No mater how many incredibly scenic drives I experience around the world, there's always one…
Everyone’s abuzz about Black Friday. There’s the die-hard shoppers who plot out their door-busting techniques. However, many companies (hello, REI!) are shutting down on Thursday and Black Friday and encouraging people to get outside, or at least out of the mall. Take a hike (a few states are waiving park fees this Friday!), visit a museum or dig into a little local history. Get creative!
Here’s the best Black Friday shopping alternatives in every state.
Visit the Civil Rights District, the Heaviest Corner of the World, plus 23 other FREE things to do in Birmingham.
Want to get outside? Hike the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail (open year-round!). Rather stay inside? Try the Alaska Heritage or Anchorage Museum. More info on both here.
November is the perfect time of year to hike in Arizona. Check out this map to find a park (and activity in the park) near you.
So many free things to do in Little Rock. Visit the Old Mill (a re-creation of an 1880s water-powered grist mill, featured in the opening scenes of Gone with the Wind!); the oldest state capital west of the Mississippi, and loads of pedestrian bridges. More info here.
Arkansas state parks also have loads of free hikes, tours and more as a part of Green Friday initiatives.
The Redwoods, Yosemite, Joshua Tree, Death Valley… California, I hope you know how lucky you are! Throw in beautiful beaches, wineries and Hearst Castle and I don’t know how anyone who lives in this state can get around to shopping, ever. Why not explore San Luis Obispo this year? Almost too many things to do!
Colorado is synonymous with nature-y outdoor adventure. However, there’s plenty of urban adventures to be had in the Mile High City. Love art? Check out the Museum of Contemporary Art or a handful of museums showcasing western art. Another option? Explore Denver on a B-Cycle, one of the city’s ride share bikes. Nine bucks gets your 24-hour access to over 700 bikes at stations throughout the city.
If you want a little fresh air, Colorado is also offering free admission to their 42 state parks on #FreshAirFriday.
The Northeast is rife with historical sites, and Connecticut is no exception. Visit the oldest stone house in New England, or the birthplace of Huckleberry Finn (aka the Mark Twain House). Here’s more info on Connecticut’s historical sites.
Might I suggest bundling up and strolling along the beach at Cape Henlopen State Park?
Whale sharks are awesome. Why not see them in action at the Georgia Aquarium? Buy tickets online to ensure you get in, plus save on parking and food.
Not the first time I’ve mentioned this thus far… but if you’re in Hawaii, go to the beach! I loved watching the surfers on Oahu’s north shore.
Explore the foothills just outside downtown Boise. Here’s a few trails well-suited for hikers of all ages.
The Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, Museum of Science & Industry—the Windy City is home to some of the country’s best museums in the country. Why go to another silly outlet mall when you could re-create Ferris Bueller’s Day Off at the Art Institute of Chicago? Here’s Chicago’s Top 10 Museums.
Indianapolis is more than its famed speedway. Here’s 20 free things to do in Indy!
In east-central Iowa, you’ll find the seven Amana colonies—settled in 1855 by German immigrants and largely unchanged since. Check out the inns, restaurants and shops from a largely bygone era.
How could you NOT want to go to a place called the Museum of World Treasures? Exactly.
There are two kinds of trails in Kentucky: the hiking kind & the bourbon kind. If you’re feeling a little chubby after eating turkey and all the fixins (and two helpings of leftovers), try the former. Family driving you nuts? I might suggest the latter!
I have a major soft spot for Maine. I hope to one day own an adorable home there one day, but until then I’ll settle for Maine vacations filled with hikes, skiing and lobster rolls. If you’re heading all the way northeast for Turkey Day, here’s 13 hikes you might want to try in lieu of the mall.
Dive into Civil War history! The Maryland Park Service hosts several significant Civil War sites, such as South Mountain and Point Lookout, and the forthcoming Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park. Get outside, explore and learn about some of Maryland’s most significant Civil War sites.
Bring the fam to Rocky Woods on for a special ranger-guided family hike. Hikes are family-paced and designed to delight parents and children alike. And PS they do an awesome family Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving!
