Travel

What U.S. Travel Destinations Do You Love?

Yellowstone National Park

I have a question for the group: Where do you love to travel in the U.S.?

When my siblings and I were little, my dad would take us on a “Great Adventure” every summer (or, as he would say, the “G.A.”). We would borrow a friend’s minivan and drive a couple days from Michigan to Yellowstone National Park or Grand Teton National Park. My dad’s driving rules were that we had to look up from our books whenever there was a view and that we couldn’t eat at any chain restaurants. We would stay in motels on the road but camp once we arrived. Now that I’m a parent, I’d love to show our kids the country, too.

Where else do you love to travel in the U.S.? I’d love to hear. (We went to Maine for the past two years, and we loved the rocky beaches and lobster rolls. And our kids adore Austin!)

P.S. The weirdest best part of trips, and my packing list for England. Plus, Cup of Jo city guides.

(Top photo of Yellowstone by Christian Gideon/Stocksy.)

  1. Katie says...

    Glacier National Park blew me away! I thought I wasn’t that into nature but it really is stunning. Another vote here for Maine as well. We stayed in Wiscasset (and Portland!) and had a lovely time. I also really enjoyed our Pacific Northwest road trip – by far my favorite spot was Lopez Island in the San Juans… so peaceful and hauntingly beautiful.

    But growing up in the diverse, energetic, but also, let’s face it, kind of ugly suburban sprawl of New Jersey, we never did nature-focused trips growing up. Lots of Jersey shore (the old school Americana of the signage there still gets me) and long weekends in East Coast cities – which hold up! Boston, Washington, DC, and Baltimore are all great to explore. Also, I love Lancaster County, PA – returned recently and Lancaster is surprisingly hip despite being known mostly for the Amish? I’ve also more recently explored New Orleans and Charleston and had amazing visits to both.

    I am an expat now, and growing up I always was eager to seek adventure abroad, always thinking anything at home was boring. But as an adult I appreciate the destinations in the U.S. a lot more – plus it is amazing to hear Europeans raving about driving the California coast, hitting the beach in Florida, or visiting our national parks.

  2. The Upper Peninsula of Michigan is easily one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been in the world – yes, my family is from there so I am biased, but the lakes, the trees, the rocks, the waterfalls! Start in the Porcupine Mts and head east through Marquette, Pictured Rocks, Tahquamenon Falls, Sault Ste. Marie, Mackinac Island, even crossing the Mackinac Bridge is beautiful. Eat a pasty, drink a beer, drive slow :)

  3. Martha Patterson says...

    My husband is from Minnesota, so we do a road trip from the Pacific Northwest, where we live. Various places we’ve stopped over the years…Missoula, Montana …great gateway to Glacier National Park…which is stunning. Drive Going to the Sun Road late in the day…that is when the animals come out…we saw a mountain goat family! In South Dakota, Mt. Rushmore is amazing, and Rapid City, has a lot of charm! Little Big Horn is sobering. We’ve done these trips with our kids when they were young and as teens…both times were great. Lancaster County Pennsylvania is charming…plenty to see for everyone. And we’ve done the California Road Trip too, from Washington State…Ashland , Oregon is charming, even if you don’t see any plays! And driving through the Avenue of the Giants in Northern California is amazing for all ages. Mendocino and Eureka are work checking out…have breakfast inside an old lumber camp dinging hall in Samoa, near Eureka.

  4. Some of my favorite trips have been to:
    – Cannon Beach, Oregon
    – Maine (Little Cranberry Island, Vinalhaven, Deer Isle, Portland)
    – Glacier National Park, Montana
    – Asbury Park, New Jersey
    – Palm Springs, California
    – Yosemite, Kings Canyon, and Sequoia National Parks

  5. Jordan G says...

    My favorite place I’ve visited in the US so far is Sedona. We stayed in Sedona and then day-tripped to the Grand Canyon. It was early December. The weather was gorgeous, the scenery was stunning. It was just a glorious trip and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

  6. Brooke C. says...

    I live in Utah and absolutely LOVE all of the nearby national parks. Moab, Canyonlands, Zion, Bryce, and Capitol Reef are all amazing! Plus, if you fly in/out of Vegas you can easily add the Grand Canyon in and make a big loop of it. I also love Glacier National Park in Montana. One of my favorite road trips has been SLC > Jackson Hole (Teton National Park) > Yellowstone > Glacier. It helps break up the drive so you’re never in the car for too terribly long, plus every single place is so gorgeous!

    • We live far from family so spend most of our vacation time visiting them. We try arrive a few days early and go somewhere just our little family at least once a year. It helps us feel like we’re actually going on vacation. My two favorite places we’ve done this are the San Juan Islands and Olympic National Park in Washington and Cumberland Island in Georgia.

  7. Charlotte says...

    Wow there are so many fantastic sounding places in this comments section! Can anyone recommend anywhere for a long weekend from NYC which would be a train journey away..? In February (so the weather won’t be great…!)

    • Marie says...

      I’d want to know as well!

    • Jess says...

      Providence, RI! Ir Newport, RI. Both are great cities – full of culture, history, and good food. Easy 2.5 hr train ride away.

  8. Maggie says...

    It would be AMAZING if you would do a round up/summary of these comments and share the results with your readers! While I would love to read all 500+ comments, I will not be able to spend the time! Thank you!!

    P.S. My family is hitting up Yellowstone & the Grand Tetons this summer, and I also second very northern Minnesota – the Boundary Waters Canoe Area and surrounding national forests. We tend to travel west for some reason and I would love to explore more of the east coast!

    • Emily Brace says...

      Yes, please!!

  9. Erin says...

    The Boundary Water Canoe Area Wilderness, especially up the Gunflint Trail from Grand Marais, MN. It’s one of the most pristine wilderness areas on the country (bounded by the Quetico wilderness in Canada and MN’s North Shore). I love it in late July, when you kind find wild blueberries everywhere and listen to the loons, and in the middle of winter, for skiing and snowshoeing and curling up by a fire in a lodge. Everyone should experience it at least once. Plus the drive to get there is gorgeous from either north or south!

  10. Beth says...

    New Mexico, it is The Land of Enchantment!!!

    • Kacey says...

      Yes! I have family from NM, specifically Ruidoso area and it is BEAUTIFUL. I have also been to White Sands National Park in Alamogordo 5+ times and its beauty never gets old.

  11. Rosa says...

    Last summer my daughter Georgia and I went on a road trip to Portland, Maine and stayed with my cousin Catherine. We went to Old Orchard Beach, took a walking tour of the city, went shopping in Eastport and had a great time. I’ve learned that my girl is a great co-pilot and can read an old fashioned map like a pro. I think we’ll do the same thing this coming summer:)

  12. Capucine says...

    Wow, so many comments! My family has the option of taking six months to drive around the U.S. and I was surprised to find that after the political realities of the last two years, I wasn’t excited about doing it. I needed 500 enthusiastic comments to help tempt me away from my California comfort zone! Thanks all!

    • J says...

      This is awesome! Any opportunity to spend enjoying new places with family is always worth taking in my opinion. I hope you have so much fun and you and your family grow closer together. Safe travels!

    • Martha Patterson says...

      My husband was active duty navy for 20 years. We drove through the south when he was changing duty stations from Virginia to Washington State 20 years ago. It was a real eye opener…in some ways more so than when I went to Europe in my 20’s.

  13. Meg says...

    Eastern Oregon is my happy place! Camp Sherman has miles of gorgeous hiking on the Metolius River with mountains and ponderosa pines all around… there’s no internet or cell service and the cabins are divine. It’s pure peace. Head to Sisters and Bend for breweries, shopping, and the High Desert Museum.

    • Sarah says...

      Also my happy place! I grew up going to black butte and Sisters every summer. 💚

  14. Alex says...

    Alaska and Hawaii. Both of them. All of them. These two states are home to some of the most geologically, ecologically, zoologically, and culturally fascinating and beautiful destinations in the United States. I unexpectedly found a trip across New Zealand a tiny bit underwhelming, because after touring these two states not even the country that brought Middle Earth to life could compare.

  15. Lizo says...

    Going to Lake Chelan, WA every summer, staying at a great lakeside condo for a week. Weve been staying at the same place since our kids were little and now they have their little kids and we all go. It’s something everyone looks forward to every summer.

  16. Sasha L says...

    That photo looks like the Lamar valley in ynp. I live about an hour away. I don’t actually recommend Yellowstone though. It receives millions of visitors every summer (meanwhile there are barely 1 million people in all of Montana, and even less in Wyoming). While more planning and work than simply driving through the park and gawking at bison, I recommend getting out of your car, picking up a backpack and heading into the wilderness (there are national forests and wilderness areas all over Montana, Idaho and Wyoming). You will find magic out there if you dare. And you’ll discover what it means to be truly unplugged from civilization, to breathe, to be so filled with wonder that you cry, just gazing at the endless sky. Please give this gift to your children. They will love you for it, and may just hike away with a better understanding of who they are and how much our planet needs them. We live here and do this all summer long, and it never gets old.

  17. Marie says...

    I live near Detroit, so we do a lot of car trips: St Louis, northern and western Michigan, Cincinnati; and short plane trips: DC, New Orleans, and Minneapolis. There’s something charming about Midwest and Southern friendliness, non-pretentious culture, and middle America.

    My favorite US trip was with my sister. She was between jobs and moving from Seattle to San Francisco. I had just taking the bar exam and had a few weeks before work started. We car camped from Seattle > Glacier National Park > Oregon > Oregon coast > Crater Lake NP > Redwoods NP > Lassen Volcanic NP > San Fran. It was a once in a lifetime trip and sister bonding experience!

  18. Madelyn says...

    Oh boy. I have been to every state but two, so I have a million answers for this. I’m going to keep it to two, though.

    1. HEAD WEST. (well, I live in Minnesota. So, I guess, come here and THEN head west.) All of my favorite road trips as a kid involve driving through the Black Hills of South Dakota, stopping at little roadside stands in Wyoming, staying in little cabins in Montana, and finally reaching the Pacific Northwest. Seattle and Portland are two of my most favorite cities ever. Just beautiful, and so much to do.

    2. I have a summer home on Madeline Island, which is an island in the Wisconsin part of Lake Superior. You take a ferry to get there, and it is my most favorite place in the whole wide world. Hiking, swimming, kayaking, canoeing, great restaurants, sand beaches, boat excursions, and just the most beautiful sunsets you’ve ever seen. I’d be happy to put together an itinerary/helpful guide for anyone who wants to visit!

    • Jenica says...

      Madelyn on Madeline Island,
      This sounds right down my alley and it’s the first I’ve heard of this wonderful place. Would love your contact info for a future trip with my husband and kids (ages 6 and 9). Jrosestine@yahoo.com

    • Hannah says...

      Hi Madelyn,

      Where would you recommend for a honeymoon in the US in the beginning of April? I live in Evanston/Chicago and my fiance and I would like to go somewhere warm.

    • Channing says...

      I got married on Madeline island! Grew up going there and tied the knot 10 years ago and now bring my kids there. One of the best kept secrets in America, I think. Take the ferry to la pointe and get yourself some smoked white fish and a buttery cracker and you’re in heaven.

