Don’t miss Thundercat, Fleet Foxes, and more at the Outside Festival.



Try out unlimited access with 7 days of Outside+ for free.

Start Your Free Trial

Vermilion Cliffs National Monument on the Colorado Plateau

The 36 Best Places to Visit in the U.S. for Adventure

We’re celebrating the grandeur of America, from beautiful rivers, beaches, and mountains to incredible glamping outposts and wild places. Our travel experts are constantly on the road finding new adventures, and their ideas will jump-start your next unforgettable journey.

Heading out the door? Read this article on the Outside app available now on iOS devices for members! >","name":"in-content-cta","type":"link"}}'>Download the app .

Creating our annual Travel Awards package takes months of work by a large team. This time out, our travel editors unanimously decided to celebrate trips in the United States, because the pandemic reinforced what we’ve long known: there is a bounty of spectacular American destinations to share.

Next we tapped our vast network of expert travel writers, many of whom have been working with Outside for 20-plus years. Our writers are constantly out there chasing adventure and collecting information on exciting lodging, trails, rivers, beaches, road trips, and other things to do. What they came back with was impressive—the research memo for this package was 117 pages long.

Then the really hard part began: whittling down an overwhelming number of choices into one winner and one runner-up in each category. This is when the heated debates arose, as we pored over research and advocated for favorites. The final decisions were based on many factors, including new travel options, improved-upon classics, accessibility, and sustainability, and we always strive to offer a variety of geographic locales, activities, and price points.

Our overriding goal? To inspire readers to get outside and explore the world, and provide them with great ideas for years to come. —Mary Turner, deputy editor and travel director

Loggerhead Key beach and lighthouse

Beach Winner: Loggerhead Key, Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida

Dry Tortugas is one of the most remote parks in the national park system, located approximately 70 miles beyond Key West. It’s also one of the smallest. Depending on the tide, only 143 acres of sand, coral rubble, and rock make up the archipelago’s seven islands. But those islands are blessed with great beaches, including South Beach on Garden Key, home to the park’s main tourist facilities. The best, however, is on the northwest side of Loggerhead Key, accessible only via private boat or by undertaking a three-mile paddle from Garden Key. The islet is encircled by gorgeous white sand, and just offshore is a stunning coral formation called Little Africa, because it looks like a map of the continent from above. That’s one of the best places to snorkel. Paddling between the islands can be challenging, though shoals break up larger waves. For tourists coming from Key West, the Yankee Freedom catamaran offers day trips to Garden Key at 7:30 A.M. and returns at roughly 5:15 P.M. (Round-trip tickets start at $200 and include a snack, box lunch, and snorkeling equipment.) Plan to bring your own safety gear and kayak—and be sure to reserve a spot for it on the catamaran in advance—or rent what you require in Key West. You’ll also need to stop at the Garden Key dock house to pick up a free boating permit. There’s first-come, first-served camping on Garden Key ($15 per night). Come prepared to be entirely self-sufficient. —Ryan Krogh

Runner-Up: York Beach Surf Club, York, Maine

This historic cottage colony has been reimagined as a hip year-round hotel that pays homage to the 1960s surf club started by local legend L. F. “Sonny” Perkins. He and his son updated the oceanfront property starting in 2020 with Scandi-style bungalows, a restaurant serving lobster breakfast sammies, and a collection of vintage surf photos. Summer camps and lessons are held on the gentle waves and sandy shores of York Beach. Experienced surfers pack five-millimeter wetsuits and come for the area’s storied winter swell. From $350 —Jen Murphy

A dome at Oculis Lodge

Lodging Winner: Oculis Lodge, Glacier, Washington

Travelers will soon have a new way to admire the Cascade Range’s pines and peaks: the Oculis Lodge , 12 igloo-shaped domes tentatively scheduled to open before summer. The project set a record as Indiegogo’s most funded lodging campaign to date, with over $1.2 million raised. The domes, designed with a bedroom, kitchen, and sunken living room, are next-level glamping. Each sleeps up to six guests and features a private jacuzzi, sauna, and heated deck for yoga or other exercise. What’s more, all have a 15-foot-wide skylight and an en suite telescope, to give the glittery cosmos a starring role. Sustainability is a staple here; the domes consist of reclaimed and recycled materials, and they require up to 50 percent less energy to heat and cool than conventional cabin structures. With their minimal profile, the structures blend into the surrounding forest. The seven-acre property is located within 30 minutes of Mount Baker Ski Area and Mount Baker Scenic Byway, and two hours from North Cascades National Park—one of the lower 48’s least visited. But travelers staying at Oculis don’t have to go far for adventure; hiking, mountain biking, and paddling trails abound in the area. From $300 —Stephanie Vermillion

Surfing off Oahu; Sunset Bar at Turtle Bay Resort

Runner-Up: Turtle Bay Resort, Oahu

Few adventure resorts can compare to Turtle Bay, a 1,300-acre North Shore property set on land previously owned by the Hawaiian royal family. To celebrate its 50th anniversary last year, it underwent a $250 million renovation and now offers a paniolo luau dinner series, an on-site farm that supplies its restaurants and spa treatments, a surf school led by native Banzai Pipeline champ Jamie O’Brien, 12 miles of biking and hiking trails, five miles of beaches, four swimming pools, a free daily fitness class, cruiser bikes, and sunset horseback rides through the banyan trees. When you finally find yourself indoors, you’ll have a room with a view of the sea. From $680 —Tasha Zemke

Paddling Devils River

River Winner: Devils River, Texas

The rough-and-tumble landscape of southwest Texas doesn’t seem like the most fitting location for one of America’s best float trips. Yet here it is, the Devils’ pristine spring water flowing through a magical limestone canyon that’s home to black bears and mountain lions, cactus and yucca. Paddlers embarking on the 47-mile float from Baker’s Crossing to Amistad Reservoir are rewarded with the finest of the state’s overlooked outdoors: fly-fishing for native Guadalupe bass, swimming holes so clear they may as well be rock bathtubs, and nonstop Chihuahuan Desert scenery. The river alternates between long, deep pools; stretches of flat, braided water; and Class II–III rapids. Not long ago this trip, which takes most paddlers four days, was nearly unmanageable because of private land rights along the shore that made overnighting difficult. But the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, which regulates access via a permitting system, opened a series of campsites to make the multiday adventure possible. A handful of outfitters offer shuttles, canoe rentals, and fully guided trips, including Amistad Expeditions , based in nearby Del Rio. In 2019, Devils River State Natural Area was designated the first International Dark Sky Sanctuary in Texas, and camping beneath oak and wild pecan trees with the Milky Way in view is transcendent. —R.K.

To learn more about the Devil’s River float, check out this map  from Gaia GPS.

Runner-Up: Great Falls Whitewater Project, South Carolina

Vitality is rushing through Great Falls, and its source is the Catawba River, one of the nation’s newest whitewater escapes, located an hour from Charlotte, North Carolina. Duke Energy, which spearheaded the project , modified two century-old dams to restore natural river patterns, creating recreational opportunities and encouraging ecotourism. Rafters and paddlers can run Class II–III rapids in one section and Class IV in another. The restoration is expected to foster biodiversity and provide an economic boost to Great Falls, a town struggling from the loss of a once booming textile industry. —S.V

Camping with a view of the Sierra in Owens Valley

Road Trip Winner: Highway 395, Eastern Sierra, California

While U.S. 395 goes through four states between the Mojave Desert and the Canadian border, it’s the roughly 200 miles that pass by the granite giants of California’s eastern Sierra that warrant top billing. Start in the town of Inyokern and point your wheels north toward Fossil Falls, where you can hike above a volcanic canyon carved by glacial melt. Forty-six miles away, in Lone Pine, the Eastern Sierra Visitor Center’s parking lot boasts epic views of 14,494-foot Mount Whitney, the tallest peak in the contiguous United States. Get cultured at the nearby Museum of Western Film History, packed with memorabilia from some of the hundreds of movies shot in the area. Afterward, meander (or rack up to climb in) the arch-studded Alabama Hills, mesmerizing at sunset when alpenglow drapes the bulbous formations. Refuel in Bishop at Great Basin Bakery, then venture north to view the burbling wonders of Hot Creek Geologic Site, which should inspire a soak at nearby Hilltop or Wild Willy’s hot springs. Pull yourself away and head to Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve to admire the whimsical shoreline spires, then sit down to brews and bites at Whoa Nellie Deli in Lee Vining, quite possibly the best restaurant located inside a gas station in North America. Lone Pine, Bishop, and the Oh Ridge Campground at June Lake are good places to overnight, making this a perfect two- or three-day trip. —Shawnté Salabert

Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Runner-Up: Sunshine Route, Puerto Rico

A climatologist at the University of Puerto Rico calculated the average color of the sunbeams that shine across this popular Caribbean destination, and the result was a lovely red-orange hue, dubbed Puerto Rico Sunshine. This year that color inspired the creation of the new Puerto Rico Sunshine Route, which circumnavigates the island and links numerous sun-kissed spots. Start in San Juan, snorkel at places like La Parguera Natural Reserve, soak in Coamo Hot Springs, and surf in Rincón. —Tim Neville

Vermilion Cliffs National Monument on the Colorado Plateau

Public Land Winner: The Colorado Plateau

Boasting 30 national parks, monuments, and recreation areas, the Colorado Plateau is arguably America’s greatest natural playground. Shaped by the Colorado River over millions of years, the landscape’s dramatic canyons, monoliths, and mesas form a 150,580-square-mile expanse of high desert straddling the region’s Four Corners and include the spectacular spires of Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park and the cliff dwellings of Mesa Verde National Park . Now is the time to appreciate such magnificence: the river is one of the country’s most hotly contested water resources, and it’s threatened by drought. New weeklong, Navajo-led trips from the Grand Canyon Conservancy’s Field Institute provide the ultimate deep dive into the greater national-park area and its Indigenous connections (from $2,800). To explore on your own, base out of Grand Junction; this western Colorado adventure hub is a 30-minute drive from Colorado National Monument and surrounded by top-notch hiking and mountain-biking trails, campsites, and wineries. Riverfront accommodations ranging from RV sites and tiny homes to Airstreams can be found at Camp Eddy (from $50), just half a mile from Las Colonias Park, a 140-acre space along the river that’s popular with paddleboarders and kayakers. Stargazing nearly anywhere on the plateau is epic, but the Star Tower at Canyon of the Ancients Guest Ranch ( from $475 ), scheduled to open this summer, is our choice for the annular eclipse, which this year falls on October 14. Located minutes from the namesake national monument in southwest Colorado—a designated International Dark Sky Park—the two-story building resembles Anasazi ruins, and its rock-exposed bedroom features a deck where you can watch the interstellar action. —J.M.

An airboat tour of Everglades National Park; an aerial view

Runner-Up: Everglades National Park, Florida

This wild national treasure celebrated its 75th anniversary in December—all the more reason to plan a trip. Head down in the dry season, November through April, and book a room at the Ivey House Everglades Adventure Hotel in Everglades City ( from $179 ). The hotel has kayaks for rent, and staff provide expert area intel. Or sign up for an airboat tour with the guides at Gator Park to see the array of grassland wildlife. If you’d rather pitch a tent, Flamingo Adventures’ Long Pine Key Campground (from $30) is a convenient option near the Homestead park entrance. —Mary Turner

For more ideas on beautiful public lands to visit, read our story on the 18 Best State Parks in the U.S.

An aerial walkway

Wellness Winner: Castle Hot Springs, Arizona

The world starts to fade away on the dirt road to this resort an hour north of Phoenix. As you make your way down it, you’ll pass wild burros and saguaros and catch views of the jagged Bradshaw Mountains. Once you arrive at the 1,100-acre property , you’ve headed back in time. Native tribes sought out these springs for centuries. Since Castle’s inception in 1896, notable guests have included Theodore Roosevelt and JFK, who convalesced here with other veterans after World War II. The draws? Warm weather, a remote retreat from daily life, and three natural hot-spring pools of varying temperatures, whose mineral contents—magnesium, lithium, and bicarbonate, among others—are still popular with those eager to soak up health benefits. Parts of the original resort burned down in 1976, but Cindy and Mike Watts bought it in 2014 and began the process of restoring it. Today the main lodge, housing the Harvest restaurant and a small bar, is reminiscent of the past, while 30 new stand-alone bungalows and cabins, all of them with mountain views, welcome the future. There are activities by the hour, such as guided canyon hikes, e-bike rides, a via ferrata, and yoga. Or do what most guests do: chill out. (The Wi-Fi password, fittingly, is RUsureUwant2?.) A perfect day looks like this: Wake up and soak in the springs. Head to breakfast, and follow that with a hike up Salvation Peak. Return in time for lunch on the restaurant’s patio, then retreat to your room to nap or read on the porch. Late afternoon, soak in the springs again before a massage treatment. Soon enough it’s time for dinner. The food is delicious and healthy—as many of the ingredients as possible are grown on-site—but you can also get a bison burger and fries. You will leave nourished and refreshed. Recent additions include Sleep Retreats, with an expert to coach you on getting better rest. Castle is a splurge, but the price includes meals, gratuities, and many activities. From $1,575 for two people —M.T.

Fly-fishing on the Deschutes River near the Kah-Nee-Ta Resort

Runner-Up: Kah-Nee-Ta Resort, Warm Springs Reservation, Oregon

After an unexpected shutdown in 2018, Kah-Nee-Ta —a wellness-centered resort and spa 60 miles south of Mount Hood—is planning to welcome travelers back into its calming mineral waters before the end of the year. For 10,000 years, Indigenous communities have relied on the springs for healing. Now the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs have partnered with Mount Hood Skibowl to open Kah-Nee-Ta’s doors to visitors who want to learn about Native traditions. —S.V.

Chatwal Lodge

Mountain Winner: Catskill Mountains, New York

The Catskills and their namesake park—comprising about 700,000 acres of forested peaks, narrow valleys, and countless streams just 100 miles from Manhattan—are steeped in history. They’re also undergoing a renaissance, thanks to a handful of new lodges, hotels, and restaurants. Those catching our eye include the 11-room Chatwal Lodge, a log-cabin-inspired chalet overlooking the 833-acre Toronto Reservoir, and the Eastwind Oliverea Valley, with 27 cabins and rooms, A-frame saunas that nail the Scandinavian hygge vibe, and a restaurant called Dandelion that uses seasonal vegetables in its cuisine. The DeBruce, a onetime hunting lodge that’s been transformed into a 12-room inn, has a dining room with tasting menus sourced from the 600-acre property; think venison in a wild-berry reduction. The husband-and-wife duo behind the inn were semifinalists this year for a James Beard Award. As for recreational opportunities in the Catskills, not much has changed since the Gilded Age, which is a good thing. There are thousands of miles of well-maintained hiking trails, excellent mountain-biking opportunities (check out 60 miles of lift-accessed tracks at Plattekill Mountain), and dozens of lakes and ponds to explore with a paddle in hand. The Catskills are also the birthplace of American dry-fly fishing. —R.K.

Frog Lake Backcountry Hut

Runner-Up: Frog Lake Backcountry Huts, Truckee, California

In 2020, the Truckee Donner Land Trust bought property on the back side of 9,103-foot Castle Peak as part of a conservation deal, and 3,000 acres became available for recreation. Four stunning huts overlooking their eponymous lake followed in December 2021, with bunk beds, gas stoves, morning coffee brewed by a hutmaster, and down slippers in a range of sizes. The huts are accessible to backcountry skiers from December through April, or can be reached via a five-mile hiking path—a spur off the Pacific Crest Trail—July through October. They are easily the nicest huts in the Lake Tahoe area, so when the semiannual booking windows open in fall and spring, hop on it. From $65 per person —Megan Michelson

For more information on trails near Frog Lake Huts, check out this map from Gaia GPS.

Riding in Hobbs State Park on Arkansas’s Monument Trails

Biking Winner: Monument Trails, Arkansas

Arkansas has pumped a lot of energy and money into its mountain-biking trails. As a result, the state transformed into a world-class destination almost overnight. One of its most robust initiatives is a public-private partnership that created Monument Trails , an array of singletrack in Arkansas’s state parks. Many routes were designed and built by Rogue Trails, a firm based in the town of Rogers made up of former racers who take land management and sustainability seriously. The first were unveiled in 2019, another 17 were introduced in the past year and a half, and today some 75 miles span Hobbs, Mount Nebo, Pinnacle Mountain, and Devil’s Den State Parks. The shared-use trails traverse iconic landscapes, including the Ozark Mountains, pristine hardwood forests on rugged plateaus, and limestone domes, and you’ll find yourself wheeling across flowy cross-country terrain and bombing technical downhills. Bentonville, with its dynamic craft breweries, and Eureka Springs, boasting a vibrant art scene, are top choices for places to stay while you play. Funding for the expanding trail system is supported by the Arkansas Parks and Recreation Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to developing local outdoor offerings, with patronage from the Walton Family Foundation. This year marks the centennial for Arkansas State Parks, so go celebrate. —R.K.

To learn more about Arkansas’s bounty of rides, check out these Trailforks maps for Hobbs , Mount Nebo , Pinnacle Mountain , and Devil’s Den  state parks.

Mulberry Gap meetup

Runner-Up: Mulberry Gap, Ellijay, Georgia

Welcome to the mountain-biking capital of Georgia: a humble adventure base camp 90 miles north of Atlanta within Chattahoochee National Forest. This 15-acre property , formerly a private family retreat, was converted into a campground with cabins. Ride out the door to explore over 50 miles of the nearby Pinhoti Trail system. Breakfast and dinner are served family-style, and lunch is provided to stash in your daypack. On-site guides give clinics, host group rides, and organize shuttles, and a fleet of Specialized rigs are available to rent. Camping from $13; cabins from $55 —M.M.

Huttopia tent

Glamping Winner: Huttopia, New Hampshire

At this outpost in the White Mountains, fully furnished canvas tents are scattered throughout a 50-acre forest, complete with its own 68-acre lake and heated saltwater pool. Huttopia also offers a gathering area with fire pits, tables, chairs, and flatbread pizza served from a retro Airstream. Each tent has its own kitchen, bathroom, deck, fire pit, and electricity, or you can upgrade to a tiny home or chalet. Either way you’ll be able to swim, paddle, or fish Huttopia’s Iona Lake during the day and enjoy live performances by magicians and acoustic artists at night. The resort goes out of its way to welcome kids, with organized activities like treasure hunts and craft time. Venture off-site to hike 6,288-foot Mount Washington, tube the lazy Saco River, or pedal the 35-mile Kancamagus Scenic Byway, which curves through the heart of White Mountain National Forest. And it’s all just two and a half hours from Boston. From $88 —Graham Averill

Ulum in Moab, Utah; gourmet eats at New Mexico’s Kitfox

Runners-Up: Glamping News Is Ridiculously Good This Year. Here Are Six More Places on Our Radar.

*You’ll forget that you’re camping at Open Sky , just west of Zion National Park, Utah, where spacious safari-style tents are tucked into the rocky surroundings, offering primo stargazing and quick access to park trails. From $599

* Ulum , outside Moab, Utah, is the latest venture from Under Canvas. Each tent has its own private deck and a rain shower, and is steps from hot and cool dipping pools. From $549. Under Canvas Yellowstone , located in Paradise Valley, Montana, opened in December along the Yellowstone River. From $329

*At Summit Big Bend , placed on 1,000 picturesque acres outside Big Bend National Park in West Texas, you can bed down inside a renovated mining cave tucked into a cliff. Caves $549, glamping from $198

*Book a tent at Kitfox , on 160 acres of conservation land outside Santa Fe, New Mexico, for one of the resort’s Dine in the Wild weekends, when a local chef prepares homegrown fare. Hiking and biking in Galisteo Basin Preserve are right outside your door. From $200

* Dunes Experiences’ Desert Camp is scheduled to launch in June next to Colorado’s Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, featuring safari-style tents and guided excursions in the surrounding San Luis Valley. $250 —G.A.

The clubhouse at AutoCamp in Joshua Tree

Desert Winner: Joshua Tree, California

This dramatic desert landscape is having a moment, with plenty of new projects. The recently opened nine-mile Long Canyon Trail, for example, links Desert Hot Springs with Joshua Tree National Park, and a new stewardship agreement between the Park Service and the Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians will involve the tribe in park management, interpretive services, cultural and historical training, and rescue and wildfire operations. Meanwhile, lodging options keep getting better. AutoCamp opened a property with decked-out Airstream trailers surrounding a modern clubhouse and a heated pool. You’ll find The Bungalows—newly refurbished mid-century modern cottages—at the 152-acre, wellness-focused Joshua Tree Retreat Center. While you’re in the area, knock out a through-hike of the California Hiking and Riding Trail, a 37-mile point-to-point path that forms a U through the northern section of the park and heads deep into the backcountry, with views of the Little San Bernardino Mountains to the west and Lost Horse and Hidden Valley to the north. The terrain ranges from rolling scrubland and valley floors thick with iconic Joshua trees to Jumbo Rocks, a field of massive boulders. Hit this trail in the early spring, when the terrain bursts with wildflowers. Hungry? The new Spaghetti Western Saloon in Morongo Valley is the brainchild of two Italian-born musicians; it offers live performances, locally and organically sourced ingredients, and Wild West–inspired cocktails. —G.A.

Hiking the Great Kobuk Sand Dunes

Runner-Up: Great Kobuk Sand Dunes, Alaska

Thirty-five miles north of the Arctic Circle in Kobuk Valley National Park , a curious sight rises 100 feet out of the forest—the Great Kobuk Sand Dunes. Spend two days hiking and camping in what seems like the Sahara, where summer temperatures can reach 100 degrees. The best way in and out is by bush plane via the town of Kotzebue or Bettles. The pilot will land right on the sand. —T.N.

Double arch bridge on Natchez Trace Parkway, Franklin, Tennessee surrounded by fall colors.

Electric Travel Winner: Natchez Trace Parkway, Tennessee and Mississippi

The West Coast doesn’t have a monopoly on EV-charger density. The Natchez Trace Parkway, a 444-mile highway through rural Tennessee and Mississippi that’s managed by the National Park Service, has more than 300 charging stations in surrounding communities. Most are free, and more than half are level three—the fastest available. The road itself is packed with cultural touchstones, tracing a route once used by Native Americans, European settlers, and, lately, roadsters looking for a slice of Americana. With no stoplights, no billboards, and little development outside of the occasional restored barn or farmhouse, the Natchez Trace rolls through hills blanketed with hardwood and pine forests. Start in Nashville and end at the Mississippi River in the town of Natchez, checking out highlights as varied as Elvis’s birthplace in Tupelo (milepost 260) and the dome-shaped mounds built by Indigenous people 2,000 years ago (milepost 286.7). It’s a bike-friendly route, with campsites for bikepackers; form a rolling 22-mile loop by combining Highway 553 with the Trace between mileposts 10 and 20. If you’re driving, stop at the Chickasaw Village Site (milepost 261.8), a 90-acre prairie with the preserved homes of a Native village, and explore the Yockanookany section of the Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail (milepost 122) through the cypress swamp left behind when the Pearl River changed course thousands of years ago. —G.A.

Town and Harbor of Bar Harbor in Acadia National Park,maine,USA

Runner-Up: E-Biking in Maine

Cycling coastal Maine is beautiful, but add sailing, secluded beaches, and numerous chances to eat lobster, and you’ve got a winning combo. Ride with Summer Feet Cycling from Port Clyde to Acadia National Park—a six-day adventure—sleeping at inns along the way ($3,695). Your e-bike makes the climb up Cadillac Mountain all the more memorable. —T.N.

Arrigetch Peaks

Hiking Winner: Arrigetch Peaks, Alaska

Think Mordor, but transported to Alaska. Set in the middle of Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve , an area that welcomed fewer than 9,500 visitors last year, these 7,000-foot granite peaks are so remote that most trekkers opt for a guided tour in July or August, when the weather is best and wildlife abounds. Between the peaks are six incredibly clear aquamarine lakes in the Aquarius Valley, and the journey to get there is just as stunning. Alaska Alpine Adventures, which has led group tours around the state for 25 years, offers a rigorous ten-day backpacking expedition starting and ending in Fairbanks that takes in the Alatna River, glacial valleys, and burbling waterfalls over the course of some 40 miles (from $6,000). For a less time-intensive way to check out the Arrigetch, Brooks Range Aviation and Coyote Air, based in Bettles and Coldfoot, respectively, offer flightseeing trips (from $785) that put the scope of the area into better perspective, plus glimpses of herds of roaming wildlife. While you’re in the Land of the Midnight Sun, take advantage of your proximity to the Alaska Railroad, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. From May through early September, the line’s scenic 12-day Centennial Special runs from Anchorage to Fairbanks via Seward—a 470-mile historic route that lets you gawk at Denali, the Kenai Fjords, and several glaciers through your panoramic window (from $5,155). —Emily Pennington

To plan your route in the Arrigetch Peaks, check out this map from Gaia GPS. For more hiking inspiration, read Outside’s trail expert’s guide to the 10 best hikes in the world .

Boston’s Back Bay

Runner-Up: Urban Hiking in Boston

The pandemic may have put city trails in the spotlight, but urban treks have long been a staple in Boston, one of the country’s most walkable burgs. There’s the lauded Freedom Trail, Boston’s signature colonial-history jaunt to churches, cemeteries, and other sites from the American Revolution. And last year, a Bostonian created the 27-mile Walking City Trail, linking green spaces in 17 neighborhoods. —S.V.

Rafting the New River in West Virginia

Family Trip Winner: New River Gorge, West Virginia

West Virginia has been getting the word out about all its spectacular nature of late—notably the churning whitewater, forested trails, and sandstone cliffs of America’s 63rd national park, New River Gorge . With so many recreational opportunities for every age and expertise level, this is our pick for families. Base out of Adventures on the Gorge, a 350-acre resort in Lansing, for all things outdoorsy. There are hiking trails, a disc-golf course, a zip line, and a swimming pool, plus multi-bedroom home rentals. Staff organize half-, full-, or multiday outings for your river crew. (Children from 6 to 11 raft free with an accompanying adult Sundays through Thursdays.) Plan your trip to coincide with Gauley Season, a six-week whitewater extravaganza—beginning this year on September 8—that draws thousands of people to test their skills on the Class III–V rapids let loose by scheduled releases of the Summersville Dam. Plenty of dryland activities beckon, too, including treks to historic mining communities, rock climbing for all skill grades, and horseback riding to the rim of the gorge. It’s easy to see why West Virginia’s slogan is Wild and Wonderful. —E.P.

Flight of beer at Philipsburg Brewing Company

Runner-Up: Philipsburg, Montana

In winter, families head to Philipsburg’s Discovery Ski Area—known as Disco to locals—for its easy frontside groomers. In town you’ll find a community ice rink, old-fashioned candy at the Sweet Palace, and cold craft beer at Philipsburg Brewing Company. Come summer, Philipsburg (population 847) is a quaint base camp for mellow hikes in the Anaconda Pintler Wilderness, fishing for brook trout in Georgetown Lake, and downhill mountain biking at Discovery Bike Park. At nearby Gem Mountain, you can even pan for sapphires—the treasure that put this former mining town on the map. —Jacob Baynham

Getaway House cabin

Cabins Winner: Getaway House

Jon Staff was a burned-out East Coaster when he and a partner at Harvard Business School came up with a plan that focused on doing what he needed most: getting into nature to reset his mood, with zero distractions. Getaway House was born from that impetus. What started as one small house in a New Hampshire forest has grown into more than 780 tiny homes, set in clusters called outposts, in at least 15 states, all of them within a couple of hours of a major city. The idea behind each stay is for guests to fully disconnect from day-to-day life so they can reconnect in a healthier way upon reentry. Each white pine home is no bigger than 200 square feet and designed with a small kitchen, a large window for taking in the trees, and a lockbox for your phone. TV? Wi-Fi? Don’t ask. Instead, you’ll find an outdoor fire pit, a mini library, and a landline for emergencies. More than two dozen popular outposts now dot the country. One of the newest, near Asheboro, North Carolina, has trails and fishing, and sits within day-tripping distance of Birkhead Mountain Wilderness; there’s also a 12-mile round-trip hike up 938-foot Coolers Knob Mountain in the Uwharries. From $109 —T.N.

Jet Hospitality interior

Runner-Up: Jet Hospitality

Looking to hook a gorgeous Montana rainbow trout, dig razor clams in Washington, or pick wild huckleberries on a stroll in Idaho? Jet Hospitality has you covered throughout the western U.S., with cabins, bungalows, and inns, along with glamping, tent, and RV sites, in Fort Smith, Montana; Pacific Dunes, Washington; and Teton Peaks Resort, Idaho, where you can hike or ride along the 30-mile Ashton-Tetonia Rail Trail or enjoy a wolf-watching adventure in Yellowstone National Park. —T.N.

