Passport’s list of the most beautiful destination in each state is guaranteed to inspire wanderlust in everyone. This time around we visit New England shores, the Great Lakes, and even a stunning cave in the Ozarks. Read on to discover the most beautiful places in America, from Massachusetts to New Jersey.
Cape Cod National Seashore
The Cape Cod National Seashore encompasses 40 miles of protected, gorgeous coastline. From sandy beaches to oceanside cliffs, historic lighthouses to old WWII facilities, the seashore is filled with natural beauty and fascinating history. One unique oddity of the region is the dune shacks. These tiny cottages were popular with writers and artists looking to find inspiration from the area’s beauty. The shacks have been occupied by the likes of Jack Kerouac, E. E. Cummings, and playwright Eugene O’Neill, among many others. To this day, artists and writers still live in the shacks, thanks to residency programs for up-and-coming talent.
Sleeping Bear Dunes
In northwestern Michigan lies the Sleeping Bear Dunes. This region is protected by the IUCN for its natural wonders. The area contains forests, islands, beaches, and massive sand dunes that rise up from Lake Michigan. During the summer, it’s a great place for hiking, swimming, and boating. And in the winter, the icy dunes shimmer like a winter wonderland, with snow-covered pine trees, giant icebergs, and even a chance to spot the northern lights.
Voyageurs National Park
Dedicated to the French fur trappers (the voyageurs) who originally settled the area, the National Park encompasses a vast area of northern Minnesota. Voyageurs has so many lakes, rivers, and streams, it’s almost as much water as it is land. It’s perfect for kayaking, canoeing, and fishing in the warmer months, and snowmobiling and cross-country skiing in the winter. The state is known as the “Land of 10,000 Lakes” for a reason.
Tupelo Bald Cypress Swamp
Have you ever seen the images of those trees that grow straight out of the swamp water? Those are bald cypress trees. They’re beautiful and mysterious, and the Tupelo Bald Cypress Swamp is dedicated to preserving their habitat. Hikers will love the boardwalks and suspended bridges throughout the park. Keep your eyes peeled and you’ll even spot alligators and other swamp life. Bald cypress trees are also known for their stunning fall foliage. Visit during late autumn and experience the bold contrast of green swamp water and fiery orange cypress leaves.
The Onondaga Cave in Missouri was formed from the volcanic activity in the Ozark region long ago. Now, the cave is famous for its well-preserved rock formations including the “lily pad” locks that peek above the shallow pools that fill the cave. Above ground, visitors will find steep cliffs and tree-lined valleys. It’s a gorgeous destination both above and below.
Located in Glacier National Park, Lake McDonald is the largest lake in the area. It sits high in the mountains, almost 7,000 feet above sea level. The lake is also extremely deep, over 470 feet. The water is crisp, clean, and refreshing, and the lake is surrounded on all sides by the majestic snow-capped Rocky Mountains. It’s the kind of place that truly makes you feel like you’re on top of the world.
Scott’s Bluff National Monument
Scot’s Bluff is a giant rock formation that helped guide pioneering travelers. The bluff served as an important landmark and way marker for the Oregon Trail and the Pony Express. It’s estimated that some 250,000 people emigrated past the monument looking for a better life out west. The protected area is home to not only the monument, but also the nearby badlands, bluffs, prairies, and preserved sections of the historic Overland Trail.
Hiking, biking, skiing, snowboarding, diving, boating, kayaking, rock climbing, roadtripping, golfing…there’s a reason why Lake Tahoe is world-famous. It’s an outdoorsman’s paradise. Everything you could ever want is right there at your fingertips, all surrounding a lake that’s more than 6,000 feet above sea level. Better yet, upscale resorts, modest hotels, vacation rentals, and even campgrounds surround the lake, making it the perfect destination for every type of traveler. Come for the adventure, stay for the spa treatment.
When you think of perilous mountaintops, you probably think about the mountains out west, but did you know America’s most erratic mountain is actually located in New Hampshire? Mount Washington is a notorious beast. High winds, blinding snowstorms, and unpredictable temperature fluctuations have given the mountain a fearsome reputation. In fact, wind speeds have even been clocked in as fast as 231 mph! But in the chaos lies beauty and wonder. And with guided tours and excursions, you can safely visit the mountain even with minimal survival skills.
Paterson Great Falls
The Paterson Great Falls are not only a phenomenal natural wonder, but they also helped usher in the industrial revolution in America. In 1778, Alexander Hamilton visited the falls and saw their potential for powering mills. It was commissioned that a town be erected nearby and that the falls’ hydropower be used to run the paper mills, locomotive factories, and more. Today, visitors can see the epic falls along with the remnants of the old town. There’s even a bridge built over the falls that offers incredible views.