As a college student, you go to class every day to learn new things. That’s well and good, but you can enhance your education by traveling as much as you can, especially when you’re young and have few responsibilities. Even as you get older, though, you can always rely on travel to expand your knowledge and horizons. With that being said, here are 15 places in America you need to visit before you die.
1. Washington, D.C.
History, history, history. If you’re a history buff, then you’ll love Washington, D.C. But, even if you’re not a history buff, you’ll love D.C. How could you not? It’s the (figurative) center of the U.S. Between the monuments and memorials, museums, the embassies, and the Capitol Building, just to name a few things, there’s plenty to keep you busy. And when you’ve had your fair share of being the typical tourist, there are tons of cool places to eat, drink (they have speakeasies there!), and shop.
2. Orlando, Florida
I mean, Universal Studio’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter is probably the closest you’re ever going to get to Hogwarts. Disney World is there, too, which is pretty cool, but not Harry Potter cool.
3. Chicago, Illinois
I didn’t just include Chicago because I’m from Illinois. There’s a lot to see in Chicago including the Riverwalk, Millennium Park, the “Bean,” and the Hershey store. You can even go to Wrigley Field and see the Cubs play, but I don’t know why you’d want to do that. In all seriousness, though, Navy Pier is incredible and is chill-inducing, especially if you’re a fan of Veronica Roth’s Divergent trilogy.
4. St. Louis, Missouri
It’s the home of the Cardinals, Busch Stadium, and the best fans in baseball. Need I say more? But, really, there’s nothing quite like a Cardinals baseball game, where you get to see the likes of Yadier Molina, Matt Carpenter, and Adam Wainwright play their hearts out on the field. The atmosphere at the stadium and in downtown St. Louis is especially charged in October. Also, the Arch is near Busch, and if you’ve never been to St. Louis before, it’s something you need to see.
5. Cooperstown, New York
Speaking of baseball, if you’re a fan of the sport at all, the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown is something you have to see. Yes, the museum is huge and once you see a certain amount of it, you’re just done (because we all know that’s what happens when we go to museums). Still, it’s so cool to learn how baseball started and to learn all about the big-name players (think Babe Ruth). Cooperstown is also a cool area in general. It’s very quaint, and it feels like you’re walking around colonial America while you’re there.
6. Nashville, Tennessee
If you like music at all, you need to go to Nashville at least once in your life. Even if you’re not a fan of country music (which I am not), it’s still worth the trip. You can see RCA Studio B, you know, the place where Elvis Presley, the King of Rock and Roll, recorded. If you go there and don’t get the chills, there’s something wrong with you. Also, just because you’re not a country music fan, it doesn’t mean you won’t appreciate the Country Music Hall of Fame (who doesn’t like Dolly Parton and the Dixie Chicks?). And don’t forget to walk down Printer’s Alley.
7. Cleveland, Ohio
Again, if you like music, this is a must. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which includes almost every popular artist ever, is in Cleveland. You can see displays featuring everyone from Lady Gaga to Michael Jackson to Fall Out Boy to Heart to The Rolling Stones and just about every genre in existence. If you go to the museum, make sure you give yourself plenty of time to explore it—you could easily spend a whole day there. The Alternative Press (AP) Magazine is also based in Cleveland, so that’s pretty cool.
8. Los Angeles, California
You can go to a Dodgers baseball game, go to the beach, and explore Hollywood. You can see the Hollywood sign, stroll along the Walk of Fame, take a tour and see the homes of your (possibly) favorite stars, and so much more in L.A. You’re also only about an hour’s road trip away from Disneyland.
9. Cocoa Beach, Florida
Obviously, if you go to Cocoa Beach, you’re going to want to spend a lot of time relaxing on the beach. You’ll also probably want to go to the Ron Jon Surf Shop because that’s just what you do when you see one of those stores. Kennedy Space Center is a short drive from Cocoa Beach, so make sure you stop there, too.
10. The Outer Banks, North Carolina
In the Outer Banks, you can not only relax on a number of beautiful beaches, like Nags Head, but can also learn a lot of history. You can go to Roanoke Island, where the English Roanoke Colony disappeared in the 1500s. If you watched American Horror Story: Roanoke and are superstitious at all, you might want to avoid Roanoke Island during the Blood Moon. You can also learn about the Wright brothers in Kitty Hawk and visit several lighthouses in the Outer Banks.
11. Portland, Maine
Like the Outer Banks, you can see lighthouses, like Portland Head Light, in this area. Where the shores of the Outer Banks are sandy, though, the shores of Portland are rocky, and beautiful in a completely different way. In Portland, you can also visit the home of Henry Wadsworth-Longfellow and Maine’s historical society. Don’t forget to check out the Old Port, too.
12. Bangor, Maine
The home of Stephen King, Bangor is a reader’s dream come true. Here you can see the setting of some of his prolific books like It and Pet Sematary. You can also drive by and even stop at his house to take a picture of it, just don’t be a creeper and hang out there or anything. Be sure to check out SK Tours before you head to Bangor if you want to get the most out of your trip.
13. Salem, Massachusetts
I hope you realize this, but Salem is where the Salem Witch Trials took place. Though you (hopefully) know none of the people who were executed or blamed of witchcraft were actually witches, there’s still something undeniably witchy about Salem. It is also the birthplace and home of Nathaniel Hawthorne, who is nothing short of a literary genius. You can actually visit the home in which he was born and the House of the Seven Gables, which was the basis of his novel of the same name.
14. Sedona, Arizona
If you want to get a taste of the beauty of the desert, head to Sedona. In addition to its beauty, Sedona seemingly transports you back to the Old West simply because of the landscape.
15. Niagara Falls, New York
If you’re daring, you can take a boat ride to get up close and personal with the falls. Or, if water makes you nervous like it does me, you can just admire if from afar. Either way, it’s awe-inspiring.