Unique Travel Destinations in the US and Canada to Visit

If you’re like me then you are always on the search for new places to visit. 

Unlike most lists that only focus on larger cities, this post will focus on small towns, museums, hiking trails, a few US cities, as well as state and national parks. 

You’ll also notice a few spots in Maine. I’m a bit biased because Maine is my home state but these places should be on your bucket list too!

I hope you’ll find lots of inspiration for this year of travel! 

An A-Z list is always a fun idea but it can be challenging coming up with all these places. You’ll see I cheated a bit and had to skip X, Y, and Z (forgive me!). 

Without further ado, let’s get into my recommendations of where you should travel this year!

A – Air and Space Museum, Washington, DC

You probably already have Washington DC on your bucket list, but have you heard of this Smithsonian museum? 

The Air and Space Museum features incredible exhibits of the history of America’s journey through air and space (thus the name!). 

I was particularly moved by an ongoing film they had showing the news coverage of man’s first steps on the moon. I hadn’t before seen footage of this event until this moment and you could feel the energy in the room, decades later. 

Air and Space Museum, Washington DC

B – Badlands National Park, South Dakota

Badlands National Park is my favorite national park so far. There is something about the sci-fi like landscape that makes me feel as if I’m on a different planet. 

One of my favorite memories was on our way back to our campsite for the night. It was pitch black and all of a sudden, we realized our truck was surrounded by a herd of buffalo!

Leave room in your itinerary to explore the multiple trails in the Badlands and look for big-horned sheep on the cliff edges. 

Badlands National Park, South Dakota

C – Custer State Park, South Dakota

If any state park makes your bucket list, make it Custer State Park! You’ll find an amazing amount of wildlife including buffalo, elk, prairie dogs, foxes, and more!

You’ll want to be sure to set aside time to drive the 18 mile long wildlife loop that goes through the park. 

Custer State Park, South Dakota

D – Downeast, Maine

So technically, this is an entire region in Maine, but Downeast Maine should definitely be on your list! 

You’ll see that further down this list, I point out some of my favorite towns in this region, but I wanted to highlight the entire area as well. 

Downeast Maine is considered the most south east part of the state, roughly Bar Harbor to Lubec Maine. 

I argue this is the most beautiful region in Maine. 

Read More: Bar Harbor to Lubec: The Most Beautiful Part of Maine

Cutler Coast, Downeast Maine

E – East Lamoine and Lamoine Beach, Maine

On our visit to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park we visited a lesser known beach called Lamoine Beach. What I loved about this beach was while Acadia National Park’s beaches were full of visitors, this was virtually crowd-free. 

One of my favorite parts of living in Maine is how many hidden gems there are even next to the more touristy regions. 

Lamoine Beach, East Lamoine, Maine

F – Freeport, Maine

I grew up very close to Freeport, so I spent many weekends exploring this small town. Most recently we visited during the winter and found a serene and relaxing atmosphere. I highly recommend exploring Wolfe’s Neck State Park and Winslow Park along the coast. 

Read More: How to Spend 1 Day in Freeport: Winter Edition

Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park, Freeport, Maine

G – Gettysburg National Military Park, Pennsylvania

Gettysburg National Military Park was one of our favorite spontaneous adventures. We did the entire audio tour and truly enjoyed listening to the narrator as we drove through the battlefields. 

We also highly recommend you leave time to visit Gettysburger for a delicious lunch!

Gettysburg National Military Park, Pennslyvania

H – Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia

Another destination for history lovers, Harper’s Ferry is a charming area not too far from Washington DC or Shenandoah National Park.

Walk through the downtown and along the multiple trails. Also check out the town of Charles Town nearby. 

Historic downtown Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia

I – Illinois (Chicago)

One of the first trips my mom and I took together, Chicago holds a special place in my heart.

We booked a surprise trip with Pack Up and Go and didn’t know we were traveling to Chicago until we arrived at the airport!

Chicago, Illinois with my mom!

J – Jack Pine Trail, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia

If you’re visiting Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, be sure to visit the Jack Pine Trailhead. I loved this trail because it features unique landscape and coastal views. 

There are so many trails within Cape Breton Island. You’ll also want to check out Skyline Trail in Cape Breton Highlands National Park. 

Jack Pine Trail, Cape Breton Island
Jack Pine Trail, Cape Breton Island

K – Kansas City, Missouri

Visit Kansas City if you love baseball, BBQ, and museums.

Attend a Kansas City Royal’s game, the National WWI Museum, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, and eat your heart out at multiple BBQ options. 

L – Lubec, Maine

Lubec, Maine is my FAVORITE place in Maine. It could be because of its secluded location as the easternmost point of the US or the beautiful coastline, but either way, this is a bucket list destination you need to visit at least once. 

I’ll admit, there isn’t a ton of popular activities in this region. But if you love sea-kayaking, coastal walks, rocky beaches, and charming towns, you’ll love this small town.

