Peaceful gardens filled with rhododendrons and mountain laurels, abundant trees and a small lake give the Highland Lake Inn the feel of a retreat deep in the wilderness. Whether you stay in a basic cabin or a more upscale lodge room, rustic decor and well-tended grounds create the perfect setting for a relaxing stay.
Custer State Park sprawls across 71,000 acres of South Dakota’s scenic Black Hills, but despite its photogenic and distinctive peaks, it tends to attract less attention than its two famous neighbors: the Crazy Horse Memorial and Mount Rushmore. But don’t miss your chance to tour the park’s Needles Highway Scenic Drive, named for the narrow granite spires towering above the treetops. The highway leads to Custer State Park’s most photographed spot, Sylvan Lake, where rock formations form a vertical wall along the shore and are reflected in the lake’s clear water.Read Moreshaunl / iStockphoto.com
within Custer State Park in Custer, South Dakota
The lodge is one of five actually within the park, so the location couldn’t be any more convenient. Nestled in a forest of lodgepole pines, the AAA Two Diamond
hotel sports a rustic exterior that belies the modern conveniences within.Book Nowflickr / USFWSmidwest
Devil's Lake State Park
Within Wisconsin’s Baraboo Hills, Devil’s Lake is nearly surrounded by 500-foot-high quartzite bluffs dotted with unusual rock formations that look like flat-sided boulders stacked on top of each other. Elephant Rock, Balanced Rock and Devil’s Doorway are some of these odd geological features, accessible by way of the AAA GEM
park’s extensive system of hiking trails. The views from high atop the bluffs take in the lake below and the surrounding rolling countryside, which is especially stunning in autumn when the forest’s deep green foliage is replaced by brilliant oranges and yellows.Read MoreAAA / Inspector 31
Great Wolf Lodge
13 mi. from Devil’s Lake State Park in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin
This modern, family-friendly AAA Three Diamond
hotel is done up in a woodsy cabin theme, and it’s less than a half-hour away from Devil’s Lake. The lodge’s indoor water park includes a wide range of kid-pleasing waterslides, rides and play areas.Book Nowflickr / m01229
Patrick's Point State Park
Tucked away along Northern California’s magnificent Redwood Coast, Patrick’s Point State Park packs a lot in a relatively small parcel of land. The park features a re-created Yurok Village, campgrounds, a visitor center and a hiking trail network winding through a lush forest of coastal redwoods, spruce, fir and pine. Some trails lead down to a beach or along the bluffs while one ascends Wedding Rock, revealing a dramatic view from 100 feet above the crashing surf.Read MoreAAA / Frank Swanson
Starved Rock State Park
Starved Rock State Park is one of Illinois’ most visited natural areas, and it’s easy to see why: Here 18 canyons have been sculpted out of tall sandstone bluffs along the Illinois River, and after heavy rain, pretty waterfalls spill down the weathered canyon walls. Combined with rustling leaves and the twittering of birds, the sound of splashing water is a potent balm sure to reduce your stress level. More than 13 miles of hiking trails run along the riverbanks and the bluff tops as well as thread into the canyons.Read Moretarasov_vl / iStockphoto.com
3 mi. from Starved Rock State Park in Utica, Illinois
This country inn just down the road from Starved Rock is within Matthiessen State Park, which offers similar scenery and can be a pleasant alternative if the crowds at Starved Rock State Park are too heavy. Resembling a farmhouse, Brightwood Inn features large guest rooms with fireplaces.AAA / Brooke Holt
Wekiwa Springs State Park
This Central Florida jewel on the edge of the Orlando metro area is named for the crystal clear springs that flow into the Wekiva River—pure heaven for canoeing and kayaking. Here you can paddle beneath massive branches of live oaks draped in Spanish moss and glide past half-submerged logs crowded with turtles basking in the sun.Read MoreCourtesy of Hampton Inn & Suites Orlando-North
Courtesy of Hampton Inn & Suites Orlando-North
Hampton Inn & Suites Orlando-North/Altamonte Springs
7 mi. from Wekiwa Springs State Park in Altamonte Springs, Florida
Located just 15 minutes from Wekiwa Springs, this AAA Three Diamond
hotel is right off I-4, giving you convenient access to Central Florida’s main thoroughfare and a straight shot to Walt Disney World less than 45 minutes south. After a day of outdoor recreation, guests can relax gathered around the patio’s fire pit or lay out by the pool.Book NowAAA
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AAA Travel Editor Frank Swanson
AAA Travel Editor Frank Swanson is an AAA Travel Expert.
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