Best USA Travel
Boondocking / Dry Camping, Off the Beaten Path Series, RV Camping, Travel Destinations & Stories

Summer Bliss: A Detailed, Ultimate 21 Destinations Across the USA for Your Ultimate Adventure

Are you ready to hit the road and experience the best summer in the USA? Traveling in an RV opens up a world of possibilities, allowing you to explore stunning landscapes, iconic attractions, and hidden gems at your own pace. However, even if you’re not in an RV, you’ll find this list quite detailed with favorite places and definite “do not miss” destinations. Whether you’re seeking sandy beaches, mountain adventures, or cultural immersion, we’ve compiled a list of the top 21 places to visit in the USA during the summer. Get ready to make memories that will last a lifetime!

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming:

This was absolutely one of our very favorite places to visit.

Yellowstone National Park

Witness the geysers, hot springs, and wildlife that make Yellowstone a must-visit destination for nature lovers.

Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming:

It is a great summer destination! Grand Teton National Park, in northwestern Wyoming, is a captivating wilderness sanctuary renowned for its towering mountain peaks, pristine alpine lakes, and abundant wildlife. Encompassing over 300,000 acres of rugged terrain, the park boasts the iconic Teton Range, which dominates the skyline with its jagged summits and dramatic vistas.

Visitors can explore many outdoor activities, including hiking, wildlife viewing, fishing, and scenic drives along the park’s picturesque roads. With its stunning landscapes and rich natural diversity, Grand Teton National Park offers an unforgettable escape into the heart of the Rocky Mountains.

Acadia National Park, Maine:

Spanning over 49,000 acres on Mount Desert Island and surrounding areas, this coastal gem is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. Visitors can explore scenic trails that wind through lush woodlands, leading to panoramic viewpoints such as Cadillac Mountain, the highest peak on the East Coast. Dramatic cliffs and pristine beaches along the park’s coastline offer opportunities for leisurely strolls and breathtaking ocean views. With its rich biodiversity and stunning natural beauty, Acadia National Park promises an unforgettable adventure in the heart of New England. Here are some more amazing things to see in Maine!

Cape Cod, Massachusetts:

Here are our top 3 places you shouldn’t miss in Cape Cob:

  1. Cape Cod National Seashore: Stretching 40 miles of pristine coastline, Cape Cod National Seashore is a natural treasure, offering sandy beaches, rolling dunes, and picturesque lighthouses. Visitors can explore hiking trails, enjoy swimming and sunbathing, and marvel at the breathtaking vistas of the Atlantic Ocean. Don’t miss iconic spots like Race Point Beach, Marconi Beach, and the Highland Light.
  2. Provincetown: Known for its vibrant arts scene, eclectic atmosphere, and stunning natural beauty, Provincetown is a must-visit destination on Cape Cod. Stroll down Commercial Street, lined with art galleries, boutiques, and restaurants. Explore the historic Provincetown Museum and climb the Pilgrim Monument for panoramic views of the town and surrounding landscape. Enjoy whale-watching excursions and sunset cruises, or relax on the town’s beautiful beaches.
  3. Chatham: With its quaint downtown area, historic architecture, and picturesque harbor, Chatham is a charming seaside town that encapsulates the quintessential Cape Cod experience. Visit Chatham Lighthouse Beach for stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean and the iconic lighthouse. Explore Chatham’s Main Street, which has boutique shops, art galleries, and seafood restaurants. Don’t miss the Chatham Fish Pier, where you can watch fishing boats come and go while enjoying fresh seafood straight from the ocean.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee & North Carolina:

Discover cascading waterfalls, scenic hiking trails, and historic homesteads in the Smokies. Definitely make plans to stay longer than one or two days, but there are our two favorite destinations if you only just have a day or two:

  1. Clingmans Dome: Standing 6,643 feet (2,025 meters), Clingmans Dome is the highest peak in the Great Smoky Mountains and offers unparalleled panoramic views of the surrounding mountain ranges. Visitors can drive or hike to the summit, where a half-mile paved trail leads to an observation tower. From the tower, you can marvel at the vast expanse of forested mountains stretching as far as the eye can see. Clingmans Dome is particularly breathtaking at sunrise or sunset when the misty mountains are bathed in golden light.
  2. Cades Cove: Nestled in a picturesque valley surrounded by mountains, Cades Cove is a historic and scenic area within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Visitors can explore the cove via an 11-mile loop road, which offers opportunities for wildlife viewing, picnicking, hiking, and exploring historic homesteads and churches dating back to the 19th century. Cades Cove is renowned for its abundant wildlife, including white-tailed deer, black bears, turkeys, and various bird species. It’s also a popular spot for capturing stunning sunrise and sunset views against the backdrop of the Smokies.

Glacier National Park, Montana:

We spent the entire summer in Montana in 2018. What an incredible state. Drive the Going-to-the-Sun Road and soak in the breathtaking beauty of glaciers, mountains, and lakes. Make sure you do some research. The year we were there, this scenic drive didn’t even open until July 4th weekend.

Pacific Coast Highway, California:

I was born and raised just a minute outside of Malibu, and the PCH was something I took for granted until I was older. Embark on a coastal road trip, winding through rugged cliffs, sandy beaches, and charming coastal towns. I highly recommend the northern drive of PCH, but it’s all beautiful!

Lake Tahoe, California & Nevada:

Swim, hike, or simply relax by the crystal-clear waters of this stunning alpine lake. Here are our top 3 places to see near Lake Tahoe:

Sand Harbor State Park
  1. Emerald Bay State Park: Emerald Bay is one of the most photographed and iconic spots in Lake Tahoe, famed for its brilliant turquoise waters and stunning scenery. Visitors can hike the Rubicon Trail for panoramic views of the bay and surrounding mountains or explore the historic Vikingsholm Castle, a Scandinavian-style mansion nestled along the shoreline. For a truly unforgettable experience, take a kayak or paddleboard out onto the tranquil waters of Emerald Bay and soak in the beauty of this natural wonder.
  2. Heavenly Mountain Resort: Whether visiting in winter for world-class skiing and snowboarding or in summer for hiking and mountain biking, Heavenly Mountain Resort offers year-round adventure and breathtaking views of Lake Tahoe. Ride the Heavenly Gondola to the summit, where you’ll be treated to panoramic vistas of the lake and surrounding peaks. In winter, hit the slopes on over 97 trails spanning two states, while in summer, visitors can enjoy hiking, zip-lining, and mountain coaster rides.
  3. Sand Harbor State Park: Located on the northeastern shore of Lake Tahoe, Sand Harbor is renowned for its pristine sandy beaches, crystal-clear waters, and towering rock formations. Relax on the beach, swim in the cool waters, or explore the underwater world while snorkeling or scuba diving. The park also offers picnic areas, hiking trails, and paddleboarding, kayaking, and boating opportunities. Don’t miss the annual Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival, held at Sand Harbor each summer, featuring outdoor theater performances against the backdrop of the lake.

Outer Banks, North Carolina:

Enjoy endless beaches, historic lighthouses, and fresh seafood on these barrier islands.

One favorite thing not to miss when visiting the Outer Banks, North Carolina, is witnessing the majestic wild horses that roam freely along the beaches and dunes of the area. These feral horses, known as the Corolla wild horses, are believed to be descendants of Spanish mustangs brought to the Outer Banks by early explorers in the 16th century. Seeing the wild horses of the Outer Banks is an unforgettable experience that captures the spirit of this coastal paradise and provides a glimpse into its rich natural heritage.

Cape Flattery, Washington:

We made a 15-minute decision to change our plans and head here with some friends. Best decision ever!

Cape Flattery, located in the northwesternmost corner of the contiguous United States in Washington State, is a rugged and enchanting promontory that offers breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean. As the northwesternmost point of the Olympic Peninsula, Cape Flattery is renowned for its dramatic sea stacks, pristine coastal scenery, and abundant wildlife.

Visitors to Cape Flattery can follow a short, well-maintained trail that winds through lush coastal forest and emerges onto wooden boardwalks and viewing platforms overlooking the rugged coastline. Visitors can admire the crashing waves, towering sea stacks, and expansive ocean vistas that characterize this remote and wild landscape from these vantage points.

One of the highlights of a visit to Cape Flattery is the opportunity to see the Tatoosh Island lighthouse, perched on a rocky islet just offshore. Built in 1857, this historic lighthouse adds to the allure of the rugged coastline and reminds visitors of the area’s maritime heritage.

Cape Flattery is also a prime spot for wildlife viewing, with opportunities to spot sea birds, seals, and even whales offshore. The area is rich in Native American history and culture, with interpretive signs along the trail providing insights into the traditions and significance of the Makah Tribe, who have inhabited the region for thousands of years.

For those seeking adventure and natural beauty, Cape Flattery offers a truly immersive experience in the wild and untamed beauty of the Pacific Northwest.

Sedona, Arizona:

Watch the summer temps, but this is such a spiritual and beautiful place to visit! Immerse yourself in Sedona’s stunning red rock landscapes, vibrant arts scene, and spiritual energy.

