Up until now I’ve talked all about European travel, including how to stay in hostels as well as how to navigate the train system. And while Europe is definitely a terrific place to visit, ‘hopping over the pond’ as they say isn’t always an option for those of us living on a beer and ramen budget.
If your Wanderlust is begging you to enjoy Mother Nature at her finest, you can begin in the good 'ole U.S. of A... and the good news is you don't even need a passport! There are incredible destinations for every season, so don't limit yourself only to the summer for traveling. Every state in the U.S. has beautiful places to visit for each season of the year. And while I’ve visited the majority of the 50 states, I’ve only begun to scratch the surface of what there is to see myself.
Here are my personal favorite locations to visit in each season, thus far:
SPRING: Yosemite Valley, California
I’ve traveled to some of the most scenic and photographed locations in the world, yet none of them can hold a candle to the jaw-dropping beauty that is Yosemite National Park. The best time to enjoy Yosemite's grandeur is in the spring, when the waterfalls are at their peak and you have to wear a rain poncho to best witness their thunderous cacophony. Every time I enter Yosemite Valley and look up to the rock face of El Capitan and view Half Dome in the distance it takes my breath away. It truly is as spectacular as you’ve probably heard.
The only downfall to Yosemite is its popularity; reservations are a requirement far in advance as they fill up quickly each year. Even so, it is an absolute bucket list-worthy destination.
SUMMER: Lake Tahoe, California
Having grown up in the Sacramento area, I was fortunate to have lived right between my favorite city in the world, San Francisco, and the natural beauty that is Lake Tahoe. If you’re visiting Lake Tahoe early in the season you may be greeted by snow-frosted mountain tops that you can gaze upon while parasailing behind a ski boat in the middle of the lake.
During the summer months your options for activities are endless, and there is something to do on any budget. You can spend your days hiking to numerous crystal clear lakes for free, rent a boat or any other type of watercraft, or even try your luck at the casinos that are just across the state line in Nevada. My personal favorite thing to do here during the summer is to stop in at the Riva Grill on the shores of South Lake Tahoe to sit outside on their deck overlooking the lake for the afternoon while indulging in one of their famous ‘Wet Woodys;’ a blended frozen cocktail of rum-infused deliciousness.
FALL: New England
As everyone knows, or has at least heard, fall in New England really is the epitome of what comes to mind when we think of autumn. Where I live in California we have some fall color, but it is nothing compared to the fiery, vibrant reds, yellows, and oranges that you find in the northeast.
Driving through the quaint New England towns feels akin to driving through Stars Hollow, the hometown of the Gilmore Girls. Hiking trails are abundant, and you can even hike through a portion of the Appalachian Trail. But if a 2200-mile hike isn’t quite your speed, you can always enjoy the quaint bed and breakfasts, photograph covered bridges, and stop at country roadside cafes to taste fresh Vermont maple syrup on a stack of pancakes, all while viewing the trees that are bursting with colors. A fall spent in New England is a truly memorable (and breathtaking) experience.
WINTER: Yellowstone National Park
My favorite winter destination so far has to be Yellowstone National Park. The snow and majestic beauty make Yellowstone the perfect winter getaway! In the summer months, during peak tourist season, a simple moose sighting can create a major traffic jam. You’ll find the park full of tourists and it can almost becoming distracting from the natural beauty all around you.
Luckily in the winter season, however, private vehicles are not allowed inside the park, so the daily Snow-Cat and snowmobile tours are the only way to see Yellowstone. Both excursions are super fun, and this time of year it will almost feel as if you have the park to yourself. There is nothing like feeling at one with nature in the still, snowy solitude of Yellowstone in winter.
Regardless of the destination you choose, just get out and explore this beautiful country that we live in, regardless of the season. Just go.