It is a common misconception that the deepest soul searching trips require you to travel to exotic places across the globe. However, some of the greatest self-discoveries can take place in your own national “backyard.”
Venturing out to new places and experiences will force you to find a new normal and adapt in ways that you never thought possible. Along the way, you’ll discover surprising insights about what it is that makes you tick.
Maybe you’ve always imagined yourself as an extrovert, but on this journey, you realize that sometimes all it takes to recharge is a day curled up with a good book and some hot tea.
Maybe your trip provides the opportunity to delve into some deep introspection about your life so far—perhaps for the first time ever—and after coming back home, you realize there are important changes that have to be made in order for your life to align more closely with who you are at your core.
Let this list of amazing places in the United States begin your soul searching quest for peace and happiness.
1) Santa Barbara, California
Santa Barbara, California, is a place to reflect and unwind. There are many places in California known for their extravagant or flashy lifestyle and architecture, but Santa Barbara stands out from the rest with its charm and simple way of life. You can easily find yourself spending time doing outdoor activities such as kayaking, hiking, or sunrise beach yoga.
2) Volunteer at a National Park
Volunteering at a national park is an easy and rewarding way to search your soul by being in nature and giving back. The US National Park System contains some of the most iconic natural and cultural treasures in the world, including Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Yellowstone, Death Valley, and many others. Volunteering at one of these incredible places is like saying “thank you” to the Earth — and it can be as simple as spending time in beautiful nature that you would have visited anyway.
While volunteering at a national park looks different for everyone involved, you can choose from a large variety of roles. You may do trail building, habitat restoration, research projects, or maintenance work.
There are tons of opportunities available all over the country — get started by visiting www.volunteer.gov today!
3) Sedona, Arizona
A trip to Sedona, Arizona, is a perfect way to recharge your spiritual batteries. The city in the desert offers plenty of experience-based wellness and healing opportunities (like spas), so you can become more self-aware while also enjoying time outdoors. Additionally, there are many energy vortexes located around the area, which serve as strong spots for focusing your mind and channeling your personal energy into positive life decisions.
4) Hike the Appalachian Trail.
A highly adventurous and fairly long soul-searching trip in the United States is to hike the Appalachian Trail. The Appalachian Trail is about 2,190 miles long and goes through 14 states from Georgia to Maine. The trail passes through Shenandoah National Park and Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Multi-week or month travel is a fantastic way to release stress and detach from pressing responsibilities.
5) Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Want to bask in the artistic & cultural melting pot of the American Southwest? Take a trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Santa Fe has also become known as a haven for artists and writers seeking inspiration. The writer D.H. Lawrence called New Mexico his “dream country,” and Georgia O’Keeffe found life and beauty in the strange desert terrain that was so different from her native Wisconsin. Enjoy hiking trails where wildflowers bloom even before snow melts; contemplate life while climbing up to an observation point at Hyde Memorial State Park; or visit Museum Hill where four museums with diverse collections sit side by side within walking distance of each other.
But what makes Santa Fe truly special is how it remains a center of faith. Although its nickname is “The City Different,” Santa Fe has been attracting pilgrims ever since its founding in 1610 when it was first established as a Spanish colony. Since then, millions more have traveled here to find deeper meaning in their lives.
6) National 9/11 Memorial in New York, NY.
The National 9/11 Memorial in New York City, NY is a place designed to help the nation feel connected to each other and to remember the past. This memorial was built at Ground Zero, on the site where two of the Twin Towers once stood. The location is a very emotional and reflective spot for visitors.
Two reflecting pools fill the footprints of what used to be the Twin Towers. They stand in honor of those who lost their lives on September 11th, 2001 and February 26, 1993. The names of every single person who perished are engraved around the pools.
Visitors can spend time there reflecting on how much our world has changed since this event happened and what we have learned from it as a nation. Education is an important part of this site’s purpose; they offer classes, lectures and exhibits that help teach visitors about 9/11, its aftermath and lessons learned in hopes that something like it will never happen again.
7) The Washington Monument and the National Mall, Washington DC.
