As a seasoned adventure traveler, I've been there, done that, and come back again. Go off the beaten path with my pick of three natural attractions you probably haven't been to yet.
June Lake, California
This ski town is one of the best natural attractions in the area, yet it's rarely crowded because most travelers head to nearby Mammoth Mountain. An ideal mountain for family skiing, June never has ski lift lines longer than five minutes: even during holidays.
For those who don't downhill ski, June offers dozens of miles of cross country ski tracks.
Top tip: Eat at Eagle's Landing. Part of the Double Eagle Resort and Spa, it guarantees a mountain or waterfall view from every seat in the restaurant.
West Cave Outdoor Discovery Center, Texas
This nature preserve is located about 30 minutes outside of Austin, Texas and features lush hiking trails, a cave full of stalactites, an ecosystem heavily serviced by birds, and an environmental learning center.
Top tip: Opie's Barbecue is the must-try joint in the area. With brisket to die for and classic Southern sides, people come from all over Texas for a taste of Opie's.
Piedra Blanca Trailhead, California
Located in the Los Padres National Forest, above Ojai, California, this trail winds through fossilized sand dunes that are 65 million years old; to my eye, they look like massive white ships jutting out of the ground.
The forest was the home of several scared sites for the Native American Chumash people, and there are amazing cave paintings in the area. In fact, many hikers report spiritual experiences while on the trail.
Top tip: After the 3-hour round trip hike, stop at Ojai Deer Lodge off of State Route 150. They have 20 beers on tap, food menus with ingredients sourced from local farmers, and live music every weekend.
Check out more writing from Bailey Gaddis on her website.