The Best Season to Visit Each State
The Best Season to Visit Each State

While there’s no doubt that each of the 50 states has its merits thanks to its history and unique culture, the season in which you visit has a lot to do with what you’re able to enjoy, too. In other words, some seasons are better than others when it comes to exploring each state.

In every state, there’s plenty of things to do no matter your taste, from heart-pumping outdoor activities or diverse food destinations to vibrant local art and all the history you could consume. But there are certain times of the year that each state really shines and visitors can bask in the full glory of what makes a place interesting and fun. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite things to do in each state and the best season to visit them in.



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Author and designer James Farmer famously said, “Fall is a Southerner’s reward for surviving summer,” and once you experience autumn in Alabama, you’ll feel rewarded indeed. The state is a best-kept secret when it comes to fall foliage: beyond the colors festooning the trees, it has rolling hills, lakes, and waterfalls, covered bridges and winding roads. Near Auburn, Chewacla State Park features almost 700 acres to explore. Additionally, college football is as essential to life as breathing here and is considered a state treasure; attending a game is a rite of passage that will entrench you in a long-standing tradition. Whether your rally cry is “Roll Tide” or “War Eagle,” get your colors on, get to campus, and don’t miss the tailgate – from Conecuh Sausage to wings in Alabama white sauce, the Alabama tailgate scene is extravagant.



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While the summer months in the lower 48 are a hot mess, in Alaska, summer means longer daylight hours and moderate temperatures in the 70s. Plus, wildlife is active and  trails are accessible. Start your Alaska journey in Anchorage, where there’s a natural habitat to explore right in the city; the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail is a paved pedestrian and cycling trail that winds along the Anchorage coast for 11 miles with several access points and frequent moose-spotting and birdwatching opportunities. Jewel Lake Bed & Breakfast is an easy jumping-off point for your next adventure: traveling to Seward and kayaking Resurrection Bay, where you’ll encounter sea otters, sea lions, harbor seals, bald eagles, salmon, and even a humpback or an orca. As the gateway to Kenai Peninsula and the Kenai Fjords National Park, this summer trip to the last frontier is sure to be unforgettable.



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If you live in a state that experiences cold temperatures and snowfall during the winter months, you know that by January, you’re itching to get to someplace sunny and warm. Arizona is the ticket – where you can feel the sun on your face and see flowers in bloom. Phoenix is easy to get to – book a room at the historic Wigwam Resort and enjoy snacks and boat drinks from a poolside cabana. Don’t miss a destination dinner with Cloth & Flame and a tour of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West in nearby Scottsdale. A visit to the Botanical Garden is also a must, as is a trip to the Heard Museum, showcasing Native American culture.



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If you’ve never heard of Hot Springs, Arkansas, listen up. This small town in the Ouachita Mountain range is the smallest National Park in the country. It’s known for its healing thermal waters, which at the turn of the 20th century were the star at numerous bath houses along Central Avenue. Today, the section known as “Bathhouse Row” features former bath house-turned-boutique hotel, Hotel Hale; Superior Bathhouse Brewery, the only brewery inside a National Park; a bathhouse that’s now the visitors center and museum, Fordyce Bathhouse; and two historic spaces that have been updated to offer modern-day bathhouse spa experiences: The Buckstaff and the Quapaw. Hot Springs is Bill Clinton’s hometown (you can dine at McClard’s Bar-B-Q, a historic ‘que joint that’s his personal favorite) or sample Mountain Valley Spring Water, the locally bottled spring water he had delivered to the White House. Another fun fact: back in the day, Hot Springs was a favorite hangout of Al Capone’s, thanks to the local moonshine, which he smuggled through underground tunnels or disguised as bottles of mineral water.      



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The number of ways to experience fall in California are too numerous to name, but it’s a state full of bucket list experiences. Kendall Jackson Wine Estate and Gardens is in the heart of Sonoma’s wine country and offers a unique tour experience that involves a visit to the gardens, enjoying a garden-fresh meal on the patio, sampling a flight of wines, and even playing some bocce ball. A drive through the area’s vineyards just before crush is spectacular – loop up to catch Pacific Coast Highway/California 1 for one of the country’s most iconic drives and don’t miss a stop at Hog Island Oyster Co. in Tomales Bay, where you can tour the oyster farm before relishing some flavor on the halfshell.



