If you’re dreaming of a winter getaway, there’s no shortage of destinations in the USA that offer the perfect combination of snow and fun.

New York, is hands down one of the best places to visit in December . You can experience all the excitement of the city that never sleeps, with the added bonus of the festive holiday season.

Take a stroll through Central Park, go ice skating at Rockefeller Center, and wrap up warm and enjoy a horse-drawn carriage ride through the snow-covered streets.

From the world famous slopes of Aspen to the majestic mountains of Colorado, there’s no shortage of great places to hit the slopes. And while you could easily spend a fortune on a luxury ski trip, there are plenty of budget-friendly options as well.

If winter sun is your jam, Hawaii is the perfect place to relax and escape the cold. San Diego has great weather year round and plenty of fun activities.

With sandy beaches and turquoise water, there’s no question why snowbirds spend the winter in Florida. And don’t forget Arizona for golf,

Skagit valley tulips

59. Flowers and Celebrations Make the Best USA Trip ideas for Spring

If you want to see cherry blossoms , head to Washington DC. Tulips abound in Holland, Michigan and Skagit Valley, Washington.

California poppies, Texas bluebonnets and Azizona’s desert blooms will make your heart sing. When Spring has sprung, it can make the grumpiest person happy.

Spring is also a great time for festivals. New Orleans is one big party from February to May. Austin, Texas hosts South by Southwest in March while California has Coachella in April .

Spring break in Alabama , Florida, Mississippi and Texas at the beach is also highly popular!

60. Summer is a Great Time to Take your USA Road Trips North

Summer is a great time for road trips in America and it is also a common time for people to take off from work.

As a general rule of thumb, the northern states are at their best while the southern ones are drowning in heat and/or humidity.

The states that are the best to visit in summer are Washington, Oregon, California, Colorado, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Rhode Island, Vermont, Maine, Hawaii and Alaska.

Where to Travel in September Los Angeles

61. Staycations for the Best Places to Visit in the USA Near Home

A staycation is the cop out of vacation ideas unless you really do it right. Take the week off of work and look at your home town as a vacation destination. What do all the people do that are tourists in your area? Better yet, what are the coolest places in your area that tourists don’t know about. Pro Tips: Stay at a hotel and make an itinerary so you aren’t tempted to keep up with real life distractions.

5 Cool Things to do on a Staycation

  • See museums, go to a play, or visit interesting cultural events. A staycation is the perfect time to support the arts.
  • Do a day trip of an area 1-2 hours away that you’ve never been to or haven’t seen in years. Head to a lake near you and spend some time enjoying lake life.
  • Eat out every night at restaurants you’re really wanted to try. Have breakfast at a cool restaurant way across town.
  • Stay at the newest hotel in your area that’s the talk of the town. We live in Los Angeles so it’s really easy to feel like you’re going on vacation 30 miles away because it can take 2 hours to get there. Haha!! For us, staying in a hotel across town would open up a world of possibilities we never touch.
  • Go hiking , take a long bike ride, or take advantage of an exercise class you’ve heard about. Take up a new sport you’ve wanted to try like rowing , stand up paddle boarding (SUP), surfing or a boot camp and kickstart your fitness regime.

Other Posts You Might Like:

  • TRAVEL:  The Best Places to Travel in March
  • ARIZONA: Visiting Sedona for Hiking and the Sedona Vortex
  • CALIFORNIA: Joshua Tree Weekend Getaway Guide
  • ALASKA: Alaska Summer Road Trip Itinerary

Save These Bucket List USA Trip Ideas to Read Later? Pin It!

20 USA Trip Ideas

About Jenifer

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Awesome list, you can also discover the charm of New Hampshire’s autumnal beauty and diverse attractions as you seek the best places to travel to in November.

Thank you Jennifer for the details of every place, I really love the photos


Thank you for sharing your USA travel ideas for adventure outdoor activities. Your post is really helpful.

Ganesh Adhikari

Thank you so much for listing the USA trip ideas. Love your post, Beautiful Pictures, and informative article for the outdoor travel guide.

Great to know all this about USA, Appreciate your great job Thanks

Ok, wow. Let’s just say that my bucket list has grown significantly after reading this! Thank you so much for sharing!

Just pinned! I will never need to think of where to go on vacations. Thank you for sharing such great places that I definitely need to visit.

So glad! Hope you have some great trips coming up!

Big Sur to San Diego is the most incredible road trip you will ever take. Or if I would say it correctly, it’s actually… San Diego up to Big Sur! I live in San Diego and I’ve personally done this before and the PCH and all the views up the coast is absolutely incredible. Totally amazing and probably one of the best ‘drives’ you will ever take. I can’t think of a better road trip you could ever possibly take, if you visit San Diego, consider taking a drive up the coast on the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) up to Big Sur. This article totally nailed it.

Amazing blog, Please keep on writing blogs like this.

MP Allegaert

My bucket list has just exploded!

michele linton

I just loved this post! The photos are amazing, and now I feel inspired to get my road trip on! Thanks Jennifer!

Thanks Michele! There are so many great road trips to take in the US. Hope you get to venture out soon.

Hilda Smith

This is incredible information and I am following your vlog/videos too. Love your camper van in Utah. You two are brilliant. Not sure I would be able for that heat.

Thank you so much Hilda! We weren’t very excited about that heat either 😂

Gwen Gottlieb

So many fabulous suggestions! I just made a new bucket list! We’ve done just a few so plenty to add to the list. I think I’d be the glamping type! As long as I can bring my blow dryer!

So glad you found new things to add to your bucket list. You can definitely use your blow dryer when you go glamping 😉

Adrian Grant

So beautiful! Excited to see where the road will lead you in your new adventure 😊

I LOVE this!!!

These are really amazing and fun ideas dear!

I want to do Route 66, Pacific Northwest and the California coast road trips!

Jennifer Effortlessly Sophisticated

All 3 of those are so much fun!

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The 18 Best Road Trips in the U.S. in 2024

Updated : June 14, 2024

AAA Travel Editor, Katie Broome

Table of contents.

  • Southern New England
  • Northern Arizona Canyons
  • Natchez Trace Parkway
  • Hershey, Pa., Dutch Country
  • Southern Arizona
  • Southern California
  • Northern CA & Southern OR Coast
  • Vegas to National Parks to Vegas
  • Smoky Mountains
  • Grand Pacific Northwest
  • Blue Ridge Parkway – North Carolina
  • Route 66 - Eastern New Mexico
  • Black Hills
  • Utah's National Parks
  • Big Sky Country
  • South Florida
  • San Francisco to Lake Tahoe to Reno

Plan Your Next Road Trip with AAA Travel

Road trips let travelers see the world from a new perspective and explore distant locations. Recent studies indicate that more than 100 million Americans plan for road trips in the summer. Each state offers a unique experience for travelers, so it can be hard to limit your options. Whether you are dreaming up road trip ideas or simply curious about the most popular ones, here we’ll explore 18 of the best road trips in the U.S. and share some of the ways AAA Travel can make planning a breeze.

1. Southern New England

adventure trips in the us

Starting and ending in Boston, this Southern New England road trip quite a bit of history and scenery in one route. One of the best road trips in the U.S., you’ll see sites from the American Revolution along Boston’s Freedom Trail , quaint shops housed in Colonial-era buildings on the streets of Mystic, Connecticut and lavish mansions from the Gilded Age in Newport, Rhode Island. This trip also offers prime leaf-peeping opportunities in late October and early November. (To explore nearby Martha’s Vineyard, check out the Cape Cod Road Trip .)

  • Length: 229.4 miles
  • Time: 5+ hours
  • Great for: Couples, history buffs and families

2. Northern Arizona Canyons

adventure trips in the us

Southwest desert scenery is on full display on this northern Arizona canyons road trip . From the red rock formations of Sedona to the majesty of the Grand Canyon , this loop journey from Flagstaff hits all the highlights. It includes stops at the Grand Canyon’s South Rim, the ancient pueblos of Wupatki National Monument and the lava fields of Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument.

  • Length: 274.3 miles
  • Time: 6+ hours
  • Great for: Solo and adventure travelers

3. Natchez Trace Parkway

adventure trips in the us

To see the American South in all its glory, the Natchez Trace Parkway is one of the best places to go on a road trip. Stretching from Nashville to Natchez, Mississippi (by way of Tupelo, Mississippi, the birthplace of Elvis Presley), this rural route makes it easy to visit archeological sites, prehistoric ceremonial mounds, Civil War battlefields and the original Native American trail.

