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Your family deserves a break. Sure, amusement parks provide excitement, but no vacation is as rewarding as the one that delivers outdoor activities, breath-taking beauty, and nature exploration all in one.

With 140 million Americans investing in outdoor time, extended stays in open-air environments are on the rise. Whether it’s hiking during the weekend or organizing fishing charters, many are opting for a close encounter with nature rather than a hectic getaway to a touristy trap.

This year, skip the headache of planning your trip to an expected destination and instead travel to nature’s backyard. From things to do in Joshua Tree National Park, visiting the Grand Canyon, or heading out to the Adirondacks, there are plenty of places in the US for outdoorsy family time.

Not sure where to start? No worries, we’ve listed a few of our favorite places to try.

The Best US Travel Locations for Outdoorsy Families

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Grand Canyon, Arizona

There’s a reason why everyone says the Grand Canyon is America’s most beautiful natural wonder. Spanning two states and containing the Colorado River, this majestic spread offers enough scenic views and fun activities for a whole summer.

Hike to the bottom or book a trip to white water raft on the raging rapids. There’s certainly no shortage of fun when visiting the historic site.

Find one of the many incredible paths to wonder and enjoy a night of backwoods camping while you’re there. With 4.5 million visitors per year, you would expect the location to be packed, but the North Rim is a nature buff’s true paradise. Relax away from the crowds and get in tune with your inner outdoorsman.

Adirondacks, New York

It’s not the Rockies — and that’s a good thing. The upstate New York mountains are a little slice of heaven.

Home to Olympic parks and picturesque lakes, the Adirondacks are a source of endless summer activities, as well as a great place to find plenty of unique lodging, like the properties you’ll find on ResortsandLodges.com.

Take in history by visiting Lake Placid or opt for a hike to the range’s tallest peak. If you’re looking to capitalize on the beauty, exploring during the fall foliage months is your best bet.

Your complete guide to an unplugged vacation in Olympic National Park.

Boulder, Colorado

There’s more than one reason to explore Boulder, but the main purpose for visiting should be to scale the Flatirons. Climbing, hiking, and biking are the popular activities at this scenic stop.

Of course, you can also enjoy a day of canoeing or horseback riding. When you’re finished surveying the area’s incredible nature scene, enjoy a night on the booming city. There’s always something to do with the University of Colorado close by.

Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Whether you’re headed there in the spring or fall, Jackson Hole provides a memorable backdrop.

Check out Grand Teton National Park while you’re in the Cowboy State, and make sure you put some thought into planning campsite meals; camping is a great way to bond as a family in this part of the world!

Juneau, Alaska

It’s the capital of the most beautiful state in the union, and you don’t want to miss it. Tour the glaciers, take in the wildlife, and spend some time on the water to complete an unforgettable experience.

Matanuska Glacier, Alaska.

National Bridges National Monument, Utah

Nothing is cooler than the stone bridges in this Utah Park. That’s not an exaggeration. Designed to enjoy the magnificence of a dark sky, this remote area features 13 campgrounds and a ton of opportunities to star gaze.

Hot Springs, North Carolina

With water activates, fishing, and the Appalachian Trail, Hot Springs is simply a “can’t miss” for East Coasters.

Acadia National Park, Maine

By now, the secret is out on this Atlantic Coast oasis. Wander through the enveloping woods and hike Cadillac Mountain to get the most out of your trip.

Acadia National Park in Maine Treepot Travels

Photo credit: Rachel Campbell.

Edisto Island, South Carolina

Proximity to Charleston and beach camping options are all the reasons you need to take a weekend trip to Edisto Island. Salt marshes and winding trails add to the allure.

Joshua Tree National Park, California

There’s probably not much to say about the palm oases that you don’t already know. As with the rest of the destinations on this list, there’s never a wasted day when you’re out in nature.

Read: Exploring Joshua Tree with Kids | One Day Itinerary

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Megan is an Australian Journalist who has been travelling and blogging since 2007, with the main aim of inspiring others to embark on their own worldwide adventure. Her husband Mike is an American travel photographer, and together they have made the world their home.

Committed to bringing you the best in adventure travel from all around the globe, there is no mountain too high, and no fete too extreme! They haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on their list.

Follow their journey on Facebook, TwitterYouTube, Pinterest and Instagram.

    18 Comments

  1. I was quite amazed at how outdoorsy the American people are, and I guess I shouldn’t have been, but it was something I particularly noticed. We did go to Acadia National Park in Maine, but only fleetingly.

    • Glad you had the chance to visit Acadia National Park Paula! And yes, it’s becoming a big trend for American families to be outdoorsy!

  2. This is my kind of travel! Get me out of the city and into nature. I’ve been to several of the places listed and now to plan visit a few others on the list. I’m thinking New England/Maine might be next!

    • Have a wonderful time! Glad we could provide you with some inspiration for your next trip!

  3. Some great places to explore. I love traveling to find beautiful places to get outside. I think on this list the place I’m most interested in visiting is Juneau. Haven’t made it yet but definitely on the list.

    • Juneau is an amazing destination Megan! Hope you have the chance to visit soon :)

  4. Love the post. Get out into the wilderness I say. :)

  5. I safe this article to my pin board as we will be traveling from National Park to National Park in the US next year if all goes well. Hopefully most of them are dog-friendly?

    • Thanks so much! We appreciate the share :) We don’t travel with pets, so are unsure of whether each place is dog friendly, but the National Parks Service website has a dedicated section for each park with practical information, so if you jump over there it will have everything you need to know :)

      https://www.nps.gov/index.htm

  6. Not at all surprised to see Boulder, Colorado on your list. I haven’t visited any of these spots but I’ve seen some really great photography from the area’s.

    • Hope you have a chance to take in some of these wonderful spots soon Carly :)

  7. I’ve been wanting to get to Joshua Tree National Park, and my family just got back from the one in Utah and have been posting some amazing photos! So many great ones to explore.

    • Hope you have the chance to travel soon Tamara!

  8. This is an amazing round-up Megan! Sure enough, families need to go outdoors once in a while — if not more! And the places you mentioned here look amazing. I haven’t been to the US yet but I have family there and I’ll surely let them know of this one.

    • Thanks Aileen! Hope you have the chance to travel to the US soon – there really are some spectacular destinations for exploring the outdoors :)

  9. As a true outdoor enthusiast, the US is heaven for us. So much to see and do, such great adventure stuff. Unfortunately it’s quite a journey for us so we don’t get to go a lot, yet hope to visit again next year. I’d really love to see the Adirondacks as well as Juneau … have been to AK so many times but never in the southeast yet. Great and inspiring list Megan!

    • So glad you enjoyed the post Anto! The US has so many spectacular landscapes to explore, it really is an amazing playground and you could easily spend a lifetime with still plenty left to explore!!

      Hope you have the chance to visit the Adirondacks as well as Juneau on your next trip :)

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