50 Fantastic Places to Visit
1. Independence Rock State Historic Site, Alcova, Wyoming
Towering above the Sweetwater River about 53 miles south-west of Casper is the treasure trove of pioneer history, the monolithic Independence Rock, on which settlers heading west left their marks for prosperity. Also known as the "register of the desert" the large rock outcropping is situated at 6028 feet above sea level and is more than a mile around. A mile further south-west is an impressive natural monument known as Devil's Gate. Probably the closest RV pickup depot in Wyoming, is our Jackson Hole depot.
2. Disneyland Resort, Anaheim, California
The make-believe world of Disneyland opened in 1955 and is a combination of theme rides, recreated worlds and cultures, and film shows, all mingled with eating and shopping. It is possible to cover the entire grounds from opening to closing, but there’s an RV park on site, which makes it easier to spread your visit over two days if you’re on a more relaxed schedule. If you’re on limited time or budgets it’s advisable to understand the layout of Disneyland in advance and plan to hit the most popular attractions before lines get too long.
3. Ocean One Pier, Atlantic City
Ocean One has attracted visitors since 1906 when Captain John Young opened his famous Million Dollar Pier at this location. The Boardwalk is the most famous and most popular attraction in Atlantic City. All the main attractions line this eight-foot wide, four-mile long stretch of wood that was built in 1970 along the shores of the ocean. The boardwalk can be explored on foot, by bike or in the legendary rolling chair, a large whicker chair that is pushed by an attendant like a rickshaw (at 1605 The Boardwalk).
4. Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia
The Arlington National Cemetery is where some of the most famous people in the United States are buried. There’s a visitor's center that features maps, books, and various exhibits. The cemetery is spread over 600 acres, immaculately maintained, and very active with over 100 burials taking place each week. It can be visited on self-guided tour, or via a paid tour shuttle leaving from the visitor's center.
5. Adventureland Park, Altoona, Iowa
A theme park that re-creates the late 19th and early 20th century Iowa, featuring Main Street, River City, Last Frontier and Alpine Village. Over 100 shows, attractions and rides are available. Great if you're after a fun-filled historic experience the kids will enjoy too!
6. Hoover Dam, Nevada
Holding back the Colorado River and Lake Mead, Hoover Dam is a feat of engineering and an impressive sight. Built from 1931 to 1936 in a concrete gravity-arch design, the dam is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1985. 30miles south of Las Vegas, significant traffic delays are possible as construction of a bypass, scheduled to be completed in 2010, is ongoing.
7. Napa Valley, California
Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley are the best-known and largest vine-growing areas in California. Viticulture, introduced into California about 1825 by Spanish Franciscans, was developed to its present high standard by growers from Germany, Alsace, France, Hungary and Italy. As well as experiencing the viticulture of this region you can also visit White Sulphur Springs, Old Faithful Geyser, or Napa Valley Museum so it's a wonderful area to visit by motorhome.
8. Apalachicola, Florida
This charming town in the Panhandle of the state has a fascinating old Historic District and is also the centre of Florida's oyster fisheries. Near the town are the offshore St George Island with its gorgeous beaches; St Vincent Island, a nature reserve (turtles, various species of birds); and the beautiful unspoiled St Joseph Peninsula. If you love nature drive your motorhome up to the Apalachicola National Estuarine Reserve and the Apalachicola National Forest. On the southern edge of the Apalachicola Forest is the historic Fort Gadsden.
9. Grand Canyon, Arizona
Created by the Colorado River, the Grand Canyon was once described as “the grandest place on God's earth”. The jaw-dropping magnitude of this canyon, its beauty, its structure, and colors leave even the most worldy visitors awestruck. Since the Grand Canyon is at times overrun by tourists it is recommended to book a camp site and to apply for the "backcountry permit" you need for hiking in the Park in plenty of time – even months in advance, if you’re planning on going during the main holiday season.
10. Birch Aquarium at Scripps, La Jolla, California
The Scripps Aquarium is the oldest and biggest American marine institute and employs a staff of 1,000 scientists and other personnel. It belongs to the Institute of Oceanography, part of the University of California since 1912. The aquarium’s mission is to provide ocean science education, to interpret oceanography research, and to promote ocean conservation. The aquarium, which has 300,000 visitors every year, portrays marine life in the coastal waters and research progress is displayed across 22 tanks.