Adirondack Mountains, New York:

Here are our top 3 must-see places:

  1. Adirondack High Peaks: The towering peaks of the Adirondack High Peaks offer some of the most breathtaking vistas in the region. Hiking to the summits of peaks like Mount Marcy, Algonquin Peak, and Cascade Mountain rewards visitors with sweeping panoramic views of the surrounding mountains, valleys, and shimmering lakes. The rugged beauty of the High Peaks Wilderness Area is truly awe-inspiring and provides ample opportunities for outdoor adventure and exploration.
  2. Mirror Lake: Nestled in the heart of the village of Lake Placid, Mirror Lake is a serene and picturesque body of water surrounded by verdant forests and the majestic Adirondack Mountains. The lake’s calm waters create a perfect mirror-like reflection of the surrounding scenery, making it a popular spot for photography, boating, and strolls along the scenic shoreline. Visitors can also enjoy swimming, paddleboarding, and kayaking in the crystal-clear waters of Mirror Lake, taking in the stunning views of the surrounding mountains.
  3. Adirondack Scenic Railroad: For a unique and memorable way to experience the beauty of the Adirondack Mountains, hop aboard the Adirondack Scenic Railroad. This historic railroad offers scenic train rides through the pristine wilderness of the Adirondacks, passing by sparkling lakes, dense forests, and charming mountain towns along the way. Whether you’re enjoying a leisurely ride on the open-air car or dining in style aboard the luxury dome car, the Adirondack Scenic Railroad provides an unforgettable journey through some of the most scenic landscapes in the region.

Door County, Wisconsin:

Experience the charm of this peninsula, with cherry orchards, lighthouses, and scenic shoreline. We highly recommend not missing these two places:

  1. Peninsula State Park: Covering over 3,700 acres of pristine wilderness along the shores of Green Bay, Peninsula State Park is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. Visitors can explore miles of hiking and biking trails that wind through dense forests, along scenic bluffs, and past tranquil shoreline. The park also features a picturesque lighthouse, stunning viewpoints, and sandy beaches perfect for swimming and picnicking. Don’t miss the opportunity to catch a breathtaking sunset over the bay from the park’s Sunset Bike Trail or Eagle Tower.
  2. Fish Creek: Nestled along the shores of Green Bay, Fish Creek is a charming village known for its scenic beauty, historic buildings, and vibrant arts scene. Visitors can stroll along the town’s picturesque streets with quaint shops, art galleries, and cozy cafes. Don’t miss the chance to explore Fish Creek’s waterfront park, where you can enjoy stunning views of the bay, take a scenic boat tour, or relax on the sandy beach. Fish Creek is also home to the renowned Peninsula Players Theatre, one of the oldest professional resident summer theaters in the United States, offering top-notch performances in a stunning outdoor setting.

Columbia River Gorge, Oregon & Washington:

This is so far down on the list – but one of our favorite destinations when traveling in our RV. Discover waterfalls, hiking trails, and breathtaking views along the Columbia River.

I’m such a waterfall nut, and the amount of waterfalls you can experience is just incredible. Here are just a few of my favorites:

  1. Multnomah Falls: Multnomah Falls is the most iconic waterfall in the Columbia River Gorge and one of the most famous waterfalls in the United States. Plunging a total of 620 feet in two major steps, Multnomah Falls is a sight to behold. The upper fall drops 542 feet and the lower fall cascades 69 feet, creating a breathtaking scene surrounded by lush greenery and basalt cliffs. Visitors can enjoy views of the falls from the viewing platform or hike to the Benson Bridge, which spans the lower falls and offers a closer look at the cascade.
  2. Latourell Falls: Latourell Falls is known for its unique and striking appearance, with a single plunge that drops 249 feet over a basalt cliff. What sets Latourell Falls apart is the surrounding landscape, characterized by vibrant yellow lichen-covered rocks that contrast beautifully with the rushing waters. Visitors can view the falls from a platform just a short walk from the parking area, making it easily accessible for all visitors.
  3. Bridal Veil Falls: (I swear every state has a Bridal Veil Falls Ha!) Bridal Veil Falls is another gem of the Columbia River Gorge, with a delicate cascade that resembles a bridal veil as it tumbles 120 feet down a moss-covered basalt cliff. The falls can be viewed from a platform along the Historic Columbia River Highway, offering a picturesque vantage point of the cascade framed by lush vegetation. Visitors can also hike to the base of the falls for a closer look and enjoy the tranquil atmosphere of the surrounding forest.

Mackinac Island, Michigan:

Step back in time on this car-free island, known for its Victorian architecture, fudge shops, and horse-drawn carriages. Here are two things you shouldn’t miss:

  1. Mackinac Island State Park: Covering over 80% of the island, Mackinac Island State Park is a natural playground offering stunning scenery, hiking trails, and historic landmarks. Visitors can explore miles of hiking and biking trails that wind through lush forests, along rugged coastline, and past scenic overlooks with panoramic views of Lake Huron. Don’t miss the chance to visit iconic sites within the park, such as Arch Rock, Sugar Loaf, and Fort Holmes, which offer glimpses into the island’s rich history and natural beauty.
  2. Historic Downtown Mackinac: Step back in time as you explore the charming streets and historic buildings of downtown Mackinac. Stroll along Main Street, lined with quaint shops, art galleries, and Victorian-era architecture. Don’t miss the chance to visit historic sites such as Fort Mackinac, a military outpost dating back to the American Revolution, and the Grand Hotel, a historic luxury resort known for its iconic porch and sweeping views of the Straits of Mackinac. Be sure to indulge in some fudge, a local delicacy, at one of the island’s famed fudge shops.

Mount Rainier National Park, Washington:

Hike among wildflowers, glaciers, and towering peaks in this iconic national park. Just have a couple days to explore? We highly recommend not missing these two places:

  1. Paradise: Paradise is perhaps the most iconic destination in Mount Rainier National Park, renowned for its breathtaking views of the mountain, wildflower meadows, and alpine landscapes. Visitors can explore a network of hiking trails that wind through subalpine forests and meadows, offering opportunities to spot wildlife and marvel at stunning vistas of Mount Rainier and the surrounding peaks. Don’t miss the Paradise Jackson Visitor Center, where you can learn about the park’s geology, flora, and fauna through exhibits and ranger-led programs. In the summer, Paradise is a popular spot for wildflower viewing, while winter visitors can enjoy snowshoeing and cross-country skiing amid snow-capped landscapes.
  2. Sunrise: Situated on the eastern side of Mount Rainier, Sunrise is the highest point accessible by car in the park and offers spectacular views of the mountain, meadows, and surrounding valleys. Visitors can take in panoramic vistas from the Sunrise Visitor Center, explore a variety of hiking trails ranging from easy strolls to challenging ascents, and enjoy the tranquility of this alpine wilderness. Don’t miss the chance to hike to Shadow Lake or Burroughs Mountain for stunning views of the Emmons Glacier and surrounding peaks. Sunrise is also a prime spot for sunrise and sunset photography, with the mountain glowing in shades of pink and orange against the backdrop of the Cascade Range.

Asheville, North Carolina:

Explore the vibrant arts scene, craft breweries, and scenic beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Here are three of our top must see places while you’re there:

  1. Biltmore Estate: The Biltmore Estate is America’s largest privately-owned home and one of Asheville’s most iconic attractions. Built by George Vanderbilt in the late 19th century, this magnificent chateau-style mansion features 250 rooms, including a stunning banquet hall, library, and indoor swimming pool. Visitors can explore the meticulously landscaped gardens, stroll through the manicured grounds, and enjoy guided tours of the house and estate. Don’t miss the chance to sample award-winning wines at the Biltmore Winery, located on the estate grounds.
  2. Blue Ridge Parkway: The Blue Ridge Parkway is a scenic highway that winds through the Appalachian Mountains, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding landscapes, forests, and valleys. Visitors can drive along the parkway, stopping at scenic overlooks, hiking trails, and historical sites along the way. Don’t miss the chance to hike to waterfalls like Looking Glass Falls or take in panoramic vistas from spots like Craggy Gardens or Mount Pisgah. The Blue Ridge Parkway is also renowned for its fall foliage, with vibrant colors blanketing the mountainsides in autumn.
  3. Downtown Asheville: Downtown Asheville is a vibrant hub of art, culture, and culinary delights, with an eclectic mix of shops, galleries, restaurants, and breweries. Visitors can stroll along the streets lined with historic buildings, admire colorful murals and street art, and explore unique boutiques and artisanal shops. Don’t miss the chance to visit the Asheville Art Museum, which showcases contemporary and regional art, or take a guided walking tour to learn about the city’s history and architecture. Foodies will delight in Asheville’s diverse culinary scene, which features everything from farm-to-table restaurants to global cuisine and local craft breweries.

Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado:

Awww Colorado! It has such a special place in our hearts. Of all the states we visited during our seven years of RV travel, Colorado was on the top of the list. Discover alpine meadows, sparkling lakes, and towering peaks in this Colorado gem.

