The Best Scenic Getaways in Every State
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Shawnee National Forest Covering more than 28, acres, Shawnee National Forest, located in southern Illinois, features a wealth of underrated natural wonders and ecological splendors, including 14 botanical areas and four recognized National Natural Landmarks. From the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail to Garden of the Gods a unique and widely photographed rock formation to the flower-lined Inspiration Trail, there are plenty of bucket-list-worthy attractions and hikes to experience.
And aside from the chance to take in Shawnee's rugged terrain and craggy bluffs -- a welcome reprieve from city life -- you can also enjoy swimming, canoeing, kayaking and other activities during warmer months in scenic areas like Devils Kitchen Lake.
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore Located at the edge of Lake Michigan, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore boasts unique bird species, more than 1, native plants, little-known biking and hiking trails and arresting sunsets. During your visit, don't skip lakeside fishing at the Little Calumet River, cycling along the park's mile-long interconnected network of paths hugging the lakeshore. And if you're planning a trip in the warmer months, enjoy sunbathing and strolling along Lake View Beach -- and of course, checking out the unspoiled dunes the area is known for.
Pikes Peak State Park When you peer over the foot bluff inside this storied park, you'll be hit with sky-high views of the Mississippi River. And that's not all.
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Looking north, you'll spot suspension bridges linking Iowa to Wisconsin. Stroll along a wooden boardwalk to Bridal Veil Falls, where you can eye overlooks and ancient structures from an American Indian tribe that once occupied the area. The park has campgrounds, picnic areas, mountain biking trails and old-growth forests aplenty. What's more, if you don't want to rough it in the great outdoors, several budget-friendly hotels and bed-and-breakfasts are available outside the park in McGregor, Iowa.
Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve Kansas may be best known for its picturesque prairie pastures. You can check out the remaining tall grass covering the landscape in the Kansas Flint Hills, along with wildflowers, bison herds and unspoiled nature trails.
A top highlight is hiking along the Southwind Nature Trail, one of the reserve's three nature trails that affords sweeping views of the local ecosystem and unmatched scenery -- complete with idyllic hills, cottonwood and hackberry trees, and unique local flowers.
Try your luck at catch-and-release fishing in one of the preserve ponds or on Fox Creek. Not a fishing fan?Researchers say there's evidence that consciousness continues after clinical death
Explore the Scenic Overlook trail to catch sight of the area's rare wild bison herd. Mammoth Cave National Park Navigating the world's longest known network of caves, located about miles outside of Louisville, Kentucky, isn't for the faint of heart.
Covering more than miles, the park's labyrinth of limestone caves is filled with pointy stalactite formations. And the park isn't just for cavern enthusiasts. It also features trails and rivers, and plenty of opportunities for horseback riding, canoeing, biking and camping, among other recreational activities. Plus, you can join ranger-led talks and enjoy conveniently located accommodations within the park at the Mammoth Cave Hotel or take your pick from a variety of campgrounds or backcountry campsites.
New Orleans The Crescent City, with its world-renowned architecture, cuisine and music, has long been luring visitors to Bourbon Street, where revelry, live jazz performances and vibrant nightlife await. But there's more to experience in the Garden District and the French Quarter, including historic homes, lovely courtyards and balconies adorned with baroque ironwork. Another particularly scenic area is City Park, a 1,acre green space featuring a stunning botanic garden, sculpture garden and even art-deco fountains.
Plus, the park offers a variety of recreational activities, from boating on the lake and fishing to birding and biking against a backdrop of Spanish moss-laden trees. Acadia National Park With pristine unspoiled trails, carriage roads and breathtaking coastal scenery, Acadia National Park is a one-of-a-kind setting, Blau says.
Firpo-Cappiello also highlights Maine as a top destination to soak in awe-inspiring coastal scenery. Annapolis For a relaxing retreat along the Chesapeake Bay, complete with ample opportunity for sailing, kayaking, shopping, windsurfing, savoring the state's legendary blue crabs and admiring colonial architecture, head to Annapolis. Start your tour of the state's capitol city along Main Street, where you can pop into independent shops, galleries and casual eateries as you mosey to the harbor, where bobbing sailboats complete the waterfront scene.
Then head to Ego Alley, a seaside walkway, to catch sight of glamorous boats lining Dock Street. Martha's Vineyard This idyllic seaside retreat charms visitors with its unpretentious atmosphere, fresh sea air, serene wooded trails and wind-swept beaches.
