I’ve been working on this for months and months now (honestly you guys have no idea how long this took)! I have a 100 Wonders of the World book and I noticed there weren’t very many areas in the United States. I knew I was from a beautiful country so I decided to go out of my way and make a 100 Wonders list of the place myself. It took a lot of work, time, and energy. This is 2 wonders from each state, get ready for a lot of nature hikes, scenic views, and architectural sites around the United States of America.
This had to be done is 2 parts because it was so time consuming to make! I hop you enjoy it and get to add to your list of places to go.
Buck’s Pocket State Park
Located in Oak Grove, Alabama, this is the place to see if you like camping, hiking, and coming soon ATV trails. It’s part of the Appalachian Mountain range, which runs up and down the east coast. On Lake Guntersville is the perfect area to go fish, specifically for bass fish. What you really want to see is Jim Lynn Overlook, that’s the famous view from a boardwalk which has a picnic area too.
Mount Ruffner Nature Preserve
In Birmingham houses Mount Ruffner, where mining used to be. Today the reserve is over 1,000 acres and has plenty of hiking trails to see panoramic views. Are you planning a wedding? They have an area here where it hold dozens of people and an amphitheater if you need it. If you want you can take a mine tour, which were used until the 1950s and hundreds of tons were mined daily.
Kenai Fjords National Park
In Borough, Alaska Kenai Fjords National Park rising out of the ocean. Norway isn’t the only one with fjords. Throughout winter car travel is nearly impossible and roads are usually closed. Walking, biking, skiing, and snowmobiling is always allowed, and if you want to see it from the water there are boat tours along with kayaking available.
Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center
Want to see a wild animal up close or even feed a moose? Now you can! All of the animals that are there have come from difference reasons and backgrounds. Some were abandoned when they were young while others became seriously injured. Today this is their permanent home, mostly because of all of the human interaction and it became illegal in Alaska to release mammals to the wild in 2010.
The Wave Canyon
Forget the Grand Canyon (okay, maybe not), and see the wave! This is also in Utah too, so it straddles the border a bit. Apparently you also need a permit to access it which can be planned for months in advance or the day before. You can learn more about that here since I don’t personally know all of the details.
In what is now Winslow, Arizona, 50,000 years ago a meteor came crashing to Earth and left the best preserved crater known to man. There are viewing platforms and there is a tour that goes all the way around the rim for 45 minutes to an hour (bring hiking shoes!). Traveling with an RV? No worries, they have RV parking too.
Hot Springs National Park
In Hot Springs, Arkansas (imagine that!) lies Hot Springs National Park. There are hikes available, 26 miles worth, for all skill levels. There is picnic areas and campground of course, would it be a national park without those things? It doesn’t seem like anyone uses the hot springs to bathe in today, however you can learn about the history of bathhouses and take home some fresh spring water.
Petit Jean State Park
Arkansas’s first state park, named at Petit Jean Mountain. What you really want to see is Petit Jean’s Gravesite because of the sweeping views seen at every angle of the park. There are several other outlooks to see with different views along with several hiking trails to try at different skill levels.
Also knowns as Mackerricher State Park, this glass beach is found in California. This came to be because people in the early 1900s decided this would be a great dump site for all of their garbage. This was ongoing until 1967. Many different groups of people over the decades cleaned up this beach but the damage was done. Because of the erosions of the waves today the beach has rounded off pieces of glass that look like colorful rocks. Can I remind you that if you go there to please leave the glass there and not take any home, apparently this is a serious problem.
Who said there aren’t any castles in America? Okay, so castles in America that actually housed royalty from 1,000 years ago aren’t really a thing but we have mansions that eccentric billionaires built just for fun. In Sim Simeon, California is Hearst Castle. It was built in 1865 by George Hearst on his 40,000 acres of land. Over time it spread to over 250,000 acres (that’s got to be larger than some countries in Europe, right?). In 1947 the owner became ill so he had to leave his unfinished home, with 165 rooms. If that’s not a castle I don’t know what is.
Mesa Verde National Park
I’ve mentioned this before, and I’ll say it again. We Americans tend to forget about Native Americans. The Pueblo people of what is now Colorado lived on these lands from 600 to 1300. Today their old towns still stand and you can hike through them along the cliffs. This area alone contains over 5000 sites along 40 miles of road so there is plenty to see!
