What if you could marvel at the Grand Canyon without the crowds? Or find true isolation in a national park accessible by just one road? America’s lesser-known natural wonders might just be what you’re looking for.
All too often we set out to reconnect with nature in the same tourist-filled places. Head to an RV-packed campground and you’ll photograph the same peaks and hike the same trails as thousands of others. With Verizon Visa Card, it’s easy to escape the crowds and see more. You can redeem Verizon Dollars, rewards earned from purchases made with the Verizon Visa Card, towards hotel rooms, car rentals, and dining: everything you need to turn a weekend trip into a total escape.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
Antelope Canyon, Arizona
You’ve almost certainly seen pictures of the wave-like rock formations present in Antelope Canyon. Nowhere else is the sheer power of the desert more evident than in this narrow slot canyon, its ochre-orange walls illuminated by shafts of light filtering down from some 100ft (30m) above. Oh boy, is it worth the journey: a guided 2.5hr drive from Flagstaff through Navajo land will help you understand the canyon’s spiritual significance. Just beware, Lower Antelope is as dangerous as it is beautiful, and flash floods are known to torrent across the plains.
Mammoth Cave, Kentucky
A Unesco World Heritage Site and an International Biosphere Reserve, Mammoth Cave is remarkable not just for its petroglyphs and pictographs but also its glittering gypsum walls and twisting tunnels. This is the longest cave system in the world; it’s thought to have been first discovered some 4,000 years ago and first visited as a tourist attraction in the 1800s. Today, routes range from accessible strolls to 2mi (3km) circuits that take you deep underground. Temperatures in the cave can drop to 54F (12C), even when it’s relatively warm outside, so use Verizon Dollars to upgrade to a cozy hotel for the night.
Assateague Island, Maryland and Virginia
What if we told you there was an island where wild ponies still roam, and where the wind tickles grains of sand over the top of still-drifting dunes — and that it’s less than three hours’ drive from DC? Camping trips aren’t big on home comforts on Assateague, so you’ll need to come well prepared for the tent-only sites, but they are the best way through which to appreciate everything Assateague has to offer. Awake to the sound of crashing waves and after a long day, watch the sun set over the barrier island’s most beautiful beaches.
Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
All too often, the Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks get thrown together in blink-and-you’ll miss-it road-trip itineraries. Allowing you to see little more than roadside views, such trips mean you’re seriously missing out. One thing is for sure, though, you’ll need a car, so splurge your Smart Rewards on a rental fit for these epic landscapes. On a short trip, there are also plenty of ways to explore further areas of the park. Take the ferry across Jenny Lake, the second largest in the park, and you’ll skip the 2mi (3km) hike to the Cascade Canyon trailhead. From here, the only way is up, scrambling past waterfalls and through thick forest where you’ll be rewarded with mesmerizing mountain views.
Denali National Park, Alaska
Denali National Park protects 6m acres (2,428,113ha) of uncharted Alaskan wilderness. Let that sink in for a minute. That’s an area nearly the size of Belgium, populated only by grizzlies, moose, and caribou who roam free beneath snow-capped peaks. The best time to visit is in the summer, when you can go rafting down glacier-fed rivers or take it easy on the gentle hiking trails and bike routes on the park fringes. Get lucky and you might even spot arctic ground squirrels, wolves, and golden eagles.
Black Canyon in Gunnison National Park, Colorado
Dropping faster and more steeply than the Grand Canyon, yet at points only 40ft (12m) wide, the Black Canyon in Gunnison National Park defies comprehension. Carved out of gneiss and schist over 2m years, its jagged cliffs descend an astonishing 2,700ft (823m) to inky-black ravines that get as little as 33 minutes of sunlight each day. You can appreciate the canyon’s majesty from easy nature trails on the north and south rims, or request a wilderness pass to descend to the canyon floor for more strenuous hikes, climbs, and rafting trips.
White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire and Maine
Think the best of New Hampshire and Maine is on the coast? Think again. Stretching across some 800,000 acres (323,749ha), White Mountain National Forest is equally as worthy of your vacation time as the wave-lashed shores. In the fall, the big appeal is the spectacular foliage, best seen from the Kancamagus Scenic Byway. In the summer, it’s all about jumping into crystal-clear mountain lakes and natural, waterfall-fed swimming holes. You’ve not really experienced White Mountain National Forest until you’ve slid down a natural rock waterslide and plunged into an ice-cold pool below.
San Juan Islands, Washington
Far closer to Victoria, British Columbia, in Canada, than they are to Seattle, the San Juan Islands are a slice of rugged, forested paradise that you could spend a lifetime visiting and still not manage to explore all 172 named islands and islets. Some are home to small fishing communities; some are known for their charming B&Bs and farm-to-table restaurants; while others are disturbed by little more than passing whales in season. San Juan Island, Orcas Island, Lopez Island, or Shaw Island are the best bases for your first trip, but the real joy is setting sail for a few days. Don’t sweat it if you fall in love with the island-hopping lifestyle: with Verizon Visa Card you can earn rewards and redeem them towards travel including flights and hotels. All you need is to decide where you’ll sail off to next.
To learn more about the Verizon Visa Card and start earning rewards, visit verizon.com/verizonvisacard.
In partnership with Verizon, Culture Trip is offering a promo code of $35 to be used across Culture Trip for one year. Enter VERIZON35 at checkout to redeem.
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meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
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Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.