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Colorado, whose purple mountain majesty may have inspired a few people, is known for beautiful year-round scenery and outdoor adventure, and while there are too many outdoor excursions to name across the state, you won’t regret a visit to Echo Canyon, a one-stop-shop for both adventure and relaxation. Located just outside of Cañon City, Echo Canyon River Expeditions offers modern mountain cabins and glamping tents, all with stellar Sangre de Christo mountain views, but they’re also a white water rafting expedition outfit offering bucket-list level trips down the Arkansas, through Royal Gorge Canyon, and Bighorn Sheep Canyon. Eat at 8 Mile, a restaurant helmed by John Baker, who uses his fine dining background to kick classic pub fare up a notch at his eatery, where you’ll find juicy burgers loaded with toppings and refreshingly cold beers after a day on the river. Bonus: it’s right next door to a funky “dinosaur” experience and an old school rock shop, both recalling the Colorado of yore. If you need more adventure, Echo Canyon is less than 15 minutes drive from Royal Gorge Bridge and Park which boasts a Via Ferrata, hiking trails, a playland, zipline, and more. Nearby Salida is the gateway to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, which offers hiking, paddleboarding on mountain lakes, and scenic views. Best of all, it’s less than two hours drive from the Denver/Boulder area, where plenty of cultural, dining, and shopping delights await.  



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Connecticut is more than New York’s preppy neighbor, it has beauty and cultural attractions all its own. Don your favorite tartan and take a scenic drive to see the state’s stunning fall foliage, stop at a you-pick apple farm and a pumpkin patch, catch a harvest festival and soak up that New England vibe. Head to Hammonasset Beach State Park, where you can walk on the historic boardwalk or explore its network of trails, enjoy some time in the sand and surf, and check out the Meigs Point Nature Center, with its native foliage-themed gardens and turtle habitat. No trip to Connecticut would be complete without a visit to the Yale University campus in New Haven, an illustrious institution that was founded in 1701. At the Mead Visitor’s Center, take a free, Yalie-led tour of campus to get a glimpse of its landmark buildings, then wander the Peabody Natural History Museum, the Marsh Botanical Gardens, or the Yale University Art Gallery.



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One of the country’s smallest states is often overlooked as a vacation destination, but as one of the original 13 colonies, it’s loaded with opportunities to experience both history and the great outdoors. At Winterthur, explore the expansive grounds (over 1,000 acres of it) and gardens, full of rolling hills, streams, and meadows, then explore the 175-room mansion that’s dedicated to the American decorative arts. Wander the cobblestone-lined streets of historic New Castle, including The Strand and the Historic Court House Museum and enjoy the flavors the Founding Fathers would have enjoyed at Jessop’s Tavern. Enjoy the fresh air at the area’s Bellevue State Park, where hiking, biking, and horseback riding (followed by a picnic lunch) are a great way to take it all in.



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Florida is huge and its diversions are many, but one of the state’s best kept-secrets is the beaches of the Gulf Coast – skip the spring break pandemonium and opt for the best part of the year: fall. Part of Florida’s Emerald Coast, South Walton stretches across 26 miles of sugar sand beaches and turquoise water, dotted with quaint beach-side neighborhoods filled with shopping, dining, art, and outdoor activities. There are miles of hiking and biking trails, including those that visit the area’s unique coastal dune lakes; rent a bike and hit the 19-mile coastal Timpoochee Trail or don some snorkeling gear and explore the Underwater Museum of Art. Take a sailing charter for a new way to experience the water and follow it up with a bonfire on the beach. If you’re artsy, the area’s neighborhoods are chock-full of galleries and public art to explore. Stay at Sandestin’s newest resort, the chic Hotel Effie, and don’t miss dining on mouthwatering super-fresh seafood options at The CITIZEN.



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Overall, the best time of year to visit Georgia is in the springtime, when the weather is mild and it’s not terribly rainy. But Savannah in the springtime, when the city is awash in azalea blooms, is unforgettable. The city, known for being one of the few spared during the Civil War, is full of postcard-perfect scenes of manicured gardens, horse-drawn carriages, and antebellum architecture. Forsyth Park, with Spanish Moss hanging from tree branches and the Insta-worthy fountain, is a must-see, as is the historic Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. If you like to get spooked, take a ghost tour through Bonaventure Cemetery, or join a hop-on, hop-off trolley ride through the historic district. Sample the fried chicken at Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room, a local icon serving classic Southern fare family style and don’t forget dessert at Leopold’s Ice Cream, a century-long Savannah tradition.



