The Best Day Trips in Every State
Sometimes the best adventures are just a short drive away and can be completed in 24 hours or less...
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Hit the road for a day trip
During the coronavirus pandemic, decisions regarding travel have to be taken very seriously, both for our own safety and for the safety of anyone we come into contact with. Still, staying home all day every day isn’t good for our emotional or physical well-being. Luckily, there are amazing day trips in every state which offer a chance to breathe fresh air, stretch our legs, and have fun while still maintaining social distancing. Whether you’re looking for a scenic drive, a gorgeous hike, or a trip through history, these activities will have you back in your own bed when the day is over. Before you hit the road, make sure you know these 15 road trip planning tips.
Alabama: Little River Canyon National Preserve
Little River Canyon National Preserve in Alabama is only an hour and a half’s drive from Birmingham, making it a perfect day trip from “The Magic City.” Be sure to bring your camera when you visit—the park is over 15,000 acres on top of Lookout Mountain and the views are spectacular. There are rivers, waterfalls, canyons, and forests which turn brilliant shades of red, yellow, and gold in fall. Hiking, rock climbing, kayaking, and bicycling are all popular here but if you’re looking for a more laid back activity it’s also a great place to take a scenic drive. These are the best places to spot fall foliage in America.
Alaska: Denali National Park
Denali National Park and Preserve is Alaska’s best-known attraction for a reason. It’s about a four-hour drive from Anchorage but it’s a day trip well worth making. Snow-capped mountains are reflected in crystal clear lakes and fields of wildflowers stretch out as far as the eye can see. No wonder grizzly bears, caribou, moose, beavers, and eagles call this treasured space home. Activities include hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, ziplining, and cross-country skiing. Here’s our guide to help you plan your Alaska road trip.
If you’re wondering if a Sedona, Arizona day trip is just as magical as everyone says it is, the answer is yes. And it’s only a two and a half–hour drive from Phoenix. Orange sandstone buttes rise up from the desert and offer a stunning backdrop for hikes or photographs. Be sure to check out Chapel of the Holy Cross, a Roman Catholic church built into the buttes in 1956. Sedona’s Main Street is full of shops, galleries, spas, boutiques, sidewalk cafes, and outdoor courtyards surrounded by the spectacular landscape.
The town of Paris, Arkansas has something for everybody. Located two hours outside of the state capital of Little Rock, this little town is big on adventure. The biggest draw in the area is Mount Magazine State Park, which showcases the state’s tallest, and arguably most dramatically beautiful, mountain. Hikers, rock climbers, hang gliders, and photographers love this rock-faced mountain. Afterward, spend a few hours in downtown Paris to check out shops, restaurants, and the Eiffel Tower replica that decorates the town square. These spectacular photos of America’s national parks will leave you awestruck.
California: Napa County
Napa County is world-famous for a reason: it’s absolutely beautiful and only an hour’s drive from San Francisco. The area is best known for its wineries. Be sure to make an appointment to taste wine in one of the luxurious private cabanas at Charles Krug, Napa’s oldest winery estate. You’ll also be glad you booked an interactive experience on the lush grounds of St. Supery Winery. Larkmead Vineyards is also open by appointment to sip wine in their picturesque vineyard. Afterward, treat yourself to an amazing meal at one of the area’s many farm-to-table restaurants. If you’re daydreaming about your next visit, here are 20 photos of the most gorgeous wineries in the world to tide you over.
Colorado: Rocky Mountain National Park
Rocky Mountain National Park is only about an hour and a half from Denver, but once you arrive you’d be forgiven for forgetting that cities even exist. You’ll be surrounded by the rugged beauty of snow-capped mountains, verdant green meadows, deep forests, and spectacular wildflowers when the ground isn’t covered by a blanket of perfectly white snow. Hike up to stunning vistas and waterfalls, keeping your eyes peeled for elk, bighorn sheep, and moose. Afterward, grab a bite to eat in nearby downtown Estes Park. Before you hit the road for a day trip, make sure you’re ready to go with this road trip checklist.
