Or choose an activity to find the best state to travel to:
Here’s an informal and unscientific list of interesting and special things to do outdoors in each state. Some are winter, some are summer, some are high-adrenaline and some are mellower, but each one a good time and worth a trip to experience.
First, let’s take a look at how travel insurance works with activities and sports on a trip.
Travel Insurance and Activities
Travel insurance can cover injuries during your vacation and is designed to help with certain travel mishaps like flight delays, cancellations, illness and more. Just be sure that the purpose of your trip is not to participate in any organized amateur or interscholastic sports, professional athletic competitions or sporting events, as those are not covered by our plans. The same applies for participation in adventure, extreme or hazardous activities, except as a spectator.
Help protect your equipment:
You can choose a plan designed to cover your sporting equipment if it gets damaged, lost, stolen or delayed. Our Premium and Preferred plans can cover sports equipment you might bring on a trip, except motorized equipment, dental wear and eyewear. Learn more
Help protect your trip:
You never know what’s going to happen with your travels – especially these days. Illness and injury, plus more mundane things like an extended school year due to unforeseen causes, can force you to cancel or interrupt a trip. Travel insurance is meant to help with certain trip-wrecking events and reimburse you for lost trip costs for covered reasons.
Vacations focused on activities often have a lot of prepaid expenses, including transportation, lodging, fees for the activities, and even rental gear. For those reasons, travel insurance is a must for any active trip.
Help protect your travelers:
Travel insurance also covers the insured travelers on the trip, not just the equipment. Our plans are designed to bring you out of harm’s way and to the nearest suitable medical facility if you encounter an emergency illness or injury during your trip. Once you’re undergoing medical care, the Medical and Dental coverage can reimburse you for medical costs up to the plan limits.
The Best Outdoor Activities in Each State
Golf: One of the country’s most comprehensive golf destinations, the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail consists of 26 golf courses designed by the master course creator, with 468 championship holes at 11 sites that stretch from the Gulf Coast to Muscle Shoals to Anniston in the state’s northeastern corner.
Dog-sledding: Dog-sledding in Alaska is much more than the Iditarod. There are numerous sledding events and races around the state, including the famous World Championship Sled Dog Race at Anchorage’s Fur Rendezvous, where the dogsleds race right down the streets of town!
See more: Amazing Nature Vacations
River-rafting: Contrary to its name, the Colorado River runs largely through Arizona, and runs quite wild at that. Rafting trips take you down amazing whitewater rapids through canyons that tower on either side. If you’re interested in rafting through the Grand Canyon, half-canyon and full-canyon trips are available – and visitarizona.com has the details.
Find your next trip: Best National Parks for Family Vacations
Bass fishing: With four of the top 100 bass lakes according to Bassmaster magazine, Arkansas is a bass-fishing destination to be reckoned with. The consensus top lakes in the state are Dardanelle, Millwood, Ouachita, and Bull Shoals, but anywhere a river’s been dammed in Arkansas, there are liable to be bass. Discover more at arkansas.com.
Skimboarding: One of the few water sports you can do without really even knowing how to swim, skimboarding lets you glide across the beach like you’re skiing on half an inch of water. Invented in Laguna Beach by lifeguards in the 1920s – southern California’s sandy beaches are the natural environment for this quick paced activity. See some of the best beaches.
Hiking: Whether your idea of hiking is clambering over some rocks or walking up the side of a mountain, Colorado has you covered. Colorado Springs is a hiker’s paradise where you can start with the in-town trails at Ute Valley Park and work your way up to a hike to the top of Pikes Peak (elevation 14,115 feet), where the pace for newcomers is two steps forward and then a two-minute stop to catch your breath. Learn more at Visit Colorado Springs.
Also read: Best Hiking Trips in the U.S.
Polo: Okay, so you’re not going to saddle your pony, dress like an ad spread for Vogue and throw a few chukkers around. But you can check out a match at the Greenwich Polo Club, one of only three venues in the entire United States offering high-goal polo. Helpful hint: The people-watching is almost as great as the polo-watching.
Kayaking: The Blue Hen State actually has several great places to dip a double-edged paddle, including Lums Pond and Trap Pond State Parks and the waters off Rehoboth Beach. Learn more at visitdelaware.com.
