Adventure Stories

Travel: 10 Laid-Back American Adventures

Written by Wendy Altschuler

Sometimes adventure calls and getting in the car and on the road is the only way to scratch that itch. Below are ten low key, high adventure, American travel destinations worth a look-see. Roll down the windows, blast the tunes and let the sun shine on your face. Go explore!

Highway 1 Discovery Route, California

To hit multiple under-the-radar American towns with one stone, take a scenic top-down drive along the Highway 1 Discovery Route, which winds down 101 miles of stunning shoreline, through ten charming communities of coastal San Luis Obispo County—Arroyo Grande Valley, Avila Beach, Cambria, Cayucos, Edna Valley, Los Osos/Baywood Park, Nipomo, Oceano, Ragged Point and San Simeon.

Top travel highlights include: wine tasting in one of the three wine regions, elephant seal sightings, Hearst Castle, the Coastal Discovery Center, Hearst Ranch zebras, a trip to one of the ten spread-out beaches, heart-pumping hiking in one of the twelve state parks and the overall experience of soaking in sunshine and feeling the cool breezes mess up your hair as it puffs in through your car window.

Sunny California, Credit-Wendy Altschuler

Southern Utah

Why not view a few American towns from the comfort of a bicycle seat? Pure Adventures leads explorers through southern Utah so that they can experience first-hand the splendor that the natural environment provides. The US Zion & Bryce Biking Hiking Camping Tour includes illustrious sites like the quirky hoodoos of Bryce Canyon National Park, the cool rock formations of Kodachrome State Park, the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and the sandstone cliffs of Zion National Park and some lesser known ones in Red Canyon State Park and along Highway 12.

You’ll, of course, get to witness the experience from a newfangled perspective—out in the open and sometimes on a paved road where cars aren’t allowed. You’ll bike, camp, hike and dine with a small group and have the experience of a lifetime.

Go take a hike, Credit-Wendy Altschuler

Whitefish, Montana

Whitefish is one of those indelible towns that makes you squeal, “I could live here!”

Winter adventurers love Whitefish Mountain Resort for its powder-filled skiing and snowboarding (including night skiing). Newbies, kids, or folks that need a refresher benefit from full or half day lessons through the Ski & Ride School. Summer visitors can ride a chair lift up the mountain and hike down, picking huckleberries along the way. The mountain also has a zip line; an adventure course in the trees, Aerial Adventure Park; an Alpine Slide; a guided and informative elevated footpath tour, Walk in the Treetops; and blood-pumping, dirt-filled mountain biking.

When staying on the mountain, the European-style Kandahar Lodge is the best, especially because its home to Café Kandahar, which is known for its creative tasting menus and delicious wine.

And, if all of that wasn’t enough, visitors can take a winter sleigh ride, hosted by Bar W Guest Ranch; go on a fat biking adventure with Whitefish Bike Retreat and visit Glacier National Park with Glacier Adventure Guides (snow shoeing, winter camping and ice climbing in the winter and hiking, back packing and rock climbing in the summer).

If you want to enjoy excellent spa services or stay by the lake, The Lodge at Whitefish Lake is perfect for those sunset views over the Whitefish Lake.

Kayaking with my boys at Many Glacier in Glacier National Park, Credit-Wendy Altschuler

Redding, California

If you’re one of those people that enjoys mountain views, sun-filled skies, nearby lakes and National Parks, and 200 miles of hiking, biking and running trails, then Redding is definitely for you. Don’t miss Sundial Bridge, a suspension bridge that stretches 710 feet across the Sacramento River, which is a working sundial—spend the 15 minutes to walk across the bridge, you won’t regret it.

Other must-do points of interest are: Shasta Dam, Lassen Volcanic National Park, Turtle Bay Exploration Park & Museum, Shasta Lake, Lake Shasta Caverns and McArthur Burney Falls State Park. And, of course, there are loads of places for dining, live music and entertainment, and shopping.

Credit-Wendy Altschuler

Oglesby, Illinois

The number one thing to do south of the Illinois River is visit Starved Rock Park in Oglesby, a town with just over 4,000 people. You’ll hike up to 13 miles on trails, under towering trees, to the base of amazing waterfalls, and explore the Lodge where you’ll see the largest two-sided fireplace in Illinois. Guests can camp nearby or stay in a cabin in the park for the full experience.

Beyond hiking, there are trolley tours, horseback riding, canoeing, eagle watching and cruises available. If you want to venture out of the park and see something different, check out Matthiessen State Park, August Hill Winery and Tasting Room, Illinois River Winery, Enchanted Forest (a kids’ paradise of indoor sweat-producing activities) or Hegeler Carus Mansion.

