With travel restrictions easing, try an outdoors vacation beyond the beach


Image from Wikimedia Commons

Lake vacations, such as Deep Creek, are a great alternative to a beach vacation.

Abby Hutchinson, Staff Writer

After a year of limited travel, people are eager to go on summer vacations, but there are more places to go than just the beach. 

With Covid vaccines being rapidly produced and dispersed, travel will be easier this upcoming summer. 

Each year, around 129 million beach visits take place. Even though the beach can be a beautiful and relaxing place, there are so many other exciting, adventurous, and relaxing places to visit within the United States. 

This country is home to 63 national parks. From the Everglades in Florida to the Grand Canyon in Arizona, there are numerous unique sites to visit. National parks contain their own array of activities that may include beautiful hikes, horseback riding, kayaking, historical locations, and animal sightings. Although national parks lean more towards that active and adventurous side of vacationing, there is always room to relax and enjoy different scenery. 

The United States is built on history. Take some time to go and visit the historical locations that can be found almost anywhere. Visit Salem, Mass., to get a closer look at the home of the famous Witch Trials. Boston was a major city in the founding of our country. Traveling there can lead to learning more about events such as the Boston Tea Party and the Boston Massacre. It is important to learn and understand events that formed this country, as well as experiencing new places. 

Aside from the national parks and history, do not be afraid to try a mountain vacation. Some may view a mountain trip as a winter vacation, but there are so many things to do during the warmer months. 

For instance, try a trip to Gatlinburg, Tenn., located at the base of a mountain valley. Lodging options vary from a hotel in town to a large cabin at the top of the mountain. There is something for everyone, whether you enjoy nature and want to go on a hike in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, or want to experience the tourist attractions downtown and in nearby Pigeon Forge, Tenn. 

The national park has many stunning views, hikes, and horseback riding trails, as well as several locations where former homesteaders ran their homesteads. Downtown Gatlinburg is a busy small town, where people can shop till they drop, eat delicious food from BBQ to Mexican, and participate in activities such as mini golf and indoor rides. 

Pigeon Forge, located about five miles from Gatlinburg, is home to go-kart tracks, arcades, indoor skydiving, stores, restaurants, and Dollywood, a huge amusement park. 

Mountain vacations hold so many opportunities for everyone. 

However, if water is a key piece to the puzzle, try a lake vacation instead. There are many lakes located around Pittsburgh, like Conneaut Lake, Lake Erie, Deep Creek, and Lake Arthur in Moraine State Park. 

For those who want to stay active, there are always activities such as watersports, fishing, canoeing and kayaking. To relax, lay out a towel on a surrounding beach or rent a boat and relax on the lake. 

More often than not, it is easy to find other options in nearby areas like mini golf or ATV riding. Lakes are a great way to be by water without having to go to the ocean. 

So, while thinking about vacations for the upcoming summer, consider straying from the usual and trying something new. It might be a surprisingly enjoyable change.