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Great Gap Year Ideas, Trips, and Activities for Young Adults


Whether you’ve just completed high school or graduated college, a gap year offers a valuable opportunity to step away from academia and pursue personal growth through immersive, cultural adventures. As you dive into this list of gap year ideas, you’ll encounter a plethora of options that may leave you feeling overwhelmed. Planning a gap year can feel formidable, particularly when balancing the numerous responsibilities and pressures faced by students and young adults today. Thankfully, you don’t have to navigate this journey alone. We’re here to lend a helping hand by providing compelling ideas to ignite your inspiration for a truly meaningful gap year!

Explore the world with Let’s Roam!

Now that you’ve chosen your path and are eager to embark on a thrilling exploration of the world around you, allow us to enhance your journey with our exciting collection of scavenger hunts. Uncover the finest attractions in your city or abroad while engaging in a captivating quest. Our hunts are jam-packed with useful trivia and fun video and photo challenges that help you get to know your environment in a unique and interactive way. Plus, you’ll capture some outrageous photos and videos that you can cherish and share with friends back home.

22 Great Gap Year Ideas, Trips, and Activities for Young Adults

When choosing the perfect gap year opportunity, remember to strike a balance between enjoying yourself and laying the foundation for future success. Choose a destination or trip that piques your curiosity, offers something of value for your future, or gives back to the global community. Let’s find the perfect pursuit for your epic gap year (or gap semester).

1. Volunteer for a conservation project abroad.

Immerse yourself in a rewarding experience by volunteering for a conservation project abroad. This opportunity allows you to make a meaningful impact while exploring the wonders of another country. Engaging in conservation efforts not only helps preserve our planet’s natural beauty but also contributes to the well-being of local communities and wildlife.

By volunteering you can actively participate in activities like wildlife conservation, habitat restoration, environmental education, or marine conservation. These projects provide hands-on experiences, allowing you to work alongside dedicated professionals and fellow volunteers who share your passion for protecting the environment.

From joining a sea turtle conservation project in Costa Rica, assisting with reforestation efforts in the Amazon Rainforest, or participating in sustainable farming practices in Africa, there are numerous opportunities available to match your interests and skills.

International Volunteer HQ, GoEco, and Projects Abroad are a few of the many great volunteer companies that excel in trips for young adults.

2. Continue your education with EF Tours.

Curated by the renowned Education First (EF) Tours, these gap year programs are like a “greatest hits” collection designed specifically for teenagers. These immersive experiences combine internships, language schools, and service activities across various parts of the world. Students have the flexibility to customize their semester or year-long program to align with their skill development goals before starting university.

The program offers an array of enticing options, such as cultural immersion in vibrant cities like London, Amsterdam, Barcelona, and Paris. For those seeking language instruction, there’s the opportunity to learn in the charming city of Nice. Alternatively, students can engage in sustainable development programs in Thailand, pursue internships in bustling Tokyo, or even attend a leadership academy at EF’s executive education campus located in the picturesque Ashridge Castle just outside London. Participating in these experiences empowers you with life-changing experiences and valuable new skills that will help shape your future plans upon returning home.

3. Get out there with Go Abroad Adventure Travels.

Do you believe that travel should be an exhilarating escapade that pushes you out of your comfort zone, immerses you in unfamiliar surroundings, and keeps you on your toes? If you’re nodding along and thinking, “Yes, that’s exactly how I feel,” then Go Abroad Adventure Programs are the perfect choice for you! These gap year travel programs offer a structured and hands-on experience, taking the load off your shoulders. There’s no need for extensive planning beforehand—simply pick your poison and let the adventure unfold!

Embark on an extraordinary journey where you’ll find yourself conquering new challenges, embracing the unknown, and creating memories that will last a lifetime. Whether it’s trekking through lush rainforests, diving into crystal-clear waters, or scaling towering mountains, these programs are designed to deliver the excitement and thrill you crave. You’ll push your body and mind to the limit and find out just how much you’re capable of!

4. Teach English abroad.

Get paid while living the adventure of a lifetime as a professional English teacher in amazing destinations like Spain, Thailand, or Costa Rica. International TEFL Academy (ITA) can train you and hook you up with the perfect pairing. Since 2010, ITA has been the go-to place for the best TEFL training and job services. They offer the crème de la crème of internationally accredited TEFL courses, both online and in-person, available in 20+ locations across the globe. With ITA, you’ll receive top-notch training that will set you up for success as an English teacher abroad or online.

5. Utilize an international work exchange program.

Calling all budget-conscious travelers and those seeking work experience while fully immersing themselves in local communities! Work exchange programs offer you a one-of-a-kind opportunity to learn a new skill and meet incredible people. You will basically trade your labor for a free place to stay (and usually food). It’s a win-win situation!

Picture yourself working in a vineyard in Italy, diving headfirst into the local community, living and working alongside its members. This immersive experience is an incredible chance to fully embrace the culture and language of your chosen destination.

By participating in a work exchange program, you’ll gain much more than just a place to stay. You’ll acquire practical skills, broaden your perspective, and forge connections with people from all walks of life. It’s a fantastic way to grow personally and professionally while embarking on a memorable adventure. Work Away is a great platform to find work exchange programs all around the world.

6. Get a seasonal job.

Unlike work exchanges, seasonal jobs offer gappers a fantastic opportunity to earn money while traveling. It’s quite common for young adults on a gap year to seek employment in the tourism sector during peak seasons, like working at a ski resort in winter or serving as a receptionist in a hostel. Seasonal work allows you to strike a balance between immersing yourself in international work culture and relishing the freedom and independence of traveling. It’s a wonderful way to experience the best of both worlds. Not only can you earn some extra cash to supplement your travel budget, but seasonal jobs also provide a chance to extend your gap year. By working during the season, you have the opportunity to rebuild your savings to rack up more adventures!

When working for money in a foreign country, you will have to jump through some extra hoops. You cannot enter on a tourist visa and will need to acquire the appropriate working or student visa. Each country differs on these regulations, so be sure you know the rules for your intended destination if you intend to participate in that country’s economy.

7. Do a domestic gap year.

While gap years often revolve around international travel, exploring more of your own home country can be just as fulfilling! Plus, there aren’t piles of paperwork to fill out. A domestic gap year offers a unique experience that doesn’t require visas, immunizations, or expensive international airfare. It’s still an opportunity to challenge yourself, become more independent, and prepare for the next exciting chapter in your life.

If you decide to stay domestic, choose an area that is foreign to you. Work on a dude ranch in Wyoming, live in a surf village in California, or do a road trip in an RV or campervan. Learn to wild camp. Work on your friend-making skills, or spend some time on a Native American reservation. The options are endless!

8. Become an au pair.

Working as an au pair abroad is a fun and engaging way to fully immerse yourself in a new culture without breaking the bank. Not only will you have an incredible adventure, but you’ll also make a positive impact on the lives of children. Say goodbye to the stress of paying rent and searching for a place to live.

Being a nanny abroad means living and working with a host family, allowing you to truly experience the local culture firsthand. You’ll have the opportunity to help the kids learn English, engage in entertaining activities with them, and create lifelong memories together. Not to mention, you’ll also get a healthy dose of their native language and traditions, enriching your understanding of the country you’re in.

9. Get an internship abroad in your area of study.

If you’re looking to gain valuable work experience, explore potential career paths, or simply test the waters in a specific field, an international internship might be the perfect fit for your gap year aspirations. By embarking on a gap year internship, you can take a break from academia while still working directly towards your future career.

Interning abroad offers a unique opportunity to acquire essential life skills without long-term professional consequences. These gap year internships come in various shapes and sizes, tailored to meet your specific needs. You’ll find options that are paid, as well as internships that can earn you college credits. Remember, gap years don’t have to be a full year in length—college students often pursue internships abroad during their summer breaks, allowing them to avoid deferring scholarships or financial aid. You’ll have the chance to work alongside experts in your chosen field, learning from their knowledge and expertise. This real-world exposure will help you make informed decisions about your future career path.