  19. Kristian says...

    I think for kids, and especially for a Road Trip type of vacation, Yellowstone and Grand Tetons (which are right next to each other and would be easy to combine into a single trip if you wanted to) is hard to beat. Especially if you stopped in Cody first. There’s a nightly rodeo Anton would love and a set of Smithsonian-partner museums (I again feel Anton would love both the Buffalo Bill one and the Natural History one).

    The national parks are breath-taking and unique with the most geysers in the world. My dad used to say the two places every kid needed to have at least one vacation to was Yellowstone and Disney. Ha!

  20. Anne says...

    Big Bend National Park in Texas is the most surreal, magical place. We would drive for almost 23 hours in our red suburban. My parents would fold down all the seats in the back and let the kids lay in our sleeping bags while we watched Disney VHS tapes on a 8 inch square TV plugged into the cigarette lighter. I still remember the joy of trying to “fly” in the wind at Boquillas Canyon at Big Bend.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      love these memories, anne!

    • gracemarie says...

      Well now that I know y’all traveled for 23 hours, the 8 or so we have to endure from Austin doesn’t sound so bad! I love it out there.

  21. nic says...

    There’s probably so much more, but the places I really feel close to and keep revisiting (I live north of there) are Montana (around Missoula and Glacier National Park) – as well as Yellowstone & Grand Teton! I also really loved the Smokey Mountains …

    • Madelyn says...

      Yes to all of this!

  22. Erica Burger says...

    I’ve always loved exploring the region I live in, which for me, has been the Midwest the entirety of my life. I think I have a secret talent of finding cute rural towns in Iowa, WI, or MN that might have one good coffee shop, hotel, or restaurant and use that as the anchor. There are often the most delightful community festivals going on if you ask and look, opportunities for long meandering walks, organic farms, and parks that may not be nationally known but have their own beauty. My Midwest favorites: Viroqua, WI; Grand Marais, MN; Crosby, MN; Ashland, WI; Amery, WI; Decorah, IA; Dubuque, IA; Stockholm, WI.

    • Susan says...

      Get some pie in Stockholm if you go, readers! They are famous in Stockholm for pie. :) Take it to a nearby “pizza farm”. Which in Minnesota parlance is a farm that also has a pizza oven and serves up pizzas made from their farm grown ingredients. Summer only!

  23. Christine says...

    Oregon coast!! campfires and smores on the beach at Cannon Beach and making our way around Mt. Hood’s “Fruit Loop” stopping at a few fruit farms, breweries, wineries, and the GORGEOUS lavender field! The absolute best.

    • I just booked a flight out there this summer to do this exact itinerary! Any other recommendations? It’ll be my first time in Oregon.

    • Amy Dawkins says...

      I second this recommendation! We went to Mt. Hood/Portland for a wedding last year and it was, hands down, our favorite vacation in the U.S! We will definitely find our way out there again. I’m obsessed :-)

    • EW says...

      Sarah, there’s a very nice hike near Portland where you can see approximately 10 waterfalls! The exact number depends on how much rainfall there’s been recently.
      https://www.oregonhikers.org/field_guide/Trail_of_Ten_Falls_Loop_Hike

      We also very much enjoyed the Oregon coast, especially the sand dunes (I had no idea they existed!), and learning about the volcanoes, including going in a lava tube.

    • Elisa says...

      Oregon Coast is our happy place! Living in the PNW, we’re challenged to leave the area for trips, when there is so much to enjoy right here.

  24. Vanessa says...

    Hello!!! I have been to 49 of the 50 states. And the reason for that is because of the FAMILY ROAD TRIP. One year I said I wanted to go to Mount Rushmore (I had a thing for presidents as a kid!) and it turned into a 2 week + trip up down and all around to South Dakota. I can honestly say that every state in the US is AMAZING!! I love Utah for it’s many many national parks so beautiful, I love the Midwest for it’s farmlands and weird off the beaten path attractions, but I have to say Glacier National Park is beautiful and like nothing else! I think traveling by car is the way to do it. “Roadtripppers” is a great app to find those quirky things! Enjoy!

    • AB says...

      Thank you for this app! It will be so helpful for us this summer! Yay road trips

  25. Em says...

    A place that does not involve flying (from NYC) and really took my breath away was the Shenandoah Valley. You can drive the spectacularly scenic Skyline, stopping in any of the quaint towns along the way to camp or AirBNB. The number of beautiful hikes available, accompanied by Mountain views and Civil War history made it a memorable weekend trip that easily could have been extended to a week. My father, a history nerd, had recommended a hotel in Winchester, VA to a friend and me looking to get some good hiking, and it ended up being such an empowering girl’s trip.

  26. Tiff says...

    My faves are Colorado (esp. Breckenridge!) and San Diego! I’m also totally biased because I live here, but Kansas City is a gem! Great museums, great food, great breweries/distilleries and not so expensive!

    • Kim says...

      Hooray for KC! It really is a great place to visit or live.

  27. Kate says...

    Every couple of years we travel to coastal Maine, Acadia, Deer Isle or Camden. There’s nothing like Maine. I’m making my first trip to the Florida Keys next week for my birthday. On a whim I asked my oldest friend to go with me, we get together every few years but there’s always a lot of people around so we’re going to paddle board, kayak, look at the ocean and drink wine, I can’t wait!

  28. Emily says...

    I grew up in Northern California. About every other summer, my family would pile into the minivan and drive to an unbelievably beautiful national park– Glacier, Tetons, Yosemite, Zion, Cascades, King’s Canyon– for a week or two of camping, long days of hiking and nights around the campfire. It was absolutely magical and these trips are some of my most treasured memories as an adult. In fact, they’re one reason I’m motivated to move back to California from New York, where I’ve been for a few years– I want so badly to have that again and to give it to my future children.

  29. Colleen says...

    West Texas, out by Big Bend Natl Park. It’s completely different than the rest of Texas, more like cowboy movie scenery. But it has quirky small towns like Marfa and awesome hotels and restaurants. Not easy to get to, which keeps the charm.

    • gracemarie says...

      I’m partial for Fort Davis myself!

  30. Anna says...

    Driving the Oregon Coast highway all the way to Northern California; Caseville, Michigan; Minneapolis, MN

  31. I adore New England. Maine is one of my favorite places to visit, but Vermont and New Hampshire are wonderful too.

    Minnesota is gorgeous, and a great place to visit in the warmer months. There are lakes everywhere you look, great restaurants and parks (in the Twin Cities anyway), and the people are super nice.

    I also love northern California / the Bay area. The restaurants are phenomenally good, and it’s really beautiful.

  32. Tammy Thiele says...

    I love a good road trip down the Oregon Coast to the Redwoods in California…making sure to hit all the kitchy spots along the way! My daughter and I did this this past summer and had a ball! We made sure to hit Confusion Hill, Trees of Mystery, Springfield Oregon (for Simpsons murals) and Enchanted Forest in Oregon. We are hoping to make road trips to all the strange roadside stops an annual thing!

  33. Lisa says...

    Southeast Alaska is composed of islands and largely made up of the Tongass National Forest. (The largest in the US) Each isolated town has a different history and opportunities. Juneau is the best spot to begin with many hiking trails, and tourist geared expeditions. I love to go whale watching and stroll around Mendenhall glacier. (Don’t cruise. Stay a few days to enjoy it the local way). The National Forest includes many remarkable cabins, some of the best locations are boat in from smaller towns, like Petersburg. Going to a cabin like this (out of WiFi) is a yearly treat for us. Getting there is half the adventure.
    Expect lush green lower mountains with higher snow capped peaks in the background and pack in layers including a rain jacket and appropriate shoes.

  34. Lauren says...

    Yep, I’m from NYC and all our vacations were ‘out west’ – to a national park, and often combined with a dude ranch. Yellowstone, Teton, Zion, Bryce, etc remain some of my favorite places in the world, and i have a lifelong appreciation for the spectacular landscapes in our country so different from my own, and grew to love horses so much that I was on my college equestrian team!

  35. Anna says...

    Asheville, North Carolina! Gorgeous mountains, the Biltmore, fun town with great restaurants, coffee and bookshops !

    • Hannah says...

      I second this!!! I love asheville

    • MK says...

      YES! The awesome walkable town, the breweries (Funkatorium!), Biltmore, and the Blue Ridge Parkway – trip perfection. Plus the bookstore that is also a wine bar!

  36. Beth says...

    We love the West! Moab, UT is such an amazing experience- it’s like being on Mars. We also love Teton, Yellowstone, and Rocky Mountain National Park.

  37. Vicki Fraser says...

    My grandparents lived in Jackson Hole, Wyoming for most of my childhood and went there every other summer. While I was only 9 when they left to move east to be closer to us (my grandmother had a brain tumor) I still have powerful memories of the place – mostly scent memories, like the sage and other brush-y plants that grew on the land behind their house, or the ice-cold feeling of the tiny creek that ran alongside their property. I wish everyday I had more memories of them and of that magical place, and my family all would love to return someday. To me, it felt so WILD, which I think is the most powerful feeling a kid can have – of being someplace WILD.

  38. Lynn Bossange says...

    We just booked a trip to Michigan this summer, a few days in Detroit for my architect husband and then more time in a cabin in on a lake in northern Michigan. Dreaming of screened in porches, sunsets and cocktails.

    • Bonnie says...

      Michigan is the best!

  39. Jessica Bell says...

    Portland Oregon! It’s so beautiful for coastal drives, has awesome food (and beer for the adults) not to mention the BEST bookstore!

  40. Ellie says...

    New Orleans, LA… such a strong culture unlike anywhere I’ve been! I’m lucky I have the chance to visit often, and there’s always something new to discover.

    • Laur says...

      New Orleans is definitely in my top 5 places to visit too. It’s an amazing city and I think everyone should go at least once!

  41. Beth says...

    I LOVE these rules and would love to take my boys on a G.A. someday. We love Maine too and travel to Martha’s Vineyard each summer for a week. It’s been nice to get to know one spot each and every year and have traditions and favorite spots/events each summer while also discovering something new each time. I’m someone who likes new adventures but also relishes special traditions and returning to a comfortable and special place. Our boys are begging for an RV trip so I’d love to visit some National Parks now that they are getting bigger.

  42. Deana says...

    Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, Washington State; Portland, OR, and Seattle are my favorite places.

    • Wendy D says...

      Us too! We honeymooned there and every few years head back with the family.

    • Savannah says...

      The San Juan Islands are literally magical.

  43. Kerry G says...

    I live in Seattle and spend most summer weekends backpacking all around Washington, so of course I’m biased! For places outside of Seattle:

    Portland, OR: so many great restaurants, beer, and shopping, all walkable
    New Orleans: amazing food, unexplainable magic
    Marfa, Tx: beautiful scenery, great art and food, but hard to get to, weird hours but worth it!

  44. Margaux says...

    my parents always took us to national parks, but one of the more unexpected magical trips was to santa fe! It was a wonderful city to explore at a young age and a trip i’ll always remember!

  45. Stefanie Farquharson says...

    We took our kids on a road trip from Michigan to Seattle (and back) last summer. Our top spot was Idaho!! It was amazingly beautiful and far underrated. Our next favorites were the North Cascades and Black Hills for hiking.

    • Laur says...

      I totally agree on Idaho! I haven’t seen much of it but passed through Coeur d’Alene on a road trip this fall and I wanted to stay longer. Driving through all those tall trees on the highway! Ah!

