Many people yearn for a vacation that is different from the American standard. These individuals, tired of the expensive glitz of Disney World or avoiding the crowds at Times Square, are in need of a unique destination experience. The United States
offers plentiful unique encounters with people, animals, nature and architecture that can offer a different vacation for all who desire it.
Rehabilitated homeless animals can find forever homes.
VolunTourism, a term that describes a vacation based on community service, offers the chance to make an American holiday a meaningful experience. Organizations such as HandsOn New Orleans offer food and housing to volunteers who participate in one of their life-changing community service programs. Visitors can assist in home building for low-income communities, read stories to community children and cultivate a green thumb through neighborhood beautification projects. Vacationers who enjoy helping animals may find their calling at The Best Friends Sanctuary in southern Utah. This organization, dedicated to rehabilitating and supporting homeless pets, was made famous by The National Geographic show "Dogtown." Volunteers will spend their time grooming, feeding and socializing with more than 2,000 pot-bellied pigs, dogs, cats, parrots, horses and rabbits. Learn about the organization's mission to provide every animal a home through adoption services and loving care. Travelers looking to channel their creative energies may enjoy volunteering in Philadelphia with the Mural Arts Program. In addition to local art education and community structure enhancement, this unique organization revitalizes poor neighborhoods and builds community spirit.
Llamas make excellent hiking companions.
Travels who enjoy thrilling experiences may enjoy extreme outdoor adventure vacations. Consider joining a guided tour through the winding Colorado River, experiencing both white-water rapids and tranquil waters the length of the journey. Witness colored rock formations over 2 billion years old in the Grand Canyon, and enjoy the juxtaposition of a wild ride in a serene setting. Love the adrenaline rush? Spend a week in Alaska, alongside the beautiful South River Mountains, traveling by dog sled. Mush over magnificent landscapes and encounter moose, caribou, snowy owls and minks. Outdoor enthusiasts may also love hiking the Pacific Northwest with a sure-footed llama carrying their pack. These 5-day excursions offer spectacular mountain views and a chance to escape from bustling society (with a quiet, furry companion at your side).
Mission San Xavier del Bac illuminates in the desert.
Vacationers can find a different traveling experience by visiting historic sites. Educational experiences abound--from gravesites to ghost towns to crumbling structures--for every history buff. Follow the highway south from Tucson, Arizona, and discover a 300-year-old Spanish Colonel Church, Mission San Xavier del Bac. The architectural detailing displays Moorish, Byzantine and Mexican Renaissance inspirations on a Tohono O'oham reservation. Discover the darker history of the United States by spending time in Gettysburg. This site of the violent, turning-point Civil War battle educates visitors through a Monument Wall, war re-enactment and guided bus tours. Lovers of spooky lore will enjoy a nighttime ghost tour in the captivating southern city of Savannah. Commonly referred to as America's "Most Haunted Town," this Georgia treasure is peppered with Spanish moss, quaint courtyards and historic home sites.