10. Join the Peace Corps.

The Peace Corps offers a fulfilling and enriching experience that extends beyond its two-year commitment, providing volunteers with valuable opportunities for future career prospects. Placed in diverse locations worldwide, volunteers engage in service projects spanning various sectors, such as agriculture, environment, community economic development, health, education, and youth development. A past participant eloquently describes the Peace Corps as the pivotal and life-altering moment that shaped their personal growth and transformation.

11. Join WorldStrides.

WorldStrides, a leading provider of educational travel and experiential learning, offers an array of comprehensive gap year programs. These programs encompass a range of enriching experiences, including performing arts, language immersion, career exploration, service learning, study abroad, and sports. By participating in these programs, students transcend the traditional classroom setting, gaining a broader perspective of the world and discovering new facets of their own identity and potential.

12. Join Habitat for Humanity.

Habitat for Humanity presents several opportunities for young adults who are eager to volunteer and make a meaningful impact in the lives of others through their youth programs. For those seeking a comprehensive experience during their gap year, the joint program between Habitat for Humanity and AmeriCorps offers an immersive option. This program provides full-year service positions at local Habitat organizations throughout the United States. Participants in this program have the chance to acquire new skills, contribute significantly to Habitat’s mission of providing homes for those in need, and play a vital role in their communities. Qualifying individuals may also receive a modest living allowance as part of their participation in the program.

13. Consider AmeriCorps.

AmeriCorps is a highly regarded program that offers a wide range of service opportunities for individuals seeking to make a difference. It presents various options for service, including short-term state and national programs designed for individuals aged 17 and above. Additionally, there are full-year Vista programs available for individuals aged 18 and above, where participants work in nonprofit offices or engage in physical projects with the NCCC (National Civilian Community Corps). Participants in the Vista programs receive valuable benefits, such as free room and board, as well as living stipends. These programs provide an avenue for individuals to engage in meaningful service and contribute to the betterment of communities across the nation.

14. Get college credits with Where There Be Dragons.

Where There Be Dragons, despite its evocative name, offers immersive and extensive foreign travel programs specifically tailored for gap year students. This organization provides in-depth experiences in various disciplines such as political science, history, sustainability, economics, and language immersion. Their programs take place in captivating destinations including remote locations like Madagascar or Nepal, as well as closer to home in places like the Colorado Basin.

A notable feature of Dragons’ programs is the opportunity to earn college credits, although it is advisable to confirm with the desired college whether these credits are transferable. While this program may be on the higher end of the price spectrum, financial aid options are available to make it more accessible for interested participants. Dragons’ commitment to combining academic rigor with transformative travel experiences sets it apart as an exceptional choice for those seeking a comprehensive and impactful gap year program.

15. Learn new skills with WWOOF.

Originally known as “Working Weekends On Organic Farms,” WWOOF has evolved into a global platform offering a wide range of opportunities. Participants in WWOOF programs contribute their time and effort to organic farms and, in return, receive benefits such as food, accommodation, and the chance to acquire new skills.

If you have the desire to engage in hands-on work outdoors and experience living in another country affordably, WWOOF can be an excellent choice. It provides a unique avenue to learn about sustainability, renewable energy, winemaking, organic gardening, and other related fields. By immersing yourself in these experiences, you can deepen your knowledge while enjoying the rewards of a culturally enriching and cost-effective international adventure.

16. Learn a new language by immersion.

If your goal is to learn a new language or enhance your existing language skills, an in-country immersion program is the optimal choice. By surrounding yourself with the target language and culture on a full-time basis, you are much more likely to make substantial progress in your fluency. Being immersed in the language means that you communicate, listen, read, and think in the language throughout your daily activities. This constant firsthand exposure to the language helps you develop a deeper understanding of its nuances, vocabulary, grammar, and cultural context.

Language Vacation is an excellent platform for language immersion in countries all over the world.

17. Get a working holiday visa.

The financial aspect of taking a gap year often poses a significant hurdle for high school graduates. However, several countries, such as Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, offer working holiday visas specifically designed for young adults holding certain passports. This visa allows gappers to engage in short-term employment to support their travels within the country.

Commonly, gap year participants find work in restaurants, bars, hostels, or other service-oriented positions in towns that offer broader access to the country’s attractions. Taking on short-term employment, akin to seasonal work in the tourism sector, provides multiple benefits. These visas are much easier to acquire than traditional working visas and are specifically made for young adults.

18. Go remote with Raleigh International.

Raleigh International, a highly regarded gap year association, is a top choice. It’s a student-led volunteer program that offers impactful opportunities worldwide, with a particular focus on sustainable development in remote regions like Nepal and Costa Rica. It’s important to note that there is an extensive application process involved to participate in Raleigh International.

19. Explore the “Mother Continent” with African Impact.

African Impact is a highly reputable and responsible volunteer travel organization that has garnered numerous accolades, including being voted the world’s “Top Volunteer Abroad Organization” by volunteers on GoAbroad for four consecutive years. Since its establishment in 2004, African Impact has hosted over 35,000 participants across 20 projects in seven countries. The organization firmly believes in the spirit of Africa and recognizes the significance of the volunteer experience alongside the impact made.

One of the key strengths of African Impact is its ability to manage its own projects, resulting in tangible and meaningful achievements on an ongoing basis. The organization places great emphasis on child protection, ensuring that volunteers undergo a criminal record check before participating. Experienced staff members are present on-site to offer continuous support to volunteers, and the organization does not substitute local personnel with volunteer support, making sure not to damage the local economy.

In addition to creating a positive impact, African Impact believes that volunteering abroad should be enjoyable. The organization offers a diverse range of activities for volunteers, including teaching children in South Africa, contributing to wildlife conservation efforts in Zimbabwe, assisting in hospitals or clinics in Kenya, and conducting dolphin and marine research in Zanzibar.

20. Take an expedition with Earth Watch.

Earthwatch Teen Expeditions provide high school students between the ages of 15 and 18 with extraordinary and life-defining experiences. Designed for those with a keen interest in science and a deep passion for the environment, these expeditions offer much more than just exciting travel opportunities.

On an Earthwatch Teen Expedition, participants have the incredible opportunity to witness breathtaking natural beauty while actively contributing to hands-on research projects alongside scientists. By engaging in field research, they play a vital role in understanding and protecting threatened wildlife and habitats. This immersive experience allows teens to gain firsthand insight into what a career in conservation truly entails, providing a glimpse into the world of college-level scientific exploration. Beyond the scientific aspect, Earthwatch expeditions also allow students to work closely with like-minded individuals, build lasting friendships, and develop a sense of camaraderie.

21. Set sail with Sea Mester.

Take an educational voyage of discovery and adventure that will leave a lasting impact on your life with Sea Mester. Spend your college semester or gap year at sea, fully immersed in life aboard a sailing vessel. While sailing across oceans, you will have the chance to study abroad and explore diverse cultures alongside newfound friends who will quickly become like family. Embrace the opportunity to earn college credits in marine sciences and seamanship, while also gaining sailing and scuba diving certifications.

22. Pack a backpack and enjoy.

Another option for spending a gap year abroad is to embark on a spontaneous backpacking adventure with no specific plans for work or volunteering. Simply embrace the freedom to explore the world and see where the journey takes you. Working or volunteering during your gap year experience is not a requirement. If you’ve saved enough money, you can treat yourself to an incredible experience of traveling and discovering new places before returning to the responsibilities of work or study back home.

The nature of your backpacking experience will depend on the amount of money you have saved. If you’re on a budget, traveling affordably can be an exciting and enjoyable challenge. Opt for staying in hostels, trying local street food, and connecting with fellow travelers along the way. To make your abroad adventure unforgettable, avoid overplanning. Instead, leave room for spontaneity. As you meet fellow travelers, you’ll stumble upon new destinations and experiences that you had not previously considered. It’s the ultimate life of freedom.

