We only have a few more days in the States. It's my first time back since I moved over a year ago. But more on that later. Since we visited one of the places on my US bucket list while we were here, I figured I would share the top 10 places I want to see in my homeland. I've visited 37 states over the years, for varying duration and for various reasons, but this list is only places I haven't been. The list includes states, cities, areas, and parks.
Of the 13 states I have left to visit, Alaska, for some reason, has always felt like the least attainable. I feel like it requires the most research of when to visit, where to go, and what to do. But I'd love to see the sprawling landscapes and visit the national parks. I want to see the wildlife (from afar) and breathe in the fresh air. I want to stand in the shadow of Denali and get chills at the Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. Perhaps a cruise is a great way to see Alaska, and while they're not my favourite way to travel, I would seriously consider doing another just to go to Alaska.
Even though I come from a state chock-full of cute little mountain towns, there's something alluring to me about the larger Asheville, North Carolina. Perhaps it's a bit like when I fell in love with Betsw-y-coed in Wales, which combined the quaint English countryside with mountains, except this time it will be some southern charm with mountains. Asheville sits in the Blue Ridge Mountains at the confluence of the Swannanoa River and the French Broad River, so you know the views are to die for. Mountains and trees go on as far as the eye can see. So naturally, I'd love to visit in the autumn to see all the colours of the foliage. And of course I can't forget Biltmore Estate, which is the largest private estate in the US. It was built between 1889 and 1895 by George Washington Vanderbilt II and is still owned today by Vanderbilt's descendants. (Fun fact: In Gossip Girl, Nate Archibald was a Vanderbilt on his mother's side.)
THE GRAND CANYON
For all my years in Colorado, it was literally so close, yet so far away. The only time I seriously considered going was right before I moved to England. I toyed with the idea of driving down in a day (roughly 11 hours), maybe camping for the night, and driving back the next day. Luke and I even talked about it while he was in Colorado with me for my last week. But we decided it was too much to do in the time we had, so we scrapped that idea. The Grand Canyon is such an icon for America, especially in the west. While I'm not the most outdoorsy of people, in the last year, I've been really drawn to rock formations and desert, which you'll see more of on the list below. Hopefully one day I'll get to catch a sunrise or sunset (or both!) at the Grand Canyon. Preferably not in the dead of summer.
Hawaii...wouldn't that be the dream?! I don't know enough about Hawaii to know which island I would prefer, but I definitely want to visit the state someday. Neither Luke nor I have been, so it's definitely on our list, but we don't usually go for relaxing beach holidays over the exploration type. However, Hawaii seems like it's a good mix of both. There's plenty to do outside, plenty of things to see, plenty of hikes to do, but there's also nice beaches to enjoy an iced cocktail! The worst part about us visiting Hawaii though would be that how our scratch off map is currently displayed, you can't see Hawaii!
And we're back to my desert obsession. I would love to see these unique trees in person and catch a gorgeous desert sunrise. And again, I'm not the most outdoorsy gal, but I can get behind a good hike to see the views in this park. This definitely feels like a place to camp, which means being able to see a clear night sky and count all the stars! And did you know that the national park is slightly larger than the entire state of Rhode Island?
A blogger wanting to visit New England in the autumn? Say it ain't so! Honestly, a roadtrip through New England to see the fall foliage is my ultimate US holiday. I love colonial style architecture and I could certainly get on board with rolling hills of colourful trees. On this dream holiday, we'll stay at the cutest little B&B's (and Luke will kindly remind me that the date that's sure to be posted on the building is nothing compared to British history), we'll have warm apple cider and warm apple cider donuts, we'll window shop in adorable small towns, and we'll stroll along leaf-line paths. How does that not sound like the perfect getaway?!
San Francisco looks like a uniquely special city in the US and I don't just mean the weather pattern. It's absolutely brimming with culture and life. By the looks of it, there are great restaurants, great shops, great areas to get outdoors, and great experiences to partake in. The Golden Gate Bridge, Chinatown, Fisherman's Wharf, Alcatraz, cable cars! What more could you ask for? San Francisco is also the first US city to have a park within 10 minutes walking distance from every single resident. Needless to say, I wouldn't mind spending a weekend in the Bay Area.
Okay, I might have visited Santa Fe as a child. I know we drove back from a trip to the South through New Mexico at least once. But I have basically no memory of this. Luke and I actually considered Santa Fe for our mini trip in the States this week, but ultimately decided on the Grand Tetons and Jackson Hole. Santa Fe has the desert appeal I'm into right now, but it also feels like a different world with it's unique architecture and even a bit of a small town feel to it. I've heard it has great little cafes and shops, not to mention a booming art scene. It sounds like it's a great little weekend getaway that actually isn't too far from where I grew up!
As far as I can tell, Seattle is the perfect city. If you want to be near the ocean, Seattle. If you want to be near the mountains, Seattle. If you want to be near the forest, Seattle. And as many times as I've been to Washington, I'm fairly certain I've never been to Seattle. Other than the very first Starbucks and the famous marketplace, Seattle seems to have a lot to offer whether you want to stick with city vibes or get outdoors.
My friend Julie used to live in Utah and I feel like she was always in one of their beautiful National Parks. I'm not sure why Zion stands out to me above the rest, but alas, it does. Maybe I'm mistaken, but it seems like it combines a lot of the best features from the other parks in Utah. Anyway, the landscape is breathtaking and endless, and you can't argue with that. I would love to camp there and do some outdoorsy activities. (Who me?!) But of course the real dream would be to do a roadtrip throughout Utah's National Parks and maybe dip down to Arizona for the Grand Canyon as well. Plus, they have an Under Canvas, which would be my dream glamping vacation.
If you could visit anywhere in the US today, where you visit?