  • Length: 494.6 miles
  • Time: 10+ hours
  • Great for: Music lovers and history buffs

4. Hershey, Pa., Dutch Country

adventure trips in the us

Expect to see horse-drawn carriages and historic covered bridges on a drive through Hershey, Pennsylvania, Dutch Country . Named after the German (Deutsch) immigrants who settled there in the 18th century, Pennsylvania Dutch Country offers the unique chance to see people of the Amish, Mennonite and Brethren faiths practicing their simple, modest lifestyle. The road trip also includes a stop in Gettysburg . (For more nearby things to do, see Best Historical Places to Visit on a Pennsylvania Road Trip ).

  • Length: 197.0 miles
  • Great for: Families and history buffs

5. Southern Arizona

adventure trips in the us

From the towering cacti of the Sonoran Desert to the Wild West saloons of Tombstone, photo-worthy sights are aplenty on a drive through southern Arizona . You’ll pass through the vibrant cities of Tucson and Scottsdale on this trip, with art galleries, authentic Mexican restaurants and splurge-worthy resorts along the way. (For more things to do near Scottsdale, see Best Places to Hike and Eat in Scottsdale, Arizona, on a Weekend Getaway .)

  • Length: 547.1 miles
  • Great for: Couples and adventure travelers

6. Southern California

adventure trips in the us

It’s sunny skies ahead on this Southern California cruise , which includes a seven-hour journey from Los Angeles to Temecula wine country that features palm tree-dotted beaches, coastal cliffs, rugged desert canyons and a stop in San Diego . Travel editors recommend you plan this trip for spring or fall , as temperatures at some points along the drive can top 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer. (For more escapes from L.A., check out the Los Angeles to Death Valley Road Trip or the California Desert Road Trip .)

  • Length: 307.4 miles
  • Great for: Couples and solo travelers

7. Northern CA & Southern OR Coast

adventure trips in the us

Definitely not short on scenery, this Northern California and Southern Oregon Coast drive can easily be split up over a few days so you have plenty of time for exploration. You’ll start in California’s Central Valley, then wind your way up the Pacific Coast to see towering redwoods, quaint beach towns, shifting sand dunes and breathtaking ocean views on Oregon’s U.S. 101. (If you drive an electric vehicle, also check out Where to Stop and Recharge on an EV Road Trip Down Oregon’s Coast .)

  • Length: 380.1 miles
  • Time: 8+ hours
  • Great for: Families, couples and campers

8. Vegas to National Parks to Vegas

adventure trips in the us

A multiday road trip from Las Vegas is a great way to explore the Southwest and check off a few bucket list items. AAA’s Vegas road trip covers 860 miles in Nevada, Arizona and Utah, and includes stops at man-made landmarks like the Hoover Dam and Route 66 and at natural wonders like the Grand Canyon and the hoodoos (rock formations) of Bryce Canyon. (For more inspiration, see Ditch the Glitz for Adventure in Vegas .)

  • Length: 857.4 miles
  • Time: 16 hours
  • Great for: Solo and adventure travelers and campers

9. Smoky Mountains

adventure trips in the us

See the signature haze of the Great Smoky Mountains on this 500-mile loop that provides plenty of ooh- and aah-worthy views of America’s most-visited national park. One of the best road trips in the USA, AAA’s route begins and ends in Knoxville , Tennessee, and includes stops in fun mountain towns like Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and Asheville, North Carolina.

  • Length: 497.8 miles

10. Grand Pacific Northwest

adventure trips in the us

Soak up views of iconic Northwest landmarks on this Pacific Northwest drive , which covers 550 miles in Oregon and Washington. From the waterfalls along the Historic Columbia River Highway to the summer wildflowers of Mount Rainier National Park, this road trip is sure to please nature lovers. (For even more adventures in the “upper left” of the U.S., see Best Pacific Northwest Road Trips (and When to Take Them) .)

  • Length: 551.1 miles
  • Great for: Families and campers

11. Blue Ridge Parkway – North Carolina

adventure trips in the us

America’s longest linear park is also one of its most scenic, which makes the Blue Ridge Parkway a clear winner in AAA’s list of the most popular road trips in the U.S. The portion of the parkway that runs through North Carolina follows curvy mountain roads from Cherokee to the North Carolina-Virginia state line, with plenty of spectacular views and hiking opportunities along the way. You could easily stretch this drive into a multiday trip.

  • Length: 303.8 miles

12. Route 66 - Eastern New Mexico

adventure trips in the us

The Route 66 road trip is a staple of “Americana” culture and the subject of a particularly catchy tune from the 1940s. This massive highway stretches across two-thirds of the United States, so it’s not uncommon for folks to explore Route 66 bit by bit. The Eastern New Mexico stretch of Route 66 will take you from Albuquerque , New Mexico, the primary setting of AMC’s “Breaking Bad,” to Adrian, Texas — the “Midpoint of Route 66.” 

  • Length: 118.7 miles
  • Time: 2+ hours
  • Great for: Americana fans, families and couples

13. Black Hills

adventure trips in the us

Mount Rushmore , a scenic memorial that features four of the United States’ most famous presidents, is the center point of this Black Hills road trip . However, there are plenty more historic landmarks along the way, including the legendary gold rush town of Deadwood, South Dakota, and the Jewel Cave National Monument.

  • Length: 209 miles
  • Time: 5 hours
  • Great for: History buffs, families and campers

14. Utah's National Parks

adventure trips in the us

Utah is adored for its delicious food scene and gorgeous natural landscapes. This scenic road trip of Utah's National Parks will let you get up close and personal with some of the most beautiful sights in Utah. Throughout the 1,050-mile voyage, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to immerse yourself in Utah’s world-famous natural scenery. You’ll also be able to sample local delicacies from venues like the Sunset Grill in Moab, Utah .

  • Length: 1,049.3 miles
  • Time: 19+ hours
  • Great for: Outdoor adventurers and naturalists

15. Cape Cod

adventure trips in the us

This 174-mile road trip through Cape Cod highlights Boston’s natural beauty and historic significance. During this drive, you’ll encounter a touching monument to John F. Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States. You may also get a chance to admire humpback whales if you visit during whale-watching season, which normally runs from mid-April to October.

  • Length: 173.7 miles
  • Great for: Fishing fans, beachgoers, and whale watchers

16. Big Sky Country

adventure trips in the us

The term “Big Sky Country” refers to the parts of the U.S. that still largely consist of untouched natural land. This This 425-mile scenic road trip will take you through portions of Montana and Wyoming. Highlights include visits to the Yellowstone Wildlife Sanctuary and the Buffalo Bill Center of the West.

  • Length: 425.4 miles
  • Great for: Campers, astronomy fans, and naturalists

17. South Florida

adventure trips in the us

Folks have called Florida the Sunshine State since before the 1970s — and for good reason. This popular vacation destination is brimming with sandy beaches and tropical weather. AAA’s 421-mile route through South Florida hits major destinations like Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach . Along the way, you might even see herds of deer or congregations of alligators.

  • Length: 421.1 miles
  • Great for: Wildlife watchers, beachgoers, couples and families

18. San Francisco to Lake Tahoe to Reno

adventure trips in the us

California and Nevada feature a bevy of breathtaking sights and sounds. AAA’s 486-mile route from San Francisco to Lake Tahoe to Reno provides plenty of opportunities to immerse yourself in natural experiences near Lake Tahoe — and enjoy some of Reno ’s most impressive resorts, like the Grand Sierra Resort and Casino.

  • Length: 486.3 miles
  • Time: 9+ hours
  • Great for: Museum fans, kayakers and hikers

AAA Travel can help you streamline your next cross-country cruise with our wide selection of pre-planned road trips. Travelers with AAA memberships can also capitalize on big savings and exclusive offers while sightseeing. 

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50 bucket list family adventure trips.

Forge lifelong memories on a one-of-a-kind journey together.

Family preparing to fish at lakeside below mountains.

(Getty Images) |

Take the kids on the transformative trip of a lifetime.