  46. J says...

    We are considering a tip for our anniversary this year before we start trying to have kids. I’d love to get this group’s opinions/comparisons about whether a trip to Glacier NP only, Grand Teton/Yellowstone, or road tripping Oregon down to Cali would be best for a late August vaca! Anyone who has done all three? We would be coming from PA so we’d def have to rent a car no matter what. Thanks!

    • Karalina says...

      I’ve done all 3! They are ALL amazingly beautiful trips, but so different in landscape and vibe, it is hard to chose one over the other. However, there is something very romantic about driving down the pacific coast that seems right for an anniversary trip. The opportunity to glam it up a little but with fun airbnbs + wine + cheese, and the weather will be so perfect in August — my vote is for Oregon –> Cali via Hwy 1.

    • Jules says...

      I’ve also done all three and agree that OR to CA would be best for an anniversary trip. Yellowstone, Grand Teton, & Glacier are fun as a family. Your activities won’t be too different at the parks when you have kids, but you can enjoy a more grown up vacation going down the coast.

      If you’re going down through CA too, do not miss Gayle’s in Capitola. The food & pastries are amazing.

    • Elina says...

      I vote for Oregon–>California! But I’m biased, I grew up in the Bay Area and went to college in Santa Cruz. (and almost went to college in the Pacific Northwest!) Highway 1 is absolutely gorgeous. Also, there’s lots of places where there is little light pollution and you get to see the stars clearly, right next to the ocean… it’s amazing. There’s a variety of ways you can spend your time (camping, hostels, air bnb, higher end hotels, etc) so you always have a choice in that respect. If you do it try to spend some time in Point Reyes! It’s one of my absolute favorite places in the world.

    • Savannah says...

      The coastal drive is the most amazing date/anniversary option. I beg for it again every year!

    • Kristin E. Jakubowski says...

      We’ve done all three trips, but have found Yellowstone to be the most magical. There is such a wonder to the different types of terrains and the geothermal activity combined with animal activity and habitats are just incredible. There is a fair amount of planning needed, though, and, to get the best experiences you’d want to stay in the parks. These resorts book more than a year in advance and are full on the day the bookings open, but totally worth it.
      The Old Faithful Inn and Yellowstone Lake Lodges are just amazing and the Roosevelt Cabins make you feel like you’re back in the old west. Glacier is also just incredible. We stayed at the Inn at Apgar Lake and had the most beautiful view we’ve ever seen. We also had the privilege of staying at the Many Glaciers Hotel which was equally majestic. We did these parks back to back. 2 days in the Tetons, 4 nights in Yellowstone, and 4 nights in Glacier. Worth all of the driving time and vacation days.

    • Emma says...

      Love the Oregon to California drive! We got married in San Francisco last spring and headed out to the coast for a couple nights before the wedding and it was amazing!!! We stayed at this crazy hotel: https://www.fortrosslodge.com/
      It was straight out of the 80’s but had amazing views and a fireplace in the room and it felt like we were in our own little world. Hiking during the day and coming back for wine and cheese in front of the fire was delightful.

    • Rebecca Blanksma says...

      I live at the East Gate of Yellowstone and my husband & I spent our honeymoon in Glacier in August, so while I can’t speak to the coastal option hopefully I can help with the other two!

      I would encourage you to see Glacier as soon as you can if possible and to include backpacking or long day hikes in your trip, as you will leave the crowds behind quickly doing that. The glaciers are unfortunately quickly disappearing so we were grateful to see it when we did. I truly feel it is the most breathtaking place I’ve been – it’s really hard to describe and the pictures don’t do it justice. (I would also stay on the Western side of Glacier if you’re staying out of the park).

      Yellowstone/Grand Teton are also amazing (I’m biased!) I have to say Grand Teton is the most magical of the two to me – I ALWAYS tear up seeing the Tetons coming from Yellowstone to Jackson. Early August in Yellowstone can end up being a lot of driving in traffic with tons of tour busses without the scenic views but you can definitely avoid some of that by going to different entrances and spots than most tour groups do. The wildlife and geothermal features are incredible, and again if you can get off the beaten path with some hiking or backpacking you’ll truly get to experience it’s beauty and serenity! Go to Jackson for the epic views, Cody for the western experience, and of course Montana is just stunning as well. (PS don’t forget the bear spray!)

      I truly hope that helps – you’re going to have an incredible experience no matter where you go :) I have no idea if my email shows up on the comments but if you do come to Yellowstone I can send you the “locals” favorite drives, hikes, lakes, etc :) Feel free to email rebeccablanksma@gmail.com

  47. Jenna says...

    I LOVE Big Sur!

  48. Ana says...

    Hawaii! Which might as well be a different country, but still worth it!
    New Mexico (I especially love Taos, but always stop in Santa Fe too!)
    Asheville, NC
    Charleston, SC
    and New Orleans!

    • Denise says...

      We took our four kids plus two of their friends to Kauai (I know, WHAT were we thinking?!) and we all still talk about it. The kids were all old enough to have their own car and go exploring while my husband and I laid by the pool or on the beach. Then we’d meet up for dinner. Best. Trip. Ever.

  49. Rusty says...

    Joanna, a question… with the recent posts discussing eating less meat, climate change, etc.; have you reconsidered taking less flights to reduce your ‘footprint’?
    Friends discussed this recently and resolved to “holiday nearer to home” and committed to train travel to a few destinations instead of flying. They used the term “slow travel” as per slow cooking.
    I’ve been wondering … is this something you’ve thought about??

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Yes! I’ve been thinking about this a lot. Historically we have flown a lot because family and friends are so far away (my twin sister in California, mu parents in Michigan, my brother and all other relatives in europe) but we have wanted to fly less bc of the climate and figure out trains or road trips when possible. I’m excited to be working on a post with ideas from people who have been doing just that. Thank you so much!

  50. Mouse says...

    We live in western Maine, in the foothills of the White Mts. We’ve decided that every summer we’re going to stay a few nights in a different part/kind of Maine. Last summer we went to the coast and stayed in Castine. Eventually I really want to get up to the county, Aroostook, which is potato country near the Canadian border.

    I like the idea of micro-exploring your own state…..

    • Susie says...

      I love this and our family does the micro traveling as well. We live in Alaska which is vast and dramatically different in each region so it can feel strikingly changed by going a few hours or hopping a in state flight. We could likely spend our whole lives with our kids going to new places in this state and I’ve spent my whole life here already.

    • SB says...

      Hey Mouse! Aroostook County native here! If you love the outdoors, hearty food, and learning about unique historical roots – the County is the place for you! I hope you make it up there and enjoy it :)

  51. K says...

    We have been living in Southern CA for 9 years and so amazed at all that can be seen within a few hours from here: Joshua Tree, Sequoia, beaches galore, Central CA (Santa Barbara, Paso Robles, Ventura, Pismo Beach, Montana de Oro, San Luis Obispo, Monterey, etc.), Temecula wine country, San Diego, Palm Springs, Big Sur (a little further up), Big Bear…so many nice day trips that can be done too.

    • Elisa says...

      We’re thinking about a California beach trip (we’re in Seattle). Any favorites? There’s so much to choose from.

  52. Ann McCormick says...

    We always went to Swallow Falls in Western Maryland for an end of summer adventure. At Harrington Manor you can ‘camp’ in cabins with electricity and running water but you can go to the lake or drive/hike/bike over to falls. You can hike at the falls and depending on rainfall you can sit on the flats, or watch the raging waters. At night, the ranger’s station put on activities; marshmallow roasting and a night walk where everyone holds onto a rope. I still remember my uncle being behind me saying they were going to walk us off a cliff and it was so pitch black I worried about that for the rest of the way, until we saw more stars than I have ever seen in one sky.

    I have so many fond memories of this laid back trip as a kid.

  53. Elle says...

    National parks like Zion and Yosemite. The west coast. Big cities like Chicago, New York, Seattle, and San Francisco. When it’s cold, Florida or S. California

  54. Beth says...

    Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA!

    Two words: “dog friendly.”

    Yes, it’s also a quaint village filled with fairytale cottages and charming restaurants, but if you like dogs, it’s heaven: they can dine with you (sometimes with their own menus), drink with you, stay in the hotel with you and the best part is the ~one-mile-long white sand beach surrounded by wind-shaped trees, tide pools and rocky cliffs that’s amazingly clean … and dog friendly. It’s pure joy. You’re almost guaranteed to encounter a puppy or two; go there and I dare you not to smile!

  55. MJ says...

    Santa Barbara CA
    Las Vegas NV
    Louisville KY
    San Diego CA
    New York NY

  56. Mary says...

    I grew up in Kailua, Hawaii (on Oahu) and highly recommend visiting for its amazing beaches- the sand is so soft!! It’s close to Honolulu for fun nights out, too.
    Also:
    Bozeman, Montana – so beautiful and peaceful

    Shenandoahs in Virginia – beautiful hiking and breweries

    Chattanooga, Tennessee – breathtaking hiking trails and fun local restaurants

  57. Emily says...

    My husband and I have made it a goal to run a race in each of the 50 states by the time we are 50. Its gotten us to travel to places we wouldn’t normally pick and honestly, we’ve loved them all! There’s something truly wonderful about fully deciding to be tourists (because “we may never come back” to, say, Wilmington Delaware) and running alongside locals. This country is so huge and varied – i say pick somewhere you never thought you’d go (like a cow pie festival in Wisconsin) and try it out!

    • Michelle says...

      Lake chelan, Washington is my favorite place on earth. Waking up to kayak the vast, clear lake, then going wine tasting in the afternoon is my idea of a perfect vacation.
      Kauai island in Hawaii, Austin, and Bandon, Oregon are also places we go back to time and time again. My favorite vacations involve nature, good food, and music.

  58. Yes! We are expat Brits and have been living on Vancouver Island for the past four years with our five kids under 10… for the past two summers we have taken our tiny 16ft trailer on about 12000km through the US and had so so much fun!

    Our faves:
    —Utah (mind bendingly beautiful, especially Moab – Arches and canyonlands – Zion was breathtaking but busy, although kolob canyon was spectacular and semi off the beaten track
    – Nevada – we loved the vastness of Nevada – especially the deserted Great Basin national park (with some impressive caves) and the northern railway museum (my husband enjoyed this just as much as our 3 year old)

    -also loved Northern California – lassen volcanic park especially

    – we were a bit underwhelmed by Yellowstone as it was so busy that there was a lot of avoiding traffic jams but having said that, what an experience for children to stand and watch old faithful!

    Overall…we are a huge fan of US road trips and I’m amazed how quickly children get into the pace of long drives (we normally drive 5-7 hours a day) as long as they have a few days in one spot and enough campsite swimming pools to make it fun.

    We are relocating to Palo Alto in a couple of months and I’m looking forward to exploring Palm Springs / Monterey / SF… so will be reading all these comments for tips!

    • Mimi says...

      Just had to reply since you mentioned Palo Alto. I lived there 10 years ago. I had fun with the Charles Schulz museum & Snoopy ice rink, in Santa Rosa, the Yoda fountain at the Presido in front of Lucasfilm and also in the Presido is the Walt Disney Family museum. Watching movies outside in SF during the Summer. The California Academy of Sciences in SF is wonderful. A tradition in Palo Alto, go to the Stanford Theater (old beautiful movie theater) on University for Christmas Eve showing of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Get involved with a volunteer group, the Palo Alto Auxillary for Children. I really enjoyed my time there. Fair Meadow Elementary school is fabulous.