Let the planning begin!

Now that you’ve explored and discovered some of the best gap year ideas, it’s time to take proactive steps and bring your plan to life. Remember, the most valuable education often comes from real-life experiences. Whether you decide to embark on volunteer opportunities, backpack across Europe or Southeast Asia, or immerse yourself in a foreign language learning program, you will inevitably come back changed.

Embrace the opportunities that await you during your gap year and approach them with enthusiasm and an open mind. Engage in activities that broaden your horizons, challenge your perspectives, and help you grow as an individual. Embrace the richness of diverse cultures, connect with people from different backgrounds, and thoroughly enjoy the adventure and excitement that comes with exploring the world.

Looking for more ideas for your teen’s gap year? Check out our “The Top 12 Service Trips For Teens,” and “The Most Unforgettable Trips For Teens.”

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some unique gap year ideas?

Life aboard a sailing vessel with Sea Mester is a unique gap year idea. Go Abroad Adventure Travels offers adrenaline-pumping trips trekking through lush rainforests or diving into crystal-clear waters.

What are some meaningful ideas for a gap year?

Some of the most meaningful gap years are spent volunteering. Organizations like African Impact, Raleigh International, Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, and Habitat for Humanity offer awesome opportunities.

How do I make friends in a gap year?

Volunteering with an organization and working with like-minded peers will help you make friends. Pack a copy of Adventures From Scratch: Friend Edition so you’re never short on unique adventure ideas!

What are good budget-friendly gap year ideas?

Work exchange, being an Au Pair, getting a seasonal job, WWOOF, teaching English, and backpacking are good budget-friendly gap year ideas.

What makes a good gap year?

The best way to have a good gap year is to find a project that gives you purpose! Focus on cultural immersion, cultivating new, deep friendships, and giving back to the global community.

ActivitiesAdventuresFamily Fun

35 Spring Break Ideas for Families


After being stuck inside all winter, it’s finally springtime! If longer days and warmer weather have you looking for spring break ideas for families that your crew will actually enjoy, we’ve got beach options, ski resorts, and road trips that the whole family will love. If you’re just looking for family-friendly activities to do at home, we’ve got you covered there, too. In this guide, we’ll list out all the best spring break ideas to make sure your brood stays busy all week long!

Take a break with Adventures From Scratch.

Check out our scratch-off adventure book, Adventures From Scratch: Family Edition for 50+ spring break ideas for families. AFS is chalked full of fun things to fill your free days. We’ve got road trip ideas, at-home crafts, and unique challenges that will keep your crew entertained! Use it at home, or take it with you on your family getaway!

Awesome Spring Break Ideas for Families

Don’t let your family be bored during spring break and waste your precious time off. Snag one or two of these spring break ideas and make them your own! Your activities don’t have to be extravagant. We’ve gathered some ideas, but each one can be adapted to your closest location, budget, or time schedule. Get creative!

The Best Beach Vacations for Families

Sometimes, you just need to wind down by the ocean, build some sand castles, and hunt for seashells. Here are a few awesome beach trip options that your crew will love! (Remember, the whole family might not love the sand as much as you do, so try to choose a destination with horseback riding, ziplining, or a great children’s museum to add a little variety).

1. Captiva and Sanibel Islands: Florida

Captiva and Sanibel, picturesque barrier islands of the Gulf Coast, provide an ideal family-friendly option for spring break. These islands offer a relaxed atmosphere with breathtaking views, and beaches loaded with vibrant seashells. Visitors can enjoy biking through J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, embarking on a thrilling high-speed catamaran cruise, or venturing out to explore Lovers Key State Park.

2. St. Pete Beach: Florida

St. Pete is a popular destination for families, offering a wide range of activities. A short distance away, Fort De Soto Park boasts unspoiled white sand beaches and thrilling outdoor activities like swimming, snorkeling, and kayaking. Art enthusiasts can explore the Dali Museum’s surreal art collection, while nature lovers can revel in the Florida Botanical Gardens’ lush greenery. At Clearwater Marine Aquarium, visitors can encounter interesting marine creatures, while a stroll through the serene Sunken Gardens is a must for those seeking beautiful landscapes. For a peaceful retreat, Weedon Island Preserve offers a tranquil hiking experience away from the crowds.

3. Myrtle Beach: South Carolina

Visiting South Carolina for spring break is a fantastic idea. With its warm weather, beautiful beaches, charming towns, and Southern hospitality, there is something for everyone. Myrtle Beach, aka the “Grand Strand,” stretches 60 miles along the Atlantic Ocean. Along with the iconic boardwalks, visitors can enjoy live music, theater shows, and a diverse culinary scene with hundreds of restaurants. Myrtle Beach also offers amusement parks, a remarkable aquarium, over 90 picturesque golf courses, fishing, and a wide range of water sports.

4. Disney’s Aulani Resort & Spa: Hawaii

Visiting Hawaii for spring break is a dream come true! The tropical paradise offers stunning beaches, lush landscapes, and exciting outdoor activities such as surfing, snorkeling, and insane hiking. Disney’s Aulani Resort & Spa is a truly stunning hotel that provides exceptional service. Guests can indulge in fantastic pools, water slides, a beautiful beach, delightful character breakfasts, a magnificent luau, and incredible restaurants. In addition, Aulani offers numerous complimentary activities such as a free kids camp at Aunty’s Beach House, the Menehune Adventure Trail, hula lessons with characters, fireside storytelling, vibrant shows, movies under the stars, specialized teen areas, and much more.

5. Moon Palace Cancun: Mexico

Mexico has many family-friendly beach resorts that could provide a memorable spring break trip. We like Moon Palace Cancun, a vast, all-inclusive resort just a short drive from Cancun International Airport. With an array of accommodation options, the resort provides everything from high-end suites to budget-friendly options, making it a great option for a range of families.

It is an excellent choice for families with young children, boasting water slides, a FlowRider wave machine, mini-golf, cycling, snorkeling in the Caribbean, and more. Parents can also take advantage of the kids’ club, where attentive staff can supervise children while they enjoy a romantic dinner or play a round of golf on the 27-hole Jack Nicklaus Signature golf course.

The Best Ski Trips for Families

If lounging on the beach doesn’t suit your style, why not try a more action-packed vacation like skiing? With the wind in your face and the snowy slopes beneath your feet, skiing is a great way to get your adrenaline pumping, and spring break is the perfect time for it!

6. Solitude Ski Resort: Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah

The Wasatch Mountains of Utah boast approximately 14 ski resorts, ten of which are renowned worldwide for their exceptional quality. For families seeking a European-style ski village experience, Solitude Ski Resort is an ideal choice. The resort offers accommodations at the Inn at Solitude or in a rented condo, both of which provide breathtaking views of the slopes.

Children under six can ski for free at Solitude! The resort also provides a snow sports school for both skiers and snowboarders. Additionally, everything at Solitude Ski Resort, including lodging, restaurants, and slopes, is within walking distance, so you’ll never need to leave the resort.

7. Breckenridge Ski Resort: Colorado

Skiing in Colorado is a must-do experience for any ski enthusiast. Colorado boasts some of the best resorts in North America, with world-renowned destinations like Vail, Aspen, and Keystone. Skiing in Breckenridge is a fantastic experience for both beginners and experts. With over 2,900 acres of terrain, across five peaks, Breckenridge is one of the largest resorts in the state. It boasts groomers, moguls, designated terrain parks, and bowls. In addition, Breckenridge has an excellent ski school, with expert instructors, who can teach anyone!

The village is also charming, with historic buildings and a bustling downtown filled with shops, restaurants, and bars. Visitors can enjoy après-ski activities such as ice skating, snowmobiling, or taking a horse-drawn sleigh ride. With its stunning mountain scenery, excellent skiing, and lively town, Breckenridge is a must-visit destination for any ski enthusiast.