Tennis: There are more than 7,700 places to play tennis in Florida, from municipal courts to full-on teaching resorts – and year-round warmth means you can get on the courts anytime. Your choice of a specific Florida tennis destination depends on whether you want to luxuriate and hit around, find a court between theme-park visits, or go all-in on a boot-camp-style regimen. Start at Visit Florida.
Also read: 8 Great Florida Vacations
ATVing: If you’re looking to do a little side-by-siding, Georgia is the place for you. The state has the Southeast’s largest off-road park in Durhamtown and ATV trails at Iron Mountain Park, Oakey Mountain, and many other locations, including the Chattahoochee and Oconee national forests. Get the full rundown here.
Surfing: Surfing in Hawaii is like tennis in Florida – there are so many ways to do it and places to go, it’s almost impossible to tell you where to start. How about this: Start with a surfing lesson on Waikiki Beach and see where it takes you – not out to sea, hopefully. Go Hawaii has the details on that, and hawaii-guide.com has the best places for more experienced surfers to catch a wave.
Paddleboarding: SUP? (FYI, SUP stands for “stand-up paddleboard.”) Redfish Lake and Shoshone Falls offer some of America’s most scenic paddleboard action. If you’re more of a dry-land type, try sandboarding – snowboarding on sand – at Bruneau Dunes State Park. Visit Idaho has the scoop.
Rollerblading: Think no one rollerblades anymore? You haven’t been to Chicago’s Lakefront Trail, which winds for more than 18 miles along the Lake Michigan shore. The trail is paved but busy, so be courteous and wear protective gear. USA Today has more on wheeling your way through the Land of Lincoln.
Swimming: Would you believe two Indiana cities, Indianapolis and Carmel, made Livestrong’s list of America’s top swim cities? And if a pool’s too tame for you, try swimming in Lake Michigan at West Beach, in Indiana Dunes National Park.
Check out: The World’s Top Indoor Pools
Biking: Iowa has more than 3,000 miles of bike trails, almost half of it converted railroad roadbed, and many more miles of bucolic rural roads that lead from town to postcard-perfect town. The state is also home to RAGBRAI, the definitive cross-state biking experience. Just remember: the state isn’t as flat as you think and windier than you remember, so ride west-to-east.
Disc golf: Emporia calls itself the “Disc Golf Capital of the World,” and it’s home to “a national disc golf retailer, professional courses, championship events, and more disc golf baskets in the ground per capita than anywhere in the world,” according to visitemporia.com. So what are you waiting for? Pack up your discs and head to Kansas!
Sledding: Snow fun for the whole family! From a backyard hill to a legitimate bunny slope, kids and parents alike can spend a whole vacation hitting sledding spots in Louisville and beyond.
Shelling: As you’d expect from a state that has some of the country’s best seafood, Louisiana has a lot of seashells – and some of the country’s best beaches for people who love to collect them, including Rutherford Beach, Holly Beach, and the beaches along the Creole Nature Trail in Lake Charles. If you love a good whelk, Louisiana is your state. Visit visitlakecharles.com to get started.
Take a look at: The Best Beach Vacations
Berry-picking: A day of foraging for wild blueberries in Maine is great exercise with a delicious payoff. If you’re in the state in late July and early August you can taste for yourself at places like Alexander’s Wild Maine Blueberries in Greenfield and Beddington Ridge Farm in Beddington. Bring your appetite, and check out visitmaine.com for more.
Chasing wild horses: Assateague Island, a 37-mile-long island that straddles Maryland and Virginia and includes the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, is known for its herds of feral horses, as immortalized in the class kids’ book Misty of Chincoteague. Connecting with them requires some work, since roads don’t always get to where they are. Be prepared to hike the beach and trails, and ask refuge staff for hints on where to go and what to look for.
Ice-skating: For more than a century Massachusetts has been renowned as a place to skate, whether it’s figure skating, speedskating, hockey skating, or just taking some leisurely turns around a rink. The state has hundreds of indoor and outdoor facilities as well as ad-hoc rinks in backyards and shoveled-off stretches of waterways. It’s a fun and invigorating way to enjoy a New England winter. Visitma.com has the details.
Mountain biking: Mountain biking requires mountains. Does Michigan have mountains? They do – in the state’s Upper Peninsula, where some of the best mountain biking anywhere can be found on the shores of Lake Superior, in Copper Harbor. Copper Harbor is just one of many top-drawer mountain-biking sites in the UP, ranging from the relatively mild trails at Michigan Tech University to the crazy runs around the ski jump at Copper Peak. Want to know more? Uptravel.com has more.