    • Thanks so much Mimi! (coincidentally my daughter Miriam (5) is also a Mimi / Mim.)… love the sound of the Christmas Eve tradition. And so nice to hear positive experiences of an area before uprooting our whole family to move down – very reassuring:)

  59. New Mexico, our home for 9 years now, is an often-overlooked gem! We are particularly well known for our annual Balloon Fiesta, which draws thousands of visitors from all across the world. Then there are the outdoor attractions- from mountain escapes like Ruidoso, Red River, Taos, and Cloudcroft to amazing National Parks like White Sands and Carlsbad Caverns, there is so much beauty to see and experience (or hike, bike, or ski). You can enjoy the sonoran desert and snow capped mountains all in one day. The state has a long and storied history. It is home to many Puebloan groups who have inhabited the land for thousands of years, and Spanish settlement in NM dates back 400 years. It has a unique culture unlike any place in the country, represented by unique languages, food, and art. Cities like Taos, Santa Fe, and Albquerque are so uniquely Southwestern and boast beautiful adobe architecture and indigenous art. Meow Wolf in Santa Fe is an interactive art space (the first of its kind in the country) and the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum and historic Ghost Ranch are must sees. Did I mention we also have some of the best local beers in the country, particularly IPAs? We love it here! Come visit us!

    • Chelsea says...

      Kate, I have now lived in New Mexico for 9 years as well and absolutely love it! There are so many magical places to explore and it is so unique. I agree with all the places you mentioned and would also add hiking Tent Rocks and Bandelier National Monument. In Albuquerque stay at Los Poblanos Lavender Farm and Inn. It’s beautiful! Ride the tram up to the top of Sandia Peak, which is over 10,000 feet to get beautiful sunset views of the city and eat dinner at the new restaurant located there, Ten 3. And of course, eat plenty of delicious New Mexican food all over the state!

    • Sofija says...

      Yes to New Mexico!! You covered most of it. I would add the many hot springs we have, especially Ojo Caliente, north of Santa Fe. Also the incredible talented artists and makers we have. You can find them selling at markets like the Santa Fe rail yard market. We also have a strong small business culture with concept stores like Spurline in Albuquerque.

    • Tricia says...

      My dear grad school friend grew up in Albuquerque and introduced me to the wonders of NM, including green chile (how did I ever live without green chile everything)? Since that time, I ended up moving from the east coast to Colorado and have visited the Land of Enchantment a few times. What a seriously magical place. I am so excited that my grad school friend from ABQ (plus a few others) and I will gather at Ojo Caliente for a mini reunion this fall! I CAN’T WAIT.

  60. Neha says...

    Colorado, my most fav place on earth. I lived in Boulder for a short 3 months and I cannot stop talking about that place. Aspen, Colorado is beautiful. A long drive (4 days minimum) to south western Colorado, it’s gorgeous. You see, I can’t stop. It’s beautiful in all seasons. I prefer winters ( natural hot springs)!

  61. RS says...

    I’m partial to California since I live here :) can’t go wrong with Yosemite in the late fall, winter, and early spring (don’t even bother in the summer, it’s not worth it!! But beautiful and relatively empty during the other seasons). The foothills around there are awesome too: Twain Harte, historic Sonora, Murphy’s.
    My goal in life is to travel to all 50 states and I’m halfway there! My favorite so far has been a trip to New Orleans – amazing city!!!!! So much history and food and culture! Currently reading “The Yellow House” by Sarah Broom, which gives a native’s perspective on growing up there. Highly recommend.

  62. Midge says...

    By the time our kids go to college, I want them to know America! So we do a huge, 4-6K mile road trip every summer and hit a different segment of the US. And then every spring break we hit a city/region. So far we’ve done Southwest, Northwest, and the Upper Midwest (Dakotas/ Minnesota/ Wisconsin). Next on the list is New England. Last spring break we drove Florida top to bottom, next year is NYC, and this year is Washington D.C., right before both kiddos take American History next school year.

    It is THE BEST. We see as many National Parks as we can, and check Atlas Obscura and Pinterest so we don’t miss hilarious things like the world’s tallest filing cabinet. We eat at “famous” local places, leave plenty of unplanned time, and make sure everyone in the family has a few destinations/sights that are for them specifically.

    The places that I have loved the most are things we never would have predicted. And after the first full week in a car together, we really get into an amazing family zone. It’s dreamy.

    • Angela says...

      What a dream! If I may, what do you do for work or how to you arrange for time off to travel like this? I would love this, but I’m unsure if I have the time to get away from work to actually make it happen.

    • Midge says...

      My husband and I both work in higher ed. While I do work summers, I get a lot of vacation time and I use every second of it for family travel.

  63. Susan says...

    All of the national parks! We live in Boston so we started in Acadia but we’ve also visited Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, Yosemite, Joshua Tree and Olympic. They are all fabulous and there are so many more to see (can’t wait to visit Utah, Grand Canyon, Rocky Mountain, the parts in Hawaii and so many others)!

  64. Alex says...

    Fun Question.

    U.S. parks in the off season.

    School teachers will hate you but you get the work ahead of time and do it on plane/in car. Pack one carry on bag only each. Rent houses with kitchens near the park with washing machines. Eat in 2/3 meals.

    Yosemite
    Mendocino County
    Zion
    Bryce
    Grand Escalante National Monument
    Acadia
    Smokey Mountains
    Tetons
    Yosemite

    These are some of the things we have done. Makes me happy to be American and makes me humble and I adore a road trip. My husband and I both can’t be off much so rather than drive from home (as I did as a kid, and I would prefer to do) we fly into a major nearby city and rent a minivan.

    Im going to plan another one now!

    Its so Griswold.

    xxoxo

    • Denise says...

      Wouldn’t it be fun to rent a Family Truckster?!

  65. We went to Maine for several summers, but a few years ago we switched it up and went to Stowe, Vermont, and had the best time. The town is charming with great restaurants and friendly people, and there are options galore for outdoor recreation — hiking, biking, paddling, swimming. We also toured the Ben & Jerry’s factory and spent a day at the beach in Burlington. I also think Washington, DC, is a fantastic place for families to visit (and I’m not just saying that because I live here and have whole blog about it ;-). DC really is a dynamic city with tons of fun, enriching things to do — much of it free, to boot!

    • Linda, could you please give a link to your blog about DC?

  66. Savannah says...

    I’m a native Oregonian who grew up with the trees and the coast just a drive away, so when I am fascinated by the desert. Arizona and Utah are so beautiful to me. Wyoming is also gorgeous – the sky just opens up in such an amazing way.

  67. Becky says...

    When our kids were 7 and 5, we started a summer road trip and drove from Chicago to Washington D.C. I was very apprehensive about it and figured we’d endure hours of unhappy kids in the car. I couldn’t have been more wrong. What we ended up with was seeing parts of the country we would absolutely never fly to but were so interesting (George Washington’s headquarters in Cumberland, MD when we stopped for lunch, Cuyahoga Nation Park), listening to awesome podcasts (Mars Patel, Wow in the World) and having great conversations with our kids. We didn’t rush anything and limited driving to about 6-7 hours per day. It’s not just where you go, but the whole journey that can be memorable. Apart from loving national parks with kids, some of our favorite family trips with grade school kids have been:
    Disney World
    Washington D.C.
    Charleston, SC
    Gatlinburg, TN & Great Smokey Mountains
    St. Petersburg/Tampa, FL
    Chicago
    Traverse City & Sleeping Bear Dunes, MI

  68. Jacquie says...

    I hesitate to post this… But St. John, USVI is amazing! We are not typically return travelers to the same destination… But Coral Bay on St. John is our go to!

    • Anne says...

      YES. Amazing place.

  69. Kaitlin says...

    Is it just me or is it a dad thing to use acronyms for EVERYTHING or shorten things to their initials? Even though we had the same last name, I was forever “Miss W.” to my father, and LOL was never laughing out loud, but Lots of Love.

  70. Kamina says...

    I just wanted to say that it’s really cool that you’re encouraging people to travel within their own country (I know that CoJ has readers around the world, of course, but it is a US-centric blog) in light of CoJ’s recent encouragement for people to reduce their carbon impacts. Flying is one of the worst things for the environment and skipping flights is one of the easiest ways to reduce personal emissions. We need to get back to the old days of road-trip holidays or trips within driving distance, appreciating the beautiful destinations in our own backyards!

    (Yes, I’m aware that driving causes emissions too, but flying is SIGNIFICANTLY worse. So if you’re going to take a trip, a car is a vastly better option than a plane. Great resource on flight emissions here: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/ng-interactive/2019/jul/19/carbon-calculator-how-taking-one-flight-emits-as-much-as-many-people-do-in-a-year)

    Post hijack over! Just wanted to applaud you guys for promoting an environmentally-friendly holiday mindset :)

  71. emily d says...

    we were also a great adventure family growing up! a few of my favorite itineraries:
    – pacific NW: drive from portland to seattle! there are volcanos, beaches, ferries and we even took a hovercraft to an old fort : )
    – CA: drive up hwy 1: beaches, cities, seals in la jolla, hearst castle, and ending in san francisco (a prison tour, bridges and earthquakes – fascinating for kids)
    – moab, utah: fly into vegas and hit up the really great national parks of southern utah (dinosaur is so cool!)
    – big bend, texas: hiking, rafting, a town with a beer-drinking goat as a mayor (lajitas), and spending the night in a haunted hotel (the gage in marathon)
    and my all-time favorite
    – a week on a houseboat at lake powell, utah! unbelievably gorgeous, wake boarding, sleeping outside, lots of learning about tribal lands

  72. Kailyn says...

    Without a doubt Yosemite has to top this list! We also love Catalina Island in Southern California, Big Sur (or any road trip along Highway 1), NOLA, and (of course) literally anywhere on Maui :)

  73. Christine says...

    I live in Northern Wiscnsin on the UP border but I’ve never been to Mackinac Island. My goal this summer is to take my four kids (6, 4, 1, 1) plus my MIL for moral support around Lake Michigan, stopping at Mackinac then heading to Detroit where my Brother in Law and his girlfriend live, then Chicago before coming back home. I’d love to pull our pop-up camper along, but I’m nervous without my husband, plus I’d have no where to park it in the Chicago ‘burbs when we stop there.

    • Anne says...

      I loved Mackinac for the curiosity of the place, but be prepared. It can in places feel very touristy. It’s better once you get out of the city and explore, but perhaps that is not the easiest with small kids (and since it is car free).

    • Mouse says...

      On the way go to Sleeping Bear Nat’l Park and get the kids going on the big dune. So much fun on the way down.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      sleeping bear is WONDERFUL!

  74. Karin says...

    I don’t think you can go wrong with any national park. At most parks you can stay in a lodge so no need to camp if camping isn’t your bag.

    When your kids get a LITTLE older, like Anton is 11, Washington DC is an awesome family vacation. We spent 2 weeks there and could easily have spent 2 more. Museums, monuments, History, great food, walking around.

    Rent a van and drive from L.A.. up to Seattle. Northern CA (Monterey and surrounds), Big Sur, etc. Then Oregon—Portland is so fun and many family-friendly hikes, etc. within a day trip. Then end up in Seattle – another amazing family friendly place.