The Best European Spring Break Trip for Families

A family vacation to Europe is a bucket list activity that offers a mix of adventure, culture, history, and relaxation. One great way to experience Europe as a family is to embark on a multi-city tour!

8. Tour of Italy

For a memorable family vacation in Europe, choose a four-stop tour of Italy, visiting Naples, Rome, Florence, and Venice. With two nights in each city, it fits into your spring break timeline if you leave a day early. You’ll explore the ancient ruins of Pompeii, cruise the Blue Grotto of Capri, marvel at the Colosseum and the Duomo, peruse the best Renaissance art on earth, and experience a gondola ride through the canals of Venice. Not to mention, you’ll gorge yourself on handmade pizza, pasta, and gelato, and miss the summer crowds. It doesn’t get much better than that!

Take some cues from “Travel Europe for Cheap? Enjoy These Budget Tips” to keep your trip from breaking the bank.

National Parks

With some of the most intoxicating landscapes in the world, the United States National Parks are the perfect vacation idea for families. First of all, the America the Beautiful Pass which allows your whole family into all National Parks for a year, for just one fee of $80. Secondly, your kiddos will love the Junior Rangers Program provided by the park system, Thirdly, parents get to relax in some of the most stunning scenery imaginable. It’s a win all around. Here are a few of the best National Parks to visit this spring break.

9. Yosemite National Park: California

Yosemite is a must-visit destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. The park offers breathtaking views of towering granite cliffs, cascading waterfalls, and serene meadows, as well as iconic hikes like Half Dome. This is a very popular park and requires a reservation!

10. National Parks of Utah

Utah is home to five national parks, known as the Mighty 5, talk about bang for your buck. Arches National Park is famous for its stunning rock formations, including over 2,000 natural sandstone arches. Bryce Canyon National Park features otherworldly hoodoos. Canyonlands National Park is a vast desert landscape with deep canyons, towering mesas, and the confluence of the Green and Colorado Rivers. Capitol Reef National Park has a diverse range of geological features, including cliffs, canyons, domes, and arches. Zion National Park is renowned for its insane beauty and popular Narrows and Angel’s Landing hiking trails. Each park offers a unique experience and endless opportunities for outdoor recreation. It’s the perfect spring break trip for an adventurous crew!

11. Grand Canyon National Park: Arizona

The Grand Canyon is one of the most famous national parks and is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Arizona. Visitors can hike, bike, or take a scenic drive along the South Rim of the Grand Canyon to take in its breathtaking views.

City Breaks

12. Washington D.C.

Washington D.C. is a great destination for a spring break vacation for families. Tours of iconic monuments and museums, such as the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, the National Museum of American History, and the National Gallery of Art are fun for kids of all ages. The cherry blossoms in the city bloom in late March too, so spring-breakers get to visit the city at its most beautiful!

13. New York City

New York City during spring break offers the iconic Empire State Building, the bright lights of Times Square, and a stroll through Central Park. You can catch a Broadway show, or explore world-class museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art. For more NYC ideas, check out “How to Explore New York on a Budget.”

An excellent way to explore is to try one of our 17 scavenger hunts and tours of New York City.

14. Orlando

Orlando Florida offers endless opportunities for entertainment and fun. It’s known as the theme park capital of the world. Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Orlando Resort, and SeaWorld Orlando are just a few of the world-famous theme parks. In addition to the theme parks, Orlando also has plenty of other attractions, such as the Kennedy Space Center, LEGOLAND Florida, and the Orlando Eye. Plus, you are only a few minutes from Daytona Beach!

Road Trips

America is laced with iconic road trips, and they make excellent spring break adventures. Take a cruise up historic Route 66, be wowed by Pacific Hwy 1, or choose a journey from “Family Road Trip Ideas for Your Next Vacation.” Remember to bring along your copy of Adventures From Scratch: Family Edition for tons of entertainment on the road!

The Best Family Fun Activities for Spring Break

Unfortunately, not all parents can get away for a family spring break trip… gross adulting! That doesn’t mean you can’t have some fun in or around your home though. Here are a few great ideas to make your spring break a blast without leaving town.

15. A City Scavenger Hunt

Spring brings plenty of rain in many regions. However, even if you’re stuck indoors, you can still have a blast with a fun-filled scavenger hunt! Our indoor family hunts are not only creative and educational but also highly entertaining. With a range of themes suitable for kids of all ages, our hunts are an easy rainy-day solution for most families. You won’t need any special supplies or planning to enjoy our hunts. Simply download our app, choose your scavenger hunt, and start exploring!

If you’re looking for more ideas to keep your family entertained during the spring season, check out “45 Riveting Rainy Day Activities for Your Bored Brood.” This resource will provide you with a variety of options to choose from.

16. Local Art Walk

Let’s Roam is passionate about street art and strives to promote the incredible creations of our talented street. Our urban art walks offer an enjoyable, educational, and straightforward way to explore these masterpieces. You can browse our list of cities to find an art walk that’s conveniently located for you.

17. Volunteering

Spring commonly prompts individuals and communities to engage in cleaning activities. Participating in trash collection or planting new flowers in public areas are some ways in which families can contribute. Check your city’s public website, or join a group from a local church or community group. “The Best Community Service Projects for Kids” offers tons of great ideas for spring volunteering.

18. Museum Visit

A museum visit provides a unique opportunity to learn about history, art, culture, and science. You may or may not have a popular museum in your area, but it is very likely that you have some smaller, regional ones that are loaded with amusing artifacts!

19. Small-Town Exploration

Exploring a small town can be a fun and rewarding experience. The small towns of the U.S. are a wealth of funny roadside attractions, weird histories, and fantastic mom-and-pop eateries. So step out of the box and explore an area you would normally overlook.

Check out “The Best Small Towns to Visit in Every State” to find an interesting town near you!

20. Science Experiment

Doing an at-home science experiment is a great way to spend a spring break day at home. Build a volcano from cooking ingredients, make some slime, or do an engineering challenge with toothpicks!

21. Gardening Project

Starting a garden teaches your kids skills that they can use for the rest of their lives. Teaching what to plant in season, how to till and fertilize the soil, and weeding is an afront for instilling the principles of healthy eating, hard work, and patience.

22. Stargazing Night

Stargazing with kids can ignite their curiosity about the universe, teach them about constellations, and foster a love for science and nature. Throw out a blanket in the yard, and download the app from Stellarium Labs which will alert you to falling stars, help you find the space station, and much more!

23. Block Party

A block party with your kids is a great way to strengthen community bonds, socialize, and have fun together. Let your kids deliver the invites, make the menu, and create the decorations. It will keep them busy all week!

24. Culture Day

Learn about cultures from around the world, including what they eat, how they dress, and the language they speak. For added learning, look into different spring holidays and festivals they celebrate and end your week with a massive traditional meal. Invite your friends and family!

25. Farmer’s Market

Going to a farmers’ market is a delightful experience for anyone who loves fresh produce and supporting local farmers. With an array of colorful fruits and vegetables, artisanal bread, homemade jams, petting zoos, games, and more, it’s an opportunity the whole family will love!

26. Fishing Expedition

Going on a fishing expedition with your kids can be a great bonding experience. It can also teach them patience, appreciation for nature, and new skills.

27. Trampoline Park

Need to burn a little energy, head for the local trampoline park! It’s a fun way to get exercise and can also improve coordination and balance skills.

28. Dance Party

An impromptu dance party can instantly lift the mood and bring joy to everyone involved. It’s an entertaining way to burn some energy and make memories together.

29. Backyard Camping

Backyard camping is a convenient and accessible way to enjoy the outdoors with your family without the hassle of packing up the car. Plus, it allows for quick access to the comforts of home if needed. Set up a tent in the yard, or just build a sheet fort over a pallet in the family room. Either way, your kids will love it!