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Who doesn’t dream of escaping to the Hawaiian islands when most of the mainland is blanketed in snow? Hawaii is the ultimate winter getaway destination. Active volcanoes, gorgeous waterfalls, coffee plantations, black sand beaches, and rich cultural traditions await visitors. While each island in the archipelago has its own personality and it’s possible to island hop with a little planning, Maui is a great place to start. Beach time, including some snorkeling, is a must, as is having a chance to see earth’s largest mammals on a whale watching tour. The Road to Hana and the Haleakala drive are popular, too, for their scenic beauty of volcanic valleys, azure water, diverse tropical landscape and natural wonders. The Feast at Lele offers a view into the revered Polynesian culture of the area in the form of a luau.



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Unspoiled Southern Idaho offers outstanding access to outdoor recreation whether you want to kayak, hike, or zipline through a canyon. While Ketchum is known for its winter sports, summertime in the region is when to discover why the area is known as the Magic Valley to locals. Sawtooth National Forest features 1,100 lakes and 3,000 miles of streams and rivers, including the Snake River. Within Burley there are 20 miles of river in which to kayak or SUP (rent from AWOL Adventure Sports, which also offers boat tours and ziplining) or rent a bike from Pertt’s in Twin Falls. Also in Twin Falls, get a gourmet burger with a view at Elevation 486, which overlooks the river from the top of the canyon or step into a historic downtown building for a cold one at Milner’s Gate.



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Chicagoans live for the summer months, which make the rest of the year bearable – it’s when the city comes to life and locals come out to play. Tour the city’s sights with Urban Kayak, whose 90-minute skyline excursions give you a unique view of the city’s landmarks or run the Chicago Lakefront Trail, spanning 19 miles along the Lake Michigan coast. Go to the Green Mill, Capone’s old stomping grounds, before taking a Chicago Gangsters Tour, or if you’re a foodie, definitely take a Chicago food tour, where you sample the Windy City’s famous pizza – in fact, there’s a whole tour dedicated just to the pies. Explore the Art Institute, visit homes designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, and catch a Cubs game to get the true vibe of the city.



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While hip and action-packed Indianapolis is the obvious choice when visiting the Hoosier state, Indiana offers a surprising range of other attractions. Indiana Dunes National Park hugs the shoreline, spanning 15 miles and 15,000 acres of hiking and biking trails, flora and fauna, and marshes to kayak. Stroll Dune Succession Trail or bike the Dunes-Kankakee Trail. Explore the local wineries, visit the Old Lighthouse Museum, and stroll the Friendship Botanical Gardens while Indiana summer is in full bloom. Before the sun goes down, take a walk on the pier to the Washington Park Lighthouse and enjoy the beach before setting sail for a sunset cruise on Lake Michigan on the Emita II, with live music and drinks courtesy of Harbor Country Adventures.  



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Iowa may not have the glitz and glamor of the states on either coast, but it has plenty to do and to see. Road trip it to Effigy Mounds National Monument for a dose of Native American Culture, hit Dubuque and take a riverboat cruise on the Mississippi, visit the Field of Dreams site in Dyersville, go to Maquoketa caves State Park, recreate at Backbone State Park, and end your road trip in Cedar Rapids, where you can visit the Art Museum and explore the fun and funky Czech Village and New Bohemia neighborhoods.



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Forget the “Wizard of Oz” jokes – Wichita is a totally cosmopolitan city with all the attractions you’d expect in a more sophisticated locale. The Wichita Art Museum features a collection of American art with an outdoor sculpture trail, Botanica, the Wichita Gardens, which comes to life with thousands of blooms in springtime and includes spaces dedicated to Shakespeare, butterflies, wildflowers, and a Chinese Garden, situated along the Arkansas River. Also along the river is Exploration Place, dedicated to exploring science; the Mid-America All-Indian Museum; and the Old Cowtown Museum, where you can experience Wichita like it’s 1865.



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Louisville is full of American classics like the Kentucky Derby, Louisville Slugger, and Kentucky Bourbon. In Louisville, the Kentucky Derby is celebrated year-round at Churchill Downs, where you can tour the grounds and visit the museum (fascinator optional). The Belle of Louisville is the oldest operating steamboat still kicking, and you can actually visit the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory. Famous for its bourbon — so much so that it’s created a trail with more than 35 stops, where you can get a bourbon passport stamped for visiting each locale —  a springtime visit to Kentucky is a sure bet for a good time.



