Catch a rodeo in Wyoming
Cody Nite Rodeo happens every summer night in Cody and has been going on for 76 years. This is the rodeo capital of the world. And that is not an overstatement. Also, there are fewer than 55 days until rodeo season — mark your calendar.
Visit Mount Rushmore
But don’t complain that it’s smaller than you expected. It’s still fantastic. Before you gaze at these stone-faced presidents, though, stop at Murphy’s Pub for fried pickles and a Bloody Mary. Then drive through the Black Hills National Forest.
Walk across the Golden Gate Bridge
Start in the Golden Gate National Rec Area, cross over the bridge, wave to Alcatraz, then end in Golden Gate Park. After all that walking, you should hop on a cable car. Come on, it’s San Francisco!
See the Hoover Dam/gamble in Vegas on the same day
We suggest renting a car and hitting the Hoover Dam, one of the country’s most impressive engineering feats, first (less than an hour drive from Vegas), because once you land on the Strip, Lord knows what’s going to happen.
Peruse the shelves at Powell’s in Portland
Get learned (but hopefully not lost) as you stroll through the world’s largest bookstore. Founded in 1971, it takes up an entire block, stocks one (raise pinky to mouth) million books, and reportedly buys 3,000 more a day. As you’re already smack dab in the middle of Portland, you’d be remiss not to spend the rest of the day hitting brewpubs like Hopworks and Breakside, donut shops, and strip clubs.
Take the to Orcas Island
The views are insane. Once you get there, take a half-day kayak tour through Free Willycountry to see some Orcas in a, thankfully, non-SeaWorld environment.
Trek the Grand Canyon’s North Rim
The South Rim is for tourists; the North Rim receives one-tenth of the visitors and is 1,000ft higher. Also, you can still (and should!) day hike INTO the canyon on the North Kaibab Trail. Just be sure to bring TONS of water, leave before 7am, and do NOT try to go all the way to the bottom and back in the same day. Also, also, don’t wear dress loafers. Seriously, people do it — it’s nuts.
Dive into Puerto Rico’s Bioluminescent Bay
By far one of the most beautiful places in Puerto Rico, not to mention the world, Bioluminescent Bay lights up at night (thanks to science) with the blue glow of little creatures called dinoflagellates. The best way to experience the show is either by diving or on a kayak — it’s like you’re in Narnia.
Marvel at the northern lights in Alaska
Sure, we told you that Juneau and its exploding culinary scene was Alaska’s most underrated destination, but when it comes to gazing in awe of the aurora borealis (aka the Northern Lights), Fairbanks is your move. Just make sure you go during the winter (November through April) when it’s dark all the time.
See a lava flow in Hawaii
While seeing a volcano erupt isn’t really an everyday kind of thing, you can catch plenty of red-hot, bubbling, molten lava on the Big Island in Hawaii. There are five active volcanoes there and you can hike right up to ’em at Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. Or, if you’d rather appreciate from afar — catch a helicopter ride and just pray those puppies don’t go off while you’re circling overhead.