Top 5 U.S. Vacation Destinations

Couple-with-food-and-mapThe top five U.S. vacations are popular for good reason. They offer fun and relaxation for the whole family, and sometimes a touch of history.

Branson, Mo.

Branson is a live entertainment hotspot. It offers three lakes and gorgeous views of the Ozarks, which are especially lovely in the fall. Visitors enjoy zipline rides, cave exploration and Ride the Ducks downtown tours that suddenly sail onto the lake, delighting children. The area also offers wineries and golf courses.

Visitors may want to dress up a bit for the shows. Casual clothes are great for hiking, boating and souvenir shopping. Summer weather lingers in Branson, but nights can be cool in the fall.

United-States-capitol-buildingWashington, D.C.

Washington, D.C., is a place everyone should see. Visit the Smithsonian, gawk at the Hope Diamond, and walk on the Mall. Eat out in trendy Adams Morgan and explore nostalgic Georgetown. Take a spin on the C&O canal towpath or stroll the miles of trails on Roosevelt Island to catch a cool breeze.

Padre Island, Texas

Padre Island offers choices. Camp in unspoiled areas of the island or stay in South Padre Island, where there are fireworks over the water and countless entertainment options. South Padre Island has world-class kiteboarding, nature trails and fishing from the beaches or in the Laguna Madre.

Families avoid South Padre Island during spring break but love it in the fall. Rates drop, and the atmosphere is relaxed and casual. Attractions include Gravity Park and the kid-favorite Black Dragon Pirate Ship. Dress casually, but bring windbreakers and hats in case you go on the water.

Chicago-skylineChicago, Ill.

In Illinois, get to know downtown Chicago. The Loop has art, gorgeous parks and the lake. Be sure to look into the Bean at Millennium Park and let the kids splash in Crown Fountain.

Nearby, the Riverwalk is vehicle-free, and a bike path traces the lakefront. See the lake and the city from a water taxi; it’s a great value. Finish your day with a delicious Chicago pizza or eat in one of dozens of gourmet restaurants.

Chicago weather is at its best in late summer or early fall, but you’ll want to be ready for anything. Dress in layers and bring your umbrella in case of thunderstorms.

Mt. Lassen, Calif.

Mt. Lassen draws no crowds but has stunning volcanic scenery. Visitors pitch pop-up tents in uncrowded campgrounds where city kids can see the Milky Way or stay at the 100-year-old Drakesbad Hotel where natural mineral waters fill the pool.

Climb Mt. Lassen if you are acclimated or hike Red Cinder Cone. It’s like wading in dry sand, but if you reach the top, you can explore inside a volcano. Steam vents, mud pots and peaceful forests are an easy stroll from the road.

Mt. Lassen’s fall weather is perfect, though you might see a thunderstorm. Cool Subway Cave is nearby, and Reno is slightly farther away.



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