Top Attractions in All 50 States
From north to south and from coast to coast, America is packed with diverse landscapes that are worth exploring for every type of traveler. Each state has its own culture and landmarks that make them unique.
Outdoor enthusiasts have a plethora of places to choose from. National parks and outdoor attractions make up almost one third of the most popular attractions in the United States. From the greats like The Grand Canyon (Arizona) and the urban oasis Central Park (New York) to lesser-known gems like Blackwater Falls State Park (West Virginia) or the Gulf Islands National Seashore (Mississippi) and its beaches, you can get a taste of cultural activities while enjoying Mother Nature.
Thrill seekers and families with young ones will be glad to see that ten states across the country have amusement/theme parks as their number one attraction. Snap pictures with Mickey and your favorite Disney characters at Walt Disney World (Florida) or Disneyland Park (California). Otherwise, you can escape to the east to Busch Gardens Williamsburg (Virginia). Got a craving for chocolate? Head to Hersheypark (Pennsylvania) and see what the hype is all about.
History buffs will be able to turn the clocks back at the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation (Michigan) where they can witness some of America’s most historical items, discover what life was like in the 1830s at The Alamo (Texas), or jump on board the World War II battleship turned museum at the USS Alabama (Alabama).
Animal lovers across the states have the opportunity to visit some of the world’s best zoos and aquariums. From Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium (Nebraska) and its one-of-a-kind exhibits to the world-renowned Georgia Aquarium (Georgia), one of the largest in the world, to the west coast’s Oregon Zoo, the United States offers plenty to admire.
Hiking the pristine trails of the Olympic National Park is just what the doctor ordered to relieve the stress of the urban crowds. Rain forest, old growth forest, rivers, waterfalls, lakes, and a stunningly beautiful coastline offers plenty of options from easy to vigorous hikes. Three full days will yield a lot of spectacularly stunning nature, but five or more days will provide you with a fully immersive and very memorable experience. Getting there Sea-Tac, Seattle’s main airport, is the closest commercial airport to Olympic National Park. There are daily non-stop flights from most major airport hubs throughout the US. My wife and I flew Alaska Airlines outbound and Delta Air Lines for the return out of San Diego. Because the Seattle area is so popular fares for economy and business seats are more reasonable than you might think and for miles travelers the amount of miles needed seemed to be pretty low. Rental cars are easy enough to reserve in advance, and it’s always good to shop around for the best deal. A mid-size Avis fit our budget just fine. And no need for old time paper maps; Google will show you how to get to exactly where you want to go. Lodging One thing that makes Olympic National Park so great is that there isn’t much in the way of places to stay, which keeps the crowd sizes down. Camping is available in several places, but that’s limited also. There’s both RV and tent camping available throughout the park as well as wilderness camping. The Willaby Campground right on the shore of Lake Quinault in the south part of the park looked really nice as did the Sol Duc Campground right on the Sol Duc River more in the north of the park. All of the campgrounds appeared to be very well kept with fire rings, picnic tables, restrooms, and showers. Lake Quinault Lodge - Courtesy of Jerry Olivas Camping looked great but we chose to stay in two different park Lodges, the Lake Quinault Lodge in the south and the Lake Crescent Lodge in the north. These are not upscale accommodation so don’t get fooled by the term Lodge. Both places offer a variety of types of accommodations including staying in the main lodge itself with wide-ranging prices. Note that these lodges, cabins, and motel style rooms are a bit old so bring your ear plugs. WiFi is good around the Lodges and voice and cellular data works well in most places throughout the park. Positively don’t miss out on that heated pool at the The Lake Quinault Lodge. Dining Oyster Saloon - Courtesy of hamahamaoysters.com For food, like lodging there are not too many choices but the Lodges themselves offer a variety of food options including formal sit-down, bar service, and take away. Nothing seemed too pricy except alcohol. However, it’s easy enough to stock up with supplies before entering the park. The town of Forks on Hwy 101 about halfway between the Quinault and Crescent Lodges has a large supermarket called Thriftyway. One tasty restaurant just a couple of miles from The Quinault Lodge is the The Salmon House Restaurant. It’s all about salmon here and a takeaway picnic is a good way to go because lake Quinault is just a few steps away. Don’t miss that yummy marionberry, or any berry, pie or cobbler, which are popular in the spring, summer, and fall. Another couple of dining experiences worth mentioning, but not actually in the park, are Hama Hama Oyster Saloon on Hwy 101 on the east side of the park. It’s all about oysters here; I mean the freshest and tastiest you have ever had. Another restaurant with both fabulous food and a view is Ocean Crest Restaurant on Hwy 109 on the coast about 30 minutes from The Lake Quinault Lodge. This is one of those places where