  1. Trail Ridge Road: Trail Ridge Road is one of the most scenic drives in the United States, traversing the high alpine terrain of Rocky Mountain National Park. Stretching for 48 miles between Estes Park and Grand Lake, this scenic byway offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains, valleys, and forests. Along the way, visitors can stop at overlooks, hiking trails, and visitor centers to take in the stunning vistas and learn about the park’s natural and cultural history.
  2. Bear Lake: Bear Lake is one of the most popular destinations in Rocky Mountain National Park, renowned for its crystal-clear waters, surrounding mountain peaks, and scenic hiking trails. Visitors can take a leisurely stroll around the lake on the Bear Lake Loop Trail, which offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape and opportunities for wildlife viewing. Don’t miss the chance to explore nearby trails like the Emerald Lake Trail or the Dream Lake Trail, which lead to other picturesque alpine lakes and waterfalls.
  3. Hiking to the Alpine Tundra: Rocky Mountain National Park is home to some of the most breathtaking alpine scenery in the United States, and hiking to the alpine tundra is a must-do activity for outdoor enthusiasts. Popular hikes include the Ute Trail, which offers sweeping views of the surrounding mountains and valleys, and the Flattop Mountain Trail, which leads to the summit of Flattop Mountain and offers panoramic vistas of the Continental Divide.
  4. Moraine Park: Moraine Park is a picturesque valley in the heart of Rocky Mountain National Park, known for its lush meadows, meandering streams, and abundant wildlife. Visitors can explore the valley on scenic drives or hiking trails, keeping an eye out for elk, deer, and other animals that frequent the area. Moraine Park is also a popular spot for picnicking, birdwatching, and photography, especially during the fall when the aspen trees turn brilliant shades of gold and orange.
  5. The Continental Divide: The Continental Divide runs through Rocky Mountain National Park, marking the line between the Atlantic and Pacific watersheds. Visitors can experience this iconic geological feature by hiking along trails like the Continental Divide Trail or driving to scenic overlooks like Milner Pass or the Alpine Visitor Center. From these vantage points, you can enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys and marvel at the natural beauty of this pristine wilderness area.

Cumberland Island, Georgia:

Camp on pristine beaches, hike through maritime forests and spot wild horses on this secluded barrier island. Our top must-see places are:

  1. Dungeness Ruins: The Dungeness Ruins are the remnants of a once-grand mansion built by Thomass Carnegie, brother of industrialist Andrew Carnegie, in the late 19th century. The mansion was destroyed by fire in 1959, but the ruins remain a haunting reminder of the island’s Gilded Age past. Visitors can explore the ruins, which are surrounded by lush maritime forests and overlook the Cumberland River and salt marshes. Don’t miss the chance to stroll along the trails near Dungeness Beach and spot wild horses grazing in the nearby fields.
  2. Cumberland Island Beaches: Cumberland Island is home to over 17 miles of pristine beaches, making it a paradise for beach lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. Visitors can relax on the soft white sand, swim in the warm waters of the Atlantic Ocean, and explore the shoreline for shells, driftwood, and other treasures. Some of the most popular beaches on Cumberland Island include Sea Camp Beach, which is accessible via ferry from the mainland, and Stafford Beach, which offers stunning views of the island’s dunes and maritime forests. Beachcombing, birdwatching, and wildlife viewing are popular activities on Cumberland Island’s beaches, where visitors can spot dolphins, shorebirds, and sea turtles in their natural habitat.

Newport, Rhode Island:

Tour historic mansions, stroll along the scenic Cliff Walk, and indulge in fresh seafood in this coastal New England town. One top place to see in Newport, Rhode Island, is the historic Newport Mansions, particularly The Breakers. The Breakers is a stunning Gilded Age mansion built by the Vanderbilt family in the late 19th century. This magnificent mansion features opulent architecture, lavish interiors, and breathtaking ocean views. Visitors can explore the grand rooms, manicured gardens, and grounds, gaining insight into the luxurious lifestyle of America’s wealthiest families during the turn of the century. The Breakers offers guided tours and self-guided audio tours, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the fascinating history and architectural splendor of this iconic Newport landmark.

Olympic National Park, Washington:

Explore rainforests, rugged coastlines, and alpine meadows in this diverse national park. It was hard to gather a list of favorites, but here are a few things that made our top list:

  1. Hurricane Ridge: Hurricane Ridge is one of the most popular destinations in Olympic National Park, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. Visitors can drive or take a shuttle bus to the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center, where they can enjoy panoramic vistas, hike scenic trails, and observe wildlife such as deer, marmots, and Olympic marmots. In winter, Hurricane Ridge is a popular spot for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and sledding.
  2. Hoh Rainforest: The Hoh Rainforest is one of the largest temperate rainforests in the United States and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors can explore moss-draped trees, lush ferns, and cascading waterfalls along the Hoh River Trail, which offers a glimpse into this unique and pristine ecosystem. Don’t miss the Hall of Mosses Trail, a short loop trail that winds through ancient trees covered in vibrant green mosses and ferns.
  3. Ruby Beach: Ruby Beach is one of the most iconic and picturesque beaches in Olympic National Park, known for its rugged sea stacks, tide pools, and stunning sunsets. Visitors can explore tide pools teeming with marine life, stroll along the sandy shoreline, and marvel at the towering rock formations and sea stacks rising from the surf. Ruby Beach is also a popular spot for beachcombing, photography, and wildlife viewing, with opportunities to spot offshore seabirds, seals, and even whales.
  4. Lake Crescent: Lake Crescent is a stunning glacially carved lake known for its crystal-clear waters, scenic beauty, and outdoor recreation opportunities. Visitors can swim, kayak, paddleboard, or fish in the lake’s pristine waters, which are surrounded by lush forests and towering peaks. Don’t miss the chance to take a scenic drive along Highway 101, which winds along the shores of Lake Crescent and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.

Whew! If you’re still here – Thank you! With this detailed list of summer travel destinations, you’re all set to plan the ultimate summer adventure in the USA. Whether you’re chasing outdoor thrills, coastal bliss, or cultural experiences, these 21 places offer something for every traveler. So pack your bags, hit the road, and get ready to create memories that will last a lifetime. Happy travels!

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Off the Beaten Path Series, Travel Destinations & Stories

Off the Beaten Path in Oregon – Our Top Hidden Gems!

As full-time RV’ers, we travel and see a lot. This is part of our Opting Out of Normal series where we explore the “Off the Beaten Path” of every state. We love the big popular stuff like everyone else, but there is just something incredible about discovering something unique, different, and maybe a little “off the beaten path”. We certainly can’t explore them all, but we’d love you to include your favorites below too. Each series will include at least 1 epic boondocking area, some complete with pictures and all with GPS coordinates. 

Oregon is … simply put … EYE CANDY. If you blow through Oregon fast, this is one state you’re really missing some phenomenal things. Spend some time here! You won’t regret it. The Oregon Coast is one of the most amazing drives in itself. Make sure you spend some time driving the coast if you can. 

Some of the popular things in this state, I still have to highly recommend. Have you seen Thor’s Well or hike around Crater Lake? The Columbia River Gorge with the Multnomah Falls looks so picture-perfect, it’s almost fake! Cannon Beach and Mt. Hood National Forest are definitely the more popular things not to miss. But that’s not why you’re here! Let’s get to the Off the Beaten Path stuff!


Here are our pick’s for the unique and different finds.


Sea Lion Cave

Located 11 miles north of Florence on U.S. Highway 101 – The Sea Lion Caves along the Pacific coast in Oregon are a connected system of caverns where Steller’s sea lions (also known as northern sea lions) gather every spring and summer to breed and give birth to a new generation.

If you arrive and see no sea lions, it’s still a really cool place to see. At sea level, the ocean continually washes into the main chamber of the caves. The walls of the cavern are stained with a rainbow of colors because of the lichens and algae that grow in the dark, wet space.

Painted Hills

An unusual combination of a brutal high-desert climate mixed with the gentler lowland environment creates a setting for one of the most scenic landscapes in Oregon. Turn north to Burnt Ranch Road from Route 26 in Oregon, and it is impossible to miss them. This reminded us of South Dakota’s “Bad Lands” area. 

Octopus Tree of Oregon

Located in Tillamook – The Octopus Tree is believed to be around 300 years old. The tree itself extends from a central base that is nearly 50 feet around, and instead of shooting straight up with a central trunk, the body of the tree splits into a number of smaller trunks. The bizarre arbor has long been an attraction but the origins of its odd shape are up for debate.  

The Wreck of Peter Iredale

100-year-old shipwreck you can walk up to at low tide. The Peter Iredale was a four-masted steel barque sailing vessel that ran ashore on October 25, 1906, on the Oregon coast en route to the Columbia River. It was abandoned on Clatsop Spit near Fort Stevens in Warrenton about four miles (6 km) south of the Columbia River channel.

The wreckage is still visible. Take SW 9th Street West from Warrenton proper and turn north on NW Ridge Road. Turn left/west onto Peter Iredale Road and follow it all the way to the beach, where there is a lot of parking about 200 yards from the wreck.

