Christina Loiacono is a contributor at Zerve, a site dedicated to highlighting extraordinary experiences. A travel enthusiast, she’s constantly seeking out new adventures to put on her own to-do list!
Ever heard the old saying, youth is wasted on the young? Well, don’t let your travels fall in to the cliché! Here’s my pick of the seven most extraordinary trips you can make in the USA while you’re still a spring chicken, for memories that’ll last a lifetime…
1. Take a Road Trip Down the California Coast
Road trips are always a great way to celebrate the freedom of youth, and a road trip down California’s Pacific Coast, with its scenic coastal views and many en-route attractions, is one that you don’t want to miss. Create a plan for yourself by picking out a few destinations ahead of time, but leave room for spontaneous stops and let the road signs take you where they will.
The route can be done in either direction, but if you start in the north, Point Reyes National Seashore is a great first stop with excellent hiking trails. Not far down the road you will drive across the famed Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. The Big Sur section of the highway between San Luis Obispo and Monterey has been designated a National Scenic Byway, and rightfully so. It’s views of coastal cliffs, historic bridges, and redwood forests are unparalleled. Nearby, you might want to stop in Monterey for some horseback riding or a detour to get more scenic views on 17 Mile Drive in Pebble Beach. If time allows you to make it all the way south, take a moment to stroll the town and soak up some sunshine on the sandy beaches in Coronado.
2. Visit New York City
With so many things to see and do, some may argue that there’s a reason to visit The Big Apple at any age. However, visiting such a compact and culturally diverse place during your younger years can both inspire you and teach you lessons for your years to come.
To get the most out of your trip, make sure to split your time between seeing the sites and going off the beaten path. Stop by the iconic Times Square to see the lights and to observe the multitude of people that gather there. It’s an eye opening experience to be in the same place, seeing the same thing as so many people from all over the world. Then, step away from the streets to view the city from a new perspective by walking the Brooklyn Bridge, gazing at the skyline from a boat, or taking in a classic view from the top of the Empire State Building.
You should veer away from familiar dining options to eat like a local by seeking out mom and pop shops and unique fine dining restaurants. Food tours are great for covering a lot of ground in a neighborhood you might not otherwise visit and the city’s two annual restaurant weeks make fine dining affordable!
3. Travel to a Volcano
The Big Island of Hawaii, known for its production of Kona coffee, is also home to two active volcanoes; the Maunaloa and Kilauea. These volcanoes are active, but closely monitored, which allows tourists to experience a variety of one-of-a-kind activities related to the volcanoes that might otherwise be impossible.
Thrill-seekers can bike and hike on trails, explore solidified lava tubes, and take tours that go close enough to the volcanoes to view the steaming hot lava!
4. Go down yonder on the Chattahoochee
Yes, I might be making a reference to a classic American country song by Alan Jackson here; however, the Chattahoochee River is also a classic in its own right. Flowing through the northwest side of metropolitan Atlanta, the river is easily accessible to city visitors.
Calm waters make the Chattahoochee ideal for tubing, as well as many forms of water recreation. As you go, you’ll see all sorts of local scenery and wildlife, including great blue herons, beavers, raccoons, and colorful rocks. It was these rocks, in fact, that gave the river its name; Chattahoochee roughly translates to “River of Painted Rocks” in the language of the Muscogee Indians.
After your day on the water you’ll surely be parched, so why not head back into the city to the original World of Coca-Cola in the heart of Atlanta. Quench your thirst by tasting their 64 flavors sold around the world!
5. See a moonbow
The waterfall spray at Cumberland Falls in Kentucky is one of just a few places in the world (and the only place in the Western Hemisphere) that predictably produces a full moonbow, or lunar rainbow. It’s definitely one for everyone’s bucket list, but why not put it on your list early on?
The state park predicts the dates and times when the moon will be full enough and in the right place; however, simply going at the right moment may not be enough to view the phenomenon. The temperature, wind, and amount of mist also have to be just right for a moonbow to occur. While these factors require the visitor to be flexible, those who get a glimpse will have a memory worth the wait!
6. Get in touch with the American West
Step back in time to the day of the American cowboy at a chuckwagon supper. Chuckwagon suppers can be found throughout the western states, but are popular in New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, and South Dakota.
The experience often starts off with a hayride, horseback ride, or possibly even a sleigh ride. Afterwards, there comes a hearty dinner, a campfire, and a sing along to live western entertainment. For urbanites, it’s an experience almost as adventurous as heading into an unfamiliar city!
With their stunning views and exhilarating speeds, zipline tours are on the rise in popularity throughout the States. The exact structure of each zipline course is unique, but they all involve participants zipping across cables while being suspended 20-80 feet in the air! This produces quite an adrenaline rush as you glide over anything from treetops and mountainsides to shorelines and ravines.
Because each zipline stands out for a different reason, it’s difficult to pick just one location to recommend. Many spectacular ones can be found along California’s coast, so it would be easy to fit the experience in while on a road trip. You’ll also find ziplines in Hawaii that glide over lush rainforests and waterfalls, making them a perfect addition to an island getaway. Alternatively, if you’re looking to get some mountain views, ziplines can even be found in snowy Colorado!
What do you think of these trip choices, and what would you add to the list?
Thanks to greymalkn, greymalkn, Nicolas Vollmer, Lauren Bacon, Jeff Gunn, Brent Moore, FTCarsonPAO and Brian Omura for the pictures from Flickr. Please note, all images were used under the Creative Commons License at the time of posting.
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