11. Sausalito, Marin County, California
This former fishing village on San Francisco Bay at the northern end of the Golden Gate Bridge is a charming place to take a detour to in your RV. Originally it was a port for whale-hunters and other trading ships, today it’s inhabited mainly by commuters from San Francisco. The numerous house-boats which line the harbor today have become the symbol of Sausalito and the narrow streets, full of little corners and some linked to others by wooden steps, add to its appeal. There are lots of art galleries and a pretty view of San Francisco.
12. Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, Miami, Florida
Formerly the home of early 20th century industrialist James Deering and built in 1916, this mansion features 34 rooms surrounding a central courtyard. The 28-acre estate and Italian Renaissance-style villa is filled with European furniture and decorative arts from the 15th to 19th century and the gardens showcase multiple beautiful of Italian and French fountains, pools and sculptures.
13. Key West, Florida
The southernmost city in the continental U.S., Key West features a unique mixture of cultural influences and has a colorful history. The food is Afro-Caribbean and Spanish and there’s a tropical, laid-back feel, enhanced by the Caribbean-influenced architecture – some houses are built out of coral-rock or salvaged ship-boards from shipwrecks, and others straight from the Bahamas. Key West’s sunsets are world-famous and the town is a haven for the arty and bohemian - many well-known writers have lived there, including Ernest Hemingway, Robert Frost and Tennessee Williams.
14. Sears Tower Skydeck, Chicago, Illinois
Until 1996 the 110-story, 1453-foot Sears Tower was the world's tallest office block. While there are now at least three taller buildings, the view from here is still a must-see. On a clear day you can see up to 50 miles over four states, and get a bird's eye view of Chicago's distinctive architecture. The SkyDeck observation area, where you can also experience interactive exhibits is on the 103rd floor - 1,353 feet above the ground.
15. Ebbett’s Pass Scenic Byway, California
Stand amongst some of the oldest and largest living things on earth – Calaveras Big Trees State Park contains the northernmost grove of giant sequioias (sierra redwoods) in the country. Some of the trees are over 250 feet tall, up to 25 feet in diameter and up to 2000 years old, making for a magnificent RV scenic drive.
16. Space Center / NASA, Houston, Texas
25 miles south-east of Houston is the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, home of the world-famous Mission Control, the monitoring centre for all NASA-manned space flights. There’s an excellent Visitor Orientation Center with a space exhibition that includes films, models, astronauts' rations, samples of moon rock and objects from the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo-manned space programs. You can try on astronauts' helmets, steer a simulated spacecraft and possibly even meet a real astronaut.
17. Kitt Peak National Observatory, Arizona
About 45 miles southwest of Tucson, on Kitt Peak, high in the mountains of the Sonora Desert, is the Kitt Peak Observatory. One of the most important astronomical stations in the world, it has 18 telescopes (including a giant solar telescope) and a museum. Tours are given at 10am, 11:30am, and 1:30pm, and last about an hour.
18. Petrified Wood Park, Lemmon, South Dakota
This forest of fossil logs, created as a park contains buildings, pyramids, and towers constructed from petrified trees and grasses over 50 million years old. The museum is a circular shaped building constructed of petrified logs. It features pioneer relics and fills an entire city block in the heart of downtown Lemmon. Recent renovations and careful maintenance make this one of the better-manicured rock sculpture parks.
19. The Strip, Las Vegas, Nevada
The 2.5 mile-long central section of Las Vegas Boulevard that runs through the city (generally speaking from Mandalay Bay Hotel to the Treasure Island Hotel) known as the Strip is lined with revue theaters, nightspots, and luxury hotels set in beautiful gardens – the glittering neon signs of which make it especially mesmerizing at night! Every evening there are two shows at each establishment: the dinner show at around 8pm, and the cocktail show at 11pm. You can also see the world’s only permanent circus, an indoor changing sky, and the tallest freestanding structure in the West. (Las Vegas is a popular place to commence an RV rental from; within a week's round trip you can visit several national parks, including the Grand Canyon).
