Millions of Americans are planning summer vacations this year yet the economic situation has led travelers to seek vacations that are exciting but also easy on the wallet. One way to do this is to plan for a road trip vacation that weaves low cost yet high visually rewarding scenic drives into an area with a good network of local attractions. By traveling to these scenery and attraction concentrated areas, you’ll be cutting down on the travel, lodging, & food costs by pegging your fun & excitement meter in less overall travel days. There are three US states that standout among the crowd for their ability to offer travelers both beauty and amenities – Colorado, California, & Tennessee.
It is no secret that California is viewed by many to be the ultimate vacation state as it combines an almost endless array of tourist attractions sprinkled throughout what is widely viewed as one of the most scenically endowed of all US States. No matter what your age or your interests are, there are attractions that will satisfy just about everyone. Traditional amusement parks abound in this state to include Disneyland, Sea World, and Lego Land as well as the Hollywood movie theme focused Universal Studios Theme Park. If roller coasters and large crowds are not on your wish list, there are more eclectic attractions such as the William Hurst Castle, Alcatraz prison, and the Carmel Mission.
Adults will especially enjoy the wineries of Napa Valley and Sonoma, the cosmopolitan Mecca of San Francisco, and the shops and restaurants in Monterey’s Cannery Row. If natural beauty is high on your list, wonderful coastal scenery is available all along California’s Pacific Coast from the many free public beaches. For a unique coastal experience, take a boat to Catalina Island just off the coast of LA. Or if you want to sample the wide diversity of California’s coastline, start in the south near San Diego or LA and travel north. You’ll start out with Southern California’s tame sandy beaches and culminate in the dramatic rocky shorelines indicative of Northern California. While traveling this coastline, you’ll be traveling potentially the most famous scenic drive in the world – Highway 1 Along the California coast. When you are done with the ocean scenery tour, head inland and take in Redwood forests areas, or the alpine mountain scenery of Lake Tahoe, or the famous collection of waterfalls at the incredible Yosemite National Park. The list and possibilities go on and on in The Golden State.
If you are looking for a vacation to provide you with some cherished mountain memories, Colorado is an ideal choice. It is host to an expansive share of the US Rock Mountains; approximately half the state is comprised of mountain country. And, it is blessed with a particularly inspiring tract of the Rocky Mountains as a large number of its peaks extend past the vaunted 14,000 ft altitude mark… “fourteeners,” as mountain climbers refer to them are an elite group of peaks found in only four US states – Alaska, California, Colorado and Washington. And, if you use the number of “fourteeners” as an objective way of measuring a mountain state’s level of “mountain majesty,” then Colorado is the hands down king as it is home of 54 of the US’s 88 peaks rising past this milestone.
In the non-winter months, you can travel the mountain areas and take in the world class Rocky Mountain National Park, see the plummeting topography of the Royal Gorge, become part of the club of hikers that have climbed famous Pikes Peak, try your hand (and oar) at whitewater rafting, enjoy world class mountain biking, travel through the mountains in a vintage steam driven locomotive, and the list goes on and on. In the winter months, of course you can enjoy arguably the best downhill skiing slopes in the world, as well as mountain country snowmobiling, cross country skiing, and even good old fashioned sledding… with the assistance of ski-lifts to get you to the top again. There is no shortage of possibilities in the “Centennial State”, and if you are looking for a state with a good mix of awe inspiring scenic drive possibilities along with a robust selection of tourist attractions, Colorado should rank high on your list of candidate states.
Lastly, the US state east of the Mississippi river that has the most to offer travelers looking for both a smorgasbord of scenic miles as well as large array of interesting attractions is Tennessee. The dominant scenic feature of Tennessee is the majestic Appalachian mountain range that characterizes the eastern portion of the state. Within this area you can visit a gem of the US national park system – The Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This premier US national park encompasses over 500,000 acres of pristine Appalachian mountain country and offers all the amenities of a top shelf national park to include -camping, hiking, horseback riding, nature workshops and a wonderful collection of roads that snake through the mountain valleys as well as over the top of high rising fertile peaks. If you desire more of the outdoors, in Tennessee you can also find robust white-water rafting areas, ATV riding areas, and of course hunting and fishing spots.
Aside from the rural mountain areas, the state also is host to some cities that are favorites among many tourists. Nashville Tennessee is known as Music City and has a vast collection of museums and cultural centers as well as a healthy nightlife scene. Near Knoxville Tennessee and conveniently positioned near the entrance to The Great Smokey Mountain National park is the tourist magnet Gatlinburg Tennessee. This town is packed to the gills with things to do and see for the kids as well as adults. Attractions such as the 400 shop “Mountain Mall,” live entertainment, and all the kids favorites such as miniature golf, go-cart tracks, arcades, bungee jumping, and water parks. Additionally, it has a very robust network of lodging facilities that range from traditional large corporate hotels, smaller mom & pop motels, bed & breakfasts, & a host of diverse artesian lodges modeled after ski chalets, Indian teepees, and quaint log cabins. There is no doubt about it, in the eastern half of the US, Tennessee, like its many mountain peaks, rises above the crowd in vacation and road trip options.