The United States of Staycations

The world we live in is a weird and wonderful place. I encourage anybody who has the slightest desire to see what’s beyond the horizon to venture outside of their comfort zone. From Thailand to Russia to India and all the way back again, the things I have seen around the world will be what I treasure the most. Certainly above any material possessions I currently own.

But, I'll admit just ordering a rejuvenating cup of coffee following a long day of sightseeing can be exhausting in certain countries where the language barrier is higher. Hopping on a plane for 10 hours isn't the only way to travel. Travel doesn't have to involve potentially complicated visas, new currencies, and language barriers that make everything more difficult.

Travel can take place right in your home country. There is plenty to see and do in our own backyard — admittedly it helps if your backyard happens to be America. We’re truly lucky at the sheer amount of wonders America holds. Here are my top picks for making the most of your travel time in the United States of Staycations.

Read on: More guides and tips for the best US travel destinations

Niagara Falls sits on the border of the USA and Canada - both sides offer different but incredible views. Photo by   Kalen Emsley

Niagara Falls sits on the border of the USA and Canada - both sides offer different but incredible views.
Photo by Kalen Emsley

Niagara Falls

We’ll start with a biggy — Niagara Falls. It seems that some of the most visited wonders of the world are overlooked as our next travel experience purely based on their popularity. Take Paris, for example. Who hasn’t been to Paris, right? Or who hasn't been told they should go to Paris. Just because it's popular doesn't mean you shouldn’t go!

This is why I strongly recommend heading to Niagara Falls when you get a chance. A great hotel to check out is the Niagara Falls Marriott. Its close proximity makes it a must to see this mammoth attraction. There are seriously so many things to do: Book a boat ride into the mist. Book a walking trip behind the falls. Get up close and personal with one of the world’s most amazing natural wonders and come away feeling like you’ve experienced something big and immovable and scary and awe-inspiring. A trip like this can really help you to gain perspective. It doesn't hurt that you’ll have a ton of fun too.

Tunnel View in Yosemite National Park Photo by   Aniket Deole

Tunnel View in Yosemite National Park
Photo by Aniket Deole

Adventures in Yosemite

Yosemite. A National Park. Something tourists do. It will be underwhelming. And crowded. Or so I thought.

I got into re-examining Yosemite after the documentary, Free Solo, was released about the man who climbed El Capitan without a rope. Even if you don't want to climb an over 2,000 meter, near vertical granite rock, complete with overhangs and finger holds the size of a quarter you should look into this wonderful park. Because to be honest, death-defying climbing stunts aren’t up my alley, either. But there’s also zip lining, introductory (read easy and safe) rope climbing, fishing, and camping. It's the kind of getaway that will leave you with pictures where the smile on your face isn’t forced. Not to mention the background looks like something out of a movie rather than your average selfie stood on a nondescript bridge somewhere in Europe.

The best time to visit Yosemite in my opinion is February. You’ll find there is still some snow around the valley and the trees plus the snow shine in a magical way as the sun hits it even on cloudy days.

First look at the Kalapana Lava Flow after about a half hour boat trip down the coast. Photo by   Buzz Andersen

First look at the Kalapana Lava Flow after about a half hour boat trip down the coast.
Photo by Buzz Andersen

Volcanoes in Hawaii

This one is super cool. Or I should actually say, super hot. I didn’t even know you could do this until I began to research.

So, what’s the big deal? Hawaii has two active volcanoes called Kilauea and Mauna Loa. Known as the most active volcanoes on Earth, they literally spew out new bits of earth in molten form. The best part: You can get up close and feel the heat as it happens. The ideal way to get close is by taking a boat trip or a helicopter ride — this will, of course, be a bit expensive. The helicopter ride also offers stunning views of Hawaii’s rainforest and tropical waterfalls along the way. A cheaper way to explore Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on your own is with car hire if you dare!

Maroon Bells, right near Aspen, is a fantastic hiking spot outside of the winter months.

Maroon Bells, right near Aspen, is a fantastic hiking spot outside of the winter months.

Mountains in Aspen

While Aspen is truly a year-round destination this mountain city has two distinct high seasons. December to February when the town is covered in fresh powder and the slopes are ready to be conquered. Then again in June and August where temperatures hover around the high 70's and the mountain hikes are blooming with life.

Read on: Travel guides and tips for making the most of your trip to Aspen

Getting there can be done by car or plane. They have a small regional airport Aspen-Pitkin County Airport (code: ASE), that services regional airlines but closes frequently due to bad weather. You can find direct flights from Chicago, but not from New York. A popular, and easy way to get there, is by booking a flight into Denver International Airport (code: DEN) and then renting a car for the the 4ish hour drive to Aspen. 

Pro Tip: There is always something going on in Aspen check out this site for all events.

Final Thoughts

Planning a trip can be overwhelming. But rest assured that where ever you choose to go in the USA for your next vacation you're going to have a beautiful time. My last tips for any trip is even though researching ahead of time is great, I definitely recommend bringing a travel guidebook along with you. Here are some books I recommend...

Also, a super common question I get is: What camera do I use for my travels. The body is a Nikon D5600 and I use the kit lens and a Sigma wide-angle lens which I am genuinely obsessed with.

My full list of travel gear, that I take on every trip can be found here.

And of course, if you have any questions DO NOT hesitate to reach out to me via Instagram, Twitter, or just shoot me an email (tessajuliette at gmail dot com). 

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