America the Beautiful: Bucket List Destinations in Every State

Summer vacation means more than just taking time off to relax or catch up on household projects. And if you are planning a trip, ignore the urge to jet to the same old spot you’ve been visiting for years.
Imagine how people lived more than 10,000 years ago at Russell Cave National Monument in Bridgeport, Ala., along the state’s northern border. The cave is one of the oldest known prehistoric settlements in the United States.Walk the boardwalk into the cave and marvel at the beautiful view.
No trip to Alaska would be complete without visiting Denali — at 20,310 feet, it’s the highest peak in North America. A $10 entrance fee gets you into the park.
Heralded as one of the wonders of the natural world, the Grand Canyon is nothing less than breathtaking. There’s more than one way to see this bucket list destination.
As if the Ozark Mountains weren’t beautiful enough, Eureka Springs, Ark., brims with Victorian and other historic architecture lining its winding mountain streets. In fact, the entire downtown is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Dramatic granite mountains, plummeting waterfalls and immense sequoias characterize Yosemite National Park ($30 per vehicle), making it a must-see bucket list destination for the state. If you don’t make it during the summer, visit during the last two weeks of February tosee one of the most breathtaking sights: Horsetail Falls blazes as if made from liquid fire when the last rays of setting sun reflect on it.
Visit Dinosaur National Monument in Dinosaur, Colo., to ramp up the adventure in your summer travel. For $20 per vehicle, you can see dinosaur footprints and relics, but don’t turn around and leave after you do.
Visit a chain of 365 islands in and around the harbor of Stony Creek in Branford, Conn., some of which are decked out with historic mansions that date to the 1800s. Take a boat tour among the Thimble Islands, hop a ferry ($7.50 each way) or paddle a kayak from the community of Stony Creek.
Delaware might be one of the smaller states in the U.S. but it’s got big history. Known as The First State, here you’ll uncover history dating back to colonial times.
Dry Tortugas National Park is one of the best destinations to get away from it all. Set 70 miles west of Key West, the island park includes Fort Jefferson on Garden Key, one of the largest 19th-century forts in the U.S.Pay $10 to enter, and plan to spend a few days camping at $15 per night.
For years, the words “See Rock City” painted on 900 barns from Michigan to Texas piqued travelers’ curiosities. Rock City, the attraction in question, is on Lookout Mountain, just across the border from Chattanooga, Tenn., and is well worth including as a bucket list destination ($19.95 per person).The whimsical and extensive gardens run through caverns, behind a waterfall and to vistas spanning views into seven states.
Snow in Hawaii? Yes, you read that right.
Hagerman Fossil Beds, in Hagerman, Idaho, is one of the best vacation spots to learn about prehistoric life — and it doesn’t cost a dime to visit. Uncover facts about stone-age creatures like giant sloths, saber-tooth cats, camels and bears that once called Idaho home.
Summer travel isn’t complete without seeing the world’s largest something. Get your annual fix at the country’s best destination for all things big and tall.
Explore the world’s longest navigable underground river at Bluespring Caverns ($18 per person), in Bedford, Ind. The complete darkness is illuminated only by the sphere of light that surrounds your boat as you pass through.
Grab your pitchfork and overalls and put on your best dour expression when you travel to this bucket list destination. The American Gothic House in Eldon, Iowa, is the backdrop to the famous painting by Grant Wood.
Visit a small monument and chapel outside Lebanon, Kan., and you can say you visited the geographic center of the United States in your summer travels. The tiny white chapel and stone monument contrast against a green rural backdrop of Americana.
If your summer travel plans don’t include a trip to Niagara Falls, consider heading to the “Niagara of the South.” Cumberland Falls State Resort Park, near Corbin, Ky., houses a showy waterfall that offers something not found anywhere else in the Western Hemisphere.
If you’re a fan of wine and craft beer, don’t miss New Orleans’ trail of libations. The city is commonly thought to be the birthplace of the cocktail.
Include Mount Desert Island in your summer travel and you’ll be scratching two superlatives off your bucket list destinations at once. The island is home to the tallest mountain on the U.S. Atlantic coast, Cadillac Mountain, where the sun shines before anywhere else in the U.S.It’s also home to the first eastern national park, Acadia National Park, which has an entrance fee of $25 per vehicle.
If the “Misty of Chincoteague” series by Marguerite Henry captivated your imagination as a child, Assateague Island National Seashore ($20 per vehicle) is your best