Travel Gems Around the USA We’re into another summer travel season, one unlike we’ve seen in at least three years, if ever. If you’ve traveled internationally, you know how many other people are also traveling this summer. It’s night and day compared to the last two summers. And if you’ve tried to book an international trip only to discover that you needed to plan sooner to get space. But as we reminded ourselves, as many international borders were closed, there is so much to see and do right here in the U.S. We’re a big country! No matter where you live, there are landscapes and cultures completely different from what you’re used to at home. And there are also places in your state or the one next door that you may have forgotten and are worth a visit. So, as we look to the end of summer, let’s explore some of the gems of the U.S.
The National Parks
The entire system was designed with returning to nature in mind. While the highest concentration of parks is in the West, there’s almost certainly a national park within a few hours of your home. There are also national trails and monuments throughout the country. Yellowstone’s north loop opened after closing for three weeks because of flooding. Glamping options and National Park lodges abound so you can be in the heart of nature. For a good reason, the national parks have been called “America’s best idea.”
Walk the Freedom Trail through past Revolutionary War-era sights (or do it at night by lamplight for a spooky twist) or do a private after-hours tour of the Old North Church in Boston. Spend a day in Valley Forge or see where Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence and the first Continental Congress met in and around Philadelphia. Watch fireworks light up the New York skyline from the One World Observatory or tour D.C. monuments and the National Archives. You can do all this and more with Virtuoso-preferred tour operators.
The Lowcountry of South Carolina and Sea Islands of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida contain much history among the people, food, and architecture. The mention of Charleston or Savannah conjures up images of Spanish moss hanging from ancient oaks, the roots of the U.S., and some of the best meals you could ever hope to have. Venture farther south to Amelia Island and St. Augustine in Florida, and you reach back to even before the founding. You’ll encounter the Gullah-Geechee culture throughout the region, kept alive by descendants from West Africa in the 1700s.
Wine Country California’s Napa and Sonoma valleys get the most publicity, and with good reason, because there are some great wines and beautiful places to enjoy them along with great views and meals. The Willamette Valley in Oregon and the wine regions of Washington are also very nice. Suppose the West Coast is too far afield for you. In that case, there are great wineries in New York’s Finger Lakes and North Fork, throughout Virginia, and five American Viticulture Areas in Pennsylvania. Wherever you live, there are wineries with vast vineyards and boutique hotels full of charm.