Crack In The Ground

MEcrackrock

I’m guessing coming up with a name wasn’t top on the priority list for this. Ha! This volcanic fissure is over two miles long and up to 70 feet deep – Simply called Crack in the Ground. There are 2 places in my travels I have found where I feel the most peace. Peace with everything and a calmness comes over me that it’s just hard to explain. Those two places are walking through a slot canyon, and next to a waterfall. Some people love the beach, I’m more of a waterfall girl. This crack in the ground is really amazing to walk through. It’s like a slot canyon and really is something to see. It’s over two miles long and up to 70 feet deep. If you can’t walk the whole thing, at least step inside a few feet of it if you can. It is located in the Deschutes National Forest. Hikers can walk the length of the main crack and explore its tributaries.

Airplane Home

Airplane

If you’ve followed along, you know how much I love strange homes and mystery castles with a story. Well … how about Airplane Home in the Woods? This man lives in a converted Boeing 727 parked out back. The aircraft’s owner, Bruce Campbell has been living in the airplane for six months each year since purchasing the plane in 1999 for $100,000. Equipped with water, electricity, and sewage plus 1,066 square feet of interior space, Campbell’s airplane home is pretty plush for all its eccentricities. This private residence is on private property, so check out his website for a tour if you’re interested. Campbell is happy to offer tours of his airplane in the woods.  Email: bruce@AirplaneHome.com

Elowah Falls Bridge

Elowah Falls (also called McCord Creek Falls). This reminds me of The Hobbit. Ha! I am sure you’ll feel the same way when you check it out. It’s on our list of places to see! So if you get there first, send me a picture or 5. Ha! If you allow us to post the pictures, I’ll give you credit!

2021 Update! One of our readers sent us this beautiful picture of Elorah Falls Bridge. Thank you to Holly for this picture, and you can follow her on Instagram @adventureswithholly. I highly recommend following her. She has some amazing and beautiful places to explore, not to mention incredible photography!!

Photo By Holly – IG: @adventureswithholly

Pillars of Rome

Located in Malheur County you will find these awesome and unique rock formations. Driving on Highway 95 South to Rome, then go west from Rome station the south for a little over a mile and you can’t miss this. Millions of years of weather erosion have given us an amazing sight to see. 

Natural Bridges Cove

Located on Hwy 101 along the southern Oregon coast, it holds many interesting natural wonders, including Natural Bridges Cove. Just before the CA border, there is the town of Brookings. This cover is just a couple of miles north of that. Just breathtaking. 

Salt Creek Falls

I mentioned my love of waterfalls, right? Salt Creek Falls is one of 7 Waterfall Wonders in the Eugene, Cascades & Coast Region. Cascading 286 feet, Salt Creek Falls is one of Southern Oregon’s most powerful falls. A steep trail from the platform to the waterfall’s base is short but is not wheelchair accessible due to numerous stairs. The best viewpoint is halfway down this path. Salt Creek Falls Observation Site is 23 miles southeast of Oakridge and approximately 5 miles west of Willamette Pass. From Highway 58 look for the signs, turn onto Forest Service Road 5893, and follow the signs.

UPDATE! We visited the Oregon Coast this summer and found more for you!

Yaquina Bay Lighthouse

Have you been to the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse? We visited this really unique lighthouse, with a really great story! Take the tour! It’s free! The beautiful scenery around it, is just as amazing.

Oh … A little advice!! Traveling down the Oregon Coast? Don’t feed the sea birds. Even if he or she looks you in the eyes, begs and promises to be alone. Don’t ask us how we know that!! If you decide your story will be different, don’t say we didn’t warn you! Ha!!!

Looking for RV camping in Oregon? Click the button below where we share all our free boondocking plus paid campground and membership camping areas.

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We hope you find value in our information! Thank you for checking out our website, and please share your favorite Off The Beaten Path places with us! We’d love to hear from you!

Boondocking / Dry Camping, Off the Beaten Path Series, Travel Destinations & Stories

Off the Beaten Path in Wyoming. Our Top Hidden Gems!

As full-time RV’ers, we travel and see a lot. This is part of our Opting Out of Normal series where we explore the “Off the Beaten Path” of every state. We love the big popular stuff like everyone else, but there is just something incredible about discovering something unique, different, and maybe a little “off the beaten path”. We certainly can’t explore them all, but we’d love you to include your favorites below, too. Each series will include a link to all the amazing free places we have stayed. And there is no shortage in Wyoming!

Hell’s Half Acre

Located 40 miles west of Casper. This geologic curiosity comprises of deep crevasses, caves, rock formations, and hard-packed eroded earth. Even though it’s called Half Acre, it’s actually over 300 acres of mysterious beauty. 

Travertine Terraces at Mammoth Hot Springs

This place is incredible! I know I say that a lot, but our country just amazes me, and though this place is possibly on the border of being popular if you go at the end of summer, it’s quiet and peaceful.

mammoth-50102_1280

  It’s ever-changing and one of those things that make you feel you’re on another planet. 

Smith Mansion

Ok, so you all know I love castles or strange houses, but mostly I love the history behind them, which is usually kind of mysterious and bizarre. This is no exception. Wyoming’s Smith Mansion has many rumors surrounding it, but the truth is that it is simply the work of a man who could not stop building.

Smith1me

I’ll let you read this interesting, strange story and the myths surrounding it today. Location: 2902 North Fork Highway, Cody, Wyoming, 82414 TIP: There is a RV Park so close to Smith Mansion, you could probably walk. 

Buford, Wyoming

Buford

Buford is the smallest town in the United States. Just fun to drive through to take a picture of the sign. Don’t forget to check out “Tree in the Rock”. The population is 1. 

Intermittent Spring

Located at the foot of a mountain just outside of Afton, Wyoming, Intermittent Spring (otherwise known as the Periodic Spring), is one of only three springs of its kind in the world that start and stop every few minutes for a reason science can only speculate on.

Researchers have not pinpointed exactly what causes the surprisingly regular ebb and flow of the spring, but they believe it has to do with an underground siphon effect. The water at the spring site is said to flow for 18 minutes straight before stopping for another 18 minutes. TIP: Follow the signs to the gravel road and drive 5 miles up. Hike an amazing 3/4 mile hike to the spring. Wear comfortable walking shoes.

Don’t forget to explore the more popular things too. They are never less beautiful or less amazing. We love to travel to these more popular places, too. But we tend to do it more off-season and during the weekdays because we can! Wyoming has endless beauty. 

Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area

Highly recommend exploring The Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area. And of course the National Parks! Our country is breathtaking. This is a more popular place, but it was worth a mention!

World’s Largest Hotsprings

Thermopolisme

Located in the town of Thermopolis, you can find the breathtaking hot springs. The Hot Springs are located at 168 Tepee Street.

Wind River Canyon Scenic Byway

Yes, you can drive through the three tunnels with your RV in tow. The tunnels are 14 feet high. So know your height, but most RV’s can make just fine! It’s definitely worth the drive! The Wind River Canyon Scenic Byway begins in the town of Shoshoni at milepost 100. Following U.S. 20 north through Wind River Canyon and the Wind River Indian Reservation, the route ends just north of the city of Thermopolis at milepost 134. Without stopping, the total drive time is about 40 minutes. 

Thank you for visiting our little corner of the internet. Let us know some of your favorite hidden gems in Wyoming! We’d love to hear from you!

Check out our amazing free camping in Wyoming! Click the button below!

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Boondocking / Dry Camping, Off the Beaten Path Series, Travel Destinations & Stories

Off the Beaten Path in South Carolina. 8 Hidden Gems you Shouldn’t Miss!

If this is your first time here – WELCOME! If not, welcome back!! As full-time RV’ers, we travel and see a lot. This is part of our Opting Out of Normal series, where we explore the hidden treasures in every state. Exploring the big popular attractions is something we love too! But there is something incredible about discovering something unique and different and taking that road less traveled. We certainly can’t explore them all, so we’d love you to share your own stories off the beaten path with us. Each blog will include at least one epic boondocking area with GPS coordinates.

CHECK OUT OUR VIDEO BELOW OF THE SANTEE COASTAL RESERVE!

Tunnel-Vision – Columbia

Inspired by a dream, an artist in South Carolina created the mural known as Tunnel-Vision to create the illusion of a road to another world. It is painted on a large blank wall that joins a downtown Columbia parking lot. At 50 X 75 feet large, the painting shows a portal to a world under a different moon, which, if it were real, would be large enough to drive a large car through. The painting creates an optical illusion of depth, and thanks to repeated additions and touch-ups by the artist over the years, the scene does not seem to fade but actually improves.

The Busted Plug – you can turn around from the Tunnel-Vision wall of art and see this. “Busted Plug Plaza” is among Sky’s most widely recognized and impressive works. And was created by the same artist. Four stories in height and weighing 675,000 pounds, it is located on Taylor St., between Marion and Bull St. If you like interesting art as much as we do, check these out. In the picture here, you can see the Tunnel Vision on the right. They share a parking lot. So you get to see both within a short walk across the parking lot.

