7 Places You Need To See In The US Before You Ever Travel Abroad

by Kaitlyn Beck

Nothing is more aggravating than dreaming of traveling the world, but not having the means to get there. As I'm surrounded by people who have taken drool-worthy vacations to Europe, South America, China and the Caribbean, it can be difficult to stay patient.

Growing up, my family made it a goal to visit all 50 states before high school graduation. Unfortunately, we didn't get to them all (we are three states away), but we did have some amazing adventures in the other 47 states. Until I have the time to study abroad or the money to visit Europe, I'm stuck completing my all-50-states adventure.

A lot of people who have traveled internationally have been to more foreign places than native places. Sure, Tokyo looks amazing, but you really haven't been to the Grand Canyon? You've never had any interest in seeing our nation's capital or the Statue of Liberty?

Our country has some of the world's most amazing locations. An epic vacation doesn't have to start and end at an international airport.

If you're saving some money, wanting a fun road trip or just craving some native adventure, become a tourist in your own country. Some of my all-time favorite vacation spots are located right across from my state's border.

(Also, road tripping the vacation is so much more memorable and American. Think "National Lampoon's Vacation." It's classic.)

Here are some of the best vacation destinations in the US:

1. Smoky Mountains

Located in beautiful Tennessee, the Smoky Mountains hold a special place in my heart. This is the perfect vacation spot if you're looking for adventure and outdoor exploring.

From whitewater rafting and horseback riding mountainside to discovering waterfalls and wildlife, the Smoky Mountains have it all. Try camping in one of the thousands of campgrounds, or renting a deluxe cabin with an insane view and huge hot tub.

2. Yellowstone

Seriously, everyone has to put this on his or her bucket list. From world-famous active geysers to an incredible view of the Rocky Mountains, you'll never be bored. There's nowhere else in the world quite like Wyoming.

3. San Francisco

California is full of adventure and endless opportunities when it comes to vacations. See the Golden Gate Bridge, drive alongside the diverse streets and discover the city.

4. Key West

Have a beach vacation in the southernmost point of the United States. With water as clear as the Bahamas and sun as strong as Aruba, you'll never want to leave. Experience the closest thing to the Caribbean without even needing a passport.

5. Washington, DC

Every American citizen needs a trip to the nation's capital. Enrich yourself in the history and deep-seated traditions our nation was built on.

6. Chicago

Illinois has one of the coolest cities in the country. The Windy City has everything you need to plan a diverse vacation.

From taking a ferry to Navy Pier to overlooking the city from the Willis Tower, you're sure to have a blast. Not to mention, the shopping is A+.

7. New Jersey

Take an East Coast road trip, and hit up some of the coolest places in our country. From the ever-glamorous NYC to the Jersey Shore and Philadelphia, there's endless adventure. Discover Atlantic City, or escape to Cape May for a relaxing oceanfront getaway.

The US has an endless array of travel destinations that can fulfill any wanderlust. If you're more of the adventurous, outdoorsy type, try California, Tennessee or Wyoming.

Don't disregard the "flyover states," either. The Midwest has some worthwhile vacation spots. From city life in St. Louis or Chicago to incredible national parks in Indiana or Kentucky, it has it all.

So, the next time you're planning a vacation, focus less on the glamour of international travel and more on the adventure that awaits just across your state border.