Whether you want to push your limits on a heart-pounding African safari, surf trip, ski retreat or national park vacation, there are plenty of boundary-pushing vacations well-suited for families of all ages, interests and budgets. While some places cater to clans craving enrichment with cultural cred and striking natural wonders, others lure thrill-seeking families in pursuit of adrenaline-pumping activities and wildlife encounters in far-flung locales. No matter your goal, the best memories will be "when you're taking in awe-inspiring sights and doing things you never knew were possible," says Leigh Barnes, the North America regional director at Intrepid Travel, an adventure outfitter. With that in mind, these 50 once-in-a-lifetime trips are guaranteed to give you – and the kids – a fresh perspective.

San Diego downtown skyline at sunrise with boat in harbor.

While San Diego may not spring to mind as an outside-the-box bucket list vacation destination, with ample opportunities to learn to surf along gentle breaks, a spectacular 70-mile coastline and an iconic zoo filled with 3,500 fascinating animals and a safari park in nearby Escondido, the Southern California hot spot is a crowd-pleasing playground for thrill-seekers of all ages. Head to La Jolla to take a lesson at an acclaimed surf school or catch pros skimming the waves. And for more leisurely outdoor exploration, tag along on a sailing lesson at Mission Bay Aquatic Center, visit Balboa Park or grab your camera and take family photos at Sunset Cliffs Natural Park as the sun goes down.

Hawaii, Oahu, Honolulu, Waikiki Beach

Oahu, Hawaii

You may associate the Aloha State with seaside landscapes, opulent hotels and secluded sands filled with honeymooners. But here's a secret: Oahu's famous North Shore offers plenty of unforgettable, action-packed experiences for adventure-loving broods. In winter, the area draws pro surfers with its massive swells. But if you arrive in summer, you can enjoy calmer waves and learn how to skim the waves together. At Turtle Bay Resort , you and the kids can enjoy private or group surf lessons, take guided surf tours, try your hand at stand-up paddleboarding or bond while kayaking, horseback riding or biking. After soaking in the great outdoors, check out must-see historical attractions, like 'Iolani Palace and Pearl Harbor in Honolulu.

Three sisters mountain cliffs in Blue Mountains in New South Wales, Australia.

In Sydney , you'll find rip-roaring adventures catering to every adventurer in your group. After visiting classic attractions such as the Harbour Bridge, the Sydney Opera House and Bondi Beach, embark on a kayaking expedition in the harbor or venture to Sydney Olympic Park, where you and the kids can swing across a zip line or take an archery lesson. For more thrilling pursuits, hike in the nearby Blue Mountains (about a two-hour train ride from Sydney), where you can marvel at the Three Sisters rock formation and inspiring waterfalls. And if you're traveling with animal lovers, you can't miss checking out the Australian Reptile Park and Wildlife Sanctuary (about an hour drive outside of the city), which houses kangaroos, koalas and wombats.

A woman ziplines in a rainforest in Costa Rica.

Costa Rica offers endless opportunities for exhilarating encounters in the wild. While daredevils may want to glide through a canopy of trees on a zip line, nature enthusiasts can take in enchanting butterfly farms or hike through lush rainforests. Jeremy Brady, the national sales manager at small-group adventure tour outfitter G Adventures, suggests Costa Rica for families with kids under age 10 looking for a blend of high-octane activity, cultural immersion and wildlife-viewing. Get your heart racing as you zip line or stroll along the misty Sky Walk (a hanging bridge) through Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve, which teems with howler monkeys, colorful birds, sloths and 2,500 plant species. Then soak in the sunshine and surf along the Nicoya Peninsula.

Hikers at the end of the Harding Icefield trail. Kenai Fjords National Park

With dramatic glaciers, fascinating wildlife and awe-inspiring landscapes, Alaska captivates nature lovers of all ages. Whether you're dreaming of catching sight of the northern lights or cruising past glaciers and whale-filled waters in Kenai Fjords National Park, you have plenty of reasons to take the kids to Alaska. On National Geographic's eight-day Alaska: Denali to Kenai Fjords Family Expedition (from $5,845), you and your crew can take guided hikes to a ridgeline summit in Denali National Park and Preserve's interior and take a cruise through the Kenai Fjords, where sea lions, orca and gray and humpback whales are often spotted. After an exhilarating day outdoors, you can enjoy downtime at Denali Backcountry Lodge.

Bartolomé Island, Galápagos Islands.

The Galápagos

With its spellbinding landscapes and captivating creatures – from giant tortoises to penguins to sea lions – the Galápagos Islands have long enamored thrill-seekers in pursuit of one-of-a-kind wildlife adventures. Barnes highlights Charles Darwin's playground as an ideal choice for wildlife-loving broods looking for an off-the-beaten-track getaway. With Intrepid Travel's eight-day Galapagos Family Holiday package (prices start at $2,680), families can get an adrenaline rush as they "witness some of the rarest creatures in the world, snorkeling at one of the largest sea lion colonies, spotting giant tortoises and looking out for marine iguanas, whales, dolphins and sharks," Barnes explains. For unforgettable, up-close animal counters, you won't want to miss Tortuga Bay on Santa Cruz Island or snorkeling near Santa Maria Island.

An aerial photo of Tunnels beach. Tunnels is located on Kauai's North Shore and is named after the 'tunnels' that snorkelers and divers can observe when navigating the reef.

Getty Images |

Kauai, Hawaii

Kauai may draw outdoorsy couples with its captivating coastlines and postcard-worthy sunsets, but the less-trodden tropical paradise isn't just a romantic hideaway. Budding thrill-seekers will find plenty of adrenaline-pumping pursuits to pique their interest, whether they're itching to try their hand at surfing at Hanalei Bay, traverse the Waimea Canyon or swim in the Queen's Bath, a lava rock-bordered tide pool on the island's north shore. Everett Potter, a columnist for Forbes and author of the website "Everett Potter's Travel Report," highlights sea kayaking, snorkeling and zip lining as classic adventure-filled recreational pursuits the whole crew will enjoy.

Washington DC, USA at the tidal basin with Washington Monument in spring season.

Washington, District of Columbia

Not just a mecca for high-profile politicians, the nation's capital offers world-class cultural attractions and a dizzying array of family-friendly museums, from the National Museum of History to the National Gallery of Art. Breaks from admiring the District's marbled monuments can include catching a show at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and wandering along the Tidal Basin (arrive in spring to catch sight of pink-hued blooms draping the city). And for more thrilling escapades, venture 15 miles outside of the District to the Billy Goat Trail, where you can enjoy biking, climbing and hiking, or tack on a trip to Virginia's Shenandoah National Park, just 75 miles outside of the nation's capital.

Northwestern Montana's Rocky Mountains.

Glacier National Park, Montana

Get away from it all and soak in the snow-capped peaks, alpine glaciers and plummeting waterfalls on an epic family adventure in Glacier National Park. On Backroads' five-day Glacier Family Multi-Adventure Camping Tour (from $1,998 per person), horseback riding in Many Glacier Valley, peddling among glacier-sculpted valleys and taking in riveting vistas on Going-to-the-Sun Road are on the itinerary. If you would rather craft your own itinerary, a few must-sees include the Trail of the Cedars, which is suitable for all skill levels and is conveniently located near Lake McDonald Lodge, and Grinnell Glacier, a photogenic hike that weaves past Logan Pass. Best of all, youngsters can tag along a variety of ranger-guided programs, including snowshoe hikes in winter.

Iguazu waterfalls in Brazil.

Iguazú Falls, Brazil and Argentina

With 275 jaw-dropping waterfalls, UNESCO Heritage status and the chance to enjoy biologist-guided jungle treks and river kayaking expeditions, it's no wonder these cascading falls along the Argentina-Brazil border hold a firm place on the adventurer's bucket list. If you don't mind misty surroundings, consider visiting during the less in-demand rainy season (December to February). There are plenty of ways to experience the falls in their full glory, but for an upscale, stress-free option, consider embarking on an guided tour. At the new all-inclusive Awasi Iguazú, an eco-friendly resort, you can stay in a rainforest villa and take a guided excursion to the waterfalls and beyond.

Main Square, Hvar, Hvar Island, Dalmatia, Croatia, Europe

Croatia offers a winning blend of historical attractions, architectural gems and cinematic backdrops. For a memorable family adventure, Barnes highlights Croatia as an out-of-the-ordinary pick. Intrepid Travel's nine-day Croatia Family Holiday trip (from $2,195 per person) "takes families beyond Dubrovnik and guides them through less-visited but equally adventurous sites like the vineyards, olive groves and tranquil coves of Korčula Island, the Renaissance architecture and beautiful beaches of Hvar Island and the waterfront promenade of Split," he explains. If you're looking to up the thrill factor, take the kids to Krka National Park in central Dalmatia to marvel at striking waterfalls. And no trip would be complete without strolling through Dubrovnik's iconic Old City or checking out Diocletian's Palace in Split.