The world’s tallest obelisk, the Washington Monument stands 555 feet tall and 555 feet wide at the base. It is made of marble, granite, and bluestone gneiss and symbolizes the everlasting strength of American democracy. You can visit this monument and many other attractions in the National Mall, a park-like grassy area located near downtown Washington DC. The mall is also home to the White House and several Smithsonian museums (which are all free). The mall is also where you can see such famous memorials as:
- Vietnam War
- Lincoln Memorial
- World War Two
The Washington Monument was dedicated in 1885 as a memorial to George Washington, who was the first president of the United States from 1789 to 1797.
8) Take a trip to the majestic Redwood Forest in California
If you’re looking to really get away from it all and go on a soul-searching trip, the Redwood Forest in California is the perfect place to visit. The trail is an excellent spot for hiking or biking, with plenty of places to stop and enjoy the view along the way. Before setting off, be sure to grab a map from the visitor center; there are lots of places to explore, so it’s a good idea to have a plan before you go. If you’re planning on going hiking or biking, arrive early in the morning (before everyone else gets there); otherwise, if you’d prefer more people around for security reasons, try visiting later in the day.
No matter what time of day you visit, remember that this is one of the most beautiful places in America—there are lots of great photo opportunities! Don’t forget your camera! Also don’t forget your water: even if you’re only planning on spending an hour or two here (which we strongly advise against), dehydration can sneak up on you quickly when it’s hot outside. Finally, don’t forget your lunch! There’s nothing better than eating your lunch while enjoying nature at its finest.
9) Experience the life of a Buddhist monk in Utah.
At the Bodhi Manda Zen Center, you can experience life as a Buddhist monk in the desert. This is a place to get away from your phone, from social media, from the stress of your job. It’s a place to find your inner peace and calm.
This retreat is run by a Buddhist monk and his wife and is located in beautiful New Mexico. The center offers space for meditation classes open to everyone, but this isn’t really what most people are here for: there are plenty of other places you can learn how to meditate without spending thousands of dollars on travel. This retreat is designed so that it’s impossible to hide behind anything: no friends or family with whom you can share the experience or check-in with (except maybe once daily), no screens that will distract you, no books or music to keep you comfortable—just yourself and your thoughts.
10) Climb to the top of the highest mountain in North America at Mount McKinley, Denali Park, Alaska.
It’s hard to imagine that a place as bustling and noisy as the USA could have any soul-searching hideaways. However, you’d be surprised at how many places exist for reflection and quiet contemplation in the United States. One of these places is Mount McKinley, also known as Denali Park. It’s one of the most beautiful mountains on earth, standing at 20,320 feet tall.
Its isolated peaks are ideal for hiking and rock climbing when it isn’t covered with snow or ice. If you’re considering a trip up to its peak, keep in mind that most hikers will need several months to prepare themselves physically, get necessary equipment and acquire mountain climbing experience if they don’t have any yet. However, it’s not an impossible feat: plenty of people climb this mountain every year! Just make sure you’re in good physical condition before attempting to scale Denali Park; otherwise it can be quite dangerous and difficult at such high altitudes without being prepared properly beforehand!
11) Find yourself along Route 1 from Key West, Florida through Maine.
If you’re looking for a way to find yourself, look no further than a nice road trip along Route 1. It extends for 2,369 miles from Key West, Florida through Maine. This road trip will take you through 13 states and can be completed in one direction or broken up into multiple trips.
The route starts at the end of the Florida Keys and passes through Miami, Jacksonville, Savannah and Charleston on its way to Washington D.C. After passing through Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania is when the fun really begins as it travels along the coast of Connecticut into Rhode Island before reaching Massachusetts. Once in Massachusetts it’s just a quick trip north to Maine where you can hike Acadia National Park or explore Bar Harbor before hitting the open road again.
Take the time to reflect on what your expectations are. It is totally fine if you don’t know what you want from the trip and if you think you will find out after letting yourself drift along. It is also perfectly fine if all you want to do during this trip is party! There are no rules about what a soul searching journey should be like. The most important thing is that it brings peace and reflection for each individual who participates in it, and everyone will have a different experience based on their style of travel and mindset.
It is also common to feel lost along the way which some people will see as a negative aspect but I would argue it is an essential part of the process! You need to first lose yourself before finding yourself again. Don’t be afraid of uncertainty, embrace it and let yourself go with the flow while enjoying your time beautiful locations throughout the United States of America!
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