Either you're going into your senior year, or you've just graduated and are coming out of it. Whatever the case may be, congratulations! You have a serious cause to celebrate, making it this far and working so hard along the way. Why not treat yourself and your friends to a senior year vacation? Fun, exciting, and oftentimes awe-inspiring, these destinations will get you ready for whatever comes next in life! Have fun!
1. Hawaiian Islands
An oldie but a goodie, the Hawaiian islands are at the top of nearly every "senior trip" blog, but for good reason. Their beauty is arguably unmatched in the U.S., offering views of the glistening blue Pacific Ocean, standing high atop an active volcano with lush rainforests at your feet. There's also so much to choose from in Hawaii, from the cultural and active city life of Honolulu to the backwoods, small villages of Molokai and Lanai. Natural beauty abounds on every single island, and there's always so much to do.
2. Sarasota, FL
A beautiful city by the sea, Sarasota is soaked in wonder and fun. It's perhaps best known as the home of John and Mable Ringling of the Ringling Brothers Circus, and it continues to maintain their wonderful home museum filled with the treasures of their travels. You'll also find the Sarasota Jungle Gardens in the heart of the city housing exotic animals as well as a tropical jungle, and also a Classic Car Museum, marine laboratory, baseball training stadium for the Baltimore Orioles, and fabulous beaches among others. Sarasota is nothing if not beautiful, and quintessentially Florida.
3. Great Smoky Mountains National Park - TN, NC
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the most popular and visited parks in the country, for the seemingly misty mountains behind veils of fog, the blue hills that stretch for miles, and close proximity to towns like Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge where you can catch a showing of the Dixie Stampede. The point of this idea is to get outside, reconnect with natural wilderness and come back, ready and rearing for college, full of inspiration, relaxed spirits, and new perspectives.
4. Galveston, TX
In South Texas, you'll find the cute, historic, and attraction-packed city of Galveston. A seaside city, Galveston welcomes school trips, family vacationers, and seniors on spring break by the busload every single year. Their sun-soaked location, coupled with the multitude of fun things to do (like Moody Gardens, historic mansions, military flight and ship museums, etc.), makes Galveston is a goldmine for tourism. Stick to the beach and relax or tour the town and get a feel for what Galveston truly is.
5. Santa Fe, NM
Dating back to 1610, Santa Fe holds the distinction of being the oldest American state capital city as well as one of the oldest cities. Steeped in Native American and Mexican heritage, Santa Fe is at once preserved in the past and an active modern community. The city is a wonderland for active recreation from mountain biking to rock climbing and more, as well as touring the many Native American heritage sites and landmarks in the surrounding areas. Relax in style in one of the many delicious Spanish-style restaurants, tour the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum or the many historic landmarks, or even the biggest and oldest festival in the area, Fiesta.
6. Santa Monica, CA
Located on the west side of Los Angeles, hugging the blue ocean waves, Santa Monica is an exciting, laid-back, and sun-soaked destination that you're not going to want to miss. Though it lies in close proximity to everything L.A., you're going to have a hard time drawing yourself away from the stunning pink and gold sunsets, the exciting attractions of Santa Monica Pier, or the fun pop culture landmark of Muscle Beach.
7. New Orleans, LA
You all know the exciting vivacity of the Big Easy, which is why you should consider a senior vacation to New Orleans. Live the good life on Bourbon Street, drinking in the culture and music of this constantly moving city. There are always impromptu performances traveling through the French Quarter or the French Market, though you can sample entertainment at the Audubon Nature Institute or Mardi Gras World for behind the scenes looks at the festival. Explore voodoo, eat your way through po boys and gumbo, and emerge delightfully refreshed and revitalized before the start of the fall term.
8. Jersey City, NJ
Jersey City may seem like an odd choice but the affordable, rejuvenated cityscape of Jersey City puts it in contention. Right across the bay from New York City, at first all you notice is the view. Then, as you get to know the city, you find beautiful gardens, wonderful museums and exciting amusement park piers, theaters, and more. It's more affordable than New York City and yet close enough that you can hop on a ferry and visit any Big Apple attraction you desire.
9. Key West, FL
Though this is the second Florida destination on this list, you will not want to miss Key West. As close to the Caribbean as you're likely to get without leaving the U.S., Key West is at the far southern end of the Florida Keys in the cerulean ocean. It's among one of the top destinations for diving, deep-sea fishing, and catching a glimpse of many endangered Florida native animals. Key West is also a thriving community of history and culture, once home to Ernest Hemingway and Tennessee Williams. Visit the pirate-filled Shipwreck Museum, Ernest Hemingway's house, and bookstore, or simply grab a fish taco and relax on the white sandy beach.
10. Savannah, GA
Finally, we come back to the American South, with one of the most beautiful, and affordable, grand dames of antebellum America. Like many of the other cities on this list, Savannah has a rich history dating back before the Civil War. The legend goes that she was so beautiful that General Sherman decided not to burn Savannah, and spared her on his March to the Sea. You'll understand why when you see the drooping, languid oaks shading stunning city squares lined with antique mansions, or peruse the shops along the riverfront. Though there's plenty to keep you busy in the city, it's also very close to Tybee Island as well as South Carolina for quick day trips.