    I also loved a trip we took to the South (New Orleans, Memphis, Savannah, Charleston, Atlanta) but I think that is more of an adult trip. These are good places to eat amazing food, try local cocktails, stay in B&Bs, etc. So much history, so DIFFERENT from anywhere else I’ve been.

    I am a big, big fan of road trips. You absorb so much even in between stops.

    And Hawaii (Maui, Kauai) would probably be super neat for your boys.

    Have never been, but fantasize about, renting a beach house in Nantucket or one of those places on East Coast (I live in CA) and having an old school summer of riding bikes, eating ice cream and swimming all day with absolutely no technology.

  75. Emily says...

    Love this post! I travel a ton for work, something I don’t adore, but I’ve vowed to get out and see this country while I’m on the road…So far my favorite cities in no order:
    Seattle
    Chicago
    Nashville
    San Diego

    I’m learning to love Minneapolis and Philadelphia. And I’m trying hard with Atlanta-can anyone help me there? Atlanta overwhelms me. Driving the massive highways there freaks me out.

    Personally, I’m a New England girl for the last 20 years and recommend Newburyport, MA–and visit the beaches of Plum Island (this is Northern MA answer to Cape Cod and it’s so under-visited!); Portland, ME; Martha’s Vineyard (of course); Portsmouth, NH; Boston obviously…For the most old time throwback boardwalk you will ever experience and insane people watching-Hampton, NH. Talk about a throwback…

    However, I grew up in Lancaster County, PA and especially for all of you New Yorkers-what are you waiting for? The food, the scenery, the insane Amish markets, the pace, etc. etc. etc. if you’re in Lancaster also visit Lititz, PA.

    • Chelsea says...

      Yay! I was scrolling through to see if anyone had mentioned Lancaster, PA. I live here and think it is a great place to visit, too! The food is excellent. Lancaster Central Market is a must-see, and there are loads of great restaurants. Lititz is another great stop too – full of cute shops and beautiful buildings and history.

    • Mary-Corder says...

      I can help with Atlanta! It is an underrated gem. Would love to send you some recommendations! marycmeagher@gmail.com :)

  76. Jessica says...

    Boston has been a family favorite since I was a little kid. It’s walkable, there’e a lot of history, and the architecture is beautiful! Charleston, SC is my favorite little place to spend spring break because it’s beautiful, the food is great, and people are so so kind! Newport, RI is also a really neat town, especially the Cliff Walk and touring the old mansions!

  77. Mara says...

    I visited Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks over Thanksgiving and highly recommend both. Both parks got hit with a snowstorm while I was there and it was so magical. I actually prefer visiting National Parks in the winter. Sure some of the trails might be closed but they’re less crowded and Mother Nature really turns it up when everything is draped in a clean blanket of snow. Yosemite is another good one in winter and so is Joshua Tree (they sometimes get snow!).

    WA state is pretty epic too. I took a 12-day road trip which began in Seattle and then drove to Port Townsend, Lake Crescent, Olympic Nat’l Park, Cape Flattery, Mt Rainier Nat’l Park, Cascades Nat’l Park, Bellingham and the San Juan Islands. So much beauty in that state and feel like I just scratched the surface.

  78. Lisa Lambrecht says...

    How great is it that your father gave you those experiences and that you, in turn, want to do the same for your kids?! Coming from someone whose father was less than concerned about giving his kids memorable experiences, I’m always happy when I read about happy childhood memories from other people! My husband and I are currently taking a year off from our work lives to travel the US by van (yes, we’re van-life people only we’re in our late 40s instead of young 20s) with a concentration on national parks and mountain biking opportunities. Just about any national park is worth the trip – just remember that if you’re planning on staying in the park, reservations can be hard to come by and you need to book something well in advance. If you ever find yourself in Wyoming, camp in a place called Castle Gardens – BLM land (outside of Ten Sleep, WY) that resembles a mini Badlands. It was amazing and had one of the best star gazing I’ve ever seen.

  79. Mandy says...

    Ocracoke Island, NC – I’ve always been a beach girl. When we get on the ferry to cross over to the island I feel like I’m leaving the real world behind. Bicycling through the village to the coffee shop every morning, unbelievably beautiful beaches with no buildings in sight… oh, and Eduardo’s Taco Truck, sigh…

  80. Lisa says...

    I had a whole list and deleted it because I want to just recommend one…

    Ocean Isle Beach, NC – the unsung hero on my list – rent a big house (invite another family you like spending time with) and go to the beach (pack a cooler, stay all day, read, play in the water, bring games, etc), head home and chill on the big porch, have cocktails at happy hour (back on the beach or on said porch), cook, and REPEAT. Every day.

    There is truly no place better for a beach vacation, in my opinion (and I have done them all – lived in SW FL, been to Cape Cod, Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, the Hamptons, Outer Banks, Hilton Head, Charleston beaches, Delaware Beaches, Jersey Shore….and the list goes on.) OIB just has that special something.

  81. Jessie says...

    Shameless plug for my current city, Columbus, OH. Wexner Center for the Arts, Gateway Film Center, Columbus Museum of Art, COSI, Hocking Hills, Short North, German Village, Momo Ghar, *the* birthplace of a Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, Short North Market…there’s a lot to do here.

    And ~20 years ago, I participated in a Habitat for Humanity trip to Helena, Montana. We helped build a house for 2 weeks during the days, but evening & weekends, we explored Helena & saw Yellowstone. We “roughed it” by living in a college dorm & most meals were eaten in the dining hall. But I made friends & the natural beauty of Montana has always stayed with me.

  82. Lucia says...

    I live in a seasonally tourist-y place (San Juan Islands, WA), so it’s interesting to get ideas about other places to go! We love to explore the Pacific NW and so far, Long Beach, WA is my favorite destination. They have an amazing kite festival and you can ride horses on the beach.

    For those of you with 4th graders, did you know you can get a free National Parks pass? https://everykidoutdoors.gov/index.htm. We’re working on a plan to do a family road trip when we get one!

    • Amy says...

      Thank you for sharing. I have a 4th grader and we will take advantage of this!

  83. Kirsten Giese Halloran says...

    We loved the Badlands, Black Hills and Yellowstone trip. Palm Springs and Joshua Tree is incredible. We also loved a trip that included the Smoky Mountains, Ashville and Biltmore. My parents live near Hilton Head Island and that whole area is beautiful…Beaufort, Savannah, Charleston. And in my home state of Minnesota, visit the North Shore of Lake Superior and the charming town of Grand Marais.

  84. Shelly says...

    National Parks are national treasures. Between us my dh and I have been all over Europe, Asia, South America, Central America, Mexico, and India. We both agree that some of our best vacays, especially in the 15 years since our first baby, have been national parks.

  85. Michelle says...

    LOVE this thread!

    For a camping trip – Lake Champlain, VT. Absolutely stunning beneath the pine trees, incredible restaurants in nearby Burlington, friendly people. Love American Flatbread and Bluebird Kitchen.

    For a city feel – Pittsburgh, PA. Super walkable downtown area, innovative eats, tons of historic charm, and so much to see and do. Highly recommend a magic show at Liberty Magic or a performance at the Benedum Center!

    For the ocean breeze – St. Augustine, FL. We rent a hotel across the street from the ocean, then take super-early-morning walks on the beach as we watch pipers dive in and out of the water. Breathing in the salty air, seeing the sunrise over the ocean, then grabbing fish tacos for lunch is our little slice of heaven.

    For feeling like a kid again – Disney World. Honestly, my husband and I don’t even have kids, and this is one of our most favorite places. I always leave feeling totally inspired, legs tired, and filled with the happiest memories!

    • G says...

      So excited to see my city on your list! Pittsburgh IS such an amazing city, filled with great food and friendly (and quirky) people. Welcome back anytime! <3

  86. Jax says...

    That’s a very difficult question to answer! And my US travel is just a drop in the bucket, comparatively.
    – The Grand Tetons and if you’re there, you gotta do Yellowstone as well.
    – Yosemite
    – Grand Canyon
    – Monterey area, including Point Lobos, Big Sur, Pacific Grove, Santa Cruz
    – Just drive up and down the Pacific Coast Highway if you can — from North to South or vice versa
    – I like Vegas for long weekend trips — esp. for “date-type” trips with my better half. I’m sure that’s not going to be a popular choice here — it can be super expensive, cheesy, touristy. But for a quick grown-up jaunt, you can go to a good music show, drink cocktails, get your steps in on the Strip, eat very good (though pricey) food and have all the American people watching you’d ever want. You can drive/Uber/Lyft out to the non-touristy areas too. There’s some great Asian — Chinese, Korean, Japanese — food in the burbs.
    – New Yawk — enough said
    – Florida beaches — I’ve only been on the Gulf side — Saratoga and Tampa – gorgeous white sand — go see them before they’re submerged from climate warming.

    • Mandy says...

      If you are the outdoorsy type, the National Park Service has a “passport” that you can get stamped at all of their locations… over 400 of them! It a neat way for kids (or kids at heart like me) to explore new places and track everywhere they’ve been! It becomes a scavenger hunt for stamps but really gets you off the beaten path to explore new places.

  87. Grace says...

    The Natchez Trace Parkway from Nashville to Natchez, Mississippi is an excellent drive, New Orleans feels like Europe without being as expensive to get there (between the walkability, wonderful zoo, and public transportation it is more family friendly than anticipated), and Chicago (again zoo, lots of fun food, and depending on the season baseball games).

  88. Kristin says...

    Soooo many great places that I know I will forget some. We grew up in Madison, WI, and it is beautiful and there are fun things to do nearby as well. San Diego and Charleston were huge hits with our kids when they were young. Grand Teton is my favorite park, but we also enjoyed Shenandoah, Mesa Verde, Black Canyon of the Gunnison (so dark that you feel like you’re swimming in the Milky Way!!), and Rocky Mountain. Washington DC is fabulous. Denver has lots to do with kids. Love the Oregon and Washington coasts.

  89. Kara says...

    Savannah Georgia! My brother moved there for work a few years ago and every time I visit, I fall more in love with the city. From the fabulous architecture to great restaurants, I’m never bored. Always a new spot to explore.

  90. Emmie says...

    Maine in the summer! We took a road trip there this summer yo visit Acadia National Park. It’s the highest point on the East Coast!

  91. New Mexico! Between the desert and the mountains- it’s truly extraordinary. Highlights: White Sands (is now a National Park!), Los Alamos + Bandelier (petroglyphs and caves!), Ghost Ranch (tour O’Keeffe’s home, go on a horseback ride through the ranch or hike- the views are incredible- and it’s a do-able hike for elementary age and up), Taos- Hotel Luna Mystica (air streams- my boys loved it– threw the football, marshmallows by the fire, checked out the Gorge, brought our dog), and of course: my home town of Santa Fe. There’s Meow Wolf (for kids of all ages- kind of an art fun-house), hiking the Santa Fe ski basin, Museum hill – and in the summertime- there are free concerts every night at the bandstand in the Plaza. Bonus: The international folk art market, the opera, Fiesta, and balloon festival… I mean, what isn’t to love about Santa Fe, NM?

    • Tovah says...

      I am originally from Albuquerque and I second all of this! NM is like no other place…

    • liz says...

      We just booked our airbnb in santa fe for spring break and we are SO EXCITED!

