50 Last-Minute Summer Adventures In The U.S.

Going on a trip at the last minute is a risky affair. Depending on how you choose to travel and what your destination is, the trip will probably be costlier and you won't be able to escape huge crowds. The good news is that you have a shot if you embark on your adventure after mid-August. This is when most families are already home getting ready for school. You have no more excuses to procrastinate a much needed summer vacation.

Outdoors in South Carolina Lowcountry

Thousands of acres of land for walking, biking, canoeing, kayaking and wildlife viewing...Other recreational pursuits include fishing, sailing, hunting, bird watching, paddling, surfing, historic sites such as lighthouses, museums, art galleries, and even movie locations. Check the calendar for festivals around the time you're going – there is one to celebrate nearly everything.

Relax at the Outer Banks, North Carolina

Visit the area before it disappears due to climate change. Another reason to go: This is one of the best non-Disney places to take the kids. The 200-mile-long stretch of picturesque barrier islands is perfect for relaxation, as well as all kinds of water sports if you're into that. The area is also known for its hang-gliding opportunities.

Whitewater rafting in Colorado

Colorado offers world-class rafting adventures. Whether you want advanced whitewater or family-friendly rafting, you will find the right river in the state. You'll see an amazing scenery that varies from natural to rural with ranch meadows, valleys, steep slopes and rugged cliffs from a different point of view.

Fishing in Lake Champlain, Vermont

This is, possibly along Lake Caspian, Vermont's premier fishing destination. No two days will be alike at the 120-mile long lake, part of which belong to New York and Canada, where you can catch different fish every day including salmon, lake trout, northern pike, yellow perch, white perch, walleye, and crappie, according to VT Fish and Wildlife.

Primitive camping in national parks

Get lost in the backcountry for weeks on end or park your RV within walking distance from attractions. Be fully immersed in the experience and connect with nature. The Voyageurs National Park in Minnesota, for example, has plenty of campsites that are quite remote.

Check Hawaii off your bucket list

The fresh air boosts your mood, the calm and warm waters rejuvenate you, and the majestic views everywhere you turn inspire you. Hawaii is unlike any other place on Earth – a combination of thrilling adventures, laid-back atmosphere, beach life, and even seclusion, if you need it.

Head up into the Cascades, Oregon for mountain biking

For a real adventure, pack your bags and travel to the Cascades for some incredible mountain biking – almost 300 miles of singletrack. The town of Oakridge is dubbed "The Mountain Biking Capital of the Northwest." Avid mountain bikers relish the opportunity to ride its famous trails. Mountain bikers are also welcome on many area hiking trails as well.

See incredible wildlife

The untouched landscapes of national parks make them a premier place for wildlife spotting. From 67 different mammal species in Yellowstone National Park to crocodiles in Everglades National Park, grizzly bears in Glacier National Park and bird watching in Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park, there are tons of wildlife spotting opportunities.

Visit a bizarre museum

Not every museum commemorates universally appreciated topics like music or art. Some niche museums are dedicated to the bizarre, the shocking, the mundane or the grotesque. For example, there's a saying that one man's trash is another man's treasure, and the Museum of Bad Art outside of Boston is living proof of that.

Travel back in time to Mackinac Island, Michigan

Voted a "Top 10 U.S. Island" by Trip Advisor, this Island is a trip back in time. For one, cars are not allowed. Trek this Victorian treasure on bike, horseback and carriage. You will never run out of quests to explore.

Have fun at an amusement park

A trip there is a fun family vacation, even if you don't live near the ocean. These entertainment centers change every year. They expand and add more and more attractions. Many of them have thrilling roller coasters, water parks and scar slides, world-class miniature golf courses, massive tri-level Arcade, Go Karts, and Bumper Boats, to name a few.

Check out a dude ranch

Join real cowboys and get to actually practice the frontier spirit. The focus of such places has always been horseback riding, but many now offer additional activities such as hiking, swimming or fly fishing, to keep entire families entertained at all times.

See whales at Bar Harbor, Maine

Whales travel to Maine's cool waters to feed for the summer and return to warmer climates to mate and give birth. A boat tour takes whale watchers miles offshore to see these creatures, among the largest on earth – humpbacks, finbacks, minkes, and right whales, according to Bar Harbor Info. Humpbacks are the most playful.

Go to St. Augustine, Florida for its anniversary

St. Augustine is 453 years old this year, and will celebrate the original September 8, 1565, landing by the Spanish with its annual Founder's Day Commemoration. The oldest city in the U.S. and one of the best beach towns in America has a quaint feel but big appeal, historic sights, and family-fun water adventures.

Glamping in Pennsylvania

This luxurious and lavish style of camping is growing in popularity. Enjoy an outdoorsy getaway without having to forego comforting amenities like mattresses, bathrooms, kitchens and gourmet meals. There are several spectacular glamping destinations in the U.S. where you can even reach stylish but remote campsites by canoe.

Celebrate Elvis Week in Memphis, Tennessee

If you're a fan of The King, book a plane to Memphis and head to Graceland. Elvis Week 2018 kicks off August 9, and organizers promise it will be the biggest and best Elvis Week yet! Go on historic tours and be part of the many musical events. Tickets are still on sale.

Escape the crowds in Gates of the Arctic, Alaska

The second-largest national park in the world (8,472,506 acres!) and the least visited, the Gates of the Arctic is entirely located north of the Arctic Circle. It contains no roads, trails, or established campsites. Those exploring the vast and essentially untouched landscape on foot must have expert survival skills and crave complete solitude (no cellphone service or emergency services are available). All others can take flight-seeing trips via local air taxis.

Hike the Grand Canyon

A natural feature big enough to be seen from space, the Grand Canyon is one much better enjoyed at closer quarters. The staggering architecture and sheer scale of the canyon can be exhilarating, even humbling. The rocks at the bottom are 2 billion years old, at the top 5 million. The Rim to Rim is by far among the very best hikes in the world.

Take the kids to an awesome water park

Whether you enjoy thrilling rides or relaxing pool side, water parks have something for everyone – thrilling rides, family-friendly attractions, exciting entertainment, incredible water slides, 90-degree slopes, shark lagoons, and river jungles, to name a few. Just be prepared for hidden dangers lurking in the pool and nearby areas.

Go fly fishing in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

One of the most popular national parks in the U.S., Yellowstone is also a big hit with those who fish. More than 100 lakes, a thousand miles of streams and seven varieties of gamefish make the park a prime spot come spring. Top spots for fly fishing in spring and early summer include Firehole, Madison and Gibbon Rivers—as well as both Yellowstone and Trout Lakes.

Ride a horse in the Finger Lakes Region of New York

What's better than seeing the rolling hills and plethora of creeks while on a horse traversing various terrain that will make the experience unforgettable for both novice and more rugged riders. Ride along the creek beds of the glacial carved gorges and then climb to the top of a hilltop to see a unique mix of vantage points over lakes, vineyards, woodlands, farms and villages.

Take a train excursion

Go ahead and take the train. Choose the scenic route over the quick one and make getting to your destination part of the vacation. Relax, take in the stunning sights and explore parts of the world you may have never seen before. Some people prefer the train because it's mysterious, others because they have the time and not the money for a plane ticket.

Visit Asheville to see why everyone’s talking about it

The secret is almost out. Word about this haven among the Blue Ridge Mountains has slowly been getting out, but it continues to be an unspoiled escape. Downtown Asheville is known for its food, art, music and brewery scenes. The city lies along the Blue Ridge Parkway, one of the country's most breathtaking drives.

Try sandboarding at Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado

This is where you'll find the tallest dunes in North America. There are 19,000 acres of dunes going up 750 feet. Make sure you get on slopes that are at least 20 degrees. You'll be sliding down regardless of your skill level. Wait until September to go because it's scorching hot in August.

See “where the mountains meet the sea”

Camden, Maine, is a classic seaside town at the foot of Camden Hills. Visitors say it's one of the most beautiful places in New England, according to a travel guide. It has a small town sensibility with friendly people and gorgeous views. Camden and its surroundings are perfect for hiking, mountain biking, sailing, and paddle boarding.

Visit Lake Mead, Nevada

Lake Mead, a manmade reservoir, is popular for unlimited and unrestricted water sports. Its huge lakes cater to boaters, swimmers, sunbathers, and fishermen while its desert rewards hikers, wildlife photographers, and roadside sightseers.

Go biking in The Ozarks, Arkansas and Missouri

Mountain and road bikers alike will enjoy the demanding route as well as the historic sites, attractions and mountain towns in the Ozark Mountain Region. Arkansas is well-known for its outstanding road biking tours. The Ozark Mountain Bicycle Trail, which is still not complete, runs about 40 miles through the Buffalo National River area.

Paddle a local waterway

The sport has some inherent advantages over surfing. For stand-up paddling you can go out under almost any conditions. Plus, it's a full-body workout. You don't have the high impact of running, you work out your legs, you have hip rotation, your core is constantly working to keep you balanced, and your arms are working hard as well.

Just hit the road and travel

Explore new places and criss-cross the country or your home state via its most iconic roads. Road trip is the perfect way to travel, especially if you feel like going on a getaway vacation. You just grab some food and water, fill up the tank and hop in the car.

Sign up for an adventure race

Just completing the event is considered a victory because participants have to handle unusual obstacles. Perhaps that's why the sport has attracted elite and amateur runners, cyclists and swimmers alike. You can often choose between 6-, 12-, and 30-hour events. Most races have physically demanding courses with 25+ obstacles.

Take in a summertime cruise

Last minute summer vacation planning can be tough. Cruises are a hassle-free way to see a few incredible places in one vacation and most of the planning is done for you. Whether you've always wanted to visit the Caribbean or Alaska, you can find some great deals.

Try sailing on Catalina Island, California

This is a summer hotspot for LA locals on the weekends when the city just isn't so appealing. Set sail on a glass bottom boat. Book a sailing tour; you can even experience it Hawaiian style – evening Sunset Sails. You will probably encounter whales and dolphins as well.

Dive to find shipwrecks at Pompano Beach, Florida

Pompano Beach offers access to coral reefs and shipwrecks fit for beginner snorkelers and scuba divers. The city's 1,000-foot-long fishing pier is a great spot to spend the day fishing, while experienced anglers have amazing access to sport fishing for kingfish, sailfish, wahoo and more.

Head out on a wildlife safari in Wyoming

Many of the tours focus on the animals, geology, and natural history of Grand Teton National Park. See and learn about the Antelope Flats and Mormon Row where you'll look for the growing Bison (Buffalo) and Pronghorn (Antelope) herds. This is their home for the summer. The journeys will only get wilder from there.

Learn kiteboarding in San Francisco, California

The San Francisco Bay is a prime kite surfing destination, probably because of the stunning views, sparkling waves and not-so-crowded shores. Several companies are based in the city. They offer lessons for boarders of all levels.

Experience the benefits of kayaking

You basically combine adventure and exercise into an unforgettable experience. Paddling a kayak consistently helps your cardiovascular system, your abs get worked quite a bit, and you may even lose weight. Some of the best national parks for kayaking are Kenai Fjords in Alaska, Acadia in Maine and Isle Royale in Michigan.

Go snorkeling at Dry Tortugas, Florida

Dry Tortugas is a cluster of seven islands, composed of coral reefs and sand. The area is known for its famous bird and marine life. Fort Jefferson, one of the largest coastal forts ever built, is a central feature. Take the ferry to the national park for pristine snorkeling. The wrecks and patchy reef system surrounding the islands host a tremendously diverse array of sea life.

Go geocaching…anywhere

This is also a fun idea for a date. People use a GPS receiver or navigational techniques to hide and look for certain items, called "caches," at specific locations marked by coordinates. You can download the app, create an account and let the fun begin.

Try rock climbing

Fresh air, bright sun and the feel of rough rock is a unique combination that millions of Americans. National and state parks in the U.S. offer thousands of opportunities for a thrilling challenge. Climbing will challenge your strength and stamina—maybe even your bravery, too.

See what Puerto Rico has to offer

Support the island after the devastating hurricane last September. Make it you romantic and adventurous trip destination. Try mouthwatering cuisine, see picturesque views, and enjoy the gorgeous beaches. Visit Palomino Island, a private island, for privacy on a secluded tropical paradise.

Go on a full moon walk

It not only sounds exciting, but it brings certain mystery to it. Go on a moonlight adventure. See the incredible landscape come alive with the sound of nocturnal creatures.

Explore the Adirondacks, New York

The entire mountain range in the northeast of Upstate New York is filled with iconic scenic roads where you can even bike along wine trails. They will also take you to incredible museums, lavish forests, as well as bike festivals, paddling contests and golf courses.

Eat a lot while spending little in Santa Fe, New Mexico

With its unique and colorful art and food scene, Santa Fe has a cult following of fans. You can see this jewel of the Southwest without dropping major dough. The Georgia O'Keeffe Museum is free for children 18 and under, while the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian is free for Native Americans, active duty military during the summertime and for everyone every first Sunday of the month. Santa Fe also offers access to cooking classes, whitewater rafting, stargazing tours and more.

Take a low-key trip to Stowe, Vermont

The charming mountain town of Stowe is a great for outdoor adventures as well as low key getaways. Hike the scenic Moss Glen Falls to a beautiful waterfall. Adventurers, foodies and those looking to escape from stress can all find their niche somewhere among Mt. Mansfield and Spruce Peak, Stowe's two mountains.

Go glacier hiking near Girdwood, Alaska

Girdwood is also known as the Glacier City because of the two giant snow summits nearby. If you ever wanted to go glacier hiking, Girdwood, which is near Anchorage, should be on your list. The icebergs and glaciers there are majestic year-round.

Watch sea lions in Monterey, California

Head to the Coast Guard Pier next to the Reeside Access Beach Park where many full grown and baby sea lions are hanging out on the rocks. The California sea lion population in Monterey Bay fluctuates during the year –  many migrate to the southern California breeding grounds in the late spring, and then returnto Monterey Bay in the summer.

Catch world-class surfing on Waikiki beach, Hawaii

Duke's OceanFest is Waikiki's premier ocean sports festival. The event features several ocean sports, but surfing is among the most popular. The annual festival celebrates Duke Kahanamoku's life and his athletic contributions. Some call him the greatest waterman who ever lived.

Have fun at all theme parks in Orlando, Florida

Wet 'n Wild Orlando, Typhoon Lagoon at Disney World, all of Disney World, Universal Studios, Aquatica, SeaWorld – kid- and family-friendly adventure awaits.

Book an urban kayaking tour

Often overlooked, urban kayaking is an incredible way to get outdoors and get active, while seeing a city in a new way. Some of the favorite urban kayaking spots from around the country are all the way from Portland to New York. You need to see these cities from the water.

Go to “the” state fair in the U.S.

The Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, which began in 1854, is among the most popular in the country. Its motto is "Nothing Compares." This year the event is scheduled from August 9 until August 20. It gets more than a million visitors every year.