Autumn morning in the Smoky Mountains National Park.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee and North Carolina

Great Smoky Mountains National Park – the country's most popular national park, with roughly 10 million visitors each year – tempts adventurous families with seemingly endless opportunities to embrace the great outdoors. Whether you and the gang want to enjoy horseback riding, hiking or biking expeditions, there are a number of activities to keep you busy. For the ultimate bonding experience, time your trip for late May or early June, when 19 different species of fireflies flash in sync to create a bright flickering color against the evening sky at the Elkmont Campground. If you can't snag a pass, which are distributed via a lottery system, take the kids to other can't-miss attractions, such as the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail and Grotto Falls.

People relaxing at the Blue Lagoon spa in Iceland.

With its geothermal hot springs, active volcanoes, iconic lagoon and surreal landscapes, it's no wonder Iceland holds a top spot on many traveler's lists. On Intrepid Travel's seven-day Summer Iceland Family Holiday trip (prices start at $2,850), you can soak in the country's spectacular natural attractions, from bubbling geysers to cascading waterfalls to icy glaciers. Highlights include meandering through a glacial lagoon, riding the rapids along the Hvita River (participants must be 11 or older) and trekking on a glacier in Skaftafell National Park. And though you and the kids might feel jet-lagged once you arrive, you can recharge in the Blue Lagoon before embarking on an adrenaline-fueled trip.

Sunrise on Cadillac Mountain

Dramatic coastlines, awe-inspiring parks (Acadia National Park, we’re looking at you) and rugged landscapes beckon to adventurers of all ages. Potter suggests embarking on a multiday sea kayaking trip on the coast of Maine for an unforgettable getaway. He highlights the 375-mile Maine Island Trail – a recreational water trail that links more than 200 isles and sites – as an especially worthwhile adventure. For more land-based excursions, take the kids to Acadia for heart-pounding hikes and bike rides. Trekking to the staggering 1,560-foot Cadillac Mountain, exploring the robust 57-mile network of carriage roads and snapping family photos at Otter Cliff are must-dos. After embracing the great outdoors together, kick back at a family-friendly hotel like Balance Rock Inn .

Iconic Queenstown cityscape at dusk, New Zealand

Queenstown, New Zealand

When it comes to choosing an action-packed family-friendly destination, it's hard to top this fun-loving city. Adventure junkies of all ages can unleash their inner daredevil with snowboarding, kayaking and biking. If you and the gang aren't afraid of heights, climb aboard the Skyline Queenstown, a mountain cable car that soars 1,500 feet and offers awe-inspiring vistas of Coronet Peak, Queenstown and the Remarkables from an observation area at Bob's Peak. In winter (June to September in the Southern Hemisphere), you can enjoy world-class skiing and snowboarding at the Remarkables, located about 15 miles from Queenstown. And in summer, consider paragliding with a reputable company, such as GForce Paragliding, Coronet Peak or Skytrek.

Lagoa do Fogo, aka Fire Lake, is a crater lake on Sao Miguel, Azores. It is the highest lake on Sao Miguel and is in a nature reserve.

The Azores, Portugal

While most jet-setters have heard of Lisbon, the Azores ' under-the-radar archipelago offers unique experiences for nature-loving families. Barnes highlights Intrepid Travel's eight-day Azores Family Holiday trip (from $2,610) as ideal for those who want to "visit working farms where agriculture is a core part of the local economy, hike up majestic volcanoes and swim with dolphins off the coast of São Miguel [Island]." If you would prefer to travel on your own, head to São Miguel to explore natural geothermal springs or make your way to Pico, which boasts a 7,700-foot summit – the highest in the country. For more relaxing outdoor pursuits, visit Varadouro, a coastal town on Faial Island with a craggy coastline and black basalt rock-framed pools.

Zermatt, Switzerland


For a quintessential active alpine getaway – complete with hikes to snow-capped peaks, glacial lakes and serene meadows – add Switzerland to your travel list. Adventure travel company Backroads offers a six-day Switzerland Family Walking & Hiking Tour during the summer season (from $4,498 per person), where you can admire glistening glaciers and enchanting waterfalls, explore Zermatt (and take in awe-inspiring vantage points of the Matterhorn) and explore Gornergletscher glacier's ice field. While the hikes are challenging, you and the gang will be accompanied by experts. Plus, at the end of each day, you can retreat to upscale accommodations, making it an ideal choice if you're looking to experience the Swiss Alps in comfort.

Samburu National Reserve

Nairobi, Kenya

Few family adventure trips can rival spending a week on a dreamy safari. If you're traveling with budding wildlife lovers, splurge for a stay at one of the Elephant Watch Camp's eco-friendly tents within the Samburu National Reserve. Dedicated guides at the camp highlight elephants passing by and offer immersive activities, such as treks to the Ol Doinyo Mountain, walks with Samburu warriors, game drives and camel treks. Aside from roaming elephants, leopards, cheetahs, lions, zebras and giraffes are often spotted across the 70-square-mile reserve.

Aerial view of Macchu Picchu ruins in remote landscape, Cusco, Peru

Machu Picchu, Peru

For intrepid families, Peru is a must-see bucket list destination, Brady says. After all, it's hard to match taking an expert-guided tour through the Amazon, Machu Picchu and Cusco. On G Adventures' nine-day Peru Family Experience (starting at $1,999 per person), participants ages 3 and up can raft, kayak, hike and bike on a naturalist-led tour in the Amazon jungle before taking the train from Cusco to Machu Picchu to catch sight of the "lost city of the Incas" and admire sacred temples and agriculture areas. After taking in commanding views of Machu Picchu's ruins, visitors can enjoy other must-see attractions in Cusco like the Sacsayhuamán ruins or explore the lively Plaza de Armas.

Italy, Cinque Terre, Manarola, Townscape at sunset

Cinque Terre, Italy

Imagine waking up to colorful cliff-side villages gazing over the Ligurian Sea and spending your days exploring together as you soak in breathtaking backdrops followed by pizza and gelato. While Cinque Terre 's cluster of five villages may be a popular romantic retreat, the charming small towns afford a once-in-a-lifetime family adventure as you hike from village to village. Though some treks are steep and not well-suited for novices or the faint of heart, fret not because you and the kids can opt to board a train or arrange a private boat tour. Consider booking a private tour with a venerable outfitter like Country Walkers to hike along olive-flanked paths, snorkel in the Ligurian and trek to medieval castles without sweating the details.

Tanah Lot temple in Bali

Jetting off to Bali with your brood to explore sacred temples and towering volcanoes might not seem like a practical family getaway, but with many immersive activities geared toward the young – and the young at heart – there are plenty of draws for planning the trip of a lifetime. With Intrepid Travel's Bali Family Holiday with Teenagers package, travelers can stay active with heart-pounding adventures, Barnes says. "In between snorkeling, hiking and whitewater rafting, take part in cultural excursions like chocolate-making at a Balinese factory [on the tour]," he says. If you would rather arrange your own itinerary, don't miss taking the kids to Uluwatu Temple or getting acquainted with Sumatran elephants at Elephant Safari Park.

The quays in Dublin City, Ireland at dawn with the sky reflected in the River Liffey.

With dramatic cliffs, ancient ruins and picturesque trails, the Emerald Isle is an adventure-lover's playground. After getting your culture fix in Dublin, take the kids to a real-life fairy tale by staying and sleep over in one of Ireland's enchanting castles. At the sprawling 450-acre Dromoland Castle Hotel & Country Estate in County Clare, the whole crew can partake in archery, falconry, tennis, mountain biking and other recreational pursuits. And at the 800-year-old Ashford Castle, you can up the family fun factor with zip lining, carriage rides, falconry, horseback riding and other kid-friendly pursuits. After embracing the great outdoors, little ones ages 12 and under can get pampered with personalized bedtime story books, homemade cookies and even a LEGO menu.

