As one of the largest countries in the world, the United States of America takes up a huge part of the beautiful place in which we live in. Whether you’re dreaming of white sandy beaches; vibrant bustling cities; snow-covered peaks; hidden natural wonders- there’s plenty of mind-blowing destinations to fill your American bucket-list. To kick things off, here are 15 places that have either taken my breath away, or soon will. What’s on your list?
Whoever thought to create an all-lights, all-night resort city in the heart of the Nevada’s Mojave Desert was an ABSOLUTE GENIUS! If you think it’s all about gambling, stag do’s and get-away weddings, you’re in for a big suprise! Las Vegas has so much heart, such an exciting atmosphere and everything is just so much bigger, brighter and totally ‘extra’ over here. The themed hotels have got to be up there with it’s unique highlights! The bigger and bolder the better: nothing is ruled out here! Here take a look at some of the most extravagant! We stayed in the Bellagio, world-famous for it’s spectacular fountain displays. Unreal right?! If this is what it’s like day-to-day, just imagine the place on New Years Eve!
Just a short flight or drive away from Vegas, I just HAD to recommend The Grand Canyon: the perfect destination to combine with your city break for the ultimate awe-inspiring trip! Situation in Northern Arizona, the Grand Canyon National Park is easily accessible yet it rightfully earns its place on bucket-lists thanks to its ever-changing and dramatic scenery. Layered bands of red rock around stunning open canyons, it’s a sight you certainly won’t forget. Take it from me! There’s also so many different experiences there to make it extra memorable, so it’s not just a case of looking and seeing; but getting deep in the heart of it, exploring from all angles! Our tour took us on a helicopter ride for panoramic views from above; down to the Colorado River for a boat trip from within, and finished off with a walk over the top of it, on the incredible glass skywalk! Incredibly surreal experience for sure.
Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
While we’re on the topic of canyons, Bryce Canyon National Park is also one not to miss. It’s captivating, incredibly colourful and dominated with tightly packed hoodoos. Inspiration Point is where you’ll recognise the most, but there’s also different viewing points, hiking trails, and one of the greatest parts is: because it’s not too big, you can get around it in a day.
Utah is also home to the natural wonders of Zion National Park, Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park (Uh huh, you’re seeing a pattern with these parks… Utah has a lot of them!), Salt Lake City, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Dead Horse Point State Park, Dinosaur National Monument and the Bonneville Salt Flats (to name just a few!) It’s a state with so much beauty to offer! The big question is: which area will you pick first?
Hunting Island State Park
Want to just get out and away from it all for a while? Hunting Island is a 5,000-acre secluded semitropical barrier island located 15 miles east of Beaufort, South Carolina. It’s great for camping and reminds me of something out of ‘The Island with Bear Grylls!’ We’re talking pristine unspoilt sandy beaches, exciting nature trails, plenty of outdoor activities and historic viewpoints. Dreamy right?!
New York with Niagara Falls
New York, New York. In contrast we then have the great New York City! We’ve all heard of it. We’ve all seen it (even if only on postcards.) And trust me, if you’ve not been yet you are going to absolutely love it! Despite all the hype, it’s certainly a city that is not over-rated. It’s high-energy, has an awesome atmosphere and there is so much to see and do to meet your tastes and travel styles! New York is great for a weekend, but also perfect for a week! So if you’re looking for travel tips and itinerary inspiration, check out the one I wrote here. Another reason to visit? It’s in a great location to do a trip over to the awe-inspiring Niagara Falls. Yep, I cover it all in that itinerary above too ^^ One of the highlights of your visit there will definitely be getting the river boat to the centre of the falls. With 567,811 liters of water crashing down it EVERY SECOND, it will certainly be something you never forget! New York and Niagara: the perfect American combo!
Known for its beaches, parks and almost-perfect year-round weather, San Diego has certainly earnt its place on this wish-list. It’s got such a chilled, cool vibe about it; where waking up and taking a walk/ skate/ cycle/ jog along the beautiful Pacific Beach Promenade is just part of everyday life. The people are super cool here, the lifestyle is just like NEXT LEVEL, and it’s somewhere that will certainly inspire you- yet in a totally different way! San Diego consistently ranks as one of the happiest cities in the country, and as soon as you visit: you’ll totally see why!
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Yellowstone will change the way you see the world. 1000%. It’s like taking a step back in time to when dinosaurs roamed free and is one of the most surreal, awe-inspiring locations on your wish-list! It was the world’s first ever national park and actually sits an active super-volcano; which causes the colourful hot springs, mudpots, and bubbling geysers below your feet. As if this was not enough, you then have beautiful mountains, forests, lakes and waterfalls to explore; not to mention all the wildlife you can spot. We’re talking bears, wolves and cute little cubs! It is every nature-lovers DREAM. If you’re interested in finding out more, check out my Guide to Yellowstone. It will make planing your next trip there so much easier!
NOTE: Yellowstone stretches into the western state of Montana. If you love nature, Montana as a whole has some incredible natural wonders, with Grinnell Glacier, Lewis & Clark Caverns, Morrell Falls the Beartooth Mountains and Makoshika State Park. (Definitely worth looking into if you’re planning on being in the area!)