Location for both: Taylor and Marion Streets

Caesars Head State Park – Cleveland (Devil’s Kitchen)

Are you visiting Cleveland? Head over to this beautiful state park. Nestled on the Blue Ridge Mountains, Caesars Head State Park is known for its spectacular views of the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area and is named for a granite rock formation located at the top of a long, steep slope. Caesars Head rock passes through another intriguingly named geological curiosity, a narrow passageway between two giant rocks called “Devils Kitchen.” When the trail reaches Devil’s Kitchen, a set of stairs descends deep down into the rocky gap, which is just wide enough for a person to pass through.

The formation was created thousands of years ago as water on the mountain froze and expanded, causing the rock to crack open from the pressure. Shortly after passing through the Devil’s Kitchen, the trail arrives at a small overlook offering a panoramic view of Caesar’s Head rock formation. The trail through Devils Kitchen is an easy hike just a short distance from the Visitor Center to the Caesars Head overlook, however, walking through the crack in the rocks requires descending a fairly steep set of stairs.

Horseback Waterfall Tour

This is a one-of-a-kind experience. You can make arrangements for the Horseback Waterfall Tour out of Pickens, SC, on their website. You will be amazed and delighted to tour South Carolina’s incredible waterfalls on horseback. Because you will be so close to the border, you will also see waterfalls just over the state line in North Carolina! A photographer is along every ride to capture priceless moments, too. This is the only horseback waterfall tour in South Carolina. It books up way in advance, so reservations are a must. Must be age ten and over to ride. We didn’t take this tour, but so many people talk about it! Did you go on this tour? If so, share your experience with us! We’d love to hear about it!

Canopy Walk at Lynches River – Coward, SC

Take a walk on a raised boardwalk that takes you through the treetops at the county park. You will cross over a couple of swinging bridges. This fun county park offers 676 acres of outdoor activities, including this canopy walk. Parts of the walk are suspended more than 50 feet above the ground. Grab the kids and the teenagers alike! Really fun. 

Reedy River Falls – Greenville County

Reedy River Falls

This might be a pretty popular place, depending on the time of the year. Though I had not heard of it before researching the area.  Visit Falls Park and you’ll see some amazing views. Take the scenic walk over the Liberty Bridge. So beautiful. 

Hampton Plantation – McClellanville

What a gorgeous property this is. We decided not to do the house tour and just walk around the grounds. It was Winter, and the trees in the garden area were all full of beautiful flowers. It was breathtaking! We checked out the history, the stories, the property, and even the geocache. Want to learn more about Geocaching? Check out our blog here: Geo-What? What is Geocaching, and How Does it Work? Bringing Free and Family Fun Together.

Blood Moon Kayak Tour

What a fun time we had. We booked a Blood Moon Nighttime Kayaking trip. After the trip, there was a campfire, with hotdogs, and smores, and a lot of laughing and storytelling. If you’re looking for a great place to get out on the inner coastal waterway and do some kayaking, this is your place! Click here to check out their website!

Boondocking

Santee Coastal Reserve – Near McClellanville – GPS: 33.154569, -79.367734. Eight very large camping spots. There is enough room for 2 large RVs if you have friends. Great cell service, close to town, but only a maximum of 4 days allowed to stay.

If you go in the off-season, you can ask to stay longer. When we were staying, there was only 1 other camper who was camping. A few vans came and went but it was never full.

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Boondocking / Dry Camping, Off the Beaten Path Series, Travel Destinations & Stories

Off the Beaten Path in Maine. Our Top Hidden Gems!

Lighthouses, beaches, and seafood come to mind when most people think about Maine. Of course, Maine is where you will also find the world’s largest telephone. I mean, who knew? 

By all means, go check out Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park. WOW! Unbelievable beauty! But with that being said, take a look at our list of unique things to see in Maine. 

Did you know that we traveled full-time in our RV for over 7 years? And did you know we’ve put together a list of hidden gems in every single state? So check out some of our other top picks and great places to explore in another state!

Monhegan

Monhegan is a small, rocky island ten miles from the nearest mainland and scarcely a square mile in area. It is accessible only by boat and there are no cars or paved roads on the Island.

Since long before the explorer John Smith visited it in 1614, it was known to Native Americans as a prime fishing area, though today its economy is more invested in tourism than it is in lobstering or fishing. The year-round population has seldom exceeded 65 in recent times. No drones. No smoking outside the village. It’s a very protected island, and when you visit, you’ll see why! To get there, take a nice relaxing ferry ride and with the entire island being only one square mile, you can wander around quite a bit before taking the ferry back. 

Don’t forget to check out the D.T. Sheridan Shipwreck while exploring this island. The steel hull of a wrecked tug rests on Lobster Cove on Monhegan Island’s rocky southeastern shore. 

State Parks! We love them. We have found the most amazing things to see in the virtually unknown, off-the-beaten-path state parks.

Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park

wolfes-neck-park-2033099_1920

Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park is a five-minute drive from the center of Freeport’s bustling shopping district. Definitely check out the Casco Bay Trail.

Small Falls

Located in Rangeley. Can you imagine a typical rest area that has a waterfall? And I mean a real, beautiful, backcountry type of waterfall area. Well, you’ve found one! Smalls Falls, with its scenic waterfall, colorful gorge, and fine swimming holes, welcomes all, often including visitors from all over New England. This may well be the most epic rest area ever!

Moxie Falls

The trail to Moxie Falls is fairly easy, but it will make you feel like you’re deep in the woods, surrounded only by nature.

It’s a 2-mile round trip trail. That’s the beauty of getting away from the tourist traps on the coast. You’ll see the beauty in its natural state, away from the crowds.

Moose Point State Park

We will repeat it – State Parks don’t get enough attention. This is a peaceful park that many people don’t know about; those who do can spend a day enjoying long walks on beautiful trails along the coast or woods and wildlife spotting.

The tide pools appeal to kids especially, where they can poke around and find small marine creatures under the rocks. It goes without being said, I’m sure, but please respect our beautiful nature and be kind and easy to our tide pool creatures.

Wire Bridge

Do you like Bridges? We do! The elaborate, the new, the old, the abandoned, and the unique and different ones. Wire Bridge in New Portland is no exception. This bridge may be the last wire-supported bridge of its type in the world. New Portland is about halfway between Bangor and the Canadian border. Only about 725 people live there, and every one of them could probably point you to their showpiece – the old Wire Bridge. 

Cutler Bold Coast Preserve

Cutler Coast Public Lands is a gorgeous place to visit with very few tourists. Many people love the quiet hiking trails with incredible views.  I’d venture to say that most hikers who come to visit Maine have never heard of the Cutler Coast. Their loss. And that’s why it’s one of our favorite hidden gems!

Rattlesnake Flume and Pool

from the wild

Plan for a hot day of hiking Blueberry Mountain in Evans Notch, and make sure you stop off at Rattlesnake Flume and Pond near the end. The crystal clear pool is located just off Stone House Trail. You’ll see a marker showing you the way via a small detour.

Giant’s Stairs (or Staircase)

giants staircase

Another beautiful lava-made scene. When the hot magma met the sea.  Over several million years the seam of basalt rock eroded into an oceanside cascade of ledges now known as the Giant’s Stairs.

In the town of Harpswell, the Giant’s Stairs are at the midway point of a fantastic, easy half-mile trail. You just gotta do this! You most likely will be all alone on the trail unless it’s a weekend. But still, this is a very unpopulated area. You’ll love it! 

Wild Blueberry Land

Did you read that twice? Ha! Yes – More of an unusual gem than a hidden secret, Wild Blueberry Land is dedicated to the state’s official fruit: the tangy blueberry. This small theme park is located in Columbia Falls, filled with blueberry-shaped statues.

The main dome-snapped building is filled with tasty treats, including freshly baked blueberry pies, muffins, cakes, sweets, loaves of bread, and more. There are fun things to do for kids, including mini-golf. Plus, there are some views of Acadia NP.

Stephen King’s House

If you’re a long-time fan of the author Stephen King, you’ll want to take a drive-by. He was born in Maine and has used the state as the setting for many of his stories.

Despite his fame and wealth, we are told that he still lives in his home state, in a rather distinctive mansion just outside of downtown Bangor. But don’t just go to Bangor to see King’s home! Bangor is really a great little town to visit too!

Boon Island Lighthouse

Boon Island lies approximately 6 miles off the coast of York, Maine, and is the tallest lighthouse in New England. Take a personal vessel from York Harbor on a clear day and simply aim for the tall lighthouse on the island, which is visible for miles. There is a darker, sad history of this island before the lighthouse was built in 1855. It’s well worth a day trip!

Here are a few other blog posts we think you’ll love!

Boondocking

Boondocking can be tough to find on the east coast. We know! But if you’re flexible in the location, you can certainly find some pretty epic places. 