Connecticut: The Dinosaur Place
Dinosaurs have long been extinct, but you’d never know that at The Dinosaur Place at Nature’s Art Village in Oakdale, Connecticut. Located about a half an hour from the state capital of Hartford, this family-friendly attraction features over 50 incredible life-size dinosaurs in 60 acres of park and walking trails. There are also playgrounds, mazes, and even dinosaur caves to explore. Amateur paleontologists should also tour these best dinosaur museums around the world.
Delaware: Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library
The impressive estate Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library in Delaware was built as a private home in the early 20th century. Today the mansion, located just an hour from downtown Dover, boasts 175 rooms filled with an incredible collection of art and Americana. The library is dedicated to studying early American life and the gardens are 1,000 acres of wild blooms set in a natural setting of streams, meadows, and thick forests. Find out the most beautiful mansion in your state.
Florida: Everglades National Park
Everglades National Park in Florida is about an hour from Miami. Once you arrive, a dazzling array of activities awaits, such as spotting manatees, panthers, and leatherback turtles; or a once-in-a-lifetime experience paddling through the amazing canoe trails in the Flamingo area. Take a tour on an airboat through murky, marshy forests or explore the 1.5 million acres of wetlands on foot or bicycles—just be on the lookout for alligators.
Georgia: Providence Canyon State Park
Wandering through Georgia’s Little Grand Canyon, aka Providence Canyon State Park, it’s easy to lose track of the fact that you’re just two hours outside of Atlanta. Dubbed “the little Grand Canyon,” this spot has 16 canyons, gorgeous hiking trails for every experience level, and enough scenic overlooks to satisfy both nature lovers and photographers. The bright red rocks are stunningly contrasted with trees of velvet green and wildflowers of every hue, including the seldom-seen plum leaf azalea. Get a look at the welcome sign from every state in America.
Hawaii: Hoomaluhia Botanical Gardens
The Oahu Coastal Loop drive from Diamond Head to Waimea Bay has many highlights, such as Diamond Head State Monument and Koko Head Regional Park. Don’t miss Hoomaluhia Botanical Gardens, 400 acres of tropical beauty representing fauna found in different geographic regions throughout the world, nestled between the sea and the Koolau Mountain Range. You’ll be surrounded by vibrant colors and heavenly aromas. Best of all, there is no charge to visit Hoomaluhia Botanical Gardens. Find out the best free attractions in every state.
Idaho: Bruneau Sand Dunes State Park
If you grew up someplace with snowy winters, you probably had experience snow sledding. But have you ever gone sledding on a hill of sand? At Idaho’s Bruneau Sand Dunes State Park, you can do just that. This desert park features two awe-inspiring mountains of sand, the tallest of which climbs 470 feet towards the sky. Sleds are available for rent at the visitor center for anyone who wants the unique experience of sliding down these warm, sandy hills.
Illinois: Anderson Japanese Gardens
If you’re in the Chicago area, the Anderson Japanese Gardens make for a perfect day trip. The seeds for this garden were originally planted when John Anderson, a businessperson from Rockford, Illinois, visited the stunning Portland Japanese Garden in Oregon. When he came home, he commissioned something similar in his own community. Visitors can meander through 12 lovely acres of koi ponds, streams, and waterfalls while taking in botanical delights strategically planted to make sure the park is beautiful all year long. It’s less than half an hour from Chicago. Have more time? Check out the best weekend getaway in every state.
Indiana: Marengo Cave
Located an hour and a half from Bloomington, Marengo Cave in Indiana feels like stepping back into prehistoric times. Originally discovered in the late 1800s, Marengo Cave is believed to be approximately one million years old. The cave itself is five miles long with two upper entrances. Above the cave is a 122-acre park with forests, meadows, and family-oriented activities like gem mining and riding pedal carts. Below-ground adventures include walking tours or overnights in the darkest dark of Marengo Cave. Don’t miss these 25 breathtaking photos of caves around the world.