you wonder who the heck is in that kitchen, because they definitely know what they are doing. Hiking Sol Duc River Valley, Olympic National Park - Istock/Bkamprath Hanging around the lodges, particularly sitting in the lobby near one of those nice big open fireplaces, can be intoxicating, but it’s the trails that offer the biggest rewards. All of the trails in the park have good signage and are well maintained and many have parking lots and restrooms. And no need for a map or GPS system because the trails are easy to navigate. However, there are plenty of trail maps to view and purchase online, but it’s easy enough to just pick up a free map at any of the lodges or park ranger stations. The trails run the gambit of difficulty with many flat broad paths and others that are more narrow and steep. As with any hike it’s best to have a partner, water, and comfortable walking shoes. Good to have waterproof shoes with good gripping soles because it can be a bit wet. And don’t forget that umbrella. There are signs warnings about wildlife including Roosevelt elk, black bears, and mountain lions but we didn’t see any. However, we did see several black-tail deer. But luckily no Sasquatch sighting. Our four favorite hikes were the Rain Forest Nature Trail and Gatton Creek Trail both near The Quinault Lodge, the North Fork Sol Duc Trail on the road to Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort, and Barnes Creek Trail near The Crescent Lodge. These trails offer lush rain forest, old growth forest, streams, and falls. It’s certainly fine to back track and redo a section of a trail and it’s okay to just stop, close your eyes, listen, smell, and let your body feel the air. Don’t miss The Giant Sitka Spruce Tree near The Quinault Lodge is a 1,000-year-old, 190 feet tall, and 17 feet in diameter tree that is quite simply amazing. The Salmon Cascades is about halfway up the road to the Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort. In the late summer and fall this is where you will see coho salmon leaping up the treacherous falls attempting to return to their spawning pools. The small town of La Push on the Pacific coast is a good place to take in some of the Olympic National Park coastal beauty. There’s plenty of trail hikes and on-the-beach sand walks to do. Lake Crescent - Istock/YinYang Lake Quinault or Lake Crescent sunrises and sunsets will positively set the tone for a great day on the trails or a relaxing evening planning your next day’s adventures. There are a variety of fees and passes for visiting The Olympic National Park. We used our lifetime National Park and Recreational Area Senior Passes. No matter what the costs the pay back you get from experiencing nature up close and personal on the trails of The Olympic National Park is well worth it. This is one of those trips you will remember for a long time to come. Jerry Olivas - is a travel writer and photographer specializing in "do-it-yourself" adventures worldwide. Some of his work can be found at European Travel Magazine. He has lived and worked in England, Italy, and Israel and is based in Carlsbad, Carlsbad, California, USA
Discover USA: Nashville, Tennessee
Join Budget Travel as we continue our new series Discover USA. Discover USA explores states, counties, cities, and everything in between. We will explore a new US destination to help you find things to do, itinerary ideas, and plan where to go next. This week, we invite you to Discover what Nashville, Tennessee has to offer. When people think of Nashville, they think of music. There’s a reason it’s been called “The Music City” for almost 100 years. Discover what else they are known for. Culinary Hattie B’s Hot Chicken - Courtesy of Visitmusiccity.com Discover the spots that make Nashville the culinary destination it is today, including classic dining spots serving up hot chicken, barbecue, and meat & three. With nearly 200 new restaurants opening in the past two years, a one-of-a-kind culinary adventure awaits. Hot Chicken Hot Chicken is a Nashville original, fried chicken dish, doused in fiery spices, and served on a bed of white bread with a pickle. Find this at restaurants throughout the city, with heat levels ranging from mild to “clucking hot.” Discover Nashville's staple cuisine, hot chicken via famous spots like Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack and Hattie B’s Hot Chicken. BBQ Tennessee is known for its low-and-slow barbecue and Nashville is no exception. Check out the different spins on the dish at restaurants throughout the city like Martin’s BBQ Joint , Peg Leg Porker BBQ and Edley’s Bar-B-Que. Meat & Three A Meat & Three meal is southern food at its best. Choose a delicious meat dish, accompanied by three mouthwatering sides. Don’t forget a sweet tea and slice of pie to round out the meal. Classic Nashville restaurants like Puckett’s Grocery, Elliston Place Soda Shop and Arnold’s Country Kitchen are the perfect spots for experiencing a true meat & three style meal. Fine Dining While Nashville is known for its hot chicken, bbq and meat and three - fine dining has become a force as diners venture out in search of a more upscale experiences. To cater to the new trend, fine dining restaurants are opening up all over the city serving gourmet eats. Places like The Catbird Seat, Kayne Prime Steakhouse and Miel are Nashville fine dining staples that diners have consistently received 5 star reviews. Arts and Culture Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum - Courtesy of Visitmusiccity.com In a city where creativity thrives, Nashville’s ever-growing arts scene is as diverse and approachable as its music scene. Murals, street art, public art, art galleries, and museums are all a part of experiencing Nashville’s visual art offerings. The city also hosts art crawls, festivals, and events throughout the year. Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is the definitive home of American music, safeguarding more than 2.5 million priceless artifacts, including countless recordings and photographs, numerous stage costumes, musical instruments, and more. National Museum of African American Music Tour the 56,000-sqaure-foot facility that encourages visitors to discover the central role African Americans have played in shaping and creating all genres of music. From classical to country to jazz and hip hop, NMAAM integrates history and interactive technology to share the untold story of more than 50 music genres and sub-genres. The Johnny Cash Museum Located in the heart of downtown Nashville, The Johnny Cash Museum is dedicated to the life and music career of the late Man in Black. Exhibits featuring the world’s largest most comprehensive collection of Johnny Cash artifacts and memorabilia chronicle Cash’s legacy through stunning graphics, artifacts and interactive technology. Frist Art Museum The Frist Art Museum is a family-friendly, world-class art museum located in downtown Nashville and is dedicated to presenting an ever-changing schedule of exhibitions from local, regional, national and international sources. The Frist also features the award-winning Martin ArtQuest Gallery with 30 interactive art-making stations; educational programs; and a gift shop full of hand-crafted merchandise -- all surrounded by gorgeous architecture. For a city called "Music City" you can't speak about art and culture without mentioning the iconic music venues. Ryman Auditorium Ryman - Courtesy of Visitmusiccity.com When you walk through the doors of historic Ryman Auditorium, one thing becomes clear right away: this isn’t just another nightly music venue, and it’s so much more than a daytime tourist stop. This place is hallowed ground. This is the exact spot where bluegrass was born—where Johnny Cash met June Carter, where souls were saved, and a slice of history was nearly lost. It was right here that country music found an audience beyond its own back porch, and countless careers took off as deals were signed on napkins and paper scraps backstage. This is a building where anything is possible: a soul can find redemption, a crumbling building can find salvation, and an unknown kid with a guitar can find his or her name in lights. Grand Ole Opry Nothing says “Nashville” like a night at the Grand Ole Opry. What began as a simple radio broadcast in 1925 is today an entertainment phenomenon showcasing a mix of country music greats-- new stars, superstars, and legends. Known around the world as “the show that made country music famous,” you can count on things happening at the Opry that you just can't see anywhere else. Station Inn Catch a show at Station Inn, a beloved music listening room in The Gulch area of Nashville. Here you can find the world’s best bluegrass, classic country, Americana and roots music seven nights a week. All are welcome, every day. Good food. Great music. Exit/In Anchored in Nashville’s music scene since 1971, Exit/In is the reason the strip is known as The Rock Block. The renowned venue is locally, independently, family-owned and operated. Its history and cultural importance cannot be overstated. Take one look at the Wall of Fame, on the front of the building, to begin understanding the magnitude of the performances that have taken place at the storied club. Honky Tonk Highway Music City’s honky tonks line both sides of Broadway (steet) and pump live music into the streets all day, every day. There’s no cover charge but the tip jar gets passed around for those wanting to appreciate the musicians that make Nashville Music City. The music starts at 10am with the party lasting until 3 in the morning. Outdoors Parthenon at Centennial Park - Courtesy of Visitmusiccity.com Within minutes of downtown Nashville, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors. Whether your outdoor sport of choice is biking, hiking or horseback riding, the rolling hills, long trails and majestic lakes of the Nashville area will not disappoint. Fish in a calm, beautiful lake, canoe on a lazy river, or get your thrills in a state-of-the-art wave action pool. Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park Tour Tennessee via a 200-foot granite map of the state, a walkway featuring the state’s 95 counties, 31 fountains representing the major rivers of Tennessee, and an extraordinary wall depicting the state’s history. Centennial Park Centennial Park is Nashville's premier park. The 132-acre park features the iconic Parthenon, a 1-mile walking trail, Lake Watauga, the Centennial Art Center, historical monuments, an arts activity center, a beautiful sunken garden, a bandshell, an events shelter, sand volleyball courts, a dog park, and an exercise trail. Lakes Enjoy the natural beauty of Middle Tennessee at Radnor Lake, Percy Priest Lake, Old Hickory Lake or Harpeth River. Wave Country Since Nashville doesn’t have an ocean, the folks at Wave Country decided to bring some wave motion to Music City. The popular water park generates waves that can be ridden, courtesy of 3 water flumes and 2 speed slides. The speed slides drop from a 40-foot tower and travel 80 feet! Floats are included in your admission price. If you have children, or if you’re a child at heart, you will enjoy the waves while getting some rays! Wave Country is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day. CARD WIDGET HERE
