Where to Go

5 Must-Visit Adventure Destinations In The United States

Alpine lakes, sandy beaches, majestic mountains and desert mesas — oh my

The Vacationeer
Two hikers overlooking South Lake Tahoe, California

It’s easy to see why the United States is a favored destination for outdoor vacations. With over 400 national park sites, countless state parks and a diverse number of ecosystems — from sandy beaches to towering mountains, grassy plains to desert vistas — there’s an almost endless number of beautiful places to explore.

In 2022, 82% of Americans reported visiting a state or national park or traveling for an outdoor adventure like hiking or camping. Participants found that time spent outdoors reduced stress, improved health and lowered vacation expenses. No matter the reason, the U.S. has outdoor vacation options to fit any travel style.

Discover the great outdoors this summer with these five U.S. destinations.

Two hikers in a forest near South Lake Tahoe, California 

1. South Lake Tahoe, California

Lake Tahoe is a year-round outdoor destination known for sunny California skies, expansive lake views and majestic mountainscapes — the perfect backdrop for any adventure. Stick close to South Lake Tahoe’s shores, or venture to one of the area’s equally stunning parks.

Emerald Bay State Park, tucked between granite peaks, offers picturesque hikes, kayaking and even scuba diving. Straddle the California-Nevada border at Van Sickle Bi-State Park and hike, bike or horseback ride up to panoramic views of the lake. Yosemite National Park is a few hours away from Lake Tahoe, home to iconic formations like Half Dome. Walk among giant sequoia trees at Mariposa Grove or star gaze from Glacier Point in the summer.

Where to stay: Take your pick between Hilton Vacation Club Lake Tahoe Resort and Tahoe Seasons, a Hilton Vacation Club, both in South Lake Tahoe.

Aerial view of Miami Beach, Florida 

2. Miami, Florida

While Miami may not stand out as a top outdoor destination for many, there are plenty of seaside parks and preserves to fill any adventurer’s itinerary. Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park is minutes from Miami and offers fishing spots, places to paddle and trails for walkers, joggers, bird watchers and rollerbladers. Or take a relaxing stroll through the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, where you can wander through gardens and exhibits packed with remarkable plants and insects.

Then, head south to Everglades National Park, the largest sub-tropical preserve in the U.S. and a sanctuary for threatened species like the manatee. If you’re short on time, take the Anhinga Trail boardwalk through a sawgrass marsh to spot alligators, turtles, birds and fish. Or rent bikes to explore Shark Valley’s trails and see gators in their natural environment. Pitch a tent at Flamingo Campground to access hiking, canoeing and saltwater fishing. 

Where to stay: Enjoy a beachside location at McAlpin Ocean Plaza, a Hilton Grand Vacations Club and Crescent on South Beach, a Hilton Vacation Club.

Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado 

3. Breckenridge, Colorado

Breckenridge is a quintessential Rocky Mountain ski destination, but there’s more to the Breck than just its soft powder. Explore more of the Rockies at the Rocky Mountain National Park, depending on your activity of choice. Hike to Bridal Veil Falls or take the Twin Sisters Trailhead for a moderate challenge. Mountain climbers can find plenty of prime alpine peaks, including Lumpy Ridge and Longs Peak. Or rest your legs with a scenic drive. Enjoy the overlooks along Trail Ridge Road, where keen eyes may spot herds of elk and bighorn sheep.

If you’re up for a drive, Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve is a few hours from Breck. While there are plenty of nearby hiking hot spots — such as the Montville Nature Trail and Mosca Pass — the real stars of the park are the dunes. Rent a sandboard or sand sled to fully experience the terrain. Plus, the park is a certified International Dark Sky Park, so stay after hours to soak in the starry skies.

Where to stay: Cozy up at Valdoro Mountain Lodge, a Hilton Grand Vacations Club.

Beach at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, part of the Outer Banks 

4. Kitty Hawk, North Carolina

North Carolina’s renowned Outer Banks offer a variety of water sports, including hang gliding, jet skiing, parasailing, tubing and sailing. Try your hand at kiteboarding — which combines the thrill of surfing with the ability to harness the wind for epic jumps or chill cruises alike. Or if there isn’t enough wind to sail or kiteboard, kayak through Kitty Hawk Woods Reserve’s many canals, offering hours of exploration.

Enjoy a slower outdoor adventure if extreme sports aren’t your thing. Pack a picnic to enjoy at Sandy Run Park after a nature walk along the boardwalk. While sharing your sandwich at the turtle pond may be tempting, keep your crumbs to yourself to keep our shelled friends healthy. Or tee off at Sea Scape Golf Links to see the maritime forests at your own pace. End the day at Oregon Inlet Campground, an affordable beach camping spot with incredible ocean sunsets.

Where to stay: Rest your head at Beachwoods, a Hilton Vacation Club.

Moon rising over a hill of saguaro cacti during the day near Tucson, Arizona 

5. Tucson, Arizona

Less than two hours south of Phoenix, Tucson is a southwest gem for any adventurer. Learn more about the surrounding desert wildlife at the 98-acre Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, complete with a zoo, botanical garden and natural history museum. Then, once you’ve reapplied your sunscreen, head to Catalina State Park at the base of the Santa Catalina Mountains for hiking trails just minutes from the Tucson metropolitan area. Come on the weekend to enjoy the park’s outdoor concert series.

If you’re up for a drive, Saguaro National Park should be on your list. Named for the towering cacti, Saguaro National Park is the place to see these desert giants. Pack a camera for your hike and try nature photography, or just enjoy the saguaro’s majesty. You can also take the Mt. Lemmon Scenic Byway to the highest point of the Santa Catalinas. Mount Lemmon offers year-round rock climbing and hiking, along with the southernmost ski resort in the continental U.S., Ski Valley.

Where to stay: Stay cool at Varsity Club Tucson, a Hilton Vacation Club.

Read “7 Insider Tips For Exploring The National Parks, Monuments And Forests Of The Western United States” to make the most of your outdoor vacation.

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The Vacationeer

The Vacationeer is a collective of Hilton Grand Vacations storytellers whose goal is to inspire travelers to go further. We're always on the lookout for new destinations to explore, useful travel tips, and unique ideas to help you plan the most memorable vacations possible.

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