With worldwide marvels as incredible as the Great Wall of China, the Maldives, and Dubai, it’s easy to overlook the United States as a desirable hotspot for any worthwhile travel destinations. And yes, while America doesn’t have a historic wall so immense and vast that it can be seen from space, it does house some spectacularly impressive wonders and locations are sure to leave an unforgettable impression.
There’s still so much I have left to see in the US, but of the many places I’ve visited so far, I consider the following my top five must-see destinations:
US Route 1, The “Overseas Highway” (from Miami to Key West): Spanning 113 miles from Miami to Key West, the Overseas Highway takes you all the way to mile zero in Key West, the southernmost point in the continental United States. Utilizing 42 bridges, including one that stretches a solid seven miles, this highway links all of the Florida Keys, giving you to opportunity to leap from island to island, over coral reefs, lagoons, and crystal clear blue water in one beautifully scenic road trip.
San Francisco, Napa Valley, & the Redwood National Forest: The West Coast is not full of gorgeous sights and destinations to visit, it’s overflowing with them. The one that left the strongest impression on me, however, was my trip to San Francisco. The city itself is absolutely beautiful and lives up to every statement made about its grandeur. The Golden Gate Bridge is even more magnificent in person than any photograph or documentary you’ve seen it in. Travel a short hour north and you’re in the heart of the intoxicatingly picturesque Napa Valley. A visit to the Redwood National Forest is a doable must, when you visit San Francisco. Here you’ll have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to walk amongst some of the tallest, oldest, and most magnificent trees in the world! It’s truly incredible.
Colorado & the Rocky Mountain National Park: Colorado’s reputation of adventure and beauty is no secret. But until you actually experience a climb to the top of a mountain or hike through the foothills, you have no idea how truly beautiful this state is. Each season colors the countryside with its own distinguished characteristics, turning the scenery into an ever-changing canvas. And it seems like no matter where you are in the state, the massive snow-capped Rockies overwhelm the horizon.
The Great Lakes: These freshwater behemoths offer comparable beaches and attractions to the East Coast, minus lurking sharks and tangles of jellyfish. Put-In-Bay, an island destination in Lake Erie, can only be accessed by boat or ferry. Once you’re there it’s easy to forget that you’re surrounded by a body of water that connects Ohio and Canada. Lake Michigan is kept company by the wonderful city of Chicago; adding to this city’s appeal by giving it soft, sandy beaches, jutting piers, and gorgeous lake views.
Oahu, Hawaii: I’ll admit, all my life I’ve had zero desire to ever visit Hawaii. To me it was always a talked-up, over exaggerated island of beaches and palm trees. But after spending ten days there on a mission trip I can happily say that my opinion of it has completely changed. My favorite island was Oahu. In the 16 hours that I spent on that island I was able to go cage diving with sharks three miles off the coast, watch surfers catch waves – and wipeout- on the Bonzai Pipeline, hike the Pillbox Trail near Lanikai Beach, snorkel in Hanauma Bay, and hike again on the Koko Head Trail in search of the hidden rock bridge and sea cliffs. It was a completely breathtaking island loaded with adventure. I can’t wait to go back!