Sea to shining sea, the United States boasts an abundance of diverse natural beauty. And yet most Americans say they haven’t seen enough of it, according to the “State of American Vacation 2018” by Project: Time Off, a program of the U.S. Travel Association. If you’re among them, and you want a little travel inspiration to jump-start your American adventure, join us on our journey to five of the most breathtaking natural wonders of the U.S.
Big Sur, California
Why it’s wonderful: Big Sur has a big reputation for some of the most marvelous vistas in the West. With rugged coastlines, panoramic views and picture-perfect sunsets, this 72-mile stretch of highway south from Carmel makes for a spectacular driving tour.
How to get there: Catch a flight to Monterey Regional Airport (7 miles north) or Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport (78 miles north) and get ready for incredible views along the winding two-lane Pacific Coast Highway, aka state Route 1.
What to do: Though any time of year is good to visit, December and January offer the opportunity to experience the sun portal at Pfeiffer Beach — an ethereal glow cast through Keyhole Arch during sunset. In January, you can also catch the annual migration of monarch butterflies from Andrew Molera State Park. And December through April, keep your eyes peeled for the majestic California gray whales, who swim close to the shoreline heading south and then (starting in February) return north with their babies by their sides.