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When you think of visiting the USA for a holiday, I’m guessing your mind will automatically switch to New York, LA, Vegas, Florida, or San Francisco, right? You wouldn’t be alone in thinking this, and these are certainly some of the most popular destinations in this huge and sprawling country. What you are missing out on however is the beautiful interior of such a massive land, and the most northern states are certainly hiding a gem or two.

National parks within this part of America are famous, yet nobody really knows where they are. Mount Rushmore for example, do you know which state it is in? Probably not! This is why I think everyone should be turning their attention to visiting these states, as well as the other popular destinations we mentioned.

If you need a little more persuasion, read on.

America's Northern-Most States

North Dakota

The great thing about North Dakota is that it is a fantastic blend of city life and outdoor activities. Bismarck is great for a spot of modern day life, however head out into the country and explore! There are plentiful why you should be heading to americas northern-most states to choose from, including hiking the Lewis & Clark Trail, or maybe jumping in a canoe to visit Mount Rushmore and historic Indian villages. The landscape is certainly dramatic.

South Dakota

Whilst North Dakota has that city and country blend going on, South Dakota is genuinely country, with huge open spaces and soaring mountain landscapes, including Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorial. Badlands National Park is full of stunning sights to see, with dramatic rock formations, and sprawling prairies, which seem to go on forever. This is outdoor activity land in its purest form!


‘Big Sky Country’ is a state where you can breathe in fresh air and never be crowded. Extremely diverse landscapes give way to more open space than you will realise, with the Rocky Mountains and Great Plains all part of this area. You can hike, canoe, and walk to your heart’s content, without ever bumping into someone else. Glacier National Park is certainly a feast for the eyes, as well as the famous Yellowstone National Park, although don’t be expecting to see Yogi Bear!


This is another state which mixes city life with the outdoors, and Minneapolis and Saint Paul are fantastic choices for metropolis fun. Outside of the city you can enjoy activities along the banks of the Mississippi River, as well as Voyageurs National Park, with camping, fishing, hiking, and wildlife spotting to be found. If you fancy a spot of skiing, head to Grand Marais.


Wisconsin is all about the lakes, two of them in particular – Michigan and Superior. Around these you’ll find fishing, canoeing, and walking, again a great place for the outdoors, grabbing plenty of that fresh air. Milwaukee is fantastic for fans of museums, as well as plenty of beer companies offering brewery tours. If you want to head out to more water, Lake Geneva is beautiful, and a great spot for golfing, as well as Elkhart Lake for fishing and more golf.

Heading away from the more mainstream American destinations could certainly yield some fantastic experiences, and these particular states will certainly blow your mind with their raw beauty.

This post was sponsored by North Dakota Tourism.

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Showing 18 comments
  • Hitch-Hikers Handbook

    I haven’t made it to the States yet but I would definitely visit the national parks first! I’ve heard, however, that Mount Rushmore is a big disappointment because it seems smaller than it looks in pictures. Is that true?

  • Mansoureh

    Thanks for the good and useful information

  • zof

    There is so much I have yet to learn about the States…Your post made me thinking of visiting Montana. I never considered that before, but now I’m dying to see all that amazing nature…

  • Eric Stoen

    I really need to get to Montana. My family has land there. I have friends there. It’s been on my list for a decade. Because of this post I have a tab open to Kayak looking at flights right now! Thanks for the inspiration.

  • Dana

    Thanks for the reminder that there are other places in the US to visit. I still haven’t been to any of these places.

  • Laura Lynch

    I went to college in Montana and loved it. Missoula is a beautiful place and there are so many day and weekend trips from there to places that are almost unbelievably amazing.

  • Mags

    I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. I’ve not explored enough of the US. I think Montana might be next on my list.

  • Brianna

    I definitely need to explore more of the middle of the US, I’ve had South Dakota on my mind.

  • Reply

    Uh my. I always find these massive heads highly intimidating.

  • Jennifer

    I lived in California for years but actually didn’t make it to many of those parks. Whenever I had the time I always went back to Yosemite – maybe I should branch out? Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Megsy

    You’re right New York & Vegas instantly pop into my head when I think of America. I have heard amazing things about Yellowstone park from family who have been there. That’s pretty high on my must see in America list.

  • Travelwith2ofus

    Actually I never thought about it. Thanks for the great information.

  • Wandering Carol

    I went to all these states when I was a teenager, and still remember Mount Rushmore. I did not know you could canoe there, though. I’d love to do that.

  • RaW | Ramble and Wander

    You’re mostly right about New York, LA and San Francisco. Add Washington DC too to the list 🙂 But I also would love to visit Seattle, Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone National Park and Chicago 🙂

  • Lesley

    As a Canadian, you’re speaking my language – country, fresh air, lakes and outdoors. I love the northern states, especially Maine (I know it’s not on your list). It has fantastic white-water rafting along with all of the other things you mention here. 🙂

  • Vanessa

    I love that there are so many wide open spaces and unspoiled nature there – and amazing national parks too!

  • Reply

    I pretty much hugged the west coast the last time i was in the states, so it would be nice to see the northern states as you have described them.

  • Vicky and Buddy

    I traveled to South Dakota and saw Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorial. The landscape is great and made for an awesome road trip. I also saw my first wild buffalo there. These states are definitely a must see!

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