School is almost out. The weather is becoming warmer. And, it is time to go! (Or, at least it is almost time to go.)
Recently a friend posted this picture on Facebook. The paper on the right is her planning strategy for their summer vacation, featuring an overview of places the family could visit while at their designated location. The left is her husband’s Excel spreadsheet with everything strategically planned out down to the half hour increments, including sleep.
Some people are planners. Others are not.
Side note: My husband and I didn’t start trying to reserve our hotel room for our honeymoon until we were in the middle of Iowa on our way to Chicago. Hotels in Chicago go fast and we nearly didn’t have a place to stay while exploring the Windy City. Lesson learned.
Whether you have your Excel spreadsheet started but need more ideas or if you have absolutely no idea where to go this summer, we have the list for you. We ask some of the readers of iAt what their top places were to visit in the United States and in the nearby northern country of Canada. Here’s our top 10.
1. Aspen, Colorado – Aspen is typically known for its skiing resorts, but it has some breathtaking views during the summer as well. There are great hiking trails in the mountains that feature trees, flowers, and streams. The Maroon Bells in particular are absolutely beautiful!
2. Black Hills in South Dakota including the Badlands and Mount Rushmore – The Badlands are a must-see for those in South Dakota, as the park features more than 370 square miles of rocks, valleys, and prairies. The Black Hills, a small mountain range in the western half of the state, also have great views. The range extends all the way across the state border to Wyoming. Mount Rushmore is a classic destination as well, featuring four of our presidents’ heads carved into a mountain range.
3. Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada – Banff is a resort town located in Alberta, Canada. There are great views throughout the national park, including mountain ranges that extend over the city skyline and Lake Louise, a pristine lake in the park. Wildlife abounds in the form of elk and bears, as well as other smaller animals throughout the park.
4. Boise, Idaho – Boise is the capital of Idaho, and the growing city is full of things to do. There’s a zoo, several museums, and lots of parks for entertainment. The amount of public art is also rising day by day, making for a beautiful city.
5. Boston, Massachusetts – Boston is a classic vacation spot loaded with American History from every era. There is great food, music, theater, and sports. There is always more to see, from museums to iconic neighborhoods to beaches.
6. Glacier National Park and Waterton Lakes National Park (Connected parks) – These two parks were combined to create the very first “peace park” between the United States and Canada. Both feature gorgeous scenery, hiking trails, wildlife, mountains, and lakes.
7. Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming – This huge 484 square mile park is an expanse of views. Visitors will see stunning landscapes comprised of mountain ranges against sparkling lakes, flowers and trees, and even wildlife in many parts of the park.
8. Lake Michigan – Visit Lake Michigan from Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana or Michigan (including the Upper Peninsula). There are endless opportunities for sailing, watching the sunset, or enjoying the sand and lake. The lake extends to many areas, from cities like Chicago and Milwaukee to resort areas like Grand Haven and Traverse City in Michigan or Door County in Wisconsin. Especially fun are outdoor festivals like Milwaukee’s Summerfest, Grand Haven’s Coast Guard festival and Traverse City’s National Cherry Festival.
9. Mesa, Arizona – This warm-weather city is only 20 miles east of Phoenix, and it’s a less-populated place to take in Arizona’s famed views of the mountains and valleys. Mesa offers art and history museums as well as an amusement park combined with a waterpark, which offers a break from the sun.
10. Orange Beach, Alabama – Orange Beach is a small beach town on the gulf coast that lets visitors take advantage of the great views and beautiful water without dealing with the masses of tourists. It’s a great place to get away in a nice beach house overlooking the clear blue water.
Readers of iAt: What are your vacation plans for the summer? Leave a comment and let us know where your travel plans will take you.
Come back to iAt throughout this week to read more about how you can make this summer more than just one to survive with your kids.