Credit-Wendy Altschuler

Naples, Florida

The hot Florida sun in the south is welcome for most people that are forced to bundle up and stay indoors during the chilly winter months throughout the norther states.

Take a jog or stroll down Clam Pass and visit the beach, where you can comb the sand for sea treasures, feathers and shells. The Naples Botanical Garden, Waterside Shops, Naples Pier, The Spa at Naples Grande (and meditation garden) and an Everglades excursion are worth your time as are the restaurants, boutiques and art galleries along Fifth Avenue South and Third Street South.

Clam Pass, Naples, Florida, Credit-Wendy Altschuler

Flagstaff, Arizona

Have you ever wanted to see the Grand Canyon in a way that most people don’t? We’re talking about putting your body to work by taking a trip IN the canyon, versus just on the rim or outer edges, on a rim-to-rim hiking adventure that you’ll never forget.

Four Season Guides will lead you on an epic four-day adventure from the North Rim—trekking down the North Kaibab Trail, past the Roaring Springs and Bright Angle Creek—to the Ribbon Falls, The Box and the Colorado River (where you’ll relax for a spell at Phantom Ranch), and then you’ll make your accent up to Indian Gardens and Plateau Point before celebrating on the South Rim on Day four.

The Grand Canyon, Credit-Wendy Altschuler

New Buffalo, Michigan

A fun place to go with your gal pals for a weekend escape is New Buffalo, Michigan. Here you can rent a limo and then visit several wineries like: Tabor Hill Winery & Restaurant, for beautiful outdoor views; Gravity Winery for a modern and youthful feel; and Round Barn Winery for a rustic experience.

If wine isn’t your thing, grab a brew at The Stray Dog Bar & Grill. Downtown New Buffalo has plenty of enchanting breakfast joints as well as little boutiques that line Whittaker and Buffalo Streets and, of course, there are many house rentals, Bed and Breakfasts and hotels that can accommodate your group.

In the warmer months, visit Public Beach and Lakefront Park to get your sand and water fix.

Girls weekend getaway, Credit-Wendy Altschuler

Mount Washington, New Hampshire

Go on a solo adventure or travel with a friend and take part in a mini retreat with SwellWomen.

If you have a free time at the end of August, check out the SwellWomen Mount Washington Golf, Yoga and Wellness Retreat. Here you’ll practice your swing, with like-minded women, enjoy daily yoga classes, learn how to go deep with meditation, indulge in spa treatments, and have the benefit of enjoying the vacation without worrying about the details or logistics.

Another great mini retreat is the SwellCo-Ed Mini Yoga Getaway at Lotus Feed, Sonoma County—guests can enjoy meditation, yoga, farm-to-table community dining and campfire fun. The biggest perk of this retreat is that you’ll get to experience it with the owner of SwellWomen, Lulu Agan!

SwellWomen and head Bliss Officer, Lulu Agan, Credit-Wendy Altschuler

Carlsbad, California

Everyone knows and loves San Diego, California but have you considered Carlsbad, San Diego’s coastal getaway? Visit here for: topnotch resorts—or family-friendly, affordable ones like the West Inn & Suites, vast beaches, golfing, helicopter tours, fun seaside mobile beer tours, kayaking and surfing.

Outdoor enthusiasts will love Buena Vista Lagoon, Aviara Trails and the Agua Hedionda Lagoon & Discovery Center.




About the author

Wendy Altschuler

Wendy Altschuler is a seasoned writer, editor and adventurer with over a decade's worth of publishing credits. She writes regularly for several publications (web and print), churning out indelible lifestyle, travel, dining, spa and parenting articles on the regular. Wendy spent over four years as a contributing writer and special correspondent for Sun-Times Media and while there she developed and wrote her own parenting column: Wendy City Mom. Wendy's stories have been published in: MSN, Tribune Brand Publishing, Modern Luxury, Make it Better, Red Tricycle, The Daily Meal, Spafinder, Chicago Parent, Blood and Thunder, Five on Five, Yoga Magazine, Yoga Chicago, Chicago Now, The Listen to Your Mother Show, The Association of Writers and Writer's Programs, Eluxe Magazine and more. Fun facts: Wendy was born and raised in Montana; while earning her undergrad in Chicago, she studied abroad in India; formerly, Wendy wrote itineraries and travel tips for a luxury, boutique travel company; and Wendy, A.K.A. Drew Grit, was an athlete and writer/editor for the Windy City Rollers. She's always looking for an adventure — hello skydiving, trapeze, road trips, urban rappelling and parenthood — and she seeks out stories to write home about.
Follow Wendy on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter: @wendyaltschuler or visit her website:

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