  • Jewett Cove – Near Greenville, Maine. GPS: 45.687199, -69.551319 The road is gravel, and long (about 5 miles) but pretty well maintained. Beautiful lake you can launch a kayak or canoe from the boat launch. Sites are on the smaller side but you can still get a big rig in the areas if others are not parked strange. Cell service ok with Verizon. 
  • Big Eddy – Dead River – Long Falls Dam Road New Portland, Maine GPS: 45.230921, -70.195401 Another beautiful place that has recently been updated and looks fantastic. Big rig friendly
  • Another big rig friendly area, but beware of the low hanging trees. If at all possible, scout the road first!! Lakeside sites, beautiful and quiet. Bigelow Preserve – Stratton, Maine. GPS 45.173465, -70.411772

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Boondocking / Dry Camping, Off the Beaten Path Series, Travel Destinations & Stories

Escape the Chill: Top 16 Warm Winter Getaways in the USA

As winter’s chill settles in, there’s no better time to pack your bags and escape to warmer climates. The USA boasts a diverse range of destinations that offer sun-soaked beaches, balmy temperatures, and vibrant culture during the winter months. If you’re ready to trade your snow boots for flip-flops, here’s a list of the top 16 warm places to visit in the USA this winter.

Miami, Florida

A lot of full and part-time RVers winter over in Florida. Personally, for us, it was a great place to visit; however, with so many snowbirds running to FL for the winter, we chose other southern destinations. You can experience the magic of Miami’s Art Deco architecture, vibrant nightlife, and stunning beaches, like South Beach. The city’s tropical climate ensures a warm escape from winter’s grasp. You can find some more great blogs about Florida here: 19 Exciting Things to Do in Destin, Florida with Kids – Ultimate Family Guide and Exploring Crystal River in Florida and Off the Beaten Path in Florida. Our Top Hidden Gems! and lastly, Our Epic Florida Springs Kayaking Trip

San Diego, California

I (Stacy) grew up in southern CA. With its pleasant year-round climate, San Diego offers sandy beaches, a world-renowned zoo, and a lively food scene perfect for a winter getaway. If you’re looking for great suggestions for places in CA to visit that are more off the beaten path, head to our blog Off the Beaten Path in California. Our Top Hidden Gems

Honolulu, Hawaii

Embrace the spirit of Aloha on the beautiful island of Oahu. Explore the iconic Waikiki Beach, hike up Diamond Head, and immerse yourself in Hawaiian culture.

Scottsdale, Arizona

Another great RV-friendly destination is Scottsdale. Escape to the desert oasis of Scottsdale, where you can enjoy luxurious spas, golf courses, and outdoor adventures amidst the stunning Sonoran Desert landscape. If you haven’t seen our blog Off the Beaten Path in Arizona or The Mystery Castle – Arizona you’ll love what Arizona offers in the winter.

Key West, Florida

Key West beckons with its laid-back atmosphere, turquoise waters, and lively Duval Street at the southernmost tip of the USA. It’s a slice of paradise in the winter.

Palm Springs, California

Renowned for its mid-century modern architecture, Palm Springs offers a desert escape complete with hot springs, hiking trails, and a relaxing ambiance.

New Orleans, Louisiana

Experience the vibrant culture, live music, and delectable cuisine of the Big Easy. Winter is a great time to explore the historic French Quarter without the summer heat. Your priority should be indulging in as much Gumbo and Beignets as possible! Best we’ve ever had!

Phoenix, Arizona

The capital city of Arizona boasts warm days and clear skies. Enjoy outdoor activities, visit the Desert Botanical Garden, and explore nearby attractions.

Santa Barbara, California

Nestled along the California coast, Santa Barbara offers Mediterranean-style architecture, stunning beaches, and a charming downtown area perfect for leisurely strolls.

Orlando, Florida

Home to world-famous theme parks, including Walt Disney World and Universal Studios, Orlando is an exciting destination for families seeking warm winter fun.

Charleston, South Carolina

We loved Charleston! Discover the historic charm of Charleston with its cobblestone streets, antebellum architecture, and Southern hospitality. Mild winters make it a delightful escape. See some of our other great suggestions for places to visit here: Off the Beaten Path in South Carolina. 8 Hidden Gems you Shouldn’t Miss! Yes! That’s us boondocking in the picture! Let us know if you need more information!

Austin, Texas

Experience the eclectic vibe of Austin with its live music scene, food trucks, and outdoor spaces like Lady Bird Lake, where you can kayak or paddleboard. Are you looking for less crowds and more quiet? Check out our blog here: Off the Beaten Path in Texas. 10 Amazing, Cool and Unique Places to Visit

San Antonio, Texas

Immerse yourself in Texan history and culture in San Antonio. Visit the historic Alamo, stroll along the River Walk, and enjoy the city’s mild winter climate.

Naples, Florida

For a tranquil winter retreat, head to Naples on Florida’s Gulf Coast. Enjoy upscale shopping, championship golf courses, and beautiful sunsets on the beach.

Savannah, Georgia

Another favorite of ours! Known for its charming squares, oak-lined streets, and historic architecture, Savannah offers a unique blend of Southern elegance and warm hospitality. If you’re looking for less crowds, and more nature, you can find our helpful suggestions here: Off the Beaten Path in Georgia. Exploring Hidden Gems in Georgia! and you must check out Anakeesta! Discover the Magic of Anakeesta in Gatlinburg, TN: A Unique Adventure Park

Tucson, Arizona

Escape to the Sonoran Desert in Tucson, where you can explore Saguaro National Park, enjoy art galleries, and savor southwestern cuisine.

Don’t let the winter blues get you down. These 16 warm and inviting destinations across the USA provide the perfect escape from the cold. From sun-drenched beaches to vibrant cities, each place offers a unique experience to make your winter getaway memorable. So, pack your bags, leave the snow behind, and embark on a warm and wonderful adventure this winter season.

So – You’re shopping on Amazon? I mean, who doesn’t, right? Please consider using our link. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, and it gives us a few extra pennies. Click below to use our link and then just shop like normal. Don’t forget ~ check out within 24 hours so we get credit! Thank you!! It really means a lot to us!

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Boondocking / Dry Camping, Off the Beaten Path Series, Small Footprint ~ Big Impressions, Travel Destinations & Stories

Tahquamenon Falls State Park: A Complete Guide to Exploring Michigan’s State Park

Nature’s splendor is often best showcased in its magnificent waterfalls, and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula boasts one of the most captivating examples: Tahquamenon Falls. With its awe-inspiring cascades, verdant surroundings, and diverse outdoor experiences, Tahquamenon Falls State Park beckons adventurers, photographers, and nature enthusiasts alike. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll unveil the secrets to planning an unforgettable visit to Tahquamenon Falls.

Discovering Tahquamenon Falls:

  • Location: Situated in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Tahquamenon Falls State Park covers over 50,000 acres and is home to the Tahquamenon River and its awe-inspiring falls.
  • Do you know why the falls have a brown color sometimes? The river’s amber color is caused by tannins leached from the cedar, spruce and hemlock trees in the swamps drained by the river, and the incredibly soft water churned by the action of the falls causes the river’s trademark large amounts of foam.

When to Visit:

  • Year-Round Magic: Tahquamenon Falls offers something unique in every season. Spring showcases rushing waters, summer provides lush greenery, autumn paints the landscape with vibrant hues, and winter turns the falls into a serene icy wonderland. We visited at the end of September and loved it! It wasn’t crowded at all, and the weather was perfect!

Exploring the Falls:

  1. Upper Falls: Marvel at the might and majesty of the Upper Falls, one of the largest waterfalls east of the Mississippi River. Witness the golden hues of sunrise or the warm colors of sunset casting a magical glow upon the cascades.
  2. Lower Falls: Embrace the tranquility of the Lower Falls as the river gently flows over rocks, creating a serene atmosphere. Rent a rowboat and glide across the river’s gentle waters for a unique perspective.

OH, The Steps!

Take the 94 steps down to the brink for an up-close experience or the 116 steps down to the gorge for a panoramic view. Yes … we did both! Twice! As challenging as it was, we would do it again!

Photography Paradise:

  • Best Photo Spots:
    • Upper Falls Overlook: Capture the grandeur of the Upper Falls from the designated overlook, framing the falls against the lush green backdrop.
    • Lower Falls Observation Deck: Experiment with long exposures to capture the silky water effect as it flows over the rocks.
    • Rowboat Rentals: Capture the falls from the water, adding depth and vibrancy to your photographs.
    • Trails and Bridges: Document your journey along the trails, showcasing the river’s meandering course and wooden bridges.

Practical Tips:

  1. Pack Wisely: Carry essential gear, including a camera, tripod, extra batteries, and memory cards to ensure you capture every moment.
  2. Time Your Visit: To avoid crowds, consider visiting during weekdays or the shoulder seasons.
  3. Experiment with Techniques: Play with different angles, compositions, and settings to create unique and captivating shots.

Tahquamenon Falls is more than a destination; it’s an invitation to immerse yourself in the beauty and power of nature. Whether you’re drawn by the thundering cascades, the peaceful river, or the photographic opportunities, Tahquamenon Falls State Park promises an unforgettable experience. So, heed the call of the falls, embrace the magic of each season, and create memories that will forever be etched in your heart and on your camera’s memory card. Plan your visit to Tahquamenon Falls and let the wonders of nature envelop you in their embrace.