The view from Burntside Lodge

Lake Winner: Burntside Lodge, Minnesota

In January, the Department of the Interior announced withdrawal of more than 225,000 acres of public land from federal mine-leasing programs near Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. The 20-year hiatus allows campers to finally relax and reserve one of the 248 coveted permits allowed per day to enjoy paddling season, which starts May 1 and ends September 30. Not everyone who wants to explore the pristine north woods must sleep in a tent. Burntside Lodge on Burntside Lake—one of dozens of Boundary Waters entry points—has been owned by the LaMontagne family for more than 80 years. Its third-generation head chef, Nicole LaMontagne, serves up walleye as fresh and flaky as you could catch and fry yourself. With kayaks, canoes, and SUPs for rent, guests can paddle across the water to the Crab Lake Portage, then hike a mile overland for a taste of the wilderness. But most are happy to stay put. Reserve cabin 26. This one-bedroom shorefront log structure was built in the 1920s by Finnish craftsmen. The floors slope a bit, but with a cozy bed, a hot shower, a fireplace, and sunset views, who cares? —Stephanie Pearson

Runner-Up: Keweenaw Peninsula, Michigan

The Keweenaw Peninsula, off Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, juts into Lake Superior like a thumb ringed by thick forests, craggy shores, and a white-sand beach. You can see it all while paddling a sea kayak on the 100-mile-long Keweenaw Water Trail as it hops between wilderness campsites. If you’d prefer to be guided, go with the Keweenaw Adventure Company . —T.N.

St. Croix positioning system

Island Winner: St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands

St. Croix is the largest of the U.S. Virgin Islands, which offer five National Park Service sites and require no passport for American citizens. Sitting 40 miles south of the more popular Caribbean counterparts St. Thomas and St. John, St. Croix is often overlooked by island-hopping visitors. It’s newly in the spotlight, however, after Congress designated the entire island a national heritage area in December. This step helps protect its mix of history and culture. A stroll through the colonial structures of Christiansted National Historic Site transports you back to Alexander Hamilton’s day, when the downtown district was a Danish port. Wander the shores of Salt River Bay, a somber reminder of the centuries when migrants, colonizers, and enslaved people passed through the territory. The island is also covered with trails that deliver incredible sea views, and snorkelers of any skill level will relish a day trip to Buck Island to marvel at massive reef systems where elkhorn coral may reach 30 feet high. For accommodations, consider the recently renovated King Christian Hotel, right on the waterfront. From $229 —Theresa McKinney

Cottage charm on Dauphin Island

Runner-Up: Dauphin Island, Alabama

Visiting Dauphin, a 35-mile drive from Mobile on the Gulf Coast, will be a revelation once you glimpse the six miles of sugar-soft white dunes at West End Beach. The island is also home to a 137-acre Audubon bird sanctuary, with a three-mile-long National Recreational Trail, as well as excellent kayaking and paddling. This sliver of land has just 1,800 residents, the restaurants tend toward the bar-and-grill variety, and most vacation rentals are on stilts to protect against hurricanes—all of which contributes to its relaxed charm. —R.K.

Taos Ski Valley

Ski Winner: Taos Ski Valley, New Mexico

Operating a ski resort is an inherently resource-intensive business. Taos Ski Valley , however, has long taken a more conscientious approach, proving itself a maverick in the industry by committing to clean-energy initiatives. Taos was the first major ski resort to become a certified B Corp, which means that its operations meet the highest social and environmental standards. Late last year, it became carbon-neutral certified after reducing its footprint. It now uses renewable energy to power snowcats, snowmaking machines, and chairlifts; it has undergone green-building upgrades; and it invests in offset projects like reforestation and biofuels. Aside from its reputation for driving change, the main reason skiers flock to this resort in northern New Mexico is for the uncrowded, low-key vibe. That and the quick hike to steep chutes off the West Basin, bird’s-eye views of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains from atop 12,481-foot Kachina Peak, and the green-chile-stuffed breakfast burritos from Bumps Market in the village. Stay at the 80-room Blake Hotel (from $300) and you’re steps from Lift 1. (The historic Hotel St. Bernard, another favorite, is undergoing a renovation and is slated to reopen in 2025.) Start this off with Al’s Run for a leg-crushing warm-up, and at day’s end join those in the know for beer and soft pretzels on the deck of the Bavarian at the bottom of Lift 4. —M.M.

Bluebird Backcountry cabin

Runner-Up: Bluebird Backcountry, Kremmling, Colorado

When Bluebird Backcountry opened three years ago, it offered a unique way to get into ski touring—with trail maps, guides, and gear rentals. You won’t find chairlifts at this 1,200-acre ski-patrolled area 45 minutes southeast of Steamboat Springs; it’s all human-powered. Over the winter, Bluebird added lodging options, including van-camping sites, a hostel, rustic cabins, and ski-to domes (from $25 for camping, $59 for hostel rooms, and $109 for cabins and domes). There’s no fancy slopeside hotel, but that’s partly why Bluebird’s so awesome: it’s an affordable escape from crowded resorts. —M.M.

Badlands, South Dakota

The Wildest Place Winner: Black Hills and Badlands, South Dakota

The nation’s 17th largest state has a population of just under one million, about a fifth of whom live in Sioux Falls. The entire western third of the state is prairie grasslands, dense pine forests, geologically fascinating rock formations, and national parks filled with sacred caves and fossilized creatures from another era. See it all along the 111-mile Centennial Trail. Accessible to hikers, horseback riders, and, in some places, mountain bikers, the trail traverses state parks, federal wilderness, national forests, and a national park. It begins eight miles northeast of Sturgis in Bear Butte State Park, named for a plug of black igneous rock sacred to both the Lakota and Cheyenne. It then climbs into the wild geology of the Black Hills, home to pronghorn, bighorn sheep, elk, and turkey, winding around seven trout-filled lakes, crossing streams, and eventually topping out at 7,242-foot Black Elk Peak, before ending in Wind Cave National Park . Camping options vary from primitive tent sites to full campgrounds. Two-thirds in, the trail passes within a mile of Mount Rushmore, where hikers can peel off and sleep in a comfortable glamping tent at Under Canvas Mount Rushmore. To ensure no wrong turns, pick up the definitive guide, Hiking Centennial Trail, by Cheryl Whetham and Jukka Huhtiniemi. —S.P.

A petroglyph and wild terrain in Basin and Range National Monument

Runner-Up: Basin and Range National Monument, Nevada

Even in a state known for vast, empty landscapes, this 704,000-acre national monument two hours north of Las Vegas takes the prize. With no paved roads or designated hiking trails and unreliable cell service, you’re on your own to climb, roam, and suss out primitive camps in this desert terrain, where peaks rise to almost 9,000 feet. A lucky six people per day can visit City, a monumental sculpture of dirt, rock, and concrete mounds and depressions created over 50 years by artist Michael Heizer. Submissions to visit in 2023 are closed. Try again for 2024 at the Triple Aught Foundation’s website. —S.P.

Gaia GPS and Trailforks are owned by Outside Inc., the same company that owns Outside .

  • North America
  • United States

When you buy something using the retail links in our stories, we may earn a small commission. We do not accept money for editorial gear reviews. Read more about our policy.

Matador Original Series

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

America's 20 Coolest Outdoor Towns

T HIS LIST COULD EASILY HAVE 100 PLACES. The US simply has so many canyons and rivers and slopes, so much coastline, all of it with rad little towns along the way.

So putting together this list, we narrowed it down with a few criteria:

  • The place should be an actual town, not just a spot or destination. In other words, you can live/work there year round, and even in the “off-season” it’s still cool.
  • The outdoor objectives that make the place so rad must be part of the immediate surroundings. If you can’t climb / ski / paddle / surf right in town, the access should be just beyond, not an hour away.
  • The place should have a notable culture, tradition, or local economy around the activities (and natural resources) themselves. Of special mention are places such as Salida, where actual infrastructure has been developed (manmade whitewater features) that brings cool events and awareness to the town.

For obvious reasons, we came back with a high concentration of places out West (and in Hawaii/Alaska). May not be fair, but if you visit you’ll understand.

All this said, finding big lines can happen anywhere. Where I grew up in the southern Piedmont (forested, gentle rolling hills kind of terrain), a trickling neighborhood ditch became a gnarly class V kayak run if you caught it right after a thunderstorm.

The ultimate limitation is never the place but your imagination. Let us know the what kinds of lines you’re finding right in your town.

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

1. Haleiwa, HI

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

Photo: Ppictures /Shutterstock

Perfect day

Morning surf at the break of choice followed by coffee and pastries from Coffee Gallery in Haleiwa, or a fresh acai bowl from Haleiwa Bowls. If waves are blown out, hike or bike ride along the North Shore bike path to work up another big appetite, then spicy tuna quinoa salad from Pupukea Grill and laze around Waimea Bay til the sun goes down.

Beers: The pool bar or Surfer, the Bar at Turtle Bay — live music and drinks while you watch the sun go down over the ocean! Eats: Haleiwa Bowls , Pupukea Grill , Waialua Bakery , The Elephant Truck, Lei Lei’s Bar & Grill , Coffee Gallery Coffee: Coffee Gallery Gear: Number 808, Guava Shop , Surf N Sea , Two Crows Surfboards Music venue: Surfer, the Bar

2. Bishop, CA

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

Photo: Geartooth Productions /Shutterstock

Option 1 — Morning yoga, tea or coffee and breakfast at The Black Sheep, route climbing in the Owens River Gorge or Pine Creek. Soaking in hot springs. Home-cooked dinner with locally sourced beef and veggies. Option 2 — Morning road bike ride through Round Valley to Mammoth or out on HWY 6 toward Nevada. Bouldering session at the Buttermilks or Tablelands. Hot springs soaking. Dinner at The Mountain Rambler Brewery

Beers: Mountain Rambler Brewery (hand downs), The Black Sheep (happy hour 4-6 daily) Eats: The Bishop Burger Barn , Thai Thai (at the Bishop airport). Mountain Rambler Brewery , Schats Roadhouse , Las Palmas Coffee: The Black Sheep (the BEST) Gear: Gear Exchange (consignment and new gear), Eastside Sports

Special thanks: Katie Lambert .

3. Chattanooga, TN

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

Photo: Sean Pavone /Shutterstock

Kayaking and whitewater rafting as well as SUPping are all prime and can be done in the city proper as well as nearby areas. There is also endless epic mountain biking as well a road biking. The bouldering at Little Rock City is on Signal mountain and offers some of the best sandstone climbing in the nation. The Tennessee Wall for both sport and trad climbing is epic. There are also over a dozen other local and in-town climbing spots. For those rainy and too hot days there are three indoor climbing gyms. Canyoneering is also really popular.

Beers: The Terminal Brewhouse Eats: Aretha Frankensteins — punk rock breakfast for every meal, Sofa King Juicy Burger — grass-fed beef burgers, homemade ice cream, good beer, The Terminal Brewhouse — tavern food and drinks, Main Street Farmers Market on Wednesdays Coffee: Milk and Honey — eco-farmed coffee Gear: Rock Creek for new gear, The Gear Closet for used and consignment Music venue: Mountain Opry goes off Friday nights

4. Salida, CO

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

Photo: aaronj9 /Shutterstock

Winter — Monarch Pass for a day of ripping groomers at the resort or fresh turns in the backcountry. Best scenario is a non-holiday weekday after a storm, when it’s all untracked powder and nonexistent lift lines. Then head back into town for beers, burgers, and bluegrass at Benson’s. Summer — Hop on your mountain bike and haul up S Mountain with endless access to single track. Afternoon on the water, paddling. Plenty of put-ins on the Arkansas River upstream, in town, and downstream from Salida. Commercial operations run the Browns Canyon section north of town.

Beers: Benson’s , Elevation Brewing , Wood’s High Mountain Distillery (for current or aspiring whiskey lovers) Eats: Amica’s — housemade pizzas and microbrews (limited seating so go early), Ploughboy for all-natural groceries, The Fritz , Laughing Ladies Coffee: Cafe Dawn on G Street — tons of natural light and doesn’t mind if you post up for a while Gear: Salida Mountain Sports right downtown, Subculture Cyclery Music venue: The SteamPlant Theater, right on the river at the terminus of the local bike trail

5. San Luis Obispo, CA

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

Photo: HannaTor /Shutterstock

Surf check or predawn hike up Prefumo Canyon, then drive the See Canyon side (golden and beautiful in the early morning light) then down into Avila Beach for breakfast at KravaBowl (acai bowl). Shell Beach Ridge Trail or Bishop’s Peak afterwards, then beach time and a brew at Bang the Drum.

Beers: Bang the Drum Brewery Eats: Foremost Wine Co. , KravaBowl Coffee: Scout Coffee Gear: The Mountain Air Music venue: SLO Brewing Company

6. Jackson Hole, WY

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

Photo: CSNafzger /Shutterstock

Option 1 — Morning mountain bike laps on Teton Pass, lunch at Elevated Grounds Coffee House, hike up to Phelps Lake in Grand Teton National Park and session the jump-rock on the north side of the lake, sushi and drinks at Sudachi to close out the day. Option 2 — Morning hike to Delta Lake in Grand Teton National Park followed by lunch at Dornan’s taking in the view of the Tetons, river surf session down at Lunch Counter Rapid on the Snake River, back to town for dinner at Local followed by a nightcap at the Rose. In winter, ski JMHR — Corbet’s if it’s in.

Beers: Snake River Brewery , Melvin Brewing , The Deck at the top of the Bridger Gondola Eats: Teton Thai , Snake River Grill , Persephone , Pica’s Coffee: Elevated Grounds Gear: Skinny Skis , Teton Mountaineering Music venue: The Pink Garter , The Million Dollar Cowboy Bar — best people watching in town and live country

7. Valdez, AK

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

Photo: Yongyut Kumsri /Shutterstock

Spend winter days backcountry skiing on Thompson Pass — via helicopter, snowmachine, or your own two feet. Ice climb the many waterfalls of Keystone Canyon. Hit up the groomed Mineral Creek cross-country trails. In summer, paddling takes precedence — run Lowe River and Mineral Creek, sea kayak Shoup Glacier. Halibut fishing, sport climbing and bouldering, trekking Valdez Glacier, and fly fishing for dollies on Robe River are also good options on gloriously long summer days.

Beers: Wheelhouse Lounge Eats: Totem Restaurant for hearty breakfasts. Fish n’ chips Alaska-style at the Halibut House. Crab and steaks at T.H.C. Off the Hook Grill . Coffee: Drive-thru espresso at Sacred Grounds or organic drip from Rogue’s Garden Gear: Prospector Outfitters for everything from ABS packs to kayaks to guns and ammo Music venue: The Pipeline Club

8. Moab, UT

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

Photo: Anthony Heflin /Shutterstock

Option 1 — Morning coffee and breakfast burrito at “Wake and Bake,” hike into Hunter Canyon for a little-visited backcountry arch (on your right). Grab a pint and burger for lunch at the Moab Brewery. Go to Arches National Park and make the 1.5-mile hike into Delicate Arch for sunset. Bring a headlamp and stick around to see the Milky Way rise behind the arch. Option 2 — Early morning coffee at Eklecticafe. Mountain bike vaunted red-rock trails, Slickrock and Amasa Back. Grab food-truck tastiness at Quesadilla Mobilla before heading out for a sunset tour in a Hummer through Moab Adventure Center.

Beers: Moab Brewery , Eddie McStiff’s Eats: Cowboy Grill, The Desert Bistro, Quesadilla Mobilla , Zax Restaurant , Moab Diner Coffee: Wake and Bake , Eklecticafe , Moab Coffee Roasters , Wicked Brew Gear: Moab Adventure Center , Pagan Mountaineering , GearHeads Music: Woody’s Tavern

9. Truckee, CA

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

Photo: Khanh Le /Shutterstock

Anything multi-sport springtime: Ski corn, downhill or cross-country mountain bike up Western States or Martis Peak and then wrap up the day with a fly-fishing session on the Little Truckee as the dry flies start popping. Maybe even a surf strike mission to SF if you can squeeze it in. Get a quick climb in up on Donner Summit at Snowshed or Blackwall…just to round it out.

Beers: A cooler by the river or at the Chamoix if you can make it before the sun goes behind tram face Coffee: Coffee Bar on Jibboom or Wildflour in Squaw Eats: Tacos Jalisco , or next door at Treat Box for a burger Gear: The Backcountry , Tahoe Sports Hub , Start Haus does a great tune Music venue: Moody’s

Special thanks: Tucker Patton.

10. Leavenworth, WA

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

Photo: Checubus /Shutterstock

Wake up early for a coffee and a hearty breakfast with a view. In summer, drive up Hwy 2 for a morning adrenaline rush at the downhill mountain bike park at Stevens Pass. Then paddle class-III Wenatchee or III/IV Skykomish. After that, get back into town (aka, “Der Town”) for beers and lunch at Icicle Brewery. Next best bet is to grab your rod and reel and head to the Wenatchee for the evening hatch or squeeze in some climbing on Washington’s best granite crags.

Beers: Icicle Brewing Company Eats: Good Mood Food Coffee: Argonaut Gear: Leavenworth Mountain Sports Music venue: Fest Halle

11. Lander, WY

Wake with the sun, throw your rack in the truck, and head into Sinks Canyon for epic trad and sport climbing. Sandstone, granite, dolomite, ice — if you can climb it, Lander has it. After climbing, continue up the canyon until it opens into a lush alpine meadow for picnic lunch — this is your taste of the remote Wind River backcountry. Don’t forget your fly rod to hook a few brookies. Cool off at Popo Agie Falls on the Middle Fork Trail. Should be beer-thirty by then.

Beers: Lander Brewing Company Eats: The Middle Fork killer breakfast and lunch, Gannett Grill — grass-fed burgers on the patio Coffee: Old Town Coffee Gear: Wild Iris Mountain Sports Music venue: Lander Bar

12. Fruita, CO

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

Photo: GROGL /Shutterstock

The “Moab of Colorado” is a two-wheel, red-rock dreamscape. Morning session biking the steep and technical Kokopelli area trails — Rustler’s Loop is a good warmup. Beat the afternoon heat rafting the Colorado River with a mellow, three-hour float down the Blue Heron Run. The sunset: a cavalcade of high-desert reds, yellows, browns, and oranges.

Beers: Copper Club Brewing Company for 18 Road IPA Eats: Simple, fresh ingredients at Hot Tomato Pizza Coffee: Aspen Street Coffee Gear: Over the Edge for all your fat tire needs Music venue: Community-supported Cavalcade hosts concerts, open mics, variety shows, etc

Special thanks: Veronica Daehn Harvey

13. Grand Marais, MN

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

Photo: Nquinn /Shutterstock

Summer outdoor recreation revolves around freshwater lakes — from massive Lake Superior to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness — so bring your paddle. Over 100 miles of cross-country ski trails are enough to fill many winter days, but downhill skiers can also hit up nearby Lutsen Mountain, one of the midwest’s most-legit ski hills.

Beers: Voyageur Brewing Company Eats: Crooked Spoon , My Sister’s Place , Gun Flint Tavern Coffee: Java Moose Gear: Stone Harbor Music venue: Gun Flint Tavern

Special thanks: Eric Frost

14. Bend, OR

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

Photo: Kris Wiktor /Shutterstock

Perfect days in Bend begin with trad climbing at Smith Rock, where hundreds of routes ascend the riverside cliff face. Then SUP Deschutes River or tackle some of the almost 300 miles of single-track mountain biking. Stroll downtown for a bevy of brewpub options.

Beers: Deschutes Brewery lives up to its reputation, plus Bend’s roughly 12(!) other microbreweries and ale houses Eats: Pilot Butte Drive-in for burgers, McKay Cottage Restaurant for breakfast and lunch Coffee: Backporch Coffee Roasters serves up a mean espresso Gear: Mountain Supply , Pine Mountain Sports Music venue: Tower Theatre , Silver Moon Brewery

15. Montauk, NY

Blizzard precipitation and yet somehow strong offshore winds and barreling, 6 foot conditions. Post surf thaw at Coffee Tauk and then back to someone’s house to look at the video your friends shot of y’all out there getting snowy coverups.

Beers: Montauk Brewing Company , The Surf Lodge , Liar’s Saloon Eats: Naturally Good Foods & Cafe , Joni’s Kitchen, Inlet Seafood — for the view alone, Montauk Bake Shoppe Coffee: Coffee Tauk Gear: Paddle Diva , Air & Speed Surf Shop Music venue: The Surf Lodge , The Gig Shack

16. Hawi, Big Island, HI

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

Photo: Maridav /Shutterstock

Predawn drive on Kohala Mtn. Road through the small town of Hawi and arriving at Pololu Valley for a sunrise hike. Post hike coffee at the Kohala Coffee Mill. Afternoon surf at one of the spots near town. Lunch at King’s View Cafe. If you’re super fired up, an early evening bike ride on Kohala Mtn Road before Dinner at the Bamboo Restaurant. A mellower option is to spend the afternoon watching whales breach just offshore (Feb-April) and snorkeling one of the countless reefs in the crystal clear water.

Eats: Bamboo Restaurant , Kohala Coffee Mill , Kings View Cafe Coffee: Kohala Coffee Mill

17. Big Sky, Montana

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

Photo: Seth Royal Kroft /Shutterstock

Spend a long, sunny day floating the Yellowstone catching trout, swimming off the boat, and working on a cooler of Moose Drool . Come winter, ski an uncrowded January pow day on Lone Peak. Either season, end the day with beers and mountain views on a deck.

Beers: Riverhouse deck in summer, Shedhorn Grill deck in winter, Big Sky Brewing Eats: Lotus Pad for Thai food, By Word of Mouth for burgers Coffee: Spur Coffee , buzz shakes at the Hungry Moose Gear: GAS or Grizzly Outfitters in winter, East Slope or Gallatin River Guides for fishing Music venue: Town Center stage for free Thursday night concerts

18. Santa Cruz, CA

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

Photo: stellamc /Shutterstock

In the water by dawn: Steamer Lane, the Hook, Pleasure Point, Natural Bridges. Shower off kelp slime and hit boozy brunch at Harbor Cafe. Afternoon nap followed by afternoon laps at UCSC MTB freeride trail and then go drive along the coast at sunset and check spots, or fly drones or something if the waves are blown out. Finish out the night nodding to indie rock or possibly corridos at The Catalyst.

Beers: Sante Adairius , Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing Eats: Harbor Cafe Coffee: Verve Coffee Music venue: The Catalyst

19. Brevard, NC

Depending on water levels / hair-factor, do quick strikes on North and West forks of French Broad, or big mission on the Horsepasture or Toxaway. Other options include long play day on Section IV or just a day hike to check out waterfalls in Gorges State Park . Optimal conditions: warm bluebird day in late September after two nights of rain, the tulip trees are are yellow and the maples are starting to flame, and water temps are not yet cold. Head back to town for Mexican food blowout, beers, live bluegrass.

Beers: Oskar Blues Eats: Quixote Coffee: Bracken Mountain Bakery Music venue: 185 King St

20. Fayetteville, WV

Wake up at the Gauley River (camp here ) with vague memories of “fire jumping” at some point during the night before rain forced everyone into their tents. It’s a full on deluge now and under the kitchen tarp the crew is already talking about a triple crown run: the Lower Meadow down through the Upper Gauley, then a juicy late day run down New River Gorge. It’s your closeout to Gauleyfest, the best week of whitewater in the US, and never are you so proud to live on 40 mins away.

Beers: Pies and Pints Gear: ACE Adventure Gear

Discover Matador

Adventure travel, train travel, national parks, beaches and islands, ski and snow.

National Geographic content straight to your inbox—sign up for our popular newsletters here

A bright moon shines above a tent and canoes camped along the river's edge of the Rio Grande near Boquillas Canyon and La Linda.


Here are the best ways to get outdoors in all 50 states

How to find wild adventures across the U.S., from hiking Hawaii’s highest peak to snowshoeing amid Michigan’s frozen waterfalls.

From the deserts of Arizona to the rocky coastline of Maine , from the sandy shores of Florida to the peaks of Colorado , the United States offers a breathtaking range of natural landscapes. The new National Geographic book Great Outdoors USA: 1,000 Adventures Across All 50 States reveals how to hike, raft, climb, surf, and bike through some of the best of them. Here are 50 of its top picks, one in each state.

Maine: Hike to amazing views—with no crowds

For a coastal hike that rivals any in Acadia National Park (minus the tourist hordes), Bald Mountain Trail is a 3.4-mile, lollipop-shaped loop to the summit for 180-degree views over Penobscot Bay. On a clear day, you can see Rockport to the south, Acadia to the east, and dozens of islands.

( Visiting Maine: Here’s what the locals love .)

Autumn Cannon Mountain detail with rolling mist

New Hampshire: Hike from hut to hut

High in the White Mountains of the Granite State , eight backcountry hostels welcome hikers with warm meals and comfy bunks. Open for more than a century, the huts spread from Franconia Notch State Park to the slopes of the Carter-Moriah Range, serving as waystations amid alpine tundra, ridge trails, and waterfalls.

Vermont: Ice-skate through a lakeside winter wonderland

Each winter, trail builders from Lake Morey Resort near the town of Fairlee, Vermont , create the Lake Morey Skate Trail , a 4.3-mile icy path that skirts the shoreline past a pine forest, where bald eagles are known to roost. Bring your own skates or rent a pair from the resort.

New Jersey: Follow birds and butterflies in Cape May

Monarch butterflies sipping nectar in a field of yellow flowers in Cape May, New Jersey

In September and October, the Victorian beach town of Cape May , New Jersey , sees tens of thousands of monarch butterflies wing through on their journey to Mexico for the winter. See them from the Garrett Family Preserve , also a prime spot to witness fall and spring bird migrations.

Connecticut: Ski in the birthplace of artificial snow

With 650 feet of vertical drop, Connecticut ’s Mohawk Mountain Ski Area might look modest, but its eight chairlifts provide access to 26 sidewinding, plunging trails, many of which can be skied after dark thanks to night lighting. Toward the summit, several trails connect with snowshoe and cross-country ski paths that go deeper into Mohawk State Forest .

Rhode Island: Sail like an America’s Cup racer

Aerial view of the Balboa Peninsula and Newport Harbor along the Orange County coast

In Rhode Island , the home of the America’s Cup , visitors can earn their sea legs with chartered sails by America’s Cup Charters in Newport Harbor and Narragansett Bay. On a two-hour outing you can raise the sails and help navigate, or sit back as you pass sandy coves, estuaries, and mansions along the shore. The three-hour outing reenacts the world-famous sailing race with a practice session and a rip across the water toward the finish.

Massachusetts: Spend the night in a lighthouse

Book an overnight stay at the Borden Flats Lighthouse in Massachusetts ’ Taunton River for a taste of lightkeeper life. The striped, sparkplug-style tower was built in 1881 to steer ships through the relatively shallow Mount Hope Bay, near the town of Fall River. Book months in advance for this self-catering apartment with terrific views.

( Stay overnight at this lighthouse—a thrilling 32 miles out to sea .)

New York State: Pedal to vines in the Finger Lakes

Autumn landscape of Seneca Lake and vineyard in the heart of the Finger Lakes Wine Country, New York

Formed by glaciers 10,000 years ago, New York State ’s Finger Lakes are at the heart of a region known for wine and water views. Cyclists can plot their own routes amid dozens of wineries or go with a guided tour operator such as Carolina Tailwinds or Wilderness Voyageurs .

Delaware: Experience a crabby convention  

Delaware Bay has the largest concentration of horseshoe crabs in the world. Each spring—in May and June—these aquatic arachnids emerge from their wintry sleep on submerged continental shelves to lay eggs around the surrounding shores of Delaware . For the best view, try Woodland Beach and Bowers Beach (both located in Kent County) when high tide, sunset, and a new or full moon all coincide.  

Pennsylvania: Get a bird’s-eye view of migrating hawks

Raptors hawks and turkey vultures flying over Hawk Mountain Pennsylvania

Each fall, some 18,000 raptors pass through Pennsylvania ’s Hawk Mountain area on their way south. At Hawk Mountain Sanctuary —the world’s first sanctuary for birds of prey—hiking trails connect 10 lookouts, where observer-interpreters help visitors identify different species. The rocky ledges at the North Lookout are some of the best seats, while Silhouette Trail is an ADA-accessible route to South Lookout. Windy days tend to be most productive, with birds flying from dawn to dusk.

New Mexico: Soak in the warm waters of Jemez Springs

The “ Land of Enchantment ” is rich in thermal waters, including the bubbling mineral-rich pools at Jemez Springs Bath House . Nearby, Spence Hot Springs offers a more rugged experience at a natural rock pool nestled in a pine forest.

Arizona: Find solitude in the desert  

Aerial view of the ridge line of the Grand Wash Cliffs at twilight in the Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument, Arizona

Spreading over 7,811 square miles in the northern part of the state , the vast Arizona Strip has few paved roads but many canyons and desert landscapes. The best way to explore much of the region is by foot, four-wheel drive, or often both, as many of the trailheads are at the end of rough roads. Veer into remote Grand Canyon–Parashant National Monument for views of the Grand Canyon from Whitmore Canyon, Kelly Point, and Twin Point overlooks.

( Hiking a desert park? Here’s how to help preserve the landscape .)

Oklahoma: Delve into a bat cave

Oklahoma ’s Alabaster Caverns State Park is formed from a rare type of gypsum—the only such cave in the U.S. Guided tours take visitors into the depths, where selenite crystals twinkle like stars and a stream trickles through the length of the cave. Tours take place from April through October to protect hibernating bats. The more experienced can explore the park’s four “wild” caves (permits required), ranging in length from 550 to 1,600 feet.