We highly recommend you stay at Sunset Point RV Park if you’re RVing in the area. 

Sunset Point RV Park, Lubec, Maine

M – Mount Rushmore National Memorial, South Dakota

Mount Rushmore is absolutely breathtaking during sunrise. We arrived with plenty of time and got to experience this incredibly popular attraction crowd-free. There were a few people that arrived after us but nothing like the swarms of people who usually visit. 

The sunrise was also a magical time to visit because while the light rose onto the faces of our forefathers, it created a precious moment of contemplation and reflection. 

Read More: One Thrilling Week in South Dakota

Mount Rushmore National Memorial, South Dakota

N – Nova Scotia, Canada

There are so many amazing places to visit within Nova Scotia, so I couldn’t pick just one. It’s hard to believe Nova Scotia is still a place many people don’t know about. Located only a few hours from Maine, we have plans to visit often in the future. 

I would love to take the ferry from Bar Harbor to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.

Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia

O – Outer Banks, North Carolina

We’ve visited the Outer Banks multiple times with family and can’t wait to visit again!

This is the ultimate relaxation destination and especially those with kiddos or multi-generations.

With miles of beaches, seafood restaurants, and tons of attractions, this is a fun-filled vacation spot!

Outer Banks, North Carolina

P – Prince Edward Island

Oh Prince Edward Island, I can’t believe I’ve only just visited this region this year! Only a few hours from Maine, this is another destination I hope to visit often in the future. 

Be sure to visit Prince Edward Islands National Park, the North Cape region, and the small city of Charlottetown. 

Cabot Beach Provincial Park, Prince Edward Island, Canada
Cape Egmont Lighthouse, Prine Edward Island, Canada

Q – Quoddy Head State Park, Maine

Located in Lubec, Maine (featured above) is one of my favorite state parks. There is a lighthouse and coast trail system that is quintessential Maine. 

You also might want to visit Cobscook Bay State Park, Shackford State Park, and Roosevelt Campobello International Park (in Canada technically). 

Quoddy Head State Park, Maine

R – Rhinebeck, New York

I visited Rhinebeck New York while visiting the New York Sheep and Wool Festival. This is a popular event for knitters and fiber enthusiasts but even if you’re not a crafty nerd, Rhinebeck is a cute area worth visiting! 

Located in the Hudson Valley, Rhinebeck features a charming downtown full of shops, restaurants, and local businesses. 

We also recommend hiking up Burger Hill for a beautiful view of the city.

Burger Hill, Rhinebeck, New York

S – Savannah, Georgia

I was so thrilled to finally visit Savannah with my mom. Our favorite parts were the adorable eateries and visiting Forsyth Park on a Saturday during their Farmer’s Market. 

Forsyth Park, Savannah, Georgia

T – Townsend, Tennessee

If you’re visiting Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you might be inclined to stay in Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg, but we recommend Townsend, Tennessee instead. 

This lovely town is considered the “quieter” side of the Great Smokies. Here you can visit local restaurants and adorable coffee shops. 

Read More: How to Spend 48-Hours in Townsend, Tennessee (With an RV)

Biking and Walking trail throughout Townsend, Tennessee

U – Unity, Maine

Take a road trip to the Northern Solstice Alpaca Farm in Unity Maine where you’ll get to learn all about the alpaca and visit their gift shop which features beautiful knit goodies made from the alpaca yarn they produce. 

If you’re RVing in this area, we highly recommend the Fogg Brook Resort and Campground (located in Palmyra, only minutes from Unity, Maine). They also have a great restaurant on-site as well as a full golf course!

Northern Solstice Alpaca Farm, Unity, Maine
Fogg Brook Resort and Campground, Palmyra, Maine

V – Virginia State Parks

You may not think of these two state parks as obvious destinations, but they should be on your bucket list! 

Hungry Mother State Park and Grayson Highlands State Park feature hiking trails, fishing, wildlife, and virtually no crowds. 

Hike the Wilburn Ridge via the Appalachian Trail in Grayson Highlands State Park to spot wild ponies!

Read More: How to Spend a Magical 48-Hours in Virginia’s Highlands

Grayson Highlands State Park, Virginia

W – Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota

Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota

We loved visiting Wind Cave National Park and hiking their numerous trails. 

Be sure to keep your eye out for Buffalo and Elk! 

X, Y, Z

I doubt I’ll ever visit somewhere that starts with X.

I plan to visit York, Maine soon – so that counts, right?!

Z – If you know of a place that starts with Z, let me know!

One day I’ll visit Zion National Park in Utah and will add this to the list;)

Final Thoughts

I hope you found these ideas inspirational and that you can forgive me for not having a selection for X, Y, or Z. It’s quite hard to find places that fall into those letters! 

Keep these ideas handy for when you’re planning your next trip and let me know which ones you end up visiting! 

Happy Traveling!