More amazing blogs we think you’ll love!

So – You’re shopping on Amazon? I mean who doesn’t, right? Please consider using our link. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, and it gives us a few extra pennies. Click below to use our link and then just shop like normal. Don’t forget ~ check out within 24 hours so we get credit! Thank you!! It really means a lot to us!

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Off the Beaten Path Series, Travel Destinations & Stories

Discover the Magic of Anakeesta in Gatlinburg, TN: A Unique Adventure Park

Have you heard of this place? Nestled amidst the breathtaking Smoky Mountains, Anakeesta in Gatlinburg, TN is a magical destination that promises an unforgettable experience for visitors of all ages. Offering a perfect blend of thrilling adventure, scenic beauty, and charming attractions, Anakeesta has become a sought-after spot for travelers seeking a unique and exciting getaway. In this blog post, we will explore the fascinating aspects of Anakeesta, including its top attractions, ticket costs, and some essential information to help you plan an incredible journey.

Anakeesta’s Aerial Chondola Ride

Begin your Anakeesta adventure with a thrilling ride aboard the Aerial Chondola. This is the only way to get there, so leave your fear of heights on the ground. The Chondola is a combination of a chairlift and gondola, offering both open-air and enclosed cabins. As you ascend 600 feet above Gatlinburg, marvel at the panoramic views of the majestic Smoky Mountains, creating memories that will last a lifetime.

Treetop Skywalk and Canopy Walk

Walking through the lush treetops is an experience like no other. Anakeesta’s Treetop Skywalk and Canopy Walk allow you to navigate suspension bridges and elevated walkways, immersing you in the beauty of the surrounding nature. I highly recommend visiting during the peak of fall. It’s beautiful!

Firefly Village

Anakeesta’s Firefly Village is a delightful hub for shopping, dining, and relaxation. Explore the charming shops offering locally made crafts, souvenirs, and unique gifts. After shopping, satisfy your taste buds at one of the village’s eateries, serving delicious snacks and meals with a touch of Southern hospitality.

Vista Gardens

Take a leisurely stroll through Anakeesta’s Vista Gardens, a beautifully landscaped area adorned with colorful blooms and native plants. Willow (the keeper of the forest) will greet you with a smile every time. Each season brings its own beauty, from the vibrant spring blossoms to the rich hues of fall foliage. The gardens are the perfect spot for nature enthusiasts and avid photographers.

Anakeesta’s Dueling Zipline Adventure

For adrenaline junkies, Anakeesta offers an exhilarating Dueling Zipline Adventure. Soar through the forest at thrilling speeds while enjoying unparalleled views of the Smoky Mountains. Trained guides ensure your safety while you experience the rush of a lifetime.

Black Bear Villiage

This area opened in 2020 and is such a beautiful place to eat, have a drink around the fire pit, or … get married! You can book this area as a wedding venue. It offers a unique experience that sets it apart, and the breathtaking views are unparalleled!

Admission

Anakeesta offers different ticket options to cater to your preferences:

  • General Admission: (2023 – At the time of this blog) This ticket includes access to the Chondola ride, Treetop Skywalk, and Vista Gardens. 2023 prices: Adult (Ages 12-59): $34.99 | Children (Ages 4-11): $21.99 | Seniors (Ages 60 +): $26.99 | 3 and under: FREE. Buying your ticket online at least one day before your visit saves you money. Purchasing ahead of time will also allow you to skip the ticket line and get unlimited, all-day access to all of Anakeesta’s general admission activities. Your advance ticket is date specific and only available online.
  • Dueling Zipline Adventure: Check website for cost to add this on to your ticket.
  • How long does it take to go through Anakeesta? At least a good 3 hours. You’ll need some extra time to take the chondolas or Ridge Rambler bus to the top. For our family, this is a little on the expensive side, however, so very worth it! Spending a whole day here isn’t out of the question. It definitely will wear your kids out!

Essential Information

  • Location: Anakeesta is located at 576 Parkway, Gatlinburg, TN 37738.
  • Operating Hours: Anakeesta’s operating hours may vary by season, so it’s advisable to check their official website for the most up-to-date information.
  • Parking: Limited parking is available at Anakeesta. However, you can take advantage of the city’s trolley service or nearby public parking lots.
  • Weather: Gatlinburg experiences distinct seasons, with warm summers and chilly winters. Dressing accordingly and checking the weather forecast before your visit is recommended.
  • Accessibility: Anakeesta strives to be accessible to all visitors. The Chondola and Treetop Skywalk are wheelchair and stroller accessible, and the staff is accommodating and attentive to individual needs.

Unlimited fun and great photo ops!

There are so many more fun adventures to see at Anakeesta! This is such a fun family place to go! Anakeesta in Gatlinburg, TN, is a must-visit destination offering an extraordinary blend of adventure, natural beauty, and charming experiences. From soaring through the sky on the Aerial Chondola to exploring the Treetop Skywalk and savoring the delights of Firefly Village, Anakeesta has something for everyone. Plan your trip to this magical mountain retreat and create memories that will stay with you for a lifetime. Kids and adults will love this place.

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Colorado Travel
Off the Beaten Path Series, Travel Destinations & Stories

The Best 7-Day Itinerary When Visiting Colorado

Embark on an unforgettable journey through Colorado, beginning at Great Sand Dunes National Park. This blog presents a comprehensive 7-day itinerary encompassing majestic sand dunes, breathtaking mountains, and captivating attractions. If you have more than seven days, please spend more time at each location, as there is just so much to see and do.

Day 1 – Sand Dunes National Park

Welcome to Colorado! Start your adventure by arriving at Great Sand Dunes National Park, a unique gem nestled in the southern part of the state. Witness the surreal landscape of North America’s tallest sand dunes, some reaching up to 750 feet high! Spend the day hiking, sandboarding, or simply soaking in the awe-inspiring vistas. As the sun sets, capture stunning photographs of the dunes painted in golden hues. Camp at the park’s designated campgrounds for a memorable experience under the starry sky.

Day 2 – Durango

Drive to Durango, a town renowned for its outdoor activities and Western heritage. For adventure seekers, the Animas River offers excellent opportunities for rafting and kayaking. Alternatively, take a historic ride on the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, which winds through the scenic San Juan National Forest. Explore Durango’s downtown in the evening, filled with galleries, shops, and delightful dining options.

Day 3 – Million Dollar Highway

Nestled amidst the rugged peaks of the San Juan Mountains in Colorado, the Million Dollar Highway is a legendary stretch of road that promises an unforgettable driving experience. Known for its hairpin turns, sheer drop-offs, and jaw-dropping vistas, this scenic byway is an adventure-seekers dream and a feast for the eyes. Make sure you drive towards Ouray.

Day 4 – Ouray

Make your way to the enchanting town of Ouray, often referred to as the “Switzerland of America” due to its stunning alpine scenery. Enjoy a leisurely morning exploring Ouray’s charming Main Street, lined with Victorian-era buildings, housing shops, and eateries. Unwind in the town’s natural hot springs or visit the Box Canyon Falls Park for a short but beautiful hike.

Ouray Colorado

Day 5 – Telluride

Journey to the charming mountain town of Telluride. In the summer, hike along scenic trails, take a gondola ride for stunning views, or relax in the town’s natural hot springs. During the winter, hit the slopes for world-class skiing and snowboarding. Stroll along Telluride’s quaint streets, lined with colorful buildings and unique boutiques. Catch a live performance at the historic Sheridan Opera House.

Telluride Colorado

Day 6 – Gunnison

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park – Journey to Gunnison, a picturesque town with a charming Western vibe. Make sure to stop by the iconic Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.

Gunnison Colorado

Marvel at the sheer cliffs and narrow, deep canyon carved by the Gunnison River over millions of years. The park offers various viewpoints and hiking trails, providing captivating perspectives of this natural wonder. After exploring the canyon, continue to Gunnison to relax and enjoy the local hospitality.

Day 7 – Crested Butte

Nestled in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, Crested Butte, Colorado, is a hidden gem that beckons visitors with its enchanting beauty and genuine mountain charm. Known as the “Wildflower Capital of Colorado” and revered as a winter wonderland, this picturesque town offers an array of outdoor adventures and cultural experiences throughout the year.

From the vibrant city life of Denver to the majestic beauty of the Rocky Mountains, Colorado offers something for everyone, whether you’re a nature lover, adventure seeker, or history enthusiast. Happy travels and make lots of cherished.

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Travel Colorado
Off the Beaten Path Series, Small Footprint ~ Big Impressions, Travel Destinations & Stories

Exploring America’s Abandoned Gems: Our Top 31 Favorite Ghost Towns to Visit

Venturing into the heart of the United States, one can find a myriad of abandoned towns that once thrived with life but now stand as captivating relics of the past. For us, visiting these once-vibrant places gives us a thrill. These ghost towns offer a unique blend of history, mystery, and an eerie charm that draws in intrepid adventurers and history enthusiasts alike. In this blog, we will unveil our 31 favorite ghost towns in the USA that are waiting to be explored. Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or just starting your journey, these locations are sure to captivate your imagination.

