With the amazing range of places and landscapes within the U.S. border, there is a lifetime of vacation opportunities simply waiting to be explored. From the sparkling Great Lakes to the soaring Rocky Mountains to the vast deserts, the U.S. has something for every type of adventure. The U.S. is a beautiful country worth exploring, whether you are a citizen or from another country.
Yellowstone National Park
Arguably the most famous national park in the United States, Yellowstone attracts thousands of visitors each year. Plan to spend several days; with over 1,300 miles of trails to explore, you will not be left searching for something to do. Old Faithful is a must-see and is part of the more than 10,000 geysers, steam vents, mud pots and hot springs that make this super volcano one of the top scenic places in the U.S. Keep an eye out for bears, buffalo bison and wolves while taking in the breathtaking Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, including the plunging 308-foot Lower Falls.
Dubbed "The Happiest Place on Earth," Disneyworld (in Orlando, Florida) and Disneyland (in Anaheim, California) are vacation spots beloved by tourists and kids alike. Plan to spend at least a week exploring the different theme parks, areas, Downtown Disney and its other attractions. Choose from staying on site at one of the luxurious resorts, stay off site or even camp at one of the nearby campgrounds. Don't forget your camera so you can capture all the memorable moments of you and your kids posing with the wandering Disney characters.
Every American citizen should put the country's capital on their must-see list. Rich in history, Washington, D.C., is both beautiful and educational. With the White House, Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument and U.S. Capitol at your disposal, in addition to dozens of fascinating museums such as the Smithsonian and the National Air and Space Museum, there is never a shortage of things to do in this city. Plan your trip at the end of March or the beginning of April so that you can experience the Cherry Blossom Festival at the peak blooming time of these gorgeous springtime trees.
For an awe-inspiring vacation in the southwestern United States, head down to the Grand Canyon for a few days. Pack plenty of film, memory cards and batteries, because you will not be able to put your camera down. The South Rim is the most easily accessible by car, as snow often closes off access to the North Rim. Spend a few days hiking, rafting, taking guided tours or even riding a mule through the one-mile deep canyon. For those not afraid of heights, head to the Grand Canyon Skywalk where you can stand on a glass walkway, with the Colorado River beneath you, a mere 4,000 feet down.
Though part of the United States, the Hawaiian Islands feel another world away. Tropical and lush, formed from volcanic explosions over the course of history, Hawaii is a tropical paradise that is an ideal vacation spot for honeymooners and families alike. With the numerous luxurious and family-style resorts along the beaches, you can choose your style a tropical getaway. Try scuba diving or go parasailing to get yourself out of your comfort zone. Visit the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park so you can experience some of the most active volcanoes in the world. With the abundance of stunning nature (ocean, beaches, waterfalls, forests and volcanoes) at your fingertips, you'll never want to go back home to reality.
The Windy City is a popular tourist destination filled with a wide variety of activities and attractions that draw thousands of visitors each year. While taking in the view from atop the Willis Tower (better and formerly known as the Sears Tower) is on most visitors' to-do lists, don't forget to spend the day shopping on the Magnificent Mile filled with high-end shops and restaurants. Spend the day in Millennium Park or the Chicago Botanic Garden. Take a walk along the Navy Pier, enjoying the shops, boats and glistening water of Lake Michigan before spending the evening either at the opera or at Wrigley Field for a Cubs game.
New York City, New York
"The City That Never Sleeps" is most certainly a 24/7 metropolis. For a relaxing time amid the hustle and bustle of New York City, spend the day walking around beautiful Central Park, which encompasses 843 acres in the middle of Manhattan. Take in a Broadway play for a memorable cultural experience; take a whirl around the ice during the holiday season at Rockefeller Center or window shop along the famed Fifth Avenue. The views are amazing from the top of both the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty.
Nestled in the Smoky Mountains, Gatlinburg offers a small-town getaway that is ideal for rejuvenating and renewing the spirit. With stunning mountains and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park at your doorstep, nature beckons you to come explore. Rent a cabin for a few days, take in the crisp mountain air and bask in the surroundings. Take a day to explore the town itself; there are numerous delicious restaurants and fun stores to explore.
Los Angeles, California
The second largest city in the United States, Los Angeles is a fun vacation spot for those of all ages. Take a walk on the Santa Monica Pier, catch some waves or sun yourself at beautiful Malibu Surfrider Beach. Take the kids to Universal Studios for the day or enjoy a guided tour of celebrity homes. Hollywood is a must-see as well as Rodeo Drive's glamorous stores in Beverly Hills. Be on the lookout for a celebrity sighting or two while you're in L.A.
Much more than just rain and coffee, this vibrant Pacific Northwest city seamlessly blends stunning nature with gleaming urban life. While the Space Needle and Pike Place Market may be on your must-see list, head outside the Emerald City for a uniquely Northwestern experience. Explore Mount Rainier, the 14,000-plus-foot active volcano, or test the slopes on nearby Crystal Mountain. Within a two-hour drive is Mount Saint Helens, a fascinating and educational place. Take a ferry across Puget Sound and head to Port Angeles, at the base of the Olympic Mountain National Park. Drive up the winding scenic route to Hurricane Ridge for a breathtaking view of the massive mountain range.