 Jotunheimen National Park

Jaw-dropping landscapes punctuated by scenic fjords and magnificent glaciers tempt nature enthusiasts of all ages and interests to jet off to Norway. With G Adventures' seven-day Norwegian Fjord Trekking excursion (from $2,299), participants ages 12 and up can take a guided hike along the frosty Buer Glacier and explore the Trolltonga Troll's Tongue formation, which rises 2,300 feet over Lake Ringedalsvatnet. And while even finicky teens will be hard-pressed to find a reason not to immerse themselves in their surroundings, other draws for planning an action-packed trip to Norway include the chance to spot reindeer at Jotunheimen National Park and admire walruses and polar bears in Svalbard, nestled between Norway and the North Pole.

Two leopards on tree watching tourists in jeep.

South Africa

If an African safari is on your bucket list, journey to Kruger National Park with a reputable outfitter that can guide you to pristine game reserves to spot the Big Five: lions, Cape buffalos, leopards, rhinoceroses and elephants. Brady highlights a 12-day G Adventures expedition in partnership with National Geographic Journeys (starting at $3,059 per person) from Cape Town to Victoria Falls as especially enticing. Guided by a knowledgeable expert, participants can marvel at penguins on Cape Town's Boulders Beach and take the picturesque wildlife safari drive in Kruger National Park to spot giraffes, lions and elephants. Spectacular wildlife-viewing aside, the trip offers the chance to explore Victoria Falls by kayak, river safari, canoe or whitewater rafting expedition.

Dordogne, France

If you want to raise culture-loving kids, it's a great idea to skip across the pond to Paris. But if you've already gotten your art fix at world-renowned institutions in the City of Light, such as the Musée d'Orsay, the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower, skip Paris and take in an active getaway in the lesser-known Dordogne region in southwest France (about a 90-minute drive east of Bordeaux), which teems with castles, caves and storybook châteauxs. Youngsters will enjoy exploring the labyrinth-like gardens of Marqueyssac, checking out the 25 painted caves and 147 prehistoric sites in the Vézère Valley and releasing any pent-up energy cycling, canoeing and hiking in one of 33 parks and gardens in the area.

People rafting the Middle Fork of the Salmon River through deep canyons. Idaho, USA.

A trip along the Salmon River is a guaranteed one-of-a-kind adventure trip for all ages, Potter says. Along the Salmon River, you'll create long-lasting memories as you plummet through Class III rapids. The best way to experience the area's inspiring desert scenery on a heart-racing rafting expedition is with an experienced outfitter like O.A.R.S., he adds. The company offers four- and five-day trips on the lower Salmon River. If you're a first time rafter, consider the company's Gorges of the Lower Salmon River Rafting Trip (from $899 per person), which is designed for ages 7 and up. By day, you can enjoy whitewater rafting, swimming, paddleboarding and wildlife spotting, and after dark you can bond beneath the stars at riverside campsites.

Family riding ski chairlift and waving at viewer

Vail, Colorado

If your family comprises avid powder hounds and snow bunnies, Vail should top your travel bucket list. You and the gang can enjoy the ultimate snowboarding and ski break at Vail Ski Resort. And after shredding powder, take the kids to the Eagles Nest Wilderness or venture to neighboring Beaver Creek for kid-friendly activities like nature hikes from the Beaver Creek Nordic Center. Best of all, the area offers a variety of family-friendly accommodation options, from the Sonnenalp , which offers movie nights and arts and crafts at its kids club, and The Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch , which offers marshmallow roasting around a fire pit and a Ritz Kids program with ski lessons, photography, scavenger hunts and other activities.

Cityscrape waterfront reflection image of Tokyo with skyscrapers and Tokyo Sky tree illuminated, Tokyo, Japan.

With world-renowned attractions – from Kyoto's iconic Buddhist temples to Tokyo's neon-lit cityscapes and skyscrapers – Japan's best places to visit beckon to culture-loving globetrotters of all ages. Barnes highlights Intrepid Travel's 11-day Japan Family Holiday (from $4,910 per person) as an especially memorable adventure. On the trip, travelers "can take part in activities few have the chance to experience, such as cooking okonomiyaki on a Tokyo Bay boat cruise, taking a dip in the soothing waters of the onsen (Japanese hot spring baths) in Hakone and learning the art of calligraphy," he explains. If you're craving more memorable experiences, take on a few extra days in Tokyo to check out can't-miss gems, such as the Sensoji Temple, the Imperial Palace and the Edo-Tokyo Museum.

Niagara falls

Niagara Falls, Canada

Thrill-seeking families in search of impressive waterfalls will be hard-pressed to find a more dramatic photo op than Niagara Falls . And while you should expect tourist kitsch (and heavy crowds), the magnificent natural wonder is a quintessential bucket list attraction for good reason. Whether you want to see the striking falls on a Maid of the Mist boat tour for a spray-filled ride to Horseshoe Falls or from a sky-high observation with a Journey Behind the Falls tour, there are many ways to experience the falls in all their splendor. Beyond the falls, check out kid-friendly attractions such as Niagara SkyWheel and Old Fort Niagara.

adventure trips in the us

Morocco charms visitors with its colorful markets in Marrakesh, its dramatic dune-filled desert landscapes in the Sahara and its elaborate architecture in Casablanca. For a one-of-a-kind, action-packed trip – that doesn't require a small fortune – Barnets highlights a budget-friendly Morocco Family Holiday eight-day itinerary. The tour (starting at $665) includes camel riding along sandy dunes, exploring the iconic Djemaa el Fna main square and taking a respite at Zaouit Ifergane, a relaxing oasis with swaying palms. Carve out extra time in Marrakesh for plenty of kid-friendly enticements, such as treasure hunting for souvenirs and catching performances at lively bazaar market stalls, admiring the ornate mosaics at El Badi Palace and strolling through the cacti-filled Le Jardin Majorelle.

Frederiksborg Castle

With its dramatic cliffs, striking fjords and plunging waterfalls, Denmark offers plenty of thrilling diversions for adventurous families. Aside from checking out Copenhagen's must-sees, such as the Little Mermaid statue, the Tivoli Gardens and Strøget, you and the kids can retreat to the enchanting Frederiksborg Castle in Hillerød or walk among the cinematic cliffs flanking the isle of Møn's eastern coastline. On National Geographic Expeditions' nine-day Denmark and Norway Family Expedition, suited for ages 7 and up (starting at $6,590), highlights include peddling in the mountains outside of Bergen, learning about Scandinavia's fascinating seafaring heritage with an expert archaeologist, taking the Flåm Railway from Oslo to Myrdal and embarking on a scenic cruise along Sognefjord.


For a mix of art, history, ancient ruins and idyllic beaches, embark on an unforgettable odyssey in Greece. Make Athens your home base for visiting must-see attractions such as the Acropolis and the Parthenon. Or if you would rather leave the logistics to an expert, consider booking National Geographic Expeditions' 10-day round-trip Greece Family Expedition for ages 7 and up (starting at $5,990 per person). The trip includes guided tours at iconic attractions in Athens, sightseeing in Delphi and a stop in Santorini – the volcanic isle known for its striking cliff-side sunsets, blue domes and whitewashed buildings. Even better, youngsters can enjoy cultural immersion with the Kid-to-Kid Connection program, where participants can interact with Greek locals and participate in hands-on activities.

The Great Holy Relics Pagoda Nabhapolbhumisiri, North of Thailand in the Chiangmai Province.

When you imagine Thailand, picture-perfect beaches, golden temples and opulent resorts may spring to mind. But the country's diverse landscapes, lush forests and lively markets beckon to fickle teens looking for blend of culture and adventure. On Intrepid Travel's 11-day Highlights of Thailand tour for participants ages 15 and up (starting at $1,795), you and the kids can enjoy an interactive cooking lesson in Chiang Mai, cycle past ancient ruins and visit Friends of Asian Elephant, a hospital that aims to protect animal welfare in a safe habitat in Sukhothai. For a more adrenaline-fueled journey, consider embarking on an eight-day biking expedition with outfitter Backroads that weaves past temples and rice fields in the Golden Triangle.

A young woman walks up a narrow stair set winds down to a overlook of Yellowstone Falls in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming.

Yellowstone National Park

One of the America's most prized national parks, Yellowstone's striking natural wonders and surreal geothermal features, from its bubbling hot springs to its rust-colored canyon walls, entice visitors of all ages to embrace the great outdoors. And with versatile wildlife-viewing opportunities and more than 3,000 square miles of waterfalls, canyons and geysers, Yellowstone offers plenty of ways for adventure-seekers to experience its sprawling natural playground. A fun, family-friendly way to take in the park is with a rafting trip along the Yellowstone River or an expert-led backcountry hike. If you want to stay at one of Yellowstone's lodges, you can enjoy other bonding experiences like dinner cookouts around a crackling campfire.


