The US has some of the most varied landscapes of any country on Earth and now is a great time to explore them. Forget international trips; magical vacations await spent rediscovering your old favorite getaway spots or uncovering stunning places you never even knew existed.
So, if you’re in need of a vacation or just a change of scenery, we’ve found three smaller US destinations that have everything you need to get outside, explore and have fun.
Seaside, Oregon, is a small coastal town only 80 miles from Portland. It’s an ideal beach getaway with long shores bordered by lush forest. You can choose to walk along the golden, sandy beach or admire the view as you walk along the town’s boardwalk. There are also plenty of activities to do year-round; the town is famous for hosting beach volleyball tournaments, which is unofficially the world’s largest tournament. And they also host the annual The Rockaway Beach Kite Festival. Stay at The Seaside Oceanfront Inn to spot the kaleidoscopic-colored kites flying high from your bedroom window.
Seaside also has some delightful hikes. Starting from the south of Seaside, follow the 6.3-mile trail along the Tillamook Head Trailhead. It will take you deep into the rainforest and past abandoned World War II bunkers covered in moss. You’ll eventually arrive at a cliff’s edge where you can gaze out at the Tillamook Rock Lighthouse resting upon a lonesome sea stack of basalt. Once you’ve finished your hike, Seaside has an array of places to eat and drink. One must-visit spot is the Seaside Brewing Co., which is located inside the old city jail and uses fresh rainwater to brew its beers. Stay close by at the Starry Night Inn.
Lake George, New York State
Lake George has been attracting families seeking a relaxing getaway for generations. It’s perfect for those looking to get closer to nature as it boasts 109 miles of shoreline and over 300 tranquil islands. It’s also considered one of the clearest and cleanest large lakes in the world – colloquially called the ‘Queen of the American Lakes’. Travelers can enjoy water sports, go parasailing, kayaking or even try their luck catching dinner. Stay close by with a view of the lake at Waterfront Lake George Retreat.
Lake George is located at the southeast base of the Adirondack Mountains so you can also spend time in the area hiking. There are miles of trails to explore as the mountains span more than six million acres – its size is nearly three times greater than Yellowstone National Park. Each trail offers a unique hiking experience and many will reward you with a 360-degree view of Lake George’s shores. Set up camp in the Adirondack Mountains or treat yourself to a few nights at the Town House Lodge.
Lake Geneva, Wisconsin
Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, is located on the eponymous body of water spanning 7.5 miles. Your first stop must be the lake itself. You can ride the local mailboat, which practices a unique delivery system called ‘mail jumping’; the mail person jumps off the boat onto a dock, places mail in the mailbox and then jumps back onto the moving boat. Of course, for those who like to take it up a notch, water sports are also a welcome pastime. After a day on the water, you can dock your boat and walk up to The Geneva Inn.
Once you manage to tear yourself away from the water, there are many family-friendly activities on offer ashore. Explore on horseback or for those who prefer the rush of adrenaline, mountain bike down the steep valley sides. For those looking for a more relaxed outing, visit Apple Barn Orchard and Winery where you can roam the orchard picking apples (when in season). There are 12 varieties of apples – such as Honeycrisp and Cortland – that they grow and sell. They also brew all of their own apple cider, so be sure to schedule a tasting in advance. Stay close by at Hampton Inn Elkhorn Lake Geneva Area.