20. Montezuma Castle National Monument, Arizona
An hour's drive south of Flagstaff is Montezuma Castle, a dwelling built into a recess in a sandstone cliff which rises to a height of 100 feet above Beaver Creek. The first whites who came to the U.S. thought it was an Aztec settlement but it’s are now known to belong to the Sinagua Indian peoples who farmed the surrounding land between the twelfth and fourteenth centuries before abandoning the area. The dwelling has 20 rooms on five levels and could be entered only on ladders. A paved, 1/3 mile loop trails takes you through a tranquil sycamore glade and past the ancient cliff dwelling.
21. Red Rocks Park, Morrison, Colorado
Red Rocks Park is located just north of Morrison, with 640 acres of magnificent red sandstone formations at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. Within the park are diverse animals such as deer, mountain lions, foxes and raccoons - the Trading Post loop hiking trail is 1.4 miles winding past rock formations, valleys and a natural meadow. The internationally known Red Rocks Amphitheater is located within the park – once ranked as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. In the Visitor Center, you can tour the exhibits featuring the music history, geology, paleontology, and the Civilian Conservation Corp.
22. Mystic, Connecticut
The charming old boatbuilding and whaling town of Mystic is now a popular New England tourist resort. Aside from excellent seafood and unique souvenirs the Marinelife Aquarium and the Mystic Seaport are its main attractions - the latter being the largest open-air martime museum in the United States – it’s very child-friendly with some wonderful old wooden ships for them to clamber on.
23. Okefenokee Swamp, Georgia
The Okefenokee Swamp, known to the Indians as the "Land of the Quaking Earth", is home of the remarkable "floating islands", which quake underfoot but still support whole forests and past Indian settlements. This area of swampland in southern Georgia is over 770 square miles of watercourses, cypress swamps and swamp grassland, and home to many endangered species (including no fewer than 10,000 alligators). Boat trips into the swamp are available from the little town of Waycross.
24. Petroglyph National Monument, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Seven miles northwest of Albuquerque is Petroglyph National Monument, stretching 17 miles along Albuquerque's West Mesa escarpment. The monument protects a variety of cultural and natural resources including volcanoes, archeological sites and more than 17,000 carved images. These symbols and drawings scratched in the rock (petroglyphs) by prehistoric and historic Native American and Hispanics make it the largest prehistoric rock art collection in the world.
25. National Automobile Museum, Reno, Nevada
If you’re a car enthusiast, you won’t regret stopping the motorhome by the National Automobile Museum in Reno. The museum has cars from vintage right through to modern and features traveling exhibits. The museum Features more than 220 antique, vintage, classic and special interest vehicles and is divided into four galleries: 1890s-1910; Teens-1930s; 1930s-1950s; and 1950s and Beyond.
26. Busch Gardens, Tampa, Florida; and Williamsburg, Virginia
Busch Gardens is a 335-acre African-themed family entertainment and adventure park featuring amusement rides, live music, performances, crafts, and exotic animals in natural habitat settings. Some of the highlights include the exciting rollercoasters and the "Edge of Africa" safari where you can observe animals grazing on the plains amongst reproductions of African villages and camps. If you love rides and animals, this is the place to go.
27. Minnehaha Park and Falls, Minneapolis, Minnesota
To view a 53-foor waterfall in the middle of a major city, head here. As well as this, the beautiful 193-acre park features limestone bluffs and river overlooks; oak, elm, silver maple, basswood, hackberry and cottonwood trees; native and prairie woodland wild flowers; and several sculptures.
28. Alcatraz Island, San Francisco
The former penitentiary of Alcatraz, located in San Francisco Bay, is a fascinating place to visit. First discovered by the Spaniard Ayala, the rocky island has no springs and so remained uninhabited for years. Then during the California gold rush, a lighthouse was erected and soon afterwards the island was fortified and became a military prison during the Civil War. From 1933 to 1963 it became the most infamous, feared and secure of all federal prisons in the U.S. After the prison was closed, the island was virtually forgotten for six years until it was taken over by Indians who squatted there for seven years. The island has now been open to visitors since 1973. Wear warm clothes and book your tickets in advance, especially between May and September.