    • Andrea says...

      Yes! NM!
      Every year for Spring Break we pick a state to explore. The year of “NM” was was definitely a highlight! The diversity of the landscape was incredible – from “sledding” down gypsum hills at white sands to exploring the UNESCO World Heritage site of Taos Pueblo to a roadside stop at Tinkertown – every moment was memorable for us and our kiddo (Meow Wolf made our heads explode!).

      Last year was South Dakota, the year before was “old” Florida (Zero amusement parks!) and this year we are still in family debates between Washington and Oregon. Can’t wait to see how the new decade plays out!

    • Yay!! New Mexico all the way!!

    • Laura says...

      I did a long weekend in Santa Fe for a friend’s birthday and LOVED it. Amazing hiking, cool history. Horseback ride through Ghost Ranch was really a lifetime bucket list for me. The sky in New Mexico is just so BIG and so BLUE.

    • Chelsea says...

      I love seeing all of this love for New Mexico! I live in Albuquerque and agree with all of you. It’s a beautiful state!

  92. Jules says...

    We also went to Yellowstone & Grand Teton as our summer trips when I was a kid. My parents ended up buying a cabin in Red Lodge, MT, which we love!

    My suggestions are:
    – Red Lodge, MT & the Beartooths
    – Lake Tahoe (cheaper place to stay over the mountains is Gardnerville/Minden, NV. Lived there for a year and loved it)
    – Cannon Beach, OR (or anywhere on the OR coast)
    – Cayucos, CA
    – anywhere in Hawaii
    – Lake Almanor in Northern CA
    – Lassen Volcanic National Park in CA, especially Manzanita Lake. It’s a perfect hike for kids (just avoid Redding)
    – Glacier National Park
    – Savannah, GA
    – Arcata, CA
    – Jackson Hole, WY
    – Cody, WY
    – San Juan Islands in WA

    I’ve never been to the northeast and would love to go, especially to New England for all the fun history!

    • Karin says...

      LOL “avoid Redding”—good advice!

    • RS says...

      I’ve never seen Lake Almanor get a shout out anywhere! How exciting :) my family has a house up there and it remains one of my favorite trips every year. And Lassen is criminally underrated! The geology is SO COOL.

  93. Grand Marais, MN is one of my very favorite places on earth. Super picturesque, especially in fall, with cute seafood restaurants (with fish they caught in the Superior that morning), one of the best pizza places (Sven and Ole’s) and donut shacks (World’s Best Donuts, and they mean it too).

    • Nikki says...

      Shhh don’t let the secret get out. ;) I live in the north shore and think everywhere along 61 between Duluth and the Canadian border is fabulous. Hiking, a Great Lake, and good food. What more could you want?

    • This is mine too. But like Nikki says, you almost don’t want to let the word get out:) We go every summer and love all of the parks along the drive from Duluth to Canada, spend more and more time exploring the Boundary Waters each summer, and the new age restaurants and lodging that grow every year are starting to make it such a well-rounded destination! Love how you can make it as rustic or luxurious as you like.

  94. Claire says...

    I just love these travel threads!
    I will offer one caveat related to the “don’t eat at chain restaurants” rule: family owned businesses often opt to close on holidays, the day after holidays, or on Sundays, or in response to their own family needs, and a little advance research and a backup plan or two can be prudent, and help prevent bad cases of the hangrys. (I made a mental note of this after driving home from the Texas coast the day after Thanksgiving and finding all of the small town BBQ places that we’d counted on were still closed.)

  95. Sydni Jackson says...

    Rocky Mountain National Park in Estes, CO For hiking
    Amelia Island, Hilton Head Island, Jekyll Island for quaint beach towns
    Driving on A1A north from Ft Lauderdale for a carefree roadtrip
    Burlington, VT for food and skiing
    New Orléans for the wishlist!

    • G says...

      I just booked a trip to Estes Park to hike in RMNP last night! My SO and I are so excited. Happy to see it on this list!

  96. mary s says...

    I live in SF and did a lot of walking around the city over the holidays — made me realize that it’s pretty lovely here! I also enjoy hiking in west Marin and visiting my friends in Pacific Grove. Did a fun road trip up to Seattle (and back down) a few summers ago.

    I love the east Sierra (Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, Mono Lake) and the desert — in particular, Joshua Tree/Death Valley/Anza Borrego, Southern Utah, and New Mexico.

    Would love to spend some time in Maine — many of the commenters here are reinforcing that desire. Also: Alaska!

    Then again, NYC is pretty darn great — I used to live there, way back in the mid-1980s, and I go back whenever I can.

  97. Elizabethkatt says...

    Red River Gorge, Kentucky! We honeymooned there, and it had some of the most incredible scenery I have ever seen. And an awesome reptile zoo for kids. And not too far from Lexington if you wanted to do the bourbon trail.

    • Kate says...

      Another vote for Lexington, Kentucky! Come during April or October for horse racing season at Keeneland. Seabiscuit and Secretariat were filmed there and it is gorgeous! Lots of wonderful hiking, views, horse farms, and bourbon!

  98. Allison says...

    last summer I spent time in Bend, Oregon and absolutely loved it. it was drivable to Crater Lake National Park which is a must if you’re anywhere near it. Oregon in general is great in that it offers so many opportunities to disconnect and be outdoors without feeling “too” remote.

    Now having lived in New England for 8 years I can’t recommend it enough. So much history & beauty knit so close together. You could truly experience all 6 states of New England in 4-5 days and depending on whether you’re traveling in summer or winter, get totally different experiences. Some highlights I’d recommend are Burlington or Woodstock, VT, Boston, MA, Martha’s Vineyard, MA, Portland, ME, Portsmouth, NH, Newport, RI and Mystic, CT.

    Some of my other favorite trips have been to places like Kiawah Island, SC, Austin, TX, Santa Barabra, CA and Beacon, NY. all very different from each other but equally wonderful places to explore.

    happy travels <3

    • Emily says...

      Burlington, VT is amazing! If you’re there, I recommend venturing a bit further North to the Champlain Islands-a most magical place.

  99. Brooke says...

    – Austin
    – Portland, OR
    – NYC
    – Sonoma

    Dying to get to the Hamptons, Maine, Chicago, and Seattle!

    • Jules says...

      I went to college in Portland & lived in Sonoma for 5 years. Great choices!

  100. A says...

    What a wonderful post for so many reasons.
    1. The sheer fun of reading the suggestions
    2. What better way to lift January blues than thinking of summer and planning a trip to look forward to
    3. The way in which people are celebrating other very different parts of America (whilst still retaining fond memories of family histories and experience) is a great example of community and a non-politicised patriotism. And isn’t that what we all need in 2020?

  101. Mika says...

    West coast: Los Angeles, Yosemite, and Palm Springs

    East coast: Portsmouth, NH, Martha’s Vineyard, and Brooklyn. As an east coast native originally from Connecticut, it definitely has a soft spot in my heart.

    Also, it would be amazing if you could share these comments in a chart of some sort?! It’s amazing how many responses there are so far, and I’d love to see a summary of what everyone suggested!

    • Raquel says...

      Great suggestion, Mika! I was thinking the same.

      Joanna, a word cloud would be a great way to capture the popular ones!

  102. Debi says...

    I‘m from Switzerland and loved NYC, Chicago, Mackinaw Island, PNW: Ruby Beach, Sparks Lake, Crater Lake and San Francisco

    • Don’t forget about your Northern neighbours in Canada! Lots to see and do here too (plus a fantastic exchange rate for US visitors)!

  103. Carly says...

    For those in the NYC area, we love to stay in Hudson for a long weekend, visiting other towns like Woodstock, Saugerties, and Kingston on the way there and back. Farther places we love include the Finger Lakes (upstate NY), and NH (Portsmouth)/Maine (Portland). We went to Cape Cod this year too and loved it!

    • Vicki says...

      Yes! Just went to Woodstock and it is so cute <3
      Really family-friendly, so many little shops and then hiking to get some forest bathing (being in such an urban area, I really do feel different just being in the mountains for a weekend). Friends of ours are renovating Twin Gables a historic Inn there, it's now the most inviting space, and the best thing for us the kids could have a room next door to us with two twin beds – no kicking and no kids in our room!!!

  104. Dani says...

    Absolutely LOVED Puerto Rico. It absolutely has my heart now – also my fiance is half puerto rican but anyway, it’s a beautiful island with beautiful, kind people, and such delicious food. Highly recommend renting a car and going to Luquillo and the El Yunque Forest!

    Also, Sedona. Breathtakingly beautiful with so much positive energy! Both trips changed my life.

    Considering a small trip with my Fiance this spring, though we feel guilty as we are getting married in November. Can anyone recommend budget friendly options from Cleveland? We are such beach bums, so would love that, but we also like to adventure and hike. Having both is a plus! Saving this post for future trips – so many places to see!

    • JAK says...

      Two places I’d recommend that are 5 1/2 hours max from Cleveland: Toronto and Upstate NY. I am biased because both places mean a lot to me and I’ve spent a lot of time in these areas but they can be done on a budget and have lots of beautiful hiking and nature too.

      Toronto: The city itself is incredible, so much to do and there’s plenty of hiking and nature around it. If you want to drive a bit further and get out of the city, check out the lakes (Lake Muskoka is really popular, might be cheaper in the spring, and there’s beach front properties too). Practically everyone in Ontario has a cottage they retreat too, and lots are available to rent over the weekend (the Instagram, EscapeToronto, does a great round up of places that are 3 hours or less from the city. They list a lot of cottages for rent as well).

      Upstate NY: If you don’t want to drive all the way to the Adirondacks, I would go to Ithaca NY for a weekend. Along the way stop in Corning to check out the Glass museum. And when you are in Ithaca area go to Moosewood Restaurant. It’s pretty famous and has hugely influenced American Vegetarian cuisine. There’s a lot of hiking in the area too.

      Congrats on your upcoming wedding! And happy traveling. <3

    • Kim says...

      Dunes state park or St.Joe, both on the east side of Lake Michigan. Beautiful little beach towns with breweries and not far from Cleveland!

  105. Heidi says...

    We took our kids to Grand Teton, Yellowstone, & Glacier NP, with a stay in Canada at Watertown NP. We all agreed it was our favorite vacation so far. We’ve created a family travel bucket list and have planned out where we are doing each year strategizing based on our kids ages. Each time we have a fourth grader will be a national parks trip for the every kid in a park program.

  106. Katherine says...

    I just have to say that I love your dad’s driving rules, so much so, I’m going to use them on our next road trip.

    Also, we recently moved to New Mexico and I love all the shout outs the state got and all the recommendations of sights to see in the Southwest! We’ve got a lot of road trips to plan and I can’t wait. :)

  107. There are so many places, but one of my faves is Asheville, NC. It’s beautiful, has great restaurants/breweries, there’s tons of hiking/outdoorsy stuff, and it has a unique hippy vibe. You can’t miss the Friday night drumming circle!

    • Sarah says...

      My hometown! So happy you love it…I do too!

    • Elizabeth says...

      We absolutely love the Asheville area, too (we are from the Midwest)–there’s a magic there I can’t quite explain. xo

  108. Ruth says...

    Hawaii! My husband and I went on our honeymoon there (Oahu, Kauai, the Big Island) and it was truly incredibly. Food, activities, natural beauty, etc. It’s a hike from the East coast of course but so incredible. And would be so fun with kiddos! We are scheming to go back for our tenth anniversary (in 3.5 years, when our daughters will be 7 and 3).