30. Redecorating a Room

Redecorating a room with kids releases their creativity. It allows them to express themselves and have a sense of ownership over their space. It will make a mess, but it’s worth it!

31. Book Writing

Writing a book encourages creativity, strengthens bonds, and promotes literacy skills. Start with a simple one-sentence prompt, and let your imagination run wild!

32. Horseback Riding

Horseback riding can be a great way to build confidence, develop balance and coordination, and foster a love for animals and the outdoors.

33. Obstacle Course

Set up an obstacle course in the living room or the backyard. Create a balance beam from a log, a jumping trek with hula hoops, and a maze of dining chairs. Whatever you have lying around the house can act as an obstacle. Get creative!

34. Homemade Ice Cream

Making homemade ice cream is a nostalgic activity with delicious results. Set up an ice cream bar with sprinkles, syrups, and marshmallows for some extra fun!

35. Water Park

What kid doesn’t love the waterpark? You’ll get joy out of watching them splash and giggle, too. Not to mention that water fun in the sun usually leads to good naps!

Spring into action!

Spring is a perfect time to explore new activities and create cherished memories with your children. Whether you are heading out on a big family vacation or hanging around the house, make this spring break a blast with a few items from this list of spring break ideas for families. Did any of these spark your interest? Share it in the comments!

For additional suggestions on how to connect with your children this season, have a look at “The Ultimate List of Spring Break Ideas for Kids.”

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some family-friendly ideas for Spring Break?

Some great family activities for spring break include going to the beach, taking a ski trip, visiting a small town near your home, going on a city scavenger hunt, or having a museum day.

What are some of the best spring break destinations?

The best spring break destinations either allow you to escape the cold or totally embrace it in a wintery wonderland. Think trekking through the Grand Canyon, skiing in Utah, or a visit to Italy!

What is there to do in Florida for spring break for kids?

Disney World, Universal Studios, and LEGOland will keep your kids busy, or check out the stunning islands of Captiva and Sanibel for a more relaxed week collecting seashells!

What is the most popular spring break?

Some of the most popular spring break activities include family vacations to the beach, hitting the ski slopes in Utah or Colorado, or visiting one of the American National Parks.

How do I keep my kids busy on spring break?

Day trips to national or state parks are an excellent way to keep kids busy without going far from home. Alternatively, enjoy a spontaneous excursion from Adventures From Scratch: Family Edition.


52 Mood-Boosting Activities and Adventures


Long winters have a way of transferring their dreariness onto our mental health. There are only so many days of cold wind and gray skies a person can take before most of us get a little moody! Thankfully, spring has sprung, and the days are getting longer, so let’s explore some mood-boosting activities to get the feel-good chemicals pumping and get over our winter funks!

The Best Activities to Kick Your Bad Mood

Whether you love an organized fitness class to get your endorphins up, time alone outside absorbing Vitamin D, or a good night out with loved ones to cheer your spirits with some… umm… spirits, you’ll find it on this ultimate list of mood-boosting activities. From nature lovers to bookworms, we’ve gathered something for everyone. Let’s get to it!

52 of the Best Mood-Boosting Activities

If you’re stuck on ideas of what to do to boost your mood, we’ve got the ultimate list of 52 options for you to choose from! Whether you’re having a night in with friends and family or are feeling more adventurous, we guarantee you’ll find something you love if you keep reading!

1. Spontaneous Scratch-Off Adventure

Adventures From Scratch is a trusted companion when in need of a good time. We’ve compiled three editions now, so whether you’re craving a romantic night with your partner, a good time with friends, or a wholesome day out with the whole family, you can find a plethora of appropriate adventures on our fun-filled pages. Each book contains more than 50 scratch-off activities that are focused on bonding and having a fantastic time. Just consult the key. Pick an adventure, scratch to reveal, and get moving. Our well-crafted, spontaneous adventures, will have you in a good mood in no time!

2. Sightseeing Scavenger Hunt

If you need a little pick-me-up today, download the Let’s Roam Scavenger Hunt App and sign up for a rousing hunt in your city. You’ll explore all the best sights on a short walk filled with fun trivia and photo challenges. You can also choose to compete against previous hunters to capture the top spot on the city leaderboard. Our hunts are super informative, slightly competitive, and sure to keep you laughing, and we all know laughter is the best boot to kick those negative thoughts. We’ve got hunts in over 600 locations, so find one near you today!

3. Urban Art Walk

Nothing fires up the nervous system like contemplating a unique and intricate piece of art—especially if that art is sprawled across a gorgeous bridge. Admiring the best urban art gives you a chance to get some fresh air, get your steps in, and activate those neurotransmitters for a while. Check out our list of amazing art walks in cities all over the United States!

4. Planning A Trip

There is nothing more exciting than planning for your next vacation! Looking at beautiful images, hunting online for the hotel with the best view, shopping for new trip clothes, and filling in the itinerary with every amazing tourist attraction within a 100-mile radius—it just feels good! In some ways, planning for your next vacation is as good for your well-being as actually going on it. Just looking forward to a break gets the happy hormone, dopamine, flowing and puts you in an instantly positive mood.

5. Nature Walk

Vitamin D, physical activity, fresh air, deep breathing, the beauty of nature…’ nough said!

6. Cold Water Swim

Want the benefits of aerobic exercise without all that terrible running? Just hop in a really cold river, lake, or ice bath. Cold-water swimming is basically a controlled induction of pain that increases cortisol levels and then releases a massive dump of endorphins, giving you that euphoric feeling. Just beware, some swimmers experience a rebound of symptoms that feel a bit like anxiety after their first few swims, as the body tries to get the core temperature back up. It would be wise to consult your doctor before starting this regimen.

7. Game Night

A night of board games with friends is sure to induce some friendly competition, a little smack talk, and a lot of laughter. It might be just what you need to shake off those negative feelings.

8. Family Member Phone Call

Sometimes just the sound of a soothing voice on the other end of the line can have mood-boosting benefits. Multiple neurological studies, including one by Stanford University, have indicated that the reward processing and emotion regions of our brains are highly activated when hearing our mother’s voice. While your mom may or may not be available, think of whoever that person is that brings the most calmness, the most peace, to your life, and call them. Maybe it’s mom, grandma, your best friend, or a sibling. Whoever it is, pick up the phone and hear their voice.

9. Farmer’s Market

Farmer’s markets offer a plethora of healthy mood-boosting foods, a chance to enjoy local crafts, and the opportunity to get outside, which can all help send the blues packing!

10. Orchard Visit

Similarly, a visit to the orchard often allows you to pick your own fresh fruit, take a long walk in a beautiful environment, and fill your refrigerator with mood-boosting goodies.

11. Petting Zoo

Animals bring joy. It’s a fact, and petting zoos have tons of animals—baby animals at that! We don’t know anyone who isn’t happy while petting a baby goat or a cuddly sheep.

12. Volunteer Day

One of the best ways to get out of a funk is to focus on something that gives you purpose. Getting your eyes off your own situation and looking towards the needs of someone else or your community can be an excellent form of self-care. Find something you feel passionate about, and make it happen. This could be helping with a litter pickup in your neighborhood, organizing a charity drive, volunteering at a soup kitchen, or helping at an animal shelter.

If this sounds like just the mood-lifter you need, then check out our list of “65 Community Service Ideas for Every Type of Volunteer” for more great ideas.

13. Charity Race

You get to raise money for a good cause. You get some exercise, and you get a beer with your race buddies after. Checks all the boxes, does it not?

14. Gardening

Did you know that getting your hands dirty may just have immense benefits to your mental health? While research is ongoing, some studies are showing that microbial material in soil may have the ability to act as a natural stress reliever, helping to alleviate anxiety and symptoms of depression. So, go ahead, get dirty!