Texas: Stargaze in a sprawling dark sky reserve

Chisos Mountain silhouette beneath a starry sky in Big Bend National Park, Texas

The Lone Star State is home to six International Dark Sky Parks , two Dark Sky Sanctuaries, and even a Dark Sky Community ( Dripping Springs ). For the best night views, head to Big Bend National Park , where you can take the Hot Springs Canyon Trail overlooking the Chihuahuan Desert, or the wheelchair-accessible Rio Grande Village Nature Trail . The Milky Way glimmers above during summer months, while the Perseid meteor shower streaks across the heavens mid-July to mid-August.

Montana: Mountain bike along the Continental Divide

Helena, Montana ’s laid-back capital, is often overlooked. But its location, at 3,875 feet of elevation on the eastern slope of the Continental Divide, makes it a mountain biker’s dream. Seventy-five miles of trails include the Mount Helena Ridge Trail , where you’ll get views of the valley below. Bonus: You might spot wildflowers or a black bear.

California: Walk among living giants

A woman stands on a fallen tree, dwarfed by the massive redwoods in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, California

See seven percent of all the old-growth redwoods left in the world at California ’s Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park , the northernmost of the four parks that make up the UNESCO-recognized Redwood National and State Parks . Some of the world’s tallest trees flank the Smith River as it flows through the heart of the park. Among great hikes in this area is the Boy Scout Tree Trail (2.8 miles one way to Fern Falls). Adventurous souls can drive the unpaved Howland Hill Road, an old stagecoach route, to the National Tribute Grove .

Washington: Go tide pooling

At the Evergreen State ’s Tongue Point Marine Life Sanctuary and Salt Creek Recreation Area near Port Angeles, tide pool life runs the gamut from gold and orange sea stars to purple and red urchins, green anemones, and cobalt-colored mussels. With 92 campsites, Salt Creek’s seaside campground gives tide poolers ample access to the watery nooks and crannies.

( These U.S. beach towns are even better in the fall .)

Alaska: Camp on a glacier  

Matanuska Glacier, on northern side of Chugach Range in Alaska

Matanuska Glacier, the largest U.S. glacier accessible (mostly) by car, offers the rare opportunity to camp on the Alaskan ice overnight. After reaching the site via helicopter, adventurers check into Alpenglow Luxury Camping’ s comfortable, safari-style tents. An overnight stay includes meals prepped by the camp staff, guided hikes across the glacier surface, and the option to go ice climbing or rappel into a deep glacial crevasse.

Wyoming: Climb a frozen waterfall

With the largest concentration of frozen cascades in the country, the South Fork of Wyoming ’s Shoshone River is an ice climbing mecca. Schools in and around the town of Cody, such as Wyoming Mountain Guides , teach the nuts and bolts. Experienced climbers can explore icy routes from the short and sweet Stringer in the Legg Creek area to the moderate Smooth Emerald Milkshake in Deer Creek.  

Oregon: Explore a ghost forest on the Tillamook coast

Ghost Forest in Neskowin, Oregon

In the 1990s, a series of powerful winter storms unearthed hundreds of petrified tree stubs across Oregon ’s Tillamook Coast. These remnants of a 2,000-year-old Sitka spruce forest now form fog-shrouded Neskowin Ghost Forest , whose headstone-size stumps are encrusted with barnacles, sea stars, and sea anemones. At low tide, you can circumvent or scramble up Proposal Rock , one of the most accessible sea stacks along the coast.  

Nevada: Camp amid geological marvels

In eastern Nevada , the carved bentonite clay spires found in the 1,600-acre Cathedral Gorge State Park were formed by erosion tens of millions of years ago. It’s an inspiring place to hike, explore slot canyons, and pitch a tent at one of 22 campsites. Watch for birds of prey (hawks, ravens) or, come nightfall, foxes and kangaroo rats.

Colorado: Soak in the hot springs  

The Centennial State has nearly a hundred developed and undeveloped hot springs. Their heated natural mineral water is said to boost blood circulation, relieve pain, treat skin irritations, and reduce stress. For the ultimate wellness road trip, embark on the 720-mile Colorado Historic Hot Springs Loop from Denver to Pagosa Springs to Steamboat Springs, which highlights 17 thermal destinations, including Glenwood Hot Springs Resort with its 405-foot-long main soaking pool.

( Check out these 10 places to embrace the wild without pitching a tent. .)

Hawaii: Glimpse the cosmos

The summit of Mauna Kea in Hawaii

The crest of Hawaii ’s highest peak (13,803 feet) offers a heavenly place to see billions of stars sparkle after dark on the Big Island. Visitors can reach the summit of Mauna Kea via their own four-wheel drive vehicle, by joining a guided tour, or hiking a steep six-mile trail from the Visitor Information Station. The station also hosts nightly stargazing programs organized by the adjacent Onizuka Center for International Astronomy .

( How can tourists help Maui recover? Here’s what locals say .)

Utah: Sandboard down pink-hued dunes

At Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park in southern Utah , sandboarders glide down desert hills that vary in hue from pink, orange, and ocher, the grainy remains of a sandstone formation the Navajo considered sacred. The visitors center rents boards and sleds or you can buy your own from Slip Face Sandboards in Provo.

Florida: Become a shrimper for a day

Savor the taste of wild-caught shrimp in Florida ’s Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island —the birthplace of the modern shrimping industry. Local guides, such as Amelia River Cruises , offer interactive ecotours on the backwaters and tidal creeks of Tiger Basin, west of the island. You’ll learn how to deploy and retrieve a shrimp net as well as to identify the day’s catch, which are displayed in an onboard aquarium before being released back into the ocean.

North Carolina: Make waves along the Outer Banks

A young man surfs on a wave on the Outer Banks of North Carolina

The Outer Banks, a chain of islands off the coast of mainland North Carolina , provide more than a hundred miles of shoreline. Its waves are ideal for body and board surfing—try the latter at the Outer Banks Surf School . Or rent a kayak via an outfitter in Nag’s Head or Beaufort.

West Virginia: Hike part of a coast-to-coast trail

In West Virginia , hikers tackle four major sections of the 6,800-mile American Discovery Trail that travel through an Appalachian valley, up mountains, and past sites steeped in the Civil War. The final section takes trekkers through the tunnels and bridges of the North Bend Rail Trail before terminating at the Ohio border.

Kentucky: Find the end of a “moonbow”

In southeastern Kentucky , visitors can photograph the rare “moonbow” at Cumberland Falls State Resort Park . During a full moon on a cloudless night, moonlight hits the mist at the base of the gushing waterfall. That refraction creates a lunar rainbow. Faint and barely visible to the naked eye, the moonlit rainbow will show up in your pictures if photographed using a slow shutter speed. Moonbows are especially pronounced in winter months when the sky gets dark earlier.

Louisiana: Paddle through an otherworldly swamp

Houseboats, a common feature of the Atchafalaya Basin in Louisiana

Larger than the Florida Everglades, the Atchafalaya Basin stretches over 1.2 million acres in southern Louisiana . The best way to experience its dreamlike cypress forests and swamp-dwelling wildlife (gators, bald eagles) is by kayak, whether you can DIY from Bayou Benoit or take a guided glide with McGee’s Swamp Tours .

Alabama: See a dazzling light show

Designated a National Natural Landmark in 1974, Dismals Canyon , in northern Alabama , is one of a few places where “dismalites,” carnivorous centimeter-long glowworms, thrive in impressive numbers, thanks to the unique micro-ecosystem of the area. Against the canyon walls at night, these tiny larvae glow like stars against a pitch-black sky. Although many visitors only see Dismal Canyon’s lush grottos while strolling its 1.5-mile hiking trail , guided night tours occur every Saturday. Reservations, which can only be made in person or over the phone, are taken on the Sunday before the following weekend.

South Carolina: Cycle a Gullah history trail

One of the Sea Islands off the coast of South Carolina , Daufuskie Island remains mostly untouched by modern development. Hop on a bike and roll along Rob Kennedy Trail to 20 historic landmarks related to Indigenous residents and Gullah-Geechee inhabitants—descendants of enslaved people who have lived on the island for centuries. Look for doors and window shutters painted “haint blue” to keep evil spirits at bay.

Virginia: Hike to a jaw-dropping natural bridge

Natural Bridge in Virginia

Backdropped by the Blue Ridge Mountains , Natural Bridge is a 215-foot-tall national historic landmark estimated to be 500 million years old. It was surveyed by a young George Washington, whose initials, etched circa 1750, can still be seen beneath the arch. Now a state park, the area encompasses seven miles of hiking trails in the Shenandoah Valley . The 2-mile out-and-back, ADA-accessible Cedar Creek Trail runs beneath the arch and passes Monacan Village, which recreates Indigenous life in the late 17th century. Beyond lies Lace Falls, a lovely 30-foot cascade.

Georgia: Dip into a dramatic gorge

Georgia ’s Tallulah Gorge State Park centers around a dramatic thousand-foot-tall gorge formed by the Tallulah River. Explore via hiking trails with stellar vantage points or by launching a kayak or paddleboard into the water. If you’re an experienced climber, snag one of just one hundred free daily permits to trek to the gorge floor with its up-close views of Bridal Veil Falls and a chance to slip down the aptly named Sliding Rock for a refreshing dip.

( Atlanta isn’t all that Georgia has to offer. Here are 7 other worthy trips .)

Maryland: Look for fossils beside the Chesapeake

Between 10 and 20 million years ago, a warm, shallow sea covered southern Maryland . It was inhabited by prehistoric creatures including crocodiles, mastodons, and megalodon sharks. Budding archaeologists can hunt for their fossils about an hour’s drive south of Washington, D.C. , at Calvert Cliffs State Park , where hundred-foot cliffs facing the Chesapeake Bay hold prehistoric oyster shells, mollusks, and shark teeth.

Tennessee: Paddle in the birthplace of free-style kayaking

Student at the Louisiana Center for the Blind ride the rapids on the Ocoee River in Ocoee, Tennessee

The Ocoee River is one of the most popular white-water rivers in the world, creating deep gorges through Tennessee ’s Cherokee National Forest . Free-style kayakers have been paddling here since 1978 and the first Olympic white-water event on a natural river was hosted here in 1996. Beginners and experienced rafters alike can tackle rapids like Grumpy’s, Table Saw, and Godzilla with outfitters such as Ocoee Rafting .

Arkansas: Birdwatch in a watery wonderland

In southwest Arkansas , the Felsenthal National Wildlife Refuge is a watery, 76,000-acre system of rivers, swamps, lakes, and creeks along the Mississippi Flyway , a migratory bird route stretching from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. Felsenthal holds the world’s largest green tree reservoir, which floods each fall and winter, becoming an ideal habitat for white ibis, great egrets, anhingas, and endangered red-cockaded woodpeckers. The best way to explore Felsenthal is via three short, self-guided paddling trails.

Mississippi: Hike a miniature Grand Canyon

It requires some effort to find Red Bluff , a red-orange rocky landscape near the town of Foxworth in central Mississippi . Explore via a challenging but short hike into the ravine, where you’ll find lookout points over the Pearl River.

South Dakota: Bike the rugged Black Hills

The sun shines from behind a layer of dark clouds, above a herd of bison. A single plant with white flowers stands out from the rest of the vegetation on the plain.

Revered by mountain bikers, South Dakota ’s 111-mile Centennial Trail follows the heart of the Black Hills from Sturgis to Wind Cave National Park . The combo of rugged climbs, tight switchbacks, and stream crossings isn’t always easy to map, so bring a GPS. You can ride on your own wheels or rent them from outfitters like Two Wheeler Dealer in Spearfish.

Ohio: Go where the buffalo roam near the city

Just a short drive from Columbus, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park ’s 7,000 acres preserve an array of natural and restored Ohio habitats, including a tallgrass prairie where American bison have lived since 2011. Today, the original six-member herd has grown to a dozen roaming near the 5.1 mile Darby Creek Greenway Trail and near the Nature Center , where you might spy them from an observation deck.

Idaho: Discover the best place to stargaze in the U.S.

Central Idaho is home to the clearest night skies in North America, which is why the area was named the first Dark Sky Reserve in the U.S . in 2017. Ideal times to visit include during new moons, when the skies are dark and the stars are bright, or in summer for the annual Perseid meteor showers. But the Milky Way—which an estimated third of the world cannot view due to light pollution—can be seen almost any clear night.

( Dark sky tourism is on the rise across the U.S .)

Illinois: Paddle amid the cypress trees

Bald Cypress swamp, Taxodium distichum in the Cache River State Natural Area,

Visitors can explore Illinois ’ Cache River State Park , a natural glacial-carved floodplain, by hiking or paddling around the wetland’s massive cypress trees—some more than a thousand years old. Plan your trip when waterfowl and shorebird are migrating to see why the region was designated as a wetland of international importance.

Wisconsin: Cross-country ski by candlelight

In winter, Black River State Forest in Wisconsin ’s Jackson County is aglow with candles lighting 24 miles of trails. Most are groomed for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, as well as traditional skating and skiing. On a calm, quiet winter evening, look for transplanted elk, released from Kentucky in 2015 and 2016 after a 125-year absence. Pigeon Creek Campground offers year-round sites; first-come, first-served from November to April.

Kansas: Kitesurf on Cheney Lake  

Located in Kansas ’ Cheney State Park about 25 miles from Wichita , Cheney Lake is an ideal spot for novice kitesurfers and windsurfers. Thanks to several areas with knee- to waist-deep water, the lake is easier for newbies to maneuver while learning the ropes. M & M Point is a recommended launch point, with a nearby cove that’s well situated to “catch” kiters who may get blown downwind. Keep in mind that you’ll need a wet suit except during the warm summer months.

North Dakota: Look for bison and birds in the badlands

A wild horse trots down the slope in the prairie in Theodore Roosevelt National Park

More than 70,000 acres of Theodore Roosevelt National Park preserve North Dakota ’s scenic badlands. Amid painted canyons and rock formations, travelers might spot elk, prairie dogs, or a few of the park’s 700 American bison. Many of the park’s trails are short nature strolls, including the easy Wind Canyon Trail , with views of the Little Missouri River and terrific sunset vistas.

Indiana: Kayak on an underground river

First discovered in the 19th century, Indiana ’s Bluespring Caverns houses Myst’ry River, the longest known navigable underground river in the U.S. A hundred feet below the ground, the leisurely two-mile roundtrip paddle winds through dripstone passageways, allowing kayakers to take in the dramatic formations and spot albino salamanders and crayfish, translucent white because of the humidity and lack of light.  

Michigan: Snowshoe to Tahquamenon Falls

These amber-colored falls in Michigan ’s Upper Peninsula are breathtaking all year round, but winter reveals a different beauty. Strap on snowshoes, then follow lantern-lit paths to see natural ice sculptures edging the roaring Upper Falls , one of the largest waterfalls east of the Mississippi, and the five lovely cascades of the Lower Falls four miles downstream.

Nebraska: Get a crane’s-eye view

housands of sandhill cranes roosting on the Platte River in Nebraska

East of Nebraska ’s Platte River State Park , 80 percent of the world’s sandhill crane population (close to one million birds) gathers from late February till early April to fatten up and rest before migrating onward to their Arctic and subarctic nesting grounds. See the birds at the Iain Nicholson Audubon Center at Rowe Sanctuary , where viewing stations are perched above the river.

Minnesota: Houseboat in Voyageurs National Park

With four massive lakes, plus 26 smaller lakes, Minnesota ’s Voyageurs National Park is a watery wonderland ideal for exploring via houseboat. Rent one from Minnesota Houseboat Rentals , Rainy Lake Houseboats , or Voyagaire Lodge & Houseboats . Be sure to choose a craft with plenty of outdoor sleeping space—Voyageurs was recently designated an International Dark Sky Park , meaning there’s a good chance for stargazing from the water.  

( Here’s the best place to see northern lights in the U.S. )

Iowa: Join the world’s oldest cycling tour  

Every July, thousands of cyclists roll into the Hawkeye State to join the RAGBRAI (Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa). Lasting eight days and covering more than 450 miles, it’s the oldest, largest, and longest recreational bicycle tour in the world. The route changes every year, but the race always begins along Iowa’s western border and ends along the eastern border on the Mississippi River. Cities along the route host—and feed—riders at private homes and campsites.

Missouri: Spelunk into a literary legend

The caverns of the Mark Twain Cave inspired some of the spookiest scenes in Missouri -born writer Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer . One-hour guided tours take in rock formations as well as historic graffiti such as Twain’s signature. It’s located on the outskirts of Hannibal , the author’s hometown.

Related Topics


You May Also Like

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

Before you go hiking, read these life-saving tips from first responders

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

Get ready for your next iconic adventure like a pro with these tips

Free bonus issue.

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

10 best things to do in Maine

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

20 of the coolest travel adventures for 2024

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

How to visit Voyageurs National Park

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

The essential guide to visiting Scotland

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

The essential guide to visiting Alaska

  • Perpetual Planet
  • Environment
  • History & Culture
  • Paid Content

History & Culture

  • Mind, Body, Wonder
  • Terms of Use
  • Privacy Policy
  • Your US State Privacy Rights
  • Children's Online Privacy Policy
  • Interest-Based Ads
  • About Nielsen Measurement
  • Do Not Sell or Share My Personal Information
  • Nat Geo Home
  • Attend a Live Event
  • Book a Trip
  • Inspire Your Kids
  • Shop Nat Geo
  • Visit the D.C. Museum
  • Learn About Our Impact
  • Support Our Mission
  • Advertise With Us
  • Customer Service
  • Renew Subscription
  • Manage Your Subscription
  • Work at Nat Geo
  • Sign Up for Our Newsletters
  • Contribute to Protect the Planet

Copyright © 1996-2015 National Geographic Society Copyright © 2015-2024 National Geographic Partners, LLC. All rights reserved

  • Search Please fill out this field.
  • Manage Your Subscription
  • Give a Gift Subscription
  • Sweepstakes
  • Destinations

9 of the Best Adventure Destinations in the U.S. for an Action-packed Getaway

It’s all about outdoor thrills.

Lindsay Cohn is a writer, editor, and avid traveler who has visited 45 countries across six continents — and counting. She contributes to Travel + Leisure, Hotels Above Par, InsideHook, Well+Good, The Zoe Report, and more.

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

Draper White/Getty Images

The whole point of a vacation is to get away from the humdrum of daily life, right? Nothing supplies adrenaline-boosting thrills like an outdoor adventure . Whether you’re seeking downhill action at one of Colorado’s best ski resorts , thigh-burning hikes around the Grand Canyon , legendary surf breaks in Oahu , or seaplane flights high above Alaska’s final frontier , the domestic options are endless. Scroll on for nine rugged, outdoorsy destinations across the United States to scratch that adventure travel itch. 

Vail, Colorado

miralex/Getty Images

Colorado certainly doesn’t suffer from a lack of adventure. For the ultimate mix of snowy and summery recreation, look no further than Vail . Set within White River National Forest, this celebrated mountain town provides access to the largest ski resort in the Centennial State with over 5,000 acres of shreddable terrain, plus hiking and biking trails, fly fishing in Gore Creek, and the high-flying thrills of the seasonal Forest Flyer Mountain Coaster. Located just steps from Gondola One, the family-owned Sonnenalp Hotel is a long-time favorite that’s beloved for its Bavarian charm, cozy accommodations, and proximity to the slopes.

Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Taylor McIntyre/Travel + Leisure

Wyoming’s most well-known adventure destination, Jackson Hole puts travelers in proximity to three winter resorts — Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Snow King Mountain Resort, and Grand Targhee Resort — for epic skiing and snowboarding in the frosty months. Visitors can do a horse-drawn sleigh ride through the herds at the National Elk Refuge and drive to both Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park for even more wildlife peeping and incredible hiking. It also has high-end hotels to retire to after all that exploration. Western heritage, warm hospitality, and 55 rooms designed to help guests recharge await at Hotel Jackson .

Lake Tahoe, California and Nevada

PictureLake/Getty Images

Bestriding the California/Nevada border, Lake Tahoe is the dazzling destination centered around the largest freshwater lake in the Sierra Nevadas. Besides all the watersports — kayaking, paddle boarding, water skiing, jet skiing, sailing, and fishing — there’s ample recreation on dry land. The area boasts many challenging hiking trails with a payoff of unparalleled views. Don’t forget about the ski resorts to rip through powder in the winter. Perfect for full-throttle travelers who like to retire somewhere plush after adventuring, The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe is an ideal slope-side home base with direct access to Northstar California and a posh spa.  

Homer, Alaska

mscornelius/Getty Images

Homer has some stiff competition for the best adventure destination in Alaska. But what really sets this small bayfront city on the Kenai Peninsula apart is the show-stopping combination of old-growth forests, ocean, and wildlife. Its status as the halibut fishing capital of the world draws anglers from near and far. If you don’t feel like casting a line, consider a horseback, four-wheel vehicle, or boat tour. The best way to soak in all the rugged beauty? A thrilling helicopter ride. The ultimate basecamp, Tutka Bay sits at the edge of the Kachemak Bay State Park and delivers activities like kayaking as well as cozy corners to kick back in between expeditions.

Sportstock/Getty Images

Folks heading to Moab don’t have to choose between the dramatic scenery and outdoor odysseys in Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park — because both pilgrimage-worthy destinations are just minutes away. That means trekking through thousands of natural sandstone arches, jaw-dropping geological formations, hectares of desert landscape, and buttes carved by the Colorado River. Under Canvas Moab offers tricked-out tents, s’mores, and next-level stargazing, while the new ULUM elevates things even further with suite-style glamping tents, sustainable Southwest-inspired cuisine, and a dedicated adventure concierge. 

Oahu, Hawaii

David Ziegler/Getty Images

A true surfers' paradise, the North Shore of Oahu boasts some of the most iconic breaks in the world. The enormous waves of Waimea Bay often reach 25 feet high in the winter months. Carving the huge barrels of the Banzai Pipeline is a must-try adventure for many hardcore surfers. Newbies can take lessons with a pro before paddling out solo. There’s also ziplining, skydiving, kayaking, snorkeling, scuba diving, jet skiing, waterfall treks, and ATV excursions on the island. With everything from hiking through the tropical forest to horseback riding along the beach to SUP yoga sessions, Turtle Bay Resort very much caters to activity lovers. 

Yosemite National Park, California

Irjaliina Paavonpera/Travel + Leisure

The opportunities for communing with nature in California never end. To experience an unparalleled range of outdoor adventures, head to Yosemite National Park . The sheer granite cliffs of El Capitan and Half Dome lure rock climbers from around the world. Chasing the tallest waterfall in North America, biking the valley floor, summiting sharp peaks, watching the sunrise from Glacier Point, trekking through sky-grazing sequoia trees, and swimming in alpine Tenaya Lake also guarantee adrenaline rushes. Built in 1927, The Ahwahnee welcomes park goers with stone fireplaces, beamed ceilings, and hand-carved wood furniture.

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Few places on the planet have the power to take the breath away of everyone who visits like the Grand Canyon . One of the seven natural wonders of the world, this awe-inspiring, 277-mile-long Arizona landmark showcases millions of years of red-rock scenery. In addition to countless hiking paths — including the popular Bright Angel Trail — thrill seekers have the choice of unforgettable helicopter flights, mule rides, scenic drives, and expert-level white-water rafting. El Tovar Hotel , long considered the crown jewel of historic national park lodges, puts intrepid travelers steps from all the action.

Whitefish, Montana

Heath Korvola/Getty Images

Tucked away in the northwest part of Big Sky Country, Whitefish — the gateway to dramatic peaks, valleys, sparkling lakes, and alpine meadows in Glacier National Park — is a cold-weather sports destination that also shines during the warmer months. Snow bunnies love skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, and cross-country skiing. When the temps rise, hiking and biking take center stage. More thrilling things for adrenaline junkies to do in this Montana town include kayaking, hot air ballooning, and ziplining. Designed with adventurous travelers in mind, Après Whitefish blends the style of a modern boutique hotel with the soul of a nostalgic mountain lodge.

Awesome, you're subscribed!

Thanks for subscribing! Look out for your first newsletter in your inbox soon!

The best things in life are free.

Sign up for our email to enjoy your city without spending a thing (as well as some options when you’re feeling flush).

Déjà vu! We already have this email. Try another?

By entering your email address you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy and consent to receive emails from Time Out about news, events, offers and partner promotions.

Love the mag?

Our newsletter hand-delivers the best bits to your inbox. Sign up to unlock our digital magazines and also receive the latest news, events, offers and partner promotions.

  • Things to Do
  • Food & Drink
  • Time Out Market
  • Coca-Cola Foodmarks
  • Los Angeles

Get us in your inbox

🙌 Awesome, you're subscribed!

El Capitan in Yosemite

The best adventure vacations in the USA for sights and thrills

Calling all adrenaline junkies: you need to try these thrilling, extreme adventure vacations in the USA

To some people, vacation is all about rest and relaxation. But others would rather experience pulse-pounding thrills than chill out on a beach. This crop of extreme adventure travelers will go out of their way to feel a rush of adrenaline. If this sounds like you, we have a perfect list of adventure vacation ideas you won’t want to miss.  

You have countless chances to get your heart racing across the country, from ziplining across the   Catskills  to heli-sking in Alaska  to skydiving in Idaho . We have rounded up the absolute best extreme adventures in the U.S. you can take. Want stunning scenery? Bike down a rugged mountain in Lake Tahoe or climb El Capitan in Yosemite National Park . Want to feel a rush? Paraglide in Maui or bungee jump off the Stratosphere in Vegas. There are many more ideas where those come from—read on to find your next adventure.   

RECOMMENDED:  The best outdoor adventure in every state

An email you’ll actually love

Best extreme vacation adventures in the USA

Fly an aerobatic plane | Las Vegas, NV

1.  Fly an aerobatic plane | Las Vegas, NV

Getting an eagle's-eye view of Vegas is thrilling in itself, but pulling Gs in an aerobatic plane takes a sightseeing flight to heart-racing new heights. For the full Top Gun experience, Sky Combat Ace lets you take over the controls. Your pilot demonstrates each maneuver, such as a barrel roll, loop, and hammerhead, before letting you test your own skills. 

Ziplining | Catskills, New York

2.  Ziplining | Catskills, New York

Whizz 60 feet above a verdant Catskills valley just under the highway speed limit along a 3,200-foot cable. The Skyrider tour is the most daring of three options at Hunter Mountain’s Zipline Adventure Tours . The 650-foot-long midmountain tour, which also traverses rope bridges and a rappel, is a tamer option for beginners (and you can also tackle it at night). Accommodations abound , but none beat the  Hunter Mountain Sanctuary , with views of the very same slopes you were flying over only a short time ago. 

Heli-skiing | Anchorage, AK

3.  Heli-skiing | Anchorage, AK

Taking the off-piste concept to the limit, heli-skiing transports you to slopes only accessible by chopper. The deep, ungroomed powder makes it the preserve of experienced skiers. Set within one of the largest state parks in America, just north of Anchorage, the Chugach Mountains offer thousands of miles of terrain, powder bowls and steep vertical descents, all of which means you’ll never ski the same line twice.  Chugach Powder Guides  is one of the best operators in the area.

Whitewater rafting | Grand Canyon, AZ

4.  Whitewater rafting | Grand Canyon, AZ

Want to see America’s natural crown jewel, the Grand Canyon, from a different vantage point? Try from the Colorado River. As one of the most iconic whitewater rafting destinations in the world, travelers can choose from rafting trips with guides such as Wilderness River Adventures and Arizona Raft Adventures, which range from a few days to up to two weeks. Rapids can range from calm to intense, but no matter what, the scenery will be breathtaking.  

BASE jumping | Twin Falls, ID

5.  BASE jumping | Twin Falls, ID

Part skydiving and part cliff jumping, BASE jumping is one of the most extreme thrills you can pursue, largely because the relatively low-altitude launch points mean less time to deploy your parachute. Perched nearly 500 feet above the Snake River, Perrine Bridge is known worldwide for its adrenaline-charged activity and, unlike many other destinations for the sport, doesn’t require a permit. The only prerequisite is courage, but TandemBASE guides newbies through the experience. 

Canyoneering | Moab, UT

6.  Canyoneering | Moab, UT

Known for its world-class mountain biking , Moab offers great canyoneering routes that take you from carved sandstone slot canyons to ancient ruins and water-filled pools. Red River Adventures offers several guided canyoneering routes, including the relatively easy-to-moderate Ephedra’s Grotto and Chamisa Canyon. Both of these routes include hiking, scrambling, and a couple of rappels. The company also boasts day trips that combine canyoneering with rafting down the Colorado River.

Waterfall rappelling | White Mountains, NH

7.  Waterfall rappelling | White Mountains, NH

Few things are more exhilarating than lowering yourself down a rock face amid a deluge of foamy spray. While waterfall rappelling is often associated with exotic destinations like Costa Rica, you need only travel to the Northeast to experience it. Climbing outfitter Northeast Mountaineering welcomes adventurers of all skill levels. Take a short hike to the top of a 100 feet fall before rappelling down it with the help of a guide. Just be prepared to get wet.

Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride | Lake Tahoe, CA

8.  Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride | Lake Tahoe, CA

No, we’re not talking about the Disneyland attraction. This single-track mountain bike route heads primarily downhill from the Tahoe Rim Trail—the total descent is more than 2,000ft. With multiple steep drops, sections traversing nothing but rocks, as well as epic views of the lake, it sure lives up to its name. If you’re not bringing your own wheels, Wanna Ride Tahoe can provide bikes, helmets and shuttles to Mr. Toad’s and other local trails.