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Spring is the season of Mardi Gras in New Orleans but there’s so much more to do beyond the krewes and parades of Bourbon Street. Sailing on a steamboat like the Natchez to the tunes of jazz is a quintessential New Orleans excursion, as is riding the St. Charles Streetcar through the Garden District and taking a walking tour of the grandiose homes in the neighborhood. As one of the oldest cities in the country, NOLA is known for its sordid history – learn all about it on a ghost tour of the French Quarter — or a Voodoo tour, which will also visit the city’s famed St. Louis Cemeteries, the final resting places of many of its most well-known residents. Obviously, if you’re not eating along the way, you’re doing it wrong – sampling local oysters, gumbo, po’boys, Sazeracs, jambalaya, beignets, and shrimp and grits comes with the territory.  



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Even though this northeasternmost state is renowned for its fall foliage, Maine in the summer is like no other. Go lighthouse hopping along the coast, take an overnight trip in a historic schooner with Maine Windjammer, go on a whale watching tour, go blueberry picking (and then enjoy blueberry desserts), take a kayak out on the water, enjoy the beach, and try to spot puffins and moose. Selfie opportunities are in abundance here, from  Paul Bunyan to the giant duck boot at the L.L. Bean store, and taking a craft beer tour of Portland, going to a clambake, and eating a whoopie pie, Maine’s signature dessert, should be on your to-do list, too.



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Washington, D.C. offers a range of things to do any time of year, but springtime, when the cherry trees spanning the length of the National Mall are in full bloom, is famously a good time to visit. With the city swathed in hues of pink, celebrate the National Cherry Blossom Festival or simply take advantage of the natural beauty while you visit monuments like the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and the White House. Museums are also plentiful on Capitol Hill, including the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the National Gallery of Art, and the Smithsonian. Beyond our nation’s capital, Maryland offers plenty of other springtime activities: Sherwood Gardens in Baltimore has 80,000 tulips in bloom (you can also tour the city by water taxi with a stop at the National Aquarium), pick berries at one of the area’s farms, and don’t miss hitting stops on Maryland’s Crab & Oyster Trail.



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September is by far the most beautiful time to visit Cape Cod, when the throng of summer tourists have gone home but the weather is still enjoyable. In Provincetown, there are ample ways to explore the Cape’s natural beauty, from Art’s Dune Tours that take you across the dunes of the Cape Cod National Seashore (which you can also cycle parts of), to walking out on the jetty during low tide to Woodend Lighthouse, or up the steps of the Pilgrim Monument. Making a trip to the cobblestone streets of Boston for a bite to eat (try pizza at Regina’s or Legal Seafood fare), some Fanueil Hall shopping, or a Sox game is also highly recommended, as is fully immersing in spooky season in Salem.



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If you’ve ever dreamed of going to the Netherlands to see tulips in bloom, it turns out you don’t even have to leave the states. Holland, Michigan is the home of the Tulip Time Festival, a local tradition for almost a century, where the city is chock full of flowers in bloom. At Nelis’ Dutch Village, you can see wooden shoe carving and Delft blue tile painting plus traditional architecture and living history interpretations. The area is also home to two working windmills that actually produce flour: De Zwaan and Windmill Island. The coastal areas of Mackinac Island, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore are always popular, even if the temps aren’t quite summer-level yet, and the state as a whole offers outdoor recreation, historical and cultural experiences, and family-friendly fun of all kinds.



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Minnestota’s Twin Cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis offer a wide variety of things to enjoy, from a 53-foot waterfall amid limestone bluffs in Minnehaha Park, the Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum (a unique stainless steel building filled with global modern art), the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory, and the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, which features over 1,100 acres of plants for northern climates, plus miles of walking and cross-country skiing trails. A myriad of state parks and outdoor recreation areas exist across Minnesota, including north-of-Minneapolis St. Cloud’s sprawling Munsinger Gardens.



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Oxford, the home of Ole Miss, is a fun and funky college town that’s known for its arts and literature – and football. Even if you miss out on the tailgate at the Grove, springtime is a special season in Oxford, as April and May are reportedly the most comfortable months, climate-wise, to stay for a spell. The Square, as the historic town square is colloquially known, is full of shops and boutiques, restaurants, and galleries, and the Ford Performing Arts Center brings talent from around the country for theater, dance, and musical performances of all types. Oxford is a major culinary destination, too, where the restaurants of John Currence (with a dose of famous southern hospitality) reign supreme. One visit to the area and you’ll understand why its nickname is “the velvet ditch,” so-called because it is so comfortable that once you stay, it gets hard to leave.



