38 Places To See In The United States

If you google “extended travel”, you will find pages and pages of information about people from all walks of life who check out of the rat race in order to travel.  Abroad.  Way abroad.  Across one ocean at the very least or it doesn’t count.

If you sign up to attend a free seminar designed to give people tips about taking a “career break”, you will have the opportunity to network with people and learn a lot.  About taking a trip around the world.

People who are passionate about travel will generally agree that it’s imperative to broadening perspectives and fostering tolerance.  Traveling with children is especially encouraged because it ensures that the next generation will be firmly rooted in paradigms of acceptance and diversity.  But it seems that the general consensus among people who are passionate about travel is that that type of travel can only occur outside of the borders of the United States.

To which I say: bullshit.

I want someday to take my children to a place where the language is foreign and the culture is shocking.  I want them to scour all four corners of the Earth for familiar signs of their own humanity.  But I want, too, for them to appreciate the differences among the more than 300 million people who live within the borders of their own country.  I want them to learn for themselves what American means and what it does not.  I want them to know more about the more than 350,00 square miles of terrain that is available to them without a passport, simply by virtue of where they happened to be born.

Do I sound bitter?  Defensive?  It’s less that and more… lonely.

As we continue to make plans and preparations for our year of homelessness around the country, I keep looking for a familiar tribe.  A voice that will say “yes, this has been done,” and “no, you are not crazy.”  The Internet, after all, is supposed to be really good at that.  But time and again I’m reminded of the virtues of life abroad.  I wonder if no one is eager to spend time exploring this country because there just isn’t enough to see.  Perhaps, I worry, I am crazy and thinking too small.

So I decided to make a list.  Our list.  Mine and Jared’s and  Devin’s and Emma’s list of the places to see and things to do right here in the United States.  It’s an ongoing list, and this is what we have so far:

38 Things to See in America

  1. New York City at Christmas
  2. Key West – the beach, the water, and Hemingway’s house.  His novels bore me to death, but there’s still something magical about literary pilgrimages.
  3. San Francisco – I’ve never been and my mother insists I’d love it.
  4. Houston
  5. Washington, D.C with the kids – I want to teach my children about government with life sized visual aides.
  6. Fenway Park in Boston
  7. Chicago with the kids – I spent a huge part of my childhood here and I took Jared for the first time on our honeymoon.  I have never shared this place that is much “home” to me as anywhere else with my kids.
  8. New Orleans
  9. New Orleans during Mardi Gras
  10. The Hauula Trail in Hawaii
  11. Seattle
  12. Independence Hall in Philadelphia – because there was an issue the first time I tried to visit.
  13. Pittsburgh – anything and everything that Becky wants to show us, including the bridge that is painted in a color that her mother named.
  14. The Grand Canyon – and by see I mean hike, because we are some tough mofos in this family.
  15. Portland, Oregon by bike – because when I picture Portland, I picture people on bikes.
  16. Yellowstone Park – I want to capture Old Faithful on video.
  17. Alaska by cruise
  18. Sanibel Island, Florida
  19. The Strawberry Festival in Plant City, Florida
  20. The Field of Dreams in Dyersville, Iowa
  21. Seaside State Beach in Monterey, California – to hunt for sea glass.
  22. Thomas Edison National Historic Park and Thomas Edison Center in West Orange and Menlo Park, New Jersey – with Devin, who wants to be an inventor when he grows up.
  23. Graceland – because why the hell not?
  24. Vineyards in California – from a hot air balloon.
  25. Arches National Park in Utah
  26. The Alamo – so I can, in fact, remember it.
  27. Pearl Harbor Memorial
  28. Gettysburg
  29. Colonial Williamsburg
  30. National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis
  31. Aspen, Colorado
  32. Green Bay, Wisconsin  – where we’ll take Emma to her firsrt Packers game.
  33. Atlantic City
  34. Savannah
  35. Indianapolis
  36. Detroit
  37. Austin – specifically the Austin City Limits Music Festival
  38. Reno, Nevada

So far, I am encouraged by our list.  Our goal is to come up with 50 places to see in the United States, and we’re keeping track on a Google Map that Jared and I update as we think of things.  And so of course, dear Internet, I want your suggestions.  What fascinating things to see in the United States have we left off this list?

I am also encouraged because there are not a ton of people who have done exactly what we’re planning to do, but there are a handful in whom I can recognize commonalities.  Similar but not identical.

And isn’t that what I keep saying this is really all about?

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