Canoeing: The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is America’s best canoeing destination, delivering all the wilderness paddling your little heart and calloused hands desire. But the fact is that every one of the lakes in the Land of 10,000 can be canoed, and many of the state’s rivers, and you don’t even have to leave Minneapolis’ city limits to get paddling. Explore Minnesota gets you started on your canoeing adventure.
Birding: According to the National Audubon Society, Mississippi offers great birding in its forests and on its beaches. Eight national parks, 14 wildlife refuges, and more than 1.2 million acres of birding areas means there’s always something avian to see, whether migratory waterfowl or native species.
Also read: Best Countries for Ecotourism
Pickleball: Believe it or not, according to Coventry Direct, the Show-Me State has two of the top 20 cities in the country for pickleballers – St. Louis and Kansas City. The unconverted are often converted quickly to this fun combination of tennis and table tennis, and Missouri is the place to get your pickle on.
Snowmobiling: Montana features thousands of miles of groomed and ungroomed trails that run through some of the country’s most spectacular scenery, including several national forests. Lodge-to-lodge vacations can be arranged, and that roaring fire at the end of a long day of sledding makes the cold an afterthought … almost. Visitmt.com can get the planning process started.
Also read: Travel Insurance for Bad Weather
Fossil hunting: The Fossil Freeway runs mostly through Nebraska, and provides lots of opportunities to hunt for bones of prehistoric mammals and reptiles, including bison and wooly mammoths. The freeway runs through multiple parks and wildlife areas, including the Mammoth Site of Hot Springs, Agate Fossil Beds National Monument, and the Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area. Whether you’re serious or curious about fossils, Nebraska’s the place for you.
Backpacking: A recent study placed Nevada seventh in the country as a backpacking destination. And as Travel Nevada puts it, “From celebrated Nevada state parks and national park wonders to crowd-free conservation areas and the 36-mile long, peak-hopping Ruby Crest National Recreation Trail,” Nevada has a backpacking trip for practically everyone.
Rolling dog sled: Don’t like freezing cold wind in your face while dogsledding? In New Hampshire you can sled without snow on rolling dog sleds. Plus, you’re giving to a good cause, NH Dog Sled Rescue.
Miniature golf: The Garden State is home to more than 50 putt-putt courses -- many of them outdoors -- so you’ll have plenty of chances to go swinging at windmills. Check out some of the best courses.
Ballooning: Where else to balloon but the home of the International Balloon Fiesta? New Mexico, with its expansive vistas and gentle winds, is perfect for ballooning, and you can grab a ride from one of the many balloonists around Albuquerque. Check out newmexico.org for a complete rundown on balloon festivals and ride opportunities.
Bobsledding: The Lake Placid Bobsled Experience offers you a ride down the Mt. Van Hoevenberg track at speeds up to 50 mph. And the best part: The bobsleds are on wheels, meaning you can make your run any time of year. So who’s up for a little adrenaline jolt?
Kite-flying: As the Wright Brothers discovered, the state’s Outer Banks are one of America’s windiest spots, making it a perfect place to tie some string to an airfoil and set it aloft. The dunes at Jockey’s Ridge State Park in Nags Head are the ultimate kiting destination, and a nearby Kitty Hawk Kites can set you up with a full rig. No Charlie Brown misadventures here!
Running: There’s some logic, and more than a chuckle or two, in the fact that one of the country’s flattest states has the most runners per capita, according to Podium Runner. Just be sure you’re running with the wind at your back.
Great Lakes fishing: There’s fishing, and then there’s fishing on the Great Lakes. Yellow perch offer a winning combination of size, fight, and good eating, and numerous charters along the Lake Erie coast in Ohio can take you on a fishing excursion you’ll never forget. The Ohio natural-resources department has everything you need to know short of exactly where to cast that bait.
Mineral hunting: Travel Oklahoma says you need to grab a shovel and head to Jet to dig for hourglass-shaped salt crystals at Salt Plains State Park. The crystals form after water evaporates and leaves the salt behind. Salt-digging season runs from April to October; ask park staff for digging tips before heading out.
Fat-tire biking: Are you looking for an Oregon activity besides counting Subarus? Oregon Is For Adventure recommends a 19-mile excursion down the rugged coastline of Bandon Beach on a purpose-built bike with some of the biggest tires ever. The pace is slower by design, giving you plenty of time to appreciate the crashing waves, towering rock formations, and sloping dunes.