The Pyrenees, Andorra and Spain

Forget the Alps. For an awe-inspiring, heart-pounding hike, consider an out-of-the-ordinary trip in the Pyrenees, the beautiful mountain region tucked between Spain and France. Barnes highlights Intrepid Travel's eight-day Summer Pyrenees Family Holiday package (starting at $895) as a choice option. On the trip, designed for ages 10 and older, activities include whitewater rafting, zip lining, biking and hiking. Highlights include peddling to Engolasters Lake in the Cortals Valley and embarking on an exhilarating whitewater rafting journey across the border in Spain from the village of Sort ("luck" in Catalan). If you have a stringent budget, the off-the-beaten-path, bucket-list adventure is attached to a reasonable all-inclusive rate that includes accommodations, meals, daily activities and transportation.

Wild elephants in Tanzania.

Tanzania, East Africa

If you're traveling with wildlife lovers, you may be hard-pressed to come up with a more memorable family vacation than a safari. On Intrepid Travel's eight-day Tanzania Family Safari (from $2,095 per person), "families can take a safari across the floor of the Ngorongoro Crater for a chance to watch the endangered black rhinoceros in their natural habitat," Barnes says. "They can see an astounding array of animals in the Serengeti National Park, too, and pass through the ancient homeland of the Maasai," he adds. Aside from game drives at dawn, educational opportunities abound, including learning about the Great Rift Valley, the destination for the Great Migration, when about 2 million wildebeest, gazelles and zebras traverse the Serengeti.

Kota Kinabalu, Malaysian Borneo

Borneo, Malaysia

Animal-loving families in search of the ultimate off-the-beaten-track wilderness adventure should consider venturing to Borneo. "In Borneo, families have the chance to see animals up close at an orangutan rehabilitation center, a monkey sanctuary and a bear conservation center," he explains. On Intrepid Travel's 10-day Classic Borneo itinerary for ages 10 and up (prices start at $2,074 per person), you can meet traipse through jungles and float along the Kinabatangan River, which is home to macaques and orangutans, among other fascinating creatures. "Families will stay at an eco-camp in the thick of the jungle and will enjoy a homestay in a Malay village," he adds. Other bucket-list worthy highlights include exploring an authentic tea plantation and snorkeling near Manakan Island to admire colorful coral and tropical fish.

Cowboys riding a horse over the mountains

For quality family bonding time in the great outdoors, Potter suggests taking youngsters to a dude ranch out West. Lone Mountain Ranch in Montana, which is tucked between Big Sky and Yellowstone, is an especially attractive choice for broods with its wide range of kid-friendly activities, including cross-country skiing, dog-sledding, horseback riding, mountain biking, fly-fishing and white-water rafting. "The trails are incredibly well-groomed," Potter adds. If you're planning a summer escape, consider the Summer Discovery Package, which includes a tour of Yellowstone, hiking, mountain biking, canoeing, horseback riding, all meals and an Outdoor Youth Adventures Program designed for ages 4 to 12, where kids can connect with like-minded peers and enjoy age-appropriate activities.

Landscape Arch in the Arches National Park, Utah, United States.

You – and the kids – have seen dreamy pictures of the spectacular sandstone rock formations and iconic domes, buttes and arches in Utah's five famed national parks: Arches, Bryce Canyon, Zion, Canyonlands and Capitol Reef. For an outdoor adventure the kids won't soon forget, head to Arches to admire one of the 2,000 famed spires the park is known for, such as Delicate Arch and Balanced Rock. For more unforgettable backdrops, check out Bryce's surreal hoodoo rock formations, or if you're feeling brave, hike the challenging Narrows in Zion National Park. Consider making nearby Moab your base camp to enjoy ample opportunities for stargazing, hiking, biking and rafting, among other outdoor escapades.

Taj Mahal on a sunny day with beautiful sky

Northern India

Northern India offers the right mix of captivating landscapes, iconic attractions and fascinating wildlife, catering to explorers and culture vultures of all ages. On Intrepid Travel's 10-day Northern India Family Holiday expeditions (starting at $1,080 per person), you can cross plenty of world-renowned attractions off your bucket list, from the Taj Mahal in Agra to India Gate in New Delhi to the elaborate City Palace in Jaipur. The trip also includes a stop at Ranthambore National Park, where you can meander past storied temples and embark on early morning game drives to look out for antelope, leopards, gazelle and Bengal tigers. If you have extra time, tack on a few extra days to experience Delhi's vibrant bazaars and attractions.

Sayulita, Mexico

Sayulita, Mexico

Sayulita – the little-known surf town along the Pacific that's often overshadowed by popular Puerto Vallarta – is a dreamy escape for an off-the-beaten-track adventure trip removed from heavy tourist crowds. Aspiring surfers can take lessons along the beach with reputable surf schools like Lunazul Surf School & Shop. And for more exhilarating adventures, take the kids on a jungle biking trip with outfitter Wild Mex Wilderness and Surf Mexpeditions, which offers tours geared toward moderate and advanced riders. Other outdoor activities can include soaring through treetops on a zip line in the Sierra Madre forest, beachside yoga and snorkeling. Wrap up your days with a stay at an authentic casita vacation rental or boutique hotel like Villa Amor.


Tasmania, Australia

For some of the best nature- and wildlife-viewing on earth, take the kids to Oz. With sublime backdrops, unique geological features and diverse wildlife (think: wallabies and Tasmanian devils), Tasmania offers an extraordinary trip for adventurers of all kinds. You and the kids can sprawl along sandy beaches and admire striking granite mountains before hitting the trails at Freycinet National Park, including the challenging but rewarding Wineglass Bay Lookout trail. For less adrenaline-pumping pursuits, consider venturing to the Tasmanian Devil Conservation Park, near Hobart, where you can feed the local four-legged residents and admire other animals, like kangaroos. Paddling by kayak along Coles Bay at sunset with a reputable outfitter like Freycinet Adventures also offers a memorable outdoor excursion.

Beautiful, magnificent view of Pitons in St Lucia, seen from hotel restaurant at top of island.

On the surface, St. Lucia, with its palm-lined beaches, lavish resorts and rum cocktails, may not seem like an ideal destination for families. But don't let its romantic reputation throw you off. Outdoorsy travelers of all ages will enjoy adrenaline-fueled rainforest hikes, treks to the Piton Mountains and touring the island's active drive-in volcano at Sulfur Springs Park. If you're looking to splurge, consider taking your crew to Anse Chastanet (open to guests ages 10 and up or 6 years or older from July to September), a luxury resort that boasts room with plenty of age-appropriate activities, from jungle biking to guided hikes to open-water dives at the surrounding marine reserve.


If you're looking for a transformative, off-the-grid trip, a cruise to Antarctica should top your travel list. The adventure-focused cruise line Hurtigruten offers voyages from the Drake Passage to the Antarctica Peninsula. And travelers get the chance to hike along remote, unspoiled landscapes, marvel at melting icebergs and admire Gentoo penguins, leopard seals and other fascinating creatures. On the 14-day Frozen Land of the Penguins itinerary, youngsters ages 7 to 13 can also learn about the geological makeup of the Southern Ocean, join sustainable-driven community services onshore and attend enriching historical, environmental and wildlife-focused educational lecture series centered on climate change with the Young Explorers Program.

Horizontal view of famous Grand Canyon at sunrise, horizontal view

Grand Canyon National Park

If you're searching for an inspiring outdoor adventure in one of America's prized national parks, the Grand Canyon is a no-brainer. Marveling at the crimson- and ochre-hued, 277-mile-long chasm and soaking in its natural and geological splendors is nothing if not enchanting. Potter suggests planning a whitewater rafting trip along the Colorado River with a reputable guide to give kids the chance to experience the grandeur, striking side canyons and streams of the Grand Canyon. On O.A.R.'s five-day Grand Canyon Rafting – Whitmore Wash to Lake Mead (starting at $2,440 per person), participants ages 7 and up can hike, horseback ride and take a helicopter ride above the Grand Canyon.

Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge

Vancouver, British Columbia

If you want a mix of cosmopolitan gems and outdoor wilderness on your next family getaway, set your sights on Vancouver, where daily activities can include everything from learning to surf to soaring over the peaks of Grouse Mountain on a zip line tour. For less extreme but equally stimulating adventures, take a canopy walk along the 450-foot-long, 230-foot-high Capilano Suspension Bridge, where you can admire striking evergreens and forest and river vistas as you traverse seven suspended footbridges. If you would rather stay on terra firma, bike or walk in Stanley Park, pausing at Brockton Point to marvel at the totem poles. When you need a break, recharge at Granville Island Public Market.

Camel in front of the treasury or Al Khazna, it is the most magnificant and famous facade in Petra Jordan, it is 40 meters high.

Petra has long attracted history lovers and serious daredevils. After all, it's the iconic setting from the 1989 hit "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade." On Intrepid Travel's eight-day Jordan Family Holidays (starting at $1,435), you'll get off the beaten track and "journey beyond Petra to Wadi Rum on a four-wheel-drive safari," Barnes says. Plus, travelers have "the chance to camp in the middle of the desert under the stars," he adds. The trip begins in Amman Jordan, continues onward to Jerash for a hike weaving past ruins dating back more than 2,000 years, then on to Petra and Wadi Rum to take in spectacular rock formations, before wrapping up at the Dead Sea.

Sunrise at Angkor Wat, Cambodia.

For an outside-the-box adventure in Southeast Asia, Brady highlights Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand as choice destinations. Whether you want to trek through the Cardamom Mountains, admire the ancient temples at Angkor Wat or explore Phnom Penh's outdoor markets, there are plenty of inspiring landscapes and historical attractions to cross off your list. On G Adventures' 17-day Essential Vietnam & Cambodia trip (starting at $1,959), participants ages 12 and up cruise along the Mekong Delta in Ho Chi Minh City, float in a junk boat on Halong Bay and visit the Angkor Wat temple complex. Best of all, the guided trip caters to novice hikers, with light walking and hiking.

The picturesque Gobi Gurvansaikhan National Park, dominated by the Gurvan Saikhan Mountains on the north part of the Gobi Desert.

Trekking to Mongolia with kids on a nomadic adventure offers an unforgettable vacation. With the 14-day Discover Mongolia G Adventures trip in partnership with National Geographic Journeys (from $4,199), activities include visiting the Flaming Cliffs paleontology site, marveling at Mongolia's wild horses at Hustai National Park and touring the Erdene Zhu monastery with a Buddhist monk. Best of all, the trip offers plenty of learning components with educational lectures and visits to camel-herding families. And Mongolia's remote and diverse landscapes – from the isolated dunes in the Gobi Desert to the dramatic Altai mountains, green valleys and striking gorges in Gobi Gurvansaikhan National Park – do not disappoint.

Whale in the ocean.

(M.M. Sweet | Getty Images)

Sea of Cortez, Mexico

For a one-of-a-kind outdoor excursion, consider sea kayaking in the Sea of Cortez, Potter says. The venerable travel outfitter O.A.R.S. offers a Baja Sea Kayaking and Whale Watching expedition that includes a mix of paddling near the cliff-flanked coast of Espíritu Santo, swimming with sea lions at a rookery and whale spotting at Magdalena Bay as Pacific gray whales migrate from the Arctic. On the nine-day trip (from $1,395 per person), you can also catch sight of sea turtles, dolphins and manta rays and paddle on an expert-led kayaking excursion before exploring rugged sand dunes along the Baja coast. Best of all, guests of all ages can stay engaged after the sun goes down with evening lectures.

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Alabama teen scores sneak preview of Tiana's Bayou Adventure after viral prom dress fame

adventure trips in the us

A high school graduate whose viral prom dress , inspired by Disney's " Princess and the Frog ," garnered national attention was invited to preview the new ride Tiana's Bayou Adventure at Walt Disney World in Orlando.

"I knew that I wanted to make a prom dress, but I didn't wanna make anything that was already out there or that I see people doing a lot," Layla Hildreth, who graduated from Shades Valley High School in Alabama, told USA TODAY.

Instead, she chose to create a prom dress similar to the ball gown in the movie that inspired her in her childhood.

Princess Tiana, the movie's protagonist, was "an independent woman," said Hildreth. "She didn't need anybody's help, per se, and she never gave up on what she wanted."

She spent five months sewing her dress while juggling her senior year and extracurricular activities. After her dress went viral, Disney's Imagineers invited her to Walt Disney World, where she met voice actors from the very movie that inspired her dress, "Princess and the Frog."

Disney trips: 45% of parents take on debt for Disney vacations but the regrets are few

'Princess and the Frog' dress creates an enchanting effect

Her dress captivated people at the prom.

"A lot of people were just amazed," said Hildreth.

She adds that folks from her school, who she didn't really know, were stopping her and asking to take photos with her.

But, she didn't just grab the attention of fellow students from her school. She's conducted multiple interviews with different media outlets and grabbed the attention of Disney's Imagineers.

Charita Carter, Disney Imagineer and executive creative producer on Tiana's Bayou Adventure , said imagineers were so captivated by Hildreth's story that they invited her and her family to the resort. They also got to attend the "Dig a Little Deeper" showcase, when Hildreth got to show off her dress.

"I didn't expect for the story to touch so many people," Hildreth told Florida Today, a part of the USA TODAY Network. "I know people my age have seen Tiana, but they don't really talk about it as much as they used to. So I'm just glad it's coming back."

Sewing was integral part of creating viral prom dress

It took the graduate five months to complete, but worked on it in between school responsibilities.

She sewed her while attending rehearsal and performing in three shows throughout the school year. She said she would have rehearsal from 3 to 10 p.m. some days.

"If I really think about how much time actually put into making the dress, it was probably like 2 weeks worth of work," said Hildreth.

Those who want to begin sewing "just have to start," said Hildreth.

"It took me a very long time to just start doing it," she said. "And it's gonna be a while to actually really, really enjoy it because I was just making things to say that I made it at first. But now I really enjoy making stuff, and I will work until one in the morning if I want to."

While Hildreth recently finished other projects that involved hemming her parents' pants, she's also working on creating more varsity jackets for the university she is going to attend in the fall: Georgia State University.

She isn't selling her creations though, and is instead using her talents to make gifts for others and honing her craft for now.

"I'm trying to learn how to use my embroidery machine better so that I can actually start selling things," said Hildreth.

Teen's trip was a magical experience

Hildreth got to try Princess Tiana's Beignets, which was her favorite thing to eat on the whole trip, explore Pandora's Island in Animal Kingdom, and wander through Galaxy's Edge in Hollywood Studios.

Aside from exploring the most magical place on Earth, Hildreth also got to meet Anika Noni Rose, the voice of Princess Tiana and Michael-Leon Wooley, the voice of the trumpet-playing alligator, Louis at the showcase.

Her favorite part, though, was tasting all the different types of food that were inspired by the movie's New Orleans setting.

"I'm a foodie, so I definitely enjoy trying all the new foods and seeing what I'd do and do not like," said Hildreth.

Sneak preview of Tiana's Bayou Adventure

Along with the invite to the most magical place on Earth, Hildreth also got to get a preview of Magic Kingdom's newest ride, Tiana's Bayou Adventure.

"I've never been on a ride like that," said Hildreth. "When it first started, I expected that it would just be really slow and that was fine. But then there's also like drops, and there's fast moments and slow moments and the visuals are just amazing."

The water ride is set to open to the public on June 28, this summer. But a word of advice from the recent high school grad:

"You will get wet," warned Hildreth. Especially if you sit at the very front of the ride vehicle.

She adds that folks who want to use their phone should take extra precautions.

"Definitely get something for your phone if you wanna take videos so that it doesn't get wet," said Hildreth.

Florida Today suggests that folks should watch the movie before getting on the ride. "Princess and the Frog" can be watched on Disney+.