15. Gratitude Journal

The positive effects of a thankful mindset are well-studied. People who actively focus on gratitude and mindfully journal those thoughts tend to be happier people. It’s one of the little things we can do to help give our bad moods a boost! There are multiple gratitude journals out there, but we suggest getting one that has daily prompts.

16. Weekend Road Trip

Have a favorite destination that you can reach by car? Go there this weekend. It might be a place on the lake where you enjoyed parts of your childhood, the park you got engaged in, or just a stunning landscape that makes you feel free. Take a few days and rest there!

17. Hammock Nap

A gently swaying hammock, on a nice spring day, might be the best sleep you’ve had in a long time!

18. Romantic Comedy

You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. Your partner will make fun of you, and all the while, your brain will be releasing the “love hormone” oxytocin, improving your mood by the minute!

19. Light-Hearted Read

If you prefer to get your kicks from a book instead of a screen, good on you! Pick up a light-hearted read that makes you giggle.

20. Long Hug

A hug that lasts at least 20 seconds has shown to release feel-good hormones, strengthen the bond between huggers, and lower stressors. When done on a regular basis, hugging can help lead to more intimate bonds, lower rates of heart disease, and even add a little boost to your immune system.

21. Deep Breathing Exercises

Your mom probably said it, “Take a deep breath, and calm down.” Momma was right. Taking just a few minutes a day to get in a comfortable position and take 3-5 deep breaths can be an instant game-changer. Just breathe in and out of your nose. Put one hand on your chest, and the other on your stomach, and feel them both rise as you fill your lungs.

22. Wildflower Picking

Wildflower picking combines all the elements. You are out in the fresh air. You get some dirt under your nails. Your body gets some physical activity, and you get a pretty flower arrangement that will brighten your mood for days. It’s an all-around win!

23. Playground Visit

If you have little ones around, take a day to go and play. They’ll get out some energy, and your mood will likely improve by watching them run, play, and giggle. Better yet, join in! Run, swing, twirl, or roll in the grass. You will look a little foolish to the other playground moms, but you and your kid will have a blast!

24. Bike Ride

There’s something cathartic about the wind in your hair and the smooth, repetitive, round-and-round motion of peddling. Get outside and take a ride today. Just remember to give those old tires a good check first.

25. Bar Crawl

While alcohol is never the answer to long-term mental health issues, if you are just having a rough day, a night out with the crew is just what you need to lift your spirits! Choose one of our app-guided bar crawls. We’ll have you belly laughing in no time as you challenge your besties to fun trivia and photo challenges, dance the night away, and turn down those stress hormones with a little dose of sedative.

26. Fancy Night Out

If you’ve been feeling a little under the weather, getting dressed up and going out with your partner can be a major self-esteem booster. Put on your best dress. Perk up your legs and booty with a nice pair of heels. Do your hair and makeup, and treat yourself and your partner to a nice dinner and dancing!

27. Spa Treatment

Facials, hot stone massages, foot spas, and a steam room—feeling more relaxed already aren’t you? (Unless you’re one of those who doesn’t like your feet touched. In that case, just stick to the sauna)!

28. Dip in the Hot Tub

A bubbling hot tub, with a big glass of wine, on a clear night where you can ponder the stars. There’s no better remedy for a stressful day.

29. Impromptu Dance Session

Dancing releases endorphins. Dancing makes you feel free, especially if no one else is around. So, crank up the Tay Tay, and do your thing like nobody’s looking!

30. Rock Climbing

If you’re afraid of heights, then obviously, this one will be anxiety-inducing for you. However, if you need a physical activity to get your mind off the stressors that are plaguing you, rock climbing is the perfect option. It takes concentration and intense focus on what every part of your body is doing, so there is no time for negative thoughts. Plus, once you conquer the wall, success is a thrill and a major boost for the self-esteem. Beware: you might get addicted.

31. Trampoline Park

Jumping on a trampoline just reminds you of the carefree days of childhood. If you weren’t lucky enough to have carefree days or a trampoline in your life, then you are going to have to trust us on this one. There is something so relaxing about bounding through the air, landing on your butt, and getting back up to do it all over again. Trampoline parks have become pretty popular in the last few years, and we’d be willing to bet there is one within a short drive unless you live in the Yukon or something, and then you’ll just have to settle for that cold water swim.

32. Lake Day

Water is a stress reliever for most people, whether it’s listening to the sound of the waves from a sunny beach, or feeling the spray from a motorboat barreling across the lake. Rent a pontoon boat and bring your friends. Hook up the tube and go for a ride. Camp out in the evening by the fire, and chow down on some s’mores. You’ll feel better in no time!

33. Art Class

Learning a new hobby, especially one that requires the creative portion of your brain can be quite relaxing. Take a guided art and wine class with a friend, or stay in your pajamas and paint along to a virtual one. Either way, you’ll learn something new and have a beautiful piece of decor to hang when you’re done!

34. Woodworking

Like painting, crafting something with your hands brings a sense of accomplishment. Plus, power tools are fun!

35. Spiritual Care

Perhaps your nemesis is something spiritual. If you are a spiritual person, take some time to meditate on it. Talk with your pastor, priest, or spiritual advisor, and get some advice.

36. Counseling Session

While many of the activities on this list are short-term fixes for occasional down moments, talking to a counselor regularly can be an effective tool for helping manage more persistent symptoms of depression and stress. If you’re feeling out of sorts on the regular, it might be time to get some professional help.

37. Free Writing

Free writing is a technique that allows your mind to run totally wild. Just sit down with a notepad, and begin writing in a free flow. Don’t think over words. Don’t edit out anything. Just write. It’s basically the written form of an emotional outburst, and you may find that you feel much better afterward.

38. Cleaning Day

Some people find solace in cleaning, and almost everyone’s stress is elevated by clutter. Taking some time to spruce up the place can occupy your mind and help reduce stress. Plus, the scent of lemon and orange (citrus cleaning products) has been shown to help reduce anxiety.

39. Dancing Flames

Like lapping waves, dancing flames are just mesmerizing, and they seem to have a calming effect on most of us. That’s why there are so many random YouTube music videos with a fireplace in the background. Light a fire in your hearth or outdoor firepit and snuggle up with a blanket and a good book, or invite friends over for a bonfire!

40. Spreading the Love

When you’re feeling down, turning your attention to someone who is in worse shape than you can be a rewarding and productive response. Take flowers to an elderly citizen in your local geriatric home. Send a care package to a friend who has been ill. Take a less wealthy friend out to lunch and foot the bill, or rake the leaves for your disabled neighbor. There is a myriad of ways to lend a helping hand. Pick one.

41. Goal Achievement

Whether you have a list on paper or in your mind, choose one goal that you can accomplish today, and put your mind to achieving it. Don’t stop until you’ve conquered it!

42. Sex

Pretty obvious one here. Sex reduces stress by releasing buckets of mood-altering hormones. It’s free (hopefully), and it usually doesn’t take too long either. It’s an easy way to get a quick fix of happy.

43. Productive Distraction

If your mind is consumed with worry for some reason, try distracting yourself with something mundane. Fold the laundry. Do a puzzle. Clean out a cabinet, or move the furniture. Making your brain focus on something spatial can be a healthy distraction.

44. Jaunt Down Memory Lane

Pull out the old photo albums and show your kids your puffy prom dress. Reminisce with your spouse over your wedding day, or text your bestie pics of that epic trip to the cape.

45. Redecorating

Just moving the furniture around a bit and splashing a fun color on the wall can liven up your home and your mood!

46. Luxury Hotel

Speaking of changing your surroundings, sometimes a stay in an incredible luxury suite, especially one with a hot tub and a view is worth every penny!

47. Scary Feat

Doing something that scares you a bit produces adrenaline at the moment, but there is a serene calm and sense of accomplishment once it is all over.

