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13 U.S. vacation spots that will do wonders for your mental health

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Let’s face it—life can be difficult. One of the best things you can do for your own mental health is step away from the stresses of everyday life and enjoy a much-needed vacation.

Of course, the destination you choose can play a large role in your ability to relax and recharge. While the hustle and bustle of a metropolitan area might be triggering for some, a calm and quiet location can be therapeutic.

Whether you actively struggle with mental health or whether you’re looking to preserve your own sanity, here are 13 of the top U.S. vacation spots to consider visiting.

1. Branson, Missouri

While the state of Missouri doesn’t typically spring to mind as a top-notch vacation spot, Branson is a hidden gem. This small city has fewer than 12,000 residents but sees thousands of tourists each year.

Branson is chock-full of entertainment options, ranging from dinner shows and live concerts to shopping and much more.

Beyond entertainment, there are also plenty of relaxing outdoor activities for you to enjoy. As Branson is nestled in the Ozark Mountains, biking, hiking, rock climbing, swimming, kayaking, and camping are just a few of the many opportunities to spend time outdoors.

2. Napa Valley, California

The state of California is home to some of the country’s biggest cities—including Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Jose. Located roughly an hour north of busy San Francisco is Napa Valley—the perfect destination for a relaxing getaway.

Nearly 4 million people visit the Napa Valley region every year, largely because of its beautiful weather and gorgeous scenery. Not to mention, Napa Valley is perhaps best known for its many hillside vineyards. Visit a local winery to enjoy some of the nation’s finest wines.

When you crave an outdoor activity, there are plenty of options—whether it’s a bike ride through the valley or a hike through Robert Louis Stevenson State Park.

3. Maui, Hawaii

Year after year, the city of Maui, Hawaii remains one of the country’s most popular vacation spots—not because of towering skyscrapers or impressive structures but because of its natural beauty and breathtaking scenery.

Granted, a trip to Maui can be a little more expensive than the average getaway. If you have the money to spend, however, you’ll enjoy a vacation to remember.

Explore the coastline of the island or visit Haleakala National Park to view an enormous dormant volcano crater.

Maui is also home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world—Makena Beach State Park, Wailea Beach, and Kaanapali Beach, to name only a few. Enjoy the island’s clear blue waters by swimming, snorkeling, or boating.

4. Cape Cod, Massachusetts

If you live in New England and are looking for a getaway in your own backyard, few vacation spots can compete with Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

Throughout Cape Cod, there are a bevy of hiking and biking trails. What’s more, Cape Cod boasts more than 40 miles of seashore. Although the conditions might be too cold for swimming if you visit during the winter months, Cape Cod has a few top-rated beaches of its own—including Herring Cove Beach and Race Point Beach.

After a shoreline stroll or ride, be sure to visit the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge—a 7,604-acre habitat for migratory birds and other animals.

5. Red Feather Lakes, Colorado

Few locations offer the fresh air and stunning views that Colorado provides, and Red Feather Lakes is among the state’s most scenic areas. With fewer than 500 residents, this tiny town is the perfect escape for anyone who craves solitude.

Red Feather Lakes compensates for its lack of conventional attractions and entertainment options with a plethora of outdoor activities. Book a horseback riding tour at Beaver Meadows Stables or treat yourself to 18 holes at The Golf Club at Fox Acres.

After you think you’ve seen all that Red Feather Lakes has to offer, climb the Deadman Lookout tower to witness this stunning region from a different point of view.

6. Charleston, South Carolina

Whether you love historic sites, beautiful homes, or great beaches, Charleston is a city that has something for everyone.

One of the best places to start is with the Civil War statues and monuments at Battery and White Point Gardens. Make your way down the oceanfront trail and you’ll be able to view the pastel-colored historic homes of Rainbow Row.

Within 30 minutes of downtown Charleston, there are multiple beaches to enjoy. Some of the most popular options include Folly Beach and Isle of Palms, but Beachwater Park on Kaiwah Island is a hidden gem and a top-ten U.S. beach according to experts.