Contributing: Britt Kennerly , Florida Today

Julia is a trending reporter for USA TODAY. She has covered various topics, from local businesses and government in her hometown, Miami, to tech and pop culture. You can connect with her on  LinkedIn  or follow her on  X, formerly Twitter ,  Instagram  and  TikTok : @juliamariegz



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Riding to BAM! 2024: The Bicycle Adventure Meeting

2024 Tour Divide Days 5-6, Eddie Clark

Previous Dispatch From Thu Jun 20, 2024

2024 Tour Divide Debrief: Days 5-6

Author Photo

Over 5,000 people attended this year’s Bicycle Adventure Meeting (BAM!) in Italy earlier this month, participating in group rides, workshops, music, parties, and more. Find a short recap from Sofiane Sehili, who rode his bike to the event, and a reflection with photos from the organizers…

Words by Sofiane Sehili , photos by Nicola Damonte

Last year marked my first time attending the Bicycle Adventure Meeting, commonly known as BAM!. While I had a great time, something was missing from my experience. Pressed by time, I traveled by train from my home in Paris to Mantova. Of course, I still had my bike because I don’t go anywhere without it. But BAM! was first created as a convergence of bicycle travelers, and the whole idea was to ride to Mantova and then party. So, when last year’s edition ended, I promised myself that if I had a chance, I would ride to BAM! next time.

BAM 2024 Recap

I didn’t have to wait long. The weekend before BAM!, I happened to be on Italian soil. Well, sort of… I was in Sardinia, an island far off the coast. Nothing a ferry couldn’t fix. After a decent night in a cabin, I rolled out of the ferry, ready to take on Tuscany. Now, four days to ride from Livorno to Mantova is plenty, so I could afford a few detours and did my fair share of sightseeing, albeit always from the saddle.

I got to Mantova a day early, on a warm afternoon, and the temperature was looking to get hotter. I joked a bit, saying I had brought the sun from Sardinia. I quickly met some friends there. The bikepacking community is not a big one, and I’ve been a part of it for a long time now, so when there’s a gathering of bicycle travelers, it doesn’t take long for me to see a familiar face.

That’s very much what BAM! is about: being reunited with old friends and like-minded people to talk about bikes, events, routes, and new destinations. At least, that’s what it is about for me. But in reality, there’s a lot more to it. Gabri, a bike shop owner from Florence who I met during my trip to Mantova, will teach you the basics of bike maintenance during his workshop. Or, if you are more of an artist, you can attend the creative map-making workshop. There’s always something going on. Guests were talking about their bikepacking or bike touring experience (like myself). Of course, there’s gelato and pizza at any time of the day since this is Italy. And beer, since this is a festival.

BAM 2024 Recap

But if there’s one thing I love about BAM!, it’s that it doesn’t discriminate. Bikepacking may now very well be the fastest-growing trend in the realm of bicycle travel. But BAM! welcomes all bike travelers, not just bikepackers. A 40-year-old steel rig with a rack and panniers doesn’t mean that you don’t belong here. You have a place at BAM! as long as you travel on wheels powered by your own two legs. The idea is always to unite and never to divide.

On my way to Mantova, I met a couple from Barcelona traveling with their (rather big) dog. Their bikes were fully loaded, and they were taking it pretty chill, riding 50 to 60 kilometers a day. As always, I didn’t carry much and did a lot of mileage every day. But for a moment, we just rode together and chatted, doing something different in form but similar in essence. I was reminded that there’s always more value in finding what reunites us than what sets us apart.

BAM 2024 Recap

The Italians, like most Mediterraneans, are passionate people. There are few things here that are done with measure. A lot that is done with all their heart. I felt it both times I attended BAM!. I received the warmest welcome I have ever received out of any event. Cycling is a religion here, and Italians have embraced bikepacking with devotion. The philosophy and the values I have built year after year by riding my bike all over the world find an echo here, and this is why I feel at home here in Mantova.

Bam 2024 Recap

A Decade of BAM!

Words by Andrea Benesso

“See you at BAM!” has become a way for bicycle travelers to say goodbye to each other.

Eleonora, my partner in many more or less unsuccessful projects, and I launched it exactly 10 years ago, before the gravel wave and bikepacking became cool. In short, at that time, it was a “countercurrent” idea. Yet it worked right from the start. BAM! is the European gathering of bicycle travelers, by the numbers, one of the largest bikepacking events in the world in all its forms.

But how was BAM! born? The granfondos, the XC or DH races, the historic rides, the randonnées, and the fairs. The Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France. Ten years ago, there was no space for bicycle travelers, still identified with the Nordics in sandals and white socks, heading to the sea with very heavy bicycles. We started from here: why don’t we organize a gathering for those who travel by bike? It is a real gathering made by people that everyone can experience in their own way, bringing stories and a desire to meet others. Soon after, Livigno, in the Alps, hosted us the first year, and the concept was simple: arrive by bike from home, and we would take care of the rest. We were 150, many more than we thought, but above all, it was immediately magical, and from the second year on, the participants began to be a thousand, then three thousand, and so on, up to 2024. BAM! was an event we had thought of for a few friends and ourselves: we didn’t realize that that punk spirit, that desire for adventure, for sharing, that nonsense that drives you further than you should and against the wind and sometimes gets you into trouble would involve thousands of people, each looking for something different: inspiration, ideas, dreams, friends, adventures, or simply to feel recognized.

Bam 2024 Recap

The current dimension of BAM! is not measured in numbers, but in the quality of the experience it nurtures: getting on a bike and riding far. Almost all BAM! participants arrive by pedaling from home, covering even thousands of kilometers, full of stories and life, enough to create an incredible energy that overwhelms everyone: there is a desire to tell, to dream of distant journeys, to learn, even to fall in love.

But the most important aspect for us is that BAM! is an inclusive event, not only from the point of view of gender or sexual identity but also because it welcomes every type of bike and cyclist: you don’t need to be thin, young, fashionable, with a beard or ride fast or further. And in an era where it sometimes seems you can only ride if you fit a certain model, we like to see BAM! as a bastion of freedom, where you can be whoever you want: an ultra cyclist, a traveler with 50 kilograms of bags, a bikepacker who has pedaled Patagonia, or a family traveling with children and e-bikes. After all, we all find ourselves pedaling against the wind, thinking at some point in the day that maybe it was better to stay home, only to arrive at our destination full of a simple joy, where victory or kilometers matter little, but being full of life matters a lot, thinking only of the simplest needs: where to sleep, where to eat, the sore butt.

Bam 2024 Recap

Every year, BAM! offers a program with dozens of meetings with travelers of all kinds, workshops where you can learn about mechanics on the road, drawing, how to draw maps or photography, rides, concerts, yoga, and much more, but what matters is reuniting, all different and all similar, to fuel a passion. It’s a simple format that we would like to make even more essential over time, as it was during COVID when BAM! became Campfire: limited numbers, in the mountains, everyone in tents, one night only, and with a minimal program. What matters is feeling against the wind, but along a road shared with others.

You can find details about BAM! over on at .

Further Reading

Make sure to dig into these related articles for more info...

Bam! Bicycle Adventure Meeting

BAM! Bicycle Adventure Meeting 2018: Event Recap

Bam! 2019 Event Recap

2019 BAM! Bicycle Adventure Meeting: Event Recap

2020 Bam! Event Recap

2020 BAM! Bicycle Adventure Meeting: Event Recap

Bam! 2021 Recap

BAM! Bicycle Adventure Meeting 2021: Event Recap

Filed in (categories & tags), event recaps.

Please keep the conversation civil, constructive, and inclusive, or your comment will be removed.

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Houston life, travel expert gabe saglie’s screaming adventures at disney world.

Derrick Shore , Houston Life Co-Host

HOUSTON – Travelzoo Senior Editor Gabe Saglie is always up for an adventure. This week on Houston Life, Gabe took us inside some of the newest attractions at Walt Disney World in Florida. The park is so popular it welcomes 35,000 visitors each day during the summer months.

This year, visitors can enjoy a variety of new rides and attractions -- including Tiana’s Bayou Adventure . Based on the 2009 Disney film, ‘The Princess and the Frog,’ the ride features adorable characters and daring plunges (yes, you will get wet)! It opens to the public on June 28th, but Houston Life travel contributor Gabe Saglie gave Houston Life viewers a first look!

“My favorite part of the ride happens at the very end; it’s a 50 foot drop,” said Saglie, who got quite wet himself!

The world-famous Epcot Center also just completed a multi-year transformation. Originally opened in 1982, the 42 year old park now brings in many of the newer Disney characters and features nighttime shows with synchronized pyrotechnics and water cannons.

To see what else is new at Disney World and for some of Gabe’s expert travel tips, check out our entire interview.

Copyright 2024 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.

About the Author

Derrick shore.

Three-time Emmy winner, dog lover, uncle, electric car driver, cookie eater.

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