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Best Parks to Visit Before School Starts

By Olivia Harlow

The start of a new school year is right around the corner — and you know what that means: school supply shopping, fresh haircuts, and last-minute summer getaways. Here are the top parks — state, national, amusement, and water — to visit in the United States before heading back to school.


Glacier National Park

This 1,583-square-mile rugged wilderness area is located in Montana’s Rocky Mountains. Home to icy peaks and sweeping valleys, Glacier National Park is among the best national parks in the country. It offers 700 miles of stunning hiking trails for backpackers, mountain bikers and trail runners, making it the perfect getaway for outdoorsy folk. If you’re looking for an adventurous pre-school outing, and Montana’s within driving distance, this is a must! Propped along the Canadian border, you can even take a road trip to Vancouver and British Columbia.


Cedar Point Amusement Park

If you’re more into upside roller coasters, Ferris Wheels and cotton candy than camping trips, put Cedar Point on your list. Located in Sandusky, Ohio, Cedar Point is dubbed the “Roller Coaster Capital of the World.” Home to the 120-mph Top Thrill Dragster and the 310-foot-tall Millennium Force, there are few amusement parks that offer more of a thrill!


Foster Falls State Park

If you’re into the outdoors but looking for something a bit more low key, Fall Creek Falls in Tennessee is a great choice. With lush green scenery and a gorgeous plunging waterfall, the park offers ample opportunities for camping, rock climbing, and leisurely hiking. If you’re hoping for a weekend spent under the stars, with the chance to swim in refreshing water after a day in the woods, this is a great option for southern based students.



I mean, would the list be complete without Disney? Sometimes school reminds us that we’re growing up too quickly, so what better way to reconnect to your youth than with a trip to Disney? Visit Mickey Mouse, ride Space Mountain a billion times, twirl around in teacups and eat plenty of Dip ‘n’ Dots.


Zion National Park

This nature preserve in Utah shows off some of the best views the southwest has to offer. Its towering red cliffs, emerald hued waters, and desert landscapes make for an alien combination perfect for any imaginable outdoor experience. From whitewater rafting along the river and exploring slot canyons, to hiking through hanging gardens or rock climbing steep crags, Zion is unlike anything else in the States. Check this one off your bucket list, and set the year off right.


Niagra Falls State Park

Niagra might sound cliché, but it’s for good reason. The oldest state park in the country, Niagra was established in 1885. The park stretches over 400 acres, and an astounding 3,160 tons of water flows over the falls every second — that’s 75,750 gallons! If you’re looking for a wet and wild ride and would like to witness one of the most remarkable natural waterfalls in the world, make sure to make a trip to New York this summer. Plus, who wouldn’t want to make a trip up north at the peak of summer? Head into the city for a different type of contagious energy, and have yourself a Big Apple adventure!


Anza Borrego Desert State Park

This obscure state park is perfect for desert nomads. Want some solitude in the sand, camping under a thousand shooting stars? Want to go ATV-ing up and down sand dunes? Want to run freely beneath an unbeatably blue sky? You can have it all in Anza Borrego. If you’re a wanderlust spirit in need of some pre-school soul searching, there’s no better place to come.


The countdown is here, but it’s not too late. Whether school starts up in August or September, you’ve got plenty of time to plan a getaway. A weekend, a week, or a multi-week trip is not impossible, but you’ll need to move quickly. Before it’s time to crack open the books, book your camp sites, make reservations, and get on the road!
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