Silver Falls State ParkSublimity, Oregon 1 of 9
Nestled into the foothills of the Cascade Mountains is the largest state park in Oregon. The 9,000 acres of forested land is populated with towering Douglas firs, western hemlocks and a variety of wildlife. The Trail of Ten Waterfalls is the main attraction, with falls all along the path. Don't forget to use the 25 miles of backcountry trails for mountain biking, hiking and equestrian riding.
Franconia Notch State ParkFranconia, New Hampshire 2 of 9
Immerse yourself in the White Mountains at Franconia Notch State Park. Start your visit with a drive on I-93, a scenic byway that winds through the Kinsman and Franconia mountain ranges. Next, take a ride on the aerial tramway for a panorama of the mountain landscape. Stretch your legs on a walk through the Flume Gorge and don't forget to visit the New England Ski Museum.
Anza-Borrego State ParkBorrego Springs, California 3 of 9
If you want to see wildflowers, this is the state park to visit. Coupled with expansive palm groves, spectacular vistas and towering cacti, you just can't take enough photos to capture it all. Drive through 500 miles of dirt road, or get out and explore. Twelve wilderness areas offer plenty of opportunities to hike and take striking photos of the majestic Santa Rosa Mountains. Plan your trip in the spring, which is peak season for wildflowers.
Big Bay State ParkMadeline Island, Wisconsin 4 of 9
Madeline Island, the largest of Lake Superior's 21 Apostle Islands, is home to Big Bay State Park. The 1.5 miles of beach make it ideal for summertime fun. This must-see state park has more than beaches. Seven miles of hiking trails provide impressive views of Lake Superior and 240 species of birds can be spotted with a keen eye. Sandstone bluffs, cliff jumping and sublime sunsets make this a truly unique destination. Note that you need to ferry from Bayfield, Wisconsin to get to the island.
Indiana Dunes State ParkChesterton, Indiana 5 of 9
Have you ever heard the sand sing? Well, Indiana Dunes State Park is one of 35 locations in the world where you can. Three miles of beach along the Lake Michigan shore is surrounded by large sand dunes that have been growing for thousands of years, some of which tower well over 200 feet tall. Learn more in the Interpretive Nature Center or step into your hiking boots and try one of the seven trails, which range in length and difficulty.
Presque Isle State ParkErie, Pennsylvania 6 of 9
This state park offers more than its fair share of activities, perfect for family vacations. Stay for the Discover Presque Island weekend and enjoy three days of fun in the sun with sand sculptures, kite flying, and a duathlon. On any other visit, you can explore lagoons via kayak, walk or bike the 13.5-mile multi-purpose trail and watch turtles in the Graveyard Pond.
Harriman State ParkStony Point, New York 7 of 9
As the second-largest park in the New York state parks system, this is a nature lover's paradise. Thirty-one lakes and reservoirs offer plenty of water to cool off in after a hike along any of the 200 miles of trails in the park.. From the state park, you can trek through 18.8 miles of the Appalachian Trail or explore one of 10 other trails nearby. Keep watch for a diverse selection of wildlife, which ranges from white-tailed deer to otters and blue heron.
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State ParkKey Largo, Florida 8 of 9
As the first undersea park in the U.S., this is a must-see destination for the whole family. Seventy miles of mangrove swamps, beaches and tropical hammocks make this state park unlike anything you've ever experienced. Head to the 300,000-gallon saltwater aquarium, go snorkeling, take a scuba tour or catch a ride on a glass bottom boat.