Hidden in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains, Yosemite National Park is 1,200 square miles of pure, natural beauty. Deep valleys, grand meadows, ancient giant sequoias and a vast wilderness area, you will certainly not be short of things to do or areas to explore. There are masses of hikes and trails, varying from easy to strenuous. Be sure to pick one that’s right for you. I remember taking a huge day hike; going up and up a cliff, left to right, left to right; to be promised a ‘bus’ back down! Who was we kidding! There was no bus at the top and people looked at us like we was crazy when we asked! But the views at the top more than made up for it. Get out there. Go have an adventure! Yosemite is one of the best places for it!
Crater Lake, Oregon
Now as you’ll get to know: I am a HUGE lover of the great outdoors. If there’s water: all the better! Lakes are totally my thing. But one of the reasons Crater Lake made it onto the list in particular is because -incredibly- it was formed by a now-collapsed volcano, Mount Mazama; making it in fact a caldera lake. Unique right?! It’s a great place to visit for camping, hiking, cycling and fishing in the Summer (yep- you do still get fish in there!) but for me: it’s pure travel goals once it comes to the winter, as you’ll see in the photo below by Summit Post. The cascade mountains get covered in snow, making it perfect for skiing, snowmobiling, cross country skiing and snowshoeing.
Hamilton Pool Reserve, Texas
I’m constantly in search of unique destinations and whilst on the topic of incredible natural formations: how about the Hamilton Pool Preserve then?! Created when the dome of an underground river collapsed thousands of years ago, it leaves a secret natural pool with a waterfall trickling into it. Here this video from the Last Camerai brings it to life pretty well. The best kept secret in Texas for sure! Within the area you also then have the Barton Creek Greenbelt, Lake Travis (great for adventure activities!) and Krause Springs -to mention just a few- so there’s plenty around for you to make a full trip of it.
San Francisco sits in northern California (the perfect location to combine with Yosemite, Hawaii and Las Vegas like we did!) Surrounded by the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco, it has a little bit of everything! From water-sports, to shopping. Shows & musicals to big baseball games with the great San Francisco Giants. Spotting sea lions at Pier 39 to the epic slide on Seward Street (nope, it’s not for kids!) You’ll also have plenty of choice when it comes to restaurants, bars and nightlife, yet heaps of different things to do in the day- for both the adrenaline junkies, avid explorers, history fanatics and of course, those just looking for a chilled city break! One thing that will most certainly be the highlight of your trip -no matter what your sort of preference/ style- is a cycle over the world-famous Golden Gate Bridge. And yes, it does look that impressive in person!
Colorado’s Great Sand Dunes
Now this one HAS to make the list because ever since visiting Australia, my quest for mighty sand dunes have been on! The sand dunes in southern Colorado have the most incredible backdrop of the Sangre de Cristo mountains and trails through forests, wetlands and lakes for adventures across other areas whilst you’re there. You can also do hiking over the dunes (with the tallest “High Dune” sitting at 699 feet!) sand boarding and sand sledging, head out on horseback, check out the Medano Creek, hike to the Zapata Falls (just a short drive from the dunes) and of course you have got to go star gazing to see the sky light up at night! They’re the highest sand-dunes in North America, making them pretty bucket-list worthy right?!
If there’s one thing you HAVE to do, no matter what your age, it’s channeling your inner child at Florida’s incredible theme parks. We’re talking Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, Sea World, Busch Gardens; not to mention their epic water parks to cool you down as you splash around in the sun. It is so so much fun, for all the family. And before you say you’re too old- my Nan went there in her sixties; no kids, just her and her partner! So there’s no way you can let age come into it!
“That’s the real trouble with the world, too many people grow up…’ – Walt Disney
Whilst you’re in Florida why not follow on through to the city of Naples? Perched on the Gulf of Mexico, it has miles of beaches with calm waters and fine white “sugar” sand. Being one of the wealthiest cities in the United States, think LUXURY! It’s a great place for shopping (or window shopping possibly!) and they’re also renown for their golf courses. Even if that’s not your thing- it can still be a pretty fun experience. It was here I drove my first golf buggy and surprisingly, there were no crashes or casualties- just great speed and control 😉 Naples has a really lovely feel about it. A great place to relax, but also plenty of local attractions if you’re also looking for fun things to do!
Ever since I was a little girl, I dreamed of taking a vacation to the tropical sand of the Hawaiian Islands. When this finally came a reality, I felt like it was too good to be true! Full of stunning landscapes, gushing waterfalls, heavenly beaches and let’s not forget the active volcanos- it’s the perfect place to relax, explore, or do a bit of both! We spent our time in Maui, yet there are 8 main islands in Hawaii for you to choose from with Oahu and Honolulu being two of the most famous. Whichever island you choose, be prepared for friendly faces and real luxury.
So that rounds it up for 15 of the top bucket-list destinations in America. What places make it onto your list? And where has taken your breath away? Would love to hear!