Bungee jump off the Stratosphere | Las Vegas, AZ

9.  Bungee jump off the Stratosphere | Las Vegas, AZ

If it's an adrenaline rush you're after, look no further than this iconic Vegas attraction: bungee jumping off of the Stratosphere, the tallest observation tower in the US. In fact,  the Strat SkyJump  is the highest commercial decelerator descent facility out there—you'll leap from 829 feet up in the air with views of the Vegas Strip, descending at speeds over 40mph. Not for the faint of heart!

Climbing El Capitan | Yosemite, CA

10.  Climbing El Capitan | Yosemite, CA

Yosemite National Park is one of the best rock-climbing destinations in the world, but you don’t have to be Tommy Caldwell or Kevin Jorgeson, the duo that made history by free-climbing the daunting 3,000-foot Dawn Wall of El Capitan, to tackle its peaks. In addition to the popular 8,839-foot-tall Half Dome, easier summits include Washington Column, which has a 1,000-foot route. Need a guided trip, climbing lessons, or equipment rental?  Yosemite Mountaineering School has you covered. 

Dive with sharks | Jupiter, FL

11.  Dive with sharks | Jupiter, FL

If you're not one to be particularly afraid of "Jaws," head to Florida for a once-in-lifetime experience diving with sharks. The state has the highest concentration of large sharks on the East Coast, and shark diving trips with operators like Florida Shark Diving  let experienced divers and novices alike get in the water with a variety of kinds of sharks, including tiger, great hammerhead, and reef sharks. Depending on your risk tolerance, choose to dive in a cage—or freedive. 

Paragliding | Maui, HI

12.  Paragliding | Maui, HI

What better way to experience the world’s largest dormant volcano than by paragliding off its slopes? Daily flights with Proflyght Paragliding take off from the slopes of Haleakala, the highest peak on Maui at 10,000 feet. Beginners can test their mettle with the shorter 1,000-foot descent, but for the true adventurer, the 3,000-foot option features up to 15 minutes of airtime over the island’s lush tropical landscape and lavender farms. 

Hiking a 14er | Colorado

13.  Hiking a 14er | Colorado

What’s a 14er , you ask? As the name suggests, it’s a mountain at least 14,000 feet tall, and there are more than 50 to choose from in Colorado—from the 14,007 feet Sunshine Peak in the San Juan Mountains to the 14,440 feet Mount Elbert, the highest summit in the Rocky Mountains. One of the most popular in the state is Pikes Peak, near Colorado Springs, which is a lofty 14,115 feet tall. A number of trails ascend to the top, including the most popular, the 13-mile Barr Trail. 

Overnight caving | McMinnville, TN

14.  Overnight caving | McMinnville, TN

Want to get in touch with your inner caveperson? Not only can you explore Cumberland Caverns , which has more than 32 miles of underground passageways complete with cool rock formations, waterfalls and pools, but you can sleep over, too. Guided excursions include the All Around the Mountain tour, featuring ladder climbs, cave crawling and camping out in an underground cave, followed by breakfast in the cavernous Volcano Room.

[image] [title]

Discover Time Out original video

  • Press office
  • Investor relations
  • Work for Time Out
  • Editorial guidelines
  • Privacy notice
  • Do not sell my information
  • Cookie policy
  • Accessibility statement
  • Terms of use
  • Copyright agent
  • Modern slavery statement
  • Manage cookies
  • Advertising

Time Out products

  • Time Out Worldwide

The 5 Best U.S. States for Adventure Travelers

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

TripSavvy / Alisha McDarris

There is no question that the U.S. is blessed with more than its fair share of great adventure travel destinations. Whether you enjoy hiking, camping, mountain biking, climbing, rafting, or some other outdoor sport, you'll find plenty of stunning places where you'll be able to pursue that activity to its fullest.

But not all of the states are equal in terms of what they offer the active outdoor enthusiasts, with some having a distinct edge over the others. With that in mind, here are our picks for the five best U.S. states for adventure travel. 

Dubbed "The Last Frontier," Alaska is easily the wildest and most remote state in the entire U.S. Epic in size and scale, it is home to 8 national parks – including Denali , Glacier Bay , and Katmai . It is also a great place to spot wildlife with moose, deer, elk, bear, and countless other species frequently on display. The state is home to the highest mountain in North America – which is also named Denali and stands an impressive 20,308 ft. (6190 meters) in height, and is so vast that it is easier to travel by bush plane rather than driving. And if you need further proof of Alaska's adventure credentials look no further than the Iditarod  sled dog race, an annual event that covers 1000 miles (1600 km) of wilderness each winter and is widely considered to be one of the toughest endurance races in the entire world.

In terms of sheer variety of outdoor activities, it is tough to top California . After all, where else can you go surfing, skiing, and mountain biking all in the same weekend? The California coast is great for sea kayaking, while the Sierra Mountains are a paradise for hikers and backpackers alike. The famous John Muir Trail is amongst the best long-distance hikes in the entire world, passing through the Sierra Nevada Mountains of  Yosemite , Kings Canyon, and Sequoia National Park along the way. The Redwoods of Northern California are fantastic places to go mountain biking and trail running as well, while the arid desert of Joshua Tree is the perfect place for travelers looking for some peace and solitude. 

One of the top ski destinations on the entire planet, Colorado is well known for its fantastic powder. But even if you don't hit the slopes on a regular basis, there is still plenty of other outdoor adventures to be had. For instance, the state is home to 53 mountains with a height above 14,000 feet (4267 meters), which makes it a popular destination for climbers, mountaineers, and hikers. It also hosts some great athletic competitions including the Leadville 100 trail and mountain bike races, the Ouray ice climbing festival , and the Colorado Classic pro cycling race. And of course, visitors shouldn't forget to drop by Rocky Mountain National Park to take in some of the most beautiful views they'll ever see in any of their travels. 

With the lowest population density of any of the lower 48 states, Montana is another destination that is perfect for those seeking solitude. Not only is it home to the breathtakingly beautiful Glacier National Park , it also includes entrances to the incomparable Yellowstone as well. The state offers visitors fantastic fly fishing , impressive wildlife, excellent hiking and mountain biking in the summer, and great skiing, snowmobiling, and snowshoeing in the winter. And when you're in need of an adrenaline boost, hit the Gallatin River for some kayaking or whitewater river rafting too. 

Much like the other western U.S. states, Utah is a truly unbelievable skiing and snowboarding destination with some legendary resorts within easy driving distance of Salt Lake City . The state also has its fair share of great national parks for hiking and camping as well, with Bryce Canyon , Zion , Arches , and Canyonlands all standing out as amongst the very best in the entire country. But the crown jewel on Utah's adventure resume is probably Moab, the small town that is the gateway to perhaps the greatest mountain biking found anywhere in the world. With trails built for every experience and comfort level, chances are if you like to pedal a bike, you'll find a trail there that calls to you. 

There are of course plenty of other great outdoor destinations to visit in the U.S., each with their own hidden gems and unique opportunities. But for pure, unadulterated adventure, it is almost impossible to top the states on this list. 

9 Very Adventurous Things to Do in Costa Rica

The 10 Best Hiking Trails Found Inside America's National Parks

The Best US National Park for Every Outdoor Activity

Mohican State Park: The Complete Guide

The Best Countries in the World for Adventurous Travelers

13 Amazing Trips to Take Before You Turn 40

The 8 Most Adventurous Things to Do in Tahoe

Camping in Whitefish, Montana and Glacier National Park

The Top 12 Things to Do in Park City, Utah

Smith Rock State Park: The Complete Guide

6 Historical Journeys You Can Still Take Today

The Best Beach in Every State

The World's Highest Places and Attractions That You Can Visit

12 Best Small Towns in Colorado

The Best Small Town in Every State

Great Summer Family Trips in the USA

  • How to Tie a Tie
  • Best Coffee Beans
  • How to Shape a Beard
  • Best Sweaters for Men
  • Most Expensive Cognac
  • Monos vs Away Luggage
  • Best Luxury Hotel Chains
  • Fastest Cars in the World
  • Ernest Hemingway Books
  • What Does CBD Feel Like?
  • Canada Goose Alternatives
  • Fastest Motorcycles in the World

How well does your home state rank for adventure? Study reveals the best and worst states

Here are the best (and worst) states for adventure.

Sarah Joseph

Are you planning your next family vacation and are looking for an adventure-filled experience? It’s essential to choose a state that offers a wide range of activities to keep everyone entertained.

Top 3 states for adventure

Worst 3 states for adventure.

Luckily, Family Vacation Guide has conducted a comprehensive analysis and ranked all 50 states in America based on their adventure offerings. By considering factors such as accessibility to ski resorts, mountain bike trails, horseback riding trails, national parks , camping areas, and water sports, they have determined the best states for outdoor lovers and which ones you may want to avoid.

#1: Wyoming (Adventure Score: 9.36/10)

When it comes to the ultimate outdoor adventure destination for your family, Wyoming takes the crown. This remarkable state offers a stunning array of attractions, from ski mountains to National Parks like Yellowstone. Wyoming is truly a haven for camping enthusiasts , boasting an impressive ratio of 1.2 national parks per 100,000 people. Whatever adventure you’re craving, you’ll definitely find it here.

  • How to make nutritious and delicious trail snacks: Your DIY guide
  • Garmin, Seiko, G-SHOCK, and more: Our picks for best outdoor watches in 2024
  • These are the essential outdoor knots every outdoorsman should know

#2: Montana (Adventure Score: 9.12/10)

Montana is well-known for its vast, open spaces and enchanting starlit skies. This makes it a dream destination for a family vacation. Hiking lovers will definitely find adventure on Montana’s 342 trails per 100,000 people. Moreover, Montana stands out as a frontrunner in mountain biking locations, with 286 trails per 100,000 people. Montana is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, promising an unforgettable adventure for the whole family to cherish.

#3: Utah (Adventure Score: 8.65/10)

With enchanting waterfalls and serene wildlife encounters, Utah presents nature enthusiasts with an unforgettable experience. Explorers passionate about horseback riding will be thrilled by Utah’s abundant 47 trails per 100,000 people, offering a diverse range of terrains and scenic routes. Among these, Family Vacation Guide highlights the Hidden Canyon trail beckons thrill-seekers with its reputation as a hotspot for rock crawling enthusiasts. Utah is chock-full of adventures waiting to be discovered. You won’t regret choosing it for your next adventure.

#48: Indiana (1.85/10)

While not entirely devoid of adventure opportunities, Indiana falls short compared to other states. With only 23 camping spots per 100,000 people and limited options for skiing or horseback riding, finding outdoor thrills will be far more challenging here.

#49: Oklahoma (1.79/10)

Oklahoma offers 37 camping spots per 100,000 people but lacks significant opportunities for skiing, swimming, hiking, backpacking, or camping . For those seeking a true adventure experience, exploring other states might be a more suitable choice.

#50: Louisiana (1.74/10)

Ranked last on our list is Louisiana, where snow sports are nonexistent, and options for hiking, swimming, and camping are limited. If you’re looking for an action-packed vacation, it’s advisable to consider alternative destinations.

Wyoming, Montana, and Utah stand out as the top states for thrilling outdoor experiences, offering abundant opportunities for horseback riding, hiking, and camping. On the other hand, Indiana, Oklahoma, and Louisiana have relatively fewer adventure options available for your family’s next journey. Hopefully, this ranking by Family Vacation Guide makes the choice easy.

Editors' Recommendations

  • Camper van vs Class B RV: How to choose which to buy for your outdoor adventures
  • Dust off your gear, it’s time to hit the trail: The spring hiking tips you need
  • 11 best climbing documentaries to get you pumped for your next adventure
  • Ditch the GPS: How to navigate using a map and compass
  • 3 lesser-known tips that can save your life on the trail
  • Backpacking

Sarah Joseph

We are men. We always feel as though we need our chosen tools nearby. There is a culture of men always feeling the need to be prepared for anything. Just in case the world ends tomorrow, we have what we need to survive and protect. We are so dedicated to this that an entire industry called everyday carry, or EDC, has grown around it. But there is a component of EDC tools that cannot be forgotten: the multi-tool. Not only is it vital to get yourself one of the best multi-tools, but it may be the most vital.

Multi-tools are the most important item in EDC All the best EDC kits have a handful of must-haves to ensure you're prepared for any eventuality. A great EDC knife is the first thought many have when they think of everyday carry. But there is a long list of possible things to carry: a flashlight, a first-aid kit, a lighter, a compass. Each of these items has a very specific design intent.

Water, it's essential to everything we do. Around 60% of the human body is made up of water. It helps to maintain our core temperature, lubricate our joints, clear toxins from our body, and maintain brain function — the list goes on. Sounds pretty good, right? Out in the backcountry, whether hiking a trail, skiing a mountain, or in a life-or-death survival situation, water is vital for keeping you focused, alert, and, well, alive. It can literally make or break your success.

But carrying enough water to keep you adequately hydrated over multiple days — or even one long day — is rarely in the cards. After all, with every liter of water adding another kilogram of weight to your pack, you soon feel the effects. The alternative, then, is to collect water on the go.

The world is full of precarious situations for our unsuspecting smartphones, particularly when it comes to water exposure. Whether it's a sudden downpour during a hike, an accidental drop into a sink, or a plunge into a lake, our iPhones are constantly at risk of water damage. While most models are water-resistant, none of them are completely waterproof.

Understanding this vulnerability, Apple has put forward a series of recommendations to mitigate the damage when your device encounters mishaps like these. Apple's guidelines are crucial for iPhone users, providing a lifeline for your device in what can often be a moment of panic and uncertainty.

  • Change Location
  • Contact & FAQ
  • Dealer Locator

23 Must-Visit American Cities for Outdoor Adventure Travel

23 Must-Visit American Cities for Outdoor Adventure Travel

So much to do, so little time. From the rolling mountains of the Southeast, to the jagged peaks of the West, to the river canyons, waterfalls, and old-growth forests of the Pacific Coast, the Continental United States is home to a lifetime's worth of places to visit and things to do.

So, without further ado, here's our breakdown of 23 American cities that you should visit at least once in your lifetime. Some are small; some are huge; some are obvious choices, others are towns you've possibly never heard of. All are incredible for the modern day adventure traveler.

1. Asheville | North Carolina

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

If there’s one mountain town in the Southeast that needs very little introduction, it’s Asheville, NC. Well-known for being a creative hub for art and music, a craft-beer mecca, and a gateway to endless Appalachian adventure, Asheville is a place that’s practically overflowing with all the right ingredients for a world-class outdoor town. Thousands of trail miles crisscross the surrounding mountains, and a vast network of waterways run through and around the town, making Asheville a dream destination for any outdoor enthusiast.

We Recommend:

Backpacking/ Camping: Art Loeb Trail , Roan Mountain

Mountain Biking: Tsali , DuPont State Forest , Bent Creek , Pisgah

Whitewater Paddling: Nantahala River , Green River , French Broad River

2. Portland | Oregon

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

Situated in the Willamette River Valley, at the base of towering volcanic mountains and sprawling evergreen forests, Portland is a Pacific Northwest city that's well-known for being an adventure paradise. Within city limits, the most impressive natural area to visit is Forest Park —home to 5,000 acres of green space filled with classic moss-covered Oregon forest. Just outside of Portland, the 11,250-foot Mount Hood is an accessible peak for aspiring mountaineers, with endless amounts of trails and world-class ski areas. And closer to the city, the Columbia River Gorge has a seemingly endless amount of hiking and biking trails, plus some of the most gorgeous waterfalls in the country.

Backpacking/Camping: Eagle Creek Trail , Loowit Trail , Siouxon Creek

Hiking: Horsetail/ Triple Falls Loop , Paradise Park , Dog Mountain , Opal Creek

3. Hilton Head | South Carolina

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

In the heart of the Lowcountry, with beaches and surf breaks that beg you to stay outside from sunup to sundown and an enticing local history, Hilton Head might be one of the Southeast's most inviting coastal destinations. Whether trail running through live oak forests, or kayaking next to dolphins, or going for sunset bike rides on the beach, Hilton Head offers up all sorts of irresistible Lowcountry adventure. And the nightlife is equally lively, as you can have your pick of the litter between classy wine bars, underground sub shops, or some of the best oysters and seafood in the country.

Coastal Paddling: Calibogue Sound , Pinckney Island , Broad Creek

Food and Drink: Stu's Surfside Subs, Poseidon Restaurant, Old Fort Pub

4. Cody | Wyoming

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

Situated on the eastern edge of Yellowstone National Park and the western edge of the Bighorn Basin, Cody is a cowboy town that serves as the ultimate gateway to Wyoming adventure. It's the type of town where you can summit towering peaks in one of the four surrounding mountain ranges, whitewater paddle down the Shoshone River, or venture off to Yellowstone's Lamar Valley, and then make it back in time to catch a local rodeo in the evening.

Fishing: Clarks Fork River , Lower Dam Road

Hiking: Lamar Valley , Elk Fork Trail , Heart Mountain

5. Aspen | Colorado

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

Aspen is at the heart of the best the Rocky Mountains have to offer. No matter what season you find yourself in Aspen, there’s always great food, a laid-back vibe, and all the adventure you can handle. Its unique location in the Elk Range Mountains offers incredible access to year round adventures. In the winter, you can choose between three different ski mountains—Snowmass, Aspen Mountain, and Aspen Highlands—and there’s nothing quite like turning down a slope that ends directly at the shops and hotels of downtown Aspen. In the warmer months, a visit to the Maroon Bells is an absolute must, as these twin summits offer one of the most breathtaking views in all of Colorado.

Backpacking/ Camping: Conundrum Hot Springs , 10th Mountain Division Huts

Cross-Country Skiing: Maroon Creek Road , Independence Pass

Hiking: Maroon Bells , Ute Trail , Lost Man Loop

6. Bellingham | Washington

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

Mount Baker, the snow-covered volcano ripe for winter sports and summer hiking, provides a regal backdrop to Bellingham, WA, and the town’s famous Ski to Sea race is a rigorous trek from the slopes of Mount Baker to the waters of Bellingham Bay. Bellingham’s extensive trail networks offer year-round biking, hiking, and trail running, and the town’s lakes and coastal waterways make it a perfect place for kayakers and SUP enthusiasts. The microbrewery scene is on the rise as well, so there's no shortage of places to grab a locally-brewed, post-adventure pint.

Climbing: Mt. Baker , Washington Pass , Clayton Beach

Mountain Biking: Galbraith Mountain (South Side) , Galbraith Mountain (North Side)

Microbreweries: Kulshan Brewing, Boundary Bay Brewing, Aslan Brewing Company

7. Telluride | Colorado

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

It's almost as if the San Juans surrounding Telluride were handcrafted by a mountain biking, ultrarunning, olympic-skiing, adventure-loving demigod, and then carefully placed into the most gorgeous box canyon in the world. Telluride is undoubtedly one of the strongest contenders for best all around mountain town.

Hiking: Blue Lakes , Ajax Mountain

Mountain Biking: Galloping Goose , Deep Creek Trail , Wasatch Telluride

8. Portland | Maine

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

A city by the bay, within touching distance of Acadia National Park as well as Baxter State Park and its most famous peak, Mt. Katahdin, Portland is Maine's largest and most-visited city. The Old Port district is home to cobblestone streets, 19th Century buildings, and New England-style fishing piers that are frequented by seagulls, seals, and hungry tourists who sit at dockside restaurants and listen to live music while indulging in some of the finest lobster rolls in the country.

Hiking: Mackworth Island , Acadia Mountain & St. Sauveur , Penobscot & Sargent Mountain

Paddling: Scarborough Marsh

9. Boise | Idaho

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

Situated on the edge of the mountains and high desert, Boise offers a network of roughly 130 miles of trails at the edge of its city limits, as well as one of Southwest Idaho’s best canoeing rivers, the Boise River—which cuts right through downtown. The city is situated in a valley roughly an hour away from three whitewater rivers, hundreds of miles of high-desert trails in the Owyhee Canyonlands, and trailheads on the edge of the Sawtooth Wilderness.

Hiking: Browns Creek Slot Loop , Jump Creek Falls , Sawtooth Lake

Mountain Biking: Polecat Gulch , Eastside Trail

Whitewater Paddling: Middle Fork of the Salmon River , Main Section of the Payette River

10. Santa Barbara | California

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

Nestled between the Santa Ynez Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, Santa Barbara is the northernmost gate of the Southern California Kingdom. Blessed with a year-round, Mediterranean climate and topography that allows for surf sessions and mountainside hot spring soaks in the same day, the greater Santa Barbara region is a certifiable Garden of Eden for folks who love to get their kicks in the great outdoors. A bounty of outdoor opportunities, coupled with a culture that prioritizes working to live rather than living to work, has helped turn Santa Barbara into a year-round hub for outdoor adventure travelers.

Food and Drink: Cold Spring Tavern

Hiking: Cold Spring Trail , Gaviota State Park

Surfing: Rincon , Campus Point

11. Seattle | Washington

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

Encased by forests, mountains, and sea, there are few major cities in America that have it as good as Seattle when it comes to outdoor adventure. Whether it's paddling in the Puget Sound, or traipsing to the top of evergreen-strewn peaks in the Cascades, or even making the short two-hour journey to America's fifth most visited national park , there's much to experience in this Pacific Northwest gem.

Backpacking/Camping:  The Enchantments , Olympic National Park Wilderness Coast ,

Climbing:  Gold Bar Boulders , Leavenworth , Index

Hiking: Big Four Ice Caves , Mount Si , High Rock Lookout

12. Chattanooga | Tennessee

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

As the only city to have won Outside Magazine's "Best Town Ever" on two separate occasions, it's safe to say that the secret is out about Chattanooga. In the summer, don’t miss putting-in to the Tennessee River from the downtown riverfront and SUPing to Maclellan Island, or hiking on Lookout Mountain to Sunset Rock and Point Park for beautiful vistas of the city. From the summit of Lookout, you’ll witness the undulating ridgelines of the Cumberland Plateau and Missionary Ridge, which constitute sections of the Appalachian chain’s southern terminus. For paddlers and climbers, the Tennessee River Gorge—also known as the Grand Canyon of the Tennessee—offers miles of gorge-lined flat water and sandstone cliff bands. In the evening, head to the Flying Squirrel Bar , and in the morning, don’t miss brunch at The Farmer’s Daughter .

Hiking: Bluff Trail , Lula Lake , Mullens Cove Loop

Mountain Biking:   Raccoon Mountain , Five Points

Paddling:   Downtown , Lookout Creek

13. Jackson Hole | Wyoming

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

Every season in Jackson Hole brings with it particular marvel. Winter brings skiing at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and skinning into the Teton backcountry. In the spring, there’s road running and road biking in the National Elk Refuge, plus muddy trail sports and whitewater paddling. Teton summers are prime time for hiking, camping, and climbing, as well as flatwater paddling on the Snake River and at String Lake. And there are few images in the world more iconic than a Jackson Hole autumn with golden Aspens along Jenny Lake.

Hiking: Paintbrush to Cascade Canyon , Sleeping Indian , Teton Crest Trail , Phelps Lake , Bradley and Taggart Lakes

Mountain Biking: Hour of Power , JHMR Bike Park , Jimmy's Mom Trail

Skiing: Mt. Moran, Skillet ,  Jackson Hole Mountain Resort , Snow King

14. San Francisco | California

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

Take a simple stroll across the Golden Gate Bridge, embark on an overnight backpacking trip in the Marin Headlands, tackle the singletrack terrain where mountain biking was born, paddle through marine sanctuaries or through the challenging waters of the San Francisco Bay, and reward your efforts with a post-excursion pint of Northern California beer. No matter what appeals to your adventurous taste, you can find it in San Francisco.

Cycling: Mt. Diablo , Mill Valley - Mt. Tam , Scenic 49

Hiking: Land's End Trail , Matt Davis Trail , Dipsea Trail

15. Moab | Utah

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

Located in the red rock desert of Eastern Utah, on the back doorstep of two national parks—Arches and Canyonlands—Moab is an otherworldly destination town with staggering adventure opportunities. Mountain bikers know the name all too well, as it's consistently ranked as one of the top towns for mountain biking in the world. In town, there's a long list of outfitters and touring companies that can set you up with gear and local beta, and as the sun goes down over the desert, there are plenty of top-notch margarita and taco joints, including our favorite Miguel’s Baja Grill.

Backpacking/ Camping: Devil's Garden Campsite , Juniper Campground , Upheaval Dome

Hiking: Hidden Valley Trail , Delicate Arch , Mary Jane Canyon

Mountain Biking: Whole Enchilada , Slickrock , Bar M , Magnificent 7

16. Minneapolis | Minnesota

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

Outside Magazine published an article called The 16 Best Places to Live in the US: 2014 , and Minneapolis made it to #3, based on the city’s “access to adventure, healthy eating options, bike lanes, and green space.” With more parks per square mile than in any other city, and with more than 70 miles of well-maintained trails, it's no wonder that Minneapolis is garnering such well-deserved acclaim.

Cycling: Grand Rounds Scenic Byway , Elm Creek Park Reserve , Midtown Greenway

Flat Water Paddling: Chain of Lakes , Minnehaha Creek , Lake Minnetonka

17. Durango | Colorado

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

Situated on the dry side of the San Juans, Durango is a much-loved hub for endless Southwestern Colorado adventure. With the Animas River snaking through and Animas Mountain rising high above, not to mention gigantic swaths of wilderness and towering mountain peaks within an hour’s drive of downtown, it would be a mistake to pass over Durango on a Colorado tour.

Hiking: Animas Mountain , Ice Lake Basin , Engineer Mountain

Mountain Biking: Dry Fork , Telegraph Trail

18. Austin | Texas

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

Although Austin isn’t on the sea or high in the mountains, its location in the Hill Country of Central Texas means that it’s home to a diverse and inviting mix of tree-covered limestone ridges, creek-filled valleys, ancient 500-year-old cypress groves, and underground springs that feed a multitude of watering holes and create a vast network of underground (and mostly undiscovered) caves. Such topography offers outdoor enthusiasts everything from premier mountain biking at Reveille Peak Ranch, to excellent hiking at Balcones Canyonlands, to limitless limestone climbing along the Barton Creek Greenbelt .

Food & Drink: Torchy's Tacos, Bangers Sausage House

Hiking: Hill of Life, Barton Creek Greenbelt , Buescher State Park, Balcones Canyonlands

Swimming: Krause Springs , Hamilton Pool

19. San Diego | California

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

Although there are many fine cities in America, there is only one city that bears the title, “America’s Finest City.” And it’s San Diego, California. San Diego is a city that has it all—from the best beaches in Southern California, to an amazing amount of wilderness diversity, where you can go from ocean, to foothills, to mountains, to desert, and back, all in time to enjoy fresh, authentic tacos and Mexican lagers back in the city center. Simply put, if you like constant sunshine, gorgeous beaches and bluffs, super-model-esque people, and a never-sleeps kind of energy that pulses throughout the city, you'll love San Diego.

Hiking: Torrey Pines, Cowles Mountain

Surfing: Pacific Beach, Mission Beach , Ocean Beach

20. Salt Lake City | Utah

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

For decades, whisperings of beer scarcity kept the outdoorsy masses away from Utah. But in recent years, skiers, climbers, runners, cyclists, and paddlers are all flocking to Salt Lake City as they discover its an enticing blend of proper city and rugged mountain town. You can mountain bike in the morning, ski in the afternoon, catch an evening symphony, and of course, top it all off with a few local microbrews. And let's not forget that Salt Lake might be known best of all for its peerless Utah powder .

Climbing: Joe's Valley, Little Cottonwood Canyon , Big Cottonwood Canyon

Mountain Biking: Corner Canyon , Mid Mountain Trails

Skiing: Snowbird Resort , Alta Resort , Powder Mountain

21. Boulder | Colorado

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

Boulder's wealth of outdoor adventures and its more than 300 days of sunshine make it the ideal place for those looking to get out for some classic Front Range adventure. Located at the divide between prairie and mountain, the foothills around Boulder leading into the mountains are home to excellent rock climbing, hiking, trail running, mountain biking, and wildlife watching (including mountain lions). Within jogging distance of Boulder’s lively Pearl Street are trailheads that lead straight into the Flatirons, so don’t be surprised to find world class mountain athletes training at altitude.

Backpacking/Camping: East Inlet Trail , Moraine Park

Hiking: Bear Peak , Chatauqua Park , Green Mountain

Mountain Biking: Walker Ranch , Betasso Preserve , Hall Ranch

22. Orlando | Florida

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

Without any mountains to speak of, Orlando may not be at the top of anyone's adventure bucket list, but it actually has quite a bit going for it. The Chuluota Wilderness area offers pristine woods only a few minutes outside of Orlando. The Hal Scott Preserve has nearly 17 miles of trails and 9,300 acres along the Econlockhatchee River, where you’ll alternate between grass and-hard packed sand. And there's also world-class paddling along the numerous creeks, springs, and rivers that ink their way through the tropical forests and marshes of Central Florida.

Backpacking/Camping: Seminole State Forest , Hal Scott Regional Preserve

Flat Water Paddling: Econ River , Blue Springs State Park , Blackwater Creek

23. Burlington | Vermont

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

Burlington’s location along Lake Champlain would be good enough to make it a great adventure destination. But throw in the Green Mountains, miles of open forests, and the entire wilderness of the Northeast Kingdom, and it becomes one of the crown jewels of northern New England. Hikers, mountain bikers, and backpackers have access to Vermont’s finest less than an hour away: Mount Mansfield (the state highpoint), Camel’s Hump, and the Long Trail are all great places to get lost, and of course, there is always paddling on Lake Champlain, which never ceases to amaze.