For jaw-dropping scenery, make your way west and head up island to Aquinnah, where the majestic Aquinnah Cliffs rise dramatically over untouched beaches, yielding panoramic views of the Elizabeth Islands across the Vineyard Sound.
For a picture-perfect sunset, grab a blanket and a bite, and make your way to Menemsha Harbor, a charming fishing village with tucked-away private beaches, prime water views and an unbeatable vantage point at dusk. Mackinac Island Golden beaches, unique rock formations and fragrant lilacs are just a few draws of this charming, small isle situated on Lake Huron, sandwiched between Michigan's Lower and Upper peninsulas.
Blau points to the day Lilac Festival each June as especially enchanting, complete with a parade, wine tastings, concerts and even more festivities. But the laid-back setting attracts visitors year-round as well, with its Sugar Loaf and Arch Rock formations, historic sites, carriage tours, water sports, leisurely pace and irresistible fudge varieties. Voyageurs National Park Set near the Canadian border, this pristine national park lures fishers, kayakers and campers with its emerald lakes, remote trails and beautiful forests.
Take your pick from campsites throughout the park. No matter what's on your agenda, you won't want to miss sleeping beneath the stars. The park offers a fantastic location for stargazing, with inspiring views of the Milky Way and even a ranger-led telescope-observing program during the summer. At certain times of year when the skies are clear, you can even catch sight of the northern lights.
Trekking the Rainy Lake Recreational Trail, a 1. The Barrier Islands "These little-known barrier islands off the coast of Biloxi offer miles of unspoiled beaches and ecologically rich environments for nature-lovers," says Rebecca Warren, Lonely Planet's eastern U.
Plus, the area is ideal for wilderness camping, she adds. For sun and splendor, visit Horn Island, where you can enjoy boating, lounging along sand dunes and keeping your eyes peeled for pelicans, alligators and other creatures.
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Louis With its Midwestern charm, graceful Gateway Arch and mishmash of parks, museums, boutiques and bars, there are plenty of reasons to meet in St.
And while it's home to big-city allures, St. Louis also boasts serene green spaces such as the 1,acre Forest Park, where picnic spots and trails abound. The green space even hosted the World Fair. After enjoying a respite, regroup at The Loop, a favorite spot among urbanites and hipsters, with its trendy restaurants and bars.
Glacier National Park Legendary for its awe-inspiring scenery -- complete with snowcapped peaks, glacial lakes and ancient forests -- Glacier National Park is home to several postcard-worthy locations. A drive along Going-to-the-Sun-Road -- a mile stretch -- is a must-do don't forget to stop at Wild Goose Island Viewpointas is hiking Lake McDonald, which features a kaleidoscope of brilliantly tinted rocks created by glaciers.
For a mystifying mix of wildflowers, head to Logan Pass, where alpine florals and serene trails abound. Across the park, you can spy wildlife from wolverines and mountain lions to grizzly bears and bighorn sheep.
As for lodging, the choices include camping, escaping to Swiss-inspired chalet lodges or staying at historic inns. You can glide past imposing bluffs, majestic waterfalls and distinctive native prairie species, such as the piping plover shorebird, peregrine falcons and red-spotted purple butterflies.
The river slices through the Nebraska Sandhills and includes stunning formations, such as the Rosebud formation, which has not been impacted by erosion. To maximize your experience, join a ranger-led tour or a scenic road trip through the Fort Niobrara Wildlife Refuge.
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Portsmouth Sure, the state may be best known for its mountains, but its gorgeous seashore merits its own visit, Firpo-Cappiello says. In Portsmouth, history, art, excellent cuisine and quaint cobblestone streets collide, he says. Plus, this lovely seafaring town teems with low-key restaurants, modern art galleries and a lively downtown area. During your visit, check out Strawbery Banke Museum, which pays tribute to the area's colonial heritage, before venturing to Old Ferry Landing restaurant along the harbor to people-watch and catch vistas of the Piscataqua River.
If you have time to spare, stop by nearby Rye, a quiet seaside town with a sublime coastline. Cape May If you're craving a romantic getaway, consider Cape May. The seaside escape is great for couples, thanks to its charming and affordable inns and bed-and-breakfasts, and plenty of seclusion.
Easily accessible from Atlantic City, Cape May brims with Victorian architecture, and picturesque shorelines and forests. Head to Cape May Point State Park to soak in the scenery along easy-to-navigate trails and observation areas.
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