In Colorado Springs is the home of Seven Falls, which is seven distinct waterfalls along 224 steps. If you don’t feel like walking there is an elevator to the Eagle’s Nest. There you can see panoramic views of the entire place (that might be the better option, right?). Midnight Falls is also a site to see, and is in that area.
Kent Falls State Park
In the town on Kent is Kent Falls State Park where streams empty into the Housatonic River and throughout it showcase waterfalls. The best time to see the falls is probably the spring, since all of the snow is melting from winter by then. In fall you can see all of the New England fall foliage around the site as well. Although the hiking trail isn’t very long it can get steep, which also means some awesome views!
East Rock Park
In New Haven, Connecticut is East Rock Park. On top of the mountain you can see an entire view of the town. Depending on the weather you can go hiking, snowshoeing, skiing, and biking throughout the park. Just like New England is famous for, there is a covered bridge you can visit and walk through too.
This house is nearly 47,000 square feet, that’s several miles! It has dozens of rooms and has the largest French garden in North America. I’ve only been in one palace and this looks like it could be one too. It was built in the early 1900s but the design was from the late 1800s. Tours are self guided but they have signs telling you where to go, probably so you don’t get lost.
It sounds like an alcoholic named this park. It’s located in Wilmington, Delaware. There is a zoo, a stadium, hiking and biking trails all throughout this park. Even pavilions to see the views. It’s also pet friendly (it is surprising how most of these places really aren’t). Want something to eat? The concession stands at the zoo and stadium will have something.
Dubbed America’s oldest city, founded in 1565 it’s also the Bay of Dolphins in Florida. Now, if you actually go there they won’t call it that, it’s really called Matanzas Bay but if you know Spanish you know that means slaughter. I think it’s sad that we remember Menendez killed hundreds of Frenchmen right there on those waters back in 1565 so I call it the original name, Bay of Dolphins. Today Saint Augustine has dozens of attractions from the Fountain of Youth (disgusting water, I warned you), Fort Castillo de San Marcos (one of the largest forts built out of coquina), and St. George Street, America’s oldest street.
Anna Maria Island
White sand beaches, hot weather, and sunshine is what Florida is known for and this is where you’ll find it. On Anna Maria Island is Manatee Beach Park. It’s a west coast beach on Florida, which may or may not be better depending on your tastes. The water almost look like I could jump in right now!
This site is right on the border of Tennessee and Georgia. Some sources say it’s in Georgia while others say it’s in Tennessee. Rock City Gardens has a 4,100 foot walking trail that leads to some of the most amazing views ever. This even includes a rope bridge. Pictured is Lover’s Leap. At the top of Lovers Leap it is said you can see seven states.
Providence Canyon State Park
Arizona isn’t the only one with a canyon, this is Providence Canyon State Park in Georgia. Gullies are seen here as deep as 150 feet and they aren’t naturally occurring, poor farming in the 1800s caused this to happen. Most guests stay behind the fencing but there are hiking trails available for those who can handle it. You can even stay overnight in the canyon if you want.
Valley of the Temples
Located in the town of Kaneohe is the Valley of the Temples. There are temples and shrines of many different religions here but the most famous one is Byodo-In Temple at the end of the road. It’s a replica of a temple in Kyoto, Japan, since if it were an actual temple tourists would not be allowed. Don’t forget to go to the very end of the road and get another amazing view.
In Hamakua on the Big Island is the Waipio Valley, or Lookout points. It’s also home of Hawaii’s tallest waterfall, Hiilawe Falls, that’s over 1,300 feet. There is hiking, van tours, and horseback riding tours of this beautiful place. Driving through the area yourself isn’t recommended unless you have 4 wheel drive.
Hells Canyon National Recreation Area
Right on the border of Oregon and Idaho is Hells Canyon National Recreation Area (what a mouthful). The water that carved this canyon is called Snake River and it’s just a little one. White water rafting, kayaking, boating, fishing, hunting and camping are all allowed within the area and is encouraged since you can’t see much of this beauty from the road.
Sawtooth National Recreation Area
There is 756,000 acres of beautiful scenery at the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. Biking, hiking, camping, boating, canoeing, and so many other activities are allowed here to help you soak up the beauty. There are other 700 miles of trails and the mountains are over 10,000 feet giving you some great views! If you don’t like walking, there are scenic drives available too. Yes, please!
Illinois is not just Chicago, in fact, it’s home of ancient Native American lands called the Cahokia Mounds. The Mississippians were the tribe that lived here and it was a prosperous city back in 1250. There are dozens of mounds that show history and how people lived over a hundred years before Columbus landed in what is now Haiti.
Starved Rock State Park
One of the most famous places in Illinois is Starved Rock State Park and it’s best to visit right after a heavy rain. One minute you’re in flat farm country surrounded by corn and the next you’re seeing this beautiful cliff face of a rock with waterfalls. Hiking is also available but if you don’t like that option there is a trolley tour.
Hoosier National Forest
A forest might not seem like it belongs on this wonders list, but this one is over 200,000 acres and is filled with rolling hills. Hiking, camping, or horseback riding is encouraged on many of the trails that are available. Across this forest is where the American Bison used to walk and was once the site of many Native American villages, forts, and trading posts.
The longest cave in Indiana, which makes one of the wonders, is available through boat or walking tours. There are waterfalls to see in this cavern as well. If you want to test your luck mining for gemstones you can! The best part might be that it is child friendly, so if you have kids bring them along and take them to the Indiana caverns!
Pikes Peak State Park
Although many people think of Pikes Peak in Colorado, this state park and one of the wonders on this list is in Iowa. Picnicking and hiking is encouraged tat this park, mostly because there are several scenic viewpoints that show waterfalls, limestones, and valleys. In 1837 a man with the last name of McGregor built a ferry system across the river, so the town built a landing after him. After he died his great-niece said no people can settle on that land so today it looks similar to what it did over a century ago.
Ledges State Park
In this state park that makes it on the wonders list is another ancient Native America site from a few different tribes. Today there is plenty of picnicking spots, hiking trails, and camping grounds to go around. Park your RV or go fishing on one of the rivers that flow through the area. This is a beautiful area in Iowa that can’t be missed.
The Keeper of the Plains
In Wichita, Kansas is a 44 foot tall sculpture overlooking the city. It was created in 1974 to celebrate the bicentennial celebration of the United States. The ring of fire is turned on nightly after sunset (depending on the weather). The best part is anyone can view the sculpture, as it is wheelchair/handicap friendly.
Wilson State Park
Also known as Wilson Lake in Wilson, Kansas. Even though Kansas is a landlocked state this lake has over 100 miles a shoreline, making up for it and making it become one of Kansas’ wonders. Camping is available here, and not just in a tent they have cabins and showers, also with hiking, picnicking and a boat launch for you to go on the water.
Mammoth Cave National Park
This is probably the most famous cave in the country, and it deserves it’s spot on this wonders list. You don’t have to have a reservation but it’s recommended since this place can get packed! A few things that aren’t allowed are tripods and strollers (they probably get in the way, as you can see it can get narrow in these caves). Some trails are closed holidays and weekends so remember that before you head to the Mammoth Cave in Kentucky.
Cumberland Gap National Historical Park
Next on this wonders list is also home to an underground cave system called gap cave. If you love history then they also have an old settlement on the part. Otherwise you can also enjoy some amazing views! There is rock formations, waterfalls, and a trail system that goes over 24,000 miles.
Over 170 acres is this botanical garden that is home to tons of different species of birds. Because it’s semitropical flowers are budding all year round if that’s your style and there a Buddha statue on the grounds to be seen. There is an admission charge too (probably to upkeep the grounds themselves) and it’s open 9-5 daily, although it is closed on holidays.
Presbytere State Museum
Originally built in 1791 it reminds New Orleans of the past. The name has changed over the years too, originally it was called Casa Curial. It was a public building in 1835. After that is was a courthouse until 1911 when it became a museum. It houses several events throughout history including Hurricane Katrina that hit in 2005 and still is a strong scar in the people’s minds.
Acadia National Park
The only national park is over 40,000 acres. Even with harsh winters this national park is open all year round with things to do both in summer and winter. Although one of the best times of the year is to visit in Fall! I suggest driving (or hiking) up Cadillac Mountain and see the view of the ocean and rolling hills from there. There are several tours to choose from, so don’t be shy!