Hiking: Camel's Hump , Sunset Ridge Trail Mountain Biking: Adams Camp Loop , Cady Hill Forest

  • Share on Facebook
  • Tweet on Twitter

Ask us anything

Our customer care team is here for you

  • Hiking Gear
  • Camping Storage
  • Everyday Essentials
  • Tent Accessories

5/8 in | 15mm || Side Release Field Repair Buckle with Removable Pin

Side Release Field Repair Buckle with Removable Pin

20 liter || Ultra-Sil Day Pack Atoll Blue

Ultra-Sil Day Pack

Mosquito Head Net _ with insect shield for mosquito protection

Mosquito Head Net

TPU Accessory Case

TPU Accessory Case

Hydraulic Pro Dry Pack

Hydraulic Pro Dry Pack

Lightweight Dry Bag

Lightweight Dry Bag

Evac Compression Dry Bag

Evac Compression Dry Bag

Big River Dry Bag

Big River Dry Bag

12 pack || Wilderness Wipes

Wilderness Wipes

M / Baltic Blue || Airlite Towel

Airlite Towel

S / Baltic Blue || Drylite Towel

Drylite Towel

Hand Wash || Trek and Travel Pocket Soaps

Trek and Travel Pocket Soaps

Ground Control Tent Pegs

Ground Control Tent Pegs

Reflective Accessory Cord

Reflective Accessory Cord

Telos™ Gear Loft

Telos™ Gear Loft

Camping Utensil & Peg Bag _ replacement _ tent stakes

Utensil & Peg Bag

Adventure tips.

Adventure Enthusiasts' 7 Best Cities for Outdoor Activities in the US

Adventure Enthusiasts' 7 Best Cities for Outdoor Activities in the US

Best San Diego Hikes: Unforgettable Trails & Scenic Views

Best San Diego Hikes: Unforgettable Trails & Scenic Views

New year, new wish list: National Parks Edition

New year, new wish list: National Parks Edition

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

You've qualified for free shipping

Shipping & tax calculated at checkout. US & CA shipping only.

We ship to the following countries

  • Other Country in the Region

Are you sure?

Travel Daily

Top 25 US States for adventure travel revealed

' src=

Contributors are not employed, compensated or governed by TD, opinions and statements are from the contributor directly

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

Having spent the last couple of years indoors in our homes and unable to travel, many of us are craving the excitement and wanderlust that comes with travelling to a new destination. If you’re not one to lie on a beach doing nothing all day, there are many different ways for the more adventurous traveller to try something new. Whether you prefer to take to the water for a spot of surfing or kayaking, or you’d rather be up in the sky, trying a spot of skydiving, there is a whole range of activities to do on holiday for those looking for an adrenaline fix while on their travels.

New research by Superdry has revealed the countries around the world which are best for adventure travel, as well as the states across the US which provide adrenaline-seeking travellers with the most things to do.

The research analysed each of the US states, and 99 countries against a number of different factors including hiking, camping, surfing, rock climbing, kayaking and the number of national parks in each destination. An ‘Outdoor Adventure’ score was then formulated to reveal the best destinations for those looking for an activity-filled break.

The top 25 US states for adventure travel

In the US, Maryland ranks as the best state for an outdoor adventure, scoring 40.6 out of a possible 50 points. The state scored particularly highly for its national parks with one park every 689 square miles, with only Massachusetts having more.  Overall Massachusetts places second with 39.6 points out of 50 as, with the exception of skydiving, the state also scores highly across all other outdoor adventure factors.

The tropical paradise of Hawaii, which is renowned for its adventurous and outdoorsy lifestyle ranks fourth, with California completing the top five states with a score of 37.7 out of 50.

The surfing, skydiving and hiking hotspots of the US

While some travellers may be up for taking part in all types of activities while on their adventures, some may have a preferred activity or sport of choice, which leads them to explore certain countries over others.

Best state for hiking  – Connecticut with one hike every 3 square miles

Best state for camping  – Colorado with 5,289 camping hashtags on Instagram

Best state for visiting national parks  –  Massachusetts with one national park every every 660 square miles

Best state for rock climbing  – Utah with one rock climbing route every one square mile

Best state for surfing  –  Hawaii with one surfing activity every 182 square miles

Best state for kayaking  – Delaware with one kayaking activity every 26 square miles

Best state for skydiving  – Florida with 52 total skydiving activities in the state

The world’s adventure travel hotspots

European country Croatia topped the list as the world’s capital for adventure travel. Scoring 81.4 out of 100 overall, Croatia boasts beautiful coastlines and a number of national parks, as well as several opportunities to get involved in kayaking, rock climbing and hiking.

Israel, Hong Kong, the UK and Singapore followed to make up the top five adventure travel capitals, each with overall scores over 77 out of 100. Scoring highly for skydiving opportunities, as well as having several camping sites dotted around the country, the UK provides travellers with a multitude of adventurous activities to get stuck into.

Europe dominates the top 20 most adventurous destinations, with 15 of the top 20 being located in the continent. Outside of Europe, several Asian countries made the top 20 rankings too, including Hong Kong, Singapore, and Thailand.  The US ranks in 33rd position, with a score of 59.9 out of 100.

Top 10 trending travel destinations on TikTok

Since you're here...

...there are many ways you can work with us to advertise your company and connect to your customers. Our team can help you design and create an advertising campaign

We can also organize a real life or digital event for you and find thought leader speakers as well as industry leaders, who could be your potential partners, to join the event. We also run some awards programmes which give you an opportunity to be recognized for your achievements during the year and you can join this as a participant or a sponsor.

Let us help you drive your business forward with a good partnership!

Yes, contact me I want to download the media kit

Comments are closed.


best states to visit for outdoor adventure

Geneva Tourism launches 2024 Summer Campaign, with exclusive Summer Transport Card and limited-edition ‘Golden Ticket’ initiative

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

Bangkok Airways eyes further growth through renewed network planning and optimization deal with Sabre

76 partners are ready to collaborate through the First Wonderful Indonesia Co-Branding Forum (WICF) in 2024.

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

Treat Yourself With Luxury First Class Flight To San Jose

Welcome, Login to your account.

Sign in with Google

Powered by wp-glogin.com

Recover your password.

A password will be e-mailed to you.

Welcome back, Log in to your account.


Be part of our community of seasoned travel and hospitality industry professionals from all over the world.

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

  • Middle East
  • UK & Europe
  • USA & Canada
  • Hospitality
  • HR & Careers
  • Luxury Travel
  • MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferencing, Exhibitions)
  • Travel Tech
  • Travel Agents
  • Airlines / Airports
  • Conferences
  • Cruising (Ocean)
  • Cruising (River)
  • Destination Management (DMC)
  • Hotels & Resorts
  • Hotel Management Company
  • Hotel Technology
  • HR / Appointments
  • Meetings, Incentives, Conferencing, Exhibitions (MICE)
  • Travel Agents (all)
  • Travel Technology
  • Tourism Boards
  • Industry appointments
  • Travel Bloggers
  • Podcasts – Features
  • How to join
  • RSVP Portal
  • Event Photos/Videos
  • Competitions
  • Search for Jobs
  • Destination NaJomtien BanAmphur BangSaray *NEW*
  • จุดหมายปลายทาง นาจอมเทียน หาดบ้านอำเภอ บางเสร่ *NEW*
  • South Australia Reward Wonders *NEW*
  • Ponant Yacht Cruises and Expeditions
  • Encore Tickets (Chinese Guide)
  • Affordable Luxury in Thailand by Centara Hotels
  • Rising Above the Oridinary by Conrad Bangkok
  • The Best of Thailand
  • Who is IWTA
  • Philippines
  • Recommend Someone
  • Recommend yourself
  • Awards site
  • Be a Sponsor
  • Nominate Now
  • Buy Tickets

Next Stop Adventures

Outdoor Travel & Lifestyle Blog

Unicoi state park in Helen Georgia

19 Outdoor Places in the U.S. that You Should Visit at Least Once

rei outdoor gear

As you all know, we love the outdoors! We’re often searching for exciting outdoor places to add to our bucket list. We get excited about outdoorsy destinations, historic sites, and hidden gems.

We also love National Parks , mountains, and coastal towns. With so many places to see that have all of which we love, there is a lot of travel planning ahead.

And for those of you who also love the outdoors, this is for you!

Together, with some of our friends, we created a list of some of the best outdoorsy places to visit. Hang on tight, because you’re about to get all the wanderlust vibes !

Best Outdoor Places to Visit in East U.S.

1. blowing rocks preserve, fl.

Contributed by Alisha, from Adventure Seeking Mom

blowing rocks preserve best outdoor places to visit in the u.s.

With the largest Anastasia limestone shoreline on the Atlantic coast of the U.S., Florida’s Blowing Rocks Preserve will really blow you away with its breathtaking natural beauty.

This dramatic stretch of sand will remind you just how powerful the ocean is. Especially when you watch the waves crash forcefully against the rocks!

They’re known as Blowing Rocks because during high tide and when the sea is rough, the force of the waves hitting the rocks can “blow” ocean water up to 50 feet in the air. 

Located on the southern end of Jupiter Island, a barrier island on Florida’s east coast, Blowing Rocks Preserve is a serene 73-acre sanctuary protected by  The Nature Conservancy .

It’s home to a vast number of endangered Florida native plants and animals. These include rare loggerheads, and green and leatherback sea turtles. 

Besides admiring and climbing on the Blowing Rocks, visitors to the preserve enjoy swimming, snorkeling, and hiking. Relaxing along this stunning south Florida shoreline is also a must.

[BTEN id=”2594″]

2. Stowe, VT

Contributed by Heather, from This Noshtalgic Life

mountains in stowe vermont

Nestled in the green mountains of Vermont, Stowe is a picturesque town that is perfect for a getaway. It’s an amazing outdoor destination whether visiting in the fall, winter, or summer months.

Stowe is a world-class destination in the summer for outdoor enthusiasts . Mountain bikers can hit up the large network of trails that offer something for every ability level.

Specifically, The Trapp Family Lodge’s 2,600 acres feature an extensive mountain bike trail network with two skills parks.

In addition, the Stowe Recreation Path spans 5.3 miles on a greenway stretching from the Village of Stowe to the Top Notch Resort on the Mountain Road. It is a public use trail and is utilized by casual cyclists, walkers, and joggers.

Mount Mansfield, the highest peak in the state, can be seen from all over town. There is a seasonal toll road that takes you to the top of the mountain for stunning views of the surrounding landscape.

In the fall, the foliage is simply breathtaking! Many people come to Stowe specifically to see the leaves change color.

In the winter, skiers and snowboarders alike can enjoy top-notch skiing at Stowe Mountain Resort. Backcountry skiing abounds on Mt. Mansfield, with approximately 40 kilometers of trails.

Nordic skiers have endless opportunities in the  Stowe area  as well. Whether enjoying the trails at Trapp Family Lodge, which is home to the first cross-country ski center in the country, or at Stowe Mountain Resort Cross-Country Touring Center, skiers will have an unforgettable experience to write home about.

With so much to do, it’s no wonder that Stowe is one of Vermont’s favorite tourist destinations!

3. Sanibel Island, FL – Seashell Capital of the World

Contributed by Donna, from Explore the Road with Donnamarie

man kayaking in sanibel island florida

What outdoor destination can be better than a beach? And what better way to visit a beach than by heading to  Sanibel , Florida? You can stroll along miles of sandy beaches and collect shells.

After all, Sanibel is the seashell capital of the world. But that’s not all. The waters are fairly calm making this an excellent place to go paddle boarding and kayaking.

Almost all accommodations are beachfront, so it is easy to have equipment delivered to you for use during your stay.

If you are lucky, you may even spot some dolphins. However, if you want a sure way to see these amazing porpoises, you can book a dolphin tour.

Sanibel is located at the southwest tip of Florida, where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Gulf of Mexico. The closest airport is Ft. Myers. Since Sanibel is in Florida, it does get hot in the summer.

Also, hurricane season peaks in late summer through mid-fall, so you can’t be sure of the weather. For the best time to visit, come from late November through June.

4. Rock City, GA

Contributed by Jillian, from Adventure Dragon

rock city georgia best outdoor places to visit in the u.s.

One of the top outdoor destinations in the U.S. is located just a few miles from Chattanooga in a tiny Georgia town named Lookout Mountain.

You’ll find  Rock City  perched atop the summit of a mountain bearing the same name, and this lesser-known place truly feels like a secret city hidden away from the rest of the world.

Natural passageways through moss-covered boulders eventually lead visitors over a 180-foot suspension bridge and to a breathtaking, 90-foot waterfall.

From the top of this waterfall, you can see seven US states on a sunny day. Visit in spring or fall for the best weather.

During March, the entire waterfall runs green for St Patrick’s Day, and throughout the entire month of October, Rock City celebrates its German heritage through a music and food festival called Rocktoberfest.

If you wish to stay overnight, the nearby historic Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel allows visitors to sleep in a real train car that operated almost a hundred years ago.

5. Helen, GA

Contributed by Yanitza & Carlos, from Next Stop Adventures

german town in helen georgia best outdoor places to visit in the u.s.

North Georgia is without a doubt, one of the best outdoor destinations in the eastern part of the U.S., and it has all the reasons for it! Nestled on the northeastern side, you will find the outdoorsy town of Helen.

Known mostly for its picturesque Bavarian-inspired buildings, it’s also an outdoors lover paradise.

Helen is filled with beautiful waterfalls, like the popular Anna Ruby Falls, which is accessible through a 1/2-mile paved trail hike.

Gem mining and hiking at Unicoi State Park are also among the great things you can do in Helen , Georgia. During the summer months, you can enjoy river tubing on the Chattahoochee River.

This tubing experience takes you through the center of the Bavarian town and it’s an awesome outdoor activity for the whole family .

This outdoorsy area of Georgia is also known for its wineries. For a complete winery experience, you can enjoy wine flights and cave tours at Yonah Mountain Vineyards .

Chocolate factories, historic sites, and ziplining are also very popular among tourists who visit Helen.

More Beautiful Places to Visit in the U.S.

6. seaside, or.

Contributed by Yesenia, from The Sisters Who Voyage

beach at seaside oregon

Seaside is a beautiful and popular outdoor destination in the United States that is nestled on the Oregon coastline.

This famous Oregon beach is similar in many ways to the top  Washington beaches .

Similarly, it has cold refreshing waters, typically windier days, and less litter across its sandy shores. It’s also not as congested with crowds.

This stunning beach offers various activities that can be enjoyed on its clean shores. Kite flying, sand castle building, kayaking, and wakeboarding are among the most popular.

Apart from beginning in the sea, you’ll also be able to take a hike through the seaside promenade that is roughly 1.5 miles one way.

If you’re still looking for adventure, then there are a few trails you’ll be able to hike through.

An easy trail is the Soapstone Lake trail which is roughly 2.7 miles round trip. This should take you no more than 1.5 hours to finish if done without breaks.

Next, you’ll want to head on to the Lewis and Clark Discovery Trail at Ecola State Park. This monster is 12.2 miles and will take over 7 hours to finish! This makes it a more significant challenge, even if you take a few small breaks.

7. Oahu, Hawaii

Contributed by Sydney, from A World in Reach

beach in oahu hawaii

There’s no doubt about it, Oahu is one of the best outdoor destinations in the United States. From its stunning beaches to its incredible hiking trails, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

Looking for a place to relax and soak up the sun, Oahu’s beaches are definitely worth a visit. Oahu is home to some of the best beaches in the world.

With over 100 to choose from, you’re sure to find the perfect spot to suit your needs.

Whether you’re looking for a place to surf, swim, or just lounge around, you’ll find it on Oahu. Some of Oahu’s best beaches include Kailua Beach, Sunset Beach, and Lanikai Beach.

Tourist-centric Waikiki Beach is the most popular on the island. It’s home to many of Oahu’s best hotels, restaurants, and things to do.

If you’re looking to get your heart rate up, a few hiking trails are definitely worth adding to your  Oahu bucket list .

From the popular Diamond Head State Monument to the breathtaking Manoa Falls, there’s plenty of hiking to be had on this island.

If you’re up for a challenge, you can even hike to the top of Mt. Ka’ala, the highest point on Oahu.

Oahu has great weather year-round, so you really can’t go wrong when deciding the best time to visit. However, if you want to do some whale watching, whale season runs between December and May.

8. Lake Powell, CO

Contributed by Marisa, from The Daydream Diaries

lake powell colorado

Lake Powell is a popular vacation spot in the United States with almost 2,000 miles of shoreline, endless sunshine, warm water, perfect weather, and some of the most jaw-dropping scenery around.

It is a huge man-made reservoir on the Colorado River. Picture turquoise waters, white rock canyons, and even little pockets of sandy beaches!

It’s so beautiful that it actually attracts around 2 million people every year to see the sprawling lake which sits on the border of Utah and Arizona.

On the grounds, you are able to camp, fish, boat, waterski, and hike! There is no shortage of activities! You can rent from many of the marinas and operators within the grounds or you can bring your own boats, water skis, etc.

Although there are a lot of activities to take part in and it is a popular place to visit, it still feels so serene, peaceful, and like you are truly on another planet when you visit!

9. Kanab, UT

Contributed by Catherine, from Nomadicated

kanab utah best outdoor places to visit in the u.s.

Nestled on the Southern Utah and Northern Arizona border, Kanab is emerging as one of the top places to visit in the USA for lovers of the outdoors.

Often overshadowed in popularity by its neighbor Moab, the Kanab region spotlights similarly incredible southwest USA desert hikes and landscapes but with fewer crowds.

Centrally located to Zion, Grand Canyon , and the town of Page, Kanab makes the perfect home base to visit some of the most iconic American National Parks and famous landmarks like Antelope Canyon or The Wave. 

Kanab hosts many hikes  within town boundaries already, but other fantastic slot canyons and Vermilion Cliff hikes are just beyond its backyard.

Seek out unique Utah hidden gems like Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, Moqui Sand Caves, or Buckskin Gulch-the longest, and deepest slot canyon in the world.

The best time to visit this Utah desert town is in the shoulder seasons of Spring or Fall.

Summer brings brutal temperatures to the southwest and very little shade for the most adventurous outdoor activities.

Watch the forecast for incoming precipitation when hiking in slot canyons, as flash floods can occur rapidly.

More Places to Visit in West U.S.

10. monument valley, az.

Contributed by Elen, from Elen Pradera

mounument valley in arizona best outdoor places to visit in the u.s.

Of the many outdoor destinations in the U.S.,  Monument Valley  is one of the most unique places to visit.

The iconic destination is located on the Navajo Nation Reservation, the largest Native American territory in the U.S.

The area where visitors are free to roam around and explore is the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, which borders the states of Utah and Arizona.

At Monument Valley, the majestic sandstone buttes and mesas create a stunning landscape. Because of this, the place has been featured in a variety of movies, like Mission Impossible 2 and Forrest Gump.

One of the best ways to explore Monument Valley is to take the scenic drive known as Tribal Park Loop – the only part accessible to visitors without a tour. The entry fee is $8 per person, per day.

To see other parts of the park, you’ll need to join a tour with one of the authorized companies.

Native American guides lead these tours and take you further, deep into the park, to areas only accessible by tourists with them.

And if you want to visit this incredible outdoor attraction in the U.S., the best time to visit Monument Valley is during spring and fall, when the temperatures are milder.

11. Moab, UT

Contributed by Daria, from The Discovery Nut

delicate arch in moab utah best outdoor places to visit in the u.s.

Moab is one of the top outdoor places in the United States. Located in the heart of Utah’s red rock country, this town is an adventurer’s paradise .

While many travelers know Moab as a gateway to Utah’s popular national parks , Canyonlands and Arches, this town offers so much more!

Here you can kayak or paddle board test your mountain biking skills on the slick rock, and try your hand at rock climbing.

Aside from the popular hiking trails in Moab, this area also offers many hidden gems where you can test your orientation skills and get away from the crowds.

But that’s not all.

Moab also boasts some of the best dark skies in the United States and the nearby Dead Horse Canyon State Park even received the status of the International Dark Sky Park which means it’s perfect for stargazing.

Many travelers spend days and even weeks exploring Moab, with summer being the busiest season.

For the best experience, visit Moab during shoulder season which is from late April through May, and from September through mid-October when crowds are smaller and temperatures are not as hot as in summer which is perfect for camping and spending time outside.

12. Joshua Tree National Park, CA

Contributed by Krisztina from She Wanders Abroad

joshua tree national park best outdoor places to visit in the u.s.

Joshua Tree National Park, located in southeastern California, is one of the most popular outdoor places in the United States.

The park is home to a wide variety of plants and animals, as well as some of the most incredible rock formations in the world. Visitors can hike, camp, rock climb, stargaze, and much more.

Since it’s located inside the Mojave National Preserve, the park gets incredibly hot during the summer months, so it’s best to visit either in spring or fall.

One of the most unique places inside Joshua Tree is Cholla Cactus Garden. This area is filled with hundreds of cholla cacti, which are known for their sharp spines.

Another must-see spot is Skull Rock, a large formation that looks like, well, a skull. You also can’t miss Arch Rock, a natural archway formed by erosion.

In case you’re after a rewarding hike, you can head to the top of Ryan Mountain. The 3-mile round-trip hike isn’t too difficult, and the views from the summit are incredible.

Los Angeles is the closest major city to Joshua Tree, so many visitors fly into LAX and then drive two hours east to the park. Y

ou can easily plan a Joshua Tree day trip  from LA but if you want to really experience all the park has to offer, it’s best to stay for a few days.

There are several different campgrounds located inside Joshua Tree, or you can stay in one of the many towns located nearby.

Whether you’re a seasoned adventurer or just looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, Joshua Tree is sure to please you.

More to Add to Your Bucket List

13. grand canyon national park, az.

Contributed by Brodi, from Our Offbeat Life

sunrise at grand canyon national park arizona best outdoor places to visit in the u.s.

Grand Canyon National Park is one of the best outdoor places in the US. It’s one of the top three visited US National Parks and receives over six million visitors annually.

When planning a trip to the Grand Canyon, the biggest challenge is deciding which part to visit.

Of the South Rim, North Rim, and West Rim the South Rim is the most popular. It also has the most amenities and  things to do at the Grand Canyon .

However, the West Rim is closer to Las Vegas which makes for a better day trip from Sin City . Visitors can also plan to skip the rims in favor of going into the Canyon, on a river trip, or on a hike to Havasu Falls.

While the most popular time to visit is during the summer months, that isn’t actually the best time to visit. It’s better to visit the Grand Canyon during the spring or fall because there are smaller crowds. In addition, the weather is more temperate.

14. Park City, UT

Contributed by Jamie, from Photo Jeepers

salt lake city utah

Want to enjoy one of the best outdoor places in the USA? If so then book your next vacation to Park City, Utah!

After all, this tiny city of just 8,000+ residents sits a little east of Salt Lake City and is surrounded by the picturesque Wasatch Range.

In fact, the mountains here are so incredible that this city played host to the 2002 Winter Olympics.

So, be sure to enjoy a bit of world-class skiing at either the Deer Valley Resort or the Park City Mountain Resort before going on a leisurely stroll through town as you admire the wealth of charming 19th-century buildings here.

And if you’re a huge fan of skiing, stop by any time between mid-November and mid-April since this is the prime ski season for Park City.

Otherwise, if you’re not a fan of winter, you could always grab a bike from Cole Sport and mountain bike your way along the Rail Trail – a historic path that follows the former trail of the Union Pacific Rail Line.

Next, SUP your way through the many ponds of Deer Valley before going on a crazy awesome hot air balloon ride high above the area’s Uinta Mountains and Cottonwood Canyons.

And if you have time, be sure to include a trip to  Capitol Reef National Park  as part of your trip since this majestic place is just under four hours away from Park City.

15. Sedona, AZ – one of the most popular outdoor places in the U.S.

Contributed by Debbie, from World Adventurists

hiking trails in sedona arizona best outdoor places to visit in the u.s.

Sedona is one of the top outdoor places in the USA, known for being incredibly beautiful with its red rocks and stunning scenery.

Hike through spectacular scenery , with a variety of trails for every fitness level. In addition, Sedona is a mecca for mountain biking, with some of the best trails in the country.

And finally, it is also a great place to simply relax and enjoy the outdoors, with plenty of opportunities for camping, fishing, and picnicking.

You’ll have a great time exploring the many thrilling adventure options available in Sedona, like an off-road jeep tour or hot air balloon flight. You won’t want to miss driving the beautiful Red Rock Scenic Byway either.

In addition, ten minutes from here is Slide Rock State Park where you can find what some say are “natural” waterslides and are a lot of fun for all ages.

Sedona is a great place for healing and rejuvenation. Not only do they have some of the best spas around, but it’s also well-known to be an energy vortex city with four different types of energies located at Airport Mesa, Cathedral Rock, Bell Rock, and Boynton Canyon.

Whether you’re looking for beauty, adventure, or relaxation, Sedona has something to offer everyone.

A perfect time to visit Sedona is during the Spring. You’ll have a comfortable temperature and endless opportunities for outdoor fun in this beautiful, sunny destination!

16. Colorado Springs, CO

Contributed by Rachel, from Caribbean Uncovered

manitou incline in colorado springs best outdoor places to visit in the u.s.

Best Time to Visit:  Spring to Fall Located an hour outside of Denver, Colorado Springs offers experiences like no other, making it an easy choice for a top outdoor destination in the US!

Take a trip to the Manitou Incline to climb the famous 2800 steps with 2000 feet of elevation!

The trail can also take you to Pikes Peak summit, a popular 14-mile mountain. Reservations are required but free and you make them here .

The strenuous hike offers incredible views of Colorado Springs and views of mountain peaks at the top.

Because the sun can get so strong, I’d suggest doing this hike at sunrise or sunset. Bring plenty of water and snacks!

If you’re looking for something less intense, Garden of the Gods, Seven Falls, and Red Rock Canyon Open Space are all nearby.

Parking is free at Garden of the Gods and Red Rock Canyon Open Space. Seven Falls offers a free parking lot with shuttle service to the front gate and a $17 entrance fee.

Garden of the Gods is handicap accessible with well-kept trails around the park.

17. Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

Contributed by Meg, from Fox in the Forest

lake at rocky mountain national park best outdoor places to visit in the u.s.

Looking for one of the best outdoor destinations in the U.S.? If so then be sure to visit Rocky Mountain National Park near the charming mountain town of Estes Park, Colorado.

After all, this stunning, 415 square-mile park is home to incredible alpine lakes, mesmerizing mountain scenery, and awesome forests.

With 4.4 million annual visitors, Rocky Mountain is the fourth most visited national park in the country.

And while the best time to visit is between June and September, it’s also when the park receives the bulk of its visitors.

Therefore, if you’re looking to do the  best hikes in Rocky Mountain Park , arrive before sunrise.

This allows you to get a better chance at grabbing a spot in the lot. You’ll also experience a bit of relaxing solitude while hiking to Bear Lake, Chasm Lake, and Alberta Falls.

Next, hop on the immortal Trail Ridge Road and check out the highest visitor center in the country before stopping for a photo op of Longs Peak – the park’s tallest mountain – at Forest Canyon Overlook.

Just remember that before you visit you are required to reserve a permit for $25 per car and can obtain one that does or does not include access to the  Bear Lake Road corridor.

18. Mendocino, CA

Contributed by Denise, from Chef Denise

flowers and ocean in mendocino california

Mendocino, California is one of the top outdoor places in the U.S. for those who appreciate nature and scenic beauty. In fact, these are some of the prettiest coastlines you’ll ever see.

And for a bonus, come in the spring when the field of wildflowers is in bloom between the town of Mendocino and the dramatic cliffs.

The village is adjacent to Mendocino Headlands State Park. Miles of trails hug the coast providing stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and even downtown Mendocino. But there is much more to Mendocino than the town itself.

Mendocino has a hike for everyone. Bring binoculars, although many times you will not need them to see the wildlife.

Wild turkeys, quail, deer, herons, and seals, are all common sights. If you’re lucky you may also spot migrating whales off the gorgeous coast.

The best trails can be found at the state parks just outside of town. The Van Damme State Park boasts a beach and Pygmy Forest where the highest trees are 8 feet.

Hike to the Point Cabrillo Light Station at the State Historic Park, of the same name. MacKerricher State Park to the north is home to the famous Glass Beach.

And Russian Gulch State Park offers a picturesque bridge and a 36-foot waterfall.

When it’s time to relax, stroll through the charming downtown where you’ll find quaint shops, artisan galleries, and delicious eateries. As a coastal town, fresh seafood is plentiful in  Mendocino restaurants —don’t miss the local rockfish!

Outdoor Places to Visit in the Caribbean

19. san juan, pr.

Contributed by Lisa, from Waves and Cobblestones

el morro in san juan puerto rico

San Juan, Puerto Rico is a fantastic destination if you’re looking to spend some quality time outdoors.  This US territory is located in the Caribbean, so you’ll enjoy warm tropical temperatures year-round. There are many great  things to do in San Juan  and throughout the islands of Puerto Rico.  