48. Arcade Day

Let out your inner child and relish in some fond memories by hitting up the vintage games at the arcade. Watching Pac-Man nom nom on those little dots is so dang rewarding.

49. Good Cry Session

There is no shame in a good cry. Have one every now and then. You might find you feel an immense sense of release afterward.

50. Aggressive Exercise

Get out some aggression with a contact sport. Use the boxing bag at the gym, join a sparring club, or start a martial arts class. Yes, we just suggested you join a fight club, but we can’t talk about it anymore. Shh.

51. Outburst

Go outside and scream. Do it loud, at the absolute top of your lungs. Do it until you feel better. It sounds ridiculous, but it’s crazy soothing.

52. Adult Coloring Book

Coloring isn’t just a way to keep your kids quiet. It can help keep your own thoughts from raging, too. Grab a swirly adult coloring book at your craft store and get busy.

Are you ready to decompress?

Everyone gets the funk every now and again. It’s normal, human nature. We recommend you save this list and try a few of these tips next time you feel a little down. Some may work wonders for you, and others won’t be your jam. That’s okay. Try until you find the option that fits you best.

Remember, these are quick mood-boosting activities for the occasional bad day. If you are consistently having anxiety and depressive symptoms, it’s time to talk to a medical professional for some help!

A romantic date can be a fantastic cure for a bad mood. Check out our list of “50 Romantically Sweet Spring Date Ideas” for some inspiration.

If your kiddos are the primary joy in your life, then celebrate their awesomeness with an adventure from “31 Exciting Ways to Celebrate Spring With Your Kids.”

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I get out of my bad mood?

If you are looking for some fun mood-boosting activities, try doing something that scares you, going on a guided urban art walk, or hitting up a rock-climbing wall!

What are some easy stress-relieving activities?

If you need a quick fix for anxiety, take a minute for a deep breathing exercise, pull out an adult coloring book, redecorate a room in your home, or go for a spa treatment.

What activity is a reliable mood booster?

While each person is different, some of the tried and true mood boosters are taking a cold-water swim, partaking in aggressive exercise, or having a good sexual encounter.

What activities help fight depression?

Serious depression should be treated by a medical doctor, but if you’re just in a bad mood today, try going on a nature walk, taking an art class, or spending the day volunteering.

How do you help boost someone’s mood?

If you have a loved one who is feeling down, take them out for a fun day of exploring on a city scavenger hunt, go on a road trip together, or set up a spa day for a little pampering!

AdventuresThings to doTravel

Astronomical Adventures: The Best Places to See Stars


There’s nothing better than staring up at the night sky and getting lost in a sea of stars. Unfortunately, this is becoming less and less common as light pollution makes it harder to see the night sky in many parts of the world. Luckily, there are still many areas that you can go to that are great for stargazing and we’ve put together this list to help you access the best places to see stars.

Many of these places below are designated dark sky parks by the International Dark Sky Association which is dedicated to combating light pollution around the world and celebrating darkness as an important resource that should be protected and conserved. It was created as a non-profit organization back in 1988. There are currently nearly 200 dark sky parks on this list which have been chosen specifically for having the clearest and darkest skies around the world. 

Expert advice: Try to time your visit to go to the following places during a new moon rather than going during a full moon. This means that the sky will be the darkest and you’ll be able to have the best stargazing experience. You should also stay out for at least 30 minutes so that your eyes will have time to adjust so that you’re able to see the most stars while you’re out. It’s also important to note that many places on this list are at very high altitudes so it’s important to bring lots of warm clothes with you year-round so that you can enjoy the night sky without shivering the night away. 

Star in your own adventure!

When you scratch the surface of an Adventures From Scratch book, you’ll open your world to a whole new list of awesome activities! Discover new places, see interesting sights or familiar things in a new light, and connect with your friends, family, and partner like never before!

In North America

Below you’ll find a list of some of the best places for stargazing in the United States and Canada. Since many of them are national parks, it’s a good idea to invest in the National Parks Pass. For just $80 per year, this pass gives you access to all of the national parks and monuments around the country. It can help you save a ton of money on park entry fees, especially if you’re planning on hitting up more than a handful of parks in a given year.

Big Bend National Park, Texas

There’s a saying that everything is bigger in Texas and Big Bend National Park wants to prove it. Lying on the border of Mexico in Far West Texas, the park encompasses the rugged Chisos Mountains, part of the Chihuahuan Desert, and the enchanting Santa Elena Canyon that was carved by the Rio Grande. The park gets its name from the river’s big bend and is the largest protected area of the Chihuahuan desert in the United States. It’s home to 1,200 species of plants, 450 species of birds, 56 species of reptiles, and 75 species of mammals.

Besides its spectacular biodiversity, the park has also achieved Gold Tier status as a dark sky park, allowing visitors to catch a glimpse of thousands of stars, planets, and even the Milky Way on a clear night. The best way to explore Big Bend National Park is by going on a drive along the lovely Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive and there are plenty of opportunities for camping, hiking, river running, and horseback riding. Due to the remoteness of the park, it’s a considerable drive from most of Texas’ airports so it’s a good idea to plan on including this as part of a longer Texas road trip if possible so you can make the most of your time not only in the park but also in this fascinating state. 

Cherry Springs State Park, Pennsylvania

Rather adorably named after a group of cherry trees that once stood at its heart, Cherry Springs State Park may be relatively small at just 82 acres but it’s surrounded by the much larger 262,000-acre Susquehannock State Forest which helps you feel like you’re off the beaten path (and helps keep the night sky free from light pollution). Thanks to this, it’s considered to be one of the best places in the eastern US for stargazing. 

The park is located about halfway between Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, and Scranton in northeastern Pennsylvania, making it one of the easier places to access on this list from East Coast cities like New York and Boston or Cleveland, or Columbus.

Death Valley National Park, California

With some of the most inhospitable temperatures and landscapes on the planet, you would imagine that Death Valley National Park would live up to its name. However, rather than being a land without life, instead, the park is home to many different thriving ecosystems. This mind-boggling diversity makes it an amazing place to explore during the day and has earned it a spot on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list but things begin to get even more fascinating at night. 

The night skies are considered some of the darkest in the world, giving Death Valley gold-tier status according to the International Dark Sky Association. The skies are so dark and so clear that you can often view stars and planets that aren’t visible anywhere else in the world. The best part of all is that as long as you aren’t right by one of the lodges or campsites, you have great views from pretty much everywhere! Death Valley National Park is located in southern California near the border of Nevada and can be reached via San Diego, Los Angeles, or Las Vegas

Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah

Located in the remote area near Lake Powell, the Natural Bridges National Monument was the first certified International Dark Sky Park designated by the International Dark Sky Association. People flock here for stargazing thanks to the river of light that was created by the Milky Way flowing over the Owachomo Bridge, a natural rock formation. The bridge creates a “frame” for thousands of stars that can be easily seen with the naked eye and creates a gorgeous photo opportunity. Some experts say that you can see up to 15,000 stars on a clear night and we challenge you to try counting them all!

There are plenty of campsites where you can pitch a tent and spend the night staring up at the stars before getting up early the next morning to hike through one of the park’s crisscrossing canyons. The park is located in southeastern Utah’s canyon country and a trip here can easily be combined with a few days in Canyonlands National Park or Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, both of which are just a short drive away.

Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado

With the tallest dunes in North America and a diverse landscape mixed with forests, alpine lakes, tundra, wetlands, and grasslands, Great Sand Dunes National Park is much more than its name suggests. The dune field encompasses more than 30 square miles and the tallest dune reaches a staggering 750 feet high. You can unleash your inner children by sliding down the dunes, going for a hike, horseback riding, or going on a ranger-led nature walk.

While this is an amazing place to explore during the day, it comes into its own at night. The park is located at an elevation of approximately 8,200 feet and is very remote, making it a wonderful spot for stargazing. There are astronomy programs as well as Junior Ranger programs with tons of great activities for kids. If you want to stay the night (and don’t mind carrying all of your camping gear), you can even spend the night staring up at the dark skies from the dunes.

