There’s nothing like the beauty of nature to bring some much-needed peace to your heart. When the worries of the world start to get to you, head out to one of these tranquil natural spots and let the fresh air, warm sunshine, and spectacular views uplift your spirit.
1. Maine: Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Garden
Tucked away in Seal Harbor, this beautiful private garden is one of the most peaceful spots in Maine. Soft green moss carpets the forest floor, and gravel paths lead through enchanting wooded groves and past rippling streams. The garden is usually only open one day a week from July to September, so it's best to reserve tickets as soon as you know when you'd like to visit.
2. North Carolina: Croatan National Forest
Located on the Atlantic coast of North Carolina, Croatan National Forest offers so many different environments to in which to explore and escape. There are four different trails that each offer something special. Cedar Creek Trail leads through beautiful tidal marshland; Neusiok Trail is the NC Atlantic coast's longest backpacking trail; Island Creek Forest Walk winds through pristine coastal forest groves; and Patsy Pond features tall pines and plenty of solitude.
3. Virginia: Meadowland Botanical Gardens
Located in Vienna, the Meadowland Botanical Gardens are truly a slice of paradise. Featuring rare and exotic plants, tranquil waterways, and an absolutely charming waterfront gazebo, this place is the perfect spot to stop and smell the literal roses.
4. California: Muir Woods
This lush wilderness of spreading ferns and fragrant eucalyptus will fill you with tranquility, just as the sounds of softly dripping water and the rustle of birds fill the air. The countless trails that lead through the forest ensure that you'll be able to spend at least an hour or two without meeting a single soul. Adult day passes go for $10, while admission is free for visitors under 15 years OR individuals with a fourth grader in their family. For the biggest value, spring for the $40 annual pass – it will let you AND three other guests visit an unlimited number of times for an entire year.
5. Washington: Red Top Lookout
If your idea of relaxation means leaving the world thousands of feet behind, then the Red Top Lookout is the retreat you've been dreaming of. Located in the Teanaway region of Washington, this stunning vantage point offers amazing views of the Enchantments and Mount Stuart to the north, Mount Rainier to the south, and the Eastern Washington desert to the east. The hike to the lookout is also sure to banish stress.
6. New Jersey: Deep Cut Gardens
Head to Middletown for a luscious natural escape that won't cost you a thing. Deep Cut Gardens are open 365 days a year and completely free for all visitors. Part of the Monmouth County Park System, this garden's 52 acres are filled with carefully curated collections of beautiful plants and fragrant blooms. Don't miss the Parterre section, which features 52 types of roses and over 180 bushes!
7. Massachusetts: Sandwich Boardwalk
Just a straight line over rolling dunes, delicate swathes of beach grass, and swirling tidal flats. This spectacular boardwalk is an incredibly zen way to take in the coastal beauty of Cape Cod, and it's just moments from the beach. If the salty sea breeze and sparkling sunshine don't relax you, nothing will.
8. Florida: Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
In the midst of bustling Miami, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden is a haven of peace and tropical relaxation. Admire the colorful orchids, curtains of blooming vines, and all manner of exotic and beautiful places. The gardens all frequently host festivals and events, which are always well-attended. One of the most popular events is the International Mango Festival, which will be held this year on July 9 and 10. Admission to the gardens is $25 for adults and $12 for kids 6-17.
9. Tennessee: Tubing down the Chattahoochee River
This "secret spot" is one of the best, because it exists anywhere along the beautiful Chattahoochee River that you'd prefer. Simply grab an inner tube, a couple friends, and maybe a cold drink, and float lazily downstream in the shade of towering trees. This is definitely one of the best ways to spend a hot summer day in Tennessee.
10. South Carolina: Magnolia Plantation and Gardens
Founded in 1676 by the Drayton Family, these are the oldest public gardens in America. Head to Charleston to view the thousands of stunning magnolia blooms and rare plants that this enchanting garden has to offer. Romantic bridges, fairytale-style flower fields, and beautiful hanging moss are around every corner.
11. Ohio: Oak Openings Preserve Metropark
Located near Toledo, this beautiful nature preserve is considered to be one of the most unique cluster of ecosystems in Ohio. Rare plants and animals fill the oak forests, sand dunes, savannas, tall-grass prairies and swamp forests of this lovely reservation. Visitors are welcome to wander its many trails and breathe its deliciously fresh air.
12. Pennsylvania: Bushkill Falls
Known as the Niagara of Pennsylvania, these falls will leave you breathless in the best way possible. Located in Bushkill, the wooden walkway that passes right near the falls is the perfect place to let the reverberation of these powerful cascades shake free any lingering stress and tension that the lovely hike to the falls didn't already alleviate.
13. Nevada: Jarbridge Wilderness
Head to Elko County to experience the incredible beauty of the Jarbridge Wilderness. This was the first reservation area to be established in Nevada, and has been enchanting visitors with its blooming meadows, crystal-clear pools and panoramic views since 1964.
14. Alabama: Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge
This nature refuge contains some of the most unique and rare species of plants in the southeastern United States. It's a great place to spend an afternoon strolling through fields of wildflowers and picnicking on the banks of the Cahaba River. You're sure to spot flora and wildlife that can't be seen anywhere else in the area.
15. Michigan: Isle Royale National Park
Isle Royale National Park is located on an island in Lake Superior. The park's remote locale means that if you're committed to reaching its verdant shores, you're sure to have plenty of solitude and space to yourself. Wander the wooded trails of the island preserve for an afternoon of peaceful reflection, or sit by the rocky shore and watch the sparkling waves roll in and out.
16. Mississippi: The Greenville Cypress Preserve
The Greenville Cypress Preserve looks like something from a storybook, so you're sure to feel worlds away from your daily cares as you wind your way through the lovely swamp. Far from being a murky place, this cypress park is filled with beautiful sunlight filtering through the leaves, jade-green waters, and the chirping of birds. During the spring and summer, flowers bloom on the banks of the swamp and surrounding meadows.