No visit to San Juan is complete without a walk along the beautiful El Paseo del Morro National Recreational Trail. 

This oceanfront path follows San Juan’s fortified city walls and leads you to El Morro, one of San Juan’s famous historic fortresses.

Those who enjoy spending time in nature will enjoy exploring El Yunque, Puerto Rico’s tropical rainforest. You can choose to hike to a waterfall , view ancient petroglyphs, or ride a zipline through the forest canopy.

Visit the Puerto Rican island of Vieques for a magical experience kayaking in Mosquito Bay, which has the brightest bioluminescence in the world. 

Snorkeling in the crystal-clear waters along Puerto Rico’s magnificent coastline is another favorite activity.

Plan to stay in the historic center of San Juan to immerse yourself in its unique vibe, a combination of its Spanish and Caribbean heritage. 

The best time to visit San Juan is in the spring – that way you’ll avoid both the winter crowds and the rainier summer season.

Like it? Pin it! Share it!

best outdoor places to visit in the u.s.

About the Author


Yanitza Ninett

Yanitza is one 1/2 of the Next Stop Adventures dynamic duo with 15+ years of hiking experience and adventure travel. As a PADI-certified Scuba diver, she's also passionate about ocean conservation. When she's not exploring the great outdoors, Yanitza obsesses over The Vampire Diaries and dreams of traveling to Spain.

  • Yanitza Ninett https://nextstopadventures.com/writer/nextstop Boneyard Beach in Jacksonville: a Treasure Inside Big Talbot Island
  • Yanitza Ninett https://nextstopadventures.com/writer/nextstop The Ultimate One Bag Travel Packing List for Traveling Smarter
  • Yanitza Ninett https://nextstopadventures.com/writer/nextstop Southern Charm: Our Engagement Photos in Savannah
  • Yanitza Ninett https://nextstopadventures.com/writer/nextstop 8 Beautiful Florida Springs for Scuba Diving Adventures

10 thoughts on “19 Outdoor Places in the U.S. that You Should Visit at Least Once”

This is an AWESOME list! I loved visiting Lake Powell a few years back. The seashell beach definitely sounds like a must visit!

We’re glad you liked it! Thank you so much!

I haven’t seen as much of the states as I would have liked. All of these locations look amazing – I’ll be adding some to my list!

What an excellent collab post! There’s so many incredible places to visit in the US, I need to get my brain in gear! My favourites from your list are Kanab and Rocky Mountain National Park!

Thank you so much! We love Utah, for sure!

Amazing spots! I have been to quite a few, but this list definitely gives me great tips for my next adventure! Thanks fro saring!

Thank you so much!

Love this list! And still too many places on here that I have never been to and some I have never heard of. But I can concur that any Oregon beach, Sedona, and Lake Powell are of course must sees. Let’s just hope we can get some more water in the Lake, because otherwise it’ll never be the same…

We’re glad you loved the list! We too have many to visit! Let’s hope the lake gets some life back!

Leave a Comment Cancel reply

15 Most 'Outdoorsy' U.S. States

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

Every state has a spectacular hike or crazy active adventure you should try; but some stand out more than others. The definition of "outdoorsy" can be very broad. The states on the following list, in no particular order, have been selected based on reviews and rankings by National Geographic , Backpacker , Matador Network , and Outside Online . Criteria such as how many recreational hiking and biking trails, camping and skiing opportunities, rock climbing locations, swimming and other water sports they offer, have been taken into account.

Surrounded by water, year-round warm weather lending locals  plenty of time to spend on outdoor activities, annual sporting events like The Honolulu Marathon, Ironman Hawaii, the Honolulu Triathlon, and The Great Aloha Run, and two national parks with incredible active volcanoes you can hike – it's no surprise that Hawaii made the list. You can start your morning with a cool surf session , go snorkeling or scuba diving before lunch, paragliding in the afternoon, and biking down a volcano before dinner.

The Golden State boasts a diverse and remarkable outdoorsy scene – hiking, biking, climbing, camping, swimming, surfing, and even skiing are all available. With seven national parks and hundreds of deep valleys, grand meadows, vast wilderness areas, waterfalls, caves and caverns, national historic trails and monuments, every day is an adventure day in California. It has the highest number of rock climbing , summer camps, and campgrounds throughout the country . San Francisco has the highest percentage of the population with walkable park access, 98.04 percent, and the highest number of bike-rental facilities per 100,000 residents, according to WalletHub . Eureka-Arcata-Fortuna has been voted by Backpacker as one of the "best cities to raise an outdoor kid."

Go skiing and mountain biking in Crested Butte, the best singletrack in the Rockies, or Aspen; hike Mount Sanitas near Boulder; paddle Lake Irwin and participate in the annual kayaking competition held on Oh Be Joyful Creek; ride the loop from Boulder to Lyons via the Peak-to-Peak Highway; or rock routes scattered in Bighorn Sheep Canyon between Salida and Canon City. Canoe, raft and kayak through canyons , or climb on the sandstone at East Animas. Many places in the Centennial State made National Geographic's list of best places for adventurous long weekends. Boulder, Durango, Colorado Springs, and Fort Collins were named by Backpacker among the best places for outdoorsy kids.

With a total of 11 national parks , recreation areas, historic trails, monuments, and sites, the Equality State offers hundreds of adventurous opportunities for locals and tourists . Go on  morning mountain bike laps on Teton Pass; hike up to Phelps Lake in Grand Teton National Park; and river surf down the Snake River. While Jackson Hole, where you can ski right into the city in the winter, is the most famous place in Wyoming, as it borders Grand Teton national Park and is very close to Yellowstone, Lander is a known for its sport climbing opportunities . Yellowstone contains approximately one-half of the world's hydrothermal  features, according to  the National Parks Service. There are more than 10,000 hydrothermal features, including over 300 geysers. 

There are five national parks in Utah, three of which are among the most famous in the country – Zion , Bryce Canyon and Arches , which has 50 campgrounds, a testament to how much people love to be outside. Hike into Delicate Arch for sunset, mountain bike scenic red-rock trails. Visitors and locals love the Fiery Furnace Walks, which are a real gem. Hiking, rafting, mountain biking ( here's why you should  try it) and rock climbing ( you should master these skills ) are a few options.   Natural Bridges National Monument  is a "Dark Sky Parks," one of four in the western world. It is ideal for stargazing .

Oregon wants to be the fittest state in the U.S. by 2021 . Bend and Portland often make the lists of the fittest and fitness-friendly cities in the country due to a large percentage of the population that is meeting CDC aerobic exercise guidelines and a lot of city parkland. Bend is surrounded by the lower Cascades and is snuggled within Deschutes National Forest, making it perfect for backcountry skiing, rafting (Celestial Falls are among the most dangerous in the world ), fishing, hiking and world-class rock climbing. The stunningly beautiful Oregon coastline is best appreciated from off shore, so paddle out and let the view take your breath away. The Tillamook County Water Trail offers 200 miles of navigable water for everyone.

New York may be among the worst cities for recreation activities, according to WalletHub , but there  the Empire State has Lake Placid, New Paltz and Montauk, to name a few, that make it one of the best outdoorsy states in the U.S. The Adirondacks is perfect for year-round adventures. Diverse landscapes offer endless opportunities for  outdoor activities . The Giant Mountain and Rocky Peak Ridge is a stunning 11-mile hike in the High Peaks with a gorgeous crest descent with otherworldly panoramas . Other spectacular hikes include Mount Esther, Mount Marcy or any of the 46er Peaks. Take your bike for a ride along the rolling route dubbed "Fantastic 52"; go ice climbing at Cascade Pass and Chouinard's Gully; ski on Whiteface Mountain and its three peaks and the biggest vertical drop east of the Rockies.


Pine Grove Furnace State Park is among the best camping places in North America . You are close to the Appalachian Trail, which is one of the most beautiful in the entire world. Hiking through the forest is a breathtaking experience. If you manage to hike the whole trail, which is about 2,185 miles, you will be one of a few compared to how many try to complete it. Close to 10 million people visited Pennsylvania's national parks, monuments, trails and historic sites, according to NPS . The Appalachina trails, the Blue Ridge or Pocono Mountains, and roaming waterways also lure locals outside. The Keystone State has the second most national recreation trails and overabundance of state parks, rock climbing locations and summer camps .

Several of Florida's bigger cities were ranked among the best the outdoors, according to Forbes. Nice weather, a lot of parkland, and an abundance of water sports keep people active outside . Imagine what you can do with a coastline of a total of 1,197 statute miles, tidal shoreline of 2,276 miles, 663 miles of beaches and more than 11,000 miles of rivers, streams and waterways,  according to official figures . Biking  and  kayaking  through the Everglades, which is the largest subtropical wilderness in the U.S.,  paddling with alligators , and flyboarding are unique experiences that will open your imagination in terms of what's possible. Dry Tortugas National Park is on almost every list of  places to go camping . If you're looking for primitive camping destinations, the seven charming islands in the relatively small park are the places to be.

Large percentage of population using public transportation to get to work; many people bikin to work; and high walking scores are the reasons why Seattle is among the fittest cities in America . National parks, historic and geological trails, as well as many recreation areas make Washington a very outdoorsy state. Its diverse landscapes , Cascade Range, Olympic Mountains, old-growth forest are the reason why the Evergreen state, which has the highest number of state parks, is a prime location for mountain biking, climbing, fishing, hiking, skiing, and camping.

Michigan is surrounded by five of the greatest lakes in the U.S., making is perfect for sailing, relaxing on pristine beaches and swimming in turquoise water. Mackinac Island is perfect for outdoors because no cars are allowed. Go on long, forested hikes among magnificent pine trees. The Upper Peninsula is an underrated summer adventure destination you should visit. This natural beauty has 1,700 miles of shoreline on three Great Lakes. On top of all the water sports you could enjoy on lakes Superior, Huron and Michigan, the UP also has expansive forests, mountains, lakes, streams, waterfalls, beaches, bluffs and islands nearby. Visit the remote Isle Royal National Park where moose and wolves usually outnumber humans or seek out  shipwrecks in Lake Superior .

Many travelers would be surprised to find that the Last Frontier is much more than a Canadian-connected land mass with a chilly climate and a whole lot of wildlife. The 49th state takes mountainous terrain to an entirely new level; the pointy peaks go on for miles and miles from flightseeing to wildlife watching and world-class fishing, Alaska offers unique activities. Some highlights include kayaking excursions in Kenai Fjords National Park , Skagway's quaint and historic frontier-style Main Street and heli-skiing adventures in Haines. Alaska hosts a handful of road races throughout the year and many of them boast unique themes and courses.

With Glacier and Yellowstone national parks in the Big Sky Country, getting out of the house is easy year-round – swimming off a boat in the summer and skiing in the winter, camping in the spring , and hiking in the fall. See brown buffalo herds in yellow fields, enjoy natural volcanic hot springs, and visit the iconic Old Faithful, which continues its scheduled eruptions. Bozeman is a famous adventurous destination because it's surrounded by the spectacular national forests of Gallatin and Beaverhead-Deerlodge, but Whitefish is not to be missed either. Mountain bike the 30-mile Whitefish Trail, go hiking in  Glacier National Park, rock climb the crags at Stonehill , and paddle along the Whitefish River.

Ely is often mentioned as one of the best places to live in America because it combines a small-town vibe with many opportunities for adventurous activities year-round such as canoeing, biking, hiking, snowshoeing, and fishing. There are more than 5,000 lakes, river and streams, many biking and hiking trails in the Superior National Forest, and remnants of glaciers to explore. Hike the North Country National Scenic Trail; head to the St. Croix and Namekagon rivers for world-class paddling; touch rocks half as old as the world, experience the life of a voyageur, and immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of a boreal forest at Voyageurs National Park .

People have been drawn to the rugged coast of Maine for many decades. Acadia National Park, home to many plants and animals, and the tallest mountain on the U.S. Atlantic coast, is among the most visited in the country . People go to hike granite peaks, bike historic carriage roads, or relax and enjoy the scenery. It  should be on your bucket list : it's one of the  friendliest parks for pets ; its dramatic rocky coastline is magnificent; it has  some of the best beaches ; and the popular but dangerous Precipice Trail is many people's favorite attraction. Portland is one of the best places to sea kayak and has more than 100 miles of nature trails. It's also one of the best cities to raise outdoor kids, according to Backpacker.

I've been to all 50 states. Here are the 10 I think everyone should visit at least once.

  • Over the past decade, I've traveled solo to all 50 US states and most major US national parks.
  • Although I've found beauty in every state, there are some that I want to visit over and over again.
  • I love traveling to places like New Mexico, Montana, New Hampshire, and Arizona.

Insider Today

Over the past decade, I've successfully visited all 50 US states solo. I've even made it to most of the major US national parks along the way. Because of this journey, I'm often asked which states I'd recommend to travelers.

Although most international travelers gravitate toward states like Florida and New York , I've found fantastic beauty and history in every state.

However, these are the 10 states I always return to.

New Mexico boasts a surprising variety of stunning landscapes.

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

New Mexico is always at the top of my list when recommending US states. Nicknamed " the land of enchantment ," it lives up to its moniker — and then some.

Those who haven't visited New Mexico may think of the state as a mostly barren desert, but it's actually the diverse landscapes that keep me coming back.

From the otherworldly dunes of White Sands National Park to the snow-capped Sangre de Cristo Mountains, there's beauty to be found around every corner.

Outside the natural beauty, the state is chock full of history, art, food, wine, and culture.

Montana is a must-visit state for any outdoor enthusiast.

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

With its vast open spaces, majestic mountains, and endless opportunities for outdoor adventure, Montana is a must-visit state for any outdoor enthusiast.

The state is home to the breathtaking Glacier National Park and parts of Yellowstone National Park . The sky is vast and open, the mountains are towering, and the lack of development makes me feel like I'm entering another world entirely.

California is full of diverse landscapes and experiences.

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

Every time I visit California , I feel like I'm entering a completely different reality.

The sheer size and diversity of the state are impressive, and it has gorgeous beaches, cities, forests, deserts, mountains, and even volcanoes.

I love road-tripping up the coast, visiting Yosemite National Park, taking a boat to the Channel Islands, and wine tasting in places like Napa and Sonoma.

There's no place quite like the Maine coast.

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

There's so much to love about Maine, but my favorite part of the state is the coast. With jagged and dramatic cliffs, lighthouses, and lobster shacks, visiting the Maine coast is an unforgettable experience.

It's easy to find peace in the state that sees the first sunrise of the year and is home to Acadia National Park, which is one of the country's most popular national parks.

I love to road trip up the coast, stopping in beautiful towns like Kennebunkport, Bar Harbour, and Lubec.

I've returned to West Virginia multiple times.

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

While it may not get as much attention as some of the other states on this list, I've returned to West Virginia multiple times since my first visit.

The state's natural beauty is stunning, from New River Gorge National Park to ample lush forests, underground caverns, historic small towns, and over 200 waterfalls .

Wisconsin is home to beautiful scenery and great dining options.

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

Wisconsin has so much more than first meets the eye, from the natural beauty of the Apostle Islands and the 15,000 lakes in the state to the classic cheese curds, breweries, and wineries that dot the landscape.

I love spending time along the shores of Lake Michigan and Lake Superior, dining at one of the state's famous supper clubs, and exploring the many Wisconsin state parks.

As my home state, Colorado will always hold a special place in my heart.

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

I couldn't write a list like this without including my home state of Colorado. The state has so much to offer, from beautiful views to fun activities.

On the Front Range, I enjoy hiking in Boulder and exploring Cheyenne Cañon. I like to spend the night at the The Broadmoor hotel in Colorado Springs before heading over to Great Sand Dunes National Park.

In the Rockies, I love driving Independence Pass to Aspen, as well as exploring the underrated Grand Mesa, which is the biggest flat-top mountain in the world . I also enjoy taking road trips to the charming mountain towns of Telluride, Buena Vista, and Steamboat Springs.

No matter where you find yourself in Colorado, there's no shortage of incredible natural beauty and outdoor adventure.

Utah is home to five major national parks.

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

Utah is a state that you have to see to believe. With five major national parks, 46 state parks, 15 ski resorts, and hidden gems at every turn — you'll never get bored here.

I love visiting Moab to hike in Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, and Dead Horse Point State Park before heading south to Bryce Canyon National Park, Kodachrome Basin State Park, and Zion National Park .

I also love making stops in Park City and Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument.

New Hampshire boasts some of the best skiing and hiking in the Northeast.

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

The Northeast is famous for fall foliage, but I can't help but think that New Hampshire is sometimes overshadowed by its neighbors, Maine and Vermont.

I was stunned by its natural beauty during my first trip to the state. From the White Mountains to Franconia Notch State Park, the state boasts some of the best skiing and hiking in the Northeast.

Arizona is the perfect escape for adventure and relaxation.

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

Arizona is well known for the Grand Canyon, but the state has much more to offer. From Flagstaff's high-altitude forests to Sedona's iconic red rocks, Arizona's diversity is surprising and worth a trip.

I love hiking among the cacti in Sedona or Scottsdale before heading to one of the many resorts to jump in a pool or hit the spa — the perfect escape for adventure and relaxation.

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

  • Main content

Touropia Logo

Touropia Travel Experts

Discover the World

10 Best States to Visit in the USA

' src=

The United States is a kaleidoscope of cosmopolitan cities, rich cultures, and enchanting landscapes catering for everything from city breaks to longer escapes in nature.

Each American state has its own unique attraction and individual character. Experience the wilderness in Alaska, taste fine wines in California, and tick off bucket list sights in New York State. Whether you’re looking to embrace the beauty of its national parks and desert landscapes, enjoy the thrills and spills of a world-class amusement park, or simply relax on sun-splashed beaches, there’s an American state with your name on it.

United States Map

10. Washington


When you’re touring America, Washington – the only state named after a president – is as good a place to start as any. It’s been nicknamed the Evergreen State because of its abundance of rich green forests, particularly found in Seattle, the Emerald City. Interestingly, it produces more apples than any other U.S. state and it’s home to the oldest human remains in North America.

Split in two by the Cascade Mountains, Washington state has parks, volcanoes and idyllic islands to one side and coastal forests, farmlands, and hundreds of wineries on the other. The North Cascades are a beauty to discover with its steep mountains and crisp freshwater lakes, perfect for outdoorsy travelers.

For those who would prefer a break from the mainland, the San Juan Islands are a series of forested islands offering kayaking, orca whale watching, and bird watching opportunities.

9. Wyoming


Tucked away in the rugged mountains of the Western United States, Wyoming is both wild and wonderful. Despite its large size, it is one of the most sparsely populated states in America. Here, you’ll swap city sights and crowds for national parks, cowboy ranches, hot springs, and endless wilderness.

But there is history to be found here too; Wyoming was the first state to give women the right to vote in 1869. For outdoorsy travelers, Yellowstone National Park is a major highlight with its extraordinary geothermal activity and wildlife-abundant plains dotted with wolves, elk, and grizzly bears. It is home to more geysers than any other geyser field in the world!

Along with Grand Teton National Park and Hot Springs State Park, Wyoming is perfect for all kinds of outdoor adventures, from hiking, swimming, and kayaking to mountain biking and skiing. 


The second-largest state in the United States, Texas really packs a punch. Situated in the South Central region, it’s loved for its soaring temperatures, country music, famous Texan BBQs, and bird watching – it’s home to more bird species than any other U.S. state.

Known as the Lone Star State (so-called for its flag and former independence as a Republic), Texas still feels different from the rest of the USA. Although despite its massive size that incorporates 28 cities, the proud people of Texas share the same values, patriotism, and a distinct culture.

Don’t leave without taking a stroll along the San Antonio River Walk with its art galleries, museums, restaurants, and endless opportunities for retail therapy. For a little history, visit the Alamo historical fort that played a pivotal role in the 1835 Texan independence war against Mexico. 

7. Colorado


Known as the Centennial State, Colorado is the highest elevated state in the United States. One of the Mountain States, it’s characterized by beautiful peaks, dense forests, deep canyons, and gorgeous meandering rivers. While the majority of the attractions are nature-based, the bustling capital of Denver – the Mile High City – is also worth a visit with its craft breweries and epic nightlife scene.

Colorado has many claims to fame. It’s home to the world’s largest hot spring pool, the deepest hot spring on Earth, the highest paved road in the U.S., and the largest flat-top mountain in the world.

But one of the main reasons tourists flock to Colorado is for its year-round skiing opportunities. Home to a wealth of excellent ski resorts like Aspen and Vail, the state’s frequent mountain snowstorms ensure that there’s plenty of fresh powder for skiing and snowboarding. While you can get great deals for skiing throughout the year, the best skiing in Colorado is hands down between February and March.


Alaska, the largest U.S state, is an astonishing place, home to thousands of rivers and streams, hundreds of thousands of astonishing glaciers, and millions of glistening lakes. In fact, these magical glaciers cover around 5% of the entire state!

Known as the ‘Last Frontier’ because of its distance from the rest of the U.S states, Alaska is an isolated place. The large majority is in the Arctic. A short visit to Alaska likely won’t scratch the surface but you can get a feel for the state with expeditions to see Alaskan wildlife such as wolves, moose, whales, and Kodiak bears.

Many don’t know this, but the best thing about Alaska is that you can witness the Northern Lights here for over 240 days of the year, probably because of the low light levels – in some parts of the state, the sun doesn’t rise for nearly two months! But when the sun does rise, it really rises: it often doesn’t set again for three months. This time of the year is ideal for wildlife watching.


The state of Arizona is an enchanting wonderland of spectacular red rock canyons and desert plateaus. But while it is most famous for the iconic landscapes of the Grand Canyon , stretching through the dramatic Petrified Forest and the vibrant and colorful Painted Desert, Arizona is so much more than that.

You’ll also find more mountains in the Grand Canyon State than in Switzerland, and a quarter of the state is covered in the largest unbroken Ponderosa pine forests in America. Add to that the wooded slopes of the Mogollon Rim and the dramatic desert sweeps of Monument Valley and the Sonoran Desert and you’ve really got a mix of everything.

But scenery aside, Arizona also has some lovely small towns that are worth a visit, including the capital, Phoenix, known for its world-class spas and championship golf courses.

4. New York

New York

New York State is tucked away in the north-eastern section of the United States. Lovingly dubbed the Empire State, it is most famous for the cosmopolitan sights of New York City, where you’ll find the glitz and glamor of Manhattan’s high rises, bustling Times Square, and the fresh green walkways of Central Park.

It’s not just the Big Apple that draws visitors to the fourth most populated U.S. state, but the quieter adventures to be found upstate, such as the captivating Adirondacks. New York State is also known for the thundering Niagara Falls, its fabulous Long Island beaches, and the wine-producing Finger Lakes Region, with 100-plus wineries, breweries, and distilleries. Here, you can enjoy hiking around the many lakes, tastings at a winery, or a mix of both for the best of both worlds!


The state of Hawaii is the longest island chain in the world – so long that it even has its own time zone! The southernmost state in the United States, it is also the only American state that’s made up entirely of islands. Interestingly, only seven of these 130-plus islands are inhabited. The rest are reserved purely for adventures: think waterfall trekking, thrilling helicopter rides, and lazy beach days!

The Aloha State is also a great spot for foodies. It is the only state that grows its own coffee, and more than a third of the world’s pineapples are grown in Hawaii. Each island has its own appeal: spend your days chasing waterfalls in Kauai , surfing on Big Island, or relaxing on Oahu’s powdery beaches. You won’t be disappointed.

2. Florida


Florida is where the fun happens; a fact that’s backed by the 90-million-plus visitors that visit here every year. Known as the Sunshine State, it’s chock-a-block with family-friendly attractions, from theme parks to water parks and beaches. Plus, it boasts over 230 days of sunshine a year!

Orlando is undoubtedly the highlight, home to Walt Disney World Resort’s Magic Kingdom, the most popular theme park in the world. But Universal Studios, the many glamorous shopping malls, and undulating golf courses also give visitors a run for their money.

Miami is a close second with its white-sand beaches, glitzy beach resorts, and diving oases. Interestingly, Florida is home to over 7,000 lakes and more golf courses than any other state in the nation. Perfect for teeing off, it doesn’t hurt that it is the flattest state in the United States.

1. California


With its glorious beaches, great weather, and undulating wine country, the Golden State is the perfect combination for a relaxing holiday. Indulge your inner child with a visit to Anaheim’s Disneyland Park and discover the thrills and spills of San Diego’s endless water parks. Also referred to as the Grape State, California produces nearly 90% of the nation’s wine, so come thirsty!

But wine and beaches aside, Cali also has some spectacular landscapes, ranging from sun-drenched coastlines to desert dunes and everything in between. Hike the peaks of Yosemite National Park, descend to the lowest point of the United States in Death Valley, or explore the iconic city sights like San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. Don’t miss the chance to walk the eerie corridors of the notorious Alcatraz island prison. It’s unforgettable!

Share this post:

best places to visit in the USA

25 Best Places to Visit in the USA

Best Cities in New York

16 Best Cities to Visit in New York

Most Beautiful Islands in the US

23 Most Beautiful Islands in the US

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

25 Best National Parks in the USA

Southwest States

5 Beautiful Southwest States

New England States

6 Beautiful New England States

Regions of the United States

12 Most Beautiful Regions of the United States

Mid-Atlantic States

7 Beautiful Mid-Atlantic States

Midwest States

12 Beautiful Midwest States

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

10 Best Places to Visit in New York State

Reader interactions.

' src=

October 4, 2023 at 7:43 am

somebody told me that the best weather is in California. Is this the right statement?

' src=

October 4, 2023 at 2:55 pm

That would be Southern California.

Leave a Reply Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed .

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

10 Best States to Visit in the U.S. This Year

Which u.s. state offers the most unique travel experiences.

The best states to visit in the United States will differ according to who you ask. Some residents will rave about their home state, while others have fond memories of vacations across the country. That being said, if you're a traveler from outside the United States and looking for the top destinations to visit, your criteria for "best" are going to be a little different from those of a U.S. resident.

You want to explore places that offer plenty to do and see, with numerous travel-focused amenities and unique experiences that cannot be found just anywhere. Based on these criteria, here are the top states to consider for your next trip to the U.S..

Big cities and big skies in New York State

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

New York is a state of contrasts. Most people are familiar with the state for its iconic city, New York City, of course. If you're a traveler who enjoys urban tourism and destinations brimming with activities and attractions, you'll definitely want to visit its museums, food, theaters, and other exciting offerings.

However, New York has much more to offer. Venture north of the city, and you'll discover an abundance of mountains and forests. The Catskills region is just a short drive from Manhattan, but for even more outdoor adventures, explore the northern part of the state, where you'll find the Adirondacks. This region is characterized by its majestic mountains, rushing rivers, and breathtaking waterfalls, making it the largest park in the contiguous United States and encompassing approximately 20% of the state's landmass.

Tropical flair and family fun

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

Florida is undeniably one of the most sought-after vacation destinations for Americans, and it's easy to see why. The state not only houses numerous expansive theme parks in Orlando but also offers an extensive coastline with breathtaking beaches on both its eastern and western sides.

When choosing a Florida beach to visit, it's worth considering that the northern Florida beaches tend to be slightly cooler, even well into the spring months. If you're seeking year-round sunshine, high temperatures, vibrant nightlife, exceptional cuisine, and rich art and culture, your best bet is to head all the way south to Miami. For a taste of beautiful tropical vibes, venture even further south to the Florida Keys.

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

Mission District in San Francisco

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

10 Great Restaurants in Sedona

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

Elysian Heights In Los Angeles

Celebs, tall trees, and wine.

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

California is much like New York in that it is primarily known for its most popular destinations – like Hollywood and Los Angeles – but the state, being as big as it is, provides travelers with far more to love than just the city life.

Sure, you'll want to see what all the fuss is about in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego, but also consider traveling up the Pacific coastline via a fun road trip or diving into the deep forests of northern California, where you'll see some of the tallest trees on the entire planet. Don't miss wine country either if that's your thing.

Where everything's "bigger"

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

Texas is bigger than some countries, so you could easily plan a trip to just Texas and fill out an itinerary. This 2nd-largest state in the country offers beaches, deserts, its own wine country, and even swamps and woodlands.

With large airports in Dallas and Houston, Texas is easily accessible from nearly any other spot on the globe. Once you arrive, though, consider thoroughly exploring Texas's urban side before heading on a road trip. Driving between favorite Texan destinations like Houston, Austin, Dallas, and San Antonio can give you a broader look at the state's history, food scene, and culture that's all its own.

Outdoors and adrenaline-pumping activities

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

Colorado is an adventurer's paradise, and this state is a top destination for outdoor enthusiasts, thanks to its range of outdoor offerings year-round. In the summer, you'll find ample hiking opportunities, with options for every skill level, whether you fancy a multi-day hiking trip into the backwoods or just want to take a leisurely walk in nature. 

In the winter, snow sports abound, with loads of ski neighborhoods and resorts scattered across the mountains. For those who prefer indoor activities, though, Denver is the place to go, with its museums, restaurants, major sports teams, and other attractions.

Remote and vast wilderness

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

Alaska lies cut off from the rest of the United States, on the far side of Canada and closer to Russia than the U.S.. Alaska's remoteness and vast wilderness mean it's not a popular pick for many travelers.