Pella is less than an hour from Des Moines, but it looks more like someplace in Holland than a town in Iowa. This is because Pella is one of the most European cities in America. There are museums honoring Dutch heritage, tulips in spring, windmills, a Dutch-inspired drawbridge, and more to remind you of the old country, not to mention the mouth-watering aroma of fresh pastries baking in the oven of local Dutch bakeries. For lunch, be sure to stop in Dutch Fix for a delicious menu of traditional Dutch street foods. There are also beautiful parks, golf courses, bike paths, and hiking trails.
Kansas: Mushroom Rock State Park
Just two hours outside of Topeka, Mushroom State Park in Kansas is a worthy day trip. The park gets its name from large stone formations sculpted by wind erosion into natural monuments that look like giant mushrooms carved out of rock. The two largest are an unbelievable 25 feet tall and the caps reach out over 15 feet wide. The rest of the park is lovely with open fields, a stream, and trees for shade. Find out the best state park in your state.
Kentucky: Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill
Located less than an hour and a half from Louisville, Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill is 3,000 acres on the site that was the third largest Shaker community in the United States between 1805 to 1910; 34 of the original buildings have survived on the property. Visitors are able to wander through the Historic Centre and explore the farm, stables, and wildlife preserve with its meadows, forests, and watersheds through trails and organized discovery treks. Cap off your visit with a meal of Kentucky cuisine sourced with seasonal ingredients from the farm before you leave.
Louisiana: Port Hudson State Historic Site
The Port Hudson State Historic Site is in the spot of the longest, most brutal siege of the Civil War, and in all of American history—lasting 48 days. It is also the site of one of the earliest battles in which Black American soldiers served in combat. Today the site of this battle is home to overlooks and trails above the Mississippi River, a museum, and open-air exhibits like artillery displays. Civil War reenactments and other interpretive activities and demonstrations are scheduled each year. Here’s where to find the most historic spot in every state.
Maine: Bar Harbor
Acadia National Park is one of the best national park road trips to take all year long. Bar Harbor is considered the gateway to the park, but it’s a swoon-worthy day trip in its own right. Bar Harbor makes its home on Mount Desert Island on the picturesque Frenchman’s Bay. This little village is full of quaint, colorfully painted buildings that house fantastic shops, museums, and restaurants. Don’t leave town without stopping by Ben and Bill’s for a taste of its world-famous lobster ice cream. Find out the best ice cream shop in every state.
Maryland: Tubman Byway
Harriet Tubman was an escaped enslaved person who put her life on the line to lead other escaped enslaved people to freedom through the Underground Railroad. The Tubman Byway in Maryland is a self-guided scenic drive that leads you to 30 different sites associated with this brave woman. Many are marked by signs and interpretive texts to memorialize what happened there. Others are buildings, such as the one-room schoolhouse where people once held in slavery were educated after the end of the Civil War, or the Bucktown Village Store, where a teenage Harriet Tubman was almost killed trying to aid a man fleeing his captors. Find out about 35 Black Americans you didn’t learn about in history class.
Massachusetts: Martha’s Vineyard
It takes less than two and a half hours to get to Martha’s Vineyard from Boston—part of it on a scenic ferry ride—and once you arrive you’ll forget all about things like honking horns and traffic. This small town is the vacation spot of choice for presidents, celebrities, and other powerful people, but none of that has gone to its head. Martha’s Vineyard still manages to hang on to a friendly charm. Located off the coast of Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard treats visitors to spectacular views from the beaches and cliffs that line the coast. Downtown is quaint and features vintage storefronts filled with boutiques and fabulous restaurants. Find out more about the most romantic island destinations in the United States.
Michigan: Traverse City
If you’re taking a road trip in the form of a Lake Michigan Tour, be sure to stop by Traverse City. Whether you want to sun yourself on a sandy beach, explore the area’s five historic lighthouses, or spend the day chatting with winemakers and tasting wine at fantastic wineries, Traverse City has something to offer you. Downtown is full of historic buildings like the Grand Traverse Commons, a series of upscale boutiques, restaurants, and galleries housed in a beautifully restored building that used to be a hospital. Give the best bucket list idea in every state a try.