EPCOT® International Food and Wine Festival runs July 14 to November 19! Like a passport specially for your palate, the EPCOT® International Food & Wine Festival is a magical taste tour—one that whisks you off on a fun and flavorful journey across six continents. It’s a delicious celebration filled with over 25 global marketplaces, live entertainment and more. Sip, savor and stroll your way through EPCOT®, as you delight in some of your favorite flavors, and try plenty of new ones along the way. There’s even an entire menu of family fun including a Remy inspired scavenger hunt and Emile’s Fromage Montage, where you can sample a variety of unique cheeses and even indulge in an opportunity to earn a very special festival treat.Throughout the day, you’ll find that taste isn’t the only thing on tour. Catch performances throughout the festival, including the return of the Eat to the Beat Concert Series—where internationally recognized artists perform on stage Friday – Monday, while local Orlando bands rock the spotlight Tuesday – Thursday. Plus, don’t miss all the other amazing acts including Voices of Liberty, Mariachi Cobre and the Jammin’ Chefs.All the magic kicks off this summer and spans 129 days. What’s more, you couldn’t have picked a more delicious time to visit, during The World’s Most Magical Celebration—the Walt DisneyWorld® 50th Anniversary.EPCOT® International Food and Wine Festival Global Marketplaces More than 25 Global Marketplaces throughout World Showcase to sip, savor and stroll your festival favorites and new delights! Emile’s Fromage Montage Families can enjoy Emile’s Fromage Montage where they can sample a variety of delicious cheeses served in inventive ways. Purchase any five cheese dishes from the official Global Marketplaces listed in the Festival Passport and make sure to collect a stamp for each cheese dish purchased. Once you’ve collected all five stamps, bring the stamped Festival Passport to Shimmering Sips for a specialty, unique to EPCOT® International Food & Wine Festival presented by CORKCICLE®. Eat to the Beat The Eat to the Beat Concert Series presented by Florida Blue Medicare is ready to serve up some piping hot tunes! This year, we’re following the same recipe as our recent festivals, with internationally recognized artists as well as local bands bringing their sizzling sounds to the America Gardens Theatre stage. Jammin’ Chefs This funky drumming crew breaks it down as they drum up fun in the kitchen using pots, pans, and other unlikely instruments. Remy’s Ratatouille Hide & Squeak Embark on a Ratatouille-inspired adventure that’s très magnifique! Kids of all ages can search for Remy on a savory scavenger hunt around the Festival. Simply purchase your map and stickers from select Festival merchandise locations – including Port of Entry, Pin Traders – Camera Center, and World Traveler at International Gateway.Find discounted tickets to EPCOT® here.
New England gets all the credit. It is known for its seasonal changing of the leaves throughout Maine, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Vermont - and you can find a road trip guide to New England here. But this region is not the only part of the U.S. that cast off different shades during autumn. Here is where to see the best fall foliage in the western states. WEST Arizona Outside of Sedona, Red Rock State Park’s riparian area of Oak Creek Canyon goes by fremont cottonwoods, sycamores, velvet ash and Arizona alder trees on various trails. Be sure to head up the path to the Eagle’s Nest Trail to get a top-down view. See Slide Rock State Park on the same day; trees there also provide a vibrant contrast against the Oak Creek’s red rocks. Idaho The Boise River Greenbelt is a tree-lined pathway throughout the city that connects walkers and cyclists to its various riverside parks. Or you can head out on the Sawtooth Scenic Byway, as Highway 75 rolls north past the Harriman Trail and the Galena Summit Overlook, then on through the resort towns of Hailey, Ketchum, and Sun Valley. Great Basin National Park. Photo credit: Sydney Martinez/Travel Nevada Nevada In Eastern Nevada, the Great Basin National Park encourages you to drive around at your own pace. Its Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive is a paved 12-mile route leading to an elevation exceeding 10,000 feet and views of groves of aspen trees in yellow, red and gold. New Mexico The Santa Fe National Forest Scenic Byway leads to a 13,000-foot aspen filled alpine wilderness, where the hillsides from Hyde Memorial State Park to Ski Santa Fe shine vibrantly gold. Fall colors hit nicely along U.S. 64, across the Carson National Forest between Taos and Chama and through Tres Piedras and Tierra Amarilla, where the view of the Brazos Cliffs is worth the stop. Wyoming Battle Pass Scenic Byway, is a 57-mile paved highway over the crest of the little-visited Sierra Madre Mountains of the Medicine Bow National Forest, see the famous strand of trees known as Aspen Alley. In northwest Wyoming, Jackson is a gateway to two of the country’s most beautiful national parks – Yellowstone and Grand Teton where the colors are dazzling. Head east to drive along the Cloud Peak Skyway Scenic Byway, the southern-most route across the Bighorn National Forest, for views of the Bighorn Mountains that are framed by yellow- and gold-hued aspens.