Bucket List June 23, 2021
16 Spots Around The U.S. That Will Make You Feel As Though You’ve Entered A Fairy Tale
We can all use a little more
magic in our lives. There’s a reason fairy tales continue to stand the test of time, and that’s because the enchanting, fantastical worlds they create are a delightful escape. But these worlds are not confined within the pages of a book; there are places all around the country that offer real-life, fairy-tale fantasies for those seeking a bit of adventure. From enchanting castles and fortresses to forests and waterfalls so beautiful, they do not look real, there’s magic to be found all across the country. The following are 16 spots around the U.S. that will make you feel as though you’ve entered a fairy tale; and the best part is — they’re all wholly, wonderfully real!
Let this list inspire you to go and find your own fairy tale, because there’s magic hiding all around the U.S., just waiting to be discovered:
During these uncertain times, please keep safety in mind and consider adding destinations to your bucket list to visit at a later date.
Northeast United StatesWatkins Glen State Park - New York
1009 N Franklin St, Watkins Glen, NY 14891, USA
Watkins Glen State Park is the most popular state park in the Finger Lakes region, and for good reason. The park's iconic Rainbow Bridge and Falls are absolutely breathtaking - so beautiful, in fact, they don't look real. The
in this state park are enchanting; the trails winding through verdant green forests that feature stone staircases, secret caves, and trickling waterfalls. Watkins Glen State Park is the closest you'll come to experiencing Tolkien's Middle Earth... and it's an absolutely sublime experience.
Acadia National Park - Maine
Acadia National Park, Maine, USA
Colloquially referred to as the "crown jewel of the North Atlantic Coast," Acadia National Park boasts picture-perfect panoramas that will take your breath away. Adding to the park's beguiling beauty is its iconic Bass Harbor Head Light (the park's only lighthouse), which towers regally above the Atlantic, rivaling the park's nearby Cadillac Mountain for the spotlight. This majestic mountain is the highest point on the East Coast, and during parts of the year, it's also the first place in the U.S. to see the sunrise. With almost incomprehensible natural beauty,
Acadia National Park
really is one of the most magical places in the country.
Cliff Walk - Newport, Rhode Island
Cliff Walk, Newport, RI 02840, USA
Rhode Island may not have many towering mountains or sky-high waterfalls, but this Northeast state has a coastline no other state can compete with. And there’s no better way to explore it than the iconic
. This public access walk is about 3.5 miles in total and offers unparalleled ocean views. But what makes the Cliff Walk downright dreamy, are the Newport Mansions you'll see along the way. Living remnants of the city's gilded age, these majestic mansions are real-life castles, omnipotently overlooking their oceanic kingdoms.
Southeast United StatesThe Biltmore Estate - Asheville, North Carolina
1 Lodge St, Asheville, NC 28803, USA
Perhaps no place in America is more of a fairytale than the Biltmore Estate. The Biltmore was built by George Vanderbilt between 1889 and 1895; a 178,926-square-foot mansion located on 8,000 acres of pristine property just outside of Asheville, North Carolina. The
largest privately-owned home in America
, it's a place of stunning scenery, lush gardens, ornate architecture, and historic relevance. While the house itself is a major attraction (the Biltmore draws over a million visitors each year), the massive and meticulously kept gardens on the estate are absolutely heavenly and rival the home's stunning beauty. The summer rose garden, spring tulip display, and sunflower fields add an enchanting, natural element to this commanding castle, and are worth seeking out during their seasonal blooms.
Crystal River - Florida
If the aquatic world of "The Little Mermaid" is your fairytale cup of tea, you must experience Crystal River. Located along Central Florida's "Nature Coast," Crystal River's beauty is truly otherworldly. Lush trees line the banks of its crystal-clear springs, allowing visitors to see far below the surface. What you'll discover, isn't just a treasure trove of brightly colored seashells and creatures, but also one of the world's gentlest giants: the manatees. Each year between November and March, more than 500 of these captivating creatures
migrate to Crystal River's warm, welcoming waters
, and it's truly a sight to behold. But you don't have to just
from above; Crystal River is one of the few places on the planet where you can actually
with the manatees, and it truly is a wondrous experience.
