Travel, Science, Now + Beyond

15 surreal places you have to visit before you turn 30

It's not all skyscrapers and beautiful people.

Your 20s is a time to see the world.

You’re young, you may not have many commitments, and you’re flexible enough to make day trips, sleep in hostels, or travel with a minimalistic mindset. There are a number of beautiful places in nature that are right here in the United States. Some of which you may recognize, others are the epitome of hidden treasure. These 15 spots are found across the country, so even if you can’t see them all … you can certainly see some! Get out there and get your travel on with these breath-taking natural destinations!

1. Yellowstone National Park

beautiful places, trout lake yellowstone national park

This one is a given and probably on many travelers’ lists. Yellowstone National Park spans Idaho, Minnesota and Wyoming and is the world’s first national park. It has mountains, lakes and forests as well as copious wildlife. You can visit for a day or spend a night at one of the park’s campgrounds.


2. Na Pali Coast

napali coast, beautiful places,

Hawaii has a lot to offer in terms of natural wonders, but the Nu Pali Coast is arguably the most impressive. It sits along the 17-kilometer Kalalau Trail and is full of lush, green mountains and ridges. Explorers can only access the coast by a long hike or boat.

3. Biosphere 2

beautiful places, biosphere 2

Located in Oracle, the University of Arizona’s Biosphere 2 houses seven actively researched model ecosystems. The ecosystems include a mature rainforest, a 2600 m^3 ocean, forested swamps, a tropical savanna grassland, a coastal fog desert, three hillslope grass-shrubland landscapes and an urban ecosystem.

4. Skagit Valley Tulip Fields

beautiful places, skagit valley

Thousands flock to Mount Vernon, Washington to see the Skagit Valley Tulips in bloom during varying dates each year. The festival lasts 30 days and features art shows, galas, concerts and local tours.

5. Hamilton Pool

beautiful places, hamilton pool

Created when the dome of an underground river collapsed, Hamilton Pool is a natural pool located just west of Austin, Texas. It is home to the endangered Golden-Cheeked Warbler and open for swimming reservations.

6. Northern Lights

northern lights, beautiful places

The Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis, are a well-known natural wonder. The lights are best seen in Alaska, if you’re staying in America. They are caused by the collision of gaseous particles in the Earth atmosphere and charged particles released from the sun’s atmosphere, creating beautiful yellow-green lights in the night sky.

7. Thor’s Well

thors well, beautiful places

Thor’s Well is a natural hole on the Oregon coast that seems to drain water from the ocean. Also known as the drainpipe of the Pacific, the well is very dangerous and not for the faint of heart. Nonetheless, adventurers and photographers visit the spectacular site.

8. Cache River State Natural Area

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Situated in southern Illinois, these wetlands total almost 15,000 acres. You can hike, bike, boat, fish or hunt in the area.

9. Niagara Falls

beautiful places, niagra falls

Niagara Falls is another natural wonder on most travelers’ lists. It is America’s oldest state park where you can hike its incredible landscape. There are also a plenty of birds for those interested in bird watching, and golf courses for players of all skill levels.

10. Mammoth Cave

beautiful places, mammoth cave

Mammoth Cave Natural Park is a “grand, gloomy and peculiar place,” said early guide Stephen Bishop. What’s not to love?! It is the world’s longest known cave systems. Plan a visit to catch a tour, hike, canoe, picnic, go horseback riding, cycling and more.

11. Blackwater Falls State Park

beautiful places, blackwater falls

Named for the amber-colored waters of the Blackwater River Falls, the West Virginia park offers lodging, restaurants, and even Wi-Fi access! (Though we recommend you disconnect on your visit.) The park sports magnificent views and could the perfect place to plan your next event for nature lovers.

12. Sequoia National Park

Giant trees span this beautiful park located in the southern Sierra Nevada. There are places to camp, lodge and eat, and chances to explore hiking trails in a forest that is home to the world’s largest living tree: the General Sherman Tree.

13. Great Smoky Mountains

beautiful places, smoky mountains

Part of a national park located in both Tennesse and North Carolina, the Great Smoky Mountains are a world-renowned, beautiful place in nature. The mountains are home to a diverse selection of plant and animal life, and there are plenty of activities to do including camping under the stars and hiking. Bring pepper spray!

14. The Everglades

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The nearest city to the Everglades is Florida City. It is a 1.5 million acre wetland on the southern tip of the state. Many rare and endangered species call the Everglades home.

15. Glacier National Park

beautiful places, glacier national park

Glacier National Park is a wilderness area of roughly 1,600 square miles in the Rocky Mountains of Montana. It has more than 700 miles of hiking trails and opportunities to backpack, cycle, and camp. It is home to mountain goats, grizzly bears and more.