Bodie, California

Located in Eastern Sierra, California: Bodie is one of the most well-preserved ghost towns in the country. Its weathered buildings and authentic artifacts offer a glimpse into the Gold Rush era of the late 1800s. Visitors can explore the remnants of saloons, homes, and even a church, making it a photographer’s paradise. Definitely don’t forget your camera! Looking for some additional hidden gems in California? Check out our blog here: Off the Beaten Path in California. Our Top Hidden Gems

Jerome, Arizona

Jerome was once a thriving copper mining town in Verde Valley, Arizona. Perched on Cleopatra Hill. Today, it boasts artistic charm with a collection of galleries, shops, and fascinating historical sites. The stunning panoramic views from Jerome make it an unforgettable destination. You can find more amazing and fun things to do here: Off the Beaten Path in Arizona

Rhyolite, Nevada

Located near Death Valley, Nevada. Rhyolite’s ruins include a bank, train depot, and several other structures, showcasing the boom and bust of the early 20th-century mining era. Be sure to visit the iconic “Bottle House,” constructed entirely from glass bottles.

St. Elmo, Colorado

St. Elmo is located near Sawatch, Colorado, and nestled amidst the Rocky Mountains, an exceptionally well-preserved mining town. It offers a rare glimpse into the past, complete with wooden storefronts and stunning mountain vistas.

Garnet, Montana

One of our favorites. I mean, it’s Montana! We spent an entire summer in Montana in 2018. Don’t miss this one! Located in Garnet, Montana. Garnet is a true gem hidden in the hills of Montana. Wander through the well-preserved buildings, like the J.K. Wells Hotel and the Kelly and Irene’s Saloon, and imagine life during the gold rush. Super fun! Bring the kids! They will love it. Find more amazing adventures we discovered here: Off the Beaten Path in Montana – Our Top Hidden Gems in Montana!

Calico, California

Located in the Mojave Desert, California. Once a bustling silver mining town, Calico now stands as a fascinating tourist attraction. Tour the Maggie Mine and take a trip back in time with costumed guides who bring the past to life.

Centralia, Pennsylvania

Located in Columbia County, Pennsylvania. I was so glad I was able to visit this place before they shut down and paved over the one historical street “of art.” Centralia is an abandoned coal town with a unique and eerie history. It had been on fire since 1962 due to an underground coal seam fire, giving it an otherworldly appearance with smoke rising from fissures in the ground. From what we understand today, the fire has burned itself out. I would love it if anyone had an update on this fantastic place. We really enjoyed it. This location was also used for filming the movie Silent Hill.

Terlingua, Texas

Location: Big Bend, Texas. Terlingua thrived on cinnabar mining, producing almost one-third of the nation’s mercury. Today, it’s a quirky town with a ghostly past, offering stunning views of the Chisos Mountains and the Rio Grande.

Virginia City, Montana

Located in Alder Gulch, Montana. Virginia City is a living ghost town that takes visitors back to the Gold Rush era. Wander its wooden boardwalks, attend a staged gunfight, and ride a historic steam train.

Kennecott, Alaska

Located in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, Alaska. Kennecott is a remote and breathtaking copper mining town in the heart of Alaska. Tour the massive red mill building and explore the stunning surroundings of America’s largest national park.

Bannack, Montana

Located in Beaverhead County, Montana. Bannack, once Montana’s first territorial capital, is now a well-preserved ghost town frozen in time. The town offers guided tours and even hosts an annual reenactment of its founding.

Glenrio, New Mexico/Texas

Located on the New Mexico/Texas border. Straddling the state line, Glenrio was a famous Route 66 stop. Today, it’s a snapshot of the mid-20th-century roadside culture, with abandoned gas stations and motels.

Cahawba, Alabama

Located in Cahawba County, Alabama. Once Alabama’s state capital, Cahawba was a prominent antebellum town. Now, visitors can explore its haunting ruins and learn about its rich history.

Ruby, Arizona

Located in Santa Cruz County, Arizona. Ruby was a mining town, and though many of its buildings have deteriorated, the picturesque setting and the nearby Ruby ghost town cemetery are worth a visit.

Goldfield, Nevada

Located in Esmeralda County, Nevada. Goldfield was a prosperous gold mining town that boomed in the early 1900s. Visitors can explore the Goldfield Hotel and the International Car Forest of the Last Church.

Cahokia, Illinois:

Located in Collinsville, Illinois. Once the largest pre-Columbian settlement north of Mexico, Cahokia offers visitors a chance to explore ancient Native American mounds and learn about the Mississippian culture.

South Pass City, Wyoming

Located in Fremont County, Wyoming. South Pass City was a booming gold mining town in the 1860s. Now a state historic site, it allows visitors to experience Wyoming’s gold rush heritage. Looking for more hidden gems in Wyoming? Take a look at some top places we found here: Off the Beaten Path in Wyoming. Our Top Hidden Gems!

Two Guns, Arizona

Located near Canyon Diablo, in Arizona. Two Guns is a ghost town with a turbulent history, once home to Apache conflicts and a popular tourist stop along Route 66. We are big fans of ruins! We find them so unique. The ruins and petrified forest are fascinating sights.

Nevada City, Montana

Located in Madison County, Montana. Nevada City is an outdoor museum town with over 90 historic buildings, making it a perfect destination for history buffs. A great place for homeschooling events!

Animas Forks, Colorado

Located in San Juan County, Colorado. Accessible only during the summer, Animas Forks is a high-altitude ghost town in the San Juan Mountains, showcasing well-preserved mining structures.

Berlin, Nevada

Located in Gabbs, Nevada. Berlin offers visitors a glimpse of life in a late 19th-century mining town. Explore its preserved buildings and mines while enjoying the rugged beauty of the surrounding area.

Silver City, Idaho

Location: Owyhee County, Idaho. Silver City is an idyllic ghost town with well-preserved buildings, including a schoolhouse and the historic Idaho Hotel.

Gothic, Colorado

Location: Near Crested Butte, Colorado Description: Gothic was a mining town turned research station in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. Look at the stunning mountain views and learn about the unique ecology.

Leadville, Colorado

Aside from being one of our very favorite places to visit (and boondock with our RV), did you know that Leadville is the highest incorporated town in America? I believe there are 4-6 ghost towns just in Leadville alone. Eat lunch outside at one of the many restaurants on the main street, and then explore the ghost towns all over the place. You can find out more here. If you don’t go for the ghost town tours, just go explore Leadville. You won’t regret it.

Gleeson, Arizona

Location: Cochise County, Arizona. Gleeson once had a bustling population thanks to mining. Today, visitors can explore its historic cemetery and old town remnants.

Independence, California

Located in the Eastern Sierra of California. (Not be confused with the Independence CO Ghost town below.) Independence was a significant mining and military town. Visit the historic courthouse and learn about the region’s rich history.

Independence, Colorado

Located off Independence Highway in Colorado. Love, Love, Love! Between 1881 and 1882, over $190,000 worth of gold was produced. The following year it dropped to $2,000. Throughout its brief history, Independence was also known as Chipeta, Farwell, Hunter’s Pass, Mammoth City, Mount Hope, and Sparkill. There is an easy walking trail to go as little or as far as you’d like! You can see a little bit about it in our video below.

St. Thomas, Nevada

Another favorite! Located near Lake Mead National Recreation Area. St. Thomas was once a farming community that disappeared underwater when the Hoover Dam was constructed. During droughts, the remains resurface, offering a unique sight for visitors. Don’t miss this one when visiting the Hoover Dam.

Seneca, Oregon

Location: Grant County, Oregon. Seneca was a lively gold mining town that suffered several fires. Visit the Seneca Schoolhouse and take in the beauty of the nearby Silvies River. If you want to see more things to do in Oregon, check out our blog here: Off the Beaten Path in Oregon – Our Top Hidden Gems!

Gilman, Colorado

Located in Eagle County, Colorado. Gilman was a mining town known for its zinc and copper production. Explore the remnants of this high-altitude ghost town in the Rockies. Watch the weather, and contact them during the off-season to make sure you can get there.

Bingham Canyon, Utah

Located in Salt Lake County, Utah. Bingham Canyon was once a bustling copper mining town and is now home to one of the largest open-pit mines in the world. Visitors can experience both the old and modern aspects of mining.

These 31 ghost towns scattered throughout the United States are captivating time capsules, transporting visitors to a bygone era. From the rugged landscapes of the Southwest to the stunning mountains of the Rockies, each location holds its unique charm and history waiting to be explored. Whether you seek adventure, history, or simply a glimpse of Americana, these ghost towns are sure to leave a lasting impression on all who venture to visit them. So, pack your bags, grab your camera, and prepare to embark on a hauntingly beautiful journey through America’s abandoned gems. Share your favorite ghost town with us! We’ll add it to the list!

So – You’re shopping on Amazon? I mean who doesn’t, right? Please consider using our link. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, and it gives us a few extra pennies. Click below to use our link and then just shop like normal. Don’t forget ~ check out within 24 hours so we get credit! Thank you!! It really means a lot to us!

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