U.S. destinations…sometimes we focus too much on international travel. Seeing our own country–wherever we live–can seem less exciting or important, compared to an “exotic” place with a different language, older cathedrals, or prettier birds.
G.K. Chesterton reminds us, “The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” Taking a trip that doesn’t require a passport can be less of a hassle than going abroad. And don’t underestimate the thrill of seeing a familiar place with fresh eyes.
U.S. destinations to consider
Huntsville, Alabama: This is where Wernher von Braun came to hide when he left the Nazis…and helped “launch” the space program. The U.S. Space & Rocket Center is definitely fascinating, but Huntsville is more than rockets. A short drive will take you to the Unclaimed Baggage Center. You can see what folks have packed before losing their luggage…and buy those treasures.
New Orleans: After you’ve collected some beads, taken the St. Charles streetcar, and visited a cemetery, go to bed early one night so you can get up and watch New Orleans get ready for a new day. Be sure the visit the World War II Museum, too!
Madison, Wisconsin: Farmers markets are always worth a stop, but Madison’s is a true gem. Every Saturday, people pour into the state capital to get a week’s worth of home-grown produce, as well as other local wares. Walk the entire circuit–counter-clockwise, please–and say hello to the Gourd Guy for me. Tell him I’ll be back soon.
Chicago, Illinois: Ah, my hometown! There’s always something new to see and do, including the opening of the new Chicago Architecture Center, formerly the Chicago Architecture Foundation, at its new location. Millennium Park continues to dazzle. The CAC offers an interesting walking tour of the park, as well as the ever-popular river cruise. You can’t really say you’ve been to Chicago until you take the tour that explains the city’s architecture.
Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Did you know that Milwaukee and Chicago have a dispute about which city was first to cut its pizza into squares, not slices? Easy to navigate and home to more festivals than any other place in the country, you should go just to see its famous landmark, the Milwaukee Art Museum, “open” every day at 10 am. Yes, there is beer galore, but also so, so, so much more.
Miami, Florida: One of my favorite cities, its Cuban vibe is unmistakeable. Get to Little Havana for a meal at Versailles or La Carreta. Watch the cigar makers while you’re there. See the Art Deco buildings at South Beach…did someone say beach? Yes, please!
National Cemeteries, Everywhere: When you visit a national cemetery–there are 135 of them in 40 states and Puerto Rico–you are not only paying respect to those who have defended the country on our behalf, you’re also getting a sense of history. The cemeteries are somber and beautiful.
Train Travel to U.S. Destinations: Sigh…train travel in America isn’t the same as in other countries. But it’s still a way to visit other places in a slower, more relaxed way. Amtrak can be less expensive, too. If you haven’t taken a train trip recently, you may want to consider it.
These are just a few U.S. destinations to get you started. Where else should we go? Please share a few of yours in the comment section. We can inspire and inform each other!