7. Hot Springs, Arkansas

Tucked away in the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas, the small resort city of Hot Springs might be the ideal getaway for you.

As its name suggests, Hot Springs is most well known for its warm natural spring water. Experience these waters for yourself by visiting Hot Springs National Park, where you will find multiple springs, falls, trails, and monuments.

This national park isn’t the only spot where you can explore some of the city’s forestry. Be sure to check out Garven Woodland Gardens and Ouachita National Forest. For a day out on the water, visit Lake Ouachita—the largest lake in all of Arkansas.

8. Sanibel Island, Florida

When it comes to vacation spots, Florida has a surplus of options. Cities such as Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and Orlando are consistently among the hottest tourist destinations each year.

For a quieter Florida experience, consider Sanibel Island. This lesser-known treasure has everything you need for a peaceful getaway—warm weather, low population, and multiple beaches.

Take a stroll or bike ride down the shoreline of Bowman’s Beach, Blind Pass Beach, or Lighthouse Beach Park. Then, visit J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Reserve to view a variety of animals—from migratory birds to aquatic creatures and more.

9. Newport, Rhode Island

Newport, Rhode Island is yet another small city that offers its share of photograph-worthy estates and beautiful beaches.

For years, this eastern city was home to some of the world’s wealthiest families—including the Vanderbilts and the Astors. Today, you can marvel at these historic mansions up close and in person. Some of the most impressive estates include The Breakers, The Elms, and Rosecliff.

For stunning waterfront views, enjoy a stroll down Cliff Walk, Ocean Drive, or Fort Adams State Park. Finally, be sure to do some shopping on Thames Street—an area that is home to dozens of colonial-era storefronts that stand to this day.

10. Savannah, Georgia

Savannah, Georgia isn’t your typical metropolitan area. Colonized nearly 300 years ago, Savannah is one of the country’s oldest cities. To this day, its natural charm is on display and much of its original architecture has been preserved.

When visiting this coastal city, there are plenty of ways to get around and explore without the stress of driving bumper-to-bumper in city traffic. Walking, biking, segway, and trolley tours abound.

What’s more, Savannah is known for its multiple riverboat cruises that allow you to take in the beauty of the city’s eastern shores. Be sure to book your ticket to the Savannah Land & Sea Combo or the 90-Minute Sightseeing Cruise before they fill up.

11. Carmel, California

While tourists flood Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, and other major California cities, plan your getaway to Carmel.

Enjoy the clear blue waters of the Pacific by visiting one of this town’s beach spots—whether it’s Point Lobos, Carmel River State Beach, or China Cove and Gibson Beach.

Once you’ve had your fix of sand and waves, check out some of the town’s historic sites. Tour the impressive home of poet Robinson Jeffers or walk inside San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo Mission—a beautiful Spanish building established back in 1771.

12. Killington, Vermont

While waterparks and sandy beaches are popular getaway amenities, not all vacationers seek warmer weather. Although winters are cold and summers are fairly moderate, the small town of Killington, Vermont remains a highly popular getaway destination.

Get your fix of winter sports thrills at Killington Resort—home to some of the top skiing and snowboarding slopes in the nation. If you would prefer something a little less fast-paced, take a hike at Thundering Falls Trail or a stroll through Gifford Woods State Park.

Of course, Killington’s mountaintops provide no shortage of stunning views; but if you want the best view possible, book a ride in the K1 Express gondola.

13. Carova Beach, North Carolina

When booking a vacation in North Carolina, Outer Banks is an obvious choice. However, Carova Beach might be a better destination for someone who wants to avoid the area’s summer tourists.

With a population of just a few hundred people, Carova Beach offers the type of serenity you need to recharge. There are very few stores, hotels, or establishments—just 11 miles of gorgeous coastline.

During your time in Carova Beach, you’re likely to spot the wild Spanish Mustangs of Corolla. You can even book a wild horse tour to see them up close.