I know when we think of Maine we think of trees and nature, however a great town is housed just off of I-295 as well! It doesn’t even have 8,000 people however it is home to L.L. Bean. If you like the ocean, this place has the views and beaches. If you like hiking, this place has the trails. If you like deserts, then Freeport also has one of those too! It has something for everything, which is kind of amazing for a small town.
On the border of Virginia and Maryland is an island where wild horses live. Actually, scientists aren’t sure if they’re classified as ponies or not since living on the island has shrunken their size over the centuries. Its said some of the first Europeans that came here lost their horses back in the 1600s and 1700s and now their horses are wild. If you do go here, these horses aren’t pets, don’t pet them!
Catoctin Mountain Park
In north-central Maryland is this beautiful mountain park filed with hiking trails, horseback riding trails, and even during winter, cross country skiing trails. Even rock climbing is available. There are several lakes, ponds, and streams that have amazing views that need to be enjoyed. If you like nature this is one of the wonders you can’t miss.
One of the oldest cities in the United States, it’s full of history (and actually has over 50 historical landmarks). It’s easy to get to the rest of New England as well from Hartford, Providence, and Portland are just a few hours away. Boston is basically home of the revolutionary war and what made the 13 colonies leave England back in the 1770s. Today it’s modern and history mixed together.
At not even 3,500 feet it’s the highest natural point in all of Massachusetts. On a clear day at the top you can see 90 miles into the distance. Depending on the time of year there is hiking, camping, snowmobiling, hunting, cross country skiing, and so much more. You better believe this is the place to be in Fall when all of the leaves change colors.
Isle National Park
Not surprisingly, the next place on this wonders list is an island that belongs to Michigan. The island is closed to visitors during the winter (November-April). The Isle Royale is quite secluded, making it perfect for backpackers, hikers, campers, boaters, kayakers, and anyone else that wants to see the wilderness. For water enthusiasts, scuba diving and snorkeling is also encouraged here, so come to enjoy nature! If coming alone isn’t your thing there are guided tours.
Grand Traverse Bay
The bay itself have many lighthouses, state parks, and vineyards to try and the water is so picturesque and breathtaking. Another great place for outdoorsy people from boating, canoeing, kayaking, swimming, waterskiing, and so many more fun activities all in one bay.
Forestville Mystery Cave State Park
Honestly, before I made this list I had no idea the United States had so many caves that could be explored. Camping is available here either with or without a horse (there are 55 horse sites). There are also hiking, biking, and horseback riding trails that can be enjoyed or skiing and snowmobiling in winter.
Tettegouche State Park
Right next to Lake Superior in Minnesota is this beautiful state park. There is camping and hiking trails available. There are scenic viewpoints at shovel point, and several other cliffs and inlets over the lake. This place has to be seen in all weather, since it’s open all year round, it’s the perfect park to visit in spring, summer, fall, and winter.
Clark Creek Natural Area
Housed with over 700 acres, this is the next stop on our wonders list. It’s great for nature lovers with 50 waterfalls (some are 30 feet high!) with hiking being the favorite activity. If you’re into geocaching that’s the thing to do around here too, since it has several of them. Unfortunately camping isn’t allowed, which means this is more of a day trip rather than overnight.
Buccaneer State Park
Want a beach? Check. Want to camp? Check. Want to hike? Check. This state park has it all and is right on the coast for some beautiful sunset pictures. The Gulf Coast has been hit hard over the years from oil spills to hurricanes like Katrina, and now it deserves some love!
Weston Bend State Park
Not too far away from Kansas City is this beautiful state park in Missouri. It has campgrounds, picnic areas, hiking trails, and beautiful scenic outlooks throughout the area. The Missouri River is right nearby (you better believe that’s a beautiful view!) for those who love water and nature together. Who wouldn’t enjoy these views?
In Springfield is home of these caverns. It seems the United States is full of them. These ones are the only ones in North America that offer a full ride through. It’s a jeep that pulls a wagon and it actually looks like a lot of fun. Kids under 5 are free and there are group rates. If you’re in Missouri this is a place to go.
That’s the first 25 states. Stay tuned for the 2nd half coming soon!