  109. My all time favorite destination has been Sylvan Lake, South Dakota. I might be biased since this is where my fiance proposed to me, but this area is genuinely gorgeous!

    The Black Hills of South Dakota has such mesmerizing scenery that you could literally spend weeks hiking and exploring the area. Definitely a must see (and great for anyone on a budget since hanging out in nature is basically free).

    • Midest Mama says...

      Sylvan Lake is such a magical place! The whole landscape felt so surreal! We stayed at the historic Sylvan Lake Lodge, too, and it was just such a a special, step-back-in-time kind of trip for two broke grad school students. Highly recommend it, as well!

    • Midge says...

      We LOVED Sylvan Lake when my family went there this summer. When we got home, I happened to be looking at old family photos and found one of my great-grandparents there in the 1910’s. It looks exactly the same and was so meaningful to have been there 100 years later.

    • Louise says...

      Aaaand . . . Lead, SD has the old LUX dark matter detector on display in their museum! Yay, science!

  110. The redwood forests of northern California knocked my socks off. Skip Muir Woods (it’s super crowded) and opt for Redwood National & State Parks, Humboldt Redwoods State Park, Big Basin Redwoods State Park, Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park (and of course Yosemite & Sequoia NPs). Hiking among these massive trees is an almost religious experience.

    • Emily says...

      Yes! Humboldt County is such a gem. If you like oysters and local food, Eureka and Arcata are wonderful and the Redwoods are incredible. Consider Shelter Cove and hiking the Lost Coast too, to feel small in the world.

  111. Mary Beth says...

    Camping at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks! So gorgeous. Your boys would love it I’m sure.

  112. Margaret says...

    My husband and I live in Denver, CO with our three daughters, and decided to try making a tradition of going on a western-camping-family-road-trip every summer. We live in this gorgeous place, why not have our kids experience it all?….plus the joys and challenges of an old-fashioned road trip. Last year we tried Yellowstone and Grand Teton. We realized that it’s more enjoyable to stay in fewer places, for multiple nights. We also realized that our kids’ favorite part of camping is s’mores, so I guess it doesn’t really matter where we go!

  113. The Southwest is absolutely my favorite for its austere beauty. Saguaro National Park in particular feels like a vacation destination on another planet – we get so used to seeing the “cactus” cactus in isolation (often in Looney Tunes form), that seeing a literal forest of them feels like a fever dream.

  114. Lisa J. Camann says...

    Yellowstone road trip planned for this summer (with some friends – most of us worked in the park in the early 80’s – so it’s a reunion trip!) Can’t wait

  115. I have fond memories of Elephant Butte, White Sands and the Hot Air Balloon Festival in New Mexico as a child. Also Sante Fe and Taos were cool, see the old Pueblo dwellings, going to a real powwow. New Mexico is really beautiful and so rich in a different culture.

    • Bec says...

      Oooo came here to write the same places! I just moved to El Paso and am discovering all these wonderful places in NM for the first time. Truth or Consequences has quickly become a favorite of mine as well. Most affordable spa town in America! :)

    • Lauren says...

      YES!! I live in Utah but have spent so much time in El Paso for rock climbing. Hueco Tanks is an amazing spot with incredible cultural and historical value. White Sands, not far away, is also insanely beautiful. And all the breweries popping up on Zaragoza are also super fun.

  116. Emily says...

    Montana, Montana, Montana! ;)
    Specifically Glacier National Park for hiking, driving the incomparable Going-to-the-Sun Road, and Whitefish where there is a truly wonderful ranch, “Bar W” with so many activities like trail rides, bonfires, learning to cattle rope or barrel race, clay shooting etc. Just the most fun place ever! Family atmosphere and they cook delicious homemade meals to boot. Bozeman is also a really cute town with local shops and such. Nothing compares to the beauty of Montana!

  117. Samara says...

    My 9 year old son and I just returned from an incredible three week road trip. Six states, including our home state California, Arizona, Texas, New Mexico, Utah and Nevada. We visited Joshua Tree NP, Carlsbad Caverns NP, Bryce NP, Zion NP, White Sands NP, Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks, Hamilton Pool Preserve, the Alamo, Ghost Ranch, Grand Staircase Escalante, and Valley of Fire just to name a few😂. He earned 5 new Jr. Ranger badges, hiked Bryce during an amazing snowfall, slept in a yurt in Joshua Tree and so much more. Utah, Utah, Utah❤️ Zion is breathtaking. He is already planning our next trip back to other parts of Utah and beyond. Not our first road trip, definitely not our last, sooo much to see, soooo much stunning landscape and amazing experiences. We logged, 5,759 miles🚙🙌🏼.

    • Susan says...

      Yes—Zion & Bryce. I don’t think ever seen a more beautiful national park. We’d like to return, but stay in the cabins on site. So many places to explore. Heavenly!

  118. Heidi says...

    I grew up in San Diego and a few summers we road tripped up the coast of California. The Central Calfornia coast is gorgeous and is where I’d retire if I had lots of money.

    As an adult, I love Colorado… we have family there and we got to visit Breckenridge last summer. Absolutley gorgeous place. Fresh air!

  119. Anne says...

    Uh… I loved the Bad Lands along with the Black Hills. The contrast and history of those places are amazing.

    Also West Michigan along the coast of Lake Michigan is pretty amazing – especially when you meet the top and the lakes meet.

    • caitlin says...

      Anne, we might be road trip soul mates because these are my exact favorite places!

    • Anne says...

      Caitlin – ❤️

  120. Cheryl says...

    Some of our most memorable trips, in no particular order:

    -Road trip along Highway One to Big Sur and Monterey, then across the California desert to Yosemite.
    -Shenandoah Valley area in Virginia. Our kids loved Luray Caverns (amazing stalactites and stalagmites!) and we did part of the Blue Ridge Parkway.
    -Chesapeake Bay area, particularly the Eastern Shore towns like Oxford, MD., and nearby Atlantic beach towns like Bethany Beach and historic Lewes, Delaware.
    -Seattle! Besides Pike Place and the usual, took the city ferry to Bainbridge Island, and another ferry for a trip-within-a-trip to Victoria, B.C.
    -New Orleans! The French Quarter, Frenchman Street, Garden District, Irish Channel area. Amazing architecture, food, music.
    -San Antonio! Riverwalk, Pearl district, bike rides to the chain of missions, and The Alamo.
    -The whole area around Savannah, GA (live oaks and beautiful squares), Hilton Head and the low country. Loved driving to nearby Beaufort, SC.
    -Chicago! Driving along Lake Shore Drive, photos at the Bean, the Field Museum, Wicker Park, the Lincoln Park Zoo.

  121. Emily says...

    a few years ago I took a four day solo road trip through upstate new york in october. it was gorgeous, and I had a rule to stop at least every 100 miles. it meant I went to a lot of random tiny towns and weird roadside attractions. I went to see some friends I hadn’t seen since the great post college dispersal and went to see lake ontario. I wanted to hit steepletop (edna st vincent millays house) and massmoca on my way back to boston where I live, but I ran out of time.

  122. K says...

    Anywhere in the Southwest! Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, Sedona, Bryce Canyon. It’s like visiting another planet. And feeling restored by it.

    New Orleans is also a really special place. So much energy and good food and soul.

  123. Eliot says...

    Anywhere in New Mexico or rural Maine! My family travelled quite a lot when I was a kid but we never returned to any place as often as we went to Santa Fe, NM. We were lucky enough to spend at least a week there every fall (Thanksgiving break) and sometimes a week in the summer. The city is lovely and has amazing food. You can take day trips out to the gorgeous desert or drive up the ski mountain for either skiing or hiking depending on the time of year. There are also plenty of cute small towns around Santa Fe where we would spend the afternoons wandering. My sisters and I loved it as children and love it even more now as adults.

    My sister started visiting Maine several years ago where she would stay in an old house on a remote island of the coast of very northern Maine owned by the best friend of her partner at the time. That relationship eventually ended but her love affair with Maine did not. She returns every summer for her birthday and I’m lucky enough to be invited every August (sometimes 6+ of people are invited, sometimes just one or two). The island can only be accessed by boat. There is no wifi. There’s not even a place to buy groceries so we meal plan for the entire week and bring all our food across in the ferry. We swim (even though it’s freeeeezing), read books, cook, do puzzles, and just generally enjoy each other’s company and plenty of alone time doing our own thing. It’s heaven (and cheap!).

    • Elizabeth says...

      I love the idea of this tradition–and the location sounds amazing!

  124. Lisa says...

    The California Gold Country, and the area above Truckee:). Have to go in late summer, can still be snow in early July. All the Mark Twain lore and history…

  125. The Berkshires
    Portland, ME
    Finger Lakes Region in NY
    San Francisco
    Napa
    Austin

    • Andrea says...

      Sleeping Bear national dunes in Michigan. My family has trekked to that region from
      Indiana for years and love it. There’s great bike riding and even wine tasting!

  126. Ravina S says...

    I work for a travel guide company (Moon.com! Shameless self-promotion!) and every book I work on is my new favorite place! XD
    I love the Southwest – Zion and Bryce were truly stunning. I also adore Kings Canyon in CA! So many lovely and interesting places, so little time.

    • Danielle says...

      Dream job!

  127. Katie says...

    So many great ideas! This is making me want to start a Cup of Jo house swap situation. If anyone is interested lmk:)

    Some of my fave US spots – Martha’s Vineyard, Jacksonhole/ Grand Teton, Glacier National Park, Telluride, Mendocino, Charleston/Kiawah Island, east TN/Smoky Mtns/ Dollywood. My kids legit prefer Dollywood over Disney as do I!

    Now live in Michigan and love all those great up North spots. Can’t wait to plan a summer trip, this has all the wheels spinning.

    Maine, Banff, and San Juan islands are all on the top of my list.

    • LISA BROWN says...

      I second Kiawah Island. Amazing place!

    • Jaymie says...

      Acadia National Park, Maine – beautiful rocky coastline with lots of tide pools to explore

      Whale watching off cape cod – amazing up close experience. It was like being inside a National Geographic magazine.

      Colorado Springs – Garden of the Gods – which is an incredible city park that could be a state or national park. Truly unique place. Plus of course the Rockies right there

      Pensacola Florida, white sand beaches and calm turquoise water

      Southern Utah – my all time favorite trip. 5 National parks in close proximity to each other, all completely unique of one another. Spectacular experience.

      Yosemite, King’s Canyon, Sequoia then over to Route 1 and down the coast from San Francisco to LA.

    • Lauren Santagate says...

      Katie this is a brilliant idea! We are in New England and would totally be down for a house swap to explore other parts of the country. Ahhh…this thread is making my day!

  128. kath says...

    Oregon, hands down. And as a plus, my teenage acne prone skin would always clear up whenever I visited.

  129. Jane says...

    Mt Rainier National Park
    Sequoia National Park
    The Anasazi Village in…Arizona?
    Kauai’s Napali coast
    Basically: mountain, ocean, desert, forest. Both winter and summer versions are amazing and fun especially when you do high/low versions of camping/hotel’ing.