Bonaventure Cemetery - Savannah, Georgia
330 Bonaventure Rd, Thunderbolt, GA 31404, USA
Tucked away in the enchanting town of Savannah, Georgia, Bonaventure Cemetery is one of the
most hauntingly beautiful cemeteries in the world
. This fairytale place sits on 160 acres of scenic, serene land overlooking Georgia's Wilmington River. A place of immense mystery and intrigue, the cemetery gained national fame when it was featured in the novel "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" by John Berendt. Today, visitors come to marvel at Bonaventure Cemetery's regal gravesites and statues, wandering through the ground's lush hanging mosses and bright azaleas. While all sorts of legends and lore surround this historic cemetery, one thing is certain: Bonaventure Cemetery truly is magnificent.
Hamilton Pool - Dripping Springs, Texas
Hamilton Pool, Texas 78620, USA
If you're looking for an escape that feels like Neverland, you'll find it at Hamilton Pool. One of the
most beautiful places in Texas
(and the country), Hamilton Pool features a cerulean blue pool located beneath an expansive limestone grotto. A 50-foot waterfall flows into the pool, making for a completely enchanting experience. This place of pure fantasy formed thousands of years ago when the dome of an underground river collapsed due to erosion. The lesson of this fairytale? Out of devastation and ruins, can come great, wondrous beauty.
Cumberland Falls - Kentucky
Cumberland Falls, Kentucky 42634, USA
When Dorothy sang about "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," she was not talking about Kentucky; however, this Southern state is precisely where you'll find that fairytale place. In Cumberland Falls State Resort Park, the eponymous Cumberland Falls is itself a place of enchanting beauty; the 125-foot-wide "Niagara of the South" is a natural wonder everyone should experience. While spectacular any time of the year, on a few nights each month, something truly extraordinary occurs at this cascade: a
. This nocturnal rainbow appears like a mirage as the moon and stars shine above - and it's worth the visit in the dark to experience this phenomenon. In fact, Cumberland Falls is the only place in the Western Hemisphere where you can experience this rare event.
Midwest United StatesMackinac Island - Michigan
Mackinac Island, MI 49757, USA
Mackinac Island is a treasure of a town; a winsome island nestled between Michigan's Upper and Lower Peninsulas. This place is postcard-perfect in every way, full of delightful shops, colorful architecture, and coastal charm. A
since 1898, the island is best explored by foot or by bike; or, for an absolutely enchanting experience, horse-drawn carriage. Vehicles aside, Mackinac Island is perhaps best known for its amazing fudge (the island has 14 fudge shops that collectively make more than 10,000 pounds of fudge per day during the peak season); and the aroma of chocolate wafts through town - with nary a wicked witch to be found.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park - Ohio
Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio, USA
The only National Park in Ohio,
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
lies along the eponymous Cuyahoga River, between Cleveland and Akron, and is a stunner of a place. Known for its abundance of waterfalls, fairytale forests, charming covered bridges,
breathtaking natural beauty, this Ohio park will completely take you by surprise. Its crown jewel is Brandywine Falls, a 65-foot waterfall that cascades into a lush, green gorge. Visit the falls at sunrise, and you'll be rewarded with one of the most picture-perfect natural scenes in the country.
Southwest United StatesIce Castles - Midway, Utah
700 Homestead Dr, Midway, UT 84049, USA
For those wishing to enter a "Frozen" fantasy world, visit the
Ice Castles in Utah
. A winter wonderland comprised of ice castles and sculptures totaling 25 million pounds, this experience is truly extraordinary. While this event now happens annually at a few locations across North America, the Ice Castles originated in Alpine, Utah, in the backyard of ice artist Brent Christensen, who created a frozen playland for his kids during one particularly long winter. Christensen's ice caves and castles proved irresistible for the neighborhood kids, and he began to imagine bigger winter wonderlands -- which brings us to today's epic Ice Castle events. Opening dates always depend on the weather, but the attraction is typically open from early January through early March. Ice Castles is an awe-inspiring, must-see winter phenomenon that brings fairytales to life, complete with dazzling LED-lit sculptures, frozen thrones, ice-carved tunnels, slides, and fountains.
Mesa Verde National Park - Colorado
Mesa Verde National Park, CO 81330, USA
For over 700 years, the Ancestral Pueblo people built thriving communities on the mesas and in the cliffs of Mesa Verde. In 1906, Mesa Verde National Park was established to preserve and understand the heritage of the Ancestral Puebloans who once inhabited the 600 cliff dwellings. Today, it is one of the best-preserved archaeological sites in the United States; a portal into another time and place, and a glimpse into a truly remarkable culture. A designated
Dark Sky Park
, the skies over Mesa Verde are extraordinary; as you sit and stare at the same stars the Ancestral Pueblo people saw so long ago, you will be rendered speechless.