Detroit is famous for a few things, namely its music and its cars. I adore Motown (who doesn’t?), so why not pay homage to the genre at the Motown Museum. More of a car freak than a music nerd? I give you the Henry Ford Museum.
Enjoy the Land of 10,000 Lake’s beautiful state parks for FREE on Black Friday. Details here.
Download the Blues Trail app, get in the car, and start your pilgrimage to some of the most historically significant stops in blues history—like B.B. King’s birthplace and Muddy Waters’s Cabin.
Alas, the Missouri state parks aren’t free this year, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get out and explore! Might I suggest Lake of the Ozarks?
Big Sky reopens on November 25th, just in time for hitting the slopes instead of the outlet mall.
Open for over 50 years, Sheldon Art Museum is Nebraska’s (and really, one of the country’s) most impressive collections of American art.
When people think Nevada, their mind automatically thinks Las Vegas—casinos, late night parties and shows. You forget this neon-lit oasis is the middle of the desert, close to tons of great hiking, biking and horseback riding. Here’s a few ways to get outdoors near Sin City.
My hometown of Portsmouth is rich with history! Take a self-guided walking tour and see for yourself. Here’s a list of the places to stop.
The Garden State might be known for its shore and housewives, but there’s lots more to do here. How about getting a little fresh air on one of these 10 hikes?
I love New Mexico. In fact, it’s one of my favorite destinations for personal travel. Here’s what I did last time I was there.
So many great things to do in NYC! Off the top of my head, I say get into the Christmas spirit and visit the Botanical Garden’s holiday train show. Really—I’m not even a big train kind of person and this exhibit is spectacular.
I’d like to say The Hunger Games made DuPont State Recreation Forest famous (part of the first movie was shot there), but the fact is, this place was well-loved before that. Though most busy in the early summer, outdoors enthusiasts flock here year-round to hike and visit its four major waterfalls.
Check out Plains Art Museum’s current exhibits, including “The Buffalo in the American Living Room,” featuring artist Fritz Scholder.
Your fridge may be stuffed full of leftovers, but that doesn’t mean wandering Cleveland’s West Side Market wouldn’t be a fun way to spend a few hours. Detox from your turkey day pig out with a fresh pressed juice, or keep with gluttony going with a pierogi and loads of fresh baked pies, cookies and more.
Oklahoma City is known for its horse events. Why not check out the National Reining Horse Futurity, the most elite reining event in the world?
Portlandia loves getting outside almost as much as they love pour-over coffees. Check out Travel Portland for ideas of things to do, plus a bunch of kid-friendly hikes.
Road trips are fun any time of year. Here’s 9 of the best ones just outside of Philly.
I’m drawn to this by the name alone: Tours for Curious People. It’s a mile-long walking tour of historic Newport, focusing largely on 1700s commerce, history and weird-but-true sites.
While I love the city, small towns have my heart. Here’s five delightful places to visit just outside Charleston.
Every November, Sioux Falls’ Fall Park turns into a literal winter wonderland. Climb the tower for a lovely view of the park and surrounds. At night, the place sparkles like crazy thanks to over 355,000 twinkling LED lights.
Nashville offers tons of great museums and tours for lovers of music (specifically country). Check out the Ryman Theater, Country Music Hall of Fame (currently with a Johnny Cash/Bob Dylan exhibit!) and RCA Studio B. Here’s a fun mini-tour of the city.
Two words: Canyon Point. This is the desert destination I can’t wait to get back to!
I love to get outside in Vermont, and the idyllic town of Stowe is a favorite destination. Check out the Stowe Recreation Path.
So many lovely non-shopping things to do in Virginia! Here’s six excellent suggestions.
From Mount Rainier to Olympic National Park, there’s no shortage of great options for getting outdoors in Washington.
Milwaukee has something for everyone—great breweries, sausages, and lots of museums. For the former, visit Lake Front Brewery (who hosts an excellent Friday night fish fry, by the way!). Kids will love Betty Brinn Children Museum, and gearheads go nuts over the Harley Davidson Museum.
I adore Jackson—here’s a few of my favorite things to do there.
What are your Black Friday plans? Shopping, getting outside, visiting a cool museum… or sitting on the couch recovering from turkey day? No judgement– all sound great to me!