The Covid-19 pandemic has had all of us home, some of us a lot more than we are used to. I was also pregnant last year so traveling was for sure not happening. Now that the little is here and things are starting to look up as far as the pandemic is concerned I am looking forward to exploring the world again. Unfortunately, a lot of the world is still off-limits. Fortunately, we live in the lovely US of A and there is a ton to see here in our own backyard. To get the ball rolling I am teaming up with some other travel friends to brainstorm some of the best places to visit in the United States.

Check Out Anza-Borrego State Park

Less than two hours away from San Diego, Anza-Borrego State Park is the largest State Park in California. The desert is an exciting and beautiful place to escape as a family and explore for the day. With over 100 miles of paved road and five times that in 4WD roads to explore, Anza-Borrego State Park is sure to quench your thirst for adventure!

You can spend the day exploring the art scene in Borrego Springs before off-roading to some incredible landforms (4WD required). There are a variety of unique hiking trails and scenic drives along the highway to enjoy. Do not miss watching the sun go down under the cotton candy skies of Borrego Springs before the sky begins to pop with stars! Wildflowers are abundant in spring and should not be missed. So, let’s get started planning your next adventure!

For more suggestions on things to do, places to stay, and tips for visiting Anza-Borrego visit


Check a box on tour Ozark to-do List!

Elephant Rocks State Park- just 73 miles from St. Louis. Definitely a must for your Ozark to-do list! From the second that I saw these giant granite boulders on my Instagram feed, a few years ago, I just knew that we’d have to go someday. Is it too weird to say that these rocks are actually kinda cute?? Looking at them is like cloud-gazing, where everyone sees the formations differently, but I think for the majority of people, they resemble potatoes, elephants (duh), and manatees.

The paved Braille Trail isn’t long. My Apple Watch logged 1.05 miles. For the most part we followed the loop, but you can also go off course to climb around on the rocks, which we did to our hearts’ content. We highly recommend hiking shoes or boots to play on the rocks. The surface tends to be a little slick, so it’s good to have soles that will grip. 

The trail that loops around the 7-acre Elephant Rock Natural Area was specifically designed for those that are visually and physically impaired. You can read the full post here.

Plan a Visit to a Lesser-known National Park!

PA on Pause has some great information about the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. This is definitely a must on a list of best places to visit in the United States. Here is what they had to say:

When planning a National Park trip, most people probably first think of only a few of the bigger, more popular ones. Yellowstone, Zion, Yosemite, Smoky Mountains… But what about all of the others? In the Northeast part of the US, Cuyahoga Valley National Park is great as a single destination or a stop on a longer Great Lakes road trip.

Located just a short drive south of Cleveland, there is easy access by car or from the airport. Once in the park, there are so many things to do! Check out a couple of gorgeous waterfalls, look for local wildlife, learn about local history, or take a train ride through some beautiful scenes.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park is a four-season park, meaning there are plenty of things to do year-round. The park doesn’t require a significant amount of time to feel like you’ve made a dent. A weekend would allow you to cover a pretty significant amount of ground.

The park is great for all ages, couples, and families, as most of the hiking trails and activities are not extremely difficult. Add Cuyahoga Valley National Park as a stop on a road trip to Niagara Falls or any other trip along the northern Lakeshore of Ohio.

For more suggestions on things to do, places to stay, and tips for visiting Cuyahoga Valley National Park, check out

This stone staircase is one of the features found on the Ledges Trail in the park.

Spend a Weekend in Marfa!

Marfa hardly makes it on any must-see list but it should. It is a very small town in Texas, a couple of hours north of El Paso. There is hardly anything there. A dollar general, a couple of fast-food joints, and some local shops. There are 3 stoplights in total and they only are running during “busy times” otherwise they are more like stop signs. So way visit Marfa?

Well, despite its tumbleweed and abandoned appearance it is actually an art hub with delicious food! So strange. During the weekends you can find gourmet dishes of all kinds and a walk around town will reveal its charm. This is also where the movie “The Giant” was filmed so you will see a lot of references to that. Lastly, you can go looking for the famous Marfa Lights. Just plan a weekend though, it is a small town and nothing is really open during the week.

To read more about Marfa and why it is one of the best places to visit in the United States check out this post right here on Life Beyond Zebra.

Marfa Texas

Escape To The Keys!

I have seen very little of the southeast but the Florida Keys are definitely on my list, in fact, if all goes well I might get to see them by sailboat! The Maverick Family Life has been and has some great information for you, here is what they have to say:

If you’re wanting to escape to a warmer climate where the days seem to pass a little slower, I have the perfect destination for you – Key West, Florida!  So why did the southernmost point in the Continental United States makes the list of best places in the USA to visit?! The average temperature at night is 74 degrees F and 83 degrees F during the day.