29. Anderson Japanese Gardens, Rockford, Illinois
Enjoy the tranquility of this 12 acre Japanese garden complete with cascading waterfalls, ponds, streams, rock formations, winding lanes, a tea house and guest house built in the authentic Sukiya style. It also includes the recent addition of The Garden of Reflection, which contains the Event Pavilion, 3 huge bronze angel sculptures, conversation areas, new viewing deck, and more strolling paths. As well as native species, there are hundreds of Japanese koi (colorful hybrid carp) and Chinese grass carp. Other fauna include ducks, geese, largemouth bass, bluegills, crayfish, turtles, rabbits, birds and chipmunks.
30. Area 51 Museum, Alien Zone & Cosmic Juke Box, Roswell, New Mexico
If you think The Truth is Out There but also appreciate kitsch value, this is the best attraction in the infamous small town of Roswell. Pose for photos with dummy aliens in your choice of around twenty hand-made dioramas, view a crashed saucer scene, and enjoy the alien bar and the upside-down room, as well as the "alien autopsy" diorama. The Museum ends with the "City of the Future," a miniature model of a sci-fi cityscape illuminated with black light paint.
31. Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, Palm Springs, California
Open since 1963, two 80 passenger cars depart every half hour from the valley station on the northern edge of Palm Springs. The railway, built in Switzerland in the early sixties, winds its way up the difference in altitude in fourteen minutes, during which time you pass through several climatic zones. Even if it is a hot day in the valley it’s refreshingly cool on the peak. Rising 8500 feet above the desert floor, the tramway offers access to hiking and camping trips in this famous San Jacinto state park.
32. McKenzie Pass, Santiam Pass Scenic Byway, Oregon
Here you can experience a fascinating phenomenon – an underwater forest. More than 3,000 years ago, a volcano eruption created a clear lake, which swallowed trees that are still rooted to the ground today. Take a boat ride and paddle directly over the submerged trees.
33. Kentucky Horse Park Description
The world-famous Kentucky Horse Park lies 10 miles north of Lexington. Go to the Visitor Center for films about the park and information on activities and events. The International Museum of the Horse and the American Saddle Horse Museum give a history of horses, while famous race horses are honored in the Hall of Champions. There’s a guided walk through the park (the Walking Farm Tour) that includes demonstrations from blacksmiths, wagoners, and harness makers, and a parade of thoroughbreds (the Parade of Breeds Show). You can also go horse trekking or for a ride in a horse-drawn carriage.
34. Wind Cave National Park, Hot Springs, South Dakota
10 miles north of Hot Springs is the Wind Cave, part of one of the largest karstic cave systems so far found on earth (and now a National Park). It was “discovered” in 1881 when a hunter noticed a strong current of air coming from a narrow cleft in the rock, although American Indians of the area have known about it for longer then that. Differing air pressures inside and outside the cave produce air currents that can reach a speed of up to 50 miles an hour! With a maze-like, underground chamber system, Wind Cave also features the world's largest concentration of “boxwork”, a rare formation of thin calcite fins that resemble honeycombs. To top it off, several hundred bison graze on the beautiful park-like roof of the cave system.
35. Knott's Berry Farm, Buena Park, California
From its humble beginnings as Walter Knott’s fruit stall in 1920, the farm has developed into the present pleasure park to which new attractions are constantly being added. The emphasis is on re-awakening themes of the American past such as the gold rush, a Spanish-American fiesta village, the "Roaring Twenties", a 19th century railway which runs round a large part of the grounds, and a reproduction of the Independence Hall in Philadelphia (with its Liberty Bell in the original size).
36. Bingham Canyon Copper Mine, Utah
Bingham Canyon, about 25 miles southwest of Salt Lake City, is the world's largest opencast copper mine that doubles as the largest man-made hole in the earth's surface (it’s almost 2.5miles wide and over 2950 feet deep!). There’s a great view into the terraced interior of the mine from the Visitor Center, which also contains informative displays and video shows on copper mining. You can also observe huge trucks taking copper ore to the crusher, where it’s compressed and put on a five-mile-long conveyor belt.
37. Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Arizona
In southwestern Arizona is Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, home to some 30 different species of cactus. The eponymous organ pipe cactus can reach up to 23 feet high and has spectacular blooms from May to July - but because of the scorching heat during the day, only opens them up after sunset. There are two notable scenic drives - The Ajo Mountain Drive and the Puerto Blanco. The national monument is far from other popular tourist sites and is relatively little visited (which will either work for you or not, depending on what type of trip you have planned) and is best visited in springtime.
38. National Aquarium, Baltimore, Maryland
Opened in 1981, the Baltimore Aquarium on Pier 3 is world-famous and undoubtedly Maryland's leading tourist attraction. Features of particular interest are the five-story Tropical Basin, the Open Ocean Exhibit (sharks) and the "Wings under Water" basin, with various species of ray. On Pier 4 is a separate Marine Mammals Pavilion. Housing more than 16,000 creatures, the Baltimore Aquarium exhibits a variety of species in their naturalistic habitats. You'll encounter animals such as stingrays, sharks, sea turtles, bullfrogs, phytoplankton, monkeys, sloths, iguanas, puffins and thousands more. You can also catch an up-close view of bottlenose dolphins as they leap and tumble with the Baltimore Aquarium trainers in the live-action dolphin show.
39. Craters of the Moon National Monument, Iowa
South of Arco in south-eastern Idaho is a lunar landscape created by volcanic eruptions between 15,000 and 2,000 years ago. There are excellent examples of almost every variety of basaltic lava as well as tree molds (cavities left by lava-incinerated trees), lava tubes (a type of cave), and many other volcanic features. This region of lava flows can be explored on signposted circular routes.
40. Frederik Meijer Gardens, Grand Rapids, Michigan
The outdoor landscaped gardens and Lena Meijer Conservatory (the largest in the state) feature exotic plants from all around the world. The indoor and outdoor sculpture galleries include work by internationally renowned artists; you can walk outdoor nature trails and boardwalks; or enjoy fun with the kids in the Children's Garden. There’s also Arid Garden and Carnivorous Plant House and the Michigan Farm Garden.
41. Alaska State Museum, Juneau, Alaska
A must-do on an Alaska RV road trip, the Alaska State Museum in Juneau features permanent exhibits such as Alaska's Native peoples, Natural History, The American Period (of Alaska's history), and Russian America, plus temporary exhibits throughout the year. The first floor features remarkable ethnographic galleries where visitors can learn about the Aleut, Eskimo, Athabaskan and Northwest Coast peoples. The American period deals with the development of Alaska's natural resources - fisheries, timber, minerals and oil - and there are lots of fascinating artifacts from the period of Russia’s reign over Alaska before 1867.
42. Boone Hall Plantation, South Carolina
8 miles north-east of Charleston you’ll find Boone Hall Plantation, one of the finest plantations in the southern states. During the 18th and 19th centuries cotton, and leter pecan nuts were grown there. The restored mansion with its gardens and majestic half-mile avenue of oaks has been a frequent setting for film and television productions. A reminder of the slaves who made this splendor possible is provided by nine 18th-century brick huts, among the few surviving examples of original slave huts in the U.S.
43. Coney Island/ Astroland Amusement Park, Brooklyn, New York
For over 100 years New Yorkers have been escaping to Coney Island to enjoy the fun-filled atmosphere. Some of the more popular attractions at Astroland include the “Cyclone”, a world-famous wooden rollercoaster built in 1927, the “Wonder Wheel” (the world's tallest Ferris wheel) and the “B and B Carousel”. There’s also the beach, boardwalk, aquarium and games.
44. San Diego Zoo, California
This is one of the largest zoos in the country and certainly one of the most picturesque – it features exotic plants, colorful flowers and amzing water features as backdrops to the animal’s habitats. The zoo has occupied its current site since the early twenties, but is continually being extended. Because of the gradient of the canyon, you’ll face some steep winding climbs, but will be rewarded by amazing sights. If you prefer you can take a bus trip through the canyons and over the hills – you’ll still be able to see a great number of the animals, as well as listen to expert commentaries. There is also a cable-railway which travels over the tree-tops from which you can have a bird's-eye view of the zoo.
45. Winchester Mystery House, San Jose, California
This 160-room Victorian residence has evolved over 38 continuous years from an eight-room farmhouse to what it is today. Its original owner, Sarah Winchester, drew the plans up herself, resulting in curiosities like staircases going nowhere (except places like the ceiling) doors opening on to blank walls and windows that thatdon’tlook out to nothing. The number 13 occurs frequently in the design of the house: there are 13 bathrooms; many of the rooms have 13 windows; several windows of Tiffany glass contain 13 jewels; there are rooms with 13 wooden panels; many of the staircases have 13 steps. A fortune-teller is said to have advised her, following the death of her husband, to build a house to protect herself from the ghosts of all those who had been killed by a Winchester rifle – the company her family once owned. Note: Children 9 and under aren’t permitted for safety reasons on the guided Behind-The-Scenes-Tour.
46. Niagara Falls, New York State - Canadian province of Ontario
The Niagara Falls – one of the largest, most impressive and best known waterfalls in the world - lie in the far north-west of New York State, where water from Lake Erie thunders over an almost 200 ft drop to flow into Lake Ontario. The water plunges over a horseshoe-shape rock wall 700 yards long at the Horseshoe Falls (which are in Canada), and, to the north-east, over the straight American Falls, 360 yards long. The frontier between the United States and Canada runs along the middle. Below the falls the Niagara River flows through a gorge which narrows to the north west to form the Whirlpool Rapids. The best views of the falls (which are beautifully illuminated at night) are from the observation towers on the Canadian side, or you can take a boat trip in the "Maid of the Mist" (waterproof coats and hats provided) which sails past the American Falls into the clouds of spray under the Horseshoe Falls.
47. Mount Rushmore National Monument, South Dakota
In 1927 the American sculptor Gutzom Borglum began the task of hewing heads of Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt, each over 60 ft high, out of the granite rock of Mount Rushmore (5725 ft). Work continued until 1941, when his son Lincoln carried on the work after his death. The project was suspended due to financial shortages and WWII but 50 years later, in a ceremony on July 3rd 1991, President George Bush formally declared the huge sculpture complete. An avenue flanked by the flags of all the states of the Union now leads to the Visitor Center and from mid-May to mid-September the monument is illuminated at night – get there for the lights-switching-on ceremony each evening at 9pm.
48. Great Salt Lake, Utah
The Great Salt Lake is a remnant of a much larger freshwater lake, Lake Bonneville. Half an hour's drive northwest of Salt Lake City, the largest inland lake west of the Mississippi is 72miles long, 34miles wide and up to 50 feet deep. When the original lake was left with no outlet and shrank due to evaporation, it left the Great Salt Lake Desert. The combination of evaporation with the inflow of mineral-rich surface waters led the salt content of the lake to rise steadily, at one stage reaching 27% (eight times as high as the world's oceans). In the last few years the water level has risen as a result of heavy rainfall. At the south end of the lake are swimming beaches and a recreation park with boat hire.
49. Universal Studios, Los Angeles, California
One of Los Angeles' most iconic sights, the Universal Studios was created in 1915 as two silent film sets on the site of a chicken farm. As an advertisement for the new film industry he arranged tours of inspection for 25 cents, when he explained to the visitors how films were made. Today you can still get a glimpse of behind the scenes of film-making but on a slightly bigger scale! See King Kong , Jaws, or Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” house; or find yourself in the middle of an avalanche or earthquake. You can even witness films actually at the production stage. The tour takes two hours after which you can see the show in the Entertainment Center.
50. French Quarter, New Orleans, Louisiana
The Vieux Carre, or French Quarter of New Orleans (the old town center) extends along a crescent shaped bend on the Mississippi. French influence is particularly evident in the buildings with their arcades, wrought iron balconies, red-tiled roofs and picturesque fountain-filled courtyards. The African Americans who settled in the town, together with the old established Creole inhabitants, created jazz around the turn of the 19th century in the entertainment quarter and in nearby Bourbon Street. These days the district contains a profusion of jazz spots and places of entertainment, unique restaurants, cheerful cafes, souvenir shops, galleries and old hotels.