I spent the majority of my childhood in Florida, then lived in California for 12 years while I was in the Navy. And yes, I did some traveling abroad for the military but there are some amazing places to visit in the United States. Beautiful cities, gorgeous landscapes, museums, historical buildings and natural landmarks that existed before the US was formed. Tons of people – myself included – often overlook the fact that within a several hours drive you can see some pretty amazing sights and vacation right near home.
Throughout the last several years, here are a few of my favorite places:
Chicago in the fall is beautiful… although I hear it gets pretty cold in the winter time. September is a great time of the year to visit. I have only been once but tried to cram in as much of the sights as we could. Absolute must see places:
- Zanies Comedy Night Club (or any comedy club if you enjoy stand-up)
- Willis (formerly known as the Sears) Tower
- Aztec Dave’s Food Truck (in the financial district)
- The Navy Pier
- The Shedd Aquarium
- Chicago Architecture Boat Tour
(Me on the Ledge at the Sky Deck, Willis Tower, Chicago 2014)
The Grand Canyon in Arizona is a national landmark that is visited by millions of people every year. It is the largest canyon in the world that was formed by the Colorado River millions of years ago. You can hike through the rugged terrain and camp overnight or grab a nearby hotel like I did and casually observe the sights from the many viewports along the road once you drive into the park. I made it a point to stop here during my recent drive from San Diego to Salt Lake City in June, 2018.
If you enjoy the historic beauty of New England, Washington D.C. is a must see. Well known for not only its dozens of political and national landmarks like the White House, the Capitol, the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, etc.), but there are also 19 museums that contain national artifacts and treasures. A few of my favorites are the National Air and Space Museum (there are two of them), the International Spy Museum and the Holocaust Memorial Museum. The Air and Space and International Spy Museums are certainly a lot of fun to explore, the Holocaust Memorial Museum is a very sobering experience. Nonetheless it’s a must see. Also, be sure to check out the multiple Memorials dedicated to heroes of specific eras.
New England, consisting of Maine, Connecticut, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Hampshire, contains the oldest and most well-known colonies in the United States. Plymouth Colony was settled in Massachusetts in 1620. Boston is a popular city to visit for its historical sites, such as Boston Common and the Bunker Hill Monument. I helped a friend move from San Diego to Boston in 2016, which was the first time I visited the city. He rented an apartment in Cambridge, which is a beautiful quaint town that houses many students of M.I.T. and Harvard. Some of my favorite places included: Fanueil Hall Marketplace (a historic indoor/outdoor shopping area), Boston Common park, kayaking on the Charles River, and some of the my favorite restaurants along the water in downtown Boston: Legal Harborside, Temazcal Tequila Cantina and Del Frisco’s. Next time I visit I’ll be sure to hit up the Skywalk Observatory in the Prudential Building, which offers a sky-high 360-degree view of the city.
A couple of places I plan to visit soon:
Yellowstone National Park
In Wyoming, the Yellowstone National Park is visited for its wildlife and mountainous scenery. This park was one of the first protected wilderness areas in the U.S. Its most famous attraction is the geyser named Old Faithful. Traffic is heavy during the summer and travel is more difficult in cold weather, so I plan to get out there sometime in September.
The Redwood trees are some of the tallest and oldest trees on earth. Hiking, biking and horseback riding trails are available. The Redwood National and State Parks allow people to see the preserved trees, temperate rainforests and wildlife of the area. I’ve driven along the Pacific Coast Highway from San Diego up to Monterey, but the Redwoods would have been another 8-hour drive North. I’m pretty sure a plane ticket will be involved in that trip.
I’m sure my love for adventure will drive me outdoors to travel some more. I’ll keep posting, so stay updated for some more travel news.
In the meantime, get out and explore!