Carlsbad Caverns - New Mexico
Carlsbad Cavern Natural Entrance, New Mexico 88220, USA
For a fairy-tale adventure both above
below ground, journey to New Mexico's Carlsbad Caverns. Above the earth, ancient sea ledges, deep rocky canyons, and desert foliage and wildlife paint a portrait of divine desert beauty. Hidden beneath the surface, however, is a veritable watercolor wonderland. There are more than 119 caves at
Carlsbad Caverns National Park
; the result of a chemical reaction between sulfuric acid and limestone. Chemistry aside, what you'll see when down in these deep caverns are prismatic pops of green-blue hues that are nothing short of magical.
Northwest United StatesHoh Rain Forest - Olympic National Park, Washington
Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center, 18113 Upper Hoh Rd, Forks, WA 98331, USA
Located in Washington's wondrous Olympic National Park, Hoh Rain Forest is an
enthralling emerald oasis
. One of the only temperate rainforests in the world, wandering through Hoh Rain Forest feels like stepping into
world altogether. The rainforest gets a staggering 12-14 feet of rain annually, which gives this thriving ecosystem its verdant canopy of mosses, ferns, and trees. The "Green Giant" is one of Hoh's most extraordinary trees; a towering presence keeping watch over the forest. Filled with untamed mosses and hanging ferns, old-growth trees, and an abundance of wildlife, Hoh Rain Forest is a lush wonderland within the Washington wilds, and hiking in this park truly belongs on every adventurer's bucket list.
Multnomah Falls - Columbia River Gorge, Oregon
Multnomah Falls, Oregon 97014, USA
is a vision; a sublime sensory experience. Located in the Pacific Northwest's breathtaking Columbia River Gorge (which boasts 90 stunning falls on the Oregon side alone), Multnomah is its crown jewel. This 611-foot-tall, two-tier, roaring waterfall is a true testament to the power of Mother Nature. The Platonic ideal of waterfalls, it's the most visited natural recreation site in the PNW, with more than two million stopping by each year to relish the magical views. To make the experience even more magical, stay and dine at
Multnomah Falls Lodge
, where you can enjoy enchanting views of the fantastic waterfall while you dine.
Redwood National Park - California
Redwood National Park - Kuechel Visitor Center, California 95570, USA
Deep in the old-growth forests of California, there stands an army of towering, gentle giants. This is not a fairytale; this is Redwood National Park.
Redwood National Park
and the adjacent State Parks are home to the world’s tallest trees, providing sanctuary to nearly half of the world’s old-growth redwoods. Some of the trees here tower more than 370 feet tall - five stories taller than the Statue of Liberty. Visiting the redwood forests is a bit like being in "Alice in Wonderland" - suddenly, the world feels very, very big, and humans very, very small. It's a grounding, transformative, and immersive experience that you will never, ever forget.
Are you feeling inspired? These enchanting escapes are just waiting to be explored, experienced, and, most importantly, enjoyed — so pack your bags and get ready to embark on an amazing fairy-tale adventure around the U.S.!
Address: Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center, 18113 Upper Hoh Rd, Forks, WA 98331, USA Address: Multnomah Falls, Oregon 97014, USA Address: Redwood National Park - Kuechel Visitor Center, California 95570, USA Address: Ice Castles, 700 Homestead Dr, Midway, UT 84049, USA Address: Mesa Verde National Park, CO 81330, USA Address: Carlsbad Cavern Natural Entrance, New Mexico 88220, USA Address: Hamilton Pool, Texas 78620, USA Address: 330 Bonaventure Rd, Thunderbolt, GA 31404, USA Address: Crystal River, FL, USA Address: Biltmore, 1 Lodge St, Asheville, NC 28803, USA Address: Cumberland Falls, Kentucky 42634, USA Address: Mackinac Island, MI 49757, USA Address: Cliff Walk, Newport, RI 02840, USA Address: Watkins Glen State Park, 1009 N Franklin St, Watkins Glen, NY 14891, USA Address: Acadia National Park, Maine, USA Address: Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio, USA