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St. Joseph was once the gateway to the Western frontier (locals like to say it’s “Where the West began and Jesse James ended”) and today is home to 14 museums, including the macabre Glore Psychiatric Museum; several historic districts filled with gilded age mansions (including those converted to themed B&Bs featuring Harry Potter, whiskey, and Shakespeare), and is the one-time home of the Pony Express and Jesse James. While there, you can drink beer in a pre-Prohibition era brewery, River Bluff Brewing, eat a tenderloin (the town is the self-proclaimed Tenderloin Capital of the World), and treat yourself to a Cherry Mash, which originated there.



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It’s summertime in Montana, the season for fishing, hiking, and all-around great getaway weather, and you’re going to a ranch. And not one of those chichi ranches that cost thousands for the week – at Kombol Ranch, you’re going to get your hands dirty and live like the locals. The Kombols homesteaded their property – with its sweeping plains views and scenic bluffs – in 1909 and are still ranching the same land four generations later, but they welcome a few select guests each season just like family. The summer cattle drive is a highlight in the annual schedule, where it’s just you on your horse on the prairie with a couple hundred head of cattle.



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Nebraska’s self-deprecating tagline, “Honestly, it’s not for everyone,” really couldn’t be further from the truth, especially for travelers who enjoy road trips, a taste of the old west, and genuine hospitality. The state’s northwest corner is especially interesting, where Lake McConaughy is a surprisingly beautiful place to boat, fish, camp and enjoy a beach in an otherwise land-locked region. In Ogallala, Mansion on the Hill (plus its one-room schoolhouse and historic cemetery) is worth a stop before dinner at Open Range Grill, where farm fresh burgers are on the menu. In Alliance, Carhenge is a replica of Stonehenge made with cars, while nearby Dobby’s Frontier Town, a collection of buildings filled with antiques, replicates the days of the Old West. At Fort Robinson State Park, take a horseback ride over bluffs to sweeping views, explore the multicultural history of the former fort, visit the dino bones at the University of Nebraska State Museum, and have a bison burger at the restaurant: made from the park’s own herd, it couldn’t be more farm to table.



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Reno-Tahoe gets overshadowed by Vegas’ glittering strip, but nestled in the mountains and surrounded by natural beauty, it combines beautiful surroundings with history and entertainment. Step back in time with a visit to Virginia City, an Old West mining boom town where you can shop at the mercantile and have a whiskey at the saloon. North Lake Tahoe is home to numerous beaches and recreation areas, including Kings Beach and Sand Harbor State Park that are pristine and picturesque. This is just the tip of the iceberg, as Reno has its own casinos and nightlife to rival anything in Vegas.

New Hampshire


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Fall foliage? Check. Covered Bridges? Check. Quaint Bed & Breakfast? Check. Of all the states in New England, New Hampshire claims to be the most beautiful, and when you peep Franconia Notch State Park’s fall foliage, you might agree. Inside of White Mountain National Park, it’s connected by a parkway (if you opt to start with a scenic drive) and is a popular spot to camp, swim, boat, fish, picnic, and cycle. It also offers the Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway, a 8-minute ride to the pinnacle of the peak. Stay at the charming Sugar Hill Inn, located just ten minutes from the park.

New Jersey


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The funny thing about reality TV shows is that they bear no resemblance to reality – case in point, the show Jersey Shore, which is nothing like the real Jersey Shore, a 141-mile oceanfront on the Atlantic. Long Beach Island, aka LBI, is an 18-mile long barrier island marked by Barnegat Lighthouse on one end and the community of Beach Haven at the other. Historic Beach Haven offers sun, surf, and sand, but also the charming historic district that includes the island’s first homes and the Long Beach Island Historical Society. Pedestrian-friendly Beach Avenue is where you’ll find the Crêperie de la Mer, a charming crepe shop and The Showplace Ice Cream Parlor. Bay Avenue is where to find Fantasy Island Amusement Park, which is fun for all ages and one of the island’s most popular restaurants, the Chicken and the Egg, where the wings are legendary.

New Mexico


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Driving the High Road from Santa Fe to Taos during the fall as the aspen trees turn from green to gold is so alluring, it’s easy to see why so many artists have been drawn to New Mexico’s breathtaking and unique landscapes. Fall in Santa Fe means the smell of piñon in the air, staying at the La Fonda or the swanky Bishop’s Lodge, taking in the art at the Indian Market, the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, or Meow Wolf, deciding whether you prefer green chile, red chile, or Christmas-style, and marveling at the Loretto Chapel. Take a cooking class at Red Mesa Cuisine and catch the Santa Fe Opera, then take a side trip to Chimayo for an authentically New Mexican experience and soak in the hot springs at Ojo Caliente on the way to enchanting Taos.