Minnesota: Lake Pepin
Lake Pepin, Minnesota is less than an hour and a half from Minneapolis and an hour from Saint Paul. This lovely area is known for its history, scenic views of the lake, and vibrant collection of small towns with charming architecture and fabulous restaurants, eateries, wine bars, galleries, and boutiques. It’s a popular spot for scenic drives, walks, and picnics at viewpoints like Barn Bluff, which offers sweeping views of the lake. Perhaps you’ll catch sight of one of the paddle wheelers or stern boats which offer rides to visitors. Masks are currently required in all indoor spaces in Minnesota. These are 15 of the most crystal-clear lakes in the world.
Mississippi: Rowan Oak
Less than three hours from Jackson, Rowan Oak in Oxford, Mississippi, was the home of Nobel Prize-winning author William Faulkner. There’s no fee to wander around the four acres of lovely tree-lined grounds, and admission to the house itself is minimal. The home is a Greek Revival style with stately white columns. Inside, visitors are able to see the outline of Faulkner’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, A Fable, written in the author’s own hand on the wall of the study. Masks are required in this area of Mississippi and strongly encouraged in the rest of the state. Be sure to read the most iconic book set in every state.
Missouri: Ozarks road trip
Who says you have to get out of your car to take a day trip? You can practice social distancing from the safety of your car with a historic road trip through the Missouri Ozarks. Highlights include Onondaga Cave State Park which houses a mind-blowing collection of more than 5,000 underground limestone caverns. You’ll also pass through Mark Twain National Forest, which is especially stunning when the leaves change color in the fall. There are also plenty of viewpoints to stretch your legs and walk around the lovely rivers that are part of this unforgettable road trip. For more breathtaking views, check out these 40 scenic road trips.
Montana: Lake Como
Located about an hour and a half from Missoula, Lake Como will leave you awestruck with its natural beauty and incredible array of activities. The waters are so clear you can see the reflection of the forests and mountains that surround it on the surface of the lake. It’s a popular spot for boating, waterskiing, fishing, kayaking, swimming, and paddleboarding. Land-based activities include camping, hiking, picnicking, mountain biking, and sunbathing on the sandy beach. If you don’t live in Montana, we’ve got you covered—these are the best picnic spots in every state.
Nebraska: Ashfall Fossil Beds State Historical Park
Located about three hours from Omaha, Ashfall Fossil Beds State Historical Park was created 12 million years ago when volcanic ash descended upon a waterfall, entombing the animals in their tracks. Now you can explore the more than 360 acres, including exhibition barns where fossils are on display, interpretive centers, laboratories, and active sites where fossils are being unearthed. Perhaps the most fascinating fossils you’ll see belong to Teleoceras, an extinct rhinoceros. You’ll also see prehistoric fossils of ancient ancestors of birds, horses, and camels.
Nevada: Boulder City
Boulder City is only a half-hour from Las Vegas, but the two cities couldn’t be more different. While Las Vegas is known for bright lights, gambling, and excitement, Boulder City is one of only two places in Nevada where gambling is illegal. Originally built as a bedroom community for the workers who constructed Hoover Dam, the town is full of vintage charm. In fact, many people consider it to be the most charming town in the entire state. Antiquing is a popular pursuit here, as is touring nearby Hoover Dam. Boulder City is also a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts due to its proximity to the dazzlingly beautiful Lake Mead.
New Hampshire: Portsmouth
If you were searching for the perfect town to put on a postcard, Portsmouth would have to be a leading contender. Located an hour outside of Concord on the banks of the Piscataqua River, this idyllic community is known for lovely homes built in the 17th and 18th centuries. There are also museums devoted to the area’s heritage, such as the open-air Strawberry Banks Museum, notable for its collection of restored homes, some of which date back to the 16th century. There are also delicious bistros, bakeries, pubs, and boutiques. This is the most famous home in every state.
