This year might not be the year for that big international vacation you had planned. Pack a bag and head to one of these closer-to-home, exotic locales instead:
Big Sur, California
Called the “American Riviera”, this Mediterranean-style stretch of coast is home to picturesque beaches. Here, the Santa Lucia Mountains rise alongside California’s stunning coastline, making for a scenic drive down Highway One.
Aleutian Islands, Alaska
The remote Aleutian Islands offer wildlife watchers and solitude-seekers the experience of a lifetime. Rarely-seen creatures thrive amid the harsh climate, stormy seas, and active volcanoes.
Key West, Florida Keys
With its colorful buildings and vibrant nightlife, this chain of islands boasts a Caribbean-vibe. Savor fresh seafood and cocktails, visit beachy boutiques and art galleries, and try snorkeling, sailing, and kayaking when you visit.
Culebra, Puerto Rico
This stunning, sparsely populated 7-mile long tropical island is relatively undiscovered and offers visitors an unpretentious place to unwind. Shop at quirky boutiques, dig into fresh local fare at eateries, and try to spot leatherback turtles and the giant Culebra anole. If you’re lucky, you’ll have the chance to see bioluminescent bays light up after dark.
Denali National Park, Alaska
Hike up the highest peak in North America or take in dramatic views of the mountains from the beautiful Horseshoe Lake Trail. Flightseeing is another great option, and visitors also have the chance to spot grizzly bears, wolves, moose, caribou, Dall sheep, martens, lynxes, and more.
Santa Fe, New Mexico
The oldest state capital in the U.S. boasts a very colorful history and is renowned for its wide array of art galleries, museums, and extraordinary architecture. For decades, visitors have flocked to Santa Fe for the area’s healing energy, and it is a haven for artists. Walk to the Plaza and pick up some exquisite handmade jewelry or beautiful works of art when you’re there.
Olympic National Park, Washington
Tucked away into the extreme northwest is a breathtaking temperate rainforest. Western hemlocks, Douglas-firs, and Sitka spruce trees tower above you while ferns and moss cloak the forest floor. Head here to experience some of the country’s most beautiful natural landscapes, including storm-lashed beaches, glacier-capped mountains, and cascading falls.
Hawaii’s lush, mountain landscape is an ideal escape for those worn out by city life. No matter where you’re at on the island – the breathtaking shores or the soaring cliffs of the Na Pali Coast, Waimea Canyon, and Wailua Falls – you’ll find yourself surrounded by tropical beauty.