As people embark on their summer travel, many head overseas for relaxation. According to author Patricia Schultz's new book, "1,000 Places to See in the U.S. and Canada Before You Die," the states offer plenty of options. The best-selling author worked on the book for four years and visited 80 percent of the places in the book.
From family vacations to getaways with friends, Schultz gives recommendations on where you should visit. See some of her suggestions below.
Little St. Simon's Island, Ga. It's called little St. Simon's Island and it's part of the Great Barrier Islands, which run for hundreds of miles off the southeast coast. You can find tons of developed places to play golf and tennis but, little St. Simon's Island is a one-of-a-kind place because it is privately owned and has been kept as a nature preserve. It's completely untouched and looks the way it did 200 to 300 years ago. No more than 30 guests are allowed at a time so it's almost like having the island to yourself. There is an old family estate, which is rustic, but it's amazing to have this pristine island to explore. You can take ecotours and you can horseback ride, canoe and fly-fish. The island is also on a major flyway, so it provides some of the best bird-watching anywhere in North America with more than 300 species.
Romantic River Song Inn-Estes Park, Colo. This special place is the Romantic River Song Inn at the gateway to the Rocky Mountain National Park. The hotel is on its own parcel of land with a stream running through it. There are massage tables for couples under a canopy of trees by the stream. So, if you're not in love when you arrive, you may be when you leave. The owners even are qualified to marry you if the spirit moves you. From the hotel, you can venture into the park, which is 400 square miles of Rocky Mountain grandeur.
The Northern Lights, Alaska One of the best places to view the aurora borealis or the northern lights is at Chena Hot Springs, Alaska. The best time is from October to March. If you see this once, you will never forget it. It's a true masterpiece of nature. There are greens and pinks in the sky and it swirls and moves. It is spectacular.
Having children completely changes your travel experience. For parents who are fed up with amusement parks, there are other original options.
Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, N.M. The International Balloon Festival in Albuquerque, N.M., is the largest balloon rally in the world. Picture 700 multicolored balloons lifting off into the sky. It's a 10-day event. Most people get up at 3 a.m. and get to the field at 4 a.m. They are there for the balloons ascent at 5 a.m. It's a party atmosphere. You are encouraged to talk to the balloonists; watching the sky fill with these balloons as daylight breaks is magnificent. Children get giddy, but it's great for all generations. The festival has been going on since 1972 and 80,000 people show up. We all know New Mexico can be hot but this all takes place in October when the temperatures lower.