New York


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While much has been said about New York City in the spring, summer, and fall (in songs, at least), there’s nothing like the Big Apple during the holiday season. Stroll down 5th Avenue to see the creative and fantastical window displays, go skating at the Bryant Park Winter Village, visit the tree in Rockefeller Plaza, and go see the Rockettes perform their annual tradition, the Christmas Spectacular, at Radio City Music Hall. Get into the spirit with a Cocoa & Carols cruise, do some shopping at Macy’s, and watch the ball drop in Times Square on New Year’s Eve as you welcome in the new year with “Christmas in New York City” checked off your list.

North Carolina


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If you’ve ever wanted to feel like you’re smack in the middle of a Hallmark Christmas movie, Charlotte, North Carolina is worth visiting during the holiday season. Start in McAdenville, aka Christmastown U.S.A., where residents decorate their homes with more than 500,000 holiday lights. The Southern Christmas Show is a huge event with live music, holiday treats, and all the gift items you can imagine. Ice skate at the Whitewater Center, catch a performance of the Nutcracker, and visit the Christmas Village, a European-style Christkindlmarkt. Plus, if you’re still craving some quality seaside time, the coast is only a few hours away by car and won’t have any of the summer crowds.

North Dakota


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Characterized by rolling hills and plains, Bismarck, the state capital, is full of history and culture. Once the stomping grounds of Lewis and Clark, visitors today enjoy the North Dakota Heritage Center and State Museum, tracing the state’s history and people; while Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park offers a look back at Mandan earth lodges and early frontier forts in living history fashion, plus numerous ways to enjoy the area’s natural beauty including cabins and camping, hiking and bike trails, and horseback riding. The area’s Native American influence is seen today at powwows, another popular event that happens at various times and locations throughout the year. These colorful gatherings feature dancing, food, and Native American artisans.  The state as a whole has over 400 lakes, too, meaning fishing and cooling off with watersports is available all season long.



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Cuyahoga Valley National Park, near Cleveland, isn’t one that you hear about the way you do Yellowstone or the Smokies, but it’s one of the best places in the state to see changing fall foliage. Rent a bike at Century Cycles and cycle the Towpath Trail, then hop aboard the vintage train on the way back, giving yourself two unique ways to see the changing colors. If you’d rather hike (and get some excellent photo ops), check out Blue Hen Falls, a particularly pretty place when it’s covered in bright falling leaves. The park has about two-dozen designated picnic areas, some with grills and tables, access to water, and other facilities.



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When the U.S. was still largely a territory, it participated in a land grab and the illegal relocation of countless Native American tribes, communities, and people, forcibly moving them to what is now Oklahoma. Known as the Trail of Tears, modern day visitors can experience numerous attractions dedicated to Native American Culture even as we still grapple with restitution. In Oklahoma City, the First Americans Museum offers interactive exhibits about the history of 39 tribes. Durant’s Choctaw Cultural Center explores the 14,000-year history of the tribe, while the Chickasaw Cultural Center in Sulphur documents the Chickasaw people. Don’t miss the Spiro Mounds Archeological Center, offering an insight into ancient life. Why visit in summer? Late summer is the best time to avoid seasonal tornadoes (unless storm chasing is your jam), plus longer hours of daylight give you more time to explore monuments at different times of the day.



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Willamette Valley is Oregon’s wine country, but there are so many unique ways to explore the area that don’t involve sitting in a tasting room. Summer, when the vines are just starting to get heavy with fruit and the weather is warm is a great time to explore the region. You can visit wineries on horseback, hike the Trail of Ten Falls in Silver Falls State Park, enjoy a farm dinner (with local wine pairings, natch), go berry picking, visit the coast, or ride through the area’s trail of covered bridges. There are more than 600 wineries in the Willamette Valley, but there are also breweries, cideries, and distilleries, incredible award-winning restaurants, and farm stands galore so you can bring some of the flavor home with you. And even though it feels like you’re in another world, Willamette Valley is less than an hour from Portland, so you can still get a dose of everything the quirky, hip city has to offer.