  130. Monterey, ca & go to Carmel, etc.
    the aquarium is amazing!

  131. Anna says...

    Love this question and the comments. Got me thinking of all the magical places in this country. :) A few of my favorites that I haven’t seen mentioned yet:

    Hoh Rain Forest, Oympic National Park, Washington State: The mossy trees feel like another world and the sheer volume of life with each step is dazzling.

    White Sands National Monument, New Mexico: Literally huge white sand mountains in the middle of almost nowhere! It feels like it shouldn’t exist? Unbelievable to experience in person.

    Growing up, my family of (ultimately) 9 kids would drive in a 12-seater van from St. Louis to Destin, FL, almost every year for a week at the beach. My parents would make the drive through the night with all of us kids piled in the back, a small portable TV bungee-corded down atop the counsel. I can’t imagine how tired my parents must have been on those trips, but the feeling I had of going to sleep on the road listening to my parents talk and laugh with each other with all of us in the car knowing we’d wake up at the beach was delicious.

  132. Katie says...

    Did you know you can stay at the resort where Dirty Dancing was filmed??!!! It’s not in upstate NY like in the movie – but in the Virginian mountains. We vacationed there last summer and nearly lost our minds – Baby’s cabin! The lift lake! The corner! It was a good old fashion family vacation with hiking, swimming, badminton, rock painting, etc. I highly recommend it for anyone, movie fan or not.

    • Kathryn says...

      100% just texted this to my sister.

  133. We went to Arizona one year for spring break and while it wasn’t super warm it was perfect hiking weather – Grand Canyon, Sedona, Meteor Crater, and Monument Valley were all amazing!

  134. Stasha says...

    Lake Superior’s North shore (MN) or South shore (WI) are both breathtaking. Lots of hiking, camping, and charming small towns with inns and saunas.

    • Rachel says...

      I was hoping someone would mention Lake Superior’s north shore. Truly stunning and very different than how most would picture MN. Almost like the coast of Maine (or so I’m told). Gorgeous views at every turn!

  135. Leah says...

    Alaska – it’s a totally different world. A cruise is the most efficient way to see it but I would highly recommend spending time exploring Juneau for a few days. So many outdoor options within a few minutes of downtown. A glacier you can drive to. Whales, eagles, salmon, black bears all over the place!

  136. Nora says...

    Zion blew me away – a must see

    • Totally!!! And the tram system there makes it so easy. Just stay anywhere outside the park and your transportation is already done for you. So easy with kids.

    • Lisa says...

      Exactly. Watching the sun rise over the canyons is one of my favorite life experiences to date. Other worldly.

  137. Natalie T. says...

    There are so many places! I loved Boston, Portland, Oregon and San Francisco. NYC is a soul city for me (I’m from Canada so it’s always a treat when visiting). When I was 10, my parents drove us to Disney World in Florida from Toronto and it was so fun pit-stopping along the way and playing games at restaurants. I’ve never forgotten it! I would love to see New Orleans and go to Austin. I also ended up on a stopover to Dallas and we visited the JFK Museum. I think it is one of the coolest museums I’ve ever been to. I think you’ll have a good time where-ever you go and the 9-10 mark is a time that they’ll truly remember these trips.

  138. Jenny says...

    Joshua Tree is awesome with kids! It’s an easy drive from LA, the landscape is amazing, the whole place is covered with enormous and climb-able rocks (some kind of rock that is very friction-y and easy to scramble up!). Our kids loved it. Great hikes. Scenery unlike almost anywhere else. And also, it’s very close to Palm Springs, which makes a nice counterpoint destination for a road trip.

  139. Margaret says...

    I spent a few years living in Utah and visited all 5 of their national parks. They’re all amazing! The red rock is breathtaking! Capitol Reef was especially cool – if you time it right you can pick fruit from historic orchards in the park. If you visit Zion then stop at Bryce Canyon too!

  140. MariaE. says...

    A three-four day driving from Vancouver, BC, via Port Townsend (PT) (stopping at Deception Pass on the way to PT), to some areas of Olympic National Park in WA. Staying at Port Angeles and going on daily short trips to: Cape Flattery, Neah Bay, Hobuck Beach, Ruby Beach, Hurricane Ridge, Sol Duc Hot Springs, among other spots in beautiful Olympic National Park.

    • Jenny says...

      Adding to this — Salt Creek Recreation Area, near Lake Crescent, right in this area! It’s a county park, so often less crowded and easier to get a camp site, but still a gorgeous, scenic small beach and striking sea stack.

  141. Erin G says...

    Jo and co – do you know about the amazing Passport to Your National Parks program? (https://shop.americasnationalparks.org/store/department/30/Passport-Program/) Got my kiddo and myself a passport and we’ve started by checking off some we could drive to from our central FL location. Just even finding where to get stamped and seeing what the cancellation stamps will be is SUCH AN ADVENTURE. And, you go to parks you might not otherwise, and they always shock and delight! Highly recommend this, regardless of what other places you choose to put on your list. Also, there are Junior Ranger editions of the passport and some stops have special Junior Ranger cancellation stamps!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      so amazing!

    • Ali says...

      Glacier National Park was such a fun family vacation. Sun Valley, ID and Moab, UT are also favorites. We’re planing on a New Mexico road trip soon too.

  142. Cheryl says...

    In our family, we planned a long weekend trip “alone with dad or mom” for each of our three kids on their 13th birthday. My husband took our daughters (separately) to NYC when each turned 13 (their choice, and it’s his favorite city!) When our son turned 13, I took him on a 4-day road trip to see each of the New England states. We drove from Pennsylvania to Cooperstown, NY (gorgeous small town and home to the Baseball Hall of Fame), then travelled across the lower part of Vermont and New Hampshire to York, Maine (ate lobster rolls near the classic lighthouse!). From Maine, we traveled south to Boston (did the Fenway Park tour), then through RI and Connecticut and back to PA. We didn’t spend much time in each locale, but my son loved checking states off his list! He’s 20 now and has been to 26 states and counting.

    • teresa says...

      We have nearly 17 year old twin boys and we started the same tradition. My husband took the boys to NYC in the summer of 2018 and last spring I took them to Washington DC. We have younger daughters as well and although we do travel a lot it is hard to find things that 16 years old AND 8 and 10 year olds like to do so this way we get some one on one time and they get to do the things they are interested in.

  143. Dee says...

    The Hawaiian Islands! But second place is Pentwater, Michigan.

  144. Lauren says...

    Portland, Maine
    Portland, Oregon
    Seattle, Washington
    Monterey, California (& Big Sur)
    Jackson Hole, Wyoming
    Washington, DC
    and Western Massachusetts

    • Angela says...

      Ditto!!!

  145. Taylor says...

    I posted below but all the wonderful comments made me want to put out a suggestion for a post: Joanna please consider a “how to camp” post!

    I’m from a family that never camped, I’d love to try it but have no idea where to begin, how to figure out where or when to go, how to guarantee my kids safety while also having a good time! I’d also like to know how to….not rough it! I don’t mind a sleeping bag or a camping tent, I just don’t know how people don’t freeze! or know where it’s safe to pee! These may all be dumb questions but it’s because I truly have no idea how to camp but would really like to give it a try! So, I’d love to see a “how to camp guide for adults who love nature but have never camped” :)

    • Mary says...

      Taylor, I’m not sure if you’re located near an REI but they host classes, including ones like the Beginner’s Camping Workshop — sounds like exactly what you’d need to get out there! You may look up your nearest location and see if they’re hosting one any time soon. Best of luck!

    • Cynthia says...

      You might consider a campground if you’ve never camped before. Some have cabins you can rent, which may be a good idea to see if you really like camping.

    • Michelle says...

      Are you in an area with an REI store or Appalachian Mountain Club chapter? Both have camping classes, and REI rents equipment too!

    • Jenny says...

      If you happen to have friends that camp, see if you all can go together for a night or two! I grew up camping but as an adult don’t have all the gear and don’t want to invest in it since my husband doesn’t love camping. Once a year we rent a tent and sleeping bags from REI and camp at a local campground (they have bathhouses with toilets, a must for me!) with our dear friends who have all the other gear that they’d be taking anyway. We pitch in money and food. That would really help you see how it’s done and be a test run to see if your family enjoys it.

    • Tess says...

      Yes!!! I love this as a concept!

    • Susan says...

      My kids are both in college now, but for about 10 years, starting when the youngest was 4 we went on camping trips with 5 other families. We all had a blast. Besides enjoying each other’s company (hanging out by the campfire with the kids all snug in bed is amazing – no electronics in sight) it is so much easier when you have other adults along. We all took turns making a big dinner so everyone only had to plan for 1 night. Some people would go on a long hike with older kids while others stayed with the littles. The kids who were old enough loved, loved, loved, being able to bike around the campground together without any adults.

    • Grace says...

      I HATE tent camping: setting it up, breaking it down, backache from sleeping on the ground, it’s start blowing around in the wind at night. I think a lot of people have unpleasant camping experience when they start in a tent. I would suggest starting with a more comfortable option of a tear drop trailer, van or small RV. You can rent them at https://www.outdoorsy.com/ to try it out. It’s a more comfortable set up and many have conveniences like a mini fridge and gas burner.

      My husband and I did a month long road trip testing out a friend’s tear drop trailer (what an incredibly kind and generous guy) and loved it so much we bought our own. Good luck!

    • jane says...

      A great way to start is to rent a trailer camper or RV. You don’t need the gigantic bus versions – just a simple pop-up trailer or a camper van/sprinter outfitted for sleeping and basic cooking – some of those even have a shower! Campers are my favorite over tents. Tents are for really roughing it, which can be totally fun if you’re prepared and you’ll almost never be fully prepared which is the point of tents. In general camping instills resilience, a skill I’ve decided to take pleasure in continually refining, ha . . .

      I agree: a post on ‘how to camp’ is a great idea because otherwise I could write a book here in this comment lol. I LOVE camping trips!

  146. Sarah says...

    I can’t recommend Big Bend National Park (State Park just west of it, too) enough! I just returned from a trip that feels life-changing. All melodrama aside, it’s one of the least visited parks in the United States and has such stunning features. BBNP feels like the ultimate manifestation of Texas: an expansive place that is able to hold seeming contradictions together. Rivers, canyons, desert, mountains, forests! If you’re up for it, traveling on the Rio Grande gives you an experience of the park few have (I highly recommend using Far Flung Adventures Outfitters to either organize a tour or a shuttle service if you’re paddling on your own.) The trip just to get the park is memorable and worth it, too.

    • jules says...

      Sarah – where did you fly in and stay? My husband has been wanting to do this for so long but I’m so afraid of getting hurt out there in the desert and not having anyone near to help!

  147. Alexis says...

    Santa Fe, NM! It is stunning. And then anywhere in northern NM—Georgia O’Keeffe country in particular.

  148. Sarah says...

    Winter Park, Florida. The most adorable small town surprisingly in the middle of central Florida. The town has one of the best main streets I’ve seen in America, a system of canals that connect a chain of lakes, windy brick roads and moss hanging oak trees are everywhere. The architecture feels like Santa Barbara and there are so some gorgeous estates. Home to one of the prettiest campuses of Rollins College and minutes away from all of the tourist attractions in Orlando but theres no need to venture there. – Also, Rhode Island (Most surprising of all the NE), the Pacific Northwest, and New Orleans for the culture. For reference.. we live in Colorado which has some charms in itself!