If you’re adventurous, there are a wide variety of land and sea activities to do in Key West. Looking to relax? You can sit and watch the waves crash on the beach all day. If you’re a foodie, there are plenty of restaurants to choose from. Every cuisine from fresh seafood to Caribbean to Italian to French to Latin to Cuban. If you’re a history buff, visit Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park to learn about the fort’s role in the Civil War or Ernest Hemingway’s home & museum.

Getting to Key West is done by either a flight into the Key West International Airport or flying into mainland Florida (Miami or Fort Lauderdale) and driving the gorgeous 113 mile stretch of the Overseas Highway. Whatever you do, make sure to at least catch one sunset at the World Famous Sunset Celebration at Mallory Square!

To read more about their trip check out their blog!

On a Budget? How about Seattle!

I mean, is any list complete without Seattle? So much to see! I know I can’t get enough of all of the delicious berries and fruit that the Pacific Northwest has to offer. There is plenty to see and do, Flannels or Flip Flops lives there and has a local guide about what to see in Seattle:

Seattle is the largest city in Washington State.  You can easily spend forever here, and not see all there is to see. 

Seattle has some great tourist destinations like the Space Needle and Pike Place Market, but there is so much more! Seattle is a great foodie destination. There are also many places to explore the art scene of the Pacific North West.  Seattle has so many parks, museums, waterfronts, and neighborhoods to explore! If all that isn’t enough, Seattle is also a great hub to explore Washington’s 3 National Parks! It is the beginning of some great road trips that highlight the best of Washington State too! 

Come and visit us in Seattle! You’ll love it here! (PS, don’t worry about the rain, it adds to the experience) 

There is so much that is FREE in Seattle too! So you don’t have to worry about breaking your budget.

Stay in a Piece of History at The Hotel Roanoke

There is something extra special about staying in a place with a rich history. If you agree then It’s Take-Off Time has just the place for you!

One of our daughters and her family lives outside the Roanoke, Virginia area, so when we visit, we stay either in a hotel or an Airbnb close by. On our last visit, we had the privilege of staying at The Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center. David and I have stayed here before, so when we were invited to stay for a long weekend in the gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains, we gladly accepted. This hotel is part of the Curio Collection by Hilton, and is a luxury hotel; however, its interesting beginning and rich history are what make this little piece of heaven a must-see on any “history buff’s” list. 

The Hotel Roanoke (as it was called then) was originally built in 1882 by the Norfolk and Western Railway to coincide with its administrative offices occupied in the city of Roanoke. The original structure was designed in Tudor-style fashion, and it officially opened on Christmas Day, 1882. The hotel was donated to Virginia Polytechnic Institute (Virginia Tech) in 1989 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1996. Read more about the history here.

Visit and Ice Cream Graveyard

Yup, you read that right, an Ice Cream graveyard. It is located at the Ben & Jerry’s Factory. I know I have wanted to go here for a long time. When my favorite flavor of Ben & Jerry’s was suddenly discontinued I googled for an answer to this outrage, upon which I learned that I will never get to devour its greatness again but I could pay my respects to the dearly departed Bovinity Divinity at the graveyard at the factory. It is has been on my list ever since.

Marianne from Pasta Pretzels & Passports shared with Life Beyond Zebra her experience at the factory along with some useful tips:

Located in Waterbury, Vermont, the Ben & Jerry’s Factory is a very family-friendly attraction, with lots to keep the kiddos occupied. There is a gift shop full of awesome ice cream-themed items, the Scoop Shop where you can grab some ice cream, the Flavor Graveyard with all the Dearly De-pinted flavors, a picnic area, and a playground.

But what you really want to do is the factory tour! Ben & Jerry’s offers a 30 minute guided tour that takes you through the history of the company, as well as the ice-cream-making process. If you are lucky enough to be there on an ice cream production day, you can actually watch the machines hard at work making the delicious treat!

Tour tickets are an absolute steal at $4 for adults and free for kids under 12 years of age. Tickets cannot be purchased in advance, so they do sell out fast during peak times. And the best part of the tour? Free samples in the Flavoroom at the end! You can read the full post here.

Show 7 Comments


  1. Lisa Manderino

    I love the United States! There are so many great places to explore!

  2. Cindy Moore

    These are awesome places to explore! A couple are on my travel list. I live in the Ozarks and I’ve never been to the Elephant Rocks!

  3. Marianne

    A couple of these places are on my list for when we are able to head to the States again. So many places to see, so little time!

  4. kmf

    The pandemic provided so many great opportunities to discover beauty in my own backyard. Greatly appreciate this curated list of hidden gems and the best places to visit in the US that we don’t normally hear about.

  5. These are great exploration ideas for lesser known amazingness! Great read!

  6. Chantelle

    I love this post! So many great places! I’d love to visit the keys. It looks so beautiful there, and such a nice change from Seattle

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *