10 Can't Miss Day Trips You Should Take in 2014

Visit these hot spots across America next year.

Los Angeles' Griffith Park Observatory. Credit: Danielle Directo-Meston
Los Angeles' Griffith Park Observatory. Credit: Danielle Directo-Meston

Whether you’re a foodie, a history buff, are outdoorsy or planning on bringing along the kids, we found the best day trip destinations across the United States.  

Planning a family trip to the another coast or game for a road trip? Here 10 places you should visit in the New Year.

1. LOS ANGELES: Hike to the stars

Why Go? Though Hollywood’s Walk of Fame tends to be one of Los Angeles’ main attractions, the 4,310-acre Griffith Park is by far the City of Angels’ biggest star—literally. Hikers enjoy stunning views of the city on trails leading up to the Griffith Observatory, where a perfect view of the Hollywood sign offers great photo ops.

Must Do: Explore Griffith Park and check out the Old Zoo Picnic Area, site of the original Los Angeles Zoo, where visitors can monkey around in the abandoned animal cages. 

For more budget day trip ideas for Southern California, click here.


2. NORTHEAST GEORGIA: Pan for gold and mine for gemstones

Why go? Consolidated Gold Mines in Dahlonega, Georgia is the largest hard rock gold mine east of the Mississippi River. Stop by for guided tours, gold panning, and gemstone mining.

Must do: Make sure you try "Gemstone Grubbin"—a great family activity. Water-powered flume boxes quickly wash away material, revealing gorgeous gemstones. 

For more adventure day trip ideas in the Northeast Georgia region, click here.


3. NEW YORK CITY: See the final resting spots of VIPs at Woodlawn Cemetery

Why Go? A National Historic Landmark, the Woodlawn Cemetery is the final home of a veritable who’s-who of famous New York artists, businesspeople, architects, and entertainers, including philanthropist Augustus Juilliard and women’s rights activist Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Grand mausoleums, sculptures, and cultivated landscapes dot the property, which visitors can see (and touch) via an audio tour, a pre-arranged group tour or a leisurely stroll.

Must Do: Check out the “Jazz Corner,” home to legends like Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Max Roach, Max Roach, and Illinois Jacquet.

For more historic day trip ideas from the New York area, click here.


4. SAN FRANCISCO: Get lost in space (for free) with NASA

Why Go? The NASA Ames Visitor Center is a great way to learn more about the various missions that originated here. Plus, there's a moon rock brought back by Apollo 15 on display.

Must Do: View a Mercury-Redstone capsule that was launched 130 statute miles high on Dec. 19, 1960. MR-1A was the last unmanned test flight before Alan Shepard's groundbreaking flight in May 1961.

For more more budget-friendly day trip ideas near Silicon Valley, click here.


5. DETROIT: Experience music history at The Motown Museum
Why Go? One of Southeast Michigan’s most popular tourist destinations, the Motown Museum (nicknamed Hitsville, U.S.A.) is home to an extensive array of Motown artifacts, photographs and other memorabilia that will enthrall any music lover. 

Must Do: Visitors get to stand in the actual Studio A, where such classics as "Shop Around" and "Please Mr. Postman" were recorded, and where such iconic artists as Diana Ross and The Supremes, The Four Tops, The Jackson 5, and many more launched their careers. 

For more more historic day trip ideas near Detroit, click here.


6. BOSTON: Take a pizza tour

Why Go: Boston Pizza Tours will have you walking around Boston’s historic neighborhoods, all the while noshing on some of the locals' favorite slices.

Must Do: Try the “Pizza & Historic Tavern Tour,” where you'll go on a public ferry ride across Boston and enjoy a couple of slices of the best pie in the city.

For more foodie day trip ideas in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, click here.


7. CONNECTICUT: Go wild at the Audubon Society Center at Fairfield

Why Go? The Fairfield center borders the beautiful, 155-acre Roy and Margot Larsen Wildlife Sanctuary. The center features an indoor setting for the interpretation of its land, forest and freshwater wetland ecosystems. It also provides an enchanting butterfly garden, a farm pond (full of frogs, turtles and ducks), a greenhouse featuring the beguiling-sounding “Fairy Garden” and other nature-related exhibits.

Must Do: Visit the “Live Birds of Prey” compound for face-to-face encounters with owls, hawks, falcons and vultures.

For more budget-friendly day trip ideas in Fairfield County, CT, click here.


8. WASHINGTON, D.C.: Civil War history comes alive at Antietam

Why Go? Visit the site of the Battle of Antietam, a bloody combat during the heart of the Civil War in 1862. A film narrated by James Earl Jones will introduce you to the battlefield and its history. See the entire battlefield on a self-directed driving tour with 11 stops, and don’t forget to pick up a battlefield scavenger hunt to learn even more.  

Must Do: Personalized tours with expert guides are available, and ranger programs are held three times a day. The self-directed driving tour is 8 ½ miles long and will take about an hour and half to two hours.

For more historic day trip ideas in the D.C. area, click here.

9. TWIN CITIES: Chase food trucks

Why Go? Sure, they’re famous in Austin, L.A. San Francisco and New York City. But Minneapolis and St. Paul are giving these food truck hubs a run for their money. And while St. Paul food trucks tend to roam between regular locations, there are three designated “food truck courts,” active on different days.

Must Do:  Whether you're interested in cupcakes on the godumplings, or mac and cheese, consult the Twin Cities comprehensive food trucks map to see what trucks are serving up—and exactly where to find them.

For more foodie day trip ideas near Minneapolis, click here.


10.  CHICAGO: See a working 19th-Century farm

Why Go? Blackberry Farm is a living history museum on 54 scenic acres with a lake, ponds and a meandering stream, with five museums and grounds with more than 200 varieties of trees, floral displays and historic agricultural gardens.

Must Do: Watch demonstrations of blacksmithing, spinning, weaving, sewing and pottery, and visit a one-room schoolhouse, an Aurora home from the 1840s, and a farm cabin.  

For more historic day trip ideas near Chicagoland, click here.

TELL US: Where do you want to go next year? Answer in the comments section below.


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