While jetsetting around the globe is a foolproof way to any wanderluster’s heart, I feel that it’s also important to explore your own backyard and appreciate your roots. After a long international flight and standing in a long line to get through Customs, I can’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of happiness and gratitude when I hear the words:
And what a beautiful home we have. With 50 incredibly diverse states just waiting to be explored — from red sandstone deserts to tall snow-covered peaks; large populated cities to vast expanses of dense wilderness — the U.S. has it all and if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my five years of travel, it’s that you don’t have to travel very far to find adventure-worthy destinations in the U.S.
We spent yesterday celebrating our Independence so I thought today would be the perfect time to honor the red, white, and blue by sharing my Top Five Favorite places within the Land of the Free.
There’s just something about those incredible islands that resonates with me — it’s more than just a vacation destination, it’s a place where I feel like I belong. One day my dream of living the Aloha Life year ’round will happen, and until then, I’ll keep visiting this island full of adventure, beautiful beaches, jungle covered peaks, and amazing people.
Must-See: The Napali Coast, An Island Helicopter Tour, The North Shore (Tunnels, ‘Anini, & Ke’e Beaches)
Are you surprised that another island is in my top 5? (Of course you’re not!) 🙂 Ever since we spent our honeymoon here over five years ago, Cody and I have found ourselves returning year after year. Maui has it all, incredible beaches, out-of-this-world volcanic peaks, great scuba diving, high-end shopping, and so many opportunities for adventure. My friend once asked me if we’d ever get sick of visiting Hawaii; the short answer: “No way!”
Must-See: Ka’anapali Beach, Hana, Sunrise at Haleakala
The location where I first experienced the travel bug as a child is a very special place. Our annual family vacation destination is filled with natural wonders and historical surprises around each and every turn. You won’t believe your eyes as you explore the twists and turns of each water-filled canyon. This not-so-hidden area straddling the Utah-Arizona border offers something for everyone: from boating and wakeboarding, to hiking, camping, rock climbing, and sunset dinner cruises.
Must-See: Historic Indian Ruins, Rainbow Bridge, Forgotten Canyon
It’s been more than ten years since my last visit, but those neon-light-filled memories remain. I will never forget the sensory overload that I experienced or how small I felt as I stood in the middle of Times Square. We saw the Lion King on Broadway, went on a surprisingly quick elevator ride to the top of the Empire State Building, ventured out to the Statue of Liberty, and much more. Cody has never been to New York so I’m hoping we get a chance to visit again soon!
Must-See: Central Park, Broadway, Times Square
The City of Sin is not only a playground for spring breakers and bachelor/bachelorette parties. With a plethora of gambling, shopping, adventuring, performances, concerts, and fine-dining options, this desert playground offers something for everyone. Back in my college days we used to visit each year for Spring Break, and now that we’re older
(and thus much more refined)😉 we’ve been wanting to go back and experience the finer things in life found along that famous road so aptly named “The Strip.”
Must-See: Las Vegas Boulevard (obviously), Helicopter tour over the City
There are so many amazing destinations across the U.S. that it was difficult to keep this list to a minimum. I have enjoyed every adventure and have found something special about each destination we’ve explored: from the artifact-filled museums in Washington D.C., to our weekend trips across the Pacific Northwest, to my adventures within the best National Parks in the country including Arches, Yellowstone, and Zion (just to name a few). And while I’ve only visited 25 states so far, the opportunity for adventure is limitless and I can’t wait to see where my next favorite place will be.