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The city of brotherly love (aka Philadelphia) has a pivotal role in our nation’s founding story and makes a great destination for anyone interested in America’s formative years. While winter can be cold and snowy and summers so hot and humid you wonder why anyone decided to start a country there, spring hits different. The city is full of cherry trees in bloom, making a visit to the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall that much more enchanting. If you’re a history buff, choose a museum to explore on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Fans of pop culture won’t want to miss a photo-op at the LOVE sculpture and taking a selfie on the steps Rocky made famous. Visitors won’t want to miss trying a Philly cheese steak sandwich, sampling the wares at the Reading Terminal Market, one of the country’s oldest; or even making reservations at one of the city’s many James Beard-Award winning restaurants.

Rhode Island


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Newport was once the playground of Gilded Age millionaires, whose mansions, many of which can be seen today as museums, line Bellevue Avenue. Take in ocean views and famed estates like The Breakers, Marble House, Rosecliff, and others on The Cliff Walk, which will be far less busy than when summer visitors begin to roll in. Dine at the White Horse, the oldest tavern in the country, where you can order Rhode Island-style clam chowder and don’t miss having a cocktail on the rooftop lounge at the Vanderbilt Hotel. Newport was the longtime home of America’s Cup, a regatta that’s the pinnacle of yachting, but you can take your own excursion with champagne in hand on a Lighthouse and Mimosa Tour with Classic Cruises of Newport.

South Carolina


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Going to Hilton Head in the dead of winter is contrary to what most people do, but it’s this off-season time that reveals some of the island’s most beautiful traits. The island has 64 miles of paved pathways for visitors to cycle on and the island is home to more than 200 species of birds (pro tip: get your bird nerd card by taking a tour at the Audubon-Newhall Preserve). Another popular activity is taking a dolphin tour or the educational loggerhead turtle workshop – the endangered species lays its eggs on the beach each year. Hilton Head also has a nature preserve and a wildlife refuge (both offer horseback riding or kayaking as a means of exploration) and if you run out of things to do, there’s always the beach.

South Dakota


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Home to dramatic landscapes, iconic national monuments, a rich history, and plentiful outdoor adventure, South Dakota is a quintessential American destination. The western region is home to sites like Mount Rushmore and Historic Deadwood, plus the largest concentration of national parks, monuments, and caves in the Midwest. The Black Hills (known for its biker mecca, Sturgis) and Badlands National Park draw travelers from around the world, while the northeast part of the state is where to find the historic Laura Ingalls Wilder Homestead and the Shakespeare Garden/Anne Hathaway cottage. The monuments that put South Dakota on the map are known as the “Great 8”: Mount Rushmore, Badlands National Park, Crazy Horse Memorial, Historic Deadwood, Custer State Park, Jewel Cave National Monument, Wind Cave National Monument, and the Missouri River.



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Knoxville, known as the Gateway to the Smokies, offers a great jumping off point to really get lost for a few days – and mild autumn is the best season to do it in. Beer lovers won’t want to sleep on a tour with Knox Brew Tours to visit many of the area’s local craft breweries or catch a performance of live music – some say the Knox music scene is even better than Nashville. Locals love Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness, offering 1,000 acres to get outdoors an play right within city limits. Just down the road, the fall foliage in the Great Smoky Mountians is legendary, making it the best time to visit (plus, you’ll avoid the summer crowds). Check in at Spacious Skies at Belle Ridge, a unique hybrid of RV campground, tiny houses, and glamping tents located near Monterey and the Catoosa Wildlife Management Area. On more than 500 private acres, you can discover waterfall hikes and caves, ride a UTV, jump in a swimming hole, or just tell tall tales.



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Texas lives up to its larger-than-life reputation by not doing anything halfway. Hill Country – known for the breathtaking fields of Texas bluebonnets in bloom – is between Houston and Austin, making either city an option as a homebase. Not only is springtime in Texas full of picturesque foliage, but you avoid summer’s oppressive heat and winter’s chilly, wet weather. For a different experience, head north to Lubbock. Stay at the Cotton Court Hotel, peruse the public art collection (including the city’s mural trail) at Texas Tech, and visit the arts district. Don’t sleep on sampling Texas wines either (check out McPherson’s)  – this low-key wine region could be the next Napa.  



