There are a few special destinations around the country with an ethereal appeal that truly show us all the beauty our world has to offer. These otherworldly destinations will make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time or onto another planet. Whether you’re looking at a shipyard dating back hundreds of years, smooth, orange crags that cut through rivers or crater lakes with distinctive rock formations, these awe-inspiring destinations will leave your jaw slack. We’ve curated a list of seven mystical destinations around the country where you can encounter a sort of magic you’ve never experienced before.
We’re opening the doors to exploring offbeat destinations in America that offer something completely different from your average destination. There’s nothing wrong with a little bit of mystery.
Over 1.8 million acres of national forest land, red-rock buttes, pine forests and majestic red-rock scenery make Sedona in Arizona one of the most magical destinations in America. This is where you’ll find a stark contrast in colors, with bright green vegetation set against majestic red rocks. There’s a vibrant art and music community in Uptown Sedona, with numerous restaurants, bars serving locally made wine and pottery classes. Trailheads leading from the outskirts of town take hikers directly to Red Rock State Park, where visitors have the chance to go bird watching and hike 400+ miles of trails snaking through the steep canyon walls.
CRATER LAKE, OR
Around 7,000 years ago, Mount Mazama erupted and formed Crater Lake, the deepest lake in the U.S. This caldera lake reaches about 2,000 feet and is nestled by unique geological formations and the Cascade Mountains. This is an otherworldly destination that’ll wow you with its beauty and history. An ancient hemlock tree stump floats, unanchored, in Crater Lake, and has baffled scientists for over a century. There is no water outlet, and a lot of water is unaccounted for. It’s also the only place in the world where you’ll find the Mazama newt. Surfacing about 160 feet above the lake is an island that resembles a ship. It’s deemed the Phantom Ship and appears and disappears depending on the weather.
ST. AUGUSTINE, FL
Deemed the nation’s oldest city, St. Augustine is an elegant city founded in 1565, with a continuously occupied settlement of African American and European origin, making it older than Plymouth Rock and Jamestown. It’s earned the nickname “The Ancient City,” and it has an almost mystical appeal. With brick-lined streets, a 17th-century Spanish stone fortress, the oldest wooden schoolhouse in America and white sandy beaches, this city will enamor you. You’ll find hidden courtyards encompassed by brick buildings, narrow lanes, paranormal ghost tours and intimate restaurants serving delicious cuisine from around the world.
ISLE ROYALE, MI
Isle Royale, a secluded island in Lake Superior, is a pristine wilderness that beckons adventurers and nature enthusiasts. With its rugged terrain, dense forests and sparkling lakes, the island offers a sense of isolation and tranquility. Visitors can explore over 160 kilometers of scenic trails, encounter diverse wildlife and immerse themselves in the raw beauty of nature. Designated as a National Park and UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Isle Royale holds significant ecological and cultural value. The recognition emphasizes the importance of preserving Isle Royale's pristine wilderness, allowing future generations to continue experiencing its captivating beauty and mystical allure.
WHITE SANDS NATIONAL PARK, CA
White Sands National Park, located in New Mexico, is a captivating natural wonder renowned for its stunning beauty. This expansive desert landscape features gleaming white gypsum sand dunes that stretch for miles, creating a mesmerizing oasis. The contrast of the pure white sands against the sky is a sight to behold, especially during sunrise or sunset. Visitors can explore the ever-shifting dunes and even take a sled ride down them, gliding across the soft, powdery sand. The park's unique environment provides ample opportunities for photography, stargazing and simply getting lost in the enchantment of the vast and seemingly endless sea of white.
JOSHUA TREE, CA
Joshua Tree is a next-level destination that has jagged rock formations and twisted Joshua trees reaching towards the sky, making the landscape feel almost extraterrestrial. The area encompasses two distinct desert ecosystems, the Colorado Desert and the higher-altitude Mojave Desert, where you'll find the iconic Joshua Trees. This is also where you’ll find the Cotillo cactus and Yucca trees. The light at dusk and dawn offers the most spectacular landscapes and silhouettes of the iconic trees. There are numerous fascinating rock formations around the park, including Penguin Rock, Cap Rock, Skull Rock and Heart Rock. With over 120 hiking trails, you’ll find no shortage of areas to explore.
Founded in 1654, Mystic offers an essential experience of New England charm. For hundreds of years, this historic village served as an important Connecticut seaport, where more than 600 ships were built. Since then, it has been seen in movies like "Mystic Pizza" and now offers visitors the chance to dine at restaurants, drink wine at vineyards and munch on pastries at its bakeries. To see a working shipyard, learn about the village’s history and see rotating exhibits, stop by the Mystic Seaport. Another popular attraction is the nonprofit Mystic Aquarium, where you’ll find thousands of species of marine animals, including Steller sea lions and beluga whales.