Despite that, for those who do visit Alaska, they'll tell you there's nowhere else like it in the world. The rugged terrain, the dangerous wildlife, the towering mountains, the extreme weather – this is not a destination for the faint of heart. However, if you prefer to travel in luxury, you won't be left out in the Alaskan cold. Luxury cruises frequently travel to Alaska, and luxury resorts allow you to take in the dramatic scenery in comfort.

The famous tropical state

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

Hawaii is cut off from the United States. This group of islands sits far out in the Pacific Ocean, separated from the rest of the world by thousands of miles of water. The tropical state's beauty makes it a favorite for travelers from all over the world, who flock to the pristine beaches, lush rainforests, and rocky coastlines.

Whether you're a beach bum looking for a spot in the sun, a luxury traveler with a preference for 5-star resorts and spas, an adventurer looking for a thrill, or a foodie with a taste for local flavors, Hawaii has something for you to love.

Quaint coastal vibes 

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

Maine is the northernmost state on the U.S. East Coast. It is known as a quaint, cozy destination where you can enjoy charming little seaside towns, hiking along rugged coastlines, and loads of fresh seafood. 

For a mix of outdoor adventure and cute coastal towns, visit Bar Harbor, which is the gateway to Acadia National Park. For food and culture, try Portland, to the south, one of Maine's largest cities (though it's still not large in comparison to many other East Coast locales).

  • Massachusetts

For a dose of U.S. history

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

Massachusetts may be a small state, but it offers big ways to play. That's whether you're interested in hiking or skiing (which you can find in the Berkshires) or spending time on the beach or coast. However, where the state really shines is in its history. 

Massachusetts is packed with historical significance. The state was home to Indigenous populations for thousands upon thousands of years. It also played a huge role in the American colonization that occurred from the 1600s onward. Later, it would be a prominent player in the fight for American independence. You can experience all of these historical aspects of the state with a visit to the towns and cities along the coast.

A place to channel your inner cowboy

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

Wyoming is the place to visit for an authentic taste of the Wild, Wild West. The state still embraces its wild and untamed history, offering plenty of ways to explore the wilderness, whether you prefer hiking, skiing, wildlife watching, or simply sightseeing at some of the state's natural attractions. 

The most popular point of interest in Wyoming is undoubtedly Yellowstone National Park, but you'll find lots to do around the rest of the state as well. For an immersive experience, consider booking a stay at one of the area's cattle ranches.

This article includes opinions of the Go Guides editorial team. Hotels.com compensates authors for their writing appearing on this site; such compensation may include travel and other costs.

Start planning your trip

Related stories.

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

Sunny Jim's Sea Cave

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

9 Best Things to Do in Richmond

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

Koko Crater Botanical Gardens

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

15 Best Things to Do in Montana

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

10 Best Food Markets in New York

Keep exploring.

  • United States of America
  • Albuquerque
  • Amelia Island
  • Anna Maria Island
  • Atlantic City
  • Big Bear Lake
  • Cannon Beach
  • Cape Canaveral
  • Catalina Island
  • Chattanooga
  • Colorado Springs
  • Corpus Christi
  • Daytona Beach
  • Door County
  • Florida Keys
  • Fort Lauderdale
  • Fort Walton Beach
  • Gulf Shores
  • Hawaii Island
  • Hilton Head Island
  • Indianapolis
  • Jacksonville
  • Jekyll Island
  • Jersey Shore
  • Kansas City
  • Laguna Beach
  • Lake Charles
  • Lake Geneva
  • Lake George
  • Lake Placid
  • Lincoln City
  • Long Beach Island
  • Los Angeles
  • Mackinac Island
  • Mackinaw City
  • Mammoth Lakes
  • Martha's Vineyard
  • Minneapolis
  • Myrtle Beach
  • New Orleans
  • New Shoreham
  • Oklahoma City
  • Orange County
  • Outer Banks
  • Palm Springs
  • Panama City
  • Panama City Beach
  • Philadelphia
  • Pigeon Forge
  • Pismo Beach
  • Pocono Mountains
  • Port Aransas
  • Rehoboth Beach
  • Salt Lake City
  • San Antonio
  • San Francisco
  • San Luis Obispo
  • Sanibel Captiva Island
  • Santa Barbara
  • Santa Monica
  • South Lake Tahoe
  • South Padre Island
  • St. Augustine
  • St. Petersburg
  • St. Petersburg - Clearwater (and vicinity)
  • Traverse City
  • Tybee Island
  • Virginia Beach
  • Williamsburg
  • Wisconsin Dells
  • Yellowstone National Park
  • Yosemite National Park
  • Zion National Park
  • Connecticut
  • Mississippi
  • New Hampshire
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • West Virginia

North America

Australia - new zealand and the south pacific, mexico and central america, middle east, south america, top destinations.

  • Hotels in Las Vegas
  • Hotels in New York
  • Hotels in Chicago
  • Hotels in Orlando
  • Hotels in New Orleans
  • Hotels in San Diego
  • Hotels in Nashville
  • Hotels in San Francisco
  • Hotels in Los Angeles
  • Hotels in Miami
  • Hotels in Paris
  • Hotels in Denver
  • Hotels in Washington
  • Hotels in Austin
  • Hotels in Atlanta
  • Hotels in San Antonio
  • Hotels in Boston
  • Hotels in Atlantic City
  • Hotels in Key West
  • Hotels in London
  • Hotels in Virginia Beach
  • Hotels in Seattle
  • Hotels in Anaheim
  • Hotels in Dallas

Top Countries & Regions

  • Hotels in Aruba
  • Hotels in Turks and Caicos
  • Hotels in Singapore
  • Hotels in Maldives
  • Hotels in Bermuda
  • Hotels in Malta
  • Hotels in Jersey Shore
  • Hotels in Maui
  • Hotels in Puerto Rico Island
  • Hotels in Kauai
  • Hotels in Oahu
  • Hotels in Cape Cod

Support & FAQs

Website feedback.

  • Review a property

For Suppliers, Affiliates, and the Media

  • Affiliate with us
  • Expedia Partner Solutions
  • Promote with us
  • Travel agents

User terms & Privacy

  • Terms & Conditions
  • Do not sell my personal information
  • About our ads
  • Legal Information

List your property

  • Hotels near me
  • Travel Guides
  • Vacation Rentals

* Some hotels require you to cancel more than 24 hours before check-in. Details on site.

© 2024 Hotels.com is an Expedia Group company. All rights reserved.

Hotels.com and the Hotels.com logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of Hotels.com, LP in the United States and/ or other countries. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

Protect Your Trip »

The best time to cruise to alaska in 2024.

Plan your bucket list adventure to explore the extraordinary beauty of the 49th state.

The Best Time to Cruise to Alaska

Cruise ship near a glacier in Alaska.

Getty Images

Alaska's astounding beauty and vast wilderness are unlike any other destination in the U.S. – and even in the world. While you can plan land-based trips to the state, many of Alaska's majestic snowcapped mountains, pristine forests, glacial waterways and abundant wildlife are in remote locations, only reachable by plane or by boat. That's just one of the many reasons why Alaska is one of the most popular cruise destinations in the world.

If you're ready to stop dreaming and start planning a once-in-a-lifetime adventure to The Great Land, here are tips on the best times to cruise Alaska.

Best Overall Time: Shoulder Seasons

Best time for warmer weather, best time for wildlife viewing, best time for salmon fishing, best time for the northern lights, best time for shore excursions.

View of Margerie Glacier in Glacier Bay from the side of a cruise ship.

If you want to score a deal and have fewer crowds, travel during the shoulder seasons: May and September. In these months, cruise fares are typically lower and ships are not as full, offering more cabin availability. However, with changes in the global climate bringing more moderate temperatures to Alaska, and the cruise season now extending into April and October, cruisers can also expect to find deals in April and October. There will be fewer sailings to choose from, but you may find lower pricing and avoid the peak-season crowds on the ship and in the ports.

In addition, select shore excursions may be available at a discount in the spring and fall. If you're planning on exploring Alaska on your own before or after your cruise, you'll also find cheaper hotel rates at the beginning or end of the cruise season.

Alaska's weather can change dramatically, especially the further north you go, no matter the month or season. While the weather may not be as predictable in April as in the middle of summer, Alaska can be beautiful in springtime with temperatures in the mid-40s, according to Tyler Hickman, senior vice president of Icy Strait Point, an Alaska Native-owned port in Hoonah and a port of call in Southeast Alaska. Hickman says there are long stretches of sunny days and crisp, clear evenings, offering the opportunity for late-season viewing of the northern lights . He also adds that April is one of the favorite times of year for local Alaskans.

If you're interested in cruising to Alaska in April, Norwegian Cruise Line has a few options, including weekly sailings on Norwegian Bliss beginning April 6. The line also offers Alaska itineraries through the end of October. Other lines sailing the extended season in Alaska in late April include Princess Cruises , Holland America Line , Royal Caribbean International , Carnival Cruise Line , UnCruise Adventures and Lindblad Expeditions.

If you prefer to travel in the fall, early October temperatures are usually in the 50s, while the end of the month brings snow in the higher elevations. The days are longer and there are no crowds, so it may be an ideal time to visit if you're not interested in the summer outdoor experiences. Norwegian, Holland America and Seabourn Cruise Line offer sailings in October.

Read: The Best Alaska Cruise Deals

Vacations see Glacier Bay, Alaska, from the bow of a cruise ship.

If you'd prefer warmer weather for your cruise, the summer season in Alaska runs from mid-May to mid-September. During that period, daytime temperatures typically range from 60 to 80 degrees, though they can drop into the 40s overnight. You can expect to have between 16 to 24 hours of daylight in the warmer season. May is considered the driest month, with around a 25% chance of precipitation, but the rain becomes more frequent throughout the summer.

Alaska.org, a website run by local Alaskans that provides travel information and recommendations, advises that the best time to visit in summer is from June 15 to July 15. This 30-day period is regarded as the peak season for warm, dry weather – and it's the perfect time for outdoor activities such as wildlife viewing, fishing and hiking. If you want to experience the most "midnight sun," plan to cruise a few weeks before or after the summer solstice – the longest day of the year – which falls on June 20 in 2024.

Come September, the days are generally shorter, rainier and cooler – but not always. You might get lucky with some unseasonably warm days amid the beautiful fall foliage ; as a bonus, September also means no bugs and fewer crowds.

If you have school-age children, you'll probably need to travel midsummer, during peak season. However, if you're flexible on dates, there's really no bad time to visit this magical destination. Mountain peaks shrouded in clouds or misty days cruising Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve in late April are as beautiful as sunny days hiking through Tongass National Forest or whale watching on an excursion out of Icy Strait Point in July.

Read: The Best Places to Visit in Alaska

Orca breaching in Seward, Alaska.

According to Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, one of the top destinations on the Inside Passage itinerary, wildlife viewing is possible year-round, especially if you have your binoculars at hand. When you're not watching for turquoise ice calving in the bay from the glaciers, you might see humpback whales as long as 65 feet or black and brown bears up to 10 feet tall – as well as orcas, harbor and Dall's porpoises, sea otters, harbor seals, mountain goats, sea lions, seabirds, and bald eagles soaring overhead. And that's just what you can view from the ship.

During cruises through the park, rangers board the ships to offer commentary and information about the marine and terrestrial wildlife. They also help spot whales or other animals along the way. One of the highlights while cruising slowly through the park is to go outside on the bow of the ship – or even out onto your veranda – to listen to the incredible silence of this otherworldly place. You may hear nothing at all, or perhaps you'll be treated to the sounds of birds in the distance or the swoosh from a whale's blowhole before it dives down below the water's surface.

It's possible to view certain animals and marine life throughout the year, according to Hickman. "Whale sightings are consistent from May through September, with fewer occurring in April and October as they migrate from or to Hawaii for the winter," he says, adding: "Even on a foggy day when you can't see the whales, you can still hear them and feel their presence – and that's almost as incredible as seeing them from a ship or along the coastline."

If you're interested in spotting brown bears, here is Hickman's advice: "Bear sightings in the spring will depend on the snowpack and when they are leaving hibernation. This year we had very good bear viewing along the Spasski River starting in May when the coastal brown bears emerged from hibernation."

He adds, "They feed on the grass of the valley and eat skunk cabbage roots in May and early June. As the berries start to emerge in June, it holds many of the same bears, and as we get into mid-July, the salmon start heading upstream. There is a constant food source from May through September at Spasski. Many of the other bear viewing areas do not have the same features we have, and it leads to people thinking that bears are only around when fish are in the rivers."

Chichagof Island – the location of Hoonah and Icy Strait Point – was given the nickname "Bear Island" by National Geographic. The island boasts one to two brown bears per square mile, making it one of the largest brown bear populations in the world. Hickman says you're nearly guaranteed to see bears on one of Icy Strait Point's bear-watching tours. Icy Point Strait also offers whale watching adventures and other treks into the wilderness.

Alaska.org points to May through September as the best time for wildlife viewing, though you can spot some animals year-round, like moose or orcas. The website also advises that fly-in bear viewing starts in May but is at its best in July.

Looking to book a cruise to see Alaska's wildlife? See the top cruises on GoToSea , a service of U.S. News.

Tips on Trips and Expert Picks Newsletter

Travel tips, vacation ideas and more to make your next vacation stellar.

Sign up to receive the latest updates from U.S News & World Report and our trusted partners and sponsors. By clicking submit, you are agreeing to our Terms and Conditions & Privacy Policy .

Alaska Brown Bear fishing for Sockeye Salmon at Brooks River and Waterfalls, Katmai National Park, Alaska.

If you are an avid angler – or just want to watch the bears fish for their supper – then visit Alaska during the peak salmon runs, from May to September. King salmon season begins in May and goes through the end of July. The silver salmon run lasts from July up until the end of November. Red salmon are available between mid-June and mid-August, while you can catch pink and chum salmon in the brief window from mid-July to mid-August.

If you prefer halibut or just want to get out on the ocean, the best time for this wild Pacific species is from May to September. You can also seek out many other river and ocean species, such as rainbow trout, arctic char and northern pike. Cruise lines offer fishing excursions, or you can arrange for a private or group charter in an Alaskan town like Ketchikan.

If you want to see brown bears during the salmon run, book a bear-viewing excursion in one of the ports, such as Icy Strait Point. Or, extend your trip by combining a visit to Katmai National Park and Preserve and the renowned Brooks River with a stay at Brooks Lodge. Brooks Falls is the site for iconic photos of bears catching salmon that are jumping over the falls, and you may be able to view the bears feasting in salmon season when the property is open, from June through mid-September. The lodge is accessible by floatplane from King Salmon. You can also add a flyover tour during your stay to see the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, an area in southern Alaska transformed by ash from the 1912 Novarupta-Katmai volcanic eruption.

Northern lights above Alaskan mountains.

Aurora season – the best time to see the northern lights in Alaska – runs from mid-August to mid-April. While some passengers cruising the Inside Passage may catch a glimpse of the phenomenon in late summer and early fall, it's not guaranteed. As southeast Alaska typically has more precipitation and clouds since it's a temperate rainforest, you likely won't find optimal conditions for aurora viewing here.

Your chances to see the lights are better the further north you go, so you may want to look at booking a cruisetour: a land and sea package that's usually offered by some of the major cruise lines from May through September. These combined trips generally include the cruise, overnight accommodations in lodges, railway journeys and motorcoach travel between destinations.

With these tours, you'll be able to visit the vast landscape of Alaska, where you can explore cities like Anchorage and Fairbanks or spend time in Denali National Park and Preserve – and you'll have a better chance to view the northern lights. Lines that offer cruisetours include Norwegian, Celebrity Cruises , Holland America, Princess and Royal Caribbean.

Since 2024 is projected to be one of the best years to view the aurora borealis in Alaska, you might want to extend your trip to venture above the Arctic Circle or into Alaska's interior for a prime viewing opportunity. Fairbanks and the Arctic region are under the auroral oval, which is where the northern lights activity is concentrated. You can watch the forecast for the aurora borealis online at Explore Fairbanks' Aurora Tracker and the Geophysical Institute's Aurora Forecast .

Read: The Top Places to See the Northern Lights

Aerial of Ketchikan, Alaska, on a sunny day.

Some of the excursions offered on an Alaskan cruise may be the most expensive tours you've seen on a ship, but they're also probably some of the coolest things you've ever thought about doing while on vacation.

Note that the probability of a tour being canceled for weather is almost the same for all tours offered between April and October, as the weather in Alaska can be unpredictable. Some of the more extreme tours, however, may not be available early or late in the season. If you want the best chance for optimal weather, consider the advice from Alaska.org and book your cruise between mid-June and mid-July.

If you're looking at splurging on a bucket list adventure while in Skagway – like Alaska Shore Tours' flightseeing helicopter adventure, which includes a dog-sledding experience on a glacier – you should check to make sure it's available the month you'll be cruising. This particular tour may not be open for booking before May or after September due to the conditions for the sled dogs.

Another over-the-top excursion dependent on optimal weather conditions is the Heli-Hike and Rail Adventure that begins in Skagway. This tour includes a helicopter ride from town that flies over glaciers and mountains, then drops you off for a roughly 5-mile guided hike to view Laughton Glacier and learn about the natural history of the area. After the hike, you'll board the White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad at Glacier Station for the scenic journey through the mountains back to Skagway.

If you're interested in the Misty Fjords Flightseeing tour in Ketchikan, this thrilling ride is also best on a clear day. This Alaskan bush plane tour soars over the Misty Fjords National Monument, which has more than 2 million acres of pristine lakes, waterfalls, ancient forests and snowcapped mountains.

Tours that include activities like mountain climbing or navigating suspension bridges might also be best when done on a sunny day. The prime time for wildlife viewing and fishing, as mentioned above, will depend on what animals you're interested in seeing and which species of fish you want to catch.

The ship's excursion desk, local guides or tour providers can offer the best advice on how to plan your activities. No matter which tours you opt to take, be prepared for the ever-changing weather patterns by wearing layers – and make sure to bring a waterproof rain jacket. Before booking, you should check the individual tour operator's cancellation and refund policy.

Read: The Best Alaska Tours

The Bottom Line

Cruise ships dock in Skagway, Alaska.

If you're flexible as to when you can travel to Alaska, you may be able to take advantage of lower pricing, travel incentives and added perks in the shoulder seasons – and you'll have fewer crowds than in the busy summer months.

If your goal is to view wildlife, then most of the cruise season, especially from May to September, will offer ample opportunities to see bears, humpbacks whales, bald eagles and other amazing animals – depending on the itinerary and excursions you choose. You'll also be able to catch Alaska's prized salmon throughout much of the cruise season.

And if extreme adventures are going to be the highlight of your vacation, then be sure to check with the tour providers to make sure your top picks are offered when you're planning to travel. Not all tour providers operate the full seven months of the season.

No matter when you decide to visit, a cruise to The Great Land will be one of the most memorable vacations of your lifetime.

Planning a cruise to see Alaska? See the top cruises on GoToSea , a service of U.S. News.

Why Trust U.S. News Travel

Gwen Pratesi is a U.S. News contributor and an avid travel adventurer who fell in love with Alaska on her first visit to the state many years ago. She's returned several times on land trips and by ship to seek year-round outdoor adventure, view wildlife and chase the northern lights in one of the best places on the planet to view them. She's even considered moving to The Great Land as a full-time resident. Pratesi used her deep knowledge of Alaska and the cruise industry to write this article.

You might also be interested in:

  • Alaska Cruise Packing List
  • The Top Alaska Cruise Lines
  • The Top Luxury Alaska Cruises
  • The Top Things to Do in Alaska
  • Do You Need a Passport to Go on a Cruise?

Most Beautiful Landscapes in the World

Part of The Iguazu Falls seen from the Argentinian National Park

Tags: Travel , Cruises , Alaska Vacations

World's Best Places To Visit

  • # 1 South Island, New Zealand
  • # 4 Bora Bora

If you make a purchase from our site, we may earn a commission. This does not affect the quality or independence of our editorial content.

You May Also Like

The best east coast beaches.

April 19, 2024

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

The Best Luggage Brands

Rachael Hood April 17, 2024

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

The Best Carry-on Luggage

Erin Evans , Rachael Hood , Catriona Kendall , Amanda Norcross and Leilani Osmundson April 17, 2024

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

The Best Hard-sided Luggage Picks

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

The Best Yellowstone National Park Tours

John Rodwan April 17, 2024

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

The Best Rome Colosseum Tours

Laura Itzkowitz April 17, 2024

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

Best Alaska Tours

Lyn Mettler April 16, 2024

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

The Best Fredericksburg Wine Tours

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

The Best Personal Item Bags

Rachael Hood April 16, 2024

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

The 17 Best Costa Rica Tours

Lyn Mettler April 12, 2024

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

10 Best Places To Visit In Canada If You Love Nature And Outdoor Adventures

  • Explore the polar bear capital of the world in Churchill, Manitoba and witness the amazing sights of polar bears during fall. Don't miss the opportunity for whale watching and year-round views of the northern lights.
  • Immerse yourself in the natural paradise of Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario. Enjoy water sports like fishing and kayaking on the lakes and rivers, while the forests and mountains provide ample opportunities for hiking and biking adventures.
  • Discover Whistler, a ski paradise with trails for all skill levels. In addition to skiing, enjoy hiking, ziplining, and other amazing adventures. Explore the charming town with its restaurants, bars, and shops.

Canada is a massive country with many things to offer. For those who love nature and outdoor adventures, this country is the perfect choice. Here, one will find everything from towering mountains to massive lakes, charming towns, picturesque coastlines, and every other thing needed for an unforgettable adventure.

In all honesty, the list of nature and adventure destinations in Canada is inexhaustible, but these have been carefully selected to save travelers the dilemma of what to choose and also give them an unforgettable experience.

Churchill, Manitoba

Churchill is a unique town in Manitoba, situated by Hudson Bay and renowned as the polar bear capital of the world. During fall, these polar bears come out in huge numbers, offering visitors the opportunity to get on safari rides and take in the amazing sights.

In summer, Beluga Whale migration sightings are a top priority for visitors here. Plus, the northern lights are visible in this town nearly all year round, which makes it an irresistible town for outdoor recreation.

  • Things to enjoy: Whale watching, shopping, aurora borealis, wildlife watching

Related: These Are The Best Things to Do in Churchill Beyond Polar Bear Viewing

Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario

The Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario is one of the largest parks in Canada . This park is a nature paradise with different ecosystems and landscapes that offer amazing scenery and plenty of outdoor adventures.

While numerous lakes and rivers set the stage for water sports such as fishing and kayaking, the forests and mountains are perfect for hiking and biking adventures.

The park is also home to diverse wildlife such as mammals, reptiles, birds, and amphibians.

  • More things to enjoy: Skiing, snowboarding, stargazing

For lovers of skiing, Whistler is one of the best destinations for the sport in the world. In winter, this place becomes a ski paradise filled with lots of ski trails for all skill levels and several other amazing attractions including a small charming town that has several facilities like restaurants, bars, and shops.

Besides skiing, Whistler also offers several other amazing adventures like hiking and ziplining.

  • More things to enjoy: Mountain biking, winter sports, gondola rides, mountain climbing, golfing

Related: 10 Reasons To Visit Whistler, Canada This Winter

Okanagan Valley

The Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, is an exciting destination to spend quality outdoor time. The valley is filled with evergreen forests, lush vineyards, and beautiful laid-back villages with pine-forested hills.

It also encompasses the Okanagan Lake, where water sports like kayaking, paddling, and fishing are active in summer. The lake is home to dozens of beaches suited for picnics, sunbathing, sightseeing, and strolling. In the winter, the valley is a hotspot for skiing at the Big White and Crystal Mountain Ski resorts.

  • More things to enjoy: Boating, hiking, train rides, wine tasting,

Big Muddy Badlands, Saskatchewan

The Big Muddy Badlands in Saskatchewan offers the ideal wilderness experience and nature's unspoiled beauty. Here, visitors will find ancient caves, cliffs, peaks, and a 200 feet Castle Butte, made of sandstone and compressed clay that rises to the sky.

The Badland is also a historical site with the famous Buffalo Jumps, a place where buffalos were forced to jump off cliffs. The area also encompasses the Big Muddy Valley, Big Muddy Lake, and the Buffalo Effigy, all iconic sites worth visiting.

Exploring the vast wilderness here on hikes and treks can satiate one's hunger for the outdoors.

  • More things to enjoy: Cave exploration, hiking, train rides

Capilano Suspension Bridge Park

The Capilano Suspension Bridge that crosses over the Capilano River in Vancouver is a paradise for outdoor buffs. This iconic bridge passes through a rainforest filled with lush cedar trees and other flourishing giant trees that ooze their scents into the atmosphere.

It features seven suspended footbridges for sweeping views of the entire forest as one takes the glorious walk. There's a cliff walk 300 feet high that offers a bird's eye view of the entire vegetation and river, sending rushes of adrenaline down the body. Crossing this bridge is truly adventurous and unites one with nature.

  • More things to enjoy: Birdwatching, and hiking

Tofino, Vancouver Island

Tofino is a small picturesque resort town in Vancouver Island, British Columbia, that attracts tons of tourists all year round. The coastline of this town is a playing field for outdoor enthusiasts who love water sports activities.

Surfing the ocean, sunbathing, hiking, watching whales, and fishing are the top activities here. For more excitement, one can take a boat to Marquinna Marine Provincial Park, where its natural hot springs are a delight to experience.

The Big Trail on Meares Island, accessible by boat or kayak, is another hotspot for outdoor recreation, with a boardwalk through a lush forest.

  • More things to enjoy: Beach walking, surfing, amazing dining, shopping

Bay Of Fundy

The Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick is one of Canada's natural wonders . The Bay is notable for its low and high tides that make its shores a high point of interest.

Here, visitors will find the interesting Hopewell Rocks where visitors can observe the tidal movements, take amazing pictures and feel the wonders of nature. Plus, the beaches and shores of Fundy Bay are home to some interesting fossils.

  • Things to enjoy: Whale watching, kayaking, and hiking

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls is perhaps the most famous natural attraction in Canada. When in Canada, visitors can visit the waterfalls from Ontario and enjoy the several amazing adventures and incredible natural scenery the attraction offers.

At Niagara Falls, there are opportunities for exciting activities like zip lining, helicopter riding, and hiking. There are also opportunities for boat tours and visitors can even climb the Skylon Observatory Tower for incredible views of the waterfalls.

  • More things to enjoy: Golfing, relaxation at a spa, amazing dining, wine tasting

Related: Niagara Falls: 10 Differences Between The Canadian & U.S. Sides

Banff National Park

Banff National Park is the oldest in Canada and one of the most thrilling destinations in the country to experience outdoor adventures. Regardless of the season one decides to visit, the park has amazing scenery and plenty of activities to offer .

Everything from glaciers to mountains, valleys, alpines, forests, wildlife, ice fields, and lakes can be found here, and these natural endowments present a long list of amazing experiences for any visitor.

From hiking and swimming to kayaking and paddling, the park is a playground for outdoor adventures and one can also explore the town of Banff before or after visiting the national park.

  • More things to enjoy: Wildlife watching, shopping, gondola rides, hiking

10 Best Places To Visit In Canada If You Love Nature And Outdoor Adventures

More From Forbes

The best u.s. airlines in 2024—according to a new report.

  • Share to Facebook
  • Share to Twitter
  • Share to Linkedin

The Best airlines in the U.S. is Alaska, according to a new study.

When you’re looking for flights, you’re probably most loyal to the airline that you have status with or that has a hub in your city—most often, they’re one in the same. Or, you’re looking for the best flight deals, which should be a little bit easier to come by this spring as flight costs are down 7% year-over-year. But safety, comfort, and other factors are also top of mind when it comes to booking flights, and a new study from WalletHub, a personal finance company, took those considerations and other metrics into consideration to determine the best U.S. airlines of 2024 .

Alaska Airlines is the top U.S. airline, according to the report that used 13 metrics to evaluate the nine largest carriers in the country, plus a regional carrier.

This year’s list is a shakeup from the previous two years, as Alaska has dethroned Delta as the top airline. Delta was WalletHub’s top airline in 2022 and 2023. But Alaska has been previously ranked as the best airline, taking the top spot on WalletHub’s list from 2017 to 2019 and again in 2021.

Alaska Airlines is ranked the No. 1 airline in the U.S. by WalletHub.

A budget carrier, Spirit Airlines, cracked the top 3 and was also named the safest airline. Meanwhile, Delta led in categories like reliability and comfort.

How Was the Best U.S. Airline Determined?

For its rankings, WalletHub considered factors like reliability, comfort, affordability, and safety. That’s to say the analysts considered which airlines had the lowest rates of delays and cancellations, which airlines offer the most leg room and in-flight perks like free wifi, the price of flights, and safety incidents per 100,000 flights.

Bitcoin Suddenly Braced For A 35 Trillion Halving Price Earthquake

New google play biometrics warning issued to all android users, apple watch series 9 hits all time low special offer price.

The analysts used data from the U.S. Department of Transportation. When it comes to things like flight cancellations and delays, the team collected information about each airline, but then tossed out any disruptions that were caused by weather, security, or National Aviation System-related cancellations as they’re not specific to any one carrier.

Passanger airplane flying above clouds in evening.

Categories were also weighted differently, with baggage and departures accounting for 50 points, safety counting for 35 points, and in-flight comfort counting for 15 points. Within each category, points were assigned — i.e. in the comfort category, leg room got a max score of 2 points.