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If Greater Zion has the reputation as being the stomping ground for adrenaline junkies (it is the home of the IRONMAN, after all), don’t fret – you don’t have to go agro to enjoy the second-most visited National Park in the country. Zion’s dramatic seasons mean chilling winters, surprise spring storms and blazing hot summers – but a fall visit means mild weather perfect for exploring. Book a tent at Under Canvas, a premier glamping outfit, spend a day of relaxation at the Cable Mountain Spa, take a hike to Mystery Falls, or ride horseback through the canyon. Don’t miss the Canyon Overlook and sunset at Lava Point. At the Kentaya Art Village, shop for local creations and have lunch at the Xetava Gardens Cafe.



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Snow-lined paths cutting through Vermont villages look like a Currier and Ives print, and there’s no place in the country that’s better to cozy up in a cabin. In Vermont during the winter, you can ski at one of the many mountains, explore the region’s scenic covered bridges, take a horse-drawn carriage ride through the snow (jingle bells included), and for a fully bucolic scene, stay at the Trapp Family Lodge (yes, the same von Trapps from The Sound of Music).



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Central Virginia is full of history and the landmarks that go along with it, but today’s travelers will want to hone in on its greatest resource – its ample agritourism offerings. There are more than 30 wineries in the area (Afton Mountain has on-site cottages, too), plus breweries, distilleries, pick-your-own farms, restaurants that focus on regional cuisine using locally sourced ingredients, and hiking, fishing, and historic sites, all with the backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains.



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While some consider a visit to Whidbey Island a day trip from Seattle, it’s a unique escape all its own. Take the scenic ferry ride and stay at the Captain Whidbey Inn, a 113-year-old rustic yet upscale abode, and explore the natural landscapes around the island: Deception Pass State Park, where you can see towering cliffs and driftwood strewn beaches, hike for miles, or take an artsy retreat at the Earth Sanctuary, where you can channel your spiritual energy while walking a labyrinth. Explore the villages of Langley, Oak Harbor, and Coupeville for unique boutiques full of handmade items created by local artisans and check out the offerings at the multiple farm stands dotting the island.

West Virginia


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“Almost heaven…” is a lot to live up to, but if it seems like this is over-promising, just wait – West Virginia does not disappoint. The state has an undiscovered vibe – but that’s changing with the development of its natural spaces for recreational enjoyment.  At Snowshoe, enjoy the resort during the summer months – ride the gondola, get a massage at the spa, hike, bike, horseback ride, and paddleboard, and explore the village. Don’t miss dinner at Appalachian Kitchen in the Corduroy Inn, serving locally-sourced ingredients for its Appalachian regional-style cuisine (with a mountain view for good measure).



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Cooler temperatures, mild weather, lush foliage, and abundant outdoor recreation opportunities make summer the best season to visit Wisconsin. Door County offers visitors a slice of Americana on a peninsula jutting into Lake Michigan, featuring nearly 30 beaches, 10 lighthouses, five state parks, and about a dozen quaint towns along 300 miles of shoreline. Ellison Bay’s Hillside Inn offers a luxe yet affordable retreat (don’t miss the homemade root beer and deep-fried cheese curds at nearby diner Wilson’s). Explore boardwalk pathways at The Ridges Sanctuary, hike or bike Peninsula State Park, kayak at Cave Point Park or explore with your tastebuds with a fish boil at Rowley’s Bay Resort, nosh on Swedish treats (and peep the goats on the roof) at Al Johnson’s, enjoy cherry pie from a local you-pick stand, and have the area’s signature drink, the Old Fashioned, along with a supper club dinner and a round of bowling at Sister Bay Bowl.



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Wyoming is known for its harsh environment and rugged residents, for ritzy Jackson Hole, rodeos in Cheyenne, and as the gateway to Yellowstone. But Casper, which is less than a day’s drive from Denver, Salt Lake, Rapid City, and Bozeman, is a lesser-known but not-to-be-missed destination. Historically, Casper was a stop on the crossroads of the Oregon Trail and the Pony Express. Cute and quirky, The C’mon Inn has a buffet breakfast and a lobby fountain flanked by a series of hot tubs and a pool. Step back in time at the National Historic Trails Interpretive Center, which tells the story of those who crossed the frontier; take an authentic wagon ride with Historic Trails West, and don’t miss Fort Caspar, a reconstructed 1865 outpost that was pivotal in the area’s history. Nature lovers will enjoy The Tate Geological Museum’s collection of dinosaur bones, the seasonal programming at the Casper Planetarium, and a waterfall hike up Casper Mountain. Downtown, check out The Nicolaysen Art Museum, peruse downtown shops like the iconic western wear store Lou Taubert Ranch Outfitters, and treat yourself to an ice cream sundae at the old-school Rialto Ice Cream Parlor.

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