Sometimes it’s necessary to step away from the hustle and bustle of daily life; to breathe fresh air and detach yourself from all the hallmarks of a plugged-in existence (except for reading internet articles, of course). While the headline-grabbers are overseas, there’s plenty of natural beauty to be found in America, somewhere in between the Super Targets and Ford dealerships. So pack the family up and hit the road; there’s nothing modern children love more than nature, right?
The Grand Canyon, AZ: Okay, yes – this is just a giant hole in the ground. BUT, this is a giant hole that has formed NATURALLY over time, which is much cooler than if a team of workers had gone in there with a billion tons of dynamite and Grand Canyon-ed the ground. Although as I’m typing it, that actually sounds way cooler. Either way, get your Clark Griswold on and check it out.
Redwoods, CA: So giant holes in the desert aren’t your thing. We’ll see if you change your tune when you have a giant body to bury, but until then check out the Redwood Forests in Northern California. The tallest, oldest trees in the country, packed into a dense forest that will instantly remind you of Jurassic Park. Because that’s where they shot a lot of the forest scenes for Jurassic Park. Just tell your kids you’re going to Jurassic Park.
Carlsbad Caverns, NM / Mammoth Cave, KY: No matter which side of the country you’re on, there’s a massive underground cave with your name on it. Caves are just the right mix of geologically confounding and creepy, like a vampire lair made of sedentary rocks that have hardened in an extremely abbreviated time span. Plus, if the kids are spazzing out, you can threaten to leave them in the cave. Bonus Natural Wonder points if you show them The Descent before you go inside.
City of Rocks, ID: One of the best rock-climbing destinations in America, this “city” in Idaho offers endless fun for the active types among us. It does come with the unfortunate drawback of being in Idaho, but it’s also a slice of American history; settlers heading west used to stop here, meaning you may be able to find their treasure and/or bones on one of your climbs!
Hawaii Volcano National Park, HI: Volcanoes are terrifying, but thankfully they are no longer active, making the odds of a real-life Dante’s Peak situation occurring slim to none. That is, unless you happen to be in Hawaii Volcano National Park, which features not one but two active volcanoes. And unlike trees, holes, caves and rocks, volcanoes are unquestionably awesome. Plus, maybe you’ve got an indestructible item that you need to get rid of due to it being cursed, or perhaps out of style? Cast it straight into the volcano. Problem solved.