Ahead, we dive into the ratings from WalletHub, which includes best overall, most comfortable , safest, and the most budget-friendly.

What are the Best Airlines in the U.S.?

An Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 landing at Portland International Airport at dusk.

Here are the top airlines, according to the study findings from WalletHub:

WalletHub's list of Best airlines in 2024.

No. 1: Alaska Airlines

No. 2: SkyWest Airlines

No. 3: Spirit Airlines

No. 4: Delta Airlines

No. 5: United Airlines

No. 6: JetBlue Airways

No. 7: Hawaiian Airlines

No. 8: American Airlines

No. 9: Frontier Airlines

No. 10: Southwest Airlines

What are the Most Reliable Airlines in the U.S.?

A Boeing 767 passenger aircraft of Delta airlines arrives from Dublin at JFK International Airport ... [+] in New York as the Manhattan skyline looms in the background on February 7, 2024. (Photo by Charly TRIBALLEAU / AFP) (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP via Getty Images)

WalletHub analysts say Delta had the lowest rates of cancellations, delays, mishandled luggage, and denied boardings, which earned the airline the top rank in this category.

No. 1: Delta Airlines

No. 3: Alaska Airlines

No. 4: United Airlines

No. 5: Southwest Airlines

No. 6: Spirit Airlines

No. 7: JetBlue Airways

No. 8: Hawaiian Airlines

No. 9: American Airlines

No. 10: Frontier Airlines

What are the Safest Airlines in the U.S.?

Spirit Airlines is the safest airline, according to WalletHub, because it had a low number of incidents per 100,000 flight operations, no fatalities, and fewer than 15 people injured in the last five years. The airline's relatively new fleet of aircrafts also helped boost its score.

No. 1: Spirit Airlines

No. 2: Alaska Airlines

No. 3: Frontier Airlines

No. 4: SkyWest Airlines

No. 5: American Airlines

No. 6: Delta Airlines

No. 9: United Airlines

What are the Most Affordable Airlines in the U.S.?

Los Angeles, CA - April 04: A Spirit Airlines jet taxis at Los Angeles International Airport where ... [+] travelers are getting a window seat view of wildflower fields blooming between the runways at the airport on Thursday, April 4, 2024 in Los Angeles, CA. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

For this ranking, WalletHub analysts looked at the passenger revenue per available seat mile. On the low end, Spirit’s was 5.23 cents per mile and on the high end, American Airlines’ rate was 16.15 cents per mile.

No. 2: Frontier Airlines

No. 3: SkyWest Airlines

No. 4: Alaska Airlines

No. 5: JetBlue Airways

No. 6: Hawaiian Airlines

No. 7: Southwest Airlines

No. 8: United Airlines

No. 9: Delta Airlines

No. 10: American Airlines

What are the Most Comfortable Airlines in the U.S.?

Tail with the logo of JetBlue, Airbus A320 passenger aircraft of the low-cost airline as seen at the ... [+] tarmac and jet bridges of LaGuardia Airport in New York City. (Photo by Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

WalletHub considered things like in-flight entertainment options, snacks and drink availability, leg room for the comfort category.

No. 1 (Tie): Delta Airlines

No. 1 (Tie): JetBlue Airways

No. 2 (Tie): Alaska Airlines

No. 2 (Tie): American Airlines

No. 2 (Tie): Southwest Airlines

No. 3: United Airlines

No. 4: Hawaiian Airlines

No. 5: Spirit Airlines

No. 6: Frontier Airlines

Note: SkyWest, a regional carrier, wasn’t included because it serves other major airlines, which dictates what in-flight services and amenities are provided.

Brittany Anas

  • Editorial Standards
  • Reprints & Permissions

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

The Best Weekend Activities in Seattle That Embrace Wellness

Epic outdoor adventures and wellness activities in seattle.

Welcome to the Emerald City, where a thriving wellness scene awaits your discovery. Nestled in the heart of the Pacific Northwest, Seattle offers a blend of natural beauty, progressive culture, and a commitment to health and wellness. I packed so many activities into just a few days. Here’s what I did and how to plan your weekend of exciting wellness activities that will awaken your senses, nourish your body, and provide a state of total well-being.

The Best Wellness-Focused Weekend Activities in Seattle

Whether you’re looking to break a sweat or find inner peace, there’s something for everyone in this vibrant city.

Cold Plunge and Sauna Session

I recommend you jumpstart your journey the same way I did: with an invigorating cold plunge followed by a wood-fired sauna. This was one of the first weekend activities in Seattle that I did. Bright and early, my group headed to Woodinville Lavender Farm for a cold plunge and wood-fired sauna session at sunrise.

Fyre Sauna has a pop-up cold plunge and sauna experience waiting for you at the Woodinville Lavender Farm. Take it from me, it’s much easier to fathom a cold plunge when surrounded by calming lavender and a sauna. I wasn’t sure I’d go back in the cold tub after warming up in the sauna, but I did.

Not only did I do a second cold plunge, but I lasted WAY longer the second time. I stayed in the 42-degree Fahrenheit (5.5 degrees Celsius) tub for 2.5 minutes. The first time I barely lasted one minute before jumping out. It was challenging, but the thought of the hot sauna waiting for me helped a lot.

Fyre Sauna offers mobile cold plunge and sauna sessions. They were doing a pop-up at Woodinville Lavender when we visited. I suggest checking the Fyre Sauna website for upcoming events. There are many health benefits to cold water swimming and plunges.

Yoga and Meditation

Seattle is home to numerous yoga and meditation studios that offer a variety of classes for all skill levels. Whether you prefer a gentle flow or a challenging vinyasa practice, you’ll find a studio that suits your needs. Many studios also offer meditation classes and workshops to help you cultivate mindfulness and inner calm. Pro tip: book an aerial yoga class at Flight Room Seattle . They welcome first-time yogis to drop into this fun and accessible way to practice yoga.

Not a class type of person? Take your yoga or meditation to the great outdoors. You don’t need a class to enjoy a mid-day meditation in a park or one of Seattle’s many green spaces.

Outdoor Recreation

Seattle is surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty, so take advantage of the city’s proximity to nature. Plan hikes in nearby national parks or explore the city’s many parks and green spaces. Spending time in nature forest bathing has been proven to reduce stress and improve well-being.

Enjoy Seattle’s natural beauty by engaging in outdoor activities that promote wellness. Go for a scenic hike in one of the city’s many parks, rent a kayak and paddle along the waterfront, or join a group cycling tour to explore the city on two wheels. The opportunities for outdoor recreation are endless in Seattle.

Foraging Walks

We enjoyed a foraging walk with Dr. Jenn Dazey at The Lodge at St. Edward Park . It was incredibly informative learning about the various herbs that grow in the forests.

Every day, we walk past medicine growing at our feet. Nature is truly amazing and incredibly healing. As we walked, Dr. Dazey had us sampling leaves and gnawing on tree bark.

Pictured above, osoberry has an intense taste, similar to cucumber. It is used as a bitter digestive stimulant. You can also use the bark in a strong broth to clean and disinfect wounds. The bark also makes a very bitter mouthwash or sore throat gargle.

Above on the right is a licorice fern that grows in the moss. The rhizome is very sweet but there is also a bitterness that leaves an aftertaste of sourness. Its complex set of flavors is used by Salish people to prevent and treat sore throat.

A variety of companies do foraging walks and I highly recommend doing one. It’s nature therapy combined with education and a snack along the way! It’s an excursion you’ll always remember. Author’s Pick: Savor the Wild offers mushroom foraging and seafood gathering tours. Check out their current tours online here .

Hop on a Ferry

There’s something healing about being around water. I love being in, on, or simply around the ocean. For another one of my favorite weekend activities in Seattle, we took the ferry from Edmonds to Kingston.

We could have driven, but if given the choice, I’d always rather sail on a boat than drive.

Always listen to your body and choose activities that align with your fitness level and interests. The goal is to find activities that bring you joy and leave you feeling balanced and rejuvenated, not frustrated and exhausted.

For me, that includes enjoying a ferry ride where I can walk around the boat. I find it to be a much more enjoyable way to travel.

Exploring Seattle’s Wellness Food Scene

Seattle’s wellness scene extends beyond physical activities and encompasses a vibrant food culture that prioritizes nourishment and sustainability. The city is home to a diverse range of restaurants, cafes, and markets that offer nutritious and delicious options for health-conscious individuals.

Since you’re going to need to eat as one of your weekend activities in Seattle, here are a few highlights of Seattle’s wellness food scene.

Pike Place Market

A visit to Seattle wouldn’t be complete without exploring Pike Place Market . This iconic market is a food lover’s paradise, offering a wide array of fresh, organic produce, locally sourced seafood, and artisanal goods. Don’t miss the fish market where they’ll often let tourists catch a fish for fun!

If you’re looking for a fun way to explore Pike Place Market, get to know the vendors, and enjoy the fruits of your labor, I highly recommend a cooking class with Atrium Kitchen . My group and I enjoyed a hosted walking tour with Chef Traci Calderon from Atrium Kitchen.

For our cooking class with Atrium Kitchen, we were provided with a menu with the recipes and ingredients needed to make our breakfast. After making a list of the ingredients we needed to pick up, we headed out to explore Pike Place Market.

We took our time wandering through the bustling market, discovering the abundance of healthy options available. We took so long that we got hungry along the way, grabbing a coffee and pastry, followed by some gelato.

Pro tip: the gelato at Hellenika is the best I’ve ever had! It’s even better than the gelato I had in Italy. You will definitely want to stop in here for a gelato treat the next time you’re at Pike Place Market.

After eating our way through the market, we finally managed to purchase everything necessary and we headed back to start cooking. Chef Traci Calderon offered kitchen advice and knife-cutting tips while we prepared breakfast. It was not only a fresh and delicious meal, but it was also a fun way to start the day.

Farm-to-Table Dining

Seattle is known for its farm-to-table dining scene, with many restaurants sourcing ingredients from local farms and producers. These establishments prioritize sustainability and offer menus that emphasize fresh, seasonal ingredients.

One of the most fun meals I enjoyed was at Humble Pie . This casual pizza place is a covered outdoor space with picnic tables. They also have chickens you can visit while you wait for your pizza. Pro tip: the best pizza we ate was the Apple Bacon, you gotta try it!

Architect-owner Brian Solazzi built Humble Pie to the absolute highest LEED standards. They have received recognition for both their food and their sustainability. They grow many of their organic ingredients in their on-site garden.

When you select a farm-to-table restaurant, you indulge in a meal that not only tastes delicious but also supports the local community and promotes sustainable agriculture.

Tide-to-Table Dining

You’ve heard of farm-to-table, but have you experienced tide-to-table? This was my first one, but it won’t be my last. It takes the farm-to-table concept to the water and adds seafood to the mix.

One of my absolute favorite weekend activities in Seattle is taking the ferry from Edmonds to Kingston and driving to Triton Cove State Park for an oyster-shucking lesson followed by an outdoor lunch. And I’m not the only one. A reviewer on TripAdvisor called this experience the BEST TOUR EVER.

This afternoon was courtesy of Savor the Wild Tours . They taught us how to properly shuck an oyster. This was another first for me! After our lesson, they gave us all a pair of gumboots, a pail, and gloves and sent us to the beach.

While foraging for oysters, we learned which ones to pick and which to throw back. If they’re too small, you can’t keep them. Once we had collected a half dozen or so, we sat on our pails and began shucking.

What a unique experience to go to the beach, pluck an oyster out of the wet sand, rinse it off in the ocean, shuck it, and immediately eat it. It doesn’t get any fresher than that.

Once our work was done, we were rewarded with a fabulous seafood lunch with wine pairing. Angela and her team from Savor the Wild cooked up some incredible dishes while James Mantone, the owner of Syncline Winery , perfectly paired wines for each course. It was a fabulous way to spend a sunny afternoon.

Climate Pledge Arena

If you’ll be checking out a concert or game while in Seattle, you’re in for a real treat. This is one stadium that serves up delicious, sustainable, and healthy meals. Yup, you read that right! No footlong hot dogs here, lol!

Climate Pledge Arena is the most progressive, responsible, and sustainable arena in the world. They are a functional zero-waste facility, which means that over 90% of the waste generated on-site is diverted from a landfill. That’s pretty incredible for an arena!

They are powered by 100% renewable energy. One of my favorite features is their living wall. Pictured below, it was the backdrop to our group’s dinner. Not only does this stadium offer sustainable and healthy meals during all events, but you can book special events here as well.

Whether you’re a dedicated foodie or simply looking to nourish your body with wholesome ingredients, you’ll find plenty of options to satisfy your cravings and support your well-being.

Exploring Taste Washington – A Food & Wine Event

As we just learned, Seattle’s wellness scene goes beyond fitness and relaxation. One of the highlights of Seattle’s culinary calendar is Taste Washington , an event that celebrates the region’s incredible food and drink. As far as incredible weekend activities in Seattle go, this is the ultimate culinary event to attend.

Taste Washington brings together local farmers, chefs, winemakers, and artisans to showcase the best of the Pacific Northwest’s culinary offerings. The event features a range of activities, including cooking demonstrations, wine tastings, and farm-to-table dining experiences.

It’s a chance to immerse yourself in the local food culture and learn about sustainable farming practices while enjoying delicious and nutritious meals. During Taste Washington, you can sample a wide variety of dishes made with fresh, organic ingredients sourced from local farms.

You’ll see everything from farm-fresh produce to sustainably caught seafood and so much more. The event offers a diverse range of culinary delights that cater to different dietary preferences.

Even if you’re a vegan, vegetarian, or have specific dietary restrictions, you’ll find plenty of options to satisfy your taste buds and nourish your body.

Highlights from my Taste Washington experience included discovering new varieties of wine, sampling caviar and wagyu bites, and drinking more wine.

Taste Washington’s Wine Tastings

In addition to the food, Taste Washington also showcases the region’s exceptional wines. You can attend wine seminars and tastings led by knowledgeable sommeliers and discover the unique flavors and characteristics of Washington’s award-winning wines.

The event highlights the importance of sustainable winemaking practices and the connection between food and wine in creating a truly memorable dining experience. An annual event that occurs every March, Taste Washington is one of the weekend activities in Seattle I recommend planning your trip around.

Taste Washington is not just about indulgence; it’s also an opportunity to support local farmers, producers, and artisans committed to sustainable and ethical practices. Participating in this event contributes to the growth of a vibrant and sustainable food community in Seattle.

It’s a win-win situation where you get to enjoy delicious food and wine while also making a positive impact on the local economy and environment.

Why Seattle is a Hub for Wellness

Located in the Pacific Northwest, it’s not surprising that Seattle is a wellness-focused city. Seattle’s commitment to holistic living is evident in its numerous wellness-focused businesses and initiatives. From yoga studios to organic cafes, Seattle offers a wide range of opportunities for individuals to prioritize their wellness.

In addition, Seattle’s proximity to nature provides residents and visitors with access to abundant outdoor activities. Surrounded by mountains, forests, and water, the city offers endless opportunities for hiking, biking, kayaking, and more.

This connection to nature is deeply ingrained in the Seattle lifestyle and contributes to the overall well-being of its residents. I think this could be said for the Pacific Northwest as a whole, but Seattle certainly shines in this area.

Tips for Navigating Seattle’s Wellness Scene

With so many wellness options available in Seattle, it can be overwhelming to know where to begin. Here are a few tips to help you navigate the city’s thriving wellness scene.

Research and Plan Ahead

Before your trip to Seattle, take the time to research wellness activities, spas, and fitness studios that align with your interests and goals. Do you want a relaxing trip or one that challenges you to try new things? Keep this in mind as you research activities.

Check for special events or pop-ups happening during your travel dates. This will help you make the most of your time in the city and ensure you don’t miss out on any hidden gems or events.

Try Something New

While you should do some planning, be sure to leave time for discovering things you didn’t know existed. Seattle’s wellness scene is known for its innovation and creativity.

Step out of your comfort zone (like I did with my cold plunge!) and try a new fitness class, meditation technique, or wellness treatment. You may discover a new passion or find a practice that resonates with you on a deeper level.

Remember, the key to navigating Seattle’s wellness scene is to approach it with an open mind and a willingness to explore. Allow yourself to be guided by intuition and choose experiences that truly resonate with you.

I didn’t plan to eat stinging nettle or shuck oysters, but these unexpected adventures were two of my favorite weekend activities in Seattle. Always keep an open mind and be willing to try new things.

Where to Stay During Your Wellness-Focused Trip in Seattle

Start your trip by finding accommodations that prioritize wellness. Look for hotels or resorts that offer amenities such as fitness centers, spas, and healthy dining options. Many hotels in Seattle have partnerships with local wellness studios and offer special packages that include fitness classes or spa treatments.

Make sure you pick a hotel within walking distance of some of the attractions you wish to do. When you do this, you can get your steps in by walking versus wasting time sitting in a taxi or Uber.

Author’s Pick – Hotel 1000

I stayed right in downtown Seattle at Hotel 1000. Its location is fantastic. It’s within walking distance of Pike Place Market and the waterfront. Plus, it has an incredible spa. The Spa at Hotel 1000 is currently ranked #1 Best Spa & Wellness Center in Seattle on Tripadvisor.

Remember when I said you should try something new? Hotel 1000 boasts Seattle’s only state-of-the-art Topgolf Swing Suite. Practice your golf skills at this indoor driving range. If you thought the only thing to do at a hotel was grab a drink at the bar, think again!

If it rains during your trip, one of the best indoor weekend activities in Seattle is to swing a club at Hotel 1000’s Topgolf Swing Suite. Reservations must be made at the hotel’s front desk so be sure to book your spot to avoid disappointment.

Another great feature offered by Hotel 1000 is the ability to rent a Tesla for anywhere from 1 minute to the entire day. Since you won’t need a car for any downtown activities, this is a convenient way to drive without having to rent a car and pay for parking at the hotel. I didn’t have time to do this during my jam-packed trip, but I will next time.

Conclusion: Weekend Activities in Seattle That Embrace Wellness

Seattle’s thriving wellness scene offers a wealth of opportunities to nourish your mind, body, and soul. Whether you’re seeking an intense workout, a relaxing spa treatment, or a transformative retreat, this vibrant city has it all.

Embrace the commitment to holistic living and sustainability that Seattle embodies, and discover the hidden gems that await you. Immerse yourself in the city’s wellness offerings, connect with the local wellness community, and let Seattle’s natural beauty inspire and rejuvenate you.

When you embark on a wellness-focused trip to Seattle, you’ll experience a state of total well-being in this dynamic and thriving city. What are you waiting for? Pack your bags, escape the hustle and bustle, and embark on an unforgettable weekend adventure filled with wellness in the beautiful city of Seattle.

About the Author

Kat Anderson

Kat Anderson ( misskatanderson on Instagram) is a Travel and Wellness Expert who resides in beautiful Vancouver, BC, Canada when she's not traveling the world. Her mission is to inspire people to live their best life through travel, adventure, and self-care. Find more inspiration from Kat at coffeeandmascara.org .

best states to visit for outdoor adventure

Share This Article

Related Posts

  • Forage & Feast with Savor the Wild Tours
  • The Iconic Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley
  • Must-Do Adventures If You’re Going to Emerald City Comic Con
  • Downtown Hotspots to Hit if You’re Going to the Northwest Flower & Garden Festival
  • Dick’s Drive-In Celebrates 70 Years


No comments yet.

Leave a Comment

Click here to cancel reply.

  • Name (required) -->
  • Mail (required) --> (will not be published) -->


Seattle’s best every month in your inbox.

  • OPT-IN: By clicking the "Subscribe" button, I agree to receive emails from Visit Seattle and that I have read and agree to the Visit Seattle Privacy Policy .
  • Comments This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Book Your Trip

Partner Advertisements


  1. The Best States to Visit for Outdoor Lovers

    best states to visit for outdoor adventure

  2. 21 of the best places to visit in June

    best states to visit for outdoor adventure

  3. 27 Best Summer Vacations in the USA

    best states to visit for outdoor adventure

  4. Best American Outdoor Adventures

    best states to visit for outdoor adventure

  5. A complete guide to the best adventure vacations in the United States

    best states to visit for outdoor adventure

  6. 15 Best Summer Vacation Spots in the U.S.A.

    best states to visit for outdoor adventure


  1. आमची अमेरिकेतली रोड ट्रिप… #america #marathifamily #roadtrip #shortsvideo #marathishorts #ytshorts

  2. 10 Best States to Visit in the USA

  3. Camping overnight in a Winter Survival Dugout Shelter


  1. The Top US States for an Outdoor Getaway

    Tennessee is one of the best slightly under-the-radar states for outdoor adventure, thanks in part to the Great Smoky Mountains. Nature-lovers can chase waterfalls, take multi-day whitewater rafting tours to hidden beachside campsites, or hike sections of the Appalachian Trail. Fly-fishing, too, is popular in Tennessee, thanks in part to the ...

  2. The 36 Best Places to Visit in the U.S. for Adventure

    From $599. * Ulum, outside Moab, Utah, is the latest venture from Under Canvas. Each tent has its own private deck and a rain shower, and is steps from hot and cool dipping pools. From $549. Under ...

  3. The best outdoor adventure in every state

    Top outdoor activity in every state. 1. Alabama: Take a dip off Orange Beach. Alabama may not spring to mind when you think "sandy respite," but the state's southern border features 32 miles of ...

  4. Adventure Travel: 15 Top Spots in the U.S.

    Yosemite National Park. #3 in Best Adventure Vacations in the U.S. Yosemite National Park features mountains, meadows, massive sequoia trees and plenty of waterfalls - all less than 170 miles ...

  5. America's 20 Coolest Towns for Outdoor Adventure

    Coffee: Cafe Dawn on G Street — tons of natural light and doesn't mind if you post up for a while. Gear: Salida Mountain Sports right downtown, Subculture Cyclery. Music venue: The SteamPlant Theater, right on the river at the terminus of the local bike trail. 5. San Luis Obispo, CA.

  6. These are the top 50 adventures in all 50 states

    Here are the best ways to get outdoors in all 50 states. How to find wild adventures across the U.S., from hiking Hawaii's highest peak to snowshoeing amid Michigan's frozen waterfalls.

  7. I've been to all 50 states. Here are the 10 best states to visit if you

    Here are the 10 best states to visit if you love the outdoors. Advertisement. ... I've experienced the most heavenly outdoor adventures in Bridger-Teton National Forest.

  8. 9 Best Adventure Destinations in the U.S.

    The Best Outdoor Adventures in Las Vegas — From Hiking Trails to Relaxing Hot Springs 13 Beautiful U.S. Mountain Ranges for a Scenic Adventure Trip 19 Photos That Prove Boulder Is the Ultimate ...

  9. 14 Best Adventure Vacations in the USA To Try Before You Die

    Best extreme vacation adventures in the USA. Photograph: Courtesy Sky Combat Ace. 1. Fly an aerobatic plane | Las Vegas, NV. Getting an eagle's-eye view of Vegas is thrilling in itself, but ...

  10. The 5 Best U.S. States for Adventure Travelers

    Colorado. One of the top ski destinations on the entire planet, Colorado is well known for its fantastic powder. But even if you don't hit the slopes on a regular basis, there is still plenty of other outdoor adventures to be had. For instance, the state is home to 53 mountains with a height above 14,000 feet (4267 meters), which makes it a ...

  11. Here are the best (and worst) states for adventure

    Top 3 states for adventure #1: Wyoming (Adventure Score: 9.36/10) When it comes to the ultimate outdoor adventure destination for your family, Wyoming takes the crown.

  12. 23 Must-Visit American Cities for Outdoor Adventure Travel

    Backpacking/Camping: Eagle Creek Trail , Loowit Trail , Siouxon Creek. Hiking: Horsetail/ Triple Falls Loop , Paradise Park , Dog Mountain , Opal Creek. 3. Hilton Head | South Carolina. Coastal paddling near Hilton Head's Daufuskie Island Jake Wheeler. In the heart of the Lowcountry, with beaches and surf breaks that beg you to stay outside ...

  13. Top 25 US States for adventure travel revealed

    The top 25 US states for adventure travel. In the US, Maryland ranks as the best state for an outdoor adventure, scoring 40.6 out of a possible 50 points. The state scored particularly highly for ...

  14. 19 Outdoor Places in the U.S. that You Should Visit at Least Once

    One of the top outdoor destinations in the U.S. is located just a few miles from Chattanooga in a tiny Georgia town named Lookout Mountain. You'll find Rock City perched atop the summit of a mountain bearing the same name, and this lesser-known place truly feels like a secret city hidden away from the rest of the world. Natural passageways through moss-covered boulders eventually lead ...

  15. 15 Most 'Outdoorsy' U.S. States

    San Francisco has the highest percentage of the population with walkable park access, 98.04 percent, and the highest number of bike-rental facilities per 100,000 residents, according to WalletHub. Eureka-Arcata-Fortuna has been voted by Backpacker as one of the "best cities to raise an outdoor kid."

  16. Best US States to Travel to, According to Someone Who's Been to All 50

    Emily Hart. New Mexico is always at the top of my list when recommending US states. Nicknamed " the land of enchantment ," it lives up to its moniker — and then some. Those who haven't visited ...

  17. The Best Outdoor Adventures in Every State

    Delaware. Spanning about 30 miles between Delaware City, Delaware, and Chesapeake City, Maryland, the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal (C&D Canal) is one of the best outdoor adventures in America's very first state. Some sections are paved, some are dirt, all are scenic. It's a multi-use trail, but we recommend biking it so you can easily ...

  18. 10 Best States to Visit in the USA (+Map)

    9. Wyoming. Tucked away in the rugged mountains of the Western United States, Wyoming is both wild and wonderful. Despite its large size, it is one of the most sparsely populated states in America. Here, you'll swap city sights and crowds for national parks, cowboy ranches, hot springs, and endless wilderness.

  19. America's 10 Best States for Adventure Seekers

    Best of Passport. Michael Feinstein. March 30, 2015. Entertainment. Frank Jaffe, Founder of Altered Innocence. February 19, 2024. Entertainment. Andrew Shayde, Three-time Naked And Afraid Contestant Joins...

  20. Best Places to Visit in the USA for 2023-2024

    Glacier National Park. #1 in Best Places to Visit in the USA for 2023-2024. Glaciers are the main draw of this Montana national park, but its more than 700 lakes, two mountain ranges and multiple ...

  21. The 12 Best U.S. Cities for Outdoor Adventures

    There's no doubt about it: A visit to Moab will make you feel like you're in a theme park for outdoor lovers. "Unquestionably, one of the top cities for outdoor adventure in the United States is Moab, Utah," Taylor Beal, owner and author of the travel blog Traverse With Taylor, tells Best Life. "Moab is a smaller town that, overtime, has grown ...

  22. Best Cities in the US for Outdoor Adventure

    Ludington State Park Hiking Trails. Ludington School Forest Trails. Lake Michigan Recreation Area + Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness Area. Merrell Trail. Rosy Mound Natural Area. If you love outdoor adventure as much as the hustle and bustle of the city, the chances are that you know the cities on this list—hell, you might even live in one. There ...

  23. What Are The Best States For Outdoorsy People?

    1. California. The first state for all our outdoorsy types that we are taking a look at today is California. Topping our list is the state with an "unmatched nine national parks, 38,196,000 acres of public land, and a staggering 18,467 miles of trails," says Cultural Currents.

  24. 10 Best States to Visit in the U.S. This Year

    The best states to visit in the United States will differ according to who you ask. Some residents will rave about their home state, while others have fond memories of vacations across the country. ... The Catskills region is just a short drive from Manhattan, but for even more outdoor adventures, explore the northern part of the state, where ...

  25. Your State's Best Outdoor Attraction Everyone Should Visit At ...

    Big Sky Country was made for outdoor adventures and the state has natural wonders in spades. Alpine Lake McDonald, in Glacier National Park, is one of Montana's celebrity sights. Carved out by ...

  26. Kanab Utah: A Paradise for Outdoor Adventures!

    Kanab to St. George - 1.5 hours. Kanab to Cedar City - 1.5 hours. One of the main draws to Kanab, Utah is the spectacular national and state parks and canyons in the area. It's an outdoor ...

  27. The Best Time to Cruise to Alaska in 2024

    The Best Time to Cruise to Alaska in 2024. Plan your bucket list adventure to explore the extraordinary beauty of the 49th state. By Gwen Pratesi. |. Aug. 2, 2023, at 1:00 p.m. The Best Time to ...

  28. 10 Best Places To Visit In Canada If You Love Nature And Outdoor Adventures

    Churchill is a unique town in Manitoba, situated by Hudson Bay and renowned as the polar bear capital of the world. During fall, these polar bears come out in huge numbers, offering visitors the ...

  29. The Best U.S. Airlines In 2024—According To A New Report

    Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own. I cover travel, specializing in adventure and the great outdoors. Alaska Airlines is the top U.S. airline, according to the report that ...

  30. The Best Weekend Activities in Seattle That Embrace Wellness

    One of my absolute favorite weekend activities in Seattle is taking the ferry from Edmonds to Kingston and driving to Triton Cove State Park for an oyster-shucking lesson followed by an outdoor lunch. And I'm not the only one. A reviewer on TripAdvisor called this experience the BEST TOUR EVER. This afternoon was courtesy of Savor the Wild ...