New Jersey: Sayen House and Gardens
Located a mere 15 minutes from Trenton, New Jersey, Sayen House and Gardens in Hamilton Township, New Jersey is the perfect place for a day trip. This 30-acre botanical garden is the perfect example of why New Jersey earned the nickname “The Garden State.” It’s home to over 250,000 flowering bulbs, 500 rhododendrons, 1,000 azaleas, ponds, trails, fountains, wooded glens, and picturesque bridges. It’s a breathtaking backdrop for photographs or a leisurely afternoon stroll. Afterward, be sure to grab yourself a bite to eat in historic Hamilton Square, a township with buildings dating back to colonial times. If you like the period architecture at Hamilton Square, these are the best American cities for history buffs.
New Mexico: Carlsbad Caverns National Park
Carlsbad Caverns National Park is about four and a half hours outside of Albuquerque, New Mexico, but you won’t regret taking the drive—you can pass the time with these 20 best road games. It’s located in the Chihuahuan Desert, where you’re surrounded by awe-inspiring canyons, rock bluffs, and hiking trails—but the real reason to visit is the 119 limestone caves below ground. There are options to explore via the natural entrance, which leads visitors down a winding path into the dark cave below, or an entrance with an elevator for people who prefer something less strenuous and more accessible.
New York: Storm King Art Center
If you drive a little over an hour from New York City to New Windsor, you’ll discover a 500-acre paradise where art and nature live together as one. The Storm King Art Center is home to stunning outdoor sculptures planted like giant flowers amid the meadows, forests, and streams on this amazing property. There are several permanent installations, but also enough visiting exhibits to offer something new for repeat visitors. After you spend the day at Storm King Art Center and head back to the city, be sure to check out these 15 NYC hidden gems most New Yorkers don’t know about. There’s also a place in New York state that’s on this list of where to go for Memorial Day weekend—check it out where it is!
North Carolina: Wilmington
Wilmington is just a tad over two hours from Raleigh and is a port city on the Cape Fear River. The city is famous for its downtown wooden Riverwalk, which runs along the water for a mile to three pristine island beaches. There are also numerous restaurants, boutiques, and galleries to explore in Wilmington’s charming 230-block historic district. A few of the historic homes have been converted to museums and offer tours to visitors. Wilmington is home to gorgeous parks and gardens and is a popular spot for kayaking and low-impact hiking. Here’s where to find the best hiking trail in every state.
North Dakota: Sheyenne River Valley National Scenic Byway
If you’re looking for an amazing day trip in North Dakota, all you have to do is hop in the car. The Sheyenne River Valley National Scenic Byway is 63 miles of Highway 21 from Valley City to Lisbon in the eastern part of the state. You’ll traverse over bridges, rivers, and forests and pass through historic sites shedding light on Native American life and the first European settlers to come to the area. There are small towns to stop for lunch along the way and picturesque fields and farmhouses. If you’re wondering when to go, these are the cheapest months of the year to visit all 50 states.
Ohio: Loveland Castle
Visitors to Chateau Laroche, or as it’s also known, Loveland Castle, may have to pinch themselves to make sure they haven’t accidentally stumbled back in time into King Arthur’s court. Located on the banks of the Little Miami River, the castle was the dream of a Boy Scout leader and military veteran who started work on the building in 1920 using materials ranging from natural river stones to milk cartons enveloped in concrete. Today, this massive castle is open for self-guided tours and houses an impressive collection of medieval weaponry and more. These are the most gorgeous medieval castles in the world.
Oklahoma: Medicine Park
Medicine Park is just under three hours from Tulsa and there is no better place for family fun. Founded in 1908 as Oklahoma’s first resort town, this little community is especially known for its cobblestone architecture and arches, walkways, and homes built with a rock-face exterior. It’s also famous for swimming holes like Bath Lake, featuring a short, wide waterfall, and the pristine Medicine Creek. There are also plenty of hiking trails, picnic areas, restaurants, and curiosity shops.
