It’s a big ol’ world out there with so many different places to go and the United States of America offers many of those hidden gems people never realized were so close within reach. Such as the Carlsbad Caverns, deep caves in the southwestern USA where 300 miles of its estimated 330-mile stretch has yet to be explored. And far above the surface at the other end of the USA is Niagara Falls, one of the world’s most stunning stretch of powerful waterfalls. And then there’s everything else in between.

So this holiday season if you’re thinking of getting a non-traditional gift, consider purchasing a vacation package or organizing a trip for the person on your list. Nine times out of ten, you will have a good time no matter where you go, what’s important is just the company you keep (and take on vacation). So here are some ideas for travel that are really just gifts to yourself in disguise.

Family Friendly Mountain Trails and Beaches
Take a very family friendly hike through the light trails of Table Rock State Park in South Carolina with the Blue Ridge Mountains as your backdrop. There are numerous trails, including an 80-mile hike and a trail leading up to Table Rock Mountain. About 250 miles away are South Carolina’s wide, sandy beaches where you can try she-crab soup and enjoy the daily events and occasional festivals.

Three Types of Outdoor Adventure for Three Different People
If you want a true outdoors vacation, take a few days far removed from the daily routine to hike to the top of one of Colorado’s 54 peaks that reach above 14,000 feet. If mountain-climbing isn’t your thing but you still want an exerting adventure, then hike through Colorado’s thick forests, its numerous rock formations, or choose from four national parks or 52 state parks for a tailored adventure. Even for the car-dweller, there are scenic drives to historic sites, ancient ruins, ghost towns and some of the West’s oldest trains on display.

Unique Vacation at the Tip of the World
For a unique and unusual yet familiar adventure at the same time, take a vacation to explore what the Canadian province of Quebec has to offer. Many people think of Montreal first when they hear Quebec, but the province offers so much more to do outdoors. See the Aurora Borealis as it silhouettes Quebec’s tall pines from a trial in the Baie-James and Eeyou Istchee municipality (the largest municipality in the world). Fish for excellent salmon or go whale-watching in the Gulf of St. Lawrence or surf the St. Lawrence River.

Affordable Family Entertainment
Wisconsin might not strike you as the first place you would think to go take a vacation but it offers a multifaceted experience for the whole family and it’s cheaper and more fun than you may expect. Breathe in the scents of botanical gardens, ride horses along the shoreline of Lake Michigan, and take a leisurely walk down Crystal Cave, which attracts visitors from as far as Florida who make the trip just to see the longest cave in Wisconsin. Take a trip here next year to hunt down your own Thanksgiving dinner turkey, white-tail, or wigeon.

Light and Relaxing Outdoors Activity
Experience southern hospitality in Tennessee where you can take a horse to the side of Tennessee’s largest lakes in Jackson County for some of the best fishing on the lakeside of the Great Smoky Mountains. This is also the place to take a relaxing floating trip through mountain scenery and then take a dip in a swimming hole while your friend fly-fishes in a nearby stream. Several wonderful hiking trails are available to see Tennessee’s wildlife and a chance to catch the glorious sunrise.

Photo: (Mesa Verde) Jörg, (surfing) Michael Rosenstein, (WI cave) Zack Schwartz, (Tennessee) rush_39402

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