7 Unforgettable Experiences Close to Home

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7 Unforgettable Experiences Close to Home
We rarely advocate ticking experiences off a lifelong to-do list without slowing down to consider the beauty around you. Frankly, it diminishes the transformative power of travel and sets the focus on accomplishing rather than experiencing. That said, there are certain things nearly everyone dreams of seeing or doing. These experiences often require visas and arduous flights, but you might be surprised at how many can also be done within the United States and U.S. territories.  Here are a few of the world-class experiences you can have—no passport required.

By Valerie Stimac
Courtesy of Pixabay
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    See the Northern Lights
    For many people, the aurora borealis is high on the must-see list. Travelers typically anticipate visiting Finland, northern Canada, or Norway to do so. Alaska, however, has plenty of opportunities to catch the northern lights—even in Anchorage, the state’s most populous city. All you need to do is visit during the dark winter months and hope for clear skies. “Must see” will become “have seen” pretty quickly!
    Courtesy of Pixabay
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    Marvel at Denali
    While you’re in Alaska for the northern lights, take the opportunity to visit Denali (formerly Mount McKinley), which is North America’s highest peak at 20,310 feet tall. Each year, over 1,000 people attempt to summit the mountain, and roughly half of them succeed. If mountaineering isn’t your thing, you can take a tour of Denali National Park and enjoy sensational views of the mountain with far less effort.
    Courtesy of Pixabay
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    Gaze into Some Seriously Deep Canyons
    The Grand Canyon is a popular spot for tourists from around the United States and for good reason: At 6,093 feet deep, it’s the fourth deepest canyon in the world. A mere three hours from Phoenix, Arizona, this natural wonder features spectacular vistas from every angle. Did you know there’s another major canyon on the Hawaiian island of Kauai? Waimea Canyon is 3,600 feet deep—significantly smaller than the Grand Canyon, but only a short drive from dazzling beaches and the towering peaks of the Napali Coast.
    Courtesy of Pixabay
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    Soak Up Caribbean Sun
    Thanks to the wide-reaching efforts of 19th- and 20th-century U.S. geopolitical policy, the United States has a variety of territories and protectorates in beautiful places, including the Caribbean. Whether you opt to lounge on St. Thomas beaches in the U.S. Virgin Islands or sample Puerto Rican foods in San Juan, you can do so without passing through immigration.
    Courtesy of Pixabay
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    Explore the Pacific Islands
    Surprisingly, a lack of passport doesn’t limit U.S. citizens to the Western Hemisphere. Closer to the Philippines and Asia than to North America, U.S. travelers can visit Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa without a passport. If you’re looking for a tropical experience that feels light-years away from home, these destinations are calling for you.
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    Get a Taste of Europe
    Looking for some great German beer and bratwurst? Head for the Cascade Mountains and make your way to Leavenworth, Washington. If your fantasies are filled with tulip fields and windmills reminiscent of the Netherlands, then Pella, Iowa, should be on your list each spring. And, of course, there’s nowhere quite so distinctive in its blend of European, U.S., and Caribbean charm as New Orleans, Louisiana.
    Photo by Gary/Flickr
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    Explore New York City
    Whether you’re a Manhattan native or hail from a small town in the Midwest, there’s something magical about The Big Apple. New York City is the fifth most-visited metropolis in the world for a reason: It has something for everyone. Whether you’re seeing the Statue of Liberty up close or gazing over the concrete jungle from the Top of the Rock, you’ll find proof that, while the city never sleeps, it offers enough adventures and experiences to wear anyone out.
    Courtesy of Pixabay
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