If you drive less than two hours from Portland to Astoria, chances are you’ll recognize it as the picturesque setting in movies like The Goonies and Kindergarten Cop. Located at the breathtaking spot where the Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean, this charming community is famous for stunning views, Victorian homes, historic parks, and incredible museums. Be sure to check out the Columbia River Maritime Museum and climb the stairs to the top of the Astoria Column for a once-in-a-lifetime view. Afterward, treat yourself to some of the freshest seafood you’ve ever had at the BowPicker Fish and Chips food truck—there will probably be a bit of a line, but it’s worth it. Can’t wait? Tide yourself over with one of these 25 best road trip snacks.
Pennsylvania: Lancaster Central Market
If you love farmers’ markets, a trip to Lancaster Central Market, located just 30 minutes outside of Pittsburgh, will be a dream come true. While the current building was erected in 1889, the market was originally established in 1730, making it the oldest continuously running farmers’ market in the country. Inside you’ll find 60 vendors selling freshly picked produce, baked goods, homemade pasta, flowers, eggs, coffee, and more. It’s a delicious way to spend the afternoon and you can savor the day even longer through the goodies you take home. Find out the one food you have to try in every state.
Rhode Island: Cliff Walk and Newport Mansions
If a 3.5-mile walk surrounded by incredible views wherever you turn sounds appealing, the Cliff Walk in Rhode Island is for you. To one side, you’ll have the sights and sounds of the ocean; to the other, stunning ornate homes dating back to the mid-1800s through the early 1900s. Tours of many of the mansions and grounds are available for architecture and history buffs. Find out 30 of the best weekend trips for fall.
South Carolina: Daufuskie Island
Imagine a paradise where rare Marsh Tacky horses run along the shore and loggerhead sea turtles nest in the sand. Gorgeous views surround you while Tabby ruins and other examples of Gullah history tell stories of the past. This is Daufuskie Island. It’s an hour-long ferry ride from Hilton Head and you won’t need a car once you get to the island—most people get around by golf cart. Enjoy a lunch of fresh seafood, play a round of golf, and watch the sunset before you return. Speaking of sunsets, this is where to see the most spectacular sunset in every state.
South Dakota: Deadwood
Less than an hour outside of Rapid City, the entire town of Deadwood is a national landmark. Surrounded by the natural beauty of the Black Hills, Deadwood was a booming city in the late 1800s with a population of 25,000. Today, the population is more in the neighborhood of 1,000, strolling through the streets that once hosted the likes of Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickock. The town is full of restaurants, wineries, breweries, casinos, antique shops, and spas. Like Deadwood, these 20 towns look like they’re frozen in time.
Tennessee: Leiper’s Fork
Leiper’s Fork is full of smiling faces and southern charm. Located about 45 minutes outside of Nashville, this tiny village is dotted with log cabins and filled with galleries, boutiques, and antique stores. You can take a tour and sample whiskey at Leiper’s Fork Distillery and finish the day with live music, a bucket of beers, and a fried baloney sandwich at The Original Puckett’s Grocery and Restaurant. If you’ve got a hankering for something sweet, Leiper’s Fork is full of outdoor pits and chairs stocked with S’mores fixings by local businesses free of charge—it’s just their way of treating you like family. If you’ve still got time, head over to explore Civil War history in downtown Franklin, which many people consider to be the nicest place in Tennessee.
Who doesn’t like a good old mystery? If you drive three hours from El Paso, Texas, to the town of Marfa, you’ll come face to face with a mystery that has been unsolved since a cowhand reported mysterious dancing lights in 1883. Since then, the lights have reappeared periodically. They’ve been studied by meteorologists and physicists who have yet to come up with a conclusive explanation. If you want to check them out for yourself, the town of Marfa has set up a viewing area outside of town.
Utah: Antelope Island State Park
Antelope Island is the largest of Salt Lake’s ten islands and well worth the two-hour trip from Salt Lake City. At the park, you’ll find blue waters contrasting with white sandy beaches. There are gorgeous trails for hiking and biking and lovely roads for scenic drives. Wildlife lovers will revel in the chance to see antelope, bison, bighorn sheep, coyotes, bald eagles, and more than 600 types of animals. Swimming at the park is a special treat; since Salt Lake is even saltier than the ocean, the water is known for its buoyancy and people naturally float to the surface. Find out the best-kept secret in every state.