Mauna Kea, Hawaii

Hawaii is famous for being an amazing destination thanks to its beautiful beaches and rugged landscape. Mauna Kea, on the Big Island, elevates this experience even more by providing its very own viewing platform 13,796 feet above sea level to see the stars as well as the world’s largest optical telescope. This spot is considered one of the best places in the world to view the stars thanks to the combination of the high altitude and almost no artificial light. The lofty height is high enough to cause high-altitude sickness but the spectacular stargazing opportunities and the colorful sunrises and sunsets make it worth it! This enormous volcano last erupted more than 4,000 years ago which also creates an interesting landscape and you can enjoy both this and the incredible views on a visit here.

Several tour operators are permitted to take people to the volcano summit where you can get near-perfect stargazing conditions but if you don’t want to spring for the high costs of a summit tour, you can still view the stars from a lower price point and for a lower price! If you have a four-wheel drive, you can also go up to the visitors center but keep in mind that there is very limited parking at the center and there is no space available when you arrive, you’ll be turned away. If you can’t decide whether or not it’s worth the price, keep in mind that so far 11 countries have established observatories here to take advantage of the incomparable stargazing opportunities.

Nova Scotia, Canada

Lying in the far eastern stretches of Canada, Nova Scotia is famous for its wild Atlantic coastline, charming towns, and friendly people. It’s also home to some of the clearest and darkest skies in North America including two official Dark Sky areas. While there are several places that you can go to see the stars at their brightest, the most popular destinations include the Acadian Skies and Mi’kmaq Lands Starlight Preserve, the first place in North America to earn a Starlight certification by the Starlight Foundation, and the Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site, one of Canada’s dark sky preserves. Both of these places are located in southwestern Nova Scotia and are just a short drive from one another, making it easy to combine them both into one trip! They are also just a two hours drive from Halifax, which means that they are some of the most easily accessible places on this list.

If you want to try something unique, you can spend the night in a geodesic dome perched on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. This fun-filled version of glamping allows you to fall asleep underneath the shimmering stars and many of the different dome sites have all of the amenities and luxuries that you would expect from an upscale guest house. 

Around the World

If you’re planning on going a bit further afield, some amazing places around the world combine magnificent natural beauty and sparkling night skies. Our in-house team of travel experts have come up with an exhaustive list of destinations that are sure to delight even the most road-weary of travelers.

Atacama Desert, Chile

Nestled on the border of Argentina and Bolivia west of the Andes Mountains, Chile’s Atacama Desert ranks #1 on virtually every list of the best places for stargazing. Famous for being the driest place on Earth, this sprawling desert may seem a bit barren during the day but at night, the spectacular beauty of this place becomes apparent. Here, you have the delightful combination of clear skies, a high altitude, and virtually zero light pollution that all come together to provide the perfect backdrop for stargazing.

While visiting the Atacama Desert, you’re likely to see views of some of the Southern Hemisphere’s most well-known constellations including the Tarantula Nebula, the Southern Cross, the Large Magellanic Cloud, the Fornax Cluster of galaxies, and a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way. The region is a popular tourist destination and it’s easy to join a guided stargazing tour or simply grab a rental car and head out on your own. 

However, the night sky isn’t the only thing to check out in the Atacama Desert. You can also explore the red rocks of Las Piedras Rojas, the saline lake of the Salar de Talar, or the colorful Rainbow Valley. You can even get a bird’s eye view of the desert from a hot air balloon. The easiest way to access the Atacama Desert is via the border city of San Pedro de Atacama which is just a short flight from the capital city of Santiago. 

Iriomote-Ishigaki National Park, Japan

Located on the Yaeyama Islands in Okinawa in the East China Sea, the Iriomote-Ishigaki National Park was the first place in Japan to receive International Dark Sky Places accreditation. Due to its proximity to the Tropic of Cancer, it’s possible to view up to 84 out of the 88 constellations recognized by the International Astronomical Union. Before you make your way to the park, make sure to check the weather conditions as the visibility could differ drastically based on the season.

The easiest way to get to Iriomote-Isigahki National Park from abroad is by flying into Naha, on the main island of Okinawa, and then from there, taking a domestic flight to Ishigaki. You can then rent a car and explore the park on a self-guided tour. Before stargazing, you can spend the day exploring the island’s sandy beaches and beautiful coral reefs, the dense mangrove forests, or the gushing waterfalls,

Kruger National Park, South Africa

Kruger National Park is world-renowned for its amazing wildlife diversity. It’s one of the largest game reserves in Africa and has a high density of the Big Five. During a safari, you’re likely to see elephants, rhinos, leopards, lions, and buffalo plus countless other birds, mammals, and reptiles that call the park home. However, this is not the only thing here and when nighttime comes, the skies come alive with constellations and twinkling stars.

Kruger National Park can be easily accessed by flying into the South African capital of Johannesburg. Here, you can rent a car and drive a few hours to the park or get public transportation to one of the nearby cities or villages. You’ll find plenty of accommodation options offering options for all different travel budgets. However, if you want to get the best stargazing experience, it’s a good idea to book one of the camps within the park itself. Try to find the smallest one as it’s likely to have the least amount of light pollution. 

Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve, New Zealand

Far, far away from the city lights of Christchurch or Queenstown, the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve is the largest reserve in the Southern Hemisphere and the second-largest dark sky reserve in the world. Like many of the national parks on this list, the reserve aims to create an international dark sky community protected from light pollution. 

The reserve is located in the center of New Zealand’s South Island and is relatively easy to access from many of the region’s most popular tourist attractions. This means that you can combine it with a fantastic trek on one of the island’s epic hiking trails or a boat ride through the fjords. Tour options range from “humble” observatory visits to dreamy nights spent swinging in hammocks under the stars. Keep in mind that New Zealand is a very expensive place to visit and if you want to go all-out with your stargazing experience, you may want to check your budget first!

NamibRand Nature Reserve, Namibia

Situated just north of South Africa on the continent’s Pacific coast, Namibia has exploded onto the tourism scene thanks to its rolling red sand dunes, dramatic coastline, and cute German towns. The NamibRand Nature Reserve lies just south of Sossusvlei, Namibia’s most famous dune, and is a private reserve dedicated to protecting and conserving the unique biodiversity of the southwest Namib Desert. 

Thanks to its location far from pretty much everything, the NamibRand Nature Reserve was the 2nd place in the world to be awarded Gold Tier status and was the first dark sky park in the developing world. Since it’s in a desert, the air is very dry and cloudless for most of the year and from here, you can view the Milky Way, the Magellanic Clouds, and the Andromeda Galaxy throughout the year. The landscape surrounding the dunes can be a little rough to navigate so the best way to view the skies is by joining one of the many overland tours that traverse the country. 

Need more adventure?

We hope that this guide has left you inspired to plan a whole series of stargazing trips! And when you need more ideas for adventure, you know where to find us! Our blog is full of activity ideas for friends, families, and couples.

As always, we would love to hear your feedback, so please feel free to drop a note in the comment section.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the best places for stargazing in the United States?

For a great stargazing experience, you can head to Big Bend National Park, Death Valley National Park, and Cherry Springs State Park in Pennsylvania.

Where can I go stargazing in Africa?

Some of the best places to see stars in Africa are the Namib Desert and Kruger National Park. Both places are relatively easy to access and will offer a celestial experience!

What’s are the best places in the United States to see stars?

For the best stargazing in the US, try Death Valley National Park in California, Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado, Cherry Springs State Park in Pennsylvania, or Natural Bridges National Monument in Utah.

What are the best outdoor adventures at night?

If you’re looking to explore the outdoors after dark, you can’t beat stargazing! Check out this list of the best places to see the stars! Keep Adventures From Scratch nearby for more ideas.