We all had a time in our lives when magic and fantasy didn’t seem so out of reach. It can be so refreshing to reawaken that sense of wonder and enchantment, if only for a day. Check out these incredible spots across the country that could have fallen straight from the pages of a storybook. These fairytale locales are sure to inspire your daydreams and make you see elves around every corner.
During these uncertain times, please keep safety in mind and consider adding destinations to your bucket list to visit at a later date.
1. Midway Ice Castles, Utah
This is the perfect place to realize your Frozen fantasies. Built by hand and made from more than 20,000,000 pounds of ice, the Ice Castles in Midway are gorgeous winter installations that conjure up a real sense of frosty magic.
2. Rider Park, Lycoming County, Pennsylvania
Rider Park is a mysterious and romantic spot that particularly beautiful in the spring and autumn. Drifting mist, blossoming wildflowers, and verdant carpets of green ferns may you feel as if elves may be flitting amongst the trees, just out of sight.
3. Glacier Bay, Alaska
The hills and waters of Glacier Bay have a sparkling and surreal beauty. This vast, mountainous park is rich in varied wildlife, both on land and in the crystal clear waters. If you want to experience the magic of this area for yourself, check out the readily available cruises, hiking trails, and ranger tours.
4. The Biltmore Estate, North Carolina
This Gilded Age mansion was built by the renowned Vanderbilt family between 1889 and 1895. Today, it remains one of the most enchanting castles in the country. Take a guided tour or just marvel at the sumptuous architectural beauty of the estate while picnicking on the lush green.
5. Multnomah Falls, Oregon
Located in the Columbia River Gorge, Multnomah Falls is the tallest waterfall in Oregon. The frothing waters cascade over tiered cliffs, flowing next to and beneath an enchanting wooden bridge. This spot seems perfect for a romantic fairytale rendezvous under the stars.
6. The Newport Mansions, Rhode Island
With names that sound straight out of a storybook, the Newport Mansions harken back to a time when Newport was the preferred playground of aristocrats and wealthy American socialites. Some of the most beautiful estates include The Breakers, Marble House, The Elms, and Rosecliff.
7. Dog Mountain, Oregon
Dog Mountain overlooks the Columbia River Gorge in Northern Oregon. The best time to visit is definitely during the early weeks of spring, when the hillsides are blanketed with bright yellow and blue blossoms. Hiking the winding paths and trails of the mountainside feels like wandering through a series of storybook illustrations.
8. Boldt Castle, New York
Located on aptly named Heart Island, Boldt Castle was erected as an act of love and devotion. George Boldt, a wealthy hotelier, built this fairytale castle in in 1900 as a gift for his beloved wife, Louise Kehrer Boldt. Tragically, Louise died in 1904 before construction was complete. Heartbroken and in mourning, Boldt never returned to the castle that was meant to be a monument to his great love. Today, Boldt castle can be explore by the public for a fee.
9. The Lantern Fest, Colorado
Each year, thousands of glowing paper lanterns are released into the clear air of Colorado Springs during the annual Lantern Fest celebration. The sky fills with the firefly flicker and warm light of these delicate floating luminaries, creating a truly enchanting scene. Tickets for this event go fast, so reserve your spot now if you want to get in on the magic.
10. Cleveland Botanical Garden, Ohio
This beautifully landscaped spot is one of Ohio's most popular public botanical gardens. The creeping ivy, graceful stone arches, melodious brooks and fragrant blossoms make for a fairytale romantic setting, whether you're embarking on a first date or celebrating years of love.
11. Aspen, Colorado
Though it may be most famous for its world-class skiing, Aspen is magical in all seasons. From sun-drenched woodland groves to mysterious misty forests, this region is full of unspoiled natural splendor that extends beyond the slopes.
12. Rodanthe, North Carolina
Rodanthe is one of the last holdouts of undeveloped natural beauty on the Outer Banks. Many coastal houses are built so close to the water that the ocean literally sweeps around them on its journey to the shore. Pictured is the Serendipity House in its original location, looking very much like the precariously built refuge of an eccentric wizard.
13. Bamboo Forest, Hawaii
Located within Maui’s Haleakala National Park, this tranquil and whimsical bamboo forest is open to visitors. This unusual forest offers lush jungle foliage, waterfalls, and even a few hidden freshwater swimming holes. Walking along its paths is a meditative and magical experience.
14. The Great Dismal Swamp, North Carolina
With a name like that, it would be shocking if this place didn't look like a fantasy realm. Archaeological evidence shows that humans have inhabited the area for more than 13,000 years. I'm sure there are more than a few unusual creatures gliding just below the surface of this eerie yet enchanting swamp.
15. Bonsai Rock, Nevada
Located in Lake Tahoe, Bonsai Rock looks like just the spot a mermaid might choose to perch. The turquoise waters of the lake swirl and eddy around the smooth stones of the shallows, and sunsets viewed from this tranquil spot are particularly beautiful.
16. Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens
The Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens is as close as you can get to a real life Wonderland. Rather than showcase their plants' natural beauty, this place twists and sculpts the beautiful blossoms and greenery into fantastical shapes and whimsical arrangements. The decorations change every season (as do the plants, of course), but the setting is always one of fairytale splendor.
17. Santarella Gingerbread House
When "gingerbread" is right in the name, you know it's going to be magical. Santarella’s fanciful and buildings were lovingly crafted by Henry Hudson Kitson to bring his favorite storybook fantasies to life. You can book one of several different rooms on the property for an overnight stay. This is a perfect place for a wedding or perhaps just a weekend of making childhood daydreams come true.