It doesn’t get much prettier than Stowe, Vermont. Located in the shadow of Mount Mansfield, 40 minutes from Burlington, this picturesque community is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts all year round with waterfalls, jaw-droppingly beautiful hiking trails, and ski slopes. Downtown Stowe is full of historic buildings, art galleries, boutiques, spas, and restaurants. Don’t miss the Vermont Ski and Snowboard Museum and definitely don’t leave without sampling a glass of Vermont’s world-famous apple cider or visiting the Ben and Jerry’s ice cream factory. Stowe is one of the 11 destinations that are even better in winter.
Williamsburg was the capital of Virginia from 1699 to 1780, back in the days it was still a colony. If you want to know what life was like back then, you need only visit the historic district known as Colonial Williamsburg, a living history museum that immerses visitors in the lifestyle of a bygone era. Colonial Williamsburg contains hundreds of recreated or restored buildings from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. Visitors get to see blacksmiths in period garb working their craft, colonial wig making techniques, farming techniques, and more. There are also re-enactors who portray what life was like for both enslaved and free Black Americans during that time. There are also two museums dedicated to period art on site.
Washington: Mount Rainier National Park
There is perhaps no sight more iconic in Washington State than the magnificent specter of Mount Rainier reaching towards the sky. If you want to see the mountain up close and in person, Mount Rainier National Park is full of picnic areas, gorgeous viewpoints, informative visitors centers, and hiking trails for both beginners and experts with permits. It’s less than two hours from Seattle, but still a wild area, so be on the lookout for black bears, cougars, coyotes, and mountain goats. Be sure to bring your camera—there are stunning fields of vibrant wildflowers, old-growth forests, waterfalls, and, of course, the mountain itself to photograph. Masks are required if social distancing isn’t possible. Check out the strangest animal found in every state.
West Virginia: Lewis County
Located just over an hour and a half from West Virginia’s capital of Charleston, Lewis County is full of unique adventures. The centerpiece of the county is Stonewall Jackson Lake State Park, a gorgeous destination for boating, swimming, hiking, fishing, and golfing. Be sure to plan time for a fantastic meal at the stunning Stonewall Resort before you leave. Other highlights in Lewis County include the historic, and possibly haunted, Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum; Lambert’s Winery; sports shooting at Stonewall Sports Clays; and craftspeople blowing Appalachian art glass. Of course, things named after Confederate figures like Stonewall Jackson are now more controversial than ever—like these 10 most controversial statues and monuments around the world.
Wisconsin: Amnicon Falls
If you want to see waterfalls, Amnicon Falls in Wisconsin is a dream come true. It’s just shy of a five-hour drive from the state capital of Madison, but the breathtaking sights you’ll see are worth it. The Amnicon Falls State Park is full of numerous cascading waterfalls, covered footbridges, picnic spots, rapids, and scenic overlooks. The falls and river are easily accessible to casual nature lovers and there are also hiking trails available for seasoned hikers looking for a challenge. Geology buffs will love learning about the 500-million-year-old Douglas Fault, which is visible at the top of the falls. Masks are required indoors or wherever social distancing isn’t possible in Wisconsin. Find out the most gorgeous waterfall in every state.
Wyoming: National Museum of Wildlife Art
A visit to the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson, Wyoming, is a magical experience. Built into a hillside, the building itself seems to be one with its natural surroundings. Inside, you’ll find breathtaking examples of wildlife art dating as far back as 2,500 B.C. Since many of these artworks were created before the invention of photography, they are often the most accurate representations of wildlife in historical context available. The museum is especially renowned for its outdoor sculpture trail, which is free to the public and features gorgeous wildlife sculptures meandering through the sage-scented hills and overlooking the National Elk Refuge.
Some sites listed here may not be open or may have limited hours or other restrictions due to COVID-19. Please check with them before you go.