Fly-fishing: Pennsylvania streams are renowned for having some of the best fly-fishing east of the Mississippi, with a variety of stream experiences ranging from small and relatively placid to fast and wild. Kettle Creek and Pine Creek offer a combination of great fishing and beautiful vistas, while the Allegheny River has trout ranging up to 30 inches, according to DIY Fly Fishing.
Sailing: Seeing as Newport is the home of the America’s Cup, you bet Rhode Island has great sailing. Whether you’re looking to learn on a small ketch or charter a 12-meter America’s Cup yacht, Rhode Island has boats that are yare and water that’s fast. Get your “temps” at Sail Newport, rent a boat, and see where the wind takes you.
Also read: Tips for Planning a River Cruise
Tubing: South Carolina lends itself to relaxation, and there’s no activity more relaxing than floating down a quiet river on a warm summer day. South Carolina offers multiple places to get your chill on, including the Saluda and Green rivers in the northwest and the Edisto River near Charleston. Get tubular at Discover South Carolina.
Pheasant hunting: South Dakota claims to have the “world’s greatest pheasant hunting,” and if you’re up for the challenge of bagging these fast-flushing birds, South Dakota can accommodate you. There are public hunting areas as well as guided hunts on private land, but reserve a spot early, because permits go fast and the best hunting spots get spoken for.
Water-skiing: There will come a time in a Tennessee summer when you just have to cool off, and nothing cools you down like water-skiing. Tennessee has multiple lakes and rivers perfect for a little slalom action, including Chickamauga Lake, Kentucky Lake, and Norris Lake. Tnvacation.com has more suggestions.
Diving: Crazy as it may sound, Texas offers a wide variety of diving and snorkeling opportunities, from in-city diving at Austin’s Lake Travis to ocean diving off of South Padre Island. And diving in Texas means you rarely have to worry about bone-chilling cold waters. Learn more from Texas Outside.
Downhill skiing: Utah is as good as it gets for deep powder and long, steep runs. Many ski areas are close to the state’s population centers, making it easy to fly in, cut a few turns, and make your flight with time to spare. Park City, Alta and Snowbird are perhaps the most well-known resorts, but don’t forget about Sundance and Solitude Mountain. Ski Utah can help you craft the perfect Utah ski vacation.
Snowshoeing: The Blueberry Hill Inn is the epicenter of Vermont snowshoeing, with trails that wind through the Moosalamoo National Recreation Area of the Green Mountain National Forest. Accommodations are cozy, the food is great, and the exercise can’t be beat. If you think you hate winter, a Vermont snowshoe adventure will change your mind.
Camping: From tents to RVs, primitive to developed, from the beach to the mountains, Virginia has a beautiful camping spot for you. Virginia has thousands of sites in state and national parks and seashores as well as private campgrounds near battlefields, distilleries, and wineries.
Apple picking – Washington grows about 65% of all the apples in the U.S., making it one of the best places to take a stroll through an orchard and pick some of your own. There are even apple festivals throughout the state. Get picking tips and find some of the best U-pick farms around.
Zip-lining: There are an insane amount of zip-lines in West Virginia, including some that are insane on their own merits, like the 3,000-foot-long Adrenaline. But for sheer pulse-pounding, nothing compares to the Highline at the New River Gorge Bridge, which only operates on Bridge Day and sends the brave plunging 700 feet into the gorge. Are you up for it? Check out wvtourism.com for details.
Cross-country skiing: The 55-kilometer Birkebeiner, North America’s most famous cross-country ski race, is one of many ski events and opportunities in the state. Non-racers can still ski on the Birkie trails before race day, while the less ambitious can try smaller loops and less challenging terrain at Minocqua’s Winter Park or on the Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest trails. Helpful hint: The easy trails get more difficult the further north in the state you go.
Horseback-riding: Travel Wyoming says it best: “Setting out on horseback among the state’s millions of acres of public lands is an ideal way to feel the authentic, western spirit … whether you take a guided trail ride at a traditional dude ranch, make your way through the epic landscapes of Yellowstone National Park or ride through the wildflower-filled Bighorn Mountains.” There you go.
With so many ways to be active across the country, it’s hard to know where to start. How about starting with travel insurance from Generali? Our plans fit active vacations. Get a quote today and see for yourself.
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