One of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world is home to another spectacular Alps-like landscape. On a clear day in the Puget Sound, you can view this majestic 14,411-foot-high mountain from many points throughout the area, but to truly feel as if you’re overseas, you’ll want a more up close and personal experience.
Vail was modeled after the mountain town of Zermatt in Switzerland. Here, you’ll truly feel as if you’re in the Swiss Alps with architecture boasting magnificent decorative woodwork, detailed doors and charming balconies. Some of the bars and eateries serve up Alpine cuisine, and of course, the majestic Rocky Mountains provide a similar Alps-style backdrop.
If you’ve been wanting to explore a Danish village, Solvang is the place to go. This town that was founded by a group of Dutch teachers in 1911 sits in the beautiful Santa Ynez Valley, paying tribute to Danish culture and literary hero Christian Andersen.
California’s Napa Valley is as close at you’ll get to Italy’s picturesque Tuscany region, with its endless rolling hills and vineyards. If you’re looking for an especially authentic experience, be sure to stop by Castello di Amorosa Winery, an authentically-styled, 13th-century Tuscan castle constructed using historically accurate medieval building techniques.
The 250-room French chateau style mansion features a bowling alley, 65 fireplaces, beautiful medieval tapestries and an immense library. You’ll need at least two hours to explore the house. Plan to spend an entire day if you want to visit the gardens and conservatory; farm with a petting zoo, old fashioned toys and farm equipment; and the winery, where you can take a tour, learn about the wine-making process and enjoy a tasting.
Drenched in more than 12 feet of rain a year, the west side valleys flourish with the continent’s best remaining examples of temperate rain forest, with Giant western hemlocks, Douglas-firs and Sitka spruce trees dominating the landscape while ferns and moss cloak the trees and forest floor.
Filled with bizarrely-shaped plants indigenous to the region, like the Joshua tree, as well as ginormous boulders that rise hundreds of feet into the sky, the landscape has the appearance of a scene from a sci-fi flick.
Other Great Outdoors in Saint Augustine, FL, United States
Filled with an Old World ambiance and historic architecture, you may feel as if you’ve stepped into Spain. The oldest continuously occupied European settlement in North America was founded by the Spanish in 1565, after explorer Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles landed on its shores and named them after the Roman saint, Augustine.
The adobe city is also famous for its transformative qualities, in fact, many come just for the area’s healing energy. Not surprisingly, for decades Santa Fe has also been haven for artists, including Georgia O’Keefe. By staying in the downtown area’s historic La Fonda, you can walk to the Plaza to discover handmade jewelry and browse beautiful works of art.
Stretching from Biscayne National Park in the north over 125 miles to Key West, this chain of islands hanging off the southern coast of Florida tis the best place to experience the Caribbean without leaving the continental United States. The Caribbean-vibe makes the Keys feel a lot more international than back on the mainland.
The most exotic hike in the United States can arguably be found right here in Colorado’s Great Sand Dunes National Park. Reminiscent of the Gobi or the Sahara, it sits between the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and the San Juan Mountains
Other Great Outdoors in Big Sur, CA, United States
If the Italian Riviera is on your bucket list, experience the feel of the stunning Mediterranean region before you can actually get there by visiting California’s central coast. Here, the Santa Lucia Mountains rise alongside a dramatic coastline with picturesque beaches and even the occasional waterfall that plunges to the sand.