Summer is just around the corner, which means vacations and fun in the sun. There are a ton of fun destinations in the country that perfectly encapsulate the American experience. Some of the best summer travel destinations remain out of the general public’s radar, so here are a few you may not have heard of.
Monterey: California’s First City
Nestled along California’s central coast, Monterey exemplifies California’s rich history. Originally the capital of Alta California from 1777 to 1846 under both Spanish and Mexican rule, Monterey had California’s first theater, public building, publicly funded school, public library, printing press, and newspaper. Over the years, the city has attracted everyone from artists and writers to fisherman, and remains a constant reminder of California’s past mixed into a modern way of life.
With such a deep-rooted culture, Monterey County has a wide variety of attractions that the whole family can enjoy. For those interested in California’s history, Monterey has several museums and over thirty preserved historic buildings. One of the most notable attractions is the National Steinbeck Center, a museum and memorial dedicated to the late great author John Steinbeck, who lived in Monterey and nearby Salinas and wrote numerous novels set in the county.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium, one of the largest in North America, is home to jellyfish, stingrays, sea otters, and a ton of other native species. Even outside of the aquarium, visitors are greeted by a wealth of marine life, including sea lions, harbor seals, bat rays, and dolphins.
Wine Country: Grapes Galore
It’s easy to miss out on this hidden gem. Wine Country is just north of the bustling city of San Francisco and generally consists of the combined counties of Napa, Mendocino, and Sonoma, though some references include parts of Lake County.
If you love fresh air and beautiful scenery, nothing gets much better than Wine Country. A long way from the hot, sandy beaches of the California coast, Wine Country is known for an expanse of green vegetation with rolling, grassy hills, trees, and wildflowers.
Alongside the refreshing hillside scenery are rows upon rows of grapevines. Wine is the keyword here. The area hosts over 400 wineries, many of which offer complementary wine tastings and winery tours. The unique terroir of the area makes for a great opportunity for sommeliers and amateur wine enthusiasts alike.
Glacier National Park: Crown of the Continent
The United States is known for its many majestic national parks and monuments, from Grand Canyon to Yosemite to Yellowstone. Glacier National Park is one of the country’s most underrated national parks, facing low visitor counts each year, but it remains one of the most expansive parks in the country.
Located in Montana along the Canadian border, Glacier National Park comprises over a million acres, including parts of two mountain ranges and over 130 named lakes. The pristine natural ecosystem makes it a perfect home for over a thousand species of plants and hundreds of animal species, most notably the mountain goat. A few things to experience in the park include:
· The Going-to-the-Sun Road, completed in 1932, is the only road that crosses through the park, passing over the Continental Divide. Spanning 50 miles, the road passes through the park’s interior, winds around mountainsides, and gives visitors some of the best views of northwest Montana.
· One of the least crowded sections of the park, the North Fork presents visitors with views of Bowman and Kintla Lakes, a homesteading site, and the opportunity to see and hear some of the park’s rare wildlife.
· Considered the heart of Glacier National Park, Many Glacier treats visitors to views of massive mountains, sparkling lakes, glaciers, hiking trails, and tons of wildlife. This area is especially popular amongst hikers with a web of trails radiating in all directions. A hiker could take a different trail every day for a whole week and still not cover all that Many Glacier has to offer.
· Logan Pass is one of the most popular areas for visitors, and with good reason. Fields of wildflowers carpet Logan Pass, surrounded by Reynolds Mountain and Clements Mountain. Beautiful, vibrant glacier lilies sprout all across the meadows. The area hosts excellent hiking trails and wildlife viewing opportunities.
If you’re looking for a summer travel spot outside of your normal repertoire, consider Monterey, California’s wine country, or the majestic Glacier National Park. Dig a little deeper to find even more of America’s hidden gems. Don't forget to reserve your airport parking online with Airport Parking Connection! Enjoy!