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With tourists set to return in droves to the major hubs, forgo old favourites and go off the beaten path with these nine alternative destinations.
Wide-open spaces in Yosemite’s Tuolumne County
Experience Yosemite National Park without the crowds in Tuolumne, the park’s northern gateway. Over half of Yosemite is in Tuolumne County, which also includes authentic California Gold Country and the incredible High Sierra. Only two and half hours east of San Francisco, Tuolumne is an easy addition to any California itinerary. Visitors can enjoy endless outdoor recreation such as hiking, horseback riding, whitewater rafting and even skiing in the winter.
Feel both adrenaline and Zen in Palisades Tahoe
This summer, feel both adrenaline and Zen in Palisades Tahoe, one of California’s best mountain destinations. New for the season is the Tahoe Via Ferrata, where thrill-seekers can explore the resort’s most iconic rock face, The Tram Face, which towers directly above the base area and boasts breathtaking views. Every Wednesday evening from 6 July until 31 August, Palisades Tahoe will also hold a free, outdoor yoga series, guaranteed to leave yogis feeling well and truly Zen.
Discover nature lover’s paradise Shasta Cascade
California’s northeast corner, often overlooked by some other more known regions, is an outdoor lover’s paradise, with safe to explore volcanoes, hushed forests and trout-filled rivers. This is the place for blue-ribbon fishing, houseboats anchored in cool lakes, countless campgrounds and inviting trails for hiking and mountain biking. All this, plus friendly towns like Chico and Chester and rural farms in fertile lands near the Upper Sacramento River. Redding, the region’s largest city, makes a good base, with riverfront trails, Turtle Bay Exploration Park and elegant Sundial Bridge, designed by well-known Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava.
Explore the diverse landscapes of Florida’s Paradise Coast
Situated along 30 miles of coastline, Florida’s Paradise Coast – Naples, Marco Island & the Everglades – offers the perfect alternative to bustling city life in nearby Miami. Visitors looking for an unforgettable beach holiday can enjoy all that and more in the region. Visitors can enjoy an impressive selection of restaurants and boutique stores in the sought-after city of Naples, some of the world’s best beaches in the idyllic fishing village of Marco Island, as well as thrilling adventures by swamp tour in Everglades National Park.
Experience wine country without the crowds in SLO CAL, California
Home to three award-winning wine regions, SLO CAL is the perfect destination for wine lovers looking for a more intimate wine-tasting experience, with many small, family-friendly wineries located across the rolling hills. Located midway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, the scenic roads in Paso Robles make it an ideal spot for cyclists to enjoy the very best of wine country. Visitors can explore at a leisurely pace with Central Coast Outdoors, which offers half-day or full-day cycle tours to a number of Paso Robles wineries.
Swap San Francisco for Sacramento, California
Beat the crowds in San Francisco and head to Sacramento, America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital. The city is buzzing with things to taste, see and savour. Travellers can pick their pleasures with delicious farm-fresh restaurants, plentiful farmers markets, home-grown breweries, colourful street murals, Gold Rush-era family attractions, or a sunset walk along the river. Located in the Central Valley, which produces half of the fruits and vegetables grown in the US, Sacramento takes farm-to-table dining to a whole new level. Farmers markets can be found all over, as well as restaurants priding themselves on locally sourced specialties from cheap eats to Michelin-starred gems. In addition to exquisite food and drink options, Sacramento has a world of culture and heritage to offer. Stroll down its raised wooden sidewalks, passing by 19th-century buildings, horse-drawn carriages and rustic country stores and antique shops.
Experience Pittsburgh by bike or hike
A world-class path for all kinds of adventurers, The Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) in Pittsburgh encourages every type of outdoor recreation from lovers of cycling to runners and hikers. The 150-mile route winds through valleys, snakes around mountains and plays witness to some of the most beautiful scenery in the USA. Pittsburgh is the perfect spot for launching or concluding a journey along the GAP, with opportunities to explore the city’s Downtown and South Side. Travellers can indulge in culture at the Andy Warhol Museum or experience the city’s ever-growing craft scene.
Hike Seattle’s Mount Rainier in Washington State
Seattle is bordered by two mountain ranges, the Cascades to the east and Olympics to the west, and anchoring the city in the far south is Mount Rainier. Mount Rainier makes up Mount Rainier National Park and evokes wonder and adventure in all those who visit. At 14,410 ft, the mountain has over 130 trail options and around 60 accommodation options for overnight visitors. Boasting spectacular colours each season, visitors can choose to take a scenic Mount Rainier gondola or hike to the tallest peaks and soak in the magnificent views. www.visitseattle.org
Explore Colorado’s lesser-known national park
One of the lesser-visited out of the four Colorado national parks, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is perfect for travellers looking to explore unbeaten paths and make the most of the wilderness. Standing at 2,250 feet tall and located in the western part of the state, Black Canyon of the Gunnison is one of nature’s greatest creations. All-year-round travellers can experience hiking, rock climbing and kayaking. The park boasts numerous accommodation options from lodges, to bed and breakfasts and for the adventurous, camping.
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